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Travel tips for Europe and the UK

Keep these holiday hacks in mind for your upcoming trip

Have you got a getaway to Europe or the United Kingdom planned? It’s very exciting if you do! Be sure to read on for our travel tips and find out what you need to know for your holiday. Europe is home to an abundance of culture and spectacular sights to explore. You won’t be short of places to fill in your itinerary, from the hustle and bustle of London to the sunshine in Santorini. Explore these incredible destinations with peace of mind when you have quality travel insurance.

As Smartraveller says, if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel. Protecting yourself from unforeseen expenses is an important part of organising your trip to Europe and the United Kingdom.

Get a free quote with Cover-More to see how affordable cover can be. Then get back to the fun part of preparing for your holiday and finding out what you need to know below!

Want more information about travel insurance for Europe and the United Kingdom? Find out more here.

Skip ahead to read:

  1. What you need to know
  2. Wi-Fi in Europe
  3. Power adaptors for Europe and the UK
  4. Common tourist scams to avoid
  5. Travel vaccinations
  6. Find what currency to use
  7. How to get around
  8. Weather seasons in Europe
  9. Local languages
  10. Culture shock
  11. Travelling in a tour Vs. on your own
  12. Best destinations to visit in Europe

What you need to know

Planning to go overseas can be quite stressful, so here are a few travel tips to help you out.

  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from the date you plan to come back to Australia.
  • Australian citizens do not usually need a visa to holiday in countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days. Check the visa requirements for non-Schengen European countries.
  • Carry your passport on you when crossing country borders, even if you are staying within the Schengen area.
  • Share your itinerary with family or friends and register your travel plans with DFAT – they can assist with contacting you or your relatives in an emergency.
  • Europe and the United Kingdom can experience natural disasters such as flooding, blizzards, avalanches, strong winds and storms. Always follow the advice of law enforcement to stay safe.
  • Check out our travel alerts for our latest claims advice about world events.
  • Use a pre-travel checklist to tick off tasks to do before you depart. From notifying your bank that you’ll be overseas to emptying your refrigerator, there are a few things you should do before heading off on a holiday.
  • Consider travelling with Cover-More travel insurance. Get a free quote online to protect your Europe and UK trip. Please read the PDS before deciding on our cover.

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How to stay connected with Wi-Fi

When you are jet setting around the world, we know you want to stay connected with loved ones back home. The good news is that Wi-Fi in Europe and the United Kingdom is easily accessible. You can use it at most hotels or hostels, and can connect while dining at many restaurants and bars. All you have to do is politely ask if you can use it and they will likely provide you with the password.

Being connected to the internet is a great help when wanting to get around Europe. There are many mobile apps that can help you when travelling to make the journey easier. Some of them you don’t even need to stay connected to the internet while using!

Our travel blogger Lisa shares her favourite mobile apps to use when gallivanting the globe. Check out which ones she recommends here.

What power adaptors are used in Europe and the UK?

Are you travelling to Europe and taking your Australian appliances and electronics with you on holidays? Don’t forget you will need the right power adaptor to recharge and use them - after all, you need a camera or phone to capture all those memories!

The “Europlug” is one of the most common plugs in the world with two round prongs. Using a European adaptor will allow you to make use of your Australian appliances overseas. European countries such as Italy and Switzerland may require their own type of plug – so make sure you do a Google search before heading off!

Did you know you will need a different power adapter in the United Kingdom? The UK uses a different one than in the rest of Europe. Typically, UK plugs consist of three prongs. You should always check beforehand what type of adaptor is best for the specific countries you’re visiting.

Find out more about the power supply in Europe and the UK here.

Common scams in Europe

Tourist scams occur all over the world, but being aware of common travel scams in Europe can help you not fall victim to one. Be aware of the below scams so you know what to look out for.

  • The “friendship” bracelet - this scam often occurs when a person approaches you and ties a friendship bracelet around your wrist, claiming it’s a token of friendship. Although insisting “it’s free”, the opportunists will then try picking your pockets while you are distracted. Always remember to protect your valuables and excuse yourself firmly.
  • The “found” ring – this is when someone near you picks up a ring from the ground and asks if you’ve dropped it. When you say no, the person looks closely at the rings and states that it’s pure gold. They will then offer to sell it to you for a “good” price – but there’s no doubt you’ll be getting ripped off.
  • The “helpful” local – tourists can often look confused as they’re navigating a new city, and unknowingly become a prime target of the “helpful” local. This is when someone comes up and offers to help you buy your train tickets or walk you to where you’re wanting to go. You may think they’re being a good Samaritan, but don’t be fooled! They will demand some cash in exchange for their help.
  • The street performer - Be cautious of those dressed in costumes or performing a unique trick on the street. You can watch the performers all you want, but avoid taking a photo of them or with them – unless you want to pay up! Often they will demand payment and problems can occur if you refuse or even try to delete the photos.

Do you want to find out about other travel scams to avoid? Read more here.

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What travel vaccinations do I need for Europe?

When planning to travel overseas, you should consult your GP or visit a travel doctor to find out what vaccinations you need. Most European countries are developed and have a lower risk of infectious diseases for travellers, when compared to parts of South America or Africa. Travellers generally only require routine vaccinations or boosters, to help protect against illnesses like Hepatitis A, tetanus and the measles. Be sure to visit your doctor prior to travelling so you can discuss with them what immunisations you should have.

Protect yourself against unforeseen overseas medical expenses. Get a free quote for Cover-More travel insurance here.

What currency is used in Europe?

The main currency accepted in Europe are Euros, however some countries in the region will use their own currency. For example, the United Kingdom uses Pound sterling, while Poland has Polish złoty and the Czech Republic uses Czech koruna. If you are visiting smaller countries that have their own currency, you can probably get by using Euros (although this will mean you may end up paying more than if you were to spend the local currency!). Research your specific holiday destinations to find out what currency is used in the places you plan to visit.

Our hot tip: You may find goods and services are generally more expensive in many parts of Europe than they are in Australia. Keep an eye on the currency exchange rate so you can get the most bang for your buck!

Travel insurance could protect the money you carry on you while travelling. Get a free quote online for Cover-More. Be sure to read the full PDS to understand any conditions, limitations or exclusions that apply.

How to get around Europe and the UK

Europe and the United Kingdom are easy places to get around. There are many transport options from high-speed trains, buses and ferries to a range of airlines. You can travel from country to country within a short amount of time. Why not have an English breakfast in London and then a long lunch in Paris? Unlike in Australia, this is easily done in Europe so make the most of it! Have a read of our blog about the best ways to get around Europe.

You can pre-plan your trip before embarking on your journey. With a little bit of research, you can figure out where to go and how to get there. Apps like Rome2Rio are helpful when wanting find train, plane, bus and car routes during your trip. Most countries offer electronic tickets for transport, however not all will have adopted the new system. In some European countries, train tickets need to be validated before boarding the train. To avoid a fine, get your train ticket stamped by the machines at the platform. Wi-Fi is offered on some European trains, however be prepared that you may need to pay for it.

Visit our blog to find more travel tips to make your holiday planning easier!

What are the weather seasons in Europe?

Similar to Australia, there are four seasons in Europe. Being located in the Northern Hemisphere means that Europe and the United Kingdom experience opposite seasons to us. During the summer months (June to August), Europe experiences a peak travel period as tourists flock to soak up the sun. Discover the 10 best European summer destinations here.

Travelling during the shoulder months of Spring and Autumn may have fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation options. Find out what European cities to visit when you plan on holidaying during the cooler months. If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, or simply wish to have a white Christmas, Europe in the winter can provide a magical backdrop for your travel memories.

Seasons in Europe

seasons in europe

Thinking about participating in winter sports while in Europe or the UK? Check out our winter sports travel insurance.

Local languages

You can get by in most popular tourist destinations using English; however it’s always a good idea to brush up on some local phrases. It’s a sign of respect and locals will appreciate you trying to communicate with them in their native tongue. If you’re travelling to destinations less frequented by travellers, then you may find it harder to communicate in English. There are many great translation apps, like Google Translate, that you can use to help out with this.

Do you want to travel with peace of mind? Get a free quote for travel insurance online or call us on 1300 72 88 22.

Culture shock in Europe

Travelling to new destinations and experiencing another culture is all part of the fun! Sometimes being in a completely new place can be overwhelming and that’s understandable. Travel with an open mind as you’re there to learn about this different corner of the globe. Keep in mind that there are several cultural differences between Australia and Europe. For example, the number of people smoking cigarettes in Europe is much larger than in Australia. Don’t be shocked if you’re in a restaurant or bar and you leave smelling of cigarette smoke.

Depending on which countries you’re planning to visit, you may find that time is a loose concept. In places like Spain and Southern Italy, life is a little more laid back. Try to keep a flexible schedule as you may find yourself waiting for a bus that arrives much later than it’s supposed to. Don’t forget to embrace siestas either! The Europeans may be on to something with an afternoon nap. But this can sometimes impact visiting museums and other attractions when you’d typically expect them to be open.

In Europe, you may be required to pay to use a public toilet. Sometimes it is free, but the person working in the bathroom sells the sheets of toilet paper. Some toilets aren’t always well stocked, so it’s wise to carry pocket-size tissue packs just in case.

Our hot tip: Look for signs showing ‘WC’ if you need to find a public restroom – WC stands for ‘water closet’ and means there is a toilet behind the door.

lake como italy

Travelling as part of a tour

Although travelling solo allows you to have complete freedom and independence, it can be a little daunting. Travelling with a tour group gives you the opportunity to meet new people, with the added bonus of having everything planned for you. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to put hours into researching a destination, then joining a tour may be a great option. Tour guides are often a wealth of knowledge and can share insight from a local’s perspective that you would have otherwise missed. Not to mention there is safety in numbers when travelling with a group, so having a bunch of travel buddies can mean you don’t end up getting lost on your own.

You have plenty of choices when it comes to choosing a tour in Europe and the United Kingdom – there is something for everyone! Having a hard time deciding where you want to visit? Browse through our travel blog for your Europe holiday inspiration and pick up a few travel tips along the way. 

Solo travel through Europe

Travelling to a new destination can be exciting, and even more exhilarating if you’re doing it on your own. Europe and the United Kingdom are designed well for solo travellers as it’s easy to get around, there are many accommodation options to suit your budget, and you’ll cross paths with many interesting characters. Travel gives us the opportunity to open our minds, increase self-confidence, and challenge our ideas and expectations. You can meet lots of friendly faces and explore places in your own time. The flexibility to do whatever and go wherever you want might be exactly what you’re looking for. If you have never been a solo traveller before but are dreaming of finally doing so, Europe and the UK are good places to start! Be sure to brush up on this seasoned traveller’s tips about how to plan for independent travel here.

Best places to visit in Europe

Europe and the United Kingdom are home to countless destinations that are worth exploring. We know it can be daunting trying to figure out where to visit first, so we’ve outlined some of the best cities not to overlook. Remember to consider travelling with travel insurance so you’re protected from the unexpected. Get a free quote online.

London, England

London’s diverse and multi-cultural city offers some of the world’s best sights and attractions. The famous London Eye will take your breath away, as you experience spectacular 360-degree views of the capital and its famous landmarks. Don’t miss seeing Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, and Hyde Park to name a few. Visit Madame Tussauds in London and take selfies with more than 300 stunning wax figures from sports legends to music icons. If you’re looking to sightsee, jump aboard the ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour, where a 24 hour ticket will give you unlimited travel around London for the day. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to venture beyond the city, then take a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath.

london town

Paris, France

Commonly referred to as the City of Lights, Paris will steal your heart with its magnificent views, food and trendy fashion. Visit the iconic Eiffel Tower, with its golden lights sparkling every hour on the hour at night time. If you are wanting to explore Paris’ other treasures, head over to the Louvre Museum and view the crowd-drawing Mona Lisa painting. Be sure to make a visit to Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe for the full Parisian experience. The Palace of Versailles should definitely be on your list of places to visit, as this spectacular place can’t be missed! For more information about what to see in Paris, check out this blog by Jessica Valentine from Flying The Nest.

Rome, Italy

There’s always something to see and do in Rome, but you certainly can’t do it all in a day! Step into the Colosseum; the site of many battles that once held approximately 50,000 spectators. Visit one of Rome’s ancient masterpieces, the Trevi Fountain, where countless people throw a coin in and make a wish. For the wine-lovers, experience the beautiful grape-vines in Tuscany by taking a day trip, or extend your stay to soak up this world famous region. If you’re travelling to Rome for the first time, then read this guide to Italy’s capital.

Berlin, Germany

Ranging from beautiful landscapes to fairy tale castles, Germany is an incredible place to visit. One of the country’s jewels has to be Berlin – a place where old meets new. Stroll through the city to spot iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral and of course, the Berlin Wall. No visit is complete without a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial and the East Side Gallery, and take a train ride out to explore Charlottenburg Palace. Check out our blog for more must-see places in Berlin so you can make the most out of your time there.

Barcelona, Spain

Are you ready to indulge your senses by enjoying sangria and tapas near the sunkissed beaches of Barcelona? Visit this beautiful city and take your time strolling around the Park Güell. Head over to the famous Sagrada Família, to see the spectacular yet unfinished work of Antoni Gaudí. Before you head over to Spain, try brushing up some Spanish words so you can converse with the locals.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

With glorious blue skies and turquoise waters, Dubrovnik is one of the best places to see in Croatia. Enjoy a cable car ride up the mountain and take a walk along the Dubrovnik City Walls to witness stunning views above the town. The medieval walls were built around the seashore to protect the town from pirates and unwelcome guests. Nowadays, it’s one of the key things to see in Dubrovnik. In this city you can also seek out the filming spots from Game of Thrones if you're a fan! Stroll through the cobblestone streets and soak up the atmosphere of this summery hotspot. If you’re keen to explore this beautiful city, check out our video below of Dubrovnik from Stephen and Jess at Flying The Nest.

Do you want some more travel inspiration and tips for exploring Europe and the United Kingdom? Then check out our travel blogs and destination guides here!

Contact us

Travel insurance is an important part of planning your trip to Europe and the United Kingdom! Get a free quote online or call our friendly team on 1300 72 88 22 to discuss your options. Visit our frequently asked questions for additional information.