Whether you’re working your lil’ booty off and learning new languages, taking on the sweaty backpacker life in the Spain heat (lol me), or embarking on a classy baecation with your future spouse on a hotel balcony overlooking Lake Como, this is your A-Z guide to all things Europe.
We know you have things to do so BOOKMARK THIS ISSSHHH.
Table of Contents
Accommodation – Activities – Adapters + Converters – Backpacks –
Currency Exchange – Carry-on Rules – Consulates/ Embassies – Culture – Discounts to Save your $$$ – Flights – Food – Group Tours – Insurance – Language learning – Money – Packing – Phones and Sim Cards – Safety – Transportation – Visas – Work Exchange
PS. If you caught my Star Wars Reference, I love you.
A-Z Resources you need for Europe
Accommodation– oh boy. This is a big one. You got Airbnb, homestays, hostels. Hotels, couch surfing. It goes on
- Airbnb– you rent someone else’s place. Sometimes they’re there. Sometimes they’re not and they give you the wrong key. Pick your battles
- Hostelworld- Check the reviews. But hey, if given the option- don’t actually book through them- find your hostel of choice and then go to their website. It will be cheaper, you’ll see how many rooms are actually open, and sometimes they will give you free shizz
- Booking.com– use this if that one^ says there’s no room. Also great for budget hotels
- Expedia– the mother-ship of Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotwire, Trivago, and so on. Literally, Expedia owns all of those. They’re the same website with different colors to appeal to different aesthetics.
…maybe I actually don’t know anything about marketing this is just my snarky guess
- Kayak– Arguably the best hotel and hotel combos deal I think. Also, look for Bed and Breakfasts here. But turn off your pop-ups bc Kayak is full of them??
- Walk in- There are hotels every couple of blocks in Europe. You can probably just show up if it ain’t tooooo busy.
- Couchsurfing– first heard about it via my AP Government teacher in high school. At the time, I thought it sounded sketchy af, but hey it’s pretty popular!
- University Rooms– fun but like, weird. I did this once and the class was still in session. So I was just like an exchange student for the day?
- Trip Advisor – To get the inside scoop and live your best life. Find how close your place of choice is to the city center, train stops, restaurants, or what not.
- Country Specifics
– France- Stay in a country home
– Ireland- Stay in CASTLES (one day * looks off into the distance*)
- Airbnb Experiences— TBH I just use this as a guide to figure out what’s going on. Whatever the experiences are you can probs do it on your own without the spendy guide.
Regardless they have some cool stuff- go on an insta-worthy photo shoot, take a cooking class, go on a strenuous hike, the options are endless! And no you don’t have to stay at an Airbnb to do said Airbnb experiences
- For the United Kingdom- Fan of the Royal family?? Thought you were going to marry Prince William?? THEN thought you were going to marry Prince Harry?? Regardless, did you get up and watch both Royal weddings in the weeee hours of the morning??
Well, look no further! here is a complete list of upcoming events the Royals attend.
Adapters + converters
You need an adapter no matter. You need the converter to change the voltage- this is why lots of blow dryers blow uppp. Coming from someone that has a close personal relationship with her straightener- if you need one of these things just buy a cheap one once you get there. It’s much safer.
But regardless- here’s a good adapter.
You can also just buy an outlet with a USB port and that way you don’t have to worry about turning your phone into a bonfire.
The outlet for the U.K. is different than the outlet for the rest of Europe heads up.
It’s called backpacking for a reason. I highly recommend buying a backpack that opens sideways like a suitcase. Get lots of zippers. But if your only source of clothing is coming from a backpack- invest in a big one
I’m (barely) 5’2” and this bag is 55L. aka I have to lay down to put it on when it’s packed. BUT IT’S WORTH IT. Rolling around a suitcase on blocks of cobblestone is not that fun nope.
This is mine– it’s a cute little thing with a detachable mini backpack. So convenient.
No matter what you get- please for the love of YOUR BACK get a bag with a waist strap. We’re youngins now, but do ya want a walker when you’re 92 or 29????
Simple enough- the European Union uses the Euro. The U.K. uses the Great British Pound and Switzerland uses the Swiss Franc.
TBH little ol’ me didn’t know Switzerland wasn’t part of the European Union (sorry). While in Zurich, I thought I was making friends with this Barista until I handed him a Euro and then he looked at me…rightfully so… like I had just cold-blooded murdered his grandmother.
If you need to exchange money for all that is good and holy don’t do it in the city. If you do, you might get ~scammed~ out a ton of money (happened to me and big sis)
Safe= the airport, an atm, a tourist center.
Also an app- XE Currency
-XE Money transfer:
Culture and thingsss
Well for starters you can just click on our Europe tag 🙂 no I’m joking. Partially.
Familiarize yo self. You can’t be that culture shocked if you know what to expect! There is never a way to truly figure out all the differences until you actually get somewhere BUT if you want some advice.
- HEAR ME OUT– Youtube search “things that surprised me in * city name * This is literally how I found Damon and Jo in the first place.
- Check out Know Your $hit!
- App- Culture Trip
- App- Spotted by Locals- probs my favorite app here! The app looks like Mike Wazowski’s eye from Monster’s Ink, which is cute I guess. Shows you lots of places that aren’t crowded and low key. V cool when you don’t have much planned either.
Though not necessary per se, it’s not a BAD idea to know where your local consulate or embassy is.
Discounts to save your $$$
On top of museums usually having an under 26 price. These websites also rock.
- Google Flights –
^what’s great about those two is that they give you a giant map if you’re undecided
- Budget Airlines- Ahh if ya know. Ya know. It gets you from point A to B but that’s about it. What do you guys think is a more rocky experience? – Ryanair, Easyjet, or another budget company?? Comment below I’m V curious to hear your experiences.
- Norwegian Air could start its own religion and I would follow it. It’s cheap af and nice. I don’t understand.
I was just messing around on their site- but $169 USD?!?! For an 8 hour, cross-continental flight, next month?!? brb I’m about to Shut Up and Go Right now.
Norwegian Air- never change bby, never change.
There’s a couple of must-dos- like high tea in the United Kingdom, crêpes in Paris, home-made pasta in Italy, gelato in Rome, or paella in Spain.
- Uber Eats
- Happy Cow – find local vegetarian or vegan restaurants
- Too Good To Go – an app that fights food waste. Check what local bakeries and restaurants are throwing away food at the end of the day
One good thing about tours is that you can scratch this entire post, lmao. They’re planned for you- you ain’t worried about nothing, ain’t worried about nada.
Other tours are gonna be extra $$$. But people have asked about them so I’ll just plop ’em here.
- Contiki – Tours ages 18-35
- EF Ultimate Break – 18-29. “perfect for college students and young professionals”
- Top Deck
You should probably thinnnnkkk about getting overseas medical insurance. I bet you’re in GREAT health my friend, but you just never know. I mean the human body is a strange thing man!!!
World Nomads has a couple of different options!
Apple Languages – Use APPLEGO for a special Shut Up and Go discount on these awesome experiences.
Apps To Get
- Microsoft Translator
- Google Translate
- Duolingo- this is beneficial if and only if you pass a couple of levels.
I learned how to say “I am a woman” in French before “Good Morning.” Also, the Duolingo Owl is a very persistent lil’ thing and makes you feel guilty.
Some more apps
- Maps.me- offline maps and shows you fun lil’ hangout spots
- Google Maps – a given.
- Movie Location Maps- if you’re a movie person like me:
1. Let’s talk
2. These maps show you where your favorite films were shot.
- Tripcoin- Make a budget and track it! I should probably start doing this hahaha
Museums & Historical Sites
So, so many in Europe. I’m not even gonna try to list them all, but here’s a website where it does! And you can buy tickets here. Online is generally gonna be cheaper than in person.
Pick outfits you can mix and match- and remember there are laundry facilities everywhere.
Here’s how to properly pack a carry-on.
Also Packing cubes are convenient
Phones and Sim Cards
I truly believe you can survive on WiFi BUT if you need a plan:
- Unlock yo’ phone. If you have AT&T, they’re lame and will make this process very difficult if not impossible.
- WhatsApp – you can still use your OG phone number with your new sim card and text your fam, friends, and your boo back home.
Here are some local companies. You can get these sim cards at the airport or from vendors.
Yes, there is pickpocketing in Europe. But the only time I’ve had something stolen from me I was in… Boston, USA.
So don’t freak when the Trenitalia ticket machine SCREAMS “Beware of Pickpockets.”
However, Damon and Jo have covered tips about getting out of being mugged.
* insert clapping emojis *
However. For worry-free travel, your government might have the option for you to register with their local embassy so they know where your sweet-self is at the whole time.
This also really eases parents’ minds.
Transportation– ANOTHER (big) ONE- DJ Khalid – me
Wow, I apologize for making that reference but it’s the middle of the night.
First things first- the trains!! I love ‘em idk why. I get way too excited to go on trains
Don’t forget to validate your ticket!!!
Eurail– if you’re in Europe for an extended amount of time. You should probs get a rail pass. This is also an app which is nice bc you can just check the times and show up- easy peezy you good to GO.
You can get anything from a 1 country pass to a 31 country pass. Some partners include Renfe, trenitalia, OBB, Eurostar, and so on.
- City Mapper- public transit info
- Trainline– find out when the trains are coming.
There’s also some destination specific rides such as-
- Rome- Scooterino: Find you a ride VIA a VESPA in Rome- LIZZIE MCGUIRE MOVIE ANYONE?!
- Paris- Heetch: late night rides for when you out too late flirting your way through the city of lights.
This is confusing. So umm heads up.
If you’re exempt from applying for a visa ahead of time
There are STILL rules-
~Welcome to the Schengen Zone~
TBH I still have no idea how to pronounce this. Schengen sounds like a place in some post-apocalyptic-dystopian-society in a Young Adult novel.
The Schengen Zone Is different from the European Union
For non- citizens— You have 90 days/ 180 consecutive days to enter and roam around freely inside the Schengen zone. The UK is not part of Schengen. Either is Ireland, Romania, and Bulgaria.
The 180-day countdown starts the second you step foot in the Schengen lands. So if you leave, you gotta make sure your total time there isn’t over 90 days. Within the 180 period.
Does that make sense??
Sometimes the Customs officers are really cool and they don’t put your entry and exit stamps into Schengen near each other (I’m being sarcastic).
So that being said. If you frequent Schengen, make sure to have a list of when you entered/left. OR at least be able to point to the pages on your passport. I’ve been QUESTIONED.
Work exchange– work a bit and get free accommodation! free food is usually included too.
Workaway– my fav. If you want to work at a camp in Spain this summer HMU!! Bonus points if you’re interested in teaching English.
Pet sitting– House and pet sit ABROAD. Do you know how many people you’ll meet too if you’re walking around with a DOG?? 303,452 dog owners have gone on a first date after his/her dog said hi to a stranger while on a walk. This is science.
That’s all for today folks! What are some of your favorite apps or websites to use in Europe?