This post is sponsored by Delta Air Lines
We just got back from a trip to Brussels and then onto Paris… and then back to Brussels again, so before we left, I was in full planning mode! Our European vacation was going to be packed with activity this time around, so there was a lot to consider. I went through the usual process of asking myself what should we wear, what should we bring, how will we be getting around, and where should we stay? Is your family preparing for a trip to Europe, too? Take advice from a seasoned traveler! Here are some important things to consider for a trip to Europe.
1. Set yourself up to earn miles
Flying roundtrip from the U.S. to Europe can really help your family rack up some valuable airline miles, so make sure you sign up for your airline loyalty program before you leave. We’re big fans of Delta’s SkyMiles program, as it’s free to join, the miles never expire, and you can use your miles to travel to more than 1,000 destinations around the world!
2. Pack appropriately for the weather
Summer is the best time weather-wise, to travel to Europe, but everyone else thinks so, too! This translates to heavy crowds, long lines, and expensive accommodations. Winter in Europe is freezing, with shorter days, and lots of closed attractions. Spring and fall have generally mild temps, but can be rainy. Plan on packing layers for travel during either of these two seasons, since the days are nice, but the evenings can get chilly. It’s possible to experience temperatures anywhere from the 30’s to the 60’s on any given day during spring and fall in Europe.
3. Bring enough electrical adapters and converters
If you’re new to international travel, you might not know that other country’s electrical systems run differently from ours. If you try to plug your electronics in their outlets, you might kill your devices (if they can even be plugged in to begin with). Newer appliances might work just fine using a simple, inexpensive, continental adapter, but they don’t convert electrical voltage. To avoid confusion, I like universal all-in-one adapter and converter units. They cost a little more, but ensure you’ll be able to use any outlet, anywhere in the world. If you plan to travel often, it’s a worthwhile investment that erases any concern you might have.
4. Be careful with your valuables
One of the nightmares of travel is losing important documents and currency, or having them stolen from you. To avoid becoming a victim, be intentional with where and how you carry these valuables. Choose a cross body handbag, a fanny pack or a backpack (but only store important items in the innermost compartments that can’t easily be accessed) and keep it on you at all times when you’re out and about. These options might not be as stylish, but being stuck in a foreign country should be a bigger concern than committing a crime of fashion!
5. Make a transportation plan
It’s fairly simple and common to travel from city to city, and even country to country, while visiting Europe. There have always been tons of options for getting around the continent, but in today’s age of the “sharing economy,” the possibilities are endless! Of course there are long and short distance trains, ferries, and plenty of buses. Do your research. Read reviews. Check out the routes and fares. Take some time before your vacation to figure out the best ways for your family to get from point A to point B. Bonus: if you save on transportation, you can splurge on accommodations, activities, or travel upgrades.
6. Consider all lodging options before booking
Hotels are not your only options when it comes to where you should stay. For example, we’ll be staying in a hotel for part of our trip and an apartment for the remainder of our trip. You’ll need to consider your family’s preferences. If you’ll need daily housekeeping and want the convenience that hotels can offer, the choice is clear. Hotels tend to cater to their guests’ every need, offering amenities like spas, childcare services, and restaurants among other things, but it’ll come at a cost. If you’d rather save money on food and resort fees, and feel more like a local at the same time, look into renting an Airbnb. This is also a great option to give kids a better sense of routine. It’s not as scary as it seems! Of course there are online websites you can use to book, but there are also fully screened rental agencies for this very purpose. A little research into various accommodations ahead of time can really pay off toward a better vacation.
7. Expedite your security screening process
We’re huge fans of CLEAR, an expedited security screening program that saves a ton of time when we travel. CLEAR is now available at over 25 airports where Delta flies, so see if it’ll be available at your home airport when you leave for Europe! You don’t need an appointment and you can complete your enrollment in just minutes.
Take these seven things into consideration when preparing for a trip to Europe and you’ll have a carefree vacation once you get there! Set yourself up to earn miles, always pack for the weather; don’t forget electrical adapters and converters; be extra cautious with how you carry your valuables; make a transportation plan, remember you have more than one option when it comes to where you lay your head at night; and look for expedited security screening at your home airport.
If you’ve been to Europe before, what would you add to this list?
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About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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