Ah Europe! The land of history and culture! One could spend years touring Europe and still not have enough time to take it all in! The things that make Europe so unique, however, means you should be prepared for your vacation before your plane lands. Here are five things you’ll need for your trip.

Ancient Ephesus, Turkey, Eruope

Ancient Ephesus CREDIT: Nerissa McNaughton

Electrical Adaptors

Don’t assume that you can plug your hairdryer in and it will automatically work in a European hotel. Not only are most of the outlets shaped differently then what you see here in the North, they are a much higher voltage too. Most European outlets are 220 volts, which is more than enough to fry your hair dryer or curling iron. Some outlets accept only round prongs, some sockets are repressed and others will only accept a plug with three triangular prongs. Luggage and travel stores carry packs of adaptors and converters, and they are not expensive. Buy a multipack if you are travelling around Europe, or buy the single adaptor you need if you are staying in one country.

A Visa – and not the “Charge it” Kind!

Have passport, will travel, right? Not so fast. You need your passport to travel abroad, but you also need a travel visa to enter certain countries, like Russia. Several weeks before you leave for your trip, find out if you need a visa to visit all the countries on your list. You have to apply for one; fees and processing times vary. You don’t want to get excited about your vacation only to be turned away at the border because you don’t have a travel visa.

A Visa® – the “Charge it” Kind!

Cash, if stolen, is gone and it’s too obvious that you have a lot of cash on hand if you pull out a roll of it at each souvenir shop. A credit card that is accepted around the world (Visa or MasterCard) is a much better option, and can be replaced quickly if stolen or lost. If you don’t like to use credit, set aside a sum of cash in your bank account to pay off your card as soon as you return home, and keep track of your spending so you don’t go over the limit you set for yourself. In fact, if you preplan for the card that will best suit your needs, you won’t rack up transaction fees either.

Euros and other Currency

While you do not want to have a lot of cash on hand, do have some Euros for small cash purchases where credit is not accepted (like hand made goods sold on a beach) and for tips. While most European nations accept the Euro, a small handful of countries (Denmark is one of them) do not. Know what kind of currency you need for each location, and keep a currency converter in your pocket, or on your smartphone, so you know how the value of your purchases translate into Canadian dollars. You will need to know this value to declare your goods when coming back to Canada.

A Phone Plan

Your phone uses data and if it is roaming while abroad, you are in for a whopper of a phone bill when you get back home. Visit or call your cell phone provider before your trip and get on a temporary international plan. If you will be calling friends and family as you travel, or sending lots of texts, let your provider know; they have several different travel plans with varying rates.  If your phone accepts foreign sim cards and you plan to switch cards at your destination, make sure you store your Canadian sim in a safe place. It’s tiny and easy to lose.

A European vacation can be a fun experience with lifelong memories. Take care of these items before your flight to enjoy a hassle-free vacation.

Santorini, Greece, Agean Sea

Santorini CREDIT: Nerissa McNaughton