5 Things to Do Before Going on Tour
Your tour spots are reserved, your flights are booked, and now you just have a painful wait ahead before you embark on your overseas journey! Well, not quite. There’s a bunch of things you should or could do before going on tour. A little preparation now can really enhance your trip and help you truly enjoy your time away. Here are 5 things we recommend doing before you join us on an escorted European tour.
1. Research Your Itinerary
When you see the word research, you might feel like saying, “No thanks – I haven’t been a student for years!” But we think you’ll love this kind of research. Reading up on your tour’s itinerary will inspire your imagination and get you ready for the journey ahead. You’ll know to save lots of excitement (and souvenir money) for the Salzburg Christmas markets, or you won’t be so shocked to see people lining up to upside-down-kiss a rock in Blarney Castle!
Perusing your tour schedule in advance will also help you anticipate any half or full days of leisure. This means you’ll have plenty of time to investigate every city or area that’s included in your itinerary, and decide how you’d most like to spend your free hours there. With that said, you may want to keep your plans flexible because the expert guide on your trip will have some great suggestions to consider. Our tour leaders typically know the not-so-well-taken roads that lead to more authentic and less touristy experiences, so don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations on your leisure days!
2. Practise Your Smartphone Photography
Remember when travelling overseas meant saving space in your suitcase for a big, heavy camera? These days, all you need to capture your favourite holiday moments is the phone in your pocket! But if you’d love to snap some truly great photos of your destination, spend some time before your tour getting to know your phone’s in-built camera. Understanding exactly how it works and being comfortable with the controls could make the difference between capturing that perfect picture and missing it (although, in Europe, the next perfect picture is usually only a moment away!).
Hint: Read our smartphone photography article for some great tips before your tour.
3. Get Your Luggage Sorted
Luggage problems are one of the most common things that can dampen the mood of a holiday. While there’s not a lot you can do if your airline makes a mistake, there are ways you can keep your belongings safe and secure during your tour.
When shopping for a suitcase, carefully check the quality of the wheels and make sure to invest in some high-quality padlocks or combination locks. When visiting Europe, it’s also a great idea to choose a suitcase with room to grow. Look for an expandable model (these usually have an extra zipper on the exterior) to allow more space for souvenirs on the way home.
We also recommend investing in some theft-proof bags, backpacks or pouches for daytrips, as some large cities in Europe do have a reputation for pickpockets. While keeping your wits about you will usually do the trick, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
4. Learn Some of the Local Lingo
If you’re touring Britain or Ireland, you can probably skip this one! But if your destination has a non-English first language, it might be worth teaching yourself a few basic phrases (or brushing up on your pronunciation if you’ve learnt the language in the past). Asking directions, ordering food, making polite conversation with friendly strangers… a variety of experiences in Europe can be made even more enjoyable and authentic if you have some local language in your vocab.
Hint: Check out our Essential Phrases for Touring Europe if you’re headed to a country that speaks German, Italian, French or Spanish.
5. Cover All Your Bases
Lastly, there are some simple preparation tasks that you simply have to take care of, whether you’re embarking on a tour or travelling solo. Your pre-journey checklist should include: • Make sure your passport has 6 months of validity
- Pack a photocopy of your passport, flight tickets, and other documents
- Leave a copy of any important documents (including your itinerary) with a friend or family member
- Make plans to keep in touch with family and friends regularly during your tour
- Create a budget for your holiday
- Exchange cash ($200 per person is a good starting point) and inform your bank that you’re travelling overseas so your credit card activity isn’t deemed suspicious (read this blog post for exchange rate tips or click here to compare today’s exchange rate against the past 90 days). We don’t recommend travellers’ cheques, but buying some money cards can be a great way to guarantee ATM withdrawals throughout Europe.
Once you’ve got all these things out of the way, there’s only one thing left to do: start daydreaming about your upcoming holiday!