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When heading out on a solo-traveling experience through Europe, there are many bumps in the road and learning experiences along the way. From jet lag to baggage considerations, a person has a number of important decisions and preparations to consider. Here are some helpful tips and things every traveler needs to know!

Jet Lag and Time-Change

There are many guides to overcoming jet lag. The effects of jet lag will depend on the direction of travel and how many hours one's circadian rhythm may be affected by. A couple of general tips are:

  • Stay awake.
    • If at all possible, a traveler may want to stay awake throughout the day. If a plane lands at 7 am, this can be a challenge! However, staying awake through the day until sleep time - with maybe a small nap at some point during the day - will allow for your body to sleep soundly through the night in the new location and acclimate more quickly.
  • Eat at mealtimes.
    • Our internal clocks learn through light, sleep, and food. For this reason, a traveler should try to eat meals at the general mealtime of their new location. Even if they are not very hungry, training the body when mealtimes are can help overcome the jet lag.
  • Change your clock to 24 hours.
    • Many countries outside of America use 24-hour clock. To learn this more quickly and get acclimated, we recommend a traveler change their phone time to a 24-hour clock!

Related: Everything You Need To Know About Managing Jet Lag

Baggage, Luggage, Carry-On And Personal Items

One of the most challenging choices a traveler can make is what baggage to bring - and how much. If one is backpacking, they need to consider weight and ease of carrying. If one is leaving for months at a time, more weather-appropriate clothing for different seasons may need to be taken into consideration. Here are some general tips to consider:

  • Know what different flights allow ahead of time
    • If a nomad is traveling different airlines and flights along their journey, it is recommended to keep an eye on baggage allowances before the entire trip is packed for. If checked luggage will cost several hundred dollars along the way, it may be a better option to pack a lighter and carry-on!
  • Leave luggage at the hotel or hostel
    • If a traveler is landing in different cities, they need to consider how much baggage they will be toting around their different locations. Backpacking is one option. A traveler may also look into early drop-off for their luggage at a hotel or hostel. If hostel staying, we recommend having a lock!
  • Keep a small cloth bag
    • Europeans who live in big cities and walk or take the metro know this trusty trick: keeping a cloth bag inside their shoulder pouch or purse. This bag can be used to carry groceries or souvenirs purchased along the way!

Cell Phone or Data Plan?

  • Call service provider beforehand
    • Different phone service providers allow for overseas phone plans at different rates. For AT&T, international rates run about $10 a day for 10 days - then free for the rest of the billing period! This $100 charge may make it the cheapest and best option for a short period trip. TMobile promotes ways their callers can "travel with confidence." Verizon has its own international data plans. Travelers may choose to use their normal phones depending on their trip plans!
  • Bring an old phone and buy a Sim card
    • Another option, especially for longer trips, is to unlock a phone or bring an older phone one has lying around - as long as it has a SIM card port. Once arriving at a destination, there are options to purchase a local SIM card at the airport or at the final destination!

Money Tips

  • Go Touchless with iPhone or Card
    • Many countries, especially following Covid regulations, utilize touchless pay through Apple Pay or through credit cards. Travelers should be prepared for this by setting up touchless pay and notifying their bank of travel plans. Touchless pay also can make things more simple when traveling in countries with unfamiliar languages.
  • Have a Credit Card for Backup
    • When traveling abroad, there are bound to be hiccups with bank systems and payment transactions. It is helpful to have a credit card on hand in the case of train tickets or hotels needing a credit card on file.
  • Exchange Some Cash
    • While it is not recommended to carry around large amounts of cash, there are likely to be places when traveling that only accept cash. For this reason, we recommend travelers bring a few hundred dollars (depending on the amount of time one will be at their destination) to exchange for the local currency.

Related: Money-Saving Tips When Going On Vacation Alone

Cord, Chargers, Adaptors

  • Buy Adapter for Destination
  • Have a portable phone charger, just in case!
    • There is little worse than a phone dying when a traveler may not be familiar with their location yet. For this reason, it is wise to have a portable charger for emergencies!

Language and Cultural Differences

Everywhere in the world has different languages and cultures. When visiting a tourist area, travelers may find that many people understand English. However, outside of these areas may be a little different. Here are some tips:

  • Learn at least a bit of basic of the language
    • Many people appreciate it when tourists at least attempt to speak their native language. Knowing “do you speak English?” in whatever language is the main dialect can help travelers find help or get through conversations.

Most of all: stay flexible, aware, and have grace for yourself!

Traveling is glorious and fun, it is something many people dream of. However, it can also include moments of extreme frustration and exhaustion. The culture shock and language barriers alone can cause headaches. Time change, jetlag, and travel plan disruptions can cause some difficult moments. It is important to remember to take some deep breaths and have a lot of grace for oneself (and others) along the way! If a traveler can overcome the hiccups, they are sure to enjoy the bountiful world that is offered!

Final Tips

A traveler should always:

  • Trust their gut.
  • Be willing to ask for help.
  • Stay aware of their surroundings!