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The First Timer’s Guide to Europe

By Halal Trip | 20, Jun, 2014
The First Timer’s Guide to Europe
Europe is a destination that most travelers dream of visiting; with each country offering a diverse array of attractions to visit and experiences to enjoy. Those traveling to Europe for the first time and are planning their holiday themselves, instead of signing up for a tour package, need to start planning well in advance. Everyone has a different style of traveling, some like to plan out the whole trip in advance while others leave things unplanned and are spontaneous and do things spur of the moment. However, a trip to Europe does need some planning in order for it to be a stress free and to avoid disappointment. When planning on a European trip, you will first need to decide on the countries that you want to visit and how long you intend to travel for. Muslim travelers will need to do some research before deciding on the destinations; as some of these countries are more Muslim-friendly than others, and have better facilities. Countries like the UK, France, Vienna and Turkey have a sizeable Muslim population, therefore offering a good number of prayer facilities and halal restaurants; which play an important role in the destination choice. Once you have chosen the countries you plan to visit, you will need to research and read as much as you can about attractions, sites and activities in the said destinations, as well as restaurants to eat at, nearby mosques and Islamic centers and places to avoid for safety reasons. All of this should be written down in a small notebook that can be carried along or saved on your smart phone. If you don’t already have a passport you will need to apply for one well in advance to avoid paying a hefty sum to get it in a hurry. Those who do have a passport will need to check when the passport will expire and the number of pages available for stamping, as entry requirements differ from country to country. Most visitors need to apply for a visa to enter these countries and this will have to be done well in advance as well; as it is a time consuming process. Each country will need a visa for entry, unless you apply for the Schengen visa which allows entry into a number of countries. Make copies of your passport, credit cards, and important documents and store it in a separate bag and leave a set with family back home. Once the passport and visa are taken care of you will have to book an airline ticket and find accommodation. If you have started planning in advance you will be able to find good offers online and be able to get cheaper airline tickets and discounted hotel rates. After the tickets and hotels are sorted out the next must-do is figuring out transportation. Depending on how much time you intend to spend and the number of countries you plan to visit, getting a Eurail pass might be a good idea. Traveling by train is one of the best ways to see the beautiful countryside of Europe. Most European countries have a good public transport system, with the metro being the most popular way to get about in the country. Travelers have the option of choosing the metro, bus, taxi or can even rent a car. You will have to then decide on money issues; like how much cash to take, as well as check if your credit card will be accepted in these countries. Prior to leaving you will have to inform your banks of your travel plans so that the bank does not freeze your card, suspecting fraud. Make sure you have access to enough funds and are able to use an ATM to withdraw cash if and when necessary. Having a budget will help manage funds and make sure you have enough to last the whole trip. Packing light is the best way to travel if you’re visiting many countries, as you will have to pack up several times and drag you bags from one place to another. Choosing suitable and easily movable luggage is also quite important. Once the luggage is chosen, you will need to make a list of items to pack and keep it close by so that things can be added on, when needed. Pack clothes that can be mixed, matched and layered. If possible take phrase books to help you communicate- although English is spoken in most of these countries, people usually appreciated the effort and it may sometime be necessary in certain countries. It might be a good idea to check if the adapter you own is compatible with the electrical outlets that you might find at your destination. Europe has so much to see and although it is tempting to rush from country to country and site to site; trying to see as much as possible, you have to remember to slow down and savor and enjoy the experience of your first trip to Europe. You also need to be more open-minded and try out new things and allow time to do something spontaneous. Take your time and explore the country and experience and enjoy the cultures and the array of food these countries have to offer. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Europe and make sure you pack your most comfortable walking shoes; you’ll definitely need it!