European travel tips for Canadians

With Europe more accessible than it’s ever been at any point over the past couple of years, Canadians are lining up to travel. But before you get too deep into planning your next trip, make sure you’re prepared for all of the nuances of European travel in 2022 and beyond.

5 European Travel Tips

While the basics of European travel haven’t changed all that much, the pandemic (and other world events) have led to some fluctuations and changes. With this in mind, here are several helpful tips Canadians should know when traveling Europe.

1. You Need the Right Documentation

Canadians traveling to Europe will be required to apply for and receive a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) visa waiver to legally enter the country. Thankfully, it’s a fairly simple and straightforward process.

As this website notes, “Canadian citizens will be required to apply for an ETIAS  to enter participating European countries on a short term basis, under 90 days, for general tourism, business, transit or medical purposes. The ETIAS program will be in force from 2023 onward and is intended to screen travelers arriving from overseas as a response to the global increase in terrorist activities.”

Applying for your ETIAS waiver is as simple as filling out a form online and providing the right documentation. You should do this at least several weeks prior to your trip to ensure adequate time.

2. Get Travel Insurance

As a Canadian, you have the benefit of getting free healthcare when you’re sick or injured. As a traveler in Europe, you don’t get those same benefits. In many cases, an injury or illness could mean paying out-of-pocket expenses. (Hundreds or even thousands of dollars in many cases.)

To lower your risk of expensive out-of-pocket payments, we recommend getting a travel insurance policy. These policies can also provide protection against things like theft, canceled flights, or even lost luggage.

3. Avoid Checked Baggage

Speaking of lost luggage, we’d recommend doing everything you can to avoid this risk in the first place. The best way to do this is by not checking baggage at all.

It might sound crazy, but traveling with carry-on luggage only is the way to go. Your baggage is always with you and you never have to worry about it getting left in another city or on another flight. Plus, it forces you to bring less stuff, which means a more stress-free travel experience.

Not sure how you can possibly travel with carry-on luggage only? The key is to be smart about what you pack. Bring more versatile items, fewer shoes, and always wear jackets when you travel (to avoid having to stuff them into your bags).

4. Download Google Translate

There are literally dozens of great travel apps that you can/should download on your smartphone before traveling to Europe. But do you want to know the best one? We’re going to go with Google Translate.

Google Translate is more than just a text-to-text translation tool. You can speak into and translate and then play back audio to someone else (or vice versa). You can even snap a picture of a menu, sign, or page of a book and get a translation in your native language. We don’t recommend traveling to a foreign country without this app!

5. Eyes, Not screens

If you truly want to experience Europe, you need to put your phone down. That might sound crazy and impractical in 2022, but it’s the truth. Too many travelers experience this beautiful land through a camera lens rather than their eyes.

It’s okay to take pictures – or to use your phone to do things like translate a foreign language – but try to leave it in your pocket most of the day. You’ll have much better memories if you’re totally untethered.

Plan the Trip of a Lifetime

There’s never been a better time to visit Europe. Businesses are back in operation, tourism sites have opened up, and there are fewer restrictions today than there have been since prior to the pandemic. This represents an amazing time to go out and see the world. Whether it’s France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, or anywhere in between, Europe is waiting (and calling) for you to visit. Plan ahead, be safe, and have fun!

Photo: Pexel