5 Serious Mistakes Indians make while travelling to Europe

Last year around the same time my mother and myself booked us to take a quick (I literally mean QUICK!!) vacation around Europe. She being a senior citizen and a pure vegetarian we preferred one of those group tours where absolutely everything…right from your Visas, flights, hotels, sightseeing, food etc is taken care of. We basically just had to pack and leave. Apart from being a memorable vacation, it also ended up being a disastrous one. I realized most of it happened due to we Indians being culturally unique travelers. We end up making some grave mistakes which turn out to be quite expensive and very very inconvenient.

Although a few discouraged me from penning down this article, I feel responsible to share my experience so I could help at least a handful from repeating these mistakes.

Before we start, I would like to point out that 90% of travel agencies in India offering European group vacations make their money out of senior citizens.  Retired people in this country usually want to spend their provident funds and gratuities seeing the world, primarily Europe. In other words all these groups are full of senior citizens, almost all the time.

So here we go..

1.Carry Cash instead of Forex cards or Traveler’s checks : Forex cards are mistakenly infamous for being expensive and inconvenient, that is no longer the case. Almost all major banks in India offer Forex cards at a nominal charge and will even take you through the process of using it. There are no extra charges when you swipe these cards for your international purchases, only a basic service fee for ATM withdrawals abroad. If one must have cash locally, carry traveler’s checks which can be exchanged anywhere for cash. Both Forex cards and traveler’s checks can be easily replaced locally if lost or stolen. Carrying cash in European countries is a strict no no, given the number of tourists getting robbed on a daily basis.

2.Carry too much luggage: Porter services in Europe incur a charge of €5 each time you want someone to carry your bags to your room. Do we really need 15 set of outfits, 6 pairs of shoes and 3 winter jackets when all our pictures are going to look the same? Living in a Tropical country, we are unable to gauge our tolerance towards EU summers (I am not even talking about spring or winters here). It is unusually low, and we end up wearing the same jacket everyday which is most comfortable and warm. We also start wearing the same pair of our most comfortable shoes after 2 days, this is when we realize walking is inevitable. So we basically end up not using half the stuff we packed and had to carry ourselves, load them into the coaches, and drag them in and out of the hotels and train stations. Most of our clothes can be reused at least a second time given we don’t sweat in that freezing weather. So avoid over packing as much as possible, travelling light is always possible even in EU.

3.Not doing any research: There is more to EU than Eiffel, Mount Titlis, Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Tulip Gardens. Europe is an architectural and cultural heaven and one can only make sense of it if they have some background. So doing some research before travelling is imperative. Read about ‘The Notre-Dame de Paris’(Iconic Gothic Church), ‘Arc de Triomphe’(Triumphal Arc and National Monument), Cologne Cathedral (Read its connection to the WW2), St. Peter’s Basilica (One of the largest) and so on….Apart from being a spectacular destination Europe if full of exceptional History and they work hard to preserve it.

4.Doing too much in too little time: These trips are designed to cover 13 countries and 15-17 cities in a span of 15 days. 70% of time is spent in travelling, packing and unpacking. You are allowed to spend anything between 10 minutes to 5 hours at a given destination. Considering how expensive Europe can be most people seem to be okay with this arrangement. But trust me; there is a better way to do this, ‘Bag packing’. People have done it and they swear by it. Pick one country at a time and explore it the way you want it. 

5.Not copying your documents: This has been a personal nightmare for me. I lost both mine and my mother’s passport after we reached Paris. If I did lose it in France or Germany or Switzerland, I don’t know…but it was gone… so were a 1000 Euros (See what I mean when I say use Forex cards). It is an absolute must to carry copies of all your documents like Passports, Visa, Travel itinerary, Hotel and Flight details. People will keep telling you keep your originals with you all the time, but honestly copies will work just about everywhere. Please keep your originals safe instead of tagging them around everywhere with you.

So, I urge my fellow Indians to read this article and many more before you start planning that trip to the Alps.

Safe Travels!

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