Whether we like it or not, in Europe there’s a lot of stereotypes about American tourists. They’re based on generalizing, like all stereotypes. Most of them are wrong or, at least, exaggerated, although some are a little bit right. Many speak about the common mistakes Americans tend to make while they’re traveling in Europe. The reason Americans do these things is most of all the cultural and geographical difference between these two continents. By avoiding them, you’ll not be seen as a typical vacationer, that’s one advantage. Secondly, you’ll make the best out of your trip, see places people skip, meet more people, save money and experience much more than you would otherwise. To learn from the mistakes of others, take a look at this list.
Skipping small towns and lesser-known destinations
The Old Continent is dotted with little towns and villages that are just as fascinating as the major cities. Comparing to most of the States, Europe is rather densely populated. Not often you’ll travel through empty plains and secluded deserts. Instead, you’ll regularly pass by small, charming settlements. While most tourists head to such cities as Paris or London, those tiny gems are being overlooked. Of course, Rome, Madrid, Prague and other major cities are captivating and worth-visiting. You shouldn’t skip them, but consider getting out of the metropolises once in a while. Capitals are quite cosmopolitan, and even though they’re all characters in a way, it’s hard to get an authentic impression of a country by only visiting one city. Take some time to get off the beaten track. The lovely villages in Tuscany, small Spanish towns, Irish islands, mountainous villages in Romania, coastal towns in the Baltic States, these are the places where you can experience local cultures.
Assuming the countries are small, so a few days are enough to explore them
Even though countries in Europe aren’t nearly as large as the United States, they’re all full of fascinating attractions and different people. It’s obviously better to spend a couple of days in a place than to do not visit it at all, but when you plan your trip, take under consideration that seeing even a bit of a country is quite a process. If you can, take some time to discover the destinations truly. Ask yourself whether you prefer to visit more countries, but spend only a few days in each, or choose less of them and explore more deeply. Both options are excellent; it’s just good to know you have them. You most likely won’t get bored in a country even if you decide to travel around it for several weeks.
Dressing like a stereotypical tourist
It’s great that you love New York, it’s a loveable city indeed, but there’s no need to have it written on your t-shirt. You’re free to dress however you please, of course. It’s not about judging somebody’s taste here. You may love this baseball hat, a pair of bright sneakers or a jacket with American flag all over it. The thing is, if you wear these things, a short glimpse will be enough for everyone to recognize you’re a tourist. Since people tend to be judgmental, they’ll also think you’re a stereotypical tourist, and they might treat you like one (which means they won’t treat you very well because nobody likes stereotypical tourists). Besides, pickpockets love gadgets screaming “I’m on holidays.” Vacationers are their major target group. By dressing like one, you make it way easier for them to spot you. If you want to avoid it, just dress casually and (unless you’re going to a costume party) put away this Hawaiian shirt.
Eating in American fast-foods
Wherever you go, McDonald’s is always there. Its doors never close. The warm light of its interior invites you in whether it’s day or night. You might be in the middle of nowhere, starving, with nothing around you but McDonald’s – and that’s the only situation eating there is excused. European countries have such diverse, fascinating cuisines; it’s a pity to ignore them. Choosing a burger over Italian risotto, Polish dumplings or Spanish paella is nearly a crime. Do your best to find some traditional eateries and have a taste of local cuisines. Avoid tourist traps and remember restaurants located in the most popular areas aren’t necessarily the best. If you don’t know where to go for a dinner, look it up online and simply ask a local.
Forgetting English isn’t spoken everywhere
For some European countries English is the first language, and in the others, there are many people who made an effort to learn it. Nevertheless, from time to time you’ll have to count on body language. Keep that in mind and be ready to communicate in various ways. Write down several basic phrases or, even better, memorize them. Locals will appreciate it. You’ll see smiles on the French faces if you say “Bon appetite” before dinner. Czechs will be even more happy to share a beer with you if you say “Na Zdravi”. You don’t have to spend hours and analyze the grammar, just learn a few words, it’ll make a huge difference.
Overpaying for transportation or choosing the wrong routes
It can happen to anyone traveling to a foreign country. It’s usually quite a hassle to comprehend how transportation works in a place you don’t know anything about. To avoid spending a fortune for nothing or getting entirely lost, you should know some specific things about transportation in Europe. First of all, most of the countries are connected by trains. It’s a great way to travel, but it can be a bit expensive. Choosing a bus can be a cheaper option. As for planes, many budget airlines are flying between different cities in Europe. Taking a flight can cost less than traveling by bus, but there’s one tricky thing about it. The airports where low-budget airlines fly to are often located outside of the city. Sometimes a bus ticket to the center may cost more than a flight itself. Before you book any cheap flights, check where exactly the airport is situated and how you can get from there to the city. If you’re into backpacking, you should also know hitch-hiking is quite popular in Europe. It might be more difficult in places like Spain, Portugal or Italy, but it’s relatively easy in other countries.
Setting unrealistic expectations
Europe is a jewel-box full of charming historic towns, stunning national parks, lovely islands and other gems. It’s not a vast continent, but it’s incredibly diverse. In general, it’s fascinating. You might have seen movies about Paris, listen to Irish music or read books about Scandinavia. It’s all great, but don’t let your expectations reach to high. Travelling always has its ups and downs. Paris is amazing, but it’s also crowded and full of intrusive vendors. Ireland’s magical, but it’s also rainy and windy. Scandinavia’s incredibly beautiful, but cold and insanely expensive. European cities and countries, like all the other places on Earth, have its good and bad sides. Don’t expect absolutely everything will be gorgeous, chic and ideal. The less pleasant experiences are important too, and they make a part of your adventure.
What do you think of this list? Would you add something? Let us know! And remember to share this article with your friends.