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10 Common Mistakes That Travelers Make While Visiting Europe

10 Common Mistakes That Travelers Make While Visiting Europe

When you travel to a new place, there is always the risk that you may embarrass or humiliate yourself because you have not done your homework. Europe has a complicated and fascinating history that you have probably learned about partially before, but it is well worth doing a little bit of extra preparation beforehand.

Here are ten common mistakes that travelers make when visiting Europe.

1. They plan on doing too much

Some travelers insist on doing the whole continent in a week. That is your choice, but you will never be able to savor the sights, smells, and tastes of places if you are dashing from one capital to another. It is also exhausting, and many Europeans throw up their hands in horror at such an exhausting itinerary. It indicates superficiality and a lack of cultural awareness, which they will never understand.

Why not relax and plan to make another visit some time soon? You could do Paris in a few days instead of a few hours. Use your time to get to know the places, culture, and the people. Slowing down will make for unforgettable experiences which beat the night train to Barcelona any time.

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2. They do not realize the value of small coins

Depending on your currency, you may well assume that all coins in the Euro zone are just pocket change. If you are liberally tipping and bestowing these coins, then think again.

At the present rate of exchange, a one-Euro coin is worth slightly more than an American dollar. The very small-value coins in the Euro zone are almost extinct, although they are still favored by supermarkets for psychological pricing (€9.99 always seems cheaper than €10.00). Finland and the Netherlands round cash payments to the nearest five cents. Being aware of the value of the currency can help you save on your holiday bills.

3. They tend to overtip

In most European countries, restaurants will add a service charge which should, in theory, cover the tip. However, it is still common practice to leave about 10 per cent of the total as a tip for the wait staff. Tourists are often unaware of this and tend to overtip, going beyond 20 per cent. It is just not necessary. As for taxis, it is normal to round up the figure to the nearest euro. Getting to know the tipping rules can also help you cut costs.

4. They wear socks and sandals

Many Europeans have a quiet snigger when they see tourists wearing socks and sandals (except in Germany). The normal etiquette is that you either go without socks when wearing sandals, or you put on a pair of sneakers and nobody cares whether there is some fabric next to your feet or not. They just think it is very strange and a bit ridiculous, so better to go with the trend, especially if you are invited to dinner on a summer evening.

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5. They book a flight to a small airport

Many low-cost airlines operate their flights from airports which are often at a considerable distance from the actual destination city. Tourists, when booking these so-called bargains, are often unaware of this. They find that they have to wait up to an hour for an uncomfortable and expensive bus ride to the city center. It is always wise to investigate fully before booking that “bargain.”

6. They are unaware that size matters

When space is limited on metro trains, buses, airport lounges, and so on, people will frown at your oversized luggage. Traveling light is a much better idea. Everything in Europe is smaller and more compact. When I returned to Italy after a holiday in the USA, I was astounded at how small and neat everyone and everything looked on my arrival. It took me quite a while to adjust. The best thing to do is to cut back on clothes, buy a smaller suitcase, and make arrangements for washing. Here are some useful tips if you don’t know where to start.

7. They dress too casually

Europeans generally have great fashion sense, so appearing too casual may lead to embarrassment. If you are in doubt, don’t wear your college t-shirt or turn up as if you are going to a baseball game. Jammies are not recommended for shopping or doing errands. If you are not sure what to wear when you are invited out or want to eat out, always go up one notch on your formal scale. That usually does the trick.

Everyone is getting more casual these day, and even European style may change eventually. But for the moment, it is better to err on the side of caution. I have much sympathy for what Oscar Wilde said about fashion:

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“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every 6 months.” — Oscar Wilde

8. They are unaware of attitudes towards drunkenness

In the UK and the USA, drunkenness is tolerated and even expected. It is merely regarded as slightly over-the-top behavior and nothing else. In Europe, however, attitudes to drinking are a little different. Alcohol is usually consumed together with food and drinking sessions are not so common. Many tourists are mistaken when they assume that the locals are drinking to get drunk.

Again, things are rapidly changing and there are now worrying trends in Italy, where young people are getting drunk and alcoholism is now a problem. Today, there are 54,000 alcoholics receiving treatment in Italy compared to 19,000 in 1996. There is an excellent breakdown of how attitudes to alcoholism are changing in Europe, but the stigma attached to getting drunk is still strong among the older generation.

9. They hire a car for too long

Lots of tourists just assume that they are going to need a hired car from the very beginning of their trip. They forget that if they are going to stay in one or two cities for any length of time, a rented car is just a nuisance and serves no useful purpose whatsoever. They pay extra money in rental and parking fees which they could use for going on organized tours and using public transport, which are often the best ways to see a city.

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10. They expect too many smiles

What is wrong with smiling? Well, nothing really, except that many Europeans do not smile a lot. Try living in Siberia where, if you smile for no particular reason, people regard you as an idiot. In Russia, you only smile when really good things happen. Tourists in Europe can tend to demand smiles from everyone. They get upset when the wait staff fails to smile. They expect enthusiastic comments and excessive positivity. Europeans are just wired differently. Time to get over the cravings for positivity.

When it comes down to it, you need to know something about the countries you are visiting in order to avoid making crazy stereotypical remarks. You need to know that the Dutch do not live in Germany and that Ireland and Northern Ireland are not the same thing. Also, Michelle Obama needs to know that while cooking pasta in the pressure cooker is a great energy and water saver, we Europeans have not jumped on board just yet!

Featured photo credit: Paris, neighborhood bistro/La Citta Vita via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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