Planning a trip to Europe can be an overwhelming task, but beyond that there are sometimes mental roadblocks keeping you from taking that charming European vacation. Most concern being uncomfortable and living outside of your box.
My goal is to inspire my clients to travel to Europe with the intention of discovering how the Europeans live, work and eat… As Americans, we are quick to defer to our way as the “right” way. If you are traveling to Europe, you will get the most out of your experience if you open your mind and appreciate the differences that make each country there unique.
Here are my Top 5 Mental Roadblocks To European Travel:
I’m afraid I won’t be able to communicate with anyone because I only speak English.
In all except for the most remote villages in Europe, most everyone speaks at least enough English to be able to communicate with you, maybe with a few charade gestures thrown in for good measure. Most restaurants have menus with English translations and transportation maps and signs are usually printed in both the local language and in English.
In fact, I find it embarrassing that we expect English and find it difficult to communicate any other way. Most European citizens speak at least 3 or 4 languages very fluently and are able to very effectively communicate with us in English.
This, however, should NOT stop you from learning at least a few words of the local language to make an effort to fit in. “Please”, “Thank You”, “Hello”, “Good Bye”, “How much does it cost?” and “Where is the bathroom? “are always helpful. And remember… you are in their country. Walking into a shop and yelling “DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?” at the store owner will definitely not get you great service. Instead, why not try “I’m sorry, but my German (French or Spanish or Italian) is poor. Do you speak English?” delivered with an apologetic smile.
I’m worried I won’t be able to find anything to eat that I like.
This is, by far, the worst possible excuse for staying home. Even the pickiest eaters can find plenty to fill them up in Europe. And I bet it will have fewer preservatives, more flavor and be prepared by someone who actually cares about the delicious end result.
Europe is a perfect place for a picnic. Gather up sandwiches or cheese, fruit, bread and wine and sit outside with an amazing view and enjoy a meal. There are fresh fruit and vegetable stands on every corner and even the local food trucks usually offer some incredible bites. DO NOT waste your time and money at McDonald’s! Eat locally and try some new things. You will thank me later!
I’ve heard that service in Europe is slow and rude.
In Europe, a meal is a time not only for enjoying great food and wine but also each other’s company. Dinner is the entertainment for the evening. You won’t see many Parisians eating quickly so they can hurry to make their movie on time. They settle in for the night. European waiters are paid well and not anxious to “turn” their tables like here in the states.
When you sit at a table in a café or restaurant, it is yours for the night. There is no hurry. If water and bread do not appear on your table within 30 seconds of sitting down, relax! They will come. In Europe, slow service is GOOD service and the servers will not rush you. And please remember… when you are ready to leave, you must politely ask for the check. It is considered very rude for a waiter to present you with your check before you ask for it because they don’t want to rush you.
I’ve heard that things are super expensive over there….
Some hotels, restaurants and souvenir stores can certainly seem overpriced. Spending more money at these places sometimes tends to keep you from seeing what you traveled so far to experience. Choosing local alternatives to the expensive 5-star hotels and restaurants could be the best decision you make.
My favorite places to stay are locally owned, centrally located, clean and well run. Sure, there are Holiday Inns and Hiltons in Europe, but they don’t offer the unique charm of Europe. Go off the beaten tourist path and connect with the locals. Look for places where the locals are lined up and hang out – that is where you will find the best food and have the most fun!
I’m worried I won’t be able to get from here to there…
Honestly, it is not that difficult to figure out. The intricate transportation systems in Europe are not only detailed and impressive, but expansive. This allows easy travel throughout Europe. Whether you are going across town or across the continent, you will find easily recognizable signs pointing you in the right direction – most of them including English. The only thing to really worry about is being on time! Double check those timetables and anticipate punctual departures.
RELAX and just GO!
Thoughtful travel engages us with the world and can actually remind us of what is truly important. By broadening perspectives, travel can teach us new ways to measure the quality of our life. Among your most prized souvenirs from your trip will be the memories of that amazing apple strudel, that incredible wine bar or the longest and most enjoyable dinner you have ever had.
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Hi! I'm Nikki -
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