Fall is finally here, and people are geared up to travel where they can enjoy cooler temperatures and colorful foliage. European destinations are ideal for autumn getaways. Fall in Europe is the “shoulder season” (between high season and low season), which means better prices and smaller crowds. Temperatures in Europe during autumn are mild and vary depending on location, ranging from 44-68° F.
Whether you’re headed to the Lake District in England, Oktoberfest in Germany, or Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Mori has your most important travel tips for visiting Europe in the fall.
Autumn European Travel Tips from the Pros
ON WHAT TO PACK
If you’ve never used packing cubes when preparing for a trip, you’re in for a treat. Packing cubes keep items separate and well organized, which is especially helpful when traveling to multiple European cities. Andrea Botham, who blogs about worldwide travel with her family at Passports and Pushchairs, uses different color packing cubes for each member of her family to make finding belongings a breeze. They also help you pack lighter for simpler travel. “Cars are smaller in Europe so we really think about how much to pack and how well to pack it,” says Botham. “Packing cubes certainly help!”
Fall weather and temperatures in Europe can fluctuate, which means packing layers is a must. Be sure to include versatile cardigans in basic colors, a light jacket or windbreaker, short and long-sleeved shirts, a scarf or two, and perhaps a heavier jacket, depending on your destination.
Shoes also are an important consideration for any European trip. For fall, closed-toed comfortable walking shoes are essential. There are nearly endless options for comfortable and classy-looking walking shoes these days — you’re not limited to your favorite pair of sneakers. If you plan to hike, research the terrain to determine if you’ll need proper hiking shoes.
Planning on bringing back more than a handful of trinket souvenirs? Go ahead and pack an extra piece of luggage to tow all your goodies home. We recommend a compact, foldable duffel bag that fits in your suitcase easily when empty, and expands to hold a lot for your return trip.
As for plugging in your electronics while in Europe, most modern devices already are dual voltage, so you don’t need a converter, but you do need an adapter.
If you’re traveling with young children, bring a good stroller with strong wheels in addition to a baby carrier. “Having both is essential,” says Botham. “You will run into places where strollers won’t work, but wearing your baby or toddler all day gets tiring.” Plus, when you have a stroller in tow, you can typically bypass long security lines in the airport and board first on the plane too.
The transatlantic flight to anywhere in Europe is a necessary evil – simply a means to an end. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to make the trip more comfortable. Pack items like a variety of snacks, refillable water bottles, a good travel pillow, compression socks to improve circulation and prevent blood clots, ear plugs, eye mask, and a draping sweater or travel blanket. Many airlines hand out free earbuds, an eye mask, pillow, and blanket, but you may prefer to use your own. Botham recommends that each person also has a change of clothes on overseas flights.
As for entertainment, long flights often provide free movies and shows. Adults and children alike should consider bringing reading material and other in-flight activities. Encourage kids to carry their own carry-on bag and make sure it’s filled with favorites from home as well as new surprises to keep them occupied. Most airlines also offer in-flight wifi for a fee. When possible, try to sleep during the flight to help yourself feel more rested upon arrival.
Jet lag is always difficult and usually inevitable, whether traveling with or without children. Getting outside for sunshine and fresh air helps. Try to get acclimated to your destination’s time zone as soon as you board your overseas flight by manually resetting your phone clock and watch. Even if your body doesn’t catch on for a few days, your mind will quickly adapt.
ON GETTING AROUND IN EUROPE
Europe is known for its ease of access and travel. That said, it helps to learn a little about both the local transportation system (city buses, trains, and trams) as well as long distance rail travel. When you purchase a ticket for inner city travel, it’s important to know what you’re buying. Sometimes, the rules about expiration and travel zones can be tricky, especially if you don’t know the language. Speak with a station attendant for clarification or visit the transit system’s website and choose the website’s English version.
When touring a city by foot, your phone can be your best ally for mapping out routes, finding a good local place to eat, and looking up hours for major attractions. For these reasons, having a phone power bank charger on hand is vital.
As with anywhere in the world, it’s important to take safety precautions when traveling throughout Europe. If you’re among a large crowd, be mindful of your purse and wallet. An anti-theft backpack or bag protects your belongings while on public transportation or when walking through a busy area. Botham recommends leaving passports in your hotel room safe, but not before you take a picture of them and email it to yourself, just in case.
ON TRAVELING WITH KIDS
Europe with the kids? Why not?! Botham has been traveling with her two kids since they were born and has discovered that with a little planning, research, and plenty of snacks, almost any destination can be family friendly. If it’s your first time traveling abroad with children, consider choosing a country where English is spoken (like Ireland or the United Kingdom), and include trips to areas and attractions where there are big open spaces to run around and explore. Also, locals in smaller towns often welcome and enjoy children. Botham’s favorite family-friendly destinations include towns in southern Ireland, especially the Ring of Kerry, and Northumbria in northwest England.
As for how to handle sight-seeing with children, Botham recommends splitting your time between your interests and your kids’ interests. Bonus points if you can find ways the two overlap, like museums that offer treasure hunt checklists for kids. “Kids will have a meltdown when they get bored, overstimulated, or overwhelmed,” says Botham. “Snacks and ice cream help with those moments, so consider relaxing your rules around sweets while traveling to save sanity.” Be sure also to carve out playground or outside free play time every day so kids can get a break from the structure to just be a kid. If the day ends in tears (yours or your kids), remember that everyone almost always does better after a good night’s sleep.
Often people say that kids won’t really remember a trip to Europe, so why take them? “They probably won’t remember everything,” says Botham. “But they will remember chasing pigeons in St. Mark’s square in Venice, ringing the bell in an old Cathedral in Slovenia, eating their first jamon in Spain, and their first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.”
Don’t stress about the things your kids won’t remember. Instead, focus on doing what they love and expanding their worldview in the process.