There’s no place like home, even if the weather outside can be a little cold and damp at times. That being said, a quick hop over the water can do you a world of good, especially at this time of year.
Whether you’re looking to explore Germany’s Christmas markets or see the Eiffel Tower lit up for Christmas, there are plenty of things to see and do on the continent this holiday season. If you’re getting ready to escape from the UK and have yourself a merry little winter break in Europe, there are a few things you can do before you leave to ensure that you have the jolliest time possible. As close as Europe may be, a little preparation goes a long way.
The right shoes
While the notion that your choice of footwear is this important may cause eyes to roll, wearing the right shoes are more important than you might think. Rather than prioritising the prettiest footwear, you should be reaching for something which is warm and comfortable, ideally with a Gore-Tex lining and thick rubber soles.
European winters are cold – if you’re heading to the winter markets or spending any real time outdoors, your feet will ultimately decide your level of comfort. Simply put, if your feet are warm and dry you’ll be having a much better time than if you’re ice-skating down the pavement in wet shoes.
Another way of keeping yourself warm and making the most of your time outdoors is by using a pair of hand-warmers. Whether you go for the reusable kind or the individually-wrapped disposable ones will probably depend on the kind of amenities your hotel has to hand. Some hand-warmers can be ‘reset’ in the microwave, so keep an eye out for these.
Simply get the hand-warmers going before you leave the hotel and pop them in your jacket pockets. When your hands get cold, you can warm them back up quickly and easily at any point over the next eight hours – yes, they really do last that long.
The travel adaptor/extension cable combo
An oft-overlooked thing about travels to the continent is that the plug sockets over there are ever so different to ours. With the winter out in full force, you’ll probably be bringing your travel hairdryer, your straighteners and all the other usual phone chargers that keep life in the 21st century going. That’s all fair and well but with extra accessories comes the need for extra plug sockets – packing a universal travel adaptor along with a British extension cable will give you access to all the British sockets you need in one easy place.
‘Tis the season for catching colds, the flu and all manner of other germs. Airports and aeroplanes are notorious breeding grounds for these ailments, so make sure you’re stocked up on the basics, especially if travelling with children. Keeping a stash of painkillers and anti-diarrhoeal drugs in an easy to find kit will help ensure that you have and not need, rather than need and not have.
Last but not least, travel insurance is extremely important while out and about on holiday – especially if you’re off to take part in any winter sports activities you may enjoy. Without travel insurance you’re liable for some potentially massive hospital bills should you be unlucky enough to slip on an icy patch and break something.
Just remember that many travel insurance providers stipulate that you have a valid EHIC on your person if your policy is to be valid. Without an EHIC your policy may become void due to a ‘lack of proper precautions’. The peace of mind this little card brings, along with the access it provides to state-funded healthcare if you need it, is simply invaluable.