Looking to travel to Europe? Get all the information you need to have a safe, enjoyable and unforgettable trip while there, courtesy of GoBear Malaysia. We’ll present you with things you need to keep it mind before and during your time there, especially the need to get travel insurance for Europe.
About continental Europe
Greetings! Europe is a continent with a diverse number of ethnicities, cultures and civilisations. Greece is the birthplace of Western civilisation, for instance, while the Roman Empire (which started
out in Italy) reached as far as the British Isles in the west and Egypt in the east. Most of Western Europe (and soon, much of Eastern Europe as well) is within a customs and monetary union called the European Union (EU). The capital of the EU is in Brussels. With the Brexit referendum, however, this may be subject to change.
As a continent, much of Europe is temperate, lying in the Northern Hemisphere. Its summers are towards the middle of the year, and winter towards the end. Europe observes several time zones, so be aware about the potential difference in time zones if you intend to travel between several countries.
Despite recent events, it remains quite a safe place, but because of its relatively high cost of services, most Malaysian travel insurance policies include Europe in Area 2 (usually the second price band). Check your specific plan to make sure you’re covered if you decide to go. Currency within the EU is the Euro (EUR), but each country outside the EU has its own currency. Some countries within the EU have also opted to retain their national currencies – like the United Kingdom and its pound sterling (GBP) – check and see whether a particular country on your list has done the same.
Most countries in Europe have their own language. French in France, German in Germany, Italian in Italy, Magyar in Hungary, and so on. However, English is widely spoken and understood throughout most of Europe, including Russia. Language-wise, you should not have significant difficulties in contacting the emergency services concierge provided by your travel insurance in Europe.
All of the ‘Western’ food we know about in Malaysia originated from Europe, and each country has its own specialities and sub-cuisines. European food – especially German food – is very meat-
oriented, and pork-centric as well, so Muslim travellers should take note. Try out the French baguettes, Italian pastas and German sausages while in the various countries. Switzerland is famous
for its cheese fondue, and if you’re in the UK, shepherd’s pie and fish-and- chips are also must-try dishes. Europe is also home to a vibrant brewing culture, with each country often having its own iconic beers (e.g. Paulaner from Germany, Carlsberg from Denmark, Stella Artois from Belgium, Heineken from the Netherlands), not to mention various microbreweries and craft beers.
Food safety standards are generally quite high here, but just in case, GoBear Malaysia recommends travel insurance for Europe.
What to buy in Europe
Europe is one of the fashion capitals of the world, what with Paris and Milan both on the continent. So if you’re the brand-conscious type, this is the place for you. Europe also features some of the best chocolates in the world, especially from Swiss and Belgian chocolates, so it’s worth your while to buy them too. Inquire about VAT refunds in-store; you might be eligible depending on how much you spent and when you’re leaving.
France is the place to pick up many different types of wines, including champagne (sparkling wine). If you’re in Scotland, why not pick up some whiskeys, and when in Russia, a bottle or two of vodka? GoBear Malaysia recommends checking whether your credit card covers lost or stolen purchases while overseas, or you can buy travel insurance for your Europe shopping spree.
Things to do when in Europe
Europe is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with stunning landscapes, clear-running rivers and ice-capped mountains. Hardly surprising, then, that many come here to enjoy extreme sports and winter activities like sledding and skiing – but make sure that your travel insurance for Europe covers those activities first!
There is also a very vibrant artistic – especially musical and theatrical – community, with concerts and Europe – many of them offering free admission, or look at the ruins of past civilisations. Visit Disneyland Paris, or one of the 3 Legolands in Europe (UK, Denmark and Germany).
Europe travel advisory and checklist
Have a hassle-free trip! International travel, especially to Europe, has its own set of issues that you should prepare for, so that you can properly enjoy your holiday overseas. Aside from travel insurance for Europe, GoBear Malaysia recommends you consider the following:
Passport & visa requirements for Europe
Make sure your passport has at least 6 months’ validity after the dates you intend to go; you may not be allowed to travel if your passport is too close to expiry. Travel within most of the European Union (more specifically, the Schengen Area) is visa-free for Malaysian tourists, as is travel to the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
In the event that your passport or other travel documents are lost or stolen, make sure you know the emergency contact details for your travel insurance concierge in Europe, so that you can be assisted as quickly as possible.
Electricity & water supply in Europe
Malaysia, the UK and Ireland all use the Type G power socket; so no further work is needed to make your electrical appliances compatible. The same is not true of the rest of Europe, which typically uses other sockets (most frequently, Type C). This means that you will need a universal travel adapter.
However, their 230V/50Hz electrical systems are close enough to Malaysia’s that you can otherwise simply plug in your electrical items. If you have many items to plug in, just bring a Malaysian extension board and plug that into the travel adapter. The tap water here is generally safe to drink, at least in Western Europe, although GoBear Malaysia recommends boiling the water if you have a sensitive stomach.
Europe’s communications & Internet coverage
The telecommunications networks in Europe covers most of Western Europe and much of Eastern Europe. Mobile phones bought in Malaysia should work seamlessly with European pre-paid SIMs, but do check the specific frequencies your phone uses against the ones your preferred European telco supports. Wi-Fi is widely available everywhere you go, as is 4G LTE. In the UK and Ireland, the emergency number is 999 from fixed lines and mobile phones alike; 112 is otherwise the emergency number throughout the EU and many other European countries.
Healthcare & medical facilities in Europe
European medical facilities, especially in Western Europe, are world-class (but also very expensive, soGoBear Malaysia recommends travel insurance for all Europe travel), with medical facilities available throughout most of the continent.
Europe’s credit card facilities
International credit card networks that are present in Europe include Visa, MasterCard, and American Express (to a smaller degree). UnionPay is also widely available, especially in larger establishments. Credit cards are accepted almost universally by retailers and food outlets, especially those catering to tourists.
Ready to start planning your European travels? Stay safe and protected while overseas! Try out GoBear Malaysia’s travel insurance comparison services for a quick, comprehensive and easy-to- use look at all the insurers and the travel insurance policies they offer for Europe.
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