Americans who are making their first trans-Atlantic flight to Europe may be nervous and unsure of what to expect and Europeans may feel likewise. What can you do to prepare for a first time flight from America to Europe and vice versa?
From America to Europe
Adjusting to the time difference is one of the biggest challenges facing Americans as they head off on their first time trip to Europe. Depending on where you are flying from, the time difference can be significant. For example, if you are flying from Nevada to Greece, you will be flying through 10 time zones, but just five if you are flying from North Carolina to the Republic of Ireland.
Unless you plan to visit only English-speaking countries such as the Republic of Ireland or the UK, you will need to take some time to prepare by learning a few phrases of German, French, Spanish, Dutch or other languages you will be coming across on your trip to Europe. Even though much of Europe speaks English for business purposes, it is still worthwhile learning a few key phrases to help make your visit more pleasant. Invest in a pocket sized phrase book to help you overcome the obvious communication barriers and hurdles.
Easy European Union (EU) Travel
The nice thing about EU travel is that once you have cleared your first border, you are free to travel to other EU countries. So if you are planning a seven-day coach ride through four or five different countries, you can do so without any hindrance. But it is still important to carry your passport with you during travel.
A first time trip to Europe opens up many doors of opportunity for Americans to travel to many different countries during a single visit. Prepare for your flight by adjusting to the time difference, swatting up on the local languages and getting ready to travel around Europe.
From Europe to America
The time difference varies according to where you are flying from in Europe. For example, if you are flying from Cyprus to Oregon, the time difference is -10 hours, but just five hours if you are flying from the UK to Florida. Prepare for the possible jet lag by gradually adjusting to the local time zone, which will make it easier to sleep and wake up according to the local time once you land.
Use your flight time to get as much rest as possible. Remember that you are likely to be arriving in the late afternoon or evening, which will make it easier to fall asleep when you reach your destination, rather than when you return home and will need to stay up all day to adjust to the time difference.
ESTA Clearance for VWP Participants
On 8 September 2010, UK citizens and other Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) participants have been required to pay for ESTA clearance to enter the country. Clearance must be obtained and a fee of $14 must be paid by Europeans from any of the VWP countries prior to landing in America. Each ESTA application is valid for two years from issuance and can be used multiple times during that period to enter America.
Travel Insurance to America
It is very important for Europeans visiting America to carry full, comprehensive travel insurance in the unlikely event of injury or illness while they are abroad. America does not accept the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as there is no reciprocal agreement between Europe and America or corresponding state-provided health care that Europeans can hope to receive in a medical emergency. The EHIC is only valid in European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) countries. Medical expenses are very steep for the uninsured in America, which is why you need to be fully covered just in case.
A first time trip to America or Europe can be exciting. Europeans can prepare for their upcoming trip by preparing for the time difference, obtaining ESTA clearance, as well as travel insurance in case of a medical emergency, while Americans should swat up on European languages and prepare for the benefits of EU travel.