Tips & FAQs about Traveling to Eastern Europe
A tour of Eastern Europe allows visitors to enjoy numerous cultural highlights, including art, music, and regional cuisine.
The history, landmark sites, and artifacts you’ll see in Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, and Poland are unlike any others in the world. But, before you go to Eastern Europe, make sure you know the answers to any questions you have.
Where should I get euros for a trip to Eastern Europe?
Rather than exchanging dollars for euros at a U.S. bank before your trip, use your credit or debit card to pull euros out of any ATM anywhere in Eastern Europe. You can do this anytime you need to, starting at the airport upon arrival. ATMs are everywhere and can be especially helpful in Eastern European countries that use currencies other than the euro. Using ATMs wherever you are will allow you to pull out the currency you need.
Pro Tip: Eastern European ATMs are set to offer high-denomination bills, which can pose a challenge when trying to pay at small, local establishments. To avoid this, request unusual amounts of cash from ATMs: for example, to get $100 USD in Croatia, you’ll need roughly 650 kuna (Croatian currency). Instead, request 640 or 660 kuna to ensure you get some smaller bills to ease your travel experience.
Are there any Eastern European countries that use a currency other than the euro?
Yes, there are. Here is a list of currencies other than the euro used in Eastern Europe:
- Belarus – Belarusian ruble
- Croatia – kuna
- Czech Republic – koruna
- Hungary – Hungarian forint
- Poland – Polish zloty
All these currencies are available through local ATMs wherever you are.
What's essential for travel to Eastern Europe?
Essential items for traveling to Eastern Europe:
- A list of emergency contacts, including your next-of-kin, doctor, and U.S. Embassy phone numbers for the countries you’re going to
- Any prescribed medications: ensure you have enough to last longer than the expected duration of your trip, in the event of delays.
- Two quality pairs of walking shoes
- Scarf: the most versatile tour item—use around your neck, as a pillow for commuting, or as a shawl for layering
- Tops you can layer (and remove on-the-go), such as undershirts, tees, long-sleeved thermals, sweaters, hoodies, and cardigans
- For spring or summer, pack a light jacket. For fall and winter, pack an insulated, softshell jacket with removable inner layers.
- 1–2 semi-formal outfits for dining out in the evening
- A small, collapsible umbrella (compact enough to fit in your rucksack or purse)
- For bringing home wine or other breakables, learn how to keep things from breaking in transit by reading our “Bringing Home Wine and Spirits” article.
Should I take an airport shuttle to my hotel or some other form of transportation?
If you booked your airfare through Grand European, all airport transfers are covered. You won’t have to worry about shuttles, cabs, or learning foreign mass transit the moment you arrive.
Can I get everyday over-the-counter medicines in Eastern European countries?
You certainly can. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, Naprosyn, allergy medications, and cold or flu remedies are available at most markets and all pharmacies. However, you should still bring your own; there’s no guarantee you’ll be near a pharmacy or market that carries the type of over-the-counter medicine you’ll need.
Should I bring my smartphone, tablet, or laptop, or will they even work in Eastern
Absolutely! Here are a few tips to ensure you’ll be able to use your technology when you arrive:
Bring wall outlet adapters to fit European outlets: they’re very affordable ($3–$10 USD).
Ensure your phone is a dual-voltage (110V/220V) device, otherwise, it won’t charge, even with an adapter. Current smartphone models are all dual-voltage; they only require an outlet adapter.
Tell your cell carrier the trip dates and add international calling and/or texting to your plan for only that billing cycle.
Have a mobile hotspot for Wi-Fi if you want to use your laptop or tablet at just any café or outdoor area. This is also available through cell carriers and is usually about $5/month.
Helpful hint: To avoid costly roaming fees, or get in touch with any U.S.-based wireless carrier while you’re abroad, click here. For more detailed information about using technology in Eastern Europe, see our “Using a Cellphone in Europe” article, our “Adapters and Converters in Europe” article, and our “International SIM Cards” article.
How should I address people I’m meeting for the first time in Eastern Europe?
When initially meeting new people in Eastern Europe, address them by their title (Mr., Mrs., Miss) and their surname (Mr. Nowak, for example). After a few meetings, or if they specifically ask you to, begin using their first name, or another name they prefer.
Do Eastern Europeans hug, kiss, and use the same body language as other Europeans?
Not usually. Unlike French or Spanish natives, for example, the people of Eastern Europe are more likely to engage in a friendly handshake than a cheek kiss when meeting or greeting you. And, contrary to Southern or Western Europe—where locals are known for observing virtually no personal space—natives to Eastern Europe are actually more like Americans, preferring more room between people during conversation.
Is it safe to walk around Eastern European cities or towns at night?
As a rule, Eastern Europe is just as safe—if not safer—than most American cities at night. However, walking alone at night isn’t the best idea no matter where you are. If you absolutely must go somewhere at night, go with a companion, or ask your Tour Director what to do: this person has been trained to guide you through Eastern Europe.
What should I do if I have an emergency?
In Eastern Europe, dial 1-1-2 for emergency assistance of any kind.
Leave the following items with a stateside family member or trusted friend in the event there is an issue with customs or immigration on your way to or from Europe:
- Your flight itinerary
- The schedule of countries and/or cities you’re going to with dates you’ll be in each place
- 2 color copies of your passport