Well, you can’t miss out on travelling to Europe if you are among those passionate about travelling in general. This is where most of the Western civilization took shape, where great history has been written (not that the other parts of the world do not have great history, but Europe’s is intricate, complex and it actually stood at the foundation of two World Wars) and where beauty feels like home.
Eastern Europe, on the other hand, is different. While it definitely is influenced by the Western Europe history, the East has traces of its Byzantium and Slavic ancestry and it definitely looks and feels much more differently than anything else in Europe. If you want to discover the beauties that lie at the Eastern border of the Old Continent, then you will need to keep the following 4 pieces of advice in mind.
Passports and visas are not necessary when travelling within the EU (for all the EU members). For the people coming from outside the European Union, either a passport only or a passport or a visa will be needed when travelling inside the European Union (and this depends on where you come from so do inform yourself properly). If you choose to visit Eastern Europe (namely those countries that are not part of the EU – Russia, for example), you will definitely need a traveller’s visa so make sure to ask about this before planning anything else. Tip: Almost all the countries East of Romania are not part of the EU (Republic of Moldova, Russia, Belarus, and so on) and so are few countries West of Romania as well (Albania and Serbia, for example).
If you come from parts of the world where other currency than Euros and US Dollars are used, it would be best for you to exchange these in any of these two currencies (or in the currency of the country you are visiting). Although there are plenty of places where you can exchange money, outside of big banks it will be very unlikely that you find anyone to exchange Canadian Dollars, Yens or other such types of currencies.
Accommodation and Transportation
Booking in advance works very well for budget travellers when their destination is Eastern Europe as well, so make sure to plan everything well ahead of its time. You will find hotels, pensions and hostels throughout the entire Eastern Europe so there will be no issues related to having where to choose from.
As for transportation, avoid taking a cab from the airport or from the train station because there are many scammers that sit there to “hunt” for people who are not from that place and take them in a cab to charge them double than what the legit cab drivers charge. Be aware of this and if you really need a car to take you from the airport, make sure to inform yourself on which ones are the local cab businesses (their precise names) so that you can spot them and not the scammers.
People are people wherever you go: there will be fun ones, happy ones, sad ones, swindlers, executives, inspirational people and people you may befriend for life. Eastern Europeans have an odd curiosity for everyone that comes from the West and sometimes you may feel uncomfortable with their questions. Even more than that, in many countries in Eastern Europe the people usually talk very close to your body and they may hug you or touch you unexpectedly even if they don’t really know you and you have just met them 5 minutes ago. Do not feel offended by this. Also, if you go into an Eastern European’s home, try to never refuse a drink and if you really have to do it, make sure that your excuse is either driving or a health issue.