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Europe offers some of the premier travel destinations in the world. Whether you’re traveling from other areas of the continent or from further afield there is a rich diversity of vacation experiences. Among the most popular options involve the variety of beautiful beaches.
There are, of course, the more traditional relaxing coastal regions in the south of France. If you want sun and sand with a thriving nightlife, the Spanish and Greek islands are popular and vibrant destinations. For exploration and activity, you can surf off the coast of Cornwall in the UK or kayak the Swedish archipelagos. But getting the most out of any of these places involves more than just the geographical location.
We’re going to explore a few of the elements to help make your beach vacation in Europe a positive experience.
No matter where you are in the world, local knowledge will generally be your most valuable resource. Even professionals in the travel industry will get their best information from locals. Once you’ve selected the European beach you want to spend your vacation in, you can enhance your time there by interacting with those who know the area intimately.
This starts by simply talking to people. This isn’t always easy — especially if you don’t speak the language well. But people will appreciate your efforts to politely and respectfully make connections with them. The desk staff at the hotel will usually have some knowledge about where the least populated beaches are. They may also have partnerships with local coastal restaurants and bars. But also talk to people in local cafes and on the beaches. Local surfers are more likely to know where the best spots are than travel professionals. Just get talking and make some friends.
Making use of this local intelligence certainly benefits from doing a little prior research on how locals find their way around. Beach locations with a lot of tourists will utilize “wayfinding” signage to make certain visitors can reach popular landmarks and facilities. The best of these will be concise and use recognizable language and symbols to indicate the direction of amenities. You’ll also find they’re used on beaches to point to resources and communicate elements of safety. However, the forms these take can vary between countries and even cities. It’s important to look into how these are presented in the part of Europe you’re visiting.
Committing to prioritizing your wellbeing throughout your trip is a must. This starts by making certain you have adequate health insurance in case something goes awry. If you live within the European Union (E.U.), getting a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers you for most emergencies. If you’re from the U.K. or further afield, though, you should ascertain if you have sufficient coverage on your travel or private health insurance plan.
Aside from having your emergency paperwork in order, it’s wise to keep your day-to-day health in check. Remember that parts of Europe are still seeing some high COVID-19 numbers, so make sure you sanitize any rented beach or water sports equipment you use. In addition, exposure to the coastal heat and performing strenuous activities can be a recipe for dehydration. Staying properly hydrated is vital for both your overall organ health and extending your performance during your beach activities. Professionals tend to agree your body needs upwards of 11 cups of water per day. But you should at least be drinking water whenever you feel thirsty. It might seem like a small matter, but it can boost the safety and enjoyment of your vacation.
Don’t just focus on your general health, though. While many European beaches are considered to be safe, this doesn’t mean they are entirely risk-free. It’s not pleasant to think about, but you should act to minimize the potential for accidents while in and around the water. Consider how you can reduce the possibility of being a victim of crime, too. Wherever possible, avoid traveling alone. If you are solo, make sure someone — whether a companion or a member of the hotel staff — knows what you are doing and when you plan to return.
Europe is generally a very welcoming place to visitors. However, it’s important to recognize each country will have its own standards for behavior on its beaches. For instance, while you may be planning to take in the coast while on your romantic road trip across the U.K., inadvertently straying into private stretches of the beach would be frowned upon. You need to gain an awareness of culture before you head out on your trip.
Some of the key cultural uncertainties surround how you should dress on beaches. While certain areas of Europe — particularly Germany — have become known for their acceptance of nudity, taking the same approach almost anywhere in the U.K. is likely to see you arrested. That said, just because there might be a tradition of this in some places, you’re not obligated to follow suit. It is becoming clear a significant number of men as well as women experience body image concerns.
There are a variety of causes of this. Childhood bullying and unhealthy stereotypes are central among these. It’s more important that you feel positive about your body. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself while you’re on the beach. One consistent aspect of European beaches is you’re invited to engage with cultural idiosyncrasies, but the main focus is that you’re having a good time.
Europe has some of the finest beach destinations in the world. To get the most out of your vacation, though, it’s worth implementing some simple but impactful actions. Take advantage of local knowledge wherever possible and prioritize your wellbeing throughout your activities. Be conscious of cultural differences but engage in ways you feel most comfortable. It may take a little extra planning but you’ll tend to have a more rewarding experience.