Europe

STAY RISKY
From the sultry Parisian streets, to the beautiful beaches of Croatia and lively Oktoberfest, there is so much to experience within Europe that it may seem a bit overwhelming. Travelers from across the globe are obsessed with European art and cuisine that you could make this your sole purpose of visiting.

About The Region: Europe

Ranked as the most-visited continent, Europe swoons travelers in any setting. The safety and relaxed border access of Europe’s 44 sovereign nations provides ideal conditions for troops and their families wanting to explore this region of the world. Not to mention the proximity of borders makes multi-country vacations very feasible!

When to Go

When is the best time to visit Europe weather-wise? Well… when is the best time to have a piece of chocolate or a leisurely nap? The answer is obvious. Always! The continent of Europe is a rather large place, so it spans many different longitudes and weather zones.

Europe is generally characterized by a temperate climate. The Nordic North sees cold winters and mild humid summers. Central and Eastern Europe undergo cold, long-lasting winters and predominantly hot summers. Western Europe experiences an Oceanic climate that has mild, wet winters and cool, humid summers. Southern Europe faces hot dry summers and mild winters with hardly any frost.

Europe’s weather patterns are similar to North America and follow four distinct seasons:

Spring – From March, April and May, spring is often considered the most beautiful season as landscapes are transformed by the vivid green and splashes of color. It’s a great time to check out the wonders of Iceland’s lagoons and glaciers, visit the most famous and largest flower park in the world – Keukenhof in Netherlands, or soak in the sunnier parts of Europe at the Mediterranean. 

Summer – Spot whales off the coast of Norway and Iceland, hike the towering Italian Dolomites or Swiss Alps, relax on stunning beaches backdropped by charming towns or join thousands on a quest to experience art, music and food across the continent. June, July and August are event-filled months, but are the most costly times to visit. Be prepared for heat, crowds and high tourist prices!

Autumn – The heat from summer begins to dissipate and holidays in Europe take on a whole new meaning. Experience the largest beer festival known as Oktoberfest or head to Portugal for unforgettable wine experiences. If you prefer the outdoors, Madeira is a hidden gem off Portugal’s coast that calls to all island lovers and adventurers. Explore European foliage during September, October and November and you’ll get some of the best views during the cheapest months.

Winter – December, January and February are all about one thing: snow. Europe’s winter is blanketed with thick swathes of powdery white snow, perfect for snowshoeing the French Alps, dogsledding across the Artic, or mountain trekking in Armenia! The Northern Lights dance around the Nordic region while European cities begin to illuminate with Christmas lights. Despite the serious chill, tourists can still enjoy Europe’s charm at a budget.

Scroll to the bottom for more unmissable travel opportunities in Europe.

Travel PrerequisiteS

There are actually many European countries that do not require completion of any FCG prerequisites but be sure to check the website to confirm.

The DoD Foreign Clearance Guide outlines all the requirements you must complete before traveling. The requirements vary by combatant command and country and they change continually based on current threats.

  • Approved liberty (This process varies greatly from unit to unit, be sure to check local guidelines)
  • Completed itinerary 
  • The DoD Foreign Clearance Guide may suggest completion of additional travel prerequisites that may include the following:
    • Level 1 Anti-Terrorism Awareness Training via JKO
    • SERE 100.2 via JKO
    • Travel Tracker Individual Anti-terrorism Plan (TT/IATP) 
    • Country Clearance via Aircraft and Personnel Automated Clearance System (APACS) 
    • Theater Clearance via APACS
    • Special Area Clearance
    • Isolated Personnel Report training
    • SCI Brief via local command
    • Detailed Itinerary

Military Installations and Historical Sites

Europe contains some of the most U.S. military installations out of any other region besides the United States. Over 30 permanent stations can be found here and may be great resources for vacation needs such as lodging, outdoor recreation equipment, travel information and safety alerts or assistance.

Travel Considerations

With so much to see and do in Europe, preparation and research are truly necessary! Nearly 746 million tourists touched down in Europe and although many parts are considered safe and easy to travel in, a level of precaution is always necessary.

Like many other continents in the world, there are some countries or cities that are legitimately unsafe for travelers. It is always recommended that at the time of planning any trip, that you check the current political climate or general state of affairs in the country you are thinking of visiting.

The trick is simply knowing the do’s and don’ts both geographically and logistically. Here are some valuable safety tips for travel in Europe.

  • Vaccinations are recommended and required for some parts of this region. A detailed list can be found here from the World Health Organization.
  • Check The Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs travel advisories regarding the safety of every country.
  • Do not wait to buy tickets. Many iconic destinations require tickets in advance or you risk waiting in miserably long lines or not getting access at all.
  • Ordering bread and water. Opposite of American dining, many European restaurants charge for bread and water.
  • Claim your refund! If you went shopping in Europe, you may be eligible for a VAT refund. All you need to do is ask the retailer for the proper documentation and show it to the proper agents at the airport.
  • Check your phone plan.
  • Tap water is safe to drink.
  • Tipping is not expected in most European countries.
  • Toilets aren’t always free. Be sure to carry change to use public restrooms.
  • Don’t forget about afternoon closures! Europeans value their lunch breaks, so you may find most places closed from noon until 2pm.
  • Don’t settle on the first restaurant you see, some could be consider tourist traps. Go where the locals go and avoid stereotypical dining.
  • Visit during off season, less crowds and more affordable!
  • Learn the local language! In most cases, they’ll appreciate a tourist trying to speak the local tongue.
  • Do as the locals do – For example, don’t wear tank tops in conservative Orthodox churches, or lower your tone—most Europeans speak at a softer tone than Americans. Just be aware of your surroundings, and research local etiquette for your destination if you’re not sure what to expect.
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