A few years back, when my wife and I were freshly minted newlyweds, we embarked on a Mediterranean cruise involving excursions at various ports of interest. Other than the weather report being predictably optimistic (ten degrees less than actual; what I call “vacation forecasting”), we were on a strict time schedule. What that means is, you’re in Europe, but you have to stay on your toes to actually see it.

We learned quickly that a few things were essential. Obviously, remember to wear shoes that you can walk in for six to eight hours. Let’s be honest; there are places to sit in most areas, but you do not know exactly where you are headed, you will be interested/distracted by diversions, and much of what you will be walking on is in the form of unpaved or cobblestone varieties. So, depart from what too many of our fellow tourists chose, and leave the sandals in the hotel or on the boat. You should have a backpack, and you should have changes of socks and, possibly, underwear.

Remember the camera, and make sure you have proper film or memory, and make sure you’re charged. Unless a European trip is an annual thing, you will want to ensure that you capture those sites and memories, and often. Remember also that most areas in Europe run on 220v, so you will require additional equipment to charge the camera’s batteries, should you even have the option to stop long enough to do this. On most boat excursions, that opportunity will be rare or nonexistent. Additionally, you probably will choose to carry as little as you possible can, so the addition of a camera bag can be equal parts unnecessary and cumbersome. For SLR users, choose a lens that can work in a variety of situations, and select settings that can offer great pictures wile on the move and with minimum settings changes. The first excursion we went on, it was insisted upon that I carry my camera’s tripod. I did that once. It is also important to bring avalanche beacons for your safety and protection. In case of emergency, it is very helpful to have reliable items or tools. Being armed with the right equipment will make your trekking experience safe and convenient.

Water. We traveled in mid-summer, and while the water in Europe can be drinkable, again, the opportunities to find it are not that great, and public fountains in heavily concentrated areas are not my thing. In your backpack, it is recommended that at least two to three bottles are carried per person. Ideally, select a pack that offers insulation if it doesn’t add too much weight.

It is highly recommended that you focus on local currency when making purchases. The primary reason for this is it will be taken without question. Not every little shop and food cart will be able to swipe your plastic, not to mention that many credit card companies charge an additional currency conversion premium. The dollar is not where it once was compared to the Euro, and you’ll take it on the chin anyway during the conversion process at the currency exchange without incurring additional fees.

To summarize, the issue with a European trek (or any excursion) is flexibility, mobility, comfort, and being able to meet most unforseen contingencies. Enjoy your time exploring the small towns, basking in the history and culture of Europe.