Eastern Europe can be a wonderful place for vacation or adventure. The history, architecture, and stunning natural beauty are compelling reasons to visit, along with the low price tag. But before hopping on a plane, there are a few things to consider.
Eastern Europen Travel is New
Tourism in Eastern Europe is still developing. Unlike the west, there are areas where tourists are unheard of, and very much a novelty. Safety standards are generally not as high as the west so a high level of common sense and awareness is necessary.
Eastern Europe Travel Health: Vaccinations
- Hepatitis – Before traveling to Eastern Europe, it is wise to ensure Hepatitis A and B shots are administered and updated. The disease is becoming less of a threat each year, but there is still a danger in contaminated food and water. Allow enough time for this vaccination, as it’s administered in three phases.
- Rabies – Not necessary in resorts or major cities, however keep in mind the stray dog population is high. A rabies shot is recommended for travel in less populous areas or if hiking or camping are on the agenda.
- Tick-Borne Encephalitis – If travelling in heavily wooded areas, this vaccination is a good idea. Not necessary in city or resort areas.
- Typhoid – Typhoid fever is caused from bacteria in unclean food and water. Vaccination is recommended if travelling with a large number of people where sanitary conditions may not be standard. Extended nature treks or lengthy travel on crowded trains or buses are good reasons to consider this vaccine.
Eastern Europe Travel Safety:
- Pickpockets – When travelling anywhere, pickpockets are a threat. When in cities, bus terminals or any crowded area, be extra cautious. Keep personal documents in separate places, use a bank card to take out small amounts of local currency at a time, and keep photocopies of all documents with a travel partner or in another suitcase. Watch for sudden crowds of children, who are often sent out to steal for their parents.
- Road Safety – Freeways don’t really exist in Eastern Europe, so the most common routes are two lane high speed roads. If choosing to drive, learn the road signs and remember signage in English will be scarce. Do not drive at night. Drunk drivers are a threat, and so are exhausted truck or bus drivers. The best way to travel is by coach bus.
- Travelling Alone – Travel in Eastern Europe is reasonably safe, but there are some places that travelers should never wander into, like Roma communities. If travelling alone, apply common sense. Men should avoid pubs in very small towns, so as not to inadvertently provoke locals. Women should avoid going in to night clubs alone. They may be mistaken for prostitutes.
- Fitting in – Eastern Europeans love to dress up, even just to walk to the store. While nothing is wrong with dressing for comfort, it’s generally a good idea to dress smart casual for excursions or restaurants.
Language in Eastern Europe
English in Eastern Europe – While it’s gracious to learn a few words in the local tongue, most people in cities will speak some English. Young people nearly everywhere speak some English and restaurants often have English menus. Street and road signs are usually displayed only in the local language.