As someone who travels a lot, you would think I have a system down. For the most part, I do. I guess the amazing thing about life is always finding something new, and learning things as you make your way through the twist and turns that life throws at you. Since I basically just got out of the customs line, I decided to go ahead and tell you a couple of my favorite tips!
- Know how you are getting around! I don’t think I can stress this enough…know what your transportation plans are before you ever leave the house. Going to New Orleans? Figure out how much a taxi should cost. Going to London? Figure out the Underground system. Going to Paris? Know which way takes you into the city, and which will send you to the Alps. It will save you a ton of time, not to mention a lot of frustration. Most places with some sort of public transport offer a visitor pass, and will provide you with maps. Carry those things around, study them, use them. Protect them like your first born child. No one cares if you look like a tourist, they would much rather you know where you’re going than be in their way. Trust me.
- Know the language (even if it is just a little)! I studied French for a pretty long time, but had not had a refresher in YEARS, and that was something that was very obvious to me once I arrived in France. If you are going somewhere where there could be a language barrier, then you need to at least attempt to learn some of their native language. Remember your manners! Your grandmother was right! Learn please, thank you, yes, no, hello, goodbye. Maybe learn how to ask broad questions in case you need help with food, transportation, whatever comes your way. Don’t act like you are professional in the language unless you are. It is just annoying and can come off as rude.
- Currency Converter! I think for the most part we all know about pounds and euros. I am mainly talking about other currencies right now. For example, Iceland. We had absolutely no idea what currency they used until we eventually just asked someone. My aunt had downloaded an app on her iPhone that would help us realize how much things were. Not only will it keep you on your budget, but it will help keep you organized. Plus, pickpockets are real in Europe, and you definitely do not want to fall victim to that.
- Bite the bullet, use a map! In addition to knowing how you are getting around like I mentioned earlier, you should probably know where you are going period. Although we spent a lot of time traveling via public transportation, we still had times where we were walking around with dead phones, and no idea how to pronounce the street we were on, let alone where we were. I promise it will not kill you to use one. There is something kind of nostalgic and Indiana-Jonesey about it.
- Know the customs! I know that over here in the states, a lot of things are just let go. There are definitely places and times in other countries that require a certain demeanor. *Surprise* I am not religious, but I have spent a good portion of my life studying religions from all over the world for my own enjoyment. Language barriers or not, I think people know what they should and should not do. Another example, we were in Notre Dame (which had pictures of cameras with “x” on them, and it clearly said no photos in about seven different languages….), and I was unable to even move because people were just taking photos of everything. Oh a piece of tile? Photo! Same kind of thing, pack accordingly! Not everything you were to Target is acceptable in other countries. Google that, girl!
- Always be aware of your surroundings! I cannot tell you how many times I saw pickpocket signs while we were in Europe. Especially at the more touristy areas. In addition to that, it is very important to know where you should and should not be. That is even true in your own hometown. Just because you are on vacation does not mean that your general safety practices should go out of the window. If anything, they should be heightened (Hello! Airport Security….we all know the struggle). Most of our tours were from natives of the cities, so they gave us a realistic perspective of the city. If you are planning on going out and drinking, or just walking in non populated areas, then know where you are going, and take the safest route possible. This is something I have had to force myself to do, I can be too adventurous for my own good.
- Learn how to pack light! I wish all of you could be a fly on the wall when my mother packs. That woman would take her entire closet if she could carry it. You know those little European carry ons? The one that looks like it would hold the luggage of a barbie doll? Yeah, that’s what I took with me to Europe. That’s all. Try getting on a million trains with all of those giant bags that you are used to. Good luck. Packing light is a great way to introduce yourself to the minamilist trend too. It is also a never bad thing to try and downsize your wardrobe. That is something I am personally working on. Also, you can always do laundry. People do laundry in other countries. You can too.
- Stay organized! This goes back to something I sort of mentioned earlier, but it is important, so I am going to discuss it briefly. You probably should get some sort of folder, or something that you are able to write/store your travel documents, IDs, passports, whatever you need for travelling. It is so much easier to have all of your important documents in one place than in twenty different places where they could get lost or forgotten. The last thing you want is to lose anything while you are on vacation. Vacations are about having fun and getting away from the real world. Not about causing more stress, or worse, more money!
- Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Locals are fun! This may just be me. I love talking. That’s why you cannot get a short post out of me, ever! I love “visiting like a local”. Going to small restaurants or bars is a real passion of mine. If you are pretty good at the local language, then don’t be afraid to ask somewhere where they go when they want a glass of wine. You will probably find somewhere that is amazing, and will make your friends jealous! You also may avoid the tourist prices!
- Let loose! Have fun! You are on vacation for goodness sake! What is the chance of seeing any of these people again? (I have the worst luck in history, it is a pretty high percentage…) I literally saw this guy who bought me a drink at a bar when I was in New Orleans at an airport in Chicago. Yes, it was him. He was the one who recognized me. (Darn me for being a redhead!). In this day and age, everyone knows what you are doing. Social media has taken over our lives, and that is the way we communicate and tell stories. Take your photos! Get that shot!
I hope you might have learned something from this post! Be sure to check out all of my other travel posts from my recent trip to Europe. If you want to see more from this trip, or be there for upcoming trips, then let’s be friends on social media. Do you have any special travel tips or advice? Comment down below with them!