TIPS FOR TRAVELING
So, you’ve done it - you just booked tickets to go traveling around Europe – but how can you take your trip to the next level!?
From east to west, Europe is a mixture of cultures, languages, heritage, architecture, and customs all across the continent. The dissolution of border checks within Europe means that travel has never been easier, more affordable or more convenient!
// Here are some of my own travel tips I’ve picked up along my way //
Learn the local language
Practice a few phrases before you arrive and use them with the locals if you feel comfortable. In most cases, they’ll appreciate a tourist trying to speak the local tongue (or at least they will get a cheeky giggle from your efforts). Honestly, please and thankyous go a looooong way. I’ve given you a helping hand for some popular destinations here if you want to check them out.
Visit during the off-season
Europe can be a plate full of scrambled eggs when it comes to the Summer months. Paris, Rome and other major cities are absolutely packed with crowds and crowds of people. Visiting historical places like the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel often involves waiting hours in the sun and becoming lost amongst the many tour groups that frequent in peak season. For this very reason, I would highly recommend avoiding the months of June, July and August. It is still warm in September and October in most European destinations and the crowds are noticeably smaller, meaning that you will:
1. Not feel like a sardine,
2. Have a much better time, and
3. Wait less time in a queue for gelato.
Stay longer at one place
I have learnt this the hard way and I can’t stress to you enough how nice it is when you stay in a place for a week or two rather than city-hopping every few days. Not only does it mean less packing and unpacking, but it also means you have the chance to really experience a neighbourhood, find a favourite café and get comfortable around the locals. I mean it’s pretty ideal renting a cute Airbnb for a week and pretending you’re living a life of a glamorous Greek gal or Italian voyager for a little while.
Be aware of the siesta
As a naive Australian I was really shocked to find that Spanish people ACTUALLY do sleep during the day. It’s a great idea (and one I adopted a few days into a few of my trips) but it’s kind of inconvenient when you arrive in the afternoon to find that you can’t check into a hotel or order a coffee at a café.
... And the fiesta
So, for as much as they love to sleep, Europeans also love to party! Festivities usually start around dinner time and extend well into the early hours of the morning. The Europeans really do know how to live.
Stay central & walk everywhere
It may seem logical to save a few dollars and spend the night in a cheap hotel in the suburbs, but the convenience of not worrying about transportation to and from the city, losing precious adventure time and the difficulty of trying to find a restaurant in a residential area is well worth the little splurge on a place that is more central. Plus, you’ll see more of the city if you’re walking around rather than taking the metro or bus.
Travel to countries on the Euro
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic are all fascinating European counties with their own unique story to tell and tend to be less costly than their Western European neighbours.
Travel by bus or train
It is SO easy to travel around Europe by train or bus. Both options present often more spacious, comfortable and easier means compared to air travel. I mean who wants to go through the ridiculous process of separating your liquids, going through security and flight delays?
Using a train or bus almost never involves lines and you can buy your ticket minutes before departure or even on the train or bus itself.
Try a free walking tour
Who doesn’t love a freebie? These tours are tip based and are offered in many popular destinations around Europe. They’re a great way to see and learn about a place if you’re short on time or if you’re looking to learn more about a city from guides who are honestly so knowledgeable and interactive. They’ll inspire you with local anecdotes, history lessons and suggest other tours you can do whilst you’re there.
Or do a paid tour
There’s also the option of doing a paid city tour as well. I have done a few and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I did a paella and sangria culinary class in Barcelona, a historical tour of the Colosseum in Rome and Pompeii and also a camel ride in the Sahara desert in Morocco to watch sunset. You can find a lot of these by a quick google search or, as I found out more recently, through the Airbnb Experiences website. The Airbnb website has strayed from it's traditional renting roots to branch out and offer experiences with local hosts.
Airbnb Experiences are loosely divided into four groups: arts and entertainment, classes and workshops, food and drink, and health and wellness. The specific activities themselves depend not only on the local culture, but also on the specific host. You could be surfing on a hidden beach in Hawaii, learning how to make traditional pottery in Mexico, or cooking authentic Italian food in Sicily. The opportunities are (seemingly) endless!
And my last tip, have fun!