I read several blog posts and watched countless YouTube videos when preparing for my Europe trip, and I learned a LOT from them! But I guess some things we only learn by living through it, so here I am to share a few things I learned during my month-long trip through Europe:
- Carry only what you can. I should put this in bold. Again, carry only what you can. It’s not worth the hassle to haul around huge suitcases with you. Plus, it’ll be more expensive to take more luggage if you choose to travel on cheap airlines like Ryanair or Spirit. I used Spirit on my way back and they made me put my purse inside of my carry-on, otherwise the purse would have counted as a second bag and I would have been charged for it. So, just pack light and do laundry if need be. It’s fine. It costs like €5 to wash and dry clothes.
- Be flexible with your schedule. Have a list of places you want to see and somewhat of an itinerary, but allow yourself to go with the flow and detour if you find something worth seeing along the way. I had an itinerary for Paris that got completely changed, because one day I just felt like walking along the river Seine instead of following my original plan. So, I walked… for miles. And that walk taking in the view is still one of my fondest memories from the city.
- Be true to yourself and what you like. Just because everyone says you must visit one place or another, it doesn’t mean you have to. Especially, if it is not your thing. Some people enjoy spending hours in museums while others like to walk around and explore. Do you. Everyone said I needed to rent a bike in Amsterdam, but it was freezing and really crammed with bikes everywhere, which really intimidated me. I didn’t feel comfortable riding amongst the sea of proficient cyclists and I also kept wondering how would I ever remember where I parked my bike in the first place if I rented one, so… I didn’t! I did get to ride a bike by the train station at night, though! That’s because a friend I met there let me borrow her bike just so I could say, “I rode a bike in Amsterdam.”
- Be extra polite, especially if you don’t speak the native language. I cannot stress how far this actually got me. People really respond well when you use your “please,” and “thank yous.” Try learning at least those few magical words in the native language of the country you are in. I speak zero French, but a “S’il vous plaît” got me so far when asking for directions. I just started with “Bonjour, Parlez vous anglais?” and people were so kind to me.
- Have a reusable water bottle to save some money. In most countries tap water is safe to drink, so you can refill your water bottle in any sink. In Paris they have natural water fountains everywhere.
- If you do buy plastic bottles, save them to be recycled and get your 0.25 deposit back. In the Netherlands and Germany you can easily exchange them at a known supermarket and get your money back.
- Have a foldable bag with you to avoid having to pay for plastic ones. Most grocery stores will charge you for plastic bags, which I absolutely LOVE because it s so environmentally friendly. But carrying your stuff by hand can be a pain, so just grab a $1 bag at Dollar Tree before you go!
- Do not wear a heavy cross-body purse. Your back will be killing you at the end of the day. TRUST ME on this one. I only had my phone, wallet, maps, lipstick, poncho and a water bottle with me most of the time. And I still ended up with a nasty back pain by the end of the first week. It was so brutal that I made the switch and started using my backpack right away!
- Have a small umbrella or poncho. But I must warn you that nobody uses ponchos in Europe, so I looked like an alien doing it. But at least I was a dry alien.
That’s it for this topic! If you want to read about transportation tips in Europe, check out this blog post, instead!
Thanks for reading,