These are pretty straight forward tips but they helped me with my holiday not only while I was on the other side of the world from my parents (which I must say was pretty daunting) but they also helped me in the planning process as well.
- Go in Winter if you can handle it.
Going in Winter means that you can take advantage of cheaper prices when it comes to flights, eating out, accommodation and the most important one…. SHOPPING! If you’re someone like my boyfriend who had never seen snow before our winter holiday, then I would definitely recommend it! The snow is beautiful and as long as you’re dressed for the cooler temperatures you’ll be fine.
- Make a list of things to pack.
Making a list of things to take with you will ensure that you haven’t forgotten a thing. And if you’re the type of person who is paranoid that your luggage will somehow get lost on route, (that’s me) then having a written list will help any insurance claims. It also means that you can minimise what you take so you can take full advantage of the cheaper clothing prices when you’re shopping.
- Take a language book.
I actually forgot about taking a book myself and had to rush into the newsagency at Sydney International Airport to purchase one before I left. (NB: that this all happened before I had a smart phone – so if you are taking your phone with you, it might be easier to just download a language app.) But I would strongly recommend having something with you to help you pick up a few phrases here and there. There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking into a restaurant in the middle of France and not knowing how to say ‘hello’ politely! More than just being embarrassing, the waiters probably won’t respect you very much – but remember you do get bonus points for trying.
- Map out and plan what you want to see and when.
If you’re not going to be in one place for very long, it is very important that you plan exactly what you want to see. Don’t plan to see everything in one day, you’ll be exhausted and may actually miss out on the most important thing – having fun! I made sure that I first saw the sights I wanted to see most and if I was lucky I would see some of the other great places that the city had to offer. But remember to leave time to experience each place properly. I wasn’t expecting to spend 3 hours in the Tower of London, but I’m really glad I did!
- Take enough spending money in the right currencies.
There is nothing worse than being short on Euros and having a wallet-full of pounds once you’ve left the UK! There are plenty of currency exchanges all over Europe (some cheaper than others) so if you do run out you can always quickly run over to one. Just remember to spend all of your coins first, they won’t exchange those. That can get really annoying when you’ve forgotten to spend your 5CHF (Swiss franc) coin and can’t exchange it for the 5 Euros it’s worth.
- Be prepared to step outside your comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Food is the essence of life in my opinion, so do try all of the local dishes you can. Snails aren’t as bad as they sound! Push yourself to be adventurous and try to do things you weren’t planning on, just don’t hurt yourself. I was not expecting to climb to the top of Mt. Pilatus in the Swiss Alps. Ok so I caught the chair lift. But for someone who is extremely afraid of heights, being on the top of a mountain at 3000m was definitely an achievement.
- Take a break!
Trying to fit everything into one tight holiday isn’t going to work. Pace yourself and leave plenty of time to see everything. There’s nothing worse than planning on seeing the whole city in a day and disappointing yourself when you can’t. Taking a rest will do your health some good too! I made the mistake of not resting on my trip and everything was fine until the plane ride home. Getting the flu is not a good way to end your holiday.
- Be flexible.
Plans aren’t rules- they can be bent, broken and dismissed completely. You may have plans to see specific sights and then realise that Europe actually has a lot more to offer than any travel guide, holiday travel book or tour manager can tell you. Don’t be afraid to do things that aren’t so touristy. Experience Europe the way you want to, even if it means not planning a single thing!
9. Be cautious.
Keep your most valued and personal belonging on your person at all times. Not to stress you out or anything, but it is important to be cautious. If there’s no need to have your passport on you, leave it locked up in your suitcase and in your hotel room. At least you know it will be there when you get back. Pockets are definitely safer than a handbag or backpack.
10. Have fun and take loads of photos!
Don’t stress over the smaller details, enjoy yourself! What’s the point of travelling to the other side of the world to stress about everything that could go wrong? Just enjoy seeing parts of the world that some people may not be able to. Travelling to Europe will give you the only legitimate reason for taking photos of your food and uploading them to Instagram, so there’s no need to feel guilty about that one! Oh, and don’t be afraid of carbs, you’re allowed to pig out when you’re on holiday!
Check out some of myEuropean adventures!