The internet and online research can prepare you for a lot, but there are some things you just don’t know until you go. Here are 11 tips I’ve learned while traveling around.
1. Your outfit doesn’t matter. If you stand out like a sore thumb, you’re excused from being expected to know anything. People are more willing to help you if they realize you genuinely have no clue what you are doing. If you dress to impress but can’t figure out subway system, tough cookies, you just wound up in someone’s twitter feed.
2. Always carry enough cash to get to the next place. It doesn’t matter what year it is, or what city you are in. You are undoubtedly going to encounter a situation where plastic just won’t cut it. Make sure you at least have enough physical cash to get back to your hotel, or to the airport to catch your next flight otherwise you may be walking.
3. Don’t bring that. Seriously. If it’s something you wouldn’t use at home, why would you even think to take it? It’s taking up precious carry-on space. I’d even suggest leaving some toiletries behind. You can get freebies at a hotel, or pick up supplies at a store.
4. DO bring that. Confusing, I know. There are things you will need to take. Power adapter- Duh. It’s important to have a checklist of things you will not want to forget.
5. Don’t trust Google. I can’t even trust Google to give me the correct store hours for my favorite fro-yo joint, let alone expect it to know the bus schedule in Chania. Find someone who speaks English (it’s a lot easier than you think) and ask. Save yourself the headaches.
6. The hotel staff is your friend. Not only is it their job to know about the city, it’s their city. They have lives outside of that desk, so ask them what’s worth a visit and you’ll get a more honest answer than TripAdvisor.
7. Lower your standards. I say this mostly in regards to hotels. The United States does things a lot differently than most countries, like allowing you to flush your toilet paper. Instead of walking into a place and saying “WTF”, say “Wow, weird, let’s go get dinner”. I honestly hope you aren’t in it for the hotel.
8. Take. A. Lot. Of. Pictures. Trips aren’t cheap, but pictures are. You might as well have something to look back on after you’ve been indefinitely grounded by the reality of children. It will also keep you from buying stock art from Target.
9. Eat in. Running low on funds? Believe it or not, other cities have grocery stores, and they cost a lot less than that place next to the Eiffel Tower.
10. Get a credit card with no international fees. Sure, it may be more convenient to use your debit card everywhere, but you’ll end up spending more than you should be. Also, credit card companies are finally coming around with the chip features, but haven’t quite nailed it down by adding PIN functionality.
11. It’s OK to rent a car. It feels like cheating, but it can save you so much time, and potentially some money depending on how long your bus routes are.
12. Leave the phone in your bag. Enjoy the trip. I won’t tell you to leave it, because you just might have an emergency, but nothing says n00b like tweeting “I’m backpacking through Europe and it’s so fun omg”. Totally brag about it because it’s an awesome experience that people will envy, but don’t waste the little time you have on social media.
Have something to add? Throw them in the comments, we can use all the help we can get.