Jen YihComment

9 Tips for your Eurotrip

Jen YihComment
9 Tips for your Eurotrip

THERE'S A LOT THAT GOES INTO PLANNING A TRIP, WHAT KIND OF PERSON YOU ARE PREDESTINES WHAT KIND OF TRAVELER YOU BECOME. SOME, LOVE A FULLY PLANNED ITINERARY, WHILE OTHERS LOVE A GOOD HITCH HIKE ACROSS ROMANIA. I AM SOMEONE THAT LOVES TO TRAVEL SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN. HERE'S A FEW TIPS AND TRICKS TO MAKE SURE YOUR TRIP IS SOMEWHAT SMOOTH, BUT NOT TOO SMOOTH...

Research & Planning

AS MUCH AS I LOVE SPONTANEITY IN ANY TRIP, SPONTANEOUS CAN ALSO MEAN EXPENSIVE. I'D MADE THAT MISTAKE IN 2012 WHEN I HOPPED A ONE-WAY FLIGHT TO LONDON WITH A BACKPACK & A FRIEND (HOTELS UP BY BUCKINGHAM PALACE ARE NOT CHEAP). WHEN I PLAN A TRIP, I PREFER TO GO OUT WITH A MISSION, A FEW CHECKPOINTS, AND A FEW PLACES THAT I HAVE TO BE, IE: I MUST MAKE THE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL IN PRAGUE ON DECEMBER 15TH, OR I HAVE TO MEET MY FRIEND AT THE WHITE EAGLE IN LONDON ON SATURDAY DECEMBER 22ND - OR MAYBE EVEN MORE PRESCRIPTIVE THAN THAT - I MUST SEE AT LEAST TWO BOOK STORES IN EVERY CITY I GO TO, I MUST HIKE AT LEAST ONE MOUNTAIN IN SWEDEN, AND SO ON. 

Booking in Advance

BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS (CHECK ON YOUR FLIGHTS BAGGAGE FEES AHEAD OF TIME, MANY HOPPER AIRLINES LIKE RYAN AIR AND EASY JET IN EUROPE CHARGE A HIGH RATE FOR BAGS), HOTELS, AIRBNB'S (TRY TO BOOK AN AIRBNB WITH A FLEXIBLE CANCELLATION POLICY OR ACCOMMODATING HOST) IN ADVANCE. IF YOU ARE A CREDIT CARD HOLDER WITH MILEAGE BENEFITS, DEFINITELY TRY TO FLY ON YOUR AIRLINES PARTNERS, IE: ALASKA AIRLINES HAS AMAZING PARTNERSHIPS WITH AIRLINES LIKE EMIRATES, AIRFRANCE, LAN, ICELANDIC AIR, AMERICAN AIRLINES, AND DELTA - YOU WILL RECEIVE 50-100% OF YOUR BENEFITS WITH PARTNERSHIPS (MORE MILES = UPGRADES, FREE FLIGHTS, FLIGHT DISCOUNTS).

CONDUCT YOUR FIRST FLIGHT SEARCH ON A SITE LIKE KAYAK, EXPEDIA, OR ORBITZ (THESE SITES WILL SOURCE THE CHEAPEST FLIGHT OPTIONS) BUT DO NOT BOOK YOUR FINAL FLIGHT VIA THIS 3RD PARTY - BECAUSE IF YOU NEED TO MAKE A CHANGE/CANCELLATION YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY THE 3RD PARTY AND THE AIRLINE FEES. INSTEAD, CONDUCT YOUR SEARCH FOR THE CHEAPEST OPTION AND GO TO THE CARRIER'S WEBSITE AND CONSIDER BOOKING TWO ONE-WAYS IF YOU HAVE CONNECTIONS VIA DIFFERENT CARRIERS, JUST MAKE SURE TO GIVE YOURSELF ENOUGH TIME TO SWITCH PLANES & RETRIEVE/RECHECK YOUR BAGGAGE. 

Airlines & Local Transporation

IF YOU'RE TRAVELING WITHIN EUROPE, DEFINITELY CHECK FLIGHTS VIA EASYJET AND RYAN AIR BEFORE YOU FLY ANY OTHER CARRIER - THIS IS TYPICALLY THE CHEAPEST OPTION (IF YOU'RE A FIRST CLASS FLYER, YOU MAY NOT BE TOO KEEN ON THESE CARRIERS). BE CAREFUL OF THE BAGGAGE FEES, THEY ADD UP. ALSO, THESE CARRIERS TEND TO FLY INTO SMALLER AIRPORTS OUTSIDE OF THE CITY IE: LONDON GATWICK VS. LONDON HEATHROW & YOU WILL HAVE TO FIND OUT HOW TO TAKE LOCAL TRANSIT (TUBE) INTO THE CITY BECAUSE CALLING A TAXI MAY ADD UP. 

Credit Card Fees

MAKE SURE YOU ARE SET UP FOR CURRENCY EXCHANGES ABROAD. IT IS ALWAYS GOOD TO CARRY A LITTLE BIT OF CASH JUST IN CASE - BUT IT'S MOST BENEFICIAL IF YOU HAVE A CREDIT CARD THAT WILL NOT CHARGE YOU A BUNCH OF FEES FOR FOREIGN TRANSACTIONS. 

INSTEAD OF BRINGING CASH AND EXCHANGING AT THE AIRPORT OR CURRENCY KIOSK, IT IS TYPICALLY A BETTER EXCHANGE RATE TO PULL MONEY FROM THE ATM. CHECK WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY ABOUT FOREIGN TRANSACTIONS AND ATM WITHDRAWALS ABROAD. ALSO, DEFINITELY NOTIFY YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY THAT YOU'RE TRAVELING ABROAD OTHERWISE THEY MAY FREEZE YOUR ACCOUNT FOR SECURITY PURPOSES (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF AMEX). 

TOP CHECKING ACCOUNTS WITH LOW FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES ARE: ALASKA AIRLINES VISA (NO FOREIGN TRANSACTIONS FEES BUT THEY DO CHARGE FOR ANY ATM WITHDRAWALS, SO TAKE CASH), CHASE, SAPPHIRE (NO FOREIGN FEES, $0 FIRST YEAR, THEN $95/YR) , CAPITOL ONE 360, CHARLES SCHWAB (MUST HAVE A MINIMUM BALANCE OF $5K, BUT UNLIMITED CASH WITHDRAWALS), PNC. 

Wake Up Early, Stay Up Late

TRAVELING TO A FOREIGN PLACE IS NOT THE TIME TO CATCH UP ON SLEEP OR BE LAZY. YOU SHOULD WAKE UP FOR SUN RISES - STAY UP LATE INTO THE NIGHT - PUSH YOURSELF TO ABSORB EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. DO NOT GO TO A NEW CITY AND SEEK OUT THE FAMILIAR, FIND THE UNFAMILIAR. 

Walking

WALK EVERYWHERE, UP AND DOWN STREETS, DOWN THE ALLEYS, UP THE STAIRS, AND GET LOST. ITS BENEFICIAL IF YOU HAVE A MAP BUT EVEN BETTER TO ASK A LOCAL WHERE TO GO & TRY IT IN THEIR LANGUAGE. BE CAREFUL OF THE COBBLESTONES, IN ANY EUROPEAN CITY - LADIES, LEAVE YOUR HEELS AT HOME. 

Safety

IF I HAD A NICKEL FOR EVERY TIME I TRAVELED TO EUROPE SOMEONE ASKED ME, HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOVIE "TAKEN"? I'D BE ABLE TO BUY MYSELF A NICE BOTTLE OF WINE. THIS QUESTION IS ABSURD TO ME. BUT LET'S BE HONEST, THE DOUGH-EYED, CAMERA IN HAND, LOST LOOK A TOURIST HAS ON THEIR FACE WOULD MAKE THEM AN EASY TARGET FROM MOROCCO TO MANHATTAN. A FEW THINGS TO BE WEARY OF WHILE YOU'RE TRAVELING: PICKPOCKETERS, THEY ARE SNEAKY AND SLY! I WAS PICKPOCKETED THREE TIMES IN ITALY. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR PURSE AND WALLET AT ALL TIMES. DO NOT CARRY ALL OF YOUR MONEY, CREDIT CARDS OR PASSPORT IN ONE PLACE AT A TIME. PICKPOCKETING IS AN ART OVER THERE, AND THEY WILL STEAL YOUR WALLET OUT OF YOUR FRONT POCKET WITHOUT YOU KNOWING IT OR OPEN UP YOUR PURSE AND TAKE ALL THAT'S INSIDE WHILE THEY BUMP INTO YOU ON THE TRAIN. KEEP YOUR MONEY CLOSE AND TIGHT. 

BEFORE YOU GO, CHECK THE GOVERNMENT WEBSITES FOR ANY VIRUSES, VACCINATIONS OR SAFETY WARNINGS. IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG WHILE YOU'RE ABROAD, LIKE LOSING YOUR PASSPORT, YOU'LL WANT TO CONTACT YOUR NEAREST AMERICAN EMBASSY WHO CAN GIVE YOU A TEMPORARY PASS. DO LOOK UP THE LOCATION OF YOUR LOCAL EMBASSY. 

STRIKES AND PROTESTS ARE MUCH MORE COMMON IN EUROPE THAN USA, I WAS STUCK IN TWO - ONE IN ATHENS THAT SHUT DOWN THE AIRPORT AND ANOTHER IN FRANCE THAT CAUSED ALL PUBLIC TRANSIT TO BE COMPLETELY DYSFUNCTIONAL. IF THERE'S A STRIKE, DON'T PANIC. THERE'S ALWAYS PRIVATE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES AS AN ALTERNATIVE AND YOU'RE MOST LIKELY NOT IN ANY IMMEDIATE DANGER. AGAIN, CHECK YOUR GOVERNMENT OR EMBASSY WEBSITE. 

Eat and Drink Local

THIS SHOULD BE A NO-BRAINER. DON'T GO TO A COUNTRY LOOKING TO EAT WHAT YOU ALWAYS EAT, WHAT'S THE FUN IN THAT. FOOD IS CULTURE! FROM CROISSANTS AND CANOLI'S IN ITALY TO LOCAL BORDEAUX WINES IN SOUTH OF FRANCE TO SCHNITZEL IN AUSTRIA/GERMANY, GO TRY IT ALL. NOTE, WATER IS NOT AS CLEAN IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD - BUT WIDELY ACROSS EUROPE THE WATER IS OK. YOU WILL HAVE TO ASK FOR IT AT THE LOCAL RESTAURANTS AND THEY WILL TYPICALLY ASK IF YOU WANT CARBONATED OR NON - ALSO DO NOT EXPECT TO BE SERVED WATER WITH ANY ICE IN IT. 

Come Mentally Prepared

YOU'RE FAR FROM HOME. YOU ARE NOT IN A PLACE WHERE THINGS ARE FAMILIAR, YOU ARE IN A NEW WORLD WHERE PEOPLE MAY DRIVE ON THE "WRONG" SIDE OF THE ROAD, EAT WITH THEIR HANDS, KISS ON THE CHEEK WHEN THEY MEET, SPEAK A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE AND KNOW NO ENGLISH AT ALL. IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO EMBRACE THE DIFFERENCES, TO SHARE WHAT YOU KNOW BUT LISTEN AND LEARN FROM WHAT IS FOREIGN TO YOU. THERE'S NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY OF DOING THINGS, JUST A DIFFERENT WAY. STAY OPEN. 

Need some suggestions for a unique day in Paris? Read more here.

THINGS I LOVE TO TRAVEL WITH:

Moleskin Notebook

Lifeproof Waterproof iPhone Case

Portable iPhone Charger

Lumix GF1

Woolrich Hat

Smith Optics Bridgetown Sunglasses with Chromapop

Paint Brushes and Black Cat Ink