During our trip Rachel and I have by default picked up on a couple tips on traveling. These lessons have been obtained through 1) sheer luck 2) some planning on our part and 3) the hard way. Special thanks goes out to Rachel’s insane directional skills throughout this trip; without her I’d still be in the Swiss mountains.
- Viator is a great resource for finding day trips, tours, museums, cultural city spots, etc. in Europe. We’ve booked majority of our activities through this site and the best part is that you can book while on the go.
- Going with that, when it comes to cool excursions you find in your city: book now, worry about figuring out how to get there later. There’s always a way. Even if you have to sprint through the Prague streets and drop your breakfast in the process of catching your tour bus (true story) you will get there.
- RetailMeNot has promo codes you can use on it when booking excursions in different counties. For example, Rachel and I got 7% off a day trip we booked in Prague with a code found on this site. Doesn’t seem like much, but any little bit off makes a difference.
- If you can, pack everything in a carry-on when traveling abroad. You can skip baggage claim; this in itself is worth it. Also, trekking around the city trying to get to your next destination is not fun with a small heavy suitcase; I would imagine having a huge one could be a form of torture.
- If you really want to be engulfed in the daily routines of locals in the city you’re visiting, I would suggest using Airbnb. The people we’ve met at the apartments we rented out have been so nice and accommodating. One thing to note though: staying in a European apartment = steps. Rachel and I didn’t look human after we’d dragged our suitcases up almost 10 flights of stairs to our Vienna apartment.
- Find free tours. We did a great one in Switzerland and just did this one a few days ago in Prague, which was amazing. The guides are so friendly and proud of their cities. Just make sure to tip them at the end!
- Ask a local about public transport (taxis, trains, trams, buses etc.) and what the best routes are to getting around For example, our Zurich host was nice enough to warn us that this city is extremely expensive when it comes to cabs, so Rach and I made sure to use the public transportation systems. Vienna on the other hand is less expensive but a bit harder to get around (we were staying outside the city sort of far from everything), so we used Uber twice, which was helpful and not too pricey.
- You will never appreciate maps more in your life. Without any iPhone service and digital GPSes these essential pieces of pieces of paper have been our lifeline. On the train ride to Prague we were both surrounded by the city and subway maps we’ve picked up through this trip. Should have used one of them as a blanket.
- Don’t be nervous if you have to wing it at times. This is definitely when you have the most fun.
My main hopes for this list: that it could be useful to fellow travelers and that it didn’t panic my mom too much.