Travel Tips for Europe

Iggy Takahashi-Brummer
April 20, 2016

So after travelling around France and Europe, I've picked up some tips and tricks in terms of packing, planning, and the actual trip. So here's my list of what I think are the most important things to consider and remember when planning your next voyage.

  1. Buy your tickets very far in advance. DO NOT wait until the last minute.  I made this mistake for spring break, and I probably ended up paying almost twice as much as I should have. Also, plan your vacation in advance! At least the ticket part of it, you'll have plenty of time to plan the details later on. 
  2. Vary the groups of people you travel with. I know this from experience: even if you think you can travel with a group of friends for a week, it's harder than you think. I'm not trying to say that travelling with friends will break friendships, or that my friends are terrible and annoying (which is not true at all, trust me), but after spending a solid 8-9 days with the same people, you notice little things.You know what I mean. It's the same story and situation with anyone, even family members. I'm not saying travelling with one group for vacation is bad, but choose your groups carefully. If you're only interested in part of a vacation planned, go there for that part, and do something else for another part. This might mean travelling alone from point a to point b, but don't sacrifice your plans and interests just to stay with your friends.
  3. Pack light! Many students here just travelled with a backpack or a carry-on suitcase. For 8-9 days of travelling you really only need 3-4 outfits. It's much better to save space for souvenirs and other items you might pick up. Unfortunately, this might also mean packing (wearing) one pair of shoes, which isn't as bad as it sounds. I'll touch on this later. As for toilettries, again, only pack the necessities, and make sure all liquids fit into a 1 quart or 1 liter bag! European airports are way more picky about these, and they will enforce this rule more strictly than American airports. I've noticed that a lot of European airports have packing stations, where you can repack your bags to meet their standards, and most even supply you with 1 liter bags for toilettries.
  4. Know your benefits. I mentioned this a little in my last post. If you have a long-stay visa for a country in the European Union, you are legally a resident of that country and a resident of the EU. Fortunately, this means you get random benefits! For me, that means free admission to the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay in Paris, but I know other museums do this around the EU. Just check with the museum website or ticket desk, and see if there's any mention of "Free admission for EU members." If so, just show the ticket desk your visa, and you're good to go! While you're at it, make sure to check if anywhere you're going has student discounts! Lots of touristy things and even travel tickets have student discounts. Make sure you carry your student ID and passport with you when you travel, you'll save a lot of money that way.
  5. Wear comfortable, closed-toed, and maybe waterproof shoes when travelling.  Trust me. you will do a lot of walking to avoid paying for taxis and other travel-related fees, even if it means walking for 30+ minutes to get to your destination. If you're travelling to a place where it might rain, and especially if you're only bringing the shoes you're wearing, try to wear something that's at least partially waterproof. Nobody likes wearing wet shoes for a week. Also depending on where you're going, wear closed-toed shoes. If you're going anywhere touristy or very populated, be prepared to be in a crowded area, where the chance of accidentally being stepped on is fairly high. Unless you're going to the beach for a week, it's sensible to wear something comfortable, shoes that you could walk all day in and not get sore feet or blisters. If you are staying in a hostel or anything like that, please bring/buy shower shoes (like flip flops). Your feet will thank you. I know some friends that haven't done this and they've gotten some nasty foot fungus from those showers.
  6. Do touristy things! I know it might sound cheesy, but that's what they're there for. You are a tourist in that city, and usually the touristy things are worth it and they show some of the best things there. Sure, there are hidden gems in the city, things that you'd never see on a tour or without asking a local. However, in my experience, the touristy things show what the city has to offer: their history, culture, experiences, etc., things you'd miss if you didn't go there, things that show part of the identity of that city and country. When we were in Dublin, we did a cheesy walking tour of the south side, and it was amazing. I met some great people, and since the tour was run by a local, he gave us a more detailed, personal history of the city, and the secrets you'd never find out (for example, this part of Temple Bar is expensive, and this part is the "real" Temple Bar). In Galway we went on a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher, and our bus driver was also a local. It was the same thing with him: a more detailed history with more secrets. You learn so many things and meet so many people doing these silly touristy things, but they are very worth it!

That's about all for now! I think one of my next posts will be about my French gastronomy class and the cooking workshops I've had the pleasure of being a part of. Until then!

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Iggy Takahashi-Brummer

<p>I&#39;m Iggy Takahashi, a junior studying biochemistry and French studies at the University of Portland and studying abroad in Nantes, France. I love baking, cooking, travelling, exploring, and of course spending time with my family and cats. I have traveled to Spain, China, and throughout the United States, and I hope to continue to do so after graduating!</p>

Destination:
Term:
2016 Spring
Home university:
University of Portland
Major:
Biological Chemistry
French Language
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