Check out our best travel tips for your day to day while on the go!
Adjust to the timezone
This is arguably one of the hardest parts of international travel. You’ll want your body to adjust quickly to the new time zone so you can make the most out of your vacation. If your flight arrives in the morning, try to stay busy during the day by getting outside and seeing some sights. Although you’ll be tired from an overnight flight, you do not want to nap. Instead, distract yourself with fun things in your new destination and then go to bed early the first night you arrive. In all honesty, after dinner on the first day I’m typically crawling into bed around 7pm. You’ll be amazed to see what one good, long nights sleep can do to help you adjust!
Visit a grocery store
Typically a grocery store is one of our first stops when we’re in a new city or place. We often stock up on snacks (such as granola bars, chips or fruit) that we can easily pack throughout the day. Grocery stores are also a great place to get some fun goodies to bring home – such as a unique flavor of lays chips or some fine Swiss chocolate. It’s way more budget friendly to purchase these equally good and yummy items at the market than at a souvenir shop.
Every morning before starting our day, we pack snacks into our backpack to carry with us. The goods we were able to stock up on at the grocery store comes in handy since we know how being hangry can ruin a day. When you’re traveling, you’re often walking a lot more than you normally do which means you’ll get hungry quickly. With so many things to do and see, you won’t always want to stop for a proper sit down meal so snacks are the best way to keep you going.
Wake up early
The best way to beat the crowds is to wake up early. It’s a much more enjoyable experience when you can make a wish in the Trevi fountain and soak up an iconic moment without being elbow to elbow with strangers and their selfie sticks. A personal example of ours was when we visited Dubrovnik in the summer (peak season). In order for us to visit the old town without the crowds, we were out the door by 6am, roaming the streets and taking in the sites. The only others around were locals setting up their markets or restaurant tables. It was such a more enjoyable experience. If you have the will power to do so, exploring a city in the early morning is the best way to enjoy some of the busiest attractions.
Avoid photos on menus
Any restaurant which has a large sign or menu with photos of their food on it is most likely a tourist trap. It’s not where the locals are eating and they are going to up-charge you for mediocre food. Instead, wander 10 minutes in the opposite direction of any major tourist attraction (down a small side street) or to a quieter part of town and find a place to eat there. Better yet – ask your hotel concierge, your Airbnb host or a local in a shop where they like to eat. You’re bound to find more authentic food by taking a step away and going where the locals go. One of our favorite memories of this was when we asked our tour guide in Prague for a recommendation on where to eat. He pointed us in the direction of a sandwich shop called Lahudky. He warned us the woman behind the counter won’t speak english, but you simply point to what you want that’s available in the glass container. Their open faced sandwiches were one of the best meals we had in Prague!
Know your gelato facts
Gelato that is stacked high in the containers may look enticing, but it’s important to note that it is old gelato. Any gelato that doesn’t sell the previous days, gets stacked on top of the container. If you’re looking for fresh gelato, you’ll want to find the containers that are filled, but flat and even with the top of the container. Our favorites? Giolitti in Rome or Vivoli in Florence.
Ask for Student / Senior Discounts
Many museums and attractions offer discounts for students and seniors. In some European countries, a senior can be considered 60+ so it’s always a good idea to research in advance. If you’re a student, always carry your student ID. We were able to get into nearly every museum and attraction in Paris for free or a discounted rate!
Utilize fast food places or cafés
There is no shame in entering a Starbucks or McDonald’s while abroad. They usually have free bathrooms and free wifi, so can be a great spot to regroup. If you can’t find a place like this, a local café will typically offer wifi as well, and with a purchase of a coffee you should be allowed to use their bathroom.
Take only what you need for the day
When heading out for the day, take only what you need. (i.e. $50 in cash, ID and one or two credit cards). Keeping some things locked in a safe back at the hotel spreads out your assets, in case something is lost or stolen, you’ll never be completely without. Throw in a few snacks, a water bottle and a phone/camera and you’re good to go!
Watch out for pickpockets
Being a tourist, you’re an easy target for a pickpocket so it’s important to keep track of your belongings. While you’re distracted by the Sagrada Familia or Eiffel Tower, snapping pictures, ooh-ing and ah-ing – pay attention to your belongings! I always recommend to have a cross body purse or bag, so you can keep it in front of you. If you prefer a backpack, finding a travel one that zips on the back portion so when you’re wearing it the zippers are covered is always a good idea. If you already have a backpack, wearing it on the front of your body while in crowded areas is important (especially tourist sites and subways). If you keep a wallet in your pants pocket, always keep it in the front, rather than back pocket.
Go on a free walking tour
A great way to start your trip is by taking a free walking tour around the city with a local guide. We highly recommend Sandeman’s Walking Tours, where the guides are tip based. It’s a great way to get acclimated to the city, learn a little history and get some recommendations from a local. (We’ve done them in Prague, Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam and NYC and loved each one). At the end of the tour, you decide how much it was worth and tip the guide accordingly!
We hope this article helps prepare you for a successful vacation!
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