There are lots of things you should carefully take into account before hopping on a plane for your next trip and sometimes they are just too many. From finding the best place to stay to planning your days and things to do, travel prep can be really time-consuming. Here are some simple but useful tips to have in mind when making plans for the next vacation.
1. Less is more
Even if you’re not traveling on a strict and tight budget you might want to consider booking a plane ticket from low fare companies like Wizz Air and Ryan Air (for Europe travel!). If you’re lucky enough, it may cost you €40 for a return ticket! Also, unless you’re planning to spend 90% of your time at the hotel it’s not necessary to book 5-star hotels for hundreds of euros per night – you can simply find accommodation for less money and on a good quality. Websites like Airbnb offer a wide range of places to stay and you can set a price range to search in. Most of the places are separate rooms/houses where you”ll have more privacy and coziness. And the point in all this – the money you save from airplane tickets and accommodation will directly go for the main part of the trip like sightseeing, food, souvenirs, etc. Since some destinations, such as Paris, Rome, London, are a bit more pricey, that’s a good thing to do.
2. Get the right apps
There are hundreds of apps right now and it’s impossible to list them all but here are some that are useful and also free. The first one is Rick Steve’s Audio app but unfortunately it focuses only on destinations in Europe. Basically, you can download playlists with general cultural and sightseeing information and listen to it offline – it’s a free tour guide on your phone! Then there are apps like Foursquare and CityMaps2Go where you can find places for dining, entertainment, nightlife and etc. CityMaps2Go has the option for offline maps, too.
3. Study the terrain
If you’re visiting a city for the first time and wonder how you’ll get from spot A to B – especially if you’re short on time – don’t worry, I got you covered! There’s this website Rome2Rio which I accidentally found when planning my trip to Rome (more info here) and I was literally in love with it! It shows you the itinerary from place A to B and the options you have for getting there – public transport, on foot, taxi or whatever. It shows the approximate time you might have to wait for a bus/metro/whatever and also the approximate price of tickets for public transport and taxi. And it has information about pretty much every city you can think of.
4. Pre-booking is key
Always make sure to book you tickets for major attractions in advance and spare yourself waiting on 2 lines – one to buy tickets and the other to actually enter. It’s a nightmare sometimes at big tourist attractions – I waited a whole hour to enter the Versailles Palace!
5. Beware of pickpockets
Yup, they are everywhere, especially in big crowded cities. Always be aware of your personal belongings and write somewhere down the address and phone of your country’s embassy in case of emergency. And it would be good to carry a copy of your passport/ID, so the original one won’t get stolen.
6. Pick up some phrases
Easier said than done, I know, but sometimes it’s better to know basic phrases in a local language because as surprising as it may sound not everyone speaks English. And you may need urgent help to find something. If not learning phrases, then at least you could download a dictionary on your phone.
7. Take it easy
Sometimes time is not enough to see everything you want and you find yourself in a rush everywhere you go. Apart from making you extremely tired, this also takes part of the pleasure away. Rushing down the streets taking multiple photos of everything while looking at your watch is probably the worst thing you could do. You simply miss on the good stuff because most of the times the good stuff aren’t all the museums and castles but the simple act of walking peacefully around or sipping on a coffee at a café watching the world go by, really soaking the place’s atmosphere. That is what travel is all about.
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