March 3, 2010

Ten Tips on Traveling Europe Efficiently: 5 & 6

Tips 1-4 are on earlier posts. Ron continues his advice today with Tips 5 & 6.

5) What to bring
• Besides the necessities such as toiletries and clothes (discussed above under “How to pack”), there are other important items I would bring.

i. Laptop- not all hostels have Internet, and some only have wifi.

ii. Copies of your passport/visa- always good to have copies in case you need to reference something on your Passport. It’s much better to loose a copy.

iii. Space- Yes. You will be buying souvenirs and gifts.

iv. Backpack and small suitcase- Backpack for the laptop and other non-clothes items, suitcase for everything else. Your suitcase should be as small as possible!

v. Cell phone- always good in case of emergencies and jotting down new friends’ numbers.

vi. Two pairs of shoes and sandals (optional)- I always carried sneakers for walking in the day, shoes for dressing up and sandals for hot weather. It seems like a lot but its not: the sandals—since they’re thin—can go in the backpack, one pair of shoes in the bag and the other you’ll be wearing.

6) Saving money
• As talked about under “”, picking a hostel with a higher customer rating—although sometimes a bit more expensive—can actually save you money. The next expensive part of travelling is food. This was especially cost heavy for me because I eat a lot more than the average Joe. However, even I saved lots of money. It’s nice to eat out every once in awhile, but costs do add up. So, why not go to the grocery store? Food is usually cheap and you get a lot of it for your buck. Going back to the customer ratings of hostels, the best ones usually have kitchens that allow you to cook what you want. DO IT! Not only is this another great way to meet people, but cooking your own food from the grocery store will cost next to nothing! Let me sight a personal experience: As I turned on the stove, a French girl approached me asking what I was cooking, I replied, “cheeseburgers.” After her snarky remark about how American my food was—it was actually pretty funny—she asked if she could eat my food with me. In return, she provided and cooked some good French cuisine the next day.

A huge paella dish for everyone at the hostel

• Beware of tourist traps. I’ve been to countless gift shops in Europe where one has a gift for 5 dollars and the shop next door has the same one for 15. My advice would be to get gifts on the last day you have in the city. This will give you a chance to pop in and out of different gift shops and narrow down the stores that have the cheapest prices.

• Take advantage of what your hostel has to offer. Many have free or almost free tours of the city, bar crawls, free or discounted museum passes, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask people where they went and what their opinion was on it.

Think you're doing ok so far? Check back tomorrow for tips 7 & 8 - see if you can handle #7.

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