Part one – Planning
Last year, I spent a significant amount of time looking for travel tips to help me manage my upcoming trip to Spain, but somehow, I felt like some tips are not as useful and practical.
So now, I will share some of my travel tips, which I consider must-dos at the moment based on some bad experiences. I will be referring to some of my trips just to give some background to support my tips. So let’s start:
1) Take the time to plan your trip: Needless to say, planning can make or break your vacation. Whether you’re planning to go to a resort on an island or planning an adventurous vacation, you should set your goals in advance. Deciding what is your main objective of the trip will save you a lot, including money, time and stress.
2) After deciding the objective of your trip, it’s the time to think about the things you want to do on your trip. If you’re planning to go shopping, then start looking for the shops you want to visit, if it’s attractions and sightseeing that you seek, look for the attractions that might be of interest, and so on. You can use websites such as www.tripadvisor.com to look for the most visited attractions where you’re going, which will give you an idea what to prioritize.
Moving forward, I will be talking about sightseeing as the main objective, as that is usually my main objective.
3) Classify these attractions into the following categories: must see, maybe, if possible. After you decide, do the research on these attractions. You might change your mind after all.
My first trip to Paris, I insisted on going to Euro Disney, because… Euro Disney! I ended up regretting going there because it was a complete waste of time (for me as an adult with no kids) which I could have spent going to more important places such as Notre Dame, or Champs-Élysées for example, which I didn’t get the chance to see till the moment of writing these lines at the moment.
4) Check the locations on the map and see which of these attractions are in the same area or can be covered in the same day. This way you’ll be able to plan your vacation better and make sure you’re not wasting your time on transpiration.
5) Speaking of transportation, evaluate the best way to roam around, whether it’s public transpiration, taxies, renting a car or even walking, this will affect many decisions moving forward.
In Europe, the parking is a complete nightmare. Bigger cities such as Paris, Munich, or Berlin are not the easiest place to find a place to park, and if you were able to find a parking, be prepared to pay a fortune for it.
6) Buy tickets in advance. This might be a no-brainer, but famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, sell out weeks, maybe moths, in advance. Just make sure to check the official websites and buy the tickets to avoid any disappointments. By doing that, it will help you better plan your route visiting the attractions.
Before going to Paris, I forgot to buy the tickets and I ended up paying 50 € for my ticket from the hotel instead of 17€. Or like the time I went to Berlin TV Tower (Fernsehturm de Berlín) and the tickets were sold out and I didn’t get the chance to check it.
7) Again, do your research. Even if I friend mentioned a place that you must see, I beg you to spend 10 minutes researching this place before your go: Where is it, how to get there, what to expect, etc.
Me and my best friend went to Italy 4 years ago, and while visiting Pisa, my friend remembered her friend’s suggestion to go to San Gimignano, a medieval hill town in Toscany. What we did wrong? EVERYTHING! We did not even know how to pronounce the name (it’s pronounced: SAN GIMI-NIANO by the way. You’re welcome). We took a train to Poggibonsi, and then we decided to walk to San Gimignano. Thank goodness there was a group of tourists that felt sorry for us and asked us to join them in the Taxi that will take them to the town. After that we realized that the town was almost 40KM away from Poggibonsi.
8) Make sure to check the train schedules in advance. Some countries are not reliable in terms of timings, but at least you’ll have an idea about how much time you’ll need to be back in the station for your ride back to where you stay.
On that same trip to San Gimignano, we did not check the schedules and we ended up waiting for 3 hours at night in the small station of Poggibonsi for a ride back to Florence… That was not fun at all, believe me!
9) It might be useful to invest in buying a sim card from that country. Most probably the internet will be much cheaper than roaming and maybe even more reliable. This would allow you to check Google for train timings and routes.
In Netherlands, since I don’t speak Dutch, train station names were a bit confusing, so I depended massively on Google to get around the country.
10) You can use some offline maps to get around if you’re worried about the data. Here Maps is a great example of a map that you can save and use offline when abroad.
11) Be ready to adapt and adjust. Sometimes, even with all the planning, something goes wrong, like bad weather for example. Have a backup plan to ensure you don’t let these things get to you.
While in Paris, the weather was really bad in March (I live in Dubai, average temperatures for that time of the year is 25 C. In Paris the temperature was around 3 C), which affected my plan to visit all the places I had in mind. I ended up in the Army Museum, which was a great unplanned option.
Do you have more tips on planning? Please share