Tips For First Time Travellers

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So you’ve decided to hit the road! Now what? I’ve had a few first time travellers and friends ask me for my best travel tips! I thought I’d write a few of my biggest travel tips for those itching for adventure! Feel free to message me for any questions or advice 🙂

Getting Around
Flights– I always use Google Flights as my first stop when flight searching. It has an extremely user-friendly interface. You can easily move your search between dates and surrounding airports to find cheap rates. While its true that the flights aren’t always the cheapest, especially for international flights, I still think that when you’re in the planning stage, Google flights is the best. You gain a ballpark idea of the rates, and especially if your dates are flexible, can find the cheapest time to fly. For one way, short, or last minute flights (Lets you see a Map View of prices which is very handy).

After you’ve found the flight you want, try booking direct with the airline to get a better deal (you’ll often find that it doesnt differ greatly from the price that google flights quoted you).
Ryanair is awesome. They don’t fly everywhere, but are surely a European travel staple. Watch out for flash deals, and try booking direct through their website for great deals. Also a super user-friendly booking system, great for within-Europe travel and flexible dates!
Use eDreams and Skyscanner if you have non-flexible dates or for international flights.

Busses– I’ll fight anyone on this- Bussing is the best way to get around Europe! Cheap, fast, and going where you’re going.
Goeuro.com lets you compare prices. It often ends up sending you to
Flixbus though, with whom I’ve always had a good experience. Bathrooms, wifi, on time, speedy transfers.

BlaBlaCar– An incredible carpool app that offers very affordable, friendly and quick travel between cities. Travelling with locals has endless perks.

Trains– If you’re bougie. Honestly I think interrail is overrated. PROs: I’ve heard the rides can be very beautiful. But if you’re doing things right you’ll be way too hungover to enjoy the scenery anyways. CONS: inter-rail passes are very expensive, and come with restrictions, like that you can only use the pass a certain amount of times, to visit a certain amount of countries/cities. They’re slow. They’re full of mostly tourists. Check it out though, their packages might work with the time frame you have in mind.

Ferries– ferries are fun! Not usually fast, but almost always a cheaper option than flying.
Directferries.com lets you compare!

Where to Stay
If you’re in a group of 3 or more, you can save by booking on airbnb, booking.com, or homeaway. (the last two are gaining popularity in Europe). Even if you are 3 or less people, on long journeys it can worth it to splurge to have some space to yourself and some peace and quiet.

HOWEVER, I ALWAYS encourage the hostel experience! 1. You always meet interesting people from all over the world! Expand your network, hear funny stories. You meet other people travelling solo or looking for companions to do stuff with. Often these are the friendliest of hostel guests! Theres a saying among travels that says simply “you’re never alone when travelling alone”. Not sure what to do in a place? Hostel staff are extremely helpful and can give you local recommendations off the tourist path, as well as must-sees. Too lazy to do your research before showing up in a city? No worries at all. Hostel staff, fellow travellers, and notice boards are really all you need to fill whatever time you have. Furthermore, hostels usually have deals on attractions that they can offer you. Hostels usually plan all kinds of activities, from pub crawls, dinners, outings, excursions. Bop along to easily make some friends and have some fun. With other people around to meet and talk to, it can be nice to have a break from the people you are travelling with. They almost always have a kitchen to cook your own food and save money. Of course- save money! Hostels are always the cheapest option. They also offer flexibility. You can almost always find a hostel bed on short notice. The best part is, theres so many different kinds of hostels out there, especially in big cities, that you can find one that best suits your needs and budget. A private room if you should need? A party hostel with lots going on, or one more laid back? There’s something for everyone.
Doesnt all of that sound way better than sitting in a hotel/ airbnb room by yourself or with the people you are already travelling with? hehe.
Visit Hostelworld.com to see whats out there!
Tips: Make sure you have an eye mask, good earplugs, and a pad lock (for lockers or to lock up a bag if necessary) with you. Depending on availability and budget, I always try to choose rooms with as few people as possible. Spending a few more euros for an 8 bed dorm is worth it for me to avoid a 14 bed dorm. Less bodies, less noise, less in and out of the room at all hours. Better sleep means a happier traveller!

Couchsurfing.com. Have yet to try this myself but have heard amazing things! Build your global network of friends all over the world. You usually get very interesting hosts. Reviews are obviously VERY important in this network, so be a good guest!

Homestay.com. Save money, stay with locals, get a local experience. Always a good option/ last minute option!

What to do
I always recommend starting with a free walking tour. I do them in almost new every city I go to. They can be found with a quick google search or by asking your hostel. They allow you to see the highlights of a city, get some historical context, and get the feel for a place, at whatever price you can afford. You can ask all kinds of questions to the local guide, and figure out what you want to do with the rest of your time!

I always go with Sandeman’s if they are around, super high quality walking tours, knowledgable guides, always hitting the highlights! They also offer other tours.

Travel Insurance
Dont fuck around with this one. I’ve heard horror stories of travellers getting into tens of thousands of dollars in debt because they had to be air lifted or have emergency surgery in a foreign place without insurance.

I recommend World Nomads. Affordable, helpful, and extensive coverage to help you out of any pickle you should find yourself in. They cover cancelled flights, stolen documents, stole items, etc. Also it just puts your mind at ease so you can enjoy your trip more.
Blue Cross has always been good to me in the past, too. See if your bank has deals.

And finally-

… its the little things that make a trip! Of course you want to be present and enjoy the journey. But paying attention to the small details will ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.
Price compare. Especially in the planning stages of your trip, it’s worth it to do a little shopping around. Particularly for big expenses like housing and transport. Travel can add up fast, so by taking a little extra care every step of the way, you’ll never have to be one of those people who make me facepalm by saying “I don’t have money to travel!” (Because its just untrue. Travel can happen on any budget, as long as you do it right.)
Keep your friends close, and your wallet closer . Losing your friends and your phone is one thing on a regular night out, and a whole other while travelling. Taking extra care of the people you’re with is crucial in a foreign land. Pickpocketers pray on inexperienced travellers, so take extra care of your belongings especially in crowded areas. I always take the business card of the hotel/ hostel I’m staying at, so I can always get back.
Take care when crossing streets. Please don’t be the person texting and walking. Cars drive on the other side, and often have different pedestrian courtesy rules, country to country.
BE FRIENDLY. Smile. You, wherever you are, represent the country you’re coming from. Chances are the locals wherever you’re going already have stereotyped ideas of tourists. Prove them wrong! Knowing or becoming friends with locals will ALWAYS enhance your experience, from local recommendations to experiencing something off the beaten tourist path. And you’ll have a couch to crash on if you ever return!
Don’t you dare litter (its just bad form wherever you are in the world).

 

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