The first trip I took to Europe alone, I was a frazzled mess.
Stepping off a plane in Scotland, I soon realized that the £100 I had exchanged was useless – the currency I needed was euros. Lost, a kind woman gave me bus fare. Years later, that act of kindness has yet to be forgotten.
Fast forward 8 years. My travel nerves are gone. I board a plane with little anxiety. I calmly search for my destination. And if all doesn’t go according to plan, I throw my hands in the air and laugh. All of the planning in the world can’t guarantee a trip without a problem or two. In sticky situations, getting mad only adds to the frustration.
Last month, by a stoke of luck, I was able to sublet my NYC apartment and work on contract projects remotely while traveling Europe.
Though a seasoned traveller, I still make mistakes when traveling. To save you the headaches and frustration, here are my tips to make your next trip as smooth as possible.
1.) Wifi Your Way To Success
Chances are, you’ll be unable use your mobile network abroad without incurring massive charges. Luckily, most major cities have wifi everywhere from clothing stores to cafes. Two trustworthy places to look toward are Starbucks and McDonalds. Whether you’re in need of a map or a quick email fix, you’ll usually find free wifi there.
2.) Find Your Allies
Before traveling to any new country, find out where your bank has an alliance. Banking with Bank of America, I was able to use Barclays, BNP, and Deutsche Bank to make free withdrawals while abroad. Forgetting to czech to see where my bank had an alliance in Prague, I sadly had to pay a fee. If you’re using a credit card instead of a debit card, choose a bank that has free international transactions. I recommend Capital One.
3.) Fly Into The Right Airport
The day before I took off to Stockholm, I casually glanced at my ticket. I was flying into NYO and flying out of AND. A few days prior, I thought I was flying in and out of AND, booking my hotel a few miles away. As these airports were on opposite spectrums of the city, I spent my entire trip to Sweden seeing only the inside of buses, hotels and airports. This could have been avoided if I would have double checked before booking.
4.) Cheaper Is Not Always Better
I’m a sucker for a good deal. But as they say, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” During this trip, I booked a number of my flights on Ryan Air failing to realize that Ryan Air flies into random airports that are not always conveniently located. To fly out of Paris, I spent an extra €20 just to get to the airport, spending an extra 2 hours in travel that I could have spent sipping espresso. In London, I flew into Stansted with a £18 train ticket into the city. The time I would have saved flying into a major airport was not worth the overall $10 I probably saved booking a cheaper plane ticket.
5.) I’m A Hustler, Baby
I have only been scammed a few times in my life. Each time it’s happened, I felt a knot in my stomach that “something was off”. This trip, on two occurrences I had a taxi driver take me for a ride – and not the inexpensive kind. Before getting into a taxi you should always ask “how much will the trip be?” Asking this will ensure that the driver will not see you as an unsuspecting tourist. On this trip, an anticipated $40 trip cost me about $100. I knew I was getting scammed but at 1am in a strange place, compromising my safety for $60 didn’t seem worth an argument. I could have prevented this by asking the “price” before entering the cab.
Though a few rookie mistakes were made, the majority of the trip went seamlessly with great European coffee in hand.
Eating way too much food in Germany with one of my favorite travel buddies.
Spending time in Spain with a close friend eating octopus.
Hanging out with my UK buddies in England.
Having Americanos in Paris with a side of snails.
Buying $40 worth of Licorice in Stockholm.
I can’t wait to go back.