So I’m just getting back from my first full trip to Europe. My wife and I celebrated our one year anniversary in Paris and Prague. While I am by no means a Europe travel expert, I wanted to share a few hacks and tips I learned while in Europe! My wife and I have had a few people reach out to us about things to know when traveling to Europe as a first timer. So below is my attempt to share what we learned along the way.
Booking your flight to Europe:
1. If you are a student, professor, or recent graduate, booking a flight through StudentUniverse.com is the way to go! You don’t even have to be involved in college, its also available for people under 26 years old! My wife and I got tickets for around $600 a piece, which is about 30-50% off the normal prices for tickets in November/December.
2. Book early, apps like Hopper help you keep up with best times to book for tickets. Although we didn’t use Hopper to book our tickets, it was still helpful for general trends on when and when not to buy our tickets. We ended up getting our tickets to Paris around May.
Traveling around Europe:
Europe is much easier to get around then North America. Countries are much smaller and because of things like the European Union, travel is much easier between countries in Europe. While taking the train through different countries is a more scenic route, sometimes its not the cheapest. Oddly enough, flying is usually the cheaper alternative to traveling around Europe.
1. Download an app called Rome2Rio. This free app was a lifesaver recommended to me by a friend and was very helpful in planning our intra-Europe traveling. It helps give you the cheapest and quickest options to get around Europe, all the way down to public transportation.
2. Make sure to use Google Maps and get familiar with train systems. In Paris, we learned quickly that all public transportation is not the same. There is the RER, TER, MET, M, etc. Take the time to get familiar with these lines and your destinations on the front end!
3. RyanAir is super cheap but will TRY TO PLAY YOU! If you can avoid traveling with a lot of baggage or extra carry on, do that! It will save you extra money.
4. Its good to know that there are many smaller airports in Europe, so plan accordingly and don’t assume there is only one per city/area.
1. If you are in non-English speaking nations, it is worth it to take a little time learning the basics of the language. The more local you get in a non-English speaking nation, the less English speakers you will find. And trust me language barriers are a thing!
2. Have Google Translate on deck! It will save you time and potentially money.
Not all European countries use Euros, which is currently pretty close to the US dollar. That’s a good thing! Make sure to know the currency used in the country that you are visiting.ATM’s will most likely save you more money than the money exchange stores. It’s good to always have cash on you.
We stayed in AirBnBs. Wifey would have preferred hotels. Therefore I would have preferred hotels (marriage hack). So next time in Europe, thats probably what we’ll do!
However, our AirBnb’s were pretty clean and accurate for the most part! Our first AirBnb was a lot further than we thought from the city. This proved to be a bit inconvenient for travel and language barriers.
1. Have that battery pack strapped on you! Especially smartphone users. Keep it charged.
2. Buy a US plug adapter as soon as you touch down. You can get this in the airport or local tech store.
1. Louvre Museum (there’s a whole world underneath that thing, I was shocked)
2. Eiffel Tower (dug)...but at night. Every hour on the hour it lights up. This makes for some cool selfies.
1. Prague Castle (free tours up until the inner castle)
2. Charles Bridge (super crowded, but great views)
Overall, we had a good trip! We still prefer the tropicals...but glad we could experience what Europe had to offer and definitely plan to be back! Once again, I’m not a travel blogger by any means, but hope this blog was helpful for those of you traveling to Europe for the first time or planning to go back!