I finally visited Europe this past Spring for the first time and had the best time!! The food was delicious, the points of interest, and the architecture stunned me! However, this trip was a huge learning experience for me that has made me a better traveler now. I would like to share what I have learned my first time visiting Europe and hopefully you too won’t make the same mistakes I did.
Take Europe Trains
Never Flying Again Throughout Europe… Take the Train!
The number one thing that I learned and completely overlooked was the TRAIN system throughout Europe. I always knew Europe had a train system, but I always just resorted to flying between each city rather than taking the train because that’s what you would have done in the U.S. However, flying in Europe is so inconvenient in so many ways.
- Flying is faster when you consider the time it takes from take off to landing, however the airlines forget to mention the hours you need to be there before to check in your luggage, go through security, AND the hour drive you need to take to get from the inner cities in Europe to the airport.
Why is the train so much better?
- The train station will most likely be in the main city you are staying in so no extra travel needed to get to the station.
- No security, unless you are going from London to Paris where there would be security and customs.
- The seats are comfortable… the whole journey is just stress free and relaxing. And to be honest, who really likes to be up in the air. I am not against flying, but I prefer to be on the ground.
- And lastly, when you arrive to your new destination you are closer to the city center than the airport.
I know price might be a factor when deciding between a train and a flight. The train may be more expensive, but the convenience of it outweighs the price factor for me. I learned the hard way by booking flights between all my cities that I was traveling to, and in the end was a complete waste of time and taxi money. I will never fly throughout European cities again… even if the train will take a little longer. I am SOLD.
Booking Flights/ Activities Too Early
Unless you wake up naturally at 6 AM, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you are more like me, a 9/10AM person, then listen up!
I was ambitious when I booked our flights and activities. I picked the earliest options thinking that waking up wouldn’t be so hard. Turns out when your on vacation you just want to relax! When you’re touring all day, eating and drinking (heavily) the last thing you want to do is have to wake up without proper rest.
I booked everything too early and it costed me way more money in the long run. For Example, I booked a 7:15AM flight from Madrid to Barcelona. The previous night I also went to El Tigre a tapas bar where the drinks and food kept coming. The next thing I remember is scrambling at 6AM realizing that I missed my flight! I had to buy a train ticket instead, but without making this mistake I would have never known how easy the train system is!
Note: If you plan on taking Public Transport to the airports in the morning, they might not be in service. They do not run 24/7, so a cab would also be a added expense to your trip.
Sightseeing Bus Tours
This is as touristy as it gets, but if you are on a time crunch and want to see as much as possible I recommend the sightseeing bus tours. I used Big Bus throughout London and Paris and had a good experience.
Pack Light & Loose
It’s hard, especially for us girls to pack light, but it is so important when traveling to Europe. Just keep in mind when your packing that you will be lugging your suitcases around especially if you plan on using public transportation. I learned this the hard way when every single Air B&B we stayed at had no elevator. Who wants to haul heavy luggages around?
You should also leave room in your suitcase for anything that you plan on bringing back with you. So much easier to fit things in when you plan ahead, instead of forcing your luggage to close.
Lastly… pack an umbrella or else you’ll have to wear a plastic rain poncho and who can really make that chic?