Travel Tips

10 Things I Wish I’d Known the First Time I Went to Europe

  1. Waitstaff are goldmines for recommendations and tips. Make friends with every server you have!

    Thibault Lanfranchi, our friend and bartender extraordinaire at Hostel Sete Santi in Florence, Italy.

  2. That being said, service will be slow – you will have to ask for your check, perhaps several times. I wish I had known this is not bad.
  3. You do not need to pack every piece of clothing you own, no matter how long you’re traveling. Europe has washing machines, too.
  4. People aren’t as openly friendly as they are in the states, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude.
  5. Food = culture. Dig deep and be adventurous. Everything tastes better in Europe, even Coke.

    Even Coca-Cola tastes different in Europe!

  6. Pickpockets are a problem. Moneybelts and a healthy dose of skepticism make them less so.
  7. Down time is very important. Relax and watch the day pass – don’t rush from one site to the next.
  8. Personal space is nonexistent. If you’re like me and live in an invisible box, this takes some getting used to.
  9. Guidebooks are good – bring one. On the other hand, don’t be ruled by it. The best experiences are often serendipitous.
  10. Markets are the best way to get to know a culture – and to snack on free food! Budget lots of time for wandering through them.

    Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria in Barcelona, perhaps our favorite market ever — you could get lost in here!

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