Thursday, June 28, 2018

14 Tips For Your European Vacation

This blog post is a part of a series about my European adventure to Paris, Italy and Portugal to celebrate my best friend Liz getting married. I learned so much by planning this trip by myself, with tips from Liz and a shared spreadsheet with my other bestie Steph, I couldn’t let the opportunity by to share what I learned with you!

I learned a LOT while planning Ocean Eyes and my's trip to Italy for my best friend Liz's wedding. Before, during and reflecting back, it was an amazing trip, with a few hang ups and a large learning curve. But we made it through together and I want to share the big things learned I with you!

1. Plan early - I am a HUGE planner. Everything is on my Google Calendar. I started planning for this Italy trip in January and we left the end of June. In January, I researched hotels and flights. When I found the ones I wanted, after reading lots of reviews, I began booking a little each paycheck. That helped spread out the cost of the trip and to have it payed for by the time we left.

2. Spreadsheet & itinerary - Plan more, do less. I had a Google spreadsheet that I mapped out our trip with. Each day, each hotel we were to stay at with the address, each mode of transportation we'd take that day, plus estimated daily costs. Once I began booking, I marked each item as green to show it was paid for. I could even add up the entire cost of the trip there as well and share that with Ocean Eyes. I planned extra and we didn't do everything, but at least we had options! One thing I didn't do was study the transportation maps. I'm working on an entire post just for that!
3. + app - I booked all my hotels on, printed all the booking confirmations and downloaded the app for easy access to my bookings and addresses. Everything is laid out in order of your trip on the app. It was such a lifesaver. I love having back ups of everything just in case! Plus afterwards you can easily leave a review right on the app.

4. How early to get your passport? - ASAP! They messed up my middle name in April and I had to send it right back to get corrected. That was stressful but there was enough time, so everything worked out!

5. Learn the language with podcasts - I love Coffee Break Italian {there are more languages too!} and I really want to get Babbel. You can sign up for a free three month trial and listen while you drive. Plus they say you can learn a language in three weeks with Babbel! Next trip I'd start right away. Though now that we are back, I cannot wait to continue my Italian language journey.
6. Get a substantial luggage - I bought both Ocean Eyes and I Away carry on luggages and they are amazing. I've been following them on Instagram for a year now and got his for his birthday and quickly bought one for myself as well. They include adaptors for Europe, Australian and Japan, a portable battery for charging your electronics on the go and lots of storage and compression. They handled very well on all the cobblestone walkways. I got white and was happy to have it wipe clean with a Magic Eraser once we returned home! I'll show you how I packed everything for the trip in an upcoming post!

7. WiFi is almost everywhere - I did purchase a data plan before leaving on the trip, but I'm not sure it was really needed. Almost everywhere we went, even the cities had their own wifi. Just double check that the place you are staying has it. We were out of wifi one night of our trip, but our host, quickly bought us a hot spot. So no harm done. I kept my phone in airplane mode most of the time and hooked up to any wifi available. For quick texts and social media posts, I did use data. So if you don't mind waiting for posts or just using Facebook Messenger or the like, no data plan is needed!
8. Shoes - break them in early! I bought a new pair of Keds for the trip and even though I did wear them a few times before the trip, I still had a few pain points on my feet. I carried bandaids in my purse just in case! These were the only pair of shoes I brought aside from my wedding shoes. They are cute and went with everything. They will get dirty, just don't wash them in the washing machine! Spot wash them and bring a Tide pen. I LOVED the Tide pen! Tide pen can be found in the travel section of your local store.

9. Adaptor not converter - here’s mine from Amazon. I learned that the hard way. Thank you Steph for this tip! The one I bought had an adaptor and converter switch. JUST USE THE ADAPTOR switch. LOL I broke my curling iron on day three because of this mistake. Mostly I used my Away adapter, but it does only come with a USB plug so plan accordingly.

10. Use cash. Check your credit card and debit card fees before you leave and let your card companies know you will be out of the country otherwise you can’t use them overseas. I found that getting cash out before leaving American and converting it at my destination was the best way to stay on budget and not acquire an additional fees.
11. Downy Wrinkle Release Spray - IS A lifesaver for a quick and easy wrinkle release without an iron. I roll all of my clothes in my luggage to cut down on wrinkles, but that doesn't always do the trick. This spray is pure magic. I am so happy this was one of my last minute purchases. You can find it in the travel section of Target...I would grab two just in case. Together, Ocean Eyes and I finished one bottle with a couple days left to go.

12. Hydrate - We both got so dehydrated without even realizing it. Bring an empty water bottle to clip onto your backpack and fill it up constantly. You will be doing a lot of walking!
13. My Taxi App - Download the My Taxi app. It is great for the bigger cities: Paris, Rome and Milan. But I did find it quite easy to navigate the metros, trains and by walking. They even have rentable bikes! So a taxi was a last resort. We only used it one time. But it was well worth it! I'm going to share all of my transportation tips in another post!

14. Paying for public bathrooms - Make sure to always carry change with you. A few times in public places we encountered this. It was only 1 Euro, but in an emergency, it can get you flustered!

Have you all traveled abroad? Share your tips below or ask anything I might have left out! Live abroad share your tips with us travelers too!


❤Cate❤ said...

Great tips planning early really is the key and the earlier you book the more you save! When I travel I always research the place as much as possible and find different things to do and places to visit but I don't really plan out every single day and tend to just go with how I'm feeling when I wake up haha, but it's good to have an idea of the places you'd like to visit so your days don't seem wasted. A rough plan is better than no plan at all xoxo

B. said...

I love all of these tips! I remember being surprised at the bathroom fee in London and trying to figure out the correct combo of change! LOL

Megan Elvrum said...

LOL yeah it is a bit stressful when you NEED to go!

Megan Elvrum said...

I totally agree Cate! I had a full itinerary for us each day and sometimes we did one thing other times we did it all! Better more than none! x

princessdeia said...

Google Translate App is amazing, you can scan texts e.g. menus and it automatically translate the text.
A must for a veggie!

Megan Elvrum said...

Oh perfect! My friend Steph had it, but I forgot to download it, I preferred to just guess. LOL I like torturing myself! It truly helped though when I was with her. xx

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