I’ve been fortunate enough to do tons of traveling in my 25 years of life thanks to school, track & field and having my dad’s entire family be from the Middle East. But until this summer, I’ve never traveled as a lone traveler with the goal of just “seeing the sites.”
As many of my friends and family know, this summer I spent 6 weeks in Europe and visited about 7-8 cities in my time there. Pretty much I’m a travel guru now. Not really, but I’ve learned so much and made many mistakes so now I can tell YOU all what not to do and some crucial things to consider when traveling abroad.
Here are my top 8 tips in random order.
- We’ve all heard this, but consider going during the off season. Everyone and their mama wants to backpack through Europe in the summer so be prepared to meet many a tourist. If that doesn’t bother you, then no biggie. But be prepared to spend a good amount of your trip in a long a** line.
- Speaking of lines, a friend tipped me off to booking things in advance online. That way, you don’t have to risk arriving only to find that the line stretches all the way to Jerusalem and back. And after waiting over an hour when you finally reach the ticket counter it’s already sold out #YesImBitter. (This happened to me more times than I’d like to admit). But *OJO* sometimes they charge more when you buy the ticket online. So you decide. “To take the risk or to not take the risk”- Sherez
- Sticking with the theme of lines, let’s talk about airlines. Some friends put me on to Ryanair and through Google I also discovered Vueling. These are airlines that are pretty crusty but they get you from location A to B in Europe at a fraction of the cost. Literally my round trip ticket from Barcelona to Paris was about 90 euros and that was because I left on a Friday and came back on Sunday. They had weekday roundtrip flights for 40 euros.
- Here’s a little disclaimer though: with Ryanair you need to be able to print your boarding pass or they’ll charge you 15 euros each way to print it. Talk about an expensive tree.
- Luggage is not free. My summer clothing consists of baby crop tops and shorts so they can easily fit in a backpack. But if you’re someone who overpacks then you’ll have to pay for a luggage. Even the carry on.
- It is SUPER important to consider the time of your flight if a) you are traveling alone b) you don’t speak the language c) all of the above. Why you ask? I’ll tell you. In Rome for example, public transportation near the airport stops after 11:30pm. So if you have a flight getting in after that time you will have to pay a for a cab. This can be superrrr expensive alone. I had to pay 50 euros to get from the airport to my hostel which was only about 4-5 miles. The metro would’ve cost me about 2 euros. So even though I saved money buying the cheapest flight. I lost it all, and I mean ALL on that taxi ride. When I tell you it hurt my soul, I am not lying. Also if you don’t speak the language AND you’re alone AND you’re a woman it might not be safe especially if you’re walking and have suitcases. That’s pretty obvious though.
- Going off of late nights (I’m an academic. We have to make things flow and connect every dot possible) consider staying at a hostel instead of Airbnb if you’re getting in late. Many of the hosts on airbnb don’t live on site so they may not be able to make it to their place at 2 am to let you in. It’s not easy to do and it’s not like they’re making as much money as a hotel. Many hostels on the other hand have 24 hour check in so that takes off some of the stress of late night traveling. I ended up canceling the airbnb in Rome because the person was shady and wanted to charge me extra last minute for arriving at 1 am when he told me it was fine before #NotGettingMyMoneyBish.
- If you have AT&T you might as well start trickin on the corner now. Their international data plan not only is outrageously expensive but it’s also outrageously bogus. They say you get coverage at their random hotspots. It LITERALLY says RANDOM in the package. Somebody tell me what the heck that means? It’s like 1-2$ a minute to make phone calls, 50 cents for a text message and a bunch of other nonsense. Pretty much the contract was created by the devil himself. So my advice: become best buds with airplane mode and turn on the wifi. There was only one situation where I needed wifi and couldn’t get it but luckily a nice guy who I thought had no hidden motive, let me use his. (He later wanted to know if I was married and if I’d go to a corner to and have drinks with him and his buddy. #TryAgainBro
- For ma foodies, if you can get recommendations from a local about where to eat DO IT. The worst thing you could do (in my food loving opinion) is go to a country known for it’s cuisine and eat food that tastes like rocks. I honestly didn’t find tripadviser that useful because many of the reviews were done by other tourists and nothing against tourist but I was tryna eat like a local. In Rome, one of the hostel workers recommended to me a hidden gem that had the most delicious homemade pasta for so cheap. I was in heaven. So moral of the story, if you’re a foodie, you better become an askie and start asking the locals you meet where they eat.
- Lastly, if you’re traveling by bus and the trip is 8 hours or more, consider traveling overnight so you don’t have to book a sleeping accommodation for that night. Don’t be too proud to snuggle on up next to your seatmate (if that’s not a word it is now), pop a sleeping pill and pass out. You get to your destination a little funky but rested enough to explore. If you’re big ballin’ then good for you, you can go book your fancy hotel. #UTrynaPassASistaADolla #OrNah
Welp, those are pretty much the 8 tips that are most prominent in my mind right now. I hope they help if you’re planning to travel. Feel free to comment or ask questions. And sharing or subscribing never hurt nobody (probably not true).