the brutally honest guide to travel & leisure for the young, fun, & broke
Travel Like a Semi-Pro
Have a great travel bag. Do not do a Vera Bradley duffel. Girls died with them. You need a nice, sturdy bag with wheels. Vera gets dirty very quickly and carrying a duffel across an airport, on the metro, and walking across a city gets tiring very fast. Guys, you can probably get away with a backpack.
You will use your carry-on every weekend. Pay the extra money for the best functioning one that is well under the guidelines. The airlines are strict about sizes.
Pack everything in your carry-on that you would need to survive for 3 days. My luggage from JFK to Heathrow was sent to Chicago for a few days and I finally got it back the morning I left London for Barcelona. The chances of getting your luggage lost are very high when you are making transfers (especially when you get told mid flight that it is too foggy to land, you get rerouted, and miss your London flight. Ha.)
Thanks to the Schengen Agreement, people living within the EU do not need a passport to travel among other EU countries. You won’t get stamps at all of the wonderful countries you visit.
I have even tried to ask at the joke they call customs. The men laughed in my face and sent me on. It was worth a shot!
The biggest mistake on the long flight to Europe that people make is not taking earplugs. The engines will bother you more than you realize.
Neck pillow. Everyone walks on the plane carrying them on their necks. It will save you, especially in a middle seat for 7 hours.
Be careful of prescription strength sleeping pills if you have never taken one before. I hallucinated my whole flight from the US to London.
Ask your hostel for help and recommendations. They specialize on things for the poorest travelers so they know the best deals and the best restaurants for all types of travelers.
Hostels are a great place to make friends
Take a towel and shower shoes!!
Do everything in your power to not exchange money for weekend trips. Use card. Three days is not enough time to validate taking little sums of money out of an ATM. (ie. Forint, Szloty)
The Euro will be accepted at most places that do not identify the Euro as their national currency, because so many tourists come through (ie Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Morocco) The catch is that they will give you change back in their own currency.
Carry plenty of Euro’s on you. You never know where you will go that does not take card.
Congratulations on buying that money belt. Nothing says tourist more than your little safety pack. If you are conscious of your belongings, keep a hand over your bag while it is in front of your body, you will be fine. 3 months abroad and (knock on wood) nothing has been stolen. Update: Made it home with everything I took and more.
I’m not sure the validity of this, but it is cheap and easy to get the little paper card protectors to put in your wallet over your cards. Apparently people can scan your card right through your purse but I think it’s quite extreme. Either way, I still have the little sleeves on my cards now that I am home in the US.
Call your banks to make sure they are aware you are traveling because it is horribly difficult to call him and get things straightened out with the time difference and long-distance calls.
Call your credit card company to get a PIN for your card. I never knew this existed but the metro kiosk would not take my credit card without a PIN number. My parents called from the US and were able to get one but it took about 4 days.
Take food on the airplane! I always grabbed lunch on my way to the airport to enjoy when I got on the plane. As long as it is not liquid, food can go through security. Trust me. I have taken full salads, snack packs, fast food, tuna salad, a dozen ears of Indiana sweet corn- don’t pay the airport prices if you can take it in!
Liquor lover? DIY cocktails: get a couple of the 99 cent mini-liquor bottles before you leave and order a tomato juice to make a Bloody Mary or a coke with your own rum! Cocktails typically run at a base of $5, so 99 cents plus a complementary soft drink is an affordable way to get through a flight! (As long as the bottles are under 3 oz.) P.S. be careful to not drink much on a flight because you don’t want to land feeling like crap.