Heading abroad? Follow these European travel tips to make your trip better


After traveling around Europe for four months I made some wrongs, but I also made many rights. If you’re planning a European vacation or are studying abroad soon, here are some tips and tricks to maximize your trip and save you money!

Do: Eat local

Pay close attention to where people native to the area are eating, and ask a local where their favorite spot to eat is. I found that by eating where the locals would, I had better food, spent less money and had a much more pleasant experience overall. I also recommend trying any street food you come across in different places. Typically this option is cheaper and will give you a better sense of the culture of the area.

Don’t: Eat at the tourist traps

Avoid any restaurant with lines out the door on a regular basis. These places tend to overcharge you and lack quality in their food. I ate at one of the most popular restaurants in Rome, Tonnarello, and was severely disappointed by the food. The best food I had was at the most random hole-in-the-wall places that I had stumbled upon or were recommended to by locals.

Do: Take advantage of public transportation and walking

Due to the lack of public transportation in the U.S., it can come as quite a surprise to people who travel abroad that public transportation in most European cities is very fast and efficient. Many cities are interconnected through systems of very proficient public transportation such as trams, underground trains and buses, which I found were very easy to navigate.

Google Maps is an easy way to provide directions, and these options are also significantly cheaper than taxiing everywhere. Also, most European cities are fairly walkable, and by walking places, you can see so much more.

Don’t: Rely on taxis and Ubers to get around

This is going to cost you a ton of money, and plus, you won’t get to experience the city to its fullest potential if you’re consistently sitting in the backseat of a car. Also, it’s common for taxi drivers to overcharge you if they realize you’re a tourist and vulnerable to scams, so it’s better to avoid them entirely.

By getting around on foot and by public transportation you are no longer nearly a visitor to this new place, but you are an active part of its culture and activity — not to mention having the opportunity to meet so many different people along the way!

Do: Create your own “tours”

Wherever you may be visiting might have a ton of art, museums and famous monuments and landscapes. I recommend that you visit all of these places but do so in an independent fashion. Not only will you save money, but the experience will become more personal to you. Go with friends or family, and do some research before you go! By sightseeing on your own time, you’ll find yourself more engaged and have more time to see what you want to see.

Don’t: Pay for a tour guide

Living in Rome everywhere you looked there were ancient artifacts, art and magnificent structures such as the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. I noticed that there were always a ton of tour groups throughout the city, which I never cared to partake in, but when my parents visited, they signed us up for quite a few.

The tours ended up becoming a burden to our trip because we were no longer on our own leisure schedule and found ourselves rushing around the city. I wasn’t able to show them all the spots I wanted to, not to mention these tours were quite boring — we ended wishing we had just visited those spots on our own. 

Do: Be open to new experiences

If you get the chance to travel and see a new part of the world, chances are you probably won’t get this opportunity too often. That being said, I recommend taking it all in and also taking some risks. You don’t want to look back on your trip and wish you had gotten out there more and not have held yourself back so much.

While you should always keep your safety in mind, I still recommend talking to new people, going to the bars wherever you are and trying out what the area is known for. While in Switzerland, I had made the spur-of-the-moment decision to go paragliding, and the next day I quite literally jumped off of a mountain. This ended up being one of the highlights of my entire semester, and even though I was very nervous, I am so glad I made that decision.

Don’t: Stay in your comfort zone

I know it can be scary and overwhelming to visit a new place. I had a really hard time adjusting at first, but the more I put myself out there and met new people, they quickly became family — my experience was improving each and every day. The more risks I took and the people I met, I began to realize that so many people are in the same uncomfortable position as you. Everyone wants to make friends and experience new things. Once you feel a sense of stability while traveling, you will be unstoppable.


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