Heading to Europe for the first time? Here’s your foolproof guide

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This article was created for The Travel Project by Harriet Du Pont, who has a love for Opera and travel as well as creative writing.

The seatbelt sign has now been switched on so please, strap yourselves in because you’re about to be smacked (metaphorically) with some insider tips on how to travel around Europe in the best way possible.

Personally, I don’t always think travellers are ready for what Europe has to offer. It’s a continent that constantly surprises me with new secrets I learn each time I visit. So please, enjoy the ride…

Europe is life changing.

I have absolutely NO REGRETS when it comes to Europe, except perhaps not staying longer. My first impressions of Europe were breath taking. Nothing quite beats seeing the Swiss Alps or the canals of Venice for the first time. Or on second thought, maybe your first taste of snails can. I hope to change your packing methods and make your first trip through Europe one thats easy and goes without a hitch.

So that brings me to my first point…

 

LEAVE THE TOILETRIES AT HOME

Please do not be a fool and think that they won’t stock your favourite face wash in the supermarkets. We all go into panic mode whilst packing and our minds think of the worst. “Maybe I should pack 3 bottles of shampoo???” instead, just think, “I’ll be fine, besides it means more room for socks”. The supermarkets are all reasonably priced and very accessible, so basically, leave the Garnier at home.

RELATED: A TRIP TO EUROPE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER. HERE’S WHY… 

You used to call me on my telephone ☎️ #London

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WASHING POWDER ALL THE WAY

If you’re anything like me, you pack hundreds of pairs of underwear and then run out. It’s a hard life, trust me, I know. But Harriet is here to save the day! Bring a little zip-lock bag of washing powder and wash your dirty clothes in the sink of your hotel and air dry over night (or if you’re desperate, with a hairdryer).

RELATED: PACKING LIGHT FOR YOUR EUROPE TRIP: HOW 3 WARDROBE STAPLES CAN GIVE YOU 6 TRAVEL LOOKS

 

HAVE PICNICS

Another handy hint I have is to have a picnic. It’s all fun and games when you spend 30 or 40 euros on dinner and the meal is unforgettable, but for someone on a budget with 4 or 5 cities left on their itinerary, grabbing some lunch from local street vendors will not only save you cash but allow you to sit somewhere and watch the locals go by. (Especially in Switzerland – you’ll see why when you get there).

 

Miss driving through different countries everyday 🌾☀️

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CHOOSE TO TRAVEL ON A CONTIKI

What you can do is also hit spots quickly and efficiently whilst still having the time of your life! Choose a short Contiki such as European Discovery or London To Berlin which pass through a small selection of countries to get you to your next major stop. This way you can meet people going through the same as you (also make some friends to party with once you’re there!). You can also get your insider guide through the tour managers who know each of the stops inside out.

 

DOWNLOAD CITYMAPPER

I found that in Europe, I really needed to know where I was at all times, so I could document it in my travel journal for future blogging such as this or to eventually pass on the secret hotspots of each city to friends and family.  CityMapper™ is a fabulous app that let’s you find your way around each city on and off wifi. This can be a saviour when you’re stuck in the middle of Prague with a blue nose, have no clue where you are and just want to know where you had that remarkable goulash the day before.

 

DITCH THE HEELS

As soon as you hit Italy you’ll understand exactly what I mean by this. DITCH THE HEELS. I found that walking through the cobbled streets in Italy and falling face first onto the cold ground can be something that I will never forget. It is always worth packing some nice sandals or boots and keeping your face from any harm (think of the group photos).

 

BUY FLIGHTS EARLY 

And here’s one that my father taught me many many years ago: Get those plane tickets early! Flights go on sale every now and then but if you book those tickets early, you are more likely to get a better deal then you are booking with a few months to go. Also visiting in off-peak times will guarantee your trip to be cheaper in every aspect.

RELATED: WHAT IS IT ABOUT EUROPE THAT MAKES IT SO PERFECT FOR FIRST TIME TRAVELLERS?

 

Trevi, bring me a man who knows all the choreography to Gangnam Style 😍🇮🇹 #Rome #contiki #trevifountain

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EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT

And finally, this point is pretty self-explanatory. EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT. If this isn’t a clear indication of where the best food is I don’t know what is. Also leaving the main tourist area will have the prices cut in half and the food remarkably better. Be smart about this. Food is everything.

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