Saturday, September 30, 2017

Euro-trip-- Tips for first timer Filipinos

In my Parisian outfit in Paris
I was in my late 20s when I first became interested to visit Europe. When I hear the word Europe; I think of the Eiffel tower, the world-renowned artists and their works,  and the classy Parisian fashion. Since then, I already had a planned outfit if ever I go to Paris—a striped blue and white top, tailored blue pants, and colorful scarf. 

I never really thought I could visit Europe this soon. Being overly practical (I'd like to think I am) and half Ilocana, I’d rather put my money on investments or simply save it. But it’s been two years since my husband and I went outside the country and we were itching to go somewhere big. So after three months of deliberating, we decided to just do it. It was really something for the books-- memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives; definitely money well spent!

Here are some practical tips from our trip-- things we did well and some things we could have done better.

Europe Trip Tips for Filipinos:

1. Preparation is key

Three months prior our trip, everything was all set already-- our airfare tickets, transfers, accommodation, and even some museum, and event passes. For those places that had capacity limits, I had our tickets booked way in advance. Luckily, now we can get everything from the internet-- must-dos, where to stay, where to eat; and these are complete with hundreds of reviews. The apps I used were AirBNB and for accommodation-- I suggest to book accommodations at least six months before the date of travel. You would want to get the best rate and room available right?; TripAdvisor for what to do and where to eat; Waze for how to get in a specific location; Uber for transportation. 

I was in-charge for the overall planning of the pre-travel requirements, while my husband researched on how to go from the airport or train station to our hotel or AirBNB. Whether it was best to use Uber, taxi, airport bus, train, etc. Note that there were some countries that banned Uber (like Spain). 

2. Have rest days 

One of the main reasons we go on a vacation is to rest. So I didn't pack our trip with things to do. We weren't anxious to see all the popular places, as we knew that we will just end up exhausted. I put in a rest day every two to three days and even scheduled just one activity per day, i.e. Monday - Van Gogh museum, Tuesday - Keukenhof Garden, Wednesday - explore/ whatever. Walking around with no plans and exploring the city was when we were most relaxed. Even ended up discovering some really cool and  interesting places. Plus, being with my husband in a beautiful place was more enough. 

3. Be alert

This is basic in anywhere you go. We were 100%  alert at all times. We didn't even ask other tourists to take our photo. Not unless we meet a fellow nice Filipino. 

4. Bring a selfie-stick

Since we couldn't just ask random people to take our photo, this thing would have been very helpful. I know it may look very unglamorous. But it is better than just having photos of your faces with the attractions. 

5. Pack reliable, comfortable shoes 

There will be a lot of walking in Europe, or at least for the cities we went to: Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona. I made sure I had my most comfortable pair of shoes or sneakers. As a sneaker-head, I suggest New Balance, or Superga. The weather was quite unpredictable when we were in Amsterdam. There was a day that started really cold, then it got hot at lunch time--28 degrees centigrade--and I was wearing boots. I ended up buying my first pair of super comfy Superga. I'm really glad I did. 

These may just be basic tips, but these things made our trip more seamless and therefore, more enjoyable. 

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