I don’t travel as often as I’d like, but when the opportunity arises, I like to do my homework first! Before I visit a place, I consult travel blogs, listen to family and friends’ vacation stories, and find inspiration from the dozens of colorful and FOMO-inducing postcards they send me.
Over the years, I have also received some fantastic travel advice, including:
Always keep your wits about you
Expect the unexpected
Do talk to strangers
Reflecting on my recent trip to France, I’d say things went smoothly overall. Of course, there are some things I would have done differently or wish I had known beforehand. Live and learn, right?
So, here are a few of my suggestions to save time, money, and energy, based on lessons learned:
9 general travel tips
- Print out your boarding pass. Even though you may have your boarding pass with a QR code on your phone, stop by a kiosk and print out your boarding pass – just in case the boarding pass on your phone doesn’t work. It defeats the purpose of going paperless, I know, but taking 5 minutes to print it out could save you 15 minutes at the gate. Besides, the printed pass makes a nice bookmark or souvenir to stick in your scrapbook
- When you arrive at your destination, your phone will automatically switch to the local phone provider. To be sure you’re on the network, turn your phone off, then turn it back on after about 15 minutes. (Check your cell phone provider’s roaming and data plans before your trip.)
- Read the signs. Forgive me for stating the obvious. But I let my eagerness get the best of me when I hopped on an express (non-stop) train by mistake and missed my stop. (I wrote about it here.)
- Withdraw cash in the local currency from an ATM that is either attached to a physical bank or at least has a major-bank name on it. (Avoid the ones that look generic.) Fortunately, major airports in large cities have major-bank ATMs. You will get the best exchange rate from these ATMs and you’ll avoid extra fees. (Check your bank’s fee schedule before your trip.)
- Bring a hat. Not only does it provide shade, it saves you precious styling-time and covers up a bad-hair day, if needed. Hats always look good in pictures
- Pick up 1-2 pieces of fresh fruit from a local grocer before sightseeing. When you’re waiting in a long line, taking a break on a bench, or people-watching, you’ll have a light and nutritious snack to quell the hunger pangs
- Bring a point-and-shoot or disposable camera. You can’t rely on your phone to be functional at all times, which brings me to my next tip –
- Bring a portable, fully-charged power bank
- Get souvenirs from the local drugstore. Toiletries are economical, don’t take up much space in your suitcase, and best of all, they won’t collect dust
9 Paris travel tips
- Get a Navigo Découverte weekly travel pass for unlimited rides on most of the transport networks (More info here)
- Take a city bus during weekday commute hours to experience life as a local. Plus you’ll get to see everyday things that tour buses don’t show
- Get your postcards from Montmartre souvenir shops. Some vendors sell 12 postcards for 2€
- If you can wait, also pick up a travel adapter at the Montmartre souvenir shops. Most of them sell adapters for a mere 3€
- At the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, forgo the sketch or painted portrait by an artist and get a silhouette done instead. It only takes 2 minutes, costs 10€, and it’s less cumbersome
- Skip the coffee shop, go to a Supermarché G20 instead. You can charge your phone and other electronics at a window counter seat. You can also get an espresso for only 1€. (I wrote about it here.)
- Start at the Louvre in the morning, then walk east to Notre Dame. (Not the other way around like I did!) Because there is just so much to take in at the Louvre, it’s better to start there when you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
- Visit the Shakespeare and Company bookshop (skip the Café), but buy from one of the many bouquinistes along the Seine. Get books instead of magnets, postcards, or padlocks. (I wrote about them here.)
- Padlocks are no longer allowed on the Pont des Arts bridge (below) so consider another way to celebrate your everlasting love. Maybe a musician can serenade you! (Watch my video clips here.)
Last, but not least…
I want to share the following travel tip, which reminded me to be present and enjoy the fleeting moments. I coined it the ACRO-nym:
be Alert and Cautious, yet Relaxed and Open!
Got a favorite travel tip? Share it in the comment box below!
Happy and safe travels! 🚘🚉🛫🛳🚲🛶