Last month I ventured to Europe for my second time and I got to live out my dream of seeing London and Paris. Preparing for this trip was similar to when I went to Italy, but I thought I would share a few tips since I had a little more knowledge about what I was doing the second time around. I’ll try not to make the information too redundant.
Money: The difficult thing about going on a trip to multiple countries at once if having multiple currencies. I needed pounds for London and euros for Paris. You have a few different options for obtaining foreign currency:
- You can order them online and/or from a bank. The only problem with this method is that you have to order them a couple weeks ahead of time and you have to estimate how much you will need for each destination. Some banks may have the currency on-hand to buy in person. I was able to buy euros from a Chase bank in the past, but they did not carry pounds.
- You can exchange your money at the airport. I did this because I had a decent amount of U.S. dollars on me at the airport and I knew they would be pretty useless to me, especially since I had no pounds on me yet. I would say that it’s fine if you want to change over some last minute cash, but try to avoid it because this is the worst exchange rate.
- The best way to do it is probably to have your money on a couple of credit cards or debit cards. Use the debit card to withdrawal cash from an ATM when you get there. This is often the best exchange rate, but make sure you know the fees your bank will charge. Having a credit card as well is good because many places will accept a major credit card and my card didn’t charge me extra for using it overseas. Be careful though because some places may not take your card if you don’t have a new chip card.
Culture Shock: Beware of different outlets! Buy a universal adapter, they’re not very expensive. Learn basic greetings and manners, like “Bonjour!” Overall, England is very similar to the U.S., but you may feel a bit more like an outside in France. Either way, just enjoy it and don’t be afraid! Try new food, learn some of the slang, take the metro (subway) and try to dress like the locals! It’s way more fun that way.
Packing: I’m sure you have heard this many times before, but rolling your clothes really does help them fit better! Put all of your toiletries in waterproof bags in case they spill. Try to avoid putting liquids in your carry-on because they will make you throw them away if they’re too big. Buy travel sized toiletries! You can get them pretty cheap at Meijer or Walmart. Limit yourself to about four pairs of shoes for anything less than a month: boots, sneakers and a going out pair are good guidelines to follow, but always consider what activities you will be doing. DON’T overpack! Pack an outfit for everyday and maybe just 1-2 extras. Planning ahead will help you not to overpack.