G’day, here is the long awaited last post relating to our Marvelous Adventures. It is a number of tips we have learned during those travels or from experienced travelers before and during our time overseas. We hope you find them helpful. I plan to add a number of photos during the blog. These photos have no bearing whatsoever to the tips. I just like them.
As you will have gathered from my blogs, we are now world experts on travel. Some of you have taken many more trips than us and are still struggling to reach this level of expertise.
But first an anecdote from our trip. Whilst in Prague a tour guide told us how they have statues to famous musicians and composers in the city. In WW2 when the Nazis occupied the city they decided there shouldn’t be a statue of a Jewish person (Mendelssohn), so they decided to tear it down.
Slight problem, they didn’t know which one it was or what he looked like. In their wisdom they decided he would be the ugliest person with the biggest nose. They dutifully destroyed that statue. However, the one they destroyed was a statue of Wagner! Their hero!
Isn’t that great?
Whilst the tips are numbered, they are not in any particular priority order apart from number 1:
1: Take toilet paper.
2: You don’t realise how dependant on toilets you are until you travel.
3: DON’T drive in Europe unless you have a death wish.
If you do have a death wish, take a dedicated GPS with you. NOT an application on your mobile phone (eg iPhone).
Trust your GPS
I found it helpful when driving in France to wear my watch on my right hand as a reminder that I had to drive on the right side. Of course, if you normally do this anyway, that tip is useless for you!
4: In Europe, people walk on the right, just like they drive on the right (the wrong side). Practice this for several weeks, if not months, before you leave. Otherwise you will have head ons with angry Europeans. This is especially important on the escalators in the French Metro. Traveling on them you will frequently hear ‘Tenez votre droit’ (Keep on the right)
5: There are very strict rules for parking. However the use of hazard lights automatically override any laws. They are like a ‘Get out of jail card for free’. This is particularly so in Greece. Need a park and none available? Just stop wherever you like, even double park, put on your hazard lights and walk to the restaurant you want.
6: If traveling in Germany, don’t mention the war.
7: Don’t rely on having regular or reliable access to the Internet. Most hotels these days have wifi and connection is usually easy, although it can be patchy. We found MacDonalds to be the only reliable wifi access point outside our hotels.
I had lots of apps that should have been helpful, however without wifi they were useless. Even the ‘find free wifi hotspots’ were useless as you needed Internet access to access the app!
We found the best approach was to buy a sim card in the country in which you are. However, that only worked in the UK, it was too difficult in Europe.
8: Don’t rely on Tourist Information Offices. Very few countries we visited have the good network we have in Oz. If they do have an office it is usually in a back street somewhere and is not signposted.
Hotels usually have good maps of the city area. However, if you are staying in self contained accommodation, you won’t have access to that resource.
We only took one guide book with us, planning to rely on our apps on the phone and the Internet. For the reasons listed above, that was a miserable failure. What you can do is photocopy relevant pages out of guide books, take them with you and discard them once finished with.
9: Take a small kettle. Hotels in Europe rarely have one.
10: A thermos and a couple of cups is another wise move. Otherwise you will spend a fortune on hot drinks.
11: Predominantly we stayed in hotels & B&B’s. We shunned self contained accommodation as it was much more expensive. Next time (we hope there will be one) we’ll change that when we are staying more than a couple of nights in the one place. When you factor in the cost of meals, self contained accom works out no more expensive necessarily and you have much more freedom and room, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
12: If you have pre-arranged transport picking you up at, say, 10:15, be there at 10:00 – especially if you are in Greece!
13: Resign yourself to the fact that you WILL put on weight.
14: Work out a budget for your trip, then double it.
15: If using a Eurail Pass (a good idea) make sure your Travel Agent also books the actual seat for you in advance. The pass gets you on the train, the seat booking gets you a seat. We have a horror story from another traveller we met.
16: For most things, it’s actually cheaper to book and pay in advance from Australia.
17: Don’t let your wife have access to the camera:
18: Take lightweight, quick dry clothes
19: Take a computer, but the more compact the better. The iPad was excellent. Opens up lots of conversation opportunities as well!
20: If you are going away for a longish period then it is imperative you factor in some ‘down time’. Somewhere you can go for 4 days or more and just hang about.
21: Take a supply of Wet Ones and a bottle or 2 of handwash.
22: Pack light but still take a large suitcase – you WILL buy souvenirs (and shoes and handags and manbags and shoes and….)
23: If you travel to England in Summer, take very dark sunglasses. For some strange reason the men in England have been infected with a disease that causes them to take off their shirts whenever the sun shines! All that white flesh steadily turning to roast pork colour is not a pleasant sight.
24: When traveling to the Greek Islands, take a strong stomach. If you put anything larger than a postage stamp down the toilet you have significant problems. So you have to put your used toilet paper in the conveniently placed rubbish bin next to the toilet.
25: Did I mention not to let your wife have access to the camera?
Another anecdote from our trip. In the town of Vernazza in Cinque Terre I saw my first thong bikini, in the flesh as it were. It was blindingly obvious that when the lady’s husband had answered the crucial question ‘does my bum look fat in this?’, he opted for safety rather than truth.
It is not an image that is easy to dismiss.
That’s all, thank you for sharing our journey with us. Like in all good travel sessions, I will finish with a sunset: