Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tips for Americans Traveling to London & Paris

I have shared all the great parts of my travels with you and now I think it's only fair to provide you with the wisdom of my European travel experience (aka some of my 'lessons learned').

Disclaimer - this was my first trip to Europe so if you have already been, some of these tips may not be new to you.

Tips for London & Paris
1. No matter how cheap frugal you are, take a cab or shuttle to your hotel from the airport.  Do not think that you can carry 50lb bags up and down the subway stairs over and over again and still be in a good mood/ready for an awesome vacay when you finally get to your hotel.  Shell out the damn money - trust me.

2. If you've never traveled on a subway before, take deep breaths, read the maps, uncross your eyes and read them again.  Try to follow the colored squiggly lines to get nearest to your destination.  Make sure you get on the train going in the right direction.  Don't go by your internal compass - North, South, East, West.  You are BELOW ground, not driving in the suburbs.

3. Do not worry about how you 'look like a tourist' by reading maps in public.  It's better than wandering around for an hour and getting lost.  You have no directional instincts in another country and don't try to tell me that you do.  You DON'T.

Photo credit: James Crowley

4. If you are from the U.S., you're kidding yourself if you think you might be able to pass yourself off as a Parisian. DH's observation on the subway - "French girls are plain."  They don't dye or style their hair, they wear invisible makeup and they don the color black from head to toe.  As a Texas girl, I stuck out like a sore thumb!  American girls go for glam.  Parisian style is very I-don't-care-chic.

5. Plan your bathroom breaks for when you are in cafes, museums and restaurants.  Otherwise, you will have to pay to go in a public bathroom and just because you pay doesn't mean it's clean.  You can also pop into a pub or cafe to use the restroom, but be prepared to order a beer or coffee.  Bottom line, you've got to pay to pee, one way or another.

6. Everything is expensive, just plan for it (save your money) and don't stress about how much a beer costs - 8 Euro.

7. European hotel rooms are expensive and small.  We are spoiled with lots of space in the U.S.  Just squeeze yourself into that shoe box and fling your crap on every surface you can find, because there is no chest of drawers to neatly store even your smallest Victoria's Secret unmentionables.

Superior room BEST WESTERN PREMIER Louvre Saint Honore

8. Resolve that you may have to re-wear certain clothing items and shoes because 8-10 days of clothes and makeup supplies reach the 50lb suitcase weight limit pretty quickly. Forget doing multiple outfit changes in a day, unless you're Rachel Zoe and willing to pay for an extra suitcase for $125 each way.

9. Don't try to see everything in 10 days in two cities - you'll wear yourself out.  Schedule some free time to wander around and explore the city on foot.  Be prepared to change your plans while you're there and prioritize attractions and experiences that are most important to you.

10. Unless you are on your feet on a regular basis, be prepared to feel the impulse to cut them off.  You will walk and walk and walk until you just can't anymore.  Bring padded insoles for your shoes as well as moleskin in case of blisters.  Please, please don't wear tennis shoes.  Shop for fashionable, comfortable shoes before your trip and put gel insoles inside. Also, don't wear the same shoes two days in a row so you aren't putting pressure on the exact same spots on your feet day after day.  Get a shoe plan, trust me, your feet will thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment