You want to look at the Seine from the top of the Eiffel Tower, kiss the Blarney Stone, and hear the long forgotten cries of gladiators at the Colosseum, but you want to do it on your own terms. On your next Euro trip, check things out authentically and avoid the hubbub we fondly refer to as “tourist traps.” I put my thinking cap on for this one, and came up with the best ways to avoid getting taken advantage of when your traveling cross the pond:
1. Say “No” to Bundle Packages
Initially, you were only interested in seeing the Louvre. But now, you’ve signed up to spend the day at the Louvre, Musée de l’Orangerie, and Musée d’Orsay, all for one low price! Just kidding, you blew half your euro on the excursion and you never even made it through half the Louvre before you bailed to find more chocolate croissants. Before you travel, map out what sights you can’t miss and skip the ones you know nothing about or don’t have time for. Besides, do you really need to see 100+ Impressionist paintings? Le no.
2. Figure Out Your Transportation Options
You feel a little discombobulated on the Emerald Isle, and reluctantly say yes to the first cab driver that passes your way. As you exit the cab and realize the pub was within walking distance from your hotel, you feel a little cheated. Always walk or bike when possible, and use public transportation before even considering a cab or private car. Sure, walking might not be the most glamorous option, but you’ll be able to more fully explore your surroundings and keep some cash in your pocket to boot.
3. Learn That Souvenirs are for Rookies
You’re planning on bringing home Spanish fans from Barcelona for your mother and a bullfighting memento from Seville for your dad. Do a little research before you bite the bullet on souvenirs, so that you don’t end up buying something for $50 that you could have acquired for $10. Furthermore, think about what you and your loved ones will use in their everyday life. Chances are, they probably won’t be proudly wearing a t-shirt that says “Someone went to Spain and all I got was this lousy shirt” too often. The same goes for things that are cheaply made; those earrings you got for your sister are adorable, but they made her earlobes turn green after 10 minutes of wearing them.
4. Do as the Locals Do
Sure, you can consult a tour guide or concierge about where to spend your time in London, but you’re better off getting closer to the source. Forget about being bourgie and chat up locals on the street or in neighborhood pubs. They’ll direct you to the best places to eat, shop, and find smashing deals. Although it wouldn’t hurt if you offered to buy their next pint for them.
5. Get Lost
One of the biggest perks of being in a new city is the fact that you have no clue where you are! Ditch the map and use this to your advantage by spending leisurely days meandering around cobblestone streets on your own. You’ll stumble upon cool attractions you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and get to forego the commotion that comes with crowds and your typical tourist trap.
Ready to take Europe by storm? Forget about the hullaballoo of advertised attractions and find your own way around. If all else fails and you end up horribly lost, perhaps you’ll meet a kind and sexy stranger who’s willing to show you around.