Travel Talk

I’ve been so blessed to have opportunities to travel abroad. From military life, to studying abroad, and now ‘holiday’ with my husband. Holiday is synonymous to vacation in Europe. This year alone my husband and I have visited four countries; Jamaica, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. We are currently finishing up our holiday in Europe with friends and family.

I’d love to share with you 5 things to think about/remember when you take your next vacation in Europe.

1. When packing for your trip, don’t bother folding or compacting your items in your suitcase. The more space you take up in your suitcase flying over the better! Once you buy a scarf for your mom, chocolate for your friends, new clothes for your closet, jerseys for your brother, and business shoes for your husband you second guess whether you’ll need another suitcase for the trip back. But since you didn’t organize or roll your clothes coming over you’ll be shocked at how well you can place everything in your original suitcase. My biggest suggestion is to roll your clothes rather than fold.

2. Bring a coin pouch. Euros are so much more exciting than I remembered. The bills are colorful and shiny and the one and two euros are in coins! Don’t be fooled though, they seem to always spend faster than normal! The bathroom or ‘WC’ which stands for water closet typically costs .50€ and water is about 2.50€ for both flat or gas, also referred to as still or sparkling. I’ll tell you one thing, dehydration is not worth the money saved drinking cheaper items.

3. Know about electrical adapters, iPhone apps, and these phone tips before you go: Using your smart phone abroad can be extremely helpful when traveling and communicating with your friends and family. We downloaded city maps to use when offline, checked in on our cat and bunny at my moms regularly, and bought a cheap flight to another country we hadn’t planned on seeing!

Tip#1 Buy a European Adapter. This one from Amazon is very similar to the one we use. (OREI Grounded Universal 2 in 1 Schuko Plug Adapter Type E/F for Germany, France, Europe, Russia & more – High Quality – CE Certified – RoHS Compliant)

Tip#2 Check out the following apps and download what you think you’ll need.

Apps we used on our trip: Messaging App: WhatsApp (Messaging App), ooVoo (Video App), Skyscanner Hopper and RyanAir (Flight Apps), Travel Guides (Travel App for Popular Cities)

Other top apps that we haven’t tried yet: MetrO, Google Translate, Wifi Finder, WorldLens, Michelin Travel Guide

Tip#3 Can’t remember what city your in; use your iPhone photos to help you recall your time in Europe. One of the coolest things about taking photos with the iPhone is that it can track where your photos were taken. This is extremely helpful when I’m trying to remember a foreign city name, or even trying to spell it correctly. I can’t tell you how many times this trick has helped me communicate.

4. Call your bank and get a Barclay credit card with a pin. Being stuck in Europe without money isn’t the best situation to be in. If you forget to call your bank(s) before you leave the states and try to pull out money with your debit card you’ll be denied if not the first time the second. And then when you try to reach out to your bank you’ll either pay a hefty fee on your phone bill or wait an insane amount of time for some response. The same goes for your credit card(s). My husband and I believe in living debt free and by the grace of God we are! We do live in an economy though that requires credit scores and income history so if you decide to get a credit card I’d highly recommend the Barclay one! The Barclay card is perfect for international travel and we used it often on our trips. Although many places in the European Union do not accept cards it was so nice to use on the stores and restaurants that did accept card! No fees, no fines, and no hassle with Barclay.

5. Take notes on what you love or find interesting. It’s normal to not know where the fridge is. At least this year in Germany I realized that the fridge is typically among the cupboards, matching the rest of the kitchen, and hiding as another glass or plate cabinet door. It’s so funny to me how different or similar someone’s home can be from our normal. I often think about my future home, custom built, with my favorite things from all over the world. For example I love big American fridges, European light switches, and the strange reality of having the toilet in the shower like some places do in Italy. What have you noticed when traveling? Is there anything that you miss on a daily basis that you may not have in your home or country?

Other tidbits: Trains don’t wait for anyone || Make copies of your passport || European hair ties are awesome || Bring a side purse || Missing a shower curtain? Don’t worry it’s normal || Christmas markets are pretty much the same in every city || If the meat doesn’t look done it probably isn’t but you can still eat it || Having two buttons on the toilet is typical || Staying in a hotel? expect a sheet less bed || Getting taxes back is more like getting a headache || Potato Pancakes with applesauce || Know your pin for your debit and credit cards || Return your glass and plastic bottles back to the store and receive a good size deposit || Flying international, check out Lufthansa airlines

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