Posh Tips for Traveling to Europe

Though I have traveled a bit around the US and to a couple of island destinations, this was my first time traveling to Europe; we got lots of great tips and tricks from those whose journeys had preceded ours and I felt it only fair to pay the same forward. If you’re thinking of traveling abroad, here are a few tips to help guide you along the way (forgive me the length, in advance.)


Do your research--it pays off. Especially if you’re planning to visit the tourist sites, you’ll benefit from knowing how to secure deals on admission prices. In Rome, we got a Roma Pass for 30 Euro that allowed us to take the subway for free for 3 days, allowed us admittance into 3 tourist attractions, and gave us license to skip all the crazy long lines and gain immediate entry. This was a HUGE time saver because the crowds were sick, and we were able to get in, get out and move on to the next amazing thing.

Pack snacks. Different cultures have differing schedules than what we are used to-- you may not be able to find things open if you're hungry at times of day that are off hours for the locals. We were sometimes hungry late at night and most Parisian stores and restaurants were closed (not that they have much in the way of fast food or carryout anyway). In Milan and Rome they observe siesta, so most of the resties opened for lunch only between 12-2:30p and for dinner only after 7:30p. We ate a lot of McDonald’s in Rome when our sightseeing threw us off the Roman schedule {don’t judge—the McDonald’s in Europe are actually totally converse to ours: they have McCafes (which are basically tiny bakeries selling pastries and cappuccino); regional foods like the “McBaguette (giggle); free wifi and cool modern interior design}. And finally, none of the hotels we stayed in had vending machines--unlike here where you can find them on multiple floors.

Pack water for the reason above; and also because you might not like European water. It’s mineral water, so it tastes different. We mostly drank Coke (and my body hated me for it later).

Learn a few basics of the native language: words and phrases like hello, goodbye, numbers 1- 10 (so you can give your hotel address to cab drivers), please, thank you, and pronunciation of local delicacies for ordering food will take you a long way. People were generally nice, and those who spoke English were more willing to do so if we gave their language a shot first. Our very first Parisian cab driver from the airport even equipped us with some phrases we didn’t know which was very cool (he became cool after we became certain that we weren’t getting abducted and sold into female slavery. Another story for another day).

Bring braces or athletic tape if you are prone to knee or ankle problems or any other issue that might cause you to have pain when you’re walking for long periods. The cities we visited had a lot of cobblestone—the entire front courtyard at the Palace of Versailles; and Rome had a particularly great amount at the ruins. There are no modern pathways at the Forum and it was raining on the day we went so the large individual rocks were slippery.

Bring more than one credit card. I had plenty of Euros in cash ahead of time in addition to one card, so I thought I would be fine. But after our travel home got delayed I wished I'd brought a second card for emergencies so that I didn’t have to make so many international ATM withdrawals.

If you have an iPhone be sure to get it unlocked prior to your trip even if you don't plan to use cell service. In case of an emergency that requires you to make a phone call (like flight problems at the check in counter where you need to call the airline—yes that happened to us too) you want to be able to turn your cellular service on and have it work. If your phone is locked—it obviously won’t be able to pick up a European cell carrier’s signal. My phone is locked, but luckily I was with 2 people who had purchased international phone plans.

Invest in a suitcase with 4-way wheels. This was a lifesaver!! I had planned to bring my rolling duffle bag (2 wheels) because it is shapeless and can fit more, but at the last minute I snagged a good sized 4-wheel suitcase on the cheap at Marshall’s. If you’re traveling to more than one city and using varying modes of transportation this is your best bet next to a backpack (I have yet to figure out who these people are who can fit everything in one…no shoes?) because it is much easier to roll on and off trains or planes and onto escalators.


Figure out your mode of transport as soon as you arrive. Are you willing to pay for cabs (they can be pricey and sometimes have fixed rates depending on the area of the city you’re going to)? Prepared to walk everywhere? Prefer public transport? Being on the same page about these things as the rest of your group will save time in figuring it out later.

Minimize nail care. Wear neutral nail color where chipping won't show or get gel color at the nail salon, as that lasts longer. I went with a soft pink polish that looked neat for a good amount of the trip.

Plan ahead, but be flexible. Things may not go as exactly as planned but it’s easier to go with the flow and enjoy the beauty of your trip. Listen to your body if you are in pain or need to rest; everything will still be there the next day. Make sure you carry with you: a jacket, umbrella, hair ties, layers, phone/camera chargers etc, if you plan to be out sightseeing for a long day. The weather can change suddenly and your devices may get drained of battery quickly.

Have at least one really nice multi-course meal (with wine) in Italy to get the full dining experience. It can be pricey, but it is worth it. Pumpkin filled ravioli. I’m just saying…

In Italy, you will get huge portions of pizza and pasta at meals. Order a few dishes to share--as opposed to one per person--in order to save money and try more things from the menu.


Schedule time to relax once you have returned home. Take a few extra days off work if you have the time to burn. It will not be easy to re-integrate into your life after spending so much time away and dealing with opposing time zones to boot. You’ll need to ease into catching up on what you missed. And don’t get it twisted: jet lag is real. Work to readjust your sleeping schedule as soon as you get back. If you can afford it, schedule a post-trip spa day. I got a massage, mani and pedi a couple of days after getting back to ease the tension from travel, and it was the best decision I could have made.

Those who have been to Europe: what would you add to this list?

*image source and source