by Hollie Lowes
Almost every single one of these travel hacks I have learned the hard way. Save yourself the grief and be prepared!
Debit/ Credit Cards must have a chip
You do not want to learn this the hard way. It is almost impossible to use your card in Europe without a chip on it. My travel buddy learnt the hard way and roamed virtually every bank in Paris trying to figure out what was wrong with her card. In the end, she was stuck paying a large fee and having to ask her mom to Western Union a lump sum to her. Travelling Europe for a few months with nothing but cash on you is anything but secure!
Always separate your money and cards
Pick pocketing is a huge issue in Europe. If you end up one of the unlucky victims, separating your money and cards will help minimize the damage. I always put a card and a bit of cash in my money belt and the other cards and cash in my purse or in the middle of my large backpack on travel days.
Always cover your bag and/or get a travel safe bag
Continuing on preventing pick pocketing – pay attention to you bag. You can get a travel bag that locks up your zipper or you can always have your hand on the zipper at all times. I do both!
Invest in a money belt
Now I seem a bit paranoid but hey! I have never had anything stolen because of it! A money belt goes under your shirt so you know it’s safe at all times. I keep my phone and passport there so I never have to worry about it going missing on me!
Yes, you can get a map when you get to the hostel, but what about the times you get off a train in a new city at midnight and you have no idea where you are? Do yourself a favor and download an offline map (I use Google Maps) for the city your going to before you arrive. If there’s any open Wi-Fi, even if you’re not signed in to it, Google Maps will usually detect the general area you are to help you figure out your path.
Triple Check Every Detail of Your Travel Day
You’re not backpacking if you don’t run into some serious set backs throughout your travel. There’s been days I have been so ill and book everything without paying attention only to realize when I arrive that I chose the wrong date for a hostel (of course they’re all booked up when arriving) or because it’s at 12am the date is off and you are stuck sleeping on the floor of a train for 8 hours in front of the doors that open every 30 minutes to 5 degree weather. Yes I’ve done it all. Read your itinerary religiously before you book and the day you travel.
Tip: Italian trains are infamous for being less than straightforward. Sometimes they will have 2 trains that will split in half at your platform going completely different destinations. Other times, you can be going on a train to Florence at 15:00 and it tells you to go to platform 4. But there is a train to Ancona at 14:56 there. We didn’t realize we we were on the wrong train until we arrived in Ancona, hours out of the way from Florence. Confirm, confirm, confirm!