Monday, January 26, 2015

The Pro's Corner: 5 Things I Learned from 4 Eurotrips

The Pro's Corner

The Pro's Corner is a series of blog posts dedicated to conducting yourself in a manner that would classify you as a "HugeParty". Years of research has been conducted in this field, bringing cutting-edge information to your party palette. This time around, I dive into the planning of a HugeParty.

Volume Four: Eurotrip Learnings

Within 17 Months I Traveled to 10 Countries During 4 Different Eurotrips... I learned a few things along the way.

A few months back I wrote a piece on "Planning a Group Eurotrip". I love the idea of big group travel, and believe it takes preparation and commitment to executing and having fun!

The Ibiza/London/Amsterdam Crew in 2013

While I don't consider myself to be a veteran of world travel, I do think I've got plenty of perspective, especially with the group experience (versus a solo backpacker). 

Here are 5 Key Insights I've Learned

Read more after the jump!!!

1) Build in time to travel alone - It is important to curate your own path, and insist that others in your group do the same. Try solo travel for one leg of the journey.

Travelers tend to grow weary of each other. Close confines, unfamiliarity with routines, sleeping habits, etc. Just when you've grown sick of someone (they snore too much, they insist on visiting every museum, etc.) you can venture off on your own, returning to the group at a later point.

Solo travel in the middle of a trip can keep relationships positive. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, a midweek trip to different countries may be the answer to a great Eurotrip.

2) Commit to meeting new people - A group Eurotrip has a lot of benefits, including the basic ingredient to starting a HugeParty... people. Even though I've traveled with groups of friends, I've always tried to meet new people along the way.

Whether it is fellow American travelers in Amsterdam, solo travelers in Prague, or locals who can show you the best places in the city... I believe meeting new people along the way is paramount to any other thing you do on a Eurotrip. 

New Travel Friends from Australia and Egypt in Prague!

Unfortunately you may have people in your group who are hesitant to meet people outside of your group. Try to establish a goal early on to met new people early on and always try build our group to be bigger along the way.

This is also a great way to build your global network. Who knows when you may be traveling again, and have a friend to visit in a foreign country!

3) Don't be too native - Especially important in a country that doesn't speak English, don't be too native. What I mean here is that you shouldn't forcefully struggle to communicate, or alter your voice to match the local accent. 

While in Berlin, I watched a friend struggle to speak German to our waitress. It was busy, she was clearly annoyed, yet he insisted on using the 5-6 German words he knew. The worst part was she spoke perfect English! 

I've also learned that many people like to practice their English when they meet someone who speaks English. I recommend sticking to your own language unless you possess a solid vocabulary in the foreign language.

This is how you hang out with the locals

Furthermore, when in a tourist city (like Rome), there is no reason to say "mi scusi" and "grazie" in public. Nearly everyone on the streets are tourists, and they respond to "excuse me" and "thank you" much better.

And finally... don't alter your own accent while speaking English. This shouldn't need an explanation. Be yourself.

4) Don't be too touristy - Playing tourist can be a fun thing. In a group, it can also be frustrating and tiring if you have different interests and expectations. With that said, here are some simple questions I live by:

How many churches will you visit? Answer: You don't go to church in America, why do you need to visit churches in Europe? 

Do you really need to take the guided/audio tour? Answer: No, you can read about it in greater detail online.

Do you know the significance of the historical landmark beforehand? If no, then make it a quick walk through.

Would you prefer to spend your money on entrance to this exhibit or for a round of drinks at the bar? Answer: Bartender, can I get a round of beers please?

This is how you play tourist best

Pro Tip: Don't be a curmudgeon with your touristy friends. If they want to spend hours at a museum simply agree to a specific time to meet and head somewhere else during that time. The key is to set expectations early about your travel interests. 

5) Save more money - You can never have enough money when traveling around Europe. The meals, drinks, attractions, taxis, etc. will add up quickly and I always leave thinking I should have saved more beforehand.  How much you need to save is up to you, but here are three tips I've employed:

A) Save enough money so you don't have to dip into your next paycheck. If you've saved enough, then you can return home without damaging your day-to-day routine.

B) Have a "Save Jar". Put any money in your pockets from the night before in that jar, including any random payments or money you've made on the side. That jar will add up.

C) Exchange currency ahead of time. I like to go to my bank's main branch (Chase) well ahead of time to get exchange dollars for Euros/Pounds. They have over 20 different currencies available. I avoid the ATM/Exhange fees in a foreign country and it makes me feel better prepared to travel. This may make some people nervous about carrying so much cash, but I don't exchange all of my money, just enough to feel comfortable upon landing in a new city.

Drinking, Gambling and Dressing Nice Can be Expensive, Save your Money!

Travel Quote?

I love it when a plan comes together.”  ― John "Hannibal" Smith (A-Team)

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  1. Definitely agree on nr 1 and 2! I personally prefer travelling solo, I need my moments alone to take it all in and it's easier to meet people. But if you can include this into a group trip, then I'm less reluctant :-)

  2. Good points on the "don't be too touristy" tip. I actually GO to church and I'm still not interested in many churches, unless they are exceptionally beautiful or unique. :)


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