It's the third anniversary (not fourth like we thought on the #phoodcast) of our amazing trip to Paris and we wanted to share our best tips for traveling for REAL with you!
While we talk about Paris a bit... the ideas can be uses for any trip, big or small.
First and foremost, pick a location! Seems obvious, but still. If you're going somewhere for your work (like a location you might not otherwise pick), you can still have fun. Just do a little Googling or reading (Rick Steves has great travel guides.).
If you're staying more than a few nights, check out Air B&B or VRBO or something similar to check out hotel alternatives. It's a great way to not only save a bit of money, but it's also nice to have a little more space to spread out and have a kitchen to make decent cup of coffee. Make sure you ask a ton of questions of the owner like is there Wi-Fi, a washer/dryer, coffee maker, elevator, etc.?
Don't forget to research the surrounding area, too. Is there a subway or bus stop, are there restaurants, shops or museums?
What's the weather going to be like while you're there? Will you need a rain coat? A sweater? Shorts & a T-shirt?
What is the city known for? A certain food item? A sport? An attraction (in Paris, we HIGHLY recommend the quirky and odd Catacombs)? If so - go eat it, attend it, or see it. Make a memory!
We used Viator for discount tickets to tours and attractions. Go see all the things! But, at the same time, don't over pack your schedule. Yes, you want to see everything, but not at the expense of your emotional well-being and health. Take note of what you can handle without crossing over into crabby-town or exhaustion.
We used the Ulmon City Maps 2 Go app to get around France. It uses GPS, not cellular, so you don't have to use data from your cell plan. (Although I did get a small Euro plan for emergencies.)
Speaking of emergencies, if you are traveling out of the country, sure to know where the nearest Embassy or consulate office is, in case you need help. Keep their address and phone number on you at all times, along with a note in the local language with instructions to contact them &/or your emergency contact, in case you can't speak for yourself. Use Google Translate or something similar to have this ready before you leave.
If necessary, is the city/transportation/accommodations accessible? In other countries, they might not have an American Disabilities Act equivalent. Do they have other offerings to assist you as you get around?
And if you're planning on walking around a lot, bring the right footwear. Something that you have broken in and you KNOW doesn't hurt you. Nothing ruins a trip faster than someone complaining about their feet - or wasting time searching for a shoe store to find something new. Sure, you can cab-it around, but you're not going to see/experience nearly as much. In this same vein... plan your suitcase accordingly, as well. Will you be carrying it around on cobblestone streets, up stairs or thru tiny gates?
And if it wasn't clear, before you spend money on anything... look at the reviews! Especially the low-rated ones. Why was it rated low? Was it because they expected something that wasn't even part of the deal?
Ditch being a stick in the mud, fuddy duddy. When in Paris, DO Paris, speak French, ride the metro, eat the croissant, do the touristy stuff, sure, but also go where the locals go.
Bottom line... do a little planning and you're sure to have an amazing, memory-filled adventure. Just like we did.
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