My recent trip to Europe has taught me a few things about planning your own vacation. As you may know, these days, there is little reason why anything should be done any other way than the DIY way; and that includes travelling. DIY travelling is simply the best way to travel, wherever your destination may be. Rather than basing your trip around what others have arranged for you with a set itinerary, planning your own DIY vacation allows you to build your own holiday book. However, DIY travelling can be a daunting task and it is rarely easy so I thought I’d share a few tips from my most recent holidays. Hopefully I’m able to provide you with an insight or two!
Always make sure that you have a valid passport with you while travelling to and from different countries. This passport should be signed and if required – accompanied by a visa depending on your travel destination.
Furthermore, I always like to keep a scanned copy of my passport and other important travel identification documents. A scanned copy makes it extremely easy to send a copy to family and friends in case of emergency. Worst case, if it gets misplaced or stolen!!!
Now when it comes to travelling, bringing and looking after your passport is as obvious as common sense but keep it safe by locking in a safe at the hotel if this is available.
I’d also like to mention that if you’re renting/hiring a car to an international travel destination, ensure to have your passport with you when you pick up your vehicle! In Barcelona, we walked all the way to the car rental place and then realized a credit card and driver’s license wasn’t going to cut it!
Another one out of the ‘Travelling for Dummies’ book, you should have both medical insurance and travel insurance sorted out before starting off your journey. Your health insurance card should be kept with you at all times. Check with your credit card company to see if your current agreement covers travel insurance, most cards that have an annual fee includes this option. Otherwise, you can purchase separate travel insurance through major banks.
Different transportation means can prove to be dangerous in several countries throughout the world and so you should research how safe each methods are in the country you find yourself in.
Once you’ve gathered your research, don’t be afraid to explore public transportation such as underground subways, trains and buses. During our stay in London and Barcelona, we only used a taxi once! We made use of both city’s public transit system which were both extremely efficient and reliable.
There are several travel apps you can download that include offline maps and transit maps. I particularly love the Ulmon city offline maps. We downloaded both the London and Bacelona maps to our devices and made travelling on foot that much more efficient and successful. The app includes all major recommended attractions, a full map, and suggestions on their closest ‘subway’ stop. I HIGHLY recommend checking it out.
It seems as though only us North American’s drink water by the tap! Be cognizant when drinking water in other countries. Order bottled water in countries outside North America for consumption. Drinking water that is contaminated may cause life threatening illness.
Try to avoid staying on the ground floor of an apartment as this will increase the chances of it being broken into. Furthermore, passports and money should be well hidden within your residence.
It does of course depend on the place you’re visiting. For example, Jasper hotels will be a lot safer than ones in Columbia’s Bogota.
I prefer staying in condo apartments when it comes to travelling for vacation. I enjoy the aspect of having a full kitchen and laundry facilities, it many ways, it feels much more “homey” to me. I made one of the best decisions in Barcelona by booking a condo apartment. I researched online and looked up reviews from other travelers to help me make an informed decision.
Restaurants and Dining
One of the most enjoyable aspects of travelling is trying local food and drink. I am totally on the ball when it comes to researching for places to wine and dine PRIOR to my trips. I typically use Tripadvisor or read local blogs to get a good insight on what restaurants to try and also some etiquette on tipping. Some countries are just not accustomed to tips and some may even feel offended when you do. We dined at an amazing restaurant in Barcelona, ranked #4 – Con Gracia, after an unbelievable 7 course chef tasting, we weren’t given the option on the credit card machine to leave gratuities! They said there is no need! But we left cash anyway because their service was simply superb!
I can’t stress enough to always make a reservation for restaurants that are deemed very popular if that is an option. For those that are recommended by ‘locals’, be sure to find out what items to order prior to arriving. Many times, tourists don’t get the best of the local cuisine and are offered many ‘North Americanized’ options.
Those are a few insights I wanted to share with you to build your DIY holiday plans. Don’t be intimidated, planning your own trip can be so much fun! Be sure to use apps such as TripIt to organize your trip plans, I swear by it, it keeps everything in check with just a few clicks away.
Have a wonderful Canadian Victoria Day Long Weekend!