Did you read Part 1? These are some basic tips for traveling to Paris – but really, when you plan to travel anywhere!!!
- Decide on a basic plan of touring and prepare. We bought our tickets ahead of time to save waiting in long queues. During the winter months, this isn’t as important, but there still were lines for the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t have to wait in those – we just walked right in!!!! Also, figure out how you are getting from the airport to your destination. Explore mass transit options – they are usually VERY user friendly, as the whole continent of Europe is accessible by train and many people use them. Trains tend to be less expensive and an adventure all on their own. Also, we have downloaded on to our phones city maps from Google Maps that can be accessed even if we are off line. These have been fabulous for Paris and Italy for both driving directions and walking city streets! I highly recommend doing this as you prepare for a trip!
- Don’t be afraid of the unknown – life is full of them – they make the ride more interesting! You hear about pickpockets in airports and train stations and tourist sites. There are pickpockets in the US, too. Just be aware or your surroundings. Hold your important things close and pay attention. For Paris, I had a little pouch I carried around my neck under my jacket that had my Euros, copies of our passports, keys to the apartment and my ID/credit cards. For Italy, we had cross body purses that had IFR protection for credit cards and anti-theft straps so they couldn’t be cut. Also – be sensible. Don’t venture off the beaten path and if you are worried walking at night, get a cab. Don’t be sacred! Live life!!!
- Be flexible – I am a planner, but even the best laid plans can take a sharp right turn! Learn to roll with it! I have found that the greatest character building, memory making experiences have come out of adversity. On this trip, we faced with some unexpected closings, some inclement weather (although I loved the snow) and pockets of protesters. We had Plan Bs available when necessary and turned any lemons into lemonade – and hopefully Charlotte learned that there can always be a positive outcome if you look at a situation the right way.
- Off seasons – I had some amazing deals come up this past summer for European travel this winter. People were afraid to jump on board because it was going to be cold weather. They really missed out! Winter in Europe is generally milder (is was 35 degrees here to the 3 degrees at home while I was gone) and the crowds are way thinner. What does that mean? Fewer queues, better prices and more opportunities to experience something different. Don’t be afraid of the off season – it makes travel affordable for many!
- Learn some French – or whatever language is spoken where you are visiting. I learned some French in high school and have since been using it here and there when I have the chance. To prepare for this trip, I have been listening to French lessons on my phone via Audible (an app) from a company called Pimsleur. I used them to learn some Italian before my trip to Italy. Want to know why some Americans think the French don’t like them? Because we travel to places like Paris and don’t even attempt to speak the language. We try to engage everyone in our loud American voices and think if we speak English louder the French will understand. Guess what? Most of them speak a little English – if you at least attempt some niceties and smile, it will go a long way! Learn how to greet people and say, “thank you”, “please”, “where is the……”, “I would like……” and “goodbye”. Your experience will be must better!!!
These tips can be used in most new situations. I hope you find them helpful and maybe a bit entertaining!!!