My Europe travel tips

Here are a few basic Europe tips that are easy to forget but could make your life easier.

  1. I prefer CityMapper over Google Maps. I find the routing suggestions more sensible, it also gives you optimizations such as which car to board and provide better information on where the best exits are. Picking the right exits can significantly save you time. I found the info alerts to be more up to date. I liked being able to star journeys that I knew I was going to take later.
  2. Get your Apple Pay/Google Wallet setup with a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees. American credit cards are typically chip and signature as opposed to chip and pin. Save the staff from finding a pen and you from signing by using a mobile wallet. In cities like London you can also use Apple Pay to pay for transit. Tip, turn on express mode so you don’t need your face id or passcode to authenticate.
  3. In old touristy buildings such as the Musee d’Orsay, don’t use the elevators unless you need to. In ideal world, there would be more elevators but its a massive understaking to retrofit these buildings. In the case of the Orsay, there's like two public elevators for the whole museum. Save the elevators for those with strollers/wheelchairs and people who have low mobility. You should always give those folks priority.
  4. Forget LonelyPlanet. Have you ever looked at what it recommends for your city? I know I find its recommendations for San Francisco pretty uninspiring. Look to smaller publications that might align to your personality. Personally, I've found a lot of great leads through Monocle. Ask friends you trust or coworkers that might have a connection. Dig on social media and reddit.
  5. I always stock up on sunscreen because in Europe they have more approved sunscreen filters, namely Tinosorb. I’m a big of the European formulation of La Roche Posay so I stock up on that.
  6. Shopping. More and brands are able to ship to the US but between the cost and hassle of import duties/customs, it’s still nice to browse some smaller brands that are harder to get in U.S. Some favorites include Bellerose, Soeur, Samsøe & Samsøe, Numph, Sita Murt, des petits hauts, and TOAST. I've got more faves but those are some that I can think of off the top of my head. Sezane, COS, Mango, &Other Stories, and ba&sh have a pretty good presence in the US but still are some of my faves to shop at.
  7. European luxury goods can be cheaper and if you shop tax free, that could mean around 20% back. Depends on the currency and whether the store offers it. Bring your passport, though some will accept a photo of the passport.
  8. If you go to Europe enough, just get a dedicated Schuko plug. The global adapters are notorious for their poor longevity. They aren’t always the cheapest either. Instead a pack of 6 schuko adapters will only set you back $10.
  9. If your hair straightener, blow dryer, etc isn’t dual voltage it will need a voltage adapter. I would just leave those at home.
  10. And general advice. Pack some basics into your carry on. At the minimum some fresh underwear. When my flight home got canceled, I got separated from my checked bag. I was relieved that I had a change of clothes in my carry on. It sounds like a no brainer but I almost ignored this!