reader report

Travel tips: All about new experiences - so relax

GET LOST: This alleyway in Seville, Spain, is off the beaten track but a treasured memory.
GET LOST: This alleyway in Seville, Spain, is off the beaten track but a treasured memory.

Bring a set of cutlery with you.

I don't know how many times I got caught thinking that I either didn't have time, was on public transport over meal times, or just felt particularly poor that day and so reverted to the age-old travel favourite: the supermarket.

Be it Carrefour in France, Billa in Italy, or M&S in England, you'll need a fork for that salad and a knife to spread that butter. Note that this handy travel kitchen-kit could also include teabags, mini milks (from the airplane), napkins and mini butters.

Take the train across Europe. Often the trains are cheaper than the planes (and with prettier departure points), and sometimes buses, and much more comfortable.

This allows you to be able to see the countryside, as opposed to skipping over the top of it, and get a better, more dynamic feel for the country. The stations are usually closer to town than the airports, so makes getting there much easier and cheaper. Especially in big cities there are often multiple train stations - just check your train does go through the station you've picked.  

In the end, the locomotor can be quicker in overall A - B travel time than air transport, taking customs, queues, and getting there into account. Another tip: when looking up train times and fares, try to access the local country version of the website, as this is often cheaper.

Go to the 'burbs. In more ways than one - go to both the suburban area of the town in which you are in but also the 'suburbs' of the country. What do I mean by this?

I found that my favourite cities were the smaller ones, the ones that had to work harder at being cool. Places like Porto, Antwerp, Lyon, and Verona had so much going on as they weren't the capital city, the biggest city, or the oldest city. Explore the underbelly of the city and go to suburbs where there seems to be only locals.

Can't speak the language? It doesn't matter as long as you can pass on a few niceties (see point below) and are happy not surrounded by 23 other tourists, one of whom knows your second cousin once removed from Rotorua. Your choice.

Learn the language. Okay, that may seem unachievable especially if you are moving through Europe at a Usain Bolt pace, but learn at least a few words. A little goes a long way.

Chances are, you look and will sound like a traveller so there is little risk of them responding at high speed in their foreign tongue and expecting you to understand, so don't be afraid! Get out your smartphone and connect to the free (and fast) local wifi to learn the language of your next destination. Some useful phrases, aside from the obvious, are "this one" and "that one" - for any manner of occasions when you find yourself pointing at the desired outcome, "meat" - for all vegetarians (after all you can always point at yourself, shake your head and make crossing motions with your hands, but how do you act out the word meat?), and "how much".

Have fun. Lame and kind of expected but you would be surprised. It pays to keep reminding yourself of the opportunities you are having, and compare them on a grand scale.

Situation #1: "My iPhone was stolen" - "I am in Berlin and I am safe and I am in gorgeous Germany"
Situation #2: "I am sick" - "I am in Morocco and I have been eating incredible food and seen the most beautiful things, better sick here than in my cold Dunedin flat."
Situation #3: "I keep losing things and making mistakes" - "This wouldn't be happening if I wasn't doing anything different and exciting".

Of course these are just a few tips, just scraping the very surface of the wonderful world of travelling. Go forth and multiply your travel memories and stories, make your own tips, and most of all, speak slowly to non-Kiwis, who otherwise won't understand our accents.