10 Underrated Cities in Europe You Need to Visit ASAP

There are countless cities in Europe, but I bet only a dozen or so pop into your mind when you start dreaming about your next European vacation. The most popular cities in Europe are popular for a reason, but you should also consider visiting some underrated cities in Europe.

Especially the underrated cities in Europe on this list because they are set to explode with tourists once more people learn about them.

In fact, some of the cities on this list have already started to become up and coming destinations, so you better visit them quickly!

I’ve travelled extensively through Europe, but I haven’t visited everywhere. So, this list is based on the cities I’ve visited and think are underrated.

I haven’t made it to Georgia yet (sad face), but if I had, I’m sure a city from there would make a list.

What I’m trying to say is this is by no means a comprehensive list of underrated cities in Europe, but it should get you pointed in the right direction.

There are cities in Wester, Central, and Eastern Europe, so no matter where your European trip takes you, you should be able to stop into one of these underrated cities in Europe alone the way!

And please tell my your favourite underrated cities in Europe in the comments! I’d love to hear them, and the community would love to hear them as well. 🙂

10 overrated cities in Europe (& where to go instead)

1. Tallinn, Estonia

I’m going to start with what I think is the most underrated capital city in Europe.

Granted it is more popular now than it was when I visited for the first time in 2017, but it still isn’t on most people’s radar.

Tallinn has everything you could ever want in a European city.

It has one of the most gorgeous old cities in Europe, lots of fun things to do outside the old city (which most people ignore), and is super affordable.

You can visit Tallinn as a day trip from Helsinki, Finland, but I recommend spending at least two or three days to get a full sense of the city and what it has to offer.

If there is a performance during your time in Tallinn, I highly recommend you go to the City Theatre for a play or ballet performance.

Tickets are very affordable, and the inside of the building in spectacular.

You’ll likely fall in love with Estonia on your visit to Tallinn and may want to explore more of the country. If that’s the case, I highly recommend you visit Tartu.

It is actually my favourite city in Estonia!

Tallinn, Estonia

Top 3 Things to do in Tallinn

  • Visit the old city
  • Explore Toompea Castle
  • Wander around Kadriorg Park

Important Information

CurrencyEuros
Best Time to VisitMay-September
Days Needed2-3

2. Timișoara, Romania

Now it is time to move on to what I think is the most underrated city in Europe (in my own personal opinion).

I adore Timișoara and find myself dreaming of going back more than any other Romanian city.

Romania as a whole is widely underrated and a country I recommend to all my friends and family. But even within Romania, Timișoara doesn’t get as much love as it deserves.

Not only is it stunningly beautiful, calming, and idyllic, but it also has a very interesting history and is where communism started to fall in Romania.

There are other cities in Romania with important communism histories as well, but Timișoara’s is extra interesting. You’ll understand it more once you get there and start learning about the history.

Timișoara is one of the most vibrant cities I’ve visited. The sights and colours are intoxicating, and if you’re anything like me, you want to spend all your time walking around or sitting at a café soaking up the atmosphere.

Be sure to bring your camera and lots of extra batteries!

Plus the food in Timișoara (and all of Romania) is to die for. Pack your stretchy pants because you’ll be eating a lot!

Timișoara, Romania

Top 3 Things to do in Timișoara

  • Visit Victory Square
  • Tour the Communist Consumer Museum
  • Walk through Roses Park

Important Information

CurrencyRomanian Leu
Best Time to VisitMarch-June
Days Needed2-3

3. Kaunas, Lithuania

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Kaunas before. Ah, yes, I’m not surprised most of you haven’t!

I guess that’s why it made the list of top underrated cities in Europe!

I honestly hadn’t heard of Kaunas until a few days before I arrived in the city. I was backpacking through the Balkans and wanted to see more of Lithuania than just Vilnius.

A short Google search later, and I found myself booking a hostel in Kaunas, and it was one of the best hidden gems I visited on that entire three-month trip.

Kaunas is located in central Lithuania and is only 1.5 hours away from Vilnius by bus.

It is a fairly quiet town, but there is still lots to see and do.

There is one long promenade in the old part of town where most tourists flock to. It is full of life, and is a must-do for anybody visiting the city.

But it isn’t the only thing to do in Kaunas.

A lot of tourists miss the heart and soul of Kaunas because they stick to the old part of town and don’t venture out to the more local areas.

There is a ton of great artwork painted on the buildings around town. Even just wandering around aimlessly for a few hours will result in you finding more than one piece of artwork to snap a picture of.

You can (and should) also explore the historical part of Kaunas by visiting the old castle and fortress.

And, of course, there are a few churches you can wander through and marvel at.

However, I must admit my favourite part of Kaunas was the Devil’s Museum. It is a museum dedicated to just collecting artwork, sculptures, and trinkets that depict the devil.

When I was there, it boasted that it was the only devil museum in the world. I visited in 2017, so I’m not sure if it is still the only devil museum in the world, but it was certainly the first.

I know this is an odd thing to recommend to you, but it was honestly so much fun. The museum is multiple stories tall, and it is just so wonderfully odd that you can’t not visit.

I would 100% go again the next time I’m in Kaunas.

But, if devils aren’t your thing, there is still plenty to keep you occupied while you’re in Kaunas.

Kaunas, Lithuania

Top 3 Things to do in Kaunas

  • Visit the Devil’s Museum
  • Explore Kaunas Castle
  • Tour the Ninth Fort of Kaunas Fortress

Important Information

CurrencyEuros
Best Time to VisitMay-September
Days Needed1-2

4. Brighton, England

Brighton is one of the most underrated cities in Europe for sure. It is popular with people in the UK, but I’ve never met anybody else in my personal life who has visited Brighton.

Even though it is only 1.5 hours away from London by train!

Brighton couldn’t be more different than London, and it gives you a completely new peak inside what England has to offer.

The city is super laid back, and you get out of the hustle and bustle of London for a while.

The weather is delightful, the food is outstanding, and you can walk to pretty much any tourist attraction you want to visit.

And they have world class tourist attractions!

The whole city is a breath of fresh air compared to London.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore London, but it is nice to get outside the capital city and explore a different part of England.

You can visit Brighton as a day trip from London, but I personally recommend spending at least two days there.

There is plenty to see, do, and eat. You don’t want to be rushed or feel like you’re missing out on what Brighton has to offer.

Just be sure you try out the food! There are plenty of fresh seafood restaurants along the seafront, but my personal favourite is going to The Lanes to eat.

The Lanes is an old section of the city where narrow streets twist and turn. You walk around and get lost in the streets.

There are plenty of small spots, cafés, but, more importantly, the best restaurants in the city. You can eat at pretty much any restaurant and be guaranteed a good meal!

41 things to do along the Brighton seafront

Royal Pavilion Brighton

Top 3 Things to do in Brighton

  • Visit the Royal Pavilion
  • Get an unbeatable view of Brighton at the British Airways i360 Viewing Tower

Important Information

CurrencyPound Sterling
Best Time to VisitJune-September
Days Needed1-3

5. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo was a travel experience unlike any other. You immerse yourself in the history and tragedy of the Bosnian Muslims during the Bosnian War, and you can’t help but be emotional during your entire trip to Sarajevo.

It is without a doubt one of the most underrated cities in Europe. There is so much modern history that everybody should experience in the city, and you should definitely add it to your bucket list.

Not only does Sarajevo teach you a lot about the Bosnian War and what people went through, but it also teaches you a lot about resilience.

The city is vibrant and full of life. If you weren’t aware of the city’s past, you would think it was like any other city in the region.

One of my favourite things to do is stand outside around noon to listen to the church bells and the Adhan (the sound that notifies Muslims it is time to start praying) sounding off at the same time.

It is the perfect representation of what the city of Sarajevo has become.

The city is welcoming to everybody and anybody.

Not only does Sarajevo have an interesting (and tragic) modern history, but you can also stand on the bridge where the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated and where WWI began.

There are certainly still some issue with corruption, which is the big reason why BiH hasn’t been allowed in the EU yet, but it is slowly but surely getting better.

In a few years, I’m sure Sarajevo will not longer be one of the most underrated cities in Europe and tourists will be flocking to it.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Top 3 Things to do in Sarajevo

  • Visit Gallery 11/07/95 and learn about the tragedy of Srebrenica
  • Walk along the 1984 Winter Olympics bobsleigh track 
  • Wander through the Old Bazaar

Important Information

CurrencyBosnia and Herzegovina Convertible Mark
Best Time to VisitMay-June and Early September
Days Needed3-4 (if you want to make a day trip to Mostar)

6. Sofia, Bulgaria

There is so much to see and do in Sofia. It is an unassuming capital city, but it is definitely one of the most underrated cities in Europe.

It has an interesting mix of modern culture and history. You want see street artwork right next to old ruins.

The city is truly unbeatable, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Sofia during a holiday, you’ll experience the history and culture of Bulgaria that locals still take seriously.

No trip to Sofia is complete without taking a day trip to Rila Monastery.

It is the largest and most well known Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, and you can even crawl inside a cave where the St. Ivan of Rila spent 20 years of his life praying in solitude.

It is an experience you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world!

To top it all off, the food in Sofia is incredible! I doubt you could find a bad meal in the whole city even if you were trying to.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Top 3 Things to do in Sofia

  • Visit Rila Monastery
  • Tour Alexander Nevsky Cathedral 
  • Visit the Museum of Socialist Art

Important Information

CurrencyBulgarian Lev
Best Time to VisitApril-May or September-October
Days Needed2-4

7. Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, but people tend to focus on the coastal towns and completely ignore Zagreb.

I love Zagreb and was blown away by the city.

When I visited Croatia in 2015, every single blog I read about where to go in the country said don’t bother visiting Zagreb. It is boring and not worth visiting.

Well, there was one specific thing I really wanted to do in Zagreb, so I ignored the advice of all the blogs I read and spent three days in Zagreb.

Let this be a reminder that you shouldn’t take what bloggers say (even me) as the absolute word of truth. We’re all just sharing our own opinions. Do lots of research and make the travel decisions that suit you best!

Zagreb is colourful, full of life, yet homey and small at the same time.

You can walk pretty much anywhere in the city within half an hour and be treated to beautiful sights along the way.

One of the most popular things to do in Zagreb is take a day trip to visit Plitvice Lake. It is a gorgeous lake, but I prefer Krka National Park.

Krka National Park is located just outside the small town of Šibenik and is a short bus ride from Zadar, which is where I recommend staying if you want to visit Krka National Park.

In any event, Plitvice Lake is well worth visiting, but you should spend a few days exploring the city as well.

You’ll be thankful you did. I know you’ll fall in love with Zagreb!

What I wish I knew before backpacking Europe alone

Zagreb, Croatia

Top 3 Things to do in Zagreb

  • Spend an afternoon exploring Mirogoj Cemetery
  • Wander around Upper Town and take a million photos

Important Information

CurrencyCroatian Kuna
Best Time to VisitApril-September
Days Needed2-4

8. Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv is a city I wasn’t planning on visiting but used it as a transfer point from Ukraine to Poland.

Unfortunately, I was only in the city for a day and a half, but it was long enough for me to fall in love with it!

I was debating whether I should include Lviv or Odessa on my list of underrated cities in Europe, but Lviv won out by a hair because I think there is more to do there.

But, if you’re in Ukraine, you can’t go wrong with visiting Odessa as well.

Lviv is by far the brightest and most vibrant city I visited in Ukraine. It feels like a small town but is actually quite a large city.

Even as a tourist, when you walk around the centre of Lviv, you can’t help but feel comfortable and at home.

But be sure to get outside the centre of the city and explore everything else the city has to offer!

And please, please, please come with an empty stomach.

As I’m sure you can guess, the food in Lviv (and everywhere in Ukraine) is outstanding. You’ll want to eat and eat and eat until you’ve made yourself sick and can’t stuff another bite into your mouth.

Yes. I’m speaking from experience.

A lot of people don’t think to visit Ukraine while they’re in Europe. Whether it is misinformation that Ukraine is unsafe or they don’t realize how much the country has to offer.

Either way, you’re missing out on a lot of amazing sights and experiences if you don’t visit Ukraine.

Kyiv is outstanding, but you should also visit Lviv while you’re there.

Lviv, Ukraine

Top 3 Things to do in Lviv

  • Climb city hall for the best views of the city
  • Visit the Armenian Cathedral
  • People watch at Rynok Square

Important Information

CurrencyUkrainian Hryvnia
Best Time to VisitMay-September
Days Needed1-3

9. Dundee, Scotland

Dundee is overlooked and is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. Not many people know about it, but it is the perfect addition to any Eastern Scotland road trip.

It is in an ideal location and the best city to spend a few days between the lowlands (a.k.a. Edinburgh or Glasgow) and the highlands.

I mean technically Dundee is part of the highlands, but it isn’t too north and isn’t what people picture when they think of the highlands.

Dundee is the perfect mixture of a modern town with deep historical roots.

I’ll admit that the only reason I planned to spend a few days in Dundee the first time I was in Scotland was because I wanted to visit the RRS Discovery.

Anybody else weirdly interested in Shackleton’s expeditions or is it just me?!

But, I’m so glad I planned three days in the city as a way to break up the driving and moving from hotel to hotel every day or two.

The city is so much more than just the RRS Discovery, and I wasn’t bored for a moment the three days I spend in Dundee.

The city is young and hip, which I didn’t expect. It has a great vibe, wonderful pubs and restaurants, and tourist attractions that suit anybody’s interests.

If you’re planning a road trip in the eastern part of Scotland, Dundee is a must on your itinerary.

Dundee, Scotland

Top 3 Things to do in Dundee

  • Learn about Arctic expeditions on the RRS Discovery
  • Visit The McManus Art Museum
  • Tour Glamis Castle (a short drive or bus ride outside Dundee)

Important Information

CurrencyPound Sterling
Best Time to VisitMay-August
Days Needed2-4

10. Wrocław, Poland

Just like Lviv, I used Wrocław as a transfer point. I was in northern Poland and had to get to Prauge.

I didn’t want to go all the way from the north of Poland to Prague and decided to find somewhere to stop along the way, and that place was Wrocław.

For a city I didn’t think much of when I booked my stay, it ended up blowing me away.

It is such a unique city.

Wrocław has the same architecture as the rest of Poland, but it quirky.

There are over 400 statues of gnomes all over the city. Most of the are small, but a few of them are larger.

The gnomes started popping up around the city in the 1980s as a satirical and funny protest against communism.

Since them, gnomes have been popping up all over the city, and many of them are wearing unique and silly costumes or props.

It is weirdly addicting to spend hours wandering through the twisting streets of Wrocław trying to find as many gnomes as possible.

I have pictures of dozens of different gnomes, and it makes me giggle every time I go through my photos from my trip to Wrocław.

In addition to gnomes, Wrocław has what is known as the Cathedral Island. It is the oldest part of the city that is home to a number of different cathedrals and churches. The island is accessible by three different bridges and is surrounded by water.

Other than the gnomes, Cathedral Island is the most unique part of Wrocław. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything like it anywhere else in Europe.

Be sure to check out Hala Targowa when you’re in Wrocław. It is the best place to find fresh food, unique gifts, and cheap treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Wrocław, Poland

Top 3 Things to do in Wrocław

  • Go gnome hunting
  • Explore Cathedral Island
  • Visit the The Royal Palace and the Historical Museum of Wrocław

Important Information

CurrencyPolish Złoty
Best Time to VisitMarch-May
Days Needed2-4

A Friendly Reminder About Internet Safety While Travelling

You rely extensively on public wifi when you travel. Unless you have your own pocket wifi, you’ll 100% be relying on free wifi.

Public wifi is great because it allows you to connect to the internet without spending any money, but it comes with its risks.

Public wifi is just that. It is public, so anybody can connect to it.

And before you tell me that your hotel wifi has a passcode, it is still considered public wifi because anybody can access the passcode!

With so many people using public wifi, it puts you, your devices, and your privacy at risk.

All it takes is one person with bad intentions, and your European vacation is ruined because someone stole your banking information.

You do not want to have to go through the hassel of canceling debit and credit cards while you’re abroad.

It takes a lot of the fun out of your trip, and it leaves you in the difficult situation of trying to fund the rest of your trip without your normal cards.

I’ve had a few banking issues while abroad, and I can tell you that it is a major headache to deal with. I haven’t had my information stolen, but I can only imagine how much worse that would make it!

The only way you can protect your online data and information when using a public wifi network is installing a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts a forcefield around your devices that makes it impossible for anybody else to access your information.

A VPN makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the passcode.

My Favourite VPN

As you can imagine, I’ve used a lot of different VPN providers during my years of travel. Honestly, I hated all of them and cancelled my subscription after the first year.

VPNs are notorious for slowing your phone down, and I would often find myself putting my privacy at risk by not using my VPN just because my internet access was so slow.

That all changed when I discovered NordVPN.

I’ve been using them since 2018 and have no plans of ever switching to a different VPN provider.

The reason I love them so much (and why I recommend them to my fellow travel lovers) is because they are the fastest VPN on the market.

You can’t notice a change in your internet speed when you’re using your NordVPN, which is basically unheard of in any other VPN.

One subscription protects up to six devices, so you can protect all your devices (and possibly the devices of a friend or family member) for one low, low price.

Seriously! The cost of a two-year subscription is less per month than the cost of a single latte.

It is a tiny price to pay to protect your online data and have peace of mind when travelling.

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online data and privacy.

Conclusion

Are you inspired to check out any of the underrated cities in Europe on this list?!

Again, this isn’t an extensive list. There are countless other cities and towns in Europe that are underrated.

I wanted to add cities to this list that had a little something for everybody and were easy to get to.

Use it as inspiration for your next trip. Even if you don’t visit any of the cities on this list, find a hidden gem in the part of Europe you’re travelling to and take the time to visit that city.

You’ll never be disappointed that you stepped off the normal tourist trail and experienced something that most tourists don’t get to!

10 Disadvantages of Travelling (Shocking, I Know)

If you had told me when I was 21-years old and setting off on my first solo trip abroad that there are a number of disadvantages of travelling, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I thought travel was all rainbows and sunshine.

You’re living the dream and seeing the world. How could there be any disadvantages of travelling?!

Well, I was in for a bit of a reality check.

Don’t get me wrong. I love travel, and the advantages of travel certainly outweigh the disadvantages of travelling.

But, now that I’ve travelled for years, I want to share with you some of the disadvantages of travelling, so you can have a more realistic view of what travel is actually like.

That way you won’t be surprised if you encounter some of the less glamorous sides of solo travel.

You can take the good with the less good and still have an amazing trip.

There is always a rainbow at the end of a rain shower!

So, I’m sharing the top ten disadvantages of travelling I’ve discovered in my years of travel.

You may not encounter all of the disadvantages on this list. You may experience other disadvantages.

This is based on my experience and what other travellers have echoed in my conversations with them.

This should hopefully help you be more prepared for travel and result in you having an even better trip than you ever imagined possible!

Tips for planning your first solo trip

1. It Costs a Lot of Money

I bet you’re not surprised that travel costs money, and money doesn’t grow on trees.

How we all wish we were trust fund babies or won the lottery, so we could travel without worrying about money!

There are a number of ways money is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling.

  • You have to be disciplined enough to save enough money for your trip.
  • You have to stick to a budget while you’re on your trip.
  • The money you spend on your trip can’t be used anywhere else. So, you have to sacrifice other things you may want to buy in order to travel.

I, obviously, knew that travelling costs money when I took my first big trip. The other two aspects of money and travel were a little bit more difficult for me to come to terms with.

It can be hard to forego travel experiences because it isn’t part of your budget, but it is a reality that every traveller faces.

It can be hard to say no and to figure out what is and isn’t worth shelling over your hard-earned money for.

Travel doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does cost a pretty penny.

Especially if you’re taking short trips rather than long trips.

Flights are expensive, but once you get to a geographical area (especially if you can rely on trains and buses to get around), your monthly living costs may actually be less than your normal living costs.

It is those short, week long trips halfway around the world that kill your budget!

But those are the trips most people can take based on their work schedule.

It is a cruel world!

Eating alone

2. You Have to Consider Opportunity Cost

You don’t only have to think about the cost of your actual trip but the opportunity cost of travelling.

You’re potentially giving up job growth, a promotion, or other opportunities that will allow you to make more money in the future.

More money to fund your future travels. 😉

Even the income you miss making while you’re on the trip is part of the opportunity cost of travel you have to consider.

This is one of the disadvantages of travelling that impacts long-term travellers more than short-term travellers.

If you take a one-week vacation, there isn’t much opportunity cost to that trip.

However, if you’re like me and travel for months at a time, there is a lot of opportunity cost.

There were plenty of years where I didn’t have a blog and was relying solely on earning income from my job back home.

I would make less than $15,000 in a year and spend it all on travel!

Obviously that isn’t sustainable throughout your entire life.

On the flip side, there is also an opportunity cost to not travelling and working full-time instead. You don’t get to experience everything the world has to offer.

There is a give and take when it comes to opportunity cost and travel.

You have to find the balance that works for you and run with it!

But without a doubt it is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling.

Digital nomad jobs for beginners

3. Your Personal Information is More at Risk

I know this one sounds odd but hear me out!

When you’re at home living your normal life, you’re most likely using your home internet more often than not.

Your home internet is very safe because you’re the only person who knows the password to access it.

You can sleep tight at night knowing that there is only a slim possibility that a hacker can access your home internet and steal your personal data.

That’s not the case when you’re travelling.

You are reliant on public wifi networks when you travel.

Whether it be at your hotel, a restaurant or café, or at the airport, there are lots of opportunities for your online information to be stolen.

And I know what you’re thinking.

Most public wifi networks have a password, so they are safe.

Wrong!

Even if there is a password on a public wifi network, your online information is still at risk of being stolen.

Anybody can get the password and gain access to the wifi network!

The only way you can protect your online data when using a public wifi network (even when you’re at home) is to install a VPN on all your devices.

A VPN essentially puts up a forcefield around your devices that keeps prying eyes out.

Even when using a public wifi network!

A VPN essentially makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home internet.

My Favourite VPN

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs over my years of travel, and pretty much hated them all.

VPNs have a reputation of slowing down your devices, and my phone and laptop were often so slow that I ended up turning off my VPN and putting my data at risk just to be able to use the internet without wanting to bang my head against the wall.

That all changed when I discovered NordVPN.

I’ve been using their VPN for years and have no plans of ever switching!

NordVPN is the fastest VPN on the market, and that’s why I recommend it to all my fellow travel lovers.

You don’t even notice there is a VPN protecting your devices. You can stream away, check socials, and do whatever you want to do on the internet without feeling held back.

While still being protected!

I truly, truly believe that everybody should have a VPN on their devices. It is silly to leave yourself and your personal information exposed.

You can protect up to 6 devices with on NordVPN account, so you can easily protect all of your devices at once.

A two-year subscription costs less than the price of a Starbucks latte per month, so there are no excuses!

My philosophy is that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect your online information!

You do not want to have the hassel of having to cancel your bank cards while on holiday because you were too cheap to protect your online information.

That’s just no fun! And 100% preventable.

4. Travel is Exhausting

I was not prepared for how exhausting travel is before I started travelling on a regular basis.

You have an image that travel is the ultimate escape, and it kind of feels like the rules of the real world don’t apply.

But they do!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a short trip or a long trip. The days are long, and you expend a lot of energy.

This may not technically be one of the disadvantages of travelling, but it was sure a shock to me!

I was going non-stop for two and a half months before I finally burnt out and decided to take a few days to rest.

Taking time to relax and enjoy your holiday is alright. In fact, I often tell my friends and family who ask me for advise to plan a few extra days in any given city.

This gives you time to see everything you want to see without rushing. You can spend a few hours people watching in a café and not feel guilty for not doing enough on your vacation.

Whatever that means. It is your trip! Make it exactly how you want it.

But be prepared to be tired when you travel!

Your feet will be sore from all the walking. Your body will be tired from all the excitement.

You may even come back more exhausted from your vacation than when you left!

Even beach vacations can be deceptively exhausting. So make sure you leave some wiggle room in case you need a breather.

Disadvantages of Travelling

5. Planning a Trip Takes a Lot of Effort

If you’re anything like me, you hate planning your trips. It just sucks the energy out of me!

One of the biggest disadvantages of travelling (and one not many people talk about) is all the prep work required before you even start your vacation!

It can be stressful to research where to go, where to stay, what to do, and try to find the best deals.

Some people love the planning process. It gets them excited for the trip and makes them feel prepared.

Others (like me) dread it.

No matter what side of the debate you fall on, there is no getting around the fact that planning a trip eats up a lot of time and effort.

It is one of the less glamorous sides of travel you rarely get to see!

There isn’t really a way around the planning process either. Sure you can use a travel agent, but you still need to be active in the planning process.

You have to tell them where you want to go, what area you want to stay in, and what your budget it.

Then you have to review and approve their suggestions.

It is a lot of work, but it is so worth it!

You get to go on an amazing trip, and the hard work you put into planning it more than pays off!

Just be prepared to put in the work before you leave in order to have your dream trip.

Travel Planning

6. Relationships at Home Suffer

This is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling.

Unfortunately, some of your relationships back home may suffer or die altogether. This is especially true if you’re a long-term traveller.

A lot of people don’t understand the desire to travel. They may even be jealous that you can afford to travel and they can’t.

Or you being away for a little while might bring to light some cracks in the foundation of your friendship or relationship.

I don’t think I’ve met a single solo traveller who hasn’t had at least one friendship end because of their travels. Whether directly or indirectly.

I’m definitely not saying you will have friendships and relationships end if you travel!

I’m just saying it is a possibility and one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling and something I wish I was more prepared for before I took my first trip abroad.

7. You Miss Out on Important Moments at Home

Even if all your relationships stay peachy-keen while you’re away (and I truly hope they do!), you’re likely going to miss out on some important moments while you’re away.

I can’t even count the number of engagements, housewarming parties, and baby showers I’ve missed because I’ve been on the road rather than at home.

Granted, most people don’t travel as extensively as I do and don’t miss as much time away from home.

But, there is still the chance you’ll miss out on events going on at home while you’re on the road.

Even if it is just a birthday party or a ladies’ night out where a new inside joke comes to life.

Missing out on things back home is one of the biggest and toughest disadvantages of travelling.

It is probably the one I wish could disappear!

Unfortunately, though, it is one of the trade offs that comes with being a travel addict!

Digital Nomad

8. Earning Money while Travelling Isn’t Always Easy

This is a very niche disadvantage of travelling, but it an important one to many people.

As we discussed earlier, there is an opportunity cost to travel, and it most often comes in the form of lost wages.

Many long-term travellers try to make money on the road, but it isn’t always easy!

There really isn’t a way to make quick, easy money while travelling. No matter what other bloggers are telling you!

Most digital nomad jobs require you to put in a lot of up-front work before you see any results.

So, if starting your own website isn’t as easy as bloggers make it out to be, what other options do you have?

Most countries have immigration rules. You can’t just go out and find a bartending job anywhere in the world and make quick money.

Well, you technically could, but it wouldn’t be legal, and there are consequences if you get caught. I know a lady who is never allowed to visit Ireland again because she worked there illegally while travelling.

Working at a hostel is always an option.

The downside to that is most of the time you trade your labour for a free stay in the hostel. Not actual money.

It is better than nothing though!

So, if you’re on the road and strapped for cash, you probably need to get creative if you need money ASAP and can’t build up your own business.

I 100% recommend everybody start an online business. It can be life changing and give you the freedom to travel as much as you want without having to beg your employer for time off.

But, if we’re being honest, properly creating and sticking to a budget is probably the better choice than blowing through your money and scrambling to try to make a few bucks, so you can eat that night.

Best jobs for digital nomads

Digital Nomad

9. Your Travel Companion May Annoy You

I may have found this out the hard way when I was younger.

Just because you get along great with someone when you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re compatible travel companions.

This is without a doubt on of the biggest disadvantages of travelling with someone for the first time.

You won’t figure out whether or not you’re compatible travel companions until you’re already on your trip.

And once you’re on your trip, there is no going back.

You have to finish the trip with the person you started it with.

Hopefully you can find a way to become more compatible with your travel buddy, but that is easier said than done at times.

On the other hand, you may learn that the person you travel with is the best travel companion possible!

Those are the best trips!

You don’t know until you try! So, take the leap of faith and travel with people you think you’ll be compatible with. If you’re more interested in group travel than solo travel that is.

You’ll learn so much from each travel experience.

Even if you’re not compatible travel mates, you’ll have a better idea of who may be more compatible on your next trip!

How to conquer your fear of solo travel

Disadvantages of Travelling

10. You May Discover You Hate Travelling

Travel is romanticized.

It seems like the best part of life and that people who have the privilege to travel are living the best life.

That’s true for a lot of people, but it may not be true for you.

I know quite a few people who hate travelling.

Would rather sit at home and watch tv rather than travel, and that’s 100% alright!

We all have different interests, and you may figure out after you take your first trip that travel just isn’t for you.

At least you tried it and know rather than dreaming of travelling and regretting that you didn’t travel later in life.

But, I will admit from the perspective of a travel lover, finding out you hate travel is one of the biggest disadvantages of travelling.

Once you know you don’t love travel, you need to figure out where to go from there.

You may still want to see the world but hate travelling. Those are two things that are hard to balance!

The solution may be booking tours where everything is planned for you, and all you have to do is show up and admire the beauty of the place.

It may mean you suck it up and deal with the aspects of travel you dislike.

We all have aspects of travel we hate. Trust me!

It may also mean you fulfill your wanderlust by watching YouTube videos and travel documentaries.

If you discover you don’t enjoy travel but still want to experience the beauty of the world, you need to figure out a solution that works best for you.

It isn’t always easy, but it is worth the effort!

Flying Alone

Conclusion

I hope you don’t think I’m a Debbie Downer!

There are far more benefits of travel than there are disadvantages of travelling! Trust me!

I wanted to write this post to help you get a more realistic sense of what comes with travelling.

Especially if you travel for long periods of time!

Knowing that there are disadvantages of travelling helps you prepare for your first trip. You know that not everything is rainbows and sunshine.

And this helps to enhance your travel experience!

If you go into travel without your rose coloured glasses on, I truly believe your trip will be amazing.

You’ll be more willing to roll with the punches and potentially be more willing to step outside your comfort zone and experience the culture you’re visiting.

Travel is a beautiful things, but just like anything in life, it comes with its hardships.

You won’t love every aspect of travel.

I promise you that!

But travel is still worth it (as long as you enjoy it). Disadvantages and all!

10 Practical Taiwan Travel Tips

Taiwan is an amazing country with lots to see and do. It is an underrated country, so there isn’t as much information about Taiwan on the internet as other popular Asian countries like Thailand.

This post will provide you with 10 incredibly practical and helpful Taiwan travel tips. It includes transportation tips, dining tips, and general Taiwan travel tips. It will hopefully help you when you’re in Taiwan.

You always want to try to blend in as a tourists, and these Taiwan travel tips will help you look like a local. Well, maybe not a local, but at least not an ignorant tourist. Nobody wants to be that person who is clearly a tourist and hasn’t done any research before visiting the country.

Lucky for you, you won’t be that person if you follow these 10 Taiwan travel tips!

1. Be Careful Where You Sit on Public Transportation

Finding a seat and sitting down sounds like one of the easiest parts of figuring out the transportation system in a new country, but that isn’t the case in Taiwan.

There are dedicated seats on the metro and buses for elderly people, pregnant people, and people living with disabilities. The seats are marked either with a coloured fabric over the top of the seat on the bus or by a different (normally dark) coloured seat on the metro.

The dedicated seats are normally near the front of the bus or near the doors on the metro.

You do not want to sit in those seats even if there aren’t people who need to use them nearby. People in Taiwan take these seats seriously, and you’ll get dirty looks from the locals if you sit in them.

Even if all the other seats are taken, it is best to stand rather than sit in these spots!

This is one of the best Taiwan travel tips I can give you! It’ll help you blend in, and you won’t look like a jerk if you’re taking a seat that is reserved for someone who needs it more than you do.

2. Bring Your Own Drink to Restaurants

This is one of the most unique Taiwan travel tips on the list and was not something I’ve ever encountered while travelling before. As a North American, it is considered quite rude to bring your own drink into a restaurant, so it was a bit difficult to get used to bringing my own drink to dinner in Taiwan.

There is, however, a very logical reason for this behaviour. Bubble tea is an immensely popular drink in Taiwan, and you can purchase it at a walk-up window on the street. No matter where in Taiwan you are, you won’t be more than a few hundred meters from a bubble tea window.

Restaurants are used to people bringing in their own outside drink, and they don’t mind one bit. Some smaller, local restaurants don’t sell drinks, but most do.

You can purchase a drink where you’re dining in most cases, but you may as well bring your own drink that was probably much more affordable than buying a drink at the restaurants.

3. Visa is the Most Widely Accepted Credit Card

This was another surprising thing I learnt while in Taiwan. Visa is the most widely accepted and preferred credit card in Taiwan. Master Card and American Express are accepted but by fewer vendors.

Most major retailers and hotels will accept any major credit card you have, but that may not be the case if you’re trying to pay by credit card at a local restaurant or store.

It is definitely something to be aware of and prepare for if at all possible. It is awful to be stuck in a situation where you’re trying to purchase something, your credit card isn’t accepted, and you don’t have enough cash to pay for whatever you’re purchasing.

I only used my credit card to purchase rail tickets when I was in Taiwan. I used my Master Card and had no issue. But I heard a number of stories from travellers about running into trouble because they didn’t have a Visa.

National Concert Hall Taipei, Taiwan

4. Cash is King

This tip fits in nicely with my last tip.

You want to carry cash with you while travelling in Taiwan. There are a number of places that only accept cash. This includes night markets, and you will undoubtably be visiting at least one night market in Taiwan.

You’ll also be making a number of small purchases (mostly bubble tea if you’re anything like me) that you’ll want to pay cash for. You don’t want to be paying credit card conversion fees on small purchases!

I personally like to take out cash before I leave on a trip, so I don’t have to worry about paying an ATM fee in whatever country I’m visiting.

You can also exchange money when you get to Taiwan. You’ll want to avoid exchanging money at the airport though. Most airport currency exchange kiosks charge a higher percentage than kiosks anywhere else. It is a bit of a scam so try to avoid it at all costs!

5. Cities are Walkable but Spread Out

I love walking and tend to walk wherever I need to go when I’m travelling. I’m talking walking over an hour to get from one destination to another, but I know I’m not the norm in that regard.

It is definitely possible to walk to most tourist attractions in Taiwan, but it isn’t always the best use of your time. The tourist sights in cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung are really spread out, and take public transportation is your most time efficient option.

If you’re not in Taiwan for a long time, you’ll want to take public transit to make the most out of your time. If, however, you’re like me and have a few weeks in Taiwan and love walking, feel free to hit the pavement and walk until you can’t walk anymore!

6. English is Widely Spoken

I know this isn’t technically a travel tip, but it is a good thing to know.

You don’t have to worry about not being able to communicate while in Taiwan. Many of the locals, especially the younger generation, speak English.

Metro stations, buses, trains, and metro cars all have English signs, so you’ll be able to figure out where you are and where you need to go.

Many restaurants have English versions of their menus. You just need to ask, and they’ll be able to help you out.

Taiwanese people are incredibly friendly! They’re more than happy to help you out if you’re lost or need help with something. Locals will likely come up to you while you’re in Taiwan and want to talk to you about where your’e from and how you’re liking Taiwan.

Language barrier is not something to worry about at all.

Of course there are a number of people who don’t speak English, but they’ll always do their best to help you and find someone who does.

Fo Guang Shan Big Buddha

7. Get a Transportation Card

You’ll be using public transportation quite a bit in Taiwan, so you’ll want to pick up either an EasyMoney card or iCash 2.0 card.

You can purchase both cards at any convenience store, at the airport MRT station in Taipei, or at metro stations in Taipei and Kaohsiung. You’re able to load and re-load your card at these places as well.

You pre-load the transportation card with money and then simply tap the card when getting on and off transportation. This allows you to easily use public transportation and save time. It is a hassle to purchase single-journey tickets whenever you want to use public transportation.

There is a small fee to purchase a transportation card, but it is well worth it. It will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.

Paying with cash on the bus is especially annoying. You need exact cash, and you’re given a little card saying you paid that you have to give back to the driver when you get off the bus.

My iCash 2.0 card wasn’t working properly one day, and I had to use cash on the bus. It was a bit annoying, and a transportation card works much better.

Transportation Guides:

You can’t use your transportation card when travelling between cities. You have to purchase either a train, bus, or plane ticket.

Here are a number of travel guides to help you plan your transportation between cities:

8. Pay When You Order and No Tipping

One of my favourite parts about dining out in Taiwan is that you pay for your meal when you order not at the end of the meal.

This completely eliminates the awkward time at the end of your meal when you’re trying to get your server’s attention to bring you the bill. It is my least favourite part of dining out, and I love that it isn’t an issue in Taiwan.

You order your food, pay for it, eat, and then walk out. It is the perfect system in my mind. If you want to order more after you paid, simply tell your server. You’ll need to pay for the new items you ordered, but it isn’t an issue at all to add to your order mid-meal.

Tipping isn’t common practice in Taiwan, so you don’t need to add anything on top of the base price for your meal. People are paid a living wage and don’t rely on tips, and it can often be seen as rude if you do tip.

I know it can be difficult to get used to not tipping if you’re from North America, but it does save you some money! You don’t have to worry about shelling out an additional 15% to 20% anytime you eat out!

9. No Talking on Public Transportation

This is another one of those Taiwan travel tips that will help you blend in and look like a local when using public transportation in Taiwan.

It is also one of my favourite things about Taiwan transportation. I hate when people have casual conversations on public transportation, and I don’t need to worry about that in Taiwan!

It is considered quite rude to talk while on public transportation in Taiwan. This includes having a conversation with someone you’re with or talking on the phone.

You don’t want to be the obnoxious traveller who is carrying on a loud conversation annoying everybody else on the train or bus. Reserve your conversations for when you’re off the train, and everybody around you will very much appreciate it.

Taipei 101

10. Eat Like a Local

Taiwanese food in incredible and some of the most delicious food in Asia.

Food, for the most part, is really affordable and inexpensive in Taiwan. There are certainly places where food is expensive, but it is really easy to not break the bank while eating out in Taiwan.

To eat the best food at the best price, eat where the locals eat!

This includes at night markets, street vendors, food courts in department stores, and mom-and-pop restaurants. You’ll know you’re in a good place when there are more locals than tourists!

It can be difficult to find a local place to eat. You can ask your hotel for recommendations, and they should be able to help you out. My preference is to wander into a local neighbourhood and then use Google Maps to find a restaurant nearby. I then read the restaurant reviews until I find a place that suits my fancy.

I’ve found some of my favourite restaurants in Taiwan using this technique. I’ve found it to be a great way to try a local place and know I’m getting good food. If the locals give it a good review, I feel confident giving it a try.

BONUS: Great Public Wifi System

Taiwan is on another level when it comes to accessing public wifi!

The Taiwanese government has implemented a wifi program that is available pretty much everywhere in the country.

It is called iTaiwan.

You simply create an account, and you’re able to access public wifi basically everywhere.

I did have a few issues accessing it when I was in Taiwan. You’re asked to input your passport information if you’re no Taiwanese, and it would never connect for me.

I think that my experience is pretty uncommon, and iTaiwan works for most people!

I have heard people say you need to register for an iTaiwan account at a tourist centre in Taiwan or online before you arrive in Taiwan, so that may be where I ran into issues.

Here is a link to the iTaiwan website for you to check out if you want to learn about the program before you land in Taiwan.

If you choose to use iTaiwan, it is essential that you use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your devices and your data!

Using public wifi leaves you at high risk of having your data stolen (and possibly sold), and VPN cloaks your location, so you’re completely safe and protected from prying eyes.

I’ve used a number of VPNs in my time and was never really satisfied until I started using Nord VPN.

Nord VPN allows you to connect up to 6 devices with one account, works all over the world (including behind China’s fire wall), and allows you to access streaming services from around the world.

I adore Nord VPN and don’t plan on switching to a new VPN provider in the future!

Nord VPN

Conclusion

There you have it! 10 really practical Taiwan travel tips that will help you navigate and explore Taiwan.

These tips are designed to help you integrate into Taiwan and explore the country like a local as much as possible. You’ll use transportation, eat, and shop like a local! These Taiwan travel tips will make travelling in Taiwan so much easier!

You’ll be able to relax and enjoy what the country has to offer rather than stressing about transportation, food, and money if you implement these travel tips.

All these tips are things I wish I knew before I went to Taiwan. I hope they help you while you’re in Taiwan, and you don’t make some of the mistakes I did.

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Iceland

Iceland is an amazing country, and it is getting more attention from travellers of all kinds- budget, luxury, adventure, and active travellers. Iceland is a unique country where travel is a bit different than most other European countries. I did a lot of research before I went to Iceland for the first time, but there was still a lot I didn’t know.

I’m going to share the 10 things I wish I knew before I went to Iceland. Hopefully they will help you not make the same mistakes I made and be more prepared than I was.

1. Iceland is Bloody Expensive

We all know that Iceland is expensive. They have to import nearly everything, so it makes sense that things cost more than in North America or other parts of Europe. But it is a bit shocking how expensive things are, and it can lead to problems if you don’t budget enough money.

To give you an idea of how expensive it can be, my travel companion and I stopped at Subway to get dinner before flying back home, and our two subs came to $32USD! I don’t frequent Subway at home, but I am certain that is a lot more expensive than it would be in North America.

Pro Tip: Bring some snacks from your hometown. It will save you a lot of money, and you will be able to snack whenever you’re hungry rather than waiting until you come across the next gas station that has food.

You know what the price of hotels and your rental car is before you leave, so it is easy to budget for that. But you should be sure to have a very generous budget for food and gas. I would recommend bringing at least 25% more than you think you will need just to be safe. The small purchases really add up.

You’ll want to be smart and save as much money as you can on your road trip to keep your costs down in Iceland.

2. Nearly All the Tourist Attractions are Free

Iceland is expensive, but one of the best parts of Iceland is that most of the tourist attractions are free to visit! This makes it a lot easier to swallow some of the higher prices.

Outside of the Blue Lagoon, all of the nature-related tourist attractions are free- all you have to do is get to them either by taking a tour or driving yourself.

You can see incredible waterfalls, geysers, canyons, volcanoes, hot springs, and hike countless trails all without an entrance fee. It is a really neat experience to simply walk up to a waterfall and not have to worry about pulling out your wallet. Iceland could easily charge tourists to visit the sights, and it is a nice gesture that they don’t.

So be sure to take advantage of the free sights and visit everything you are able to! Iceland has a unique and diverse landscape, so it is worth it to drive around and see it all.

Iceland Waterfall 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Iceland

3. Gas Stations are Few and Far Between

It makes sense that there aren’t many gas stations outside of Reykjavik, but, as a tourist driving across the country, I wasn’t prepared for how few gas stations there were.

There were so few gas stations in the rural areas that whenever we came across one, we would fill up the tank even if we had a nearly full tank just to ensure that we made it to the next gas station. Of course we were never at risk of running out of gas, but it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.

It is always smart to stop in and get some gas when you see a station. It may save you a headache in the long run!

4. Foreign Credit Cards Don’t Work at Gas Stations in Iceland

Speaking of gas stations, be prepared for your foreign (a.k.a. North American) credit card not to work. You must insert a credit card into the gas pump and pre-pay in order to pump gas in Iceland. This is a pretty standard practice all over the world. However, it will cause you problems if you have a North American credit card.

For some reason the gas pumps in Iceland will not accept foreign credit cards. It is a pain and a slight inconvenience.

You have to go inside the gas station, buy a pre-paid card, and then insert that into the pump to get your gas. Some stations will simply open the pump for you and let you pay at the end, but most of them require you to purchase a pre-paid card.

You have to guess at how much money you’ll need on the pre-paid card and them load it up again if it isn’t enough or get a refund if it is too much. It can take a few trips in and out if you’re filling the tank to drop your rental car back at the airport.

This credit card situation also means that you can’t use the unattended gas stations that are becoming more and more popular in Iceland. Your credit card won’t work, and you won’t be able to ask an employee to open the pump for you. So just keep driving past these gas stations.

A tip for when you’re returning your rental car:

When you rent your car, you will likely be told to fill up at the gas station with the yellow pumps right before the airport. This station is an unattended station, so you may not be able to use it. There is another attended gas station before the traffic circle in the complex with the Subway and grocery store that is a better option.

Southern Iceland Europe

5. The Icelandic Weather is Never What You Expect

The weather in Iceland is fickle, and it can change suddenly and without warning. I’ve been to Iceland twice. Once at the beginning of May and the other at the end of June.

The first time many of the waterfalls were still frozen, the wind was unruly, and there was a lot of rain. The second time the wind was once again unruly, and it snowed every day I was there. I had to purchase warm clothing in Iceland in order to stay warm enough.

No matter what the internet tells you the weather will be like, you need to pack warm clothing. You will most likely need a jacket and maybe gloves nearly all year around. You won’t regret shoving some warm clothing in your bag!

Even if the weather says it is supposed to be reasonably warm, Iceland is often windy. The wind cuts through you, and you get cold extremely quickly. A lot of the sights in Iceland are outside, and you will be miserable if you don’t have the appropriate clothing. Trust me one that one- I’ve made that mistake one too many times!

6. The Distances are Further than They Look

It is easy to look at a map of Iceland and think that everything is relatively close, but that isn’t the case. The driving time between one sight to the next or one part of the country to another can be deceivingly long. The country is a lot larger than it looks.

People tend to overplay and try to get too much done because they think it will be quick to drive from point A to point B. This leads to being rushed and not appreciating the sights.

You should do your best to not over plan. Picking a few activities per day in the same area of the country is more than enough. You will be happy to be able to have the time to appreciate the nature you’re seeing rather than rushing the experience.

Iceland Black Beach of Vik

7. You’ll Come Across Sights You Didn’t Know About

You will without a doubt come across sights that you didn’t know about as you drive across the country. There are attraction posts all throughout the country alerting tourists to tourist sights that they are able to visit.

There are a lot of really cool sights you didn’t know about that are marked along the side of the road. You will without a doubt find yourself stopping at a few along the way. This is another reason on why you shouldn’t over plan your holiday. It would suck to have to keep driving and not stop just because you have too much planned!

A lot of the sights that are marked along the road don’t take long to visit, but they are worth stopping for! There are always signs in both English and Icelandic explaining the significance of the sight. It is a great way to learn more about Iceland and understand the history of the country.

8. The Roads in Iceland are Very Narrow

The roads in Iceland are quite narrow, don’t have railings on the side, and have a sharp drop-off. This made it a bit difficult to get used to driving on- especially in the rain, wind, and snow.

The roads are normally very quiet, so you can drive in the middle of the road, but it can get a little nerve-wrecking when you see oncoming traffic and have to start hugging your side of the road.

The roads are in good condition and safe to drive, but the narrowness of them can make people a bit nervous. It becomes easier once you get used to them!

9. Gas Stations in Rural Iceland Have Everything

I’m not kidding when I say gas stations in rural Iceland are a one-stop shop. The communities are so small that the gas station is often the only store in town.

They have gas (obviously), groceries, household products, car products, souvenirs, and often have a quick-serve window that sells sandwiches, pizza, and hotdogs.

You’ll be able to find everything you need in a gas station, and they are often the only source of food in some of the very small towns.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal than gas station fare, you should be sure to stop at a restaurant in a larger town as you pass it. This will prevent you from having to backtrack just to get some food.

Iceland Waterfall

10. The Food in Iceland Isn’t the Greatest

I personally found the food in Iceland to not be that great. I found it was pretty standard fare with nothing special to offer. Everything was average.

That being said, I don’t eat meat or seafood. I imagine the seafood in Iceland is above-average. PSA: Don’t eat whale!! However, outside the potential for good, fresh seafood, you shouldn’t expect much from the food.

Reykjavik, unsurprisingly, has the most selection for food, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has the best food. Some of the smaller towns have decent food that is superior to a lot of the food you can find in the capital.

The fact that the food isn’t great doesn’t take anything away from Iceland, but it is something to be aware of when you’re planning the trip. Foodies may not be impressed.

Conclusion

Iceland is an amazing country that I would recommend to anybody who is looking for a unique European holiday. It is full of adventure and beauty, but it is easy to get caught up in planning your holiday and overlook the 10 things on this list.

These first-timer mistakes don’t hinder your trip. However, your trip will benefit from you being aware of these 10 things. They will help you tour Iceland like a pro and not be blindsided by some of the small things.

If I could give only a few pieces of advice, I would recommend:

  • Bringing warm clothes, gloves, and a headband all year round
  • Having a generous budget
  • Booking your accommodation early
  • Having low expectations for food
  • Enjoy where the trip takes you rather than planning every minute of it!

Beware of the Tea House Scam in China!

Before I go into detail about the tea house scam that is popular in China, I want to make it very clear that this post in no way suggests or encourages you not to visit China just because there is a chance of being scammed. You can be scammed in any city in any country.

China is an amazing country with a long, rich history and culture. It should be considered as a travel destination for any traveller who is looking to explore a new region and experience a unique culture.

The tea house scam is quite popular in China, but you will be able to avoid it once you know about it! Please don’t let this scam deter you from visiting China. You simply have to be diligent and aware of your surroundings!

What Exactly is the Tea House Scam?

The tea house scam is an incredibly popular scam that is most prevalent in Beijing and Shanghai.

You are approached by a young person (or two) saying they either want to practice their English or are a student who is practicing their English. You are likely to be approached by either one young man or two young women.

The people who approach you will be incredibly friendly and charismatic, which makes it difficult to say no to helping them practice their English. It seems like an innocent enough request and a great way to meet locals and learn about their experiences in China.

Once you agree to helping them with their English, they will suggest going to get tea. They take you to a cafe of their choosing and order tea and/or soda without showing you the menu or prices. The owners of the cafe are in cahoots with the people you’re with, and they inflate the prices on the bill.

Your new friends will keep ordering drinks and being friendly. When the bill comes, they will either ask you to pay or say they will pay half the bill.

The bill will be hundreds of dollars.

If you’re new to China and don’t know what things should cost or the exchange rate, you could easily pay the bill without realizing how much it actually cost.

Your new friends will get a cut of the extra money you paid. The cafe and the scammers profit off of you.

Beijing China Tea House Scam

Everything You Need to Know About the Tea House Scam

Once you know about the tea house scam, it is really easy to avoid. You can recognize the signs and be able to identify who may be trying to scam you.

Where is the Tea House Scam Most Popular?

Knowing where the tea house scam is most popular will help you be aware in certain parts of China. The two cities this scam is most popular in are, unsurprisingly, Beijing and Shanghai.

In Beijing, Wangfujing (the main shopping street) and Tiananmen Square are the two places you will most likely encounter tea house scammers.

In Shanghai, Nanjing Road (the main shopping area) is the most popular place for this scam to take place.

How Does the Tea House Scam Work?

You will normally be approached by one or more locals saying that they are learning and ask if they can practice their English with you. Sometimes people they are a student when they approach you.

A solo traveller will normally be approached by a single scammer, and a group of travellers will normally be approached by two people. In my case, I was a solo female traveller who was approached by two young women asking if they could practice their English with me.

After you agree to help them practice their English, they will take you to a cafe and start ordering tea and pop without letting you look at the menu. The drinks arrive, and you start chatting. You have a great time and enjoy speaking with the locals.

Then the bills comes, and it is outrageously expensive. Literally hundreds of dollars for a pot of tea and a pop or two.

And that is when you realize that these lovely locals aren’t your friends at all and actually scammed you.

What to do After You Realize You’ve Been Scammed

There are number of things you can do once you realize you’ve been scammed.

If you realize before you pay, you can refuse to pay. However, you will most likely be met with resistance. A credit card reader will be brought if you say you don’t have enough cash, and the entrance will be blocked by a staff member if you claim you don’t have a card.

You can try bargaining with the cafe staff. You can offer to pay for the actual cost of the tea that you have consumed rather than the inflated, scam price. This way the cafe still covers their expenses, and you don’t have to shell out hundreds of dollars for a pot of tea. I’ve heard a few people say that this has worked for them, but it isn’t a guarantee.

Beijing China Temple of Heaven

Can You go to the Police After You’ve Been Scammed?

You try to negotiate with the cafe staff, but they don’t accept your offer. You end up paying the full amount of the original, scam bill for one reason or another. What now? A lot of people think going to the police will help you get your money back.

That’s what I did, and it worked for me. But I’ve read a lot of stories on the internet saying that the police don’t help. It could be because they are aware of the scam and get a cut from the tea houses. That’s one theory that has been thrown around, but there is no way to know whether that is true or not.

It appears that the Shanghai police are more willing to help tourists than the police in Beijing, but who knows. The police in Beijing helped me get my money back (I was scammed out of $800 my first night in Beijing when I was severely jet legged and wasn’t aware of the exchange rate or how much I was paying for some tea and pop).

I guess the takeaway should be that the police will potentially help you, but it is better to not get into a situation where you need their help.

How to Tell What Locals Genuinely Want to Talk with You and What Locals are Looking to Scam You

One inevitability for (white) tourists in China is that people are going to approach you to take pictures, etc.

The truth is that most people that approach you in China are kind and don’t want to scam you.

There are some warning signs to look out for that will help you recognize the scammers:

  • People who approach you within a tourist sight that has an entrance fee normally aren’t scammers. Scammers tend to hang out in free tourist sights (as listed above).
  • Scammers will insist you go to for tea even if you suggest something else. They also make you go to a cafe they suggest because the cafe staff is a part of the scam.
  • Most Chinese locals will take a picture with you and a have a brief interaction with you then move on with their day. The scammers tend to hang around longer and are more aggressive in trying to get your attention.
  • Scammers tend to say they are from a different city, but they have a suspiciously in depth knowledge of the city you are in.
Tiananmen Square Beijing China

Of course these are only generalizations. There are locals who want to speak with you and practice their English without scamming you. There are ways you can still take precautions and ensure you aren’t being scammed.

The best way to test whether someone wants to speak with you versus scam you is to suggest your own tea house.

You suggest a different cafe you want to try. If they agree, they probably aren’t trying to scam you. A scammer will insist that you go to the cafe they suggest. There really is no better test.

Conclusion

The tea house scam is something you have to be aware of , but you shouldn’t let it stop you from visiting China. The scam is very easy to detect and avoid.

You simply have to know that the scam exists, where it is most common, and how to recognize it. It is so easy to avoid once you are knowledgable of it. It is also easy to test whether someone who approaches you is genuine or not. Meeting locals is a great travel experience, so you shouldn’t be too weary of it. Just make sure they aren’t scammers!

I recommend you share this information with anybody you know visiting China.

The more people who know about the scam, the fewer people scammers can take advantage of and the less money they make.

10 Things No One Tells You About Solo Travel

Solo travel is without a doubt one of the most enriching experiences you can have! You learn so much about the world and grow as a person. I whole-heartedly believe that everybody should experience traveling along at one point in their life.

There are, however, things that nobody tells you about solo travel. But no more! This article is going to highlight ten things no one tells you about solo travel. It will also give you some tips, so you can make the most of your solo travel adventures.

1. You’re Going to Cry at Some Point (Especially if it is Your First Solo Travel Experience)

You read that right. You’re going to cry even if you never ever cry when you’re at home. This is what surprised me the most when I first started solo travel.

The first time I travelled alone I went for three months. Before those three months, I could remember the last time I cried. I cried at least five times in those three months.

Crying just happens when you’re first starting out as a solo traveller and often happens to experienced solo travellers as well. It is normal, and if you ever meet a solo traveller that claims they haven’t cried, either that person is an absolute anomaly or, more likely, lying.

It makes sense that people cry when they travel alone. You are in a new environment, often in a country where you don’t speak a language, and your constantly under stress. Add in the exhaustion that comes with long-term solo travel, and you’re bound to have a good cry session or two. Own it. It’s cathartic, and you’ll feel so much better afterwards.

St. Jame's Park London England solo travel

2. Hostels Don’t Magically Make You Social

You always hear about how people are always making new friends in hostels and that you’re never really travelling alone. Well, the truth is hostels aren’t magic. They don’t magically make you friends and give you new experiences.

You have to put yourself out there and be social when you’re in hostels if you want to meet new people and have new experiences.

I’m a hardcore introvert. I love being alone and find it incredibly difficult to socialize at the best of times and even more difficult when I’m around people I don’t know.

But I read all these articles online about how hostels makes everybody social, so I expected the same when I when on my first solo trip. Well, it didn’t happen because I rarely put myself out there.

You have to engage in hostel events, get to know your dorm mates, and hang out in the common room if you want to have the hostel experience that you read about online. It isn’t easy. It is uncomfortable and awkward at times, but it really is worth it.

I met one of my close friends while staying in a hostel, and it is all because I got to know one of the people in my dorm. It really is worth it to push yourself out of your comfort zone from time to time.

I am by no means telling you to be social all the time. As an introvert, I know that is an unreasonable request, but you should try at least once or twice on your solo travel adventure.

3. Eating Alone Isn’t Scary

Eating is seen as a social even, and a lot of people ask solo travellers how they can possibly handle eating alone. As if eating alone is the most terrifying thing and anybody that manages to do it is a hero.

Well let me tell you that there is nothing weird about eating alone, and people do it all the time.

It can be a bit awkward when you’re not used to it, but you get used to it quickly. I love eating alone, and trying local cuisine has become one of my favourite parts of solo travel.

If you’re nervous about eating alone, here are some tips to help make it less awkward:

  • Bring a book to read while you’e waiting for your food
  • Ask to sit at the bar, so your back is to the other diners
  • Go to a restaurant with wifi, so you can text a friend back home while you’re eating
  • Eat at off-peak hours when the restaurant isn’t busy

These tips makes eating out as a solo traveller a less awkward experience. I promise you will get used to it once you’ve done it a few times.

Chengdu China Street Food

4. You Better be Damn Good at Reading a Map

Or using GoogleMaps because, let’s admit it, that is what we all use nowadays.

You are fully 100% in charge of navigating when you solo travel. You have to figure out how to get from the airport/bus station/train station to where you’re staying, your way to all the tourist sights you want to see, and figure out how to get back on track after you’ve made a wrong turn.

And you with undoubtably make quite a few wrong turns along the way, but that is how you learn!

You need to become familiar with how to use GoogleMaps and how to use it when you’re offline. Being a GoogleMaps expert is part of being a solo traveller. It is an essential skill to learn.

5. Get Used to Small Talk

You participate in a lot of small talk when you solo travel. Whether it is introducing yourself to people in your dorm, going on a free walking tour, or running into people on the bus, train, etc. who are decide to start a conversation, you will be doing a lot of small talking.

The small talk gets tiring really quickly, but it never ends when you’re travelling alone. You can come up with some talking points or questions to ask the other people as a way to change it up. Your fellow travellers will appreciate you asking them an interesting out-of-the-box question when you first meet them rather than the standard where are you from, where are you travelling, how long are you travelling for? Yawn.

You will have a lot better conversations if you’re prepared with an interesting topic to discuss or question to pose. You will also avoid the monotony of small talk that way as well.

Dire Wolves Game of Thrones Ireland

6. Your Relationships at Home Will Change

This is one of the sadder parts of travel. You’re gone for a long period of time exploring the world and learning new things while you’re friends and family are back home doing the same thing they always do.

You change when you travel, and you will have new perspectives. Sometimes that means the friendships you built before you left are different when you come back. Not all friendships change, but some do.

You don’t think when you leave to travel that life at home will change. It kind of feels like you’re putting life at home on pause and doing something else, but the people you know at home are still living their lives and growing just like you are on the road.

Technology definitely helps keep relationships strong while on the road. It is so easy to send a quick text to a friend to check in and see how they are doing.

It is so easy to get caught up in the joy of solo travel that it is easy to forget to check in on what is going on at home. But it is important to do so.

Even if you come home and find that your relationships have changed, that doesn’t mean they haven’t changed for the better. While some friendships may not be as strong as they were, others will be stronger.

7. You Will Get Homesick

Just like crying, it is inevitable that you will get homesick at some point in your solo travel journey. You will long for your bed, your friends and family, and how easy everything is at home.

And that’s completely normal.

I still get homesick and miss the comforts and convenience of being at home when I’m on the road- especially on days where things aren’t going my way. It would be so easy to give up my travel lifestyle, go home, and life a typical life.

But that’s not solo travel junkies are made for! The feeling passes, and you’ll be back in love with traveling quickly.

Here are a few tips to help you when you’re feeling home sick:

  • Schedule a Skype call with someone back home
  • Book a nice hotel or Airbnb that makes you feel like you’re at home in your own bed
  • Go on an epic adventure that you would never be able to do at home
Xi'an China

8. You Will Have a Bond with the People You Meet While You Travel Solo

Travellers understand other travellers. There is an unseen bond between them. This is especially true for people who travel solo. It takes a certain type of person to be addicted to solo travel.

You will automatically understand another traveller and their experiences when you meet them, and you will have a unique bond or friendship with them even if you don’t know each other that well.

I still consider someone I met for 48 hours in Kotor a friend even though we only had a few conversations and shared a dorm room for a few nights. It is a weird thing travellers do.

Embrace being understood by a stranger and connecting about something you both love.

9. The Photograph Conundrum

One of the advantages of travelling with another person is that you always have someone to snap the perfect picture of you wherever you are.

You don’t have that luxury as a solo traveller, so you have to figure out a way around it. Selfies are the most obvious workaround, but sometimes you want a proper photograph of yourself.

You either have to get comfortable asking a stranger to take your photograph for you or live without getting that photograph.

I personally don’t care for selfies, so I have very few photographs of me in different places I’ve been to. It would be nice to have more, but it is one of the sacrifices I have made to travel solo.

It is super easy to ask someone to take your photograph, and they are always willing to help you out! And it does get easier to ask the more you do it. You may feel a bit weird at first, but if the picture is important enough to you, you will ask.

There are definitely other methods of getting a photograph of yourself like using a tripod, but most solo travellers don’t bother with that.

London England United Kingdom Solo travel

10. You Will Get Bored

Yup., you read that right. You will get bored while travelling alone- especially if you’re travelling for a long period of time.

Not every city you visit will captivate you, and sometimes you will be bored and be itching to move on. Sometimes you may even be bored with travel in general. It happens.

You will soon enough find yourself in a new city that ignites your passion for travel, and you’ll wonder how you could have ever been bored.

The evenings, in particular, tend to be when people who solo travel tend to get bored. The after-dinner evenings can seem to drag on and never end, and it can be a bit awkward to explore the local nightlife on your own.

I have spent many a night in a hotel room watching Netflix just waiting for an appropriate time to go to bed. Having spare time is just something that comes along with travel, and when you don’t have a travel companion, the time can drag on.

How to Combat Boredom in the Evenings When You Travel Solo

  • Get tickets to a local play or ballet
  • Go on a free walking tour in the evening
  • Take a ghost bus tour or a haunted tour
  • Hang out in the common area of your hostel or hotel

Watch the Video!

Conclusion

Solo travel is incredibly enriching and one of the best experiences a person can have. There are, however, some things that no one tells you about solo travel. People tend to gloss over some of the less pretty details of solo travel and make it sound exciting and exhilarating.

Which it is!

But it is only fair to know everything that comes with solo travel before you embark on your first solo travel adventure. You will be better able to prepare for your trip when you know exactly what to expect.

You will also be better able to handle some of the situations that come up when you know that they can happen before you leave.

If you thought hostels would make you automatically social, you can come prepared and have a deck of cards for the common room to break the ice. Or you can have a game plan on how to get the perfect photograph of yourself at a destination you’ve been dreaming of visiting your entire life.

Knowledge is power, and now you know all the insider secrets about solo travel. It isn’t as glamorous as it can seem, but it is well worth it. I have never met another traveller who regrets their time on the road. It can be difficult to travel for an extended period of time- especially alone!-, but it is worth it. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t let the fear of travelling alone stop you from going on an epic adventure.

10 Hostel Essentials You Always Need to Pack

I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostels. I’ve probably stayed in more hostels than any one person should. I mean they’re cheap and great when you’re a poor student who can’t afford the luxury of a hotel room.

Hostels are unlike any other travel accommodation you will ever stay in. You’re in a dorm with a bunch of other travellers with different schedules, interests, and levels of respect (I’m talking to everybody who has ever thrown on a hostel light at 4am when coming home from a bar.

The ten things on this list should always be in your luggage when you’re staying at a hostel. They will help you have a better experience and be a good dorm mate!

1. A Reading Light or Torch

You will want to have a reading light, travel light, torch, or something similar in your bag when you’re staying in a hostel. A reading light is able to be used in multiple ways in a hostel.

It can be used for reading when other hostel dorm mates are trying to sleep, of course. But it can also be used to guide you to the washroom in the middle of the night, find something that has fallen behind the bed, or to check for bed bugs and overall cleanliness.

A reading light is so small that it won’t take up much space in your bag, so there is no reason not to bring one! You’ll be surprised how often you use it. I sure was.

2. Locks

You need to bring locks with you to the hostel. They are essential.

You should bring more than one lock. You’ll need one for each bag (so two if you have a backpack and a day bag), one for a locker you may be allowed to use in the hostel, and one more just in case you lose a lock somewhere.

A lock that comes with a cable is even better, so you can wrap your bag around your bed and be extra-secure. It is probably a bit extra, but it is nice to have a cable just in case the hostel you chose is a little bit sketchy.

3. External Battery

Plug-ins are in short supply in hostels, and there often won’t be one near your bed. An external battery is absolutely essential. You should never travel without one, but they are even more essential when you’re at a hostel.

I like external batteries that have more than one USB port, so I can charge multiple devices at once or be a hero and help another hostel mate out by sharing my external battery.

External batteries can be a little heavy, but you can also get a “lipstick chargerr” to pack in your day bag or purse. They are lightweight and are extremely helpful in a crisis.

Hostel

4. Flip Flops or Sandals

Hostels aren’t the cleanest places no matter how hard the staff works at keeping them clean. Your bare feet should never touch anything. You need to pack a pair of flip flops or other cheap sandals to shower and walk around in.

You may want to bring a small bag to put your sandals in, so they don’t get your bag (and the rest of your stuff) wet or dirty.

Sandals will make your hostel experience infinitely better. The first time I stayed at a hostel I didn’t think so bring sandals, so I showered in a pair of socks. It was not a very pleasant experience, so don’t make the same mistake I did!

5. Ear Plugs

Hostels are loud no matter how quiet everybody tries to be. People are talking, snoring, moving around, and just being people. You have 4-12 people in the same room, so things are bound to be noisier than you’re used to.

Earplugs make a huge difference in hostels. You get a much better sleep, and if you’re anything like me and get headaches if you sleep in a loud environment, earplugs do a lot to benefit your overall health.

I love using silicon earplugs. They are far more comfortable than the traditional foam earplugs, and they are better for the environment because they are reusable. You just have to rinse them off every so often, and you’re good to use them for the rest of your life!

6. Laundry Bag

Whether you’re travelling long-term or just for a few days, a laundry bag is a great addition to any hostel packing list.

A laundry bag is handy because it can be used for both storing clothes and doing laundry. You can put all your dirty clothes in your laundry bag each day and then throw the entire bag into the washing machine when it is full.

Laundry bags are super lightweight and easy to pack, so you have no excuse for not bringing one. They make long-term travel where you have to wash clothes so much easier. You will never lose a sock again with a laundry bag!

7. Universal Power Adaptor

Universal power adaptors are so much smaller, lighter, and more convenient than they were just five years ago! It is amazing how much better they have gotten!

Gone are the days where you have to bring a huge power adaptor and multiple different plugins for each region you are travelling to.

Nowadays universal power adaptors are tiny and have all the different plugins built into one single items, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing each individual plugin or bringing the wrong one.

Power adaptors are an essential part of any international travel so make sure you pack one!

8. Book

You will undoubtably have a lot of downtime in hostels while you are travelling. You could spend hours watching Netflix or YouTube, or you could spend hours reading a great book.

Books are a great form of entertainment. You can easily carry them around with you while you’re out exploring a city, they don’t take up room in your bag, and paperbacks aren’t heavy.

Most hostels have a library where you can exchange one book for another. Once you’re done reading one book, you can add it to the hostel’s library and take another book that interests you.

You can easily travel for months with only packing one book by exchanging in libraries, so you don’t have to worry about carrying dozens of books that you’ve read on your travels.

Prague Cechia Czech Republic

9. Sleeping Mask

Hostels are bright. They often have cheap curtains that don’t keep the light out very well and people are always turning on the light when you’re trying to sleep. It is one of the downsides to hostels.

If you want to get any decent sleep, you need a sleeping mask. I like the 3-D sleeping masks. They do a better job at contouring to your face, keeping the light out, and being overall more comfortable.

It is amazing how well a good quality sleeping mask can keep the light out while you’re sleeping. They make a huge difference in hostels (especially when paired with ear plugs).

10. Quick-Dry Towel

You need to bring your own towel when staying at hostels, and the best towels for hostels are quick-drying microfibre towels.

They are amazing! They soak up the water from your hair and body so quickly and dry just as fast. I’ve showered and used a quick-dry towel on my hair and then packed it an hour later, and it was dry.

Quick-dry towels are a travel essential no matter where you’re staying when you travel, but they are even more essential when you’re staying in hostels. Space is so limited in hostels that having something that dries quickly and doesn’t need to hang out all night to dry makes all the difference.

I like to pack two towels when I travel. One for my hair and one for my body. The towels are so small that it doesn’t take up much room in your bag to pack multiple towels.

Quick-dry towels actually take up far less room than traditional towels, so there is no reason not to pack one!

Conclusion

Staying in a hostel is a unique travel experience, and you need to make sure you pack properly in order to have the best experience in hostels.

These ten items will make your hostel experience so much better and easier. You will get a better sleep, be able to make sure all your electronics are properly charged, and be able to use the communal bathroom without worrying too much about germs.

10 Tips for Using Public Transportation in Paris

Paris is one of the most visited countries in the world. It is a huge city with lots to see and do, so you will be using the public transportation system when you’re in Paris. The Paris transportation system is extremely easy to use even if you’re not used to using public transportation.

The most common form of Paris transportation is their underground subway system. It is an extensive system that can get you anywhere in Paris you want to go and even has lines that take you outside of Paris.

The Paris transportation system is incredibly well built and efficient. Did you know that the Paris metro system is the fourth largest metro system in the world?!

With such a large metro system, you’ll need some help to get around the city! These 10 tips will help you use the Paris transportation system like a local.

1. Consider Purchasing a Carnet

A Carnet is a book of 10 single ride transportation tickets. You save you a little bit of money buying a carnet, but they save you a lot of time because you don’t have to purchase a ticket every time you ride public transportation.

A book of 10 tickets costs €14.90. You are able to purchase a carnet at the vending machines or from the ticket windows. A carnet is a great option for people that plan on using the Paris transportation system quite a bit while in Paris or for people that will be in Paris for more than a couple of days.

2. Inside versus Outside of Paris

If you choose to purchase a carnet, you need to understand how the ticketing works. There is a difference between inside and outside of Paris. The carnet tickets are single use tickets that you are only able to use in areas that are designated to be inside Paris.

This means that you will not be able to use a ticket from your carnet booklet if you are using the public transportation system to go to Disneyland Paris or Versailles. You will also not be able to use a ticket from the carnet book if you are going to and from CDG airport.

A basic rule of thumb is that if you are using the RER and going outside the central part of Paris, you will need to buy an individual ticket rather than using a ticket from the carnet booklet.

You can use a ticket from the carnet booklet if you are only using the metro and not transferring to the RER. All metro stations are considered to be inside Paris.

You are able to transfer from one subway line to another with a single-use ticket as long as the stop you get off from is inside the Paris zone.

If you need more information about whether your stop is considered inside or outside Paris, you can ask a Paris transportation employee at the station you are departing from.

Paris France 10 Tips for using public transportation in Paris

My Experience Using the Wrong Paris Transportation Ticket

I have had an instance where I used a ticket from the carnet and got off at a stop that was considered outside Paris because I was unfamiliar with the rules. The gate did not open for me when I put my ticket in to leave the station, and I had to wait for an employee to come over.

The employee was incredibly kind and explained to me why my ticket didn’t work then took me over to the ticket counter to purchase the proper ticket for my return journey. You shouldn’t get in too much trouble if you explain to the Paris transportation employee that it was a mistake. You may be required to purchase a proper ticket, but you shouldn’t get fined as long as it was a genuine mistake.

3. Consider Getting the Paris Visite Pass

The Paris Visite Pass is a card that allows you to use the public transportation system as much as you want for 1-5 consecutive days. The prices vary depending on how many days you want and your age. A list of prices can be found here.

The Paris Visite Pass includes transportation to and from CDG and Versailles, so it can be a good deal. It can also be a waste of money if you don’t use it enough. You have to use public transportation quite a bit in order for this pass to be worth it. A single-day ticket for an adult costs €13.20.

You should figure out how much you’re planning on using public transportation in Paris and calculate how much it would cost you to purchase individual tickets, a carnet, and the Paris Visite Pass. You should purchase whatever ticket is the most cost effective for you.

I have never used public transportation enough in Paris to make the Paris Visite Pass worth it. It may be beneficial to you if you have a short amount of time in Paris and will be rushing from sight to sight and using Paris transportation a lot. I like to take my time and walk a lot, so the pass isn’t worth it for me.

4. Buy Tickets in Advance

This tip is for people that have decided that purchasing individual tickets is the most cost effective thing for them. You are able to purchase tickets in advance and use them later in the day or the next day.

This means that if you know you’re going to be using the subway to get from central Paris back to where you are staying, you can purchase your return ticket at the same time you purchase your ticket when you take the subway in the morning.

You will have to know what stop you will be departing from in order to purchase tickets in advance. This is a great tip for people who are taking a day trip to Versailles or Disneyland Paris and know exactly what stop they will be departing from.

You will save a lot of time if you purchase your return ticket in advance- especially if you are leaving a busy station during a busy time of day. You won’t have to wait in a long queue just to purchase a ticket. Pre-purchasing your return ticket means you can just get onto the train and get home earlier and with fewer crowds.

This is one of my favourite hacks when I use the Paris transportation system.

Sacre Coeur Paris France

5. Keep Your Ticket Until You Leave the Station

You should hold onto your ticket until you are out of the station. Paris transportation employees often ask to see your valid ticket even once you’re outside the turnstile.

It is safest to always have your ticket ready to show an employee. This is especially true if you’re departing at a station where you don’t need to insert your ticket to open a gate when you leave. These are the stations where you are most likely to be asked for your ticket.

6. Avoid Transferring at Large Stations

It is best to avoid transferring lines at large stations if at all possible. You will have to walk a long ways to get from one line to another, and it can be quite time consuming.

You should try to transfer lines at smaller stations if at all possible. It will save you a lot of time if you don’t have to spend 5 or more minutes walking from one line to another. You are also more likely to get a seat if you don’t get on at the most popular stations.

Louvre Museum Paris France

7. Avoid Paris Transportation Rush Hour if Possible

The subway in Paris gets incredibly busy during rush hour. You should try to avoid using Paris transportation during rush hour in order to have a better experience.

Rush hour on Paris transportation is from 8-10am and 5-8pm.

The trains will be extremely crowded during this time, and you may even have to wait for a train or two for there to be enough room for you to get on. You will be crammed onto a train with basically no room to move during rush hour. It is an overall unpleasant situation that can easily be avoided.

8. Be Aware of Pickpockets

There are a lot of pickpockets all around Paris at the popular tourist attractions. There are also a lot pickpockets in the subway stations and on the trains.

You should be sure to keep your valuables in your eyesight and hang onto your bags and purses. You won’t get pickpocketed if you are being cautious of your personal belongings.

9. You Have to Ask for a Map

You have to ask for a map of the Paris transportation system at a ticket window. They are not freely displayed for you to grab a map as you’re walking through a station.

You can download a map to your phone or look at the maps on the station walls, but it is always nice to have a paper copy for when you’re planning your journey without access to wifi.

Eiffel Tower Paris France

10. Stand on the Right

You should stand on the right-hand side of the escalators. The left-hand side is used by people who want to walk up or down the escalator rather than standings.

You will frustrate people if you are standing on the left-hand side. People are often in a rush to get to their next train to make it to work on time, so they don’t have time to stand on escalators. You should watch the people around you and do as they do.

Conclusion

You should have no problem using the Paris transportation system. It is extremely user-friendly and easy for tourists to understand.

There are signs and announcements in English, so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier, which makes it even easier to use.

The most difficult part of using the Paris transportation system is figuring out what type of ticket is best for you. I prefer to purchase a carnet because it is more convenient than buying individual tickets. I never use the Paris transportation system enough to purchase the Paris Visite Pass, but it is a good option for people who plan on using the train a lot.

Once you decide what ticket option is best for you, the rest of the Paris transportation journey is a breeze and super easy!

How to Get From Heathrow to Central London

Most international flights that land in London either land at Heathrow or Gatwick. Heathrow is the most popular airport in London, but it also the largest, so it is easy to be overwhelmed. You need to know how to get from Heathrow to Central London before you arrive in London to avoid stressing about figuring it out when you land.

There are some airports where you can wait to figure out how to get to your hotel until you land, but Heathrow is not one of them.

There are 4 ways to get from Heathrow to Central London. This post will only discuss 3 of them because the fourth option is not practical. All 3 methods of getting from Heathrow to Central London have their pros and cons. You may find that one option will fit your travel style more than the other 2, so you should choose whichever option makes you feel most comfortable.

The fourth option that won’t be discussed in depth is to take a taxi. This option isn’t advisable because it is extremely expensive and not very quick. It takes almost as much time as options 1 and 3 and is slower and more expensive than option 2.

You should choose one of the 3 options below to get to Central London and not even look into taking a taxi. It simply isn’t practical.

1. The Underground

The London Underground is a great option depending on where you stay in London. If you are staying along the Piccadilly line, the Underground is the best way to get from Heathrow to Central London. You won’t have to transfer, so it is very convenient. You will have to transfer if you aren’t staying along the Piccadilly line, but transferring is very easy even if you have bags to haul around.

The Underground is the most cost effective way to get to Central London from Heathrow airport. It only costs £6 if you purchase a standard ticket or £3-£5 if you use your Oyster card.

The downside to taking the Underground from Heathrow to Central London is that it takes a long time. It can take over an hour, and this may not be what you want to be doing right after a flight- especially if it is a long-haul international flight.

The Underground is very busy during peak hours, so you may want to consider what time you will be travelling into London when choosing if the Underground is right for you.

You May Want to Take the Underground to Central London If:

  • You are on a tight budget
  • The hotel you are staying at is along the Piccadilly line
  • You don’t have a time constraint
  • It is not during peak time

You May Want to Take a Different Transportation Method If:

  • You have to transfer multiple different times to get to where you are staying
  • It is during peak time and the Underground will be extremely busy
  • You have a tight schedule and need to get into the City quickly
  • There is a person is your group that has mobility that won’t be able to stand on the Underground if necessary or can’t walk through the the stations or climb stairs if necessary
London England United Kingdom How to get from Heathrow to Central London

2. Heathrow Express

The Heathrow Express is a fast-paced train that goes directly from central Heathrow to Paddington station. Central Heathrow is considered terminals 2 and 3, so if you land at a different terminal, you will have to first go to central Heathrow then board the train.

The Heathrow Express only takes 15 minutes and is by far the fastest way to get to central London! It is quick, efficient, and comfortable.

This transportation method is great for people who are in a rush or are staying near Paddington station or along the Underground lines that services Paddington.

You are able to get on the Circle & District, Bakerloo, and Hammersmith and City lines at Paddington. If you are staying along any of those lines, you should consider taking the Heathrow Express.

The downside to the Heathrow Express is the price. It can cost up to £25 if you don’t purchase tickets in advance! That is a serious cost and is something you should consider before choosing this option. The price does decrease if you purchase your tickets in advance.

The lowest standard ticket price is £12, so you are only spending double what the Underground would cost. That is an easier price tag to handle than £25 so be sure to purchase your tickets online 90 days in advance if you know you want to take the Heathrow Express. It will save you a lot of money!

You May Want to Take the Heathrow Express to Paddington If:

  • It is important you get from Heathrow to Central London quickly
  • You don’t have a ticket budget and can spend the extra money
  • You are staying near Paddington or along an Underground line that services it
  • Someone in your party has mobility issues. There is ample space to store your luggage of the Heathrow Express and enough seats that you won’t have to stand

You May Want to Take a Different Transportation Option If:

  • You don’t have a time constraint
  • The Heathrow Express is not worth the extra expense
  • You would have to transfer multiple times on the Underground to get to where you are staying
London England United Kingdom Queen Victoria

3. National Express Bus

The third option is to take the National Express bus to Victoria Station. This is the least popular option, but it is still a great option. It costs £6-£10 depending on whether you purchase your tickets in advance or not. The price is comparable to taking the Underground, so it is another great option for travellers on a budget.

The bus drops you off at Victoria station, which is along the Piccadilly line. It is a great alternative for people staying along the Piccadilly line close to Victoria. The bus is a stress-free option. Your bags are under the bus, so you don’t have to worry about them, and you know you will have a seat and not have to stand.

The National Express, on average, takes approximately 10 minutes less than the Underground to get from Heathrow to Central London. This, of course, depends on the traffic. The bus can take much longer if there is a traffic jam or accident.

One of the downsides of the bus is that it leaves as designated times, so you may have to wait around a while until the next bus departs.

If you are purchasing tickets online, you should build time into your schedule to account for getting through immigration, picking up your luggage, and walking to where the buses depart. You should book your bus time for 45-60 after your plane lands to allow for this.

You May Want to Take the Bus to Central London If:

  • Your hotel is located near Victoria station or along the Piccadilly line
  • You enjoy the ease of not having to worry about your luggage and relaxing on the bus
  • Seeing the scenery is appealing to you
  • It is okay if you are delayed due to an unforeseeable delay on the roads

You May Want to Take a Different Transportation Option If:

  • You need to get from Heathrow to Central London quickly and can’t risk a traffic jam delaying your arrival
  • Your hotel is not along the Piccadilly line, and you would have to transfer multiple times on the Underground
  • Someone in your party gets sick on buses
Tower Bridge London England 10 Best European Countries for Solo Female Travellers

How to Get the Best Ticket Price

Once you have decided how you are going to get from Heathrow to Central London, you should figure out how to get the best deal on your transportation.

You should get an Oyster card if you are taking the Underground. The Oyster card can be purchased at Heathrow before you get on the Underground. You get a discounted rate when you use the Underground, and it can be used throughout your entire stay in London. Even if you aren’t taking the Underground from Heathrow to Central London, you should still get an Oyster card for your time in London. It will save you a lot of money!

You should purchase tickets in advance and purchase roundtrip tickets if you take the National Express bus or the Heathrow Express. There is always a reduced fare when you purchase a round-trip ticket, and tickets are normally cheaper the further in advance you purchase them.

It is worth spending a few minutes to figure out the most cost effective option for whatever mode of transportation you choose. It can save you a lot of money- especially if you have multiple people in your group. As stated earlier, you can save £13 on Heathrow Express tickets just by purchasing them 90 days in advance. That’s a huge savings!

St. Paul's Cathedral London England

Conclusion

All 3 methods of getting from Heathrow to Central London have their pros and cons. The Heathrow Express is the quickest and most expensive method. The Underground and bus are comparable in both time and expense and come down to your preference.

You should take into consideration what type of travel experience you want to have and what your priorities are. You can’t go wrong with any of the options, but there will be one that is more suited to you.

The location of your hotel should be a factor in what transportation method you take. You won’t save much time if you take the Heathrow Express to Paddington then have to spend 30 minutes on the Underground to get to your hotel.

Alternatively, it may be worth the extra money to take the Heathrow Express rather than the Underground or bus if you are staying near Paddington. You will save a lot of time, and it will be a lot more convenient than having to transfer on the Underground.

There is a lot to consider when choosing what transportation method is best for you. You should take the time to figure out what method is best for you, so you have a good experience and don’t have to haul your luggage around too many Underground stations.

It is really easy to get from Heathrow to Central London, but it is something you will want to figured out before you land in London. It will save you a lot of stress to have everything sorted before you land and tickets purchased in advance if need be.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Versailles is one of the most popular tourist attractions in France. It can easily be visited on a day trip from Paris. The Palace of Versailles is easily one of the most famous palaces in the world

Versailles is easily one of the most famous palaces in the world, and tourist flock to see it. It is always busy, and it can be frustrating trying to navigate Versailles amongst the crowds.

It is impossible to fully avoid the crowds, but there are a number of strategies that will limit your interaction with them. You will have a much more enjoyable experience if you plan your trip to the palace strategically to avoid the crowds.

Buy Tickets for Versailles in Advance Online

The queue to purchase tickets at the ticket office can be over an hour long. It is a waste of your time to wait in that queue when you can easily purchase tickets in advance online. You can purchase tickets up to 8 months before your visit, so you can easily purchase them before you leave for Paris.

You need to print a physical copy of your ticket, so you should print it before you leave for Paris if you won’t have access to a printer while you’re on holiday.

Other than needing a physical ticket, purchasing tickets online is an easy process. You simply choose what ticket you want, what day you want to visit, input a little personal information, and pay with a credit card.

You will be able to bypass the entire queue and go directly into the palace with your advanced ticket. It saves you so much time! There really is no downside to purchasing your ticket online in advance. It is limiting in the sense of you have to know what day you are visiting in advance, but it is worth planning ahead.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Purchase Tickets for the First Entry Time

You can choose a designated time slot when you purchase tickets online. You should purchase a ticket for the 9am entry time if it is available. This is the first entry into the palace, so it will be the quietist.

You should purchase your tickets as far in advance as possible for the best chance of getting a 9am entry time.

You will have the most room to view and appreciate the interior at the 9am time slot. There won’t be people in front of you, so you won’t run into people crowding around one place. Well, the crowding will at least be limited to the people in your entry slot.

You will also have the opportunity to get pictures of the inside of Versaille without too many people in your way. If you enter the palace right at 9 and keep to the front of your group, you can get pictures of some of the rooms with nobody else in them. It makes for great pictures, and your friends will be jealous!

The downside to buying tickets for the 9am time slot is that you will have to get up early, but it is worth it! You should plan to be at the palace at 8:45 to get through security and have your ticket scanned. You know what they say, the early bird beats the crowds!

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Download the Audioguide Before You Arrive

You can download the Versailles audioguide to your smart phone before you arrive at the palace. You won’t have to stand in line to get an audioguide, and you will save more time and get ahead of the people waiting to get their guide.

The audioguide can be downloaded through the app store. You simply search “Versailles audioguide”, and you will be able to download the guide. It is free, so you don’t have to worry about paying for it.

The audioguide is offered in French, English, and Spanish. If you speak a different language, you will want to get an audioguide at the palace. The audioguides at the palace offer a wider range of languages, so you can enjoy the tour in your native tongue.

Versailles Palace

Visit the Gardens Before You Visit the Palace

The gardens open one hour before the palace does. That means you can enter the gardens at 8am, walk through them, and then go into the palace at 9am.

You will need more than an hour to explore the gardens, but it gives you an opportunity to visit the more popular areas and take great pictures before the crowds get there. You can go back to the gardens to finish exploring after you are done in the palace.

The gardens are free to enter during the winter because there are no flowers and the fountains are covered. There is an entrance fee to visit the gardens the rest of the year. You can purchase your ticket to the gardens at the same time as you purchase your palace ticket online. There is a combo ticket you can choose that allows you entrance to both areas.

You have to get up early to visit the gardens right when they open. It is worth it if you enjoy gardens and if you want to avoid as many of the crowds as possible.

The gardens are large, so they don’t feel crowded for the most part. There are areas of interest that draw crowds, but, for the most part, you can wander through the gardens and have little to no crowds.

Versailles Palace Gardens Paris France

Visit Versailles on Wednesday or Thursday

Wednesday and Thursday are the least busy days of the week at Versailles. You should try to schedule your trip to Versailles so it falls on one of these days.

The palace is closed on Mondays, and weekends and national holidays are always busy. If you have to visit on a weekend, try to go on a Sunday as it is the quieter day.

Tuesday is busy because the Louvre in Paris is closed, so many people choose to visit Versailles instead. You should avoid visiting on a Tuesday at all costs.

When you visit on a Wednesday or Thursday, there will be fewer crowds if you don’t manage to get a 9am entry time. You will also have a better chance of getting a 9am time if you purchase tickets last minute because fewer people are going those days.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Versailles

Eat Before You Get to Versailles

You will have an early morning if you get a 9am entry time to the palace. You should eat a big breakfast before you get to Versailles, so you don’t have to spend your precious less crowded time in the cafeteria because you’re hungry.

This tip may seem out of place, but it makes a difference in terms of the crowds. If you have to stop at the cafeteria partway through your tour, the crowds are going to catch up with you. Plus the food at Versailles isn’t all that great.

You are able to bring your own food and water to have a picnic in the gardens. You will have to check your bag that has the food before you enter the palace, so you need to budget time for that. Having a picnic is a great way to experience the ambiance of Versailles and get away from the crowds.

Palace of Versailles Paris France

Conclusion

There will be crowds at Versailles even if you follow all of these tips. You have to prepare yourself to have some level of crowds, but you can avoid the worst of the crowds by getting there right when the palace opens and purchasing your tickets online.

You shouldn’t let the fact that there will be crowds discourage you from visiting Versailles. It is a historic and beautiful sight that deserves to be seen.