Don't Mind These Myths- First Time Europe Bound Travelers


A bunch of you guys have asked me about travelling in Europe, and came out with some ridiculous misconceptions! I'm here to set them straight and tell you there is nothing to fear as long as you are conscious, educated on the destination, and trust your gut instinct.

1. I can't afford to travel.
Travelling isn't cheap, but you can ball out on a budget in Europe. Planning far enough in advance can land you some pretty affordable tickets to Europe. I have friends that planned 6 months ahead last year and paid $600 roundtrip from New York to Madrid. Play with destinations, and airlines. If you're flexible on accommodation and transportation, and look for free things to do, you can make it on very little. Last time I backpacked five countries in two weeks on less than $1500. And I wasn't frugal.

2.    Hostels are Dangerous!
No, I haven’t seen the movie, and no I won’t! Listening to this fib is like listening to non-Americans say ‘every American owns a gun.’ It’s simply not true. If you do some research (there are PLENTY of websites with reviews on location, cleanliness, and staff) you will find that you can find a plethora of hostels! From as nice as luxury hotels to as grungy as dorm rooms- it’s up to you. Staying in hostels is like a more-for-your-money hotel, with a community of travellers full of the most wonderful secret destinations.

3.    You need a rail pass to travel through countries.
A rail pass is can be a super comfy and scenic way to travel countries, but it might not always be the most economic friendly choice depending on your budget. There are SO many ways to travel between countries (ride-shares like blablacar if you’re feeling social, cheap flights like ryanair if you don’t mind seats like concrete, busses depending on distance, or renting a car.)

4.    You have to plan every leg of the trip.
Some people are planners and need to have a rigid itinerary. If this is not you, you might be missing out following a strict schedule. It is not always cheaper to book roundtrip tickets, especially if you plan on cramming a ton of places into your agenda. Plus, it leaves no room for spontaneity if you meet people or hear about other awesome destinations.

5.    London, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona -I’ve seen most of Europe!
Umm.. no. Sure big cities are beautiful and full of great gastronomy and old architecture, but there is so much more to a country than just the big cities. That’s like people judging the whole U.S. on just L.A. or Miami. I find that cities can be more impersonal with their own unique culture. To really experience the country you should experience the surroundings too- maybe a national park or a smaller village.

6.     Better to overpack than under.
Packing is a skill fine tuned with experience, but guys (most) Europe isn’t third world. They have toiletries and clothes too, and you’re going to want to buy souvenirs. My advice is to pack essentials that fit in a carry on, deepening on the length of the trip, to make your travels a whole lot easier. Most trains and small planes charge hefty fees for two suitcases or bags that need to be checked. Do yourself a favor, pack some comfy versatile clothes and one or two night outfits and save some room for purchases.

7.    Everyone speaks English.
Ok, so a lot of people speak English yes, but not everyone. Be prepared with a translator, learn some useful words in the language, and get used to using your hands and gestures to help. Pronunciation makes a huge difference, and it's likely you won't say some words correct. Don't panic. When I first came to Spain (confident with a minor in Spanish) I got lost so many times mispronouncing things. It's a learning lesson, and a funny story later on.

8.    Don't talk to strangers.
Sorry mom, but guys, TALK TO STRANGERS! Meet people from other cultures, get out of your comfort zone, and learn something new. And please use your judgement, I'm not saying go off in an alley late night with a stranger, but ask for directions on the train if you're lost,  make small talk with the waiters, etc. You never know what you might learn from the locals! (I'm not saying to try this on your own, but I ended up staying with the most accommodating hosts in the most unique places just by meeting people in-transit.)

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