Travel Tips For Dummies

I just got back from Europe a few weeks ago on holiday. I saved up for several months, used my tax return money, and I’m crazy broke now––but it was worth it! Haha! Besides I like Top Ramen for dinner.

It was actually my ten-year-old daughter’s special trip. I had taken my fourteen-year-old when she was ten too. I’d decided a long time ago I wanted my kids to see the old world, where our heritage is from. I have two more kids, sooooo, two more trips to Europe await! (See the way I set that up, hehe) And my husband is pretty much the best man in the world, so he agreed. I get asked all the time why he didn’t go. He has no desire to travel to Europe, as he puts it. He’d rather go somewhere tropical, because you know, it’s not like he grew up there or something. For those of you who don’t know; my husband is from Oahu. We go to the Hawaiian Islands every couple years with the whole family to visit extended family and see that part of the kid’s heritage (Yes I go! What? I want to go somewhere tropical too!).  It might seem unfair, but don’t worry, the hubbs got a new shotgun before I left.

So, on the Europe trip! Now, aside from this being an unforgettably, amazing experience with my ten-year-old, there were a few things I learned that I will do differently next time I go. I decided to share them with you.

Tip 1 : Public transportation buses in Europe do not run the same as school buses. We started our trip in London and to save a few dollars (pounds), decided to use the buses instead of the tube. Big mistake for someone like me; public transportationly challenged. You see, I grew up in California and have lived the past fourteen years in Arizona. We use cars because everything is spread out. The only public transportation I’ve used is the school bus system. With school buses the stops are the exact same on the way to school as they are on the way back. So naturally, I assumed they’d be the same with the double decker buses in London. Nope, not the case. But don’t worry, I finally figured it out on our last day there. 🙂 We ended up seeing much more of London than we expected to. (stick to the the tube/underground they have the same stops)

Every time I see these I sing, “Double Dutch Bus! Fee, fi, fo, fum. . . ” Frankie Smith, baby!                                                                                                                                                  IMG_1138

Tip 2 : Beware when taking pictures at Hamley’s Toy Store in London. The employees there love to photo-bomb. This guy got us not once, but twice!  Ha!

Hamley’s infamous photo-bomber:

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Tip 3 : Do not visit the Tower of London on Friday the 13th.  At the time, I thought it was cool to lead our small group into the dungeon on Friday the 13th. That charming place where they tortured poor souls with several inventively cruel ways before killing them. I’d wanted to get a picture of my daughter behind the bars, because I have the same picture of my older daughter. Yes, I have a sick sense of humor. So I was climbing up the small set of stairs (at this point I’d climbed thousands of stairs with no problem) to get the right angle for the picture when I tripped––wait, let me rephrase that––when something tripped me. Most likely an angry soul who couldn’t rest while a silly tourist took pictures of the place where they were tortured to death. I fell hard on the stone steps, breaking my camera and bruising my shin (and pride).

Here’s the last picture I took before the camera’s untimely demise:


Tip 4 : Do not leave hotel windows open. Even if it’s getting hot and there is no air conditioning. This tip was actually from my first trip with my older daughter, but it deserved mention. While staying on the third floor at the hotel near Chambord in the Loire Valley, we’d left a window open while we went chateau hopping. The first thing I did when we came back in the cool evening was close the window. I sat on the bed with my daughter and niece to read to them before bedtime. Out of no where, a bat took flight in the small room; flying over our heads like it was circling its prey. They do that, right? Just before they suck all the blood from your body? Because, I’m telling you, at one point the thing looked at my neck and licked its chops. The girls screamed at the top of their lungs, dove under the covers, and peeked out every now and then to see if it was still there––more screaming followed. I did what any mother would do in a terrifying situation: I ran as fast as I could into the hallway, and stood at the door laughing at the screaming girls. Oh come on, it was hilarious once I was sure the thing wasn’t going to eat me! Luckily, there were some friendly French guys who came to our rescue. When they first ran out of their room to see what all the screaming was about, my aunt tried to explain what was going on. Unfortunately, she didn’t know the French word for bat. She told them a bird, but not. It wasn’t until she said “Dracula” that they knew what she was talking about. Apparently, Dracula visits the Loire Valley. Who knew? The French men tackled the bat with a towel and wrangled him out the window, all without dropping their cigarettes from their mouths. The room smelled like cigarette smoke after, but at least it was bat free. A fair trade.

Picture of the Dracula hotel:

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Tip 6 : If you’re looking for cheap souvenirs to bring home from Paris. Go to the Eiffel Tower at night. There are several street venders that will ask, beg, and practically chase you down to sell you key chains, statues, and other fun things for crazy-good deals. They are willing to negotiate too. My friend got five keychains for a Euro! Everywhere else they were one for two Euro. We went to the Eiffel on our last night and by that time we were broke. I had just enough money for food and transportation to the airport, so I couldn’t buy anything else. I was bummed, I love great deals! But now I know for next time. 🙂


So now that you know what to avoid, you too can go broke over an amazing trip.

Happy travels friends!