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Travel Tips #1. So you’re going to Europe for Spring Break

turisti_ROMA 09 (travel guide)So you’re trying to take advantage of the financial crisis for some dirt-cheap trips to Europe. Or maybe you’ve seen all there is to see in America and are looking for something new. Or perhaps you just figured this early in the spring is the time to go to Europe, since it is not too hot and people won’t be that smelly yet.

Whatever your reason, great! You’re going to Europe, it will be fun, and there is nothing like a good trip abroad to drive home the small things you love about America.

Here are five important travel tips you won’t find in the books that will help you overcome some of Europe’s shortcomings and make your stay more enjoyable:

1. BUY A CASE OF BOTTLED WATER FROM THE STORE – There is no free water in Europe, not even at many restaurants. The travel books will tell you to use a refillable bottle, but no one really likes to use those, they make the water taste bad. Besides, do you really trust the Roman-era pipes that you’re getting the tap water from? Your best bet is to buy a case of bottled water and carry a bottle or two around with you every day.

2. FORGET TRAVELER’S CHECKS AND CERTAINLY DON’T BRING CASH No one takes traveler’s checks except for American Express, and you don’t really want to spend 10 minutes signing your traveler’s checks just to buy a coke anyway. And don’t think you should bring cash and change it. Europe is full of pickpockets. If happen to evade the pickpockets, the moneychangers will be more than happy to shake you down. They have ATMs in Europe. Bring your debit card and withdraw cash as necessary. You’ll get the best exchange rate and you shouldn’t be screwed on fees too much. Check with your bank before leaving.

3. BUY IT NOW If you see something you want, buy it now. Things in Europe are not open reasonable hours, and sometimes they are not even open the hours posted in the window. Don’t stop and think about the purchase, buy it now. You’re an American, after all. Impulse purchases should be your specialty.

4. IF YOU SEE A FREE TOILET, USE IT No matter how bad the free toilet is, use it. The next toilet you find is likely to be smellier and cost you two Euros to use.

5. GET USED TO ESPRESSO AND SPLURGE FOR IT EVERY MORNING. The barista won’t like it and she will take 20 minutes to serve you, but it is worth it – as the Nescafe instant coffee they’ll try to push on you if you order coffee is undrinkable.

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