PARIS TO OHIO
- There was a confusion about my subway/train ticket to the airport. And the train ride was really long.
- I sat by a very talkative Saudi man who asked me all sorts of things including, "Why are all artists gay?"
- I took out my AAA map of Europe and figured out I had traveled over 10,000 miles in 65 days.
MISC. THOUGHTS ABOUT TRIP
- I called my parents every Sunday morning, collect from a pay phone. This way they knew where I was and where I was going to be since my route changed during the trip.
- I know now it's possible to get a cell phone while you are in Europe. Or even use your own. This wasn't an option 10 years ago. Do some research to see what the best option is. Having my own cell phone, especially a "smart" phone, would have made the trip a billion times easier.
- If you are from the USA, don't be a "stupid/ugly American." I tried my best to blend in by wearing clothing that wouldn't give me away... tshirts that have English printed on them, white tennis shoes, shorts, baseball cap, etc. If you are traveling with friends, keep your voices down. Learn some phrases in different languages. In general, be polite.
- Take busses in Portugal and Spain and save your Eurail Pass days. The trains are not as plentiful and slower. This is another reason I started my trip in Portugal and Spain.
- Just because you have a Eurail Pass doesn't mean you literally jump on any train. Some trains require you reserve a seat. Some even require you to pay for a ticket even with your Eurail Pass. The timetables tell you which is which.
- Make sure you purchase the correct Eurail Pass. Not all passes cover all of Europe.
- Know how to read the train timetables. They look confusing at first, but it starts to make sense. You will be a pro by then end of your trip.
- Buckle your back to the luggage rack on trains. Pickpockets love trains.
HELPFUL TRAVEL HINTS
- Zip-Loc bags work really well for everything on your trip. Take all sizes, from the "sandwich" sized kind to the one gallon size. Take twice as many as you need. They are good for left-over food, wet and smelly clothing, travel documents, souvenirs, travel books, etc. You will find a billion uses for them and wished you had more. A few years ago a friend of a friend was doing the same backpacking trip and I gave this tip to her... when she came home she said it was the best advice I gave her.
- Take a "Packtowel" with you. This is a towel that is made from fast-drying fabric with a built-in loop for hanging. If you are traveling for more than two months, take two as one will get really gross after two months.
- At first, I was showing up in each city without a place to stay. I'd get a phone card and start calling hostels and cheap hotels. In June this worked really well. As the trip progressed, I found hostels and hotels filling up since the tourist season was in full swing. I started calling ahead 2-3 weeks to reserve rooms which started working well.
- Have water with you at all time. Buy a one liter bottle of water and keep reusing it. This is especially true in southern Europe... it was 95F (35c) degrees when I was in Madrid.
- Your backpack should have a waist belt to keep the weight off your back. Stay away from super huge backpacks. I used a carry-on sized bag for two months and only started running out of space the last two weeks. I also had a daypack/small backpack that I carried, too.
- If you can't find a room for one night and have to stay at a gross/dirty hostel, then reserve the next night at the nicer place and spend one night in the not so nice hostel. Then move the next morning.
- The internet wasn't as resourceful ten years ago, so I had to rely on travel books. I used Rick Steves Europe and Let's Go Europe mostly. In Rome, I found a Frommer's Europe and used that, too. The Rick Steves was the most helpful and honest. Let's Go was good for finding cheap hostels and hotels.
- Before I left, I ripped out the chapters that pertained to my trip and stapled the pages together. When I left that country/area, I threw away that section to make room for other things in my pack.