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Major travel tip! Planning a trip to Europe? Get a map!

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One of the things I have noticed among newbies or those with limited travel experience is that they have a tendency to set up itineraries - either for the entire trip or even within a city - without ever looking at a map.

Now, I know GPS exists - and can be useful when doing a car trip. (Although to tell you the truth I often find them stupid - even here in NYC they get a lot of things wrong - and if you run into a detour due to construction, accident or even bad weather - they are useless in planning a new route - since they don't spread all the options out in front of you. But in planning an itinerary - there is no substitute for a high quality detailed map (either of the region, the country or even the city).

But tIme and time again we see itineraries with the poster bouncing around in all directions, not grouping cities or towns sensibly (which does require some knowledge of train schedules and/or flight options) and not even grouping sights within a city sensibly - going from east to west to back east and then west again in one day - spending hours on public transit versus actually sightseeing.

So - PLEASE, in planning a trip get a good map, figure out the location of places you want to see - and plot them on the map. It will not only avoid a lot of time in transit versus actually seeing sights or doing activities - it will be really good for my blood pressure.

It's easy to get good quality maps at any reasonable bookseller. We use Michelin for provinces and there are many detailed city street maps for sale. If you don't want to spend the money up front you can consult online maps to get the big picture necessary for initial planning - but do need high quality paper maps for help on the ground.

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