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Tips and advice for first-timers to Europe

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We're in the middle of our umpteenth European trip from the US, and here (in no particular order) are some things I think will help those people making their first trip.

a. When you think you have a tentative itinerary, eliminate half of it. You will lose close to a day with each move you make.

b. When you pack, take out half of the stuff and leave it at home (I'm still working on this one myself).

c. You'll wear 25% of the clothes you brought 75% of the time.

d. Bring well-broken in shoes and a pair that is good for wet weather. Sore feet will ruin your trip.

e. Plan an itinerary and trip hat fits your interests. You don't need to go somewhere just because everyone else does.

f. You will arrive jet-lagged and a bit discombobulated unless you are someone who can (a) sleep on planes and (b) is super organized so you get a great night's sleep at home before leaving on your trip.

g. You will get lost. Allow time for this.

h. Don' t overplan, and allow time for serendipity. These can be the more memorable parts of your trip.

i. Be flexible.

j. Visit local supermarkets because it is fun to see all of the different things from home (and you can save money by buying some supplies here).

k. think about how much stuff you can schlepp around with you. In train stations you will be carrying your things up flights of stairs and lifting it up on to trains, usually with very little time to make a connection.

l. Don't assume you'll always have lovely weather that is conducive to doing what you want to do.

m. Renting a car--probably not wise on a first trip, and if you do you will need a person to be the navigator and a person to be the driver. If you do want to rent, learn to drive a stick shift if you don't already know how (rental rates for sticks are much cheaper).

I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten, but I hope this helps.

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