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Travel Tips: What We Learnt in Europe

As I’m sure you know, we spent 5 weeks away this summer Interrailing around Europe and quite simply had the most incredible time. We planned our route, where to stay, and what to do and eat with a mix of in advance and spontaneity, but with having been to none of the places we were going before, there were always going to be lessons learnt along the way.We thought we’d share our top 10 insights which we don’t think many people talk about or get written about much on other travel blogs, forums and sites like TripAdvisor. These are in no particular order, just the ones that have stuck with us the most.They take their bike lanes very seriouslyOur first stop was Amsterdam, where there are statistically more bikes than people, so of course we were expecting bikes to be everywhere. They were, but nothing prepared us for the strict yet unwritten rules of their bike lanes. The most fooling part of all is that most of the lanes look like pavements, so if you go, always be prepared to check before you even turn or cross the road – they literally fly at you from nowhere!No J-walkingOur Interrail stops had varying levels of attitudes of when to cross the road. Berlin sticks in our mind as a place where people only cross when you’re given the green man, even when there is literally no one around. With coming from London where crossing signs mean next to nothing, it was certainly a surprise and a little weird at first.Always carry change, pay for toiletsWe left London for our trip with no cash whatsoever but instead armed with our multi-currency Revolut card. It was great to have but when it came to things like needing the toilet, it caused us a few painful problems! In most places we were charged for public toilets, even in McDonald’s. Carry change and be prepared to pay to pee!

Some places still allow smoking indoorsIt seems crazy to think that it wasn’t that many years ago that in the UK this was the case too, and it seems like other countries still have a lot of catching up to do in order to change laws. Many restaurants and bars still allow smoking indoors and it may be worth checking before you go in or book a table if you don’t like it.

Apple maps doesn’t support some European countries – use Google mapsOne big surprise was that Apple Maps often didn’t know the route for us to get from one place to another via public transport. Luckily, Google Maps did, so get the app downloaded before you set off.

Always validate your travel ticketAnother shock we had was the way we had our public transport tickets checked in every country we went to, other than Paris. There are no gates to get through to tube lines, and no checks by bus drivers that you have a ticket – you just get on. Instead, many cities had a machine onboard a bus or inside a tube station where you stamp your ticket, and then it becomes valid for the period specified on your ticket. The only time you will get checked is when a travel officer randomly hops on board to check tickets. It’s incredibly tempting to risk it as there is a 90% you’ll get away with it, but the huge fines that can be imposed meant that it’s really not worth it. Our tickets were checked twice in the 5 weeks we were away and luckily, we took the safe option to buy tickets.

80% of places don’t take cardThe further we got away from the UK, the more normal it seemed for restaurants and shops to only take cash. It was a pain to be honest, although more often that not there was always a cash machine nearby.

Not all European countries have Euros as their currencyWe crossed between 5 currencies during our time away – Euros, Czech Kouna, Hungarian Forints, Croatian Kouna, and Swiss Francs. We used the Revolut card for the entire trip to make sure we used cash only where necessary. Give it a Google if you don’t know how it works – it was a saving grace!

Zebra crossings are not always zebra crossingsSimple one – in some countries what seems like a zebra crossing is just where they recommend you cross. Cars don’t stop for you.

Even if it’s a traffic light crossing, be cautiousWe remember this especially in Budapest, but we know it happened a lot in other places too. If there is a green man to cross the road, cars turning the corner to go through the crossing can go through even with pedestrians crossing. All the lights do is determine who has priority, but the more daring drivers will make it a close shave. Be careful!

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28 Comments

  1. Kate Winthrop
    August 22, 2017 / 10:28 pm

    You guys have completely inspired me with your recent travel posts to do a big Europe trip next year – I'm definitely going to bookmark this post for future ref. It's funny – I've only just realised but in Spain literally *none* of the restaurants took card – the carrying of change is an ace tip!Kate x http://www.findingkate.co

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Aww so glad to hear that! We'd highly recommended it!See, it's so weird right about the cards stuff?Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  2. Alisha Valerie Gerrard
    August 23, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    I have loved reading all about your travells and I'm so happy that you both had the most wonderful time. Thank you for the travel tips, I'll keep them in mind if I ever travel in the future. 🌸✨With love, Alisha Valerie. xwww.alishavalerie.com | http://www.twitter.com/alishavalerie

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:46 pm

      So glad you enjoyed our travel posts, thank you so much for your support!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  3. sophiaxo
    August 23, 2017 / 6:06 pm

    So interesting!! I am hoping to travel around Europe more so this was very helpful for me! Sophia xo // sophiaaaxo.com

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:47 pm

      Hope you travel Europe real soon and our tips hel you along the way!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  4. Emily
    August 23, 2017 / 6:09 pm

    I noticed the same thing about bike lanes when I was in Cambridge last year! And there seem to be more bikes there in general. It's rare that I have have cash these days, so thanks so much for that tip as well!xxEmilyemilyhallock.blogspot.com

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:47 pm

      Yes exactly! I know right, with this day and age, who carries cash but it's a must in Europe!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  5. Irish Aoife
    August 23, 2017 / 6:13 pm

    Makes me want to travel such a nice post if you ever visit Europe again you should come to Ireland xx

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      We've only ever been to Dublin, but we're sure we'll be going back soon!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  6. Carrie Smith
    August 23, 2017 / 6:14 pm

    Interesting about the j-walking! I learnt about validating your train tickets while I was in France though – I didn't really understand why though! Great post – I really want to travel more of Europe and interrailing seems like a great way to do it.Carrie xwww.thelipsticktrail.com

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      We'd highly recommend interrailling! The j-walking was defo very interesting!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  7. kayleigh Zara
    August 23, 2017 / 6:15 pm

    I released how seriously bike lanes are taken the few times that I've been in Europe! I also agree about Germany and the crossing – it weirded me out when I was there xKayleigh Zara 🌿www.kayleighzaraa.com

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      Ah so glad we weren't the only ones who realised it!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  8. Molly Rees
    August 23, 2017 / 6:35 pm

    Totally agree with the traffic situation- the rules are so different to our own! And things mean different things. So confusing! The change situation is a nightmare because I hate carrying cash but I like travelling too much. Really enjoyed this post.xo Mollywww.mollyyrees.com

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this post! I know it's so annoying with cash, but it weirdly how it works in Europe!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  9. Rachel Sargent
    August 23, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    This post was really interesting, I would assume that most European countries would act the same including the UK. Glad you did this post, I don't want to get ran over when crossing the road aha x

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      So glad to have been of help! Same, we never realised how different the rest of Europe was to the UKThank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  10. Lifethrough Tsg
    August 23, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    These tips are really really helpful, and this post is super interesting! I'll definitely be baring these in mind if I ever go to any of these places. Love,Hayley Lifethroughtsg.com

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:56 pm

      Glad you find them useful! We hope we've explained them well!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  11. Llinos Thomas
    August 23, 2017 / 7:07 pm

    Smoking indoors! I really can't imagine that now, it would be soooo weird.

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 9:57 pm

      Omg we couldn't deal. We forgot it was like that everywhere else! Madness!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  12. abbeylouisarose
    August 27, 2017 / 5:56 am

    Thank you for sharing everything you've learned! The ticket validation system did confuse me when I was in Athens, I don't think I had my ticket checked at any point during my stay but you're right, always better to be safe than sorry! The strict road crossing rules you experienced seem to be completely opposed to what I experienced in Italy – there pedestrians just seem to do whatever they like and the only way to cross a road is just to step out haha! It's crazy how things can differ so much from country to country! Like Llinos, I can't imagine smoking inside either, I like my smoke-free spaces!Abbey 💗 http://www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

    • Food and Baker
      August 31, 2017 / 10:01 pm

      It was all so confusing! But it was so so interesting! It is actually crazy how different each country really is and how similar some are!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  13. Charlotte Clark
    September 4, 2017 / 7:53 am

    This is crazy – I never knew about most of these! I find it mad how different other countries are to the UK. I was especially surprised about the number of currencies you had to use!

    • Food and Baker
      September 15, 2017 / 9:17 am

      Imagine our shock when we learnt these first hand – so crazy right?Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

  14. kate h
    September 9, 2017 / 12:44 pm

    I can definitely relate to a few of the things you have mentioned from my trip to Budapest especially with the roads and paying to use the bathroom. The currency is hard to get used to as well, it certainly pays off to learn a bit about the country before arriving there. Thanks for sharing your insights and advice, I'll definitely keep them in mind next time I go travelling.

    • Food and Baker
      September 15, 2017 / 9:18 am

      We loved Budapest, but damn those roads – the currency was hilarious to convert!Thank you for reading and commenting☺💓

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