A Europe trip is on the bucket list of almost all the people that I know. Who wouldn’t want to experience the snow-clad mountains and pristine beauty of Switzerland? To sail in a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice, or to pose near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But a Europe Tour can be so much more than ticking things off the must-visit list and clicking selfies. Which is why we bring you five travel hacks to gain more than just photographs out of your experience.

Eat local

If you interpret local here for the cuisine, this hack will still hold true. But most Indians are no-fuss travellers these days, who are open to new experiences, thus lack or poor availability of Indian food is rarely a problem. However, eating local also means eating the produce from a country. Every village, town or city in Europe has a local market (most have supermarkets) where you can get locally produced vegetables and fruits and locally sourced meat and dairy. Why is that important? You won’t fully grasp the quality of life of Europeans unless you eat and drink what they do.

So buy some apples or berries. Or make yourself a salad with locally sourced greens and cheese. Pair it with the locally brewed wine or beer, and you’ll have a meal which may be simple yet rich and fulfilling. It cannot get more European than that!

Walk without a destination in mind

The essence of European travel is not limited to famous monuments; it is the narrow cobbled stoned alleyways too, which can’t be discovered from a bus or a cab. These quite alleys may seem like a maze initially, and that has a charm of its own, but often they will lead you to places and shops no maps or guides cover.

Europe trip hacks
A walk down to the city from Prague Castle gave us memories for a lifetime.

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I remember wandering aimlessly with my husband, and then getting lost in the alleys of Venice and how it led us to a small pizzeria far away from any tourist spot in the city. There was a line of locals outside it and so we decided to give it a try. We ended having the best pizza we had had in our lifetime, at a shop we would have chosen to scroll past on any app or map. So trade those heels for sneakers and enjoy the luxury of toiling away time just walking, something most of us can’t do back home.

Travel off the course

After a point of time, almost all European cities may start seaming similar to an untrained part of eyes and a tired brain. Same structuring, similar churches, and similar food, not all of us can be food critics or have a fine eye for architecture to be able to tell a French Gothic from Baroque style of architecture. After a point of time it’s just pretty churches, museums and buildings.

The countryside life in Europe is not only mesmerising, it helps you understand and appreciate quietness like you have never before.

This is why it is important to go off the course. Alternate your city life experience with a day in a village, or a day in museums with a trek in the forests or mountains. The countryside life in Europe is not only mesmerising, it helps you understand and appreciate quietness like you have never before. Away from bustling cities, the stillness of countryside is what will turn your trip into a vacation.

Europe trip hacks
Away from the bustle of city life, en route to the ice caves in Werfen, Austria.

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Spend smart and save money

When you add the cost of shopping, stay, food and convince, a Europe trip can burn a sizable hole in your pocket. A carton of milk will set you back by almost hundred bucks (Indian currency). This is why one needs to know hacks to save money. Here are some hacks which helped us save some.

  • Buying water, juice, supplies from local supermarkets, instead of souvenir shops: Bottled water is expensive commodity in Europe. You may surprisingly end up spending more on water than food, if you don’t plan ahead. Firstly, know cities where you can drink tap water. Carry your flasks and fill them whenever you can find a source. Secondly, instead if you are travelling in a group it will make more sense to buy big water bottles from local supermarkets, which can then be shared among all. Same goes from your food and supplies. Keep an eye out on where locals shop from. Source a spread, a loaf of bread, cheese and some greens and make yourself a sandwich, instead of buying the same and two or three times the cost for meal.
  • Staying in Pensions: So pensions are not exactly lodges, but hotels minus fanfare. You’ll have a decent bed and duvet and a bathroom for a lower price. Doesn’t this type of accommodation make more sense, if all you are going to use your room for is to sleep and freshen up? Plus, a lot of these pensions are very charming and quaint, which only adds to the experience.

Experience the culture

Europe trip hacks
The enchantment of Venice lies as much in its canals as in the narrow alleys.

When you visit museums and churches in any European city or town, keep in mind that there is a history and story to them. These stories a part of the experience. So don’t just visit places, do so armed with information. Know the popular cultural practices of every region, and not just festivals like Tomatina or Oktoberfest.

Just like it does in our country, culture play in big role in the way people behave, what they eat or drink, or how they live their life across the globe. Only when you pay close attention to the culture will you understand why the Germans love their beer or Italians love their coffee. Or why delicacies like cured meat are so popular.

Travel, not just in Europe, is incomplete unless you experience the culture of a country make it about people and places and not destinations.

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