PETALING JAYA: With the holiday season having begun, many feel there’s no time like the present to pack their bags and jet off to their dream holiday destinations.
And for some Malaysians, Europe is on their bucket list.
While the idea of travel is exciting, it can also be overwhelming, especially when you’re heading to an entirely new continent for the first time and working with a tight budget.
So, here are five travel tips that will come in handy.
1. Pack light, and do the laundry while on holiday
Here’s a classic travel tip that’s crucial, especially in Europe: pack light. When you’re hopping from city to city or country to country, a bulky suitcase becomes more of a burden than a convenience.
For budget travellers relying on public transportation, there are still limitations despite Europe’s advanced systems. Avoid the nightmare of wrestling a 32kg suitcase up and down metro stairs.
If you opt for an apartment stay, bear in mind that many places don’t have lifts. So, the only access to your apartment is via flights upon flights of stairs.
However, you don’t have to sacrifice cleanliness or endure wearing the same shirt for 10 days. Look for homestays or Airbnbs with in-unit washers. Sure, it adds a bit of laundry to your vacation, but it’s a game-changer!
2. Bring along your instant noodles
Exploring local cuisine is a must when you’re travelling but truth is, you might find yourself tired of eating bread and pasta day after day.
That’s where your secret weapon comes in handy – instant noodles! So remember to pack a few of these in your bag.
Here’s another nugget of wisdom they don’t often share: operating hours in many European countries are surprisingly short. When hunger strikes in the middle of the night, those packets of instant noodles are a lifesaver.
Plus, it’s a money-saving move! Double win.
3. Don’t pay for public washrooms, enter cafés or bars instead
Imagine paying RM5 just to use the restroom. Well, in most European train stations and tourist spots, public washrooms come with a price tag – typically around 1 euro per person.
While that might not seem like much initially, it hits differently when you realise you could snag a nice cup of coffee for just one euro or two as well.
Here’s a savvy move: head into a café, bar, or even a fast-food outlet like McDonald’s. Grab the cheapest item on the menu to go, and not only do you get a little something to eat or drink, but chances are they’ll happily let your whole crew use their facilities!
4. Keep updated with news in Europe – strikes are common!
Worker strikes that cause transportation disruptions are a common scenario in Europe, often driven by demands for better pay and better working conditions. On Nov 17, Italy experienced a nationwide public transport strike, leaving many stranded late at night.
So, stay informed by checking the news of your destination country before you travel, so you’re not caught off guard.
Even though taxis and e-hailing services will still be available during strikes, remember that everyone in the country will be vying for these rides as well when public transportation comes to a halt. Play it smart and plan activities for the day that don’t require extensive travel.
5. Get to know the culture
Adopting a few Western social norms can enhance your European travel experience. While in Malaysia, it’s the norm to sit at your table and shout out your order of “Satu Teh Tarik”, it’s a different story in Europe.
Small talk is key – whether at a souvenir shop, grocery store, or when ordering coffee. Saying “hello” and expressing politeness is ingrained in their culture.
So, don’t shy away from pleasantries like “please” and “thank you”. Also, in non-English speaking countries, a few basic phrases in the local language can leave a lasting and positive impression.