I thought I’d share with you a few random tips that I’ve learned while traveling all over the Europe.
For iPhone users… In your Maps app…. If you pinpoint a location on your map while you are still in a wifi signal, and then DO NOT QUIT the app, you’ll be able to use the map even when you don’t have wifi. It doesn’t use data roaming, I promise! It just stores it in the cache somehow. Not sure how it works, but it does. I’ve used this little trick in every foreign city I’ve gone to. Like right now – I just put Paris in my Maps app, so that when I get there, I can open it up, and I’ll be able to see where I’m going. (But again, do not quit the app – you can use other apps in the meantime, just don’t quit Maps.)
Want to have all kinds of easy access maps for metro routes and Ubahns? (And whatever else?) Copy the map from the internet while you’re in wifi, then store it on your phone for when you’re not around an internet signal. This keeps you from having to sort through frivolous extra info on the bazillion travel apps you can get out there. Yes, it’s nice to know the top sites in each city (use the special apps for that), but sometimes you just need to quickly get the name of the Ubahn stop you need to take in Cologne, or Vienna, or wherever you happen to be. My jpgs store in my Camera Roll, while the PDFs store in iBooks. So when I need that UBahn map, I just open my Photos and voila! For example, I have the Paris Metro map stored as a jpg in my Camera Roll for when I get there – right in the palm of my hand!
And my most important tip of the day? Meet people and make friends! Your soul will be richer, your life will be fuller, and many doors will be opened to you. During my travels I have been SO lucky to meet many wonderful people – people who have become dear friends. The worst thing you can do is hole up in a room somewhere and never get out. Or decide you don’t need anybody’s company or help on your journey.
Because of meeting friends abroad, I’ve been able to learn things about the locations I travel to, have gained travel buddies, have places to stay in foreign cities, and found my key to getting EU citizenship. Tell people about yourself, ask questions, don’t be afraid of getting personal! Make friends on the train, go to events, find an expat group in a city and go attend a get-together. And well, over a year and a half ago, I’m super glad I was open to meeting new people, as it resulted in meeting the guy who became my awesome boyfriend.
We live in a global community – a world that is linked not only increasingly by technology, but a common humanity that we all share. My only frustration is that so many countries still hold on to a strict policy of border restrictions and difficult bureaucracy. I include my own country in that list, of course. As someone who is in a relationship with a foreigner, I am terribly frustrated at the difficulties we must go through just to see each other. Fortunately I’m lucky in that I’m going to be able to have dual citizenship because of my late grandparents, which will eventually allow me to stay and work in the EU. But not everyone is so fortunate.
So in conclusion…. for those of you traveling out there – seize the day! Go out and explore! And for those of you who aren’t – get off your butts and get out there!