Before I get into the details of my awesome European trip, I’d like to give a few tips for solo women travellers, especially Pinays who are travelling to Europe for the first time. These tips are very valuable, so ladies, take heed!
1. Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months prior to your travel. This is basic information that every traveller should know but sadly, a few still ignore. I once witnessed a woman being shooed away from the gate (right before she was about to board the plane) because her passport was going to expire in four months. What a waste of time, money and effort!
2. Applying for a Schengen Visa requires travel insurance. But you have the option to get the 30, 60 or 90 day-coverage. Ask your life insurance provider if you have one. Mine is PhilamLife. I only had to pay around 3K for a 30-day coverage.
3. Make sure to leave a copy of your itinerary, flight and hotel information, passport and insurance details with your family and on line (I keep mine in my e-mail and Evernote). This is not just for your personal safety but also for the peace of mind of your loved ones back home.
4. Do not use up your 20-kilo baggage allowance. You can always buy clothes and other necessities in Europe (and sometimes, at a much lower price if you’re lucky). Remember that excess baggage costs 30 euros/kilo. (This is a lesson I had to learn the hard way and will tell you all about later.) Besides, where will you put all your pasalubongs when it’s time to go home?
5. If you can help it, do not use your Philippine SIM card for roaming. It’s cheaper to buy a local SIM card for making calls and using the internet. I bought an Orange SIM in Spain and this proved to be a very good investment.
6. Use your social networks (Facebook, IG, Twitter) to document your whereabouts so that your friends and family members know exactly where you are or what is happening to you.
7. Research about the weather and bring appropriate clothing! Another simple lesson I had to learn the hard way!
8. Get in touch with Filipinos in the area you’re visiting. There will always be a friend of a friend of a friend who you will likely bump into. A fellow Pinoy will surely make your visit more interesting, more memorable and definitely easier.
9. When you are finally in Europe, keep yourself hydrated. Always bring a bottle of water with you, especially when your day is full of walking/trekking. But instead of buying all the time, make use of the tap water in your hotel. Beware, though. Not all European cities have potable tap water. Always ask first if the tap water is good enough for drinking.
10. Try to speak the local language, even if it’s just to ask directions or to say hello. It’s the polite thing to do and the locals will appreciate it.
And last but not the least…
11. Open your eyes.. wide! As the author and painter Henry Miller once said:
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”