Monday, December 12, 2011

The Few Things that are Free!

No matter how well you budget, traveling is expensive. There's good news though! Throughout my travels I have found that there are a few (emphasis on the few) bona fide free things that I want to pass along. 

To begin with, long gone are your days of avoiding McDonalds and Starbucks when you're travelling across the pond. While you may not want to stop there for a burger or a cup of coffee, these two American powerhouses have three of the most coveted commodities in Europe: Free water, free wi-fi, and most importantly, free bathrooms. Although it's perfectly acceptable in Europe to drink water from the tap, you will rarely find free water that doesn't come out of the bathroom sink. Helpful hint: When ordering water in a restaurant, make sure that when you request water, you ask for it out of the tap. Otherwise it'll probably cost just as much as a coke or a beer.

Free wi-fi is very important if you want to contact home. If you stay at a hostel, and even in some hotels, you'll have to pay for your internet usage by the minute which can add up quickly. Lastly, as a tour guide in Italy once told me "In Italy, we have an 11th commandment - Thou shalt go when thou can, not when thou needs to." This was probably one of the best pieces of advice given to me and I would suggest following this commandment, because otherwise you can find yourself in a bind with no other choice than to cough up the euro to use the restroom.

Another very useful free commodity is a map. While you can buy very useful maps and guide books from places such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, if the city you're visiting is small enough their tourist center will most likely have a free map. If it's a large enough city, such as London, you can pick up a subway map which will probably have subway stops named after the city's large attractions, such as Piccadilly Circus and St. Paul's. In addition to paper maps, cities often have large signs directing you to those attractions. 

London Tube Map [Credit]

Have you discovered any other free things in Europe? Make sure to let me know! You can either e-mail me at or just comment below.

Happy travels!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Language Barriers - Learn to Talk the Talk

As you make your way through various European countries, you will notice that most Europeans know a good deal of English, but what you may not realize is that you still have the opportunity for a language barrier. Many countries in the UK have jargon different to that in America. There are a list of words that will help you acclimate into British society or even if you prefer to be viewed as a Birt or savvy world traveler. Rather than giving you a huge list of translations, here's just a small list of words that may help you out along your journey:

Fiver or tenner: A shortened term for a five pound note or ten pound note. 
Traniers/Joggers: Sneakers/tennis shoes 
Chunder: Throw-up/vomit
Cheers: Thanks
Tracky dacks/Tracky pants: Sweatpants
Bludge: Chill out, be lazy
Rubber: Pencil Eraser
Bubbler: Drinking fountain
Water fountain: Large ornate outside fountain.
Chips: Fries
Bakers: Baked potatoes
Quid: A pound, the American equivalent for "a buck"
Car Park: A parking lot
Tube: The British underground subway.
Brekkie: A shortened term for breakfast.
Advert: Commercial; a shortened term for advertisement.
Bugger: Expression describing dismay, just like "Oh, shoot!"
Flat: Apartment 

Another common British word is "whilst" or anything ending in "ist." Although no direct translation is needed, it would be beneficial to know the slang and regularly used British phases. Along the same lines of language, you'll also notice that the English replace many of the "z"s or "c"s, like in organization or practice, with an "s" or add a u into words such as behavior or color.

To all you fellow world travelers what are some words that threw you off whenever you traveled to Europe?

As always, if you have any questions, you can e-mail me at

Happy Travels!