Have you ever said “I can’t travel without a tour or I’ll get lost”? Think you can’t go to a foreign country on your own, especially a non-English speaking country? Think again. Most tourist areas have plenty of English-speaking people. Buy a tour book on the area you are going. Familiarize yourself with the top attractions to be seen. Mark off those places you want to see and mark them on a map so you can see which are close to each other. Plan your days and which attractions to see each day. A smart phone with a map app will work well here. You can “pin” each place and then get walking directions from one pin to the next. If you get lost it will help you get to your next place or back to your hotel.
Most people take a tour because:
- They will get lost on their own.
- They don’t speak the language.
- They may miss something important.
- They don’t know how to get around.
Let’s look at these one by one. First with today’s smart phones you won’t get lost. They have maps of every country and can get you from where you are to where you are going easily. Next not speaking the language is not a problem in most big cities. Learn how to say Please, Thank you and good day. In Europe all college students have taken English. You can not miss anything important with a guide-book. In fact you will probably see more things than on a tour. Getting around is easy on subways. Again smartphones have apps that will walk you to the nearest subway stop and tell you what train to get and in which direction. It will also guide you through transfers onto other lines and then walk you from the subway to your destination.
Try the food and wine and enjoy yourself. Talk to the locals whenever possible. Shop in the small stores and talk to the owners. Get recommendations of where they like to eat. Europe is not so foreign, but it is fun. Enjoy Don’t be afraid of the Metro’s (subways). They are safe, clean and easy to use. The food in non-tourist restaurants is better than any place a formal tour will take you.
If after all this you are still afraid, take a tour that allows free days to explore on your own. You will be so happy you did.
George & Jo Anne