• 2 January 2016

Wondering how to start planning your free day on tour? Here is how to make the most of your free day on your upcoming Expat Explore Europe tour…

We Discover, You Explore! We know it’s the best thing about travelling to new destinations – having time to get about and explore to your heart’s content. For this reason, we include free days in almost all of our tours of Europe. However, with that said, it might be challenging to plan a free day when you’ve never been to a city, especially if you have no clue what it looks like and how the local transport works. If you are getting on one of our tours soon or if you are currently on one, one of the things you need to do is start planning your free days! Be it in Rome, Amsterdam, Paris or Barcelona; there’s a lot to see, and planning helps you to make the most of your day. You can do so much more in 24 hours than you might think!

Check the local calendar!
The Colosseum and Eiffel Tower will still be here the next time you’re in town, but that wine or beer festival might only happen once a year or once in a lifetime. The best way to find out more about events in any city is to do some research online in advance, or ask the locals once you’ve arrived.

Get a good overview of what there is to see in the city you’re in.
You can do this by using good ol’ faithful Google or reading a good travel guide book. There’s always more to see than you would imagine. Make sure you have some idea of what to expect and definitely make a list of the top attractions you don’t want to miss. Plan the rest of your day around your ‘must-sees’.

Get out that map & plan your route.
On tour, you get a handy map of the city you’re in, featuring all the immediate attractions. This is your gateway to gold. Circle where you want to go, and get some sense of how far one attraction is to the others. Ask your tour leader to orientate you towards the attraction closest to the hotel. Work out your route from there. A circular route makes sense, and enables you to see more in a short amount of time.

Spend time planning your free day.
Spend time planning your free day.

Make peace with the fact that you won’t get to see everything.
There is just no way that you can get to see everything there is to see in a day, a week or even a month! But you’re here for a day, and there’s a lot of memories to be made. Choose a few favourites and do them well! Get the picture and make a list of what you want to come back for on your next tour of Europe.

Check the weather.
Unfortunately, there’s no point in getting on a boat with no roof if the rain is pouring down. Or paying money to go up the Eiffel Tower without getting a decent shot of the excitement. Weather apps and websites can give you a weather update to the hour. Plan your day with this in mind to get the most from your day. Rain is not always a bad thing. Chances are you will get time to run into a museum or two. On the flipside, if you’re in Rome on a scorcher of a day, you would want to know. Pack extra water, your hat and sun tan lotion.

You can’t change the weather. Give it 100% and go with it!

– Tour Leader Sarah –

Get insight from those in the know.
Sit down with your tour leader, and tap into their wealth of knowledge. They’ve been to all the destinations many times before, and have inside info on places worth visiting. It’s worth having a chat with him/her at breakfast before heading out.

Ask your tour leader for insider tips of any destination.
Ask your tour leader for insider tips of any destination.

Visit the offical website of city’s or find recent travel blogs.
Search the internet for posts that were written in the last 12 months to make sure you have the most up to date tourist information at your finger tips. Most of the well-known cities in Europe have useful web pages where you can research to your heart’s content. Take a look at Amsterdam (the Netherlands),  Barcelona (Spain) or Ljubljana (Slovenia).

Remember the Optional Excursions that Expat Explore offers.
Make your way to the tour page of the tour you booked. Scan the itinerary on any of our tours to see what Optional Excursions you can book with your tour leader. You can skip the lines and even save money on the public price!

Make that list.
Identify at least five places you want to see. Plan one place you consider a must-see, and then a list of places you want to check out if there is time left. Think about the time of day you want to be in this specific location. If you’re not like most other travellers who want to see all the main attractions, get online to see what else the city offers. You can find gold off the beaten track.

Conquer the public transport system.
Even if you are staying in a hotel in the immediate area of the main attractions, there will still be quite a bit of travelling involved. This is your ticket to getting everywhere you want. Sure there are other ways of getting round, of which walking is the best. You can hire a bicycle; you can cruise by boat… but your main transport will be by tram, train or bus. Learn the ropes first thing in the morning and save lots of time!

Figure out the public transport system as soon as you can! It's the fastest way to get around.
Figure out the public transport system as soon as you can! It’s the fastest way to get around.

Make sure you are prepared (and charge your electronics)!
Without cramming too much into your day pack, make sure you have all the necessities. Some water, an umbrella/raincoat, sun tan lotion, a snack (you might not find something to eat straight away), your map and the contact details of your tour leader and the hotel’s name.

Wherever possible, do not carry too much cash around with you.
Pickpockets are everywhere and having your money stolen is the most inconvenient thing ever. You can use your card everywhere, and would only need a small amount of cash to go to the loo or tip the waiter.

Check your shoes. Check your shoes. Check your shoes.
Exploring can involve a lot of walking, so definitely think about the shoes you will wear on your free day! Are they worn in and comfortable? Sore and numb feet can definitely steal from the experience.

Spare time to do some people watching.
Look at how the locals go about their everyday business. You can learn a lot by watching the French sitting on the river bank or the Italians sharing a pizza.

It’s a good thing to see how other people go about things. It broadens your mind.

– Tour Leader Andrew –

Street food and eating is part of the experience. 
You have to keep well-nourished when travelling. When you’re on the run, you have to grab something on the street. Look for places where the locals find their food. This is the best way to get to know a city’s authentic food and also the best excuse ever to get delicious local snacks and meals.

Frites - popular street food in Belgium.
Frites – popular street food in Belgium.

Explore with your fellow travellers.
It’s much better finding your way in a group. If you have friends, there is someone to take your picture or share a pizza with, so do your best to make friends with fellow explorers on your Europe tour.

Don’t be afraid to get lost, it’s the best part of travelling.
Getting lost and finding your way again is so rewarding, and you might find unexpected treasures when wandering around with no plan or schedule.

If you are serious about finding (and enjoying) free time when you’re travelling in Europe, take a look at our Best of Europe tour or the Ultimate Europe tour. Both tours have more than 5 free days including Switzerland, Dubrovnik and Prague!

Questions & Comments

  1. Since my husband and myself is traveling on the Europe Escape tour and it includes different countries, what currency do we have to use. We are traveling from the US. Is the US$ good for all our travels? This includes France, Belgium, etc.

    • England’s currency is the British pound, Switzerland’s is the Swiss franc, and the rest of the the countries on the Europe Escape tour use the Euro. US dollars are not accepted as payment in these countries. When I travel, I go to my local bank before I leave and purchase a small amount of the foreign currency(ies) in order to avoid the currency exchange at the airport, whose rate is never as good. I then use an ATM for more cash when needed. Just be sure to tell your bank where you will be traveling, so they won’t think your ATM card was stolen.

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