Wondering how to start planning your free day on tour? We’re here to help! Here’s how to make the most of your free day on your upcoming Expat Explore Europe tour…
We Discover, You Explore! We know the best thing about travelling to new destinations is having time to 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 or how the local transport works. If you are getting on one of our tours soon or if you are currently on one, you need to 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!
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.
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 could even imagine. Make sure you have some idea of what to expect and make a list of the top attractions you don’t want to miss. Plan the rest of your day around your ‘must-sees’!
On tour, you’ll get a handy map of the city you’re in, featuring all the most popular attractions. This is your gateway to gold. Circle where you want to go, and get some sense of how far the attractions are from each other. Ask your tour leader to orientate you towards the attractions closest to the hotel and work out your route from there. A circular route makes sense, and enables you to see more in a short amount of time.
There is just no way that you can get to see absolutely everything in a day, a week or even a month! However, there is also so much that you can do in a day. Choose a few favourites, do them well and you’ll have memories for a lifetime! You’ll be able to get a good picture of the city and you can make a list of what to come back for on your next tour of Europe.
Unfortunately, there’s no point in getting on an open-air boat 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 provide a pretty accurate weather update to the hour. Plan your day with this in mind to get the most from your day. If it starts raining, this is the perfect time to pop into a museum or cosy café. Rain isn’t the only thing to keep in mind, if you’re travelling on a scorcher of a day, you’ll need to be prepared! 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 –
Sit down with your tour leader, and tap into their wealth of knowledge. They’ve been to all of these destinations many times before, and have inside info on places worth visiting. They may even help you find some hidden gems! Why not have a chat with them at breakfast before heading out?
Search the internet for posts that were written in the last 12 months to make sure that 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 the websites Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain) or Ljubljana (Slovenia).
Make your way to the tour page of your upcoming or ongoing tour. Scan the itinerary on any of our tours to see what Optional Excursions you can book with your tour leader. This way you can skip the lines and even save money on the public price!
Identify at least five places you want to see. Pick one place you consider a must-see, and then a list of places you’d like to check out if there is time left. Think about the time of day you want to be in this specific location. If you’d prefer to skip the crowds around the main attractions, get online to see what else the city offers. You can find so many gems off the beaten track.
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!
Without cramming too much into your daily handbag or backpack, make sure you have all the necessities. Useful items include water, an umbrella/raincoat, sun tan lotion, a snack (you might not always find something to eat straight away), your map and the contact details of your tour leader and the hotel’s name. Make sure your phone or camera are fully charged and, if possible, bring a cable or power bank incase of emergency.
Pickpockets are everywhere and having your money stolen is incredibly inconvenient and very upsetting! You can use your card almost everywhere, and would only need a small amount of cash to go to the loo (many public loos charge a small amount to use them) or tip the waiter.
Exploring can involve a lot of walking, so it is extremely important to think about the shoes you will wear on your free day! Are they worn in and comfortable? Sore and numb feet could definitely dampen your experience.
Look at how the locals go about their everyday business. You can learn a lot by watching French locals sitting on the river bank or a few Italians sharing a pizza. Sometimes a roadside café in a bustling area is the best way to watch people go by.
It’s a good thing to see how other people go about things. It broadens your mind.
– Tour Leader Andrew –
You have to keep well-fed when travelling. If you’re in a rush to see as much as possible, grab something on the street! Look for places where the locals get their food. The best way to get to know the city’s authentic food scene is to sample delicious local snacks and meals!
It’s always better finding your way around in a group. If you have friends, there is always someone to take your picture or share a pizza with! Try your best to become friends with fellow explorers on your Europe tour.
Getting lost and finding your way again is so rewarding, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to 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!
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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.
Thanks for the tip, Kim!