Europe is known for being one of the most magical place in the world, with a vibrant culture and rich history that enchants people from across the globe to visit in swathes every year.
It is a place that people come to when they want to lie across luxurious, white beaches, see Gothic cities, and to hike through the mountainous terrain. In any case, the tourist spots are often overrun by people, and even though they may be better than what you were hoping for, the best gems of Europe are hidden away in places you wouldn’t expect.
Finding such gems can be a tricky task, which is why it’s a great idea for you to follow some crucial tips, which will help you make the journey of a lifetime. So here’s my advice for travel in Europe in 2018
Don’t follow tourist traps
If you are hoping to fill your travel trip with places nobody has seen before, then the first thing you must do is ditch the tourist traps. Although they can add immeasurable value to a trip, they are not where you want to be if you want a place free of people and sights to rival those on postcards.
For example, the famous city of Prague is known for its iconic castle and Charlesbridge, but people don’t often hear of Bohemian Paradise – or Cesky Raj – which is a stunning area of natural beauty not far from the main city.
Before you leave home on your trip, fly out to somewhere you have never heard of, or don’t pack your tour guides with you. Once you allow yourself to be open to new and unknown experiences, this is usually where you have a lovely surprise.
Research before you go
It’s easier said than done to avoid tourist traps, and although you might be able to throw caution to the wind and go on your trip without research, you might have a better piece of mind if you research beforehand.
If you put the time in, you will be able to make a list of where you want to go, where you don’t want to go, and of any places that you have seen mentioned, but which don’t have many travel blogs detailing what they are like.
This can make it much easier for you when you reach your destination to go about finding your hidden gems without too much hassle.
Learn some of the language
The biggest mistake many people make before traveling is not to learn any of the local language; that isn’t to say you should attempt to learn the entire language of a place before you go, as this is an impossibility.
However, it will help to eliminate any language barriers you may encounter when you are in the airport, trying to catch a bus, or when you are hoping to speak to any locals. Having an app on your phone can always help, or picking up the first language book you see from a postcard stall.
Ask the locals
When you are confident enough, you can ask the locals about the best places to see when you arrive. The people who live in the country you are traveling to will be the best people you can speak to, as they will know the area and its gems inside-out.
Following tourist tips is a great start, but if you are going to truly immerse yourself in a new culture, then living like a local is the best thing to do.
From stunning eateries in Italy to hidden hiking trails in Ireland; small museums in Finland, to sea views with no one else on the beach in Albania- asking the locals is your best way to reach them.
You may have already explored the hidden alleyways of cities, where old cafés are tucked away, but what most people forget about when they are on a beach trip or city break is the stunning countryside that Europe has to offer.
Most of Europe is populated by huge mountain ranges, where skiing and hiking are popular pastimes, and which are never best explored by staying in a hotel.
Camping is the only way you can come close to the natural world, but finding the best ones are often not an easy job. Though you can sometimes set up your tent in any area, some places are not safe for lone campers to travel, so it’s wise to set up at a campsite.
To find out where to camp, you can always look on sites like Campsited, which shows you the best place to camp in France, Germany, as well as Eastern Europe.
Don’t plan your trip
The temptation to plan every part of your European adventure can be overwhelming, especially if you are coming from a faraway place. It can remove the stress of finding somewhere to stay, and help cut costs in the long run.
However, having to stick to a plan of where to go means you are cutting out any possibility of straying into unknown and exciting territory.
Though it is always wise to book your flight out, make sure you don’t book any hotels or hostels apart from your first one. By asking the locals or any other travelers along the way, you will be able to find somewhere to stay, and you will also be able to learn of any locations that hadn’t previously made their way onto your radar.
Letting go of the need to plan will guarantee that you end up making memories you wouldn’t have had otherwise, and will almost always lead you off the beaten track.
Take your time
As with exploring anywhere new, you won’t ever find out anything if you are only there for a short amount of time.
This is why many people choose to take months out of their life to go traveling in, or why they decide to live abroad and teach to get a true feel for a location.
If you slow down, take your time, and absorb everything around you, you are far more likely to stumble across a new place than if you were to rush through on a day trip.