This year for my 27th birthday I decided I wanted to go to Paris. I know, I know. Everyone is going to Paris and taking a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower, but who doesn’t want to go to the sparkly, Nutella crepe, baguette filled, city of love? I was super busy this spring and so June was the best time to go. That and my favorite Johnnyswim song is “Paris in June,” so I secretly just wanted to live out that song in real life. Barcelona got added to the list because I mean, when in Europe right? Seeing my family has also been a thing I’ve wanted to do for a bit now.
Sadly [insert crying/screaming emoji here], It’s been two weeks, and I can’t believe we are actually back from our Euro vacation. I hadn’t been on vacation in just about ten years, and Chase (@nofacechase_) hadn’t either. But guys, we had THE BEST TIME. I cannot wait to share details from both of our trips. In the meantime here are some travel tips we came up with. Chase’s tips are marked with a “*” because I cannot be held responsible (they’ll probably be better than mine but whatever).
Book your trip well in advance & research.
Tickets aren’t the worst if you buy them a few months before your trip. We used Google flights, but there are great apps like Hopper that keep track of flights and prices for you. Chase says it’s cheaper to fly out on a Tuesday, but I have my suspicions. We both looked the trip up separately. I only went to one site and came up with this:
No direct flights. About $875 total. No direct train rides. Really shitty airlines.
Chase looked it up and came up with this:
Direct flight both ways. About $300 cheaper. Direct first class train ride. American Airlines.
We landed in Barcelona from JFK, stayed there for 5 days, and then we took the high-speed train to Paris. It was a long ass train ride. Honestly, I’m not certain as to why we took the train, but I’m sure it was my doing. I probably said some BS like “it’s a scenic ride and it’ll be so romantic.” Tip 2.5… don’t listen to anyone that tells you to take the scenic route. They are possessed. It was just about the same price to fly, but I honestly can’t remember why we didn’t. Flying is obviously quicker. If you can, do that. The train wasn’t the worst, but there were a few delays and being in the same spot for 6 hours drove me crazy. Bye. But seriously the point is, research. I’m super impulsive and hate researching. I’d rather just pay whatever I have to and get things done. If you need help, ask for it. He travels a bunch throughout the year for work so he’s done this once or 923 times. The money I saved I was able to spend on bread and ice cream. Hashtag winning.
For a super long flight, I encourage you to refrain from spending 64 dollars on a Cliff bar, vitamin water and Chex mix at the airport. Even though I would probably spend that anywhere on two things, but that’s not the point. Chase and I sort of made a game out of this. We wanted to see who could get the best snacks while spending the least amount of money. I went to Target, and Chase went to Walgreens. My first mistake was going to target. That’s like grown woman Disney land. I love that place!
Bonus random thought: I do not like it when grown men say the word “snack.’ It makes me cringe.
Can you guess which ones are mine and which ones are Chase’s? I ate his anyway, because doesn’t it go something like what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine?
Pack Travel Essentials.
My sweet friends over at Bird + Anchor sent me this beautiful travel box. It had Flynn & King’s Balance Facial Mist, Soul Sunday (which I’m obsessed with) Even Keel Aromatherapy Lavender Roller, Juicy Bamboo Facial Cloths, Jao Not just for hands sanitizer, a journal, Aenon’s Rose Face Mask, Hobbs Tea (you guys know I’m obsessed with tea), and a cute pouch to put it all in!
What I love the most about Bird + Anchor is that you can build your own kit. They offer products like scrubs, soaps, deodorants, and sunscreen!
One thing that I’ve done not just when traveling long distances, but I even carry this in my car. Pack a small bag full of items you absolutely cannot live without in the event your luggage is lost or you have an emergency. For me, that’s an extra pair of underwear, carefree panty liners, a toothbrush, a razor, two sample sized makeup items and Excedrin. I’ll share a detailed post about this magic bag later and how it’s saved my life multiple times. Now I have beautiful and perfect products to add to my everyday magic bag.
*Build yourself a mini med kit. Not just for the occasional band-aids to cover up that blister on your heel, but make sure you stock up on a few items like Pepto, Alka seltzer or any other upset stomach meds. Some countries or cities may have questionable tap water or cooking practices that may give you a little rumble in the jungle. If that’s the case, you’ll be happy you brought it along. Don’t forget that if you’re in a place with questionable water, ice isn’t a safe bet and always ask to open your own beverages.
Before this trip, I purchased Hitha Palepu’s “How To Pack.” It’s a great book that teaches you how to travel for any trip. I absolutely loved it. I didn’t follow ALL of the rules because let’s be honest, I’m super extra, but it was helpful. We were there for ten days and so I made sure I didn’t overpack (I only left two dresses and two shirts untouched, which is way better than I usually do). But I totally could’ve left a few items. I’m learning.
*Plan to do laundry. You may luck out with finding a cheap and easy wash and fold spot where you can have it done for you, or you may get stuck paying the insane hotel markup. Airbnb’s oftentimes have washers and dryers or drying racks in the apartments. Either way, ask if your hotel or Airbnb has a washer/dryer you can use. You will inevitably go through more clothes than you expect to, especially if it’s hot out. Also, get yourself some great walking shoes. Not just “meh, these should work shoes.” You need a broken in pair of “I could walk 65 miles in 9 days” level of comfort shoes.
**We actually walked over 65 miles in 9 days.
Have some sort of a plan (even if it’s just a baby one).
I’m not really a planner. I pretend that I’m super organized, and I buy agendas, cute notepads and pens, but I’m not. However, when you’re spending a limited amount of time somewhere it’s good to have some sort of plan. I came up with lists of things I wanted to see for both cities. I remember seeing tons of cool places when I first visited Barcelona, but I was much younger and I wanted to experience those visits again with Chase. Having a list, or even just an idea of what I wanted to do really helped when we were coming up with our plan for the next day every night. Chatting with locals and cab / Uber drivers also helps because they often have insight on cool places to visit. I also read some blog posts and articles on things to do in both cities. Again, research.
*If you’re staying at a hotel, get all of the free maps from the front desk or concierge. If you don’t have access to these, Google some travel maps you can download on your phone before your trip. Some are better than others and may be easier to read or show you all of the attractions you want to see. Some maps even include public transportation information.
The aforementioned is true guys. In Barcelona, we only took a taxi twice and opted for the metro every opportunity we could. It was much more cost effective and they have an incredible subway system. No bullshit G train mess here. However, in Paris, we opted for Uber. I was not having it. But I hear the metro is great there as well. We also swore by City Mapper. It’s an app that gives you the best directions. Not only driving directions, but walking and public trans. It even gives you travel time estimates for cabs and Uber. I use it everywhere, even at home!
If possible, buy all of your tickets online in advance. Most places allow you to use your phone to get in by scanning your ticket. I made the mistake of assuming I could get into Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia by just showing up and buying a ticket (do they not know Thugnanny [insert eye roll here]. It was sold out. We went back to the hotel and ordered tickets online. We did that for everything we saw in Paris as well. This helped us skip most lines which can sometimes be multiple hour long waits.
*Most of the places you’ll visit require a lot of walking. Hydrate. It may feel like a pain in the ass to carry around a liter of water with you as you explore the city, but the alternative of getting dehydrated and feeling ill is worse.
Bonus tip from Chase:
*Learn basic phrases in the language of the country or region you are visiting. Learn how to ask for directions, and know how to say words like “left and right.” Know how to ask for the bathroom, and how to say please and thank you.
Bonus tip from Denisse:
HAVE THE MOST FUN.
I can’t wait to break down both of our trips in the next coming blog posts. We filmed a bunch in each city and we learned and saw so much. Be sure to subscribe over to your right to stay up to date with my travels. In the meantime enjoy our recap video and let me know if you have any questions I can answer in my Barcelona + Paris blog posts.
* The song featured in the video is “Navajo” by Masego and you can listen to it HERE. It is fire.