Young people and transport challenges
Article submitted by Lucia Jones, UK Young Ambassador from the British Youth Council (BYC), Eurodesk UK Partner.
I am fortunate enough to be a UK Young Ambassador to Europe which involves me travelling to and around a variety of European Countries in order to attend conferences and meetings, as well as having friends who live across the globe that I have gone to visit. Travelling around Europe can sometimes be both confusing and a little daunting, especially if you’re on your own! However, this shouldn’t put you off altogether and I have compiled a few tips to hopefully ease any travel worries.
- Ask in advance: ask anyone who has already been there for advice, whether it be a friend or on an online travel forum - perhaps they know the specifics of that country and routes to go on/avoid.
- Book flights/trains in advance when you can: often cheaper to book in advance. Use private browsing so the website can’t store cookies and hike the price up. Be mindful of early flights that are cheap – if you have to stay in an airport hotel in order to catch that 4am Ryanair flight then it might be cheaper to catch the more expensive flight but not stay in an airport hotel. Don’t forget to factor in train/bus costs to the airport when planning travel expenses.
- Plan routes when possible: if you know where you’re going, you can plan the entire journey and you can try Google Maps to walk the route before you go. This is especially useful if you’re anxious about going somewhere specific on time or travelling alone.
- Maps are your friend: apps like google maps can really help if you’re lost or want a clear idea of where you are. In particular, I have personally found the app Citymapper great for main cities: you can put in a location or street address and it tells you how to get there in various modes of transport and the cost of going places. It has been a lifesaver for me on more than one occasion!
- Always buy a ticket: don’t let people persuade you that it’s not far/no one checks it/you can get away with it because you’re a tourist- BUY A TICKET. I cannot stress this enough. The fines for not having a ticket are often incredibly high, and it will be difficult to explain your situation to the police when there is a language barrier! It is ALWAYS better to have a ticket, regardless of whether you’re in a rush/lost/panicking. It will be even more inconvenient to find yourself sitting in a police station!
- Beware of rip offs: sometimes being from a different country leaves you vulnerable for exploitation – in other words it is easier for you to be charged higher prices than you would pay if you were local. Try and be savvy by asking locals/forums the average taxi prices in that country and make sure the driver is licensed and official before getting in the car with a stranger.
- Ask someone! A lot of people are friendly and helpful (especially when you look lost and scared!). Don’t be afraid to approach people and ask for directions, usually they are very willing to help. Obviously exercise good judgement and try and approach people in daylight and in a public space. It is probably not wise to accept lifts from them but a point in the right direction can’t hurt. You can also go into local shops and ask, the tourist information centre or ask the workers at the hostel/hotel you’re staying at, as they often have a great grasp of both English and the location of places in the city.
- Learn basic places in that language: even if your pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired, or your conversational flow is broken, if you’re truly lost and can’t communicate in English it may help you get where you need to go. Learn the questions but also learn the answers too or you won’t understand! Simple words like left, right, next to, besides as well as ‘where is’ will be incredibly useful. If you have a map, or the place name written down, even better!
- Enjoy your trip! I have been on the receiving end of many a travel mishap, and although scary or nerve wracking at the time, I survived and have some great stories to tell! Being late to a meeting or missing a flight, though sometimes expensive, is really not the end of the world and if you don’t have at least one crazy story…have you even travelled? ;)
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