Europeans take visiting Paris for granted. They can just hop on a flight and be in the City of Love within a few hours from pretty much anywhere on the continent. But, for those of us living further away, having that dream vacation isn’t quite as easy. Anyone visiting Paris for the first time needs more planning, preparation and guidance. So, here’s everything you need to know for your first trip, whether you’re here backpacking or staying in one of the luxury villas in France, to make that dream trip a reality.
After deciding to visit Paris, it’s time to start thinking about your budget, booking flights, finding suitable accommodation, staying safe while you travel and planning what you want to do. Paris is an expensive city, but you’re also going to get good value for money with the high-quality service and food. You should also double and triple check any visa requirements. France is part of the Schengen Agreement, and most nationalities get 90 days in 180 days visa on arrival at the airport. But not every nationality is eligible.
Paris gets millions of tourists all year round. It doesn’t need to be on a list of top destinations because it is always a hot-spot for travellers. Some come during the summer for a warmer vacation whereas others want to experience the winter wonderland at Christmas. Every month is busy with tourists coming for weekend breaks to week-long trips. Temperatures don’t get too hot in the summer, unlike destinations further south such as Greece and Spain. Likewise, winter rarely sees the thermometer dipping to frigid levels compared to their northern or eastern neighbours. In short, there isn’t any specific or best time to visit. Tourists come every month of the year.
Everyone knows the top attractions, which include the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre. There are also several museums, art galleries and public gardens creating a green oasis in the centre of the city. Be sure to snap some photographs in the districts lined with elegant buildings and take a boat ride on the River Seine. Notre Dame is also another must-see spot in Paris. France is famous around the world for having excellent food and coffee. Anyone on a first time trip to Paris should sample the food and get a coffee in one of the many roadside restaurants and cafes.
The metro is very efficient and takes commuters, tourists and anyone else who uses it around the city in no time at all. You can buy a single ticket, which is validated at the entrance and you can make as many transfers on different lines as you want using the same one. If you plan to rely on the metro, buy a carnet, or 10 tickets that come as a set. Purchasing these are cheaper than buying individual tickets and saves time from lining up at the machines.
The metro in Paris is quite confusing if you don’t know where you want to go. For this reason, download one of the free metro map apps onto your phone and take a few minutes planning the route before you get on the train.
Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and don’t have expectations that are too high. Believe it or not, there’s a medical condition called Paris Syndrome where tourists experience a mental breakdown because they find the city isn’t what they quite expected. As extreme as this may be, it does happen. And the romantic view of a city paradise isn’t always the reality. Do a bit of research and make sure you have a realistic idea of what to expect so that you can at least avoid feeling disappointed.
You should also be aware of scammers and pickpockets operating in the streets. Thieves often work in gangs and are highly professional, so it is important to stay safe while you travel. Make sure you keep your personal belongings safe at all times, especially when you’re using crowded public transport. It’s also important to know that France is currently on a high terror alert, and although it’s improbable you’ll experience anything, you need to be aware and vigilant at all times.
People in France speak, you guessed it, French. But, unlike other major destinations around the world, English isn’t widely used. Street signs, information on the metro among other things are often written in French without a translation. And many of the locals who work outside of the tourist industry lack fluent English. This isn’t such a problem for Europeans who more often than not know a little bit of French, but it is for other nationalities where English is a second language.
The best piece of advice is to expect that everyone outside of the tourist areas can’t speak English. Buy a phrase book and make an effort to learn a few phrases to help you get by. If you ask someone for help using your limited French, you’re more likely to get what you’re looking for. Alternatively, write down a few essential phrases to refer to or show the person you’re asking for help.
The essential points described in this article should now have prepared you for your first trip to Paris. In short, you should set realistic expectations and be aware at all times for your safety and scams. And make sure you enjoy many of the masterpieces in the art galleries, museums and finding that perfect photograph near the Eiffel Tower.
With 2018 approaching fast, it is time to start planning for new things, setting newer goals and objectives and of course, enriching your travel bucket. The craze for travelling and exploring unseen, offbeat places has been rising and if you are a passionate traveller and a nomad inside, you must start planning some amazing trips in the coming year.
So, here is a list of the top 5 new and remarkable travel destinations that are worth paying a visit in 2018.
1. Alaska, USA – For any traveller with an urge for adventure, Alaska is a must-visit place, offering a combination of so many things together. The best time to visit Alaska is during the summer when you cannot just behold but also have fun in the lap of the snow-laden mountains. Also, you can spot grizzles, bald eagles, humpback whales and glacier-studded fjords, each of which can leave you awestruck at their beauty.
Unlike before, the place has become much more accessible today because of the increased flight links to the North American and European cities. Small and big cruise companies are also introducing larger ships and expanding the capacity to help more travellers reach this dream-like destination.
2. The Kii Peninsula, Japan – The number of travellers to Japan has increased since the last few years and the Kii Peninsula is certainly one of Japan’s major attractions that are a must-visit in your lifetime. The Peninsula dips down into the Pacific Ocean and has some excellent Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
The place, which is rather far from the maddening crowd and pretty hassle-free, promises a blend of sublime, traditional culture and modern convenience. The Kii Peninsula should be one among the top places in your 2018 travel bucket.
3. Lahaul & Spiti in India – The massive and enigmatic Himalayan range in India brings several hill stations and rugged mountain areas for travellers but Lahaul and Spiti stands out among all of them. These valleys run east and west from Keylong and the ochre badlands of Spiti is said to be the home to some of the rarely visited Buddhist Temples with signs of spectacular art and architecture.
For all adventure seekers out there, Lahaul has a back route to Kashmir, which is considered to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world. The entire place is breathtakingly beautiful and lacks the hype that Ladakh enjoys.
4. The Aeolian Islands in Italy – For travellers looking for a place to relax and simply soak in the beauty of the scenery around, the Aeolian Islands with their seven sisters is paradise in the true sense. The geology that shapes them peculiarly is also what makes them so sublime.
You will find some amazing seascapes, volcanic slopes, black-sand beaches and of course, some of the best coastal walks and drives in the whole of Europe. Visit the Aeolian Islands in 2018 before it starts luring more visitors and getting crowded thereby.
5. The Julian Alps in Slovenia – Overlooked for a long time and opening up for visitors only recently, the Julian Alps can offer you with a blissful time by virtue of its natural appeal. More than 2/3rd of the region is protected by the Triglav National Park mandate, which has been a major reason behind the slow improvement of the infrastructure and somewhat curbed development along the summits.
Recently, a few local run operators are setting up homestays in stylish shepherd digs for travellers to stay in comfort.
Book your tickets to these wondrous places and get set with your backpack to create memories in the New Year 2018.
Traveling is certainly one of the most exciting things we do in life. It expands our horizon and makes us see things from a different viewpoint. While traveling has several benefits besides having fun with family or friends, being careless while on vacation can lead to some really bad experiences.
Following are the top 5 tips for staying safe when you travel, to help you have a fulfilling and happy vacation
1. Have Thorough Medical Check-up – in our enthusiasm for planning on the places we will be visiting, or the new cuisines we will be experiencing, we tend to ignore the importance of having a medical checkup before leaving on our vacation. Before you leave, see your doctor and have a thorough medical exam to make sure that you’re in good health during your stay in a foreign country.
It is also important to remember that some countries require you to have certain vaccinations prior to your arrival, as failure to do so will result in you being denied entrance into the country.
2. Keep an Electronic Record of All Your Documents – carrying all your documents safely is essential if you want your travels to go smoothly. While it is important that you have the originals to produce when necessary in the country you are traveling to, it is also a good idea to keep an electronic copy of them too, such as your passport, flight tickets, travel insurance and so forth, in case you lose the originals at some point.
3. Avoid Showing-Off or being “Flashy” – traveling is not the time to flaunt your expensive pieces of jewelry or wear flashy clothes. Dress to fit in with the crowds instead, so that you won’t be exposing yourself to would-be muggers or pickpockets. Men should keep their wallets in an inside pocket and ladies should use a bag that they can hang over a shoulder and tuck under an arm, to prevent it from being snatched. If you stop at a restaurant, make sure to keep any bags and backpacks where you can see them all the time.
4. Make friends with the locals – while some people prefer doing their own thing during their vacation, making an effort to get along with the locals can go a long way to make your stay a much better and safer experience. Be friendly towards them and they will treat you the same. Another benefit of getting along with the local people where you are staying is the safety aspect – the new friends you make will help you if you are being threatened in any way.
5. Maintain a Schedule – by sticking to the routine you’ve set yourself for the day, you will avoid wasting a lot of precious time and possibly getting yourself into trouble. Go to the places you’ve planned on visiting, take breaks when you’re supposed to and make sure to be back at your place of accommodation before the sun goes down. The area you’re visiting might seem a pleasant, tourist-friendly place during the day, but could be extremely unsafe at night.
The whole idea of going on vacation is to take a break from the daily grind, experience new and exciting things, meet new people and come home feeling happy and rejuvenated. Use these top 5 tips for staying safe when you travel and your vacation will be all you expect it to be, and more.