1. Buy the Coke. Water is just as expensive.
One thing that we don’t love about Europe is the expensive water. The Netherlands actually has one of the cleanest tap water in Europe but in Berlin and Belgium we started getting the Coke because if they’re the same price why wouldn’t you!? They don’t call it Diet Coke there it’s Coca-Cola Light and it has a little bit of a different taste but it helps getting some caffeine in for those long walking days.
2. If you do get water, ask for still unless you want sparkling.
I learned this the hard way when ordering water and the waitress brought out sparkling. Ryan was cracking up and I wasn’t about to spend 4 euro for nothing, so I forced it down. Plus I knew I needed the hydration. Maybe you love sparkling water though, go you! I don’t. If you want normal water always ask for still water. I still think that waitress did it on purpose, she was not a very nice waitress.
3. Bring a small backpack or purse for during the day.
I totally forgot to bring a small purse to hold my camera, maps, or bags of stroop waffles throughout the day. I bought a cheap one at an H&M and I used it every day after that!
4. Backpacks and mesh packing bags are essential!
We are officially a backpacking family. They are SO much more easy to manage when traveling around. After dragging our suitcases in the sand in Koh Rong last year, we knew we needed to change. We have these Osprey Farpoint 40 Travel Backpacks and love how they zip open all the way like a suitcase. We got them on sale for $115 so keep your eyes on them (use Keepa!). We also got mesh bags that organized our shirts, pants, and underwear. It was so easy to pack up and keep everything organized.
5. Don’t stress about planning everything.
Book the big events that sell out quickly but we found it better to choose excursions along the way. We did a bit of research beforehand to know the main things to see but our favorite adventures were all from looking at the map or talking to the tourist companies or even just walking around and seeing it off the street!
6. Keep your school ID with you.
It will get you half price tickets into certain museums. You probably have to look young enough to be a student though. 😉 Ryan had his but I didn’t, but they gave me the student discount when Ryan mentioned I didn’t have mine with me.
7. Definitely buy the Anne Frank Museum tickets in advance and go early in the morning.
We went at 9:15 AM with tickets bought online and got straight in. Later that day we saw the line go around the building next door, no fun! Rijksmuseum is another busy one, the lady said it gets most busy when it’s windy/rainy. So maybe go on a sunny day when it’s not so crowded. That is another one you could buy in advance and skip the line but it wasn’t too long.
If you want a picture alone with the I Amsterdam sign, show up before 8:30 AM. It is empty!
8. Buy fake eyelashes and look awesome in photos!
Maybe this is just me but I have horrible eyelashes and in photos they are almost invisible, even with maskara. Last year in Thailand I did eyelash extensions which were very nice but pretty expensive. This year I decided to take a trip to Sephora and try out some fake eyelashes. They were perfect! It took about 3 times to perfect the process of getting them on so make sure to practice beforehand. By the end of the trip, I could get them on on the first try and it only took about 5 minutes. I bought these eyelashes and this adhesive. I asked for a more natural look but they still were thick enough to make a big difference in photos.
My tip: I learned less glue is better, I was globbing too much and it wouldn’t dry fast enough at first. Also, buy an oily-based makeup remover to help get the glue off at night and q-tips to get excess glue off the eyelashes. This is the one I used. Mine lasted about 20-25 uses and by the end I was getting lazy and not cleaning them off well. So worth it! Also, I would add liquid eyeliner to the ends of my eye and right above the fake eyelashes to hid where they ended and helped make everything come together.
9. When planning flights, book it to land in the morning/early.
Then you’ll have time to figure out the public transportation system and information desks are open to ask questions. You’ll have time to hit the new city’s big things and get a feel of what else you want to see. We learned you definitely want to fly early in the day when jumping between countries. The day is killed if it’s in the afternoon or evening because you’re just waiting for the flight to come and stressed about missing it.
And that’s it! Those are the 9 things we learned while on our trip!