How to vacation like a European

Planning a Parisian trip? Book during the shoulder season, Brown advises. Credit: Fuse
Planning a Parisian trip? Book during the shoulder season, Brown advises.
Credit: Fuse

Forget everything you’ve read about planning a European trip: It’s not practical to cram every museum, landmark and eatery into your weeklong vacation. It’s better to have a routine and only hit two big things a day, suggests the Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown.

“Always overprepare,” Brown says, “but never over-schedule.”

Sure, you should hit famous European museums — such as The Louvre in Paris and London’s British Museum — but “don’t spend all your time in the past,” Brown says.
“You’re there to enjoy what’s happening now. Don’t feel like you have to go to every museum,” she says. “It’s perfectly acceptable to spend an hour in the Louvre. Waiting in line is not the French experience.”

Also, curb Instagramming or Facebooking every aspect of your trip, she advises, and slow down.

“Let your own sense of discovery take you places,” Brown adds. “Sit down at a cafe because you want to be there.”

And take an hour or so to walk the neighborhoods each day. Have a glass of wine at a cafe you just stumble upon. It’s important to not only feel like you’re on vacation, but to feel like you belong.

Book smart
Start researching your trip about six months out and book it a month after that, Brown suggests. Set up alerts through travel websites on when fares change. Book a red-eye flight; you can get that first night’s sleep on the plane. Go during “shoulder seasons” — the time between high and low season.

Research
Take notes on what you want to do and what you’d like to see, but be OK with throwing it all out the window.

“When I get to a destination,” Brown says, “after the first day, I sit down with my maps and research and look at my trip from a realistic standpoint. Now you’re in reality; that’s going to change a lot. You can still be spontaneous with your research.”

What to pack, where to stay
Make sure you pack for the weather, but don’t go overboard. Comfortable shoes and layers are a must, but Brown advises against dressing like a tourist. “You can wear sneakers, you can wear jeans — just not at the same time.”

You want to dress as Europeans dress, Brown says. If you stand out as an American, that might attract pickpockets.

More tips

1. Exchange money when you get to Europe. Always carry cash.
2. Always know how to say “hello,” “please” and “thank you” in the native language. Don’t ask someone, “Do you speak English?” If you’re in Spain and need to ask a question, simply say “No hablo espanol — ingles?”
3. Go for a walk in the morning. Get coffee at the same place each day, Brown says, to establish a routine to make you feel like a local. “You get a great idea of what life is like there.”

The technical stuff
1. Make sure your passport is up to date and not nearing expiration.
2. Consider travel insurance for big trips, and check with your health-care provider to ensure you’re covered in Europe.
3. Check carry-on and luggage weights so you don’t incur extra fees overseas.

Brown’s faves
These are Brown’s favorite parts of some top European destinations.

1. Paris: Check out a small museum called The Musee de l’Orangerie, an art gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Here, you’ll find works by Monet, Picasso and more. You can tour it in about an hour.

2. London: Stop by cabmen’s huts when in England. They are small green huts that cab drivers used to stop at, park their cabs and get something to eat and drink. “It’s a slice of life,” Brown says.

3.Berlin: Kunsthaus Tacheles houses graffiti-style murals and art sculptures. “It’s a great place to see current local art.”

See Samantha Brown

Brown will join celebrities like Laura Bush, Whoopi Goldberg and Jay Leno this weekend at the biannual Life@50+ National Event & Expo at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.
On Saturday, she will talk about the new AARP Travel Experience and give advice on places to see, trip ideas and of course, travel tips. Admission for AARP members is $25, $35 for non-members. The entry fee includes admission for all three days of workshops, which also features session on service, lifestyle and more. Visit www.aarp.org/events or call 1-800-650-6839 for more information.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Local

De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.