What to do on your First International Layover
Traveling overseas can be an exciting place especially if you are visiting a country for the first time. However, when your layover is only 23 hrs, you have only 9 hours to squeeze in site seeing, shopping, and eating. With this short amount of time, one will have to do some research before traveling over the pond.
I am the typical person who wants to immerse myself in the city. Having this enthusiasm is terrific. However, it might not always be possible.
I have come up with the best plan on how to maximize your time in a new city and to give you ideas on what to do on your next visit.
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Critical Steps to do before you visit Europe.
What Type of Transportation To Use When Visiting Europe for the First Time
Check to see if they have any type of walking, bike or bus tour. These typically allow you to maximize your time and hit all of the significant landmarks. I mean nobody wants to skip the Eiffel Tower the first time they visit Paris right? My favorite go-to mode of transportation is City Sightseeing Hop off Hop on tour. This company is the world’s leading tour group and has about 100 countries and six continents.
If you are great at your research you might find that other cities might have a local more tailored way of seeing the city, so be my guest and book something that fits your need. A great place to find tours would be Viator.com.
What To Eat When Visiting International Destinations
Dining out is my favorite part of visiting another country. I love how a city develops their unique taste through their interactions with people of different nationalities. For example, London is obsessed with tea, and they only drink about 60 billion cups a year. Their love affair with tea was first mentioned during the Stuart Restoration (1660) when China exported green tea. Just that simple moment in history makes tourist around the country want to have high tea just like the Queen of England.
So how do you become a food historian in such a short amount of time? Let me tell you my secrets below.
I love watching the food and travel channel, and most of their shows combine these two love affairs. With that in mind, I have narrowed down my two favorite journalists and start with their suggestions.
He might be most known for his Bizarre Foods shows, but please don’t forget about his Delicious Destinations episodes. Before I go to a town, I do a quick google search to see if he has any suggestions on where to eat. Even if the recommendations are far away, at least I have an idea of what is popular.
Anthony Bourdain (RIP):
To say that he was great at describing food with words that would be an understatement, he was brilliant. He describes each place with such passion and gives you the heart of the city especially the culinary side.
After gathering a bit of their option I hop on over to Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, to get their take on an international city that I am visiting. From that quick research, I have a pretty good idea of what I should eat and might have found a couple of restaurants to visit.
Where to Shop when Traveling Over Seas!
I think shopping is my second favorite thing, and finding something that is unique to a specific city is fantastic. I always start with a quick google search.
“ What to buy when visiting (insert your country/city here).”
Typically you can start gathering a great idea of what is popular in that particular city. For example, I searched for “what to buy when visiting France,” and the first page gave me a plethora of ideas. So I click each link to open them up in tabs and do a quick scroll to see what are the same common factors. My second search might be “Popular brands in Paris,” which will give me an idea of what brands might be cheaper in this country than in the United States.
From this point, you can get an idea of what to purchase and depending on your interest you can narrow your search down by luxury items, wines, liquors, soups, textiles you name it! The search possibilities are endless.
While you are on your trip:
When flying to your international location, it is always lovely to talk to people to see if they have any information about your final destination. First always start with the crew you are flying with or maybe a passenger on the flight. A good ole conversation does not hurt, and you might learn something your google search did not pick up.
When I get to my hotel, I always open up my Yelp App to see if they have any 4 to 5-star restaurants around me. I like to stay with those type of ratings because I know that the food will be okay. Also, you never know if they have a Yelp event going on where you can mix and mingle with the locals.d
Make sure that you have downloaded Google Translate and a Currency Converter. Even though you might feel like you have researched the city extensively, you might come to realize that not everybody speaks English and It might be difficult to maneuver your way around the city. I do this all the time in New York City when tourists are looking for directions but start talking to me in their native language.
Currency can be a critical issue, especially if you forget :) Can you imagine buying something that you think is USD 20 because you see a EURO 20 on the price tag. There is no problem searching real quick to see exactly how much that item cost because you don’t want to get home and look at your bank statement and see that it cost USD 40 to USD 50.
Buying Items in Duty - Free
Duty-Free sometimes is my favorite place to shop when you are working. Sometimes the stores give you discounts because you are an airline employee so not only could that item be cheaper at the airport than in the states, you can get a little bit of a discount also! Save that money, honey.
I hope this detailed outline helps you maximize your time when you are visiting a city on your layover. Hopefully, when you do your initial searches, you take notes and can explore different neighborhoods and areas a bit better. The best thing to do is to take advantage of your trips because that is one of the main reasons why we are in this profession.
What is your favorite thing to buy overseas?