Travelling to another country can be overwhelming. Different time zones, long flights, strange languages, cuisine and customs can all be quite unnerving. But fear not, here are our top tips to get by in Barcelona, as an American:
Invest in a map
Unless you’re made out of money and can afford the astronomical data charges your service provider will charge you for having access to online maps throughout Europe, it is worthwhile investing in a good map of the city.
Once you’ve got your map in hand, study it and work out some landmarks and interesting places that you want to visit.
If you want to use GoogleMaps, the trick is to find a place where there is free Wi-Fi (most cafes, restaurants or your hotel) and get the directions you need. Leave the app open and you should be able to still utilise the directions without an internet connection.
Related article: Best transport apps in Barcelona
I don’t mean through meditation, although it’s not such a bad idea either. Mark your accommodation on your map and pay attention to what is around you – where is the beach, where are the mountains etc. These landmarks will help you find your way around Barcelona.
Learn some basic Spanish
Most guidebooks will contain some basic words and phrases that you can use and, of course, there are apps for your smartphone or iPad that will help you with the local lingo. A little bit of language goes a long way. Even if Spain is only one stop on a long European itinerary, it’s worth learning the basics. Although often encountered in the hospitality and tourism industries, English is not as widely spoken in Spain as it is in other European countries, so being able to say ‘please’, thank you’, ‘how much?’, ‘where is?’ and ‘help!’, are useful words and phrases that you could easily commit to memory during the flight from the US.
Public transportation in Barcelona, is often times superior to the United States. In Barcelona, especially, the metros are regular, reliable, clean and air-conditioned (you’d die in the summer if they weren’t). In fact, during the summer, the metros are one of the coolest (temperature wise) places to be in the city.
Travel throughout Barcelona is cheap with one single journey costing a quarter of the price you’d pay in other European cities, such as London.
Cabs are expensive in comparison and are really unnecessary in a city where the transport system works so well.
Related article: Barcelona Public Transport
Roll with the punches
Travelling can be stressful. All kinds of things can go wrong, from missed flights to pickpockets to unexpected costs.
Prepare well for things going wrong (keep photocopies of passports, hide your valuables, exercise caution in public places, back-up photos from cameras and phones daily etc) but try to keep a level head and don’t let annoying things ruin your vacation. A missed flight might cost a few hundred bucks more; cancelling credit cards is irritating but these are minor blips and should stay that way if they’re not to ruin the entire vay cay.
So take a few precautions, keep a sense of humour and your trip to Barcelona should be one of the happiest times of your life.
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