After traveling in Rome and other parts of Italy and Europe for nearly six weeks, I thought it would be wise to share some of what I have learned while overseas. Here are some tips and tricks for traveling in Rome!
1. Pack an umbrella and a rain jacket.
Not only will an umbrella be useful for when it rains, but it will also bring some shade on those blazing hot summer days! Very useful, make sure to keep it with you!
2. Have some sunscreen and aloe.
It gets hot while you're here in the summer, and so wearing clothes that keep you cool are usually going to cover less skin. Therefore, sunscreen is important! And if you do end up burning, aloe is quite lovely to have on hand!
3. Phrase book.
Unless you've really studied Italian and can speak fluent sentences, having a pocket-sized phrase book can really come in handy! And if you don't want to spend the money on a book, at least do a little bit of research and know how to say common words and phrases. Good ones to know would be "Hello," 'Thank you," "Excuse me," "Where is the bathroom?" etc. This goes for anywhere else you might be traveling so you aren't totally lost.
4. Comfortable shoes.
Okay, this is so important. With the amount of walking you'll be doing, wearing shoes that aren't comfy isn't even logical. So make sure you pack comfy shoes! Your feet will thank you at the end of a long day!
5. Prepare for a lot of walking.
With the "comfy shoes" thing already being said, you need to prepare yourself for the amount of walking and stairs that you'll be taking, especially if you aren't doing much of it at home. Just go on some walks every day and take the stairs instead of the elevator. The little things can really make a difference!
6. Have your knees and shoulders covered when you visit churches.
As most of you know, there are churches all over Italy, especially Rome. Heck, Vatican City is the home of the pope! Many times, you won't be let into a church if your knees and shoulders aren't covered. Ladies, this means bringing a scarf or sweater if you're going to be wearing something that will be revealing, and guys, this usually means wearing pants.
7. Have your travel adapters.
Make sure you have your travel adapter with you for your plugs and outlets! From my experience, I haven't needed to use a voltage converter on anything unless I needed to use a hair straightener or hair dryer!
8. Supermarkets are awesome.
Supermarkets are the best, especially if you're traveling on a budget! Fresh fruit and cheap food is always a good way to go so if you find one, it's always nice to take advantage of one!
9. Stay hydrated.
This is extremely important! Especially if you're traveling in the summer months! One great thing about Rome is that they have free fountains all over the city that you can refill your water bottles from! It's awesome! Also, if you're not hydrated you just don't feel very well, and we don't want that, do we?
10. Exchange rates and fees with cards.
Make sure to pay attention to the exchange rates and the different fees associated with your debit/credit cards. If you remember this, you'll be less likely to maybe overdraw your bank account or be in shock when you see how much money has been withdrawn.
11. Call your bank before you leave.
Remember to call your bank before you leave home to put a travel notification on your account. This is to remind the bank that you're the one that's in Europe and your card isn't stolen. Also, make sure to tell them everywhere you're going, even if there's a random layover that's not in the United States. It's important that they know every place that you are traveling!
12. Validate your passes.
Make sure that you validate your train or bus passes before you go on a trip somewhere, because if you don't, it usually entails a 50 euro fine and that's money you could be spending on gelato.
13. If you're questioning whether to get gelato, the answer is always yes.
C'mon, this is totally obvious. You're in Italy and you can never miss out on a chance to indulge! Plus, it's always fun to compare flavors from different shops and see which one is the best!
14. No tipping, and no splitting bills.
Keep this in mind, because it's something that's definitely out of the ordinary. There is no tipping in Europe, and they don't split the bill when you eat as a group, so be prepared to cover the cost of what you eat!
15. There aren't really any condiments, or salad dressings either (I know, bummer).
This could be a crisis if you're the kind of person who smothers ranch dressing all over everything, but unfortunately for those of you who do that, the salad dressing used here is olive oil and vinegar! Don't be afraid to try it though, it's pretty good! And if you want condiments, they usually cost extra.
16. Public transport: convenient, but can be uncomfortable.
I'm definitely not a city girl, so being shoved on a bus or metro with tons of other strangers was definitely not my thing at first. Just be alert, keep one hand on your bag and watch for pickpockets.The ride will be over soon enough. But public transportation is a quick and easy way to get around the city!
Between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., small shops, stores, and restaurants take a siesta and close down. So keep this in mind when you go out for the day. It usually doesn't happen in the bigger parts of the city, just in small quiet areas!
18. Don't be afraid to get lost.
This is one of the best things Rome could've taught me. It's OK to wander around the city and find something new every day. It's all part of the experience. Plus, you're usually never too far from the metro or a bus stop so you can always find your way back home!