Life lessons of a European traveler

For anyone that is interested in traveling to Europe soon or anytime in the future, I thought I’d share some personal insights and lessons that I learned after traveling this summer. They may or may not be helpful to you, but enjoy nonetheless!


You will have culture shock. Do not try to escape it. Just embrace it and you’ll be ok.

Really, it is possible to live without texting for 2 months. I did it and lived to tell about it.

Did you know you can make friends without Facebook? Seriously!

Life goes on without social media access. In fact, if you lose your life when you lose social media, you may need to rethink a few things…

Figure out all your travel plans before you leave. Buying tickets last minute killed my bank account.

But…buying tickets last minute is often inevitable. Plan to spend more than you originally budgeted.

No American should ever drive in England.

No Britain should ever drive in America.

Do NOT make up words. If you don’t know it, just don’t say anything. Just smile (just not at single men; not the best idea in Europe)

Mimicking a British accent may be fun, but you may be thought as an idiot. Keep your accent. People will naturally be interested about where you’re from.

Don’t touch the fruit at the fruit stands! Only the stand owner picks up the fruit and bags it for you.

The iPhone is the most popular phone in Europe. Hands down.

Speedos are the male bathing suit of choice in Europe (the scariest part of that sentence are the words “of choice.”)

Would you lick a major highway in NYC? Then don’t swim in the Venice waterways.

Going to Nottingham does not guarentee sighting Robin Hood. or men in tights.

If you travel, go visit and stay with missionaries or nationals. You’ll be emerged more into the true culture, and meeting other Bodies of Christ around the world is eye-opening and humbling.

When you visit with other Christians around the world, GET OUT OF YOUR BOX. You will never learn anything by visiting people that look exactly like you.

Do not mention your affinity for Starbucks to any Italian. You will lose reputation and all respectability.

Most English brands keep their name. Like Hello Kitty. Do not ask if in Spain it is Hola Gato. You will be scorned with laughter.

Suggesting to play “Mafia” at an Italian get-together may not be the most popular choice.

Italians really do say “Mama mia!”

America did beat England in the War of Independence in 1776. Don’t suggest a 4th of July party with the neighbors.

Bidets do exist and Europeans do use them. But be prepared to be confused on “how in the world does this work!??”

Expect to pay to use any public bathroom.

Whenever you set out to do something new, expect to do it wrong the first time. You’ll get it right on your second trip. hopefully.

One can never have too much gelato.

The best Italian pizza is kabab meat with greek yogurt and mozzarella.

When you eat a meal in Spain, do not expect tortilla chips, salsa and a mariachi band. This is Spain, not Don Pablos.

“Tortilla” in Spain is actually a potato-type pie. I never once had a flour tortilla or chips and salsa.

If you visit Spain, go to Toledo. If England, go to London. If Italy, go to Venice (or Tuscany, or Rome, or Siciliy…)

It’s true. Italian food is supreme.

Last but not least, be a Gumbi traveler.



Be Flexible!


  1. Christy · August 31, 2011

    I love these!

  2. Ken Jackson · August 31, 2011

    Outstanding observations

  3. Jaclyn Ong · June 4, 2013

    Gumby! What a perfect analogy. 🙂 I will definitely tuck these little tidbits away. Someday I’ll go to Holland to visit my relatives. And I also hope to visit Italy & Paris. I am most looking forward to meeting my relatives & being totally culture-shocked 🙂 I love seeing how other people live every day.

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