I live in an area of Germany that makes it incredibly easy to take some awesome day trips. I can plan these trips out ahead of time, or I can just decide around lunch time on a Saturday that I feel like taking a jaunt down the Autobahn to go see something new. Whether I’ve planned ahead or ditched the couch on a whim, these are the items I consider to be essential for my day trips.
1. A fully charged battery in my digital camera
I easily take upwards of 400 pictures on my day trips. You don’t want your camera battery to die in the middle of your day and leave you without any documentation of the awesome view you wanted to take a picture of on your drive home.
2. A fairly large capacity for storage for the digital camera
A full memory card will ruin your day just a quickly as a dead camera battery. My memory card is large enough that it always outlasts the camera battery. Yeah, the battery is always fully charged when I set out on my trip, but I take so. many. pictures. My cell phone camera catches the last couple of hours of most of my trips. I have recently decided to start carrying my backup digital camera on these trips to avoid this.
3. A cross-body bag
You want your hands free to take pictures, read brochures, check your map, or eat that awesome gelato you just couldn’t resist. A cross-body bag slung across the FRONT of your body is essential to being able to keep your hands free and still feel like your purse and its contents are safe. Also, make sure you use a little common sense and don’t go wandering down any completely deserted alleys by yourself. You want to feel free to enjoy yourself, but you also need to practice a bit of caution if you are traveling alone.
4. Cash. Lots of it
Germany, along with a few other European countries, still doesn’t like to accept credit cards. I’m not saying ALL shops decline credit cards, but those that do accept them often impose a minimum purchase amount, or they will only accept a chip and pin card. American banks don’t issue those regularly, so unless you have a bank in Europe that issues that type of card, make sure you have plenty of Euro on hand.
5. A 50 cent Euro coin in my pocket
Pay toilets are very common here. It usually takes a 50 cent Euro coin to unlock the door to enter the restroom. After driving an hour or two and swigging water along the way, I am more than happy to shove a coin in a slot to use a clean restroom. Yes, I said clean. German public restrooms are oddly tidy. I’m not complaining.
6. A GPS
You’re not going to want to get lost on the way to your awesome day trip destination. You’ll just be wasting time that you could be using to kill your camera battery. Also, it’s handy for saving the location of where you parked your car. SIDENOTE: Pay attention to the hours of operation for any parking garages that you decide to park in. If the garage closes before you get back to your car, you are out of luck. Find a hotel, because you sure won’t be driving home that night.
7. Cell phone
I like to use travel apps on my phone to find the best places to eat while I’m out on my trips. I have found excellent gelato, fabulously cheap and delicious coffee, and great schnitzel using the Trip Advisor app on my Android phone. Just make sure you’re not roaming, though. That gets expensive in Europe. I buy a Sim card with a data plan when I cross the border into a new country. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than paying the roaming fees. I am able to do this because my cell phone plan came with an unlocked phone. Oddly enough, this seems to be the norm here.
8. Lip balm and sunscreen
Skin cancer sucks. Don’t be stupid.
9. Comfortable shoes
Blisters also suck. If you really must wear the cute shoes, make sure you’ve broken them in first. If not, the pain will cut your day short faster than your dead camera battery will.
10. A snack in my cross-body bag
Have I mentioned yet that I like to take a TON of pictures on my day trips? I have taken the worst. pics. ever. in the most beautiful cathedrals because I was starving and my hands were shaking so badly. I was just too excited about the sight-seeing to stop for a meal. I now carry at least one granola bar and one apple in my cross-body bag on every trip. Problem solved. That allows me to get back to killing that camera battery.
I hope that this list is helpful to you aspiring day-trippers. It’s not an extensive or all-inclusive list, but I consider all ten items to be absolutely essential to an enjoyable day of sightseeing in Europe.
What are your day trip must-haves?