1. Get a credit card with a no fees on travel outside of the country.
I cannot stress this one enough. I got a Bank of America travel credit card before leaving for my trip which really was one of the best decisions I could have made. This credit card has no fees on the transactions you will make while being abroad and on the online statement they automatically transfer the conversion rate from Euros to USD. I had a friend who just bought her debit card that she usually uses at home and she ended up having to pay a hefty fee for every transaction she put on her card. Just save yourself the trouble and get a travel card.
2. Always have cash on you.
Having cash on you at all times is essential in Italy. Some small shops and stores do not take credit card. If you want to make sure you can get that espresso or that gelato, make sure you have cash. Nothing is worse then not having enough Euros on hand when you are in desperate need of a gelato! You’re also going to need it so that you can bargain with the vendors at the market.
3. Don’t try to wave down a taxi.
Italy is not NYC — you cannot wave or whistle at a taxi and expect them to stop, because they won’t. You must call the taxi’s phone number and tell the car where to pick you up. This is the only way! There are also other means of transportation that you can take while traveling Europe. Many Europeans use buses, trains, bicycles, and walking on a daily basis!
4. Don’t order a cappuccino after 11.
Every morning I would stop at Caffè Le Torri to pick up my cappuccino and croissant. If you order a cappuccino past 11 o’clock, locals are going to know immediately you are not Italian. They do not drink cappuccini in Italy after 11 AM because they think it is too much milk at that point in the day. If you are in need of an afternoon pick-me-up, try a macchiato. It’s an espresso shot with a splash of milk — I had about three a day. My favorite place for a macchiato was right outside of the Pitti Palace called JT Caffe.
5. Cross-body bags should be the only purse you bring.
Pickpocketing can be common in many cities around Europe and can happen anywhere, but it also can be prevented. When traveling around, you really should only bring out what you are comfortable losing. Wearing a cross-body bag can help you prevent becoming a victim by having all of your stuff on your body and in front of you so you are in control of your belongings. Being in a large crowds with a lot of people is a common place where pickpocketing can occur. Once, when it almost happened to me, I was on my way home from getting gelato with another student and we both saw out of the corner of our eyes that there was a man coming up behind us really close. We both instantly pulled our cross-body bags in front of us and held them close. Immediately, the man took off and started walking the other way.