Who needs travel guidebooks, advice books, and novels when you can just learn all you need about traveling Europe from just watching movies?
It seems like so many movies deal with travel (especially in Europe) that I feel like I’ve already done a lot of traveling. I can recognize landmarks and feel like I’ve walked the streets of all of the world’s major cities. The only things that make me sure that I haven’t yet traveled extensively are my lack of souvenirs, non-existent tourist photos, and the fact that my bank account isn’t crying out in anguish.
But now, for the first time in the twenty five years I’ve spent on this planet, I’m finally striking out and leaving the U.S.A. for the first time. I’m taking myself on a guided tour through major cities in Western Europe. I’ve read a few books on traveling Europe (such as my personal favorite, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day), but I’ve mainly been watching movies to prepare for my adventure.
In my preparation, I’ve watched a few Mary-Kate and Ashley movies (Winning London is my all-time fave), some classic movies like Roman Holiday, a few comedies, and The Lizzie McGuire Movie (obviously), among others. So now, I feel more than ready to travel for a month around Europe.
Out of everything I’ve gleaned from the films, these are the most important lessons I’ve learned about traveling Europe.
You’ll end up dating that cute guy you met at the beginning of your trip
Regardless of if the relationship works out in the long run (although it usually does for both Mary-Kate and Ashley), I feel like it’s an unspoken rule that, when traveling, people always start dating that attractive person they locked eyes with as soon as the trip began. It’s practically a scientific law at this point. I just hope I don’t look creepy when I start staring at a hot guy as soon as I land in London, willing him to look back at me.
It’s impossible not to run into high profile people when you’re out and about
Princesses, pop stars, lords… Europe is practically overrun with important famous people, at least according to all of the movies I’ve watched. It makes sense, though, given how beautiful and culturally rich all of the European countries are. I’d visit the countries frequently too if I were rich and famous. When I’m overseas, I expect to see at least once high-profile person a day. I don’t think that’s expecting too much, especially since Lizzie McGuire ran into a world-famous pop star by just walking down the street in Rome.
Traveling between locations or countries doesn’t take all that long
In fact, neither really does the trip from the U.S. to Europe. Travel really only takes as long as drawing a line from place to place on a map or a “having fun on the plane with a friend” montage. That, and it’s always smooth sailing. No missed flights, trains, or buses in Europe! That’s just not a thing.
You need to be fashionable in order to travel Europe
Junk clothing and scummy days are no-gos in Europe. The least fashionable anyone is really ever allowed to get is by wearing a pair of jeans and a plain shirt. Everyone on the continent has a great fashion sense and puts it on display daily, including tourists. If you don’t have a sense of fashion, there are tons of stores to shop from and put together a few new outfits. There are also a ton of stores that offer ludicrous high fashion pieces that are worthy of being made fun of (such as the weird dresses in Winning London).
Traveling by vespa is the thing to do
Audrey Hepburn did it. Lizzie McGuire did it. Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen definitely did it. It seems like every movie that is set in a European country (or two) features the main characters riding off on a vespa (or motorcycle of some kind) at some point. And the main characters aren’t the only ones! Locals and other background actors hop on them fairly often as well. If Europe in real life is anything like it is in the movies, I’m going to have to be extra vigilant about watching where I’m going!
Popular touristy spots are never really all that crowded
Contrary to what my friends have told me or what I see from professional news sources, I don’t think popular touristy spots are ever really all that crowded. Whenever movies show well-known sites, they’re almost always free of crowds, making it quick and easy to see what you want to see. In fact, in the movies, all photos taken in front of landmarks and famous sites don’t show a single person walking around in the background. I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I am to not have to worry about photo-bombers when I’m traveling!
All of the locals are super nice
From giving advice on the best place to eat to lending a helping hand to a struggling tourist in need, movies demonstrate just how kind locals can be. Sure, there are a few snobs every now and again, but that’s the case pretty much everywhere you go. In all of the movies I’ve ever watched about traveling Europe and being a tourist, very few cast a negative light on locals.
The shopping (and food) is beyond amazing
When in Rome (or London or Paris or Barcelona), eat and shop! It’s as simple as that. If there’s anything that movies about traveling Europe has taught me, is that any trip overseas involves lots and lots of shopping and eating. After all, where else am I going to find a giant wheel of cheese or a crazy cool dress or a mini Eiffel tower? Thanks to movies, I know to only pack my suitcase halfway so that I can fill the rest with souvenirs, edible and otherwise!
It’s impossible to book bad accommodations
Even the smallest, most hole-in-the-wall living spaces are cute and comfortable. And even if your room is tiny, you can just trade a few American goods to a fellow (non-American) tourist for their more spacious room. Done deal. But seriously though, with beautiful cities and sights right outside of your hotel or hostel window, it just doesn’t seem possible for bad accommodations to really exist.
Improper outlet usage leads to disaster
Just Married scarred me for life when it first came out. You know, that movie with Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy? The scene where Ashton Kutcher creates a power outage for the whole village by trying to plug a sex toy incorrectly into an outlet has really stuck with me. It has made me more aware of my devices and really vigilant in terms of making sure that I have all of my power needs covered. Everyone planning on traveling Europe should have to watch that scene. It’s very educational.
If middle school and high school kids can make it through their trip, so can I.
Traveling Europe seems so daunting but the movies just make it seem so easy. How easy? Well the majority of the movies that have informed my opinions and expectations on traveling Europe feature pre-teens and young adults doing it effortlessly. Sure, there are a few hiccups here and there, but they’re able to figure things out no problem. That means that, as a twenty-five year old adult, I should be able to do the whole traveling Europe thing twice as well. So thank you, movies, for giving me the confidence boost I need to go out and see the world. (And hey, who knows, maybe I’ll wind up becoming an accidental pop star like Lizzie McGuire!)
In all serious, though, I’m thankful to movies for giving me an idea of what to expect (and what definitely not to expect) when I’m abroad. I look forward to finally seeing all of the sights with my own two eyes. See ya in a month, America!