I’ve done some traveling in the last few years- abroad and domestic. I’ve seen a lot and I’ve learned a lot. I’m no expert, but if you’re looking for some advice on your next trip, I’ve got it for you! Here’s a few things I’ve learned over the years…
Call your bank beforehand.
- This may seem obvious, but I know people who have NOT done this and had major issues while overseas. Call your bank at least a week before your trip and tell them exactly WHERE you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and that you may be using your card while there. This prevents your bank thinking someone stole your card cancelling it while you are there.
- This is another reason to take out CASH and avoid this predicament completely. But even if you are taking out cash, I suggest doing this, just in case you get in a predicament and need to use your card.
Get the country’s currency in cash as soon as you arrive.
- It is much easier to exchange cash while traveling than trying to use your debit/credit card and risking it might not go through. I have had many bank/card issues traveling in the few times I’ve had tried to use my card overseas. It also helps you blend in a little better. 😉
- Even if you are traveling in the U.S., I suggest taking out cash beforehand. Before I went to NYC this past summer, I called my bank and let them know exactly the dates I’d be in the city, and what do you know…I get to NYC and my card won’t work! And I was in the same country! Talk about frustrating. TAKE OUT CASH!
- Yes, I am the QUEEN of over-packing. I still overpack. But I learned the hard way to not overpack! I went to Greece in 2014, and when we got to Athens, we had to walk probably 5 miles to our hotel, IN THE RAIN, with all of our luggage in hand. It. Was. Awful. The trip I took the next year, I packed a carry-on suitcase for a six week trip to Europe and that’s it. And I tell you what…I was the ONLY one on the trip who did and was also the only one who had an easy time getting through train stations, carrying my luggage to our hotel, etc. It was so worth it. Lol.
- What to pack? Neutrals. Things you can mix and match. My carry-on suitcase was very strategic. I packed a couple of different black/white/striped shirts/blouses and a pair of black jeans, denim jeans, black leggings, and two pairs of shoes. I suggest some sort of sneaker (I chose converse that went with everything I packed) and I brought boots. I brought two jackets, one light weight, and one a little more comfy. I also brought 2-3 cardigans that would go with every shirt I brought. Easy. Mix and matched for six weeks and still looked good!
- Trust me on this one. DON’T OVERPACK!
Strategically plan your “extra” bag if going on a plane.
- Okay, this is probably the best thing I’ve learned traveling. Seriously. The first time I went to Paris, I packed EVERYTHING in my suitcase, and brought my purse on the plane. I had a book, some makeup, headphones, etc. This was my first time overseas so really it wasn’t my fault…I was a newbie.
- Fast forward to us landing in Paris and our luggage WAS LOST! I had NOTHING except the clothes I was wearing and what was in my purse. Long story short, I had to sleep in and then rewear the outfit I wore on the plane for 9 hours (ew) when we got to our hotel and went out the next day. Thank goodness, our luggage arrived on our second day there. But what if it hadn’t?!
- LISTEN TO MY WORDS- PACK FOR A FULL DAY IN YOUR EXTRA BAG. Bring a change of clothes, anything you need to get ready for bed/ready for the day, mini disposable toothbrushes, phone charger, deodorant, etc. If your luggage happens to get lost or gets delayed, you will thank yourself! I also love to do this for long flights so I can change after sleeping and feel a little less gross. I’m able to wash my face, take out my contacts, reapply my makeup, change clothes, and feel fresh on a long flight before we arrive.
Know the customs and culture.
- Whether you’re going to East Texas or France, there are certain cultural rules and expectations that you should RESPECT and put in some effort towards. It’s important to be aware of these, because you are visiting THEIR home..especially if you’re going overseas and that group of people has a vastly different way of doing things than we do over here in the U.S.
- For instance, I learned (from the great Dt. T.) that in France, it is considered respectful to greet business/restaurant/etc. employees or owners when you enter that place of business. For the French, entering their place of business is equal to entering their home-imagine walking into someone’s house with no greeting. A simple “bonjour” will suffice. However, NOT doing this…you are either quickly figured out to be a tourist or considered rude, and trust me, you will get much better service if you just say hi!
Go with the flow.
- It is great to have a plan. I encourage you to plan ahead on places you want to experience wherever you are going, but it is important to NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN YOUR PLAN!
- I can’t tell you how many times travel plans have gone astray for me on trips…the metro stop we need being closed, the subway getting delayed, the place you want to go being closed when you get there, getting in a train wreck (yes, that actually happened to me in Greece), etc. There’s always going to be something!
- It’s important to have a “go with the flow” attitude, because there WILL be something unexpected. That’s part of the experience! Have a good attitude, come up with a back up plan, and don’t let it ruin your trip or your day.
- Some of the funniest and most memorable stories I have from traveling are when things went wrong. I also have some of the best memories from “backup plans” that weren’t planned, where we ended up having so much fun doing something else.
Be in the moment.
- On the first overseas trip I went on to Paris, I was SO caught up in buying travel trinkets, taking a thousand pictures of every place we went, etc. Part of that came from the excitement of going overseas for the first time. However, the next trip I went on, I reflected on how much I seemed to be on my phone and made it a priority to really be in the moment on my next few trips.
- Take your pictures, because you might be experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime trip. However…don’t let your “proof of the experience” overtake you actually EXPERIENCING it with your own eyes. I personally love to update on my travels via social media…but don’t let it consume you. Put your phone down. Take in the mountains, the Eiffel Tower, the historical place you are at. It is so much more meaningful in the end. Be where you are.
That’s all for now! I hope that if you are traveling somewhere new, or traveling somewhere for the first time, that these few tips help you. I learned them the hard way in most cases, so I hope to pass on some knowledge so maybe YOU don’t learn these lessons the hard way!
Travel smart and travel often. I’ll be creeping your pictures if you do. 🙂