I have been traveling since I was eight. Granted most of it has been through airports and from USA to Bulgaria. But these journeys have taught me many things, a few I am happy to share as little nuggets of truth and tips as you embark on your own journey wherever that may take you.
1) Always pack lighter than you want
No matter what, you will ALWAYS regret packing that large suitcase. This year on our way to Bulgaria we stopped in Paris for three days. Our apartment was on the 5th floor, with these narrow winding old steps that by the first flight up I was ready to just abandon all my luggage and pretend I didn't have any. Not to mention that by the time you get to the airport and to the apartment and then have to do the same thing for the next three weeks every couple of days... it becomes a tiresome chore. I am now determined to pack EVEN lighter next time. Anyone want to go backpacking with me?
2) Always learn a few words in the native language. Say Please and Thank You!
I learned French in High school and seeing as I just had my ten year reunion this year, you can bet that I barely remember anything. I started up my DUOLINGO app and started relearning it as much as I can. Surprisingly a lot more started coming to me as I put myself in that mindset. Like kicking off dust, suddenly words and phrases came back. Did that mean I could hold full conversations? Hell no! But I was able to read it and understand enough to get by. I was able to ask questions when I really needed to. And always thank those that helped, served, or offered a friendly hello. Saying even that much in the native language of the country you are visiting goes a long way.
3) Be patient and keep an eye out. Meaning, things get delayed and things aren't always marked correctly. Ask politely and things will sing your way. Do your research because somethings are not always as expected. In Bulgaria, for example, to reserve a room, it's enough that you just call and say your name and that's it. No deposit, to holds, just your name and a phone call.
4) You will do a lot of walking. Bring comfy shoes. My shoes of choice were crocs. The cute flats kind that basically saved my life. Don't be worried about fashion when you are adventuring for hours through cute little streets of Paris (or wherever life takes you). Also, sometimes it's better to pack a sandwich so you can see more. In Paris in particular it was hard finding a place to sit for lunch or dinner without having to look for a while. More to see that way, too.
5) Don't expect to be anywhere on time. I missed so many trains and buses this summer. Some were my fault, some not, but that meant that I would suddenly have all this extra time to kill. So what do I do? Bring a book, an audiobook, and make sure I had enough data to do some proper facebook stalking and instagram updating and snapchat ranting (someone had to know what a doofus I was for missing my rides.)
Got any tips for when you go traveling? Share them below in the comments! And keep an eye out for photos both from Paris and Bulgaria in the next few posts, too!