London, Paris, and Edinburgh. Three cities. Three weeks. Three break downs. Lets be honest about travel-- it's never what you quite expect. It always costs a little bit more than expected, you always find your self in a stressful mad dash, someone ends up in tears. I have to admit when I came home I looked in my bank account and couldn't help but ask is it all worth it?
I've put together some tips and some tricks to make your trip as tearless as possible-- Unless those are tears of awe at Lady Liberty Leading the People. Most of these are fairly simple and only for people who are new to planning trips.
1. When traveling internationally you want to figure out your phone situation. Does your plan allow you to travel internationally? Make sure you or one travel buddy does. There's nothing more stressful than trying to make curfew at the nunnery you are sleeping at in Florence (It's a real thing) and not having a map. Without an international plan you can still manage in patches of WIFI, but it can be quite stressful when lost or separated from others. Definitely think about this if you are a young girl in a foreign country, bring a travel charger, and familiarize yourself with the map and any major land marks the minute your feet hit ground. We depend on our phones so much. I never anticipated the anxiety that can appear when you are alone and vulnerable in a place where no one speaks English.
2. Use Cash! Best budgeting tip is right here. Give yourself a limit for each day and only take that amount of cash out. It's so easy to become comfortable with the common swiping, then come home to the list of transactions staring at you when you get home. Sometimes I divide and conquer-- cash for food each day cards for less predictable activities like shopping or Farris Wheels.
3. Schedule your day with enough sleep and good food. You can definitely travel on a budget, but have a concept of food before you venture out. Don't underestimate a good night sleep and a full belly. Plan a couple days to sleep in and a few early to rise mornings. If you have a hard time getting out of bed before 8 am in America not much is going to change over the sea. I strongly encourage you to find the motivation to wake up and stay out as much as your body can handle, while still taking care of yourself.
4. Plan for days where you will bring your camera out and days where you'll leave it in the flat. No one likes it when your friend is constantly making you late from clicking away and not paying attention the whole trip, be here! In contrast, if you don't have your camera out and around your neck you might get lazy and never pull it out. Find your groove, find your balance. There are moments to take in the sunset and others to fossilize it with your camera. I'm guilty of both!
5. Lastly, you can run from your problems but you can't hide. Getting away can be the perfect break and needed space. But life is usually still there when you get home. Enjoy where you are whether that's home or away. Keep in mind that sometimes your problems step on the plane with you. It does't matter how many oceans you think you've put between the two sometimes. I've been very guilty of this. Travel is great of some new perspective and fresh eyes when you get home. Enjoy where you are-- enjoy people, food and culture. Be here now, and don't look back.
I love traveling because it pushes you to think in another mind set. You are on your game and elements are out of your control. Culture shock is a real thing, embrace it. Embrace being uncomfortable, share it with the people you're with. Don't just go to shop, get into the museums and read up on the history and art work you are seeing. It will make your adventure so much more meaningful and worth the work you put in to get there. I wish traveling was for everyone, I don't know if thats true yet. But I do know that you will learn more about your self and the beautiful people in this world you would have never met otherwise!