Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Travel Tips

This is way overdue, but these are just some general tips I've picked up and learned from trial and error.

  • Spend at least 2 nights everywhere you go. It's easy to want to see everything, but you'll just feel rushed and stressed and not see a lot in the places you go.
  • Do plan ahead. Try not to just show up somewhere and go to the Tourist Office. I've done this a lot, and it's fine, but you just end up wasting valuable time and getting confused. Especially if you're with other people. I like guidebooks, because everything's in one place (try libraries so you don't have to buy them!). Googling and reading forums is also helpful, but can be overwhelming. There are some good free travel guides too for a lot of cities.
  • But be flexible. Things change, that place you want to see might be closed, or you may want to stay longer in one place and skip another. Talk to people at your hostels or hotels for suggestions.
  • Research your transportation options. Trains in Italy were cheap and last minute tickets cost the same. Germany's expensive but if you plan ahead and find discount options it's okay. Buses are usually cheaper and not much slower. Look for other passes if you'll be there a while - like Germany's 5 days in 2 weeks passes for young adults.
  • Bring you student ID.
  • HostelBookers and HostelWorld are great. Trust the reviews and the rating system. I can put up with a lot, but it's nice to know what to expect. Sometimes booking directly on the hostel's website can save you a couple dollars.
    • best hostel country: Portugal 
    • worst: Italy 
    • most expensive: Germany
    • cheapest: eastern Europe, Turkey
  • Try couch surfing and ride sharing, especially in expensive Scandinavia and western European countries.
  • Don't be afraid to travel alone! It's less stressful, you can do what you want, and you'll be more likely to meet people! Sometimes I picked hostels just because they were deemed good places to meet people, and the comments were always right! I had my best and most fun experiences traveling alone, and I'm bad at meeting people. Plus, you feel pretty awesome navigating transportation and everything in a different language.
  • Shop at grocery stores. A lot of hostels have kitchens, but even if they don't you can get things like bread, cheese, yogurt, fruit, etc. Picnics are great and cheap. Plus, I love grocery stores so exploring them is as good as sight seeing in my eyes.
  • Either embrace to selfie or get people to take pictures of you if you're alone. Yes, it's awkward but it's worth it to have those memories documented (or just make friends with other travelers. They understand.)
  • Get out of your comfort zone every day. Whether that's trying a new food, going to a random club till 6am the day after you ran a half marathon and didn't sleep with people you just met 10 minutes ago, or going on a difficult hike. These are the experience you'll value forever.
  • Balance culture and fun. Museums, tours (check out, night life, physical activity. 
    • I love going for runs in new cities. You get to see it before the tourists are out, you understand the layout of the city better, and often stumble upon hidden gems tucked away next to the famous stuff.
  • Choose what's important to pay for.
    • If you take the time and effort to plan, you'll be less likely to waste money! Eat a couple special restaurant meals, but it's easy to eat cheap with street food and grocery stores. This may mean that you will be eating gelato for lunch, but hey, you're in Italy.
  • most of all, HAVE FUN! Don't let little things stress you out. Almost everyone is more than willing to help you out, so use common sense and make the most of your trip!

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