My love of traveling started when I was in college. My first out of the country trip (besides going to Germany and Luxembourg with my mom when I was eight) was a study abroad trip to China. I saw a poster in my math building’s hallway about the trip and knew I had to jump on it. Since then I’ve traveled to Peru, Costa Rica, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, and Germany (again) along with many places in the USA. I have upcoming trips planned for Colombia (my retreat yay) and more European countries for next year. I also have goals to do some backpacking through Asia, visit the Middle East, visit more countries in South America, and eventually find myself somewhere on the African and Australian continents.
Here are some traveling tips I’ve collected from my journeys.
Pack light. I alway use carry on luggage when I travel, even if I’m going to be gone for an entire month. This makes time in the airport a little shorter by not having to wait to check or pick up your bag and also makes it so you have less crap to carry around. Pack clothes that you can mix and match. Plan for layers if you’re going somewhere cold. Rewear clothes and wash them at some point if you need to. Wear heavy and bulky stuff on the plane like hiking boots, sweaters, or coats. Only bring necessary items. I basically only pack clothes, toiletries, a book, a notebook, my camera, and my computer. That’s about it. You really don’t need much else when you’re adventuring.
Stay with friends. This is my favorite way to travel. When I go to NYC I stay with a childhood friend. We get to hang out when she’s free, but I also have tons of time to explore the city and do some work on my own. I’ve also met so many amazing women through Instagram that I love having travel exchanges with. I go see them and then they come see me. It saves money, you get to see a friend, you have a local show you around, and you get to host someone in return! Other good cost friendly options include airbnbs and hostels. I’ve stayed in both and had really good experiences.
Cook and bring snacks. You don’t have to eat out for every meal. When I’m flying, I pack snacks, wraps, and other airplane friendly foods to munch on during my flights. I usually try to stay somewhere where I have access to a kitchen so I can cook some of my meals instead of eating out 3x a day. Also, it’s super fun to check out the grocery stores. When I was in Florence with my mom, we would go to a grocery store and get these huge delicious pieces of focaccia for like 1 or 2 euros. I miss that bread.
Don’t freak out. Just be aware that stuff won’t always go as planned. When I traveled alone to Costa Rica, I unknowingly got off the plane in the wrong town and spent the next few hours lost in translation in the middle of nowhere. I eventually found my way to my destination after a taxi ride, a ferry trip across a bay alone with two men (I tried to speak to them a little in terrible Spanish before getting on the boat with them and they seemed nice enough plus I had no other choices LOL), walking through town in the rain, being directed to the police station, using google translate to talk to the cops, and another taxi ride. But HEY it all worked out! I stayed calm the entire time because what good would freaking out have done? So if you miss your plane, something is closed, or you lose your luggage just take some deep breaths. It’ll all be okay.
Safety. Ugh this is such a hard one. Ladies who asked me safety questions, I get you. I personally am not the night owl type, so I can give any advice on going to clubs or whatever. If you are traveling solo, stay aware of your surroundings. Do some research on parts of town that are safe and where to avoid. If you go out on a date, make sure someone know where you are going and frequently check in with them. Sharing your location with a friend is a good option. It freaking sucks and shouldn’t be this way, but the reality is that bad things can happen to us ladies. So just listen to your gut and put your safety first. BUT please pleaseeee don’t let fear stop you from adventuring. Bad things can happen everywhere. Good things also happen everywhere. That’s life. Honestly I’ve had a lot of weird close calls while traveling, but I’ve also had some close calls with people almost wrecking into me. We all gonna die one day anyway so might as well make life fun, YOU KNO?
Planning vs. going with the flow. I think it’s nice to have a good balance of both of these. I think if you have a packed itinerary, you may miss out on the opportunities that arise along the way! Some of the best places I’ve been to while traveling were suggested to me by locals. So don’t worry about over planning. Have some general plans and ideas about what you would like to do and then see what else comes up!
Group trips. Group trips are a fun way to travel. I went on quite a few in college. College age friends please jump on these trips! You can sometimes get scholarships!!!! If you’re not in college, don’t fear! There’s still tons of group options out there. Just google “Group Trips” and you’ll find tons of choices. Sometimes it’s nice to just show up and have someone else steer you around if you’re newer to traveling.
Take a longer trip. This isn’t feasible for everyone due to work, family, etc, but taking a longer trip is the best way to make the most out of your plane ticket.
Don’t buy junk you don’t need. One of the reasons I get to travel a lot is because I’ve always prioritized it in my budget. I save to travel. I question when I want to buy something if I would rather take a trip (it’s usually yes). And then once you’re on the trip, don’t buy tons of souvenirs and all that. I mean, you can if you want, but think about it. I’ll give you an example. When I went on my first trip, China, I was so excited that I got a jade necklace (I never wear it), some miniatures of the terracotta warriors (they’re cool but I broke two of them), some chopsticks (okay I actually really like those), and some expensive tea (I think it was expensive because it was a touristy place). Instead of getting all that stuff, I could have put that money toward another trip. I’ve become a lot more conscious of my consuming in the past few years. Not buying souvenirs or other stuff I don’t need is one of the ways I’m able to travel more.
Work exchange. I’ve never done this, but I know people who have. There’s tons of options out there to be a nanny, work at a hostel, or even do online work while you’re traveling. Google.
Traveling as a vegan. This one if for all you veggies out there. Happy Cow app is my best friend in the whole world. It’s amazing. Get it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people about their options. Just be super nice and people will be nice back. I usually ask clearly like “Do you have something without meat, dairy, or eggs?” If something gets messed up or you mess up, don’t be hard on yourself or on the other person. Don’t get offended if someone is surprised by your request. Just keep the gratitude mindset that we are so lucky to be able to travel, to have this want to help the animals and planet, and to have the privilege of being vegan in the first place.
Okay that’s all for now! Hope this helps you in your next adventure. If you’re looking for a new adventure, check out my retreat with Mundo Adventures, Colombia Retreat 2019: An Adventure in Loving Connection from January 29th - Feburary 4th, 2019! This retreat is designed to help you get fully present and to let go and learn to tap back into your connected feeling self through outdoor adventures, self-love, and reflection practices.
Much love, Melissa