Top 10 Ways to Travel the RIGHT Way

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I wish I could go back to when I studied abroad in Italy and smack myself around a bit. I've learned so much about traveling in just 2 years that I wish the future me could talk to the past me. Since I don't quite have a timewarp yet, I'll just tell you all instead what I've learned (and hope that you really follow it).

Rome, Italy January 2012

1. Leave the cellphone at home or turn it off!
Becoming so fixated on showing everyone else what your doing really takes away from the present moment. I know as well as the next person that I can get sucked into Instagramming or Facebook for hours. At the end of the day it's a distraction to everything around you. There is PLENTY of time to upload photos from your camera later, no one cares if you're #eiffeltowerselfie is now or 2 days from now.

2. Invest in a good camera.
God I hate myself for this so much. I'm beyond sad that my old photos are of such poor quality. If the best you can get is a digital camera with a high set of pixels that's fine, but it's worth the money if you know you'll be traveling a lot. I enjoy looking back on recents photos now that I have a good camera (thanks dad!)

3. Be a tourist but don't get carried away
What does this mean?? It means take pictures of some things you like but it's not necessary to take pictures of EVERYTHING. You most likely won't care about the several naked statues with missing penis' 5 years from now. (trust me I know)

4. Bring a friend along
Some people might beg to differ on this. I've traveled alone and with people, and I find that there's no better bonding experience than to discover a city with someone. It's just nice to have friends, or hey even a former traveler you meet at a hostel. I always have Mat with me and we both point out different things to each other constantly, you'll be surprised how much more you see with another person along.

5. Use Wikipedia
It's cool to be in a medieval castle, or to stare at a famous painting, but it's only physical. If you don't know the history to it, you're missing the best part of the story. Even having a little bit of a background of what you're seeing makes for such a better experience. It's not high school anymore, Wikipedia is your friend.

6. Research the food
Just because you're in a French city doesn't mean they make the best crepes you've ever eaten, or their canard is more luxurious than any canned duck liver you've encountered. Look it up! Bordeaux is known for their canelé, and there's a pretty cool story behind it. Not to mention sometimes the best food is the cheapest.

7. Disregard fashion
Did I really just say that? I'm embarrassed to say that I used to wear nice outfits for my pictures or to fit in with the locals. Some of those castles are damn cold, and dirty, so that little sun dress and sandals aren't cute, they're stupid. Dress for what type of adventure you're going to embark on, end of story.

8. Start journaling
I'm starting to use my blog as a journal, but nothing beats a physical notebook. It's so different to write about things after the fact. Write in the moment. I have such great material from when I would sit at the Pantheon in Rome and just write. You can only benefit from it.

9. Go to the ATM at the start of the trip
It keeps you on a budget and your credit card isn't on fire afterwards. Easy as that.

10. Talk to locals
You find the best restaurants, and often parts of the city that weren't in your $20 tour guide book. I think this is the best thing to do. I use to get stuck in tourist traps constantly, and those were rough days on my bank account. Also--not everything in guide books or on the internet are worth seeing. Do you really care about the water fountain covered in moss from 1120? Probably not.

There's so much more, but these are my top 10 I now live by.

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