Wow, where has March gone? I wasn’t expecting it to go quite so fast! The weather in Istanbul is AMAZING this week! It is absolutely gorgeous and is making me want to break out the summer clothes and go on an adventure! Which . . . by the way is what this month’s blog posts are supposed to be about, but apparently they have been off adventuring as well!
I love to travel, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to some cool places. Sometimes we travel because we want to, and sometimes we travel because we have to. But regardless, we generally always love it, whether it is for work or pleasure. Along the ways, I’ve learned a few things that have helped me enjoy traveling even more. Today, I’m going to share a couple of “Before You Go” tips for traveling.
1. Packing: okay. So, I don’t really think you need a whole lot of help in this department, but my biggest advice is to go light, especially if you are traveling outside of America! Once you get outside of the States (in my experience, anyway) you dramatically increase your amount of walking and carrying and changing transportation!! So, I have found a rolling suitcase that rolls, has handles, and also has backpack strips that zip into the back. I love this, because it is a good size (the size of a carry-on rolling bag), but it can expand and it is so easy to carry. I also recommend packing light, and packing more tops than bottoms. Jeans are versatile, and tops are what you notice more in pictures!! Don’t forget to put your liquids and toiletries in appropriate bags according to the guidelines of whichever country you are traveling in.
2. Planning: What I like to do when traveling to a new place is to look up all of the attractions in the area, and then consult with your fellow travelers and rank that top 3-5 things you REALLY want to do. One thing that Jeremy and I have done before that was helpful was to make a list of all of the attractions and then make notes about the price of entrance and what was there. We then marked our top 3 or so and made sure to hit those, but then we could easily see which other things would suit our schedule and budget and do those as well when we had free time. By planning this way, we were able to feel like we got what we wanted out of our trip without either wasting time or not enjoying attractions because we didn’t have enough time.
*Side note: If you have a mobile device, you should definitely search in your app store for the city you are visiting. You may be surprised at how many free app guides there are out there!!
3. Preparing: This is a huge thing that can totally change how much you enjoy your trip. Jeremy and I love this stage!! When we figure out where we are going, we like to find ways to learn more about the history, culture, and people of that area. Some of our favorite ways to do that are to read novels or books about the area and listen to podcasts. One of our favorite podcast series to find little known facts about different places around the world is Stuff You Missed in History Class.
*Another side note: Although this tip was geared towards ways to mentally prepare yourself to really enjoy your trip, I’d also make a point to check out how to get around the city where you are going. If you come to Istanbul, for example, you need to have a travel card or it is going to be ROUGH! So, I would check into these things before traveling:
- currency and conversion rate
- cultural expectations (are their rules that you must follow?
- travel – how can you get around?
- learn a few travel phrases! My top suggestions: “Please,” “Thank you,” “Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon,” and “Excuse me.”
- check to see if where you are traveling has a consulate or embassy and whether or not you should register with them. (For example, there are some places in the world that are currently more dangerous for traveling but you can sign up for updates from the embassy and also let them know that you are in the country.)
- check whether or not you need a visa, if you can buy it at the border, and how much it is. (Also keep in mind that a lot of times you will have to pay for visas and other documents with your home country currency, not the currency of the country where you are traveling.)
Okay, and finally, my top two sites to help you out in the preparation stages of your traveling:
- momondo.com: This is my personal favorite for finding plane tickets.
- tripadvisor: This site has lots of information about hotels and activities to do almost anywhere in the world.
Where are you going next? I’m going to Vienna!!