Europe – Part 4

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At the top of Mt. Pilatus; Lucerne, Switzerland

“People don’t take trips . . . trips take people.”
John Steinbeck

A Collection of My Learning’s:

  • People are people, wherever you go
    – Each person has the same needs as I do (need for acceptance, belonging, to be apart of something bigger than themselves, need to be heard and understood)
    – Everyone feels the same emotions as I do (happy, sad, frustrated, excited, stressed, curious, & the list goes on)
  • It’s fun meeting different people from other countries, ethnicities and cultures
    – This experience has opened my mind to see how very different people are (how they think, the decisions they make, their personalities, values etc) and there really is no one exactly like me anywhere in the world
    – Each of the 19 countries I visited had something different to offer; a distiguishing feature that separated one country from another & would leave a lasting impression on my memory
  • It was so fun always being on the move and seeing new sights and new places every day
    – I thought this fast pace would overwhelm me, but I came to realize how much I enjoyed this as I got to see and do a million things a day for 42 straight days (Sound intense? That’s because it is!)

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Bike riding in Amsterdam, Holland

  • I needed downtime in order to go at this pace for an extended period of time (I craved “introvert time” – time to be alone by myself –  to re-gain my energy in order to do it all over again the next day). I would do this by:
    – Not always going out each night but having intentional “down time”
    – Going to bed early on some nights
    – Sleeping on the bus during travel days
  • Taking lots of pictures
    – I took over 7,000 pictures on my point-&-shoot digital camera & have gone thru them all 3 times since returning home
    – I have condensed them into smaller, more manageable amounts for my own and other people’s realistic viewing pleasures
  • I became a sponge and took everything in
    – Via tour guides
    – Watching other people/tourists and how they travel, sightsee & do things
    – Asked lots of question’s (not to be annoying but because I am curious)
  • Kept a travel journal and wrote in it each day to record what I did/saw (see my last post, Europe – Part 3, for more on this)
    – Did this so I would always have a written account of what I did for each day to be able to recall and re-live this experience anytime I want to

“Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle

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Guess where this is!

Europe – Part 3

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Ephesus library; Ephesus, Turkey

“Just go.” – Anonymous

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to travel and see the world. Whether this is just a dream (for now), or a commitment you’ve made, here are some practical tips and fun suggestions that helped me when I was preparing for my big trip.

Questions to ask yourself (part of the planning and prep stage):

  1. Who will I go with? (solo or with a friend/group of friends)
  2. What will I be doing? (get your itinerary ready ahead of time)
  3. Where will I travel to? (name the countries you will visit)
  4. When will I go on this awesome trip? (warmest months to go, high/low season)
  5. Why do I want to travel? (what’s my purpose)
  6. How am I travelling? (tour group, backpacking etc)

“The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.” – Henry David Thoreau

Essentials for the trip:

– Passport (check to make sure yours isn’t up for renewal, as passports expire every 5 years, and that it will be valid for the entire length of your trip – I had to get mine renewed)
– Visa’s (bring these if needed)
– Immunization shots (there’s a great clinic I went to over in the Market Mall Professional building, called Odyssey Travel & Tropical Medicine Clinic; it was a great deal and got me all the necessary shots I needed & the people there were great)
– Healthcare coverage (I got mine through AMA and the travel agency I went through)
– Go to your bank and convert your money to the currency you’ll be travelling so you will have money when you land in that country (I would recommend going to your bank 2-3 weeks ahead of your departure date to get all the bills and coins you need)

As a heads up, the best time to travel Europe, according to European expert, Rick Steves, is May, June, and September as the weather is still warm but not scorching hot and humid.

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St. Mark’s Square; Venice, Italy

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
– Benjamin Franklin

Must-Bring items I brought on my trip (and would recommend to you):

  1. iPod (loaded with your favourite music)
  2. 1-2 books to read and stay entertained / somewhat educated
  3. Travel journal & pen(s) – Tip: Jot down in list-form the main events you did and places you saw FOR EACH DAY of your travels.
    Reason: So you can remember what you did & saw many years from now.
    Take this seriously and be disciplined.
    How I did it: On the tour bus during travel days I would update my travel journal while “on the road”. I would do anywhere from 2-3 days at a time. You will forget if don’t capture this with good ‘ole fashion pen and paper, as you are seeing SO MUCH all at once, all the time!
  4. Money belt (To avoid pick-pocketing. You would be surprised how common this is in Europe. I wore mine and this never happened to me.)
  5. Backpack to put essential items in: iPod, camera, food, drinks etc  (I left mine on the bus to avoid having to carry a honking bag around all the time)

Other tips: (free of charge, you’re welcome)

– Go to a travel agency to help with the details of your trip planning (airline booking, events and excursions booking, extra brochures/info pamphlets for your destination…including pictures to INSPIRE you!!) I went to Marlin Travels and they were excellent! I received awesome service & very helpful tips.
– Check your bank account…can you actually afford this? Do you have the money for this? (If not, you may need to come up with some “creative financing” to get you there!!)

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
– St. Augustine

IMG_3967Acropolis (meaning, “high point of city”); Athens, Greece