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

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Europe – Part 2

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City Walls in Dubrovnik, Croatia

 

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.”
– Pat Conroy

 

For this trip I went by myself to have a solo adventure. I met up with other people on my tour group, as well as other crazily-psyched travellers along the way at each of the destination stops. I went with the tour group, Contiki. Known for its party culture (as I apparently found out), the partying scene wasn’t what I was going for; rather, it was to see the world in general, and as much of Western Europe in particular.

 

Here is a map of where I went:

contiki

 

 

These are some of the thoughts and words that describe my trip to Europe:

Before:

  • Adventurous
  • Exciting
  • Exhilarating
  • Taking a risk
  • Planning + research & planning + research
  • Time to put “real life” on hold
  • WHERE AM I GOING TO COME UP WITH ALL THE MONEY?!?
  • Who do I go with??
  • Time to pack &: Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate!

During:

  • Time of my life
  • Unreal opportunity
  • Sleep? Who needs sleep…I’ve got places to see!!
  • Breaking my comfort zone & ingrained personality style
  • My index finger seems to be in a fixed, permanent position from constantly taking pictures
  • So much to see and take in
  • There isn’t enough time to fit everything in!
  • Thought process: “Go, go, reflect, go, go!” (repeat)

After:

  • I don’t want to come back!
  • Is there ANY way to extend this trip??!
  • Definitely the trip of a lifetime
  • Opportunity to share with my kids about this trip (as my Dad had done with me when he travelled Europe)
  • So many memories that will last a lifetime
  • TONS of pictures to look through
  • Wow! I just saw 19 countries in Europe in 5 weeks
  • When can I go back?

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The Louvre – Paris, France

 

 

Upon the return to my native land, Canada, I noticed I had caught a serious bug from all my travelling. No matter how fervently and desperately I tried to cure it it just never went away. This “bug” as I have heard it coined, is more prominently known as the “Travel Bug”, and more people than I know have been infected with this. The more folks I talk to who have done their share of travelling have confirmed the undeniable fact: IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY!!!

The question is: Will you allow yourself to catch this adventurous & contagious “bug”?