Hey hey hey!
(This is a long post to forewarn you, BUT very informative!)
Now that I have had a little bit of down time, not being in school and all… I thought of 8 helpful tips or guidelines of how to best travel around.
1. Remember to “Follow the People”: If you are traveling during high season (when it is prime tourist time) and you are lost or don’t know where your going because Google is not being your friend OR if you can’t find wifi… the best thing to do is FOLLOW THE PEOPLE! Most of the time if you are in the area/near a large tourist attraction like the Trevi fountain in Rome or the Lennon Wall in Prague and you don’t know where your going, just follow, the most likely tourist looking, crowd. You have a 90% chance of ending up right where you want to be without using your phone or a map!
EX: My friends and I when we were trying to get downtown in Berlin to watch the final World Cup game. We didn’t take our phone out once! We followed the crowd when everyone was weaving through the park, starting to run, and crawling under fences! We got there just in time and right where we wanted to be.
2. No matter what, do an idiot check: We all forget things. We are human! BUT if we at least remembered to check the area before we leave to see if anything is left behind we perhaps wouldn’t loose the important things like phones, wallets, or expensive train tickets… can you tell this has happened to me?
EX: My friends and I did an “idiot check” every time we got off of a train or metro we had just rode. Having everyone be a part of this made us keep each other reliable.
3. DON’T forget comfy shoes: Never buy new shoes and wear them the first day of your backpacking trip with out breaking them in… Your feet will hate you and you will hate yourself for doing so.
EX: Our first travel day to London I ended up with quarter sized blisters on my heels and I had to switch shoes and didn’t wear them the rest of the trip. Be nice to your feet on your adventures, they will thank you!
4. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers: I was going to use this point to say don’t be afraid to ask for directions, but the overall point is don’t be afraid to talk to people… on the tube, at a restaurant, or just walking around the streets! Start a conversation with someone… the best starting point of a conversation might be to ask directions. Also, if you are traveling during the summer, especially backpacking, there will be other just like you. Most of the time many are heading in the same direction and wanting to go see the same things so why not start up the convo and travel together. The more people, the more fun! They might know of places you didn’t think of.
5. Blend in with your surroundings: I don’t mean wear camouflage but do not stick out like a tourist because that is how pickpocketers pick you out from a crowd. Normally I just look up clothing or looks that someone would wear in that particular country.
EX: In Paris, nobody wears jeans or jean shorts for that matter. I would wear something little bit more dressed up. But you can be totally casual and cool in London or Amsterdam.
6. Keep your distance on transportation: If you are traveling on trains or underground transportation keep an eye or hand on your bags. Most people think this might only happen when its busy and people are close to you but it happens when there are very few people around you too. If you are backpacking it’s best to keep your back against a wall.
7. Don’t leave any expensive item/phone out: Spain is known for pickpocketers and there are people/kids who will distract you and steal any valuable item in sight. This is why I say blend in. Sometimes you can’t help it because you will be speaking in your native tongue but they will notice. Just don’t leave anything you value out in the open because anyone can just come by and snatch it. This goes for at restaurants and standing in the streets. Best to keep them in your pockets 🙂
8. Always have a towel: “A towel is the most important item a Hitchhiker can carry.” – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Center of the Universe. Anyone, well maybe not anyone but most people, who travels often will tell you that having a towel is so necessary for your adventure. They are very useful if you don’t really know what your next destination will bring you.
EX: Can be used as park blanket, shower towel, beach towel, and much more!
Hope you enjoyed my tips. Do you have any others I didn’t mention that you have found to be helpful?
Thanks for reading!