Today was my final photo critique for the study abroad trip to Italy I went on this summer, and aside from literally drooling over the food pictures and practically crying over wishing I was still there, it got me to thinking about the things I would go back and change if I could. While it was an awesome trip, anyone's first time abroad teaches them lessons that can only truly been realized in retrospect. So, friends, allow me to share with you travel tips from a not-so-professional-world-traveler:
1. Take fewer, but better and more thought-out pictures. I was so enthralled by the beauty of Europe that I was snapping pictures like a crazy lady. Only when I had to come home and look through close to 8,000 images did I realize that I could only salvage a portion of those, and that if I had just put a little more thought into some of them, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and had the room to take many more pictures.
2. Don't pack anything you can't wear more than one way. It is so important, especially if you're living out of a pack for almost a month, like I was, to think carefully about the few clothes you take with you. The key is to pack versatile, easy-to-wash items that you can pair with different accessories to have several different looks. You should also take things that you can wash in the sink and will dry quickly. Practice packing before the night before you leave, and be sure to leave room for clothes you will purchase along the way!
3. Buy something special for yourself at each place you travel to. I went to Switzerland and did not buy myself one thing. How sad is that? I would love to have just a Christmas ornament or a pair of earrings. Don't get so caught up in the experience that you forget to get something to remember those experiences by once you're home.
4. Buy an international phone plan. I didn't buy one, so I couldn't call home at all. Since I have an iPhone, I was able to iMessage and email when connected to wifi, but sometimes it would have been nice to be able to call and check voicemails. It's expensive, but definitely worth it if you're traveling for any extended period of time.
5. Don't be scared to play it by ear and go with the flow. It's good to have a plan, but if you are so focused on the plan that you miss opportunities, you're cheating yourself out of the experience of a lifetime.
I'm sure there's a million other things, but these are the ones that stood out in my memory the most. Hope this is helpful! Happy Monday ya'll!