I leave for Europe in five days to visit Italy for the first time. This is another trip of many firsts: first long haul flight, first time to experience connecting flights, first time in Italy, and first time in Europe actually. And I am travelling alone again.
I’ve had less than a month to prepare for this trip, and it’s been incredibly nerve-wracking. This post is a documentation of the unglamorous side of travel that I’ve discovered and learned from (still learning more) these past few weeks.
- Visa application is a chore. Over-prepare, do not cram, and most importantly, do not take it lightly.
- Take the time to really study the public transport system. Uber is not always available. Private transport is expensive.
- Plan out your accommodation properly. Things to consider: proximity to your itinerary, food places, airport, the transport system, WiFi, and the PRICE.
- Budget honey, look up the entrance fees for the museums you intend to visit, plan out where you’re gonna eat, take advantage of tourist transportation packages.
- Google translate is a gem. English is not as universal as they make it out to be. Also, studying the local language makes you more cultured.
- Waze and Google maps! Take screenshots! Prepare the physical maps as well.
- Wear a watch.
- You will have to invest in wardrobe. But this is a one-time thing, if you invest properly and take good care of everything.
- You will have to invest in luggage. But this is a one-time thing, if you invest properly and take good care of everything.
- Credit cards are a necessity, it turns out.
- Sew invisible pockets everywhere.
- Have two toiletry bags. One for check in, one for your carry on.
- Newly discovered essentials: whistle key chain, mini flashlight, extension cord, universal travel adaptors, emergency numbers, extra copies of your travel documents (print and digital), monopod, water canteen, notebook and pen, and data package (tourist sim?).
- Those giant belts for luggage are a thing. Always have one.
- Don’t get distracted by picture-perfect instagrammers and their instagram posts. The glitz distracts you from the hard work prior to travel.
Right now I am all nervous-scared-excited-challenged. I look forward to, and am grateful for, all the adulting and growing up that this new territory will force me to do.
Future self, I know you are a much better traveler now, but take time to return to this post and remind yourself of some lessons forgotten, laugh at your naivete’, discover how far you’ve come and be grateful for the opportunity to literally journey through life.