BY TARA BURKE
1. Take 100s of photos. The memory is a strange thing. Often times you can remember where you went, but not what you saw. Photos will vividly bring back those memories, are tangible ways to share your experience with family and friends, and are great keepsakes to look back on in future years.
2. Put down the camera. At the same time, taking a million photos of that pretty flower you fell upon, will not make it any prettier. Take a moment to step back and enjoy your surroundings in the now.
3. Keep a journal or blog. Write everything you do down. It is always fun to reflect on traveling. The amazing things you did, saw, learned and felt will all make for a wonderful trip down memory lane.
4. Try something new. Go zip-lining, ride a camel, surf, eat an insect, volunteer, make new friends, rent a vespa, or go dancing.
5. Do anything and everything that is completely cliché about your destination. Take some touristy photos of yourself in those red phone booths in London and pretend you’re touching the tip of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You know you want to, so just go for it!
6. Buy some mementos. Even if it’s just a postcard from every place you visit. When you get home, you can place them in a cute travel box. On another note, it’s inevitable that you will shop a little while abroad. Don’t overpack. Girls, I know we are always tempted to bring our entire closet because of that nagging voice inside our heads that says, “What if I end up wanting to wear this?” Ignore that sucker, instead bring a few key outfits that you are dying to show off. The rest should be comfortable, easily washable and interchangeable classic pieces.
7. Don’t fret over the small things. Sure you got fined 50 Euros on an Italian train ride for unknowingly not validating your ticket, or a cockroach climbs up your skirt in a metro station in Spain (sad, but true stories)… Be livid for 5 minutes. Don’t let it ruin your whole day.
8. Have at least a few unplanned hours in your itinerary. You’ll be surprised at what magical things you can fall upon by strolling around aimlessly.
9. Go to local places. Local restaurants, stores, bakeries, hotels, grocery stores and parks. Absorb yourself into another culture. Some cultural differences might make you appreciate home more, while others may make you want to stay in that place forever.
10. Use the local lingo or speak the native language. I know we are told that it can be annoying when foreigners practice their speaking skills with locals, but most are openly willing to oblige. After taking years of a foreign language in school, don’t be afraid to try it. Plus, the level of accomplishment you feel after ordering the correct meal in another language is unparalleled.
Most of all have a blast! Being able to travel is a huge privilege and every second should be enjoyed.