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Go everywhere. Talk to everyone. Eat everything.

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Travel

I’m not a professional travel agent, but I have been a lot of places, and I love sharing what I know about the places I’ve been, how to get there, and how I planned to do it.

grits, peaches and sweet tea

Folding and unfolding can mean one of two things, one: it’s laundry day, or two: you’re packing. Seeing that the first choice is just plain dismal, let’s go with option two. Packing (and unpacking) can also mean one of two things, one: you’re traveling, or two: you’re going home. Both, while equally satisfying, are almost polar opposites on the spectrum of excitement. Traveling ensues going new places and trying new things, the thrill of the unknown making your heart beat faster. Going home can be just as fun; it offers a warm comfort like no other place in the world can give you, steadying your heartbeat to a calming rhythm. 

I’ve done a lot of traveling this summer. I have taken every form of public transportation ever invented. I rode a helicopter to a glacier, hiked on it, and drank the fresh water that ran down it. I zip-lined across the Alaskan rainforest, amidst redwoods half as tall as the Space Needle. I ate Alaskan salmon and king crab, Seattle dungeness crab, St. Louis style ribs, and Florida Gulf seafood, all in the places for which they are famous. I took a peek into corporate America at a professional conference, and ate BBQ (mentioned above) in a suit. I came face to face with an elephant, a hippo and a sea lion in the same day. I climbed a 12 story building, rode a ferris wheel on top of the roof, and then proceeded to slide down ten of the stories up which I climbed. I visited (and ascended) the two tallest man-made monuments in the United States. I helped put on an event through my internship for the company at which I one day hope to work. I kayaked in the Gulf of Mexico, fishing pole in hand, and caught a Spanish Mackerel that I then made for dinner. It’s been a whirlwind of a summer, and it isn’t even over yet. 

I’ve always loved the thrills of traveling, but traveling always meant I had to come back to reality, to home. Home was boring and predictable, nothing like the excitement of rainforests and glaciers. Over the years though, I’ve learned that coming home has its own sort of thrill. While it does mean almost dying from the humidity that only somewhere below the gnat line can offer, it also means that after all of that going, I get to be embraced by the comfort of family, a broken couch, my own table, and the food I’ve eaten my whole life. Compared to hiking on a glacier that seems pretty mundane, I know. But no matter how much folding and unfolding, packing and unpacking, I will do in my life, that mundanity and comfort of grits, peaches and sweet tea will always be there to welcome me home.

 

Another gem I found on Buzzfeed

I just want to do it all again.

Some of the best traveling advice around

So in the midst of the snowpocalypse that is Athens, Georgia right now…and while I’m patiently waiting for my 2 o’clock class to be cancelled, I do what I always do. Troll Pinterest. The bulk of my pins are food and travel related, with the occasional home deco/fashion pin or quote by Jennifer Lawrence or Ellen. So today, like any other day, I pinned what I’m making for dinner…and found a new favorite travel pin. This one is actually one of the best/most useful I’ve found in a while, so I thought I’d share it with you.

My personal favorites are:

50. Know cathedrals…but also know museums and palaces.

49. This doesn’t just apply to the Tube, it applies everywhere.

47. UM YES.

46. The 2 Euro coin is always your best friend, no matter how heavy your wallet may be.

33. This applies to almost any Hispanic female in the US.

31. Or just when you’re in a not-so-clean restroom.

30. Or in Europe. 2 feet in the US is 2 inches to other cultures.

27. TRUTH. Morocco made me realize this one pretty quickly.

21-1. ALL of these times 100.

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This is What Happens When Americans are Asked to Label Europe and Brits are Asked to Label the US

There’s a lot of world out there for you to see, and this is hilarious.

TwistedSifter

 

At the end of last year, the BuzzFeed team asked students and co-workers to label a map. Those in the UK were asked to label a map of the United States, while those in the US were tasked to label a map of Europe.

Yes there is a difference between labelling states of one particular country versus labelling countries in a continent. Sure some people were probably goofing around and not taking the request too seriously. And while many of the attempts will make you chuckle, some of the maps are quite commendable! Before you snicker too hard, maybe quiz yourself and see how you fare?

If you’d like to test yourself, I’ve included blank maps at the bottom of the post. Or you can just click the links below:

Click here for a blank map of the United States
Click here for a blank map of Europe

 

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My whirlwind trip through Europe: How I planned it all

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This past summer I got the incredible, amazing, unbelievable, (insert more adjectives here) opportunity to live and travel through Europe for two months. It was the experience of a lifetime. Not only did I learn so much about the cultures of other countries and groups of people, I learned a ton about myself. Typical statement, I know. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”…“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”…“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. I could go on and on with quotes I’ve pinned on Pinterest about how much traveling teaches you. But as cliché as they may seem, they are all completely accurate.

One thing these quotes don’t mention, however, is how much you can learn before you even step foot into that new city, country, or continent. Planning my two month adventure in Europe was by far the most rewarding thing about my trip, because despite all the stress, huge deficits in my bank account, and countless hours of researching, it all somehow worked out in the end. I didn’t get taken (my parents’ biggest concern). I didn’t overdraft my debit card (my bank was happy). And most of all I have an album of pictures that could rival a Fodor’s travel guide (obviously what I was more worried about). When I go back through these pictures, I still can’t believe I actually pulled off the trip. People constantly ask me how I did it, so I figured it was time to share a few of the things I did while planning Eurotrip (the name my friends and I came up with in the early stages of the process).

  1. Keep a secret stash: I started saving money when I was 10 years old. (Okay, I know that’s a long time and that is impossible for you to do now since most, if not all of you, are well over 10.) BUT do not get discouraged….there is still hope. And a lot of it. Because I have a fool-proof system for saving that is sure to get you that dream trip in no time at all. Here’s what I did: Every time I made money (babysitting, note-taking, tutoring, lemonade stands…keep in mind I started this when I was 10) I put HALF of it away in what I like to call my secret stash. In the beginning I didn’t have much money because, hey, I was 10 years old and when I made $10 at a lemonade stand I thought I had won the lottery. So for the first 5 years or so, my secret stash made it up to about $350. But when the babysitting jobs started piling up and the college note-taking opportunities arose, I took them. My secret stash was beginning to get bigger. The second part of my saving routine was that every time someone gave me money for birthdays, Christmas, just because, etc. I also put HALF of that into my secret stash. I know it’s hard to see that money you get just “disappear” but you have to be diligent because it all pays off in the end, trust me. After you do it a couple of times, it gets a lot easier. And there is one rule to the whole secret stash thing. You can NEVER under ANY circumstances EVER take out a single penny. You can make change for yourself if you’re in a crunch, but never ever ever get any money out of this savings. That may mean forfeiting that once (or three times) a week trip to Chickfila, but traveling is better than chicken any day…which says a lot coming from a girl whose parents thought she would grow feathers because of the amount of chicken she consumed.
  2. Start planning early: I knew I was going to study abroad about 5 years before I actually did it, but I really started planning the whole traveling part of my trip about a year before. First things first: pick your must-see destinations. These are your non-negotiables, the places you will not end your trip without visiting. Then start planning your trip around that. Once you know where you’re going, you can plan the order in which to visit them so that you can get the most bang for your buck. And along the way to your non-negotiables, you might just happen up on somewhere amazing. Book your flights as early as possible, and your hotels about 4 months in advance. If you book these two things, you at least have a way to get to your destination and somewhere to sleep once you get there. The rest of the trip can be planned a lot later (or you can even fly by the seat of your pants once you get there)…I recommend this sometimes, but having a planned schedule does help make the trip a lot easier.
  3. Booking flights: When looking for cheap flights, it is SUPER important to clear your cookies after you do any kind of searching. Any time you look for flights, your computer saves that information in your history and websites will jack up the prices you see if they know you’re searching for flights a lot. If you don’t know how to clear your cookies, then do your searches on different computers. Use websites like StudentUniverse to get good deals on flights. Easyjet is a great European airline that has reasonable prices for flights within Europe. Side note: the best time to buy flights for anywhere is on a Tuesday after 6pm.
  4. Booking hotels: Don’t be afraid of hostels or bed and breakfasts. These types of places were actually the best accommodations I had while I was traveling, and the prices are usually considerably cheaper. Hostels have options of private rooms and private baths, but it’s always cheaper to stay in the dorm-style rooms. Most of the time, this is very safe and you meet some really cool people with some really cool stories.
  5. Start buying and planning your wardrobe early: There is nothing worse than scrambling around the night before a huge international trip trying to pack a suitcase in 50lbs or less. You are guaranteed to forget something, and the stress right before what is sure to be an exhausting plane ride is just not worth it. Once you figure out your destination, start researching the typical weather forecasts for the time you will be there. Plan your outfits around that. If you know you are going to need to buy something in particular, try to plan far enough in advance to buy that item when it is on sale. Buy clothes cheap so that if you purchase too many souvenirs, you’re not out a fortune if you leave some of your clothes behind. I did this a lot when I was traveling Europe. During my 10-day extravaganza, I threw away all of my underwear and socks after I wore them to save room. Packing deserves a whole post for itself, but the most important thing to keep in mind when planning a wardrobe for a long international trip is that everything you pack (or almost everything) must be able to be worn together. No exceptions.

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