I’m not going to try to sell myself as a cool, hip globetrotter. You may or may not know that I spent a semester abroad my junior year and managed to visit 8 countries in ~5 months, and I’ve been to like 40 states in America (including Alaska and Hawaii, so THERE) thanks to my parents’ shared passion for domestic travel and national parks.
In my 22 years of traveling, I like to think I’ve picked up a few (almost) no fail tips and tricks for making every journey a success–whether you’re with your family or your drinking buddies.
1. For the love of God, don’t get on a tour bus.
Ok, ok, that was a little dramatic. I’ve done my fair share of bus tours on family trips, and they definitely come with pros and cons. If you’re in a foreign country (where you don’t speak the language) for a limited amount of time, a tour bus could be a good option. You won’t have to spend time trying to understand the local public transit system, and if it’s a “hop on, hop off” kind of deal, it’s basically a free shuttle around the city. But OH MY GOD do not take one in New York. I don’t understand why anyone would come to NYC, look at all the traffic, and decide to hop on a freaking bus. Take the subway, rent a bike, or take a city bus.
2. Go where the Anthropologie is.
This is a rule of thumb I have for finding cute shopping neighborhoods in large cities. And it doesn’t have to be Anthropologie (if you’re in Amsterdam, try Dille & Kamille), but looking up boutique-y stores like this will usually land you in a trendy, non-commercialized shopping district. Just make sure it’s not far from the city center, because then you’ll probably end up at a mall. Not the worst thing, but you know.
3. STAY! TOGETHER!!
This is especially important if you’re abroad and can only iMessage/WhatsApp over WiFi! Organize your schedule ahead of time so everyone gets to see what they want without getting separated. And if you must split up, agree on a very specific meeting place. Not “outside of the Louvre” but “in front of the rightmost table at the outdoor cafe on the right side of the third pyramid at the Louvre.” Got it?
4. Back it up.
My phone is constantly out of storage. Literally twice a week, I’ll try to take a picture and my phone won’t let me. To avoid this problem when traveling, be thorough and back up your whole phone to your iCloud/laptop/hard drive/whatever before a big trip, and then delete the photos form your actual phone so it has room for all your selfies!