How to Travel

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There are hoards of travel blogs out there.

They’re good. Go check them out.

But if you’re traveling alone with a group of people you’ve never met before. Here’s a few tips.

1. Get introspective.

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Turn to yourself for this one. What do you want out of traveling. Be serious with yourself here. If you want to like omg get drunk and try ALL THE THINGS then be serious with yourself. If that’s not you. Then be serious with yourself. What do you want out of this trip? I’m married and I don’t always get a lot of time to myself and so I thought I would take these five weeks to do a lot of introspective thinking. I decided what that meant for me and I did it. I wanted to think. If you want to eat. If you want to see. If you want to do. You have to decide.

What do you want to do?

2. Stick to it.

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You’re probably traveling with a hoard of people if you are studying abroad. So you have to realize some people are going to have wayyy different answers to #1 than you did. That’s okay because you’re not tied to them. In fact. Tie yourself to no one.

Got that?

Do you know how people pair off or go off in groups? Avoid that.

At least for a while.

Because you know what you want out of your trip. So go get it. Some people could easily persuade you to change #1. If this is the case – Did you really take #1 seriously? – Did you go all peer pressure there?

Traveling alone is scary. But you can do it. Alone can be good. (Repeat as necessary)

This isn’t to say DON’T MAKE ANY FRIENDS. This is to say. Travel independently. Go off and do what makes your heart fill.

3. When everyone goes left. Go right.

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This is the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in my life. I would have never found it with a group. Mostly because all the tables only sat two people. Which made it perfect for my journal and a great cup of coffee. You can find a lot of great things if you just give yourself some courage to try things. Let the record show I walked by this coffee / cheese shop twice before I had enough guts to go inside. It’s hard to travel alone and not knowing the customs of how to order, how much things cost, or where to get a glass of water so you can control the amount of jitters.

There are things you will see that no one else will. Because you decided to go off the beaten path. (Oh how I can’t escape the cliches!)

4. Take Chances

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This is one of my favorite pictures I took from the trip. It’s two men laughing at the English football team during the Eurocup. It literally sums up the whole atmosphere of the pub. Except here I was a total traveler outing myself with a huge camera. I felt like the biggest idiot ever.

I felt like the biggest idiot ever.

Did you get that? I took the risk that the pictures would be worth the feeling. In fact I was so nervous of looking like an even bigger idiot that I didn’t get up and take pictures I hid in my booth trying to turn my arms this way and that to take a decent picture.

Not many pictures turned out well (obviously).

Had I taken a greater risk I could have gotten some really great pictures.

But at least I took this little risk and got this picture.

If #1 has some goals that mean taking a risk. Then do it. Take the street photography. Start a conversation with a stranger. Walk into a restaurant you don’t know how to pronounce. Try a local beverage. Take a risk already.

5. Go with the Flow

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For the love of Pete. Please. Please be flexible. It will make such a better trip.

For everyone.

Even you.

You see this would be a pull out bed. This would be one of two beds in our accommodations one day. It was a nice comfy, big, double bed, and a pullout couch. I was sick. My roommate decided for my health and the sanity of everyone on the bus who had to hear me cough and sneeze – I would get the big bed, and she the pull out.

I was grateful for her flexibility.

See this awesome kid?

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None of us really thought about our professors’ small son going on a trip abroad with us. None of us also thought about how hard jet-lag can be for a two year old. So we all grew a soft spot for him and didn’t even think twice and helping do small little things here and there to help keep him entertained, and at times, quiet.

Flexibility.

Made all of us fall for a little kid. Annd made the trip better for everyone, professors and students.

Now for sanity sake we’ll end with an even number.

6. Forget all the rules.

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By the last week I had done so much introspective thinking, planning, and writing that I was done. If I spent one more minute with myself I might have had an identity crisis.

So I found a group of people who had awesome #1s and I went off with them. We laughed. We talked. We shared company and I did somethings that I wouldn’t have normally done because I had gone off by myself so much.

I didn’t take too many chances I just kind of floated because I liked the idea of floating. I liked experiencing the people I was traveling with.

Give yourself you’re full potential. Try. Experience. Grow. Learn. Be open. Be yourself.

-Travel Tomato