Today I present a guest post by A -- "a grad student by day, fashionista by night", who used to blog at The Glamorous Grad Student. This post was originally published on my (now defunct) Xanga.
How to have a bon voyage
Recently I was completing a little project for my apartment, a decorated map board with pins to represent my travels. It was fun reflecting on where I'd been, but also eye-opening to realize how many places there are still to go. Reflecting on my traveling experiences, I had some epiphanies about what makes for a successful voyage...
A country is not defined by its major citiesI've been to a few European capitals, but looking at the map makes you realize how much more there is to a country than its major cities. You obviously can't visit every village, hamlet and cow-shed, but do try to see some of the countryside. In Switzerland I had the fun of a train journey from Zurich down through the Alps, and it was an amazing experience.
During the day, get lost on public transportIn Vienna I hopped on a tram line and followed it for a while, then got out and followed it back. I spent the afternoon in a random pretty park that I don't think was even on the map. I'd never have found it without getting a little lost. On the other hand, getting the wrong bus in Rome at night was not so fun. The lesson? Feel free to get a little lost in daylight. Know exactly how you're getting home after dark.
You can go back againI used to feel a strange and strangling pressure when I traveled to see and do and go. So much time and money goes into planning travels and I for one sometimes feel like I must make all that worthwhile by seeing everything. Yet the best memories rarely come from the biggest attractions. You need to allow yourself the freedom and flexibility to wander and that will not happen if you have the mental attitude that this is your last day in Paris... ever!!!! That, my friends, is a recipe for stress.
Pack light, but pack wellCan I stress enough the importance of packing? Obviously, over packing is a pain as you've got a big suitcase or two or three to lug around and that's never fun. But packing the wrong things is equally bad. And I don't just mean forgetting to pack a raincoat when you come to Ireland. In fact, that sort of mistake is easily remedied. My biggest packing nightmare was the time when I packed a heap of neutral basics with no personality and didn't feel like myself all week. So pack clothes you'll feel fantastic in, just not too many of them!
Now over to you! What are your tips for enjoyable travels?