I'm not gonna sit here and pretend that I am the be all, end all authority when it comes to traveling. I am not. I am SOOO far from that.
There is no right or wrong way to travel (unless you spend more money than you feel comfortable, when you could have easily saved it instead.) Everyone has different opinions on traveling and how they want to do it and that's fine.
It's really important to be able to navigate foreign mass transit, because that's how most of the world does it outside of the good ol' USA. Google can only help you so much. Before we left to go anywhere, we always made sure to at least look at a transit map, get our bearings and then go. Figuring it out along the way might work for some people, but I personally find that to be stressful and inefficient.
Save some basic maps of the area in your phone before you leave. Like go to Google maps, find some decent views, and then just do a screen shot. You might not have reliable data access and as long as your phone has power it beats pulling out a paper map and looking like a tourist.
Take twice the amount of money and only pack half of what you need. As a girl, I have a serial disposition to over packing. I need to stop. Like, really, but my brain attempts to justify it as preparing for "maybe" events.
This is a dirty trick. Don't fall for it.
You're not going to be familiar with all of them but keeping a level head and a watchful eye out will be your biggest asset. A big one is the use of child beggars.
It's a very common one is Paris, unfortunately. I witnessed it mostly on the metro. They usually don't say a word and try to hand you a piece of paper claiming they are collecting money for charity.
WATCH YOUR BAGS AND DON'T GIVE THEM ANYTHING. DON'T TAKE THE PAPER, EITHER.
All you are doing is perpetuating child abuse and thievery. I really wish I could help all the kids of the world, but this is not the place to do it.
If you relent once, they will swarm you.
There are so many that I can't count them all. I check reddit.com/r/travel frequently as people post new ones quite frequently. Just being aware of or doing a quick Google search for scams in the area you will be traveling to is immensely helpful.
Maybe 9/10 it will be fine, and that's great
Your flight will get delayed in Paris, and when you get to your destination the next day, they have no idea where your bag is. All they now have to go on is your name and a description of the bag. Maybe you'll get it back. Maybe.
We checked a bag once and will never do it again. We now travel exclusively with everything we need packed into backpacks for easy mobility. They aren't even the big cumbersome backpacker back packs that weigh like 30 pounds. They're just regular ruck sack looking canvas bags. I can fit 2 weeks worth of military rolled clothes and all of my electronics if necessary.
If you ignore me and do it anyway,and if you're traveling through countries where you don't speak the language, take pictures of your bags before you go. That way if they get lost, you can show the picture to the airline / train attendant rather than trying to remember the local words for "burnt orange with purple highlights duffel bag".
Which means no ice or no salad (they wash veggies with the water). I've gotten travelers sickness once in London and it was absolutely horrendous. I was sick for over a month and recovery took a few more months.
A big part of the benefit of traveling is having to think on your feet, readjust, adapt, and forge new paths. If you already have the entire trip planned out and everything goes as expected, does that really seem like a life-changing experience?
Until next time,