Take That Trip: A Guide for Europe

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You've heard me rant and rave about travel, now I want to see you experience it.

I'm going to take a break from my whimsical writing style regarding travel and it's influence on my life and actually provide you with some useful information to help you plan a trip of your own. My hopes are that maybe a few of you who follow me have found some inspiration to take a trip. Taking a vacation is good for the soul, and it really doesn't matter how long you go for. Seeing other cultures and parts of the world will broaden your horizon about love, about humanity, and about a side of yourself you hopefully didn't know existed. I'll share what's worked for me with the goal of getting the ball rolling for you.

Where do you want to go?

Is it one country, two country, red country, blue country? Wherever your heart is leading you to go, follow it. Who knows, the next big thing in your life may be awaiting you in these places. Choose the places you want to see, there doesn't need to be any rhyme or reason, write them down and grab a map. Depending on how much time you have you may be able to see all of them, a few, or just one, so try to get some relativity with a map of where these places are (and in relation to one another.) I was completely clueless about how close together the countries are in Europe, making traveling between them super easy and relatively quick.

*Note: Your travel style may be very different from mine. I don't mind skipping all over in a short period of time. Other travelers like to take their time in individual places to get more of a feel for the city and it's culture. Much of this you will learn as you go, but you can roughly decide which travel style you'd like to feel out initially.

Now, visit travel.state.gov and see if you're going to need a visa to travel to any of these wonderful countries you've chosen. There are some rules regarding travel - you can't just show up anywhere and set up camp for months on end. When traveling to Europe there are two zones you need to be aware of called the Schengen Zone and Eurozone, and you're only allowed to stay within either for a limited amount of time without a proper visa. So do a little bit of homework, it's not hard, and if you're only traveling for 4 weeks or less you won't have much to worry about.

*Note: Everywhere is different, do your homework wherever you are going outside the U.S. Many parts of South America require a visa just to step foot in - same with Russia. Canada has strict rules about allowing outside people in who have had a recent DUI. Be smart and do a little research about the country(s) you want to visit. Check up on safety, cost of living, and local transportation. Easy!

How are you going to save for that trip?

This is probably the most asked question I receive from anyone curious about my travels. How do I afford it? To be perfectly honest, travel is extremely important to me and I make it part of my life just like others do with exercise and other nonsense like that. (Joking) Wherever you focus your energy is where your time and money goes. If you love partying, more than likely that's where all your time and money goes. Don't get me wrong, I love a good party, I've just had to settle down quite a bit in order to make my dreams come true - and so I can party elsewhere!

It helps to have a special savings account for travel, even a jar you keep in your room can work. Anytime you think about your trip throw $20 into it, but have a set weekly amount that you will also save. This may mean that you have to cut back in other areas of your life - you make the decision where. With technology these days there are a billion budgeting apps out there that allow your savings to be easily monitored and attainable. A really cool app I personally enjoy is called Qapital - it makes saving fun and interesting.

I'm going to guess you're like me in the sense you can only spend what you've saved, so if you're on a bit of a budget I recommend looking into sleeping in hostels. Hostels are shared dorm style accommodations and it's the best way to travel (in my opinion) - especially if you're solo. Sleeping in the same room with 12 strangers is fun! But, they also offer single suites at reasonable rates that are often still cheaper than a hotel. If you're wanting to travel a little more luxuriously, I completely understand. There are so many booking apps out there that will show you an array of prices so you can budget accommodations accordingly. I use Booking.com, Hotels.com, and TripAdvisor to name a few.

I've met people from around the globe who have come from all walks of life and ended up exactly where I was. Regardless of what wage you make, age or ethnicity you are, if you want to travel you can and will make it happen.

*Note: I always buy my plane tickets at least 2 months before my set departure date. There isn't necessarily any magic to it, but a really interesting article I came across proved I may be onto something. The guys over at CheapAir.com did a little research and found (based solely on averages) that 7 weeks before a trip is the best time to buy your airline ticket. They mentioned buying too early or too late is likely where you will spend the most. As for the "Tuesday is the cheapest day to buy flights" myth, I cannot honestly say. There are a lot of variables that take place when purchasing airline tickets according to NYTimes.com - read the article here.

A small 'must have' checklist by yours truly:

  • Passport and/or Visa - Printed copy of your passport and/or Visa showing your picture.
  • Debit and/or Credit Card(s) - Printed copies of debit and credit cards.
  • Plane tickets.
  • Phone (and in my case a back up phone incase the first phone goes missing.)
  • Chargers.
  • Adapters for the different outlets abroad.
  • Selfie stick - for real they come in handy you guys.
  • Head phones.
  • Ear plugs.
  • Flip flops (for showers.)
  • Powdered facial SPF you can get at Sephora - seriously amazing concept.
  • Mascara.
  • Highlighter for your cheeks, so you always look fresh like a daisy.

Board that plane, baby.

You've double, triple checked everything you need to board that plane. There's always a weird feeling that you're forgetting something, but more than likely you haven't - you're just being overtaken with so much joy your mind is searching for ways to make sense of it all. You're ready to go experience something new with an open heart and wide eyes. Go forth and let the world happen to you - you'll never look back.

 

Upcoming Travel:// Life is Beautiful Festival - Vegas September 23rd - 25th, 2016 // Japan October 2016

*If you need any more advice regarding travel and/or planning please reach out to me personally - sam6642@lauren-ball.preview78.rmkr.net.