Ciao! Hallo! Helo! Bonjour!

As some of you might have noticed, Whitney has been writing my blog posts for the last week and a half because it’s that time of the year – spring break!! That’s right, I’ve been off traveling Europe for the last 11 days, and boy do I have some knowledge to share with you! I stopped at quite a few places during my break, and gained some serious travel tips with each leg of my journey… so naturally I’m going to share them all with you (plus some photos of my adventures!) So without further adieu, here they are: my do’s and dont’s of world traveling!!

So my first stop on my break was to Swansea, Wales to visit my best friend and roommate from home – and let me tell you, getting from Florence to Swansea was a task. To get there (in a relatively cheap fashion) I had to take a train from Florence to Pisa, fly from Pisa to London, take a bus from London to Cardiff, another train from Cardiff to Swansea, and finally a cab to her flat. WHAT. So my first nugget of information I wish to share with you is to PLAN. Find the best deals, even if it turns into a real life version of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. I got to Swansea for  €115. Score.

Going hand-in-hand with the whole plan thing is BOOK AHEAD. This includes transportation, hostels, any attractions… everything. There was no greater feeling than knowing you had already paid for everything you needed and you had a sure fire plan to get where you were going… even if sometimes it didn’t go according to plan…

Which leads me to my next point: from the MILLIONS of connections I had to make to get to Swansea, I learned to make sure you have enough time to get to the next leg of your journey. My friend and I found ourselves sprinting to catch our bus after our flight landed because we all know airports are a HUGE bitch, but we all pretend everything is going to go perfectly… which is never the case. Ain’t nobody got time for security and customs.

PHOTO BREAK #1:

Just swingin’ by a castle in Wales!

Alright, on to more wisdom!!

After Swansea, I started the only leg of my journey where I was flying solo… to London! Sounds a little scary, but since I was totally prepared, it was cake. I had all of my tickets printed out beforehand (which is TOTALLY something you should do) so all I had to do was show up and I was good to go!  One thing I would advise from my travels to Swansea AND London AND Amsterdam is know where exactly your destination is. Border control gave me so much shit because I didn’t know the addresses of where I was staying… oops! So if you’re looking to make your travels go a little more smoothly, know where you’re going. hahah.

Also, you should always carry local cash on you. Even if you have all of your cards with you, having a little extra money just in case is a huge plus – especially if you have to take public transportation to get to your final destination. Once I got to London and had to take the Tube to my hostel, it was great to have some extra pounds/pence in my pocket (that I had immediately withdrawn at the bus station ATM when I got off my bus). You can always pull out more money if you need it, but having just a few foreign bills in your pocket could make a huge difference.

PHOTO BREAK #2:

London Calling anyone??

After London, my roommate and I were headed to Eindhoven! On this particular portion of my journey I learned that I severely overpacked. Not cool. Do you know how hard it is to get your entire life for 10 days into one tiny little backpack?? Let me answer that for you: REALLY HARD. Especially when you completely forgot to factor in the fact that you’re going to buy souvenirs from EVERYWHERE. Do not over pack. Wear the same clothes every day. No one cares. Plus, packing your whole life into a backpack makes for a very heavy backpack, which in turn makes your body hurt foreverrrrrrrrr.

Another tidbit of knowledge that this part taught me: know your airline’s travel policies. There is nothing worse than getting to the airport with your backpack completely stuffed full and realizing you can only have one bag (thanks, Ryan Air!) so EVERYTHING in your purse also has to fit into your backpack before you can board. Seriously the most intense game of real-life tetris I have ever played. “How many things can I fit in my backpack?” is not a fun game. I have learned my lesson.

Upon arriving in the Eindhoven airport, (yes, I got everything to fit in my backpack), I had to chill there for a little while (umm 4 hours) until the rest of my gang arrived in Eindhoven. As you can imagine, this gave me plenty of time to get to know the shoebox that is the Eindhoven airport. I seriously walked the entire airport in ten minutes, so I’ll let you do the math of how many times I did that loop in 4 hours. Anyway, here’s serious piece of advice to accompany my silly airport adventures: know your surroundings. Always be aware of what’s going on around you, especially in unfamiliar cities and countries. Whether that means scoping out the area in the daylight so you can find things in the dark, doing some research on the places you’re going, or just being aware and on the lookout at what’s happening around you… Better to be safe than sorry!!

PHOTO BREAK #3:

We are Amsterdam.

Don’t worry guys, my gang did show up eventually so we could make our way to Amsterdam for the weekend!! We didn’t have anything planned, so as soon as we got into town, our mission was to find a place to stay. We ended up finding this cool pub/hostel which ended up being great for booking the day of. One thing that was really nice was that they had lockers for all your belongings if you wanted them. It’s a good idea to think about security if you’re going to be staying in hostels with shared rooms. Make sure they have a place to keep your valuables, unless you are prepared to carry everything with you while you’re out and about.

PHOTO BREAK #4:

The gang’s all here! Buddies in Belgium!

Okay, so my last nugget of wisdom is: don’t overdo it. Europe is amazing for travel… you can get cheap flights/trains, everything is so close together, and the urge to go EVERYWHERE is overwhelming. But my advice to you is to really focus your traveling. I went to four different countries during my break – and it was great – but sometimes less is more. You don’t want to be too tired from traveling to enjoy the places you are seeing. Go to the places you truly don’t want to miss… plus, if you don’t get to something it gives you the excuse to come back, right??

So those are my pearls of world-traveling wisdom for you guys… if you want to hear more deets about my spring break adventures, stay tuned. I’m sure I’ll have another post about all the crazy experiences I had… plus I didn’t even mention my trip to the HARRY POTTER WARNER BROTHERS STUDIO. Yeah. Prepare for another nerd post, kids.

Until then,

Ciao! Afscheid! Hwyl fawr! Au revoir!