If you are the type to romanticize your daily life, taking picnics in the park and dreaming of far-off places, then you’re in good company. Ever since I was a little kid, I have imagined traveling the world. Part of what is so thrilling to me about traveling to new places is the discovery of cultural differences and similarities, trying new foods, and meeting new people. I know that sometimes travel can be a daunting thing, but it shouldn’t be! Taking a trip abroad should be something that you can confidently enter, with bright eyes ready for adventure but also with your eyes wide open. I wanted to help out my fellow Millennium Tours study abroad travelers with a couple things you can expect and ways to prepare for your time abroad. You might be surprised to find often what ties us together as humanity as opposed to what separates us.
Without further ado, let’s get into my top 3 prep tips!
- Pack light. I know this is a challenge and can easily be overlooked but I promise it’s worth it! You can accomplish this by bringing lots of basics– by that, I mean clothes that can easily be layered or paired with other items you bring. This comes in handy especially in Europe, where lots of the fashion is made up of neutral tones. My favorite thing to do is to pack neutral toned clothes and add pops of color in my accessories (ie. a scarf, watch, or jewelry). That way, each outfit feels fresh, fun, and you still have room for all those lovely souvenirs you’re bound to accumulate!
- Give yourself time. This goes for pre-trip preparations as well as on the trip! Let me explain: when preparing for a trip, especially if it will be for an extended period of time, do not wait until the last minute to pack and get your affairs in order. Instead, be proactive and think about what you’ll need to bring, double and triple check those passports and health requirements, and do some research on your location! I find that this last one especially gets me excited for my next trip because you get a little taste of what the language, food, or culture of a place can be before you go. Even learning how to simply ask for a table and order your food can make all the difference. Remember, you represent not just yourself but also the group you came with or place you come from. It can speak volumes to natives just to see the effort you put in instead of expecting them to accommodate you for everything! As for during the trip, give yourself rest time. To avoid the worst of jetlag, try to beat it that first night by going to bed at a decent hour in your new time zone. Adjust your watch or phone time while you’re still on the plane to get in the mindset!
- Be flexible. Traveling can teach you some good life lessons– be sure to hold your plans loosely. By all means, get excited about everything… I mean, how can you not? But know that sometimes getting lost in a city might throw off your plans and open you up to a new kind of adventure you never could have dreamed of! Make sure to stay patient with yourself and others (that means the people you travel with and the natives around you). Your trip can still end up being perfect, even if it’s not exactly as you planned. You can choose to look at unexpected situations as setbacks or adventures… I choose the latter!
- Bonus tip!! Have fun. You know that old saying, “do one thing everyday that scares you?” Well, do it! Try ordering in the language of your location. Try a new food. Ask a local shop owner about themselves. I promise your time will be so much more fruitful and you can come home with some incredible stories. Enjoy it! Bon voyage, mes amis!