Travel Hacks 101

Having trouble getting everything you need for your trip together?

If you’re like me, it won’t hit you that you’re leaving the country until your bags are packed and you are hours into your flight and release you still have halfway to go.  Here a few packing tricks and exploration advice that I learned before and during my trip to Greece.

No. 1: Roll your clothes
If you’re having trouble fitting everything in your suitcase, roll your clothes like a burrito. By doing this, it saves space and let’s you get all those extra few pairs of clothes you want in there, but probably don’t actually need and most likely won’t wear (ladies).

  • For blankets and bulkier items, roll and tie or roll and put in a plastic bag and get the air out.

No. 2: Fanny packs are back and a must
Yes, if you don’t know or haven’t heard, now you have. Fanny packs are back, especially for Europe, where pickpocketing is highly likely. I got a cute white and mauve Dakine fanny pack that was perfect for my entire trip and matched well with every outfit. There are a few benefits for this, plus now there are some really cute ones that you can get.

  • It’s in front of your body so you can see your stuff
  • Tip 1: Lace the strap through your belt loops to avoid pickpockets from being able to cut the straps and easily take your bag.
  • Tip 2: Always, close your zippers and have you hands over your bags

No. 3: Research and learn the cultural norms before hand:
Don’t make the same mistake I did. Granted it wasn’t a big one, but its good to learn about the cultural habits and norms before you get there. Some things you can learn about is the:

  • Tipping habits
  • Hotels and customs
  • How to get around
  • Central locations
  • Must-see’s

Story time: During my 8 hour layover in Rome, Italy, I did not read about the culture before I got there. In Europe, in case you didn’t know, tipping 15% + is not the norm like it is in the United States, rather a couple euros will do. So, here we are in a cute little Italian restaurant right next to the colosseum and the bill comes. Naturally, we tip about 18% because we were excited to be there and the waiter was extremely attentive and kind to us Americans. When we were about to leave his face lit up and he was so grateful for the tip. As we walked out, I saw the table next to us left three euros, for what was a 50 euro meal. So, reading up on the customs of different countries can better prepare you to not look like an idiot. But hey, at least we were helping make the American name a little better.
No. 4: Go off the beaten path

  • I have always been a firm believer in not just doing the touresty activities. Yes, of course there are some top attractions that you have to see, but don’t be afraid to go off  the normal path and go where the tourists go. Ask around and see the favorite spots of those who live there. This is the only way to get the full experience and delve into a culture that isn’t americanized or your own.

No. 5: Washing without a washer

  • If you didn’t bring enough clothes or don’t have space, take your clothes in the shower with you, scrub them with soap and hang them to dry.

I brought less pairs of shorts that I should have because I didn’t realize how dirty they would get with all of the walking and sweating in the extreme heat that we experienced in Greece. I figured, I could re-wear my jean shorts of course. But, when you walk for 10 hours in Athens where its dirty and 90 degree weather, you don’t want to put those shorts back on the next day. Taking your clothes in the shower with you and letting them hang dry is a pretty great substitute I found out.
No. 6: Bring a portable charger for you phone

  • This may seem obvious, but I forgot it, so I figured I would include it in the list. Don’t forget to bring a portable external charger for your phone. This will come in handy when you leave for the entire day and you’re taking pictures like crazy.

No. 7: Invest in walking shoes

  • I cannot stress this enough. Do it! Invest in walking shoes/sandals. If you are going to a hot place, where you will be walking a lot, i.e. anywhere in Europe during summertime, invest in walking shoes. Yes, they are a little more pricey, and probably less cute than those flat sandals you have, but you will be so grateful. I bought a pair of Black Tao strap sandals from the Walking Company and I wore them everyday. In Greece, the second day we walked for 11 hours around the different ruins, through the streets, in the museums, and I was the only one who did not complain that my feet were sore. Do it. Its worth it.

No. 8: Don’t be afraid to ask questions, when necessary

  • I mean, definitely try to figure it out by yourself, but if you’re wandering around and don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, just ask. People are nicer than you think if you’re respectful.

No. 9: Learn to use a map

  • If this was a different generation, I wouldn’t need to include this. However, in my generation we rely so heavily on our phones and our GPS. But news flash, look at a map, learn to use it, it will help you when you get lost in the mountains driving around and need to figure out whether to go right or left at the fork in the dirt road.

No. 10: Engage in the culture

  • What I mean by this, is engage in the culture in the place you’re going to. Why would you go to Greece and go to McDonald’s for example? That is one of my biggest pet peeves. Okay, maybe you like consistency, but you can have that when you get back. If you’re in another country, do as they do.

rime example of this: I get an iced americano with cream everyday from little coffee stands in Seattle. That is my go-to drink, not full of calories and it gets the job done. When I was in Greece, I tried time and time again at different places to get something like this. I tried iced espresso, iced latte, cold coffee, any combination of words you can think of to get this. It wasn’t the same. Finally, about two-thirds of the way through my trip I decided to just get what they are known for. I went with “freddo espresso” or “freddo cappuccino”, which they are known for in Greece. You can’t go to some place in the U.S. and get an iced cappuccino, if you know anything about coffee, your barista will look at you like you’re stupid (trust me, I was a barista for three years). However, in Greece, that is what they are known for.

Moral of the story, do as they do. Think about the different ways you can have a safe, successful, and fully indulged vacation at the place you’re spending (most likely) so much money to go to.

kiss, kiss

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