Just in case you missed it all over Instagram and my blog over the past few weeks, I recently went to Europe with my fiancé and my family over the holidays. Over the course of ten days, we explored London, Paris and Munich and traveled by plane, train, bus, and Tube. It was the most inspiring trip and I’m already dying to go back! I wanted to post a few more photos of our adventures, but instead of your typical travel diary, I thought I’d also share a few things that I learned on the trip.
Pack smart. This one’s partially obvious, partially not. When you’re traveling through multiple countries, you don’t want to get bogged down with too much stuff (especially when you’re probably picking up pretty new things along the way!). I like to plan all of my outfits ahead of time and then snap a photo on my phone so I have a “catalogue” of everything in my suitcase. Super helpful advice … unless, that is, your suitcase doesn’t make it to your final destination.
After arriving in London, I had learned that my check-in had not. I had a carry-on bag with me … but turns out, it only contained an assortment of sunglasses, a bucket bag, and some blanket scarves (they take up a lot of space!). I was without a change of clothes or toiletries for a day, which wasn’t the end of the world. But next time, I’m packing spare outfits and my necessities in my carry-on.
Learn the lingo. I always get nervous traveling to a country that has a different language. Making our way through London was clearly a breeze, but Paris and Munich were a little trickier. Before heading out into each city, I made it a point to learn a few key phrases. Please and thank you are obvious need to knows. “Do you speak English?” and “Where is the …” also come in handy. Even if you feel like a 3-year old could speak better than you, it doesn’t hurt to try and who knows, you might learn a thing or two from the locals.
Have at least one late night. When we first got into Paris, we had a late dinner before making our way over to the Eiffel Tower a little before midnight to see her twinkly lights in all its glory. I can’t even describe the feeling. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than a monument at night (this applies everywhere!). We spent an hour snapping photos, learning a little bit about nighttime photography from my dad, and taking it all in together. It was, hands down, my favorite part about the trip and totally worth a little sleep deprivation.
Live locally. Instead of staying in hotels during the trip, we opted for apartment rentals. Some were a little bit off the beaten path, but I feel like we got a better idea of the local flavor. In London, we became pros at getting around on the Tube. In Paris, we grabbed pastries and coffee from shops below our apartment. In Munich, we picked up groceries at a local market and cooked a homemade meal on our last night there. We made each city feel a little bit like home and it made for a much more memorable experience.
Save some for next time. I’m the kind of girl that plans out a trip down to the minute. I love a good itinerary and I love the feeling of accomplishing everything on our mini-bucket list. But then life happens, and you get food poisoning at the most delicious Parisian restaurant and you’re basically out of commission for the rest of the trip (true story).
It took me a few days to recover after a battle with beef carpaccio and towards the end of our trip, I was sleeping in, taking it easy and not feeling guilty at all. We made sure to cover all the musts (i.e. walking along the Seine, seeing the Eiffel Tower at night, finding the perfect macaron), but I also learned that it’s okay to not check everything of your list. A vacation should be relaxing and inspiring, so enjoy the moment and save some sights for the next time you come back!