When touring the world abroad, you can't help but feel the trip could've been done even better if not for this or that. Our minds are funny like that. The recent JustZeusBooks' tour of Europe, however, was perfect. Did it go as planned? No. Did it matter. No way. Was it perfect because of this? Yes. Yes, it was. The weird turns in mood, weather, map direction and schedule created a travel concoction that would be the envy of every wizard's magic spells book.
Whether bunking in hostels, licking your lips through ritzy restaurants or adventuring through seemingly unchartered terrain, each of us should aim to see the world through the rosiest of glasses, no matter the context. The beauty of your very own trip is just that; unseen - by you. The trip advisory blogs, journals and even the snaps on the back of postcards cease to truly prepare your eyes for the appetising delights of your unique exploration.
Regardless of your endeavours, things invariably will quickly turn from moments of bliss to mishaps and even horrors. So, without needing to fondle too much with global ideals, let's jump straight into our '5 must have tips' when on holiday.
1. Prepare to pay. Travelling the luscious landscapes of Iceland, alleys of Amsterdam, the intrigue of igloo haven Finland or just moseying the parades in Paris; prepare to pay, and then some. With the currency conversion at a not so pleasing rate, fill your pockets before you venture. Whilst we are on this topic, stop thinking about it. Resign to the fact, it is expensive. Stop your mind from estimating and budgeting according to the good ol' Aussie dollar. It makes your holiday that much better by simply excepting the fact, you are going to pay top dollar, and then relish the equally important fact: it is oh so worth every penny. Above all, in six weeks, six months, six years; what will remember? Expense or experience? That's what I thought!
2. Make the most of every minute. We get it, holidays are about R & R. But who cares about that when on tour in Europe. With so much to do, find ways to cheat procrastination so that not a moment is missed. Travel at night across the continent. Plan ahead, devise routes based on organised chaos. Get from A to B whilst losing yourself in back streets, cafes, bars and hidden treasures. Cover more whilst ticking boxes. Confused? Good. That's how you make the most of your trip. The key here is to be smart, not lazy. Earn your sleep by walking the cities instead of bussing or using the underground systems. Unplanned incidents are just as rewarding and memorable as those that are planned. Now try planning for that...
3. Pay extra to be closer. Although paying top dollar on accommodation isn't as inviting as paying less and saving for each experience, you will find the beauty of proximity. This will inevitably be a huge time saver, not to mention convenience to, well, everything! If there's one thing worth thinking about spending up on; it is your accommodation. Be wise by researching what each short term residence offer. Research hostels with central locations that still offer comfort and/ or the inclusion of a morning meal. Don't be one of those travellers with that "hotel from hell" or "near Hostel" experience. Be the salt and pepper adventurer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. Try hostels, luxury, shanties, camping, igloos, Air B & B and anything else; whatever the means, just make it central. The real benefit of having the stay a little closer is that you don't have to spend time on transport systems getting to where the real action is. You don't need to worry about the 'outer' ghosts, gypsies and pirates we often hear about. And you don't have to worry about discomfort - your headspace will be much more at ease if you pay a few extra bucks a night and camp a tad closer to the hustle and bustle lit cultural centres.
4. Avoid airports. Although, at times, you may not have a choice, be innovative. Sometimes it's not what you do, it's how you do it. Why not try catching a ferry or an overnight express train? Many might think jumping on a plane may be a wiser choice due to the time saver element in travel. Think about this: how long do you waste waiting in lines at the terminal? How central is the airport in each destination? Or, how does the cramped, smelly and draining aircraft cabin sound after even twenty minutes of that kid behind you or that incessant baby crying two rows ahead? Not convinced? An example of this, you may ask? Here's one. Wake up at 5:45 to get to the central train station via the Metro train system by 6:20. Once you are here, you lug your heavy and oversized cases through early morning city foot traffic just to find the rural train lines. Finally, you find the right 'one way' ticket for that train system (that's right, the Metro train ticket is different to the rural train line). Next, you're constantly checking the clock, hoping the 6:40 hasn't left Platform 17. It's 6:42. You missed it. That's ok, there's another rural line that heads to the airport at 6:47. On Platform 3. Your mad dash pays off and you make it. Once you arrive at the airport, there's a line up to get into another line, but you still don't know which gate you are leaving from. You are starting to get annoyed at this section of writing, right? Well you haven't even got to the waiting at the check in line, the customs or boarding gate. Then there's the twenty minutes of boarding, the irritating passengers, uncomfortable seats and the agonising ear pain on decent. All this worry just to be on time for a 9:30am departure. You get the picture. But the harsh reality is; the "five hours of saved travel time" is actually spent doing all of the above and more. I rest my case. You're there for a good time, not a long time, right?
5. Experience it your way. "Oh, you have to see this", "make sure you try this" and "seriously, don't go there". We can all relate to this. In fact, here I am preaching to you with many of the aforementioned. You are your own boss in very little in life but on holidays; this is exactly what you are. Take control! Ride Rome, rollerblade Nice, take a bus top tour around London and sleep in a Teepee in Croatia. Although it is wise to read up, check the internet as to what those before you have treasured, it is just as, if not more important to be your own tour guide. Get lost in each and every experience. Forbid yourself from your comfort zone; eat local delicacy and binge on jaw dropping history, create pathways for those anxious bystanders and lap up the essence of distinctive culture.
It really doesn't matter what you do when you are on holiday in Europe, as long as you remember to stop, take a breath, pretend your eyes are a panoramic camera, then scan! At every corner, literally, there's a little piece of magic. Hidden in every small back street store might be the perfect gift you've been searching for. Just over that rise may be the money shot for your whole trip. Eat, drink, converse, read, write, create and repeat. Experience the infectious bug of travelling. Get out and explore our amazing world. You deserve it!