Big Ben Hiding Behind Parliament
Less than three weeks left of the semester, senior year, and college itself. Hard to believe it is finally coming to and end and it will be another new beginning. It had me thinking about how last year at this time was another ending, the end of my semester abroad in London, and how looking back one year later has made me realize a few lessons I have learned from my experienced. Some I knew in the moment when I was in London, and others I had to think about how they have subtly just become part of my daily routine. The top ten things I have learned while studying abroad are...
1. GETTING LOST ISN’T A BAD THING
I learned the most amazing thing about myself is that I love getting lost. I love the feeling of getting lost in a new city, wandering around for hours until I know the streets like the back of my hand and found all of the hidden gems you never see in city tour book.
2. TIME FLIES
Time flies by faster than you realize, and one thing I learned about time is not to take a moment for granted. Even on a day where the weather may seem crappy and cold, or I may not be feeling all that great, get up and go out because the moment will be over before you know it.
3. MAKE MISTAKES
Sometimes the best way to learn is by making mistakes. They are the hardest lessons to learn but the ones you never forget because in the end, they are the ones that help you grow the most.
4. TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS
I think one of the hardest decisions I had to make while studying abroad was when I was planning out all of the destinations I wanted to go on weekend trips/day trips and coming down to the final decision of where I could go and couldn’t based on time and finances. It was probably the most heart breaking decisions ever and looking back, I think I could have managed my time a bit better and fit more in.
5. “IF IT SCARES YOU IT MIGHT BE A GOOD THING TO TRY”
Take risks even when the odds are against you and feats seem terrifying. You know, it’s when you have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach telling you to run like hell? That is when you will either make the mistakes worth learning from or make the greatest decision of your life.
6. COMPRIMISE, DON’T SACRIFICE
Sometimes it easy to get overwhelmed, especially when traveling with multiple people, and everyone has different opinions of what they want to see and do. I always had this constant fear that with so many people and so many different needs to meet we might not get to everything and I would have this feeling of remorse left at the end of the day for not seeing everything. Negotiate. Compromise so you don’t have to sacrifice time or opportunities during your travels or and other opportunities in life.
7. BE TRAVEL SAVVY. ALWAYS.
Seems cliché, but it is probably become my philosophy in life now. Always be travel savvy. Don’t over pack because you never wear half of it anyway, don’t waste money on things you don’t need but rather save it for experiences, start your days early, expect the unexpected (because rarely do things ever go according to plan no matter how hard I try), and photograph everything.
8. YOU KNOW MORE PEOPLE THAN YOU THINK
One very important thing I learned, from a very unfortunate event in Paris, is you know more people than you think you do. Whether you are in a crisis and need help or just looking for someone to reminisce over homesickness, that someone is not too far away.
9. NO REGRETS
It’s sounds intense and maybe even impossible, but that is probably one of the most valuable things I have taken out of studying abroad. Have no regrets. The concept can get a little tangled at times but to me the idea of ‘no regrets’ simply comes down to at one point every decision was made I either thought it was the best choice or I knew it wasn’t and I did it anyway.
I think the last and most important thing I learned from studying abroad was to hustle. To hustle and work hard for what you want. Whether it is traveling every weekend with friends or getting out everyday to build my portfolio it takes dedication, work, and some serious organization skills to constantly financially orchestrate travel plans. But at the end of it all, it is worth it to rarely sleep, constantly be on the move, and live out of a suitcase to see the world. And the only way to do all of that is to hustle.
XX A Traveler's Bliss
It's hard to believe that exactly one year ago we arrived in Amsterdam to begin our Global Passes on the Eurail, trekking across twelve countries and seventeen cities in twenty-five days. Everyday was packed with new adventures, cultural experiences, and food excursions like no other, never wanting to miss a single opportunity.
I started this video a while back but never quiet finished it. I wanted to make a video of some of our photographs from traveling since I didn't record much video (and if I used all of our photographs the video would never end). It starts at the beginning of our journey, in Amsterdam, and the rest of our Eurail experience: Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Zurich, Milan, Venice, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon.
I never would have thought before my study abroad that so much travel in so little time was possible. But with a solid group of travel companions, a little planning, and a backpack there is endless possibilities to where you can go and all you can achieve.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
What would my final edition of my Eurail Adventures series be without showcasing all we did through photography? I wanted to go all out and post some of the highlights from each city that best represented the city and our time spent there. It is the best way for me to show an entire collection of photographs from the journey without going overboard. Cause I can. Easily. If you have been following along with me on Instagram this week, you've probably noticed by now that I have been posting a photo a day from each city that we visited along the Eurail. Feeling the nostalgia is sadly part of coming home from any great adventure, but going through old pictures, reunions and connecting up with travel friends, and always talking about more travel is part of keeping the wanderlust alive.
I think one of the best parts about being able to look back is we can say we accomplished so much is a such a short period of time. Ten countries and sixteen cities in twenty-five days is a lot of culture and history condensed into a short amount of time. There were some days we felt rushed through a city and others we felt like we had time to take everything in and enjoy the moment. By the end we all felt the experience left us with an overall concept of which cities we knew we needed to return to and spend more time exploring, and others we felt just didn't leave that lasting impression on us and we would rather see another part of the country.
Overall, even with every struggle and the packed schedule, the low moments could not even begin to match the highlights: getting on our first train to begin our journey, climbing to the top of the Astronomical Tower, lounging in the Baths of Budapest, singing in the hills of Salzburg, eating gelato for breakfast, wearing a bright yellow rain coat so I could never get lost, and watching a sunset in Lisbon while listening to the sounds of the city.
These are the little things that make everything worth it, especially when you get to share the memories.
Prague, Czech Republic
Vienna & Salzburg, Austria
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Barcelona & Madrid, Spain
xx A Traveler's Bliss
Is it just me, or does everyone have that dream at some point in their life to live their life on the tracks? Just jump train-to-train and go wherever the wind takes them. Maybe it was from growing up with a train track in backyard, but I always wondered where all the trains were going and I always wanted be on one and go somewhere too.
Last spring, a group of friends and I got the chance to experience a very small taste of what the fantasy of that life would be like. We had about a month off for our spring break and decided to spend as much of it as possible traveling on the Eurail, exploring as many different destinations as possible with the time we had. It was our way to experience as much as Europe had to offer in the short amount of time we had off.
All of the Planning
We decided that the pass that best fit out itinerary was the Global Pass twenty-two day continuous and at the time we purchased it we received an extra three days free with our pass. We also decided that since we were going to be spending a lot of time on the trains, it was worth it to spend the little extra money for the first class tickets versus the second class. (Not gonna lie, it was a fantastic choice and I highly recommend it if your planning month long or longer trips)
For our trip, we used the Eurail’s European Highlights itinerary as a starting point to plan out trip, and then edited it according to our timetable and everyone’s personal preference for the trip. One of the easy adjustments we made to the itinerary was taking France off the trip since we had done a weekend trip previously, so we decided to start in Amsterdam and and add destination after destination after that.
We manages to explore ten countries and sixteen cities with our “twenty five” day Global Pass on the Eurail. Most major cities we stayed about two days and the smaller cities we stayed about a day and a half. We would schedule our trains either early in the morning or later at night if they were longer so we wouldn’t waste too much of the day. With shorter train ride, we scheduled those around mid afternoon so we could spend the morning wandering in a city and have the evening in a new city. We tried to plan out as much as possible ahead of time so that while we were traveling we didn’t have anything left to think or worry about.
(Also, when I say “schedule”, I mean we planned out most of our time table so that we knew expactly what train we were taking and on what day. We had a few that required reservations but most never reqiured it. On our first train ride, we all got divide up because we didn’t have reserved seats together. Which is not a big deal because we had a ticket no matter what. After that train ride, we decided to make reservations on the longer ones so that we could all sit together and not worry about being separate. We like’d our buddy system.)
The best AirBnb award goes to our double-balcony in Venice. Even when it rained we lived for that view!
A lot of our planning revolved around time, budget, and effeciency. We wanted to make sure that we did not spend the rest of our savings on the trip ( we still had a month left of school in London when we got back.) So we were still trying to be cautious, but we wanted to make sure we werent always racing against the clock instead of taking in all of the experiences.
We kept an incredibly detail document between the six of us on our google docs up to date with our travel plans. Any time a train time, flight, or revervation changed we updated the document. You probably thinking, that is incredibly over the top to go that much into detail, but it was exactly what we needed. Most of the time we didn’t always have WiFi so it was important to have a saved copy of the document on our phones (and a hard copy) so we would always have the train times, our AirBnb rservations addresses, and emergency contacts.
During our planning, we found that one of the things that was equally as important to us was time management. We ended up booking a flight from Monte Carlo (technically we flew out of Nice) to Barcelona to not only save time, but so we didn't waste a day dedicated to travel. We wanted to spend as much time in each city as possible, and by switching it up and taking that flight we were able to to extend out trip to Lisbon. We also found that we saved more money by booking AirBnbs. AirBnbs tended to be in the locations that we wanted, whether it was in the city center, close to the train station, best prices, and felt more autentic. It was like a homey introduction as soon as we got to each city and the hosts were always willing to tell us where the best food, hidden attractions, and local favorites were in the city.
Overall, the Eurail was the most flexible and cost effective option for us and everything we wanted to accomplish. And oh boy did we test the limits of what we could pack into twenty-five days.
xx A Traveler's Bliss
The Eurail is an easy, accessible way to access trains across twenty-eight countries in Europe (and even some ferries and buses). The Eurail is a one-ticket pass that you use to basically jump on and off any train as you make your way across a few countries or across Europe. There are different Eurail passes depending on where you are traveling and for how long. You can choose a pass for one – four countries, the select pass, or the global pass. They range in price depending on how many countries you choose, days, and class (first or second).
Somewhere on the train in Switzerland
Why would you want a Eurail pass when you can buy tickets at the station along the way? With your Eurail pass it is your ticket for all of the rails in the participating countries with Eurail. Every time you want to go somewhere else for the day or for the next part of your journey, you just jump on the train and go.
The Twenty-Eight Countries part of the Eurail are:
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey
So it all sounds great and dandy right? But why is it worth it? I honestly could not think of a better way to travel other than trains. Sounds silly, right? But there is less time wasted in getting to the train station, less time getting through security (less people), you can walk around on the train, multiple bathrooms, usually an outlet to plug your phone in, you can bring food on the train with you or buy something in the café car, and the views never disappoint. It is more relaxing and less stressful than flying; plus it is a more eco-friendly way to travel.
Here is a Crash Course to a few Tips to Managing the Eurail:
In the Alps
xx A Traveler's Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)