Wednesday, August 20, 2014

South of France and Spain

I realized that I never shared the rest of our photos from our Europe trip earlier this year. You can see some of our Paris ones here, but above are a few of my favorites from Nice, Villefranche, Antibes, Monaco and Barcelona. It was amazing!! While I am by no means an expert, here are a few of my tips when planning a trip and visiting Europe...

Have a mix of busy days and relaxing days. Preston and I have found that our sweet spot for vacation is having busy exploring days (I don't say busy lightly - we jam packed five museums into one day while in Paris! I want to see it all!) followed by relaxing, go-with-the-flow, pass-the-sangria kind of days. We will purposefully schedule big cities followed by small villages and beach towns, I think it helps to get a more authentic experience while preserving your sanity. Win win!

Take screenshot photos of your Google map directions on your phone before you leave your coffee shop/ hotel/ restaurant with wifi. I think maybe everybody already knows this but it is completely how we got around everywhere!

Pack in a carry on! Last year when we went to Italy for two weeks, we used backpacks. While it was convenient to not have to pull luggage over cobblestone streets, those sucks are HEAVY and it was not the most ideal of situations to run through Rome with an extra 40 lbs on your back. This year we opted for small, roller carry on luggage and it was amazing. We did one each and it was more than enough room - in fact, I think I will probably try to pack lighter next time around!

Comfy shoes. Comfy shoes. Comfy shoes. I brought Sketchers walking shoes which officially makes me an 80 year-old woman but we walked over 90 miles this past trip and my feet didn't hurt even a tiny bit! Worth it.

Get a public transit pass for however long you will be in the area. This is way quicker and easier than buying individual bus/ train rides each time you want to ride. And if you accidentally get off on the wrong stop/ take the wrong train it's no big deal, you can hop right back on again!

Don't be an a-hole.  Before we went to France, we were a bit weary of the whole 'French hate Americans' stereotype. Ya'll, they were so gracious and kind and amazing. The first night we were there and had to ask for directions, the woman we asked didn't just point us or tell us where to go, she walked us around the neighborhood to find the flat we were staying at. We stayed here in Nice and Albert couldn't have been a sweeter host! He had a suggested itinerary for us each morning that he shared while he cooked us delicious French crepes, took us on a walking city of the tour and was over the top incredible. We went to a restaurant one night, the wonderful host started putting blankets around my shoulders the second the sun went down to make sure I wasn't cold. All of this to say, the rude people that we did encounter were all Americans! There was a group of students traveling abroad on a beach we were at who were so loud and inappropriate, it definitely made it clear why Americans get a bad rep!

Something is going to go wrong. I think going into traveling realizing that it is going to be a little bit crazy is the best mindset. You will get lost, you will accidentally lose something, you will accidentally take the keys from your flat after checking out and wander across town, etc. It happens! Nothing a delicious glass of wine can't cure.

Take advantage of your plane flight over to get on your new sleep schedule! Here is where I am going to be honest: this is the only time I ever take a sleeping pill. And then I wash it down with a big ol' glass of red wine to make sure I fall straight to sleep. I wake up refreshed and ready to go!

Bring a tooth brush, chapstick and powder/ mascara in your purse on the plane. Right before you land, run to the bathroom and brush your teeth and touch up your mascara and lips. This instantly puts me in the mood to go explore. Also, bring thick, comfy socks to slip into on the plane!

Call you bank before you leave so they don't place a hold on your account! Also, get a credit card with a chip so you can use it abroad - it makes life so much easier! And hello, credit card points. (We use this one and love it!)

....And I think that is about it! What are your favorite tips/ tricks? Please do share! (Also, New Zealand and SE Asia are the next places on our travel wish list so please send over your advice for there!!)

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