8 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My First International Trip


Whether it’s your first time or your fifth time abroad, here are a few tips for your international trip!

You Don’t HAVE To Look Like a Tourist

…if you don’t want to. There are plenty of stylish wardrobes that are also quite practical and comfy. While it’s easier to wear flip flops or some college university sweatshirt, do your research and invest the time and a little cash in to getting something that’s stylish and walk-able. Last year I invested in some Kork-Ease booties, and they are literally like walking on a million cotton balls. I could wear them all day long, even through the streets of London. A quality investment for traveling in style.

Do Your Own Research, Don’t Pay Someone Else To

Ah, the ever debated tour guide/tour company/tour included hosh posh decision. The simple blogger in me just wants to simply say ‘No way’. However, for those considering, I highly recommend doing your own research. Researching where you are going to stay, where you’ll visit, famous landmarks, and restaurant suggestions can all be very rewarding, and these things will make or break your trip. Generally speaking tour companies don’t give you a chance to explore the ins and the outs of the city because your day is completely planned out. From my experience dining and suggestions of things to do can be very touristy because they are catering to the masses, and often have partnerships with restaurants and hotels to fulfill. So do your own research and plan out your trip for the very best authentic experience possible. I highly recommend this.


Learn the Language

I know you’ve probably heard this one time and time again. But it does pay off to learn a little bit of the language of the country you are visiting. Think about a few key phrases that you know will get you by (hi, bye, thank you, you’re welcome). Don’t bother with phrases like ‘my name is _____’. Chances are you’re not going to be running up to strangers telling them your name. And if you are, god speed… Do always know how to ask where the bathrooms are in any language. That one’s handy! From an American point of view, there are some countries that just won’t like you. But that’s mostly politics! Learn the language, and you have a better chance of being respected and welcomed.


Ditch Your Diet

Seriously. Get rid of it, throw it out of a moving car, chuck it in the Seine. Eat to your full potential people! You may only be in Paris or Madrid once in your lifetime, so indulgence will leave you with no regret. Most older Western cities (Prague, Paris, Lisbon, etc.) don’t have escalators or elevators, and for this reason I’ve never seen someone come back for a few weeks in Europe with a gut. It just won’t happen. Walking everywhere usually does the trick. If you’re really concerned about extra weight, make sure a taxi or train isn’t an option. Walk everywhere.


Call Your Bank Or Card Company

It never fails, even after my first international trip I consistently forget this one. I mean it’s 2016, shouldn’t they just be able to read my mind that I’ll be in Europe for a few weeks? Well it doesn’t (yet) work like that. Bummer. Do not forget to inform your credit card companies of your travel dates. Nothing is more annoying then when you’re about to purchase your first Italian cappuccino, and your card gets declined. Making calls from another country to sort it out is definitely not fun.

Don’t Stay in a Hotel

This might not be for everyone, but if you’re looking to live like a local for your stay, then you’ll want to be as immersed in the city as possible. A great way to do this is by renting a space through Airbnb or TripAdvisor Apartment Rentals. Both these companies are well trusted and great for finding your perfect city space away from the cliché hotel chains. Shop at the local farmers market in the morning and prepare your very own perfect Parisian breakfast in your flat. Want to wash your clothes? No problem! Choose an apartment with a washer. Other bonuses include saving money by being able to prepare and (adequately) refrigerate your food, and more room in your suitcase for bringing home gifts because extra socks and shirts aren’t needed with a washer. And most importantly, you get to feel like you’re part of the city and lifestyle of wherever you are.


Think Outside the City

This one is a rarity. We hardly every think about other places we could visit, while we’re visiting another place. It just doesn’t sound right. But, especially in Europe, borders are often a hop, skip, and a jump away! If you’re planning a trip, think about ways you can split it between two cities. Krakow to Prague or Budapest to Vienna. Take a night train and not lose any time. Also be aware of day trips you can take to other locations. Climates and scenery can vary greatly between the North and the South of a country, so set your sights on experiencing it all! The best way to do this is to pull up Google Maps and scout out locations that seems close, then do your research.


Skip the Trinkets Made in China

I know, they seem so tempting because they’re everywhere! Mini statues of Big Ben, Eiffel Tower bottle openers, Statue of Liberty key rings, and so many more. But honestly, YOU DON’T NEED THEM. They will end up in a box sitting in your closet that you haven’t opened in ten years (even you know this). This used to happen to me when I’d buy a mug from everywhere I had traveled. I had so many mugs collecting dust. Sadly, we parted ways years ago and I’ve never looked back. Instead, try this: research local flea markets in the area. You’ll be able to find some absolute gems! Some countries contain a large collection of WWII era artifacts. Much better than a mug made in China that you’ll use for a few weeks. Also, treat yourself because you’re on vacation. Check out the ‘high street’ of the place you’re visiting and buy that Céline bag you’ve always wanted, or that Tom Ford lipstick. Skip the trinkets and instead go for antiques and luxuries.


Where these tips helpful? Leave a comment below!




  1. Dear Stranger,
    Tuesday I am going on my first over seas adventure to London,Rome, and Venice. I like this posting! It puts a lot of my doubts to rest. Maybe I’ll bring you back something. But honestly this was a great help. I literally was wondering about a lot of my decisions and it seems like I made the right ones.

    Another Stranger

  2. I enjoyed reading this, it’s true that learning the language or at least a few words makes such a difference

  3. I’ve just discovered your blog and absolutely LOVE the layout and design. Not worrying about what your’e eating definitely makes a trip more enjoyable 🙂

  4. I assure you that it’s ok to do mistakes and you sure learn from them. I have been traveling the world since 2000 and I have done my fairs share of mistakes so I don’t have to repeat them and I sure don’t now. Besides those mistakes helped you wrote this post right? So my advice it’s good to make some mistakes and sometimes it’s fun thinking about them.

    1. Yes Marc I completely agree! It is fun to look back on them as well. Made so many mistakes of staying in sketchy places when I first started out haha. It happens. Thank you for your comment! A good perspective. 🙂

  5. This is a really good list especially the one about skipping the diet. I would just add: enjoy in moderation which is pretty easy in Europe since the portions aren’t MASSIVE.

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