Collecting My Thoughts After Traveling Abroad the First Time In Ten Years


Last year, I went to Australia right after I graduated from college. I felt like I deserved a vacation from 4 years of working and studying to get a degree.  I was already working full time, which was a blessing but still made me haggard.  So I packed my oversized bags and made my way through New Zealand and Australia in less than three weeks. I realized quickly there's a huge difference between traveling at 12 years old versus at 22 years old.  The obvious being your parents are usually with you when you're 12. 

As I'm prepping for my Japan trip which is ten days away now, I wanted to round up some of the biggest differences I found traveling 10 years ago versus now. For instance, it's possible to avoid TSA and very beneficial.

Communication isn't as anxiety-inducing. 

Last time I traveled overseas was to Bangladesh to visit my family.  Communication to America was more expensive and difficult thanks to long distance calling, terrible internet services, and not having a good international data plan.  I had more anxiety about not being able to contact anyone then actually being lost. Now you can easily pick up a cheap data plan, use the Internet/Whatsapp to call your relatives, and Google Maps everywhere. If you still can't get a data plan, you can opt to rent a portable wi-fi and have wi-fi everywhere. 

You can be stylish without over packing or overbuying.  

As a style blogger, I wanted to make the most of every outfit opportunity.  Australia weather also was drastically different, and  I was gonna be there for two weeks.  I packed summer clothes for the Great Barrier Reef and fall clothes for the mild winter.  Jackets for the colder and rainy days, a coat for the night outs...8 pairs of shoes.... Any way, I regretted this as soon as I got to the airport. Lugging my luggage, weekender bag, and backpack around five different cities was the worst, and I could have saved myself the trouble if I packed less shoes.   

Overplan but don't over do.  

I've always haphazardly traveled internationally without any kind of plan, so I wanted to do it "right" this time. Creating the perfect itinerary took months.  I wanted to be prepared every day, see all the landmarks, eat at the best places, be ready for sticky situations, and make sure I had back-up plans on back-up plans.  However, I didn't realize how much I planned until I started counting down the minutes and felt anxious about spending too long somewhere.

It felt like a time crunch, and it made me more tired and frustrated when I would run from place to place then end up missing something on the list. It's important to remember that plans don't go the way you want it to ever. Being prepared is great, but don't stick to your itinerary like it's the holy grail. Leave yourself room and time to actually enjoy your vacation. If you still need to over plan like I do, create a custom google map and figure out the best routes for the day.  Plus as my friend Shannon says, "What you miss seeing only gives you a reason to come back."

Carry the cash.  

Okay look. Vacay is already expensive enough, but you don't need to be going crazy with that credit card and swiping willy nilly. I've only recently realized that I have my own cash funds to use. Credit cards are easy and efficient, and you don't have to worry about the currency differences. However, you'll regret it as soon as you get back, and you see that monthly statement. Instead, carry a set amount of cash every day.  I know it's not advised, but 50 dollars for the day ain't too bad on your pocket and you still have the credit card just in case. You'll also keep travel expenses down knowing you only have ___ much to spend. 

A strong dollar is your frenemy.  It's insanely great from the outside, but too much of a good thing is still too much.

Getting off the beaten path is easier to do. 

I went to Canada six or seven years ago, and I was pretty excited to explore.  However, I didn't know where to start, where to go, where to eat, etc.  There were a few places that my relatives were like, "You have to go see this." That turned out to be every mall, outlet mall, and arcade that you can think of. All of a sudden Robin Sparkles' "Let's Go to the Mall" made sense. Needless to say, I don't think I actually went to Canada.

When I went to Australia, there were a plethora of blog posts, Instagram photos, threads and more to go through. I was able to find less touristy places to go, the coolest places to eat, and know which tourist spots to skip. I probably just skimmed the top of certain places, but it was fun getting to know a bit of Australian local fun. Social media and the Internet has become a gold mine of discovering new places to go and avoiding the tourist traps. 

Share some of your insights of traveling in the comments.