Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Before You Go!

Here lately my page views have spiked drastically, at least that's what the notifications tell me. I'm no fool, I know it's the season of preparing and scouring the internet to make sure you've prepared just right for your new adventure abroad. Because I am aware, and I've been in your shoes AND I would be a cruel person to just keep moving with no regard to your fragile life changing move here's a quick "to do" list of the little and the big things to help you get on your way.
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Warning: This is the only photo, enjoy!
 

 

The Little Things:

Tissue Packets: You use the restroom, you need tissue, but you will not find it if you are using a public restroom in Spain (and most of Europe). Nope. This was always on my shopping list and I was always needing them. Not to mention that time we ran out of toilet paper in the apartment, we were prepared. Seriously, these little packets need to be in your possession as soon as possible and never let them go.
Cell Phone: Just suspend the service if you have a Smart Phone and use Wifi to connect to people through Whassapp. Airplane mode is you friend now. Everyone has it, and now you can make phone calls. It's a free, all in one!
Learning the Language: If you don't know, you will learn. Before you go learn some quick phrases- the basics for interaction, buying items, and in general not coming off as a jerk to the locals. There are so many sources for this, start with the web obviously.
Sunscreen: No really, I'm from Texas and I know heat, but if you go back to the beginning of my blog journey you'll notice a trend: High Temperatures and Walking. These two things require you to protect your body from sun damage. Just do it.
Walking Shoes: Not Espadrilles. Not new Chucks. Not cheap sandals. Not flip-flops. Try some cute New Balances or Timberland boots, both are great for walking, cute and popular no matter where you are in the world. All the shoes I put on the no-gos list I've already tried for you and until you've had to leave a good night out because both of your cheap sandals break apart from all their  hardwork you know nothing.

The Big Things:

A Shoulder bag (Ladies or if you prefer gents): As a woman I'm carrying around more than my average male friend. All of which comes in handy until someone tries to rob me or I'm walking through a very crowded street holding my bag like a baby because, not a soul has time for thieves. Here's looking at you Barcelona. Get a shoulder bag that's light, zips for every compartment option, cleans easy, and can be worn across the body with the bag in the front. I tell you this because I know from the experience. The experience of others of course. I don't know from personal experience because my shoulder bag followed the rules.
A Solid Back Pack: My backpack was waxed leather, definitely fashion forward, and well worth the money. I was a modern day Mary Poppins. You will definitely need this as your carry-on for travels. But sometimes just to put your groceries in before you get on the bus or train.  Try to avoid luggage as much as possible, especially on weekend trips. Get a deep one with many pockets and don't be afraid to return it after your trail run if it doesn't work out. Because you are going to try it on for real before you move abroad, right?
Space Saver Bags: I quote: " Girl, I need to see how you pack, how were you able to bring so many clothes?!" Space saver bags. That's how. Seriously, I wasn't working with overly large suitcases or a too spacious carry-on bag ( I chose atheistic over necessity), but due to Space Saver bags I made it happen. Fully stocked closet right here guys, and outside of giving away my Classic Doc Martens to a homeless man before my departure (and trashing other shoes that the cobble stone streets had been unkind to) I was able to bring back my spoils from shopping along with what I arrived owning. Space Saver bags and the roll technique are your friend. Sometimes your only friend.
Suitcases: All I can say is choose wisely, and choose for you. Don't let someone else pick out your big bags AND make sure you can carry them all at once. My bags are SWISS, so they're built tough, made for travel, and easy to carry. My smaller bag while pretty big can easily be worn as a backpack due to the handles design. My best suggestion is to get all your bags together in a corner of your place or beside a wall. Imagine you are traveling on a train and some little street urchins are eyeing your property. Are you and your bags arrange in a manner that's going to make it real difficult for them to hassle away some of your belongings. If not, why? Figure it out- even if that means buying new bags. This is a real life situation, just ask anyone who has ever traveled abroad about their train, underground, tube, or subway story and I guarantee you it will involve a Tetris game of their property for safe keeping.

The When I Get There Things:

Living Situation: With the internet and connecting with people all over the world it's definitely possible to find a place before you get to your city, but BECAREFUL. I was lucky because not only the landlords and there daughter provided references, but the current resident was all over Facebook with tips and pictures. I took a chance and it paid off. My greatest suggestion to you is network with locals before you get there, they'll be the helpful ones for certain.
Get The I.D.:  Do not waste time getting your I.D. or the information needed. Follow the directions, use your resources and move forward. To open up a bank account, which you will need, you have to have you I.D. get it and keep it safe.
Find some travel buddies: No seriously, find folks you can travel with and then go. Plan sometimes and others times don't plan, just hope on a train to a town you've heard of and have a good time.

The BIGGEST THING:

Enjoy the journey, understand that you can never fully prepare for what you are about to experience and that the person you believe yourself to be is about to change for the better. Please don't let the stress or nerves get in the way of the experience and relationships you will encounter along the way.

Hope this was helpful, until next time . . .Adios, Hasta Pronto, Be Blessed!

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