(image credit: Trip Advisor)

With Spring Break come and gone, the routines are set­tling in. Class, work, meetings, digging cars out of the snow, but one day the sunshiny time will come when you’re plan­ning a trip. Whether you’re in the states or across the pond, whether you’re planning a road trip or a Spring Break or a ten month backpack haul through the mountains, here are some things I’ve learned in the crazy world of easy access that is Eu­rope.

When it comes to packing, the Internet offers a thousand perfect packing, you’ve been doing it wrong you’re entire life sites. Is there a fool proof answer, probably not; however, if it fits, if you can carry it, and you can avoid paying to check a bag (thanks Ryanair), then you’ve done it.

For most the biggest anxiety is airports. Or maybe that’s just me, but who’s asking. When it comes to all things airport, get there early, bring something to keep you entertained, and try real hard not to lose your board­ing pass.

Now you’re at your destina­tion. Know in advance whether or not the people there will be speaking your native language. If not, try to learn some phrases before you go. Knowing how to say please, thank you, and where is… are a good place to start. It’s polite, and as the world traveler you are, you want to make a good impression wherever you go. Plus, it’s fun and will make you feel just a little less like a tourist.

Now, yes, you are a tourist. Personally, I don’t like feeling like one, and I don’t like stick­ing out. Do the touristy things wherever you go because they’re popular for a reason. If you want to dive more into the local flavor, sometimes it’s as easy as taking a few turns off the main roads. That’s often where you’ll find the most authentic places or the locations that only the residents know. If you don’t feel comfortable just getting a little lost, another way to find those hidden gems is to ask a local about their favorite places. They know the city inside and out and will be more than happy to throw you farther into their city.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer to anyone on the verge of traveling: don’t panic. It sounds simple and stupid and you’re saying, “Well did­dly darn gosh Megan, I’ve never panicked a day in my life,” but I mean it. Don’t stress about the things you cannot control and, don’t let the small things get in the way of the adventure. If you do stress, take a moment, breathe, and keep going.

Traveling is an amazing ex­perience, and if you ever find yourself on the other side of the ocean, it quickly becomes in­credibly easy. You can be a hop, skip, and a train ride from next to anywhere. A whim and $50 can bring you to a new country for the weekend. Travel widely if you can, and if the other side of the world isn’t an option, go a city over and experience the world that’s in your backyard.

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