Updated: Dec 16, 2020
Why will this be your favorite post? Because you're about to see the travel photos that were supposed to be deleted, should not have been screenshotted on Snapchat, and straight-up embarrassing moments from my travels. I attribute these lovely gems to my beautiful friends. Let's address that…
#1 Not Bringing Sunscreen
I discovered after my back became the mantle in the earth's second layer (did you like that 4th-grade science reference?) that sunscreen isn't the same in every country. Above I am pictured in Nice, France, after a battle with the sun. Clearly, the sun won and had a Game of Thrones Red Wedding with my skin. My advice if you're fair like me? Bring some travel-sized sunscreen. You will not regret it. My go-to sunscreen is Sun Bum SPF 50 because it smells AMAZING and is cruelty-free.
#2 Not Purchasing Phone Insurance
I could honestly write an entire post about this, but it will make me too angry talking about the string of bad luck I have had with iPhones in Europe. Not to brag but, I have lost three iPhones to the European phone gods. Whether your phone is stolen off a dinner table or briskly dropped in the streets of Amsterdam (told you), do yourself a favor and purchase some travel insurance before you leave, or better yet, an otter box case. Or you may find yourself in a DHL in bum fuck nowhere trying to obtain your phone from the United States and crying to Luigi about your first world problems. Don't be a Kathryn, be a Luigi.
#3 Not Packing Layers
Welcome to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where it was 35 degrees, and all I had to show for it was a sleeveless striped dress and lululemon leggings. When traveling in the spring and fall seasons, it will save you vast amounts of time, money & resources to pack some foldable extra layers. These items include this travel scarf (with hidden pockets for essential items!) or a lightweight waterproof jacket —half the things pictured above I had to purchase when traveling in Europe. I also look like an idiot.
#4 Packing Heavy
If you think "essentials" will involve bungee cords, you are doing it wrong. The photo above was an excellent snapshot of my study abroad excursion, where I felt the need to bring my closet and potentially a small child with me in my travels. Your back, arms & will to live will thank you in the long run. Want to pack light? Try utilizing backpacks. I swear by my Osprey Porter 46.
#5 Not Taking a Water Proof Jacket
Ok, in fairness to myself: I was under the impression that this jacket was waterproof. It wasn't until I was on the second story of a double-deck bus tour in London soaked through all my clothing that I realized that this jacket was, in fact, not waterproof. Please do yourself a favor and ensure it is before you leave. I swear by this lightweight waterproof jacket to take everywhere!
#6 Not Bringing Extras
Yes, this photo was immediately after I had a leisurely walk down Amsterdam's streets and a bird shit on me. What did my calm minded self proceed to do? Throw that jacket away. False. Do not do this. Bring extras of everything, especially if they are compact. Consider purchasing a jacket that can be folded very small like this one or throw in your favorite North Face Jacket. You never know when shit will fall out of the sky.
#7 Not Bringing Medication, Just in Case
Surprise, I am lactose intolerant and thought this photo would eloquently display how bringing medication can be an integral part of your trip. I have sustained severe sinus infections or coughs on almost every long haul European trip I have been on. Not pictured is me bedridden in Rome with a throbbing headache or feebly hoisting myself up to see the Eiffel Tower (actually, there are photos of that, but we'll talk about that in another post). After visiting hundreds of Farmacias, I am here to tell you that the drugs are nowhere near helpful for anything beyond a common cold. I recommend bringing a small zip bloc of Emergen-C, Mucinex, or talk to your doctor about prescription-strength Amoxicillin if you can.
#8 Trusting Others with Your Belongings
Of course, this is a long and complicated story, but the short version is that I let a host control getting some belongings delivered to his flat who promised that they would arrive to me safely. False. Take control of the situation, and trust your gut instincts. I do not care how nice they are; your belongings are your belongings, and you should be the one to ensure they get to you or are in your possession.
#9 Dismissing Checking Amenities
A subtle reminder to people like me who tend to not look at what amenities cost to check everything for the price. Guess what? I didn't. And guess how much I spent on laundry? 108 Euro. I could have used that for a new rug in my apartment. Now there is a wine stain, and my security deposit won't be coming back. Don't lose your security deposit because of the laundry.
#10 Sweating the Small Stuff
Everything on this list is arbitrary and entirely situational, but try not to worry too much about the things you cannot control. Have an unforgettable trip, and remember that the issues you experience will only create incredible memories. Also, beer the size of your face will help.