My travel lessons

February 20, 2014

I stopped to admire the view and to let myself calm down
After a couple of years of traveling, I have compiled a list of "my travel lessons".
  • Slow down- on my first trip to Europe, I wanted to see it all. I crammed 4 countries and 6 cities in 2 weeks. It was a whirlwind and as much as I loved it, I was exhausted by the end of it. I felt like I didn't spend enough time in each country. I have since learned to slow down. Instead of going to many places at once, I try to have a home base and exploring nearby places. I try to explore 1 or 2 countries instead of 4 at once. It has given more time to experience each culture and I don't have to feel rushed.   
taking a break after walking all day
  • Eat in moderation - as much I love to stuff myself with local cuisine when I travel, I have learned to control myself after having food poisoning in Thailand back in 2009. I ate everything I can get my hands on at that time and I paid a hefty price of having stomach problems that lasted for more than 2 years. I have learned to eat moderately and to be more picky when I'm abroad. And as much as I love seafood, I am more careful in choosing what I eat.  
meat overload
  • Meltdown - I am always grateful to have the freedom to travel and as much as possible I never take it for granted but there are times when I lose my sh*t. I usually get more stressed when I first arrive at my destination mostly because of jet lag and not knowing my surroundings. Once I settle in, I'm usually ok. The only meltdown that I can remember from last year was in Sintra. It was my second last day before I had to fly home and I was feeling tired after exploring every inch of Pena National Palace but we had a ticket to go to Castle of the Moors. At first, I was happy to climb up and down the stairs and towers but after awhile I was too exhausted to even move. I was not having it and found a place to sit and I had to take a couple of minutes of breather before I could join my bf into climbing yet another tower. I was not happy and all I wanted to do was to go back to Lisbon and sleep in our hotel room. 
  • Stop buying crappy souvenirs -  My mother can finance a whole village with her shopping when it comes to souvenirs. She buys the touristy t-shirts, fridge magnets, and shot glasses. I find that those items usually gather dust after two days. I stopped buying junk. I buy items that I know I will wear. For example, I bought a silver ring in Bangkok that I wear everyday. Espadrille shoes from Madrid that I wear every summer.  I'm more practical on what I bring home now instead of just filling my luggage with junk.
  • It's ok to feel homesick - let's face it, no matter how much you love going away, there will be times when all you want to be is in your own bed. I have that feeling sometimes when all I want to be is home. It's perfectly normal. 
  • Trust your instinct -  I travel alone sometimes and I always rely on my intuition to get out of potentially dangerous situations. When I went to Paris alone, I had the scariest thing happen to me twice and this was before the movie "Taken" so I was already paranoid but not to the extreme yet. I was taking photos around the Eiffel Tower during a very busy Bastille day when a young man approached me and bluntly asked me to grab beer with him. I said no. He kept following me and trying to talk to me. I was very firm and lied to him about having family members waiting for me in line to go up the tower. Eventually, he gave up and walked away. I made sure he was gone before I bolted out of there for fear that he might still be following me. I definitely did not go out alone at night because of that.  Safety comes first. 
  • Stay with locals -  I'm a fan of air bnb and I prefer it over staying in hotels when I am away for an extended time. I feel more at home staying at an apartment and meeting locals. I find that most hosts are helpful in giving tips on where to go, where to eat, etc. For example, when I went to Chicago, our host told us about a restaurant walking distance to our house. It was a hole and a wall place but the food was superb! I think we're going back there this year just to eat there again. 
Do you have any travel lessons to share?

Sintra: Pena National Palace Garden

February 10, 2014

The best thing about not taking the tram up and down the palace is having the time to look around the garden grounds. I loved photographing the flowers and the trees here. I felt like I was in a "secret garden". The flowers were growing everywhere. 
This year, it feels like winter is never going to end. Everyone I know just wants winter to be over already. We've experienced enough polar vortex and snow storms more than I could count. Thankfully, I will get a little break from this weather by going on vacation soon and I hope that when I come back, it will be spring! 

Latest Instagrams

© Christine Loves to Travel. Design by Fearne.