I remember getting off the metro into the center of Barcelona like it was yesterday. I had dreamed of going to Europe my whole life and it was finally a reality. Traveling with two of my friends, we booked a trip through the travel group, EF College Break, and honestly had no idea what we were doing when we got there. Luckily for our first time abroad we did it through a tour group because, as newbies, we did not prepare as we should have. We literally just packed our bags and showed up!
Looking back at this trip, I had a blast and made two lifelong friends that we met in our tour group that we still travel with today, but there are some mistakes that I did learn from:
The first thing I wish we did was to know what to do if/when your passport/whole purse is stolen. On the last leg of our journey, we were so tired and being pretty careless at this point about having our things out. After getting off the train from Rome to Naples and walking to find the metro, my friend had her purse sitting on top of her bag. We didn’t think anything of it until when we went to pay for our metro tickets and it was gone. Of course panic ensues. Luckily though a nice man who did not speak English helped us through this time and without him we would have not known the steps needed to get a replacement passport. If you have something stolen from you, like your passport, you need to get a police report to give to the American Consulate. We had no idea this had to be done and without that man who helped us, we would have been in a mess the next day! It is also important that you have extra copies of your passport picture, photocopies of your stolen passport, and a copy of your birth certificate or social security card. Luckily after getting all of her necessary materials (after waking up at 8am to get passport pictures) we were able to get her a temporary passport for the rest of the trip.
The second thing I wish I had done was to not pack so much! I know you read this on any travel post there is out there, but it is still so hard not to do. Trying to walk (or basically run in London) through the metro with a suitcase is not fun. You also do not get the luxury of elevators like in America. Half of the clothes you pack you don’t end up wearing, so learn from my mistake and pack smart!
Lastly, I wish I would have stoped and enjoyed the culture. Being on a tour group means you are most likely always on the go. While it is nice that everything was planned, I do wish I would have just sat and enjoyed the place I was in at the moment. This is my biggest regret because I feel like I did not get to fully enjoy and understand the city and the people that live there. It is nice to do the touristy things, but also remember to get lost in the streets and really experience the culture.
Is there any mistakes you have made from traveling or wish you did differently?
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