Here in California, the sunshine as of late has given all of us college students an all too eager glimpse as what’s to come in the next few months. If you aren’t scratching your heads at the premature spring back West, you have at least dreamt about summer and undoubtedly seen hundreds of student travel fliers splayed across campus. If you’re planning your summer abroad already (which, if hoping to accomplish this summer, you probably should be …) I’d like to take this early opportunity to offer some less accessible, yet most important advice for the college traveler.
I recently traversed through Ireland, the U.K., northern and southern Europe and the Mediterranean for three months. Now when I say traversed, I mean it. I wore a backpack and the same pair of jeans until they literally ripped off of me somewhere in Spain. I micro waved pasta in sink water from bathrooms and slept on the floor of Trans-Adriatic ferries. The important thing to know is that I do not consider myself a travel expert – merely a substantially uneducated novice, but I do believe I have a few insightful travel tips for the fledgling traveler.
You see, the men and (rarely) women writing the most geographically insightful travel books today aren’t our age. They tend not to give themselves the option to visit Euro “discotheques” and therefore, opt not to plan wisely for such an event. Let’s face it: we’re young and if we’re traveling anywhere, what fun would it be to neglect this fact?
Pack for a Party: My mom told me a hundred times that I will never wear high heels in Europe. Granted, she was right in that high heels definitely clash with a NorthFace travel pack, however, I silently rejoiced every time I actually wore the boots I cleverly tucked into my backpack. Albeit, I cried because my feet hurt so badly after walking from pub to pub, but I rejoiced at the beginning of the night, none the less.
Don’t think you won’t need to look nice in Europe. Every travel book we read felt the need to reiterate the fact that comfort and versatility are among the key factors of fashion in a successful trip abroad, but what makes you look more American than a pair of well worn runners that don’t match a single versatile thing you’re wearing? You will most likely be travelling to some of the fashion capitals of the world. Here, I’m sorry; fashion is light years ahead of comfort. The Italian men in McDonald’s literally resemble a well stocked Dolce & Gabbana shoot. Your frumpy, hooded sweatshirt and hole-y Vans may well be a giant, fluorescent target reading, “ROB ME” or worse: “I HAVE NO FASHION SENSE.”
Even if you don’t plan on hitting the most jet-set Euro clubs, realize that even pubs are not the equivalent to American dive bars. Pubs are often historic, classy watering holes and even the Irish “bachelors” take the time to put on a suitable cap before heading out into public. Let’s work together to make Americans better suited, literally, for world traveling.
to be continued…