6 Ways To Not Be 'The American' When You're Traveling

6 Ways To Not Be 'The American' When You're Traveling

You want to know what you're doing, but you also want to enjoy you're trip.

it's not all that hard to find travel tips, but it's sometimes a bit harder to find travel tips that don't stop you from enjoying your vacation. Lots of them tell you to have an itinerary, but having a strict schedule can make it hard to enjoy your vacation, it almost makes it like school. When you travel, you want to have fun, you don't want it to be work. You want to have a general idea of what it is you want to do, but you also want to let the trip take you where it does. Go with the flow, but have an idea, and read this real quick to help you out with it.

1. Read blogs from people who live in the area, not travel writers

If you don't want to have a 'basic touristy' trip, then don't read a blog for tourists. Read a blog from someone that actually lives there, because they'll give you insight into where you are going and suggest some places that you wouldn't normally find. Sometimes those places are cheaper, and sometimes they'll be the best places that you go while on vacation. When I want to Italy, my favorites were https://survivinginitaly.com and https://anamericaninrome.com/wp/.

2. Learn a few phrases to help you out

If you're going somewhere that speaks another language, you should learn just a few phrases in it. You don't need to be able to speak fluent Spanish if you're going to Mexico, but know how to ask people if they speak English and ask for directions. When in doubt, download a translating an app and use it throughout your trip.

3. Pack lightly

I hate doing this, but I do understand te benefit in it. If you're going to a lot of different places, and if you don't want to pay for more luggage, pack lightly. Find items that you can rewear at least twice without washing, and see if your hotel has a laundry room. If it does, do laundry halfway through the trip and save some room in your suitcase.

4. Learn a little bit about the culture

You don't want to be rude or stick out as an American tourist. Before you go somewhere, spend a little bit of time doing research into the culture and it least the basic etiquette in the country. Basic things like table manners are always good to know, because the last thing you want to do is come off in a bad way.

5. Find something that you want to try everywhere that you go

If you're going somewhere and find out that they are famous for something specific, absolutely you should try it. When I was in Tuscany, I found out that the area I was in was famous for a certain kind of red wine and olive oil, and made it my mission to try it. .Everywhere is famous for something, and you'll kick yourself later if you don't try it while you're there.

6. Travel Alone

It seems scary, and it kind of is, but try it. Maybe don't do the whole thing alone, maybe plan a vaction with a friend but tell them that you'll leave a day early and explore a city near it before meeting them. Try traveling alone, because you can learn a lot about yourself if you do it. Trust me.

Cover Image Credit: Annie Spratt

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.


For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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