In the past week, I have probably left my room less than five times. In a bout of truly freak weather patterns, the entire state of Tennessee was coated with about an inch of ice and snow ranging from two to ten inches. We didn't have much winter weather in January, but boy did February make up for it. While I'm in the midst of cabin fever, I'm itching for warmer weather and an escape. Last year, during the polar vortex, I was happily exploring all over the UK: I went to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Ireland, all places that were unaffected by the weather stateside. I wanted to share some of my favorite snapshots from that trip in an effort to placate some of my wanderlust.
This got my mind turning about my love of travel in general. Although I wouldn't count myself a world traveler by any means, I have learned a thing or two from my own travels and essentially not having a permanent residence for the time being. When my dorms close during holidays (residential campus problems), I turn into a professional couch surfer, moving between my parents' and friends' houses and hotels at my destinations. These are lessons that I have found unique to my experience and largely involve traveling to large cities rather than more remote or outdoor areas. I hope these small reminders will help your next trip be that much better!
clean out your make up bag
This is perhaps one of those problems that very few experience, but between having a long distance relationship and being between residences, I have learned this lesson the hard way. I am somewhere in between the ultimate beauty minimalist and a beauty editor; that is, I enjoy drying my hair and wearing make up daily, but I know that's not always possible. You don't need unnecessary products weighing you down. Limit yourself to daily essentials (for me that's about 6 items) and a favorite lipstick. Heck, with that few items, it's possible to fit travel shampoo and conditioner if you are the particular type like me.
chill on the shoes
Know as much as you can about the climate in the area you are traveling and pack shoes for only these occasions: walking long distances, rain, and possibly a dressier pair for nice evenings. For my purposes, this usually will be a pair of ankle boots, my trusty flat Chelsea boots for rain, and a flat pair of sandals for nicer outfits. If it's winter, you can likely get away with just the daily shoes and the rain (or God forbid snow) boots. This isn't the time to debut your stellar new pair of shoes, whether they're heels or loafers. Your feet and suitcase will thank you.
use a real camera
This is perhaps one of the more debatable items on this list, but I'm a firm believer in having an actual camera for traveling. I take a ton of snapshots on my phone to post on Instagram, but the pictures I really treasure like the ones below were taken on my dSLR. You don't have to go as far as to haul five pound professional grade equipment with you everywhere, but I've been quite happy toting my smaller Pentax around with just its standard kit lens. On this same note, I highly recommend getting some of your shots printed! Walgreens does just fine, but I absolutely love having a set of square prints from Artifact Uprising to look through for years to come.
Instagram is called a social network for a reason
Speaking of photography, Instagram is an absolutely fantastic way to meet people. I met one of my very good friends through blogging and now I get to see her every time I go to Nashville. I'm so happy she reached out to me and we got to meet in person because it already feels like we have known each other for years. Looking through the tags of a place you want to visit and finding people who seem to have similar interests (or yes, aesthetics) is pretty normal in this day and age. Reach out, ask for some advice on what to do in the area, and plan a meet up! Who knows, you might end up finding a place to crash for a few days.
do a bit of research
Whether or not you reach out to locals you found on Instagram or the like, I can't stress the research part enough. I don't just mean your typical "Top 10 Things to Do in London" kind of research. I mean finding city guides from publications that embody your personal ethos. I'm not hating on the stand-bys, of course. One of my favorite things I did while visiting NYC was getting to go through the MoMA. But more than likely, the things that will really stand out on a trip are things that you chose for more personal reasons. My favorite city guides thus far have been from Lucky and DesignSponge. Thrillist is fast approaching favorite status as well. These publications will give you a more organic feel for where you're visiting because they tend to hire local writers to make the guides.
do something different
While I probably wouldn't really think about ringing the bells in a church that is hundreds of years old on my average vacation, this is something that I can now say I've done because of my travels. Not everyone is traveling for educational experiences, but even if a professor isn't making the itinerary, it is so important to get out and do something extraordinary. When people ask about your trip to Rome, do you just want to say that you visited the Colosseum or do you want to say you had dinner with a charming old local couple and traded stories? What's great about traveling is that you don't have to look very far for these kinds of opportunities. You just have to open your mind and heart a little bit and say yes more than no.
Unfortunately, writing this post didn't cure my wanderlust. It stoked the ever burning flames and made it that much stronger. But that's the beauty of travel. Most of the time, the only thing truly stopping us is our mindset.