The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List

study abroad packing list

So you decided to take the plunge: you applied to study abroad and you got accepted! This is definitely an exciting moment, but getting prepared to go abroad can also be quite nerve-racking. There are so many things you must prepare for before you study abroad, and honestly, it can feel pretty overwhelming. If you were already nervous about packing to go away for college, this is like twice as insane because you’re going to be in another country (unless you were already going away to college in another country. In this case, you probably already experienced all the insane nervousness).

As I’m packing to go on my study abroad trip in a few days, I want to triple check and then quadruple check that I remembered everything. So I’ve basically been researching all the things I need to take with me. My professor also emailed my group a packing list for the country we’re going to, and I’ve been thinking a lot about which items I personally need while I’m abroad. So I created this ultimate list of all the things you need to pack for your study abroad adventure to take some of the stress out of your packing! I think that sometimes people overpack and then they’re in trouble on the return flight because they purchased a bunch of gifts and things from the other country to bring back for family and friends, so they end up with overstuffed, overweight luggage and they have to pay extra money because of it. So without further ado, here’s what you should pack!

Clothes: 

  • 3 pairs of pants
  • Sweaters/t-shirts (as you see fit)
  • Pajama tops + bottoms
  • Camis/tank tops
  • Underwear (enough underwear)
  • Bras
  • Socks
  • 2 party/formal outfits
  • Stockings
  • 1 pair of tights
  • Weatherproof/all-weather jacket
  • Waterproof boots
  • Sneakers
  • 1 pair of flip-flops + shower shoes
  • 1 pair of fancy shoes (flats, heels, etc.)
  • Touchscreen gloves
  • A hat and scarf

Hygiene/Toiletries: 

  • Face wash
  • Toothbrush + toothpaste + toothbrush holder
  • Face towel
  • Bath towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Shampoo + conditioner + body wash (in travel bottles)
  • Razor
  • Pads/underwear liners
  • Comb + brush
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hair ties
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Makeup

School supplies: 

  • Tablet
  • Notebook
  • Pens + pencils
  • Textbook(s)
  • Journal

Electronics: 

  • Plug + voltage adapters
  • Chargers for phone/tablet/laptop
  • Earbuds
  • Camera + SD Card
  • Portable charger

Medical: 

  • Travel Tylenol
  • Allergy medicine
  • Prescription medicine
  • Band-aids
  • Q-tips
  • Eyeglasses/contacts

Miscellaneous: 

  • Tide-to-Go pen
  • Wristlet/crossbody
  • Umbrella (unless an umbrella is no use against the weather)

Don’t leave without: 

  • Passport + passport holder (Visa if needed)
  • Boarding pass
  • Exchanged currency
  • State ID
  • School ID
  • Debit/Credit card
  • Insurance card
  • Emailed copies of important documents

Notice how I mentioned a “weatherproof” jacket and “waterproof” boots. I think people tend to go crazy with jackets and shoes and things — they spend money and use up space on different jackets for different weather changes, whereas buying one jacket that’s good for rain, snow, wind and even has a lighter detachable inner jacket is a much better investment. You don’t need to pack a raincoat, a winter jacket, and a spring jacket when you can get one jacket that does it all. This is the North Face 3-in-1 waterproof jacket that I bought for my trip to Ireland. I was told that bringing an umbrella is optional because they don’t stand a chance against the rain in Ireland, so I made sure I bought something that would keep me dry and warm.

If you’re only going away for a mini session (3-4 weeks) avoid bringing nail polish and nail polish remover. Nail polish remover is flammable (whether or not it contains acetone) and the TSA prohibits flammable liquids. Get a mani before you leave for trip and hope that it lasts! Also, I highly doubt you’d even want to stay inside and paint your nails when you could be exploring the city, meeting locals, and making memories. For a list of what you can and can’t bring on flights, check out the TSA’s website here.

Related Posts: 9 Things You Must Consider Before You Leave For Study Abroad, The Collegiate’s Ultimate College Packing List, 13 Things Not Allowed In Dorm Rooms + What To Bring Instead 

What’s on your study abroad packing list? 

 

 

9 Things You Must Consider Before You Leave For Study Abroad

9 things to consider before studying abroad

I’m studying abroad in Ireland this winter (yay!!!) and it’s going to be my first time traveling outside of the country since I was four years old, and I’m pretty darn excited. I’ve heard so many things about how life-changing study abroad is and how it’s “the experience every college student should have.” You’ve probably heard the same spiel that I have. I recently had my study abroad orientation at school and we covered so many things that I didn’t even think I’d have to think about while abroad. Honestly, the only things I prepared for prior to orientation were purchasing my ticket, converting the currency, and buying some travel essentials. If you’re studying abroad in another country in the near (or far) future, DON’T even so much as pack a suitcase without considering these things.

1. Your health insurance while abroad.

I got that “oh crap” feeling the moment the presentation turned to health insurance because guess whose mind insurance never even crossed…My school puts study abroad students on a special health insurance plan because accidents can happen and you need to know how much and what costs your insurance will cover. The plan makes it easy for us to report and check claims from our phones, and we can also find other services this way. Ask your school’s study abroad office if they offer an insurance plan that you can be put on.

2. Can you get your prescription medication in the country you’re traveling to?

One important thing to note is that while you’re abroad, you should not be changing anything in your routine. Some people who travel abroad during intersession think that it’s okay to not take their medicine because it’s “only three weeks.” Make sure you bring your medication and also see if you’re able to get it in the country you’re traveling to in case you lose it or something. This website called the Drug Translation Guide is great for figuring this out. Your medication may also come under a different name and dosage, so figure this out before you board a plane.

3. Your passport expiration date.

Did you know that if your passport expires within six months of your return date to the United States, you may not be able to get back into the country? Yeah, neither did I. I’m not travel expert, but this may be an important detail to take into account.

4. Currency conversions and payment options while abroad. 

Converting your currency is a huge thing to consider before traveling — how will you pay for meals and other things you’re going to purchase? You can convert your currency at your bank, but be aware that you may actually have to order the conversion in advanced, and the rate may change daily depending on your bank. Also inquire about any conversion fees. You definitely don’t want to just pick yourself up two days before your departure and go to the bank to try to convert your money. Another thing to consider would be whether or not you can use your debit card or any other cards while abroad. Be sure to find out which cards are accepted in that country. Leave yourself with enough time to consider money matters for your trip.

5. Packing a voltage and plug adapter. 

My heart practically fell when they told us not to bring straighteners on the trip because using a U.S. flat iron in Europe could practically set a floor on fire. Even with an adapter. The current isn’t the same in every country, so make sure you know what items you need in order to be able to use certain electronic devices. Essentially, you need a voltage adapter for anything that heats up — hair dryers, curling irons, and computers if they don’t have a built-in voltage adapter. This is probably one of the biggest items (besides your passport) that you can’t get away with not bringing with you. If you have any doubts, ask your study abroad office what electrical items are and aren’t allowed in the country you’re visiting.

6. The other country’s social etiquette. 

Another really surprising part of orientation came when we were discussing the social do’s and don’ts while abroad. What may be appropriate behavior and attire in your country may not be appropriate in another country. The professor my group has been traveling with has been taking students to Ireland for many years now, and is of Irish decent herself, so she was able to tell us a lot about what to expect and what not to wear. Let me tell you, I probably would have packed a couple of clothing items that I wouldn’t have been able to wear if she hadn’t told us otherwise. Getting a feel for the country’s social norms can really help you decide what to pack and what to leave at home, so do your research! Also research what gestures are considered rude in the other country. A peace sign with your fingers may be cute in your country, but in another country it can be highly offensive.

7. Alcohol. 

We were told that with a lot of students, alcohol consumption nearly doubled while they were abroad. This can do with the drinking age being different in another country, and everyone else around you may be drinking so you might think “why not?” I know that talking about alcohol isn’t all that fun and I like to talk about fun stuff, but it’s still something to be aware of. Make sure you continue to do what you need to do in order to look out for yourself and keep yourself safe.

8. Class materials such as textbooks. 

It is still STUDY abroad, aka you’re not on vacation and you still have classes to take and probably homework to do. Find out what things you’ll be expected to bring for class time. The only things I’m required to have are a textbook and a journal for documenting the trip, but make sure you know in advanced if you must order the textbook or if you can rent it or get it from your school’s bookstore.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Buying Textbooks In College

9. Preserving the memories you make. 

Do you plan to bring a fancy DSLR? Will you just stick to using your phone? Do you want to have instant prints using an instant camera? Consider how you’re going to take photos while you’re away. I hope to purchase an instant camera from FUJIFILM before I leave so I can have adorable, tiny prints for my travel journal, so definitely let me know of any good deals on an Instax mini! Preserving memories isn’t just limited to taking photos. You can also start a free blog, a vlog on YouTube, a scrapbook, or a journal, to name a few.

What other things should you do before leaving for study abroad? 

19 Things I Learned From My First NYC Conference

my her conference experience

This Saturday I attended Her Conference, a conference for young, awesome college women from all over to come together and learn from inspiring and hardworking speakers in the media industry (and each other!). I’m a writer at my school’s chapter of Her Campus and I’m also a member of Her Campus’s InfluencerHer Collective for bloggers, so I really couldn’t wait to hang out with other girls who do the same thing as me and maybe even want to go into the same industry.

It was a two-day conference but I only attended the Saturday portion, which was INCREDIBLY life-changing in so many ways. I didn’t want that to sound cliche, but it’s really how I feel about my experience, but if it helps I don’t call too many things ‘life-changing.’ Anyway, everything was spectacular from start to finish so I’ve decided to tell you all about it! I’m not gonna lie; this post is pretty long so please bear with me! I’ve split up my thoughts into two categories to make things more organized because not only did attending my first ~fancy~ NYC conference give me important life/career advice, it also taught me a lesson or two about conferences in general! So without making this post any longer than it needs to be, here’s what I learned this weekend. Oh, btw, this is NOT a sponsored post! I just want to share my experience with you and maybe even hear some of your experiences too!

her conference 2016

When attending conferences…

1. Know exactly how to get to the conference location.

Getting lost on your big day can be really stressful! The last thing you want is to ruin your hair, hurt your feet from walking extra, and sweat through your clothes in the summer heat trying to find the location. I was able to scope out the area a few days before the conference so that day of I wouldn’t have to figure out where to turn or how far to walk. If you’re able to do this, I definitely suggest it. But if you can’t, at least know exactly what transportation you’d need to get you there and how long it would take so that you can plan ahead and allow enough time to find your destination.

2. Also know more than one way to get there!

After I hopped off the train the morning of the event, I started heading down the street the way I had done a few days before. I was going to make a left across the street, except I couldn’t…the amazingness of Manhattan decided to make an appearance that morning in the form of a movie set in the middle of the street!! I was told that I couldn’t walk there and needed to turn in a different direction. Great. This was NOT the route I practiced! I knew I’d screw myself over without exact directions, so I used a GPS app on my phone and luckily it worked really well and still got me to the conference on time! If you’re using public transportation, it’s also a good idea to know alternative buses or trains because delays and service changes can occur and you need to be prepared!

3. Always bring proof of registration.

Check-in went smoothly for me, but if you’re attending ANY event that you had to register for in advanced, always bring proof that you did in fact sign up (especially if you weren’t able to print out a physical confirmation!). Take a picture on your phone and save it as proof. It would absolutely suck if you came all that way only to not be admitted because you didn’t have proof of registration. And if you do have a physical ticket printout, DON’T FORGET TO BRING IT WITH YOU!

4. Always know where the bathroom is.

Even if you don’t need to use the bathroom right that very second, at least know where it is in relation to everything else because you might need to pop in there to touch up your makeup, fix your hair, or pee after all the hydration you’ve been giving yourself. Bathrooms are also one of the most important places you should be able to find no matter where you go — class in a new lecture hall; the movie theatre; another country.

5. Be ready to take notes.

I know you’ll probably feel like you’re back in class taking notes, but bring a small notebook or journal and a pen. At Her Conference, we actually received a really cute spiral journal, but you should still come prepared just in case. I heard so many inspirational words from speakers like fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and Editor-in-Chief of SELF Joyce Chang, and I wanted to be able to remember that, and remember the pieces of advice we got from them and panelists. Don’t think that you’ll be able to remember everything in the heat of the moment, because I guarantee that after you get home, crash on your bed and wake up the next morning, you would have forgotten half the amazing advice you were given.

6. Free stuff is and always will be GLORIOUS.

free stuff from her conference

Holy mother of all that is free and fabulous. I knew that we would be getting some free goodies from sponsors like ULTA (yaaaassssss), Tinder, and Vera Bradley, not to mention a free lunch courtesy of the ever-amazing Shake Shack, but I didn’t expect to get THIS much free stuff! I got full-sized cosmetics, magazines, a t-shirt, and way more! There was also a table set up where Suja, this awesome brand of organic cold pressed juices, was set up so we could speak to the rep about the juices and get free bottles of their probiotic waters and juices. I tried the Pineapple and Cayenne (strange combo, right!?!?) probiotic water and it was SO tasty! I really want to try more of their drinks now. Another freebie fave of mine is a tube of Urban Decay’s Vice lipstick in ‘Firebird’. It’s such a gorgeous purple-y lipstick! Even if you don’t get basically a suitcase of free things, whatever items you do get will certainly be useful, be it pens, water bottles (yassss), or notepads.

7. Pockets are Godsent.

I was wearing this green button down dress and I’m not used to wearing things that actually have real pockets (not fake ones!) so I was pleasantly surprised to find that my dress had pockets! I had been stuffing my phone into my handbag because I didn’t want to hold it in my hand and drop it should I accidentally bump into someone. But after realizing I had good, deep pockets I started keeping it there. It was way easier to pull it out to snap a picture! If you can wear something with pockets, you’re golden. You will thank yourself!

8. Bring a small bag that’s still big enough to hold all your necessities.

Thank goodness my bag wasn’t too big because I would’ve had a really hard time walking around with that and my giant conference swag bag! In case you’re curious, I packed my wallet, phone, portable charger, blotting sheets, lipstick, a small journal, a pen, and business cards. Large handbags aren’t necessary, unless you have so many items that you actually need to bring a large handbag (and even so, make sure you’ll actually need everything that you bring).

9. Dress comfortably!

I wore the green dress I told you about along with cute, leopard print flats. My outfit didn’t have layers or a whole lot of accessories as I normally like to have, but I was very comfortable the whole day. Oh, by the way, the conference lasted from 8:30 in the morning to 6:30 in the evening! That being said, I didn’t want to wear heels because I knew I’d personally regret it. If the conference duration were shorter I probably would’ve taken a chance and worn wedges, but you should definitely use your discretion.

10. Know exactly where you should head next BEFORE it’s time to go there.

At Her Conference there were some really great panels that we could choose to attend, but because some of them were going on while others were, choices needed to be made. I’m glad I attended the panels that I did because they all really helped me! Anyway, my new friend (who I met at the conference!!) and I made sure we knew the room locations of the panels we wanted to attend because we needed to get over there as quickly as possible so that we could get seats because the panels got crowded. FYI, we only stood once! 

11. Try everything!

her conference 2016

I tried that Suja juice and did not regret it one bit! I also took pictures at a Tinder station and against one of those cool backgrounds with sponsor names that celebrities take pictures in front of (I felt so fab!). I even got to take professional headshots! My point is that you should do everything you want to do because if you don’t you’ll regret it. If you want to take a picture with a panelist, go for it! If you want to try out a cool workshop, the world is your oyster!

I also learned…

12. I don’t want to go to graduate school anymore.

At first I thought that applying to grad school for a Master’s in Journalism should be my next step after I get my Bachelor’s — I even worked out which school was my first choice! But after listening to the EIC of SELF magazine say that she 110% would’ve gotten where she is now even without grad school, well, that really put things in perspective for me. Going to grad school for Journalism isn’t the same as going for Business, for example. If anything, after grad school you’d be competing against undergrads for entry level jobs in the industry. This really made me decide that I shouldn’t make that my next step.

13. Don’t be afraid of coffee and an email.

I learned that it’s okay to email someone in the industry, like an editorial assistant, and ask them to grab lunch or coffee with you. It sounds like a gutsy move (one that even I wouldn’t think to make!), but we shouldn’t be afraid of going through with it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They could say they’re busy and can’t make it, or they could just not respond. Either way, at least you tried.

14. Always own up to your mistakes no matter how terrible they are.

We got to hear some mistakes made by some of the panelists during their editorial careers thus far, and as bad as this sounds, it was refreshing to know that mistakes do happen, even to our role models, and they were able to overcome them. The best way to do that is to own up to your mistakes! Don’t try to sweep them under the rug or make up some b.s. excuse. We’ll all probably make a huge mistake at some point in our careers — no one is above that — so it was nice to really hear a truth from real people.

15. There’s no 9-5 in the media industry.

This can be exciting or intimidating (or both!) depending on how you want to look at it. Breaking news doesn’t happen on schedule; you might find yourself prepping for a trending piece at 11p.m., or you might come to work earlier than usual to have enough time to shoot a video. You need to be able to understand that and work with it and still put your best work forward. This isn’t what we’re used to as college students, and honestly, this sounds pretty hardcore, so kudos to all those who slay at doing that!

16. Networking starts when you walk in the door.

her conference 2016

In other words, if you’re working, interning, etc., you should be making connections and getting to know your co-workers everyday. I’ll admit that on my very first day of my internship I was super quiet. I did what I was told and asked questions but otherwise I didn’t try to get to know anyone. Fortunately, it was something that I caught early and started working on. Don’t wait until you walk through the office door one last time before you decide to add your co-workers on Facebook, or get their contact info to go to lunch in the future.

P.S. be sure to check out my post on internship mistakes to avoid making for more tips like this!

17. I’m doing pretty well for myself so far.

It has been just under a year since I’ve decided that the media industry is where I want to be after graduation, and I’ve realized that all my efforts thus far to put my work out there for professionals, brands, fellow students, and like-minded individuals to read has really paid off. That along with getting an internship and developing skills in other areas to make myself well-rounded is what will really help me get noticed, and that’s another thing I learned this weekend. This was a great confirmation because everyone should know that yes, they’re killin’ it at what they’re doing right now and they’re completely on the right track!

18. It’s okay that I’m not pushy.

I’m an assertive person, but I just don’t know how to shove myself in front of someone. Like, I actually fight with myself on whether or not I should give someone a business card sometimes! I also sometimes decide against it just because I think that this person has already gotten so many. Some may say that that’s a missed opportunity, but after hearing that you really shouldn’t come on too strong, I’m actually okay with those decisions. I guess sometimes we’re so caught up in being as impressive as possible and making sure that we don’t walk away without giving that person a business card that we forget that a personal connection is just as important!

19. Nothing will happen as you expect it to.

I love having a defined plan and I love sticking to it; that’s just the type of person I am. Sure, I can go for some spontaneity here and there, but when it comes to things like my future, I’d rather have that timeline for security. However, I learned that I should chuck my timeline (the words of Andi Dorfman from ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’!!!) Surprisingly, that was comforting to hear. I, like many others, have this image of where I’ll be later in life and everything I will have accomplished. But who knows what’s really going to be in store along the way? Things could be way more life-changing than you expect it to be, so don’t be discouraged if things don’t start taking the direction you thought it would.

Whoo! Sorry for that super long post, but I just had SO MUCH to tell you! I’m super glad that I went to this Conference and got to listen to everyone who spoke, because I definitely learned some valuable things that I probably would’ve learned the hard way later on! I definitely can’t wait to go again next year! Have you ever been to a conference before? What are some things that you’ve learned? Let me know in the comments!

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4 Great Places On 5th Ave. To Grab Lunch

Manhattan is full of fun things to do and fun places to go to, but after all that walking you’ll definitely want to grab a quick bite of lunch! Hunting for great eats can be pretty daunting — there are just so many to choose from! For the last few weeks, I’ve been discovering some great eateries along 5th Avenue, and I’ve decided to share my finds with you. So if you’ll be taking a trip to the area, definitely check these places out!

1. Potbelly – 366 5th Ave. 

5th ave lunch Potbelly

This is a great stop for a quick lunch pickup. I personally purchased the chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat bread and I definitely thought that it was one of the better chicken salad sandwiches I’ve ever had. Some of the toppings you can add, like peppers and onions, and condiments are free (in case you’re wondering, avocado slices as toppings cost $1 extra). I love mustard on literally everything, so I went for that. I paid around $7 for my sandwich and I will admit that they are a tad bit small for the price, so if you go here take advantage of the free toppings and condiments! All the sandwiches are made fresh and you can take them to go, or stay in the cozy, slightly dimly lit shop and eat.

2. Pret A Manger – 389 5th Ave. 

5th ave lunch Pret A Manger

Pret (as I’ve learned people call it) is a natural and organic foods eatery. You can find soups, salads, sandwiches, and even baked goods. Coffee and other beverages are also options here. I ordered a blueberry muffin (the best one I’ve ever eaten!) and a carrot cake cookie. I totally appreciated their creativity with that. Their baked goods aren’t too sweet like the ones from other shops, and the entire store is really simple and clean, and there’s lots of nice seating. When I first stepped in, I was reminded of a section of a grocery store because of the (cooler? fridge thing?) near the front that held salad bowls and fruit. This is a great place if you want to appeal to that voice in your head that keeps telling you to at least try to eat healthy.

3. Panera Bread – 452 5th Ave. (Sorry, no pic for this one. It looked so good I ate it before snapping a shot!) 

This one’s a really popular chain and can be found in so many different places, but this was actually my FIRST TIME eating at Panera Bread! I know, I’m totally lame, but I really enjoyed the Frontega Chicken panini. I hate red onions (and onions in general) with a passion, but the onions in this panini complimented everything so well, and everything tasted so fresh. I also ordered another panini for someone else (steak and white cheddar panini) and when given the choice of a side of bread, chips, or apple slices with each sandwich, I chose the chips. You also have the option to choose whether you want half a sandwich or the whole thing. Panera Bread also does salads, pasta, and baked goods like danishes. The choices make a quick and yummy lunch and dessert that you can take back to the office with you.

4. W Cafe – 390 5th Ave. 

5th ave lunch W Cafe

5th ave lunch W Cafe

I think this one is my 5th Ave. favorite on this list! W Cafe serves hot and cold ready-made sandwiches and sides. I actually went back here twice because the Chipotle Chicken Panini I got was SO good! When you order to go, you get a side of really yummy chips. The first time, I got plain popcorn and these spicy potato chips. The second time, I got plain potato chips, and I actually LOVED them (I’m not a fan of plain anything but these were the best chips ever!) You can also get dessert here such as macarons, cheesecake cups, and slices of cake. There’s also a huge assortment of individually wrapped chocolate bars and cookies. I paid approximately $12 for two sandwiches with the side chips, in case you were wondering.

Final Thoughts…

If I had to pick one place that was my ultimate favorite, it’d probably be W Cafe (if the fact that I went there twice didn’t already give it away). There is literally a sea of sandwiches there that I haven’t tried yet and that I’m excited to. The ingredients and flavors in the sandwiches aren’t boring — not stuff that I think I can boast about making right at home. I also love the variety of the desserts there. Granted you will not find as many desserts here as you would in a bakery, but if I really wanted something sweet I’d still actually have a hard time choosing what to get here! Congrats, W Cafe, you’re the ultimate winner in my mind!

Next time you’re in the city looking for a bite to eat, I hope you’ll consider these locations. And if you’re totally new at traversing the city and have no idea how to start, be sure to check out my post on city travel basics + Battery Park. That’s right, there’s lots of fun to be had in Battery Park! I totally believe that you can plan a great trip to the city, but if you still aren’t convinced you can also take a look at my post on how to ride the subway like a pro.

What are your favorite Manhattan eateries? 

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The Awkward Traveler’s Guide To Manhattan Part Two

Ah, Manhattan. It sounds so prestigious, bright, sophisticated and just a little bit…intimidating! In case you didn’t already know, I’m an awkward manhattan traverser; I don’t go to the city often even though I’m from the boroughs of New York because the subway platforms confuse me, I’ll start off walking in one direction and realize it’s the wrong direction so I turn around only to realize that I was right the first time (sound familiar?) oh, and everyone but me seems to know exactly what the hell they’re doing. I can’t be the only one who feels this way, thus “The Awkward Traveler’s Guide To Manhattan” was born, except this is part dos, so if you haven’t read part one where I cover basics and Battery Park, be sure to check that out!

So back to part two…I’ve been getting out to the city more, thanks to this series I created, so I’ve been learning new things about handling myself and traveling through the city like a boss (or at least like I kind of know what I’m doing). Just the other Friday, I was in Chelsea and after an…interesting…time with the subway and the LIRR, I learned quite a few things about understanding transportation. Then the day after that I took to Broadway for another adventure.

On Friday in Chelsea…

Pay attention to the LIRR schedule. Because it really is a schedule! If you aren’t familiar with the LIRR service, trains from Manhattan to Huntington station and Port Jefferson Station only come once per hour, so if you don’t plan accordingly, you might be arriving at your destination — a job interview, class, work, a professional conference — much later than you intended to. My group nearly forgot that the LIRR had such a specific schedule, and we were trying to get back to our school! If you ever need information about any of the Long Island train services, you can download this free app, Train Time, which provides very accurate time schedules for all the LI trains.

Always have an extra MetroCard handy. If you’ve ever used a city bus service in the boroughs of New York, you know that the buses accept change as a form of payment. Well the subways don’t, so you need MetroCards to get around. Quick story about my group’s experience on Friday: We thought the MetroCard we had would’ve been just enough for all five of us, since the card had quite a large amount of money on it. Well we thought wrong, because it turns out the card only had about $6 left on it, which is clearly not enough for five people! So we had to buy new ones from the card machine, only the machine only accepted credit or debit! If we didn’t have a debit card, well…we’d be in some deep crap! The safest thing to do is to have an extra MetroCard, even if you think you still have like $5 on your old one!

If you’re confused, ask for help. So on our way back to school, my group took a train from Penn Station, thinking that we had to get off at Jamaica and then transfer. Turns out we were completely wrong! We should’ve stayed on that train and taken it right to Huntington, but we didn’t know that and we were super confused about the next train we had to take, so we asked someone at the info desk on the platform for help. Basically, we got off the right train to take the wrong train! What a life. Asking a knowledgeable person for help is the smartest thing you could do in our situation. Don’t go to a random stranger if an info desk is in sight! People at the info desk can tell you exactly what’s going on and point you in the direction of the correct train, so you’ll be completely un-confused.

Not sure which platform you should be on? Think about the general direction you need to head in. If you’re trying to get from Manhattan to Long Island, but you don’t know if you should be standing on the platform for the Jamaica train or the World Trade Center train, BUT you know that Jamaica station is on the way to your destination, chances are the Jamaica train is the correct train. If you see all these trains pulling up to your platform and they’re heading further into the city, that’s not the platform you need to be on! Sometimes, just thinking about the general directions of destinations can really help you decide between two tough directions.

Think for yourself, and don’t be afraid to interject. This is more for if you’re traveling in a group of people. Don’t just leave it up to someone else to plan the trip and take you on the subway; figure it out for yourself so you can contribute. Plus, in the off chance that the ‘leader’ of the group actually doesn’t know where to go, you might be able to offer some valuable direction.

On Saturday On Broadway…

Pay attention to signs in the subway. These signs tell you what exits you can use to take you to your closest desired street. You might want to end up on 50th street, but if you take an exit that takes you to a different street, you might unknowingly set yourself back. I used to think that all exits were the same and that (somehow) they all took you to the same exact place on the block. I know that subways tend to be packed and everyone’s rushing to get somewhere, but taking a few seconds to slow down and look at the signs in the station can actually help you stay on schedule. 

Don’t suddenly stop walking in the middle of the station. If you need to stop to tie your shoes, check your phone, or pull something out of your pocket, step to the corner. This is more about being considerate to your fellow subway goers. I’m pretty sure you hate running into people just as much as the next guy, so if you have to pause for any reason while navigating the subway, step to the side where you won’t be in anyone’s way. This will save you from many angry glares. 

Don’t be afraid to slightly stray from your path. Especially if you’re going to the city to explore and have fun! I had only planned to go to M&M’s World and the Hershey Shop, but ended up exploring other blocks in search of clothing stores and happened upon American Eagle near Times Square. Really, if you remember what street the subway for the return trip is on, you should be completely fine to explore the area for as far as your legs will carry you. Which brings me to my next point…

Know the street numbers. This sounds really stupid and obvious, but if you’re on 30th street and trying to get to 32nd, you don’t want to walk in the direction of 29th…This is literally as simple as looking up at the street signs. Also…

Don’t feel awkward about turning around. If you just realized that you walked halfway down the block in the wrong direction (which I’ve done before) don’t think that you’ll look stupid for turning around and going in the right direction. You might think that people think you’re foolish for not knowing which direction to go in, but honestly, most people are too busy trying to get where their going to notice that walked in the wrong direction. At least you’ll still get where you’re going. 

I can’t wait to go back to the city for another adventure! I have my eyes on a few restaurants and eateries in the city, so be on the lookout for blog posts about surviving Manhattan dining on a budget!

What are some of your subway experiences?

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The Awkward Traveler’s Guide To Manhattan Part One: Basics + Battery Park

If you’re like me, you’re probably not one with the New York City subway or the bustling streets and skyscrapers that make your head hurt when you look at up at them. You aren’t too sure about what else Manhattan has to offer besides the Empire State Building and other notorious landmarks. I’m just starting to make my way around Manhattan, which means I’m getting to know some streets, eateries and really cool things to do in the city. For my fellow awkward travelers who still get confused when finding the correct platform at train stations, I made this guide: The Awkward Traveler’s Guide To Manhattan. I figured it would be a great way for me to document my experiences with traveling through the big apple. Plus, the information I share with you just might come in handy on your next trip to the city. Without further ado, let’s get into part one of this multi-part guide!

The Basics…

There are a few things that I picked up on my last two trips to the city. These might sound like tips for “dummies,” but, hey, when you’re not a very gifted traveler there’s no such thing as a dumb tip, so feel free to shoot a death glare in the direction of anyone who makes fun of you for it.

Plan to spend an entire day in the city. There’s no such thing as a quick trip to the city. Plus, you should totally try to get your train money’s worth by spending as much of the day in Manhattan as you can. It might feel like a chore if you aren’t used to waking up early, but plan to get dressed and ready to leave your house before 10am. It definitely takes time to reach your destination and you wouldn’t want to cut your experiences short because of the commute. 

Awkwardness loves company – bring a friend! Chances are you aren’t quite ready to take the city of lights by storm all by yourself just yet. Getting yourself lost sounds pretty scary, but getting yourself and friends lost sounds pretty hilarious (and memorable in a good way). Don’t feel shy about asking your friends to tag along with you. On my last trip to the city I went with my best friend, her sister and our other friend. Even though you can enjoy the city by yourself, being with company pretty much guarantees an amazing time. Your friends can catch you when you fall (or when you almost trip over a section of cracked New York City sidewalk because you just had to take the pic for your Snap story). The beauty of it is that there’s no need for perfection on a trip to the city with some besties. 

Google maps is the only tour guide you’ll need. (No offense to tour guides or anything). Google maps was literally how we found our way around the city from start to finish. It was really great for the commute when we took trains and had to find the correct stops to get off at. Plus, it helped us find an awesome eatery for lunch, a cool museum and other fun things to do. Google maps is with you literally every step of the way. I have always been that person who would go online to hotspot.com to get super detailed public transportation directions as printouts, so I’d literally be pulling stapled pieces of paper out of my bag in the middle of wherever I was to check what my next move had to be. That’s probably as awkward as it gets. You’d be surprised at how intricate Google maps can be yet how simple it is to use. You literally cannot get lost (no matter how bad you are with directions) if you’ve got this app in your pocket. 

There’s nothing wrong with looking like a tourist. Stop thinking that everyone who walks past you as you try to take a picture of the flatiron building thinks that you’re a tourist. Well, excuse the crap out of me if I’d like to photographically document memories and breathtaking sights because I’m not in Manhattan 24/7. Also, if you’re going to take a picture of something, you’ll get a way nicer pic if you actually stop walking long enough to focus on your object or scene. I failed to realize this one or two times and ended up with pics that were okay but not as brilliant as I would have liked them to be. I actually stopped to take this one and it actually came out alright. See my BFF in the pink hat. 

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Fashion do or don’t: Handbags in the city. Lugging around a big, but stylish, sack through the city doesn’t sound very enjoyable. I don’t really like carrying handbags or purses, but I’ll take one if I have things to carry that can’t fit in my pockets (or if I don’t have pockets because leggings don’t!) So I borrowed my mom’s handbag because that day looked pretty cloudy and I felt the need to bring an umbrella in case of rain (playing it safe is a pretty good idea). My best friend survived our trip to the city with no purse, no handbag and everything in her pockets. Amazing. To be honest, I felt the need to clutch my bag at all times because I didn’t want someone trying to swiftly snatch my bag with all my crap and run off. Ultimately, I say don’t feel like you have to bring a fancy bag because you’re going to the city where all the other ladies will be rocking fancy bags (because I kind of felt that way. Just a smidgen). A small cross body can suffice. If you have no good reason to sport a bag that’s bigger than your head, don’t. 

Battery Park…

On my trip, my friends and I hung around the Battery Park area, which is the southern tip of the city. I discovered some interesting things there that I hadn’t realized existed. One of the best parts was that they were, wait for it…free! Not having to be bothered by costs and paying for stuff is like music to an awkward traveler’s ears (or any traveler’s ears for that matter).

3 Free Things To Do In Battery Park

Ride the Staten Island Ferry. I had a wonderful time riding the Staten Island Ferry from the terminal located in Battery Park. You can read all about that experience hereYou can catch the ferry from the terminal on Whitehall Street. The ferry is free and arrives every 30 minutes. You could actually take the ferry to the St. George terminal in Staten Island and then get right back on the ferry for the return trip to Manhattan. If you’ve never travelled over water by boat before, I highly recommend you go for a ride on the ferry! 

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Go to the National Museum of the American Indian. Okay, I didn’t actually set foot in this but my friend found it and went in while she waited to meet up with the rest of us. This is one of the few museums where admission is free for everyone. There are exhibits that cover Indian history all over the Americas. If you’re into museums or learning about the American Indian culture then I suggest you take a look. 

Relax at Elevated Acres. Elevated acres is literally a park on top of a roof. Yes, you read me right. There’s an open turf that’s perfect for a picnic with an S/O, some nice plant life that would be great for photos and you can watch helicopters take off and fly around the water. We found this place thanks to none other than Google Maps. The only cost is a little exercise, if you’re not particularly fond of it, because you have to walk up stairs to get to the roof. I would definitely like to return in the summer to get pictures of the flora when they’re in bloom. Nothing wrong with looking like a tourist, right? 

Awesome Eats in Battery Park

Shake Shack. Shake Shack is a heavenly place with heavenly burgers, heavenly fries and heavenly milkshakes! Did I mention this spot is absolutely heavenly? You will devour one of the most delicious burgers of your life here. I highly recommend the black & white milkshake and cheese fries. The price is totally worth the quality of the food, and they can accommodate to serve dietary needs or restrictions. Just let the person taking your order know. 

Financier Patisserie. This is an adorable little eatery on Stone Street in Battery Park. Patisserie specializes in French pastries and is actually home to some of the city’s best macarons. I can’t speak for fans of macarons because I’m allergic to almonds, but my friend got the chocolate macaron and said it was really good. I had a slice of the fraisier, which is a delicate little cake with strawberries and creme. #quality. This is also a good place if you’re looking for a hot sandwich and coffee. 

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So hopefully you’re starting to see that getting around the city isn’t as dreadful as you might think it is. Plus, if you’re ever in the Battery park area, you’ve got a great place in mind for lunch and dessert, after you work up an appetite after the free attractions, of course!

Be on the lookout for Part Two! 

 

 

I Rode The Staten Island Ferry For The First Time

So I got a little head start on my New Year’s resolutions, which you can read right hereOne of my resolutions was to travel around the city more, since I’m from the boroughs of New York, yet blue moons are more frequent than my trips to my Manhattan. My friends and I decided to take the Staten Island Ferry since none of us have ever rode it. I wanted to go but I was a teeny bit uncertain about it – mostly because I wasn’t sure how safe I’d feel traveling over water. 

We took the A and R trains to Whitehall Street in Battery Park. Truthfully, I imagined us waiting outside on the dock for the ferry and then walking up a gangplank to board the boat. Turns out there’s actually a building that you enter if you want to go on the ferry. It was spacious and honestly reminded me of an airport because of the vendors and magazine stations and all the people waiting. The ferry was supposed to come every half an hour. As the time neared the 30 minute mark, more and more people started crowding around the doors that would be opened once the ferry arrived. I honestly hadn’t expected there to be so many people taking the ferry!

I felt almost tingly as everyone began boarding the ferry (which is a lot more humungous in person!) I was extremely surprised to see that there were rows and rows of seats on the ferry. I wanted to grab a window seat just so I could watch the water. I got one better, however. My friends and I went to the bow of the ferry where passengers were allowed to stand, but there were safety ropes and gates barring us from going beyond a certain point.

Standing outside while the ferry was in motion was my favorite part! I even made a new little feathered friend who seemed to be enjoying the ferry ride as much as I was!

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Moving on water against the (rather cold) sea breeze, past other small vessels and even past a sister ferry was really exhilarating! We stayed up front until the trip was complete so we could watch the ferry pull into the dock in St. George. We were in Staten Island! This was also my first time coming to Staten Island, the only borough I had never visited in all of my 19 years in New York.

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In Staten Island we took a short walk to the National Lighthouse Museum. It’s just off the ferry in a cozy little house-looking kind of building. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. There were displays of other white houses in the United States (and really cool looking ones at that). The souvenirs sold were mostly some type of jewelry and were really pretty. Everyone there was really nice and welcoming! There was even a map with hundreds of pushpins. Visitors to the museum could take a pushpin and insert it on the map to represent where they came from. People from all over the world visited this museum! Fun fact: People from every U.S. state has visited the National Lighthouse Museum in Staten Island except for Minnesota!

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I had a great time on the Staten Island Ferry, and without a doubt have been thinking of taking another trip on it! Maybe next time to tour Staten Island and visit some cool restaurants and cafes. Taking the Staten Island Ferry is definitely a fun thing to do in the city that also happens to be free. As my best friend put it, the ferry is one of the last few remaining free things in the city. Even if you just take it to St. George and then turn around for the return trip, it’s still a wonderful experience!

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