Around this time one year ago, I was making preparations to travel to another country for the first time. Okay, it was technically my third time, but the first two times were when I was so young that I don’t remember a single thing, so I don’t count those times. Anyway, I was about to travel to Ireland on a study abroad trip, and little did I know that this trip would inspire ideas for more adventures. There’s something so awe-inspiring about being in another country to learn and grow. I won’t go into too much detail about the trip, but it definitely made me crave more experiences abroad.
I think that people in our generation are placing more and more importance on traveling abroad and becoming more cultured. However, it can be easy to become obsessed with just getting enough content for Instagram and forget to absorb as much culture as possible. Not only that, but sometimes traveling can be so overwhelming that you may be more concerned with doing rather than what you will regret not doing. So to help you, I’ve come up with a list of experiences all travel-loving millennials should seek to have when they go abroad, whether it’s your first time or fourtieth. Plus, I’m going to be sharing my personal travel bucket list with you. So if you’re curious, read on!
1. Make a new local friend.
The biggest thing I think I wish I had done in Ireland was actually establish a friendship with a local there. It wasn’t very easy to interact much with locals other than our tour bus driver and shop owners since we had to follow a travel and excursion schedule, as well as a class schedule. People always say that you should try to be-friend locals and I agree 100 percent. They can teach you things about their life in the country that a tour guide can’t tell you. Plus, if you ever visit again, you’ll have someone to look forward to seeing (and possibly to lend you a couch to crash on so you don’t have to pay for a hotel). Making friendships and connections is becoming increasingly important in our society, after all.
2. Try a food item you wouldn’t normally try.
Unless you’re allergic to it, obviously. I tried fish and chips for the first time in Ireland because that’s just not something that would be served at an American restaurant (FYI, America, you’re missing out!). I personally think that you can learn a lot about a country and its culture by the food that the people eat. In Ireland, the food really spoke to the importance of agriculture since literally everything was locally sourced, and therefore a lot more fresh. Be a little wild and try out the craziest dish in the restaurant. Or just get something that your friends might find bizarre.
P.S., follow my food account on Instagram for my adventures in baking and New York City food and dessert! Here’s a sneak peek below!
3. Eat the foreign version of your favorite fast food.
Okay, I know I just said to be adventurous in what you eat and having fast food sounds like the least adventurous thing you could have while you’re abroad somewhere, BUT even the fast food can be a good indicator of country culture. Plus, don’t you want to know if the Wendy’s French fries actually taste better in France than the ones in your country? I tried Supermac’s, the Irish version of McDonald’s, and it was SO. DAMN. FRESH. Like, I’ve never had a cheeseburger that tasted healthier than this one. It definitely made me dislike American fast food and I eat considerably less of it now, and I’m trying to convince my family to follow my lead, too. If you really don’t know what to have for dinner one night, go to a fast food chain restaurant and see how they do their meals.
Read Also: The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List
4. Consume the media in the country you’re visiting.
This one really speaks to me because I’m a Journalism major, and I chose to write my final essay for class on the differences and similarities between American media and Irish media, but this is a great way to find out what’s important to the people in another country, as well as what their approach to newspapers and magazines is like.
5. Live in a hostel.
Okay, I didn’t have fantastic experiences in the hostels in Ireland, and it seems like they’re usually either ok experiences or bad experiences for other people, but I don’t wish that I didn’t have the experience of staying in some in Ireland because for a lot of travelers, hostels are affordable ways for them to take shelter while exploring a city. As someone who really hopes to travel more in the future, I thought it was important for me to understand hostel culture early. Plus, I wrote an article about my experience that got published on Thought Catalog and got hundreds of shares!
6. Embrace not having wi-fi.
We’ve definitely become a culture obsessed with wi-fi passwords and the ability to post to Snapchat and Instagram. The only time we had wi-fi on our trip was when we were inside the hotels and eating at pubs and restaurants. So when we were walking around and exploring the city, we had no way of connecting to a signal to use the Google Maps or anything for finding our way around or texting to find our other classmates. This forced us to pay extra attention to where we were going and what was around us. Instead of being dead set on one destination, I became more ok with playing it by ear and just wandering to find something that really caught my eye. It’s amazing what you’ll see when you’re actually watching.
My 2018 Travel Bucket List
I really hope to do some serious traveling around in 2018. While I’d love to see every corner of the earth, I’m trying to make this bucket list as realistic as possible because 1) I don’t have that kinda cash to be climbing every mountain and booking every flight, and 2) I just hate getting my hopes up for something that isn’t practical for me. This list definitely doesn’t include all of the places I want to visit, but it’s what I think could be doable for me in 2018. So, without further ado, here are the places I’d like to visit in the new year—will you be in any of these cities??
1. Quebec City, Canada
I’m obsessed with cities that have rich historical importance, and Quebec City is full of it. I want to learn more about the French influence there, and what better way to do that than to actually visit. I really would love to visit for a few days, nothing too crazy. Maybe it could be a family trip for me.
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
I have been dying to visit New Orleans for almost a year now. Again, it’s the French history calling my name. Sami Mast, a blogger from The Classic Brunette, did a post on her experience staying in the French Quarter of New Orleans and that really sealed the deal for me. Maybe it could be a possible spring break trip for me and a friend.
3. Paris, France
I have been telling my parents that when I graduate we are taking a family trip to Paris. I know, it sounds kind of spoiled of me, but I’ve never had a summer where I could just take a few weeks to relax and visit somewhere new since I have always jumped straight into internships after my semester ends. I’m obsessed with French beauty and French pastries—my favorite croissants are the ones I make myself, and if I cook you dinner I promise there will be eclairs, not to mention the fact that my blog is called Macarons & Mascara. I am low-key already planning for it. I downloaded a language learning app to teach myself French, and I’m forcing my family to do it too, so there’s that.
4. Edinburgh, Scotland
My family is part Scottish and being in Ireland and seeing everyone discover new pieces of themselves there convinced me that I needed to visit Scotland to learn more about my family’s roots there.
5. Havana, Cuba
It’s not just a super catchy song by Camila Cabello. I’m a writer at my school’s chapter of Her Campus, and for the first time ever they have organized a spring break trip for writers. The deadlines are coming up super fast, and the deposit is a bit much, so whether or not I actually go will be dependent on if I can rack up the money for it in time. Still, this is probably my best chance at getting to see Cuba’s rich history and culture firsthand, so you best believe I’m going to try everything I can to be on that trip.
Do you have any travel recommendations? What’s on your 2018 travel list?
Read Also: 10 Fun Things To Do In Dublin