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Around the world in... how many days?

A bit of reality on the feats and failures of traveling in your 20's...

I am the Tap That travel bug! My spare time is spent searching for cheap flights and studying maps around the world. In a world where we use Google to find every answer to any question, we have the luxury of learning about different cultures and worlds in a matter of milliseconds. Yet, what life is like elsewhere seems almost imaginary because we aren’t there, only watching YouTube videos and reading articles about it. Make it real. There is so much more than where you’re at. I refuse to pretend like I know anything about somewhere I’ve never been, so here I am! Using my young adult years to invest in traveling the world! Yeehaw!

My favorite, and the most humbling, elements of traveling are the challenges you face. We really take for granted being accustomed to our cultural norms and common language. But when you can’t read traffic signs or communicate properly, it gets very real, very fast! There were so many amazing and terrifying experiences in each country I’ve traveled. I could go on for pages about my favorite and least favorite moments, but I’ll keep it to the exciting parts. I can’t wait to tell you!

It all started in 2016…

Munich and Berlin, Germany (November 2016)

First trip out of the States! Luckily, a friend was living in Berlin at the time and was a wonderful guide around the cities.

Must Experience

- Zugspitze is the highest peak in Southern Germany in a remote town called Garmische-Partenkirchen, a two-hour train ride outside of Munich. When I visited in November, it was chilly for sure, with snow halfway up the mountain. To get to the top, you need to take a cable car - that is not for the faint of heart on a windy day like ours! My sister and I went outside to the viewing deck and saw the most expansive and beautiful view of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The icy ground, whipping wind, and freezing temperatures were nothing compared to the wonder of that day.

- Nightlife is Berlin is unlike anything I’ve experienced. Nobody goes out until 2am and the clubs all play deep house music, with lines stretching blocks and bouncers that are selective based on your demeanor and fashion. Unlike bars in LA, everybody is dressed in baggy, muted colored wardrobes with less regard for showing off.

- The Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkt) were my favorite part of Germany during this time of year! You could feel the spirit in the air while you shopped for unique ornaments and sipped on hot Glühwein.

- Neuschwanstein Castle - look it up and gaze at the beauty.

Questionable Tales

- I got one of my favorite and most painful tattoos at AKA Berlin! Their style is very heavy and dark, they also take their sweet time even if it’s a large piece right on your rib cage…

- Bed bugs :( We had the unfortunate pleasure of housing a family of bed bugs on our travels from Munich to Berlin from a hostel. While I’m sure they were sweet little creatures, they really put a damper on our spirits when we spent an entire day at the laundromat and sanitizing the apartment, which ultimately didn’t work. It’s one of those things that will eventually happen to anyone who travels often, but is no fun nonetheless.

London, UK (March 2017)

I was in the UK visiting a partner school for my college and to perform at Move It! Dance Festival in London. We had one free day to ourselves and really packed that day full of fun!

Must Experience

- St. James Park, next to Buckingham Palace, had hands-down the greenest grass I had ever seen. Neighbored by Green Park and Hyde Park, there were thousands of daffodils to smell and monuments to see.

- Oxford Circus to shop - their Topshop is 5 stories of cafes, boutiques, and fashion. I was in heaven.

- Camden Town to thrift and eat amazing street food - I had plates full of Dutch pancakes and pierogis for less than $10.

The only downside - I was left feeling like I hadn’t seen enough of London and plan to go back within the next 5 years!

Iceland (February 2019)

Here is the most recent and biggest trip yet - my first solo adventure. For my 24th birthday I decided to spontaneously book a flight to Reykjavik and explore the southern coast for a week. It was the height of winter and I had to prepare heavily for this one since I was planning on being completely alone for the majority of it.

Must Experience

- SO MANY WATERFALLS. Like, so many. And many are easily accessible. I visited Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss (in warm months you can walk behind this one), and Gullfoss. There are hundreds across the island that I didn’t have time or resources to reach, but one day!

- Reynisfjara is the black sand beach you see in tourist photos for Iceland. I had been looking forward to that sight for years before I arrived and at first, I was wildly disappointed. It’s a severely dangerous beach and watching hundreds of other visitors get too close to the waves made me more nervous than excited. I left with a mission that day to see Reynisfjara and the basalt columns at sunrise the next morning (sunrise in the winter is around 9:30am). I drove to the next town, Vik, and walked my way down the other side of the beach and had it all to myself. That was the moment I was waiting for and it did not disappoint one bit.

- Glacier hiking on Vatnajökull was the only excursion I paid for and very much worth it. My guide worked on Game of Thrones and gave me an experience I’ll never forget. As I was standing on top of a massive glacier, hoping my crampons would keep me put, he held me in place and told me how amazing it was that I was there by myself and validated everything I was doing for myself. Thank you, Halli!

- It goes without saying, look for the Northern Lights every night especially in the winter when nighttime is almost 16-18 hours!

- Really cute and friendly horses :)

Questionable Tales

- The nature of Iceland was a phenomenon in itself. It is fierce and changes quickly. When I was leaving Reykjavik, I had to drive through a mountain range where a massive snow storm seemed to be continuously hitting. I couldn’t see two feet in front of my little hatchback for 45 minutes and was sliding side to side on ice, wondering how far off a drop it would be if my car slipped off the road. I lived to tell the tale and teach the lesson that you need 4 wheel drive no matter what anyone says!!!

- So I mentioned before how difficult it could be to understand traffic signs… this girl got two parking tickets in Reykjavik. One was dismissed because I pleaded that I was a foreigner with no common sense. The second one hasn’t been a problem… yet.

- The smell of sulfur will haunt you for the rest of your life. I promise.

Each of these trips taught me immense amounts about myself and other cultures. I am beyond grateful to have the ability to explore. A goal of mine for 2019 is to travel to three new countries. It’s looking like I will be successful! Beyond what I’ve written here, I have loads of insight into these destinations and the basics of traveling solo. Reach out if you have any questions, I would love to help!

Next up: Spain in September and Australia for Tellina’s wedding!

Much Love

Emma xox

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