Monday, June 26, 2017

Travel Tips from Two Weeks Out of the Country

Tallinn Estonia
After two amazing, back-to-back trips to Newfoundland and Finland/Estonia, I decided to write some travel tips. But first here's some photos from Newfoundland with my parents:
The iceberg is bigger than a house!

A  surreptitious pic of my parents

All those bergs make it difficult to fish. 

Rent A Car: While most European cities offer good transportation, having the freedom to explore off the beaten path is priceless. Or a few hundred dollars to be exact. But below are a few tips on how I'd recommend doing it:

Pre-pay: Prepaying gas in your rental car will force you to explore more if you want to get your money's worth. For example, when I was in Finland, with gas at $7 a gallon, I probably wouldn't have taken a detour to Turku, but I am glad I did as the town was a fun day trip. And come to find out it actually was Finland's capital for most of Finland's history.

Turku castle

Splurge on GPS: If overseas, having the peace of mind that you won't get dreadfully lost. However. don't be afraid to turn it off like we did in Canada just exploring some cool back roads.

Pay Attention to Speed Limits: After Kenny and my return home from our trip to Paris in April, I received in the mail not one but TWO speeding tickets. Since then I have become aware of how Europeans love to patrol their highways remotely. I almost got caught a couple times in Finland but was saved by my GPS altering me to an upcoming detector. Go the speed limit, you will see more:)

But Take Public Transport When Able: Yes, having the freedom to go off the beaten path is great, but there are certain places and times when a car is unnecessary or cumbersome. For example, when I took the ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, Estonia, I didn't want to have to deal with finding a place to park a rental car. So instead, I just took the city bus. I got to see a different side of Helsinki and saved 50 Euros by not taking an airport taxi. Also, places like Munich make it tough to get to the city center while driving and public transport is so efficient it doesn't make sense to have a car.

Check Trip Adviser: There is nothing like having open-source reviews of all the sights, and sites cited for you. Check to see what are MUST sees. But then have the confidence to peel off from it and explore. After all some of the best parts of traveling is having your plans throw away haphazardly as you find new and more exciting opportunities.

Also check UNESCO: Don't forget this website. You'd be surprised where you might find a World heritage site like when Kenny and I went to St Louis and unexpectedly found the Cahokia Mounds. Tallinn's city center was a  site and I am certainly glad I made it there.

Bring good company or go alone: I am very lucky that I have a great fiance and parents to travel with. My week with the parents in Canada and my travels with Kenny were great. But that's because we have similar tastes and expectations for our trips. If you can't find someone to travel with who is going to enhance your trip, I'd recommend going alone.

Sample Local Cuisine: I couldn't pass up the herring, caviar or borscht in my time to Estonia, any more than I could(but should have) dried fish in Iceland or the 100 year egg in China. You may never be back and really should try everything. But do it at lunch where it is usually a lot cheaper.

Opt for a Layover: On my way home from Finland, I extended my layover in Munich Germany. I love Munich and certainly would recommend visiting even if only for a day. The amount of architecture, museums, food and, of course, beer halls within a train ride from the airport, makes a visit well worth it. And most times, extending your layovers doesn't end up costing you more and may actually save you a little money.


Remember: The Best parts of travel are the unexpected. 
"The whole point of travel... is to have my sense of possibility expanded, to see every box in which I like to put things exploded-- and to be reminded that life generally has plans for us much wiser than the ones we might have concocted ourselves. One of the main things bucket lists teach us is the folly of treating places and experiences as collectibles. Happiness is very often commotion recollected in tranquility. On any good trip our expectations will be upended."

I hope your trip plans become upended soon:)

Until next time,


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