8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip

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Your typical list of things to do before your trip might look like the following:

  • apply for visa
  • research the weather for duration of trip
  • make a list of "must-do" activities
  • PACK
  • check-in online and double check boarding passes/tickets and reservations
  • tidy up the house
  • contact family and friends with itinerary 

Ah, yes, the to-do list before jetting off on your next trip can seem very daunting. However, for many years I've found that the anticipation before going on an exciting journey... that buzzy, flighty feeling that comes in between when you book your flights and touching down on foreign soil was something to savor. That sweet spot in between checking off the necessities and the day before takeoff is GOLD to me. It's during this time that I find myself longing to amplify my excitement and knowledge about our next big adventure. Does anybody else do this? It cracks me up when Luke tells me that before he studied abroad in Rome, he never even knew what the city looked like! Like... what?! I'm a big advocate for entering foreign places with a sense of curiosity, but man... not that much!

Having some previous knowledge about the rich history, cultural and culinary traditions is an excellent way to connect with locals, and also approach our adventures with a sense of humility and appreciation. Not to mention, sometimes, the best part about getting ready for your trip is getting oh so excited for it. Here are eight simple ways to build your anticipation a little more and boost your knowledge along the way before you hop on that big jet plane!

8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

WATCH A MOVIE OR TELEVISION SHOW FROM YOUR DESTINATION

Nothing gets me quite in the mood for adventure than watching a movie set in a foreign place. Seeing the streets of London set in the Victorian age, or the jungles of Thailand, or the trials and tribulations of the American West through a compelling storyline brings out the best of my wanderlust. I'm partial to turning on "Midnight In Paris" and "Roman Holiday" when I'm feeling nostalgic!

Hearing the dialect, getting swept up in dreamy settings, seeing the manner of dress and cultural expectations gives you a bit of insight on how your adventures might pan out. And not only do you get to see the nuances of the location, but you might also get to learn a thing or two about the history and culture. Choose a movie set in your destination, or research some that are considered to be "classics." A quick Google search will bring up lots of recommendations! 

RESEARCH LITERARY "MUST-READS"

There's something about reading a great book set in a fantastic setting that brings us closer to the heart of the history and culture of where we're about to jet off to. Just try to not feel excited about a trip to the English countryside after reading Pride & Prejudice! The same goes for Dracula and Romania, The Good Earth and China, On The Road and the American West... and so much more. 

Do some research and look up classic literature set in your next destination. Nothing will make you feel more swept away and buzzing with excitement! 

GAIN SOME HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Visiting a museum or watching a historical documentary might not seem like a must-do before you set off on an adventure abroad, but doing so certainly ensures that you can enter your destination more informed and with a sense of respect and admiration. Although it's impossible to learn everything about the nuances and intricacies of a place's history, taking an hour or two to gain some insight goes a long way. I loved learning all about Japanese history through quick Youtube videos before our trip a few years ago. I now find myself looking through historical books and documentaries on my next destination because it simply deepens my relationship and understanding to the area and its people! 

8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

TALK TO A LOCAL WITH SOME PERSONAL TIES TO YOUR DESTINATION

This one is the ultimate. Connect with a local, either in person or online. Ask, ask, ask. Hear their stories. Hear their recommendations. Hear the thrill in their voice as they explain something unique or not-to-be-missed. Guaranteed excitement overload! 

MAKE AN INSTAGRAM "SAVED" LIST OR PINTEREST BOARD

The best way to save information is either through Pinterest (check out my Travel board, if you're curious!) or through saving geotagged locations on Instagram with their "save" feature. Anytime I see a gorgeous photo, I take a second and save it for future use. That way, when it comes time to planning a trip, I have a plethora of locations, hotels, restaurants and images to get inspired from. I can't tell you how often I find myself referring to this list when it comes time to plan a trip.

Don't forget to follow as many 'grammers that focus on your destination of choice! A quick search (either under the related Instagrammer channels tab or by searching through geotagged locations themselves) should come up with a ton of people to follow. 

ASK YOUR COMMUNITY 

You know what they said, there's no harm in asking! You never know what someone in your own community has to offer up. I like to ask for recommendations on Facebook to my friends, throw a question on Instagram stories for any followers to share insight, as well as ask questions on private groups I'm a part of (like Girls Love Travel). I'm always pleasantly surprised at the responses! 

8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

COOK A TRADITIONAL MEAL OR GATHER SOME KEY INGREDIENTS BEFORE DEPARTING

The way to girl's heart is through her stomach. And the same goes for girls who travel. Perhaps there is no more intimate way to learn more about a place than through experiencing the act of cooking its food. Getting our hands dirty and deep into the ritualized steps of making traditional meals. Smelling the aromas of each ingredient combining step by step. The joy of making things together. Taste testing. Savoring each bite. It brings us closer to far away places. 

So, look up a traditional meal and get busy in the kitchen!

DOWNLOAD SOME TOP HITS FROM YOUR DESTINATION

Stocking up on music is my favorite way to get swept up in the romance of a place. Discover some of the top hits and classics of a destination is a double whammy. You get hours of entertainment to enjoy on the plane, on public transportation, while getting dressed, etc. while also getting a dose of culture. Win-win, right?

8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY
8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY
8 Ways To Get Excited (And Educated) For Your Next Trip | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

When it comes time to make your next "to-do" list before jetting off on a big, bold adventure... don't forget to add some of these ideas to it! You'll be gaining some excellent background history to feel even closer to the countries you're visiting AND getting yourself even more amped for the big day you hop on a plane! 

What are some ways you get yourself excited for your adventures?

Dear Rome, A Love Letter

If you've been following me on Instagram, you know that I recently made a bold declaration to the universe.

I want to travel the world and write love letters, poems and short stories about the places that captivate my heart.

You see, I fall in love with places. Maybe you do too.

Welcome to my first exploration of this new series. Who knows what will it will turn out to be... a blog series, a new website all together, a community-based hashtag (I've already started #ifallinlovewithplaces on Instagram... feel free to add your own stories and photos to the fun), a book, or maybe just a momentary exercise in gratitude and sentimentality. Let the fun begin!

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Dear Rome,

We met in what seems like a whirlwind of a sweltering, simmering mid-June. Upon landing in your arms, in the cab from Fiumicino Airport, I found myself in a swirl of misty-eyed dreamscapes. There I was. It was all steam. It was all a blurry, smeary dream. 

Between wood-fired pizzas made by bantering men in overheated kitchens, to the most delicious pasta handmade by nonnas, passing by old gentlemen, hands held behind their backs, deep in conversation, stomachs out, heads down towards the cobblestoned streets... I found myself enamored by your age, your brash, bold people, your creamsicle hued colors. But it wasn't until I saw the Vatican for my very own eyes that first night, illuminating the dusty, twilight sky like a candle in a dark room, arms outstretched like a welcoming, when I realized how ancient and how deeply rooted, truly connected I was to you.

I imagined being my grandfather in youth that evening walk home. I daydreamed that I walked into quiet nunneries and chapels with bold confidence and revere, a typical Sunday evening. I imagined myself going to the same market vendors, hearing my Nonno bargaining with the local fisherman, learning from the best so that one day I could do the same. I concocted notions that I lived in a small, third floor apartment with the laundry line taut, fresh basil picked from the roof deck.

Some still, quiet minutes of pure, pure imagination.

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I've learned your street names (Vicolo Del Cinque, you gem of an alleyway). I've memorized how to walk in heels through the tumultuous hills of uneven cobblestone. I've learned a few phrases. I've even been mistaken for one of your own. I've returned again to relive the splendor of your foods, your smells, your ancient history, your liveliness. And yet, I haven't expressed my gratitude for showing me so much more than Roman art or philosophy or history. Our time together, albeit short (and hot, so hot), has opened a curiosity for life within me. A longing to find myself in far off places. A desire to feel that buzzy, cooing thrill of seeing your streets for the first time once again. 

My dear Rome, I love you. Send my regards to Osteria Der Belli and that tiny apartment on the second floor off of the Ponte Sisto. I will return soon.

Yours,

Laura

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Why We Travel & A JORD Wood Watch Giveaway

As I write this post, it's about a week and half until Luke and I will be hopping onto a big, white jet plane to spend our summer adventuring in South Korea, Taiwan and China. The amount of time that has past from the moment we sat across from each other at an overfilled coffee shop, empty mugs sitting stale on the counter, locking eyes and saying to each other "I can't believe it, we're going back to Asia!" and now is staggering. And yet, it feels like a conversation we had last weekend.

Why We Travel & A JORD Wood Watch Giveaway | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

It's always around this time, when the reservations have been made, every detail sorted and visa accepted, that I start to realize how incredibly fortunate I am to be able to take on grand adventures like this year by year. I start to acknowledge the insane amount of privilege I have, to be able to afford such experiences, to be able to leave home and those pesky adult responsibilities for a short while. These adventures do not come easily, but they certainly do not come often to most. This is a reality I think of often and always... especially when it comes to sharing travel posts. 

I think back to when I sat with my grandmother on her living room floor, sifting through magazines together, mentioning how I felt I had a "European soul," listing out the castles I longed to see. I think back to how disheartened I felt knowing I wouldn't have the opportunity to study abroad... dreams dashed aside in favor of a cap and gown (at least for a little while). I think back to trying foreign foods with my daring younger brother. I think about my first cross-continental flight. Those moments, so present and real in my mind's eye and yet so, so far away from my reality as I type this post. Time, you've twisted my mind.

Why We Travel & A JORD Wood Watch Giveaway | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

This is the essence of why I travel. The reality of time... it's finite and fleeting nature sits close to my heart. Choosing to spend it learning about this wide and beautiful world we reside in is one of the best personal decisions I have ever made. The truth is, in a way, travel is how I choose to make my time on this globe count. To fulfill a dream, to expand my perspective and seek understanding, to make me feel closer to this vast, overwhelmingly large and old planet we inhabit. I want to soak in it all, I want to make my short time here full in this way, for a least a little while longer. 

When JORD Wood Watches reached out to me and shared my mutual excitement for our upcoming travels, I couldn't believe the timing (pun intended)! With their gorgeous wooden finish made from a variety of 100% natural woods, ranging from bamboo, koa, golden camphor, ebony, to sandalwood and more, to their attention to detail in packaging and styling... how could a girl say no? Having a beautiful timepiece to refer to while adventuring abroad is a delight. Not only does it allow me to kiss my attachment to my otherwise useless cell phone goodbye while we trek around our destinations, but it also has a sentimental quality as well. China and Korea are exactly 12 hours ahead of us here on the East coast, meaning at any second of the day I can glance at my Fieldcrest watch (made with earthy Zebrawood and Maple) and recognize the nearly perfect time difference between myself and my dear friends and family back at home. Plus, who doesn't love a little reminder to make our time count?

To celebrate our grand adventures abroad, I've partnered with JORD to giveaway a $100 gift card for their wonderfully crafted website, where you can find yourself a little momento to savor your time and travels! The best thing? Every person who enters receives a e-gift code worth $25 in their shop! Pretty awesome if you ask this nostalgic traveler. Click here to enter... good luck! 

Why We Travel & A JORD Wood Watch Giveaway | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY
Why We Travel & A JORD Wood Watch Giveaway | ROAM + GOLIGHTLY

Before we head off, be sure follow us along on our travels on Instagram @roamandgolightly!

We'll be sharing an some fun blog post and podcast episodes while we travel, but you'll find our day-to-day adventures there. Until then!

JORD Contest ends at 11:59 CST 06/18/17 and both gift codes expire 09/17/17!