This past summer, I was lucky enough to spend almost an entire month in France! I spent two weeks in Dijon (yes, like Dijon Mustard), and another week in Paris with some of my closest friends. I even got to spend my birthday in Paris (how lucky can one girl be?)! Looking back, I wrote down some of my biggest pieces of advice for anyone thinking about traveling to France, or abroad in general:
1. Wait until night time to sleep.
This one sounds like a no-brainer – who wants to waste time in Europe sleeping? You’d be surprised! With security lines, layovers, flight time and customs, we spent almost 16 hours traveling and we were exhausted. Paris is 6 hours ahead of all of us here in Ohio, which was definitely a big shock to our systems. We fought through the exhaustion of the day and made sure we explored the city a bit before going to bed for the night. Definitely worth it!
2. Being a tourist is not a bad thing!
Most people absolutely dread looking like a tourist – they think it makes them stand out like a sore thumb. If you do your research, you’ll be able to fit in and check off your itinerary in style! Don’t waste your time abroad worrying what others think about you!
3. Plan out what you want to do ahead of time. I traveled alone with three boys who were much more excited about buying beer legally than staring at the Mona Lisa. Needless to say, I did the majority of the planning. I spent hours the semester before looking up the top places to hit on TripAdvisor and RoutePerfect, trying to make sure we fit everything into the week we had in Paris. We were exhausted 150% of the time, but we hit everything on our list. We all decided we’d much rather be tired than miss out on some of the Parisian sights.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people have the misconception that the French are rude, but we found that to be so far from the truth! Before we left, we learned to say simple phrases, including “I’m sorry, I do not speak French. Do you speak English?” This one went a long way; once we made an effort to be better than the “average American,” most people were more than willing to help us find our way.
5. Have the time of your life! Overall, don’t hold yourself back from any experiences. Unless you’re super lucky and get to go to Europe all the time, unlike me, make sure you see everything you want to. Don’t just stay on the beaten path though, some of the best things you’ll see are the things you can’t find online!
(All photos courtesy of Sydne Santo)