I just returned from a fabulous trip to Italy, where I was fortunate to spend 12 days traveling with eight girlfriends. We began our journey in Rome and then spent a week in Tuscany. It was a life-changing experience, and I cannot stop reflecting upon the wonderful people I met and the things I learned during my adventure.
Here are some of the valuable lessons I learned on my summer vacation in Italy:
First and foremost, I must pack light. Of the nine of us, I was the one whose luggage went missing—not once but twice! For the first six days of my trip, I was borrowing everything but a bikini from my lovely companions. (I always pack a bikini in my carry-on.) What I learned from this was that I can survive on much less, and going forward, I certainly will. In Europe when traveling by train, small and manageable suitcases are key.
Speaking of train travel—another important lesson learned is that train arrival times are a suggestion; however, train departure times are for real. And when traveling by rail in Europe, be smart. The crooks do not even try to blend, they are obvious, so pay attention and you will not be a victim.
Always buy a map. Let's just say I'll never get lost and end up halfway to Rome on a toll road ever again.
Unplugging is not the end of the world. For the first three days of my trip, I had no cell service. This was incredibly frustrating since my flights were either late, canceled or missed on my way to Europe. Thanks to Skype and Twitter (yes, Twitter!) I was able to get word to friends and rendezvous with them at the Rome airport. This was by far a highlight when I saw my friends waiting for me with cold Peronis. Not being tethered to email, however, was great because I had more important things to do like eat and drink.
Wine is best when enjoyed with good friends; and always order the house red in Italy, it never disappoints.
Jasmine smells amazing no matter where you are in the world.
Italy is up with people. It was such a nice experience to be in a culture that actually cares about each other. Their warmth and hospitality made me never want to leave.
A week in Tuscany is not enough.
Frogs are better than late night TV and fireflies make the best night lights.