Traveling: for the Tenacious

Paikea Houston headshot
Paikea Houston
March 19, 2024

Bonjour, mes cheris!

Welcome to my blog! If you aren’t already familiar with me, my name is Paikea and I am currently in Paris!

Le sujet du jour is light traveling, emotions, and taking health seriously. 

Avant tout, I want to clarify that everyone’s experiences are going to look and feel different depending on your personal circumstances. Where you go, your financial circumstances, your own wishes for what vacations look like, etc will affect how you make your choices. Who you are as a person, your personal preferences, your interpersonal dynamics, and many other factors may also play a role. As always, nothing that I present in this blog is to be taken as a substitute or stand-in for medical or therapeutical advice I am nineteen years old I only have 2 years of actual experience under my belt in terms of being a semi-capable human being (2 years is a bit of a stretch I am sure my sister would say a year at most).

D’abord, you will have weekends that seem endless in the beginning to go wherever you want. These weekends run out fast once you start detracting the ones necessary for settling in, exploring the home city, and also the ones you need to prepare for examinations. Plan early and book early. You have no idea how expensive things get when you book the week of, and always be flexible. Also, save some weekends to stay at home later on because sometimes you need a moment where you aren’t living on a travel budget to stay at home, cook a nice meal (or eat out), and just relax. Or if you really set your heart to it, do it in Portugal I have heard everything is better in Portugal (we’ll see, haven’t been yet). On a side note, pack light. One backpack should be enough for a weekend. A single backpack. My go-to for a 3-day weekend is 2 changes of clothes, one worn and one in the bag, sleeping/workout clothes, several changes of underwear and socks, a small towel, and hygiene stuff. Wear any coats and heat-related accessories on you. Bring your passport and anything vital to survive wherever you are going. If you need to, you can wash clothes by hand and set them to dry over the day, but carrying anything other than a backpack is super annoying. It can cost more depending on how you are traveling, and it can prevent you from seeing anything before you check into your accommodations. Many places don’t let you check in before 2 pm, so if you arrive in the morning that means you have to explore, walk, and eat lunch with everything you brought with you. A rolling suitcase is generally frowned upon in most eating establishments, as well as museums and churches.

Deuxièmementbe aware of what you are comfortable with and always prepare for the worst-case scenario. I am well aware that I love seeing money in my bank account and that shelling out hundreds of euros for a weekend trip because I wanted to get there in 2 hours instead of 9 is inherently counterproductive. So I book night buses. I do this because I am familiar with traveling on long long long drives, and even more familiar with sitting next to people who will scootch their butts all up into your personal space so they can get to the perfect angle to lean against the window at. These people exist everywhere and they are not always related to you: BEWARE. If you can’t sleep on buses, don’t book a night bus. If you like the roughly 80% certainty (statistic is made up) that you will be arriving on the same day at the very least, don’t book a bus. If you can’t handle dealing with rude people, don’t book a bus. Or a train. Or leave your house. Or talk to people. You get my gist. These are slightly exaggerated for effect but the point stands, you have to be aware of your preferences and boundaries to avoid any potential worries. My first-night bus experience was awful, but I booked in a way I had all of Friday to sleep the stress away, plus Saturday and Sunday to explore what I wanted. I also chose a town known for being quiet and having little to see or do other than being charming and pleasant in nature. I book trains for experiences I know are going to be taxing or more rigorous in nature because even if you are sitting for the majority of the voyage, traveling takes a lot out of you. The second part of the advice is also vital for study abroad students in particular. Do not be that person who has to leave early from class or arrives late to class because of a booking malfunction, a delay, or anything of the sort. It is frustrating for you, your professors, and everyone else. That said, if you need a weekend in Sicily eating good food and pretending you are from The Godfather I won’t blame you and wish you a happy weekend, just make sure you are being considerate of the time of everyone who has some form of responsibility for you and who you have a responsibility to. If you are prepared, you are also free to wander. Being informed and alert will make any wandering experience enjoyable because you never feel lost or isolated. Wandering is one of the best ways to really enjoy an area and see all it has to offer, and while traipsing aimlessly with not a clue as to where you are may seem like wandering, it really isn’t the best idea. Make sure you have service, if you don’t, have a physical map with easily identifiable landmarks or one downloaded and accessible without service. Or at the very least speak the language of the region you are in. It is good to get lost, but only if you know how to get found. Always have an exit strategy. I may sound like a tactical superstitious person but knowing your available exits is a must in any emergency and does not only apply to school fire drills. It applies to avoiding being robbed, mugged, cornered, injured, or worse, as well as any natural disasters. 

Troisièmement, traveling with friends can be great! Fun experience, safety in numbers, and shared memories, what couldn’t be better? For those who have not traveled with others in such a way, sometimes people you are friendly with in classrooms or on weekends are not good travel companionsPick your travel companions wisely. You may trust your classmate to have your back in getting notes from the class you missed, but would you trust them to show up on time for a flight? Would you trust them with your personal belongings, information, or safety? What about the most commonly overlooked: your emotional well-being? First and foremost, you should always be prepared to take care of yourself before anyone else. You should know how to be safe, avoid situations of danger, and how to get out of them or who to call to get out of them. Your travel buddy should also know all of that for themselves as well, and both of you should know how to take care of one another in case of an emergency. If you do not trust this person, either take the risk and make sure that should anything happen you are prepared to take care of yourself or just don’t travel with them. The worst thing you can do is willingly travel with someone who is going to place you both in danger, so make sure everyone is informed, alert, and aware. You aren’t living in fear, you are living prepared. Next, is your travel companion someone you can be in close quarters with for long periods? A weekend may not sound like much but with the wrong person, it can feel like your own personal eternal hell. Not only is hanging around with someone who drains you emotionally simply awful in and of itself, but benign drained puts you in a vulnerable position—see my first point. Also, you should value yourself and your time, this is your traveling experience and it is perfectly okay to decline to spend your travel moment with someone who is going to deplete you of your energy, endanger you, or actively work against you on the journey. This can look several different ways: perhaps someone is perpetually late and refuses to be on time or consider your time. This means your ability to get to a destination is compromised, your plans have to be reorganized, or you get caught in a situation you don’t want to be in. It would be better to prioritize yourself and your well-being in whatever way that looks like to you. You should not feel like you are responsible for the other person (an adult), and you should not put yourself in a situation where you could be endangered. If it comes down to their tardiness and your well-being, get on the plane and wish them the best of luck. You aren’t their mother and they aren’t your leashed toddler. Perhaps they are someone who has no interest in compromise and consistently belittles you, aka someone you wouldn’t want to be friends with anyway. Don’t travel with them, enjoy your space, and have fun. You are not being paid to act as a silent pincushion to their need to emotionally attack you while they drag you along to everything they want to do and nothing you want to do. Politely and respectfully book another trip to someplace with good food and good music and do it on your own, or at least bring better company. Perhaps they are someone who constantly ditches on plans or just you in general without enough notice, aka the Flake ™. If you wanted the personified version of 2012 airport wifi you could get it, but if you don’t then don’t bother. Regardless of what a bad traveling companion can look like for you, know your limits, keep yourself safe above all, and be aware of your surroundings. 

Enfin, I know there is a lot to keep in mind even just for weekend trips, but this world is quite big for being so small so being careful is necessary if you want to have a good experience. Have fun, explore the world, and try new things, and try not to have any lasting regrets! Good luck fellow travelers, and I will see you in the next one!

À la prochaine!

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Paikea Houston

I am a person who loves her family, good food, and sunshine. I always believe in trying things at least once for failure is never certain. I'm here to take you along with me to travel further, work harder, and dive headlong into the great wide world!

2024 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
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