Travel Week: Caroline from Virginia Sweet!

Hey ya'll! Meet Caroline from Virginia Sweet! Caroline and I have been friends since we were little girls and (believe it or not!) met, dated and married best friends all while we were roommates! Crazy huh?? Head over to her sweet blog and check her out! 

Hey Loves!

 I'm Caroline from Virginia Sweet, and I am so excited to be guest blogging on Newlyweds: North today. First I want to thank Stephanie for the invitation to guest blog. I get the biggest kick out of reading about her manic adventures and love that she writes just exactly like she talks. Sometimes I read her blog and feel like she is sitting right next to me with a Pepsi in hand. Stephanie and I have known each other since we were 11...we go all the way back to Catholic school in Williamsburg, Va. After going our separate way in college, we literally bumped into each other randomly in Charlotte, moved in together and ended up marrying best friends...clearly our lives like to cross paths a lot.

Since our favorite mama-to-be is sunning it up in Greece at this very moment (jealous!), I thought it would be fun to share some travel lessons that my husband, Reid, and I learned while on our European honeymoon. This time last year, we were lucky enough to honeymoon in Italy, Sicily and Croatia for 13 days (recap here!) and I am having so much fun reliving the experience on my blog the past few weeks.


Town of Amalfi

{one}
have your back ups handy.

Always have a back up, fully charged battery and extra memory cards for your camera on hand and ready to go. I would also recommend you grab a battery operated phone charger (like this) because you never know where you can plug in and get some juice. 

{two}
use local tour groups.

Don't book tours or excursions with big companies or the cruise lines. They make you wear stickers and walk in long lines.Ugh! Instead, do a little more research and find a local company. We found that the smaller the group, the more we got to see and do. We used Shore Trips and Port Promotions and we highly recommend both companies!



Maria and Me
Quick story: We loved our tour guide in Naples (Pompeii and Amalfi). Karen, an American. who met her Roman Navel hubby while living in Arlington VA, now resides in Rome where she works full time as a wedding planner slash travel guide. She was a hoot and we loved her! She picked us up in her personal Fiat SUV and drove us up and down the Amalfi Coast. She causally asked if we would be open to stopping by a farm where an Italian woman named Maria made mozzarella and homemade lemoncello. Reid and I gave a unanimous YES PLEASE and off we went. Lawd have mercy, best idea ever! We spent an hour relaxing on the hillside in Sorrento. Maria ended up fixing us lunch of homemade pasta, ricotta, mozzarella and lemoncello pound cake. We would have never gotten this experience without Karen. 

{three}
guy with backpack, girl with cross body. 

This was us every day on our honeymoon. I was keeper of the cash in my Kate Spade cross body and Reid was keeper of everything else in the backpack. Our backpack was vital to our existence. When we left the hotel or boat, we were normally gone for the day. We made sure to keep the backpack stocked with bottled water, a light sweater or rain jacket, walking maps of the area, the big camera bag and other must have necessities. It was also a great place to stash any trinkets we picked up along the way! I would highly recommend investing in a good travel backpack.


{four}
gel inserts are key.

Umm these are a must...I put the gel inserts in my Keds and Toms and they made the world of difference. You walk everywhere in Europe, and on very uneven, stone surfaces. At the end of the day your feet ache and your calves hurt but it is well worth it. Just pack the gel inserts and thank me later!

{five}
check the voltage. 

You will need to bring a converter with you as the voltage over there is not the same as the states. Also, some iphones require a special adapter for their charger. Make sure to check with Apple prior to plugging your phone in. Oh and the hair items...they are just not the same. Case in point: your regular hair straightener will not always work over there and your hair will result in an epic fail.



{six}
take a coffee break.

Most cafes have free WiFi, and we did not catch onto this fun fact until late in our vacation. When you order a cappuccino, they will bring you a printed receipt with a internet access code. So take full advantage of the break and send a little message home or Instagram out! 


{seven}
camera love.

Learn how to use your new DSLR camera before going on your trip. This may be a duh statement but we did not do this and ended up with lots of pics that looked like this:




There are so many online tutorials or local classes that teach you the must know basics. I so wish we had done this prior to the trip. 

{eight}
don't over pack. 

So, I should have listened to all the online articles that warned me not to over pack. First, you will stick out like a sore thumb, you might as well wear a shirt that says "I am an American tourist, come try to sell me something!" Second, you will be with your luggage quite a bit traveling from place to place. Venice for instance was nuts. Renting a private water taxi is crazy expensive so we decided to brave the public transportation...it was like a bus on water. Like idiots, we ended up dragging our two huge suitcases clear across Venice. Yikes!



Instead, commit to a suitcase that you can handle on your own, something that you can lift from place to place easily. If you are traveling with someone else, pack separately on your way over and over the course of the trip, put all the clean clothes in one suitcase and all the dirty ones in the other. Keeps things smelling fresh! 

{nine}
vital documents.

Make copies of your vital documents and leave them with a trusty friend or family member. These vital documents include Passports, copies of credit cards you are taking with you (front and back, easy place to find the 1-800 number), your drivers licence, your flight information and hotel reservations and birth certificates. Make sure to lock these up in your room or take them with you during the day or when not in use. We keep a file folder with these important copies in our security box and give them to my parents when we travel. Just in case!  You never know what will happen....clearly I watch too much Locked Up Abroad.  


{ten}
sunscreen, sanitizer and sunglasses are a must. 

Stick these items in your backpack for easy access. You will need all three on a daily basis, especially the hand sanitizer.



clearly I did not use any sunscreen in Croatia! 

{eleven}
take too many pictures. 

We took over 2,000 pictures while we were on our trip and I regret not taking more. For some reason we ended up with very few of Reid and I because we were scared to ask people to use our new, expensive camera. I wish we would have thrown a smaller digital camera in the bag for just those instances. 



Looking back now, I am not sure I would change anything about our trip. Oh nothing, other than our luggage not arriving with us to Rome, but that is another story all together... I hope that my tips serve you well on any future travel!



xoxo,



Caroline 



Image Map

5 comments

  1. great tips! next time i go to europe im bringing gel inserts!! so smart. xo jillian - cornflake dreams

    ReplyDelete
  2. So true about the cross body bag and local tour guide tips! We hired a local guide for a wine tour and it was the highlight of our trip! Unfortunately I didn't think of the gel inserts... putting that on my packing list for next trip :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for the tips! absolutely pinning this for our trip one day. battery charger? brilliant! gel inserts? amazing! local tours instead of big ones - would never have thought of that, so smart!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have been lucky enough to travel to Italy, France & Spain back after I graduated college with my girlfriends. We were in Italy when Italy won the World Cup - it was a once in a lifetime experience! I so hope to return one day with my husband!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love the gel insert tip! Didn't know you guys were friends! These are great tips!

    ReplyDelete