Some of the advice I had read beforehand (thanks Rough Guides First-Time Europe), and the rest was based on my experience (in some cases having not done what I'm suggesting below).
Nine years later, I still aim to remember these concepts while traveling (please take the exact wording with a grain of youthful salt)…
1. Positive Attitude – No matter what happens on your trip, it is your story to tell. Don't let bad incidents ruin your whole experience. Don't let others bring you down. You worked hard to get to this point, and you deserve to enjoy it.
2. Patience – You will not make every train, bus, ferry, and airplane. Instead of getting angry, take the time to explore your surroundings, get a cup of European coffee. You will have to wait, but at least you are waiting in some exotic country!
3. Pack Light – Make sure your pack can fit on the plane as carry-on luggage. If it is too big, take things out. Never take clothing to Europe that you wouldn't be willing to throw out along the way (ex: bring old clothes).
4. Talk to People – Start talking to strangers on the plane trip, and don't stop till you are home again. You will be very lonely if you do not allow yourself the chance to meet new people. You especially need to do this if you are traveling with a friend.
5. Keep a Journal – You will learn a lot about yourself on this journey. Document what you see and who you meet. Make writing in it a habit from the first day, and don't be lazy. You will appreciate your efforts in ten or twenty years.
6. Take Pictures – Bring home the proof that you went cliff diving. No matter what kind of photographer you are, pictures you take mean a lot more than postcards and books. And take more pictures of people rather than objects. Or combine them.
7. Be Flexible – No matter how long you are gone, and what you see, there will always be new places to go. Allow room in your schedule to follow up on travel leads gained on the road.
8. Be Independent – If you think you are unable to go to Europe alone, GO! If you are traveling with a friend, do things by yourself too. Time apart will reduce stress in the relationship and open you up to the people around you.
9. Be Confident – Always maintain confidence in your ability to get from one place to another, whether across the continent or the city. Even if you don't know what you are doing, confidence can cover this up. You will appear strong and driven. Note, this is a great way to deter thieves.
10. Be Yourself – You will meet a lot of people on your trip. Be yourself, and allow them to enjoy the company of a great guy/girl.
Do you have a travel philosophy not listed here? If so, please share for the benefit of all!
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