Hola & Happy Summer Everyone!

I was inspired by my recent trip to Spain to share my top travel tips. These 5 tips are simple actions that have allowed me to experience travel in a more authentic, enjoyable, and relaxed way.

Tip #1: Rent an apartment or a house and live like a local.

Hotels can be expensive. Personally, I’d rather spend my money on good food and future travel. If you want to completely “unplug,” lay on the beach all day and have long leisurely lunches/dinners, then a hotel may be a good option for you. However, if you enjoy getting lost in a new city and immersing yourself in a different culture, then I recommend using a service like Airbnb. You’ll be amazed by the variety of apartments/houses that are available to rent for every price range. Most importantly, you’ll meet lovely people who have vast knowledge about the city that you’re about to explore! Do yourself a favor and ask your host for recommendations, especially where to eat and/or shop.

In Granada, our host José Antonio recommended that we buy cookies from the monjas (nuns) at Monasterio de San Bernardo. Cookie monja! nom nom nom! I’m so glad we listened to him. The cookies were flaky and delicious. And we were completely enchanted by the experience of purchasing the cookies. We pressed the intercom to alert the monjas of our presence. Then we waited patiently. They didn’t respond right away and I was reluctant to buzz again as not to offend the monjas. Alas, the wooden turntable rotated and one of the monjas appeared, wearing traditional black habit, to take our order. We ordered the caja surtida (assorted cookies) and so did the Brazilian mother and daughter who were behind us. Afterwards, we sat at a nearby bench to sample every flavor. As I savoured each cookie, I was filled with joy and appreciation as I imagined the monjas carefully forming each delicate cookie.

Tip #2: Look up!

Seriously, look up, and down, and to the left and right. Take it all in: Street signs, graffiti, fruit trees, flowers, tiles, birds, dog poop, dog poop bag dispensers (or lack thereof), cool architectural details, clouds. You get the picture. It’s so easy to become fixated on your destination that you miss out on what’s right in front of you. Art is everywhere.

Trust me people, look up!

Tip #3: Put your camera and map away (for a while.)

Don’t get me wrong. I love taking photos. And I love navigating my way around a new city with a map. However, I think it’s important to stop and ask:

How do I want to spend my time here?

Do I want to experience this city from behind a camera lens?

Do I need 100 photos of ____?

Do I need to rely on a map all the time?

Am I ok with wandering around without a destination?

There’s no right answer. All I’m saying is, make a conscious decision about how you want to spend your time.

Tip #4: Carry a small journal.

The possibilities are endless here…

Sketch.

Write a poem.

Jot down an idea for your next ________ that came to you as were climbing up to the vista point.

Play a silly drawing game during a long train ride.

Take a few minutes each day to jot down the names of the places you visited, restaurants you enjoyed, new fruits or foods that you tried, places you may want to revisit on your last day, etc.

In other words, get off your phone;-)

Tip #5: Take an effing nap!

Siesta, power nap, a long savasana, whatever you want to call it, do it! Allow some time for deep physical and mental relaxation. No, you don’t have to see and do everything! What does that even mean anyway? Don’t turn your holiday into a to-do list.

Click through the gallery to enjoy some of my pics from my trip to Salamanca and Granada, then please leave a comment below. Share one of your top travel tips and let me know where you’re headed this summer!

Peace and Love,

Grace

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