4 ways to be a more mindful traveler (and end the ugly American stereotype!)

29 Sep

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As much as I love to travel, I can’t stand tourists. Yes I know, when I travel I’m also a tourist. But after spending several summer months in one of the biggest cities in Europe, it’s easy to spot the experienced vs. first-time international travelers.

Traveling certainly can be stressful and unpredictable, but that is no excuse to not act like a respectful human being. Here are four ways to be a more mindful traveler on your next trip abroad.

Respect cultural differences
When traveling internationally, it can be tough not to focus solely on the differences between one’s home country and the destination. Americans in particular find it hard to accept that many countries make you pay to use the restroom, ice and tap water are often nonexistent and bartering for goods is commonplace. But it’s important to remember different doesn’t mean wrong. Every country has unique customs, standards and paces of life. Accept them without complaint and your trip abroad will be much more enjoyable. Remember, you wanted to experience something new. Which is why you embarked on an adventure in the first place!

Quiet down
Now I don’t think Americans are particularly louder than other cultures, but they certainly do talk a lot more. After spending several months in Europe, I noticed that American tourists tend to talk incessantly while sightseeing, on the train, standing in line, shopping – no matter the situation, they love to talk amongst themselves and to strangers. This is probably where the “loud American” stereotype originates. So the next time you’re talking while sightseeing, consider pausing for some quiet reflection. Constant chatter can be distracting to other tourists.

Wear appropriate clothing
This tip applies mostly to tourists planning to visit more conservative countries. Prior to my first trip to Istanbul, Turkey, I took care to research appropriate attire for my visit. Which led me to leave my tiny shorts, cropped tops and sexy sundresses at home. Although Istanbul is a modern European city, the country is predominantly muslim, which means modesty is appreciated. By dressing more conservatively, I avoided unwanted attention and was able to visit religious sites without having to borrow coverups.

Remember you’re a guest
As a guest in someone else’s country it’s important to make a good impression. Remember, you’re representing your home country abroad, so be polite, patient and mindful of your actions.

What are some of your tourist pet peeves?



P.S. I can’t wait to share my Istanbul city guide with you! Stay tuned…

7 Awesome Internet Freebies – Get them now!

24 Sep

7 awesome internet freebies

Who doesn’t love a freebie. I’m pretty sure it’s ingrained in our DNA. Lucky for us, there are lots of generous folks and companies giving you access to quality goods and services at zero cost. Hooray for the Internet!

Font Squirrel
Font Squirrel is a graphic designers best friend. The site features hundreds of high quality fonts, all free for commercial use. I’ve downloaded dozens of freebies for my design projects. Some of my favorites are: Pacifico (the font for my logo) and Quicksand.

It’s no secret I’m in love with this site (I included it in my recent roundup of free graphic design resources). I now use it as my primary tool for creating web ready graphics for my blog and social media accounts. If you’re struggling to create professional looking graphics for your site, definitely give this tool a try.

Cards Against Humanity
Not for the faint of heart, Cards Against Humanity is an adult version of Apples to Apples. It’s great fun and often times downright hysterical. However it’s best not to play it with mixed company, i.e. Grandma, your boss, etc. Bless the creators for making this fun game free. Simply download the file and print.

Online Magazines
Two of my favorite magazines are available online: Matchbook Magazine and London’s Stylist Magazine. If you’re not already reading these two publications, then add them to your must read list. You’ll also find some additional great online reads in my sidebar. Save a few trees and read online.

I’m actually not sure what people did before Evernote. I use it to take notes for work, plan blog posts, clip interesting articles from the web and create to do lists. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This online tool is really powerful and is used by millions of professionals to stay organized. If you’re struggling with keeping your digital life all in one place, this tool is for you.

Exercise Videos
Why pay big bucks to attend an exercise class when you can watch professionally taught exercise videos online. Who doesn’t love getting fit for free in the comfort of your own home? Sites like YouTube or FitSugar have tons of great, fat-blasting routines to watch.

This free file transfer tool is incredibly useful for both business and personal use. I’ve used it to share vacation photos with family members and to send large design files to my developer. Whatever your file sharing needs, the free 2GB allotment is just right for most transfers.

What are some of your favorite Internet freebies?