“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
Our first time traveling as a couple
Our first time traveling as a couple, leaving home and setting out on a long-term trip was fantastic. This was a learning experience like no other. Over the next three months, we would learn so much about each other, our relationship, the world and how to travel. Right off the rip, as we made our way from Cleveland to Copenhagen, the lessons began and we embraced them with open arms. Traveling is an eye-opening experience, to say the least. If you keep an open mind you will see the world and yourself in a whole new light. As well as learn a few new things along the way. If your thinking about traveling as a couple read our insights on this wonderful experience here.
From Cleveland to Copenhagen
We had been planning this trip for almost 2 years. Finally, after all that planning, the preparation, the struggling and everything in between our dream of traveling the world was a reality. We hopped on an overnight bus from Cleveland to New York City to catch our flight to Copenhagen. We opted for flying out of NYC instead of Cleveland because it was cheaper. Norwegian Air from JFK to Kastrup International was the cheapest flight we could find. This was well worth the 12-hour bus ride and time spent seeing New York while waiting for our flight.
Tip 1: Compare ticket prices
- Seriously I can’t stress this enough, look into Norwegian Airlines for all your trips to Europe. They have probably the best prices without all the stipulations and hidden fees associated with other budget airlines. Also, compare the airports you are departing from and arriving at, prices will vary. If we had flown out of Cleveland Hopkins to Berlin, Germany like we had originally planned, we would have spent hundreds of dollars more than we did. Definitely, keep your eyes out for those deals and compare, compare, compare. If you’re planning your first trip we have some tips for you right here.
Greyhound to New York City
Neither of us slept on the bus to New York. With the excitement of starting a new adventure and an annoying group of loud teenagers we had to listen to all night, it was near impossible to catch all but a few minutes of sleep. That didn’t matter though, as soon as we saw the skyline of New York City we were wide awake again. With renewed energy, we rushed out to the street to get our first sight of the city. It was just as amazing as it looked in all the movies and on TV! The air was filthy, it was loud, it was grimy, dirty, there were people everywhere, I almost got hit by a car and it was absolutely wonderful! It was love at first sight. We felt like two wide-eyed kids with a childlike sense of wonder staring up at those buildings, and that’s a feeling I will never forget.
Tip 2: Store your luggage
- Not wanting to lug our bags around the city looking like targets for pickpockets and the like, we chose to rent a locker at the airport for the day. These are not outrageously priced, we were surprised, and most airports and major train stations will have them available. Always keep safety in mind when renting your lockers. Make sure they actually lock before you leave your luggage. We bought lockers at the Airport in Vienna and the first lockers we had did not stay locked at all. Also, make sure that it’s a safe environment to the best of your ability and that you’re comfortable leaving your luggage for however long.
Tip 3: Research the public transportation
- We used Lyft for transportation to JFK as opposed to a taxi, for us it was fast, easy and cost-effective. Just what our sleep-deprived minds needed. It’s always a good idea no matter what new place you find yourself in to look up information on public transportation. In some countries and cities, taxies can be a ripoff, or a scam even. Some drivers will try to take advantage of travelers not knowing the language or money conversions, charging you a higher rate. Make sure the taxi has the rates clearly printed on the door. Make sure you can understand them and they are the same as what the driver tells you. It’s best to agree on rates before even getting in the cab. This all makes the bus or metro an ideal way to travel. Most European cities have amazing public transportation that is usually better, cheaper and more reliable than a taxi anyways.
One day in NYC
Our flight departed at 9 pm and we had about 8 hours or so left after we finished storing our bags. Getting our bearings by consulting various maps of the subway and Google we had a rough idea of our itinerary and rode the subway from JFK to 5th Avenue. Pretty much, we picked 5th Ave because it was one of the easiest stops to get to and from JFK. Also walking down 5th would take us through a good part of Manhattan that we wanted to see. So off we went running amok in New York City! You can read the details of our NYC trip staring right here.
Tip 4: Know your itinerary
- Even if you are just visiting someplace for a day trip, it’s smart to have an idea of what your itinerary is going to be. Use the internet, Google or whatever travel apps or books that you prefer. Get at least a rough idea of what you want to do. This will save you time later looking up info on the go. You will definitely find things to do that you may not have without the research. Of course, if you prefer to just wander around, go for it. Just keep an eye on your watch if you have to catch a flight, and make sure you give yourself plenty of time.
Tip 5: Forget the phone
- One of the biggest regrets about our visit for me was not taking more pictures. The city is one of the most photographic in the world and I really feel like I missed out on a lot of great shots. It’s okay though because this was the first day of our trip and we had a blast just seeing everything and wandering around. Sometimes it pays to unplug, leave the technology behind and just live in the moment. We live life through the screens of our phones quite a bit these days, it seems like we too often forget to put them down and just experience the world around us. We did capture some great shots of NYC though and you can check those out right here.
It wouldn’t be traveling without delays…
Our day of sightseeing went by way too fast. Alas, isn’t that how it always goes? We had to rush back to JFK for check-in only to find our flight had been delayed. Ugh, we could have explored more! We ended up leaving after 1 in the morning…at this point, we had both pretty much been up for almost 2 days. With our sleep deprivation kicking in we started to get really irritable standing around that terminal waiting for our plane. Man, did we need a smoke.
Ya know, there’s something to be said about the 80’s. Being able to smoke wherever the hell you wanted must have been wonderful. But, being the modern thoughtful health-conscious society that we are these days, we take into consideration how others feel. We choose not to blow cancer-causing smoke at everyone that passes by. Cool, great, we’ve become better, I get it, I’m fine with it, but damn did I need a cigarette!
Tip 6: Don’t smoke
- Smoking is a filthy horrible habit. Don’t smoke. Don’t start smoking. For the love of God don’t smoke while traveling. Even though I personally think traveling and cigarettes go great together, hand in hand even. Like when you’re having a drink at the station or waiting for a train. Or after you get off a long fight, or hell even when you’re just generally stressed out from your trip. Cigarettes are there for you, man, they’re your best friend that talks you down whenever you need it.
And if you do…
- When you don’t have them or you can’t …oh, boy that’s when things get fun! If you smoke while traveling you are going to find a lot of places that you’re not allowed to. Like airports, train stations, planes, trains, buses, taxies, restaurants, museums and so forth. Pretty much everywhere you are going to be. At least you can smoke outside, right? Even if it is while your friends and family have fun doing whatever it is you were supposed to be doing. A lot of your time will be spent fantasizing about that next drag instead of living in the moment of your adventure. Of course, this is only true in most countries. Some still have not changed the laws or have none and you can smoke wherever you please. Our suggestion? DON’T SMOKE!
One o’clock finally rolled around and we were at last boarding our flight, we were off to Europe! Ater the excitement of my first ever plane ride subsided so did my adrenaline, and exhaustion finally caught up with me. I slept like a baby. That was also the only time I’ve slept comfortably on a flight or train since. Fastest. Plane. Ride. Ever. The sunrise over the Atlantic woke me a few hours later, and just like that, I was back to being chock-full of energy and giddy with excitement. I managed to keep my mind occupied by reading about Copenhagen for the rest of the flight. I was way past anxious and wanted to hit the ground running!
Tip 7: Take advantage of the in-flight info
- If you are on a flight that offers information for where you’re going it’s a good idea to read it. After sifting through the ads and promotions you can usually find some useful information for your visit. You’ll get everything from shopping and restaurant recommendations to insights on their history and culture. Remember knowledge is power, people!
One of the great advantages of Copenhagen being our first city was that Denmark is a prominent English speaking country. This made for finding our way out of the airport and into the city a breeze. All the signs were in English and Danish, we just had to follow directions. Even the metro is easy to navigate and very user-friendly. There are plenty of instructions posted on the best way to leave the city and what lines to take. We had a much easier time figuring out Copenhagens metro then we did the bus system.
Tip 8: Read the signs
- Every airport or train station that we’ve been to had signs with at least some English. If not, pay attention to the symbols, most are common sense and used around the world. For instance, a symbol of a toilet or a W/C with an arrow means, toilet that-a-way. If there’s not a language or any symbols that you understand, find the information desk for help. Just be aware they might not speak your language. Trying to get information in Brasov, Romania for us was the worst. The lady at the counter spoke very little English. What she did speak had so much of a Romanian accent that it was hard to understand. But, we managed and were okay. Just try not to get frustrated with the person that’s trying to help.
Tip 9: Google freaking Translate!
- One of the great things about traveling with a smartphone is that you have a translator wherever you go. Don’t be afraid to use it. If there is a sign you can’t read take a picture of it with the app and it will translate it for you. Or if you are talking to someone you can use it for that also, it just takes a little more patience. Now Google’s testing earbuds that connect directly to the Translate app via Bluetooth for real-time conversations! You can even use the app to translate menus, which we didn’t even think about until late in our trip. To think we could have known what we were eating all along! This is also great at the grocery store. When we were in Krakow we bought Polish sour milk instead of normal milk. Had we used Translate we would have known and saved our poor Coco Puffs. You can read about the other apps we used while traveling right here.
Living the dream
I wouldn’t trade the adventure of getting to Europe for anything. So much hard work goes into preparing for a long trip or a move abroad, which makes it all the sweeter when you accomplish your goal. For us making it to Europe and Copenhagen was only the first leg of our journey, and we had already learned so much getting there. As I said at the beginning traveling is a learning experience, about yourself and everything around you. You may have your share of challenges along the way but just like anything in life, if you allow yourself to learn and grow and keep an open mind you will succeed no matter what you come up against.
Tip 10: Enjoy your hard work you made it!
- Live, laugh, love, travel. You finally made it enjoy every minute, you’re living the dream!
“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”–Mary Anne Radmacher