To really travel well in Europe, you need to be physically fit.
I don’t mean you need to look great in a bikini (although that is a bonus of being fit); I mean you need to be able to manage the physical demands you might encounter on your trip. This ain’t Cabo.
Even if you’re staying at a resort along the Mediterranean, there will likely be stairs you have to take to get to the sun deck.
You’ve invested the money and blocked off the time for your dream vacation; shouldn’t you prepare your body, too?
With proper preparation and a bit of training beforehand, you can set yourself up for success and truly enjoy your “trip of a lifetime.”
Don’t pack a bag you can’t carry.
We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, but there are multiple reasons to pack lightly, and you’ll be so glad you did. You will want to buy things while you’re traveling, and you’ll need room to include them and the added weight in your bag for flying. If you reach your destination and don’t have something you need/want, all the more reason to go buy something new and have an instant souvenir you’ll actually end up using.
Also, no matter how buff your travel partner is, at some point you will need to move your bag without assistance. There are many instances when you may find yourself dashing for a train or bus while managing your luggage, and, along the way, you could encounter stairs. Or, you might need to quickly hoist your bag into/onto your mode of transportation.
Speaking of stairs…
Whether you have a driver to help reduce the amount of walking you do, take every elevator you find, or use public transportation everywhere, there will still be times when the only way to reach something you want to see/do is to take hundreds of stairs. Whereas the United States requires handicap access almost everywhere, Europe does not. Also, going back to the part about packing lightly, there will be many times when your only option is to carry your bag up/down stairs (hello, Venice and Positano).
It’s easier to enjoy vacation when you aren’t exhausted or in pain.
Europeans walk… a lot. It’s great, and it’s why they aren’t all overweight. Having said that, if you’re not used to walking, your vacation could start to feel more like a grueling training session than a relaxing getaway.
People underestimate how hard a full day of walking can be. After all, it’s only walking, right?! If your usual “daily walk” is only the distance from your office to your car, your body is not properly prepared to tackle a European vacation.
Consider this: You might cover two miles weaving through the Vatican Museum before you’re able to enter the Sistine Chapel. If you’re not in shape, your feet and your joints will be screaming at you as you try to enjoy the magnificent ceiling.
You’re gonna want to eat… a lot.
If none of what I’ve said thus far motivates you to get fit for your next adventure, please hear my final plea: Exercise just so you don’t fit the “obese American” stereotype.
Somewhere (in storage) we have that book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” When I was able to put my hands on it, I used it to get ideas for where to go next. Now that it’s in a box somewhere and I can’t get to it, it’s harder to keep track of where we’ve been, and where we’d like to go.
I don’t want to forget anything we do or see, so I’m taking this opportunity to write it all down. I’m sure I’m forgetting places we’ve been, and I’ll likely leave out some awesome places to go, so please feel free to correct me.
Perhaps you can help me figure out a list of spots on the globe we don’t want to miss, or, as our dog likes to think of it, where future bushes will be claimed with a lift of his leg. His list of territories has gotten pretty long over the past 8 years.
Let’s start with places I’ve lived:
- Atlanta/Athens/Rome, Georgia (lots of time there, although my first ten years are a bit of a blur of Barbies and skinned knees)
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Norfolk, Virginia
- Naples, Italy
States I’ve visited:
- Alabama (Auburn, Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery),
- California (Los Angeles, Napa, San Francisco, Sequoia/Kings Canyon & Yosemite)
- Washington, D.C.
- Florida (Key West, Islamorada, Destin, Daytona Beach, Ponte Vedra, Panama, Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville…)
- Georgia (um, all cities?)
- Hawaii (Oahu and Kauai)
- Kentucky (Louisville)
- Maryland (Baltimore, Annapolis)
- Massachusetts (Becket, Boston, North Hampton, Springfield)
- Michigan (Detroit)
- Mississippi (Jackson, McComb, Gulfport, Biloxi, Pascagoula, Pass Christian)
- Nevada (Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe)
- New Jersey (around a bunch of roundabouts…)
- New York (Manhattan and somewhere upstate)
- North Carolina (Concord, Sugar/Beach Mountain, Charlotte)
- Oklahoma (Oklahoma City)
- Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
- Rhode Island (Newport)
- South Carolina (Charleston)
- Tennessee (Chattanooga, Rock City, Lookout Mtn)
- Texas (Houston, Corpus Christi)
- Virginia (Richmond, Chesterfield, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton)
- Washington (Seattle, Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands)
I’m actually shocked to realize how little of the U.S. I’ve covered. As soon as we’re back, we’ll get to work on that, for sure.
Places I’ve visited outside of the USA:
- Italy – (Rome, Florence, Siena, Sicily (Catania), Torre del Greco, Caserta, Pozzuoli, Sorrento, Positano, Ercolano, all areas around Naples) Also, I have travel planned to Venice, Orvieto and Capri in the next few months.
- France – Paris
- Germany – just to the Neuschwanstein Castle
- Austria – St Anton am Alberg
- Mexico – (Cancun, Cabo)
- Canada – Vancouver
- Dominican Republic – Punta Cana
I feel like I’m missing some stuff, but this is all I can recall.
Where to? Wow, I could go on forever.
Places I want to travel outside of the USA:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Top destinations I still want to hit within the Continental U.S.:
- Grand Canyon, AZ
- Chicago, IL
- Salt Lake City, UT
- Austin, TX
- The Adirondacks in NY
- Jackson Hole, WY
- Big Sky, MT
- Denver, CO
- Portland, OR
- Carlsbad, CA
I’ve still got a lot of ground to cover…
If you would like any information or tips on somewhere I’ve been, what bushes my dog owns, or you have suggestions, please post a comment. Grazie!