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October 10, 2017

How to Save for Travel

Travel is not cheap. There are definitely ways to make travel more inexpensive, but that’s for another post. Today I want to talk to you about how to save for travel. There are tons of ways you can make saving for travel easier.

Make a Budget & Tighten it Up

If you don’t already have a budget, you should get that under control. Have a budget and include things like groceries, rent, other necessary payments. Then also factor in savings, and savings for travel. As long as you can stick to the budget, you’ll be saving for travel with each paycheck! Once you have a budget, tighten it up as much as you can. Do you need a two bedroom when it’s just you and your boyfriend? Do you need to go out to dinner every week? There are a lot of things you don’t need to pay for, and those things can go towards travel! Also, use coupons! Use apps that help you find coupons on things you’re already buying. Just by making sure you’re saving money on things you HAVE to pay for can save you a couple dollars here and there.

Make Money on the Side

If you are working full time, it’s a great idea to find some side hustles that can make you some cash. Blogging is a great way to do that. Some other suggestions are babysitting, using a dog or house watching service or using apps like swagbucks and ibotta. I love finding small side hustles that make me money.

Use Travel Credit Cards

To start off with, there is a caveat to this. DO NOT spend more than you have. Do not let yourself get trapped into the hole of credit card debt that’s impossible to get out of. Spend only what you can and pay it off each month. This way, all the points and cash you’re earning on this cards can actually be used for travel! At one point on my Chase card I was going to use the points for a free flight to Thailand. I had 30,000 points and you only needed 40,000 for a round trip ticket. I ended up needing to use the points for something else, but travel credit cards are a great way to earn money for just doing what you normally do.

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

Quick International Trips

Living in the United States means you can’t just jet across the border in six directions and end up in six different countries. We pretty much have two options for quick international trips, and that’s Mexico and Canada. Today I wanted to share with you some of my top destinations in these two places! Here are some quick international trips for US residents.

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Calgary, Canada

Calgary is one of my favorite places in the whole world. It’s a beautiful city, with clean streets and kind people. It has a great downtown scene, a casino and is famous for it’s Calgary Stampede. It’s also quite popular with hockey, housing the Calgary Flames.

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Banff, Canada

Banff is only an hour outside of Calgary, and is seriously one of the most stunning places I’ve ever seen. I’m obsessed with mountains and beautiful lakes, and Lake Louise is just plain stunning.

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Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is located on Canada’s west coast, and is a beautiful city. It has a climate close to the pacific northwest of the United States; very rainy and beautiful.

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Toronto, Canada

Toronto is located on the east coast of Canada, and is close by to Niagara Falls. It’s a great idea to visit Toronto, and then hit the falls as a day trip. This is also another gorgeous Canadian city.

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Cancun, Mexico

Mexico is not one of the safest places for American tourists, so unfortunately all of my recommendations are “touristy” areas, since I cannot safely recommend other places. Cancun is a gorgeous beach town located on Mexico’s eastern coast.

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Cabo, Mexico

On the opposite side of the country lies Cabo, Mexico, which is another stunning beach town. This one sits on the Pacific ocean, making the ocean slightly colder and with more waves than the warmer gulf coast where Cancun exists.

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

My Travel Essentials

Today I thought I’d share my travel essentials with you all! Obviously I’ve worked hard at perfecting exactly what I need for travel. Most of these things are travel blog related, but these are also just my regular old essentials as well.
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  1. Camera Bag – I love using a camera bag that also doubles as a carry on. I typically take my big suitcase, and then use this as my carry on. I put my camera in here, and use a bigger one if I’m bringing my bigger laptop as well.
  2. DSLR Camera – Of course I’d have no need for the camera bag if I didn’t have my camera. I typically bring my DSLR everywhere, unless it’s a really short weekend trip, then I only bring….
  3. Point and Shoot Vlog Camera – I bring this on every trip. If it’s going to be a shorter trip, I’ll make sure I just bring this. But, I always use it for vlogging as well as quick in the moment photos if I’m not using my cellphone.
  4. Thick Sweater Scarf – This is a plane essential for me, no matter where I’m going. I typically dress in leggings, a t-shirt or sweatshirt and a scarf on the day of my flight. I like to have this big scarf because it doubles as a blanket or a pillow!
  5. Portable Charger – I always seem to have dead devices whenever I travel. So, a portable battery pack makes it a little easier to get through a day of traveling. I just have to remember to charge the charger!
  6. Travel Makeup Bag – I have a bag filled with travel sized versions of everything I use on a daily basis. I take this with me whenever I have an overnight at a friends, or on vacation. Having it ready to go makes packing a lot easier.
  7. Packing Cubes – I’ve recently become a huge fan of these. I use them a lot for shorter trips, and longer ones when I need to fit more into my suitcase. It makes planning outfits, and organizing my suitcase so much easier.
  8. Travel Toothbrush – I find it really important to always have a travel toothbrush in my makeup bag, which is why I wanted to mention it. I often forget toothbrushes, but if I always have it available, it makes it a lot easier.

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

How to Travel Europe on a Budget

Travel to Europe from the United States can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Today I’m sharing with you how to travel Europe on a budget.

Find Cheap Flights

Flights are typically the most expensive part of a trip to Europe. Working hard to find inexpensive flights is step number one to saving money on a trip to Europe. If you live in an area with access to a bigger airport, this can be slightly easier to find really great flight deals. Subscribing to companies email lists like Delta, United and other big airlines can be beneficial to finding last minute deals. You can also find deals on websites like Groupon and LivingSocial. For smaller airports, it just requires that you spend some time finding the cheapest deal and do some research into the cheapest times to fly/search for flights.

Stay in Hostels or Use Airbnb

Other than flights, accommodation is usually the other big ticket item as far as cost goes. Staying in hostels, or airbnb shared apartments or whole apartments are a great option. If you aren’t a huge fan of staying in places with people you don’t know, just know that you won’t be spending that much time in wherever you stay other than sleep.

Go in the Offseason

During fall and early spring/late winter is when you will find the best travel deals. Summer tends to be the most expensive, as well as holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Spring Break. Flights will be cheaper, as well as accommodation if you don’t travel around traditional breaks and holidays.

Try to Eat in “Local” Places

Meaning, eat in places that don’t boast their English speaking skills or English menus. Eat in places where locals would eat to avoid places upping their food prices because they know tourists will eat there. Plus, you’ll get a better taste of the local culture if you eat in local places.

Explore the Free Things

There are tons of things in Europe that are free. Just walking around a beautiful European city is a great way to spend an afternoon without spending a ton of money. Exploring the free things not only saves you money, but forces you to get a little creative with your endeavors.

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

How to Travel Gluten Free

I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was in the tenth grade. After two long years of getting sick after every meal, I was finally given an answer: don’t eat gluten. It sucks for the people I hang out with most, including Nate, who often has to eat gluten free with me. Traveling is an entirely different story when you’re gluten free. It makes finding foods very challenging, and it means there’s always a chance you could get sick.
As someone who’s experienced a fair share of trips to the bathroom while out sightseeing, I’m hoping if I share some of my tips for eating gluten free while I’m on vacation, you won’t find yourself in the same situations I have! Here’s how to travel gluten free.

Plan Ahead

I guess this is the biggest tip I can give you. This is the one that has saved my butt on countless occasions. Once a trip’s exact dates are decided, I begin my planning. I basically plan out every meal. People who like to just find random places to eat don’t really like this technique. I traveled with an ex one time, and he hated that I planned out all our meals. But it was either that, or we spent half the vacation with me leaning over a toilet seat at the hotel.

I google gluten free in whatever city I’m visiting, and I go from there. I plan out what we’ll be doing in each city, and then find gluten free places around the various locations we’re visiting. Finding places near what we’ll be sightseeing that day is a great tip, since you don’t want to be traveling 18 blocks every time you want a meal.

Reading restaurant reviews on gluten free websites like findmeglutenfree.com can be helpful. These websites usually contain reviews, including whether or not someone got sick. Boise, my hometown, doesn’t have any fully gluten free restaurants, but many bigger cities do, so I scope those out first. They know what’s gluten free and what’s not. Then, I check places people recommend for gluten free, find their gluten free menu and ensure there’s something I can eat that I will enjoy, or something I can try. But, if you can’t plan ahead, here are some other tips.

Talk to the Waiter

And if they don’t quite understand what gluten free is, ask to speak to a chef, or someone with more knowledge of the menu and it’s foods. I once ate at an Italian restaurant in New York, where our waiter was full Italian. He understood English, but I’m not sure he knew what gluten free meant. Even though I asked for gluten free pasta, I don’t think the waiter understood that the Alfredo sauce could not contain gluten either.

When the meal came, both my celiac aunt and I took bites, and she looked at me worriedly and said, “That tastes way too good for gluten free.” A half hour later, I needed to head back to the hotel. Talking to someone with more knowledge about the menu and it’s foods will do you much better than just telling the waiter you need to be gluten free and hoping it works.

Ask for a Dedicated Gluten Free Menu

If you aren’t eating at a fully gluten free place, see if they have a gluten free menu. Many chain restaurants do nowadays, as well as smaller local places. Again, this is where it helps to plan ahead; you’ll know if places have gluten free menus or not. I tend not to stress if a place doesn’t have a gluten free menu locally, and I kind of just know what things are and are not gluten free. But if I’m traveling, I always make sure they have a dedicated gluten free menu, just to be safe.

Know Your Safe Foods

When traveling, it’s helpful to know foods that most restaurants serve that are typically safe for you. For me, this is salads. So, a house salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing is almost always gluten free. It gets sketchy with Caesar or ranch dressing, as those sometimes contain gluten, but I’m usually safe with balsamic vinaigrette. Even though a house salad may not fill me up, it’s better to have something in my stomach until the next time we can stop to get food. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of being worried about getting sick and letting yourself go hungry.

Bring Snacks

This can be harder in other countries, or if you’re going on a long trip and can’t bring food, but at least for me when traveling domestic, I make sure to either pack snacks in my bag, or make sure I know where I can buy some. I always get hungry when we get back to the hotel anyway, so I love stopping at a walgreens, grocery store or gas station to grab some snacks I know are gluten free. This includes snickers, other candies, chips, cheese and vegetables. These are all things that don’t require any prep work and will stay in a hotel just fine.

Rent a Place with a Kitchen

If you’re staying somewhere for an extended period of time, it can be helpful to rent somewhere with a kitchen, that way you can run out to the local grocery store and buy stuff you can cook. When I traveled to Calgary last spring, we walked to a grocery store right down the street and picked up some stuff to cook back at our hotel. You save money this way too! And, since we were in Canada, even though it’s not that much different from the US, it was fun to see all the different things grocery stores in Canada do differently from the United States. Especially overseas, it can really help you immerse yourself in the culture to have to cook what the locals cook.

Be Prepared to Get Sick

Unfortunately, being gluten free means I just have to live with the possibility that I could get sick at any given moment. It’s unfortunate and it’s a bother, but knowing it may happen helps me and the people I’m traveling with. I make sure everyone knows they may have to head out without me if I’m not feeling well, or take me back to the hotel if I’m getting sick. It’s easier when it’s just Nate and I, but traveling with a large group can be difficult.

How do you ensure you don’t get sick when traveling?

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

24 Hours in New York City

Let me begin by saying that 24 hours in New York City is not easy. There is easily weeks worth of things to be seen and done in New York, but you can definitely get some fun things done while you’re there, you just have to plan ahead. This 24 hour guide includes everything you can and will see if you plan it out correctly. Without further ado, here’s my 24 hours in New York City plan.
Depending on where you’re staying, you can start in uptown, or downtown. Every time I’ve been to New York, I’ve been staying in downtown, so that’s where this plan begins, but feel free to start from the end!

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Battery Park

Taking a ferry to Statue of Liberty would take far too long. You can get a stunning view of lady liberty from battery park, as well as a stunning view of lower Manhattan, including One World Trade Center.

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9/11 Memorial

I don’t think any trip to New York is complete without a visit here. It’s sobering and beautiful. If you have time, you can definitely check out the museum, but I recommend just checking out the memorial located where the towers used to stand.

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Hustle Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Not joking, this was one of my favorite things that we did in New York the last time I was there. The views are breathtaking, and it was so fun to say I went outside of Manhattan on my trip to New York. Once you arrive in Brooklyn, definitely check out the waterfront and enjoy stunning views of New York. Then, hop on a subway and head back to midtown.

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Washington Square Park/NYU

On your way North, check out NYU and Washington Square Park. It’s absolutely beautiful, and is definitely it’s own part of New York. Enjoying all the bustling college students and fun that’s happening in this area is definitely a must see.

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Times Square

Times Square is obviously a must see for any tourist in New York. It’s amazing to see that many screens and activity in one centralized area. Picture yourself there the night the ball drops, and things get even crazier.

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The Rock

Many people recommend seeing the Empire State Building. No. First of all, it’s expensive, much more expensive than the rock, and second of all, when you get to the top, sure the views are pretty, but the New York skyline is missing one important thing…THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING. ESB is such a highlight of the New York skyline, it doesn’t make sense to go stand on it. The rock offers really, really impressive views; it’s a must see.

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Grand Central

Grand central station is so fun. I took the subway into Grand Central, so that we were coming out into the beautiful main lobby. It’s a bustling area of activity, but it really is a gorgeous piece of art. Take a moment to people watch and see all the different trains and busses leaving from this area.

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Central Park

Again, no trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Central Park. I didn’t go the first two times I was in New York, so by my third trip I made it a priority. It’s crazy to stand in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, and hear birds chirrping and kids laughing. It’s quieter than you think it is, and offers a great relaxation area.

What are your biggest NYC must-sees?

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

The Best Carry on Suitcases

Today I wanted to share the best carry on suitcases. In today’s expensive world of travel, more and more people are choosing to use carry ons over checked baggage. It’s important to find a carry on that can carry as much as you need, but that is practical and beautiful. Check out my recommendations:

  1. Samsonite Vibratta 21″ – this is kind of the holy grail of great suitcases. It’s pretty, practical, big enough and works like a charm. It has the four wheels (most suitcases do nowadays) so it can be wheeled easily and efficiently through the airport.
  2. London Fog 20″ – This suitcase is not only beautiful, but very practical. It expands, to contain as much clothing and necessities as you need. It also has four wheels, making it a great, albeit expensive, pick.
  3. Travelpro 22″ – For those of you who don’t like the harder shell of the first two, this one contains a nice cloth shell. It also has the four wheels, and is bigger than the first two mentioned.
  4. Heys Ombre 21″ – For those of us who want something a little “prettier” this gorgeous sunset themed suitcase will be perfect for you. It’s gorgeous, features four wheels and is big enough to contain everything you need.

So there you have it! The four best suitcases for carry ons in today’s shopping world. If you’re looking for some good deals, shopping at places like Ross and TJ Maxx are a great place to find inexpensive but still very nice suitcases.

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

Top Money Saving Tips for Travel

Traveling is expensive. But, it doesn’t always have to be. There are lots of ways you can find deals and save some money here or there. So let’s check out our top money saving tips for travel.

Package Your Vacations

Nate and I like going multiple places in one trip since it’s so hard to get pretty much anywhere from where we live in Idaho. But, if you are only heading to one location, it can be beneficial to combine your hotel and flight, or hotel, flight, and car. It can seriously save you a ton of money.

Take Advantage of Deal Websites

Deal websites like Groupon, LivingSocial, etc. can be really helpful in finding package vacations, or deals for things to do in your vacation destination, or even hotel deals. Groupon and LivingSocial have really cool overseas packages, including airfare, hotel, and tours. Simply saving on a hotel can be helpful though.

Decide What’s Most Important

Some people really love staying in extravagant hotels. Or maybe, for this location, having a hotel right in downtown could save on transportation costs. Or, staying in a not-so-nice hotel could let you save some money in the hotel department, allowing you to do more or stay an extra night in your destination. You can also stay in hostels or rent Airbnb’s, which can oftentimes be less than a hotel. Decide what matters the most to you, and skimp in the other areas.

Last Minute Deals

One time as a kid, my dad decided we were randomly going to drive to San Francisco but not plan out the trip. So basically we’d drive somewhere (Reno was our first night), and when we were getting close, we’d go on last-minute deal websites and find really nice hotels for really cheap. I personally cannot do this method just myself because I’m far too much of a planner, but if you like living on the edge, this could be for you. Be warned, though, during peak travel times, like spring break, summer or other holidays, you’ll have a hard time finding a room and could end up paying more or ending up in a seedy part of town.

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

The 6 Best Rooftop Bars & Restaurants

Disclaimer: This page may use affiliate links. If you purchase something through an affiliate link, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Today we wanted to share our favorite and most lusted-after rooftop bars & restaurants. These are all on our bucket list, and we will get a drink at all of them eventually. Here are the best rooftop bars and restaurants.

The Skylark – New York

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Only open to the public during the week, this Midtown restaurant and bar sits on top of a building that provides gorgeous views of the city around it. Specifically, it has stunning views of the empire state building.

Book your vacation package to New York City

Flair – Shanghai

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This restaurant and bar offers amazing views of Shanghai, most notably the Oriental Pearl tower. They even serve afternoon tea if late night drinks aren’t your thing.

Book your vacation to Shanghai

Ozone – Hong Kong

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This is the world’s tallest rooftop bar, so of course, we had to mention it on this list. It sits on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton and offers seriously stunning views of the city.

Book your vacation to Hong Kong

Sugar – Miami

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This bar sits on top of the East hotel in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami. It offers beautiful views of the surrounding city while sitting in an Asian-jungle-themed rooftop bar. So cool.

Book your vacation to Miami

Sky Bar – Bangkok, Thailand

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This bar sits on the 63rd floor and provides stunning views of the entirety of Bangkok. Many consider this a can’t miss when traveling to Thailand.

Book your vacation to Bangkok

W Washington DC

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Of this list, this is the only one I’ve been to. Although I wasn’t of drinking age, I was with my parents and it was seriously so fun. You look right into the front lawn of the White House, and it has awesome views of the Washington Monument as well. We even saw the Air Force One helicopter taking off and landing doing practice runs.

Book your vacation to Washington DC

Do you have any rooftop recommendations?

Thanks for reading!

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October 10, 2017

Why You Should Get Travel Insurance

On my first ever trip out of the country, I was heading to Canada with my (now ex) boyfriend. We were young, 18 and 19 and extremely naive. I was doing a lot of research on travel outside of the US and decided to purchase travel insurance. I’m so glad I did, and here’s why you should get travel insurance too.

Trip Insurance

Although something medically may not happen to you, you could experience pretty much anything while on your trip. A huge storm could hit, destroying your hotel or even the airport! You could experience a fire, a hurricane, tornadoes or really any combination. You just never know what can happen and paying a little extra to have some peace of mind is always a good idea. You can insure the full cost of your trip, and more, depending on what package you choose.

SEE ALSO: Insurance for Expats

Medical Insurance

Let’s say you’re traveling in the US but you already have medical insurance. Usually, if you were to break an ankle or hurt your wrist, you could head to an ER or urgent care and pay the same as you would back home. Yes, it would be unfortunate to be on vacation and be hurt, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. If this were to happen in a foreign country, you could end up paying thousands out of pocket, especially if you had to be flown back to your home country in a medivac. The best advice I have for you in this situation is to get medical insurance for your trip. When I went to Canada, I was only 18 but the drinking age was 18 in Canada, so I knew we’d be drinking at bars and clubs, which was not something we were used to. I was worried that if one of us had alcohol poisoning or got hurt, we would need medical attention and we would probably not be able to use our USA insurance cards.

Thanks for reading!