10 Carry-On Essentials

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    As you’re packing for your trip abroad it’s easy to forget the little things, especially the things to pack in your carry-on. You know, the only things you will have access to for 10+ hours (depending on where you’re going). I once had a travel time of 34 hours. Believe me when I say if I hadn’t packed the proper things in my carry-on, I would’ve died…or at least been really bored and uncomfortable.

Therefore, I am enlightening you with the top 10 essentials to keep in mind when packing your carry-on luggage. You can thank me later.

  1. Neck pillow. The neck pillow, to me, is the most important item to bring with you. Picture yourself on an 8 hour flight, cramped between morbidly obese, sweaty guy who is uncomfortably surpassing where your comfort zone once was and adorable yet crying, drooling baby. You’re exhausted, have no window to lean against, are repeatedly doing that awkward head bob thing just as you fall asleep and don’t quite yet feel like you’ve built a good enough relationship with sweaty dude to lean on him. THIS, my friends, is when you’ll be happy you brought your neck pillow. They are comfortable, support your head and guarantee an increase of comfort no matter what seat you have.   A plus side to neck pillows is that you don’t even have to waste space packing it. Just make sure to buy one that can Velcro or button together and you can just attach it to your carry on bag. Bada bing, bada boom!

 

  1. Snacks.  If you’re anything like me when you’re bored, you snack. And if you’re not anything like me, 1. Piss off 2. You will inevitably get hungry on a long flight. While most airlines do offer you free snacks and many even offer free whole meals depending on the length of the flight, some airlines make you pay ridiculous fees to buy food on the plan. This is why bringing your own snacks and food comes in handy…at least for us chub-a-lubs.

 

  1. Entertainment.  While it’s fun getting to know your flight neighbors and meet new people, often times it’s hard to keep a conversation going for 10 hours (Although, it can happen. I actually met one of my boyfriends on a flight home from Greece). But let’s just play Devil’s advocate and say you aren’t as lucky as I am. You are definitely going to want something to keep you occupied. Books, magazines, iPads and music will all get the job done!

 

  1. Face wipes.  You’re on a long flight. Aside from the fact you haven’t washed your face for more than 12 hours, faces are notoriously destroyed on airplanes due to a combination of altitude, stress, water retention, and decreased humidity. Thanks to this delightful blend of atrocities, your face is bound to be greasy and disgusting. Let’s be honest, you just can’t have that shine in your “I just landed” photo for Instagram. No worries, just pull out a facewipe you so intelligently packed and voila!

 

 

  1. Blanket or jacket. Somehow, airplanes always seem to be freezing…and then boiling. For this reason, it is very important to layer your clothing or bring a blanket. There is nothing worse than shivering on a 9 hour flight, trust me. Some airlines will have blankets readily available but why chance having a miserable flight. Make it easy on yourself and remember to layer, layer, layer.

 

  1. Extra outfit. It’s a fear we all have, going on your dream vacation and your luggage getting lost in transit. It doesn’t happen often but IT DOES happen. So, let’s just take a page from the Boy Scouts and “Be Prepared.” ALWAYS pack an extra outfit or at the very least a clean pair of underwear! Trust me, you and your travel partner will be happy you did!

 

  1. Toothbrush.  You’ll have long flights and sometimes even longer layovers. Plus, after all those snacks you chowed down your breath will most likely be putting off an aroma liken to that of a skunk doused in raw sewage. Therefore, packing your toothbrush is very important. After all, you don’t want to be the smelly passenger people are live tweeting about. An alternative to packing a full-sized toothbrush and toothpaste are finger teeth wipes. They come stored in individual mini packages, are mint flavored and no water is needed. You just slide them on your finger, brush your little heart out and throw away.

 

 

  1. Phone charger. This one is obvious. Just don’t forget it. Plus, now they have built in USB plugins for each seat on the plane so you can charge your phone during your flight, guaranteeing a flight worth of music and games.

 

  1. Valerian Root. This is a natural sleep aid that will help you adjust to different time zones by allowing you to get rest on the plane. Valerian Root is preferred over other sleep aids due to its all natural features. While other sleep aids can become addictive and cause grogginess Valerian leaves you feeling refreshed and ready to start your day.

 

  1. Passport.  To some this may seem obvious but if you are new to traveling abroad it is important to know that you must carry your passport with you. DO NOT pack it in your checked luggage. You will not have access to your checked bags until you are cleared to be in your chosen country. You will need your passport to board all flights and get into your final destination.

There you have it.  Everything you need to be comfy-cozy on your next flight! Stop in next week to read about the wonders of Costa Rica and where to visit! Stay fickle in flight!

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Preppers

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    Weeks, hell months even, leading up to your trip are filled with excitement and anticipation. Which means that it’s easy to forget that to leave the country takes a little bit of research and preparation.  Never fear, in the next few paragraphs I will teach you all you need to know to make sure your next adventure is smooth sailing.

    They say money makes the world go ‘round. If that’s the case, money is certainly not something you want to be lacking in a foreign country.  The first thing you’ll want to do is figure out what currency the country you are visiting uses. This can be done with a simple google search.  Next you will want to find out the conversion rate of USD to whatever currency you will be needing.  This can be done at http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/ . Once you have figured out the conversion rate, it’s a good idea to do some research on the country you will be visiting and get an idea of how much money you will need per day.  This varies greatly from country to country, in Bali I needed about $20.00 per day while in Iceland I needed about $200.00 per day.  The next step (completely optional, but I prefer it to save money) is to order the currency of the country which you will be traveling to. This can be done online.   I do this because when you travel abroad, every time you use the ATM you are charged a fee.  Also, depending on which country you are visiting some ATMs aren’t safe to use or there may not even be an ATM available.  Another reason I like to order my money beforehand is that I know I am getting a good exchange rate.  To order my money I use the website https://www.travelex.com/ . I use this website because they have good exchange rates and if I have any of the foreign currency left over, I can send it back and get USD in return.

    The next important thing to remember when traveling abroad is that most countries use different electrical outlets. This means you need to buy an electrical adapter so you can use all of your appliances on your trip.  These adapters are sold at most stores such as Walmart and Fred Meyer and can be found in the travel section.  They range in price from $15.00 to $40.00.  I have used various types and they all work about the same.  Make sure you get the appropriate one for the country you are visiting.  The package will tell you what specific region each adaptor is for.

    One thing that people often forget is the requirement of a visa or vaccinations. It is extremely important to determine if the country you are visiting requires these things.  Most won’t, some will. Some countries that require visas allow you to buy them in the airport, others you must apply for months in advance.  The amount of time you wish to stay and the purpose of your visit can also determine whether or not you will need a visa. Each country has a  government  website that can help you conclude whether or not you will need a visa and how to obtain it.  To determine which vaccinations you will need, if any, you can find out at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. This website will also list diseases prevalent to your area of travel.

    While I’m all about adventure, it’s important to be aware of the risks and dangers when traveling abroad. What’s that saying? Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.  This is why I am enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP is a free service for U.S. citizens traveling abroad.  STEP allows you to enter your destination with your travel dates and will then send you travel alerts and warnings if any unfavorable events should happen in your chosen destination up to and during your period of travel.  STEP will also advise you of the countries safety conditions.  This will help you make informed decisions about your travel plans.  In addition, this program will notify the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate that you are in the country, helping them contact you and help your family contact you during an emergency (natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency).  As you can see, STEP is an important measure to ensure your safety during any foreign travel.  You can sign up for STEP at  https://step.state.gov/step/.

    Traveling is one of the greatest things you will ever do. Ensure that it stays great by properly preparing for you trip and taking preemptive measures to ensure your safety!  If you have any questions regarding today’s topic don’t hesitate to message me!  Swoop by next week to discover my top travel essentials to pack! Stay fickle in flight!

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Hostel Takeover

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    So couch surfing isn’t your cup of tea but you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on a pricey hotel room, so what now?  I have the perfect, cost effective solution. Stay in a HOSTEL!  And no, before you jump to the conclusion that all hostels house torturous maniacs, let me ease your mind.  I have stayed in a multitude of hostels around the world and have continually checked-out unscathed with all limbs intact.  A hostel is where comfort meets adventure without breaking the bank.

Hostels are essentially a cheap alternative to a hotel for travelers.  Hostels can get away with their extremely cheap prices because they offer a variety of rooms to stay in.  These rooms range from private rooms with your own bathroom to sharing a mixed-gender 16-bed room with other travelers from all over the globe.  It’s all up to you! I’ve stayed in both of these types and many others and had an amazing time throughout all of it.  Another perk is that if you have your reservations about sharing a room with people of the opposite sex, most hostels have the option for male or female only rooms.

As a traveler, I personally enjoy hostels because they have the most accommodating reception desk, after all, travel is their heart and soul. Most hostels have staff that can help you set up tours, give you tips on where to go and what to eat and sometimes even have free tours and coupons to hand out!  My personal favorite aspect of a hostel, aside from meeting fellow travelers, is drinking with fellow travelers.  Most hostels offer fun activities for their residents, many of which are amazingly entertaining organized pub crawls for next to nothing.  Think $10 for a tour guide spouting local knowledge, 5 bars, a free drink at each of the bars and a horde of new friends equally excited to be there as you are. If you thought their accents were hard to understand while you were sober, just wait until you throw a few back! This my friends, is what heaven is made of. Of course, if you’d rather remember your vacation, most hostels offer many other entertaining options aside from pub crawls.

Before booking a hostel make sure you give their website a thorough read, no two hostels are the same!  Some hostels will make you pay for towels and linen, some won’t.  Some include breakfast, some offer it for a small fee. Some hostels have their own bars, some have a quiet hour.

The prices of hostels vary depending on the country but keep in mind they will be significantly cheaper than a hotel.  In Romania I found shared room hostels for $9 USD per night while in Iceland, the most expensive place in the entire world (or at least of the world I’ve seen), I found shared room hostels for upwards of $40 USD per night.  Most hostel rooms (private and shared) will fall between these prices, with private rooms being more expensive.

Aside from the awesome savings, I enjoy staying in hostels because they are teaming with adventurous, open-minded travelers such as yourselves. I’ve met many close friends (and one boyfriend) in a hostel.  The vibe coursing through a hostel is like non-other.  The people staying here aren’t families with small children or ritzy elders but rather consist of explorers looking for adventure of all types.  In hostels you meet people, swap stories, compare plans and then see where the wind takes you.

I can’t tell you how many unbelievable experiences I have had in hostels and how many amazing people I have met along the way. Hostels are a safe haven for tourists looking to meet travelers around the globe for a low cost.  I highly recommend trying out a hostel for yourself! If you have any questions about hostels or traveling feel free to message me!

Stop by next week to get tips on what travel essentials to pack on your next adventure! Stay fickle in flight!

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Couchsurfing

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    As promised, this week’s post chronicles how I became acquainted with Couchsurfing. Which, oddly enough, was through hitchhiking.

    No, I wasn’t hitchhiking myself (although I have and I highly recommend it).  I was 19 and driving with my best friend, Sara, to Crater Lake to do some hiking.  As we were driving through the spectacular, mountainous country that is Oregon we saw something even more spectacular standing on the side of the highway, a hitchhiker.  Me being me and Sara being Sara it took all of about 0.7 seconds to decide we were going to pick him up. After I skidded to a hault on the side of the road and clambered out of my car I waited as this filthy, 6’2”, early 20-something, shaggy-haired stranger sauntered toward me.  Unbelievably, Sara and I didn’t scare him away with our overly excited greeting as we asked him “where are you heading?”  As fate would have it in a posh British accent he responded, “Crater Lake.”  After Sara and I picked our jaws up off the ground we helped him throw his bags into our car but not before I asked him the cardinal question one asks a hitchhiker before allowing them into their vehicle…”have you ever murdered anyone?” He reported he had. But only once and that the victim was a midget, who was currently stowed away in his bag as a trophy.  That answer was good enough for me, so we all hopped in my car and continued on to Crater Lake.

    During our ride Sara and I peppered him with questions.  We discovered his name was Henry and he was from Bath, England.  To me this encounter seemed serendipitous as I would be leaving for England in two months to study abroad.  As far as experiences with your first hitchhiker go I believe I struck gold.

    Henry continued to reveal how he had been using his summer holiday to backpack through the United States and would be camping at Crater Lake later that night.  Upon arriving at Crater Lake and being overtaken by a frenzy of storm clouds, Henry’s plans quickly changed.  It had been decided that Henry would come back to Klamath Falls and stay the night with me.  My dad wouldn’t mind…right?

    After dropping Sara off at her house, Henry and I made our way back towards mine.  While driving I was silently scripting a reasonable plea to present to my dad as to why he should allow this mysterious, young man to stay at his house with his ever intrigued daughter.

    Henry and I walked into the house to find my dad sitting on the couch reading the newspaper.  Before my dad could say anything I blurted out, “This is Henry and he’s going to be staying with us for a little bit!”  My dad just looked at me, then looked at Henry (filthy, brown hair matted to his forehead, dusty bags at his feet) then looked back at me and asked, “Did you pick him up on the side of the road?”  I nodded sheepishly. With a sigh and a slow shake of his head my dad said “That’s what I was afraid of…alright Henry, what do you want for dinner?”

    Instead of just one night, Henry spent three wonderful days with me.  We filled our time by strolling downtown, picnicking in the park, drinking beer up on “K Hill” which overlooked my little town and he even went as my date to a wedding.  During those three days we learned everything a person could know of another.  We had extensive conversations about our pasts, his travels, future plans and the mysteries of life in general.  Those three days with Henry felt like a lifetime.

    Henry exited my life in Klamath very much the way he entered it.  A sparkling monument on the side of a dirty road.  We said a tearful “goodbye,” as I dropped him off in the very spot I picked him up with promises we would meet again when I moved to England (a promise we kept).

    When I returned home I found folded pages from a notebook placed on my pillow.  I unfolded the pages to find an overwhelmingly, beautiful poem written of our time spent together and his necklace placed neatly inside. Both of which, to this day, remain tucked safely in a drawer next to my bed.

    Those three days opened up my view on the world.  I learned that everyone has something beautiful to offer and share with the rest of us.  That sometimes the most unbelievable experiences come from the most unexpected places.  And that learning about a different life and a different culture creates a beautifully, deep understanding of humanity.

    After those three days, I craved to discover more beautiful souls like Henry. I was determined to travel the world creating a life where I could engage and learn more about other people.  Couchsurfing (as I discussed in last week’s post) generated a way for me to do that while simultaneously becoming immersed into a different culture.

    Not only do I have Henry’s vibrant gypsy spirit to thank for urging me to meet travelers in unique settings but also his ability for picking arguably one of the riskiest ways to travel, hitchhiking.  Let’s just say once my mother heard I picked up a hitchhiker (I feared she may skin me alive and roll me in sand) I was banned for doing so ever again.  After one of my mother’s German co-workers with a knack for traveling heard of my little adventure, he introduced me to Couchsurfing. And as they say, the rest is history.

    After note: Despite my parents fervent warnings I continue to pick up hitchhikers and have experienced nothing but an overwhelming urge to do it again and again (sorry mom and dad!).  There is nothing quite like hearing where someone has been and helping them get to where they are going. If adventure isn’t finding you, go out and find it!

   Thanks for checking in!  Next week’s post will discuss the benefits of hostels if you’ve decided Couchsurfing isn’t your forté! Make sure to follow this blog and share with your friends! Please message me if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover! Stay fickle in flight!

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Cheap Lodging, Priceless Memories

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        Okay, you’ve got your plane ticket, now what? How do you turn that dream vacation into a reality? You’ve looked at those 5-star hotels on the private white sand beaches, some which can cost upwards of $600 per night..yikes! That’s more than your plane ticket!  Never fear, I have a couple tried and tested suggestions that will not only save your bank account but will earn you some newfound friends, a backstage pass to a unique culture and memories that will last a lifetime.

My first suggestion, today’s topic, and the mode of lodging I use most often when traveling by myself is Couchsurfing.  For those of you who don’t know what Couchsurfing is let me explain.  Couchsurfing is a website that helps connect travelers to locals willing to open up their homes to guests visiting their country. So say I’m traveling to Bali, Indonesia (which I did as a solo trip and yes I did Couchsurf there!).  I simply go to the Couchsurfing website, type in my destination and voila! Hundreds of Couchsurfer’s profiles pop up that live there and are willing to host a guest. And the best part…it’s FREE!

So how do I pick which Couchsurfer I want to stay with? First you want to make sure they are available to host you.  Their profile will indicate if they are available to host, if they are away traveling, or if they are home but for some tragic reason are unable to host.  I should mention Couchsurfers’ don’t have to host. They can also just be willing to meet up with travelers to hang out or show them around..but I’ll delve into the benefits of that at a later date. Let’s get back to how to pick a host and the plethora of benefits Couchsurfing has to offer!

Once you have found a Couchsurfer’s profile that says they are available to host then you do what our generation does best…you stalk that profile! Maybe not in such a creepy sense as “stalk,” but you do want to do your homework to find out if this is a person you would enjoy spending time with.  Profiles often include the person’s lifestyle, demographics, hobbies, interests, philosophy and where they have traveled or would like to travel.  Profiles also frequently include a picture of the host and a description of the couch or room you will be staying in.  This is important. Couchsurfer’s accommodations vary greatly from host to host (remember you are in their hut, apartment, home, mansion, etc.,) some hosts only have floor space for you to sleep on while other hosts offer you your own villa. I’ve had both and they were equally amazing experiences. Nevertheless, look for what you want but most importantly find a host that jives with you.

Let me quickly interject and address what by now I’m sure you are all thinking (yes, I’ve heard it all before) “These are strangers,” “That’s dangerous,” “This girl is a complete nutcase,” “She does this alone?!” “She’s going to be raped, burned and murdered..not necessarily in that order”..I get the point. To most people who don’t understand Couchsurfing this whole idea seems crazy. I started doing this when I was 19, trust me, I get it..my parents were less than thrilled. But let me tell you; I have experienced more breathtaking scenery, eaten the most mouthwatering morsels, participated in insanely exhilarating activities and connected with the sweetest souls by Couchsurfing than I ever would have staying in a hotel.  And here is why: when you are Couchsurfing you are deeply immersed in the culture, you aren’t a tourist anymore you are living like a local. You eat what the locals eat, sleep where they sleep and play how they play. The majority of the places you see and activities you do while Couchsurfing are things you won’t find in a book, things you wouldn’t even hear of if you hadn’t been introduced to them by a Couchsurfer.  It makes your trip unique and it gives you insight into a whole different life. Not to mention you get to meet incredible people and form unbreakable bonds with them.  Oh…and it’s FREE.

Despite the overwhelming abundance of magnificent amenities Couchsurfing has to offer I understand you may still be weary about the minor issue of your safety.  No need, Couchsurfing offers a “verification” option.  This allows Couchsurfers to pay a small fee to have a background check done and if they pass their background check a green check mark will appear by their profile.  So to ensure you don’t end up crashing with a felon just search for profiles with the green check mark.  I’ll be honest though, I have never stayed with or hosted a verified Couchsurfer and I have never once had anything less than an amazing experience. I’m not even verified myself (you know us travelers..every penny that isn’t going towards a bill is going towards our next adventure). Another added safety feature is Couchsurfing References.  Every time a Couchsurfer hosts or is hosted each party leaves either a positive or negative reference and gives some details on how it was staying with that host or how it was hosting a certain Couchsurfer.  The reference appears on the Couchsurfer’s profile and cannot be deleted so you will see ALL references.  This allows you to get feedback on other people’s experience with the host you’re looking at.  Now back to getting stoked for your trip!…

So you’ve selected a few hosts that you’ve decided are worthy enough to be graced with your presence.  Now what? You send a request. This will allow you to tell the host what days you will be there, how many people will be traveling with you (I prefer to Couchsurf by myself because it’s easier to find a host. the more people you have the harder it will be to find a host. That being said there are people who will host big groups.) and to send them a message telling them about yourself and your plans for your trip.

Now it’s up to the host to read your message and either accept or decline to host you. Don’t feel bad if you are declined.  Remember that these are just super awesome people in their day to day life willing to let you crash at their house for free. They still have jobs, friends, family and commitments that may interfere with them being able to accept your request.  For this reason I advise sending out multiple requests to various hosts.

Yay! Someone accepted your request and is willing to put up with you for a bit! Now you work out the rest of the details with them via message aka where they live, what time you will be arriving, their phone number, etc. Now pack your bags and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Couchsurfing link:  https://www.couchsurfing.com

Pop in next week to read about my experience picking up my first hitchhiker and how I was introduced to Couchsurfing!

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FREEdom of Flight

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Most people believe in order to travel you must have deep pockets, while at one time that may have  been true (think Jackie O. circa 1961) that is certainly  no longer the case. Airfare and air-wear for that matter have transformed drastically over the years.  While men and women in the early 1950’s and 60’s donned their finest attire, our generation has slummed the luxury of flight down a bit. Instead of delicately slipping on my finest threads, my go to flight outfit consists of leggings, an oversized Victoria Secret sweatshirt and some comfy sneakers to kick back in.   Although the romanticism of flying has decreased the plus side is so has the cost.

To be quite honest the majority of my trips aren’t well thought out, dreamed about vacations that I have been planning for years. They are, to be frank, random whims of restlessness and feelings of just needing to “go.” Which I do, I go. I go at least once a year to a country I’ve never been to (this is a pact I had made with myself years ago).  It is much easier to find cheap flights this way, no place in mind and just search for the cheapest destination.  But for most that isn’t always easy because then you have work or school that gets in the way and previous obligations to attend to. Don’t worry, I will give tips for both ends of the traveler spectrum on how to navigate the best websites and apps to find the cheapest flights possible.

My personal favorite website to use is called STA Travel (www.statravel.com) not only is it great at finding the cheapest possible options but if you are under 26 or a student you can usually get a pretty hefty discount! There are a couple of different ways to go about using STA travel. The first way, if you have a destination in mind and a mildly flexible date to depart and return you simply enter your information and make sure to hit flexible dates! STA Travel will then bring up a grid with departure dates running vertically and return dates running horizontally.  The prices coinciding with each departure and return date fill the middle of the grid so you can easily determine which the cheapest days to fly would be.

Now let’s say you don’t have a specific date or destination in mind but your wanderlust has gotten the best of you and you have to get out of the country within the next month or two, or all hope will be lost as you know it. Easy! If you scroll down STA Travel’s homepage you will find an area titled “Find a Flight by Region,” and yes, you guessed it, this allows you to search for flights by region (continent, excluding Antartica)! So say Asia has always tickled your fancy. You just click on “Asia” and up will come the cheapest one-way and round trip flights to various places in Asia be it Tokyo, Delhi or Taipei (seriously, I just did it and found a one-way from Los Angeles to Hong Kong for $226). By searching this way you usually have to book your flights by a certain day and it will give you specific dates to travel on, but let’s face it, you don’t care, you’re an adventurer! I should include that this form of searching most often departs from major airports i.e., LAX, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, but that’s okay. That’s what Allegiant Airline is for! Just book a cheap ticket on Allegiant from your small town to the bigger city, with all the money you are saving on your international flight this should be no problem at all!

If your restless spirit has a free time schedule, STA Travel also has a section for their top flight deals. Some of these are domestic flights where you can find tickets as low as $30.00, which leaves plenty of money for those in-flight bloody marys!

Another reason I worship STA Travel is their multi-city option (what used to be called their “around the world trips”).  Say you want to go to Europe but you want to hit more than one country.  You merely select your starting point and the country you want to go to and then select “add country” and pick the country you want to visit after that and so on. This makes it cheaper and easier than searching for a ton of one-way flights.  I will also add that, contrary to popular belief, this mode of transportation between countries in Europe is quicker and cheaper than a Eurorail pass.  The cool thing about multi-city flights is you can hop from continent to continent as well.  If you have no idea where you want to go but you know you want to “go” STA Travel also has set multi-city flight routes with set low prices.  It really doesn’t get any better than that!  While it may sound like I am the spokesperson for STA Travel I’m really just an avid traveler geeking out over the various amazing steals I’ve gotten from this company! But hey, STA if you want to hire me, I’m game!

Now that I’ve gushed over STA travel, which I forgot to mention also has cheap tours, hostels/hotels and itinerary planning it can hook you up with, let’s move on to Skyscanner.

Skyscanner (https://www.skyscanner.net) has some similarities with STA Travel, such as the multi-city flight (no set routes though) but the thing I absolutely adore about Skyscanner is it’s “everywhere” option.  This is for all of you fickle in flight (as I like to call it) travelers out there.  You just select a departure point and then type “everywhere” in the destination box and what do you know? SkyScanner provides you with the cheapest prices to, well, almost everywhere.  I’m talking countries you’ve never even heard of, everywhere.  It also gives you the option to search by cheapest month or select certain dates.  In fact, this is how I just booked my roundtrip ticket to Thailand for $477.  Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure this is what dreams are made of!

Now for my favorite app, that I like to refer to as wanderlust gold, let me introduce you to Hopper.  Hopper is an app that allows you to type in a departure point and destination and then has a color coded layout for each day in every month showing when prices are low (green), still low but a little higher (orange), medium (dark orange) to highest (red). That’s awesome right?! Well you think that’s cool? Check this out:  Hopper also will analyze and track your flights. So let’s say I want to go to Munich for Oktoberfest next year (I do, I really, really do).  I select Munich and the dates I want to travel and then Hopper watches the airlines and even months from now, when that flight hits its lowest price, Hopper will send me a notification that I should buy now! Danke Schoen, Hopper!

Well that’s it for now, I’ve wasted too much time explaining to you people how to find cheap flights and not enough time buying my next one. Swoop in next week to read more about innovative ways to travel, cheap lodging and how to get the most out of your adventure! As always message me if you have questions or comments!

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Fickle in Flight

     This being my first official blog post I feel it’s not only right, but necessary to bore you with some ramblings about myself and how I discovered my love for travel.  So let’s begin at the beginning shall we?

It all started in 8th grade with my all-time favorite teacher Mr. Glidden.  He was my literature teacher who decided to take the nightmarish task upon himself to show a horde of adolescents the world.  He arranged a trip to Italy for 10 days (during our Spring Break).  I, of course, begged my parents to go and eventually in a disgustingly sweet scheme they relented (that’s a story for another day but just know that my parents are the greatest human beings to walk the Earth, don’t argue). There were only two real prerequisites to go on this trip.  The first, of course, was you had to pay for it..or rather our parents did because I don’t know about you but I haven’t seen any 13 or 14 year olds walking around making it rain.  The second, being that we had to attend night classes every Tuesday to learn about the culture, history and language.  If you can’t grasp how utterly remarkable this is, let me help you.  My 20-something-year-old junior high teacher took time out of his busy schedule to give unpaid lessons to a group of 20-30 junior high schoolers and then was able to muster up enough courage to take said students out of the country.  Think back to what a nightmare junior high kids are. Exactly. This man is a saint!

Eventually, after months of his altruistic lessons, we all traveled to Italy. Of course there were a couple of parent chaperones and Mr. Glidden’s wife (who is an absolute doll, especially for going along with his foolish plan).  I loved Italy. I adored every single moment of it. The Colosseum, The Vatican, The Trevi Fountain,  The Sistine Chapel, the gelato..looking back I probably enjoyed  the gelato the most..my sweet tooth is out of control. Nevertheless, as cliché as it is, that trip sparked something inside me.  This overwhelming,  visceral desire to travel.

So years went by, as years tend to do, and I was in high school. I was busy playing three sports and going to school during the school year. During the summer I was in summer league for basketball and had various soccer and track camps to attend and I just really wasn’t able to get away to travel, nor did I have the means to do so. Let’s face it, I was in high school.

Then came college. The freedom, the independent decision making, the travel.  As soon as I signed up for my freshman year of college I couldn’t wait until my sophomore year because that’s when I would be able to study abroad.  Now for those of you who aren’t old enough for college yet or those of you who are currently attending..listen closely! Do it. Go. The semester or year you study abroad will change your life.  It will alter your mentality and values greater than any scholarly  book or course ever could.  This time abroad will be the greatest education you will ever receive and none of it will take place in a classroom.

I chose to study abroad for a semester in Brighton, England.  And you know what? I loved it so much I extended my semester to a year.  I made every second count.  I even took classes I knew wouldn’t transfer back (sorry mom and dad) so my GPA wouldn’t suffer.  That way I didn’t have to waste time in a classroom, I had the freedom to explore.  Even though that time abroad set me back one year in college, for a whole year I had the world as a classroom and that, my friends, is worth anything.

 During my time abroad I traveled to numerous European countries, made the best of friends, was immersed into a new culture, hungout with rockstars  (that’s for you Cassy), fell in love, cheered on football(soccer) games at pubs, walked in Jane Austin’s footsteps, ate chocolate in Belgium and had arguably the best (and worst) nights of my life.  But the thing I did most was live.  Man, I really lived.  It was a constant high, traveling the world, and still is.  I’ve never felt more free and more myself than when I’m in a place where I don’t know anyone or anything.  There are no lines to cross, no comfort zones to come out of because when you’re in a new country you can’t even see your comfort zone.  Your comfort zone is now a blip on the radar and now you get to do the greatest thing of all.  You get to be you.  That year abroad was when I made a promise to myself that no matter what, I would go to a new country at least once every year.

To this day I have kept my promise.  Which in the end is the reason for this blog.  I’ve learned so much over the years about traveling and myself.  This blog is intended to urge you to travel. To make those of you who think you can’t afford it, realize you can.  To break down the barriers in your mind telling you to be afraid and to replace them with the belief that you can travel alone and that it will be extraordinary.  I hope this blog will light a fire inside your soul making you yearn for all the world has to offer.  And when it does I hope you go because I guarantee once you do…You won’t ever be the same.

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