{Four Budget Travel Tips}

As the weather gets colder and colder and colder, I find myself dreaming more and more about our next European adventure this summer (I’ll talk about the possible locations in another post!). But with planning a trip comes budgeting for a trip— a topic that frightens a lot of people (and for good reason… traveling is expensive!).
Throughout the years, I’ve become kind of a pro at the whole budgeting while traveling thing (not to brag or anything…well maybe a little). I thought I would share with you a few of my favorite budget travel tips- I hope they can help you when planning for your next trip.
1. Walk as much as you can-
We travel to see and experience, right? Well, how can we do that if we are always inside a bus, car, or train? Walking allows you to see more of the city that you are visiting and stumble upon places that you might have never seen if you had used public transportation. Walking allows you to find some really great places or hidden gems… my favorite church in Valencia, the location where Julius Caesar was killed in Rome, the most gorgeous viewpoint in Salzburg– each was found randomly on a walk through the city. Plus, if you walk everywhere, you can eat as much as you want and still fit into that bikini that you worked so hard for before your trip!

2. Do your research-
So there’s this saying that goes “nothing in life is free”- well, if you do your research before you travel, you can prove this saying wrong! There are so many activities and things to see that don’t cost any money- you just have to clue yourself in. When we were researching about Madrid, we found that the famous Museo Del Prado has free admission during certain times and as a result, we got to see world famous artwork without spending a dime. You can do this all over the world, you just have to research it beforehand!

3. Look into neighboring cities for cheaper nightly rates-
What do Paris, London, New York City, Cinque Terre, Amsterdam, Annecy and Dublin have in common? Hotels in these cities are expensive! A huge way to save money is to stay outside of these major cities- just make sure that there is easy and cheap access to the city center either by bus, train or foot. When we visited Cinque Terre, we stayed in a nearby town called Levanto (and by nearby, I mean like 5 minutes by train nearby). Not only was the commute to Cinque Terre easy and cheap, but we got to stay in a gorgeous area for the fraction of the price that it would have cost in Cinque Terre…and as an added bonus, we got to explore another city that had amazing scenery and delicious food!

4. Eat from supermarkets-
As a traveler, supermarkets are a super great way to save money (see what I did there?). We don’t eat out every meal at home because it would cost too much… so why do it while traveling? You can get an entire meal at a grocery store for a fraction of what it would cost at a restaurant. And not only will you be saving money, but shopping at the local grocery store will allow you to buy what the locals buy and eat what they eat. How better to experience another culture than eating what they do! Supermarkets often sell pre-made salads or sandwiches, but my favorite thing to do is buy some bread, a local cheese and some wine- the perfect dinner and the perfect money saver. Also, as an added bonus, when you buy your meals from supermarkets, the whole city becomes your restaurant, so have fun and choose an amazing location to eat!

Anyone have other money saving tips to share? Let us know!


(2014 Recap}

I realize I’m a little bit late with this post, but I figure that 2014 was way too memorable to let it go that easily…

…and what an incredible year it was! 2014 was a year full of travel. We traveled to Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, France, Italy, Austria, England and Canada. Not to mention, Adam and I moved to the northeast! 2014 reignited my love for travel and culture and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us!
Here is a look back at some highlights from last year. You can click each image for a further look into that experience!
Oh, and Adam made this awesome video of our entire trip through Europe if you want to take a look (its under 90 seconds!)

{Snowy Activities// Toronto, Canada}

A while back, Adam and I took a quick trip to visit my family in Canada. The weather forecast- snow- and lots of it!! We had both visited the Toronto area before (me, many times before!), so we opted to do a few new activities.
We found out that every winter, the City of Toronto opens up the Natrel Rink. And wow, is this location amazing! The rink is located right along the Lake Ontario shoreline and boasts amazing views of the CN Tower in the background. Skating is free (!) and skate rentals are available at a minimal cost. It was so much fun and I just couldn’t get over how gorgeous the location was!
Next, we visited the Royal Ontario Museum (or the ROM if you want to sound like you know what you are talking about). I had researched the museum and found out that they have discounted tickets on Fridays after 4:30pm… so guess when we went!? The museum is extremely interesting and has some really amazing exhibits. Definitely a great way to spend an afternoon out of the bone chilling cold!
Of course, like any good foodie, we ate great food and quite a few of those meals were at one of my favorite spots- Nando’s! If you read about our trip to London, you will know that I absolutely love Nando’s and their peri peri chicken and fries!
We also spent a lot of our time outside… I know, crazy people! We took a few walks around some parks admiring the peaceful scenery and snow-covered trees, and of course, had a few snowball fights!

{Thinking About Sunny Days//South Florida}

The last few days have been dark, gloomy, and rainy—so naturally, I have been dreaming of the bright and sunny days that I enjoyed so much during the summer. I thought that I would share some eye candy with you from sunny South Florida to help us all get through the nearing winter!

Before Adam and I moved to New Jersey, we spent our time hanging out on the beaches of Delray Beach, walking around Miami and eating ice cream on Atlantic Avenue (from Kilwins- so good!). Looking at these photos makes me so excited to go back home in December for New Years!

{Demarest Farm and Saddle River County Park// New Jersey}

One of the things that I was most excited about when I found out that we were moving to the northeast was experiencing a real fall. Growing up in South Florida, I never really got to experience changing leaves, the need for scarves and chunky sweaters (although we would wear them anyways because… fashion), or other fall traditions.
This weekend, Adam and I rented a Zipcar and took it to Demarest Farm– about 40 minutes northwest of us. There, we took a hayride, pumpkin picked, and ate our first apple cider donuts (which were amazing!).
From the farm, we drove to Saddle River County Park, which we found on a whim, to enjoy the outdoors some more. The park was beautiful. Orange, red and yellow foliage everywhere, ducks and geese enjoying the afternoon sun, and beautiful pathways for us to walk on.

{Long Trip Essentials}

After successfully traveling through Europe for 5 weeks, I like to think of myself as somewhat of a pro when it comes to packing for a long trip.
It can be a bit intimidating packing for a trip that you haven’t taken yet, but hopefully with this list, your trip preparations can seem a lot less daunting!
If you have any long trip essentials to add to the list, let me know- I’m always looking for other tips and tricks!

1. Most important piece of advice (at least in my opinion) – Wear good shoes!
Now, I am one of those girls who often chooses fashion over comfort – if they are beautiful, I’m getting them! Who cares if I’m hobbling all the way home afterwards– but when traveling (read: walking for miles and miles), comfort is mandatory. While sneakers are always a must, I am not one to wear them with my dresses or skirts. I bought these walking sandals, and no joke, I wore them almost every day while I was away (You can see me wearing them here). They are so comfy and even though they are a bit different to my usual sandal choice, at least I got to wear sandals instead of sneakers with my cuter outfits. So ladies (and gentlemen), trust me– suck it up and choose comfort over fashion when traveling. Your feet will thank you!

2. Camera, and a water bottle, and a wallet, and your phone, and a map and some lip gloss… oh my! When I travel, I try to bring only the basics – but lets face it, there are a lot of them! I bought a cross body travel safe bag for Europe, and it was one of the best pre-trip purchases that I made (You can see me wearing it here).
A cross body bag is essential when traveling because it deters thieves away- it is much easier to rip off a bag from a women’s shoulder than lifting it off her body. This bag has locking zips, a roomy interior with compartments and also has pockets on the outside for a water bottle and an umbrella.

3. Buying a water bottle from a vendor everyday (or multiple times a day) can be expensive. So, how can we cut down this expense without dehydrating?
Bring your own water bottle and purchase large bottles of water from grocery stores. Grocery stores sell liters of water for very cheap- buy water from the store and split it amongst your group or leave the leftovers in the hotel room for another day.

4. The thought of paying foreign transaction fees every time I want to purchase something or getting an awful exchange rate while abroad is something that I am not willing to suffer through. I took out a Charles Schwab checking account just for traveling. You pay no foreign transaction fees wherever you are, are reimbursed for any ATM fees and your exchange rate is the VISA rate. No more fees, no more searching for a specific bank, no more carrying a frighteningly large amount of foreign cash– with the ease of spending, now the trick is to not spend too much!

5. And last but not least….drum roll please… a Microfiber Travel Towel! OK, not sold?
Going to the beach? For a picnic? Walking in the rain (Not usually planned, but it does happen)? Hiking? Sleeping in a hostel? In a hotel with small towels? Well, if you are doing any of those things, you will absolutely need a towel. The best part about the travel towel — its light, its small and it dries incredibly fast.

So there are some of my essentials for long trips. Have any that you can’t leave home without when preparing for a big trip?

{My Monopod Manifesto}

If you have gone on a solo trip, you have definitely experienced the horrible result of trying to take a photo of yourself. You know what I’m talking about… either your arm is making an appearance in the bottom of the picture, you have cut off the object you are trying to take a picture with or worse, you have cut off your own head! If you have traveled with one other person, the problem becomes, do we take pictures individually so that we get good photos even though that will make it look like we didn’t travel together, or do we suck it up and try to fit us both in the photo even though the photo will be at a weird angle? We have all had the conversation over who has longer arms in the hopes that the winner will be able to fit everything in the shot. Then there is the “solution of asking someone else to take the photo, which oftentimes results in a useless photo because your photographer has no idea how properly to frame a shot. So what’s the solution? How can we take good photos of ourselves?
Before our trip to Europe, Adam and I struggled with this. We wanted to figure out how we could both be in the photos (we were going on this trip together after all) while still ending up with good pictures that showed both of us and the sites we were seeing.
The solution? A monopod! Gone are the days where we politely grinned while thanking someone for taking an awful photo for us, or the days where we took photos that were “good enough”.
Most people have heard of tripods, but monopods are the next thing! Recently, I have heard people refer to them as “selfie sticks”, which actually makes me want to puke, but regardless of the name, the concept is genius! It allows you to use your iPhone or your digital camera to set up the photo and frame it how you’d like, put the timer on and take the perfect photo!
The monopod that I bought was inexpensive and easily transportable. It also had a tripod connection, which was great for when we wanted to take photos from further out. We bought our monopod on Amazon and even though I can’t find the exact one, I liked these other ones that I found here and here (These examples can act as a starting point in your own research to find your perfect monopod! Note: These are affiliate links).  We loved having our monopod with us throughout Europe. We never had to stop others in the streets to take photos of us, and we could both be in the photos together!
*We found it most effective to have one person hold the monopod and the other frame the shot and activate the timer. All the photos (except for the first action shot) are taken with the monopod 🙂