Missed Flight

Crap! You Missed Your Flight! Preparing for the Unexpected.

Have you ever had to sprint to your gate or worse, missed your flight? It’s typically a not so fun and costly experience. The best way to never have to endure this situation is to prepare, but sometimes, even with the most meticulous planning, mishaps can occur. My story goes like this:

My bestie and myself were having so much fun hanging out in Budapest (one of my favorite cities) chatting with our hostel mates about the awesome Bath Party we all went to a couple of nights before and realized we only had 2 hours until our flight. Typically, not a big deal, we’ll make it right? Well, if you know where you’re going, sure. So we headed out and hopped on the metro, presumably towards the airport. As everything is in Hungarian, and I have had a history of getting lost occasionally, we went the wrong way. By the time I realized it, we were quite a few stops in the opposite direction. So we headed back, got to the airport about 20 minutes before our flight, and they wouldn’t let us go through security, as they board 30 minutes before.

Of course we were freaking out- what were we going to do? I’d never missed a flight in my life! So we had to talk with an airline travel agent and book the next flight to Athens (trust me, blaming “traffic” does not get you a free flight). This cost us 100 euro each that we were not expecting. We also ended up staying the night in the airport as the next flight wasn’t until the following morning. It was a mess.

budapest bathhouses

It’s easy to lose track of time in a place like this.

So how to prevent this?

  1. Obviously, making sure you leave plenty of time for navigating to the airport helps. Most of the time, directions aren’t in English and can be difficult to understand, so allow plenty of time to get to the airport. I recommend leaving 3 hours before your flight, which will give you about an hour to reach the airport, then 2 hours to get through security, get to your seat, etc.
  2. Piggy-backing off the language: either grab a language phrase book or use an app, like Google Translate, Speak and Translate, or iHandy Translator, to help you interpret directions. Or it’ll at least help you ask for directions in the local language and understand them.
  3. After this experience, I now always print off my hostel/hotel/Airbnb directions before I arrive at my location so that I know exactly how to get to and from the airport.
  4. Have it mapped out the night before! Know exactly how you’re going to get to the airport. This could be via bus, metro system, cab, uber, etc. Have a plan so you know exactly what you’re doing the next day.
  5. Bring a carry on: I never travel these days with a checked bag. It’s pretty easy to pack light, especially for trips under a couple of weeks. It’ll prevent the long lines for bag check-in and you don’t have to wait at baggage claim.

Another great preventative measure to avoid feeling stressed about travel mishaps – make sure to budget a little extra for this stuff. I made ourselves a very strict budget, with no room for errors. Silly me. With travel, mishaps happen to everyone, and having even just a little extra helps out in a pinch if needed. Even $50 extra will help out in these situations, and help you avoid the next piece of advice:

drinking beer in budapest

Drink beer! Scratch that, you should probably do the things below instead.

So this has already happened, and you’re tight on money:

  1. Well, you could do what we did, and save a hostel night by sleeping at the airport. It’s not as bad as it sounds really. We cancelled a night in our Athens hostel (they were very understanding), and set up camp in a few chairs at the airport. It does save money, and it’s actually very common. Just whip out your travel pillow, lay on the bench, and you’re golden. It’s about the same as sleeping on an overnight train.
  2. Couchsurfing. Yes, it’s free. Yes, I’ve done it. And yes, it’s safe (and so much fun!). Find a couch surfing spot in the city you’re in and ask if they can accommodate you last minute.
  3. You could look up alternative travel modes of transportation to flying and see if you could snag a last minute-ticket. (If only teleportation were an option!)
Sad over missed flight

Is it just me, or has this lady missed a flight before?

While this was a crazy experience at the time, it helped me learn ways of preventing this situation in the future, as listed above. It also taught me something I didn’t know: I’m stronger in a crisis than I imagined. Sure, it’s not a huge crisis. But being a young woman, fresh into the working world, and by no means wealthy, traveling with one other person in the same situation, it felt very stressful.

Overall, I learned to relax. I know it’s super stressful missing a flight, because it makes you worry about not having the time to enjoy your next stop, where you’re going to stay the night, and even money. But just take a step back, breathe, and realize that it’ll be okay. You’ve got options, and if you know what to do to prepare, you’ll be ready like a travel pro.

missed flight oreos

The expression you get when you’re starving after spending the night in an airport and find a giant chocolate bar with Oreos in it.

Wine vineyards

When You Can’t Get Away to the Famous Wine Regions of the World

Picture yourself lounging with the sun on your face, sipping on the most delicious wine you’ve ever tasted, and then walking through gorgeous vineyards. Is it just me, or is this what I dream about all the time during the summer months? Or pretty much any time of year.

Unless you’re living in Napa, Cape Town, Florence, or even most places in France, getting to these places cost time and money. While there’s always Travel Hacking, the art of scoring free or dirt-cheap plane tickets and hotels, taking the time off is a challenge when you’ve got other travel plans. Lucky for you, the secret to trying new and delicious wine is in your backyard.

Okay, maybe not directly in your backyard.

wine grapes

Grapes on the vine, oh so divine!

At the very least there’s probably vineyards less than an hour’s drive away for most people. For instance, I’m from a small town in Kentucky, and there’s a winery only 10 minutes away!

I’ve done wine tastings all over Kentucky, Ohio, and even Virginia. Who says the only wine region is in California? Did you know Washington actually has fantastic wineries?

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. South River Vineyard (Ashtabula, Ohio: 45 minutes from Cleveland)- Probably my favorite vineyard ever. The wine is fantastic, but the setting is even better. It’s set in an old church renovated into the winery, with a huge terrace in the back perfect for sipping wine and admiring the rows and rows of beautiful vines. They even have religious themed wines such as Trinity, Exodus, Creation, Temptation, and Karma to name a few.
  2. Zephaniah Farm Vineyard (Leesburg, VA: 45 minutes from Washington, DC)- This is another wonderful winery with a family that has been running the place for generations. The day we visited we sat in their tasting room in the house that was built in 1820 and chatted with the son for 30 minutes. Their passion for wine making and the story of their farm is amazing, not to mention the stunning vineyards in their backyard. Let’s not forget the Cab Franc-which was amazing!
  3. Elk Creek Vineyards (Owenton, KY: 1 hour from Cincinnati)- This is a large vineyard with a stage for summer concerts and even a lodge for overnight visits. The wine is great, and the views are spectacular! The tasting room sits on top of a hill overlooking the vineyards. It’s perfect for catching a brilliant sunset before heading down the hill for a concert.
wine and friends

Wine + Friends = Perfect day.

Wine and cheese

Wine with cheese and charcuterie is the best thing ever.

What’s another huge bonus about visiting your local wineries?

The tastings are typically super cheap! Tastings in Napa Valley at one winery can sometimes be $50! That’s just for tastings- that doesn’t even include a full glass of wine! So if you’re trying to get the most wine per dollar (which is always my goal), your local winery can definitely provide.

So whether you’re living in Bordeaux or Northern Virginia, there’s a beautiful winery not far away. Now get out there and start sipping!

vines and wines

Happy sipping!

Travel Tips when Flying

The Biggest Travel Mistake You’re Making

No, it’s not your packing technique, where you choose to stay, or even your budget. You’re probably wasting money paying full price for airline tickets, AND…not even collecting miles! Ask anyone taking a vacation that is not drivable distance, and the biggest cost by far is the plane ticket. Want to know a secret? It doesn’t have to be! Airline miles are easier to collect than ever! If you’re not collecting these, you need to start now. Let me break it down.

Every time you take a flight, no matter what airline, join their miles program.

This past summer, I flew from Cleveland to Seattle round-trip. With layovers, that was 4,345 miles. You better believe I collected those! Because Rule #1: Miles programs are completely free to join! How can you not join? Every time you take a flight, no matter what airline, join their miles program. I’m a part of AA Advantage, Delta Skymiles, Air France Flying Blue, British Airways Avios, and South African Voyager. Another reason to join the miles programs?

credit cards and airline miles

Credit card offers!

Yes, I got an offer for the Delta Skymiles card, in which they offered me 50,000 miles if I spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. 50,000 miles for only spending $1,000! To put that in context, most miles cards offer 50,000 miles after spending $4,000 in 3 months. To further put that in context, to fly from Cleveland to Bangkok, Thailand, and then Hanoi, Vietnam back to Cleveland is 80,000 miles. So earing 50,000 is a big freaking deal.

That’s not all! Other credit cards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred, aren’t tied to a particular airline, but you can transfer those miles to whichever airline that is participating. Not to mention they offer 2 miles per dollar spent on travel and dining expenses. So you are literally earning miles using Uber or even while eating your favorite sandwich.

What’s my favorite part?

If you join a miles program through an airline, say Delta Skymiles, they have dining program, in which you earn 3 miles per dollar spent at participating locations. I looked to see which restaurants were available in my area, and my boyfriend and I’s favorite spot for perogies and beer was on the list! So the usual $30 we spend on a beer and perogies? I put down my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, with 2 miles per dollar spent, and as it’s a participating Delta Skymiles restaurant, I also earn 3 miles per dollar spent. That means I got 5 miles per dollar I spent! 150 miles earned just by stuffing my face and drinking my favorite brew. It literally doesn’t get any easier.

dubrovnik with airline miles

Imagine flying to Dubrovnik for a dream vacation with nothing but miles.

Want to know another awesome perk of joining a miles program? They have portals where you can online shop and earn double, sometimes triple miles! So the holidays don’t have to be a drain on your finances, because they’ll be earning you miles for your next destination!

Here’s just a taste of the biggest travel hack you will ever learn. I’ll have more advice to come, but in the meantime, I have to give a shout out to Trav from Extra Pack of Peanuts and the Points Guy! These guys are the gurus of airline miles and collecting them. Collecting miles is the extreme couponing of travel, and you need to start now!

Running

12 Badass Races You Need to Sign Up For

There is nothing more satisfying than completing a race. You’ve trained so hard for it. You’ve saved money for the race, ate the super foods to get ready, and even researched the best running shoes. Hundreds and even thousands of people are racing for the same cause. I get emotional every race. Some are racing to lose weight or achieve a personal goal. Some are also running to check out a new location. Whatever your reason, these are some awesome races to complete in your lifetime.

12. Rock N Roll Las Vegas Series

This is as epic as it sounds. Awesome music + Vegas Strip at night = PERFECT recipe for a race. The Marathon and half marathon have headliner concerts that have included Kid Rock, Snoop Dog, and Macklemore. They also have other events such as “Run Thru Weddings” and “Run as Elvis”. It couldn’t be more Vegas if it tried. Also, the Rock N Roll Marathon series has the coolest race medals.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: 4:30PM on Sunday, November 12, 2017
    • Half Marathon: 4:30PM on Sunday, November 12, 2017
    • 10k: 4:00PM on Sunday, November 12, 2017
    • 5k: 6:00PM on Saturday, November 11, 2017
    • Run Thru Wedding: 5:45PM on Sunday, November 12, 2017
  • Website
Vegas Races

Vegas at night.

11. United Airlines New York Half Marathon/TSC NYC Marathon

Imagine looping around Central Park, running past Times Square, down to the World Trade Center and Memorial, past Battery Park where you can see the Statue of Liberty, and ending on Wall Street. That’s just the half marathon! The full marathon explores the boroughs starting on Staten Island, goes through Brooklyn and the ever so trendy Williamsburg neighborhood, then into Queens, across Roosevelt Island into Manhattan, a quick trip into the Bronx, then back in Manhattan where you run through Harlem to the Upper East Side and into Central Park. Not to mention the New York Marathon is the largest marathon in the world! If you want to sightsee New York in the same fast pace as the city itself, you have to try one of these races.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: The race has several start times as it is run in waves. However, the race begins at 8:30AM on November 5, 2017
    • Half Marathon: 7:30AM on Sunday, March 19, 2017
  • Important note: As these are popular races, you have to qualify. This means that you have to have proof you finished another race in the appropriate amount of time required. These times differ based on age and gender.
  • There are also several races among the boroughs should you wish to explore NYC further.
  • Website:
NYC Races

Brooklyn Bridge.

10. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Races

The magical world of Disney, complete with princesses, castles, and people racing in their best Mickey Mouse ears. Let your inner child fly free this marathon weekend. You can treat this as a weekend getaway to see the various parks within Disney. The marathon runs through all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks (Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park). The half marathon races past Magic Kingdom Park and Epcot. The 5k and 10k take place in Epcot. Basically, if you can’t go see the world, you may as well run past all of it in Epcot. If you grew up watching the best of Disney, you have to run this race.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: 5:30AM on Sunday, January 7, 2018
    • Half Marathon: 5:30AM on Saturday, January 6, 2018
    • 10k: 5:30AM on Friday, January 5, 2018
    • 5k: 6:00AM on Thursday, January 4, 2018
  • For the super ambitious: Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge is comprised of 39.3 miles starting Saturday, January 6 and ending Sunday, January 7, 2018. You can run the half marathon and marathon.
  • For the crazy super ambitious runners out there: Dopey’s Challenge. If you’re really wanting a workout, this is where you run all of the 4 races (5k, 10k, half-marathon, and marathon).
  • They also have races for kids!
  • Note: These races book up fast, so book early! Registration opens February 14th!
  • Website
Disney Races

Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World.

9. Virgin Money London Marathon

This city is full of history, ready for you to run. Run across Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London. Pass by Big Ben, the Shard, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Run along the River Thames, toward Westminster, ending at Buckingham Palace. If you’re looking to see London from East to West, this is the perfect way to do it.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: 10:00AM on Sunday, April 23, 2017
  • Important information: If you are not a resident of the UK, you will have to book via Overseas Entry. The event website has a tab where you can locate your country of residence to register. The US requires you to go through a marathon tour company.
  • Website
London Races

Big Ben in London

8. Athens Marathon

This list would be remiss if I didn’t include the marathon to rule them all! This bad boy is the original, the first marathon to have ever occurred. While the original runner died of exhaustion, well-trained athletes are proving up to the challenge. But it is a challenge. You start in Marathon, you know, like what this whole race is named after. Anyway, you run across hills, roads, towns, and all the way into Athens, where you end up in the Ancient Olympic Stadium. You’ll see the Acropolis along the way. Want to feel a part of history? This is the race for you. Thank the gods they have smaller routes too.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: 9:00AM on Sunday, November 13, 2017
    • Power Walking: 9:00AM on Sunday, November 13, 2017
    • 10k : 8:35AM on Sunday, November 13, 2017
    • 5k: 7:45AM on Sunday, November 13, 2017 AND 4:00PM on Sunday, November 13, 2017
  • They also have races for kids!
  • Website
Athens Races

Imagine ending your race at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.

7. Napa Valley Marathon Weekend

Who doesn’t love wine? Running and wine may be some of my favorite things. After running along wineries and vineyards, it’s enough to make you so excited to taste all of the wine after. Whether it’s red, white, or rose, all are enough to keep you motivated to cross the finish line.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: 7:00AM on Sunday, March 5, 2017
    • 5k: 8:00AM on Sunday, March 5, 2017
  • Hint: This race is downhill- perfect for first timers!
  • Website
Napa Valley Races

Napa Valley Vineyards.

6. Galapagos Marathon

Yes all of you Darwin/Science nerds out there! There truly is a race for everyone in the world. If you’re looking to run among Galapagos Giant Tortoises and on a beautiful, tropical island full of diverse species, this is the race to run.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: 6:00AM on Sunday, August 13, 2017 and Sunday, August 15, 2017
    • Half Marathon: 6:30AM on Sunday, August 13, 2017 and Sunday, August 15, 2017
    • 10k: They offer this, but do not discuss a time. Offered on Sunday, August 13, 2017 and Sunday, August 15, 2017
  • Website
Galapagos Races

Slow and steady wins the race.

5. Big 5 Marathon

This is for the truly wild at heart runners. If running along giraffes, wildebeest, and the Big 5 (lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, leopards, and rhinoceroses) sound like a dream come true, you have to try this race. This combines a safari and a good, long run into one amazing race day. Remember you don’t have to be the fastest runner, just be sure to outrun your friends.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon: June 24, 2017
    • Half Marathon: June 24, 2017
    • No times established yet
  • This is an event that is best to book through a tour company
  • Be sure to be properly vaccinated and drink plenty of water!
  • Website
Big 5 Races

Dare to run wild with these guys.

4. Midnight Sun Marathon/Polar Night Marathon

Think summertime in the artic circle: you’re running close to midnight with the sun still shining. Then think again about running at night and looking up to see the Northern Lights. These take place in the same spot, just different times of year. Either way, both look extremely captivating.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon:
      • Midnight Sun Marathon: 8:30PM on Saturday, June 17, 2017
    • Half Marathon:
      • Midnight Sun Marathon: 10:30PM on Saturday, June 17, 2017
      • Polar Night Marathon: 3:00PM on Saturday, January 6, 2018
    • 10k:
      • Midnight Sun Marathon: 7:00PM on Saturday, June 17, 2017
      • Polar Night Marathon: 3:15PM on Saturday, January 6, 2018
    • Mini Marathon:
      • Midnight Sun Marathon: 6:00PM on Satruday, June 17, 2017
      • Polar Night Marathon: 3:20PM on Saturday, January 6, 2018
    • Note: They do not have a marathon for Polar Night.
    • Important: As the Polar Night run is in the winter in the Artic circle, you must dress warm, and wear shoes with spikes and traction for the snow.
    • There’s a kid’s race for the Midnight Sun Marathon!
  • Website
Arctic Night Races

Catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights during the Polar Night race.

3. Antarctica Ice Marathon

Are you trying to cross off that seventh continent from your bucket list? Do you LOVE running in the cold? Maybe you’re crazy? Either way, a race in Antarctica is not for the faint at heart, but is said to be an amazing experience. Want to really impress your friends? This is the ticket. Just don’t anticipate setting a personal record.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon and Half Marathon: Friday, November 24, 2017
      • They do not have times established yet
    • Important: This is a super expensive race as it is a far-flung destination and you can’t just fly in. It’s easiest to book through a tour group like Global Running Adventures.
    • Note: Wear the appropriate shoes and clothing for the weather.
  • Website
Antartica Races

It’ll be cold, but for views like this, it may be worth it.

2. Great Wall Marathon

Want to visit the Great Wall of China? Check. Want one of the most challenging races to run? Check. One word to remember: stairs. Yup, it’s quite a challenge. Again, don’t expect to make your best time, but it’s worth it for the beauty of the Great Wall of China.

  • Races Offered:
    • Marathon, Half Marathon, and Fun Run (5.5 miles): All take place on Saturday, May 20, 2017. No times established yet.
  • Important Information: You will need a visa to get into China. Also, you will have to book through a tour package.
  • Website
Great Wall Races

See more of this wall during this race.

 1. Inca Trail Marathon

Whether you’re looking for the perfect Instagram photo, want a real challenge with elevation, or you love history and all things Incan, you have to run this ancient trail. But again, this is another one of the most challenging marathons. Be sure to train, because when you’re hitting that runner’s high at the end, you’re running into Machu Picchu.

  • Races Offered: This is unique as you run almost every day of your tour from 4.5 miles until the actual race day where you run either the marathon or 30k (18.6 miles). The race day is Thursday, June 8, 2017 or Thursday, August 10, 2017.
  • Important Information: Like most international races, you have to book through a tour package.
  • Website
Inca Trail Races

Amazing views and high altitudes: You may get more of a runner’s high than you bargain for.