pike place seattle

Seattle in Pictures: A Weekend is Plenty of Time in this Gorgeous City

Seattle: the most photogenic city. A weekend in Seattle is plenty of time to catch the main sites in and around the city. I ended up in Seattle for a work trip, and flew up the weekend before to check it out. I’m so glad I did, as I got to see the sites, eat the freshest salmon I’ve ever tasted, and even go hiking on Mt. Rainier. I present to you, Seattle in pictures. Warning: extreme wanderlust may follow.

Sites in Seattle

seattle from flight

Views of Seattle from my flight.

pike place seattle

Pike Place Market seafood stand.

pike place seattle

Pike Place Market.

pike place seattle

Flowers at Pike Place Market.

Space Needle seattle

Visiting the Space Needle.

chihluly seattle

Visiting the Chihuly Museum next to the Space Needle.

ferris wheel seattle

Views of Puget Sound and the ferris wheel.

seattle gum wall

Leaving my mark on Seattle’s famous gum wall.

fremont troll seattle

The Fremont Troll. You may recognize this from 10 Things I Hate About You.

Seattle sunset

Sunsets over Seattle.

Food and Drink

salmon seattle

Elliot’s Oyster House and the freshest salmon I’ve ever had.

coffee shop seattle

My favorite coffee in Seattle: Cherry Street Coffee House. They make an amazing dirty chai latte.

starbucks seattle

You obviously cannot forget about the original Starbucks. However, this shop is very crowded with no sitting room. If you want to try out their rarer coffees, go to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room instead in Seattle.

starbucks seattle

Coffee and chocolate tasting at the Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room.

starbucks seattle

Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room.

Visiting Bainbridge Island

bainbridge seattle

Views on the way to Bainbridge Island.

brainbridge seattle

Taking the ferry to Bainbridge island.

bainbridge seattle

Walking around Bainbridge Island.

Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt rainier seattle

Viewing the mountains and waterfalls on Mt. Rainier.

Mt rainier seattle

Mountain lakes are divine.

mt rainier seattle

Not a bad view in the park.

mt rainer seattle

It was a tree hugging kind of day.

waterfall seattle

Exploring streams around Mt. Rainier.

waterfall seattle

Waterfalls and rainbows at Mt. Rainier.

waterfall seattle

Mt. Rainier National Park.

There is so much to see and do in this fabulous city. Whether you are walking around downtown, or hiking in the awesome national parks, a trip to Seattle is a trip to remember.

House sitting

House Sitting: Pet Owners, You’ve Got Travel Options!

Never knew about house sitting? You’re about to learn today!

Pet Owners: Do you fantasize about taking that week or two vacation across the world to some far-flung destination? But then, you stop to realize this super important question, “What am I going to do with (insert cute, fluffy, and 99.9% adorable pet’s name)?” Until recently, you either had to drop them off with friends/family, or put them in a super expensive pet boarding facility. But what if your family doesn’t live near you? When saving up for your dream vacation, who wants to shell out tons of cash on a boarding facility?

professor house sitting

My little fluff ball, Professor.

This was exactly the predicament that my boyfriend, myself, and our cat Professor faced while discussing our trip to South Africa. We had even purchased our plane tickets! My boyfriend’s parents live close by, but are unfortunately allergic to cats. My parents have cats and could watch him, but they live 5 hours from me, so finding the time to take him there and back would be a nightmare. We then researched pet boarding and noticed that they typically cost about $25 a night for a basic plan… meaning for 14 nights, it would cost at least $350- about half the cost of our actual plane ticket to South Africa!

Needless to say, we had research to do…

That’s when I found out this delightful fact: You have options!

That’s right! You don’t have to pay way too much, and you can even have your pet stay in the comfortable environment that is your own home. Welcome to the world of house sitting! Here are some options for you (assuming you don’t have a friend or family member to leave your pet with):

  • Trusted House Sitters: This is probably the most popular of house sitting websites, as it is all over the world- but it is great! They thoroughly check the people who are house sitters, and they also have reviews upon which you can decide which house sitter is right for you and your pet. What is the great thing about this program? You do not pay the house sitter to take care of your pet! They will stay at your place for free. This is a great opportunity for a house sitter to travel, while allowing you to travel as well! The cost per year for a membership is only $119. So whether you’re gone for 2 weeks or a few months, the cost is so much cheaper than the traditional pet boarding facility! And your pet gets more attention!
  • House Sitters America: If you live in America, and are tight on money, this is a free service for homeowners. The house sitters are the ones that pay ($30 a year). You simply place a free ad through their website, search for available sitters/receive inquiries and read their reviews. Then, you schedule a meeting to set house rules and the needs of your pet, and then leave on vacation, knowing that a responsible person is looking after your pet. Oh, and they also take care of your house and garden too! Not just pets.

You don’t have to pay way too much, and you can even have your pet stay in the comfortable environment that is your own home. Welcome to the world of house sitting!

  • House Carers: Similar to House Sitters America, this is another program that is free for homeowners! This has a matching system, where you place an ad, and the website will send you candidates. You can also browse profiles, references, police clearances, etc. Safe and secure- just like your little fluff ball while you’re out on vacation!
  • Dog Vacay and Rover: Contrary to the names, these companies provide house sitting services for more than just dog owners. These services are very similar as they provide background checks and reviews, but also charge by the day. While these can range in price, you can make it cheaper by having the sitter check-in daily rather than stay at your home.  They can also take the dog for a walk instead daily. The services and daily prices in a medium city include: $20-22 a night for boarding at the sitter’s home, $40-45 for personal home sitting, $12-20 for 30-minute check-ins daily, $17-20 for daycare services, and about $15 for 30 minute walks a day.

Knowing these trusted and reputable house sitting programs exist make me feel a lot better about going on vacation. I know that Professor is taken care of by a wonderful pet lover in the comfort of his own home! You can relax knowing your pet is safe and comfortable. They also have personalized attention and are perhaps enjoying their own little staycation with these convenient services.

pets and house sitting

You can relax knowing your baby is also relaxing at home!

Travel Budget 101: 4 Things to Consider

Having a budget in mind before you book your trip will save you several headaches and stress during the trip. Here are some items you need to consider before making a budget for your dream vacation:

How much do you need for the places you’re visiting?

This is the most important thing to figure out. Getting the most expensive pieces out of the way first is a good idea. So research flights first. I tend to use Hopper to predict when tickets will drop and skyscanner or Google Flights to look up flights and see the cheapest times to fly out. However, if you have frequent flyer miles, then you won’t have to worry about the cost of the flights! Check out more here on frequent flyer miles.

For my solo trip to Europe, I visited several countries, beginning with Italy and ending with the UK. So I looked up which cities would be the cheapest to fly into/out of first. I ended up doing a round trip from Lexington, KY to London, and took a discount airline to Italy, as it ended up being the cheapest route for me, costing $700.

florence italy

Budgeting may not be the most fun aspect of traveling, but it’ll prevent stressing out over money and enjoy sites like these.

I recommend hostels if you’re trying to travel on the cheap. The best hostel site is hostelworld.com.

The next most important and biggest expense is accommodation. I usually stick to the hostel route, especially when traveling solo. You meet a lot of people and it’s typically super cheap. I’ve paid as low as $10 a night in Poland and the most expensive was maybe $40 a night in Denmark. I recommend hostels if you’re trying to travel on the cheap. The best hostel site is hostelworld.com. I use this all the time to research hostels before I book, just to get an idea of the costs.

If you prefer hotels, I would go onto Kayak or Trip Advisor to research the cost of hotels in the area. That’ll give you an idea of those particular costs.

After you’ve figured out flights and accommodation, start listing out what you’d like to do in each place you visit. I typically just start with a quick Google search or check Trip Advisor for sites and activities in the area. That’ll help me narrow down what I’d like to do and start getting to know the costs of that.

The remaining items to consider are food, water, alcohol/night out, transportation, travel insurance, souvenirs, etc. I would look at budgetyourtrip.com for these average costs, as it’ll break it down by location and you can choose budget, mid-range, or luxury to get an idea of average daily costs.

Santorini Greece

Save money and travel more.

Always budget extra

Maybe you’ve already read about my experience missing a flight (if not, you can do that here), but it doesn’t matter where you travel, mishaps can happen anywhere. Whether you’ve gotten pick-pocketed or you missed a flight and had to book another one last minute, having a little extra budgeted in your trip always helps. I would recommend $50-$100 extra as just in case/emergency funds.

Missed Flight

There are few more stressful things than missing a flight during your travels.

Determine the costs between how much you need before you arrive and how much you need for the trip itself

When saving for the trip, you have to consider how much you need to budget for when you are actually on your trip AND for before you leave. It’s an easy thing to forget, but the bulk of your expenses may come before you even get on the plane.

The items that you’ll probably book and need money for before you arrive is the following:

  • Plane ticket: This is obvious, but as it can be the most expensive piece, it’s a huge item to consider.
  • Hostels/Hotels: For some hotels, you may pay when you arrive, but some accommodation (like Airbnb), require payment up front, so be sure to budget for that. Also, hostels typically require 10% payment up front and the remaining when you arrive.
  • Travel Insurance: This is an important item that few people look into. Travel insurance is great for if you get sick or injured and have to go to a hospital, if you have to cancel your flight due to an unforeseen reason, lost luggage, etc. If you are traveling, especially if you’re planning on doing risky activities, I would highly recommend this. World Nomad’s is one of the best (and cheapest), and what I use to get my travel insurance. We’re going to South Africa this year, and this insurance covers activities such as safaris, shark cage diving, etc.

Travel insurance is great for if you get sick or injured and have to go to a hospital, if you have to cancel your flight due to an unforeseen reason, lost luggage, etc. If you are traveling, especially if you’re planning on doing risky activities, I would highly recommend this.

  • Vaccines: Now if you’re going to somewhere like Europe, the US, or Australia, you probably don’t need any vaccines other than the ones you’ve already got. Just be sure that you’re up to date on them. If you’re traveling to Asia, Africa, or South America, there are certain vaccines that are necessary. For instance, for our trip to South Africa, we need Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines and Anti-Malarial medicine. While your routine vaccines will be covered by health insurance, incidental vaccines such as Typhoid and Anti-Malarial drugs are not. These are also not always carried at your general physician’s office. Make sure to look up travel clinics in your area that will carry these. Also, for vaccines that you will need, I would recommend looking at the Center for Disease Control’s website.
  • Visas: There are several countries that you do not need a visa to travel if the trip is under 90 days. However, there are also a lot of countries that require a visa. Sometimes you can buy these at the airport, and sometimes you have to apply before you leave on your trip. You don’t want to be stranded at the airport without a visa to get into a country, so be sure to research whether you need one. You can find that information here.

Remaining costs will typically be incurred during the trip.

Berlin budget

Explore more and be prepared for up front costs.

Stick to a savings plan for your budget

This is very important. Once you’ve added up the costs of the trip, you have to have a savings plan for it. Whether you’re using that Christmas bonus or you’re saving for several months, having a plan is best. If you’re saving a certain amount per paycheck or month for the trip, figure out how many months you’ll need to save. Be sure to consider both the up front costs above and the costs during the trip.

I recommend an app like Mint to help track your current costs and figure out ways to save more money. For example, if you get a Starbucks drink every morning during the week and that drink is about $4, if you gave that up, you would have $1,040 extra per year! That’s enough for a trip on its own! Using apps like Mint will help you determine where your current costs are. This will show you where you can cut back to save for more travels.

With these tips on creating a travel budget, you’ll be a pro in no time. There’s nothing better than a great budget. It allows you to travel more and spend less.

pompeii on budget

Don’t let money prevent you from feeling free in your travels!

protestant church berlin germany

Top 10 Museums to Visit in Your Lifetime

For the history or art lovers among us, I present some of the most kickass museums to visit in your lifetime.

van gogh museum

Starry Nights of Van Gogh.

10. Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Yes, pot is legal in Amsterdam. Yes, so are ‘shrooms…so is prostitution. BUT Amsterdam is wayyyyyy more than that. It’s a city of canals that light up at night. It’s a city full of flowers and color in the spring like you wouldn’t believe. It is also a city where Anne Frank hid, and it’s a city where Van Gogh has his paintings displayed. You know, the painter of Starry Night, Bedroom in Arles, Sunflowers, and many other masterpieces. Well, this city has blessed us all with a museum full of his masterpieces, drawings, and even his personal letters. It’s well worth visiting if you’re swinging by this crazy town.

acropolis museum

Statue at the Acropolis Museum.

9. The Acropolis Museum (Athens, Greece)

Ahh the arts of antiquity. This little but mighty museum has so much inside, from Acropolis reliefs to busts of famous leaders. There are even ruins under the museum as you walk inside. If you’re in Athens and want to take a peek at more art around the Acropolis, this is the best spot to look (other than the Acropolis itself).

dinosaur natural history museum

Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?

8. Smithsonian Natural History Museum (Washington, DC, USA)

If you’re a natural history museum lover, this is just the place. It’s a Smithsonian museum, which means it’s free! Yay! It also has a wide variety of exhibits, from fossils and various animal species to gems and the Hope Diamond, as well as mummies and displays about evolution. Be sure to check out the special exhibitions while you’re there!

George Seurat Art Institute Chicago

The Art Institute Chicago is a must-see if you’re in the windy city.

7. The Art Institute Chicago (Chicago, USA)

This is a museum I just keep on visiting, and for good reason: it’s amazing! If you have used all your time off, but are dying to see the famous French paintings you’d typically see in Paris: go here. There’s a whole wing for impressionists here, including my favorite painting! Think Degas’ ballerinas, Monet’s gorgeous French fields and sunsets on the beach, and George Seurat’s lovely pointillism paintings. Also, you can’t miss the modern art, including some Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso pieces.

Met museum

For the love of fashion.

6. The MET (New York City, USA)

Whether you’re a Gossip Girl fan, follow celeb gossip and hear about the Met Gala each year, or you just appreciate fine art and fashion, this is the place for you. Each year in NYC they put on an exhibition regarding fashion in which the Met Gala celebrates. I visited a couple of years ago when the exhibition was China Through the Looking Glass. This year: Man X Machina. These are only on display for a few months, so be sure to check the website before visiting. Aside from the fashion, there’s also wonderful art from around the globe to appreciate there.

holocaust museum

Shoes collected from Concentration Camps.

5. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, DC, USA)

While a visit to this museum is incredibly sad, it’s also very moving. It educates you regarding the Holocaust, what the victims went through, and the timeline of events. It is a place to remember and honor the victims, and educates visitors about genocide and how to prevent it. This museum does a wonderful job; it even gives you a pamphlet about a person who went through the Holocaust. You turn the pages as you change floors to learn about their story, what they went through, and how they ended up. It gives you a more personal connection. Make sure to reserve your visit online, as it’s a crowded museum.

pergamon museum

Gates of Babylon artifacts at the Pergamon Museum.

4. Pergamon Museum (Berlin, Germany)

When you think of Berlin, most don’t think about the amazing museum island this city offers. Berlin has such an incredible history with the Berlin Wall, TV Tower, Brandenburg Gate, etc. However, a trip to Berlin wouldn’t be complete without a trip here. This museum in particular is badass. Ever thought about walking through the gates of Babylon? You can do that here! Want to act like you’re in Greece thousands of years ago hanging out on the Pergamon Altar? You can do that too! Anyway, there are tons of really awesome historical pieces throughout this museum. They have the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art all included here.

vatican museums

So much to see and do at the Vatican Museums.

3. Vatican Museums (Vatican City)

If you’re ever in Rome, the Vatican is a must-see. The Sistine Chapel alone is worth the visit. There are rooms and rooms full of Renaissance paintings, altar pieces, and sculptures. It’s enough to be overwhelmed, but be sure to book a tour guide and go early; this place gets crowded fast.

mummies british museum

The mummy exhibit at the British Museum is so interesting.

2. British Museum (London, UK)

So we all know that the British basically ruled most of the world at one point, right? Well, they have a museum dedicated to a lot of the antiques, art, and artifacts they’ve collected over the years. Sound pretty cool? That’s because it is! Let’s not forget that they have the Rosetta Stone, sculptures from the Acropolis in Athens, and even mummies… lots of mummies. Seriously, this is a cool museum.

monet l'orangerie

As it’s prohibited to take photos of the paintings here, it’s worth it to go check it out on your own!

1. Museum L’Orangerie (Paris, France)

A museum list wouldn’t be complete without an art museum from Paris. While they have many notable museums (D’Orsay and Louvre being the most popular), this is easily the best, and hardly anyone knows about it. Monet gave his most famous paintings to this museum and even helped design the rooms the Water Lilies would be placed in. So that alone is pretty sweet. Combine that with their acquisition of the Jean Walter and Paul Guillaume collections of art, this museum, while small, is stocked full of impressionist and post-impressionist art. If you’re into French Impressionist paintings, love Monet’s Water Lilies, and are in Paris, you have to see this place.”

Minnesota travel for work

Making the Most of Traveling for Work

This past year I got to travel to Dallas, Minneapolis, and Seattle. I have even made side trips to DC and NYC. I paid $0 for my plane tickets and took zero days’ time off. How?! Work travel.

As someone who was an auditor, occasionally I got to travel to client sites. Sometimes this meant traveling to the middle of nowhere like Metropolis, Illinois, which wasn’t too exciting. However, occasionally, I would score a sweet trip to a fun, new city.

You may have a career where you are required to travel. This could be every once in a while or even the lucky ones who get to explore the world. Some people dread the thought of taking a work trip and being away for an extended period of time. My thoughts? You get a free flight and a new chance to explore a place you probably haven’t been to before!

work training dallas

Catching a Texas Rangers game after work training in Dallas!

For instance, I had to travel for two weeks, the first week to Minneapolis and the second to Seattle. I had never been to either city, so I made the most of it. Of course I had to work during the week, but having nights and even a weekend free in a new city is a lot of fun. I ended up seeing the Mall of America, the outside of Paisley Park (where Prince lived), and Lake Minnetonka while staying in Minneapolis. Then, I got to see the Space Needle, go kayaking on the Puget Sound, visit Pike Place Market, drink all that delicious beer and coffee, and even hike on Mt. Rainer in Seattle.

puget sound work travel

The stunning Puget Sound.

Here’s what you can do to make the most of work travel:

  1. See if you can fly out there a couple of days early and spend the weekend. I flew straight from Minneapolis to Seattle, rather than flying back home that weekend. That gave me 3 days (they gave me that Friday off for travel) to explore Seattle before even going into work that Monday! The only thing I had to pay for was my 2 night hostel stay and meals over the weekend. I even ended up saving my company money by not purchasing a return flight home in between both trips.
before work travel space needle

Exploring Seattle during the weekend before work.

  1. Ask if you can fly to/from another location on the way to/back from your trip. I got to fly from Cleveland to Dallas for work training and then Dallas to DC for the weekend. If the cost of two one way tickets is less than a roundtrip flight, a lot of the time your company will allow you to book it. Or if there is a slight price difference, you just pay the difference. You then only have to pay for a one way ticket back home, which is typically cheaper than a roundtrip flight.
DC travel for work

Exploring canals in Georgetown after my free flight to DC.

  1. Want to save your precious time off? Again, utilize those weekends! If your travel time is falling on a holiday weekend, utilize that! I had a work training in Dallas the week before Memorial Day weekend and ended up flying to DC and spending 3 days before coming back to Cleveland. No taking time off needed. It was glorious and so satisfying knowing that I took zero time off and could save that time for even more trips.
work travel DC

Long weekends in DC.

  1. Rack up those mile/hotel points. Typically, your work doesn’t have a miles or points account set up, but you can collect those! When I travel for work, I typically fly Delta, and so far, I’ve racked up 5,000 miles just from work flights. Most domestic roundtrip flights are about 25,000 miles, so, depending on how often you travel for work, you could be flying for free in no time on your own personal vacation! Setting up a frequent flyer account is free, and super easy. Just go to the airline’s website and go to their frequent flyer page. This also works for hotels. Join the hotel loyalty program, and collect those points to earn your own free night stay somewhere.

These are just some ways to make the most of your work travel. But, be SURE to run this by your employer or read your policy manual before doing so. Most of the time, there shouldn’t be a problem. So get out there and travel for free!

Enjoy your newest travel hacking strategy! Where is work taking you?

work travel

Work hard and travel harder.

acoprolis athens in a day

How to Tackle Athens in One Day WITHOUT Breaking the Bank

Ever dreamed of a Greek vacation, but not sure you could squeeze in Athens?

Maybe you’re short on time. Perhaps you are eager to start your Greek island hopping. Maybe you missed your flight from Budapest to Athens, spent the night in the airport, and only ended up with one day in Athens before your next flight. Either way, I found that it’s truly possible to spend one day in this city, take in a lot of sites, and even appreciate a little of the modern day culture. Not to mention save money (especially after having to book another flight last minute).

I had arrived at the hostel (about 10 euro a night) in Athens late at night, in the middle of the Plaka neighborhood. This neighborhood is a historical neighborhood, known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods” because it is very close to the Acropolis. It’s a stunning area, and even more convenient if you’re short on time, seeing as it’s within walking distance to several sites.

Exploring Athens

As for my friend and myself, we wanted to absorb as much of Athens as possible. It’s one of the most historical cities- anyone who’s a history geek like myself can imagine how excited I was to be here! I’m also the type of person who reads everything at the museum. I know-it’s a problem. But to walk in the sites where so much history has been made is a pretty awesome feeling. And we wanted to see it all.

athens in a day- st. paul

The rock that St. Paul preached to the Athenians on.

Therefore, we made our game plan: Wake up at 7:00am, walk down to the Acropolis museum (5 euro), and enjoy some wonderful busts, reliefs, etc. from the Acropolis. There’s even a part of the museum where they have excavated and found more ruins under the building! Basically, anywhere in Athens they dig, they find more ruins, which is pretty fascinating.

museum ruins athens in a day

Ruins under the Acropolis Museum.

muesem ruins athens in a day 2

Ruins under the Acropolis Museum.

Walking Tour of Athens

After the museum, we went back to our hostel to catch a free walking tour of the city. You’ll find that most places will offer some sort of walking tour. I recommend to always take it- most of the time it’s cheap, and it lets you see the main sights so you can decide where you’d like to spend more time later. In this case, we got to see:

  • the Olympic Stadium

 

olympic stadium athens in a day

  • Hadrian’s Wall

  • Syntagma Square (where the Greek Parliament building is)

  • Monastiraki (a lively part of town that has a massive flea market)
  • Plaka neighborhood (where we stayed)
  • Receive information about the Acropolis and Ancient Agora
  • See a few ancient ruins along the way
ancient ruins athens

Ancient ruins are located all over the city.

It’s a great tour, and only a few hours. While it is free, they typically expect tips at the end, so budget about 5 euro for this. It’s well worth it to cover a lot of sights in a limited amount of time.

After that, we headed to the biggest part of Athens, the Acropolis. It’s 12 euro to enter, but includes the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, and Theatre of Dionysus. It takes about three hours to walk through (so bring plenty of water), and you get to see it all. We even ran into a local Athenian who was showing a friend around and asked him where a good place to eat dinner was.

acropolis athens in a day

Acropolis.

lady columns athens

After seeing these in art class, I was pumped to see them in person.

posing with gods athens

Exploring the Ancient Agora and posed among the gods.

A Local Experience

Now this is something I’d recommend doing. Ask the locals! They’re proud of where they live, and are so excited to tell you about it. So ask for their advice! We ended up in a neighborhood that was completely local and had one of the best Greek meals we’ve ever had. It was also a lot cheaper than eating at a place close to where we were staying. We even hung out at a bar a few blocks down full of locals- great for people watching and just sipping on some Greek wine.

lamb meatballs athens

Delicious lamb meatballs with feta.

So there you have it. One day, so much accomplished. We saw the ancient sites of the city, and even got to explore where local Athenians hang out. All around the cost of about 45 euro ($50) total with our food and tours. If you don’t have much time or money, it is possible to explore Athens in one day.

Dionysus in athens

Dionysus theatre in Athens.

cheap plane tickets

Tips for Finding Cheap Plane Tickets!

You’ve got two or more weeks off a year, and you’re craving an adventure. Maybe you’ve always wanted to see a wild lion on safari. Maybe you’ve wanted to geek out over the Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand. Or perhaps you’re dreaming of being dropped off in the luxurious Maldives to lay on a hammock on the beach. This is about the time I start hearing the excuse, “But flights are way too expensive!” It’s true: with plane tickets at an all-time high, it feels like your travel dreams are crushed under the weight of a hefty bill.

maldives with cheap plane tickets

Who wouldn’t want to find themselves here in the Maldives on vacation?

I can honestly say, however, that I have never paid the original, full price of a plane ticket. That leads me to a great piece of advice for short-term travelers: Never, and I repeat NEVER, pay full price for a plane ticket if you can help it. I’ve never paid more than $850 in any of my travels and I don’t even live in a large city where flights are typically cheap. I’ve bought roundtrip tickets from Lexington, Kentucky to London for $700; Cleveland, Ohio to Johannesburg for $850; and even Dayton, Ohio to Paris for $800. How? Utilize those online resources! Because while plane tickets are higher than ever, the amount of resources to save money are even higher. Here’s some money saving tricks below:

Because while plane tickets are higher than ever, the amount of resources to save money are even higher.

santorini cheap plane tickets

Finally take your European trip!

  1. If you don’t know what exact dates you want to take off, one of my favorite websites for searching the best deals is Skyscanner. It has an option to select your closest airport, then type in anywhere and anytime. Then, it will show you the cheapest upcoming flights during the next few months, ranging from Seattle to Paris to Tokyo. So if you’re open to anywhere and anytime, that is a fantastic option. For example, I just input this for Cleveland, and found flights from Cleveland to Lima, Peru round-trip for $550 in April for a week. Super easy? Check. And it even costs less than a new Iphone.
  2. If you have dates off and a location in mind, I like to use the app Hopper to help me predict when plane tickets will drop before purchasing. You just input your city, where you’d like to go, and select the dates (it’ll show the cheapest dates too). It’ll let you know the current cost and will tell you to either wait until prices drop or buy now. It’s so simple, but it’s saved me so much money. I used this app when booking my plane tickets to South Africa, and bought a round-trip flight to Johannesburg for $850. I also helped my best friend book her honeymoon from Lexington to Vancouver, with plane tickets costing only $420 round-trip.
  3. Another resource for looking up cheap flights? Google Flights! You input your airport, destination, and look at the cheapest times to go. I looked up the cost from Washington, DC to Iceland and the cost? $260. ROUNDTRIP. You have to try this!
  4. A great way to get dirt cheap deals is The Flight Deal. This is gold in that it finds mistake fares. Mistake fares are when airlines forget to add in things like fuel surcharges or other items into their prices. If you can find these, book fast! Once the airline discovers the error, they’ll fix it quickly. Most of the time they will honor the mistake fare as well. Just at a glance, a roundtrip fare from Boston to Beijing is… $478! Even NYC to Budapest roundtrip? $365! If you look hard enough, I’ve heard of some international flights costing less than $200. Secret Flying is another great resource on mistake fares too.

Four resources and you’re already saving bundles!

Another Great Tip…

Never fly without collecting those miles! Almost every airline has mileage reward programs, where you can collect miles for trips you’ve taken. And many never expire. So take credit for those plane tickets and save those miles for more trips down the road! It’s free to sign up for these mileage programs too. Most airlines are either under the Oneworld, Sky Team, or Star Alliance partnerships, meaning that you can share miles between all airlines under these alliances. For example, say you have 25,000 miles with Delta, but you found a good flight with KLM and want to use those miles. Since they’re under the same alliance, Sky Team, you can use those Delta miles toward your KLM flight. This is an easy travel hack to save more money on your flights!

United Kingdom Tower of London

Never pay full price on plane tickets again!

Also, remember to sign up for a miles credit card. Miles cards allow you to earn miles for every purchase you make, with some offering double miles on plane tickets. Most also give you 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Now before you panic and think you couldn’t spend that much, just think about any big purchases you already have cash for and pay on the credit card. Then turn around and pay it off immediately. Use it to pay rent/bills/anything you already have cash for, and you’ve earned yourself 50,000 miles! This is super easy, and before you know it, you’re flying to London roundtrip while spending very little.

Now get out there and start spending way less money booking your dream vacation to Thailand, or Peru, or Paris! Wherever you go, save money and travel smarter!

Missed Flight

Where is your next adventure?

budapest parliament building

Budapest City Guide

belgium

My Couchsurfing Experience

So you’re thinking about taking my advice and trying out couchsurfing? Perfect. It’s such a fun, authentic experience. Here’s a look at what I did during my Brussels couchsurfing adventure.

It was nearing the end of my study abroad experience, and I was running super short on money. My friends and I had already booked our trip to Brussels and Amsterdam, and booked our Amsterdam accommodation. I knew we all could save some cash, and I’d heard about Couchsurfing before and kind of wanted to try it. I suggested it to my friends (there were 4 of us girls), and they were all in. So we did our due diligence, researched our host and his place, contacted him prior, and were set to stay with him for two nights.

fries while couchsurfing

Yes I took a picture of me with 4 sauces and fries. Sometimes you have to do you.

When We Got to Belgium….

Lucky for us, he had a huge house with two extra bedrooms for us to stay in. He gave us maps of the city and recommendations on things to do: Chocolate museum, EU headquarters, where to eat all of the fries and waffles we could stomach, and where all the good beer was to be found. He even gave us free breakfast every morning that consisted of fresh croissants with butter and jam.

On the second night, he hosted a party so we could get to know his friends and see what a Belgium dinner party looked like. The people were friendly, tried to speak as much English as they could (they mostly spoke French), and the food was delicious. They had veggies and dip, bread and some of the most amazing cheese, and charcuterie (various meats). It was an authentic look into the culture.

alleys while couchsurfing

Wandering the streets of Brussels.

We got a deeper insight into the Brussels and Belgian culture…”

Bonus – We found out that our hosts’ brother is a Heineken model. Yup, he’s a model, and that’s pretty freaking sweet. Watch his commercial here.

Overall, we got a deeper insight into the Brussels and Belgian culture. Of course, there’s more to it and various other types of people and cultures there, but it was a vast difference from staying in a hotel in the city center sticking to the touristy areas. We had actually developed a friendship with our host and made new friends with his friends. We also got a local’s view on what he would do, and his recommendations for restaurants and bars. It was truly an amazing experience and I would recommend Couchsurfing to anyone.

chocolate while couchsurfing experience

Did I mention the chocolate is amazing?