athens traveling alone

7 Tips to Stay Safe and Confident as a Solo Female Traveler

I stood in my empty hostel room while folding my laundry one day, speaking with an employee who was cleaning the room. He seemed harmless. He made natural conversation until he asked, “Why would a woman travel alone?” Aside from being completely offended and replying, “Why does a man travel alone? Isn’t it the same reason- to see the world?” I started to get uncomfortable. When he began asking what I was doing with my day and subsequently suggested that we hang out and have sex, I knew immediately that I had to get out of there. I gave him a hard no and got out quick.

While I was scared at the time, it didn’t make me pack my bags and go home. And it hasn’t stopped me from traveling alone since. I wasn’t going to let that moment take away from the most empowering thing I’ve ever done. Other than that moment, the whole trip was the most intense, wonderful, awe-inspiring, and liberating thing I had ever experienced.

Traveling solo as a woman sounds daunting. I get questions about safety all of the time. But it’s not any different than living in your own hometown. I don’t feel any less safe being abroad than I do at home in the U.S. Don’t let your fears prevent you from having an amazing experience abroad. Follow these tips and feel confident and stay safe on your solo trip.

stay safe travel solo

Embrace the freedom of traveling solo and traveling smarter.

1. Be aware of the culture.

Before you even get on the plane, research the culture. Is it more conservative? Do they dress conservative? Do they regularly look each other in the eye? Is eye contact weird for them? Being mindful of the culture will not only help you stay safe, but to avoid uncomfortable interactions in general with locals.

A pro-tip: Google fashion blogs of women from the particular cities/countries you’re going to. This will give you a big idea on what people tend to wear (and maybe give you some fashion inspiration for your trip)!

2. Don’t tell strangers where you’re staying.

This is probably common sense, but just like you wouldn’t give your address to a complete stranger at home, don’t do it abroad. They do not need to know where you are staying, and if they are asking, don’t give any specifics. It’s always better to stay safe and don’t bring strangers back with you either. 

3. Do tell your family and trusted friends where you’re going.

Before I leave for a trip, I give a full itinerary to my family and close friends. I list out everywhere I’m going, everywhere I’m staying, hotel phone numbers, etc. I also make sure to check in with them occasionally, whether via Imessage, Whatsapp, or FaceTime regularly. This helps them feel better about me traveling alone, and keeps them up to date on where I’m at.

4. Don’t get drunk.

I know there is all kinds of fun to be had abroad. Maybe it’s your first ever Oktoberfest in Munich. Maybe you are going to a music festival in Croatia. You may even be tackling the Full Moon Party in Thailand. As a solo female traveler, I cannot emphasize the importance of not getting hammered. Sure, have some drinks. But never have too many that you do not feel in control.

5. Do as you would at home (use common sense) and stay safe.

Like I said before: Traveling solo is the same as being in the U.S. or wherever you call home. Use your common sense and you’ll be fine. Don’t walk alone at night in the dark- call a cab instead. If you have a gut feeling something isn’t right, trust that feeling and get out of whatever area you’re in. 

6. Walk with purpose and confidence.

Be confident while walking alone. Don’t carry your map around you in an obvious manner. Instead, download the maps on your phone or look up where you’re going ahead of time and memorize the route. Walk in areas you see other women. The point is, be confident and appear as local as possible.

7. Buy international data for the trip and have a personal safety app.

While you don’t necessarily need a data plan while traveling, I would recommend it as a solo female traveler. Get enough data that will cover your trip. That way you can use it for emergencies (or even if you just get lost).

Another reason to have data? To download a personal safety app. These apps are great whether home or abroad. Basically, depending on the app, if you either shake your phone or press a button, it will call your emergency contacts. Some great apps include bSafe and React Mobile.

stay safe solo travel

Conquer your next solo trip with these tips.

Don’t let safety concerns be a reason to skip the solo trip you’ve been dreaming of. Follow these tips, stay safe, and overall, use common sense. I cannot stress enough that traveling is not any more dangerous than being at home. Women travel alone because it’s empowering (and yes, we do want to see the world too). 🙂

Where are you going on your solo trip? Or what questions do you have about traveling solo? I’d love to hear in the comments!

brewery towns

Beer Lovers Unite: 7 Awesome Brewery Towns in the US to Add to Your Road Trip

In case you haven’t noticed, craft beer is becoming what our current president’s favorite word is: “HUUUUGGGE”. From wheat beers, IPAs, lagers, and even stouts, Americans are drinking craft beer more than ever. I hardly see anyone grabbing the ole Miller Lite these days. It’s all about the most unique flavors you can pack into a 16oz glass. Hey, as a beer lover, I’m not complaining. Which is why I’ve got my own list on some awesome brewery towns you have to add to your next road trip.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh may seem like a surprise, but with over 15 breweries, it’s worth checking out. You can grab a Camp Slap Red IPA from the family owned and ran Grist House Brewery, where you’ll be sure to spot some dogs at this dog and kid friendly hangout. Or you can grab a Ginga Wheat, for the folks not obsessed with IPAs like myself, at Roundabout Brewery. Be sure to save room for dinner, because you’ll want to fill up on some meat pies at this brewery.

Louisville, KY

That’s right y’all, Kentucky isn’t just known for the derby, fried chicken, and amazing bourbon. It’s time to hit up Louisville for some amazing brews too. Venture over to Bluegrass Brewing Company, the oldest brewery in the city, and grab a Dark Star Porter, or even a Raspberry Mead. Or try out Apocalypse Brewery, where the beers are created with the environment in mind, even down to the recycled equipment.

brewery towns

The fresh smell of beer is easy to spot in beer towns.

Bend, OR 

Portland’s friendly neighbor, Bend, is the place for beer and adventure. Whether you spent a long day hiking the trails, or are partaking in apres-ski, the beers here will warm you up or cool you down, depending on your preference. This small town has over 20 breweries, all ready for you to explore! Take your dog to the ever popular Deschutes Brewery with its two story tall pub. Grab some Mirror Pond Pale Ale and relax after your afternoon adventures. Or enjoy some Dark Side Stout with live music over at Silver Moon Brewing.

Cleveland, OH

So yes, this is my current town, but this beer town reputation has been hard earned. Whether it’s from Great Lakes Brewing Co. opening up in the 1980’s, thus starting Cleveland’s Renaissance, or the new breweries popping up like Forest City, you cannot go wrong with beer in this town. In the neighborhood of Ohio City, there’s several breweries on one street! Brewery crawl anyone? First things first, you have to grab either a Barrel Aged Alberta Clipper or Christmas Ale (depending on the season) at Great Lakes while looking over at West Side Market. Then, have a beer flight or glass of mead over at Forest City. I could go on and on, but the beer here is amazing.

brewery towns cleveland

The brewery that started them all in Cleveland: Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Seattle, WA 

Okay, we get it Pacific Northwest, not only do you have gorgeous mountains, you’re on the coast, there’s tons to do outdoors, but you’re also known as being the catalyst of the craft beer movement! Not sure why this portion of the country is full of some of the best breweries around, but I won’t complain, so long as I can get a flight of beers at Fremont brewing. Or head to Reuben’s Brews for the Crikey IPA. Either way, a town with amazing beer and coffee is an alright town to me.

fremont brewing seattle

Tasting fresh Seattle beer at Fremont Brewing.

San Diego, CA

Aside from the wonderful year-round sunshine, the brews in this town are next to none. Check out Green Flash Brewing Company for their IPAs and Belgian ales. Or take your taste buds on an adventure with The Lost Abbey, where they come up with  new barrel aged or sour beers.

Asheville, NC

 I’m so glad I got to check out this smaller city. I heard so much about this place and came in with high expectations. Thank goodness they not only met, but exceeded all of them! Great beer? Check. Great views? Check. Oh and food? Double Check. A visit to this town means stopping by the ever so delicious Wicked Weed and trying out the Barrel Aged Milk and Cookies or whatever you prefer. Then, you have to check out Bhramari Brewhouse and the amazing Native Violet. You don’t have to wander far to find breweries in this town. They are everywhere and I love it!

twin leaf Asheville

Hanging out at Twin Leaf.

So there you have it. Amazing brew towns in the US you need to visit. Which ones have you been to? What’s your favorite beer? Let me know in the comments!

Bhramari Brewhouse asheville

A great day is made better with beer.

20k miles

Collect 20k Miles in 2 Months (Without Even Trying)

If you haven’t noticed, I’m getting pretty excited about collecting airline miles. I started collecting about 2 months ago and am already up to 120,000. Yup. That’s enough for two roundtrip flights to Europe, or several US flights, or even a roundtrip flight to Asia (and then some)! Pretty awesome stuff right? Did I mention how incredibly easy this is? I used to think it would be impossible to rack up miles. Silly me. So today, I’d like to discuss how to collect 20k miles, without even trying!

What?! That can’t be right… but it totally is. Without doing anything really different than living my everyday life, I’ve collected an additional 20k miles on top of the 100k I gained from opening up just 2 credit cards. How did I do this? Read on to see:

20k miles bavaria

Extra miles and vacation selfies almost go hand in hand.

I . Adding an extra user to your account

Yea, this is super easy. Chase Sapphire Preferred gave me 5,000 extra miles just by adding another user to my account. The best part? It doesn’t increase my yearly fee and the extra card was free! So I added my boyfriend and boom. 5,000 miles (and he didn’t have to even use it!). So if you see offers like this, and you’ve got someone you trust (and is responsible), add them to your account. My biggest advice here is to only add family, a spouse, or serious partners onto these. You don’t want to add someone unless you know you can trust them 1000%. But if you’ve got someone you can add onto the account, get you those extra miles!

II. Eating

Another great way to earn miles? Eating food. I eat food. You eat food. And pretty much any animal on the planet eats “food”. Occasionally, we humans all go to restaurants too. Well, airlines want to reward you for eating food. They even have restaurant partners all over the country in which they give you a ton more miles for eating there! Just join for example, Delta or United frequent flyer mile programs (for free) and look up what restaurants they have partnerships with on the airline’s website. Then register your credit card, eat there, and get up to 5X miles per dollar spent! That’s pretty awesome!

Another thing? If you eat between 1-3 times at a partner restaurant within your first month of registering, airlines usually give you between 1-3k miles. Really! I ate 3 times at a place close to our house and got 3,000 miles through Delta. Only had to go once for United and got 1,000. 4,000 miles (in addition to the 5x per dollar) just for going out to eat.

20k miles

Collect miles and travel more.

III. Shopping

Some airlines have apps that allow you to search stores nearby and many offer you extra miles! For example, we noticed our cat Professor was in need of a new cat tree. So we went down to the closest Petco to us, but before we hit that register, I checked my United Mileage Plus X app to see if they were offering any miles. Turns out, they were offering 5 miles per dollar spent at Petco! So I bought the digital giftcard through the app, which is charged to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and badabing: 5 miles per dollar plus 1 mile per dollar spent through Chase, and got 6 miles per dollar! That was about 1,500 miles we gained in one fell swoop, just for buying Prof’s cat tree and some food.

Another aspect of shopping? Go online! You can go through the airline frequent flyer website and see who their shopping partners are. For example, if you go to Delta Skymiles and lookup their online shopping, you can shop online through their portal and earn extra miles! So if you need to update your work wardrobe… or if you want to gift yourself with extra miles around the holidays, this is a super easy way to earn miles. If you’re going to shop anyway, you may as well get rewarded right?

20k miles

Travel like you’re wealthy, while actually saving money.

IV. Surveys

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty bad about taking Buzzfeed surveys for like a couple of hours sometimes… Maybe not the best use of my time, but I still do it because yes, I NEED to know which Harry Potter House I would end up in! Anyway, if you’re like me and sometimes waste time on the interwebs doing ridiculous things like Googling “Is red wine better for you than running?” or taking quizzes on where you should live, this definitely applies to you. Most frequent flyer programs offer surveys you can take, often rewarding you with 60-80 miles in return.

Also, a lot of the time, your first survey rewards you with 300 miles! So one lazy Sunday, I took far too many surveys than I care to admit, and ended up with 1,200 extra miles. Super easy? Yes. When people ask what you did on your weekend will you tell them? No. But when you’re on a $50 business class flight to Asia because you saved tons of miles, do you really care?

So there you have it- super easy ways to earn 20k miles in 2 months without even trying. I mean really, adding someone to your account, eating, shopping, and taking surveys. Requires little effort, but the rewards are endless. Where are you taking your miles? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

cabo da roca visit portugal

Visit Portugal: From Green Wine to Fairy Tale Estates, This Place is Magic

Magical.

That’s the best way to describe this little but mighty country. I only had 3 days to spend in Portugal, so I stayed in Lisbon and took a day trip out to Sintra and the Westernmost Point of Continental Europe (Cabo da Roca). But, I left wanting more.  From seaside towns to green wine, and even fairy tale-esque estates, it’s easy to get caught up in the wonder that is Portugal. If you get the chance, especially with those extra miles, this is the place you need to visit! 

Here’s a small breakdown of the places to hit up on your next adventure:

Lisbon visit portugal

The castle walls overlooking Lisbon.

Lisbon

You can’t visit Portugal without a stop in the capital city. This vibrant city almost has a San Francisco feel with trolleys, steep hills, and a beautiful bridge. Aside from those sites, there is so much to see and do in this colorful town. Sao Jorge Castle is on top of a steep hill, but it’s worth the climb! The views of the city from the top are stunning, and there is even an archaeological museum to check out. I enjoyed a nice sunset view while climbing around the ruins of this historic castle.

We also need to talk about the gorgeous tile work all over the city! From the streets to the buildings, you will find intricate, colorful tiles everywhere you turn. A day wandering around the city, riding trolleys, seeing beautiful monuments, and strolling along the waterfront is exactly what you need to relax. Don’t forget to eat some delicious egg pastries called Pastéis de Nata!

lisbon visit portugal

Sunset over the gorgeous city of Lisbon.

visit portugal lisbon

Fountains and tile work around the city.

lisbon visit portugal tile

Famous tile work all over the city

You can’t visit Portugal without a stop in the capital city. This vibrant city almost has a San Francisco feel with trolleys, steep hills, and a beautiful bridge.

Sintra

Only a short distance from Portugal is the hilltop town of Sintra. This stunning town is home to the fairytale estate of Quinta da Regaleira (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site). You could spend an entire day frolicking through the gardens and house, climbing castle walls, exploring various tunnels, and even feeling like Alice in Wonderland looking into the large initiation wells. The place left me in complete awe. I had only ever seen pictures of this on various Internet sites, and to see it in person was better than I imagined!

Once you leave the estate, there are various wine shops where you can try out some of the famous vinho verde (green wine) and the most famous drink from Portugal, port wine. The wine isn’t necessarily green, but it is a very young wine. Still super delicious and worth trying while in Portugal. You can also sip on some port wine ranging from tawny (the most common and cheaper one) to ruby (more mid-range) to even vintage (more expensive). All are delicious wines, perfect for an after dinner treat!

Sintra portugal visit portugal

Stunning views of Sintra.

wells visit portugal

Looking down the initiation well.

visit portugal

Wandering the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira

Cabo da Roca

Not far from Sintra is the coast of Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of continental Europe! It’s pretty awesome to see these cliff sides. This is the perfect place to go windsurfing, as the winds here are very strong. It’s also an awesome spot to catch a glimpse of the Atlantic from the other side of the pond. 🙂

cabo da roca visit portugal

Overlooking the beaches at Cabo da Roca

Porto 

I will plan another trip to Portugal just to visit this city! This is, of course, home to port wine, and there is plenty to try here. It’s a northern coastal town, known for it’s lovely churches and bridges. Besides hanging out on the beach, you have to explore the many many places where the famous port wine is grown!

visit portugal porto

The coastal city of Porto.

visit portugal

Discover the beauty of Portugal.

Algarve Coast

Okay, so another reason to come to visit Portugal? This amazing coastline! With soft, sandy beaches, to gorgeous rock formations along the coast, to even crystal blue water, it’s easy to see why people are talking about this lovely coast. It’s hard to not love this place, with amazingly fresh seafood (and good sardines!) and relaxed beach vibes. Don’t believe me? Look at this stunning photo! I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend some time here?

visit portugal algarve

Looking through the rocks on the Algarve.

Algarve

Discover the Algarve Coast and your next vacation destination.

With these amazing places in Portugal, it’s enough to top anyone’s bucket list. I will definitely be making plans to visit as soon as possible! My 3 days in Sintra and Lisbon were nowhere near enough time. There are way more places to see throughout Portugal than these, but including these on your next vacation will give you a beautiful taste of what Portugal has to offer. Visit Portugal, and you will be enraptured by the magic and beauty it holds.

 

traveling alone

Traveling Alone: Why You Need to at Least Once in Your Lifetime

Traveling alone is a scary thought. I had packed my cheap backpack that I purchased for my first ever solo-trip abroad, and realized that I was scared. I had plans to take a 5 week backpacking trip across Europe the summer after I graduated college. It was after asking all of my friends and subsequently learning they could not come that I realized I had a choice to make. I could either let the fear of going alone get to me, not go, and regret it forever, or I could buy the ticket, get on that plane, and push myself outside of my comfort zone like I never had before.

I chose the latter. And I haven’t regretted it once. Here is why you need to travel alone at least once in your life:

I. It pushes you outside of your comfort zone.

Getting on a plane by yourself is scary. It is scary not knowing all of the cities you’re going to, the languages everyone is speaking, or if you’re going to be bored and lonely the whole time. For me, it was an unknown. And after years of staying on the path of getting good grades in high school and college, getting a top internship, and landing that top job, I was full of the comfort that comes with being certain. But being certain doesn’t challenge you. It doesn’t teach you. You stay on a path of routine and same old same old. What I didn’t realize was that it is so important to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Get lost in a big city, find your way on your own, and learn that you got this after all. It makes you grow. It makes you learn about the world and the issues that it faces. And it makes you more independent and confident in your ability to navigate anywhere.

athens traveling alone

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into the blissfulness of travel.

II. You meet the most amazing people.

I worried about not meeting people. About being lonely and having no friends. I chose to stay in hostels because I was a poor post grad kid and thought the community that comes with hostels would help. I’m so glad I did, because I met the most amazing people! Interesting people from all over the world. They all had such unique stories and reasons for traveling. I met an Aussie who saved up money for a few years, quit his job, and decided to travel alone for the next year because life’s too short not to. There were a few Brits during their gap year, exploring the world for the first time. I even met former Miss Singapore, traveling on her way to go to Harvard for her Masters degree. All of these lovely people, and new friends, through travel. People I maybe wouldn’t have met if I were with a bigger group. They had so much perspective, so many different ideas that were far from what I heard growing up. It was truly fascinating.

III. You conquer your fear of being alone and love your own company.

Maybe you’re totally fine with being alone, but it was a weird thing for me. I had lived with my family until college. Then I lived with roommates. I had never really been alone. And I was uncomfortable being by myself because I hardly knew myself. I had never sat in silence, with my own thoughts in broad daylight at a cafe by myself before. It turns out, it’s a glorious feeling that I now treasure. Traveling alone allows you to figure out what you want, because there is nobody else to make the decision for you. You can do what you want to and it’s amazing.

traveling alone

Learning to reflect on myself and be happy with that was a truly wonderful aspect of traveling alone.

IV. You learn that cultures vary, but people are the same.

I’m proven wrong all the time when I travel. The stereotypes you hear about places are completely wrong, and what you see in the news doesn’t reflect the whole country. I was there during the Greek financial crisis, just as they were about to vote whether to exit the EU. I watched the news and was afraid, but then showed up in Athens to the most friendly, helpful and kind people. My original fear was completely unfounded. Travel makes you realize that while cultures vary, people want the same things: their basic needs met, loving and healthy family and friends, and to be happy. Always remember that.

V. You learn how to be free and present.

When I was traveling alone, I had a cell phone with no international data. If I didn’t have wifi, I had no communication. I also only had so much storage for photos. This seems like a huge problem, but in reality, it kept me from taking tons of photos, being on social media and not being present in the moment. It made me stare in awe at the Acropolis when I accidentally found myself there one day. It made me explore the castles of Bavaria with curiosity and wonder. I have never felt more free than when I had nowhere to be but in the moment, traveling the world on my terms.

traveling alone be present

Not having the option to snap away at my heart’s content, I was forced to be present and enjoy the scenery like in Bavaria.

VI. You gain a new perspective.

Before I traveled, I thought that the only way to be successful was to go to college, get a job, work said job for several years, make lots of money, retire, and then travel. Then I met people along the way who saw success in happiness, in adventure and by living life on their terms. You don’t have to fit a mold to be successful. Just enjoy life to be successful. You don’t have to play by everyone else’s rules, you can make your own, and define your life the way you want.

VII. Traveling alone: you’ll probably get the bug, and keep coming back for more.

I thought my solo backpacking trip would be it. For me, I thought I would come back, refreshed and ready to settle down into my job and occasionally travel. I was so so wrong. The travel bug that developed was so severe that I constantly plan new trips in my spare time. I came back with more items on my bucket list than when I left. I wanted to go to Asia, Africa, South America, and see everything else in the world you could possibly imagine. Traveling alone teaches you so much that it becomes addicting. You want more perspective. You’ll want more adventure. You want more people who are truly amazing to meet. Travel is such a special gift that you can give yourself. Now get out there, travel alone, and see the world!

traveling solo mastering it

After a while, you feel like you can do anything once you’ve mastered traveling alone!

ate drank asheville wicked weed

What I Ate (And Drank) in Asheville

Asheville has less than 90,000 people but packs a punch with delicious food and tasty drinks. This is a foodie city, and if you don’t believe me, check Yelp for food. I’ll wait.

Convinced yet? I went last weekend with my sister, mom and sister-in-law and I swear I did not have a bad meal in this city. So I’m here to break down the eats, treats and booze I had during my time there.

Food

  • Vortex Donuts: My sister and I arrived a little early in Asheville and decided to grab some much needed coffee and donuts. We stopped by this gem and needless to say, we gobbled these up fast. I got the maple bacon cake donut, and my sister got the blood orange chocolate. So so good. 
vortex donuts asheville

Vortex Donuts.

  • Wicked Weed: So this is an amazing brewery, but also serves up some good food. We got an amazing kale salad with chicken and farro. I don’t even like kale that much (does anyone really?) and loved this salad.
  • The Marketplace: The epitome of farm-to-table cuisine, I tried quail for the first time here and loved it! I tried the salmon as well and I wish I had more of that versus the uncrustable I just ate right now.
marketplace Asheville

Trying quail at The Marketplace.

  • Chestnut: Another fantastic dinner restaurant, with awesome cocktails, craft beer, and good wine. I got the bacon wrapped scallops (who doesn’t love bacon wrapped anything?) and tried some mussels that were mouthwatering. I’m telling you, this city cannot go wrong with food. The prices were super affordable for the fresh seafood too!
  • Sunny Point Cafe: A little outside of downtown, this place is popular and was even featured on Good Morning America as the winner of the Best Breakfast Challenge for their huevos rancheros. So go early to get a seat. I got the huevos rancheros and was not disappointed. In fact, it was pretty darn tasty. I could eat that everyday. If only I couldn’t gain weight… but I digress.

Asheville has less than 90,000 people but packs a punch with delicious food and tasty drinks.

Drinks

With tons of breweries in such a short distance, it’s hard to choose which ones to go to. We ended up going to 4 the first day and then explored Biltmore the next day. I wish we could’ve gone to every brewery, because they are all rated super well. Again, check it out on Yelp, or Trip Advisor, or wherever you check out delicious places.

  • Wicked Weed: The beer here is amazing! I had the Barrel Aged Milk and Cookies beer which I believe was a stout. Either way, it was delicious. I wish they had flights here, because I would’ve loved trying more. We got there just before lunch and beat the crowds, but this place fills up fast.
  • Bhramari Brewhouse: This was probably my favorite. The Native Violet Saison was all I could ever want in a crisp, spring day beer. We sat outside on the patio, got a flight of beer, and met so many cute pups in this dog friendly place. From the beer to the atmosphere, I would recommend this place for sure.
Bhramari Brewhouse asheville

Bhramari Brewhouse flight tasting.

  • Twin Leaf: Another great place to grab a flight of beer to taste and sit outside. Twin Leaf offers small snacks too. Perfect for lightweights like us who are trying delicious beers and don’t want to get hammered. They have board games too, which we obviously played and chatted about how chill Asheville is.
twin leaf Asheville

Hanging out at Twin Leaf.

  • Hi Wire: Our last brewery before dinnertime. This place was okay. I wouldn’t go out of my way to go here next time, as there isn’t outdoor seating, or much seating for that matter. The vibe was fine and the beer was good, but not nearly as great as the other three. I would skip this and try out other breweries like Funkatorium, Wicked Weed’s sour beer brewery, or Burial, Asheville’s oldest brewery.
  • Biltmore Estate Winery: On Saturday we visited the Biltmore, and the ticket includes a free wine tasting (SWEET). I should mention that you can try as much wine as you want to (aside from the premium wines). They suggest 6, but I got like 10 tastings. We love wine in our family. I tried 10 because the wine was so good! I ended up buying 4 bottles to bring home. The Spring Rose is a must try right now! I got a glass of that, and we sat enjoying the sunny day out on their patio.
wine asheville

Not a bad view before drinking wine.

So there you have it, the food and drinks of Asheville. I can’t wait to go back in April. This place is that good. This foodie city is everything you could ever want and with the weather turning to spring, who wouldn’t love to sit outside and enjoy a good beer?

airline miles

5 Easy Steps to Earn 100k Airline Miles in 2 Months!

It sounds way too good to be true, right? I used to read about how collecting airline miles was the magic ticket to flying for free. I had my doubts. If I don’t travel all the time, how in the world could I collect these magical, unicorn miles? Then I started doing the research, and found out how easy it truly was. Here are my 5 steps to start racking those up (without flying)!

I. Do Your Research: Where Do You Want to Go?

Research is key. Are you an avid fan of Delta? Do you strictly fly Southwest? Or do you pretty much fly whatever airline is offering the best deal? I am usually the latter, but with collecting miles, sometimes having a destination in mind, and the airlines that fly there, will help immensely. For example, Delta doesn’t tend to charge hefty fuel surcharges with their airline alliances for Europe, whereas United does not for Asia. So if I was going to fly to Bangkok, I wouldn’t typically try to collect Delta miles for that.

So now is the time to make the tough decision: where the heck are you going to go? Will you lounge on a beach in Thailand? Or would you prefer to stroll along the streets of Paris? Wherever you go, it will be an adventure and you’ll be glad to get there with a super cheap airline ticket.

airline miles flying

Stop paying full price for plane tickets today!

II. Know Your Credit Score

I cannot emphasize this enough. As a CPA who frantically checks her finances on an almost daily basis, I used to think opening travel cards would wreak havoc on my credit score. It turns out it does not- just don’t keep lots of debt on those credit cards! A lot of banks these days have a credit score check for free, but I also recommend downloading Credit Karma or Credit Sesame on your phone to check your credit. It’s free and doesn’t affect your credit score.

Knowing your credit score is extremely important whether you want to open travel credit cards or not. So be sure to check your credit and see where you can improve. This will lead to better financing for future purchases like cars, homes, etc. Typically, to open these travel credit cards, you need a score of 700 or higher.

III. Find Travel Credit Cards with Airline Miles!

It makes sense that if you want to collect airline miles, the easiest way by far is through opening a credit card with airline miles associated with it, meeting the minimum spend, and raking in those miles. So it makes zero sense to open a Chase Freedom card, as it offers none of those benefits.

Almost all national banks in the US have rewards credit cards, so it can be overwhelming determining which card is best for you. For this round of credit cards, I ended up choosing Gold Delta Skymiles American Express and Chase Sapphire Preferred. I chose Gold Delta Skymiles Amex because I already had a few miles from flying for work through Delta, and they offered me 50,000 miles if I spent $1,000 in 3 months. Easy enough! So that was a huge deciding factor for me. Delta also offers your first bag checked free, priority boarding, and double miles on purchases through Delta. As my airport has a Delta terminal, I figured why not?

I chose Chase Sapphire Preferred because it has a wide variety of airline partners you can transfer miles to, from British Airways, to United, and even Korean Air. They also offer 2 miles per dollar for all travel and dining purchases and 1 mile per dollar on everything else. So each time I use that Uber? 2 miles per dollar! Their offer was 50,000 miles if I spent $4,000 in 3 months.

A huge reason for these cards as well? They both waived their annual fee for the first year. As this was my first time opening travel rewards cards, I decided to ease into the water.

airline miles collect

Collect those miles and start flying on the cheap.

IV. Open 2-4 cards in one day: the App-O-Rama

After I settled on the cards I wanted to open, I applied for them on the same day. This is called an App-O-Rama. It typically will allow you to open several cards and have less chances of getting rejected. Again, as this was my first time, I only opened 2 cards. However, I wouldn’t recommend opening more than 4 in a day because then you need to think about the following step:

V. Meet that Minimum Spend! Don’t Bite off More than You can Chew

If you perform steps 1-4, they will all be meaningless unless you can meet the minimum spend. You won’t get those 50,000 miles for just opening the card- you have to actually use it. For the Delta card, this was easy. I sent my boyfriend a Paypal payment for $1,000, where I paid with my Delta Amex, and he sent me a Venmo payment for the money back. Super sneaky, but got 50,000 miles in less than a week. The only downside is the 3% charge Paypal uses, but $30 for 50,000 miles? Worth it. I now have enough miles for a free economy class flight to Europe. I’m not mad about it. From now on, though, I would only recommend this if you can’t meet the minimum spend and you’re in a pinch to meet it.

For Chase, this required more work. I had to spend $4,000. Luckily, I was planning my friend’s bachelorette party in Asheville, and decided to pay for the Airbnb, Biltmore tickets, etc., and have everyone Venmo me. This, along with adding my electric bill, phone bill, all groceries, everyday spending, etc. allowed me to meet the minimum spend in 2 months. Way before the deadline!

Basically, to meet the minimum spend, you can offer to pay for things and have your friends pay you back, put all of your utilities, automatic payments, etc. on the card, and spend like you usually do. Don’t treat this like free money and DO pay your balance in full every month. If you still can’t meet it, just shoot someone you trust a Paypal payment from the card and while the 3% fee sucks, at least you got the miles!

With these easy steps, you will be raking in airline miles in no time.

fly with airline miles

Where will you fly with those miles?