one of the biggest misconceptions about traveling is that everything is always planned. yet, it is the opposite, the best and most rewarding parts of traveling are the happy accidents. the times where you don't take a tour bus and you wander the streets with no extensive plan or list. one night, my friends and i were sitting at dinner in the isle of skye. we began discussing that people are more in love with idea of traveling rather than the reality of doing it. and that's okay, traveling is not meant for everyone.
it costs too much..
i don't have the time..
something is bound to go wrong..
i couldn't leave my friends and family..
these are the excuses i hear people come up with when i talk about my travels. i can help solve some of these issues and you'll also get to find out the story behind 'the duck & waffle' if you keep reading.
most everyone wants to travel somewhere in their life. if you are one of these people you are reading this blog because you don't make a million a year or you're bored. whichever it may be, it is still possible to travel without being rich or bored. there are so many useful things you can do to save. and like everything in life, if you want it, you will have to work for it. my personal method for being able to travel is working two jobs, 6 days a week, for 5 months and saving every penny. i set up a savings account where i put my travel money, a place it is not accessible. i also do lots of little things to produce extra money. i sell my clothes or items i don't need anymore, do photography services, or pick up extra shifts. from here, you have to decide what you are willing to do to save your money. there is no amount of pictures i can show you or stories i can tell to convince you to travel. it all comes down to what you want.
As well as saving there are a few tricks to getting the cheapest, but best quality in your time traveling.
flights are everything. They are your biggest expense and whole expense, so it's important to do it right the first time. First of all, when checking for flights using your web browser, always use private mode. Yes, your browser has it. (Here is how.) Booking agencies have a sneaky way to gather your cookies and see what you are looking at. so every time you go back to visit that page they make the price higher. it is an uphill battle. in private browsing mode, you are free to search for flights and hotels. giving you the ability to book whenever you would like. Next, the websites you should visit.
here is a list of good and reliable ones:
Ryanair (we got a flight for $14.00!)
Wowair (very cheap flights to iceland, but only leaves from 8 different locations in the u.s.)
Skyscanner (only have flown with them once, but it was a good experience.)
Justfly (i use this booking agency almost every time. sign up for their emails and you will get updates on flash deals for flights.)
remember these airlines land in different airports than the main ones. there won't be free checked bags (the fee is $25.00 at the most and make sure to pay online or they will charge you more upfront). food is only an option if you pay for it, and there are no entertainment systems. all in all, it is a seat on a giant metal bird. if you can get past these small negatives, then start searching!
to check for baggage fees.
arrive for your flight three hours early if it international. two if it is domestic.
keep your boarding pass, passport, and debit card accessible. (let your bank know if you will be traveling so they don't disable your card.)
make sure your electronics are charged for the flight.
download any music/movies the night before take off.
2. sleeping. when it comes to finding a place to sleep at night, you can either end up in an amazing place or a disaster. you have to look at location, price, and amenities. if you are planning on going to the u.k. and want to stay in a hostel, i recommend: safestay. they have eight different locations across europe. they provide lockers for your luggage and they have laundry machines. when booking, decide if location, price, or amenities is the most important. then, focus on getting what you pay for before finding your temporary home. there are places you can get all three, and then there are places you only get one of those. before booking, you have to look at the reviews, good and bad. make sure to read the fine print, don't be afraid to email and ask questions, and look at the photos. in barcelona, i stayed at the most posh hostel i have ever come across. they had doormen! if you are planning a trip to barcelona, check out this hostel.
towel. (here is the towel i pack for traveling.)
small packets of laundry detergent.
3. eating. obviously you have to eat, but you can't afford to go out every meal. most every hostel provides simple breakfast for a small fee (about $6.00) or sometimes it is free. again, you have to decide what is most important to you. is eating a big breakfast or going out for dinner more important to you? whichever it is, budget for that. look to see if the hostel has a kitchen to cook (most do) or have a fridge to store small groceries.
- to try new foods!
- check the hostel breakfast prices.
- budget (as much fun as that is on vacation.)
- look at proper table manners for that specific country. (the last thing you want is to act like a tourist.)
4. transportation. depending on the country you go to as well as your objectives for going, you will need to find a way to get around. when we were in london, the bus and underground were the most convenient since we spent the majority of the time in the city. we got an oyster card for 6 days for $26 which covers the busses and underground routes. however, it is a different story if you are in iceland or scotland. in both of these countries i would suggest that the most efficient way to get around would be to rent a car (you have to be +21) this way you can explore without limits.
- isak 4x4 rental (the most popular 4x4 rental in iceland. TIP: get gravel insurance if they offer it)
- We used ScotRail to get around a large part of scotland. it is a great way to see the country and the landscapes it has to offer through trains.
- to book in advance. (especially if you want a window seat.)
- keep your tickets accessible. you will have to present them before, during, and after your train rides.
- to bring entertainment.
- plan out before you leave your hostel the bus stop you need to get off at.
- if you are driving, have a vague idea of where you are going, but don't be afraid to roam and explore.
you have made it this far, which tells me you either have read this blog all the way through or you skipped straight to the ending to find out about the 'duck & waffle.' this story is one of the many events that happened accidentally in my travels. in april, i visited sarah and emily in london after their study abroad in morocco. we conveniently decided to visit london on easter weekend, a very celebrated holiday in england. most everything was closed that sunday through tuesday. on tuesday night we decided we want to go out and have a drink, maybe dance. we did our makeup, bought new clothes, and started googling clubs to go to. none of them were open. i was getting hungry and we were not about to waste our makeup. sarah, luckily found a pub that was open 24 hours, served food, and was only a few minutes away. expecting the typical british pub, we arrived at a windowed skyscraper lit by red lights. we thought the address was wrong as the bouncer checked our i.d.'s and escorted us to the elevator. we questioned what we got ourselves into. the elevator was clear and we could see the city getting smaller below as we floated up the building. the doors opened and we walked down a hallway and into one of the most beautiful pubs in london. the room was comprised of loud music, dim lights, floor to ceiling windows, and chandeliers. this was the 'duck and waffle.' we felt all eyes on us, as we were dressed for a club, not a posh bar. we found some chairs and awed at the view of london's never ending lights. we ordered $15 cocktails made from real egg shells and nutella jars with our names printed on them.