8 Things That Inspired Me When I Traveled In The UK


I’ve been to the UK/Ireland quite a few times, and I’m going back in January. My mom’s family is very proudly Scottish, Irish and English so I grew up hearing a lot of stories about these magical places called Ireland and Scotland. I wanted to visit so much that three years I finally packed a backpack and headed out solo. I’m so incredibly glad I did. I’ve met so many amazing people throughout my travels, and I love how different and beautiful each trip proves to be. Here are some of my favorite things about traveling throughout the UK (we’ll do another one on Ireland, I promise).

Glasgow, Scotland: A bun can always go higher up on your head

I’m not really sure if there’s some kind of competition for buns in the UK, but they are no joke. Glasgow is one of the funniest cities you can go to on a winter Friday night because the girls are known for their high buns, and their short skirts. And since it’s Scotland, you can imagine how cold that kind of fashion becomes. As someone who wears their hair in a bun 80% of the time, I was inspired when I went to Glasgow for the first time.

London, England: Pastries as far as the eye can see

I adore bread in all of its many forms, and the UK has some of the best sugary (not savory – that all goes to the French) breads and pastries I’ve ever tasted. I don’t know what the trick is, or how a country manages to tackle pastries with such perfection, but they are simply to die for. Something I’ve learned about Europe is that the flour there tastes so much better than what we have in the U.S. Even just from living in France, the recipes don’t work the same, and it’s so much more difficult to cook using French flour when you’re used to American. I assume there’s something similar in the UK and that what’s there is something from some mystical world, as well.

Stratford-upon-Avon, England : Tomatoes – a nutritious part of every breakfast

Okay, so I’m not sure how many people are already on this train, but I never ate tomatoes (or really vegetables) with my breakfast until I travelled around the UK. Now, I really prefer to have them with some eggs and toast and tea. It’s SO GOOD. English (or Scottish) breakfasts really are just the best, and again, I’m not sure what they do to make the food so good, there, but it really is out of this world.


Edinburgh, Scotland: Walk Through Cemeteries to Get Writing Inspiration

Okay, Harry Potter nerds. You knew this was coming. A fun fact that I learned when I was in Edinburgh was that JK Rowling stole. Yep. Flat our robbery…of names. It’s true! Many of JK Rowling’s character names come from dead people in Edinburgh cemeteries, including the notorious Tom Riddle aka Voldemort. Brilliant, huh? I’m really excited to go back this January and explore more of the geek side of Edinburgh. I was only there for a day and a half last time and it really was not enough time to satisfy my geekiness. Click the photo below for more info on the cemetery where Tom Riddle is buried.


London, England: Brown eggs are better

I grew up with chickens. And we ate their eggs. Thank god we didn’t slaughter them, as well, but my mom was pretty inclusive of the “fresh egg” policy. Unfortunately while having chickens, we also had a rooster who liked to get it on with the ladies. That being said, there were a couple of times when our lovely fresh brown eggs got cracked open into a pan with a underdeveloped chick coming out. Talk about trauma. It’s a wonder I’ve ever eaten eggs again. Luckily my mom had sympathy for me not wanting to eat brown eggs after that. The funny part was that the first time I went to London I realized there was nothing else but brown eggs in the store. Ha. Kill me. Needless to say, I got over my fear, found out brown is better, and now I won’t even buy white eggs.

Glasgow, Scotland: You will never forget the first time you see an original Van Gogh

I love Van Gogh. I always have, and I always will. Up until 2013, though, I had never seen an original (at least, not that I can remember). Scotland wouldn’t probably be the first place that you would look for an original, but that is (accidentally) the first place that I saw one. In fact there were two. And when I saw them I couldn’t believe they were real. It was a bit like that time I was in Rome and thought, “Wow, that looks just like the building from Gladiator,” as I was driving by the Colosseum.



Edinburgh, Scotland: Always visit the worst club, with the best people

On the authority of three natives, I have (without a doubt) been to the worst club in Edinburgh. How did such a blessing come about, you may ask? Well, it really comes down to striking up conversations with the locals, rather than always staying with the group. I actually can’t remember the name of the club we went to, but my pesky memory could probably find it if I was back in Edinburgh (#photographicmemory) but I can assure you – it was all it claims to be.

All the UK: Cuppa Tea, Tea, Tea, Tea

I have an addiction to tea and I, first off, blame the BBC. But secondly I blame traveling around in countries where you basically get it shoved down your throat. Word from the wise: NEVER say no when you’re offered tea the UK. Even if you just barely sip it, just take the damn cup.


Have you been to the UK? Comment below with what inspired or shocked you! 

Red, White and Blue

French, American and British Flags flying high this weekend.
French, American and British Flags flying high this weekend.

I love being in Europe, again, to recognize the American soldiers who fought and died to assist in the liberation of the globally oppressed, during WWII. We, as Americans, don’t really celebrate the victories, only the end of the war – which I’ve always thought was a pity.

But, walking around the French streets today, and seeing American flags flying in recognition of US assistance in the Liberation of Paris, was awe inspiring. Proud to be an American, today. But even more proud of the men and women who fought (and still fight) to bring peace to their fellow humans in distress.

Read more about the celebrations: http://www.le70e.fr/en/liberation-territory/liberation-paris

Life Hacking My Way To Paris

Washington State Beauty

I love Monopoly. There are several reasons, such as a desire for world domination, a completely unnecessarily competitive nature and an overbearing Slytherin mindset. But mostly, I like it because it gives you a lifetime worth of money and resources to strategically manipulate in a game lasting a few hours (or longer if you marathon it like me and my siblings did growing up).

I’ve always loved the idea of taking money and finding ways to stretch it beyond what people think it’s capable of – which is probably why I always win Monopoly. If you know my mom, you know where I get this mindset. So, of course, when it came to buying my plane ticket, it was no different.

A couple of months ago I was looking up plane tickets to Paris. I honestly couldn’t believe how much they were. The cheapest were around $1500 – one way.

Knowing that, as an Au Pair, I wouldn’t have a lot of cash flow piling in my bank account (AKA I need to save money, now), I decided that something had to be done. There was no way in hell I was letting $1500 slip through my fingers just to GET TO the country I wanted to live in. So I started researching.

I stumbled across this article on Pintrest that talks about ways to life hack your way around the world; how to travel without paying, or with paying reduced amounts.

I’ve never really looked into life hacking or finding ways around the travel scene, before. I kind of always thought, “Well, that’s the price, so that’s what I have to pay.” False.

After looking up what I would be needing, in regards to travel, I put together a grand scheme.

The next week, I walked into my local Chase bank early one morning (people are nicer in the morning, and they can help you one-on-one because they’re not as busy), and after asking for personal help, and looking up options, I decided on getting my first credit card – joy to the world.

In general, I really hate the idea of credit cards. I don’t like not paying my debts (how Lannister of me) and spending money that’s not mine just doesn’t feel right. I understand why they exist – I just don’t like them.

This time, though, I got a card called the Chase Preferred Sapphire, which allowed me to earn $500 toward my plane ticket as long as I spent $2000 on it during the first three months.

Now, normally, I don’t spend that much money just hanging out with friends (and things like rent and student loans – my main costs – can’t be paid with a credit card) but I did realize, when I got the card, that it was right before tax return season.

Note: As a nanny, I don’t pay my taxes throughout the year but, instead, all at once in Feb/Mar/Apr. 

You’ve probably guessed what I did. Charged that bad boy with my taxes and came out just over $2,000 ($14 over, to be precise). I immediately paid this off, but having spent the initial amount, I still got the voucher.

Then I thought, “Great, I’ve knocked my $1500 down to $1000, but I still think I can do more!”

So I started to look up flights.

Having traveled to the UK before, I knew that Ireland loves people to travel through there, and Dublin will drop its prices drastically in order to get your business. So, I decided to fly into Dublin, and then from there get a smaller plane to Paris.

Side note: I also just LOVE the Dublin airport because they are the most laid back people ever… and I may have really wanted an excuse to hear Irish accents, again. 

Ticket from Seattle to Dublin (after using my $500 voucher) – $448.

Looking up tickets to Paris was a bit harder, but that was because I very specifically wanted to find one that went to Orly airport (the most southern airport in Paris, and more popular – aka more expensive), since that’s where my au pair family said they could pick me up. I settled with a ticket for $200, with a 2 hour layover in Heathrow – another favorite airport (British accents FTW).

Grand total? *drum roll*


Having saved somewhere around $1000, I feel pretty happy with my plane ticket purchase, and that I have more money in my bank account and a ticket to Paris on my nightstand.

I’ll probably continue life hacking, since this process has the potential to be ridiculously expensive, but so far so good! Have you guys found any awesome life hacks out there while traveling? Send me a comment!

À bientôt!

I've got a golden ticket!
I’ve got a golden ticket!

A Survival Guide To Airports

Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia

I have never flown and not been stopped by security. Maybe it’s due to my too ‘innocent’ baby face, maybe they’re just starving for riveting conversation, but regardless, security guards LOVE to stop me. It’s almost become a joke at this point, as I see them nod to each other about my “suspicious” items (aka headphones or a charger, usually). Brilliant.

In light of my extreme expertise in this field,  I thought I’d give y’all some tips for traveling through airports. I’ve made quite a few mistakes while flying, so here are some de-stressing tips!

1. Bring a refillable water bottle and empty it when you’re going through security, and then fill them up on the other side: If your water bottle is full of liquid when you go through security, it will be confiscated and, depending on the niceness of your security person, you might not ever see it again (regardless of whether it’s reusable). To ensure that you don’t lose your favorite water bottle, pack it empty and then fill it once you get on the other side of security.

2. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and slip back on: I generally travel in lace up boots, which is the worst idea ever. But, if at all possible, try to wear shoes that are easy to take off and slip back on so when you go through security you’re not the girl sitting there trying to re-lace your leather boots for 20 minutes  *like this girl*.

3. Don’t try to bring back jam for your grandmother in your luggage. It is a liquid – and therefore a terrorist threat.

4. Always go to the bathroom in between flights: To save yourself from having to cram in an airplane bathroom, I always advise going to the bathroom in airports during layovers, even if you don’t “need to go” (my nannyness is coming out). Believe me, it will make flying so much more comfortable.

5. Pack an extra pair of underclothing if you’re flying connecting flights/out of the country: If you’ve signed up yourself for a 26 hour flight, make sure your only underclothing isn’t in your luggage, which you probably won’t see again for the next 26 hours. Making sure you have a pair of undies/bra in your carry on can be the deciding factor to holding you together until you’re reunited with your luggage again. Just do it.

6. Bring snacks on the plane: We all know airplane food is less than kosher. One of my favorite fun facts is that the one time  I’ve ever had food poisoning was when I was flying to a third world country – when they warned me about eating the food there. Bring your own favorite snacks. Save money, eat watchu want. Win, win.

7. Bring more than one thing to do on the plane/headphones: Mostly this is for longer flights, but running out of things to can ruin a flight (especially if the movie that’s playing is Wolverine…number 2). Usually I fly with a book, a notebook/journal to write/draw in, iPod, and some kind of activity book (Suduku, Crosswords etc.)

8. Don’t ever buy pre paid phones in international airports: NEVER EVER EVER buy electronics in the airport when you’re traveling internationally. You’ll probably end up paying 3x the actual value of something. Make sure you pre-plan on things like prepaid phones before you leave, or look for a shop that sells them after you leave the airport.

9. Make sure you know what customs line you’re standing in: This is brilliant. I repeatedly get put in the wrong customs line. Probably because people just have no idea “what” I am. In India, I was Indian. In Ireland, I was French. People just can’t get it straight. Just make sure you let the airport workers know what country you’re from when you ask what line to do in – and before you end up wasting 30 minutes of your life.

10. Never let your belongings out of your sight: I’ve never had anything stolen from me, probably because I watch my belongings like a hawk. But friends of mine, have. Just remember to keep your belonging close to you when you travel. Especially if you’re backpacking and you’re carrying all your belongings on your back – Don’t. Lose. Them.

11. Make friends with strangers that know larger airports: I love making friends with people I sit next to on planes…mainly because they can’t leave if I try to talk to them. I make it a personal mission to find people who have been where I’m going and ask them questions. It’s the best way not to waste time in airports, and you get to make new friends. Yay!

12. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when trying to find a connecting flight: I don’t really like talking to people in general, but when I travel I force myself. You can get extremely lost, miss your flight or get stuck in an airport if you don’t have some kind of information. It’s not worth it. Just ask people for help when you don’t know what’s going on.

13. Two words: Window. Seat.:  If at all possible, I ALWAYS get a window seat. It’s so much more fun than being squeezed in between two people. Not only can you fall asleep against something, but you get to see the country you’re going to from the sky. Glory.

14. If you get pulled to the side while going through security, don’t freak out: Like I said before, I’ve never NOT been stopped by security and (in my opinion) I’m not very intimidating looking. Security personnel are just trying to do their job. If you happen to get pulled to the side, think of it as a good thing. You stood out from the crowd *cyber high-five*! But, really, keep calm and just be nice to the people working there. You’ll be fine. 🙂

15. Be nice to the people who are working there: People who work in airports have to see people traveling every day while staying where they are. Personally, I think that sounds like some kind of hell. So, throw a smile someone’s way. Ask them how they’re doing. And always say ‘thank you’ when someone helps you out! Let’s spread a little courtesy no matter what continent we’re on!