10 London Spots You Won’t Want To Miss

God save the Queen. I’ve been to London five times, and I definitely plan on going back, but the great thing about this beautiful city is that every time I go I have a completely different experience!

From food to museums to tours the UK has so much to offer, and I couldn’t be happier than to share with you guys some of my favorites, especially after my last trip where I spent almost a week just doing whatever popped into my mind. Ready to explore this beautiful city? Here are my top 10 spots you MUST visit.

1.Bronte London

Dubbed one of the best brunch spots in London this restaurant stole my heart away with it’s art-deco vibe and beautiful decor. Since Jane Eyre is my favorite book, I also (of course) loved the name of the spot. English breakfasts are one of my favorite things to eat when I’m in the UK, so that’s what I ordered here (and some tea) but there was a full menu of delicious options. I will definitely be going back in the future.

2. Harry Potter Walking Tour:

There are a few Harry Potter walking tours in London, but the one that I can recommend because I took it was the Tour For Muggles, which was a super fun way to see different parts of the city while also seeing famous filming locations from the Harry Potter movies. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and I could tell that she knew ALL the facts about HP. I was also really happy because we visited some BBC Sherlock filming locations, as well. Be still my heart.

3. Stonehenge Day Tour

I’m a huge fan of day tours, because they allow you to see the country-side, which is great especially if you don’t want to drive on the other side of the road and risk dying. The tour that I took in November, when I was in London, was one that went to Stonehenge, Oxford and Windsor Castle. The tour was a lot of fun, and we even broke away at the end of it to visit the Eagle and the Child, which is the pub where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien met as part of their writing society. Pretty awesome history!

4. Museum of Natural History:

I’m a huge sucker for museums and London has some of the best. I had actually never been to the Museum of Natural History until last year, and I absolutely loved it. If you have even the slightest inclination toward science of any kind then you’ll probably find this museum fascinating. The giant whale skeleton attached to the ceiling is pretty impressive, as well. The best part, though, is that this museum is FREE (donations encouraged) which makes it a must see.

5. National Portrait Museum:

When I went to this museum I actually spent four consecutive hours in there. There are paintings from pretty much every point in British (and non-British) history including the famous portrait of Jane Austen and (my personal favorite) the full body portrait of Anne Boleyn. The centuries of history that this building holds is just absolutely incredible, and once again admission is free.

6. Oxford Street

This is the main shopping street in London and it’s absolute magic. Not only is shopping one of my favorite things to do, but the window displays for stores like Harrods are just incredible (especially during the holidays).

7. 221B Baker Street (Sherlock Holmes Museum):

Another museum!? Hell yeah. I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and I was absolutely thrilled when I got to go to the real 221B. This museum is set up like a Victorian era model of Sherlock’s home complete with the appropriate props to fit each of his famous stories. You can, of course, also buy lots of fun Sherlock merchandise that’s exclusive to the museum, as well.

8. Platform 9 3/4

So, with a lot of walking tours Platform 9 3/4 is not included. This is mainly because it’s out of the way from most of the filming locations for Harry Potter, but the good news is that it’s not that hard to get to on your own. Just grab the tube and get off at the King’s Cross Station for all the fun.

9. The Queen’s Arms (Kensington):

This is a great spot to grab some lovely fish and chips and the spot looks just like it was taken out of a Jane Austen novel. To be honest, that’s one of the things I love about London the most. The history of the city spans back so far and so many famous works of literature stem from actual places within it.

10. Victoria and Albert Museum: 

To wrap things up, one more museum that I absolutely loved. This museum I also went to for the first time during my most recent trip. The museum is HUGE and tons of artifacts from all different points in history. My favorite exhibit was one all about the history of fashion…because, duh—it’s so me.

BONUS: Primark. Grab your Harry Potter gear! 

Okay so Primark is basically like the Forever21 of the UK buuuuuuuut if you’re looking for Harry Potter gear than you should definitely stop in. Not only do they have gear that’s not available outside of the UK, it’s also so much cheaper than if you bought it at a tourist trap.

What’s your favorite spot in London? Tell me in the comments below!

2017 Reviewed By Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger

Welcome to the post every blogger writes, yet most readers don’t give a shit about: my year in review (sorry for the swearing, mom).

Being a travel blogger has been one of the most amazing adventures of my life, but sometimes I still look back at pictures and wonder if I really went there, or did that. Whose life is this? 2017 was a wild ride because I got to travel to eight…yes, EIGHT, different countries.

While I usually only take one big trip per year, I somehow fit two in, and it was an absolutely incredible privilege to check off big list items like Morocco and Denmark (two places I’ve been DYING to go). This year also took me from one of the most traumatic experiences, to some of the most beautiful I’ve ever had. I’m leaving some things behind in 2017 that I’m really going to miss but that’s part of moving forward, right? The end of a year always seems to close a chapter on some things you aren’t quite ready to let go of.

Such is life, I guess. This year has made me stronger, wiser, and as my mom says, “someday it won’t hurt so much.” Until then, let’s live a little stronger, a little more passionate, and really pursue the things that set our hearts on fire. 2018 is going to be such an amazing adventure. I’m already starting to plan some pretty epic road-trips, and I cannot wait to share all of the savory details with you guys. Until then, here is my blogger contribution to the madness of 2017. Happy New Year!!!

Backpacking trip: Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Belgium

I started out this year with a solo backpacking trip that was one for the books. Not only did I love going to Loch Ness and Inverness (Outlander fans!?), but I also just loved seeing the highlands of Scotland. During this trip I also had, singlehandedly, the best 48 hours of my life in Denmark (and made some amazing new friends!).

Cosplaying Rufio at Emerald City Comicon
I’ve only been cosplaying for a couple of years, but I’m so obsessed with it that I don’t know if I’ll ever stop. I love being able to represent characters that I love, and I love gender-bending (taking a male character and giving them a female twist). My Rufio cosplay was so fun to take to Emerald City Comicon. Honestly. I live for conventions.

Becoming a Schwinn/ R.Riveter ambassadorThis year I got to be an Ambassador for two different brands: Schwinn Bikes and R. Riveter bags. Both of these brands have a strong backing of supporting people who are out there really living their lives. Whether it’s taking city adventures with my bike, or traveling across the world (or to another world) with my R. Riveter bag, I’ve loved every minute.

Going to my first Renaissance Faire This was one of those last minute things where you’re less than prepared, but more than a little excited for an event. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, to be perfectly honest, but getting to experience my first joust (and ax throwing) was a pretty special event in my life. I also got to throw an axe…so that was cool. In 2018 I’m really looking forward to going again, and this time cosplaying.

Doing a live painting at BumbershootI’ve told this story a few times, but I was told a lot (growing up) that I wasn’t meant to be an artist. I wasn’t “called” to it. Well, this year not only did I continue painting shoes with my Etsy shop, but I got the amazing opportunity to do a live painting at Bumbeshoot, which is a huge music festival in Seattle. Even better? My painting sold!

Creating some super nerdy art projects (Sherlock + Jamie Fraser)There has seriously been so much nerding this year and I’ve loved it so much. From getting connected with my favorite podcast “Three patch problem” to crocheting little nerd dolls to send to friends, it really has just been the best. I’m also almost finished with all of my Harry Potter house scarves, so keep an eye out for those in my Etsy shop!

Going to the Skagit Valley Scottish Highland Games The Skagit Valley Highland Games has become a tradition that I don’t think I ever want to break. It’s so fun to go celebrate my Scottish heritage, eat amazing food and enjoy traditional Scottish dancing and music. It really is food for my soul and this year was great because I won my tickets for having the best photo from the 2016 Highland Games!

Dislocating my shoulder… the third day of summer campThis year was a year for injuries. This must mean I’m getting old. Not only did I dislocate my shoulder (resulting in weeks of physical therapy), but I also got pneumonia, sustained a 102 degree fever for a week, got my heart broken, and had my first ER visit. This year was kind of a constant progression of healing, but it taught me a lot about patience and about how amazing my little tribe of badass women is. Thank you every single person who held me up this year, despite the crazy.

Cosplaying Aquaman after months of planning I started planning this cosplay after ECCC in March and it came together beautifully. I loved being able to think of something and then actually see it materialize. Also, having a faux shoulder sleeve tattoo was pretty badass. Cosplay brings so much happiness to my life, I don’t even know how I ever went without doing it. Cheers to new ideas and great conventions in 2018! 2nd Photo credit to Aubrey Rebecca Photography.

Getting a new job…my dream job!2016 and 2017 I worked 60 hours a week (6am-6pm…every day) to build a resume that could get me my dream job. I’ve always been a writer, and what started as watching Mad Men resulted in me pinning down that ad agency work was the absolute ringer for what I wanted to do with my career. In October, my hard work finally paid, off thanks to some amazing women helping me along the way. I absolutely love my job, and I feel so incredibly thankful for it each and every day that I’m there.

Backpacking trip: Spain, Morocco, England, Iceland
I ended this year the same way I started it: with travel. 2018 will mark my five year anniversary of backpacking, and I can’t believe I ever let people tell me not to do something that brings so much life to my being. I love traveling, and visiting friends around the world added so much value to 2017. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to jump on planes and live out my passion. I don’t take this privilege lightly. For me traveling is the gateway to every other part of my life being inspired, and I can’t wait to see what adventures 2018 brings my way. 

10 Things You Should Bring with You to Harry Potter World

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If there was one thing we learned when we were in Harry Potter World (LA) it’s that stuff is reeeaaaalllly expensive, in a kind of unnecessary way. Not that we didn’t expect for things to be expensive in an amusement park, but the price of things in Harry Potter World were just ridiculous (with the exception of the food which seemed to be pretty similar to what you’d expect).

I guess I just don’t feel like I should be hearing kids ask their parents for allowance from the past 6 months so they can buy a journal, a pen and a pin. That really happened. I’m not kidding. The 8 year old kid paid $90 of his own money for three things. This is wrong.

Needless to say, I didn’t end up buying much of anything there. And once I reached my house, I actually breathed a sigh of relief because I DID THE RIGHT THING. There is no reason to spend those prices at the park itself. We had an amazing time running around the grounds with our wands and my Harry Potter glasses (both of which got a whole lot of compliments from the people who worked there — in total I had bought them both before the trip for $15).

Before you, or your family, venture to Harry Potter World I thought I would make a list of a few things so that you can shop like a Malfoy on a Weasley budget. Because hey, I want you to look amazing and I believe we all deserve to be able to look straight outta Hogwarts.

Phew, that video gets me every time. But here they are, 10 things that I found for way cheaper than when we were at Harry Potter World (click on the images for links). Let’s start off with the things I bought before going:

Where to Buy Your Wand: 

I bought my wand on Etsy at the shop: Osbornes Wand Shop. And this was my best purchase…maybe ever — definitely in regards to my Harry Potter fandom. I got so many compliments on it while I was in Harry Potter World! The best part? It’s not some mass produced item – it’s customized to me!

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Harry Potter’s Glasses: 

Here’s a fun fact, these aren’t even sold at Harry Potter World. Which is such a missed opportunity, I feel. I still don’t understand why they weren’t there. I also got a lot of compliments on these. In fact, one of the ladies who worked there was like, “Where did you get those!? I’ve been looking for a pair everywhere!”  You can snag your pair by visiting this shop: Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4

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Everything Else:

*Disclosure* I am a very proud Slytherin and hence all of this gear will be Slytherin based. If you participate in a Hogwarts house that has a problem with that…

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Mugs:

I really wanted a mug because I sit at a desk 8 hours a day and having a Harry Potter mid-day reminder is never a bad idea. But I was a bit shocked when I turned the mug at HPW upside down and saw the $40 price tag! That was just a no-go. Buying something that will potentially break during the transfer back home, for $40, was just not going to happen. Luckily, I found literally the cutest Hedwig mug the world has ever known AND a Slytherin mug both of which could be purchased for less than that price. At $10 for one and $18 for the other it’s an investment I can definitely swing.

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Sweatshirt: 

I’m not even going to tell you how much I wanted to buy a Slytherin sweatshirt when I was in HPW but with prices at $60 – $80 that just wasn’t going to happen. BUT I found some beautiful sweaters online that don’t break the bank, and actually look better! In love. Check out this beautiful Slytherin Quidditch sweatshirt from Etsy!

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Journals:

I’m a writer, so obviously I can never have too many notebooks, journals etc. I pretty much always carry one with me, so it was kind of disappointing to find out that the journals for sale in HPW were like $40. I mean, come on, they didn’t even have real leather covers. I was trés sad. When I got home I found this beautiful journal for $13 from Amazon that looks pretty much exactly on point with what I was holding in my hands at HPW, at a fraction of the price.

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Passport Cover:

Obviously I travel a lot. So when I saw that HPW was selling passport holders I kind of lost my mind. Then I looked at the price $25…not bad. But then I looked at the quality: shit (sorry mom – but it WAS). The passport cover wasn’t real leather and the stitching wasn’t even in a straight line. So, for this one, it’s not even about the price, just about the terrible quality. I found a beautiful leather (customizable!) passport case on Etsy that is just about the stuff of dreams…for the same price.

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Banner: 

Wall banners were a really big thing at HPW and I really wanted one. Maybe it’s because I’m a Slytherin and want everybody to know it (we tend to be very pro-us). Who knows? All I know is that there was a big green thing on the wall with a snake that said “I’m better than you” (that’s what the Latin translates to, right?) and I wanted it. Good thing I waited. Those bad boys were pushing $40 and I found a much prettier adult one, for $20 (by adult I just mean that I can actually hang in my house without people staring).  P.s. If you want a more colorful one, you can find them on Amazon for much cheaper, as well.

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BONUS!

One of the best things we saw someone wearing at Harry Potter World couldn’t even be bought there. We were obsessed with a Gryffindor letterman jacket of British girl in front of us was wearing and seeing the Slytherin version is even better! Right now you can grab one at HotTopic for under $40!

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Fantastic Beasts…Anything:

The most disappointing part of HPW was that there was absolutely no mention or anything close to purchase from Fantastic Beasts. I was so sad because I had planned on buying the screenplay there, and then it wasn’t even for sale. I did find it for sale at the airport for $30 but even that was a stretch. Luckily Amazon has it right now for $15, so it’s a must buy.

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As a side note, you definitely should buy some butter beer and have a meal at The Three Brooms restaurant. Comment below with your favorite Harry Potter themed items, and let me know if you end up buying any of these awesome pieces above! 🙂

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One Glass Of Unicorn Blood: Shaken, Not Stirred

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If I was Voldemort, art would be my unicorn blood.

Okay, okay. Kinda gross and sort of dramatic. But it’s true!

Before you walk away gagging, let me explain: 

Art is my life blood and keeps me sustained.

And while it doesn’t require a life long curse, it does require a lot of sacrifice. How often is that the case, though? The things we love, the things we are passionate, what makes everything ‘just feel right’ comes at a price.

Adulting.

Here I am, sitting the morning after a show I painted at, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I slept a full 7 hours, but this is one of those moments when I’m blatantly aware that I am no longer the college freshman who did homework until midnight, then sprung out of bed at 6am for work the next morning.

Lately, I’ve been VERY aware of my own limitations.

And let me tell you, it’s a feeling that’s pretty upsetting and kind of annoying. I hate being limited. I hate not being able to do every. single. thing. that pops into my head. I want to travel everywhere, live on Twitter, blog everyday, paint everything, work 80 hours a week and still have time to maintain healthy relationships and exercise 7 times a week.

Wouldn’t that be nice? If only I wasn’t human.

The reality is – I have limits. And I don’t think enough of us admit that. I’m not talking about being lazy, so don’t think leaning back in a pile of potato chips on the couch, while streaming soap operas, is what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about good ole-fashioned lack of ability to have more hours than life provides.

And while I know you gentlemen feel this way, as well – I’m going to call out the pressure that we, as women, feel to be EVERYTHING.

A lot of the time it feels like I need to be the perfect career woman, the perfect blogger, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect daughter the perfect roommate, the perfect friend, the perfect writer, the perfect editor. Oh, and also volunteer every weekend, be devastatingly fit, and have all my student loans paid off like 10 years ago.

(NOTE: I wasn’t even in college 10 years ago)

The point is, this is INSANE.

And I’m calling it.

There is no way to live up to this constant standard of perfection, and while I do very strongly agree that healthy life = happy life. Let’s reevaluate what that means.

Not to compare the U.S. to France, again, buuuuuuuuut…

In France women are not perfect mothers. They don’t have to be, and honestly I don’t think they want to be. Motherhood is just one piece (like being a vegetarian or a yogi) that makes up who they are.

In France there are days and days of vacation time when people literally sit around and “do nothing.” Or, to be specific, they lay around in gardens and on lawns and in front of amazing buildings that look like movie backgrounds.

In France you work so that you have more time to enjoy your life. Not so that you can pay back student loan gods who hold you in shackles for 40 years.

Obviously there are problems with any society, and France is not immune. But the overarching culture is sometimes storybook-esque.

Sometimes that drove me crazy, when I was living there. But now, I think I’m starting to get it.

I’m starting to understand that there’s no way to win in this American system.

Last weekend I got to hear some of the most successful people I can think of talk about their success, and guess what? They still don’t feel like they’ve “made it.”

Why? Because we’re holding ourselves to an impossible standard.

Okay, now the happy part:

We don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to do everything and be everything. In fact, I don’t believe we were ever meant to. courtney-e-martin-quoteLet’s refocus for a minute.

One of my favorite quotes is by author Courtney E. Martin, who wrote a fantastic book called Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.

“We are a generation of young women who were told we could do anything and instead heard that we had to be everything.”

Every time I read this quote, it’s like a slap in the face and a breath of fresh air.

This has been resonating with me a lot, lately, as I try to tackle 60 hour work weeks while maintaining a semi-normal life outside of my 3/4 jobs. It’s not easy. But I do my best, and I’ve decided that that is enough. I might not be producing my best ever art, or updating my social media/Etsy more than once a month but that’s okay. I’m still pressing forward.

Can I get an amen?

Okay, but really. I AM a huge advocate of hard work. But I also think it’s really important that we realize — we are not robots. We’re divinely created temples. And temples are places to be valued and loved.

So, today, wherever you are in life, that you’re reading this, just know that it’s okay not to have “it all together.”

I give you permission to be tired. To be a little messy. To be a little human. And to love your life, and yourself a little more.

Love extravagantly. Be kind to one another. And…

Edinburgh, Scotland: 1.5 Days Of Chilly Beauty

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Our lovely hostel is in the bottom left hand corner of this picture .

For those of you who have been following along, you’ll know that I was on a backpacking trip from Dec 24th – Jan 4th. I was traveling with two friends, on and off throughout the trip, and I we travelled two four cities along the way. While this wasn’t my first trip around the UK/Ireland, I wanted to make sure to hit some new places, so we went to Edinburgh, Scotland (I had stayed in Glasgow before) and we visited the adorable town of Stratford-upon-Avon. I didn’t have much time to post on the blog while we were traveling, so I’ll fill you all in on what happened in the upcoming weeks.

Our first stop (after me sleeping in Heathrow on Christmas night with my Elf on the Shelf) was
DSC_0047Edinburgh. We took a Megabus up to Edinburgh because the UK takes Boxing Day very serious, and decided to close down all public transportation to prove the point. So, instead of being able to take a train up to Scotland, we hopped on a bus. Little did we know, the floods had cut off many of the routes that the buses usually used to get around, so the initial 9 hour trip ended up taking about 11 hours.

BUT, when we finally did make it to our final destination, we found our Australian filled hostel, more than welcoming and headed out to that night’s Pub Crawl. While usually I wouldn’t go out after sleeping in an airport, riding buses for over 12 hours total and being jet-lagged, I’m so glad we did because we had a great time hanging out with some Scots, and going to (without a doubt) the worst club in Scotland.
DSC_0032After a 10 hour exhaustion induced slumber, I was up and ready to go at the bright and early time of 11am. Thankful that my hostel didn’t charge me for checking out late, and even more thankful that they showed me the best spots for me to visit, I joined one of my friends on a walking tour and we galavanted around the hilly city of Edinburgh.

Our walking tour was more than a little bit entertaining, filled with Scottish anecdotes and history lessons, such as where the term “shit faced” comes from (referencing a saying doesn’t count as swearing, mom). We also got to see the grave site of the infamous “Greyfriars Bobby” which, you may know about if you’ve spent time watching the vintage Disney film, or are obsessed with stories about loyal little dogs, (both of which my mother is) which is why I was one of the few people in our tour to recognize the reference of it.  DSC_0048

The trip ended by a trip to the National gallery and a walk around the Christmas markets, and Edinburgh at night (which is a holiday scene you don’t want to miss out on!). A quick pop back to the hostel (luckily, Edinburgh has most of it’s main attractions within a pretty condensed area) to grab my pack, and it was off to the airport – next stop, Ireland.

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Oh! And did I mention that our hostel was right next to a CASTLE!?

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Visiting the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter!

 

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The graveyard where the real Tom Riddle (amongst other characters from Harry Potter) were buried.

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The history of the phrase “Shit faced” comes from Edinburgh. Apparently early in the morning, when pubs closed and men were stumbling homes, households would dispose of their chamber pots for the day (it was illegal to throw out your windows…but only if you got caught) and the unfortunate drunks were unable to (often) get out of the way – resulting in them, quite literally, getting “shit faced.”

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Just the three of us.

Life Hacking My Way To Paris

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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*

$648.

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!

Homesick For Somewhere

Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow, Scotland

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about not being here. Some may call it wanderlust, some may call it daydreaming, but I just CANNOT shake the feeling of needing to go somewhere. Not necessarily France, not necessarily anywhere particularly, but just the need to go.

In a weird way, I feel like I’ve outgrown my life, and appropriately, for my Slytherin (nerd alert!) nature, I need to shed my skin. I’ve always been a daydreamer. I stare out windows dreaming about places probably more often than I ought to. But the truth of the matter is, I’m homesick. Not in a depression way (although, PTD – or Post Travel Depression, is a real thing) but just in a wistful wonderment kind of way. In a way that makes you get goosebumps when you feel like an adventure is on the horizon.

Where have I been homesick for? Well, right now, it’s Scotland. Or, to be more specific, Scottish sheep farms. I don’t know why, but taking trains and buses along the coast of Scotland brought me more joy than is probably normal. I remember traveling in a bus, passing by old stone ruins – sheep dotted across fields of every color green, and thinking, “You know what, if I won the Lottery today, I would buy a Scottish sheep farm, paint all day every day and never look back.” Because, honestly, that’s what I would do with millions of dollars. Buy a farm, change my identity, and run away to Scotland with my paintbrushes. Standard.

But, in the meantime, to combat the devilish voice in my head telling me to pack everything up and run away, there are some tricks of the trade that I thought I’d pass on for the chronic travel nostalgic like me.

1. Never Travel.

Just kidding. Duh, you should travel! But the way you travel can really make or break your post traveling experience. When I travel, I make sure it’s never to run away from things. Because, no matter how much you wish, you’re probably going to have to come back at some point. It’s in my nature to want to throw all of my belongings in a suitcase and run away the moment something bad happens in my life, but I really try hard to only travel if I have all of my ‘ducks in a row’ on the home front. That way, I’m not dreading coming back the entire time I’m away. And it also gives me the motivation to keep a happy home life, in order to be in a healthy mental and spiritual place to travel beyond it.

2. Send Yourself Post Cards: 

This is something I’ve done for a while. First off, if you’re backpacking, it’s a good way to get yourself a souvenir without having to lug something around in your pack. Second, you get proof that you actually went somewhere, instead of owning something someone could find in a thrift shop where you’re from. Last, I just love writing – and writing myself is weirdly fun. Snail mail isn’t given enough credit.There’s something magical and priceless about finding a note from a place you loved in your mailbox when you get back home.

3. Write About It:

Blog or journal about your experiences! I love finding just the right journal to keep with me while I’m traveling. I generally go for the ones without lines on the paper, so I can sketch, paint or tape in little extra bits I find around when I’m traveling. Blogging is also a fun way to keep a day by day account of where you’re traveling, if you have access to a computer.

4.  Tell Your Friends: 

Sharing your knowledge is one of the best things you can do for travel nostalgia. There’s something about sharing stories and inspiration with those around you that not only builds you up, but helps the rest of your friends to get on the train with traveling as well. Inspiration goes a long way. One of the only reasons I’ve had the guts to travel in the past is that some of my friends did it before me. Sitting down to coffee, and hearing one of your peers talk about their experiences, really makes you want to go out and make your own memories!

5. Start Planning Your Next Adventure:

No matter how often I travel, the minute I get back I start planning my next trip. Not necessarily in the way of  buying a plane ticket as soon as I touch ground, but I really love having maps, dream boards, Pinterest inspiration boards and thoughts stashed away for where I want to go next. Before I went to the UK I had  (still have) a giant map of Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales taped to the back of my bedroom door. I guess that could be partially blamed for my nostalgia every night before I go to bed, but I also like looking at it and remembering all of the great adventures I had.

Bon Voyage!

Me and my mom adventuring per usual
Me and my mom adventuring per usual