Thursday, September 27, 2012

Are You Blending In?

When traveling to Europe you don’t want to stick out as “an American” … or at least I don’t. But it is kind of difficult because everything from our clothes to our hair style and mannerisms can send up that we’re not from here flag. Here are some helpful tips to traveling in Europe. You can find the original article here.

1. Hotel key edict – Many places in Europe are big on conserving electricity and being energy efficient. That being said many hotels require you to insert your key into a slot near the door to your room to turn the lights and TV on. That way when you leave the room everything is off…and you won’t lose your key in your room. I saw this when I stayed in Budapest.

2. Tipping rules – Always research the tipping rules in the country you are visiting. Some countries don’t require you to tip at all and in others over tipping can make you look na├»ve (and then they will think that you came to their country and didn’t even research their customs). Also, make sure to carry the local currency for tipping too, if you are out and you need to tip you can tip using the American dollar but just make sure to apologize (since they will now have to convert the dollar to their currency).

3. Currency – Make sure you have called your credit cards and banks telling them where and when you will be traveling. You also need to have plenty of the local currency (you can get them from any bank in the US) on you for souvenir shops and local restaurants. Any currency converter/hotel is going to charge you for converting the money.

4. Bedding – In Europe it is very common to take two twin beds to make a king. You can call down to the front desk and ask to see if they have a larger bed but they most likely will not…so you'll have to deal with that seem down the middle of your "king".

5. Hello/Goodbye – Its always best practice to learn the basic, "Good day", "Good evening", "Thank you" in the language of the country that you are visiting. I think that this is showing that you are putting an effort into learning their customs, language and culture and they would be more inclined to help you.

6. Do you need a bath? – Maybe this is why bathrooms are so small in Europe and when watching House Hunters International you don’t see tubs. In America most people bathe everyday and some even indulge (or waste) and take 20-30 minute showers. In a large amount of the world bathing is a practical necessity and not a luxury.

So…in the end, if you want a king size bed and luxurious bathroom you might as well just stay in the US and head to Vegas.

Happy Travels!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Travel RoundUp

1- Ryan Air is known for their super cheap flights around Europe. Well they are able to make these flights so cheap because stupid people mess up and are forced to pay $380 for 5 pieces of paper. This UK family was traveling back from Spain and did not print their boarding passes before arriving at the airport. Ryan Air clearly states that if you need to print your pass at the airport they will charge you for it. Do you think this is reasonable or do you think Ryan Air is going overboard?

2- Icelandair is offering free stopovers for flights from the US to Canada and over 20 European cities. Hmmm, something I'll have to think about! Iceland is on my bucket list!

3- The new iPhone is going to cause hotels all over a major headache! The one major change seems to be that the "Lightning Connector" that is located at the bottom of your phone is now smaller. This is where you plug in your cords to connect to an outlet, computer, and the iPod docks. So either you'll have to provide your own on your travels (they will cost about $30), hotels will have to provide you with one (for a fee I'm sure, how will they keep track of them?), or hotels will have to change out all their iPod docks. But what about us with the iPhone 4, what will we do?

4- I found this super awesome picture online this past week and wanted to share. The photo was taken by Ho-Yeol Ryu at the Hannover Airport in Germany. Its number 14 on the list if you click the link and here is his website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Have a Vacation on Your Vacation

When we visited Hawaii last year we were taken over by the island (we were on the Big Island). The feeling we felt was what they call the aloha spirit, and either you feel it or you don’t. Since then we have day dreamed about moving to Hawaii. Our next trip to the islands will be later this year and we can't wait!

I have been checking out Hawaii News Now and keeping up with things over there (fires, tsunami warnings, etc.) and I found this article on How to Actually Have a Vacation on VacationHow often do we find ourselves saying, "I'm going to need a vacation after this vacation!" I definitely have felt that way before but I think I have found a few tricks to making myself feel less stress and enjoy my trip.

Make sure you pack before the night before

We always try and take as few bags as possible so making sure everything fits and strategically packed takes time. I tend to start packing the weekend before we leave. I lay the luggage out in the spare bedroom to make sure I have plenty of room to lay everything out and pack according to our trip.

Get a good night sleep

I am always too excited to sleep the night before so I need to take a sleep aid to make sure I am well rested for my day of travel. And if you need to sleep on your flight make sure you have a good travel pillow and ear plugs!
check out Singapore Air Business Class!

Get to the airport 2+ hours before your flight

We live in Houston, TX and usually travel out of IAH, one of United's (use to be Continental's) hubs. It can be VERY busy at times. And we usually park at one of the outsourced parking lots and take one of their buses to the terminal. Since we have to rely on someone else to get to the airport I am going to give myself plenty of buffer time. Last time I think we waited a full 2 -2 ½ hours at our gate but I can tell you I wasn’t stressed at all going through security while others were asking if they could cut in line so they wouldn’t miss their flight.

Make sure to have some free time

Not scheduling something is sort of difficult for me; I love to plan and schedule. Especially since there are always so many things to see and do where ever we go. But I always make sure I have some free time a few days during our vacations. And staying a place where you can just get up and go to the beach helps…because you can get up, take a few steps and voila unscheduled beach time! This trip to Kauai there is going to be a craft fair right around the corner from our hotel and this day is pretty much wide open because I don’t know how much time we'll want to spend there. Yay, I did it! Unscheduled time :D

enjoy the view

Plan for rest upon your return

I understand wanting to squeeze as much time out of your vacation days as possible but when you are traveling long distances like Hawaii, Asia, Europe (pretty much anything not in the US for me) I like leave a few days for me to unpack, unwind, and catch up on sleep. I think you are crazy if you are flying back on a Sunday and have to be back at work Monday. Typically I fly back on a Friday and then will be back at work on Monday. Also, what happens if your flight on a Sunday is cancelled or delayed?!?! Then you might have to make an emergency phone call to your boss saying you won't be able to make it back Monday morning and you'll have to take that extra vacation day anyway.

I hope these tips will help you relax and enjoy your time off!

Sunday, September 2, 2012


So this past week I found a super cool photo editing website, picmonkey, and I wanted to share some of the things I have been working on. Travel quotes! ~ Enjoy

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