Labor Day!

You know that great thing about grad school is? I only have class three day a week! With Labor Day on Monday this gave me a five day weekend, so I jetted off to Boston to spend the week with my brother and his family. This was a perfect weekend! Continue reading

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My Travel Lifesavers

I’m not sure if traveling for six weeks makes you any kind of travel expert, but you definitely learn a thing or two: things you should have brought, things you should have left, etc. This post hopefully catches a little bit of that and some tips I picked up along the way. None of these are ‘tried and true’, but they were helpful for me.

Tide-to-Go

My momma and I were walking through Wal-Mart and I decided to throw a Tide-to-Go in the cart of my carryon. So. Glad. I cannot tell you how many times that little pen came to my rescue or someone else’s. Tide-to-Go is great to have on hand all the time, but they’re especially useful when you’re traveling and may not have direct access to laundry facilities

Wet Wipes

Along the same lines of the Tide-to-Go, wet wipes come in handy all the time. I always have them in carryon so I can wash my face after a long flight, but I found myself using them all over the city too. I’m a believer.

Internet

Since most of my travel companions and I didn’t have international data on our phones, we relied on iMessage or Facebook to communicate. Wifi is sometimes more scarce than gold so this can be difficult. Starbucks is the gold standard. If you can find a Starbucks then you should be fine. They typically don’t even make you buy anything, but are fine if you just pop in to connect. The Apple store is the other gold mine. You can walk into any Apple store, hop on their device, check your email/Facebook/Twitter, and be on your way. Their employees will not harass you or try to get you to buy anything. Their devices are there to be used. 

Packing

We have all seen the pin on Pinterest that claims to be the one and only way to pack to maximize space. I tried a few different methods while on my trip since I definitely needed as much space as I could get. The one that worked best for me was to roll my clothes. I fit waaay more into my suitcase and my clothes weren’t as wrinkly, so double win.

I also realized I didn’t need as many clothes as I had brought. An easy way to fix this is pack two days before you leave and reevaluate the day before. I did this and ended up taking about a third of what I had originally packed. 

Transportation

Getting around a new city can be tricky. Metro? Bus? Taxi? Walking? There are so many options! Once you decide what you want to do, buying the right ticket can be just as frustrating. I found that following the locals’ lead was the easiest on this one. The locals know what’s cheapest and most convenient. When we got to a new place we would simply ask our host/front desk what ticket to buy and we’d be on our way. (In Paris, buy a multi-day pass if you’re there for a while. In London, buy an Oyster card.)

Eating

Eating in Europe can be so expensive! I was shocked at how much things cost in some of the cities I visited, but quickly found ways to save. First, always take advantage of complimentary breakfast if your hotel/hostel provides it. We saved so much money just on breakfast by doing this. We often packed our own lunch. The local grocery stores are a great way to try some of the food from the area and it’s usually a much cheaper option than eating out for every meal. An alternative to supermarkets is street food. Most street food vendors are totally safe and they’re usually really good and on the cheaper side. I did a mixture of both throughout Europe and never felt like I got a bad meal :) 

 

Again, none of these are tried and true, but helped me while I traveled. I’ll post more in the next few days!

London (part 3)

My last night in London was one of the best of the whole trip. My travel companion had one thing that he wanted to do while in the UK, which was to see Les Miserables in the West End. At first we were told that that night’s show was sold out, but we ran over to the theater and scored some of the last seats. So lucky, right?

Now, I am partial to the 2012 movie version (not at all because I have the largest crush on Eddie Redmayne or anything), so I was a bit nervous about my lofty expectations. While the show was very different from the move (to be expected) it was still amazing. Both of the women who played Fantine and Eponine were phenomenal. I mean, wow! They were just so good. Val Jean was great as well. Really, I was impressed with the whole cast. But this is the West End, so I should have known it was going to amazing :) I am sooo glad that we made time to catch a show. Les Mis was definitely the right choice. There’s just something special about seeing a show where it first opened. 

I wasn’t able to take pictures or anything, so enjoy this clip from the movie, featuring Eddie Redmayne:

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PS. I also visited the Churchill War Rooms, a definite must see if you’re in London!