Back in the fall, I attended a local speed networking event for Entrepreneurs. While there, I met Nate, founder of Oyster World Radio & Travel Education. Oyster world Radio is an awesome podcast that interviews travelers about their experiences – whether it be an amazing adventure or someone who quit their job to travel, Oyster has found a fun way to teach culture around the globe.
While chatting, Nate asked me to be on his show to talk about my solo travels around the world. We recorded a podcast over the phone last year, and it finally launched this week! It turned out amazing – I talked about my trips, fears, and how traveling has changed me.
If you are at all on the fence about traveling, just getting into it, or already an avid traveler, this podcast is perfect to put on while driving to work or hanging out around the house (I listen to it while getting ready in the morning or driving to work!). It gives you a look into the minds & decision-making of people who travel – it’s really, really awesome… You will want to drop everything and plan a trip now!
You can find it on iTunes or Stitcher! If you listen, let me know what you think!
I have been asked by quite a few people how much my 10-day trip to Europe cost. I estimated the total to be around $3,000 total, including everything. However, I never really sat down to look at how much I REALLY spent – probably because I was too afraid to see the actual cost, and I know there are things I could have spent more wisely on! With it being my first trip to Europe, alone, I just wanted everything to be easy, so I kind of just handed over my credit card/took out cash whenever I needed something! The actual total ended up being $3,865. I know, I know, not cheap. However, I wasn’t super strict about my spending – almost half was on transportation (flight + train pass), and a LOT of which was spent on chocolate and beer! No regrets. This trip could have definitely been cheaper if I booked earlier than 2-3 months in advance. Anyways, below is the cost breakdown, including information on the credit card I used, and the timeline of booking my trip.
First things first: Credit card. This was definitely a year for spending money, for a couple of reasons:
1) I wanted to travel internationally
2) I wanted to cross a lot off my bucket list
3) I wanted to get my yoga teacher certification
With that being said, I got dinged with international fees when I was in Costa Rica last year & Belize earlier this year, so I needed a card that didn’t charge me fees every time I traveled out of the country. I researched a few cards, and decided to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Card. Since I’m not loyal to a specific airline, and I already bank with Chase, the Sapphire card seemed like the most logical card to get. Below are a few reasons why I chose this card:
- No foreign transaction fees when traveling internationally
- While there is a $95/year fee, the first year fee is waived
- If you spend $4,000 within the first three months of use, you get 50,000 bonus points – which, when booking any traveling through the chase website (super easy and amazing, btw), is $625 towards airfare or hotels. I booked an impromptu trip to Florida, my trip to NYC, AND my upcoming California flights for free with those points!
- $4,000 may seem like a lot to spend in 3 months, but I put everything on my credit card – bills, groceries, my trip to europe, and every single cost for my yoga teacher training. It’s definitely doable, especially if you add an authorized user to help you spend more money!
- Add an authorized user within the first 3 months, get another 5,000 points (I didn’t use this because, well, I am single and have no one else to use my credit card ;)). However, you could add a parent or a friend to help you earn points!
- 20% off travel when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- You book by logging into your chase account, then go into chase ultimate rewards and book there. The last 3 flights I booked through chase with my points was 20% less than if I had booked through an airline or travel site!
- As a side note – I had issues booking my last-minute flight to Florida back in October, so I called chase to book over the phone – they spent an hour on the phone with me, looking for the cheapest flight that fit my very limited schedule – seriously, the best customer service ever!
- If you are partial to a specific airline, you can even transfer your points to your frequent flyer travel programs! Ex: Transfer 1,000 points from your chase card to your southwest frequent flyer miles.(Participating programs: British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus®, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hyatt Gold Passport®, IHG® Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards® and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards®.)
This was the card that I used, so I am pretty partial to it. It all depends on what you are looking for in a credit card, what your travel frequency, etc is. So, I recommend looking at all your options and picking what works best for you. Nerd Wallet has a tool that you can use to find the most logical travel card for you based on monthly spend, credit score, fees, etc. Check out their comparison tool here.
Now – on to the more detailed part of the trip
Below is a breakdown by transportation, food, activities, accommodations, items bought for traveling, etc. I am going based off of credit card/debit card activity, as well as extra traveling items I purchased for the trip.
I also created a google doc beginning in June (I left the second week of September)to add misc information for my trip and to plan – I normally do this for any trip to a place I haven’t been before! It might seem a bit scatter-brained, but it was a great way to keep all of my information in one spot. I basically start out with a blank spreadsheet and add stuff as I go along – I think i edited this until the day I left! It took me a few weeks to actually create a solid schedule, and I estimated all of the costs, but that’s the fun of planning ;).You can check out what it looks like here!
I booked my flight less than 3 months before I left – so, my flights were definitely not the cheapest. I recommend booking sooner, if possible. I used google flights to find the cheapest flights based on my timeframe & where I wanted to fly into, then went through my Chase credit card rewards account to book the actual flights (it’s cheaper when booking with points!). Super easy, and all of my information is in one place.
Food: $111.07 (on credit card)
Misc (Food, Souveniers, etc): $862.38
Pre-Trip Purchases: $215.57
Total Cost of Trip: $3,865.80
You can find the actual spreadsheet here.
So that’s it! This is what goes on in my brain when traveling and planning my trips! Also, planning versus what actually happens is very different (in a good way!), so always be prepared for the unexpected 🙂
I hope this helps anyone planning a trip to Europe, Oktoberfest, or pretty much anywhere! There are a lot of traveler sites out there with much more information, ways to travel cheap, etc. I recommend taking a look at as many blogs as you can, and taking what you want from them. It’s your trip, so plan the way you want and do what you are comfortable doing! If you have any questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below!
What you all have been waiting for… my last post on my travels to Europe! After experiencing 2 straight days/nights at Oktoberfest, I decided to actually explore the city a little bit more. And with one day left, I went on a bike tour in the morning, and a pub crawl at night – best way to end my time in Munich! Below is a summary of my last 2 days in Germany:
Monday, September 21:
After being out until 2 am the night before & coming back to my hostel with someone in my bed, I was not exactly ready for my alarm to go off around 7 am. I scheduled a last-minute bike tour for 8:30 am – 4 hours long – with Mike’s Bike Tours. It was highly recommended by quite a few people I met while traveling, and its an easy way to see the city. I am not much for museum hopping or history, but the tour guide was absolutely hilarious and made the 4 hours pass by so quick.
We toured a few churches, learned about the history of hofbrauhaus, the city, hitler, politics…
Stopped at a nude park….
and stopped at the world’s second largest beer garden for lunch (and some beer!). Yes, we all drank and rode our bikes back to the city. Total norm in Munich.
We also got to watch some awesome surfers ride a wave on a river… dangerous, but very cool to watch!
After returning our bikes, I decided to walk around the open air market a bit – basically a huge market with lots and lots of fresh food. I would go here every day and buy all of my groceries from the vendors if I lived in Munich.. this place was amazing! It’s pretty similar to a farmers market, but way bigger.
I was meeting up with a friend I met in Geneva/Chamonix for dinner, so I decided to head back and rest a bit beforehand. I barely got any sleep the entire trip, and I finally gave in and took a much-needed nap.
I met up with my friend at Fraunhofer, and it was seriously amazing.
I ordered some sort of dumpling dish – and you never know what you are going to get, because it’s always different at every restaurant you go to in Germany. And beer. Because, when in Germany… Also – Franziskaner Weissbier is now one of my favorite beers ever. Something about banana beer always gets me… Where can I find this in the US?!
After dinner, we hopped around a few bars, grabbing a few more drinks before heading in at midnight.
Sunday, September 22:
I got up around 7/8 am, checked out of my hostel, and headed to the airport.
I wanted to check out the airbrau brewery – a brewery at the Munich airport – before leaving. And no matter how much I travel, I always need to be at the airport 10 hours before my flight leaves, because I have awful anxiety about missing my flight.
Anyways, I was going to check in, but my flight area didn’t open until 12:30. And it was 10:30. Soooo it was time for an early lunch at the brewery… and it didn’t disappoint. I mean, who wouldn’t want beer, cheese, pickles, sausages, and bread for breakfast?? And I am being dead serious. German food forever changed my taste buds… although, I still steer clear of sauerkraut. heck.no.
After finally being able to check in around 1, I find that my flight is delayed for a few hours. I ended up sitting and chatting with a couple from DC, so it wasn’t too bad. Except I had an awful sinus infection, and my nose would not.stop.running. Luckily, I found medicine at the airport, and the 9 hour flight to Canada wasn’t awful. However, I arrived back to the states around 11/11:30, and I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours. So, you could say I was ready to sleep when I finally got to my apartment. And jet leg – you are a real thing. I felt like I was walking around with my brain in the clouds until Friday afternoon!
So that sums up my first trip to Europe – I hope you enjoyed reading about it, and that it might be helpful if you ever decide to travel to Switzerland/Chamonix/Munich! I am thinking my next trip will be Iceland – has anyone ever been? Any other ideas where to go next?
As promised, I am finishing up a summary of my adventures at Oktoberfest in a second blog post (You can find the first part here).
Sunday, September 20:
To preface: I never really thought too far in advance about Munich – I figured I would meet people and figure it out after I arrived. With that being said, my first day at Oktoberfest proved to be pretty exciting, and full of a LOT of beer. When I woke up the next morning, my body told me it needed a break. So, I kind of listened to it 😉
I had a few things to knock off my to-do list, and the olympic park was one of them. Once I drank a few bottles of water, I headed over to the train station & bought a 1-day train pass around the city – about $6 Euro. I didn’t even get lost, which is saying a lot – my directional learning disability seemed to resolve itself while traveling 🙂
I got dropped off at the station next to the BMW museum – which was cool to look at, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to see. Munich is way more spread out than the towns I went to in Switzerland, so I had to walk/travel quite a bit more to get places. Because of that, I stuck to the things I wanted to see and didn’t make any detours unless I had extra time.
I wanted to go ziplining over the olympic stadium, so I started walking towards the general area I thought the stadium was at. Lucky for me, my sense of direction was on point, and I ended up finding my way to exactly where I needed to be. There was a LOT of walking involved! Which is fine, because I had to walk off all the food and beers I had the day before. The park was so beautiful, and there was so much to look at… I could have spent an entire day there!
After arriving at the stadium, I bought a ticket for ziplining – which, when originally looking at online, it seemed a bit more exhilarating. Since jumping out of a cable car 450 feet above a lake in Switzerland… not so much. But, since I walked that far, I decided to go for it – how many people can say they ziplined across the olympic stadium in Munich?? An hour later, I was geared up, and walking up the side of the stadium to the platform. The guide asked if I was going to do a backflip – to which I laughed at – but then realized he was serious. But, like I said, after bungee jumping, i thought “what am I even afraid of??” So I ended up doing a front flip off the edge, and ziplined to the other side. Nothin’ to be afraid of.
After I left the park, I walked back to the train and decided to make a detour. Which, knowing me, I would totally get lost. Luckily, I am a smart girl, and I ended up exactly where I wanted to go: Hofbrauhaus! (Funny side note – I met a few more people from Ohio on the train there – Buckeyes are everywhere!)
I didn’t stay and eat, but I wandered around and explored all of the rooms – the building is huge! So much music, drinking, food… just an overall happy place to be on a Sunday at 2 in the afternoon. It was raining a little bit off and on the entire afternoon, AND it was pretty cold. So, I don’t blame people for staying indoors and having a fun Sunday!
After I left, I ended up exploring more of the area, finding a ton of gorgeous buildings and fun shops.
Also, I walked. A Lot. And then walked some more. My feet were tired and I had not eaten anything since I woke up, so I headed back to my hostel around 3 pm. I was hungry, and the receptionist at my hostel recommended a local restaurant, so I headed back out, thinking I was going to grab a bite to eat and take a nap afterwards. Fortunately, adventure seemed to always be around the corner for me, and I ended up meeting some new friends at the restaurant I went to.
A group of friendly guys from England & Australia were having a beer before heading off to Oktoberfest, and they invited me to join them. What other answer would be acceptable besides “of course!”?? After getting changed, we headed to the Oktoberfest grounds – to Lowenbrau Tent, which is known to be the friendliest tent at Oktoberfest! We made friends and sat down (you need to be sitting at a table in order to get a beer), but ended up getting kicked off the table… the people who reserved and paid for the table showed up, and they were not very happy with us. Luckily, we found another table, and were able to drink and eat until the tent closed down at 11. I did handstands on the table, someone bought me a hat, we ate pretzels and german food, and danced on the tables from 5-11. Also, keeping in mind the 4-5 liters of beer I drank the night before, I stuck with 2 liters on my second night – more than enough for a tiny girl like me 🙂
My overall review of the tent can be summed up as this: families, younger kids (think age 16-22), mediocre beer and pure craziness. There were a lot of things that I witnessed in this tent that I wish I never saw (lewd men, male nudity, etc). Don’t get me wrong – I had an absolute blast! But I will say that the Armbrustschützenzelt tent was hands down my favorite tent (of the 3 I went to).
After the tent closed, the we hung out and went on the bumper cars, and the guys went on a few of the rides (I watched – I don’t know how anyone could go upside down after drinking that much beer?!). While watching everyone on the rides, I was given a rose…. I could definitely get used to this in the states 😉
We all headed back to the hotel/restaurant, grabbed a drink, and danced some more. I finally decided to call it a night around 1 – I had a bike tour to catch at 8:30 the next morning and needed to get a little bit of sleep!
Upon arriving at my hostel, I was very quiet, as I did not want to wake up any of my roommates. To my surprise, there was someone sleeping in my bed! I felt like I was in the story of Goldilocks & the 3 bears – except there was a dude sleeping in his underwear in my bed instead of a sleepy, blonde-haired girl (me!). Needless to say, I was not happy. So, I turned on the lights, and told him to get the heck outa my bed. It was pretty comical watching him stumble across the room and into the top bunk, so I couldn’t be too mad! I woke up to a few guys getting up at 7 am to head back to Oktoberfest – and the guy who had been sleeping in my bed couldn’t find his phone OR his pants… The Oktoberfest struggle was real! LOL
My spontaneous second-day at Oktoberfest ended up being an awesome addition to my trip (I had only planned on going 1 day) – so for anyone else heading out to Munich next year, just plan on 2+ days. The experience and the people you meet are totally worth it – you will never regret german beer & new friends!
For anyone that has been to Oktoberfest – what was your favorite tent? Do you have any other tips/info that I didn’t talk about?
One of the main reasons for going to Europe was not just to eat endless amounts of chocolate in Switzerland, but also to attend Oktoberfest. I have heard so many amazing things from friends who have gone, so I just had to experience it for myself! Below is a recap of my first Day at Oktoberfest – I will write about my second day in another post, there is just too much to write about!
Friday, September 18 – Day 1 Munich:
6 am: Walk to Train station from Hostel
7 am: Catch train from Interlaken to Munich
After waking up at the crack of dawn, the hostel employees were still up drinking.. They tried to convince me to stay another night, or at least for a drink (at 6 am)… I politely declined, as I had a train to catch! So, I was given a roadie and sent on my way. There were 2 connections on the trains, and I was lucky enough to find a couple headed to Munich – we worked together to figure out what trains to get on, although we were still running to catch our connections!
After getting on the final train in Zurich, my train car was smoking because the heater was broken. I initially had planned to get some sleep and read a bit, but I couldn’t stand the smell. So, I decided to switch cars… and I am so glad I did! I ended up on the “party” train and met some awesome new friends. I can’t believe I even tried to be a hermit and sleep the entire way… There was always some sort of excitement to get caught up in!
The Swiss are very, very friendly people. As soon as I sat down, I was given a beer and food. Most didn’t speak English too well, but luckily there was someone from Chicago on the train. Sometimes it is just nice to be able to speak to someone that can understand you!
From 10-1:30 pm, I drank, ate, and made new friends. After arriving at the Munich train station, I walked across the street to my hostel and checked in. I got settled into my room full of bunk beds, and headed out to find my outfit for Oktoberfest! After wandering around Munich and going into a few shops, I finally found my Lederhosen outfit. I opted out of wearing a dress because, well, I hate how they look. I don’t think they are cute… lederhosen, however… shorts with pockets, can’t go wrong with that!
Fast forward to dinner – remember those Ohion’s I met back in France? They were in Munich for Oktoberfest as well, so we met up at Augustiner Keller for dinner. The beer garden was huge, and the basement was even bigger! I highly recommend stopping here for a bite if you are in the area. After 1/2 liter of beer + a belly full of pretzels, sausages, potatoes and eggs, I was ready for bed!
The following morning, we all met back up at 7 am for the first day of Oktoberfest!
We waited in line for over 2 hours at the Schottenhamel tent (most well known for where the first keg is tapped + all politicians/celebrities are at) until finally, we made it to the Beer Garden.
It was FREEZING, and PACKED, but luckily there were heaters over top of the tables. We ordered food, which took forever – pretzels and half chickens – and we sipped on sparkling water while we waited for the festivities to start.
The first keg was tapped, and we finally got our first liter of beer around 12:30 pm – well worth the wait! Everyone was getting a bit impatient – it was hard to wait 5.5 hours for a beer, but all was forgotten once we started drinking.
The tent was packed, and we ended up staying until 3:30 pm – there was no way we were getting into the tent (some people bribed to get in, and the bouncers were not very nice!), so we headed off to the Armbrustschützenzelt tent to see if we could actually get inside (it had amazing reviews based on what I researched beforehand).
Luckily, we were able to get inside AND find a table, all while meeting new German friends. Unfortunately, getting the table meant accidentally chugging an entire liter of beer on my part, so this is where things started to get a bit hazy… but absolutely entertaining. Everyone was so friendly and we ended up having an absolute blast!
Around 7-7:30, I headed back home – catching a cab, because there was no way I could maneuver my way back to the hostel! I had only been drinking beer since noon, so I was hungry – luckily my hostel had a restaurant, and I ended up ordering 3 plates of food… much needed after drinking 4-5 liters of beer! I also made some new Australian friends, and I hung out and ate with them until around 10-11.
Overall, my first day at Oktoberfest was a blast! I met amazing, interesting people and drank lots of GOOD beer! I am not a beer lover, but German beer has converted me. And the food… I thought German food was gross… until I ate my way through Munich. Besides sauerkraut, everything I ate was amazing. Potatoes, pretzels, sausages, cheese…. I could live on that and be a very fat, happy woman. If you are headed to Oktoberfest, make sure you order the half chicken and eat unlimited amounts of pretzels… it makes the experience that much better!
So after an entire day of Oktoberfest, I wasn’t sure if I was up for another day.. However, traveling solo with an open mind means you never know what will happen next… with that being said, stay tuned for Oktoberfest Part 2, as well another post on what I did (besides drink ;)) in Munich!
Has anyone ever been to Oktoberfest in Munich? If so, what tents did you like the most, and what was your favorite part about it? I would love to hear about your experiences!