by ninaeliseh | Apr 19, 2016 | Adventures, Belize, Blog, Central America, Europe, France, Germany, life, Lifestyle, Personal Development, Switzerland, Travel Tips, US Travels
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!
by ninaeliseh | Jan 14, 2016 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, France, Germany, Lifestyle, Switzerland
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!
by ninaeliseh | Oct 26, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, Germany, life, Lifestyle
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?
by ninaeliseh | Sep 11, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, life, Lifestyle, Travel Tips
**UPDATE 9/23! since returning from my trip, I have added notes in Bold/italic below about anything I would have or would not have packed.
Since booking my trip back in June, I haven’t given much thought to packing until the past week. Insert: frantic last-minute purchases on amazon prime. Since I am only taking 1 backpack, there is some serious consolidating happening. Which, surprisingly, hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. I already knew i wouldn’t be taking any hair appliances, and I’m perfectly fine with walking around in leggings the entire trip. So, I did a lot of research and made a list of what I needed to bring, including a few non-negotiable must-haves. Below is a list of everything I have packed – it seems like a lot, but it’s just a bunch of small things that all add up to fitting perfectly in 1 bag. Also – I am bringing a second bag for souvenirs & crap that won’t fit into my backpack (my books!).
Packing Cubes – You definitely need these for organization while traveling!
Top cube: Toiletries Middle cube: Bathing suit/socks/underwear Bottom cube: Clothes
Toiletries (travel size):
sunscreen – barely used this, would only bring if I went somewhere warmer!
shampoo & conditioner
toothbrush & toothpaste
hairbrush + hair ties/bobby pins
Clothes: **Planning on doing laundry at the hostels as needed!
8 pairs of socks
15 pairs of underwear – could have brought less, since I did laundry during my trip
2 scarves – these have secret pockets in them to carry my passport/valuables in! I had these made on etsy in black and grey – I could have honestly done without these – it wasn’t super cold, and I felt safe with just my cross body bag
1 pair of shorts – never wore, it was way too cold!
4 pairs of black leggings
3 tanks (1 white, 1 black, 1 casual)
3 workout outfits **Planning on running around the cities/impromptu yoga classes! – wore 1 workout outfit when I went for a run, and shorts when i did laundry. could have survived with packing only 1-2 outfits
1 bathingsuit – never wore this, but glad I brought it just in case
2 long sleeved shirts + 1 pair of fleece-lined leggings for when I am in the mountains!
1 long-sleeved chambray button up shirt
1 sweater – for the plane ride & cold nights – i completely underestimated how cold it was going to be when I was over there! i probably would have brought a second sweater that was thicker for when I was in the mountains!
1 rain jacket – it’s supposed to rain 2-3 days I am there! – one of my best packing choices, it rained a LOT!
1 pajama outfit
Secret Scarf with Hidden Passport!
Shoes: – perfect amount of shoes to bring, no complaints!
workout arm band – used this when I went for a run
charcoal tablets (for food poisoning/stomach issues)
peppermint oil (headaches/sinuses) – i used this + lemon everyday!
contacts + glasses
sunglasses – used everyday!
adapter plugs – for Germany & for Switzerland
camera – only used a few times, mainly used my phone for pictures!
locks – for my bag zippers + storing my bag at the hostels – honestly didn’t really need, I felt pretty safe the entire time!
Eurorail train tickets
Day bag for exploring + money belt for under my clothes – could have done without the money belt, day bag = best item brought on the trip! used it everywhere I went, and had no issues with pick pocketing
mini duct tape (who knows what type of emergency I’ll have ;))
Also brought an extra bag for souveniers – so glad I did! 10+ lbs of chocolate, a huge 1 liter beer stein + misc things collected – all needed to be carried back and would never have fit in my suitcase!
pictures/copies of ID/passport on phone/email
headphones – lifesaver!
baby wipes – lifesaver!
protein bars – lifesavers!
aquaphor – my lips were chapped the entire trip, so glad i brought this!
tissues – i wish i had brought more, as i used these for small spills and my runny nose!
carabiner/flashlight/whistle all-in-one – only used once while in the hostel, but still good to have.
backup phone charger – one of the top items used while traveling. SUCH a lifesaver! My phone battery drained quickly from using maps
mini notebook for travel notes – used this until I lost my pen ;/
books **planning on leaving these on the plane for the next person once I am finished – less weight to carry! – honestly wish I had only brought 1 book, if any. I didn’t really have time to read them, and it was hard to lug them around
Jet Lag medicine for the flight back – so far this stuff is magic! I didn’t sleep for 24 hours straight while traveling back to the states, and i got about 8-9 hours of sleep when I got home. Feeling a little groggy, but I was able to work and get stuff done the next day perfectly fine.
Below are a few of the apps I downloaded on my phone – are there any others that I absolutely need to have?
Hostelworld – this has all my booking information for where I am staying **Used this a few times for directions
TripIt – I have my entire trip planned out on here – Every confirmation email I got (flights, hostels, events, etc) – I forwarded to Trip it, and it automatically created my schedule. I then went in and added details as needed. You can also send a link to friends/family so they know where you will be (in case you ever go missing ;)). **Only used this a few times
City Maps 2go – I downloaded maps for the cities I will be in to navigate my way around, no internet required – if you are traveling, you MUST download this app! I used it everywhere I went – it points you in the right direction and is totally accurate.
Rail Planner – i was able to look up all of the times trains were leaving and create a list fo every train/transfer needed. If I miss my train, I can check for other times with no issue, as I don’t have to be online to look! — used this a ton to double check my train schedules!
Gate Guru – I use this for all of my plane travels! It has information on every single thing to do at each airport by gate, with maps. It is awesome for layovers & for finding out about any flight changes!
Google Docs – my travel spreadsheet with all info was on google docs – I accessed this a LOT
And that’s it! Everything fit in my bag, and I am ready to go. Has anyone ever traveled to Europe with just 1 backpack? Am I missing any essential items? I am planning on buying a SIM card as soon as I land in Switzerland. Anyone have experience/tips for this? **bought my sim card at the post office as soon as I landed in Geneva
by ninaeliseh | Jun 15, 2015 | Adventures, Blog, Europe, Lifestyle
Ever since I got back from Belize, I couldn’t help but begin to plan my next adventure: 1.5 weeks in Europe, visiting Switzerland & Germany. I have never traveled to Europe, let alone by myself, so I am terrified… but so excited to go! Once I started planning, I had to narrow down to just 2 countries because it was getting a little overwhelming (Italy, I am coming for you next year!). I’ve literally spent hours planning this trip already, and I still have a lot to do… I’ve only booked my hostel for Munich, so I’ll be booking everything else in the next few weeks! Below is my schedule so far:
Day 1: Fly to Geneva, Switzerland
Day 2: Arrive in Geneva early AM
check in at hostel
Rent bike and tour the city
visit the broken chair
Yoga class! (Any recommendations?)
Day 3: Day trip to Chamonix French Alps
Day 4: Travel to Lausanne/Montreux
check in at hostel
check out chocolate/cheese factory & eat my body weight in delicious swiss chocolate
Day 5: Travel to Grindelwald
check in at hostel
Yoga Class in morning/afternoon
bungee jump or paraglide! **anyone ever do this? I am terrified!
Day 6: Travel to Munich via train
check in at hostel, get situated
buy dirndl for Oktoberfest!
Day 7, 8, 9, 10: Oktoberfest!
hit the Schottenhamel tent for first beer pour of the festival
hang out with fellow Americans at the Hofbräu tent
Day 8, 9,10: Explore Munich
visit Olympiaturm (flying fox!)
visit Theresienwiese – Maiden of Bavaria
Tour Andechs Monastery and Brewery
Day 11: Fly back to the US
I started out wanting to end my trip in Italy, but it got to be too much in too little time. So for now, extra time in Switzerland and Germany! Transportation is probably the main thing that is stressing me out – do I need to book ahead of time? How much time do I need to take into account when traveling via train/air in Europe? How do I know what trains to take in between cities/countries? Do I need to purchase ahead of time? I am so excited to plan and travel this trip all by myself, even if it seems a little daunting. Has anyone traveled to Geneva/Oktoberfest? Any tips for a newbie solo backpacking in Europe? I would love to hear about your experience !