Wednesday, October 27, 2010

sleeping in airports

When I went to Europe as a college graduation treat to myself, I was super poor so my friend and I schemed to save ourselves some money by staying in hostels and sleeping in airports. We had four separate cities to head to in Europe so we had quite a few opportunities to sleep in the airport.

We booked hostels to stay in and booked flights for the early morning (typically we found 5am or 6am flights). On the day we had to check out of our rooms, we would request to leave our bags at the hotel/hostel for the day (most places graciously allow you to do this), spent the day out and about being tourists, and then picked up our bags in the evening and headed to the airport. Some airports were nicer and more accommodating than others, meaning the seats were cushioned or there were a row of seats with no arm rests so we could lie down. We would use our bags as pillows (which was a good way to prevent theft) and we used the blankets we had swiped from our initial flight from the U.S. to Europe to keep ourselves warm.

I would never have done this if I were travelling alone though. It's always nice to have someone who can babysit your bags while you go to the toilet or look for somewhere to buy food.

It's also a good idea to scope an airport's website beforehand to make sure there is seating (because some airports don't have places to sit except in the areas you can access after you check in). Bring a sleep mask if you're the type of person that needs darkness to be able to sleep (since you can't exactly dim the lights in the airport) and it's also good to have headphones to drown out the noise of the cleaning crew.

It was actually a pretty nice deal. It wasn't horribly uncomfortable and we saved a bunch of money!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

google!

I love google. Apparently they're coming up with ways to make travel planning much easier!

packing tips

I think the don't forget your toothbrush website is a useful tool to help you remember all the little things you'll need to bring with you on your holiday.

REMEMBER YOUR PASSPORT! That is v. important. DON'T LOSE YOUR PASSPORT! Pack this somewhere safe! When you're at the airport, have it accessible (not at the bottom of your bag locked in a safe) but when you're abroad and there's really no need for your passport, pack it somewhere safe (at the bottom of your bag locked in a safe).

Here are some tips for perfect packing. I recommend that you bring lots of neutral colored clothing so that it's easy to mix and match. I sort of consider myself a fashionista and see Paris as an opportunity to dress super chic and posh, but that's easily doable with neutrals! Wearing all black and some costume jewelry is definitely photo-worthy and easy.

I recommend packing things in ziplock bags (the huge 1.5 gallon ones) and pushing out the air before you seal it. That is a HUGE space saver!!!

Bring a camera, a journal, and whatever else you need to preserve your mini-break memories.

And of course, bring comfortable shoes!

Friday, October 15, 2010

packing

Some words of warning/advice about packing.

Most major airlines allow you one piece of carry-on luggage in addition to what they call a "personal item" and most won't charge you to check one bag. There are size restrictions on the carry-on luggage, which you should look for on your airline's website, but the standard is 22" x 14" x 9". The personal item can be a purse, briefcase, laptop bag, shopping bag, or anything of a similar size. Oh!!! But watch out for weight limits too.
I refuse to check luggage whenever possible. There's just too much risk involved with losing luggage, especially for such a short trip. I don't think it's necessary to pack so much stuff that I'd need to use a bag so large I couldn't carry it on.

HOWEVER, the problem with our upcoming trip is that we have flights booked with Easyjet and Ryanair as well. These airlines charge you a fee if you want to check a bag and only allow you ONE carry-on item. That means you can only show up with one bag and no personal item!! So this means that I have to pack all of my stuff to fit in one 22" x 14" x 9" bag. Oii.

What I'm going to do is pack neutral colored clothing only (black, white, grey, navy, beige) so that it will be easy to mix and match outfits (more on my packing list later). And I'm going to bring a small purse with me that's large enough to hold my money and phone, but small enough that it can be shoved in my big bag if necessary. Hopefully it's inconspicuous enough that I can just carry it around normally.

One last thing: don't forget that you have to put all liquids into a plastic zip-top bag. The airports always have that nifty 3-1-1 reminder which means 3 oz. limits on containers, which must fit in 1 zip-top bag, and 1 zip-top bag per passenger. A lot of beauty supply stores (and stores that sell beauty supplies) sell empty 3 oz containers (in different shapes with different tops - like lotion squirt top, spray bottle top, etc.) which you can fill up with your preferred brands instead of splurging to buy travel-sized versions.

Dublin: beer!

One of activities we have planned for Dublin is to visit the Guinness Storehouse. It's a super touristy thing to do, but going to breweries is fun! Downside is that you can't really visit the brewery (for health reasons) so my last statement is sort of moot. Basically, it's just a Guinness "museum" where you can give yourselves a self-guided tour. It's sort of limiting to try and create a museum for a product that only requires 4 ingredients to make, but it's a fun place nonetheless. Plus, in the end, you're rewarded with a pint of beer (yum) at the Gravity Bar.

Apparently you can get 10% off if you buy your admission tickets online beforehand, versus waiting in the queue and buying them on location.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

money is such a hassle - part 2

So after some "extensive" research, I decided to apply for the Capital One Venture card. Although its reward system is pretty poor (1.25 miles for every $1 spent), this card is AWESOME for overseas spending. I used their site's customer support chat to ask some questions about fees and it turns out that they do not charge any fees for foreign currency transactions. Perfect!! Plus, they have no annual fee (something I definitely require of ALL of my credit cards) and the interest rate is relatively low.

I really only plan on using this card for travels outside of the U.S. so it works out for me. They also have a pretty user-friendly online banking system, which is nice. It takes about two weeks for them to process and ship out your card though, so plan ahead.

Also, a little fyi for Chase Bank users, I called and found out that you can get foreign currency exchanged with NO FEES! I have yet to see this in action, but that's pretty sweet. But beware that you need to give them two days notice so they can have it ready for you.

kayak buzz

http://www.kayak.com/buzz

This is one of the best sites to use if you know you have an opportunity to take some time off of work or school, you have a budget, but no idea where to go. You can input your departure city, an area you would like to travel to, and your budget and kayak will do all the work for you, showing you where you can fly within your budget!!
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