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Should I go on a Cruise?

(Disclaimer: I apologize for the morbid cover picture but my sick sense of humor made me do it.)

So you are planning a vacation and wondering whether or not it would be best for you to go on a cruise. Here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

How much time do you want to spend in each place?

Would you rather try to see as many places as possible in a short amount of time or to take your time and try to get the most out of each city?

How much time does the cruise spent in the ports?

Sometimes the cruise will go to a port that is far away from the main city. The ride there could be costly in itself and could only leave you with a few hours to explore before you have to head back. Take Paris for example. It takes about 5 hours to get to and from Paris from the port Le Havre. That means you might have only a few hours to actually explore the city which puts many limits on what you can do. Not to mention the long lines for the popular sites and the fact that you will probably want to get something to eat. I would highly recommend getting a fast pass for these attractions and checking to see when the cruise will be at the certain port and when certain attractions are closed. I saw one cruise to Paris that docked there the only day during the week that the Louvre was closed, which was a big deal-breaker.

It is also good to know whether or not the ship will stay in that port for the night because that means you could have more time there to explore.

Do you care whether or not you spend the night there?

If you are looking forward to seeing a place for it’s nightlife, you are most likely not going to be able to experience it on a cruise, since they usually leave the ports before nighttime. However, there are some exceptions to this.

What does your budget look like?

Cruises are known for being more economical if you are leaving from a port close to home. This way, you can avoid paying for plane tickets, hotels, and even food. These are all huge expenses that can hike up the price of a vacation very easily. It also allows you to save some money so you can put them toward fun excursions.

What would you like to do on vacation?

If you want to relax for the most part, party, and do a little exploring of the city, then a cruise is probably better for you. You’ll get a ton of free entertainment on board which will allow you to skip the expenses of finding things to do within a city. If you would rather spend time in the city exploring, seeing museums, and eating, then it’s probably best for you to stay at a certain location.

Would you like to stuff yourself to outrageous proportions without paying for it?

Cruise all the way!

Do you have kids? Do they make you want to drink a lot?

Three words: unlimited drink package (because I care about your sanity).

Do you like heading to the front of the ship and screaming “I’m the king of the world!”?

Um, do it.

Do you need to buy nice gifts but want to buy something on sale or without tax?

Go to a duty-free shop on a cruise!

Do you have any fear or anxiety of boats?

If it is to the point where you cannot get past it, then I would spare your family and friends the headache and skip the cruise.

Do you like cheesy, loud, and somewhat obnoxious parties, shows and karaoke?

I’m looking at you cruise entertainers.

Do you want to be able to drink without getting lost or having to drive?

Then a cruise is perfect for you!

Is your name Jack and did you win a cruise of a lifetime in a bet that you could never afford on your own?

Yeah, I would skip it.

Is your name Rose and you don’t like sharing your space with anyone and make promises that you cannot keep like that you won’t let go?

Don’t you dare get on the ship.

Yes, it had to go there. I hope this has helped you make your decision on whether or not a cruise is for you! In all seriousness, please post any additional questions below in the comment box.

Guide to Traveling Chicago Solo

Chicago. Chi-town. The windy city. There’s no wonder why it’s referred to as the “Jewel of the Midwest”. The shiny and reflective structures, mind-blowing architecture and sophisticated museums make it one of the best cities to visit in the U.S.

I arrived at Chicago O’Hare completely on my own, as I had a conference for the American Association of Suicidology there. My biggest blunder was booking my flight way in advance without realizing I would be spending Easter there—meaning I would be completely alone and almost everything would be closed very early. Nevertheless, I used that extra time to finish up some school work since I knew I would be arriving about an hour before class started. I also did some research on where I should visit first and what to put on my priority list. Here are some things that I was able to see:

University of Chicago

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I didn’t originally plan on visiting but the university is right next to Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Robie House. The wait was about an hour, so it gave me enough time to explore the university. I try to explore as many universities as I can so that I can see what campus life is like around the world. Since my boyfriend is going to be a future architect, his passion has definitely influenced me to want to see more art and famous buildings around the world. The school reminded me of what an Ivy League school would look like—castlelike structures, old chapels, and strands of ivy draping over every side of the buildings. They also had two beautiful libraries that I could not wait to get a glimpse of. One of the libraries reminded me of something you would find in Hogwarts—spacious and incredibly ancient and prestigious. The other library was extremely modern, much so that I did not know it was a library until I looked further within the structure. It was entirely made out of glass and you could see students working and reading. It was not open to visitors but I was glad I got the chance to see the exterior in person. My favorite campus surprise was the food trucks. I ended up going to the truck with the most people in line (usually means it’s the best) and I had a spicy kimchi taco which was delicious and extremely affordable. Overall, it was a great way to kill time and see some new things.

Robie House

This is a house that has a lot of history and is now part of the University of Chicago in order to keep it preserved. It is actually one of the first “modern” homes and inspired so many other similar styles that are still used in homes today. When you go in, they will tell you that you cannot take pictures unless you pay for a photo pass. Play dumb. Don’t waste your money on this and wait until your guide turns around or the group leaves so that you can take as many pictures as you want. They are just trying to get more money out of you, which isn’t right.

The Bean (Cloud Gate)

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Nothing is more iconic than the famous Chicago Bean. This structure allows you to get amazing pictures of yourself and the Chicago skyline. The whole point is for you to interact with the sculpture and create something unique.screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-12-56-35-amIf you go underneath, it becomes even more abstract. You can lie down and take pictures or take a video around the bottom perimeter to get some cool views.

Millenium Park
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This park was absolutely perfect for taking a leisurely walk or a morning run. I would come here to eat breakfast (a healthy one consisting of donuts and hot chocolate) and stare at the magnificent views of the city and of the Bean.

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There’s even a gorgeous silver bridge that takes you from one side of the park to the other.

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This amphitheater is perfect for performances and springtime picnics. They would also show free movies here and have events so the public can gather together. It’s literally a small town feel in a big city.

Let’s get to the most important part…

THE FOOD

You obviously can’t leave Chicago without trying the deep dish pizza or Garrett’s Chicago style popcorn.

Garrett’s popcorn: Chicago Mix- cheddar cheese and caramel. Sounds very strange but it goes together better than peanut butter and jelly. Trust me.

Lou Malnati’s: Giordiano’s is also a very famous contender here but they do not offer personal pizzas. I prefer a smaller, thinner crust so this pizza was absolutely perfect for me. There’s a bit of a wait but it’s totally worth it.

Donuts: Stan’s, Firecakes, and the Donut Vault are some of the most famous donuts in the Chicago area. I personally only tried the last two and I preferred Firecakes for the funky flavors. The presentation is also gorgeous making them pretty much Pinterest famous.

The Girl and the Goat: This is one of the most highly rated restaurants in Chicago. Although I did not get a chance to go here due to my limited budget, it is highly recommended and I will go there when I visit again.

Beatrix: Very upscale yet affordable and great service. I met up with a friend here and the waiter even gave us a free drink since he saw me looking at her engagement ring and thought we should celebrate. The food and dessert were both delicious. I got the salmon with mole sauce and the chocolate cake.

Where to Stay

I stayed in a quaint Airbnb apartment which was really affordable, but I wish I would have realized that anyone could rent out the other private rooms. That made things a little uncomfortable but I was completely safe and had a lock on my own door. I stayed near the University of Illinois at Chicago and it was super close to the train station which made traveling a lot easier.

Transportation

I went back and forth from using the train, Uber, and cabs. Once I was downtown, Uber was extremely cheap and efficient for getting to all of the sights I wanted to see quickly. I also did Uber Pool which made rides even cheaper (about $5-7).

Sights

Get the Chicago GO Pass and you are free to see many popular sights such as the John Hancock Observatory, the Willis Tower and skydeck, as well as many museums. You can’t miss the Art Institute of Chicago, which houses many famous paintings and is where Ferris Beuller and his friends share a deep moment looking at the art. The pass also included a beautiful architecture cruise along the Chicago River, where I learned about the history of the architectural boom after the Great Chicago Fire. Who knew that fire could pass through a river?

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The Art Institute. The Chicago GO pass got me to the front of this line.
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Walk over the city on the glass SkyDeck
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Tilt over the skyline at the John Hancock Observatory (P.S. Don’t buy the photos. Just pretend to talk to the lady and take the pictures on your phone since the screen is at hip-level. It already costs extra to do the tilt so might as well get more out of it.)

Where to Shop

Magnificent Mile- The Rodeo Drive/5th Avenue/Grafton Street/Oxford Street/Worth Avenue/Bal Harbour/Ginza of Chicago. This was the only area I walked alone at night.

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If you have more questions about visiting Chicago, feel free to leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible! I was only here for a week but I was able to get a lot done considering a lot of my time was also spent at a conference.

Solo Travel to Japan

Japan 1

Traveling to Japan alone (especially as a woman) can sound intimidating at first but it is actually a lot easier than you would think.

It’s super safe

For the most part, the Japanese are very polite and proper. You don’t have to worry about pickpockets as much as you do in Europe. The crime rate is also under 1%, so chances are that you are probably living in a city that is much more dangerous than Japan.

It’s super clean

Do not litter but do not expect to find trash cans everywhere either. I do not know where the trash goes, but keep a plastic bag for your trash with you at all times because you never know when you’ll actually find a trash can. You will usually have to wait until you find a bathroom. Oh yeah, and there usually aren’t paper towels or air dryers either so keep a small washcloth or hand sanitizer with you.

Speaking of clean, the locals do not like germs, so many of them may be wearing masks around their nose and mouth. This does not mean they do not want to talk to you if they are a worker but it is an extra precaution since it is frowned upon to take off from work. Always make sure you are polite and courteous if you need to sneeze or cough.

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The train system is easy and efficient

The trains are always punctual and there is usually a train coming within the next 10-15 minutes. The train stations also have signs in English and the workers can usually point you to the right destination.

If you want to travel around Tokyo, get the Pasmo Card and put about $20 on it. You can get this pass at any train station. For travel outside Tokyo, get the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass). This will allow you to take the bullet train (Shinkansen line) to cities all over Japan. You need to make sure you buy it before you get to Japan. You either won’t be able to do this once you are there or it will be a big pain.

Don’t use cabs or even Uber, as it is much more expensive in Japan.

*I was able to use Google Maps by renting a Pocket Wifi. It cost me less than $100 to use for the whole time I was there (10 days). I was able to see where I was going and it even allows you to figure out what train to take.

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Be adventurous with the food, but know what you are eating

Google Translate is very helpful for this. You can take a picture of the text and it will tell you what is on the menu. Sometimes there are things on the menu that you would not normally eat at home (horse meat) and would care not to. Either way, it’s good to know.

As far as recommendations go, my personal favorite was walking through the Nishiki Market and sampling all of the fresh food they have to offer. Be sure to get the Okonomiyaki and try some sushi. Supposedly, the Tsukiji Market is the best place for sushi.

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Where to stay

The hostels in Japan are immaculate and will cost you about $30 per night. They also have strict rules, security and a safe in each room. Air BnB is also a great option.

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Cherry Blossom Season (Sakura)

Sakura means that Spring is here! Don’t expect to see these beautiful views unless you go during a very specific time of year. Prime time is late March-April but see specific guides for each area.

Key places to see 

TOKYO

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Harajuku District: Filled with creative and fun outfits and people. A haven for anything Kawaii (cute) including Hello Kitty, Pokemon, and anything cartoon or anime-related. Check out the colorful food like crepes and be sure to visit one of the cat, rabbit, owl, or even snake cafes! The cat cafes are adorable and allow you to relax and play with cats while enjoying some coffee.

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Senso-ji Temple

Japan New Year

Meiji Shrine

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Tokyo DisneySea

This was definitely one of the coolest experiences. If you love Disney, this will surely be a treat because it’s everything you think you knew about Disney in Japanese! Be sure to go to DisneySea because DisneyLand has rides that are very similar to the ones in the US. They have live shows, new and exciting rides, and exotic food. Be prepared to get lost and go through a few workers to find someone who speaks English.

Don’t miss the Big Band Beat like I did. You have to go to the “lottery” to win tickets and if you don’t, you have to wait in line. Be sure to line up early because the line will probably be full by fifteen minutes before the next showing.

Watch the late night show because it is just phenomenal. Seriously. My mouth fell wide open and I’m 23.

Take a ride on Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Ride the Indiana Jones one too if it’s open.

Ah, yes. The food. Frozen beer, flavored popcorn, and character mochi. Just check out this awesome blog for details.

A ticket to DisneySea will cost you about $70 which is a deal when you compare it to the $100+ tickets in the US parks. I suggest you make a day of it instead of wasting your money at one of the swanky hotels.

KYOTO

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Kyoto is undoubtably one of the most beautiful spots in Japan. Spots to see are Nijo-jo CastleShimogamo-jinja ShrineThe Golden Pavillon, and Ryoan-ji Temple. I missed the Monkey Park but that is on my list for next time.

OSAKA

Unfortunately, I did not get to spend a lot of time here but I went to Osaka Castle which I really liked. I also missed the Osaka is famous for its nightlife and food as well.

NARA 

I did not have enough time to go to Nara but there are a lot of cool temples and deer here.

Tips:

If you are going to be staying in someone’s home (a friend, airBnB, an exchange family) it is polite to bring a small gift from your home country

To easily calculate Yen to Dollars without taking out a calculator or converter, take off the last 2 digits of the price.

For example, if something is 5300 yen, you know that it will cost you no more than $53. It will not be completely accurate, but it is pretty close (actual price is $51.15). By using this method, it makes it more likely that you will stick to your budget because you are actually calculating the higher price.

Eat where the locals eat

This is usually where you are going to find the best and most authentic cuisine. Check out one of the rotating sushi bars. They are very fresh and delicious. You only pay for what you pick up and eat and it gives you a chance to try many new things for a very small price.

Stay in a hostel

This is the best way to save money and meet new people. Most hostels have a curtain and a nice sized bed with lockers to keep your space private and secure. They also have strict rules about noise, safety, and cleanliness.

If you make the journey to Hakone to see Mt. Fuji, bring a bag and do not drink heavily before the ride

I do not get car sick easily but this was one rough ride. I could barely keep my lunch down and I was so glad I didn’t drink too much the night before. A bag would’ve made me feel a lot more relaxed.

Also, don’t expect to actually see Mt. Fuji

A lot of times, it can be covered by fog. Make sure you check the weather in Hakone beforehand to maximize your chances of seeing the majestic mountain up close. The cruise and skytram are the best ways to see it.

Organize your coins before you go up to pay at a store or on the bus

Don’t be that tourist who holds people up by not counting their change or having the correct amount beforehand. Put your coins in a place where you can easily access them and if possible, have specific areas for different coin amounts.

Common blunders:

Don’t be late for your train

The train system is very efficient and when it says it’s leaving at 5:04, it leaves at that very moment. They usually have another train within 15 minutes if you are in a large metropolis but if not, it could be a longer wait.

Never use a driving service

The trains are usually faster than traveling by car and a lot less expensive. Take the bullet train to get from Narita Airport to Tokyo or risk a $200+ fare.

Do what the Japanese do

If they bow, bow back. This shows a sign of respect, even if you are not familiar with their culture or language.

Do not talk on the phone near shrines, temples, or on the train

This is seen as extremely disrespectful

Watch out for bikes!

They are everywhere and you can easily get hit if you are not paying attention

Skip the Robot Restaurant

It’s an extremely cheesy tourist trap. Especially if you are going alone and have no one to laugh at it with.

Don’t get off the toilet until the spray feature is turned off

Do I really have to explain this humiliating story?

Allow extra time to get to your flight if you are traveling from other cities

If you use Google Maps, it might be tracking the faster bullet train which is more expensive and mainly just for Japanese locals and business people. Give yourself more time than you think just in case.

Don’t ignore other tourists who speak the same language as you

This is a great opportunity for you to get to know other people and learn different things about Japan from their perspective. I’ve had the best conversations by speaking to strangers and it has enriched my travel experiences immensely. It also helps prevent you from getting too lonely in a place where you are the foreigner.

Don’t forget to take off your shoes before stepping into a temple, someone’s home, or onto a tatami mat

The Japanese are very strict about this rule because they believe that germs are carried in from your outside shoes. Some places will have slippers you can borrow inside but it might be more sanitary to buy your own and carry them in your bag with you. They also make for a very cute keepsake.

Don’t buy too many gifts

Chances are your suitcase is already full if you are traveling alone and you will probably only be able to easily roll around a carry-on. Don’t make life hard on yourself to the point where you can’t bring everything back or you have to spend a bunch of money shipping everything back home.

Never ever tip

It is considered extremely rude and implies that the workers do not get paid enough.

Before I actually did it, I never thought that I could get around Japan on my own. You learn a lot about yourself and meet very interesting people along the way. It also teaches you to have patience and become tolerant of others and yourself. It was a tough experience but I am glad I got to play the role of a foreigner. It definitely teaches you what being in a new country that doesn’t speak your language is like.

The Truth Behind Wanderlust

If you know me a little bit, even at all, you know that I am always busy dreaming about my next trip or places I want to go in the future. There are many wonderful reasons to travel, but there are some things you need to be aware of as well.

Don’t use travel to escape from your problems at home

I’m sure we are all guilty of going away on vacation and just completely forgetting about responsibilities at home. This will start to creep up on you fast and make things much worse for you when you come back.

The post-trip depression will hit you like a brick

You will want to be back on your trip as soon as you come back home and you will notice every single thing you hate about your hometown. Don’t let the negativity get to you. Instead, try to appreciate the fact that you got to get away and look for little things to appreciate about where you live.

Don’t spend your life just waiting for the next time you’ll get away

Unless you are getting paid to travel, you will have to spend time in the same place for a while. Learn to enjoy being where you are, instead of just thinking about how great other places are. Explore new places in your area and make that new place your getaway or sanctuary.

You’re not always going to have the time or the money to travel

This is true in so many instances. We have to pay for school, rent, food and eventually a wedding, kids and a house. We will have to work hard and save up to have these things, so traveling may not happen as often as we want it to. This needs to be okay.

It’s better to save up for a dream trip rather than taking a bunch of mediocre trips

It’s tempting to try to get away as soon as possible, but it’s a lot better to wait to go somewhere you can really enjoy and do it right.

How to See California

San Diego

Palm Springs

Joshua Tree

Malibu

Los Angeles

Santa Barbara

Death Valley

Sequoia

Yosemite

Big Sur

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Monterey

San Francisco

Napa Valley

Redwood Forest

California Trip Tips

So you’re planning a trip to (or just fantasizing about) California. I did a trip from San Diego to Napa earlier this year, since I wanted to confirm my belief that I should move there. It was confirmed big time. Here are some things that are helpful to know before you go:

Driving

A car is necessary for getting around California, so renting one or driving your own is your best bet. Being from Florida, the intense curvature of the California roads and the mountains were difficult to acclimate to. You may also need to parallel park and there are a lot more one-way roads than in South Florida. I routinely complain about and avoid Miami’s traffic, but L.A. makes it seem like a party. The average amount of time one spends stuck in L.A. traffic during rush hour is 40 minutes out of an hour. If you are driving the Pacific Coast Highway, be wary of cliffs, reckless drivers, and rockslides. There also is no indication that another lane is merging, such as a sign on or near the freeway. It just kind of gets bigger and you have to be cognizant of other cars. People tend to switch lanes or make turns without using their signal, so watch out for that as well.

Tax

Tax is extremely high here, so make sure to plan for it. It can range from 6.5% to 10%, depending on where you are and what you are buying.

Gas

Gas prices are known to be higher than most other US states, so be sure to plan for this expense as well.

Beaches

The beaches are known for being gorgeous and perfect for tanning or surfing, but be careful before you decide to jump into the water. The oceans are usually very cold and no matter how hot it may be outside, it can be very uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Time

Make sure to plan out places you want to see on your trip according to how much time you have to spend here. It takes a while to get to each place and you will want to spend a certain amount of time in each area, or even find a random area that you want to see. Be sure to plan for impromptu stops if you can, or stick to a strict itinerary to make sure you can fit it all in. Decide if you want to spend time hiking, checking out a national park, exploring a theme park, taking a vineyard tour, or walking through cities. Be reasonable about how much time you expect to spend in each spot and plan to travel to and sleep in a different city at night so you can make more progress traveling. Have a priority list of places that you have to see and places that you would not be upset about missing, but would like to go. If you are with a group of people, make sure to compromise so that everyone can accomplish the top priority on their list.

Most people recommend staying in California for 2 weeks. Personally, I did a trip from San Diego to Napa Valley in one week, but there were a lot of things I missed. We did make sure to have a set itinerary and have some wiggle room for extra places to see.

Highlights

Invest in a travel guide of California or stalk Pinterest for the best places to visit. Be sure to plan these in advance to prioritize and maximize your time. Make sure to research events, activities and food to make sure you don’t miss anything important. There’s nothing worse than realizing something awesome was happening after you’ve already left.

Budget

Have a set budget for activities like tours, wine/beer tastings, surfing lessons, museum fees, etc. These are some things that are last minute decisions and they are usually not included in the initial budget. Think about how many activities you think you will participate in and stick to the budget. Plan out how much you want to spend on food, hotels, and items as well. Make sure you discuss the budget with your fellow travelers and update them the budget each day. This will help keep the group accountable and prevent overspending.

Did I miss anything important? Be sure to add it in the comments below!

How to visit Disney

Disney World is one of the most popular destinations in the US. It can also be one of the most expensive vacations you will take…unless you follow these tips.

Hotels

If you stay onsite, stay at a low-medium rate hotel. You will be able to take advantage of the transit system without having to spend a fortune. There are many places offsite that are cheaper and may even have transportation from/to the parks or the airport.

Dining

Invest in a dining plan. If you are staying at a hotel that includes breakfast, make sure to fill up before you get to the park to save some money. Everything is overpriced in Disney, so it’s best to try to eat offsite as much as possible. Save your money for the things you can’t find anywhere else, like Dole Whips.

Tickets

Pay attention to yearly deals. There is a promotion around April-June that allows you to get 3 days for $120 and add additional days for $20. This is a great way to take advantage of all of the parks and even spend time at some of the water parks.

Fast Pass

Disney’s Fast Pass system has changed within the past couple of years. Putting it bluntly—it’s terrible. Meaning if you don’t get your fast passes early, you will be stuck with passes for the rides that have a wait time of 0-15 minutes. This is basically pointless. Your best bet is to download the My DIsney Experience app and plan ahead. With the app, you can make reservations for rides and restaurants. You can even use it to bypass long character lines, which can be brutal if you are waiting to see a certain Ice Queen. Make sure to do this a day in advance if you can in order to get the best rides and times.

Why the U.K. is better than the States

As a resident of the U.S., I understand how lucky I am to live here. It really is a great place, but there are some things that the U.K. has over us.

The economy is better.

The U.K. has the 5th best economy in the world and the 2nd best in Europe. The value of the pound is worth about $1.50 in the U.S.

Healthcare is free.

Everyone who lives in the UK is entitled to health care, which is paid for by their taxes.

There is a low rate of gun-related incidents or deaths.

One of the lowest rates in the world, thanks to strict firearm laws. (And I’m just going to leave this here…)

The accent.

If you have ever heard a person with a British or English (however you want to say it) accent, you know just how dignified and classy it sounds. Like honey drizzled all over your words. Seriously. Try saying anything with an English accent. Try saying the worst insult you can think of and it still sounds like you are highly educated.

* Disclaimer: I do acknowledge the Cockney accent, but that is clearly not what I am talking about here. (However, it still sounds better than a Boston accent and most Southern accents.)

The rich history.

Many great things have come out of this island. Movies, music, literature, art, education—you name it. No matter what you are interested in, the UK probably has a long history of success in that specific area.

People seem smarter.

Going back to my previous points about the rich history and glorious accent, people here just seem so much smarter. Whether or not this is actually true, I won’t be able to say for sure, but people seem to be better versed in literature and education as a whole. They are also more likely to be well-traveled and know about different cultures, since they are in close proximity to many amazing countries. The UK ranks 6th in the world for education, where the US falls much lower on that list.

Stonehenge and the White Cliffs of Dover.

One of the world’s oldest mysteries.
White Cliffs of Dover.

They also have Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Two beautiful countries that are also part of the Kingdom. Take a look.

Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Isle of Skye in Scotland.

Easy access to many different countries.

You can reach many other beautiful destinations using the train or a cheap flight.

Like I said, I love the U.S., but the United Kingdom is definitely doing something right.

How to Plan a Trip

So you want to plan a trip? Use these simple tips to help you save money and make the best of your time.

Don’t limit yourself to booking a hotel from the hotel website.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a trip is blowing their budget on the hotel. Unless you are planning a trip where you are going to stay at the hotel the entire time, there is no reason to spend so much money on a hotel. Check out the prices on the hotel website, but make sure to compare them to discount websites. Look into travel websites such as Orbitz, Expedia, or Hotels.com and consider using Air bnb to rent a room or home close to where you want to be. Chances are that you will be able to find a better deal by renting a home instead of staying at a fancy hotel. The host may even assist you with sightseeing or allow you to cook meals in their kitchen, which will save a lot of money. A hostel could also be a good option, especially if you are traveling abroad. Some of them may be very nice and allow you to meet many new people. There are also options to have a safe to lock up your stuff or a private room if you don’t like sharing. Use the reviews to ensure that the customer service is good, room is clean and the area is safe.

Pick a few top sites that must be seen.

You want to make sure to plan in advance so you don’t end up regretting missing something you really want to see. Read up on the place(s) you are visiting to make sure you are aware of important sites. Use Yelp, Tripadvisor or Pinterest to find these sites and reviews for each site. Be sure to consult with other travelers to see where their top sites are. This will help for better communication on the trip and help prevent fighting. This way, it will be easier for everyone to compromise and feel that their opinion matters. Be sure not to expect to see too many things, since that could lead to disappointment. Make sure to have your sites ordered from most important to least.

Put aside extra funds just in case.

You might end up overspending, so make sure you over-save. No one wants to be caught broke while traveling, since there are many things you will need money for.

Do research if you are traveling to another country.

Some countries may have laws that are very different than the country you live in. Despite ignorance of laws, you could still be fined or arrested for breaking the law. In places like Dubai, it is forbidden to show affection in public (even hand holding is frowned upon) and women may need to completely cover their heads, shoulders and thighs. Also in the Middle East, there are certain prescription drugs that are prohibited. Littering will cost you about $2000 in Singapore and chewing gum is illegal. It’s better to avoid any mistakes by researching these laws beforehand. There are also common scams in each country that you should know about in order to prevent falling for them. These scams could leave you broke or hurt, which is never a good thing.

Don’t book the first flight you see.

If you frequently look up flights, you will notice that the price will change depending on the day you search and the day you book. Use these tips to help ensure the best price.

Make sure all important items are in order.

That means passports and IDs are checked, current and accounted for in advance, currency has been exchanged if needed and banks have been called to ensure that your card will not be cut off during the trip.

And most importantly…

You can’t plan for everything.

As a person who loves to plan, I have learned the hard way that you cannot plan for everything. Make sure to keep a positive attitude and go with the flow. Don’t get too upset because life happens. Just work through it and continue to enjoy your time!

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