How We Can Afford to Travel

How We Can Afford to Travel

Why does traveling have to be so expensive? And why do I love it so much?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s just something about traveling that brings out the best in me! I feel alive, happy, and ready to take on the world! That’s why Brett and I make a point to save up for our next adventures.

How can we afford to travel as often as we do?

  1. We have a travel fund. I work in finance and I’m a big advocate for having a budget and saving for items you want to purchase or trips you want to take. For that reason, Brett and I always have a travel fund and are saving for our next trip. We put a percentage of our paychecks into this account and save it up until we are ready to go on our next adventure. Even if we aren’t currently planning a trip we are still putting money away for travel.
  2. We make travel a priority. It’s super easy to get caught up in all of the other things life throws your way. Brett and I make traveling a priority. In 2019 we weren’t able to plan a big Europe trip like we had hoped but we still set aside time to travel to places in the United States instead. This way we saved money but were still able to visit some new places and make memories together.
  3. We travel on a budget. When we go on a trip we aren’t staying in the fanciest hotels or splurging on new clothes and accessories for our travels. During our planning process we are mapping out all possibilities of places to stay, eat, visit, etc. We set a budget and stick to it. I do like to splurge for once in a lifetime opportunities but we always plan for those ahead of time and make room in the budget.
  4. We compromise. Planning a trip with another person can be difficult. Brett and I take turns picking the places we want to go. I planned our Europe trip in 2018 so he’s planning our 2020 trip. We can’t go everywhere at once so we compromise and take turns. Luckily, we both want to go to many of the same places so this has been pretty easy!
  5. Brett’s Job. We have been incredibly blessed by Brett’s current job for an airline. This allows us to travel at a very discounted rate but we haven’t always had this perk and have traveled many times without it. Brett’s job has allowed us to go on a few trips that we wouldn’t have normally been able to go on without spending more time saving our money. We are super grateful and don’t take this blessing lightly. We know that we won’t have these opportunities for long so we always try to make the most of it! I do want to stress that it is possible to travel without breaking the bank even without these flight benefits!

It’s not always easy, but we are determined to travel as much as possible before we have children. Traveling is one of our top priorities right now and I can only imagine how much that will change in the next few years. For now, I’m constantly on Pinterest planning our next adventure.

Do you have any budgeting tips for traveling?

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Photo by Frank Vex on Unsplash

 

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Our Love Story: 8 Year Anniversary

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8 years ago today Brett and I went on our first date. Our mutual friend had introduced us through text one night when I was hanging out with her. We hit it off right away and talked everyday for a couple of weeks. Brett finally asked me out on a date while I was at my friend’s cottage on the lake. I was 17 and getting ready for my senior year of high school. Brett was 19 and was starting his junior year of college.

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Our first date was on August 19, 2011 at a mini golf and arcade place in our hometown. I remember seeing him for the first time as he got out of his car and walked towards mine. He was wearing a football jersey for our local university. The same university he was currently attending and I was hoping to attend in a year. I thought he was super cute and sweet.

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After our first date we were pretty much inseparable. We spent the rest of summer 2011 falling in love with each other. He took me to an early hot air balloon launch and we followed the balloons with his car. I navigated while he drove. After that we had breakfast at a cute little diner and then spent the day at the zoo. It was the perfect date day.

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Brett was so supportive during my senior year. He came to marching band competitions, football games, flute concerts, and every graduation occasion.  He took me to prom and we danced the night away together. He helped setup my graduation party and stayed with me the whole day.

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My favorite part of our story is our years in college. Brett was already attending my dream university so we ended up at college together! We both lived on campus my freshman year so we were able to eat meals together, study in the library, and hang out with friends. He helped me get acclimated to college and made the transition so much easier.

My junior year of college was when I decided to study abroad in London. It was a hard decision to make to be gone for 5 months but Brett was very supportive. I had been talking about studying abroad in London the whole time we were dating so he knew it was going to happen. He attended study abroad fairs with me and helped me choose the perfect program in London.

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Studying abroad was hard. This was the most difficult thing we had ever had to go through in our relationship but it made us a lot stronger. We were in different time zones and it was hard to make time to Skype. We planned on Brett coming to visit at the end of the semester with my mom and sister. It felt surreal when they finally bought their tickets!

Brett came a few days early so we could spend time with my new friends and I could show him around. I think he fell in love with London as much as I did during this trip. Once my mom and sister joined us we traveled around London, and to Denmark and Ireland. It was the trip of a lifetime!

The day I had to say goodbye to my friends in London was very memorable. Brett was planning on proposing to me and had been carrying around my engagement ring. He should have told my family his plan though! He left the ring in the safe while we went to dinner with my friends. My mom and sister found the ring box and opened it. While Dani was trying my ring on, my mom was texting her friend. Instead of texting her friend though she texted me on accident! She told me not to tell Brett but he had already seen the text.

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I spent the rest of the trip wondering when Brett would propose. He didn’t propose in Denmark even though my exchange sister had set up the perfect scene. He didn’t propose in Ireland or on our last day in London. On our last night we stayed in a hotel by Heathrow. We went down to the hotel lobby to print our boarding passes and Brett asked me to take a walk with him. It was on that night, on some random road near Heathrow Airport, where Brett asked me to spend my life with him.

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We decided not to do any wedding planning until after graduation. We got engaged in 2015 and planned for a 2017 wedding. Our engagement was also hard. I was only 21 so I felt pretty isolated. Brett and I had been together for 4 years and I expected people to be thrilled for us. Instead I just felt really lonely.

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We graduated in the spring of 2016 and both of us had to figure out what to do next. We started applying for jobs and having interviews on top of planning our wedding. We picked a date, August 19th, 2017, a venue, and I picked a dress. Finally we both landed jobs and everything figured itself out.

In December 2016 we moved into a cute little apartment together and made it into our first semi-permanent home. We both moved around so much in college so it was nice to finally be settled. We had so many great times in that apartment!

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Two years ago, on August 19th, 2017, I finally go to say “I do” and marry my best friend! You can read about my favorite wedding moments here if you are interested! Our wedding was English Garden themed with lots of flowers, music, friends, and family. We collected hundreds of antique teacups for the centerpieces and decor.

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Our honeymoon was in London and we were able to spend two weeks visiting all of our favorite places. It was the best! The last two years of marriage has been filled with ups and downs including buying a house, adopting a dog, changing jobs, etc.

Two years of marriage and six years of dating has flown by. We’ve had so many amazing memories together and I can’t wait for many more to come. Marriage isn’t always easy but it is always worth it.

Thanks for reading!

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I Just Want to Travel

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I love to travel. There’s just something so amazing about exploring a new place, culture, way of life, that really makes me feel alive. I love wandering around new cities and getting lost. I love listening to people speak different languages and wondering what they are saying.

Every year my vacation days refresh and I begin to plan all of the things I want to do and see. My work is pretty good about vacation time but it never seems to be enough for me. There’s a whole world out there that I want to explore!

Brett also loves to travel so we talk constantly about the next places on our bucketlist. In 2020 we really want to visit Amsterdam and Prague but I’d love to sneak in a few days in London. We didn’t plan a big trip in 2019 because we traveled to Florida, Arizona, Oregon, and Florida again. I think we will visit Massachusetts or New Hampshire in the fall though!

Travel is something that is always on my heart and mind. I visited Europe for the first time in 2011 and became addicted to exploring new places. There are so many places that I haven’t been and I’m looking forward to visiting all of them!

Do you love to travel?

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Photo by Karly Santiago on Unsplash

 

 

Oregon Trip Part One: Smith Rock and Painted Hills

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Earlier this year I got the most exciting WhatsApp message from my friend Anna Sophie! For those of you who have read my study abroad adventures you would recognize Anna Sophie from London.We met during our study abroad semester at Regent’s University. Anna Sophie is from Germany while I am from Michigan so we haven’t seen each other since 2015.

Anna Sophie’s message said that her and her boyfriend, Jona, were going to be spending three weeks in the USA roadtripping! Brett and I have flight benefits so right away I messaged back saying that we would love to meet them somewhere. We settled on meeting them in Bend, Oregon and then traveling with them to Portland, Oregon in June!

The months flew by and when June rolled around I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be reunited with my best friend! Brett and I flew into Bend on Sunday afternoon and expected to meet Anna Sophie and Jona on Monday morning. She called me while Brett and I were at Target to say that they decided to come to Bend that night instead! We were reunited at our Airbnb and started our wonderful new journey together.

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Brett went to Bend last year for a guy’s trip so I kind of knew what to expect. On Monday morning we headed to Smith Rock for a day hike. It was HOT and I was unprepared for just how hard the hike would be. I didn’t expect to be climbing straight up a giant rock when I’m as out of shape as I am. However, we still had a great time together and it was absolutely beautiful!

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I did not make it all the way up Smith Rock that day. In fact, I slipped and fell near the top and ended up scrapping my leg up pretty badly. It’s 2 months later now and my leg still looks pretty gross. Brett and I decided to wait for Anna Sophie and Jona and they made their way up to the top. I was disappointed in myself but sometimes I have to cut myself a little slack. I’m always happy to get out and do things instead of living in fear of another migraine attack.

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After our trek, we headed to Coldstone for some ice cream! Ice cream is my love language. After Coldstone we headed back to the Airbnb and got ready for dinner. Brett and I decided that it would be fun to introduce our German friends to hibachi. We went to a hibachi restaurant in Bend and they ended up loving it! After dinner we went back to the Airbnb, cuddled with our host’s dogs (including a super cute dachshund named Ruby), and played games. One of my favorite memories of Anna Sophie and our trip to visit her family in Germany was playing games together.

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The next day we headed out to the Painted Hills. Brett drove and I navigated but when we got out towards the Painted Hills we lost service. We may have gotten a little lost while we were driving but that was part of the adventure!

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The Painted Hills are amazing! I didn’t really know what to expect other than the google images that I looked up before going. We did a few of the hikes which were nowhere near as exhausting as Smith Rock from the day before.

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After our hike, we headed back into Bend for dinner. We stopped at this place called On Tap that has a outdoor bar and food trucks. We all got food from different trucks and ate by the bar. The food was great and the atmosphere was even better! We tried to teach Anna Sophie cornhole after dinner per Michigan tradition.

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Of course, our night was not complete without ice cream! We went to Bonta Gelato for some delicious dessert! You know a place is good when there’s a line out the door and Bonta did not disappoint.

Brett went to see his friend who lives in Bend after dropping us off at the Airbnb. Anna Sophie and I sat and chatted for the next couple of hours just getting caught up on life. We also had to pack to head to Portland the next morning.

I really enjoyed our time in Bend even though it was super short! We loved our Airbnb, the great food, and just spending quality time with friends who we don’t get to see often enough.

Study abroad was one of the best adventures of my life and I was so sad when it was over. I didn’t know if I’d ever see my friends again and I that was devastating. We’ve all kept in touch over the years but that’s not the same as seeing each other in person. Seeing Anna Sophie again was like being reunited with a piece of my heart. She understands me in a way that a lot of my other friends don’t. Even though we are from different countries and were raised differently she still feels like the friend I’ve always needed and wanted.

Part two of our trip will be posted soon!

Have you ever been to Bend? Do you enjoy hiking?

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Five on Friday #11

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Hooray! We made it to Friday! This was my first week back to work after vacation and I’m exhausted.

  1. Fourth of July is next weeks which means that it’s our biggest airshow week of the season. I’m exhausted just thinking about it! The fourth was always my favorite growing up because both sides of my family would get together to celebrate America and my sister’s birthdays. I loved having everyone together at the lake.
  2. We went to Oregon last week on vacation with my friend, Anna Sophie, and her boyfriend. You might remember her from my study abroad posts. We hadn’t seen each other since leaving London in 2015 so it was so nice to catch up! I’m hoping to write a whole post about our trip soon.
  3. Before vacation I was really motivated on my health and fitness journey. My goal is to not only lose weight but to accept my body at every stage along the way. I’ve spent the past couple of years being really terrible to myself with the way I talk about and treat my body and I know that needs to stop. Body image is a huge issue in our current culture and I’ve really had to step back from social media in order to get my head back in a good place.
  4. Going on vacation has really made me realize that I need to spend more time away from work. My work-life balance has gotten much better since last year but I still worry and think about work way too much. I need to step back every once in a while and just worry about me.
  5. I had a neurologist appointment on Monday afternoon and I’m thinking about doing a Migraine update post to share what’s been going on. I haven’t done an update post in awhile because there hasn’t been any updates.

Do you have any plans for this weekend?

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Photo by Link Hoang on Unsplash

7 Reasons Why You Should Say “Yes” To Studying Abroad

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As many of you may know, I studied abroad in 2015 at Regent’s University in London, England. You can find all of my study abroad posts here if you’re interested. Studying abroad was one of the most terrifying, exhilarating, and life-changing experiences and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I flew home from Heathrow.

I knew I wanted to study abroad in London after traveling there with band the summer before my senior year of high school. I fell in love with the culture, history, and architecture and could already picture myself strolling around London solo. My love for London was strong and four years later my dream came true when I got accepted to Regent’s University’s study abroad program.

If you are contemplating study abroad I have one main piece of advice for you: GO! It’s scary and you’ll miss home but this is a once in a lifetime experience to fully immerse yourself in a new culture and way of life.

Here are seven more reasons you should study abroad in college:

  1. Studying abroad will look great on your resume! Employers are looking for things that set candidates apart. Study abroad will give you a global perspective that not everyone will have. Plus, it shows that you are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and try something new.
  2. You’ll meet friends from all over the world. The friends I met in London continue to be some of my best friends today. I was able to meet people from all over the world including Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and many many more. I learned about their cultures, languages, and customs. I was the only American in my classes which was a really awesome experience!
  3. You can travel to some really cool places. This is especially true if you study abroad in Europe because it’s really inexpensive to travel between European countries. You can plan quick weekend getaways or week long adventures during school breaks. Depending on where you study abroad you may even be able to join school sponsored trips. My university offered trips to Paris, Scotland, Stonehenge, and many others.
  4. You won’t be the same after. Study abroad is guaranteed to change your life in some way. You will have new friends, new memories, and new experiences that will shape you for the rest of your life.
  5. Studying abroad makes you grateful for the life you have. I loved my study abroad experience but coming home made me appreciate all of the little things even more. I missed my parents, my sister, and Brett while I was gone but being away from them made me appreciate them so much more. I also appreciated all of sacrifices my family made in order to help me study abroad.
  6. You’ll gain real life experiences. I had so many opportunities in London that I never would have had at home. I participated in a global business conference where I had to present in front of a large group of my peers and business men and women from all over the world. Experiences like this prepared me for the “real” world after graduation and made me confident in my abilities.
  7. You’ll become more independent. There will be times when you wish your mom or dad could be around to help you but they are hundreds of miles away. At the time it’ll feel awful but it will allow you to problem solve on your own. You will have to grocery shop, do your own laundry, and plan trips by yourself or with your new friends. You will come home with a new sense of independence and be ready for whatever life throws your way next.

I know that studying abroad can be scary. It’s hard to leave your home university, your family, and your friends. But putting yourself out there is so important. I almost talked myself out of going hundreds of times but I am super happy that I took a leap of faith and went.

Let me know if you have any questions about studying abroad. I documented the whole process from applying, getting accepted, packing, and my adventures abroad if you need any inspiration for why you should go.

I can’t wait to hear about your adventures!

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro book review

One of my favorite Youtubers, Abigail’s Cup of Tea, recommended the Charlotte Holmes series awhile back and I added it to by TBR list. Abigail is a huge Harry Potter fan and an avid book lover and we usually have the same taste in books. A Study In Charlotte is currently free on Kindle so I downloaded it and got to reading!

Summary:

Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She’s inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices—and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she’s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

Review:

I lived off of Baker Street when I studied abroad in London so the Sherlock Holmes series is associated with a really happy time in my life. As soon as I heard about this book I knew that I had to read it not only for the Baker Street reference but also because it sounded like a really unique twist on the original idea of Holmes and Watson.

First of all, I loved the gender swap with Charlotte Holmes playing the strong, unemotional, and intelligent female lead. Jamie Watson was just as devoted to Charlotte as the original Watson was to the original Holmes. I also liked that they moved the characters from England to America. You still get all of the British lingo and culture with the American culture thrown in as well.

When a fellow student ends up being murdered this duo has to pair together to solve the mystery. Details from the Sherlock Holmes books are brought in to try and frame Charlotte and Jamie for the murders. It’s suspenseful and entertaining.

Favorite Quotes:

“Four girls went by here last night in a group, She said finally getting to her feet. You can tell by the stampede of ugg boots.”

“You think you’re defending my ‘honor,’ but you’re just as bad as he is.”

“The two of us, we’re the best kind of disaster. Apples and oranges. Well, more like apples and machetes.”

“I began wondering if there was some kind of Watsonian guide for the care and keeping of Holmeses.”

“I don’t need someone to fight for me. I can fight for myself.”

“I have a rainy-day fund, you know,” she said, not quite looking at me. “Until recently, it was raining…rather a lot. But I…I’ve been trying to use an umbrella.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t trust you,” I said to my Holmes, in a low voice . . . “I meant to say that I won’t doubt you again.”
“You won’t,” she said with flat surprise. “You really won’t, will you?”

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I really did enjoy A Study in Charlotte but I’m only giving in 3.5 stars because I ordered the next book in the series, The Last of August, right after finishing this book and still haven’t brought myself to read it. Usually if I love a book I read the next book in the series ASAP. In this case, something has been holding me back.

If you like a good mystery but nothing too dramatic then this is the book for you. Can we also take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this book cover? I’m a sucker for a good cover design!

Do you like Sherlock Holmes? Have you read any good books lately?

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