Carryon Packing Tips

Packing only in a carryon isn’t always necessary, but if you want to be very mobile during your
trip without too many bags, it can be a great option!! Here are my top tips.

Packing Cubes
I think these are an absolute essential. You can get them on Amazon or any store like Walmart,
Canadian Tire, etc. They allow you to organize everything and when you zip them closed, you
would be surprised how much stuff you can fit in there. Highly, highly recommend!


Mix and Match
When packing, make sure that all (or almost all) of your tops and bottoms go together. If you
bring several different blue tops, for example, they would go in the same color palette, rather
than bringing all kinds of colours and limiting which tops and which bottoms can be worn
together.


Fabrics
Think about what fabrics you are bringing! Especially on a long trip, bring fabrics that dry quickly
like cotton, merino wool, etc. Try to bring clothes that aren’t prone to wrinkling, but Downy
Wrinkle Release comes in a travel size spray and truly works miracles.


Shoes
Shoes absolutely take up the most room. Depending where I’m going and what I’m doing, I try
to limit myself to 2-3 pairs: one comfortable, sensible sneaker/hiking boot which I will wear on
the plane, and one pair of sandals that could be dressy or casual. If I have fancy stuff on the trip
I will bring a pair of heels, don’t deprive yourself if you love to dress up! The principle is just to
think about shoes that go with all your outfits.


Liquids
The bane of a carry-on bag! You are limited to 1L of liquids, less than 100ML each. Buy things
like sunscreen, shampoo, conditioner when you get there if you are going over on liquids. Get
travel-size of your absolute essentials like skincare! Toiletries are available everywhere.

Personal Item
Maximise your space by using a school-size backpack as a personal item, rather than a purse!
You can fit lots of essentials in here and then your carryon has more room for your clothes and
shoes.

Last tip – make sure you leave a little room for souvenirs or shopping 🙂

How to Make the Most of Exploring the World: Five Tips

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I’ve not been everywhere in the world yet – but it’s certainly on my list! My plan is to explore most, if not all, of the world and I think I’ve managed a good portion of it already. In doing so, I’ve learned a lot too. Here are my top five tips on making the most of exploring the world.

Be careful and keep safe

This might not be the most exciting point, but it is the most important. You can’t have a good time if you aren’t safe so make sure you don’t take any extra risks and try to use your common sense to avoid getting scammed! Comprehensive travel insurance is a must – it’s better to have it and not need it than find yourself without at a time when you need support.

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Say yes

As long as this doesn’t contradict the first point try and say yes to as much as you can. Whether that’s food you’ve never tried, doing something you’ve always been a bit too nervous to do, or talking to someone you’ve never met, say yes to things and challenge yourself. Even if you don’t enjoy the food or the experience, you can be proud of yourself for trying something different and everything you do is another memory to hold or story to recall.

Wake up early

You have plenty of time for lie-ins for the rest of your life! Make an effort to get up early and really get the most out of your day! You should be able to miss some of the crowds, take beautiful photos in the softer light,and generally squeeze the most out of the time you have to explore. You won’t remember the times you slept in but you will remember seeing beautiful sunrises over amazing landscapes.

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Spend on experiences, not items

It’s great to get souvenirs from your travels, but memories and experiences are much more important. You can buy a Prada handbag from anywhere but something handmade by an African tribe, or the memory of seeing a lion running past your tent is worth so much more. Focus on being in the moment and the things that are worth more than possessions. When you get home, people will love to hear your stories and see your photographs far more than seeing the pair of shoes you bought that could as easily been from the local shops.

Be open

Whether you plan for it to or not, traveling will teach you a lot of things – both about yourself and others! The more open your mind is, the more you will learn and take back with you. Be open with different cultures and the people you meet, and watch yourself grow in ways you may never have imagined. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to take on or agree with everything you experience, but having open and honest dialogues about these things will really enhance your understanding.

So these are my tips, and hopefully, they can help you too! Let me know in the comments below if you have any other tips!

Eight Reasons You Should Travel

Travelling is expensive and time-consuming, and yet completely, 100% worth it. I’m a big advocate for the power of travelling to change the way you look at the world and yourself: here are eight reasons you should travel.

1. The scary things you’ll try

I’m terrified of everything. Water, the dark, birds. Travelling gives me the chance to overcome these fears by saying yes to exciting things and no to my nerves. I knew I wanted to try stand up paddleboarding in Antigua, but I was worried I’d chicken out because of the deep water. In Antigua, I thought – what if I never get this opportunity again? So I did it and had an incredible time. I feel like when you’re travelling and there’s something you might only be able to do in that particular place, it’s easier to just do it. Travelling will make you brave and you’ll realize there was never anything to be afraid of.

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2. The people you’ll meet

I’m usually very shy. Meeting new people makes me super anxious and I’d rather just stick to the friends I’ve already made: or just hang out alone. When I’m travelling alone, there are some things I’d rather do with friends, like going to a bar or somewhere with complicated buses like the Great Wall of China. It’s almost astonishingly easy to meet people when you’re travelling, especially if you stay at hostels. And I even enjoy it! I’ve met fascinating people from Tunisia who I’m still in touch with, and people from all across Europe from Croatia to Iceland. Meeting people when you’re on the road means that you automatically have something in common – you both love travelling! There’s also the incredible experience of meeting locals, which can be hard to do but unbelievably rewarding. I’m looking forward to meeting young Italians where I’ll be living in the summer, not to mention getting to know my host family.

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Some of my Tunisian friends on the Great Wall

3. The food you’ll try

I’ve said it before, but I’m a very picky eater at home. If I didn’t want to try a new food when I was little, I just said I didn’t like it, and then started to believe I actually didn’t. Now I have to force myself to try food I thought I didn’t like for nineteen years, which generally has good results: I thought I hated strawberries. Then I tried them and ate approximately 10,000. My picky eating is definitely mental, so all it takes is making myself try new things. When I’m abroad, I have to try new things if I want to eat, and it’s always worth the ‘risk’. It’s incredible how different cultures have developed such totally different cuisines, and getting the opportunity to try new things is one of the best parts of travelling. I’ve loved egg tarts in Shanghai, waffles in Belgium, flying fish in Barbados…I can’t wait to see what foods I’ll try this summer.

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4. The sunrises and sunsets you’ll see

I used to think sunrises and sunsets were boring and stupid. You’d seen one, you’d seen them all. Travelling totally changed how I felt about them. Seeing the sky burst into a million different shades of orange and pink over a landmark like the London Bridge or Prague Castle changed my perspective on this wonderful phenomenon. I really can’t put into words the feeling of seeing the sunrise or sunset while you’re travelling, but it’s special. Seeing it with an amazing backdrop like a Caribbean beach or the desert dunes (I can’t wait) is just the icing on the cake.

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5. The history you’ll learn

I’ll be the first to admit that museums bore me and I feel like I’m not as cultured as I should be. While I can’t stomach listening to a lecture about the finer points of a battle, experiencing history first hand is the best way to learn about it. I wouldn’t have cared much about the Vikings unless we had visited an interactive site in Newfoundland, and walking down any historic street in Europe transports you back in time. Beng in a place like the Tower of London brings everything you’ve learned to life, and in my opinion is the best way to educate yourself on the world around you.

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The Tower of London

 

6. How open-minded you will become

We all have preconceived notions about other people and other places. It’s hard to understand how another culture works or lives unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, and once you do? You’ll feel all of your judgment and all of your stereotypes falling away. China and its people are simultaneously just like I expected and completely different from how I thought they would be. Even after two short weeks in only four cities, I feel like I have an exponentially better understanding of that country. I’m under no illusion that I totally get the country, and of course I don’t believe the whole country is homogeneous,. With that being said, I’d love to return and explore even deeper, seeing smaller towns and talking to more locals. Travelling will change how you think about the world around  you and open up your mind to the endless possibilities that the world presents.

7. The freedom you’ll feel

There’s nothing like waking up in the morning and realizing that today is totally up to you. When you’re travelling, the world is your oyster and every minute is your own. If you want to spend the whole day in a cafe, catching up on blogs and drinking macchiato after macchiato, you can. If you want to pack in every site in the city, you can! You can get lunch wherever you want to get lunch and get up whenever you want to get up. If you’re travelling with others, of course you’re going to have to make decisions together: but solo, you really can do whatever you want to do. It’s liberating and exciting and amazing. Travelling sets you free.

8. How confident you’ll feel

I wrote a whole post about why you should be a girl who travels, but it applies to guys too. My favourite reason to travel is the way it changes your confidence and ability to get through anything. I’ve written a lot about all of my mishaps in China and Europe, and I fully expect more issues and roadblocks as I hit the road for almost five months, but now I feel equipped and capable of handing anything that gets thrown my way. From feeling able to navigate my way through enormous cities to feeling more self-confident, travel has changed who I am. And it can do the same for you.

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 Why do you travel? Did any of my reasons resonate with you? 

How to Travel the World on Two Weeks Vacation

Today’s post comes from Katelyn Michaud, who is a 20-something career girl located in Portland, Maine. She is equal parts a certified workaholic and a traveler at heart. Katelyn works multiple jobs to pay off her $44,000 in student loan debt and to travel the world. You can read more about her story and adventures at www.diariesofawanderinglobster.com. Katelyn is an expert on making the most of limited vacation time, and I thought this made a great companion to yesterday’s post – how I travel so much!

Travel requires two things: time and money. Money can easily be made and spent, but time is a lot harder to make. We all have the same 24 hours a day 365 days a year to spend. As a child I remember time lasting forever. The summer months felt like years and moved slowly as I enjoyed countless days splashing in the pool, playing tag with my friends, and licking melting ice cream off my fingers. Now that I’m an adult and work a full-time job, life flashes by in seconds. Just yesterday felt like August. Where did time fly?

My heart is full of wanderlust. As I sit here at my desk writing this post, I am day dreaming about hiking through the highest mountain passes in Nepal and diving the Great Barrier Reef. And then reality sits in. I have to read this 68 page report by lunch and finish this grant report by the end of the day. The life of a 20-something career woman isn’t always as amazing as the movies make it sound.

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I love my job, but there are days that I want to pack up my things and hit the road for good. But I can’t. I have student loans to pay like most recent college graduates. Travel is far from a main priority for many of us, but for those of us with a strong case of wanderlust, we make it a priority in our lives even with our limited time.

Unfortunately in the American society, vacation time is limited compared to our European counterparts. The average American has 16 days of paid leave while France and Italy are given 31 days paid time off. Most Americans only start with 10 days if they are even lucky to get paid vacation time at all! Over a quarter of US Workers receive no paid vacation or holiday times because employers aren’t required to provide paid holidays and vacation time. Thanks Uncle Sam! Canada is not too far off from the United States with only about 19 vacation days a year.

I currently work for a healthcare non-profit company. I have great benefits, but since my position is considered entry level, I only get 10 vacation days a year. Two weeks of vacation time doesn’t give me a lot of opportunity to travel and explore the world. Luckily, in addition to my 10 paid days of vacation, I also receive 12 days paid holiday.

I love traveling and even with my limited vacation days and busy schedule, I make it a priority. My coworkers and friends are always questioning where I’m heading off to next. Last year I did quite a bit of traveling, but 2015 is going to be a huge year of traveling for me.

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Are you looking to maximize your vacation days so you can travel more or longer? The best way to do this is to schedule your vacation days over a holiday. Last year I scheduled my trip to Sao Miguel (Azores), Portugal over the Thanksgiving holiday in November. I was there from Wednesday through Sunday, but only used one vacation day due to the two days of paid holiday time and the weekend! This year I scheduled my Europe trip over the Memorial Day holiday and my Iceland trip over Columbus Day weekend in October. That allows me two extra paid days to travel!

When I feel antsy, which is quite often these days, I schedule short weekend getaway trips on long holiday weekends. I spent Martin Luther King weekend in January in Charleston, South Carolina and President’s Day weekend in February in Montreal. Traveling with limited vacation time can be done. You just have to been a bit more creative.

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If you’re a college student then you probably have a bit more flexibility. If you have the means to travel during your college years then do it! I never formally studied abroad during college because finding a program that worked with my pre-med course load was tough. I did do a two-week travel course one winter break to Italy. That was my first real taste of travel and I have been enchanted by travel ever since.

Traveling the world with only two weeks of vacation a year can be done. You just need to be creative. Here are my tips to traveling more and longer on a limited time schedule:

  • Schedule your vacation time over holiday time if you receive paid holidays.
  • If your company allows for flex or floating holidays, see if you can work on the actual holiday day and use that holiday time to extend your vacation at another time of the year.
  • Take short three day trips over long weekends.
  • Be a tourist in your own city or state. Explore areas or restaurants you normally wouldn’t go to because all the tourists do.
  • See if your vacation time can roll over to the following year. Last year I didn’t use 5 of my vacation days. I was able to roll them over to this year so I can go to Europe for 18 days in the spring.
  • Schedule vacations from Thursday through Tuesday or similar instead of Monday through Friday. You use three vacation days instead of five.
  • Be flexible.

Until our American and Canadian employers can catch up with the rest of the Western world when it comes to more paid vacation time, we have to be creative on how we maximize our allotted vacation time each year. By traveling over holidays and weekends, we can extent our travel time and explore the world a little bit longer before we have to be back at our computer desks on Monday.

How I Travel So Much

Every time I take off on another trip, I get at least a few messages from friends asking how I’m doing this. I would have done the exact same thing a year ago: you see someone living your dream and globetrotting and you want to know how. This post is here to tell you how I travel so much as a full-time student and without spending a dollar of my parents’ money.

First of all, I don’t want this post to sound braggy. I know that I’ve been very lucky to be born into such great circumstances; I recognize that. But when people tell me I’m lucky to do what I do, it does annoy me a bit: I work my butt off for everything I have. I’m paying for university completely on my own, and I don’t have student loans. My parents haven’t given me money since I was old enough to get a part time job, although of course they support me in so many other ways. I work multiple jobs while taking seven classes, volunteering often, and taking a trip around every month, which makes me feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up. I know that there are very real barriers for some people to fulfill their travel dreams, but for the vast majority of you? If travel is your passion and you want to make it a part of your life, you can! The two biggest obstacles to travel are money and time.

I work multiple, flexible jobs.

Obviously, it wouldn’t work very well for me to have a non-flexible job. I’m abroad relatively often, and even when I’m in Nova Scotia I shuttle back and forth between my university and my hometown all the time. I work as a Teaching Assistant and a tutor, and I also make money from my blog and a Virtual Assistant job. My two in-person jobs are very flexible in that I can trade work with other TA’s, and tutoring is done totally on my schedule. If these had more rigid hours, my travel would be limited. Online jobs are obviously the ideal, as I can continue to work while I’m on the road.

I schedule classes to accommodate for travel.

Two points here: first of all, I don’t have class on Mondays or Fridays. That means I can extend a week-long trip pretty far on either side, giving me more days to travel. Although I’ll still have to miss class (unless I have a break) this is a huge benefit. I could also do weekend trips very easily if I wanted! Second, I picked a lot of random electives this semester solely based on the fact that missing class wouldn’t be a huge deal. I graduate in December so I’m getting a lot of elective requirements out of the way. Why not take them in a semester where I know I’ll be traveling a lot?  To be honest, I’ve been very disillusioned with university lately, and it hasn’t been my priority: I want to keep my scholarship and get out of here. Bad attitude? Maybe. I still get everything done, but I do it grudgingly.

I use the heck out of my planner.

When people say they don’t have a planner (or they don’t use some sort of online calendar) I feel utterly shocked. Without my planner, I would never make it anywhere and nothing would ever get done. Especially when I’m about to go on a trip, I can look at the upcoming weeks and see what I need to get done before I leave. This way I don’t miss things while I’m gone, and when I get back I don’t have to play catch-up quite as much. Time management is the key to basically everything in my opinion, and that’s true for allowing yourself to travel more.

I make sacrifices.

My parents have shown me that spending money on experiences is always the better choice, and my brilliant mother has been an amazing role model for budgeting and saving; I unconsciously learned a lot about money as a child. Those skills translated to this day, and I’m really proud of how financially independent I’ve been since age 16. I learned that I would have to make sacrifices, and I do. I love shopping. I bought a few shirts the other day (second-hand), but I have really successfully kicked my shopping addiction. Going from spending $1000 on clothes and shoes on one trip to New York City to spending maybe $100 every few months is a big achievement for me. If you want to travel a lot, you’re going to need to stop spending so much money on other things. I don’t shop much, I use coupons and buy the bare minimum of groceries, I split costs whenever I can (i.e. Netflix), and I stick to a very strict budget. Don’t be scared by the word budget – it’s actually quite a freeing concept. I never feel anxiety about spending way too much because I know exactly what I can spend. Set up a budget, stick to it, and in no time you’ll see how much money you can really save when you put your mind to it.

Obviously, one of the most important ways to travel more is to travel cheap. I stay in dirt-cheap hostels, walk everywhere, eat street food, and spend an inordinate time finding the best deal on a flight.

Here’s a whole post I wrote with some tips on how to travel more in university. A lot of them are focused on time and making the most of your time as a student to travel!

How do you incorporate travel into your life? I hope these tips are helpful!

Why You Should Volunteer Abroad (Maybe)

Today’s guest post comes from Sky,  who left Pennsylvania at the age of 20 to travel around the world. She’s currently in Central America, volunteering her way from Costa Rica to Mexico. She blogs about volunteering abroad, learning Spanish, and solo travel through Central America. Follow her journey at SkyvsWorld.com

“Anacielo! Anacielo!” I barely register the sound before I am attacked by a group of first graders clinging to my legs and grabbing my hand. It’s been a year since I last saw them but they recognize me instantly, warming my heart. This is it, this is why I returned.

I first met this group of children the previous year when I joined a school volunteer trip to Guatemala. Though the trip lasted only ten days it was a life-changing experience of interacting with children from another culture, teaching, and painting the school. When the trip was announced the following year, I was the first to join.

Volunteering with these children gave me an opportunity to see a side of Guatemala I may have missed otherwise. While I was able to give something to them – a few words of English, some crayons and paper – they gave me so much more. As cliche as it may be, they opened my eyes to an entire new world.

Since then, volunteering while traveling has been a priority. I’m currently traveling through Central America spending a minimum of 3 months each in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala to volunteer with children.

Some of my most rewarding travel experiences have been the result of my volunteer projects. With the rise of voluntourism and guided international trips with a volunteer focus, more and more people are turning their attention to volunteering abroad.

Looking back on my experiences, it’s easy to see the allure of volunteering.

Volunteering allows you to see the country beyond the tourist trail. Most volunteer projects are in rural areas so you get to see how the locals live. Or, particularly if you’re working with animals, you get to have an experience that many never will, such as releasing turtles on the beach in Costa Rica or volunteering at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.

When you volunteer you’re touching the lives of those around you. Whether you’re teaching, building a house, or working at an animal rescue center, your time and energy makes a difference.

Volunteering makes your time abroad feel more meaningful. I can assure you that while I enjoyed being a tourist in Guatemala, I enjoyed my days spent with the kids even more.

And, though it’s a selfish reason, volunteering feels good. Giving back feels good.

However, volunteering has its downsides – more often to those you are trying to help than to you.

Volunteering with children is a sticky subject. If you only have a short period of time, it’s not recommended. Children have a habit of getting attached quickly and while they may come to love you in only a few short days, it will take them longer to forget you. For children who have already been abandoned by family, this can have a particularly detrimental effect.sefora guatemala classroom

Sometimes places just don’t need volunteers. This was the case in Panama when my friends and I tried to volunteer at an after school program. There was nothing for us to do besides stand around and I felt our presence was more harmful than appreciated.

Other times organizations allow volunteers to help with jobs that locals could easily do. While it might feel good to build a house in Africa, you may well be taking a job away from a local. Sometimes the better solution is to donate the money to buy the supplies and provide jobs to those in the community.

This is not to say you shouldn’t volunteer – obviously that’s not the case! But, before signing on to a project take a few moments to consider how helpful you really will be and whether or not someone else could do the job. And, please, if you only have a week or two, find an alternative to volunteering with children.

For a great resource on volunteer ethics and great organizations across the globe, check out GrassrootsVolunteering.org.

Ten Signs You’re a Budget Traveler

I’m up for a bit of luxury as much as the next person – when I’m travelling with my parents. On my own, I’ve noticed I’ll do some rather ridiculous things to save rather small amounts of money: after all, every penny I save while abroad is a penny I can use for the next trip. There are a lot of signs you’re a budget traveler – here are ten!

1. You’ll walk for kilometers just to avoid paying a tiny bus fare

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2. You’ll book a flight with 2 extra layovers to save $50

3. Street food is your best friend

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4. You would never exchange money at an airport

5. The word hotel has almost no meaning to you

6. Roaming plan for your phone? Why would you get that?

7. You’ll wear the same clothes for days because they’re all you could fit in a carryon

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8. No matter how poorly Ryanair treats you, you won’t stop flying with them

9. Taxis are pure evil in your mind

10. You refuse to pay a dollar more for a hostel dorm with half the number of beds

Well, what’s the verdict? Are you a hardcore budget traveler? What signs am I missing?

Does Size Really Matter?

KP Schwan is a full time wanderluster, part time travel blogger. Florida-born, Sydney-based. She’s a freelance content writer & social media specialist. She’s traveled to 30 countries, studied in 3 and lived in 2 – all before turning 22. Her favorites include Ireland, Croatia, Australia and Costa Rica. In between trips, KP likes to practice yoga, write, run on the beach and plan the next big adventure. Today, she’s here to discuss a very important dilemma – does size really matter? (Get your mind out of the gutter.) 

The age-old question – Does size really matter? Well, when it comes to studying or living abroad, I think it does. One of the biggest factors in choosing a city is the size, and it may be one of the few chances in your life that “going big” isn’t necessarily the best option. Sure, the big bright lights of Paris, London and New York can be enticing with hundreds of like-minded young people searching for the same thing. Florence, Valencia and Geneva may even feel like you’re really “getting away from it all”, but it’s just as big of a hub for study abroad students who can group together and stay stuck in their cultural ways.

To me, the smaller cities, the lesser-known cities, the cities that don’t even have descriptions on Lonely Planet, are the ones that attract me.  Why you may ask?

1) Learning the Language

When I first studied abroad, I chose Santa Ana, Costa Rica, a tiny little town outside of San Jose. There was one pub in town. You could run up the mountain to get to school every day. My host family was so amazingly kind and patient. And most importantly, I could practice my Spanish everywhere I went. Even the students in my program, all 12 of us, would practice together.

At our school in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

At our school in Santa Ana, Costa Rica

In a bigger city with a bigger program, I think it would be hard to keep trying to practice the language, because you wouldn’t need to. Locals in a big city all know how to speak English – you don’t HAVE to speak their language just to get by. I enjoyed being challenged by the language barrier every day. By the end of the program, I was having full, in detail conversations with my host family.

2) Getting To Know The Locals

The second time I studied abroad was in Leysin, Switzerland. I wanted a European Adventure, but I didn’t want to share the experience with 80 other students from my university. I loved having a smaller group of friends in Costa Rica, so I chose one of the smallest programs my university offered in Europe. Again, I chose a tiny town nestled up in the snow-capped Swiss Alps. And, there were THREE bars, this time.  Getting crazy, I know.

Leysin, Switzerland

Leysin, Switzerland

It was a sleepy town in the summer months waiting for the ski season to hit. You had to take a 30-minute cable car up the mountain just to get to the town. There were stunning, breathtaking views from our dorm windows overlooking the Alps. You could hike for days and days in every direction. It was a quarter of a mile hike up a few hundred stairs to get to the train station (or the pub). But the people are really what made it worth it.

Our first night in town, the locals arranged a welcome party at our favourite bar with their resident “DJ”, DJ Pancake. Everyone came out to welcome us, and it was hands down one of my favourite nights of the whole summer. Throughout the rest of the time there, we got to know the locals, the bartenders, the cooks, the dry cleaners, the local teachers, everyone. We learned about their lives and what they do, and why they’re in Leysin. We partied with them every weekend, and truly became good friends. I still talk to some of the locals I met that summer. I’m not aware of many people who study abroad in big cities who build those kinds of relationships. It makes for a truly unique experience.

Study Abroad Group at a Wine Festival in Aigle, Switzerland

Study Abroad Group at a Wine Festival in Aigle, Switzerland

3) Making a Unique Connection

While I live in one of the most well known, iconic cities in the world (Sydney), I still find myself yearning for that small-town, locals-only feel.  I live out of the city, go out to the lesser-known beaches and find restaurants and bars that only a local could. These experiences of living and studying in a small town form a unique connection that not many other people will ever experience. A smaller town offers authenticity, familiarity, uniqueness and in a good way, difficulty.  It allows you to form a connection to the city like no one else has before. It allows you to be different amongst the masses.

I’m not trying to knock down any of the big European cities. By all means, if you’re a city slicker and get a rush from the big bright lights, then go for it! Do what’s best for you! But if you’re toying between big or small, and the only downside to the small seems to be that not many people have done it before, then go for the small. I was terrified both times I opted for the smaller town. What if I don’t like it there? What if no one is there? What if there’s nothing to do? These are good fears to have, and it forces you to get creative, meet new people, and learn about the culture. This is why I’ve now decided to live and teach in a smaller town in Thailand as opposed to Bangkok or Chiang Mai. I know it will be challenging, but I remember how great it feels to live somewhere totally unique and totally mine.

So does size really matter? What do you think?

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Website: www.whereintheworldkp.com

Be a Girl Who Travels

When I think of a successful and powerful woman, I think of someone who’s independent, confident, and smart. Sound good to you? Me too. As a solo female traveler, I firmly believe that nothing can change a woman’s life more than travel. When you embark on an adventure all by yourself, you will come back changed – on the road to being successful, powerful, and everything you’ve ever wanted to be. Going to China alone changed my perspective on life and I could not be more grateful for that experience. My next solo trip was just last month to Belgium and Prague, and everything went wrong. I came home knowing that I could conquer ANYTHING the world threw at me, and far from being scared to go abroad alone again, I’m excitedly planning my European adventures this summer.

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Be a girl who travels. You’ll learn that you don’t need anyone’s help to make your way through a totally foreign city where you can’t find anyone who speaks English. You can get through being sick, breaking your phone, losing your map, getting unbelievably lost, crying in a cab in China. When you get home, you’ll notice that you don’t want to ask for help so much, because you know you can do it. Let travel show you that if you want something, you can get it – all on your own.

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Be a girl who travels. If you can walk up to that cute guy in a hostel, not even knowing if he speaks English, and ask what him and his friends are doing that day, you can do that presentation at school. If you can convince an airline agent to give you a free hotel room that you don’t really deserve, you can tell your boss that you want a raise. If you can walk around the back streets of a foreign city, exploring the world after dark, and you feel no fear – you can do anything, and you can do it with confidence.

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Be a girl who travels. The people you meet, the things you see….you’ll see the world in a new way. Travelling teaches you more than a day in the classroom ever could. I might miss class to travel, but when I spend a day walking through Prague Castle and learning about the history of Czech Republic, and then I spend the evening talking to a guy from Iceland and learning about his country, I sure don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. Smarts don’t mean you have a 4.0 (and even that is a sign that I’ve learned so much). Being smart means you know what you want, and you know about the world, and you know things. Some of those things are best learned through travel.

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The feeling I get when I’m exploring a new city is like nothing else. I’m happy in a different way than I’m happy at home, and as corny as it sounds, travel makes me feel alive. When I flip back through my travel journal, every entry raves about the amazing things I’ve seen and done and you can just hear how overjoyed I am with my life at that moment. Meeting new people, trying new things, and seeing new places – those are the reasons you should be a girl who travels. Travelling makes me feel independent, confident and smart – and it can do the same for you.

Yonderbound: My New Favourite Way to Book Accommodation

There is nothing I love more than planning a trip. From hunting down the best flight deals to making a list of all the restaurants I want to try, sometimes I think I should be a travel agent! However, there is one key part of the puzzle that still frustrates me to no end: booking accommodation.

I tend to start my accommodation research with great intentions: I’ll make a detailed list of all of my options and figure out the pros and cons before deciding on the best option. In reality, I look at about 10,000 hostels and hotels before throwing my hands up in the air and picking one that seems good enough. I’m very obsessive about trip planning, so this system really just doesn’t work for me – and I hadn’t found a solution until I met Yonderbound.

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Yonderbound is a new hotel booking website with a ton of cool features. Here’s what I like about it:

Saving Your Favourites

The most common positive feedback I’ve heard about Yonderbound is about its similarity to Pinterest. When you search for hotels in a certain location, you then save them to a Yonderbox, which you can come back to later. It’s just like pinning to a board! One of my biggest problems with selecting accommodation is keeping track of all my favourite options, so this is a huge help. Here’s an example of part of one of my Yonderboxes:

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You can add comments to remember what you liked/disliked about each place, and the layout makes it SO easy to look back at which accommodations you’re interested in.

Linked to TripAdvisor

When you look at a hotel’s profile on Yonderbound, it automatically shows you the hotel’s ratings and reviews from TripAdvisor, which is a huge help. I rely heavily on TripAdvisor for everything, and not having to open up a separate tab is so helpful.

Taxes and Fees

Yonderbound shows you prices for the hotel with all taxes and fees included, so it’s much easier to compare different places. This can be an issue if you’re trying to compare with other sites, but when you’re just using Yonderbound it’s very helpful to know that the price you’re seeing is all-in.

Special Deals

Right now, Yonderbound is offering a $10 credit to new users! If you click on that link, you’ll be given a promo code that you can use to save $10 on any hotel booking you make through the site. That’s pretty cool, since you can book basically any hotel in the world!

Customer Service

My family tried to book a Newark airport hotel through Yonderbound, but had an issue with the currency being displayed (more on that later), so cancelled it about 10 minutes after making the booking. Within an hour of the cancellation, a representative from the company had emailed me just making sure everything was fine and asking why I had cancelled! I was very impressed with the service – and it turned into a partnership with the company, which is allowing me to give you that discount code I mentioned earlier.

I can’t wait to use Yonderbound in the future. I’m hoping they work on integrating more hostels into the website, since that’s usually the type of place I stay! If you’re on a bigger budget or going somewhere with family, it’ll work perfectly for you. As well, make sure you know that they show prices in USD – that’s what tripped us up when making the Newark booking.

Have you ever heard of Yonderbound? Make sure to sign up and claim your $10 credit!