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6 Fun Ways to Prepare for an International Trip

1. Download a language app

I highly recommend downloading a language-learning app on your phone or tablet, such as Duolingo, to learn some basic words and phrases from the country you’re visiting. Duolingo offers 37+ languages and will provide you with some relevant material (and some that can seem quite random). It helped me in Copenhagen when we walked into a bakery that had absolutely no English on its menu; I was thankful that I had at least become familiar with the Danish words for “bread” and “egg.”

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2. Pick up a travel book about your destination

Read about the history and culture, the recommended areas to stay in and places to eat, and the sights to see. I love heading over to my town library’s travel section and browsing the books on my destination. My personal favorite brand is Lonely Planet; I find their organization straightforward and their suggestions noteworthy. You could also borrow a language-learning book/audio book while you’re there.

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3. Learn about the country's tipping policy and general manners

This is something that I have previously forgotten to research ahead of time and has made for an awkward scramble when it came time to pay a bill or exit a taxi. Of course, when in doubt, a tip is almost always appreciated. I have found that it is simply reassuring to have thought about this beforehand and know whether or not it is customary.

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4. Watch movies or read books that take place in that country or city

See a list of travel-themed movies here and a list of books set all around the world here! Doing this may also give you ideas on what to see and do in that country. Before I went to Scotland, I started reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. These books taught me quite a bit about the Jacobite rising and War of the British Succession, something that I most certainly would not have thought to research ahead of time. It thusly provoked me to add a stop at Culloden Moor, a pertinent battleground, to our itinerary. As I have continued reading the series, it’s so fun knowing that I have been to that exact spot.

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5. Download a currency conversion app

By doing so, you can get familiar with the exchange rate and always have the currency converter at your fingertips when shopping internationally. An app that has worked well for me is XE Currency. It was a lifesaver in Norway, where prices for most things are outrageously high. I almost bought a singular $28.00 beer at the grocery store but, thanks to the app, decided to put that one back on the shelf and find something else!

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6. Listen to travel podcasts

Another way I get hyped up about my trip is by listening to podcasts. Among my favorite travel-themed podcasts are Rick Steves Travel and Zero to Travel. Listening to conversation about cultures, people, history, sights, activities, travel tips and more is an engaging way to gain knowledge and ideas before a trip. It’s also convenient that you can download them beforehand and listen to them while you travel!

What else do you do to prepare for an international trip? I’d love to hear some ideas! 

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Woodsy Retreat with Getaway

Don’t miss the discount code for $25 off your own Getaway at the end of this post!

Situated in the woods less than two hours outside of Boston is the most delightful weekend escape: Getaway House. Your own tiny cabin “nestled in nature” invites you to unplug and unwind by yourself or with a loved one (be it a human or a dog). I experienced my most relaxing 24 hours in recent memory here and am very excited to share the details with you.

The booking process for your trip is totally unique. Getaway currently has three outposts, each of which is within two hours of a major city (Boston, NYC, and DC - Los Angeles coming soon). On their website, you choose which outpost is best for you and select your cabin size to make your reservation. The exact address of the cabin will be sent to you via email a day prior to your trip and you’ll receive the cabin name and key code to enter on the day of your arrival! The mystery of your exact lodging location is part of the experience and any stress about it is eliminated with the promise of it being under a two-hour drive.

The adventure really begins when you get to the woods.

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My husband and I arrived to a handwritten note and a surprise treat. The cabin itself is beautifully minimalistic and comes with all the essentials - a small but well-stocked kitchen, a bathroom with shower, a seating area with a table for eating and hanging out, and a super comfy bed next to a giant window looking out into nature. We settled in right away, hooking a phone up to the Bluetooth speaker so we could listen to some tunes, but otherwise putting technology aside for the duration of our stay.


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Our dog, Remy, was an immediate fan of all the windows (such great squirrel-watching)! I brought ingredients to make dinner, but the kitchen is also stocked with some meal options for purchase and the basics for free (salt, pepper, olive oil). Then I took a little walk outside before it got dark. There are other cabins nearby, but each feels very secluded. There is a fire pit and chairs outside each cabin, but it was a bit too freezing for us to use them that night! We spent the evening drinking hot chocolate, reading, and talking.


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We woke up to snow. Laying in bed next to the massive window with snowflakes falling all around us was utter magic. We had breakfast in bed and enjoyed pour over Kuju coffee from the Getaway pantry.


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We felt so refreshed. We had a perfectly lazy morning and took one last walk around the cabin in the snow before packing up and heading home.


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How to make the most of your time in the woods:

  • Cook a meal or two. As I mentioned previously, don’t worry if you come unprepared as they have a small selection of provisions available in the cabin for you. Cooking was a nice and relaxing way to spend time.

  • If you’re staying at the Boston outpost, stop by family-run, farm-based Blasty Bough Brewing on your way and grab a growler to take with you to the cabin.

  • Do the digital detox. Getaway highly encourages its guests to unplug during their stay. A small box is provided specifically for you to lock away your cell phones for the duration of your visit. There is no TV and no wifi. I don’t even remember the last time I was so detached from the digital world and it felt AMAZING, even if only for 24 hours.

  • Read together. Pack a good book - or, if you forget one, the tiny house has a bookshelf with some fitting nature-themed reading material. I brought Jedidiah Jenkins’ memoir, To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret, which I strongly recommend if you like adventure, vulnerability, and exploration of both the self and the world.

  • Bring a camera and take a walk.

We already cannot wait to book our next visit! Thank you so very much to Getaway for hosting us.

To receive $25 off your own getaway, visit their website and enter code “Brittany25” at checkout!



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Top gifts for travelers

The holidays are coming up fast! I have been doing some research on the best latest travel accessories and want to share them with you in case you’re in search of a gift for the traveler in your life (or yourself, let’s be honest). Many of these items are self-explanatory, but each of the specific products shown below are ones that I’ve found to be top-rated in their categories. Prices range from $13-199 so there are options for many levels of spending.

Poler Unisex Rolltop Bag

I love backpacks. I have a giant collection of them in all shapes and sizes. My Poler backpack is my traveling go-to. It’s made of rugged, water-resistant material, is very comfortable to wear, and fits a surprisingly large amount inside of it without becoming bulky looking or misshapen. I have the Poler rucksack, however, I think that this rolltop bag, currently found on Amazon for $140, would be ideal for use as a carry-on as well as a daypack while traveling. The rolling and clipping top aids in anti-theft and the 21-liter size is perfect. I may have to get this one next.

Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Alright so this is an obvious one, but if you are a frequent traveler or you know one who doesn’t have a Kindle yet, y’all are seriously slacking. This is my personal favorite travel accessory. I have ALWAYS carried a book or two with me while traveling and the Kindle is the perfect way to have a whole library available in your hands. The battery life is super long and it’s so tiny and easy to pack. The latest version is around $129, but if you go for just a generation prior, it drops to $79. I still have my first generation Kindle and it’s going strong!

Kmall Inflatable Travel Pillow

Neck pillows are a subjective topic, but my definite favorite are the inflatable ones. Instead of having to carry around a bulky, stuffed pillow, you can stuff a deflated one in your purse or carry-on pocket to be pulled out and inflated only when needed. I find them to be quite comfortable too. This one from Kmall is only $13! Can’t beat that.

Rolo Adventures LLC Portable Roll-Up Travel Bag

I just recently found out about this Rolo Roll-Up Bag and really want to try it! Like packing cubes, it compresses a large amount of clothing into a small roll. Pack it inside your suitcase or attach it to the outside of your backpack. My favorite feature is the hook on top which allows it to hang in a closet or on the back of a door. It has great reviews so far and is currently just $49.

Delicacy Universal Travel Power Adaptor

When traveling internationally, a reliable power adaptor is absolutely essential. This one is only $21 and it has a built-in smart IC chip which allows it to detect what type of electronics you are plugging into it so it can adjust its power output accordingly. I love that! It also has 4 USB ports, allowing for lots of charging at once.

RAVPower Portable Charger

This RAVPower Portable Charger is compact but packs a big punch. It holds up to 5 full iPhone charges or can charge 3 devices at once. It’s available in 4 different colors and comes with a protective pouch. A great deal for $42.

Sennheiser Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

The Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the ultimate traveler’s headphones. At $199.99, they are an investment, but a worthwhile one. They cancel out almost all background noise, connect via bluetooth, and their battery lasts up to 30 hours. Whether on a bus, train, plane, or sitting in a busy terminal, these headphones will be your best friend.

Manfrotto Compact Tripod

A tripod is key- especially on solo travels, in remote places where there aren’t other people to ask for photos, or when shooting in low light situations. The Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod weighs just 2.03 pounds, is under 16 inches when fully closed, and extends up to 51.5 inches. Perfect to store in your bag and whip out when needed. At $58, it’s a steal for a sturdy, reliable product at a super light weight.

L.L. Bean Merino Wool Hooded Sweatshirt

Available in both women’s and men’s fits, this lightweight wool hoodie is the perfectly cozy travel sweatshirt. I always recommend a hoodie while traveling, so you can flip it around and put the hood up over your face while you’re sleeping. Wool brings it to another level, adding breathability and body temperature regulation to ensure you don’t get too cold or too hot on the plane (or at your destination). I never know if there will be freezing air blowing on me or if it’ll be warm and stuffy, so I find this material to be key. At $159, it’s pricey for a hoodie, but L.L. Bean makes long-lasting products and this will be a go-to layer for years to come.

MiiR Wide Mouth Water Bottle

Bringing a good reusable water bottle with you while traveling is a clever little travel hack. Of course, it has to be empty while going through security, but then you can just fill it up at a water fountain once you reach your gate. Then, you can have a full bottle while you’re on the plane, instead of constantly having to ask for little cups to stay hydrated. I also like to keep a bottle on me at all times during the day, so I love having this with me throughout my whole trip. This bottle by MiiR comes in three sizes (16oz, 20oz, 42oz), it is insulated for use of hot or cold liquids, and the smaller two sizes fit in cupholders. Prices range from $27-35, though they’re currently on sale. I recommend MiiR because it’s a fantastic bottle, but also because they give 3% of their revenue to organizations with sustainable methods of empowerment.

Field Notes Notebook Pack

I like to write out my daily travel plans, keep track of restaurants or sights that I loved, jot down notes, or keep a journal while traveling. Stick one of these mini notebooks in your carry-on and you’re all set to record everything your heart desires while adding fewer than 3oz to your bag’s weight. A 3-pack goes for $9.95.

What are your favorite travel-themed gifts you’ve received or given? I would love to hear about them!

*Post contains affiliate links. Photos are from product websites.

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Quick City Guide: Copenhagen

Copenhagen! I love this city. The dreamy canals, gorgeous churches, quaint neighborhoods, and overall vibe was entrancing to me right off the bat. It’s the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, even beating out Amsterdam, and watching the morning commute to work is a sight in itself. Hundreds of bikes ridden by business-attire-clad ladies and gentlemen whir down the streets all at once. Copenhagen is home to one of Europe’s most thriving beer scenes and it is also known for some legendary restaurants. There is so much to do and see.

Where to Stay

We stayed in an Airbnb located in the Christianshavn neighborhood. Public transportation options are abundant, but this area is also a quick 15-minute walk to Nyhavn, the main canal and central tourist area.

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What to See & DO

Take a canal boat ride (kind of mandatory if you’re visiting this place for the first time, plus it’s nice to float through some of the lesser known canals and neighborhoods). This is also an easy way to see the famous “Little Mermaid” statue- the boat takes you right by it.

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Have a beer canal-side in Nyhavn. You can order from a take away beer stand and sit along the waterfront to enjoy it.

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Walk the streets and peruse the shops. There are some really cool and interesting shops with minimalistic Scandinavian home goods, clothing, records, books, and more. Strøget is the city’s main shopping street and also the longest pedestrian street in the world.

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Climb the winding staircase to the tippy-top of The Church of our Saviour’s helix spire for sweeping views.

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Take a half-day trip up to Frederiksborg Castle. This 17th century palace is just an hour train ride from the city.

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Other things to see:
Tivoli Gardens 19th century amusement park
Amalienborg Palace - the Queen’s winter residence
Christiania - a controversial commune (make sure to read up before visiting)

Eat & Drink

My favorite dining experience I’ve ever had was in Copenhagen at Amass. I highly suggest working a dinner here into your budget if at all possible. The food was of course impeccable, but the service and experience as a whole is what made it unforgettable. Before our meal, we were served champagne and invited to go outside and wander their gardens. We were seated next to the open kitchen and the cooks chatted with us throughout our meal. After dining, we were asked to help start the nightly bonfire outside and sip wine while we chatted with locals- specifically, the couple whose apple orchard the restaurant’s apples are sourced from.

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Grab some beers at Mikkeller in its home city! Then try out WarPigs down the street for more tasty craft brews and some BBQ.

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Other spots to check out:
Mirabelle for freshly-baked bread & pastries
Cafe Wilder for breakfast
Luna’s Diner for breakfast & wifi

I have a feeling that Copenhagen just scratches the surface of denmark’s amazingness. I can’t wait to get back and explore more!

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How I Find the Best Flight Deals

I am the queen of finding fantastic, almost unheard of flight deals. My best score so far was probably our flights from Boston to Bergen, Norway: two roundtrip tickets for under $500 total. I am going to share with you my tips for procuring such excellent deals.

Subscribe to many different airlines' email lists and follow them on social media.

By doing so, you will frequently receive announcements about sale fares and sometimes discount codes you can use as well. Being subscribed to and following along with various airlines helps you to learn which airlines tend to offer the best deals. For example, I recently received a 40% off discount code from WOWair via email which brought one-way flights from Boston to multiple destinations in Europe to under $100. These sales and discount codes always have time period restrictions, but are usually for travel in the next 3-6 months. 

An email from wow air containing a discount code

An email from wow air containing a discount code

Southwest promoting a good deal on twitter

Southwest promoting a good deal on twitter

Search for low fares using travel booking websites such as Kayak, Skyscanner, or Momondo.

I suggest doing your searches on a few of these all-encompassing websites to get an idea of who is offering the best rates to your chosen location. If you are flexible with destination or travel dates, they provide you the option of inputting your destination as “Anywhere,” and some allow you to check a “flexible dates” box in the search field. IMPORTANTLY, though, I highly recommend making your actual booking directly through the airline's website. In the case that your flight needs to be changed or rescheduled, it is significantly easier to be able to speak directly to the airline than to be given the go-around by a third party. In fact, I will even pay slightly more if necessary to book directly through an airline for this reason.

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Download the Hopper app on your phone.

This app analyzes data from billions of flights to help you find the very best deals. It predicts the cheapest time of year to travel, which it displays on its calendars in color coding. It also suggests when it is most beneficial to make your flight purchase by telling you to "wait to buy" or "buy now," with information on how the prices might change in the future. You can save multiple destination searches and the app will notify you when the prices are ideal. I would still recommend booking the flight directly through the airline, though, once you’ve found a good deal on Hopper.

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Check out Secret Flying.

This is a free website that doesn't even require you to sign up to view amazing travel deals. Its homepage highlights the best deals all over the world, but you can filter it to show deals solely out of your home airport. This site also displays error fares, which is when the airline enters a way-lower-than-usual fare for a route by accident and hasn't fixed it yet. This is especially good for when you haven't chosen a specific destination, but are open to wherever the best deal might be.

A selection of secret flying’s current deals

A selection of secret flying’s current deals

Search all the time.

I have become extremely familiar with flight prices to all different areas of the world from my home airport. I search flights to various destinations multiple times per week. Doing this has provided me with reliable knowledge about typical flight costs versus great deals. For example, I know that roundtrip flights from Boston to Seattle typically average anywhere from $330-550, but there are times when they will go down as low as $237.

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Pull the trigger when the price is low.

I have to say that I have missed out a couple of times on the best deals by not following this rule. Sometimes I hold off because I'm either not quite ready to make the purchase or because I think there's a chance that the price could get a little lower. You don't want that feeling of regret when you see the prices go up and know that you just missed out on the best deal! By being familiar with prices as I mentioned above, you can avoid this.

 

Are there any other ways you find great deals? I would love to know!