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Our Bucket List for 2018

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Bucket ListAs 2017 is coming to an end, we decided to write down all the things we wanted to accomplish in the new year. Some are things that we never got to in 2017, others were thought of in the moment. We have an entire year to do everything (or close to) on this list. Welcome 2018, we’re excited for what you’ll bring!

2018 Bucket List

  • Hike a 14er
  • Go camping
  • Visit Canada
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Visit a city (in state) we’ve never been to
  • Spend a day on the water
  • Go skiing
  • Visit Hanging Lake
  • Write a story
  • Go on a Cruise
  • Do at least ONE Adrenaline Junky activity
  • Meet someone famous
  • Foster a pet
  • Go to a concert
  • Spend a day at a resort spa
  • Make our first $100 as bloggers
  • Take a cooking class
  • Go fishing
  • Swim with sharks
  • Go clamming
  • Stomp grapes
  • Try a strange food
  • Learn new songs in American Sign Language
  • Volunteer
  • Shoot a gun
  • Go paintballing
  • Go to at least ONE sports event per season
  • Ride a tandem bicycle
  • Ride a “beer bus”
  • Visit a hostel
  • Book an Air BnB
  • Go to a winery

 

January 2, 2018
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Thanksgiving in Seattle

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thanksgiving

Since I was a kid, my family and I would always spend one holiday in Seattle out of the year. This year, we went for Thanksgiving, which I was ecstatic about! A lot of my family and some of my friends live in Seattle, so I was making plans all week! I’ve been back for a day and already I need another vacation just to catch up on all the sleep I’ve lost! I’ll do my best to not make this a long post, while fitting everything I did while away into it!

 

Housesitting

The first few days in Seattle I spent in Greenlake with my sister. She was watching her friend’s two cats while she was on vacation for the weekend. Greenlake is just north of the greater Seattle area, in a wealthier neighborhood. Her friend’s apartment was quaint with windows cornering her living room. It was rainy the  entire time, but at least there was plenty of natural light making it’s way in.

Seattle vacation

I was exhausted that first night since I had been up and traveling since 5 a.m. So Amelia and I decided to go down to PCC Community Markets for dinner ingredients and wine. PCC is a local grocery that sells local and organic foods in the Seattle area, getting the majority of its food from the Puget Sound region. So even though the food was a little pricey, it supported local communities and was overall better quality food (in my opinion). We spent about $43 each for salmon, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, red onion, spices and three bottles of wine.

Needless to say, we had a great Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa dinner while we watched Bad Moms and made our way through all three bottles of wine… I’ll spare you the details on what happened after those three bottles and the next morning.

 

Thanksgiving

After the weekend, I spent the next few days catching up with relatives, attending lunches and dinners. We hadthanksgiving food thanksgiving photo booth propsThanksgiving dinner at my grandparents house where my immediate family and I were staying. My extended family was coming in from across the state and we had to plan a meal and seating for all 20 of us. My aunt brought photo booth props for us to play around with while we waiting for dinner. So we went around with our drinks and posed for the camera when the mobile photo booth came around.

People brought their own drinks and side dishes and my grandma set to work on the rest! We enjoyed a (massive) Turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, salad, cranberry sauce and any other classics you can think of. My aunt made three pies for dessert; pumpkin, pumpkin chocolate, and chocolate pecan, which I somehow managed to eat after a full meal (thank god for leggings).

By 8:00 p.m. the house was quiet and cleaned and my parents, grandparents, sisters and I sat on the couch in silence with full bellies and hangovers setting in. Needless to say, the holiday had been a great success.

 

 

Downtown Seattle

Seattle birthday party art marble 21My birthday was the 29th of November and my cousin’s birthday is November 9th. Since I was out visiting, we decided to go out one night in South Lake Union which is just north of the greater Seattle area. Amelia booked us a hotel room so we could get into some serious shenanigans without worrying about a sober drive back. We broke out the tequila and mix when we got up to the room and spent a couple of hours just talking and catching up.

Once we realized the time and how hungry we were, we set off to a bar called Art Marble 21. There was a large dining area with a bar and on the other side there was a game area. They had free-play games like air hockey, darts, shuffle board, ping pong, and pool. We ordered a huge plate of nachos with pork, tacos, chips and salsa and a round of tequila sunrises. We didn’t go crazy but the night was a lot of fun regardless!

Apple Cup

My dad went to U-Dub, and as a result he is a huge fan of the Washington Huskies. He had tickets to the Apple Cup, which is the rivalry game between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State Cougars. We left early to do some tailgating with my dad’s friends from college and then met up with my uncle by the front gate of the Huskies’ Stadium to make our way to our seats together.

Husky Stadium University of Washington

It was a huge advantage for the Huskies to host this game, because they were already so used to the rain and it was raining. A lot. The people below us who weren’t covered by the stadium were drenched before the second quarter even started! It wasn’t a very close game (the Cougars didn’t score until the second half) and it rained the entire time, but it was still a good game!

 

Conclusion

I packed a lot into one week in Seattle, and I didn’t even include my trips to Kirkland, Munroe, and Renton! If you’ve never been to Seattle, I would highly recommend going. There is so much to do there, although it does rain a bit… Look into it, especially in the summertime. I will make more future posts about my adventures to Seattle in the future!

December 1, 2017
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Studying Abroad in College: While There

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studying abroad

 

Getting the necessities

When I arrived, I opened a bank account because the transfer fee for foreign currency would’ve robbed me blind. I opened a savings account to build a little money without effort. In doing this, I was able to avoid a lot of ATM fees any time I needed cash.

I didn’t have an international plan on my phone, so I bought a basic phone for $35 with unlimited texting and talking for $20 a month. It was a basic phone, but I also had my tablet and iPhone to connect to Wi-Fi in public. It was quite the transition going back to the T9 texing…

As far as school supplies goes,I bought mine when I got there so I have less to lug around.

“yes” (wo)man

sky diving australia study abroadI knew this would probably be the only time I would ever  be in Australia. So I made a deal with myself the first week, that no matter what someone asked me to do, I would say yes. This opened so many doors for me, I went skydiving, bungy jumping, scuba diving, drove a camper van, went to a Bruno Mars concert and so much more. I decided overcoming my fear is much better than regretting my decision saying “no” later. I knew I would have thousands of dollars in debt later, but money will always be there, wallaby’s and exclusive night clubs will not.

 

New friends

I was a lone traveler, so I joined a program outside of my school for the diversity aspect called GlobaLinks. I chosefriends studying abroad this program because the cost included 3 days in Cairns, Australia where we were taught the culture of the country and were able to have some hand-on experience before semester started. We spent the first day in a meeting room setting at the hostel we stayed at and did some ice breakers. There were people going to a few different universities throughout Australia, but I found a few who were attending the same as me. The people that I met in this program quickly became my close companions and we spent the remainder of the semester together. We still stay in contact today and have even had a reunion and are planning on more!

 

Being a traveler

traveler study abroad

There’s a difference between being a traveler and a tourist. A traveler will go about their surroundings, engaging with the culture, the people and adopting their surroundings. A tourist will do all the stereotypical things: visiting famous monuments, popular restaurants, following the book. I’m not saying I wasn’t ever a tourist, I did visit famous and popular places. But I did’t go about it like it’s a “one-and-done” deal. I took my time, explored, got lost in the city, engaged with the locals, traveled with a local! This was one of the best parts of my trip, doing things out of my comfort zone with complete strangers, who would later become friends.

 

Documentation

scuba diving studying abroad australiaFor Christmas, my sister and three of my friends bought me a GoPro and a checklist. The goal was for me to do everything on the list and document it and send it back! I reminisce on my time abroad by looking back at pictures ALL THE TIME. I bought a waterproof case and a wrist strap to take it scuba diving and bungy jumping so I wouldn’t accidentally drop it. When we went to the city, I took pictures of the Opera House, the street lights, the botanic garden and of course my friends and I! There were so many videos and pictures to sift through, I usually did this on the weekends or days when I didn’t have class to keep my friends and family back home up to date on what I was up to.

 

 

Making time for school

It’s exciting being in a different country, but I knew I’d need to dedicate time to studying. I needed to pass my classes so I wouldn’t waste the cost for a semester. While I was there,  I learned some very valuable time management skills. I only had class three days a week because I was very lucky. Therefore I went out a lot, but I also dedicated my Monday’s and Tuesday mornings to school work. This way I could have my weekends free for fun activities!

This way I could also dedicate my week break between semesters to travel. I went with a group of friends to New Zealand and rented a camper van to drive down the south island.

 

Related Reading: Studying Abroad in College: Planning for your TripMy 6 Months in Taiwan: Overview

 

The biggest piece I needed to remember was that as far as I knew, this would be my only time there, so I didn’t take my time for granted! I said yes to new experiences, made new friends, explored and had fun!

 

 

 

November 15, 2017
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Studying Abroad in College: Planning for theTrip

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studying abroad

 

My parent’s told me as long as I had good grades, they would financially support me through college. Therefore, I chose where I went to school, what my major would be and everything I did. The best part about what my parents had told me, was that it was so vague. So as part of our agreement, I researched, prepped and spent the spring of my junior year in Sydney, Australia.

My sister had studied abroad the year before I had in Capetown, South Africa with a couple of close friends. I’d like to say she was a great resource for my study abroad experience, but truthfully, I did a lot of work on my own. I’m going to share with you the steps I took to make studying abroad a reality.

 

Where do I want to go?

I went to Colorado State University, so they had a lot of options for studying abroad, but I knew I wanted to go to Australia, and likely stay near Sydney. I did this because I wanted to get a great cultural experience, but I also wanted to choose a good university where I could take courses that applied to my major (it also helped that English was their primary language).

The best way to go about this was to look on my college’s website and see what countries they were affiliated with (the bigger the university, the more options there are). Many schools usually have an office for studying abroad which I visited frequently. I started my research online and then made my way to the office once I knew what part of Australia I wanted to go to. That way I could move to the next step, which is figuring out a program.

 

Choosing a program

A friend in one of my classes was studying abroad from Sydney. He joked about me attending his university, but in the end, it turned out to be the one that was perfect for my study abroad needs. The university was 20 minutes outside the city and  had classes that would apply to my degree. It was called Macquarie (Mah-core-ee) University and was located in North Ryde. I looked into a few different programs my school supported, but in the end chose to go through an affiliate called GlobaLinks. They were the best decision I could’ve made: great reviews, organized website and they had checklists for my trip that I could refer back to!

I took measures to ensure the classes I was interested in would transfer back either as elective credits or ones that would apply to my major. I met with my adviser with twice the amount of credits in a semester for a full time student (each class will differ in credits) so that I would have options when it came to registration and made sure all those courses would transfer back. In order for anything to transfer over, I had to get a grade of a C or higher. To be a full-time student, I had to take at least 12 credits, even abroad.  I took exactly this many credits so that I would be full-time, but wouldn’t overload myself with school work.

 

travel abroad

Passport

The biggest thing people don’t know about getting a passport is that it takes months to be issued one. The easiest part is filling out the paperwork and getting your picture taken. From there it needs to go through all sorts of background checks and processes before it will be approved, issued and mailed out. I went into the clerks office in my home town with my mom and we got ours together about eight months before my trip. Once I had my passport issued, I could apply for my student visa.

 

Student Visa

Most countries will require a visa stating residency status and what you’re there for. I can’t quite recall how long the application was, but I gave myself an uninterrupted 2 hours just in case.  I would only be there for a semester, so my residency was 4-6 months. After that time period, the Australian government had the right to tax me, strip me of my rights, and ship me back to the States. Something best avoided. The program I chose prepared me well for my trip and how to plan, so really at this point I was just making my way down a checklist.

 

International Student Identification Card (ISIC)

My program made this a requirement for me to have. It offered discounts for transportation, tours, travel insurance and many other things. You can look into more detail on ISIC’s website. Essentially this was my ID card while I traveled. It had medical, emergency and basic information about me in case something were to happen. It was essentially an extra precaution, but not a bad idea.

 

Travel Insurance

Not every country will require travel insurance but many will. I probably invested in this just because of all the perks it had to offer. Plus, I was traveling solo internationally, so I took many precautions. Travel insurance covers many areas: theft, medical needs, etc. Australia also required me to have international medical coverage, which I purchased through my program.

 

Research

I don’t have any specific reason why I chose Sydney, I just knew I had to go to Australia, it was in my gut. But I didn’t know anything about Australia, other than the fact that they have the most deadliest animals in the world hiding out in the Outback. Therefore, I took the time to research the geography, the culture and the places of interest I’d want to see. I looked online a lot, but I also reached out to my friend to ask him all the questions I couldn’t find online: what’s the nightlife like? what’s the hot spot around campus? what are some laws I’ll need to know? is there a medical center on campus? That way, I could prepare myself through reading articles and such as well as have that second hand source with the dirt on what college life was really like there.

Some things that I had to look into was: currency, public transportation, language, and appearance. Many people will witness “culture shock” and find themselves in a mild panic. The first 3 days of my trip were already planned though my program, which included cultural classes, so I knew that even if I felt unprepared, I would still learn more once I was there.

 

Scholarships

Look into what your school or the program you chose may have for offering in international study aid. I had a few friends who had some sort of scholarship while there; even a couple hundred or thousand will go a long ways!

 

 

travel abroad prepare

Finances

Once I was familiar with the currency and exchange rate, I was able to calculate how much money I would need on my journey and during my stay. I looked into credit card companies and researched which would exchange my current countries’ currency over to Australian dollars at a low rate. Eventually, I found a card through the help of my bank at home and set it so I could access my account as well as allow my parents to transfer me funds. I found this article to be very helpful, especially if you are looking for something soon-ish: 11 Top Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees for 2017.

I had to keep in mind all of the expenses I would have along the way too, like: airport fees (baggage), meals, drinks etc. Everywhere I read said to always carry CASH, since many of the ATM’s will charge a fee to withdraw money, and the U.S. dollar is commonly accepted around the world, especially in international airports. However, if this was not the case, I would still have my credit card. If I was running low on the local currency, I would ask if they accepted U.S. dollars and the answer was almost always yes. Besides, half of my journey was in the U.S. getting from Denver to L.A., so I would need those U.S. dollars anyways. If I didn’t use all that cash, I would also have some upon my return.

Before I left, I had to be sure to notify my bank that I was leaving the country. This way, they would know where I was and could accurately file fraud claims on my account. They asked me where I would be flying to and from and the dates so they knew when I would be back.

Housing

Since I was leaving half way through my junior year, I needed to let my landlord know that I was planning on leaving. This gave me access to sign over my lease with either a small fee or none at all. I had 3 roommates, and I had to collaborate with all of them before I left. When we decided to be roommates that fall, I already knew I’d be leaving in February of the following year, so they had plenty of time to find a replacement for my room. Since I was staying half the year too, this meant I got last dibs on bedrooms, which was fine since I would only be there 5 months anyway. I was sure to make my room squeaky clean and get my deposit back before my flight. I would be wanting that $400 on my trip (skydiving here we come)!

 

 

study abroad

Meet all medical needs

I looked up all the vaccinations I would need before leaving. This needs to be done months in advance because it can take months for vaccinations to take effect.  I was sure to meet with my doctor so I could stock up on prescriptions so I had them all on hand as well as get a physical, since my program required me to send my medical records. I also had to make sure I had enough contacts and some spares, and saved my glasses for the long flight so I wouldn’t dry my eyes out.

 

Book your flight(s)

I booked a one-way flight out to Australia. The flights were expensive either way, so I decided to just do the one-way and see where I was at later on. This worked out in my favor, since I ended my study abroad experience on vacation in Bali, Indonesia and flew back to the States from there (which was $400 cheaper than Sydney). I did my research and got the most competitive price between these sites: Expedia, Travelocity , Skyscanner and Travel Zoo.

Cell Phone

I had the option to purchase an international plan on my phone, but I knew that would be extremely expensive and I could just get a basic phone when I got there to contact local people. I knew there would be Wi-Fi (which was invented in Australia, I’ll have you know) at my apartment and on campus, so I could skype my family. When I got there, I purchased a basic phone for about $50 and used it for calling and messaging my friends for $20/month. I used my Kindle Fire, iPhone and laptop for any internet needs. I had to let my carrier know that I was traveling abroad, so I wouldn’t be charged extra fees, but also so I would know how to turn off my cellular data and roaming and have them freeze my number on my account.

 

study abroad

Power converter

This is a huge thing I needed to look into! The U.S. believes in making a lot of things their own (the metric system in schools, American Football, ‘Fall’ instead of Autumn, etc.) including outlets and voltage. I went out and bought a Universal Travel Adapter. I had to look up the difference between an adapter and converter (an adapter is just a change of plug type and the converter changes the voltage) after I broke my adapter when I plugged in a hair straightener.

 

Double check everything

That week I was constantly checking online to make sure I had my ticket and the right time for my flight.  I made sure I sent everything off that I needed to (medical insurance, transcripts, checks etc.) and made hard and digital copies of everything, just in case. I checked my luggage a hundred times, I was so excited to leave!

Packing

I was leaving for a semester, so I needed enough clothes and shoes to get me through that time span. It was summer transitioning to autumn when I would be there. I was sure to back clothes for the beach, for school, the club and professional clothing for presentations or what-not.

Australian cosmetics were outrageously expensive, and I was so grateful I packed all of mine generously. About halfway through the semester, I had my mom send me a care package of mascara and tampons because it was nearly $18 (Australian dollars) for a box of 12 tampons. I was sure to pack everything as a travel size on my way out and keep it in my carry on in case something happened with my check bag. This way I could go to the airport bathroom and brush my teeth or wash my face or change outfits. The flight from L.A. to Sydney was 14 hours, so I was going to need some time to freshen up with only my backpack at the ready.

For more ideas and a checklist for what to pack, you can refer to The College Tourist or Study Abroad 360.

 

study abroad

Finally, I was ready to take off! I made sure to keep my wallet, passport and phone in a safe location with easy access to get you through security quickly. I dressed comfortably and brought entertainment for during the flight: a book, tablet, neck pillow for sleeping etc. My flight was a red-eye, so I planned on sleeping, but should’ve taken something to help me (Tylonol or Advil P.M.). I watched several movies and slept for maybe a total of 4 of the 14 hours sleeping because I was just too excited (and there’s an 18 hour time difference). The worst was over, now I just had to anticipate my semester.

 

Related Reading: Groupon Travel: Pros and Cons

November 13, 2017
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My 6 Months in Taiwan: Overview

Posted in Lifestyle, Travel by

travel to taiwan

There’s a tiny island off the coast of China that many have heard of, and yet don’t know about. Check the tag of your shirt or the bottom of your cup and you might just see it: Made in Taiwan.

In the spring of 2016, I accepted a job at an American secondary school in Taichung, Taiwan, and promptly left on the 4th of July, with five massive suitcases in tow. The plan was to go for one to two years; maybe longer if it was a good fit. Going in, I knew there would be some snags and cultural shocks that I would have a hard time getting past, so I wasn’t completely surprised that I decided to leave after six months.

Don’t get me wrong, the experience was great! I met some amazing people, learned a lot, went new places, and ate some strange and delicious food. But I’m happy to be back.

I could go on and on about the food, the culture, the school, the people, the country, my travels, my likes and dislikes, the reasons behind my decision….but I’ll go in depth later on, for now I’ll stick with a summary of my time while I was there.

 

Related Reading: Studying Abroad in College: Planning Your Trip

 

Taiwan

I’ll admit: Asia is not my cup of tea. It’s great and has its wonders and everything, but it wasn’t a place for me. It all started at the airport: after 24-hours of traveling, I was pushing my overloaded luggage cart towards the exit where the school bus was waiting for me and the other five teachers I was traveling with. The doors opened and I walked into a literal wall of hot humidity. Being a Colorado gal and a fan of dry climates, this instantly woke me up and sent me retreating back into the airport. The many mosquitoes I would meet later, didn’t make me like the climate any more.

The school was outside of Taichung, a city about an hour south of the capital, Taipei. For foreigners who don’t speak the language, there’s not much to do in Taichung beyond shopping, going out to eat or to the movies, and baseball games. The night scene is limited and very different than what I was used to: small, narrow bars that were never full but eager to shush you if you got too loud and excited. With my very busy schedule, and being 30-minutes outside of the city, it was hard to do much, and I quickly found myself going stir-crazy.

Taipei was a fun city: modern with hints of western culture (sidewalks!!) and plenty to do. Had I stayed in Taipei, I think things would have been different.

 

The School

I was hired as an English teacher and dorm parent for the girl’s hall. The majority of the students that attended were boarding students. There were three adults assigned to each floor to ensure the duties within the dorms were taken care of. We were in charge of locking and unlocking the main doors, making sure students went to class and to bed on time, monitoring cleaning schedules and study hall hours, and be there in the event a kid was sick or injured.

On the good side: I got free room and board, worked every third day and every third weekend, and had a 40-second commute from my bedroom to my classroom. The bad side: I lived and breathed that school, which definitely affected my spirit.

 

Teaching

I went in with the impression that the students knew English and were at relatively the same level as students in the United States, with the school being “the most prestigious in the city”. My passion is literature, not language, so I was more than a bit upset when I discovered that, surprise!, the kids were far from fluent. It was heartbreaking to teach kids that wanted to go to college in the States because I knew they were two, three years behind the curve: I was setting them up for failure it seemed.

I found myself working around 70-hours a week on a good week, doing work that I couldn’t get behind on, for people that I did not respect or agree with. About half-way through the semester, I finally decided it was in my best interest to protect my health and values, so I put in my notice and planned to leave at the end of the semester.

The wing of my airplane from Taiwan, landing in Seattle with the sunset.

Overall

I’m thankful that I went. I’m thankful to be back. Not many people get to live abroad and experience a new culture, so I like having that one-up in my life. But that time abroad also wrecked a lot of havoc on my health and happiness.

If you’re ever presented with the opportunity to travel, to live abroad, to try something new, take it! But do your research first. Seriously: read up on the culture, the town, the nightlife, the food, the healthcare, the available services, exactly what will be expected of you while you’re over there. Going in with one idea and then being slammed with a different reality can ruin a lot of things for you. But I’m not letting it ruin everything.

Related Reading: 4 Things I Wish I Did Before Starting a Career

 

November 7, 2017
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Groupon Travel: Pros and Cons

Posted in Lifestyle, Travel by
the benefits and downfalls of traveling with groupon
My first ever international trip was to the land-o’-green in 2015. Ever since reading O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon, I had developed an interest in traveling to Ireland, but it was more of a whisper than a shout. Travel was not on my immediate to-do list; I loved Colorado and couldn’t rationalize spending a lot of money and time to go to a distant country where anything could happen.
 
Oh how wrong I was.
 
On something of a whim, I booked an 8-day trip to Ireland for myself and my then-boyfriend through Groupon. With airfare, hotel, and a rental car all included, it was exactly the push I needed to get out and establish my love of travel.
 
Since then, I’ve lived in Taiwan, spent a week in Bali and Amsterdam each, and a weekend in Hong Kong, all of which I’ve booked and managed myself (minus airfare to and from Taiwan). I am still far from being an expert on travel, but I have picked up on a few things along the way.
 
In this post, I want to focus in on the pros and cons of Groupon travel.
 

Pros:

Package Deal:

When you book your trip through Groupon, you’re likely getting more than a hotel or a tour. Trying to pinpoint the best deal for a flight AND hotel AND activities AND transportation takes a lot of time, a lot of know-how, and a lot of luck. AKA: a huge hassle that sometimes isn’t worth the end result. Groupon packages it all together and keeps everything organized for you. Make sure you read the description closely to see what you get and what you’ll have to fill in on your own, but overall it’s a great way to check multiple things off your list with one click.
 

Trips Worth Taking:

You’re not going to find a roach-infested motel in Romania built by slave children and unreachable by anything other than donkey carts, because that would be ridiculous and no one would buy it, even if it was cheap. The travel deals on Groupon are good. Maybe not 5-star celebrity-status good, but you get the idea. You might find yourself considering new destinations because the price is so “why not?”
 

Affordable:

The reason we shop on Groupon is because of the deals, so this should be a no brainer. Consider it this way: airfare alone from the U.S. to Europe generally costs about $1k, but you can find package deals that include airfare to locations in Europe (think Paris, Rome, Prague…) for less than that. If you book everything separately, you’ll likely end up spending three times as much as booking through Groupon. So duh, check out Groupon the next time you’re itching to travel.

 

Photo of Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia: a temple built on a small rock island just off the coast, surrounded by water. The picture highlights the sea surf, sand beach, and green trees of the temple.

I solo-planned a trip to Bali and took this amazing picture!

Cons:

Hidden Costs:

It’s important to look at the details carefully for each trip, and to anticipate what might not be included. Unless you live by one of the major airports (e.g. JFK), you’ll likely have to book a flight to reach your flight. If a rental car is included, keep in mind that there will likely be a security deposit required, extra charges if you have extra drivers, and fees for younger or uninsured drivers. And, often, Groupon travel deals are for groups, which means either roping in a few friends to fill the spots with you, or paying a couple hundred bucks to “fill” the spots and travel by yourself.
 

Modify Your Travel Style:

When I went to Ireland, I wanted to visit as many cities and places as I could in the week. I lost a lot of time traveling to and from my included villa. If your goal is to sightsee and bounce around, booking a deal that gives you one or two locations could inhibit you or cost you travel expenses and time. It’s important to know your travel style and whether the deal will end up working in your favor or against you.
 
Also, most deals are going to take place in the off-season. Depending on when you can and can’t take work off, this might not be an issue, or it could be the big red X that makes everything fall apart. Not to mention, a beach vacation might be ruined if the deal is during monsoon season. Do your research and know what you can do and what to expect.
 

Is It The Best Deal?

If you know the ins and outs of travel, know how to find deals and work magic, Groupon might actually be a more expensive option. There are definitely ways to travel on the cheap: hostels, AirBnB, local transportation, flight deals or credit card rewards, couchsurfing, and so on. If you really dig in and do the work, you can likely travel for a fraction of the price of that Groupon deal, but it comes down to luck, experience, and the right search terms
 
Overall, I’m a Groupon fan. I search the site before purchasing just about anything, but I also do my research. Read reviews, reflect on your own needs and wants, and pay attention to the fine print. Remember that the doing is more important than getting the deal!
October 16, 2017
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