10 Easy Ways to Save Money For Travel

If you go out to eat frequently or buy new clothes often, people will rarely ask you questions about money. But when it comes to travel, I find that people are not shy to ask questions about how it can be affordable. The truth is, we spend money on things that are important to us. I think people don’t realize that for some of us, travel is more important than fancy brunches or going out for drinks every weekend. You can save money for travel, as long as you challenge yourself to spend less on certain things. What you can save money on is different for every person, but I promise you there is a way for you, too

1. Have Drinks at Home

When Friday and Saturday night roll around, it’s hard to say no when your friends are going out to drinks. However this is an easy way to save money, especially depending on the drink prices in your city. You do have a couple options though. Try inviting your friends over to have a night of drinking at home. You could also drink at home and then meet your friends out, if you are strong willed enough to not purchase anything while you are out. You can always ask for a water with lime so you look like you have a drink (I know this sounds sad, but hey, you’re saving money!) Or maybe just take the night off from drinking, I’m sure your liver will thank you.

2. Recreate your favorite restaurant meals

Cutting back on going out to dinner and ordering takeout is probably one of the best ways to save money for travel. It’s so easy to go out one night and end up spending as much as you would on a weeks worth of groceries. But just because you can’t go out, doesn’t mean you have to stop eating your favorite restaurant meals. As soon as I moved to Germany, I started to search for recipes to recreate the meals that I knew I would miss. Honestly, when you start to do this, you will question why you ever felt the need to go out so often. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes to make at home:

Chick-fil-A Sandwich

Chicken Fried Rice

Chipotle Guacamole

General Restaurant Copycat Recipes

3. Embrace Minimalism

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle isn’t just about saving money, it’s about learning to live with less. And it can be a really freeing experience to recognize that you don’t actually need a ton of material items. I’m currently trying to adopt a more minimalist lifestyle because it appeals to me for so many reasons. As a frequent traveler, my many experiences living out of a bag for a long period of time have taught me that I don’t need as much as I think. And embracing minimalism can also free up your money for experiences rather than things. Check out The Minimalists’ blog or watch their documentary for more information.

4. Create a Curated Closet

clothing

This  one goes hand in hand with living minimally. I started hearing about the curated closet movement a few years ago and thought it sounded interesting but didn’t think more about it. Recently, after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I started to really think about what I was keeping in my home and closet and if those items were truly bringing me joy.

I ended up getting rid of a ton of clothes and honestly, my closet has never looked better. It is so freeing to reach into my closet and know that I love (almost) every item. I still have a lot of work to do but I think this a great way to save money and curb an excessive shopping habit. My favorite blog on this topic is UnFancy because the author, Caroline, focuses less on strict rules and more on shopping with intention.

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Lake Constance: Meersburg, Bregenz, & Konstanz

Lake Constance (in German: Bodensee) is located partially in Southern Germany, but also borders Switzerland and Austria. Before moving to Germany, I had never heard of Lake Constance. When we were living in Ulm and searching for new weekend travel destinations, my husband suggested we check it out. We found a place to stay with a friend of a friend and it was an incredible weekend.

lake constance germany

We were so lucky to be able to stay at a house located directly on the lake. There are only a small number of houses allowed to have water access, so it is not an experience that every traveler gets to have. We had a barbecue on their garden looking out over the water and it is by far one of my favorite memories from the summer.

lake constance dinner

Grilling our dinner at Lake Constance

Here are my travel recommendations for three cities located on Lake Constance: Meersburg, Bregenz, and Konstanz. I’ve also included some tips on other activities to do in the area.

Meersburg, Germany

meersburg lake constance

Meersburg was my favorite city of the three that we visited. It has the charm of Bavaria and an unbelievable view of the lake. It’s much smaller than the other two cities and for me was more of a laid-back atmosphere. These are a few of my favorite photos of the town:

meersburg lake constance

meersburg lake constance

Meersburg Castle
meersburg castle bodensee

The Meersburg Castle

My top tip for you is to check out the Meersburg Castle. You can’t miss it, as it’s the focal point of the city at the top of the hill. You can pay a cheaper ticket price, I believe it was 2.50 euro, to enter the castle, see some of the historic building and head up to the Castle Cafe. The cheaper ticket does not include a castle tour or access to all of the grounds.

The ticket then serves as a coupon towards your purchase at the Cafe, which has a stunning outdoor seating area with an amazing view of Lake Constance. Every other cafe we passed was super crowded with tourists and yet the Castle cafe was only half full so I don’t think many people know about this offer. I would definitely advise you to check it out!

meersburg castle bodensee

View from the outdoor cafe at the Meersburg Castle

Meersburg Therme

My other recommendation for Meersburg is to go to the Meersburg Therme. A therme is a German indoor pool/spa complex, that usually consists of heated indoor and outdoor salt pools, saunas, salt rooms, and massages. They are one of my absolute favorite things about Germany.

lake constance therme

Tanning Deck over Lake Constance

The Meersburg Therme has a heated outdoor infinity salt pool (I know, that’s a pretty intense pool description – but trust me, it lives up to it’s name). It’s not every day you can hang out in a pool and look out at the Alps. I really wish I had a photo of it but my husband told me that I was making people feel uncomfortable by taking photos at the pool (it does sound a little creepy now that I’m writing about it…), so I reluctantly had to put away my camera. We didn’t get a chance to go into the Sauna area, but from the outside it looked really unique and you can also take a dip in the lake afterwards to cool off.

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sunset america flag

7 Things I Miss About The United States

I’m finally heading home to the U.S. for a few weeks vacation and am very excited. Yes, I know it might be a little weird for some people that I still call the U.S. home, although I don’t live there. But the truth is that I have “homes” all over the world. It would be sad to feel like you have to limit yourself to only one home.

brick-house-flowers

I thought I would write about what makes me excited to go home, other than the obvious reason of friends and family. It gives you a little insight to some things that are missing for me here in Germany. I love my life here, but I would by lying if I said that I don’t think about all the things I miss about my home.

1. speaking my own language

This one is pretty straight forward. After months of feeling shy, confused, and put on the spot with German, I can’t wait to just be normal. Nothing excites me more than not having to think and to just be able to speak. Constantly worrying about a new language can take its toll on you.

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prague czech republic

4 Reasons Why You Should Visit Prague

Prague has been on my travel list for years. Photos of the stunning Eastern European city have always captivated me. When my friends decided to take me there as a girls weekend/wedding gift, I was thrilled. There are so many reasons why I would recommend Prague to fellow travelers, but for now here are my top four:

prague czech republic travel

1. Inexpensive Food and Lodging

I found Prague to be a very affordable city for travel. We stayed at the Emma Hostel in a four person room, for around 30$ per person for 3 nights. When looking for a place to book, we found many other options at decent prices, but ended up going with Emma for it’s great location and also it’s bargain price.

emma hostel prague

Emma Hostel (Source: http://emma.prague-hostels.cz)

Food in Prague was also very inexpensive. Of course in the main touristy areas the prices are inflated, so try to get yourself a few streets away from places like the Old Town Square. For Czech food, my favorite restaurant was Kozlovna Apropros. They prepared all of the meat so well and I was pretty jealous of the French Onion soup that two of my friends ordered.

My other favorite restaurant was The  Globe Cafe, a bookstore and American style restaurant. I understand if you are traveling from the U.S. you might not want to go here, but for an expat missing the food from home this place was amazing. Unfortunately, I was enjoying my food at both places so much I forgot to photograph it! But on my next trip back to Prague you will definitely find me at both of these restaurants.

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nature field summer

To Settle or To Roam: The Expat’s Dilemma

I’ve been doing my fair share of complaining lately. Particularly about how unsettled this season of my life has been. On one hand I am living the dream in Germany, but on the other hand I am struggling to keep up with the constant changes.

I wonder what my life will look like in two months, six months, one year, and I honestly have no idea. I don’t know where we will live or what I will do for a living or even if I will have finally mastered this new language. Thinking about this often leaves me frustrated.

But then I think about the alternative. Knowing that I would be in the same city, same job, same life for years at a time. And I realize that scares me too. I might be equally scared of both change and complacency.

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rothenburg germany travel

Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber: A Storybook Village

I’ve always loved a good fairy tale or princess saga, but thought the only to experience that in real life was by waiting in long lines and paying for overpriced food in Disney World. That was until I discovered the storybook little town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. As soon as I saw pictures of Rothenburg online, I knew that I needed to visit. It’s a bit of a drive from the Northern part of Germany, but luckily with our relocation to the South it became an easy destination.

We were there for about 24 hours with some visiting friends. While there was a lot to see, 24 hours felt like the perfect amount of time for me. If you are someone who likes to go into every shop and museum then I might recommend adding on a second day. Everything in the town seemed to shut down fairly early in the evening, which was surprising to me.  For this reason, I would try to arrive a little earlier in the day.

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A New City And A New Perspective

I’ve been living in Ulm for almost two months now. It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast. You might remember my last post about this not-so-smooth transition. I had hit a low of too many changes in such a short amount of time. Changing your name, address, country, marital status, and daily language in just a few months can do that to you. Pile that on top of moving in with seven strangers in an apartment that my most recent visitor compared to living in a horror movie and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an emotional crisis.

emotions expat life

Source: Giphy.com

I spent the first week doing exactly what you shouldn’t do, which was stay inside my tiny room and mope around. Then I got to leave for a week to go on a long-awaited girl’s trip to Prague with a few of my best friends. Traveling always lifts my spirit and so I started to feel better about this new opportunity.

Before you know it, I was signed up for a German class in the city. I was fairly nervous because I had tried to start a German class before and it was a disaster. The class environment was all wrong, it seemed like no one actually wanted to be there. Then the teacher laughed in my face when I said that German people were nice and she had the class join in and share why they don’t enjoy Germans.  This was a deal breaker for me. I just won’t subject myself to a class where the teacher is willing to stereotype an entire people group in such an unfortunate and untrue way.

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bruges belgium

5 Things to Do in Bruges, Belgium

Bruges is a magical place. I’ve heard a lot about it from other people who have traveled there and loved it. I was pretty excited to get to visit the city this spring and it did not disappoint. We had two friends visiting from the U.S. and so we went on a mini road trip to Amsterdam and Bruges this spring. I love having visitors because I get to show them where I live and I usually also get to see something new myself. The trip was a blast and I’m excited to share my favorite parts with you.

Bruges

hotel bruges belgium

Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel

1. Take a canal boat tour

Taking a canal boat tour was a great way to see Bruges. You get to see sides of buildings and views that you couldn’t get from just walking around. Plus you also hear some history and fun facts from the driver of the boat. You can find boat tours leaving from the area across from the Relais Bourgondisch Cruyce Hotel.

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purple flowers garden

Eight Months in Germany

I’ve officially been living in Germany for eight months. It’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast. It feels like just the other day, I was imagining what my life would be like here. I’ve decided in honor of my eight months, I will share a few things that I’ve learned so far in the past 240 days.

1. Being an expat is a lot different than studying abroad

Sydney Opera House Australia

My first study abroad experience in Sydney, Australia

I’ve had a lot of experiences abroad. I studied abroad in Australia and lived with other Americans. I studied abroad in Spain and lived in a homestay. I did my entire master’s degree in England and lived in an international dorm. On my various travels I’ve been a backpacker, a vacationer, a visitor, a tourist. But nothing quite prepared me to be an expat. It’s a unique experience that I can’t really equate to any of my former trips abroad.

I think one of the differences is that this is more permanent. I actually live here and I don’t know when I will be home again. There are also no forced activities that you often have to partake in while studying abroad. While it was annoying to have to wake up and go to class, it provided an opportunity for making friends and seeing the city. Now I really have to rely on myself to meet people or participate in new activities, which has proven difficult given that my German is not quite up to conversational level yet.

It’s not all bad though. I like having my own freedom and not having my schedule dictated by those in charge of the semester. I feel more settled than I ever did while living temporarily abroad and more at home in my own apartment. Having a German husband has allowed me to hang out with locals and spend all of my time with people from this country, rather than just hanging out with other Americans while studying abroad. And I get to live my own life that I’ve created for myself, which is a rewarding experience.

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canal amsterdam netherlands

Exploring Amsterdam: A Free Canal Cruise & More

After wanting to go for so many years, I finally made it to Amsterdam. We had some friends visiting for two weeks and so we decided to go. It’s one of those quintessential European cities that is probably on a lot of bucket lists.

I wish I could have spent more time there and I can’t wait to be back soon, maybe even in the summer. But for now I’ll review our trip and give you a few tips for yours!

Amsterdam

amsterdam netherlands canal

It only took me a few seconds in the city to already know that I loved it. Walking down the canals and passing so many cute cafés and bars was exactly what I had hoped for. The city is very cosmopolitan and I was struck by how many of the people spoke English. And not just a few words for the tourists, it seemed like everyone could have a conversation and was happy to do so. That’s definitely not the norm for a lot of other cities I have visited recently and so it was a welcomed surprise.

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