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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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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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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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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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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lake lucerne switzerland

Lucerne, Switzerland: European Road Trip Part 4

Going on a European road trip/honeymoon with C was one of the best parts of fall 2015. We started off the trip in Colmar, France, then went south to Zurich, Switzerland, and drove through the Swiss Alps to get to Lago Maggiore, Italy. The last planned stop on our Euro trip was Lucerne, Switzerland (although we did take a surprise detour to Munich on the way home).

lucerne switzerland lake

Lucerne may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking of Switzerland, but it is a beautiful city with a rich history. Although it was officially founded in 1178, it had been inhabited by monks since 750. It is home to the oldest covered bridge in Europe, the Chapel Bridge, which was built in 1333. Walking through the old town of the city was magical, I can’t get enough of historical areas. I hope that my recommendations and tips will help you have a great visit to Lucerne!

Lucerne

Hotel: Hotel Seeburg
lake lucerne switzerland

View from our balcony at Hotel Seeburg

I loved Hotel Seeburg. It was right on the water and we had a great view of Lake Lucerne from the balcony. There was even a military airshow over the lake while we ate our lunch outside, so it was a pretty spectacular afternoon. However, I would only recommend it to those who are traveling to Lucerne by car, otherwise you would have to take a bus into the city. It did not look complicated by any means, just a pain if you don’t have a lot of time in the area. The hotel also had the most adorable looking restaurant called Rigi Chalet, but it unfortunately was not open while I was there. I would love to go back and get to check it out.

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lago maggiore italy

Lago Maggiore, Italy: European Road Trip Part 3

This past fall, C and I were looking into possible European honeymoon destinations. When I saw pictures of Lago Maggiore, Italy, I knew we had found a winner. We ended up deciding to go on a Euro road trip, with our first stops in Colmar, France and Zurich, Switzerland. We then drove through the alps to get to Italy.

drive lago maggiore italy

Driving past Lago Maggiore

I cannot express how much I fell in love with Lago Maggiore. I already knew I loved Italy from previous trips, but this was beyond what I could have imagined. It also didn’t hurt that we went from cold weather in France and Switzerland, to the Italian sunshine. (Part of the lake is located in Switzerland, but we stayed on the Italian side.)

lago maggiore italy

First View of Lago Maggiore

If you are looking for an Italian destination beyond the typical touristy options of Rome, Florence, and Venice, then you are going to want to read more. I promise you will not be disappointed.

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zurich switzerland rooftops

Zurich, Switzerland: European Road Trip Part 2

In the fall, I went on a European road trip/honeymoon with C. It started in Colmar, France, and then we continued driving south toward Zurich, Switzerland, and then onto Lago Maggiore, Italy. We also stopped in Lucerne, Switzerland for another night on our way home to break up all of our driving. Both cities in Switzerland were quick stops, but I fully enjoyed getting to experience a new country, as I had never been to Switzerland before.

The absolute hardest part about visiting Switzerland was not breaking our travel budget. I really could not believe some of the prices, even McDonald’s was expensive. We did a lot of research before hand on reasonable restaurants, so I’ve included our choice in this post. Switzerland is certainly worth the visit, I just recommend planning in advance if you know you need to stick to a certain price range.

Zurich

Hotel: Guesthouse Anwandstrasse
hotel zurich switzerland

Guesthouse Andwandstrasse – Image Credit: http://guesthouse-anwandstrasse.hotelinzurich.net/en/

We booked this trip fairly last minute so we didn’t have many options of hotels. (This was before a friend introduced me to Hotel Tonight). Guesthouse Anwandstrasse was reasonably priced and seemed nice enough. Overall, I thought it was a decent hotel. If you are looking for a place to stay, my only complaint would be that it seemed to be in a sketchier area of Zurich and was around a 20 minute walk to the center city. Also, if you are planning on driving into Zurich, you may want to look into the ParkU App. Through the app, you can rent a parking space from someone for a set amount of time and a predetermined price. It was such a convenient way to park in a city where the parking prices were extremely high.

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city colmar france

Colmar, France: European Road Trip Part 1

After C and I got married, we couldn’t decide where to go on our honeymoon. So instead, we decided to see as many places as possible on a honeymoon/European road trip. The first stop on our list was Colmar, France, a storybook town just a five hour drive from our home outside of Düsseldorf.

colmar france canal

Here are a few of my favorite sites and eateries from the trip:

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise Colmar, France

La Petite Venise

La Petite Venise is probably the most famous landmark in Colmar. Like it’s name, it certainly does feel like a miniature version of Venice, Italy. You can take a boat tour down the small river or eat along the water at one of the many restaurants. The area is so picturesque, I think I could have sat by the water all day.  The weather was a little rainy while we were there, so I didn’t get to eat outside or take a boat ride, but I did enjoy just walking through the area.

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