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10 Reasons To Live Abroad at least Once

Posted on: June 26, 2017

10 reasons to live abroad (2)

Whether you have the travel bug, need for adventure, or want a cheaper cost of living, there are many reasons to live abroad. Sadly, many don’t take the leap afraid of the technicalities of moving to a new country. But, if you approach the move with an open mind, you’re in for a life of adventures and memories.

As a wife of an MBA student, we took the leap and I am here to tell you that living abroad is one of the most amazing/rewarding things I have ever decided to do. I’ve gathered my top 10 reasons and even if it is just for a few months, take the leap!

Culture Shock

There is no better way to open your eyes to how the world works, than to live in another culture. You will quickly learn that it is OK to be different and that EVERYWHERE functions differently.

When we first moved to Spain, I was surprised at the pace of life. Everything moved a bit slower and the locals knew how to enjoy their lives. As an American, I have been hustling since I can remember and I marveled at the those who could sit at lunch for two hours sipping wine with a colleague.

I shop for fruits and veggies from a local farmer, purchase my meat from the butcher, and fresh bread from the Panaderia. No target or bulk food stores in sight and the entire community spends Saturday out and about walking from this shop to that.

Europeans value experience and therefore everything is done in detail. From gorgeous parks, to monuments, to colorfully painting buildings, it creates a full experience.

Personal Development

Holly cow this should probably be number one. When you are placed in a new, uncomfortable environment, it forces you to adapt to your surroundings. You will face challenges on a daily basis in a new city, and most likely in a new language. I’ve had my share of tearful moments, but deep down that strength grows with every challenge.

Before moving I thought I was an independent person, but I quickly learned that I depended on the habits and ease of my familiar surroundings. As scary as it is to deal with government authorities, landlords, or even the doorman you learn to “just do it”. Nike style. It has to be done, and no one can do it for you, so you conquer little fears everyday!

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World Wide Community

You are now suddenly open to meeting so many people with like interests from all over the world. Whether that’s in a yoga class, a new job, or shopping at the market your community is far wider spread than before.

Friends will become family and community will be more important than things. Life long bonds will be formed as you need these people to navigate living abroad.

I’ve developed close friends while living in Spain and only one of them is a fellow American! My husband, (the student), has an even bigger network attending class with people from over 60 different countries.

Religion, political, and cultural discussions open your eyes to other issues in the world, and your perspective will shift for the better.

Resume Builder

If your in business moving/working abroad will look killer on a CV and open up international opportunities. I am not business woman but networking is just as important in my work and meeting people from all over the world could open all kinds of doors.

Even if you don’t plan to work abroad, the fact you speak a second language or have experience in a particular city could give you the upper hand in an interview.

Expand Your Vocabulary

Learn a second language! Most of the world studies at least 3 languages while in school and as an American, I feel silly only speaking english.

Yes, learning a new language is SO challenging but totally rewarding when you can carry on a conversation with the local barista. It’s essential if you plan to stay long term in your new city. Most government processes are in the local language and often times they don’t speak english.

I’ve gained a larger respect for those who are bi-lingual and I’ve learned to humble myself while stumbling through Spanish at the store. It will get easier day by day and a little by little.

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 Cheaper Travel

Trains, buses, and cheaper flights make seeing new destinations easy and more frequent. Imagine yourself eating pasta in Italy and the next weekend touring sights in France. Overnight trains or even a rental car take you from country to country in just a few hours.

This has to be one of my favorite reasons to live abroad. I’ve always loved travel and we have seen and experienced so many new places all thanks to living in Europe.

Your Taste Will Change

Discovering new foods, fashion, and lifestyle differences will change you. I can only speak for Spain in this respect but the food is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Produce is only sold during its fresh season, bread is baked daily, and food goes bad quickly because it isn’t shot full of chemicals. Restaurants take pride in their food and markets are the hub of the city.

Fashion is different and what you know to be in style at home will not be the case in your new city. It’s a chance to re-define yourself. A clean slate you could say. Your lifestyle will shift in what you find important daily from your morning routine, hair-do, and commute to work, it will all begin to feel like normal.

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Re-Define Yourself

I think the reasons listed above all apply here but it’s really is a chance to make and entire new life. You have a unique opportunity to start over and decide how you want to live abroad. New job, new life, new you. Essentially your walking into a new environment without expectations from any one else so make some big life changes. Dye your hair purple or start working for yourself. Options are endless and that’s what is so exciting about making a huge move abroad.

Learn to be Alone

This one sounds a bit negative but this is one of the MOST valuable lessons to learn in life. The first while will feel isolating and lonely but you learn to rely on what you know and you feel like a super hero accomplishing anything. Wandering the streets, museum hopping, or showing up to a cultural event alone will benefit your self development. You will be your own biggest cheerleader and traveling solo may become your preferred way of exploring.

New Experiences Daily

I wish I had kept a daily journal during the first few weeks living abroad. Each day presented itself with new experiences.

Driving around the city on a Moto instead of a car, shopping for groceries in four different local shops, and stumbling upon Churches hundreds of years old. These things DON’T happen in the United States and every day I found myself stopping and marveling at the city before me.

History around every corner and a chance to learn and be inspired presents itself often. As a creative person, moving abroad has pushed my limits and opened me up for so many new things.

It isn’t always a walk in the park. There have been really hard times. But I would say that the really great times out weigh the bad.

So what are you waiting for? Come join me abroad!

xoxo

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Travel Cheap Series [ Hotels & Accommodations ]

Posted on: June 19, 2017

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I shared our tips and tricks for cheap flights so lets get some cheap rooms to sleep in! Hotels/accommodations have always been a little harder for me to find at a good price, so I’ve rounded up the best sites!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the links, I will receive a small commission. It’s how I keep this little site afloat. I ONLY link up things I’ve already used and loved! You can read more about how that works here!

***ALWAYS USE AN INCOGNITO TAB WHEN SEARCHING ONLINE*** Your internet browser saves the data you’ve been searching for and will show you higher prices each time you search. Yikes! If you have Google Chrome, you can select an incognito tab by clicking on the 3 little dots in the right corner!

Airbnb 

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We LOVE Airbnb. It’s become more widely used and accepted worldwide! If you aren’t familiar, you can rent an entire home, apartment, villa, or even a yacht! You can apply all sorts of filters and there are amazing places to stay all over the world. We have used Airbnb on every vacation we have been on and so far have had ZERO problems :) Each renter is rated after each stay so you can make sure to read reviews and then leave your own after your stay. I highly suggest reading reviews and only booking places with quality photos! Do a little reading and you’ll find the perfect spot.

IMPORTANT: Always read the full descriptions and make sure you are aware of any added city tax or fees! Some listings require you to pay the tax so keep an eye on that!

You can now also book experiences through airbnb too! Guided bike tours, yoga, cooking classes, and so much more!  I haven’t tried any of the booked experiences yet, so if you have comment below! I wanna hear all about it!

Want $40 towards your next stay? Well your in luck because I’ve got a code just for you! just click here!

Hotels Tonight

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Hotels Tonight is an app that finds unsold rooms at the last minute for a good deal! Whether it’s cancelled travel plans or missed connections you won’t be left in out in the rain. You can book a room up to a week in advance or the morning of.

I have yet to use the app, but I’ve got a friend who has traveled the world that sent it my way.  I am a planner, I like to have my trip in black and white, but we’ve had our share of mishaps and I wish I would’ve known about this app sooner!

HOSTEL WORLD

When I backpacked Europe at age 19 with my two girl friends, we ONLY stayed in hostels. Back in the day (I swear I am not that old) we found our hostels through travel books while sitting at Barnes & Noble. I am a little snobbier now, and I don’t like staying in a Hostels when traveling with Carson, but it’s a cheap option for most travelers. Hostel world compares prices and booking options for the over 33,000 properties!

Hostel World also has a video library and travel guide recommendations. Over 8 million client reviews and 24/7 customer service! Traveling solo can be a bit scary, but staying in hostels is a great way to meet other adventures

DISCOUNT SITES

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There are SO MANY travel websites out there that I tend to get a little overwhelmed. In my experience with booking travel, we have used these 3 and have pretty decent luck!

Momondo: I blogged about momondo in our booking cheap flights series, but they also offer hotel searches as well! They compare large hotel booking sites, as well as individual hotel sites.

Agoda: Discount booking site that operates in over 17 languages and offers 24/7 customer service. Especially useful when booking travel in Asia! One of our vacations so far was our 3 week south east Asia adventure, so I highly recommend it! I’ve got a bunch of travel tips for that side of the world if you end up pulling the trigger! I sure hope you do because that trip was amazing!

Booking.com: Also another great booking site. I like to open up the 3 sites in different tabs so I can compare pricing. Booking offers separate searches for “on a budget shopping” as well as over 120,000,000 customer reviews! With each of our bookings (so far) we didn’t have to pay till arrival and cancelling was super easy. Always, Always, Always read the fine print on cancelation policies as well as charges.

Travel booking can be SO OVERWHELMING sometimes but I promise the digging is worth it!

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xoxo

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How we Traveled for 3 Weeks in a Carry On

Posted on: June 12, 2017

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Traveling with a carry on IS THE WAY to go. Most budget airlines charge a high fee for checking a bag and an even higher one if you don’t pay online. Prices normally range between $35-$70 so taking a carry on is a much cheaper option. It’s also a guarantee your luggage stays in your sights. Nothing worse than loosing luggage while traveling and having nothing but the clothes on your back. Especially if you are country hopping and there is no way of knowing where your bags could end up. #nothankyou.

So to keep things nice and real over here, this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I will receive a small commission. It’s how I keep this little site afloat. I ONLY link up things I already own and love! You can read more about how that works here!

Carson and I have mastered the art of the carry on (sometimes we even share just one) and I’m going to share our secrets with you today!

FIND A GOOD BAG

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(NOT a carry-on but I couldn’t resist including this little guy. isn’t he the cutest?!)

First things first, get yourself a decent carry on bag. One that is sturdy and maximizes your space. All of our luggage is from DAKINE and I highly recommend it. Originally, DAKINE is a skate brand so their bags are made with skateboard wheels to maximize quality. That means your wheels won’t wear out and if they do, they are super easy to replace! There are a ton of options you can shop for, just read reviews and do a little research! We own two different carry-on roller bags as well the larger roller bags for when we end up checking a bag. Normally on our trips we stick to the carry-ons, but when we moved abroad we took 4 of these large bags  with our entire lives in them! A strange thing to see your life in 4 large bags!

PACKING CUBES

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These were recommended to us from a friend and they are LIFE CHANGING. I remember thinking “these will never work” but they turned to magic as soon as I started packing. They come in different sizes depending on the size of your bag and they make separating your items easy and organized. We purchased ours on Amazon for about $20 and the price was so worth it! They offer better breathability than a ziplock bag and clean easily. Also using less plastic is always a plus because we love the earth!

  1. Separate your clothing : I pack all of my undies, bra’s, and swim suits in one pack. All of those items are relatively small and fit well together. Pack heavier items like jeans or sweatshirts in the larger pack and fill up extra space with socks. I then separate all my nicer tops and dresses in the same pack and pack them at the top to avoid wrinkling too much.
  2. Maximize space in your cubes: I roll ALL of my t-shirts and place them neatly next to each other. I do the same if I am packing leggings or workout tanks!
  3. Shoes: I save a cube for shoes since normally while traveling they get a bit dingy and I don’t like having them on top of my clothes!

LIGHT PACKING TIPS

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  1. Plan your outfits with basics you can rotate! I KNOW we want to look our best in travel photos, but if you can wear your white tee 3 different ways, you’ve saved so much room! And the money you would’ve spent checking a bag! Pack light! Skirts, shorts, and one pair of jeans! If your traveling to the cold take one heavy coat that is versatile and layers that are easily rollable/foldable! Plan every outfit before you pack. When I don’t plan, I tend to over pack with too many options.
  2. Be aware of fabrics! Pack lighter fabrics and layering options!
  3. Pack one pair of tennis shoes, a dressy shoe, and a comfy sandal or walking shoe, depending on the weather! Pack a pair of cheap flip flops for the showers if you are staying in hostels or under developed countries.
  4. Pack a trash bag for your dirty laundry. That’ll make it easier to transport to a local laundromat if you need!
  5. Travel with TSA approved liquids. #duh.  It is so much easier to travel with what you need in approved containers, then trying to buy it all in a foreign country.
  6. (For the ladies) Pack smart with makeup and hair products. Only pack ONE ziplock size bag for all of it :) Just take the essentials! Travel is a great opportunity for some Dry Shampoo (a life saver) and air dried hair!

I found a few youtube videos of minimalist packers that may help you out! Check it out:

I would love to answer any more questions or hear YOUR packing tips in the comments below! Happy packing!

xoxo

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Learning How To Be Awesome [Inspo Link Up]

Posted on: June 1, 2017

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Happy Thursday online friends! I truly hope this finds you well and that are as stoked as I am for FRIDAY! It’s just something about the weekend that makes me swoon. If you want to jump to the straight to the goodies, head to the bottom of the post for the link ups!

I recently shared on my instagram that I started listening to a podcast called Awesome With Alison  and she is somebody I really look up to in the online world. We’ve never met but I really like her style, sexy dance moves, and killer confidence. Did I mention she runs her own business, throws epic parties, and is a mom too?! I’m sending her a virtual high five as I type this because she is kick a$! (gotta keep it G on the blog).

So why am I blogging about this cool chick today?

Two reasons. Reason number one is that I really want to learn how to be awesome. Sounds easy right? But how easy is it when you really stop to think about it? Do we speak to ourselves as kindly as we would our best friends? Or are we constantly self critical, judgemental, and all around self confidence killers? Is that helping us become more awesome? I don’t think so….

But I AM CULPRIT NUMBER ONE! Just today I stood in front of a mirror and tore my body apart. #guilty.  So where does that leave us? Well it leaves us with a choice. Continue on that destructive path or pick a new one.  Maybe this new path will surprise you. Kind of like your very own yellow brick road leading you to awesomeness. I’m on the search for a new brain, one that speaks kindly of me, some courage to find myself, and a bigger heart to love all. Wanna join me?

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That leads me to reason number two why I am blogging about Alison. I wanna make change like she is. I wanna be a positive force to be reckoned with on the internet.

I LOVE following her because she is REAL and aware of her imprint on the world. This recent need of mine stems from the desire to live in integrity with my self ALWAYS. One of my favorite quotes ( I wish I knew who it was by) says it best:

 I like messy people; people who don’t fit in a box or stay between the lines, but who’s integrity is greater than any rule book and who’s loyalty is stronger than blood”.

I wanna be that person. I wanna be messy, and creative, and true. So now what? …Well…

I just wrote it down for the entire internet to see so best I get to work then I think. You can all keep me accountable and jump on board if you’re ready for some soul searching. I’ve linked up some pretty awesome tools that I’ll be using to achieve this new “me” below!

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PODCASTS:

AWESOME WITH ALISON

HAPPIER WITH GRETCHEN RUBIN

MAGIC LESSON WITH ELIZABETH GILBERT (a few episodes are marked explicit so keep that in mind)

BOOKS:

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (can you tell i’m in love with her?)

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Rising Strong by Brene Brown 

OTHER INSPIRING LINKS:

HeadSpace (favorite guided meditation app)

SuperSoul Sessions  (Inspiring talks hosted by Oprah)

How I lost my Identity but Found my Worth (TEDxUSU by Jeannie Woller)

I hope this helps you feel a little bit better about yourself today! Don’t forget to Shine On and let the world see who you really are without all the filters and carefully curated lives. Can we encourage each other to shine a bit brighter always?

xoxo

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Travel Cheap Series [5 Ways to Book Cheap Flights]

Posted on: May 29, 2017

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Hello internet world! It is summer in BCN and that has me feeling all sorts of ways. I cannot get enough of the sun and I know I will be missing this feeling come next winter. So…..I’ve had travel planning on the brain! We travel A LOT and you can imagine that could add up pretty quickly. We are also students at the moment with limited income so being frugal is essential for us! I thought I would share our tips on how we travel on a budget!

First up is flights. In my opinion, the most daunting of all travel planning. We use a few sites and apps to help us find the best prices! The time spent searching is WORTH IT believe us!

1. SHOP ON DISCOUNT SITES 

MOMONDO Functions like most other discount sites but we ALWAYS find better deals on this site!

SKY SCANNER: Similar to Momondo, but you can set up alerts for specific flights to notify you when prices are rising or falling! I set them up straight to my email and I get alerts to either “book now” or wait.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS: Really helpful to search for multiple locations. For example, type “flight to Europe” and you can view prices for every major city. It also has a calendar function that displays prices per day so you can choose the cheapest option. With that function, google will show you “tips” if another day is cheaper as well as suggest the “best” flight for you.

We have found better prices on the sites I listed above, but Google Flights is helpful when deciding on an itinerary. You can also set alerts for price predictions and when is the best to buy!

*** ALWAYS USE AN “INCOGNITO TAB” WHEN SEARCHING FOR FLIGHTS OR HOTELS. Your internet browser saves your searches and will present higher prices when you keep checking the same flight. It somehow knows you really want that flight and will display higher prices. Kinda creepy huh?

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2. GET APP ALERTS ON YOUR PHONE

HOPPER: Our favorite flight app! Know when to buy to score the best prices. Hopper lets you search for any itinerary you have coming up. You can select filters for short layovers, one-ways, direct flights, etc. At the moment I think I have 7 “watches” set up! I get alerts if I should book now or wait. The best part is that the app predicts if prices will rise or drop as well as a date to purchase by. So helpful right? It’s like having a mini flight searching elf in your phone!

3. LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE ROUTE OPTIONS

If you have flexible travel days you may be able to score a great flight to your destination just taking a different route. Look for one-ways flying into large airline hubs. If you can fly out of a hub, you are likely to find a better price! When we fly from the US to Europe, we usually search for flights through NYC since SLC isn’t a huge hub. You can also compare the price of booking separate one-way tickets to the cost of a round trip ticket.

4. STAY IN ONE PLACE FOR A BIT

Often times when you are jumping from country to country, those prices add up real quick. We made this mistake when traveling in Thailand. I wish we would’ve stayed in one place longer since the cost of food and accommodation is SO CHEAP there. An expensive flight is so worth it if you can eat delicious food for less than $10 a day. Am I right?! If you are putting a lot of money into your flight, plan on spending a week or two in one spot to get the most out of it! You may be able to see more of that country by renting a car or traveling by train.

This is where google flights comes in handy because you can see costs for nearby countries and large cities. Pay attention to details (something I’m working on) and do the math. If your spending a large amount on flights, travel to a cheaper location like mentioned above. Or on the other had, Europe is really easy for us to see and relatively cheap to fly.  But three weeks jumping country to country in Europe added up real quick with cost of accommodation and food.

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5. TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS WITH BONUS MILES

Credit cards sound like such a scary thing right? I used to think so too until we did our research. There are a lot out there but we use these two!

CAPITOL ONE VENTURE CARD: 2 miles for every dollar you spend on purchases. 100 miles is equal to $1 in travel rewards. You can redeem travel purchases and or book travel with your points! And they never expire!  You get a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles (equal to $400 in travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. We love this card and use it for most of our travel purchases!

DELTA AMERICAN EXPRESS:

Earn miles for purchases you make with your Card.  Miles are redeemable toward travel on Delta and more than 15 airline partners. When you sign up you get a one time bonus of 60,000 miles after you spend $3,000 within your first 4 months. You also get a free COMPANION TICKET every year as well as one FREE checked bag! We use this card when flying delta and we also love the travel insurance it provides!

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That’s it! I hope this helps you save a buck or two on flights! I’d love to hear your tips if you have others we don’t use! Always looking for the cheapest way to travel!

xoxo

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My Favorite Summer Skin Care Products

Posted on: May 22, 2017

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Summer makes me think of BBQ’s, watermelon, swimsuits, and lots of sun! We all love the sun right?! I mean who doesn’t love a little glow and some Vitamin D?! Carson and I have found a new love for the beach and typically try to sit sea side every weekend! I like to call it freckle season and I wish they would stay year long. I’m not sure if it was the move abroad, or just growing older but my skin has become SO SENSITIVE! I can’t even use Dove anymore and i’ve switched to more natural products. Now this post is NOT SPONSORED so I am not trying to sell you anything, just spread the goodness of all natural products!

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Amsterdam Photo Round Up

Posted on: May 12, 2017

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5 Amazing Places to Eat in Amsterdam

Posted on: May 10, 2017

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We all love to eat right? If your answer to that question is “no” then you are probably lying because lets get real. #foodislife.  Whenever we are visiting a new city we make it our mission to find the best tasting food the city has to offer! With a little help from friends and family here are the 5 best places to eat in Amsterdam!

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Brugge, Belgium [ travel tips ]

Posted on: May 5, 2017

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Hola chicos! Can you tell I have been practicing my Spanish? It’s literally all I do right now and I AM SO DETERMINED to be fluent by the time we leave Spain so it’s practice, practice, practice!! Too bad today’s post isn’t actually about Spain! Surprise! While we were visiting Amsterdam and the gorgeous tulips we decided to take a day trip to Belgium! Why not cross another country off the list?

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How to See the Tulips in Holland

Posted on: May 3, 2017

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