May 10, 2012

Final Post

I hope that some of you have found my blog to be interesting and informative.  This will be my last post for a few days as I will be traveling, but I hope to be updating you with stories and pictures as soon as I get back from my trip!

Some of the locations I will be visiting in France

In this post I have attached 3 photos of tourist sites that I will see while in France.  Please let me know if you have any other suggestions of sights I should see!

Louvre Museum 

Notre Dame de Paris - Cathedral

Eiffel Tower

Paris, France

One of the cities that I will be visiting on my European vacation this summer is Paris, France.  Although I will not be joined by my boyfriend. I hope that we will be able to communicate through email or Skype.  For those of you who travel and do not know about Skype, I strongly suggest that you create an account next time before you leave on vacation.  It is a free video chat program that allows you to connect with anyone around the world as long as you are connected to the internet.  You can use Skype on your computer, phone, or smart-pad.  It is an application that allows you to keep in touch with people around the world for free!  When spending anytime away from your loved ones, I definitely think that Skype is worth having.

Antique Hunting in France

One of the ways in which I get ideas about where I want to visit is through reading various blogs, books, stories, and articles.  While there are trusted sites that I tend to visit each and every time I am planning a vacation. I found the following narrative very helpful when planning my most recent vacation: Antique Hunting in France: Art of the Brocante.  This essay provides helpful tips for antique hunting in France which is one of both my and my mothers favorite things.  I think that essays provide useful tips, whether it is for travel or for any other advice you are looking for.

Another Travel Blog

Here is another travel blog for those of you who want additional tips on traveling: Everything Everywhere: Around The World Travel Blog

My Story

As a young girl, I have always been interested in the idea of traveling.  I wanted to follow in my mother's footsteps and go into the field of international marketing.  While at such a young age, those things are hard to happen so I had to take advantage of any and every summer program that I could enroll in.  Starting at a sleep away camp, then spending a summer at a college, and finally spending a summer in China, I have always been interested in the idea of traveling.  It never mattered how far away from home.

Interview Your Friends and Family

I think that one of the ways in which you can gain the greatest understanding of other people is through interviewing them.  And if you aim your questions at a certain subject you might get some information that is helpful in the long run.  I tried to ask my mom about trips that she went on and trips she wishes she went on, as I know that she has a lot of insight into traveling.  Through interviewing friends and family, you can learn the ins-and-outs of where you are going and what you need to plan before you go.

Interview with my Mom

I decided to interview my mom this week because she used to work in international marketing for a global company. Here are a few of the questions and answers from the interview.

Q: What was your favorite place to visit?
A: Greece. It had the best food, culture, and most beautiful setting.

Q: What was the most dangerous place you have ever been to?
A: The middle east.  When I went there for work years ago, it was almost like riots everywhere.  There were people running around in the streets shooting, and I had to be taken out of the city in a bullet-proof car.

Q: What is one trip that you would like to visit, and you haven't been yet?
A: Africa.  I have always wanted to go on a safari

Above are a few questions I collected from my interview with my mom.  

How to Plan a Vacation: Part 2

Many concerns of families when planning a vacation is making the vacation fun for both the older people you will be traveling with and the younger people you will be traveling with.  It might be hard to find a common ground on which you can plan a vacation that is fun for everyone, but here is a website that can help you when trying to plan a vacation that is fun for everyone: How To Plan a Vacation Both Grandma and Junior Can Enjoy 

How to Plan a Vacation

There are many important steps that one must take when planning a vacation.  In order to explain all of these steps, please look at my next blog post for the remaining steps and tips.  There are many different factors that one has to consider when planning a vacation.  The first is: making sure you have the money to go on the vacation you want.  While you might think a destination is expensive, there are many deals, on Expedia and other related websites that allow people to find deals on vacation destinations and help save money.  Another factor to take into consideration when planning a vacation, is researching any "hidden fees" that you might encounter.  A lot of websites, although not all, have hidden fees that they tack on once you book your vacation.  Here is an article that goes further into detail about saving up for your vacation and hidden fees: How To Plan A Summer Vacation Without Breaking The Bank

Vacation Club

When traveling, one of the first things that many people think about are what hotel they are going to stay at.  There are many options that people can choose from, whether they are a member of a vacation club, a young traveller staying in a youth hostel abroad, or renting a hotel room.  Although I have never stayed in a hostel, I can definitely say that vacation clubs are worth the money.  After being a part of one in mexico, and now in New York, I have always loved vacation clubs.  You can convert your points so you can use them at a sister-hotel and you are not locked into one resort.  There is a lot of freedom within vacation resorts, and when planning a vacation. You are not locked into certain dates, nor are there blackout dates.  Overall, I suggest looking into a vacation club the next time you are in your favorite vacation spot!

Hybrid Cars

Along the lines of my post that raves about the positive aspects of taking a road trip, I think that hybrid cars are a great invention.  They help save people money, and are good for the environment.  While they might be more expensive at first, the amount of gas you save by driving a hybrid saves you money in the long run.  And for those of you who also enjoy taking road trips, whether short or long, a hybrid is great because you do not have to stop for gas as often, and once again you are helping the environment!

Global Entry

Global Entry for those of you who haven't yet heard about it is a pass that expedites customs lines when coming into and out of the United States.  Not only do you get to skip those long annoying at the airport, but you basically get to go through customs by just answering a few basic questions on a kiosk.  It can save hours at the airport depending on what time your flight lands.  And I think we can all agree that one of the most annoying things about traveling is waiting in the customs lines when coming back into the United States.  I definitely recommend everyone apply for  Global Entry pass!  This pass also helps a lot when driving into or out of Mexico or Canada.  With the Global Entry pass, you do not need any other documentation in order to be able to drive into or out of Mexico and Canada.  There are also express lanes that you can drive through so you do not have to wait in line in your car when entering or leaving Mexico or Canada.  The one catch is, that in order to drive through the expedited line, everyone in the car must have the Global Entry pass.  I am always pro for anything that saves time.  I will be using the Global Entry pass for the first time soon, but I think it will be a great program to be a part of!

Don't Always Use the Same Source

While many of us tend to use the same websites, blogs, or articles when planning our trips, I think that it is also helpful (depending on what kind of trip you are planning) to look outside your trusted resources and look up a different blog or website.  As I was reading another travel blog (Nomadic Matt's Travel Site: Travel Better, Cheaper, Longer) I thought that he made some very valid points about traveling.  When constantly referring to the same source (book, website, etc.) make sure you have the most current edition.  Not only will it provide you with the most up-to-date information about what attractions are popular, which restaurants to eat at, and even bus or train times, but it will provide you with a general overview of information of the location you are going to visit.  I recommend that if you want insider tips on "what's hot" in that location, to look in magazines, websites or blogs.  Best of luck planning your next trip!

Rome, Italy

As I have mentioned in one of my previous posts, I have two cousins getting married.  One of which is getting married in the midwest and the other is getting married in Switzerland.  While traveling to see my cousin get married in Switzerland, my mother and I have decided to make the most of our trip and visit a few other countries while we are in Europe.  One of the locations is Rome, Italy.  I have always dreamed of visiting Italy, and now I am finally getting the chance to go.  Some of the recommended sites that we were told to see are: the spanish steps, the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel.  Due to the fact that I have studied Latin since I was young, I have always wondered what the locations I was studying actually looked like.  Now that I will be able to see the locations first-hand, I think that my appreciation for the language will grow. This is one of the special qualities that  I think traveling offers.  It gives us experiences that we will remember for the rest of our lives.  Comment on this post if you have any other recommendations of where I should visit!

Additional Traveling Tips

As I have said before, by no means do I consider myself to know everything about traveling.  But I do consider myself to be an avid traveller always looking to other people to learn more so that I too can travel "smart."  The article gives a brief overview of their top 50 smart travel tips.  The following link provides some smart travel tips courtesy of U.S. News & World Report.  Here is the link, Enjoy! :  50 Smart Travel Tips

Road Trip

With the summer coming up, many people have have events to attend.  Some of these events might require you to take a plane or a train, but if you get the chance, I recommend that you drive if you get the chance.  Not only with driving will you have more freedom, by having your car at whatever destination you are going to, but you might also save money.  In addition to saving money, you get the chance to bond with whoever you are traveling with.  Last summer, my boyfriend and I took a road-trip about 4 hours north of where he lives.  Although it was a short road trip, I think it was one of the best experiences I've had.  We were able to talk extensively without any disruptions or distractions, which let us learn a lot more about each other than we ever thought we would.  And it allowed us to grow more comfortable around each other. Being in a car for a road trip with someone you love is a great experience.  Not only do you get to travel and potentially see a new location, but you also get to bond with everyone you are with.

Please answer my poll!

What do you think is most important about traveling?
Creating an Itinerary ahead of time
Packing light
Visiting a new location
Traveling with friends
Traveling with family
Traveling alone
= create poll =

Other Tips for Vacationers

I know I am not the only one that has posted tips about traveling, and my views about traveling on the internet, which is why I have included the following video to give those of you women who are avid travelers or travel for pleasure some additional packing tips.

My Cousins Getting Switzerland

While most destination weddings I have been to and heard of are to an island or somewhere warm, I never thought I would be going to a wedding in Switzerland.  While one of my hobbies is traveling, I would never pass up the opportunity to go to Switzerland, a country that I have never visited, especially because my cousin is getting married there.  Although we will be there for her wedding, we are also planning on traveling around.  But due to the fact that I have never been in that part of the world, I do not know what to expect.  I have heard it is pretty, and I have heard that they have great chocolate, but other than that this will be a new experience for me which I am sure is going to be a positive one.  If you have any tips or recommendations for visiting Switzerland, comment on my page and let me know!

What I see when visiting the midwest...

With the spring season hers, and the summer soon approaching, there are may people having weddings.  In particular, this season I happen to have 2 cousins getting states and countries other than my home town.  I live on the east coast and have one cousin getting married in the midwest.  As a person who has been traveling out there my whole life, I can say that there really isn't much to see unless you take the 5 hour road trip to north to the canadian border.  While I can divulge that there are definitely some things I look forward to seeing when I go out there every year or every other year, such as how open and still undeveloped it is, I always can't wait till I get back home.  While it is nice visiting family, and I will never pass up the change to, visiting the same location year after year doesn't provide much excitement.  When traveling, I enjoy visiting new places and seeing different cultures.  Here is an example of the most interesting scenery that I see when visiting the midwest.

February 27, 2012

Crete, Greece

There are many countries in the world that I would like to visit, but on the top of my list is Greece.  More specifically I would like to go to Crete (which is the largest Greek isle and has the largest population).  Having taken latin for 7 years, I have been educated in ancient Roman and Greek history, and would like to visit some of the places I have learned about.  Not only is it a beautiful location, with a gorgeous setting, but the country has a rich history which I would like to learn more about and see first-hand.  One of the elements of traveling that I enjoy, is the fact that on every trip there is the ability to learn something new.  While some people may argue that you do not have to go anywhere to learn something new, traveling to a new location makes the learning experience interesting and engaging.  Which is why, with its rich history and beautiful scenery Crete, Greece is on the top of my list of places I would like to visit.

All the rage

So one of the new trends, as far as vacations go, is traveling to a different city or state to see a music festival and "rage".  While there have been festivals in the past, such as the infamous Woodstock, many of the festivals that are popular now feature electronic or house music.  The locations of these concerts take place all around the world.  Some of the most popular ones in the United States include: Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, the Electric Daisy Carnival, the Electric Zoo, and Ultra Music Festival.  The Bonnaroo Music festival is located in Manchester, TN and many people drive rv's to the concert, due to the fact that there are no accommodations near by and the alternative is camping.  The Electric Daisy Carnival originally started in Southern California in 2000, but in the past year has changed its location to New York.  The Ultra Music Festival draws a more universal crowd and might require a bit more travelling (depending on what country and city you prefer).  The Electric Zoo began in 2009 as a 1-day festival, and has since, due to its increasing popularity, added 2 additional days, spanning over Labor Day weekend.  The Ultra Music Festival takes place in Miami-FL, Sao Paulo-Brasil, Buenos Aires-Argentina, Ibiza-Spain, Warsaw-Poland, and Seoul-South Korea.  Being an avid traveler and listening to this type of music, I would love to visit some of these other countries in which UMF takes place.  Given the fact that I have not been to any of these locations except for Miami (which was an amazing experience going to UMF there), I would love to explore the culture while being able to connect with other people around the world, given that we enjoy the same kind of music.  Adjacent to this post is a picture I have embedded of me and a friend that I went from NY to FL with at UMF last year.  I encourage people to experience these concerts, and I have made connections and friendships that I still hold from my experience.  In my opinion, traveling always enables new opportunities.

Top 5 (things to bring in your carry-on bag)

Related to my previous post, I though I'd share the essentials of what should be packed in your carry-on bag.  They are listed in order from most important to least important.

  1. Underwear- I know I listed this as my #1 thing to have in your checked bag too, but if your bag gets lost, an extra pair may be all you need till you get to your destination
  2. A book- a book can always help fill the time, when you are waiting for your flight, your taxi, or on the train
  3. Sunglasses- whether your destination is a hot or cold one, sunglasses can always come in handy
  4. Snacks or Gum-you might not like the food served on your flight or wherever you are going, so snacks can help fill the void until you get to a restaurant.  In addition, gum always helps when easing the pressure on your ears when taking off and landing.
  5. Jewelry/Valuables-if your bag gets lost when traveling, you might not be able to retrieve it, which is why I always carry any valuables in my carry-on

Top 5 (things to have in your checked bag)

We all forget things from time-to-time when we go on vacation.  Whether it is a hat for a beach getaway, or a pair of extra warm socks for a ski vacation, something always seems to get left behind.  Being an avid traveler, I have had much insight into the essential things you must pack in your checked luggage in order to be prepared for any trip that you are about to take.  I have listed them below in order from most important to least important.

  1. Underwear-always an can wear the same clothes if you have to but in my opinion you can never run out of clean underwear
  2. Travel-sized toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner)-Not only should travel-sized toiletries be more then enough for the vacation you are about to embark on, but they also help save space in your suitcase (which is great if you tend to overpack like me)
  3. Travel-sized umbrella or a rain jacket that folds well-you never know when it's going to rain
  4. Comfortable walking shoes- whether you prefer sneakers or sandals, and depending on where you are going, I recommend bringing comfortable walking shoes.  I personally love to walk around wherever I am visiting to get a better insight into the local culture.
  5. Chargers, extra batteries (possibly even an extra memory card for your camera)-if you love to take pictures, then there is always the possibility of the batteries dying or filling up your memory card (which is why I always like to pack a charger and extra memory card in my suitcase)

February 20, 2012

I prefer jetBlue

Airlines are constantly trying to find ways to get people to spend more and more money.  As if purchasing a flight isn't expensive enough right now, most airlines are also trying to get us to pay for a checked bag.  In addition, if the bag is considered "heavy" you will be charged an extra fee.  While there are certain airlines that have started to charge people for a checked bag, jetBlue is one of the few that still allows one checked bag for free.  In addition to allowing people to check one bag without a charge, jetBlue also offers extra leg room, free television shows, movies, and snacks.  Personally, jetBlue has become my favorite airline to travel with in the United States and Carribean.  Many of perks they offer for free, most airlines have started to charge people for.  Not only has traveling with jetBlue made flying more enjoyable, but the amicable staff also attends to each customer assuring that you have a positive experience when travelling with jetBlue.

Looking for travel tips and recommendations?

One of the most important aspects of planning a trip, is researching where you want to go before you book it.  There are new media items which help enable anyone to research their trip, even when they are not at home.  The invention of the iPad has helped many people plan trips, research hotels, and learn about activities while they are on the go.  While new electronic devices are helping people make use of their daily commutes (and often unused time), I personally still like to refer to magazines for advice when planning a trip.  One of the magazines that I always refer to when booking a trip is Departures magazine.  It features one location in each issue and elaborates on what to see and which activities to partake in.  If an issue does not focus on a specific location and the "5 things to do, see, and buy" there, it might focus on a season, and where to go and what to do during that season.  Although not everyone can get the hard copy of the magazine (you must have an American Express credit card), they also have a website which provides just as many travel tips and recommendations as the magazine.  I hope that sharing this very useful travel resource will encourage and enable many people to start traveling more!

(For more information, and specifics, look at the useful sites I have listed, and there is a link to the Departures magazine website).

My Summer in China

A few years ago, I spent a summer in China.  While I might say to some people that I went purely for educational reasons, I am also willing to venture to say that I went for a much bigger reason; that is, I went to receive a better understanding of the differences between the United States (a country in the Western World) and China (a country in the Eastern World).  While in China I took a few classes, including: ancient Chinese medicine, Chinese seal carving, and a course focusing on the relationship between the United States and China.

But rather than focusing on each individual things I learned on this trip and while taking these classes, I will focus on what appeared to be the most eye opening for me.  Some of the most influential experiences came from the weekend and overnight trips that I took.  While on these trips, I was really able to see the differences between the two cultures.  One night I had the pleasure of having dinner with a family in Shanghai (which is one of the largest cities in China).  While having dinner with this family, which has a daughter about the same age as me, I was able to learn a lot about their day to day interactions and activities.  While talking to the daughter, she informed me that after she attends school each day, she comes straight home and starts helping the mother.  A woman's role in China is changing constantly, and as described by the girl I met, the daughter helps the mother on a daily basis.  Due to the fact that China still upholds the rule that each family can only have one child, most chinese families still wish for a boy, so that the boy can help support the family when he gets older.  If a family wishes to have more than one child, then they must pay a fee; which is exactly what the family did that I had dinner with.  I was able to take away the fact that while a women's role in Chinese society is still not honored, a woman in a chinese family plays a big role in day-to-day life.  While this dinner was not necessarily the most exotic thing I did while on the trip, it definitely helped me get a so-called "insider view" into chinese culture (more specifically the one-child policy) and learn from the perspective of someone the same age as me.

February 8, 2012

Traveling is least to me

There are many different reasons why people like to travel.  Whether it is to visit family, go on a relaxing vacation, or being able to get away with your friends, I believe that traveling is relaxing no matter where I go.  Technically I travel every weekend to visit my boyfriend who lives an hour away from me.  One thing that I have a strong opinion on, in regards to traveling, is that I always have to bring something to read with me.  I find that reading helps me relax even more.  It can be gossip magazines, a book I am reading for my own enjoyment, or a homework assignment.  Not only does it help the time pass when traveling, but it also provides a sense of relaxation for the mind.  Next time you take a trip, I highly recommend bringing some reading material!

January 30, 2012


Hello world!  My name is Lauren and I have created this blog so that I can share the experiences that I have accumulated traveling around the world.  From Minnesota to visit family to China to immerse myself in a different culture, I will divulge the different experiences and advice that I have from traveling.  I love to travel and encourage anyone who gets the opportunity to travel to take it.  As well as learning about various countries and their cultures from my trips, I have also learned a lot of valuable information about myself and my culture.  I hope that this blog will inspire people to travel (even if it's just a day trip)!