Travel or Vacation? Two Different Things

by Alex Schnee
( March 25th, 2015 )

travel vacation ocean

Traveling is a very different thing from taking a vacation. I don’t know about you, but when I usually travel, it’s not to sit on a beach and enjoy myself with pina colada in hand. (Though, take me there. I won’t complain.) It’s another mindset altogether. I was in Cinque Terre this past week, and I was so surprised to find myself relaxing by the beach, wishing it was just a little warmer so I could fall asleep in the sun.

Generation-Y travelers have changed how we define “taking a trip.” Before, traveling was just to get away from responsibilities and to have a break from the stresses of work and life back home. Now, travel is more about experiences—it’s about seeing the world from a new perspective. When I run into my peers on the road, they’re usually backpacking or planning on enjoying certain aspects of the culture they have chosen to travel to. It’s a job more than anything—though you might have some relaxing aspects of a journey, there are also some stressful times, as well.

Between putting together plane tickets, train tickets, hostels or hotels, and making sure everything is in order for your journey, you can find yourself more freaked out than actually enjoying your time away—and that’s just stupid. Every journey is a learning experience, but if you hate more than you are having a great time, then maybe it’s time to think about some new locations. I spent a few days in the south of France during a crazy tour, and it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip—the weather was just too good to do anything else but sit on a beach and sunbathe.

Being in the gorgeous, warming atmosphere of Cinque Terre this past week has reminded me that the Baby Boomers aren’t completely wrong for wanting to take a break every now and then. Hearing the ocean waves and climbing up to various churches and towers was just what I needed to ready myself for the giant solo trip I am about to take through Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary. Traveling isn’t always fun—but a vacation can be just what you need to get back on the road and to continue to enjoy your travels.

Have you ever taken a trip just to relax? What spots would you recommend?

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Ryanair Tips and Tricks: How to Manage Budget Airlines

by Alex Schnee
( March 19th, 2015 )

Ryanair Travel Tips

Ryanair has recently stated that they are planning on adding a new fleet of planes and flights from the United States to Europe. If you know anything about Ryanair, you’ll know that it has its good points and bad points, but that it’s also one of the best ways to get around Europe on a budget. I’m flying from Budapest to Pisa in a few weeks, and it only ended up costing me $40 USD—not bad to get from one spot to another. Here are some tips and tricks I have found when you are thinking about taking a budget airline around Europe.

Be open to your choice in destination.

If you are planning on hitting up a specific destination, it’s a good idea to plan a few weeks in advance. Though nothing is more fun than a spontaneous choice in destination, you might find that the prices will be bumped up a lot if you choose a place at the last moment or a spot where few flight head to. Sometimes it’s almost more fun to see what they have on their website for deals and which ones would work with your schedule and your budget.

Don’t check your luggage.

Ryanair has a strict policy on the size of suitcase you can take with you. You’ll want to have a carry-on suitcase for the journey, and checking baggage is not only a pain but it can also cost you a ridiculous amount. Most airports will charge you up to fifty euro, so keep that in mind if you are planning on taking a long trip and you need to pack a bit more than for just a few days.

Print your boarding pass beforehand.

Unlike other airlines, you will get a confirmation email that will include your boarding pass when you have booked your flight. Make sure that you print this out before, because if you don’t they will charge you at the checkout desk and you might not be let on the flight. It’s a good idea to save that email under a folder so it’s easy to access and you can get to it quickly when you need to fly out.

Have you ever flown Ryanair or another budget airline? Any tips?

Image courtesy of Paolo Margari.

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Avoid the Scams in Rome: Tips and Tricks

by Alex Schnee
( March 13th, 2015 )

Rome Travel Scams

I was in Rome last week, and I was amazed to remember how many ways there are to get taken advantage of in the city. Rome is the “Eternal City,” but it’s also one of the best places to get scammed if you are not careful. With so many tourists going in and out of the city, salespeople have found the perfect ways to coerce you out of your euros—and nothing is worse than finding out that you have been pickpocketed on the road. Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned while traveling there—and it’s also good to keep some of these things in mind when traveling to other locations.

Keep your money close to you.

These guys are experts, and they won’t hesitate stealing from you even though you are a woman. You’ll want to keep your wallet close to you—I have a money pouch that I keep in my jacket, or even sometimes put in my bra if I feel like I’m in a situation that requires having my money on my person.

Do not bring your passport with you unless necessary.

Your passport is your life when you are traveling as a foreigner, so losing it can be one of the worst things you can do. A lost passport can mean time at an embassy that would have normally used traveling. And it can take a lot of time and effort to have clearance to travel back home. Always see if you can lock your passport in a safe at your hotel or hostel, and make sure that you have a copy of it in your bag just in case.

Ignore people calling out to you on the street.

Thieves love to create distraction, and most have some ploy to get you thinking about something else rather than where your important documents and money are. Avoid anyone calling out to you for no reason—it’s probably a way to distract you and a way to slip a hand into your pocket when you aren’t paying attention. Rome is famous for these guys, and some will even reach out and try and grab your stuff from your if you aren’t careful.

Know when you’re in the most touristy areas.

It seems obvious that some areas of Rome would have more issues with theft than others, and none are more so than areas like the Forum or the Spanish Steps. Knowing that these areas are heavily populated by scammers can help you to know which person to ask for a photo and which will run away with it. Again, make sure your money it close to you. And don’t take anything that is handed to you—they’ll expect you to pay for it!

Have any tips for a touristy city like Rome where you can be pick-pocketed?

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