Where to next?

Hola!

I am in love with Madrid!

Yesterday, I went with a friend while he looked for a “flat” (apartment for all you Canadians), and I got so excited thinking about looking for a place when I move back to Ontario! The woman who showed us the flats was, how should I put this, crazy! Seriously! I may not have understood 99% of what she said, but even I could tell she was loco.

Anyways, just an update to say hello! I am safe, and starting to get the hang of this traveling thing. I bought groceries as well! I bought enough for the next few days and it only cost me 12 Euros! One meal usually costs me that much! So, note to self: buy groceries!

Today I am going to decide where my next destination will be. Any suggestions? I was thinking Porto, Portugal.

Advertisements

Packing for 3 months in Europe

So I spent the better part of the past two-days either packing or visiting. Packing isn’t difficult, it’s just draining.

When I looked down at the pile of clothes I made, it just didn’t seem like enough. I found myself thinking “Hm, well I guess I could pack one more shirt just in case…” but then the traveller inside me would scream “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”.

I’ve never really been known as a light packer. Don’t get me wrong, after all the cross-country moves I’ve done I’ve gotten better, but this was a challenge. I used to pack a 50 pound bag for a one-week trip to see my Dad. He would always look at me like I was crazy, and he was right: I barely touched more than half the things in my suit case.

Anyways, I’m just estimating, but I am 95% certain the bag weighs less than 25 pounds. Is that good in “backpacker-travel” standards? I don’t really know–but I can pick my bag up with one arm no-problem, so I think that’s a good sign!

What I Packed

Clothing:

  • 4 tank tops (1 “dressier”)
  • 3 T-shirts (long and short-sleeved)
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 summer-dress
  • 2 Merino Wool sweaters
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 light, 1 dark)
  • 1 zip-away type pants
  • 1 pair of lu lu lemons (guilty pleasure)
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 “nice” sweater
  • 2 bras
  • underwear/socks (obviously!)
  • PJs (shorts and a long t-shirt)
  • 1 bathing suit

Tioletries:

  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Razor
  • DRY conditioner/shampoo (Lush Cosmetics)
  • Small bottle Body-wash
  • 1 bottle spray leave-in-conditioner (I NEED IT!)
  • bandaids/polysporine (I’m really clumsy)
  • Hair elastics/bobby-pins
  • Make-up  Absolutely NOT!
  • baby-wipes (in a baggy–great for washing your face)
  • Vanilla spray (I have to smell good if I’m going to make friends)
  • Deodorant
  • Lady-stuff
  • Q-tips (a few in a baggy)
  • Vitamins/meds

Other Stuff:

  • Fluff-book (Thanks Heather for the Harlequin Romance)
  • iPod/iPhone and ear-phones (and charger)
  • ear-plugs
  • Towel/blanket
  • Flip-flops (for the showers)
  • Pillow-case (recommended by Heather-It’s always a comfort knowing what your head is laying on)
  • Sandals (small, cheap ones, for going out)
  • Walking shoes (wearing on the plane)
  • Camera and charger
  • Adaptor
  • Journal/pen
  • Spork
  • Bounce dryer sheets (make my smelly-stuff smell good)
  • Lock
  • Plastic bags (put away dirty-laundry/anything wet)
  • Sandwich bags (so many uses)
  • 1 water-bottle (the deflatable kind)

The obvious essentials:

  • Passport
  • photo-copies of my documents (a couple hidden in my carry-on and my bag as well as one I left at home)
  • Eurail Pass
  • Confirmation numbers
  • Address for my hostel

I’m pretty sure that’s it. The list may seem long, but once it’s all compacted in your bag, it’s not. I put a lot of my things in small plastic-bags (sandwich bags) and then put them all in one large zip-loc bag so it’s easy to dig out every night at the hostel.

Of the above items I packed the following in my carry-on:

  • 1 pair of underwear
  • iPhone/iPod/chargers/adaptor
  • The obvious essentials
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 flannel blanket (not in my list of things, only because it was given to me by a very friendly west-jet employee my last flight home, so I plan on only keeping it for the flight).
  • My book

And there you have it! I think it’s a fairly good list of things, and if I arrive and go “Sh*t, I should have packed _____” or “Fack, I wish I didn’t even bother packing _____”, I’ll let you know!

P.S. I AM SO EXCITED!

Instagram Weekend – Touring Toronto

This gallery contains 22 photos.

I know I’m back in Ontario when: I’m too hungover to function It’s 1:30pm and I’m still in my pajamas watching JP I don’t think about blogging because I’m busy ALL OF THE TIME Yepp, I am officially back. It’s … Continue reading

Eurail Pass – What a headache!

The countdown is on! Only ten days until I start my 3-month journey.

I’m not a procrastinator, but I waited longer than I should have to purchase my Eurorail Pass.

Why? Because it’s not as easy as the online-world makes it sound! Seriously, what is simple about picking a pass? Okay, I admit, if I had an itinerary in mind, I’m sure buying a pass would be simple. BUT, I am going with NO plan.

I’ve been on a few sites, including Rick Steves, for advice, but couldn’t really decide on the best course of action.

So, I headed onto the Eurail site and started comparing prices. Are you ready?

(Note: These are youth prices).

Eurail Global Pass: 10 days in 2 months – $548

Eurail Select Pass: 8 days in 2 months (3 countries) – $384

Eurail Regional Pass: 8 days in 2 months (France-Spain) – $364

Eurail One Country Pass: 8 days in 2 months (Spain) – $384

Alright. Do you see what I see? Let me break it down for you.

Why not the Global Pass?

I am going to be in Europe for a total of 3 months. A 3-month unlimited pass (not shows) is over $1000! No thank-you! I only plan on visiting 4-5 countries max, and the countries I am going to be in aren’t connected as well as Eastern Europe. Sure, if I were going to be in Eastern Europe,  a global pass may have made sense. But, Ireland I plan on traveling via bus or one-way train tickets. France I only plan on traveling through, and maybe stopping for a night or two. Portugal is also a country not that well-connected via the rail network. Global pass (for me) is out!

One Country Pass – I think not!

I think this is fairly self-explanatory: why would I pay the same for a one-country pass (same amount of days) as I would for a regional?!

Regional vs Select Pass

I wasn’t sure if I was going to travel in France. I may decide to fly instead from London to Spain (<$40), but I don’t know. But I figured for an extra $20 I’ll have peace-of-mind. That’s the same for portugal: I’ve tried looking online for tips on getting around this small country, but haven’t really stumbled on much. A friend of mine who visits there frequently told me that the bus system is the best option. But, if I decide to train into Lisbon for a few nights, nothing is stopping me. Also, what if I decide to do the Mediterranean tour in France and over to Italy? The options!

Cost: $401 (including shipping and insurance) for the regional pass.

I chose France, Spain and Portugal.

How did you decide on the amount of days?

This was a tough decision. Do I choose 7 days in 2 months or 10 days? I opted for 8 because I figure I will be spending a lot of time in certain areas. I love to stay in one place for an “extended” period of time (more than 3 days) to really soak in the culture. Honestly, it was a total guess as to how many days I might need. I’ll be kicking myself if I realize I need more.

So, for those of you looking into buying a Eurail Pass, I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s easy. It’s not! Even if you have an itinerary, spending a lump-sum like this is never easy to do, and what happens if your plans change? Do yourself a favour, and RESEARCH. I wish I would have seriously looked into this a lot sooner.

Question: Laundry abroad?

Yo Yo! Sup Sup!?

It’s getting closer. Only 2 weeks until I get on an airplane and fly across an ocean. NO BIG DEAL!

I’m definitely becoming more excited as it gets closer. Look at me Mom, I’m a big girl now!

Anyways, I realized today that there are a few things that I still don’t know about travelling solo. For instance: how easy is it to access free WiFi? How do I get money–an ATM, a bank? How am I going to wash my clothing?

So many questions still unanswered.

Laundry is a big one. Growing up, there was a running joke in my family (at least I hope it was a joke) that when my Aunt travelled, she needed only 1 pair of underwear for 2 days: just flip them inside out. Um, no thank-you. I would have to be stranded on a remote island for this to ever happen, and even then I think I would just opt to go commando.

So how do you do laundry abroad? Ok, don’t be a smart-ass and say “In the sink – duh!”. Yes, I know how to laundry, but I still want to know what other people have done, what products they used, and tips and tricks. So, like the researcher I am, I went perusing the internet to find out some handy tips.

What did i find?

Detergent/Soap

Tide Travel Sink Packets: What did travellers do before this invention? I think I’ll need to pick up some of these before I leave.

Wrinkle Releaser: I hate wrinkled clothing! And, travelling out of a backpack I’m sure some of my clothes will have to suffer. But, if I can find myself a product like this I don’t need to fret!

Bounce Dryer Sheets: Not only can I use these at a local laundromat, but I can use them to freshen the smell of my clothes while they’re in my bag! A fellow traveller recommended putting some in a ziploc-bag for my travels. Done and done!

Clothesline

I read on a few sites that this is a necessity. I’m not sure where I can find one though. Any thoughts?

Laundromats

Expensive city = wash in your sink. Inexpensive = leave it to the professionals. Most sites recommended using professional cleaning services (usually take 1 business day) as using local laundromats is time-consuming. I’ll let you know my verdict when try it out! I have a feeling that I’ll enjoy the laundromat. Sit with a coffee, write in my journal, look at pictures, plan my next destination. Three or four hours of “down-time” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

And there you have it. That is what my research provided me with. I hate doing laundry at my own house so I don’t imagine to enjoy it any more or less abroad. I guess there are certain responsibilities (ahem, hygiene) that one can’t escape even when you leave your life behind.

Related links:

Traveling by Numbers: 4 Tips for Doing Laundry Abroad

Cheapoair.ca: Gear for doing laundry abroad

Onebag.com (great site!)

Instamoments – #yeg, #yyc, #yba

This gallery contains 18 photos.

27 Days! I’m freaking out a lil’ bit. As you all know I have made plans to move back to Ontario and yet these plans have been thwarted by what we’ll refer to as insanity. Don’t worry. I am not … Continue reading

Travel Items

This gallery contains 7 photos.

About a month ago I wrote a post titled Traveling Europe: What to Buy. I compiled a few online-pictures (check out my Pinterest board) of what I thought I might need (or want) for my trip. Well, I purchased a … Continue reading

The pre-planning to your plan!

I had a day off this week and decided that it was time to be productive. A while ago I wrote down a list of questions I had regarding insurance, car rentals and coverage along with all the phone numbers so that all I had to do was find a few minutes of free time and dial.

But of course, I am the queen of procrastination.

So, during my day off I left my house (and my computer) and headed to a local coffee shop and got to work.

First I phoned TD Insurance. I wanted to know how much it would cost for me to purchase medical insurance through them.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about managing money. I went to see a Financial Adviser at TD and he helped me put away money into my savings (TFSA) as well as gave me a crash course on the importance of RRSP and credit.

Now, because I had already saved over $5000 by this point, I was eligible for the TD Infinite Travel Visa. What does this mean?

Well, let me preface this by saying that no matter what credit card you have (and yes, you NEED one), you should call them and ask questions about coverage.

When I called them this is that they told me:

(at no extra cost, these are just the perks of having a card)

  • I have up to $1000 in trip cancellation insurance
  • Up to $5000 in trip disruption/lost baggage insurance
  • Up to $2 million in medical insurance for 15 days of my trip
  • Automatic collision/loss/damage insurance on any car rental I pay for with my Visa

Crazy right? So, after finding all of this out (5 minutes on the phone well spent), I decided to purchase my medical insurance with TD as well. The cost? $201! Not bad! That’s $2 million in medical insurance coverage for the entire duration of my trip.

Next I called Budget Car Rental. I know that while in Ireland, and possibly while in Spain/Portugal,  I’ll want to rent a vehicle for part of my trip. I read that in some countries it is mandatory to purchase insurance with your rental, so I wanted to find out if my Visa coverage would be enough in such a case.

The answer:

I’m covered with Visa! I won’t need to pay any extra for that type of insurance, anywhere! Phew! I love saving money!

Don’t forget too, whenever I purchase anything with my card I earn points which I can then use to pay for part of my trip. It’s a win-win for me!

So, my advice is do your research! Find out all the benefits you have through your credit card company, your bank and any other company you may belong to. If you’re still a student you must get an ISIC card as it will save you loads of cash! Are you an AMA or CAA member? They have tons of perks too! Call them, find out what they can offer you! It will save you money and give you piece of mind.

Random Ramble

To finish this otherwise serious post, I though I would share a few pictures with you from my time spent at Block 1912.

Do you see my friend?

I used this photo in this week’s Photo Challenge.

I really wanted to pet him. Yes, I know that’s weird, but he just looked so lonely all by himself. Perhaps he just wanted some company? Well, anyways, I was on the phone with Kim and she told me that I can’t pet a bee because chances were I would get stung. Wouldn’t that be a hilarious story?

“How did you get stung on your finger?”

“I was trying to pet a bee.”

“…”

“Yeah, maybe I should’ve come up with a better story”