5 THINGS I ALWAYS HAVE IN MY DAY BAG

I don't like to carry a heavy bag with me when I travel. On almost every European adventure we have taken, I take only a backpack and a purse with me. This means that I have to be very selective on what I take with me and what gets left behind. While seeing over eleven countries and countless cities over the past three years, I have narrowed down my list of items that I take with me. Today, I am sharing the list with all of you. Happy packing!

THE TRAVEL PURSE

First things first. let's talk about the bag itself. I am suuuuper picky when it comes to travel bags. I have only found two bags in the last three years that have made the cut. Here are a few guidelines I look for when picking out my bag:

  • It HAS to be a crossbody bag. I want to have my hands free to take pictures and hold on to the handles on the subway. Plus, in Germany I wear a down coat like 70% of the year and it's hard to keep that shoulder strap on!
  • It HAS to have a zipper closure. Pick pockets are a real thing. Having a zipper on my bag makes things less stressful. I still bring my purse around to the front of me in the subway stations and high traffic areas, but when we are out and about I don't have to worry about sticky fingers nearly as much. I haven't been pick pocketed yet (knock on wood).
  • It HAS to be able to fit my camera and extra lenses. My current bag is actually not a legitimate "camera bag" with the lined interior. I think a lot of photographers might gasp at this fact. However, after countless flights and train rides I have not gotten even a scratch on either of my lenses. This keeps the weight and the size to a minimum.

1. CAMERA & LENSES

It is super easy as a blogger to accumulate a bag full of equipment. I don't like having a heavy purse when I travel. I have narrowed it down to a few items:

  • My  camera is a Cannon Rebel T3i. Kev bought it for me for my birthday right before we moved to Europe and it has worked great!
  • An 18-55 mm lens. This is a great universal lens and it covers almost all the bases for when you are wandering around a city. 
  • I only keep one additional lens in my bag. It's a wide angle lens that I use for architectural photos. This is a great lens to get more in your photograph. 
  • My newest addition is a remote shutter that I take with me when it's just Kev and I traveling together. 

2. COIN PURSE

On trips, I ditch my heavy wallet and switch it out for a small coin pouch. Living in Europe, I am constantly paying for things with coins and cash. I don't use a card to pay for many things when I'm traveling. I use a coin purse that I bought in Italy last year and I never leave the house without it. 


3. HAND SANITIZER

Especially in a big city where we are taking public transit all the time I always have this with me. Sometimes we will get out of the subway or bus and grab something to eat on the go. There is not always somewhere to wash your hands so, this comes in handy quiet often


4. PHONE CASE BATTERY PACK

We use our phones a lot when we travel. We have several apps that we like to use, especially for maps. This usually drains our battery very quickly so a battery pack is great for long days to exploring. I personally use a Mophie case but there are a ton of versions out there. I use it as my phone case when we travel. When we are at home I use just a regular case. 


5. SNACKS

This past year, I have changed my diet significantly for health reasons. You can read more about that in my post on eating with dietary restrictions. This new diet change has reduced the options of food I can eat on the go. I always have something in my bag. A piece of fruit, a bag of trail mix or a Lårabar! 

I try to keep what I carry to an absolute minimum. Sometimes I might carry a bit more (water, an extra camera lens, chapstick, ect.) but this is my list of essentials that you will always find in my bag wherever we go!
What do you always have in your travel purse?
XOXO,
-E

5 Travel Apps You Need to Download Now!

1. Triposo: 

This is my number one, all-time favorite app. I use this app on almost every single trip I take. I will look up whatever city I plan to visit and download the city information before hand.  This way you do not need a wifi connection (which can be few and far between when in Europe) to look up what you want when you are on-the-go. Also, my favorite feature is the map that has GPS which tells you exactly where you are in the city and how to get to the next site you want to visit. It has saved my bacon more than once!


2. TRIP ADVISOR:

This is probably one of the most famous travel websites EVER! However, they have a super  helpful app as well. We use this app all the time when we are looking for someplace yummy to eat. They have an awesome search engine which really helps you find exactly what you are looking for. Whether it's a hotel, restaurant or attraction you are sure to find it and see what other people have to say about it. 


3. UBER:

This is a pretty well known app in the states but some people don't know that you can use it in Europe as well!! Sadly, it is not available in every country in Europe. However, the countries that do allow Uber means you are in for super cheap and super convenient travel. On our recent trip to Budapest we used nothing but Uber and had an excellent experience. Check before hand if your destination country allows the app. 


4. SPOTTED BY LOCALS: 

This app isn't as well known but I absolutely love it. It's better if you are traveling to a larger, more well known destination – think London or Paris. Here is how it works: Locals from the city you are traveling to write reviews and recommend the best spots in town. We have had great success with finding awesome low key bars and lounges with this app. The only catch is that you have to pay for each city guide you would like to download. 


5. TRIP IT:

Most Euro trips are planned with a friend or family member. We have been taking group trips a lot lately and all the flights and arrangements can get confusing. This is a great app to use if you are traveling with a group of people and you want to keep all the details clear and in the same place where everyone can access them. We just used this app for a trip we took with my family and it was awesome! They send you e-mail notifications and you can chat about details in the app as well. 

What apps do you use when you travel?!
xoxo,
-E

5 GIFT WRAPPING IDEAS THAT ARE GREAT FOR SHIPPING

Living in Germany means that I have to send A LOT of packages back and forth to family in The United States. Gift giving is one of my love languages and I always love sending presents! When I send my presents they HAVE TO be gift wrapped, it's a must. This past year of living in Europe I have had to get creative with ways to make sure the gifts still look pretty when my family opens them on the other end of the world. This year, I have come up with a few fun ideas to make my gifts look cute without the worry of them getting all smashed in the mail. I hope you enjoy!
 

1. JAZZ UP YOUR PAPER: 

One of the cheapest rolls of paper I have is a HUGE roll of plain old craft paper. I love it because it's so versatile and I can use it with anything.  I bought this cute little stamp a couple of months ago for only 2 Euros. I just pre-measured how much paper I would need for the box and rolled it out flat on the floor and stamped away! This is a super easy way to make your gifts a little more special without having to tie a bow! 

2. Get crafty with paper:

Some of you that know me know that I FREAKING LOVE miniature everything! I can see something completely impractical but I will love it because of its size alone. So, naturally I have always loved these small clothespins that you see at every craft store. I never knew quite what to do with them because I normally make cards and they are hard to mail in an envelope buuuuut if you are shipping a box they are perfect! I traced a picture of some stockings on some various scrapbook papers and attached them to some twine. I think it turned out super cute, and because they are so flat they wont smash in the mail! 

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3. Washi Tape:

I use washi tape on my letters all the time so I figured why not wrap my gifts with them? It's such a cute and easy way to add a little extra something before you ship it off to your loved ones!  

4. Have fun with monograms:

This glitter paper of mine is probably my favorite! I got it on the after Christmas sale last year here in Germany and was so excited to crack it open and start using it! This is a quick and easy idea that can be done in just a few minutes. I just printed a large font "N" from a word document and cut it out! It's perfect because it is totally flat and can fit right into your shipping box. The plain "N" was looking a little bare so I just added a button with some ribbon to add a little flare. I love how it turned out!

5. Explore with Snowflakes:

This snowflake is actually part of a super cheap set of ornaments I bought at Wal-Mart 4 years ago. I loved them because they sparkle but also because they will lay flat on the box. You can make snowflakes out of paper too and get the same effect. I have seen ideas like this one all over pintrest and I love it! It's a great alternative to the traditional ribbon and bow.

What is your favorite non-traditional way to wrap your Christmas gifts? I would love to hear your ideas!

xoxo,
-E

5 Awesome Ideas for Travel Souvenirs

When I think of souvenirs, I usually think of overcrowded stores filled with tiny little knick-knacks that say "made in China" on the bottom– only I'm not in China. I know that travel souvenirs typically have a bad rap for being cheap and cheesy, and I struggled with this for a long time! I HATE clutter, but I wanted something that would help me remember the trips we took and memories we made. I have worked hard to find just a few key things to collect that help me remember our trips, but don't clutter up my home. I want to share with you all what I have found that works for us. Here is a list of things that Kev and I do to remember our trips:  


1. POST CARDS
 

This is something I just started when we moved to Europe. A family member told me that I need to keep a travel journal or scrapbook of our adventures while living here in Germany. I thought this was such a good idea, however I am not much of a scrapbooker. So, I just started buying postcards. Instead of mailing the postcards, I write the dates and our favorite memories of each trip on the back. I store the collection of cards in a cute little box I found at West Elm and it sits pretty on one of my shelves. It's a travel journal that also acts as decor in my home, plus each page costs less than one dollar!

2. CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

Kevin and I buy a little ornament on every trip we take together. We started this little tradition over 5 years ago on our honeymoon. We went on a cruise to the Bahamas and we found this little Santa figurine floating in a margarita glass. It made us laugh, and so the tradition was born. Now, not every destination has had ornaments for purchase. When this happens, we have had to get crafty with keychains or little figurines. When we get home, I take a sharpie and write when and where we traveled on the bottom of each ornament. It s so much fun come Christmas time, when we pull out all of the fabulous memories while setting up the tree. 

3. PHOTO ALBUMS

If you look around the site you can see that I LOVE taking pictures! However, the trouble I have these days is that it is so hard to actually get your pictures off your camera or computer. I have countless photos from several trips that are just sitting on memory cards in a drawer somewhere. We hardly ever have actual, physical photographs anymore and I find this heartbreaking. Recently, I found this company that thinks the same way I do and they have helped make printing my photos easy. I make one of these little books for each trip and I keep them on my coffee table to look at whenever we want. I LOVE IT!!!

4. ARTWORK

Now, I know when people read this they automatically write it off because they think $$$$ but this doesn't have to be true! I know there are plenty of fancy galleries that are usually cost prohibitive for most everyone (myself included).  However, in most cities I find the most talented street artists with some authentic sketches of the city I am visiting! I have several pieces and they all are under 100$. Plus, once you get a few all together it makes a cool gallery wall!

5. MAP IT OUT!

Kevin and I have a GIANT map from IKEA hanging in our office. You can see a picture of it here in our home tour. We love staring at it and planning where we are going to next. I bought these little map pins and we stick them on each major capitol we have visited. This is a fun little visual and a conversation starter in our home. 

These are just a few things I have found work for our home and lifestyle. I hope you are inspired!
What are some of your favorite travel souvenirs? I would love to hear your ideas!
 

xoxo,
-E

5 TIPS FOR FLYING WITH A PET

Kevin and I don't have children, but we have one fur baby named Jack. When Kevin and I found out that we were moving to Germany with Kevin's job, I immediately started preparing Jack for the big move. Of course, I never wanted to take him on an airplane because I know how traumatic it can be for a pet. However, leaving him in The States was out of the question for us so we did our best to make the transition as smooth as possible. I wanted to share with you a few things that helped make the flight more comfortable for him during the move.  

1. CRATE TRAIN YOUR DOG:
We crate trained Jack as a puppy. However, the crate that we used was not airline approved so we had to go out and get a new one. He made the transition between kennels very well and now prefers his new kennel over his old one. He loves his crate and even goes in there when he is scared, it's his safe place. Here is how I helped him make the change:

  • The first thing I did was simply set up his new crate next to the old one. That way he could get used to it just being in the room.
  • Next, I started to throw toys and treats in the new kennel and had him fetch them. That way he was comfortable going into the kennel.
  • Then, I started making him go into the kennel for treats and keeping him in the kennel for short periods of time while I was still home. 
  • After about a month of getting him used to the new crate, I was finally comfortable with leaving him in the kennel when I left the house.

 

2. VISIT YOUR VET EARLY:
Kevin and I moved internationally so the first thing we had to check was the laws on vaccinations in Germany. Also, most airlines have specific rules for animals on board. Check with your airline about what is required to have your pet traveling with you. Most airlines require that all vaccinations be administered at least a month before your flight date. So, visit  your vet early and get everything in order so you will not have to stress later.

3. BRING EXTRA FOOD TO KEEP WITH YOU:
When Kevin and I checked into our flight we were informed that it was delayed 12 hours! Luckily, there was a pet area at the airport where we could take Jack and he could get out of the kennel. What I was most thankful for was that I remembered to pack a gallon size bag of food for Jack in my carry on luggage. This way I was not in a scramble to find something to feed him during our extra wait time. 

4. BRING TOYS WITH YOU IN YOUR CARRY ON:
Once we landed and got settled into our hotel, the only thing Jack wanted to do was run around! He had to let off so much energy. He had made a LONG journey and wanted nothing more than to bounce from bed to bed. Luckily, I packed a tennis ball in my purse so I was able to play a little fetch with him!

5. SELECT A TRAVEL PLAN WITH DIRECT FLIGHTS: We didn't live close to an international airport so initially we were going to have to make a connecting flight. We didn't like that idea so instead, we rented a car and road tripped it all the way to the closest international airport so we could get a direct flight to Germany. The flight is already long enough and I didn't want Jack to be in his kennel any longer than he needed to be. 

5 Tips for Learning a New Language


From the moment Kevin told me that we were moving to Germany, I knew that I would need to learn the language. This was all very exciting for me because becoming bilingual has always been something that I have wanted to do for myself and here was the perfect opportunity! Now, we have  been living in Germany for six months and I can say I have successfully made it through my first beginners German course. After going through my first language class I figured I would share a few things that have helped me considerably along the way. The first day of my German class my professor said that "Learning a new language has nothing to do with intelligence, but everything to do with work."  I have never been a star student and I have the world's worst memory, but if I can do it, I know that you can too!!  I had so much fun in my first language class, however I am not even close to being finished and plan to enroll in an intermediate class in the fall.  


1. TAKE A CLASS:

These days we are bombarded with different methods of learning, especially when it comes to learning languages. There are computer softwares, audio tapes, books and even apps on your phone. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe that the best way to learn is face-to-face, in a classroom, with an instructor and other students. Check out your local community college or university, there is bound to be a class to take. I was able to find a local university and enroll as a "non-degree seeking" student and started from there. 

2. Make it part of your daily routine:

I think this is why I feel so strongly about taking an actual class. If you are taking a class to learn a language you are required to use your new language every day by meeting for classes and by doing your homework assignments. If you are not taking a class, or you are in between classes, try to find a consistent time and place to work on your skills. You could practice while eating a meal or while on the treadmill at the gym. It doesn't have to be complicated, just make a point to work it into your daily routine!

3. MAKE NOTECARDS:

My German Professor says that "A new language has to be drilled into your head." Repetition, repetition, repetition... When you first start speaking in a different language it sounds weird and feels different. After constantly saying these words over and over, they become familiar and sound more normal. With me and my horrible memory, notecards are the perfect way to quiz myself. I went to the store and bought two multi-colored packs of cards (I bought the half sized cards... I always try to save paper when I can - plus they are cheaper!) I bought multi-colored packs because it helps me organize the different categories of words (verbs, pronouns, nouns, ect.) 

4. Make a playlist:

Do you have an iphone, ipod, or mp3 player? Good! There are countless language audio files out there just waiting to be downloaded. Make yourself a playlist and listen to it while you do chores or while you drive to work. I have a German playlist that I have downloaded onto my phone and I play it when I am driving my car. I make sure to talk loud and clear when I am by myself so the neighbors think I'm crazy...  

5. There's an App for That!! 

Sometimes you just need a little help remembering a word or a phrase. For me it's ALWAYS der, die or das? - those learning German can I get an Amen?! Whatever language you are learning, there are dozens of apps to enhance your learning experience. Check out your app store and see what is available for you!
 

 

I hope these tips help you in your new and exciting learning adventures. I will be posting more tips by the end of my next Deutsch class. Until then....
Tsch¨uss!
xoxo,

-E
 

A gift for the Couple who has everything...

Gift giving has always been one of my love languages. So recently, when my best friend got married I had to rack my brain for the perfect gift to give to her and her new husband. Both living on their own, they already had everything they needed for their new life together. After giving it tons of thought, I decided that I would not just give them a "thing" for their wedding gift but rather a series of activities to do together.... A YEAR OF DATE NIGHTS!! Every month I would have a prepaid activity for my best friend and her new man to enjoy together. I grabbed my sketch book and wrote down the name of every month and thought about what would be fun to do in each of those months. I tried to make each activity appropriate for what might be going on that month. Then, I stopped by Target and picked up several coordinating envelopes and gift bags, all for just a buck each .:sigh:. I just love Target!! Here is what I came up with for each month and how I wrapped them:

JANUARY:

ForJanuary, I felt like after the craziness of the holidays, it would be nice to stay in. I included a gift card good for a order in pizza. I told them to order in their favorite pizza and plug in a movie to have a relaxing night in....sigh.... that sounds sooo good right now!

MARCH:

I went a little more simple in March and stopped by Barnes & Noble and picked out a cute cook book that I thought my friend would like! Sometimes, we get stuck in a food rut... Ladies, you know what I am talking about! I thought this would help with a little inspiration in the kitchen.

MAY:

Everybody loves a little treat now and then. A trip to a frozen yogurt shop can be a perfect quick date night!

JULY:

Date nights don't always have to be just you and your hubby. I bought my favorite board game and told her to invite some couple friends over for a game night!!

SEPTEMBER:

Pei Wei is our favorite restaurant, so it only seemed fitting that I should get a gift certificate for her to share this amazing food with her new amazing man.

NOVEMBER:

Eat, drink, while being married.... I decided to make November a traditional date night with a gift card to a yummy restaurant. They have gift cards now where you can choose from several different restaurants within the same chain. This is nice to allow them to choose where they really want to go!

FEBRUARY:

Sometimes I feel like Kevin and I are guilty of this, but I feel like sometimes we get stuck in rut of everyday chit-chat. On our dates we sometimes end up talking about work or chores that need to be done around the house. Sometimes you need a little kick in the pants to get back to conversations that actually help your relationship grow. So for February (Valentines Day) I felt like these cute little conversation starters wold be fun! I found them on Amazon and they had some really great questions that could turn into some awesome conversations!

APRIL:

April means great weather in Arizona! I decided to put in a little money for my friend and her husband to buy a little lunch and go for a hike. Simple but will be a good option to get out and enjoy the weather together!

JUNE:

It's getting hot in Arizona and we Arizonan's stay cool by going to catch a good movie. This month's gift was two certificates to the movie theater near them.

AUGUST:

Arizona in the summer can be unbearably hot so I doubled up on the frozen yogurt gifts. Ice cream on a hot day is always a good idea!!

OCTOBER:

The weather is always nice in Arizona so we have a cute drive-in theater in town. I packed the bag full of goodies to take with them and added some cash for the admission fee! 

DECEMBER:

In Phoenix we have a local company that does tours to look at Christmas lights. They will take you around in a big red 2-story bus like the ones found in London. It's great fun and a great date night idea for my friend and her new hubby for their first Christmas together. Are there any fun Christmas activities going on in your city?