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Feature Friday: Traveler’s Little Treasures

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It’s already the last Friday of September! Which means this week’s Feature Friday is all about travel! For this Traveler Series, we talked to Katrin Tochtermann, of Traveler’s Little Treasures. She’s only 20 years old but has traveled all over the world!  We were particularly excited to feature Katrin because she has been to several parts of Asia, and that is definitely on Tara and I’s bucket list next. Katrin is consistently traveling, so she keeps everyone updated through her website, travelerslittletreasures.com and describes her experiences in both English and German! Plus she has some amazing photos from each country and great advice. Keep reading and you’ll have a very hard time trying to stifle your wanderlust.

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us about yourself.

logo: Hey my name is Katrin and I am a 20 year old travel addict, living in Frankfurt, Germany. I am studying Media and communication management at an online university and specialize in journalism and publishing. Beside my studies I work as a flight attendant, which is a great way to combine my love to meet new people with the opportunity to travel.
I am a very outgoing, positive person and believe that you should follow your dreams and do what you love. And also that family and friends are the most important things in the world.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Give us a little info about your website. What made you want to start it?

logo: Traveler’s Little Treasures is a travel blog that focuses on flash packing, personal travel experiences and giving tips on destinations away from the typical tourist path. The idea for the blog came when I was working on a tiny island located in the South China Sea in Malaysia. After I finished my daily work in the dive base there, there wasn’t much to do, so I started flicking through my photos on my laptop and remembered what my grandma always told me: “You should keep a travel journal- so you will memorize your trips better.” Since I am quite good at losing things, I decided to write an online journal- first it was just for me and I didn’t expect a lot of people to read it, but I got a lot of feedback from friends and also strangers, so I continued writing, putting more effort in my articles and photos and now I am hoping to do this as a profession some day.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Why do you think people should travel?

logo: I think all people should travel to learn more about other cultures, but also to understand their own personality better. When you are traveling, you are usually moving out of your comfort zone. You are leaving home behind and you are going to have to adapt to new circumstances and not be afraid to talk to strangers. Beside discovering stunning places this world has to offer, you will also make friends for life and in the end traveling is all about the people you meet on the road.

Traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be to a far away country; sometimes it only takes a short car ride to change the scenery and see something new.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Why did you start traveling?

logo: I can’t remember why I actually started traveling, I have always been of curious nature and was very keen to go to new places. When I was six years old, my au pair from Hungary invited me to visit her home country. We took the bus together and I spent a wonderful time with her family and she showed me around. Probably from that moment I have been hooked on traveling and whenever I got the chance to join friends or visit family members who lived abroad, I would take it. And that has never changed. My job as a flight attendant is perfect to cure that wanderlust. I get the chance to go to new places on a regular basis, get paid to do something that I love and when I am at home I value that time even more.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Out of everywhere you’ve been what is your favorite city of them all? Which city could you see yourself living in the most?

logo: London will always have a place in my heart. This city is so buzzing, so vibrant, multicultural and inspiring. A part of my family lives there and I always try to go there at least once a year. The first time they took me to all the tourist attractions, but when I returned the next year they started showing me the things they liked to do. Seeing the city through the eyes of a local was wonderful and from that moment on I always try to ask locals what they can recommend in order to get a more genuine experience of a city.

I also loved Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It offers a great mix between tradition and modernism. A lot of cultures and religions live peacefully next to each other and that mix guarantees many sights, delicious food and interesting conversations. Furthermore I had the best party nights there.

From all the places I have visited I would love to live in Barcelona, London, Singapore, Bangkok and Berlin for a couple of years. Even though I haven’t been to Australia before, this is also a place I would love to move to and live in for a couple of years.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What has been the best food you’ve tried or best meal you’ve had?

logo: The best food on my travels was in Thailand. I would always come back just for the food. They manage to make healthy dishes full of flavor, everything is fresh and simply mouthwatering. The secret is that they try to combine all flavors together: spicy, salty, sweet and sour. Love the Thai curries, the green papaya salad and Tom Yum soup. I even participated in a Thai cooking class, so I can cook those dishes at home but it is not so easy to find all the ingredients, so I have to go back to Thailand again very soon 😉

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Have you ever been scared to try a certain type of food? Or scared to do anything in particular while traveling?

logo: Since I believe that traveling is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and making new experiences, I try to be curious and say yes- most of the time. I tasted fried scorpion in Bangkok and of course I was a bit nervous before but I am glad I tried it. I don’t advise you to not be careful, but go with your guts and be open-minded.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Have your travels in Asia differed from your travels in Europe?

logo: Definitely. A lot of places in Europe are similar: similar shops, similar culture and religions. I loved traveling to Asia because it was like going to a different world. It was crazy, noisy and nothing like I was used to from home. It never got boring because there was so much to do, see and experience. Another aspect is that travel in Europe can be pricy and Asia is fantastic for people traveling on a budget: A meal is 1-3 $; accommodation between 5- 10$ and buses take you around the country for very cheap too.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Give us some tips for a few of the cities you’ve been to.

logo: 1) This one is for all the ladies, if you are in Kuala Lumpur on a Wednesday make sure to go to Changkat, the bar street. On Wednesdays you will be able to get free drinks in most bars and clubs there.

2) Never take chewing gum to Singapore! It is forbidden in that city state and I got in trouble when I crossed borders from Malaysia.

3) Don’t eat pizza in South East Asia, or Western food in general. It is always a disappointment and the local dishes are just so much nicer.

4) When you are in Phuket don’t book expensive tours. Rent a scooter and discover the island yourself. It is very easy to navigate and there are signs that lead you to the main sights.

5) Try to look for options to volunteer in those places and give back. There are so many schools or orphanages that are desperate for help or you can help protect the environment by cleaning up the beaches for example.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Where do you want to visit next?

logo: My list is long and I just ordered a whole bunch of Lonely Planet guide books to look through. I hope this will make my decision easier! There are just so many awesome places on this planet to visit. But I think it will be South East Asia again. Thought about stopping in Bangkok for a few days and then making my way to Vietnam. Have heard so many fascinating stories by fellow travelers and it is a big dream of mine to go backpacking through that country. Either this or Japan. Just love to learn about new cultures.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Has there been any similarities that you’ve found between your own culture and the culture in other countries?

logo: Mhhh, that is a difficult question. The Germans are known for the fact that they are very punctual, efficient, hard-working, accurate, organized, honest and lack humor. Those are obviously clichés but there is some truth in it too. I think Dutch and English people do have a quite similar culture, but I prefer their sense of humor to ours 😉 People in Asia are very hard working too, but apart from that, their culture is very different.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Any advice for people who want to travel?

logo: It is worth it! Try to go at least once a year to a place you haven’t been before and always remember that traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. There are always ways to save money. Use Couchsurfing, stay in hostels instead of hotels and organize your own trip instead of booking an organized tour by a travel agency. You are way more independent that way. Save money and you can choose where you want to go and if you want to stay in one place longer.

What is also really helpful is to learn a few words of the country’s language you are going to. A hello and thank you in the local language goes a long way and make things easier.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What has been the best part about traveling and what has been the most challenging?

logo: The best thing about traveling has been that I got the chance to meet people I probably wouldn’t have encountered in everyday life. Their stories have been inspiring and make me want to travel even more. Travel has taught me that we have to go through the world with open eyes and admire what is around us.

Even though I had a wonderful time in South East Asia traveling solo, sometimes I really wanted to have some close friends around to share those moments. You do meet a lot of people but having someone around you, you know for years is different. I spoke to my friends on Facebook and Skype but that wasn’t the same thing. I hope I get the chance to take them with me at some point and experience everything all over again with them.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Is there anything you’ve encountered in a different country that you wish your own country had?

logo: I wish we would be more grateful. We are so lucky that we are born in countries which are safe and offer us a perspective. Furthermore I wish people would smile more and just be more relaxed in general. And if Germany could get some good, genuine Thai restaurants then I could no be happier 😉

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 Follow Katrin’s travels and get more tips for around the world at:

www.travelerslittletreasures.com

Instagram: @travelerslittletreasures

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oxfordstreetlondon-parismetro-benandsadeyBY CAILIN BURKE

It’s the last Friday of the month which means we’re back to our Feature Friday Traveler Series! This week, we’re showcasing Ben and Sadey of The Wanderlusty who are always traveling and sharing their experiences with others, whether it’s on Instagram, their website, or even Trip Advisor. These two are lucky enough to be able to travel in their careers and it definitely will inspire you to try to find a job that allows you to pursue your outside interests as well. After Ben and Sadey’s interview, I’ve added Helsinki, Finland and Berlin, Germany to my travel bucket list and I hope you guys will want to go to some new places too! Read more for some travel inspiration, advice, and beautiful photos from all over the world.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us about yourself.

wanderlustylogo: We are Ben and Sadey, 20 something, husband and wife, travel junkies otherwise known as The Wanderlusty. We own an advertising agency based out of Texas with clients across the states. Our line of work allows us to travel both for work and pleasure. Passionate about music, the arts, history, food and most of all culture. We’ve set out on a mission to experience the world. Our journey has been filled with unusual experiences, great people, crazy adventure and wild nights to say the least.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Where have you traveled to so far?

wanderlustylogo: Costa Rica, Panama, Canada, Hawaii, most of the Caribbean, a good amount of Mexico, England, France, Italy, Germany, and Finland.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What’s next on your travel bucket list?

wanderlustylogo: At the end of the year we’re heading back to England, France, Germany and Scandinavia but we’ll be marking off a few new ones from our bucket list by going to Estonia, Morocco and Spain. We are currently planning for our next trips to South Africa in the summer of 2015 and Asia in the winter of 2015.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Out of all of the places you’ve visited, what is your favorite?

wanderlustylogo: As Graphic Designers, Helsinki inspires in every direction you look, the streets are filled with amazing design right down to the street signs. The Finnish have pride for their country and it shows. They’ve been able to keep the old and incorporate the new and still have the city be enchanting.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What is your favorite thing about traveling?

wanderlustylogo: For us its the ability to live a different life. Being home can become routine, so jumping on a plane, flying half way around the world, and sitting in a cafe or walking around a city that is completely different from where you live is… rejuvenating. It’s that point when your most lost, you find yourself.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What advice would you give to people who want to travel but are unsure of how to proceed?

wanderlustylogo: RESEARCH. It’s an obvious one, but If you’re interested in a certain city or country, do your research on it.. customs, exchange rates, hotels, transportation, etc. When planning our first trip to Europe, we can’t even begin to explain how much time we spent onTripadvisor.com. Become a member of an airline & hotel loyalty program that has routes/hotels around the world. Our preferred airline is Virgin, and with their partner airlines, we’re pretty much covered worldwide. For hotels, hands down is Hotels.com, we book every hotel through them. We like not being tied down to just one hotel chain. Hotels.comoffers great discounts and you get a free night after 10 stays… with no cap. Lastly, you should lose any fear or anxiety of leaving your comfort zone. Travel is about new experiences, learning, living, and letting go.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What are some of the best things you’ve eaten throughout your travels?

wanderlustylogo: Theres this little restaurant in Rome, in a dimly lit alley off of Via Del Corso called Il Falchetto… oh my god. We stumbled into this place after being denied at a top rated restaurant due to no reservation, THANK THE GODS! Everything here is wonderful, but the Insalata de Carciofi is hands down my favorite. Ben’s favorite is definitely 600 grams of meat flesh and potatoes at Black Dog, this metal dive bar in Paris, France that doubles as a Argentinean kitchen during lunch and dinner hours.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What is the most exciting thing that has happened when traveling? What is the scariest thing?

wanderlustylogo: The most exciting… probably when Ben proposed in his total cheese ball style, on a beach in Cozumel at Sunset. For him, it was probably the scariest, because I told him the ring was fake and I wasn’t falling for his tomfoolery (Totally horrible I know, but we laugh about it now, and it makes for a funny story).

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Do you have a favorite moment from any of your trips?

wanderlustylogo: There’s too many amazing moments to pick just one favorite, but anytime you’re able to blend with the locals is awesome… we’ve met a lot of friends from just being in the right place at the right time.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Do you have any tips for some of the cities you’ve visited?

wanderlustylogoTIPS– 1. In London, not all pubs are created equal. If you walk in, and there’s only tourists, leave. Move on, find a new one, don’t be scared, sit down, order a pint, and enjoy.

2. In Paris, they have great public transportation, the metro may seem overwhelming at first, but it’s really simple. It’s color coded, and labeled my area & landmarks, just make sure you’re paying attention to the announcements for your stop.

3. In Jamaica, it’s all about leaving your resort… don’t be frightened, the locals are welcoming and happy to share their life stories and a laugh with you. The food outside the resorts is amazing! Eat where the locals eat and you won’t be disappointed. Try Scotchie’s if you’re staying in Montego Bay or De Bus in Negril.

4. In, Venice, DON’T take a private boat from the train station to your hotel, take the Vaporetto (water bus) it’s much more affordable than the private boats. Once on foot, you WILL get lost, Venice is one big maze… when lost, grab a glass of wine or if you’re brave a shot of Grappa, and then try again.

5. In Berlin, Go in December.. Berlin is a great city, but it really comes to life during Christmas. German Christmas markets is really something that everyone should experience. You’ll enjoy amazing food and drinks (try the Gluhwein with a shot of rum added, it will warm you right up), you’ll find unique and sometimes unusual gifts, and feel real Christmas spirit… German style.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Describe your transportation and living arrangements.

wanderlustylogo: We’re all about the boutique hotels. When it comes down to it, comfort, cleanliness and sleep quality are at the top of our list, so we tend to splurge a little on hotels… but this is where our loyalty to using hotels.com comes into play, during the year since we travel a lot for work, we bank our free nights then use them on our end of the year trip. It cuts our cost for hotels by at least a 1/3 which leaves us with money to splurge on dinner at the best restaurants in town. For transportation.. its really about how we feel and the time factor… Tired or Time Crunch = Taxi, No place to be = Walking or Public transportation. For Air travel within Europe & the UK, check out Easyjet, they’ve got great rates even on last minute flights, just make sure you pay for your luggage ahead of time and don’t go over their weight allowance for luggage.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: How has traveling changed you?

wanderlustylogo: We’re no longer Tourists, but Travelers. Traveling has inspired us, to try new things, jump in head first, immerse ourselves in culture, and to live life to the fullest. Travel to Live, Live to Travel.

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If you’d like to follow us as we trade our briefcases for suitcases and share our love for this earth and the people on it you can find us at:
www.thewanderlusty.com
instagram.com/thewanderlusty
twitter.com/thewanderlusty

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BY CAILIN BURKE

1044483_10152003468289196_2128690760_nThis week we’re changing it up a lot and starting our Feature Friday- Traveler Series with Kate Lyons! Instead of focusing on an artist or designer, the last Friday of each month we’ll share some tips and stories from people who have traveled everywhere. As both Tara and I love to travel, we wanted to bring more travel inspiration to Castle Foundations. Hopefully reading about other’s epic adventures will get you to save some money and go out and travel too! If you’ve already got the travel bug, then we have some advice that can help you plan your next trip as well. This week’s feature, Kate Lyons, has done extensive traveling throughout Europe and seeks to spend the rest of her life continuing to see more places and continents. Her most recent trip gave her the chance to trek through London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Malta, Venice, Nice and Galway for six weeks.

During her time there she not only got to see some of the world’s most famous sights, but didn’t have to break the bank to do so. Currently she has her own blog to document her travel experiences and give others tips about how to travel affordably. She also has a lot of advice for anyone who wants to go on a similar trip so keep reading and check out hopelesswanderer1.wordpress.com to hear more about her travels!

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What made you decide you wanted to travel?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: I’ve always had the desire to see more of the world for as long as I can remember, probably from watching movies and shows as a kid. I told myself that I would do a big trip around Europe when I was in college. So when I finally got to college it was almost like I didn’t have a choice in the matter, like I was fulfilling some kind of prophecy I had made for myself. Even with all the factors saying it wasn’t a good idea, this was just something I had to do, even if financially it didn’t seem to make sense. And now, I’m so glad I did it. I don’t regret a single dollar I spent. I will make that money back eventually. Those experiences were invaluable.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Out of all of the countries and cities you’ve visited which was your favorite?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: My favorites were London and Malta for two very different reasons. From the first full day in London, I felt like I could see myself living there. It’s so easy to get around and it’s really not all that different from a city here in America so it would be an easy adjustment. There’s just so much to do there, I couldn’t imagine ever being bored of it.

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Malta, on the other hand, I loved in an entirely different way. It’s so beautiful and relaxing. I don’t think I could ever live there, not until I’m retired at least, because I don’t think I would get any work done. It’s so hot and sunny I would just want to relax by the Mediterranean all day every day. I traveled with my boyfriend Frankie and since his family lives there we had an apartment to ourselves and ate every meal for free at his aunt and uncle’s seaside restaurant. His family welcomed us with open arms and showed us everything the island had to offer. It was so different after a month of traveling alone, and everything we could have asked for.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We did this trip with the mentality of being on a very strict budget. In almost every circumstance, if it cost money and wasn’t necessary, like food or travel expenses, we didn’t do it. We only spent $3,000 each for six weeks, which was a lot less than we anticipated and it was great to come back with more money than we expected. Looking back, we both agree that we wish we had done a few things that at the time we said were out of our budget. In hindsight, we should have sprung for one nice, real Italian dinner in Rome or taken the 40 Euro bus ride to see the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: How does one go about planning a trip like this?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We planned everything meticulously. We did hours and hours of research. First we decided where we wanted to go and found some big things to do in each city and used that to decide how long we wanted to spend there. Then we searched for tickets to and from each city and plugged in different dates to find the best prices. That’s how we determined the order we would go to them in. We did find out that it’s cheaper to fly into Ireland than any other part of Western Europe. Even if Ireland isn’t somewhere you want to go,  you can fly to other countries from there.

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After we bought all our tickets we looked for places to stay. We compared prices, locations, and all kinds of of factors between different places in various areas of each town. Then we bought all of our bus and train tickets from the airports to our hostels. We didn’t leave much room for spontaneity, which might sound like it takes the fun out of things, but we met a few people who were figuring it out as they went along. They seemed much more stressed out and ended up spending hundreds of dollars more than we did.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us a little about your housing/living situation while there?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We stayed in almost all hostels with the exceptions of Paris, where we stayed in a inexpensive hotel, and in Malta, where we stayed in Frankie’s dad’s flat. For the most part we couldn’t have been happier with the places we stayed. We had a lot of reservations about staying in hostels from all the horror movies out there, but we never felt unsafe. When we were choosing where to stay online, in a lot of cases we chose a cheap price and a good location over cleanliness and level of service, so we didn’t have very high expectations. But in all but a few (like Venice, where there was a pretty bad bug problem) we had great experiences. We met a lot of great people and made some memories with them that we’ll never forget.

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 Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24How did you travel from place to place?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We took planes everywhere. Fourteen in six weeks. It turned out to be the cheapest option after buses and we didn’t want to spend entire days sitting on a bus. Planes got us to a different country in about an hour and for only around 30 to 40 Euros.

 Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24What were the best foods you ate while there?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: We did everything on the cheap so nothing we ate was too gourmet, but we did try to eat one meal that the city is known for everywhere we went. In London we went to a pub for fish and chips and shepherd’s pie; in Amsterdam we got pannekoeken, or Dutch pancakes, for breakfast; in Paris we bought baguettes and brie and salami and ate them under the Eiffel Tower. In Rome and Venice we were always able to get affordable pizza and pasta, but it was never fantastic. We ate our fair share of gelato and drank a lot of wine pretty much everywhere we went.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: What advice would you give to people who want to try backpacking?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: Just go for it. Don’t let anything stop you. You can find a way to do it. Even if you don’t have anyone to go with – we met plenty of people who were traveling solo and they actually met more people and probably had a more social experience than we did.

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 Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24What’s next on your travel bucket list?

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: What isn’t? I’m dying to go to Eastern Asia. For a while I was focused on Thailand but I’ve heard that I might like Vietnam even more. But it will be a while before I can afford that plane ticket.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 01.34.24: Tell us a little about the blog you keep to document your travel experiences.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 19.00.27: I started the blog as a way to show people that it is possible to do a trip like this without spending as much as you might think you have to. We learned a lot when we were planning this trip and I don’t want all that knowledge to go to waste. I write about our experiences in each city and what we learned both in preparing to leave and once we were there. Blogs like this really helped us when we were looking for things to do, so I want to help other people in the same way. I think this is an experience everyone should have if they want to!

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Feature Friday: Crafting Extraordinaire Amy Wanford

BY TARA & CAILIN BURKE

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unnamedCalling all crafters! If you love a good paper cutter, stamping, finding cute appliqués and just making beautiful things, this post is for you. We came upon Amy’s work on Instagram and loved her fun, carefully designed and sometimes quirky card creations. She has something to fit every occasion and design preference. Whether you are looking for something classically pretty or out of the ordinary she has a card for you. Crafting is all about trying new directions, medias and subjects. One day you can design a bag and on another you can paint wine glasses, which is why crafting is so great! You have room to experiment and find out what craft you’re best at. Amy has clearly honed her skills in card making and it shows in how professional her cards look. We could easily see any of her designs being printed and sold in major card retailers and we hope to see just that happen in her future! Check out her website, http://craftingconfessions.blogspot.co.uk, to see more of her work and see what products she uses to make her cards. Keep reading to learn more about Amy in our exclusive interview with the fabulous crafter!

What got you started?

I’ve always had a love for paper in various forms but I was hooked on card making in 2008. I visited a scrapbooking shop, (I’d never heard of scrapbooking before!) purchased a couple of stamps and inks and the rest, as they say, is history!

What are your inspirations?

It may sound cliché, but I find inspiration everywhere. I find it in trends, in advertising, in work, in people – the list goes on! I’ve been known to wake up in the middle of the night with inspiration striking! It’s good that I always have a little notebook on hand to scribble my ideas down.

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Who is your favorite professional in your field?

Oh you just can’t ask that question! I have so many! I’ll name a few, but there’s so much talent out there and so much to admire – that’s what I love about this creative community.

  • Cristina Kowalczyk wows me continually with her graphic designs.
  • Debby Hughes can make any media look amazing.
  • Iwona Palamountain has such a distinct style with so much attention to detail.
  • Jennifer McGuire teaches new things that have me saying “genius!”
  • Julie Ebersole not only has the most infection giggle, but such a wonderful style with a punch of humour.

What are your favorite medias to work with?

This is a bit of a toughie as it changes. I guess one media I always find myself working with is stamps. It’s what first hooked me into card making and there are so many different techniques you can play with by using stamps.

Apart from stamps, I’m often die cutting. I swear I must have one bicep bigger than the other given how much I do!

What is your aesthetic?

My comfort zone is clean-and-simple. I’m a sucker for graphic design and clever use of space.

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Name your favorite go-to creative spot?

I’m lucky. I get to share a room with my fiancé’s musical side so it’s great to sit at my desk and create with musical accompaniment. I always work at my desk as I’m surrounded by my supplies. It’s impossible for me to work elsewhere as I’d be running back and forth for materials – I very rarely create knowing exactly what I’ll require beforehand.

What are your future goals and biggest dreams?

Long-term I would love to make a living out of this industry. To create and earn a living would be a dream come true! Short-term I would love to find some time to sit and create some more clear stamp designs and actually learn more about digital designing. I’m a total self-taught novice and I often think that people must create in minutes what takes me hours!

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What is the hardest part about what you do?

One word: Time! There’s never enough of it! It’s hard balancing a full time job with hobbies other than papercrafting. I often find that I’m feeling more creative at night, (I’m a night-owl) yet that’s the time I need to be going to sleep for work the next morning!

How has your work changed over time? What have you learned in your creative process?

My work has changed so much! At first, I was one of those pile-it-on-high card makers with layers and embellishments galore. It makes me cringe a little to think about it, but it’s all part of the creative journey. I then found my love for the clean-and-simple style.

More recently I’ve been inspired by the mixed media/collage style and love experimenting with different products. I think you learn so much from your creative process: what works, what doesn’t work etc…

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What is the most memorable compliment you’ve received?

I don’t have a memorable compliment. However, I’m totally complimented by anyone who comments on my work, pins my work, or is inspired by my work in any way. I papercraft as a creative outlet and if it reaches anyone in a positive way then that’s a big bonus. 🙂

Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Although my name is Amy, most know me as Aimes and I’m a tea, toast and papercrafting addict. I work full time in education by day and papercraft by night. I currently live in Sheffield, England with my fiancé who is my resident technical support for everything!

Any tips?

Enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing then ask yourself why you’re doing it and who you’re doing it for. Do what you love, love what you do!

I’d also suggest that it’s always worth trying something new every once in a while – it’s true when they say nothing ventured, nothing gained. I have to pinch myself sometimes to see my own creative journey and most of the fabulous opportunities come from taking chances.

London: On a Time Limit

BY TARA BURKE

I cannot put into words how much I love London. Cailin and I were blessed enough to have the opportunity to study abroad there my Junior spring semester of college for 4 months, but with everyone’s busy schedule it is lucky if you can manage a two week vacation to the amazing city. In addition, since travelling throughout Europe is fairly easy and inexpensive, compared to the U.S., many people choose to spend a few days in several different countries when they get the chance to travel.

So, if you need a quick guide to tackling London, while still getting an authentic experience, I’ve got you covered with this 3 day guide!

 Day 1

– Find a great little cafe near your hotel/hostel for a quick breakfast and a coffee/tea before you start your first big day! Local cafes are everywhere in London. Just ask your accommodation staff where their favorite around-the-corner spot is. Otherwise, there are plenty of Starbucks and Pret-a-Mangers around to get your morning caffeine fix.

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-Take the Tower of London tour! You can find more info. about the tour here: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/. Tickets are a little pricey at about £21 for Adults. Students, children and Seniors get discounted prices. However, it is totally worth it! You get a tour of the tower from hilarious Beefeaters, you can gawk at the British Crown Jewels, see cool exhibitions and re-enactments and tromp along the tower walls as if it were all yours! All the while you can see a great view of Tower Bridge.

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-Get some chow! I must admit I am not a huge foodie expert when it comes to London. Being a student there meant I was more broke than usual. The pound is almost double the dollar! My advice: you can’t go wrong with fish and chips at a pub.

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-Take the tube to the Westminster stop. Take a moment to gaze at Big Ben and walk over to The Eye. If you go around dusk you can see them in the daylight and at night. They’re both beautifully different perspectives. Stroll. Take some time before dinner to just walk in whatever direction the wind takes you. Central London is bustling with energy and it feels great to soak it all in.

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-After dinner you can venture to Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London.

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 Day 2

-Eat an English Breakfast. All those hearty beans, fried eggs, and bacon will keep you full till at least tea time!

-Try and get to the ticket booth to see a West End show later tonight for a discount. This link will tell you all about it: http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/info/tickets.htm

-Fit in Buckingham Palace if you have a chance on this day. The Guards start arriving at 11:15am. If you don’t have time try again the third day.

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-Go to Trafalgar Square and go to the National Gallery if you are an art buff. If you are not an art fanatic, try the National Portrait Gallery instead. It is much smaller and there is a chance that even if you don’t know the artists, you will known the influential people portrayed in their paintings. Museums are also FREE and make a great rainy day activity!

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-Visit the Southbank. Visit The Globe, a replica of Shakespeare’s original theater. See if any free events are going on in the area. I’d suggest you look up any special events that are going on during your stay. Chances are there is a super cool festival going on.

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-Feast your eyes on all the food at Borough Market for lunch (pun completely intended). Literally, the whole market is just a feast of delectable treats, scrumptious sandwiches and juicy fruit. While you’re there get a good look at The Shard, which is currently the tallest building throughout Europe.

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-See a West End Show!

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Day 3

-Rise and Shine, it’s already day 3! See those infamous guards protect Buckingham Palace if you missed it on Day 2. Get there earlier than 11am so you can get a good spot to watch. Otherwise, start your day by heading to one of the many markets in London (Camden, Portobello and Greenwich are just a few). Some of these markets can take hours to go through, but are a source of endless entertainment with knick-knacks and secret treasures just waiting to be discovered. They also have great food stands. Breakfast and a light lunch can be eaten here.

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-Head over to Covent Garden for tea time. Many people wish to experience English high tea with the cute tier of tea sandwiches and other pastries, but we found that cream tea was just as effective. Patisserie Valerie in Covent Garden has a great cream tea special for two at a much more affordable price than high tea. Remember, pinkies up! http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/covent-garden.aspx

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-Explore Covent Garden. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, pubs and entertainment to discover in this area. If you have some time to kill, head over to Chinatown and go to O’ Neills, an Irish Pub that often has live music. Additionally, if something on my guide isn’t your thing, I left some extras for yah! If you love to shop try Oxford Street, the 5th Ave. of London, and definitely go to Harrods! The Westminster Abbey tour is also a good option. It is full of history and you can take your time going through all the tour stops since most people choose to use the hand held tour guides.

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Of course, there are many other things to do in London, but hopefully this guide can help you cover the basics if you’re working with a time crunch and are on a budget! Xx

Why Travel?

BY CAILIN BURKE

I have the travel bug so badly that for some reason I think everyone else wants to travel as much as I do. However, some people don’t want to spend the money or would rather spend their money on something else, while others have never even thought about it. Most people say you should travel to “expand your horizons,” “learn about yourself,” or “immerse yourself in another culture,” but there are many more reasons that you should consider traveling… some less typical than others.

1) You can try some amazing food. You may not like to travel, but you probably like to eat… right? Some foods you’d never be able to try in your own country, and in other countries your favorite foods might taste even better! When I went to Nice, France for example, I had a beignet filled with Nutella and it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever had in my life. Also, I discovered that Nutella in England tastes better than the Nutella in the US. Plus, you know you want to try the pizza in Italy… and pasta… and gelato.

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2) You can see some of your favorite things. Maybe museums, architecture, or famous landmarks aren’t particularly interesting to you, but there are other things you can see in a different country! If you’re a Harry Potter fan than you NEED to go on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in England. Or if you’re a huge Beatles fan, there’s nothing cooler than going to Abbey Road to mimick their album cover. Doing this is actually known as pop-culture tourism where you purposely go to locations found in movies, literature, or any form of entertainment.

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3) You’ll really bond with the people you’re with. Traveling with your friends or family will definitely bring you closer. You’ll have new inside jokes, something to always talk about, and times where you can say, “Remember when…?”

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4) If you have a hobby or activity you like doing, chances are in another country it’s better. A skiier? Go skiing in the Swiss Alps. An art lover? Go to Paris and visit the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay to see some of the world’s most famous pieces. Hiking? What’s a local mountain compared to hiking Machu Picchu? Love cute animals? Walk down the streets of Cinque Terre and you’ll see cats everywhere. Not a cat person? You could pet a koala in Australia, see sloths and monkeys in Costa Rica, or see a lion on an African safari. Music lover? Discover underground bands in London.

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5) You get some great pictures for Facebook or Instagram out of it. Chances are you like having a really cool profile pic or an artsy Instagram. Go to a different country and there will be endless opportunities to take incredible pictures. You’ll probably get a ton of likes too!

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6) You can step in the same footsteps as your idols. It’s always fun to live out something your favorite actress did in your favorite show or movie. Walk down the streets of Paris with macarons like Blair and Serena did in Gossip Girl! Or go to Rome and throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain (in hopes that Paolo will arrive) like in the Lizzie McGuire Movie. Even better, pretend you’re Kate Middleton on her wedding day and walk through Westminster Abbey.

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7) You can see a part of history. There’s nothing like revisiting history exactly where it happened. You could see what’s left of the Berlin Wall in Germany, Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, or imagine gladiators fighting in the Colosseum.

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8) You can let your guard down. You may not want to go somewhere that’s new and uncomfortable, but think about it this way… no one there knows you! So do some things you would be too embarrassed to do in front of your acquaintances. Sing in a karaoke bar, have a silly photo shoot near a landmark, or even doze in a public area.  You may get some funny looks, but chances are you’ll never see those people again.

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9) You can buy some unique trinkets. Want a cool bag? Go to South America and get one that’s crocheted by local artisans. If you want something more fancy, go to Italy and shop at a leather market. Some things you can only buy in certain places. My favorite souvenir is my Loch Ness Monster stuffed animal. Saying you got a “Nessie” at the real Loch Ness is so much cooler than saying you got it off of eBay.

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10) You’ll have great stories (and memories!) to last a lifetime. Needless to say, traveling gives you tons of great memories to reflect back on, but it also gives you a lot of stories. Traveling is the perfect conversation starter and can help you relate to others. If you meet someone new and you’ve both been to London, there you go! You’ll have tons of things to talk about and stories to share back and forth. You’ll also have a bunch of cool things to share with your friends when you get home!

Even if you’re scared to go somewhere unfamiliar or didn’t think you were interested, there are a lot of great things about traveling that you may not have even thought about! 

There’s No Time Like Tea Time

BY CAILIN BURKE

Today I tagged along with Tara to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to eat lunch at the cafe they have there. She was meeting someone for a job interview, but I love CIA so I wanted to go get some food too! I had been there two times before but only had items from their lunch menu, and this time I was feeling tea and a pastry. After living in London for almost four months, I’ve learned to love tea with scones, biscuits, or crumpets. Since the cafe is known for their pastries, desserts, and macarons, I thought what better place to have tea time?! The cafe is completely run by the institute’s students so they have some really great chefs who are constantly practicing and making new things. Every time you go, there’s something different and they make all of their food look so beautiful! For today though, the Maple Frosted Brioche Donut looked pretty appetizing so I got that with a pot of English Breakfast Tea. I then got a Raspberry Macaron Tart to split with Tara after her interview was over as a treat!

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Ten Things to Do While Abroad

BY TARA BURKE

1. Take 100s of photos. The memory is a strange thing. Often times you can remember where you went, but not what you saw. Photos will vividly bring back those memories, are tangible ways to share your experience with family and friends, and are great keepsakes to look back on in     future years.

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2. Put down the camera. At the same time, taking a million photos of that pretty flower you fell upon, will not make it any prettier. Take a moment to step back and enjoy your surroundings in the now.

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3. Keep a journal or blog. Write everything you do down. It is always fun to reflect on traveling. The amazing things you did, saw, learned and felt will all make for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

4. Try something new. Go zip-lining, ride a camel, surf, eat an insect, volunteer, make new friends, rent a vespa, or go dancing.

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5. Do anything and everything that is completely cliché about your destination. Take some touristy photos of yourself in those red phone booths in London and pretend you’re touching the tip of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You know you want to, so just go for it!

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6. Buy some mementos. Even if it’s just a postcard from every place you visit. When you get home, you can place them in a cute travel box. On another note, it’s inevitable that you will shop a little while abroad. Don’t overpack. Girls, I know we are always tempted to bring our entire     closet because of that nagging voice inside our heads that says, “What if I end up wanting to wear this?” Ignore that sucker, instead bring a few key outfits that you are dying to show off. The rest should be comfortable, easily washable and interchangeable classic pieces.

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7. Don’t fret over the small things. Sure you got fined 50 Euros on an Italian train ride for         unknowingly not validating your ticket, or a cockroach climbs up your skirt in a metro station in Spain (sad, but true stories)… Be livid for 5 minutes. Don’t let it ruin your whole day.

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8. Have at least a few unplanned hours in your itinerary. You’ll be surprised at what magical things you can fall upon by strolling around aimlessly.

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9. Go to local places. Local restaurants, stores, bakeries, hotels, grocery stores and parks. Absorb yourself into another culture. Some cultural differences might make you appreciate home more, while others may make you want to stay in that place forever.

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10. Use the local lingo or speak the native language. I know we are told that it can be annoying when foreigners practice their speaking skills with locals, but most are openly willing to oblige. After taking years of a foreign language in school, don’t be afraid to try it. Plus, the level of      accomplishment you feel after ordering the correct meal in another language is unparalleled.

Most of all have a blast! Being able to travel is a huge privilege and every second should be enjoyed.              

Happy Travels!