Best Ways to Find Cheap Flights

Guess what guys?! 

Nick and I are going to JAPAN over spring break. It was the most spur of the moment decision because I found a super cheap flight! So weird but I had a dream the other night of us going to Jpan over spring break but basically laughed it off in the morning because we are college students and planning a wedding a trip to Japan seemed like something we would consider in like 10 years, but here we are! 

There are so many ways to find cheap flights online. (seriously though how did anyone find travel deals before the interwebs?) Here are a few of my favorite ways I have found cheap flights: 

1. Sky Scanner

I will live and die by sky scanner, especially when I was abroad and looking for cheap weekend flights to country hop around Europe. You just type in where you want to go and when you want to be there and well-ah! you have the cheapest flight at your fingertips. There is no booking fee because it takes you straight the airline's website. The only thing I don't love about sky scanner is that it remembers that you have a lust for travel and sometimes the deals aren't as good the 100th time you have looked at them. A lot of the time, I will browse sky scanner in the incognito browser to avoid this. 

2. Scott's Cheap Flights

This is how we SCORED on our flight to Japan. Scott's Cheap Flights is a website that you subscribe to their emails from. Whenever a cheap flight pops up, they will shoot you an email and give you the deets and dates. From there, you view the flight on google or other flight finder websites. This one can be tricky because unless you live near major airports, chances are you will have to buy a separate ticket to get to where the flight takes off from. (our flight to Japan takes off from LAX so we will need to get a ticket to LAX also) Also, you may not get the most desirable dates because they flights are when they are but if you are willing to be a little flexible then this is the site for you!

3. Student Universe

Great site to book your travel from when you are a student! All you have to do is make an account and verify it with your student email and you are set. My friend saved over $400 flying from the states to Europe using student universe! They also do more than just flights so check them out for all things travel. 

4.  Airline Credit Cards

Okay let's get one thing straight, I am not here to have you go into debt up to your ears because you opened up every airline credit card imaginable. Read the pros and cons of different kinds of airline credit cards before you choose one. We have the Southwest Credit Card because it seems easier to get flights using points than other cards. #TBH thinking about getting an American Airlines CC- not to spend money on but to get the access to the admirals club bc sitting at a layover for more than like 1-hour sucks. 

5. Fly Standby

This one isn't easy or feasible for many but if you have the opportunity to, take advantage of it! Have no idea what I am talking about? It's okay I wrote all about it here. 

What are your best tips for finding cheap flights? ALSO, if you have been, what suggestions do you have for JAPAN?! Things to do, see, eat, stay..... give me all the deets. 

ema

10 Things You Need in Your Carry-On Bag

Hi lovelies!

Nick and I are headed off to NASHVILLE this weekend! We are taking a quick trip to music city to tour reception venues and visit the church that we will get married in next year! We had to buy tickets at the last minute (I know! I actually bought a ticket!) we are flying the red eye because it was the cheapest. Our flight leaves PHX in the evening and will arrive in Nashville at 12:21 PM. It’s not horrible but definitely not ideal. On flights like these, I really depend on my carry-on to get me through. Here is what I have packed in my carry-on to get me through a long flight!

1. iPad

fully charged and loaded with downloaded Netflix. Did you know that you can download Netflix offline through the Netflix app on tablets and smartphones? It is life changing when you are flying or going on long road trips. You can’t download everything on the flix but there is a great variety and I have found some of my favorite shows this way!

2. Headphones and a splitter

Speaking of watching Netflix-- Nick and I love watching together but airplanes are so loud, you can just deal with one earbud. We got a splitter from Amazon and it has been a game changer. We can both listen with BOTH earbuds in. We are looking at getting wireless headphones in the next few months... I wonder if two people can be linked on Bluetooth?? (If you know the answer, let me know below!!)

3. SNACKS!

What plane ride is complete without snacks? Try to pack fewer salty snacks and more healthy eats especially because airplanes are so drying and dehydrating. My favorite airplane snack are grapes, granola bars, and dry Cheerios! 

4. Reusable Water Bottle

... and on the note of dehydrating… I always pack my water bottle. I bring it empty through security and fill it up at a refillable water station on the other side. By bringing a reusable water bottle, you also save dat money by not spending upwards of $5 on a small bottle of water at a newsstand. My Hydroflask has a flip- mouthpiece- thing and I always try to swap it out for a regular twist top because the mouth is exposed to all the nastiness that is the airport and planes.

5. Small toiletries and change of clothes

Nothing in the whole wide world feels better than freshen up after sitting on an airplane for hours. I always pack a toothbrush and paste, hairbrush and dry shampoo, rose face spray, foundation, and deodorant. Outfit wise, I bring a pair of leggings, a shirt, socks, and undies. If you’re traveling overseas, I would bring two outfits just to be on the safe side. (One of them being a set of pjs!)

6. Chargers!

How much does it suck when your phone is on 10% halfway through your flight? Hint: A LOT. I always make sure I have all of my chargers accessible and that I have fully charged portable chargers just in case I am not near a plug.

7. Something to keep you warm

Is it just me or are planes always freezing? Blankets can be a little cumbersome when it comes to packing in a carry-on so I always make sure to bring a sweater, sweatshirt, blanket scarf, just SOMETHING to help keep me warm and help me get a little shut-eye on long flights.

8. A good book

I am still on the hunt for a good book for this trip-- probably something on the more romantic side ;) I love having the time to sit down and read a book. I tend to download books onto my phone rather than reading a good ole’ paper copy because it is easy and takes up less space. Oddly enough, my favorite book I have read was the Davinci Code (which I read when I was on my way to Rome from Paris!)

9. A notebook

Why is it that your best ideas always strike on an airplane? I swear, every time I am flying, I come up with a groundbreaking idea. I love having a notebook on hand to sketch out a new design idea or to jot some notes down for a later date. 

10. The essentials 

This list wouldn't be complete without mention of your passport, travel documents, ID, money, and itinerary! Don't forget these guys at home and keep them in a safe place when you get to your destination. 

5 Road Trips to Take This Weekend

Tomorrow is the beginning of Memorial Day weekend! It's the first vacation of summer which means pool parties, BBQ's and road trips. My favorite thing about road trips is that can be spontaneous and planned in no time at all. All you do is fill up the car, pack what you need, grab some snacks and a buddy and you are good to go! So even if you don't have set plans for the weekend yet, don't fret! Here are 5 road trip ideas to take this weekend. 

1. Go to a National Park. 

There are 417 National Parks across the U.S. so chances are there is one closer to you than you think. It is on my 21 before 22 bucket list to go to a National Park-- I might have just figured out my weekend plans! ALSO, if you plan on going more than once or traveling to several different National Parks in the next year, consider purchasing a National Park Pass. They are $80 and a regular carload pass is typically $30. The National Park Services also offer free passes for military members and their families, those who volunteered over 250 hours, and 4th graders!

2. Go to da beach. 

Going to the beach might be a longer drive than the national park but who doesn't love the beach? Nothing screams summer more than reading a good book to the sound of crashing waves or diving into said, crashing waves. Beach hotels tend to not be too terribly expensive if you are okay with foregoing luxury. Also look into Airbnb, VRBO, or HomeAway. 

3. Go Camping

Google camping sites near XYZ and a whole list will pop up. Imagine sitting by a campfire with people you love, roasting s'mores and telling stories. Last summer, we went beach camping in San Diego with our friends and it was one of my favorite memories of the entire summer. 

4. Drive the coast

Either coast will do ;) Driving the coast was probably the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in the United States. We took the Pacific Coast Highway and stopped in the cute little cities along the way. We even would stop on the side of the road every so often and just take in the view. Absolutely breathtaking. Now, the east coast drive is on my bucket list! I think Nick and I are going to do a small part of it this summer :) 

5. Visit family or friends

Drive to grandma's house or go catch up with that friend who moved to the next state over. It is always nice to catch up with people who live far away AND you will have your very own tour guide. Explore the cool coffee shops, parks and thrift stores. Be present, enjoy your time, and make memories with those who you don't typically see. 

I have also made the most sing-along-able Spotify playlist for your road trip! Check it out, drive safe, and be sure to thank a military member for their service!

What are your plans for Memorial Day weekend? What's your favorite road trip you have ever been on? Let's chat in the comments!

ema

Navigating European Hostels

Summer is upon us!!! For those of you jet-setting to Europe on a budget, the best place to stay is a hostel. They are inexpensive, safe, and a great way to meet other travelers. Hostels are not like what you see in movies. They are not disgusting and dangerous but rather pretty clean and a great place to rest after a long day of exploring a new city. At lot of them will have nightly activities, bar crawls, or other activities to do for free or for cheap. But not all hostels are the same. Here are some things to look for when booking your hostel stay. 

A youth hostel.

Make sure the hostel you're planning on staying at is a youth hostel. This means it will only be travelers under a certain age (usually 30) This is super important to make sure you don't have any weird old guys who snore/ fart/ burp/ choke on their own saliva in their sleep with a nasty foot infection who come in a 3 am belligerently drunk and haven't showered in god knows how long-- are staying in your room. Trust me on this one.  

An in-room locker.

Keep your belongings safe and secure while you spend your days exploring. I never had anything stolen from me but other people in the hostels reported their cash, laptop or passport being stolen. On that note, make sure you bring a personal lock or Euro coins to actually lock the locker. 

Linens/ towels.

Chances are when you are traveling in Europe, the last thing you want to deal with is lugging sheets and a towel in your bag. Save the valuable space for other necessities and make sure the hostel offers sheets and towels. Most hostels have sheets but you have to pay about 2 Euros to rent a towel. Do it. It's worth it. 

Wifi.

A given. Using cell data in Europe can be hella pricey. The wifi at the hostel might be one of the only times you'll be able to use your phone to communicate with your friends and family. 

Complimentary breakfast.

Just a good way to save money while traveling. It is usually milk and cereal but it's better than nothing. Some hostels will also provide free dinner or super cheap dinner which is an awesome perk. Some hostels will also have a community kitchen so you can buy groceries and prepare your own food. 

A bedside outlet.

Keep your phone close to you while you're sleeping so you can browse before bed and turn off your alarm in the morning before you wake up the entire dorm at 6 a.m. 

A bar.

Hostel bars can be LIT. and the drinks are usually much cheaper than at other bars. Some hostels will even let you go to their bar even if you aren't staying there. Hostel bars were my favorite place to meet fellow travelers and even find people to explore with during the trip.

Proximity to the attractions you want to see. 

Going to Paris and the #1 thing you want to see is the Eiffel Tower? Make sure your hostel is not all the way on the other side of town. If the things you want to see are all spread apart, consider booking a hostel that is near public transit. Your feet will thank you later. 

 

Not every hostel you're going to come across in Europe (and in your price range) will have all of the amenities. You may have to pick and choose what is the most important things for you but these are all important things to consider when choosing a hostel. As always, read reviews from other travelers when booking or email the hostel if something is not clear on the website!

My favorite site for booking a hostel is hostelworld.com

They have real reviews from other travelers, detailed photos of the accommodations, the distance from main attractions, and a list of everything the hostel has to offer. 

 

Have you ever stayed at a hostel before? Have questions about staying in a hostel for the first time? Let's chat in the comments!

ema

 

Flying Standby 101

My dad has worked in the airline industry for 17 years now and one of the perks my family has because of his employment is flying for free on standby. Mind you, I am 21, (omg it still feels weird to say that) so flying standby is seriously the only way I know how to travel. Let me transfer my knowledge (and a trick or two) about flying fo free onto you. 

1. Standby aka nothing is guaranteed

Just because you list to fly standby, does not mean you have a seat. It means you are on a list to get a seat if there are any unsold or no-shows. A gate agent can also turn you down for a seat if you are not dressed for the airline's guidelines or if they filled the plane with cargo and it is too heavy to take any more passengers. 

2. Follow the dress code.

Most airline's dress code guidelines are business casual. Nice slacks, a clean blouse or button down and decently nice shoes. Definitely, check the company's website before you head to the airport because they will turn you away if you are not in compliance. This means: no leggings, no sweatpants,  no blue jeans, no t-shirts, no see- through shirts, no slippers, nada. No, it is not sexist or ridiculous, you are flying on the company's dime so dress like you are representing the company, even if know one else knows besides you and the gate agent who is giving you the ticket.

3. Watch the flights

If you are the employee, or the dependent, and have access to the standby booking site, keep a close eye on it. See how full the same flight is the week before you leave and see what other flights are going to your destination as backups in case you can't get on your plan(e) a. I will always try to take the first or second flight of the day, even if it's at 6 am. Such early flights are usually the last to sell out, there is a higher chance of no shows, and if you can't get on it, there are still other flights throughout the day. The last thing you want to do is sleep in an airport. Trust me on this one. 

4. Prepare for the worst

Many a times have I had to sleep in an airport. It was fine when I was little because my parents would always get a hotel room but now that I am flying solo (get it?) I would rather sleep in the terminal or ride the terminal train for hours than fork out at least $100 for the hotel attached to the airport. Always pack extra snacks, portable chargers, regular chargers, a travel toiletries (tooth brush, paste, hair brush, make up wipes, make up, and deodorant) and a clean pair of clothes. Sleeping in the airport sucks but it is all apart of the adventure... right? 

5. Get creative

You're going from Charlotte to Phoenix but the flight took a dump? Check other hubs like going through Atlanta, Las Vegas, or L.A.

Other tips: 

- Be super nice to gate agents, they already have to deal with grumpy paying passengers, they sure do not want to deal with grumpy non revs as well. I have also found that the nicer you are to them, they are more likely to make sure you get a ticket or are more accommodating when you would like to sit with someone. 

- Unless you are going home, don't check your bag. There have been several times where I would plan on flying into LA and end up flying into another near by airport BUT STILL HAVE TO GO THROUGH LA just to pick up my bag. Also, if you hop around to different airports, there is a higher chance of it getting lost. Spare the headache, pack light, and carry on. 

- Don't bug employees for buddy passes. Standby is a privilege and a perk! Most employees get about 10 one way buddy passes per year. They are super handy to fly loved ones out around holidays or when flying with a friend. Let an employee offer them to you, don't ask. If they want to offer you one they will. Asking puts everyone in an uncomfortable position. 

 

Have you even flown standby? What are your survival tips? Let's chat in the comments!

ema

 

Oktoberfest in Munich Germany- Travel Diary

The world is a pretty small place. What started out as a birthday party for German royalty has turned into an international celebration. It was breathtaking to be in the city where the Oktoberfest tradition was born. Cities all over the world will make their own celebration but nothing will compare to the original fest. 

We arrived in Munich on the Friday before the keg tap that starts the three week celebration. Once we landed, we took the train to the city center and began to explore. We went to the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) and Glockenspiel Tower, and found ourselves inside of the beautiful Cathedral Church of Our Lady that shared a wall with Urban Outfitters, of all places. We walked into local shops (I could spend hours inside of the coo- coo clock shop) and attempted to eat as many pretzels as possible.  

When 7am hit, everyone in our 12-bed dorm was awake and ready to take on the crowds of Oktoberfest. I have never seen so much rain in my life… okay, that’s an exaggeration but it did rain the entire time we were in Munich. We put on raincoats over our dirndls and took off towards the fest.

The “tents” they set up are not tents at all. They are temporary buildings the size of warehouses that are beautifully decorated and can hold upwards of 10,000 people per tent! We waited outside for two hours before we were let in and rushed to a table. The best part about traveling in a pair is that we can squeeze into anywhere. We managed to score a table with other girls from the US who are also studying abroad in another part of Europe. We enjoyed more pretzels and we tried a liter of a German drink (no idea what it is but it tasted like flat soda and apple juice.) At noon, the keg was tapped and the party began.

If you ever question the strength of German women, just Google beer maiden and be prepared to have your mind blown. These women would carry a dozen liters of beer to the tables through crowds of people without breaking a sweat. Myself, on the other hand, could hardly lift one liter without feeling the burn. The rest of the day had a lot of prost-ing and singing along to every song that was in English.

 

On Sunday, we did a self-led walking tour of Munich. We ended up in a park and watched people surfing on the canals. We saw tons of beautiful buildings with incredible architecture and design. After wandering around for FIVE hours, we ended up clear on the other side of Munich. After a tasty dinner and a cab ride back to the hostel we were wiped out. 

 

All good things must come to an end. Monday eventually rolled around and the fest was just about over for us. We walked through all of the tents just to look inside. During the week, it is much easier to get into tents, even just to look at them, than it is on the weekends. We enjoyed our last pretzel and radler beer and hopped on the plane home.

Would I do it all again? ABSOLUTELY. I would go back to Oktoberfest in a heartbeat. On top of that, Munich is such a beautiful city with rich history. I would love to go back when the fest is not going on and see all the city has to offer.

 

Sedona, Arizona

This weekend, Nick and I decided we needed to get out of Flagstaff. We called Nick's sister and she said her fam needed a quick escape as well. We were both free on Sunday and wanted to meet somewhere half way for both of us so Sedona it was. Sedona is only about an hour away from flagstaff (closer to two hours away from phoenix) and it is one of my favvorite places to go to reconnect with nature. The red rocks are picturesque and the weather is always warmer than flagstaff but cooler than phoenix. 

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So we knew that we wanted to hike because it's sedona, duh, buuuttt Nick's sister is currently in her second trimester and his nephew is two. We decided on cathedral rock.  Nick and I had hiked it two years ago and it was breathtaking. We chatted with his sister and she said they would do as much as they could. 

The alarm went off at 8am on sunday and we text nicks sister to see if they were on the road yet and her response was, "massive toddler meltdown. brody won't go to the bathroom. can you facetime him and see if you can get him to go." They don't call them terrible twos for nothin'! After facetiming him and receiving a series of "no way!" chance finally "convinced" him to go potty. 

The drive to sedona is one of my favorite car rides ever. As soon as you turn to go towards sedona, you are greeted was massive red rock that looks like it was hand placed into its location. Nick always drive us to sedona because the road is full of twists and turns. He treats it like he is in a cool car commercial as I cling on to the "oh shit bar" for dear life. I recently started my hand at photography so we pulled over a couple of times so I could capture the beauty that was in front of us. Pictures never will do this landscape justice. 

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Once we finally got to the trail head, we ended up making it about 3/4 of the way up before it became too steep for mr. brody parker. We sat and took in the view for a bit before it started to SNOW! (it was barely snowing but there was still a form of water coming from the sky) We headed for lower elevation in case the rocks turned into a slip and slide. Once we got to lower ground, we pulled out the picnic we packed. It was great to enjoy lunch and chat with Nick's sister and brother in law. We are so busy with school and they are so busy with life that we don't get to chat as often as we would like so we enjoyed every minute of it. 

Once we got back to the car, we decided to head into town for some ice cream (brody's favorite- so much, it's his bday party theme) before we headed back towards our respective homes. 

Sunday was a beautiful and a perfect day trip to get away. I long to see the world. For me, driving an hour away and being amazed by nature is consider a trip well traveled. It is my mission travel more in my own back yard and see more of Arizona this year.