“Ask me anything!” I posted on Facebook a few days back. “I’ll answer your travel questions! What do you want to know about my personal travels or travel in general?”
So many curious minds! I received loads of travel questions and I am so excited to answer them today!
Q) Dawn L. was curious about the places I have been to, asking if I had ever visited Spain or Israel.
A) No, I haven’t been to either place! I almost booked a ticket to Spain on the trip I am now on, but unfortunately the timing and budget weren’t working out for us. It is definitely on my list to visit though, and I have so many great friends there I’ve met while traveling and can’t wait to see again!
I actually have never looked at going to Israel. I’m sure there is so much to see there, especially from a historical and religious aspect, and it probably should be on my bucket list!
The places I have been to include Iceland, Scotland, Norway, England, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Greece, Czech Republic, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, plus close to 40 states.
Q) Dawn also asked, “What’s the most scenic beauty you have seen?”
A) Oh, my goodness! That is honestly a really tough one. I don’t know if there was one particular scenic beauty which has taken my breath away more than the other.
The Scottish Highlands, of course, are magical and make me want to build a hut high in the hills, but the seas of Crete have nearly brought me to tears with their beauty, and the hills and lakes of Windermere left me literally gasping for my breath with awe and admiration.
Q) Karlyn H. asks “Where do you start when you start planning a trip? What’s your favorite kind of place to stay?”
A) I actually start by finding the cheapest flight to Europe. It doesn’t matter the destination because flights around Europe are ridiculously cheap. I’ve flown into Norway just because the flight was $99 and I could! Even though Norway wasn’t on my list of places to see (at the time), it was able to be my jumping point for a 7 country trip.
From there, I look for the flights, trains, and buses I want to the countries I want. I use GoEuro.com for this. Being flexible is important because the transit you want for the price you want and the date you need may not always be available. For more detail on how I schedule my trips, I have a more in-depth post about it here.
My favorite place to stay varies! I will admit that I generally don’t like hotels. At all. I would rather sleep in a hostel and make new friends in the process. If I’m traveling with a group, I will typically prefer Airbnb or VRBO rentals as it is more cost efficient.
Sometimes, even traveling with just one other person, these will end up being the better option financially. So for me, it depends on the price, the locations, and the level of socializing I am up to!
Q) Kendra M. asked “When you travel to non-English speaking countries, how much do you try to learn of the language before you go? Are there certain words or phrases you try to learn? Do you download certain apps before you go, and have you ever been in a bind where you’ve had to use the app?”
A) I love learning a foreign language, though I typically butcher it. I (if I say so myself) am pretty good at German and Spanish though. I always try to pick up at least basic phrases before I go to another country. Sometimes, I will even just jot down phrases and the pronunciation in my journal and carry it along, or screenshot phrases to keep on hand.
I use DuoLingo for learning languages, and find it very user-friendly and fun to learn on! I also do use Google Translate when I am abroad and find that I need to quickly be able to say something. And yes! I have found myself in a jam and had to use it, though it was quite unsuccessful!
We had to print our airline tickets off in Paris for our flight the next day, so I translated “We need to print off our airline tickets. Can we use a computer?” Apparently, it didn’t translate correctly AT ALL, and I ended up having to translate single words for him -“ticket”, “print”, “computer”, “flight” – and finally a look of understanding passed the guys face, and he led us to a computer!
Q) Abigail T. asked, “How do the people you meet along the road change the travel experience?”
A) Such a great question, Abigail! How do the people you meet NOT change your experience? You can go from expecting to dine alone in silence to having a group of three or four ladies who want to eat with you every day and form a unique friendship. You go from sitting quietly on the subway to having someone to laugh along with you.
Not to mention, meeting people along the way opens doors for you.
Suddenly, you have a friend in another country you can call if you are stuck. Now you have someone to tell you if a tour sucked before you book it. There is someone there to answer questions about their culture, city, and language too. The friends you’ll meet while traveling are like no other people you’ll ever meet. They are people who are seeking adventure, seeking to explore and make lifelong connections. Honestly, the people you meet while traveling have the ability to change your world and alter your outlook on the world.
Q) Megan P. asked, “How does social media change the way people travel?”
A) Awesome question! Social media… Oh, boy! Log into your Instagram now and search ‘travel’. What pops up? Pretty pictures, staged pictures, pictures of giraffes eating off someone’s plate? Search #breakfastwithgiraffes, #giraffemanor, or #giraffebreakfast if you aren’t familiar with this.
These are the images people see when they think of travel, thanks to social media. In a way, it has been a good thing. Countries which were previously off the map have a visual presence in the world. I remember the first time a friend told me about Croatia. I had no idea where it was, and I thought it was probably an unsafe country. It was to go nowhere near my bucket list! But I was wrong! I was SO wrong! Croatia popped up on my Instagram feed and blew me away! Now it is so high on my list, it’s not even funny!
On the other hand, social media with its beautiful and staged travel photos has created this idea of perfection in travel. People now travel for the Instagram photo instead of for their own scrapbook and memories. It’s the world of selfie sticks at The Louvre and the Colosseum. When you see these two things together, all you can think about is how one of them doesn’t quite belong with the other.
Q) “Have you ever thought of doing one trip a year with a friend or colleague who has never left the states, like as a guide or companion?” Asked Monica V.
A) I actually do this a lot! I love taking friends and family abroad and showing them the world. Since I’ve been several times, I do act as their travel guide and even organize the entire trip for us. So far, I’ve taken my friend, Krystal, my parents and husband, and my friend Abby.
I’ve also booked and planned my in-laws first trip abroad (which they’ve only just returned from), and am looking to start adding a travel planning service to Nessie Out of Water.
Additionally, I am willing to go with people I don’t personally know by offering a service from my photography studio where families can hire me to document their entire trip abroad for them!
Q) Colleen E. asked “When is best time and where are the best deals to Iceland and/or Greenland?…also what DON’T I want to miss when there?”
A) I haven’t actually been to Greenland, so I can’t answer that, however, I have been to Iceland! I would recommend using GoEuro or Google Flights to find your best price to Iceland! I like that with Google Flights, you can view a low fare calendar to easily find the best prices!
WOWAir will normally show up as the cheapest on these searches, and I would normally have recommended WOWAir, but recent changes to their carry-on luggage policy have made them an airline I will only fly if I don’t have another option, simply due to budget. Bear in the mind that the price you see for WOWAir doesn’t include your luggage fees. If you don’t mind paying for your luggage, then they are a great airline to take to Iceland. With having to pay for a small carryon though, you can actually find better deals with other airlines now.
You may find that the cheapest tickets have a really long flight or layover time. You can consider flying into airports such as the ones in Baltimore, Boston, or NY on a cheap airline like Southwest, and booking your flight onward to Reykjavik from there.
I will say, a big perk of WOWAir is that they allow a stopover in Iceland for no additional charge! So if you purchase a ticket to Amsterdam, like we did last year, you can pause for a handful of days in Iceland and explore their country!
As for the best time to visit Iceland?
I went during the winter, and it was cheap! January/February/March tend to be the cheapest times for European travel from America (from my experience), and though sunlight is very limited during these months in Iceland, the sun never really sets. Most of the day will look like sunrise or dusk, with the middle of the day finally brightening up. However, thanks to it never really being dark, you can still explore all day and make the most of your time there!
Lastly, you don’t want to miss ANYTHING! I didn’t rent a car while I was there, but I have friends who have rented and said it made for the most amazing experience. Iceland isn’t huge, and the population is very small, so driving around should be a breeze, without traffic to worry about.
If you don’t want to rent a car, here are some amazing tours you can take advantage of!
Thanks, ladies, for all the questions! I hope I was able to answer them all as thoroughly as you were needing!
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