Hi friends! This blog will be all about all of the preparations that Tim and I have done to get ready for Europe and what we’ve learned along the way! I’m going to jump right in!
The very first thing we learned was that if you want to get cheap flight tickets, then you have to WAIT and research and pray a little lol. When we first started looking at tickets to Belgium (from Phoenix) the tickets were around $1300. But Tim and I had heard somewhere that airline ticket prices go up and down. We researched, read a few travel blogs and learned that the best time to buy a ticket to go abroad is 1.5-2 months before the trip. So Tim and I waited patiently, and luckily Tim held me back when I wanted to buy the tickets at $890 because I thought that was the cheapest they would get. The next few days, we got super lucky andwere able to buy our tickets to Europe for $650!!! So that’s the advice, keep watching the prices and buy when you think it’s right.
Another thing I learned was that in Belgium, the languages spoken are Dutch, French and German. I took three years of French in high school so I decided to brush up on the language and I was doing really well for about two weeks and then I got lazy. So hopefully people speak English lol I think a lot of people do (at least our AirBnB hosts do). Speaking of Belgium (and every other country in Europe), I was notified that it would be really really really cold there. So I’ve borrowed some cold weather jackets from my friend Yamille who survived harsh winters in Iowa lol and I’ve also purchased some thermal clothing and leather gloves but I think I’m being dramatic and won’t be needing all of that so I will see if I decide to take that stuff to Europe. I’ll let you all know lol.
We also learned that two weeks in Europe is not nearly enough time for everything that we want to do, so we will definitely be making a few more trips out here. We also learned that planning a good trip takes a lot of time. We spent a couple of nights just brainstorming what we wanted to do, a few more nights cutting down some things because we weren’t going to have enough time, a couple more nights scheduling, and a couple more nights booking places and flights. I would definitely say start early. We could have just gone with the flow but I like to maximize my time when I’m on vacation and planning definitely helps.
While planning our trip, I also learned how HUGE Ireland is. I swear everything I wanted to do was six hours from Dublin lol so we will definitely have to come back and do some of the stuff in Southern Ireland. I also learned that winter in Ireland makes the days VERY short. I learned this because I tried to book a Game of Thrones locations tour and they said they couldn’t accomodate us because it’s dangerous to go on the trails from location to location with little daylight lol.
Another thing we learned, was that flights in Europe are super cheap! Like ridiculously cheap, we bought a flight from France to Ireland and I kid you not, it was only $20!!! We used the website www.skyscanner.com which our friend who is currently living in Belgium recommended. But seriously, $20 for a flight! That’s like dinner for two, it’s amazing lol. While booking my flight to Ireland, I also learned that most places don’t accept Discover 🙁 which sucks because I really like my Discover card and was looking forward to using it. Speaking of credit cards, I learned it’s important to notify your banks that you will be traveling so that your card doesn’t get frozen and while you’re notifying them, make sure that you check to see if you will be charged any fees for using your cards abroad.
While planning our trip, we were trying to decide where the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve would be and we decided on Belgium for a couple of reasons. The main ones being that our friends Maggie and David live there so it would be cheaper but also because Belgium has a pretty cool way of celebrating the New Year. A lot of people gather in the city center and party and do a really cool countdown at the Place de Brouckère or the Grand-Place so I am super excited!!
I also very recently learned that Europe and Ireland and basically every other place has different outlets than the US so you need to go out and buy a plug adapter and sometimes a voltage converter (depending what you will be pluggin in). I went to Fry’s Electronics which was an adventure by itself and bought everything there.
I knew that using your phone abroad can get pretty pricey but while talking to my carrier (Verizon) I learned that I could disable my phone from getting text messages and phone calls and just use the WiFi so that’s what I will be doing! I also learned that my friend Tim has T-Mobile and he has unlimited text, calls, and data in Europe. WTF lol not fair haha
I think that’s pretty much all I can remember for now. Most of the stuff I learned from using Google but also from getting tips from my friends on Facebook, so thank you friends you all rock!!
I’ll see you all in mid-January!! I will post a couple of pictures on instagram and use the following hashtag (among a few others, but this is the main one) if you want to stay up to date: #mairaTRAVELING.
You can read more blogs on ‘Trips’ here!