Five Tips for your First Trip Abroad

5TipsHeaderHi friends, this is Rachel from How Bout Some Cake. Jordan has invited me to take over her blog today and share some tips about international travel.

If you’ve never traveled abroad before, it can be a little intimidating. It usually involves a really long flight, jet lag, a foreign language, currency exchange, and unfamiliar foods. But, in my opinion, it’s all totally worth it for one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Here are five tips that will help you prepare for and get the most out of your first international trip.

Tip1

I’m a huge fan of travel books (I wrote a whole post about them here) and I truly believe they are a tourist’s saving grace in an unfamiliar city. They offer everything from restaurant reviews and sample itineraries to history and cultural etiquette tips. Nobody wants to be a sophomoric traveler, and these guide books can really help in teaching you things you didn’t even know to ask. For example, how else would you know that gratuities in Spain should be a fraction of what you’d leave here in the States?!

Tip2

I recommend making copies of all your important documents and keeping them with you all the time. When I say this, I’m including your passport, license, credit cards, insurance information, and any other documents you can’t live without. Of course, you have to keep your credit cards with you to use them, but everything else is better off back in the hotel safe. Pick-pocketing is rampant in many foreign countries, especially European ones, and you really don’t want some stranger running off with your passport. Similarly, if they do get away with your credit card, you want the card number and company phone number handy so you can call and report it immediately. Trust me, as someone who has been the victim of purse-snatching, these photocopies/scans can be invaluable.

Tip3

First, find out their foreign transaction policies and second, apprise them of your trip. Your credit card companies may freeze your accounts when they see foreign spending, thinking it’s fraudulent activity. I’ve never had any trouble using my credit/debit cards abroad, but it is good to know how they’ll handle the currency conversion. Also devise a plan for cash- if you’re not comfortable carrying a lot when you travel, you will probably be able to withdraw from ATMs at your destination, but expect hefty fees with each transaction.

Tip4

This is a good tip no matter where you’re going, but especially when you’re going somewhere vastly different than home. Bags do get lost, and you don’t want to be stranded without medications, a clean pair of undies, and anything else you would need within 24-48 hours of landing. Pharmacies work differently in other countries, so if you regularly take any medication (even something like Tylenol) you should bring it with you.

Tip5

You never know what you’re going to encounter when traveling abroad. That’s the fun of it: encountering exotic and unfamiliar tastes, sights, and experiences. Don’t expect every experience to be good. You’re not going to like every dish you order, every hotel you stay in, every cultural experience. Conversely, you’ll probably enjoy some experiences more than you thought. View it as an adventure and keep a positive attitude to get the most enjoyment out of your trip. I think that, as Americans, we often think that our way is the best way, but I’d encourage any tourist to reserve judgment and appreciate every place for its own unique qualities.

Hope these tips help you when planning for your next big adventure!

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Cookie Dough Brownies

What do you make someone who makes cake for a living? Not cake. For a friend’s birthday I decided to make her these cookie dough brownies that I have been drooling over since Rachel over at How Bout Some Cake started raving about them a few months ago. [I also used this eggless cookie dough recipe for these cookie dough truffles]  When she said they were one of the best things she ever made, I was just waiting for the perfect occasion to give me an excuse to make them. I made the exact recipe that she recommended, except that I naturally doubled it. Rachel, you do not disappoint. Everyone, get into your kitchen and make this!

Meet Me in Vegas: Part 2, An Insider’s Guide

If you saw my post the other day about Vegas, it’s clear I was a total tourist the entire time I was there. While I loved every minute of my trip, there are definitely a few pointers that could have helped me out while I was there. Rachel of How Bout Some Cake has been lucky enough to actually live in Vegas [there is no way I would survive that haha!] All summer I have been reading her posts and have been astonished by all of the hidden gems we missed while we were there. I asked her if she would mind sharing some of her wisdom with us. So without further ado…
Hi!  It’s Rachel back again with another guest post.  This time I’m here to talk about living it up, Vegas style!
Being engaged to a professional poker player means that I spend a lot of time in Vegas. While my better half spends most of his time there working, I’m free to explore and enjoy everything Sin City has to offer.  Over the past couple of years I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to make the most out of it, and I’m going to share the best ones with you today:

  • Map your cab route.  Taxis are a necessary evil in Las Vegas.  Even if you rent a car, you’ll probably be too drunk to drive it at some point.  Vegas cab drivers are notorious for taking advantage of customers.  I always tell the cab driver the route I want to take when I get in the car.  If I don’t know the best route, I look it up on my phone.  Sometimes it shaves a few bucks off, and sometimes it saves more.  The drivers love to play “Mr. Nice Guy” and ask where you’re from, what you’re doing here, et cetera.  This is his crafty way of confirming that you’re a clueless tourist, and keeping you talking so you don’t realize he’s taking the long way to your destination.

  • Save your room keys if you visit often.  Most Vegas resorts have fabulous pools for their guests to use.  All you have to do to gain entrance is flash a room key.  By saving old keys from places I’ve stayed (or friends have stayed) before, I have access to half a dozen different pools both on and off the strip.

  • Don’t be afraid to leave The Strip.   Sure, it’s glamorous and fabulous but it’s also over-priced and crawling with tourists.  There are some amazing restaurants off the strip that are well worth a visit.  Some of my favorites are Firefly and Lotus of Siam.  For a super casual meal, my favorite is Metro Pizza.

  • Watch out for resort fees.  Most Vegas hotels charge daily resort fees that can be as much as $25.  The annoying part is that those fees don’t really get you anything, but can add up quickly.  Research your hotel’s fee before you book so you’re not surprised.  Or seek out a hotel that doesn’t charge them and treat yourself to a nice dinner instead!  Among others, Caesar’s properties (like Caesar’s Palace and The Rio) don’t charge resort fees.  If you do stay somewhere with resort fees but have a problem, you can ask that they be dropped.  For example, we once checked into a hotel and couldn’t get the room we wanted, so they dropped the resort fees for us.  Don’t be afraid to ask- the worst they can say is no!

  • Get Player’s Cards- even if you’re not a gambler.  Player’s cards are free and provide two distinct benefits: accruing rewards and earning discounts.  Casinos reward people who play at their casinos a lot by giving them “comps”.  These can be redeemed for meals, drinks, or even nights at their hotel!  If you do gamble a lot, get a players card and game in one place to earn as many freebies as possible.  Note that comps don’t usually expire quickly, so if you get a lot, you can keep them for your next trip.  Player’s Cards also save you money on casual dining.  If you’re hitting the buffets or food courts, players cards can save you as much as $10 a person!

  • Most clubs offer free or discounted cover if you arrive early (usually before midnight).   Most of them have people handing out passes on the casino floor.  So if you want to hit a nightclub, stroll through the gaming area first and look for someone handing out flyers or wristbands.  The drinks are expensive enough- paying a cover charge is insane!  Another way of scoring free entry is by contacting a promoter a day or two in advance.  Look for them on Facebook or Twitter.
I hope these tips come in handy next time you’re in Sin City!  Please come check out my blog for tons of Vegas reviews.

Orangetini

Today I am happy to share with you a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers; Rachel from How Bout Some Cake. I have loved her travel, food and more blog since the first post I read. I’m sure you’ll see why after reading her post:

Hi! I’m Rachel from How Bout Some Cake, and I’m here to share my newest cocktail recipe with you.

Fruity martinis are one of my favorite things to drink in the summertime.  They’re crisp, delicious, and they pack a punch!  While I do love a good Cosmo, Lemon Drops are my go-to so I thought I’d experiment with other citrus flavors.  That’s how I came up with this “Orangetini”.

I made mine as a welcome home treat for myself, but they’re great for a girls night in or out!  They’re a perfect little handful of luxury.

Ingredients (recipe makes 2):

  • 1 oz. Orange-flavored Vodka (I used Ketel One Oranje)
  • 1 oz. Regular Vodka
  • ½ oz. Triple Sec
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice (fresh squeezed recommended)
  • Orange for garnish (optional)
  • Sugar for rim (optional)

First, prepare your glass using the steps above.  Combine the liquors and orange juice in a shaker with ice and shake it like a polaroid.

Pour, garnish with half an orange slice, and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy these fancy-pants cocktails.   If you do, come check out my other recipes and adventures at HowBoutSomeCake.

Thanks so much to Jordan for having me today!

One Lovely Blog

Melly from [Existential Detective] was nice enough to tag my blog for the “One Lovely Blog Award.” Melly is basically living the dream in Australia [okay… maybe she is living MY dream] and her witty blog [and personality] won me over instantly. Thank you, Melly!

Thank you to Tracey over at Replenish who was also nice enough to tag me! Replenish is a site about recipes, places to visit and/or eat, crafts and words. Be sure to check out her blog! Thank you, Tracey!

Another thank you to at350degrees, which is one lovely food blog which will seriously make your mouth water. Please go check all my nominators out!

As a part of the “One Lovely Blog” tagging, we must give up 7 random facts about ourselves. Here are mine:

  1. I don’t like it when different foods touch each other. i.e. If I have chicken and mashed potatoes on my plate, I won’t eat the areas that were in contact.
  2. I am obsessed with trashy TV in a very unhealthy way. And this all started with…[get ready to cringe] “Flavor of Love,” a reality show where crazy girls compete for the love of Flavor Flav… I found this show so trashy, that it was funny, and since then I have been absolutely hooked on everything trashy.
  3. Guitar Hero and Crazy Taxi are my favorite video games.
  4. I love everything that is sparkly, bedazzled, or mosaic.
  5. When I was little, I cut my barbie’s hair, and then cut mine to match hers.
  6. I hate being late, and I hate when other people are late.
  7. New Years Eve is my least favorite holiday.

Lastly, part of spreading the blog lovin’ is to recognize and nominate others who I feel deserve the Lovely Blogger Award. I am nominating:

Rachel of How Bout Some Cake | An amazing blog focused on food, life, travels and her current life living in Sin City.

Krystle of Pictures and Plane Tickets | A travel blog focusing on photography and living life without a dull moment.

Thank you all for your support 🙂

Pay It Forward: Liebster Award

I am absolutely shocked and honored that Krystle of Pictures and Plane Tickets nominated me for a Liebster Award. Pictures and Plane tickets is one of my favorite blogs. It’s one of the first blogs I started following when I joined the blogging world – the title instantly attracted me and since then she never disappointed me. I love all of her travel stories, photos and advice, and it’s great to know she is enjoying my blog as much as I enjoy hers. Thank you, Krystle!


The Liebster Award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers (sorry if you have more) and is passed from Blogger to Blogger, each hand-picked by the previous recipient. Once you receive the award you present other bloggers with the Liebster Award and be sure to send them a comment to let them know!

I had been thinking about starting a blog for over a year before it actually happened. I decided to finally take the plunge when a friend said to me that the corporate lives we were living was killing off our creativity. What a depressing thought. I knew that I needed to get my creative juices flowing again and a blog seemed like the perfect solution. While I have only been blogging for 4 short months, it really has impacted my life. I am so happy and flattered that anyone takes the time out of their days to look at my blog.

The Blogs I’m Nominating Are:

How Bout Some Cake | Rachel’s blog is dedicated to food and travel (sound familiar?) She is always making delicious treats and  traveling to awesome places. Her weekly “Pinspirtations” are always inspiring me, and I’m sure many other people as well.

Flight Attendant With Camera | Nadia’s blog is all about travel and photography. Her photos are breathtaking [“My camera has become an extension of my hand.”] and the list of places that she has been is seriously impressive.

Carla Runs the World | I stumbled upon this blog a few weeks ago, and I am nothing short of hooked. Carla recently got certified in scuba diving (basically my dream come true) and has done almost 50 dives since August! Every time she posts some of her underwater photo shoots I am amazed!

Life as a Butterfly | Hayley’s travel blog is truly inspiring. She has been to so many places and really experiences the culture every place that she goes. “A globetrotter with a passion for travel looking to share her experiences through her writings of the world

Thanks again for stopping by and reading!