10 ways to save money while abroad, You're Making Memories, Not Breaking The Bank

10 ways to save money while abroad, You're Making Memories, Not Breaking The Bank

Whether traveling, studying, or working- this is how you do it.

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This summer, I studied abroad in Prague for two months. While abroad, I traveled to seven other countries in Europe. Here's how I did it...

1. Compare prices of hostels and Airbnbs

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I found while traveling abroad, NO HOTEL gave me as good of a deal as hostels or Airbnbs. If you're traveling with a big group of people, you can usually book a 10 to 12 person hostel for all of you. Hey, it's not the most glamorous but it's kind of like one, big sleepover. If possible, try to have one person book the hostel for all of you together because you will save money on booking fees, key fees, and any other hidden fees. To compare prices of different hostels in the area you'll be staying, I recommend using Hostel World.

In some areas (especially if you're traveling with a group of people), it may be cheaper to book an Airbnb. If you're staying for more than 3-4 days, I would definitely recommend this since most Airbnbs have access to a kitchen and cooking supplies so you can make some of your own meals. Some hosts will even volunteer to take you around the city and show you local spots!

2. Book everything on Google Chrome Incognito browser

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This is EXTREMELY important. If your browser history is filled with visits to the same hotel, train, or plane booking sites, the next time you return to the website, you'll most likely see an increase in prices. If you don't have access to Google Chrome, make sure to clear both your browser history and cookies before booking anything travel related.

3. Prioritize where you want to go each place

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Before each trip, make (at least) an outline and research everything you want to do. That way, you can budget and make sure you have time for each activity. A mistake I ran into traveling was having a list of things I wanted to do, but not looking into them beforehand so I was shocked whenever I found out that going on the London Eye would cost me $30 and it was a 50-minute walk from my next destination.

4. Buy a phone or date plan

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This is especially important if you're traveling for over two weeks. The LAST thing you want to happen is receiving random data or phone charges upon your arrival to the US. So before leaving, research the different phone plans in each country you're visiting. If traveling throughout Europe, I recommend looking into Vodafone or Sprint. Immediately after arriving in Prague, I paid around $100 for a two-month 20 GB data and 2,000-minute calling plan (which is a lot cheaper than any amount you'd pay in international charges to AT&T or Verizon).

5. Try to avoid eating in the main city center

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I promise that you can find the same food you're looking for within a ten-minute walk from the main city center. When eating in the touristy areas, food prices are usually incredibly inflated. Besides, if you're looking for authentic food, it's going to be extremely Americanized and overpriced than anything you'll find that's a slightly further walk from the main attractions.

6. Pack efficiently

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This one may sound a little weird, but seriously! The last thing you want is a $75 overweight baggage fee both ways. Avoid bringing extra clothes, shoes, or jewelry- even if it's SUPER cute.

7. Book far in advance

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This again may seem (very) obvious, but there are some places or things that you wouldn't expect would go up in price when booking last minute. For example, when booking a train ride, hostel, or cab ride from the airport, these prices can inflate pretty drastically if you don't book at least 1.5 weeks in advance. That being said, it's always best to have everything booked before your trip, even if you think it won't matter that much.

8. Don't eat out every meal

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This one may seem obvious, but seriously! It's okay to not have an Instagram-worthy brunch every day. Go grocery shopping for some meals and cook if you have access to a kitchen. Having a picnic with friends in a park is a great way to save money (and also really fun).

9. Use Google Flights

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On an incognito browser, of course. But seriously, this is the perfect tool if you know you want to go somewhere, but you're not quite sure where. Using this tool, you can put in your departing airport, how long you want to stay, and Google Flights will show you a map of the different prices to various locations. That way if you're deciding between Barcelona or London for a weekend, this will make it an easier choice.

10. Capitalize on specials each place you want to go

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In each place you travel, there are bound to be a plethora of free events, classes, etc. CAPITALIZE ON THAT! Research different events happening in your city beforehand, and who knows, you may have more fun there than doing any paid activity. For activities or other things that cost money, make sure to look into any discounts or specials! For transportation, Go Euro offers different summer and travel passes so you pay a one time fee for traveling by train or bus instead of separate payments. For lodging, many places offer large group discounts or student discounts.

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9 Reasons Why Topsail Island is the Best Beach in NC

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in North Carolina.
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1. The sunsets.

Topsail has the best sunsets out of any beach in North Carolina. Hands down.

2. The shark’s teeth and seashells.

You can always find a large amount of cool shells and shark’s teeth every beach trip. I have found that it is not like this at every beach, only at Topsail. Shell hunting tip: check out the point on the south end of the island every morning for the best shell selection. You might even come across a hidden mailbox with notes in it while shell hunting down there.

3. The food.

From Max’s pizza with the pepperoni under the cheese to the seafood at Breezeway and even having the experience of eating outside at Sears Landing, Topsail has some of the greatest restaurants any beach in NC has to offer. The best part about the food in Topsail is that the restaurants are all local. Also, there is a brand new doughnut shop in the Surf City part of the island...what could be better than doughnuts and the beach?

4. The Fourth of July.

Every year Topsail and neighboring town, Holly Ridge, rotate between who does fireworks on the fourth and who gets to do them on the fifth. Basically this means two whole days of celebrating our great nation at the beach. The Fourth is also fun in Topsail because the beach is full of people decked out in red, white, and blue, blaring country music, and playing cornhole and swimming all day. Some parts of the town even have mini Fourth of July block parties (okay maybe that's just my family and our neighbors but it’s still pretty fun).

5. The small town atmosphere.

Topsail is a small island which gives it a small town, everybody knows everybody kind of feel. It’s really easy to make life long beach friends here because you have the opportunity to see the same people out on the beach every summer.

6. The ice cream.

Growing up, we went out to get ice cream EVERY single night and admittedly we still do. It often feels like the whole island has the same idea because the lines are always out the door at every ice cream place on the island. Don’t let this discourage you though. It’s an unspoken rule to wait in the line no matter how long it may be because ice cream always tastes better at Topsail.

7. The best of both worlds.

Because Topsail is an island, in most cases you can see both the ocean and the sound from wherever you are staying. This is pretty awesome because you can watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the sound without having to go too far. You also can go from playing cornhole on the beach to jet skiing in the sound without having to walk too far so you really do get the experience the best of both worlds.

8. Outdoor movies.

On certain nights of the week Topsail this has cool thing called “Summer Movies in the Park” where they play movies on a big blow up screen at a park that sits on the sound. The best part about this is that the movies are FREE. Tip: if you are vacationing at Topsail with bae, I highly suggest going to an outdoor movie together, even if it is Cinderella and even if you have seen it 100 times already you should still go. But, if outdoor movies aren’t your thing then I suggest going roller skating or playing a game of putt-putt.

9. The memories.

Whether you go for a week or a weekend, I promise that you will make some great memories with the people you love at Topsail Island. After spending 19 summers on the island, I know I sure have. From Fourth of July block parties, running into friends from all over NC, adventuring with cousins and swimming during hurricanes, I can honestly say that spending my summers at Topsail Island has been one of the best things ever.



North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in NC and I highly recommend planning your next beach vacation to Topsail Island.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.topsailnewsonline.com/?p=9478

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5 Things To Do In Columbia, South Carolina, To Keep You Entertained

It's bigger than you'd think.

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Growing up in the state of South Carolina, I'd been to Columbia lots of times but I never really got to experience the sights and sounds quite the way I do now that I'm in school here. That being said, I feel like I've gotten to check some cool things in the past three years and I'd like to recommend some to you!

1. Get Coffee!

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Obviously, we have a trillion Starbucks, but I mean try out some of the other, more localized coffee shops such as Drip, Immaculate Consumption, Cool Beans, Zombie Coffee and Donuts, and the list goes on. And again, while we all love Starbucks, it's good to try new things, especially locally based things that put money back into your economy and locally sourced coffees.

2. Catch Some Baseball!

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We have our lovely Gamecocks in action basically every weekend, and the SEC season is underway so there will be some talented teams rolling into Columbia in the next few weeks to take on the Gamecocks. We also have the Columbia Fireflies in action pretty soon, so go check them out as well. Don't forget your glove!

3. Brunch!

My friends introduced me to some really great places to have brunch. I definitely think Tazza Kitchen is my favorite but there are so many great restaurants to explore throughout the city that have brunch food and drink specials! Also, it's a nice way to kick off or end your weekend surrounded by food and people that you care about.

4. The Great Outdoors!

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There's always something to do outside! For the most part, we have great weather, so outdoor activities are a must! And we have various festivals that come and go throughout the year. We also have lots of parks and rivers for walking, running, kayaking, swimming and more!

5. Museums!

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I know everyone thinks museums are lame but I don't! So, we have plenty of things to look at and take in around Columbia! We have a children's museum for the younger crowd, in addition to the Columbia Museum of Art and the South Carolina State Museum. I actually used to go to the state museum a lot as a kid with my parents. There are also other smaller places around Columbia and on campus to check out if you're into history like I am!

This is only a small list of the attractions in Columbia. For all the trash I talk about this state and about this city, it does have some pretty loveable things. You can eat your heart out, learn, cheer on your favorite team and that could only be day one.

If you have any other suggestions of things to do or would like to request me as your personal tour guide, let me know!

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