Quebec City: My Takeaways

how to, Travel

When I said I was going to Quebec City, Canada, I had two kinds of reactions:

1. “Oh cool! Hope you have a great time!”

and

2. “Why?”

When people ask me why, it’s kind of annoying. Do I ask people why they prefer beach vacations over taking in historical sites and pushing the envelopes of preconceived notions on culture?

No.

Do I ask people why they prefer all inclusive luxury cruises where they can eat all the fried shrimp they want and get sunburned and wear a nasty Dramamine patch behind their ear that just comes off as soon as you get near any kind of water?

No.

Do I even ask people why they prefer vacations that are perfectly sheltered and involve getting their pictures taken with a mouse and a whole cast of other fictional characters, rather than exploring hundred year old streets?

No. No, I don’t. I live and let live. You all can keep your Disney, your Sandals vacations and your Royal Caribbean, I’m a different breed, I have to say. And this is not me being snooty or better than thou either. I happen to love Disney…when the occasion calls for it. But since I am 28 and not getting any younger, I choose to explore the world, get out of my comfort zone and see everything I haven’t already seen. Broaden my horizons.

Want to know how I picked Quebec City, Canada?๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ I kind of just did. I set my mind on a place and then I research the heck out of it.

Quebec is a primarily French speaking place, but I didn’t let that stop me. After being in Italy and doing fairly well at making myself understood, I decided to take a stab at this. Actually, I know more French than I knew Italian.๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ I took a brief class at the age of 12 that taught me how to count to 20, some basic colors and phrases and…really, we use more French in the English language than we give credit for. Bouquet. Culdesac. Boutique. If you start thinking about it, it will blow your mind!

Another thing people were apt to ask me once they knew I was going to Quebec was: “Oh! They speak French up there? They’ll be snobby, won’t they?”

Now, really, they speak French Canadian. And no, they were not snobby at all. The people in Quebec were very friendly and if they saw me butchering their language, they would switch to English, accommodating me. That doesn’t say rude or snobby to me. That says polite and accepting.

Believe me though, I tried. I always like to give an effort when in another country. I want to show them that I am trying to understand their language and culture.

So, if you’re worried about a language barrier and that is keeping you from visiting this beautiful city, DON’T. Everyone was so nice there!

Another thing you should know about Quebec is that it is very walking friendly. We used the bus some to get to faraway places like Montmorency Falls or the mall when Tim needed affordable shoes because he brought his that he walked 94 miles (and then some) in Italy and everafter ๐Ÿ˜‚, but otherwise, if you don’t have a handicap or aren’t against it, you will have no problem getting around this city. Most of what you will want to see is very close together and it is actually fun to see how much you end up walking around the city! One day we walked 10 miles.๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Quebec is also absolutely gorgeous in the fall. Everywhere we looked, we saw changing leaves!๐Ÿ You can’t beat it in October, right before it gets really cold for winter and after the heat from summer has faded away.

It’s a place full of history, French culture and food, fall activities and so much more! If you haven’t been, I encourage you to look into it! And if not Quebec, maybe there is somewhere else you have been wanting to go to! I say, DO IT.

Save up. Research. And then go do the thing. ๐ŸŒŽ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿปโœˆ๏ธ

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Top 7 Places to Eat in Quebec City๐Ÿฅ

A List, Food, Travel

Now, I’m a millennial, soooo…wait, I don’t have to preface this or explain to you, people of the internet! These are my top favorite eateries we tried while in Quebec City for our fall anniversary/birthday trip. I base this list on the following criteria:

1. The food must be good and fairly affordable.

2. The food and atmosphere must be very hip and aesthetic. Willing to overlook affordability somewhat if the atmosphere is banging and the food is delicious, but will not compromise on taste.

That’s pretty much it, so without further ado, here we go!๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿง€๐Ÿ”

1. Paillard

Address: 1097 Rue Saint Jean

This place was just good. You walk in, and it’s packed. Always. Not only do they have freshly baked breads and pastries, including macaroons, but they serve breakfast in the morning and lunch/dinner type assortments the rest of the day. We went there on two separate occasions, once for breakfast, once for lunch. Pictured above is our breakfast, The Matin Special, I believe, for less than $8. It features a bacon, egg and hollandaise croissant, a cup of fruit and a coffee, however, you can change up the ingredients of your croissant to ham and boost your coffee, but this was perfect for us!

When we had lunch here, there were sandwiches and soups galore to choose from, plus bottled drinks. Think deli style. You pick your drink, or get a fountain one, and order at a counter. Your order number is then called out when your food is ready.

Definitely hit this place up while in Quebec, but make sure you come a little earlier than you want to eat because it stays busy!

2. Le Chic Shack

Address: 15 Fort Street

Oh, the burgers at this place.๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ” Absolutely phenomenal. It’s a little Americanized, but not obnoxiously so. They have ketchup available for us southerners, but they still offer up a Canadian specialty that cannot be missed: poutine. You also can’t miss the location of this place–it is literally right next to Chateau Frontenac!

Pictured above is the Le du Fort Burger, which is piled with Canadian bacon, honey mustard and pickles for a truly amazing combination I’m still drooling over! (I love honey mustard, why does it feel so wrong and nay, so right to place it on a burger?!) we also ordered a side of Classique Poutine. The order you see here is a small. Only order the regular if you are starving or have a table to share with because them portions be HUGE.

Le Chic Shack’s take on poutine is great–steak cut potatoes in a gravy sauce with cheese curds. You’re wanting some right now, aren’t you? Because while writing this, I am! ๐Ÿคค Also, try their handmade sodas made with real fruit purรฉe! They had delicious looking milkshakes, but alas, we were too full.

3. Bols Et Poke

Address: 545 Rue Saint Jean

I couldn’t make this list without listing at least one asian restaurant. I have to have something asian everywhere I go. In Venice, Italy, I found a place that served stir fry and you best believe I got some. ๐Ÿ˜‚

This place is refreshing, clean tasting and just tastes so good. I do not remember the name of what I got, but it was vegan and gluten free. It consisted of noodles in a peanut sauce, avocado, rice squares, cashews, kale and cucumbers and it was freaking amazing. Tim basically got these giant sushi rolls that he said were also good. Together, our food was about $29. Not terrible, not cheap, but not terrible. The food was so good though, I’m not complaining!

This place was also very chill with window seating where you could just watch the world go by.

*Bonus Asian Food Lover Tip: If you love Bubble or Boba Tea as much as I do, you can still get that fix while in Canada! I got a great matcha boba tea at a place called Sushi Togo. 636 Rue Saint Jean*

4. Simon Patisserie

Address: 471 Rue Saint Jean

See, now you’re seeing why that VRBO I mentioned in my previous Quebec post is so great! It is on Rue Saint Jean and literally a stone’s throw from most of these excellent restaurants!

This bakery is one that Tim and I would pass literally every day. The sweet little woman who worked there had the prettiest pastries, cupcakes, sugared things galore, displayed in her window. She was always very kind when we would stop in and try some of her desserts.

Pictured here are a few of her top sellers: little dense pastries full of almond paste or raspberry filling. She also sold cookies, croissants, eclairs—pretty much anything you could think of! If you need something sweet, stop here!

5. Cafe La Maison Smith

Address: 1141 Rue Saint Jean

This little coffee shop is a chain around Quebec with many you can find, but not so prevalent as Tim Horton’s, the coffee and doughnut chain that is equivalent to America’s Dunkin Doughnuts.

At this cafe, you will find all your caffeinated needs and macaroons, pies and more. ๐Ÿฅง

I got a chai here, one of my favorite drinks, along with a lemon macaroon. Scrumptious!

6. Luzz

810 Boulevard Honorรฉ-Mercier

This place has an excellent lunch or breakfast! The dining area is in a little greenhouse like space.

Tim got a Monte Cristo and I had just a simple croissant and one of the BEST green tea matcha lattes I’ve had in forever. We’re talking totally perfect, no need to sweeten this, perfectly foam arted latte.๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป

I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy enjoying it, so you’ll have to trust me on this one. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

7. Au Petit Coin Breton

Address: 2600 Boulevard Laurier

If you’re looking for crepes, look no further! This place not only has them, but a very quaint, French tavern sort of atmosphere in which you can enjoy them. I enjoyed the strawberries and custard crepes, which were delicious! My husband opted for a more traditional breakfast which included toast, eggs and fruit.

This is also a place right in the heart of Old Quebec, so you can explore after eating!

Honorable mention goes to Le Bureau de Poste(296 Rue Saint Joseph) in Lower Quebec, the more modern section of the city. It is a restaurant where all meals are only $5.95(talk about cheap eats!) and it is inside an old post office! Really cool.

I hope you all loved this list! What are your favorite things to eat on vacation? And have you been to any of these places in Quebec City?

Top 7 Instagram Spots in Quebec City๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

A List, how to, Travel

Quebec City, Canada.๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

It is such a beautiful place, full of French style architecture, cobblestone streets and gorgeous buildings and views around every corner!

Also, Quebec is where I went on my most recent trip, surprise!

Since I got so many pictures on this trip, I thought I would share, in my opinion, the Top 7 Instagram Spots in Quebec City!

1. Gare du Palais

Address: 450 Rue de la Gare du Palais

This train station is, simply put, beautiful. Whether on the inside, outside or in the garden surrounding it, you are sure to find a photo opportunity worthy of gramming!๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป The lobby is open even to nonticket holders who aren’t taking the train, so explore to your heart’s content! There is even an adorable little cafe you can enjoy. Also, don’t forget to check out the ceilings inside!

2. J.A. Moisan

Address: 699 Rue Saint Jean

When you’re in Quebec and you’re staying in Quebec for an extended period of time, you’re going to need groceries, and what cooler place to get them than at the oldest grocery store in North America?

This old timey store has a general store feel to it with its dark polished woods, nice displays and not to mention, all the delicious jams, cheeses, breads and desserts you could ever want! Stop here not only for your staples, but snap a few pictures as well!

3. Fairmont Chateau Frontenac

Address: 1 Rue des Carrieres

If you walk through the walls that surround Old Quebec, you can’t miss this hotel! It is a 5 star hotel perched up on a hill in the historic section of Quebec and is, coincidentally, the most photographed hotel in the world!

You will see many people snapping pictures with this castle like hotel looming in the background, but I’ll share another location from which you can get the perfect view of it for your pictures!

4. Pierre Dugua De Mons Terrace

Address: Parc de Champs de Bataille Avenue

This is one of the most stunning pictures we got on this trip! This terrace is really part of a park, which has terrific views of Quebec and Chateau Frontenac, without all the tourists and buses crowding into your pictures!

We just managed to catch this before the sunset. A lot of people were taking pictures on the grassy knoll above this, but I thought this bench not only looked like a more natural place to sit, but it just drew me in and looked like a great location for a photo!

5. Rue du Petit Champlain

Address: 61 Rue du Petit Champlain

This is a street that is not short on views! To access it, you actually come through a square where a lot of the cruise ships dock and let off passengers, so depending on when you go, there may be tons of tourists, or none at all. Around a few corners, you will find these stairs, where you can capture many buildings and an atmosphere at once.

You will also see the Furnicular, or small train that goes sideways up the mountain, which is very cool, and several touristy shops and restaurants. When taking pictures at this location though, be courteous. Don’t block the middle of the stairs, step off to the side, like I did in this picture. You still get the view, but don’t cause an obnoxious traffic jam!

6. Montmorency Falls

Address: 5300 Boulevard Saint Anne

Now for this one, you will have to have a car or take the bus, but I can help you out! After a week, we pretty much nailed the Canadian transit system, so here goes! (Honestly, the bus is a better bet, but if you insist on going to the falls by car, there is a $12 parking fee.) I would get a 1 day RTC bus pass, which can be purchased at the pharmacy chain called Brunet for around $17.20.

Directions to the Falls:

1. Get on the 800 green bus going to Beauport.

2. Ride until the very end. Literally, the end. The bus should just stop, but push the button if needed to signal that you want to get off. You will know you are there when you see a gas station called Couche Tard. No, I’m not kidding. ๐Ÿ˜‚ After much curiosity, we looked it up and it means “night owl”, not someone who watches way too much Netflix.

3. You can cut through the woods, or walk until you pass a red schoolhouse on the left, and then you should see the way to the falls.

Montmorency is great because it is FREE!๐ŸŽ‰ It is also 100 feet taller than Niagara. You can get some great pictures from the viewing platforms or the suspension bridge that hangs right over the falls! For the brave souls, you can also stand at the bottom and get sprayed like we did. ๐Ÿ˜‚

7. Rue d’Aigullion OR Rue Richeliu

Now please don’t hate me, but I don’t have the exact address for these colorful houses because they were so close to the VRBO apartment we rented(more on that later!๐Ÿ˜‰), but I believe it was one of the above streets. It runs parallel with Rue Saint Jean, where we were staying, and we just happened to find them!

They were beautiful and pretty much anyone’s dream. At the time I had this picture taken, there was a dumpster, but with some careful body placement and photoshop, I was able to remove it!๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿป

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with taking pictures anywhere in Quebec! It is a beautiful place and these were just a few of my favorites! If you come here, you have to stay in the Old Quebec area or mainly, Upper Quebec.(The town is split into two levels with many stairs you can take to get to either level.) It has such an amazing charm and not to mention, places to eat! Look for that list soon!๐Ÿ‘€

If you are a couple going on a romantic trip, I would highly recommend this loft we stayed in around Old Quebec! It was perfect for just my husband and I and had a bathroom, little kitchen and breakfast nook, and bed! All the essentials in a little studio floor plan and easy walking distance to everything!

Above are a few of my own pictures of the space! It was easily accessed, the host was excellent at communicating and not to mention, it is such a cute little place and honestly very Instagrammable itself!โค๏ธ

We loved exploring Quebec! If you haven’t gone, you should make it your next fall trip destination! If you have been, I want to know, what were some of your favorite sites and things to do around the city?

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 10 Tips: Venice, Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

Travel

Venice is one of the most amazing, unique places on earth. We spent 4 days + 4 nights there and even in that amount of time, we probably barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do there!

But I thought I would pull together 10 tips for when YOU visit Venice! ๐ŸŽ‰ Also, I’ll include our 4 day itinerary at the end of this list! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

Tip #1: Get lost!

When it comes to Venice, there is so much to see! Even with a map, you’re going to get lost. While most of the time, that seems like a bad idea, in Venice, it’s the exact opposite. If you wander through the streets and bridges going over canals, you will find some great things. You can never go wrong with the pastry and coffee places you find, the small hole-in-the-wall churches usually have decadent mosaics and paintings on their ceilings, and you can stumble upon hidden landmarks!

Take for instance, Liberia Acqua Alta. This place is apparently very hard to find, and due to our short time in Venice, we had sort of ruled out seeing it…until we just found it on accident one day! We had set out and decided to tackle a different area of our Venice map we hadn’t seen when we found it! So, get lost. Wander and see what you can find!

Tip #2: Get a Venezia Unica Card.

These are cards that not only provide unlimited use of the city’s vaporetto system, but also have other benefits, like seeing popular tourist destinations AND even free WiFi for a day if you are under 29!

My husband Tim and I got the “Rolling Venice Card” for 72 hours which included as many rides on the vaporetto as we wanted and WiFi for a day! It was well worth it because even though Venice is a very walkable city, you will want to see it from the canals also! This card also covered our water transport to the outerlying islands of Burano and Murano, which are a must see!

The important thing to note here though is this: TheVenezia Unica Card DOES NOT cover transportation from the Marco Polo Airport to Venice.

For that, you will have to book a desperate transfer via an Aliguna Waterbus on the Blue Line, which was right around โ‚ฌ40-54, if I remember correctly.

Tip #3: See Burano and Murano! But if you have to pick one, pick Burano!

Now, this one is subject to opinion, but out of the two islands, I liked Burano the most! It is great for pictures and has the colorful buildings and even a lesser known Leaning Tower that Instagram dreams are made of! ๐Ÿ˜ However, if you are going based purely on seeing the lace making or glass making, go to Murano for the glass making.

It is amazing to see the glass creations there and for some reason, it just seemed more visual and was cooler to see than the lace making on Burano!

The vaporetto ride from Venice to Murano is shorter than the one to Burano. I think our ride to Murano was about 10-15 minutes while the ride to Burano was closer to 30-45 minutes from Cannaregio where we stayed.

Tip #4: Check out a mask store or atelier!

A trip to Venice isn’t complete without seeing a mask maker and exploring one of their stores! Even if you don’t come during Carnivale, Venice’s February celebration where people dress up in costumes and masks, it is one of the biggest trades known strictly to Venice!

We visited a store called Sogno Venezia Atelier and the owner Julia had a wealth of information on the art of mask making and she makes all her own costumes!

Masks are only part of Venice’s allure and mystery, but be sure not to miss out on learning more about them!

Tip #5: Stay in Cannaregio!

This is also just opinion, but I felt like Cannaregio was the best and most central location for us when it came to staying in Venice! We were not far from the airport, we were away from the touristy areas and in more of an actual Venice neighborhood, but still within walking distance of the sights, and we were close to the Ospedale stop, or Hospital! You never want to think you’ll need it, but it was nice to know it was close!

We also were near plenty of markets, which we went to to buy fresh produce and things to make meals at home sometimes!

Tip #6: Go during the shoulder or “off” season.

March is considered a slow time in Venice. It is typically a little chillier and right after Carnivale, so flight prices drop. We scored our tickets for around $700, which was a great deal when compared to anywhere from $1,000-$2,200!

If I can suggest though, go in late March or be prepared for cold temperatures. We layered a lot. March is also the time for “high water”, so you will see higher water and even flooded streets in Venice due to the rain. We had to use catwalks to walk over the water sometimes, but if worse comes to worse, they do have these strange looking rain boots you can purchase everywhere. They look a lot like Saran Wrap that just goes over your feet! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Tip # 7: Ride down The Grand Canal.

This is just a MUST. And kind of a given, but you have to see Rialto Bridge from the canals. It is a beautiful sight, not to mention, a relaxing ride. You will get some of your best pictures riding the vaporetto! They have these awesome little back sections of the vaporetto boats where you can go out a door and literally be in the open air. Just hold onto your phones! You don’t want to drop that into the canal!

Tip # 8: Take a gondola ride…but during the day.

Day fares for gondola are cheaper than at night and you’ll get less grainy, higher quality pictures. Now, while the vaporetto is great, gondolas are amazing because they take you down the tight, little back waterways of Venice that are quiet, secluded and interesting. We saw hidden passageways, passed a private courtyard where a couple was drinking red wine and they toasted us… ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜‚

It was all very Venetian and we wouldn’t have seen any of it if we hadn’t gone for a ride! The fare is generally โ‚ฌ89, but you can ride up to 6 people in a gondola and that total is split amongst riders, it is not per person!

Tip #9: Go to Cemeterio Island.

I did not take many pictures at Cemeterio and some people think cemeteries are morbid, but I thought it was a cool experience! If you like seeing how Venetians live…and how they died, Cemeterio is an interesting place to go. It is a 5 minute ride from Cannaregio across the channel.

There are beautiful monuments there and even windows that just face off into the sea. While wandering around, we came across a landing of black and white tiles that just gently sloped into the canal and we discovered that it is there that boats dock to offload coffins.

It’s impossible to realize all the things that are different about Venice until you really stop and take a look.

Tip #10: Talk to some Venetians.

Whether it was talking to our waiters at the trattoria down our street, Julia at the mask shop, or anyone we encountered, the Venetians are an interesting people. They are very passionate about things and are set in their ways. They certainly won’t go out of their way to help you, but they are nice if you catch them in a good mood.

If I had to rank all the towns on their “friendliness” that we went to, Venice wouldn’t have the top spot, but more on that later! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Bonus Tip #11: Get used to “Italian Time”.

Italians have their own clock that they go by, whether it’s getting somewhere and meeting up with someone or just eating dinner. Dinners are usually 4 hour affairs with multiple courses and you have to ask for your check, which was strange to us Americans.

One reason for this is that Italian waiters are paid a living wage. In America, waiters barely make $3 an hour and live on tips, so it’s all about turning tables. Get used to taking your time in Italy and you will enjoy your trip so much more!

Those are all my tips for Venice! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿท๐Ÿ•

Here is a brief itinerary of our time in Venice! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

March 14th: Landed in Venice

*On this day, we basically ate dinner near Rialto Bridge(very touristy, but the pizza was good) and went to our VRBO home to catch up on the time change! Not much accomplished this day.

March 15th: Murano & St. Mark’s Basillica

*We rode over to Murano to see some glass making and also checked out St. Mark’s Basillica and square! We did a lot of wandering this day and got a lot of ground covered!

March 16th: Burano, Riding a Gondola, and Riding Down Grand Canal

We rode over to Burano early and also had lunch there! Poppy had fish with the heads on. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜‚ We also rode the vaporetto all over, including down The Grand Canal, and got gelato. ๐Ÿง

March 17th: Cemeterio, Libreria Acqua Alta and Sogno Venezia Atelier

We saw a bunch this day! We explored Cemeterio, Libreria Acqua Alta and I bought a Venetian mask!

Stay tuned for my next blog on Florence, Pisa & Lucca!

And there is a quick video I made of Venice, which is on my IGTV, or Instagram tv! I hope you’ll check it out!

How to Get the Best Deals on Flights โœˆ๏ธ

Travel

ย Hey, guys! โค๏ธ

I had several people respond positively when I said I might do a post on this subject, so here it is!

I am super passionate about traveling and seeing the world and itโ€™s probably safe to say that most of you all would jump at the chance to travel some too, right?

But if youโ€™re like most people, me included, money plays a big factor in our traveling plans.ย 

ย I am a bargain hunter. If youโ€™ve read my blog long enough, you know this about me! I wasnโ€™t always this way, but after moving out and getting married, I realized how much things cost…and how I could score amazing deals on things. I usually find my best deals thrifting and clothes shopping, but travel is no exception!

Two weeks ago, I found an amazingย deal on a flight to Italy for not just my husband and I, but my grandfather and parents. Because of this, we are now getting to do something Iโ€™ve always dreamed of!

So, Iโ€™m going to share what worked for me with you guys! I hope these tips will help you to find some great deals on flights! If this post goes over well, I might also post about VRBO or some other ways we have saved booking accommodations and more for this trip in an upcoming post! So, here are my top tips for How To Get the Best Deals on Flights!๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

1. Map It Out.


Sometimes, you have no destination in mind, you just want to get away, I get it, but I suggest picking a place on the map and going from there. I chose Italy because it has so much to offer! Pretty much any country is older and more established than the United States, but when I got to thinking about it, Italy is full of sights and things to do, from Venice and Florence to Rome and the Amalfi Coast and so much more!

By picking the place I wanted to go, it motivated me to learn everything I could about traveling to Italy and finding the best deals.

2. Multi City Flights VS Same City Flights

ย I think a lot of times when we travel, we think inside the box. We fly out of one city and into our destination city, then we fly back out of that exact same city!

What I came to learn is that a lot of times, that is not the best or the cheapest option.

For example, for this 2 week trip I planned, I want to see a lot. Venice, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. In 2 weeks, just a little bit over. Is it crazy? Maybe. Can it be done? Definitely!

I decided early on that it would probably be in our best interest to do a multi city flight, where we would fly into one city and out of a different one. This is a great plan if you have a lot you want to see, plus it saves you time and major cash trying to double back to your starting point. ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Hereโ€™s an actual screenshot of the flight we booked.

We booked a flight going into Venice and coming back from Naples, which was much, much cheaper! $769 per person, ROUNDTRIP.ย 

Thatโ€™s freaking incredible!!! Just for perspective, tickets were anywhere from $1,200-$1,700 a piece, which leads me to my next very important tip!!!

3. Use Skyscanner, Viyama & Kayak.

I had the most luck with Skyscanner. They compare tons of different sites to get you the best deals possible. If you use their app or go on a desktop to their site, they also have a feature that allows you to compare the lowest flight dates for an entire month! Google Flights can also do this.

I just love Skyscanner for itโ€™s easy navigation. Check them out first when looking for flights, international or within your own country!

4. Search In Private Browser.

ย Whatever you do though, always search in private mode on your phone or computer! I tested this out myself and it is crazy! Our devices track cookies on websites and those sneaky airlines jack up the prices when they see that people have interest in specific flights. Not cool. So, keep it under cover. ๐Ÿ˜‰

5. Check Flights on Wednesdays.

ย On Wednesdays, we get the best flight deals. ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿผ

Seriously, though. I tested this trick out too when looking for flights. Wednesdays are when a lot of airlines post sales. The worst dates to look are on Mondays or Fridays.

You have to be consistent too. I checked flights every Wednesday for almost the past year until I got the best deal Iโ€™d ever seen. I can honestly say this is the lowest price Iโ€™d ever seen for Italy.

6. Fly Out In the Middle of the Week

When it comes to the dates you should fly out, always be flexible. Monday and Friday are some of the worst dates to fly out. ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿป

I booked our trip leaving on a Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to be consitantly cheaper than most other days. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

7. Be prepared to BOOK IT.ย 

You should always be looking at flights, even when you donโ€™t have the full amount saved up; it gives you an idea of what good and bad prices are, but in the end, when you have your cash saved up, be ready to book at a momentโ€™s notice! When I saw the deal we got, I called everyone together because I had never seen the prices so good!

After getting my passport, booking those airline tickets was the second most rewarding thing Iโ€™ve done in my life in a looooong time.

So, there you have it! Itโ€™s not rocket science, but thereโ€™s definitely an art to it! The real trick is being consistent.ย โœŒ๐Ÿป

Donโ€™t ever stop dreaming, donโ€™t ever stop searching and keep it up until you can get to where you really want to go!

How We Saved For Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น (And How You Can Too!)

being thrifty, Travel

ย  Hey, guys! I have the most exciting news EVER to share with you all!

I’m. Going. To Italy!!! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น ๐ŸŽ‰

Last night, I found the deal of a lifetime on airline tickets and took the plunge. I literally stopped everything I was doing, ran to my grandparents’ house and called everyone together for a conference because I hadn’t seen prices this low since February. Not only is my grandfather Poppy going to go, but my parents are too! This is amazing and something I’ve only dreamed about for so long. When I woke up this morning, I had to remind myself it was all real! I can’t wait! We’ll be going this next year! โœˆ๏ธ๐ŸŒŽ

*Sidenote: If you want to find great deals on tickets, look today before they go back up. The tickets I found were under $1,000 roundtrip, which is absolutely unheard of. Use Skyscanner also, they are great and cross compare every other site so you know you’re getting the very best deal possible. โœ”๏ธ*

Now, I always strive to be upfront with my readers, so I want to share with you how we saved up for this trip. It sounds like a really hard thing to do, but really it just took some perseverance and delayed gratification. Here are my top tips for how to save up for yourย next trip!

1. Spend less on the things that don’t matter so you can spend more on the things that DO matter.

This sounds like it should be common sense, but it is hard to put into practice, at first. A lot of times, I will find myself wanting to buy new clothes, go to an expensive restaurant or just buy something I really don’t need. A thing I started doing a few years ago was stopping for 5 minutes or so and just thinking about what it was I wanted, really long and hard. If it was clothes, I would carry them around as I shopped and ask myself, Is this something I can really see myself getting a lot of wear out of? What are some outfit combinations I could come up with, using this item? Is it something I can wear during different seasons? Can I wait and find this somewhere cheaper?

Usually, I found that after 5 minutes, the loud voice inside me screaming, “I WANT THIS!” would dull and I would realize that wasn’t really what I wanted most in the world. What I wanted was to travel the world.

So, try this sometimes, when you feel like you really, really want something and you may surprise yourself. If you still want whatever it is, you should get it.

2. Thrift, coupon, do whatever it takes.

I have bought clothes secondhand about 90% of the time over the last few years, or gone to places like Marshall’s, Ross or places that have great deals on clothes. I use coupons when we go out to eat, but only if it’s a good deal and something we would have gotten anyway. (Hint: Those $5 off when you spend $30 coupons are not worth your time. ๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿป๐Ÿ™„) Sometimes, Tim and I have split meals also to cut costs.

I also buy hygiene and toiletry stuff only when we need it, but we never run out. I’m one of those people who has to have a back up in case we run out. ๐Ÿ˜‚

3. Speaking of doing whatever it takes…

I bought toilet paper at an estate sale once, which might sound weird, but I bought it in May and didn’t have to get anymore until this month. ๐Ÿ˜‚ 32 rolls for $3, ya’ll. WORTH IT.

If you want to travel and take this huge trip you’ve got planned, sometimes you have to do things other people might look at and call crazy. I also have scaled back on the makeup I’ve worn this year. Since I petsit, I rarely see people anyway, so I started wearing less makeup, which meant buying less makeup, which also made my skin so much healthier. I saved so much money that way! ๐Ÿ’ฐ

I also just recently finally caved and bought some new tennis shoes. I needed them, so I could justify the purchase, but I went for several months with a hole in the sole of them and a chunk missing from the heel. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

This is what I mean by delayed gratification. In our world now, you’re told that you have to have everything you want, right then and there, which is not true. If you use willpower, and occasionally do some things other people think are funny, you can definitely have what you want, in time!

4. Drop the car payment.ย 

It seems like everyone and their mother has a car payment, but hear me out on this one.

Tim and I bought our cars used. I know some people can’t resist a shiny, new car, but that is usually anywhere from $100-$300 extra dollars a month that you could otherwise be saving. I bought my car 2 years ago, used. I had it paid off in exactly 1 year. So, for the last few years, we’ve just done routine maintenance on them, but have no car payment each month, which has helped TREMENDOUSLY.

But don’t just stop with the car payment! Take that cell phone bill and chop it in half. I was paying $120 at Verizon just for myself, so I switched to Sprint and now pay only $80. The more you do this and re-evaluate what you’re spending, even if it’s only by $20, the savings will add up each month! ๐ŸŽ‰

5. Re-evaluate your job.

ย This one is tricky, but something you should do. Maybe you work from home, so your costs are low, but maybe sometimes, you might have a long commute to a job you hate anyway and gas money eats into your paycheck. Sit back and be objective.

I had to do this almost a year ago and haven’t looked back since! I was working part time at a bakery, maybe 6 hours a day. ๐Ÿฐ I didn’t like it at all, but I noticed that my petsitting business was taking off like crazy. I did some figuring and realized, if I dropped the part time job at the bakery and went to petsitting fulltime, I could double or even triple what I was making for hardly any extra effort at all!

Sit back and think about these things before you jump, but sometimes, the answer that makes the most sense is right in front of you.

6. Resell items on Etsy, EBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

ย This takes a little more discipline, searching and work, but we have made usually on average, an extra $100 a month doing this. You don’t even have to go out and buy things to resell, first look through what you have. What do you not use anymore? Someone out there, most likely, is willing to pay for it and may even need it!

Old clothes, knick knacks, musical instruments, whatever it is, put it out there. We have really enjoyed the Etsyย platform. I go to a lot of estate sales in my free time between petsits, so I find things I think are cool, buy them for cheap, take pictures, and then list them! It’s that easy! Etsy gets your items viewed around the world. We have sent things as far as Norway and France! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ I love thinking about the new homes our things go to!

If online posting isn’t your thing, that’s no excuse—have a yard sale! Do whatever it takes. You also get a nice, clean, more organized house out of it! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

7. Take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace.

ย  This is in no way a plug and I am deadย serious. It will cost you $100 up front, but taking his class helped us SO much. It helps you with budgeting, being accountable and just getting you motivated to get out of debt if you are in it, save money even if you aren’t and just handle your finances better.

We were doing great saving before, but I have to say, after taking his class, it kicked us into high gear.

I hope these tips have helped! ๐Ÿ˜„ I want you to know that this is possible for anyone. It has taken us years to get to this point, but you CAN do it. And I know saving and waiting can suck, but there is nothing like the feeling you have when you realize you’ve done something, with no help, by yourself and for yourself! โค๏ธโœŒ๐Ÿปโœˆ๏ธ

P.S. I might drop another post on tips for finding the best airline ticket prices, since I’ve been doing this kind of research for over a year. ๐Ÿ˜‚ Who would like to see a post on that?

Love you guys!

\ \ H e l e n, G e o r g i a / /

Life, Travel

ย  Seeing is believing. Some places are just so weird and unbelievable that you have to see them in person. Helen, Georgia is one of those places. I decided that it needed an entry all of its own! ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿป๐ŸŒฒ

If you were looking at these pictures and didn’t know any better, you would think you were looking at the perfect, quintessential German town, but this village with Bavarian charm is right in the middle of the mountains in Northern Georgia. I think, personally, it’s a lot like Gatlinburg, a mountain town in Sevierville and in my own backyard, just if it had German influences.

This town is close to a lot of hiking trails, rivers where you can go tubing and plenty of other activities. Downtown itself, a tiny little Main Street, is full of hotels, B&B’s, German restaurants and some tourist trap souvenir shops. There are a few more authentic shops close to the beer garden near the main square, fortunately, that sell some German snacks and little kitschy souvenirs and pottery, which are a little better than your standard airbrushed tees and marijuana bottle openers you find in the usual tourist crap stores. ๐Ÿ™„

You will also be surprised to know that there are quite a few German people who own shops in this town and even live near by. I guess it surprised me because it’s a knock off of Germany and if I had to choose between Real Germany and Fake Germany, Real Germany would win every time. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Seeing little mock European towns like this makes me appreciate the people who loved a place like Germany so much that they brought it to them, and at the same time, it makes me want to visit the real, authentic thing.

So, if you find yourself in Northern Georgia, definitely stop by Helen! It is everything I like in a road trip pit stop: Bizarre, unique and interesting!