Updated European Travel Essentials

 

I wrote a post a while ago (and by a while, I mean October 2016!) all about what I bring with me when exploring new places. I’ve visited a lot more places since then and have learned a few more things that I need to pack since and thought I would share my updated travel essentials.

If you’re traveling to Europe, here are some things you might forget to pack but will be super helpful.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

A Universal Travel Converter is probably the number one thing you should bring with you when traveling to Europe. Obviously, the outlets are different over here and this way you can still use your favorite products from home. I still use my American computer, so my travel converter gets daily use. I have not had one issue with our’s in the last year and a half.

*A note about converters and hair products, do not use a converter for your straightener. It will blow it up! Same goes for hair dryers. Use the hotel hair dryer, bring some product that’s perfect for air drying, or buy a travel straightener. I don’t have one, but this one on Amazon got great reviews.

Scarves are your best friend. I absolutely love scarves and Europeans love them, too. They are not only a great fashion statement, but will come in handy if you’re visiting a church and need to cover your shoulders. I remember when I was studying abroad over a summer in college, I was wearing a tank top into a church in Venice and had to pay to have my shoulders covered. If I’d had a scarf, I could have draped it over myself. I now travel with at least one scarf, just in case. And, they are perfect for keeping you warm on the airplane.

Medicine. This may seem like a strange thing to bring, especially if you don’t normally get sick, but, trust me, you want to have some medicine with you. You never know when something will happen and you don’t want to be wandering the streets of a new city late at night in search of medicine for an upset stomach. A lot of European countries also have lower dosage ibuprofen over the counter, so definitely bring some Advil with you. Some kind of stomach medicine, allergy meds and eye drops make it into my suitcase always.

A portable phone charger is a must. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been snapping pictures or looking up directions on my phone only to realize that I have about 20% battery left and it’s 3 ‘o clock in the afternoon with no plans to stop by the hotel. A power bank keeps your phone charged while you’re on the go and will be a total lifesaver. Gotta get all the photos you can of the Eiffel Tower, right?

Similar to the charger, extra batteries are also things that you will need and when you least expect it. When we went to Munich, I snapped three pictures and then my batteries died in my camera. We had to run to the convenience store to get batteries, which took way longer than it should have to find them and caused quite a bit of stress. Now I always carry extra batteries in my camera case and have seriously used needed them several times.

Comfortable shoes are obvious, but it’s really hard to find cute shoes that you can wear all day. I usually pack some Sperry’s, Nikes and sandals if it’s summer and boots if it’s winter. After too many trips with having sore feet at the end of the day, I have totally switched over to focusing on comfort. I even stopped bringing wedges with me because I never wear them after a long day of walking everywhere.

Cross-body bags are the best purses to bring because they keep your belongings safe and will keep your hands free for taking pictures, eating gelato or shopping. I have several Kate Spade ones and they are big enough to hold my wallet and phone while staying relatively light.

Of course, bringing clothes and toiletries need to make it into your suitcase, but the above things are sometimes an after thought but bringing them will make for a happier vacation.

What do you always pack on vacation?

European Travel Essentials - Things You Might Forget to Pack

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Getting Around Germany with Public Transit

 

A huge positive to life in Germany is that you can get most places thanks to public transportation. We live in a decent size city outside of Stuttgart, Germany and can take a train and be in downtown Stuttgart in 20 minutes. It is fabulous. Plus, you never have to worry about who is going to be the sober driver.

Public transportation is convenient, easy to use and relatively quick. If you’re coming to Germany, knowing what to expect when taking trains or buses will help eliminate stress and allow you to focus on enjoying your vacation!

Download the App 

Taking Public Transit

This app saved me. I use the VVS app, which is for my area, and shows me the best route to take to get where I need to go and even has my credit card information so I can buy a ticket from there.

If you’re going to Berlin, the BVG Fahrinformation is the app to get. For Munich, it’s the MCC app. All work relatively the same. You just enter the departing location and the arrival destination. The app will then give you all the options of travel within the next hour.

A bonus of using the app, you get a small discount on the ticket price.

Utilize Google Maps

If downloading the app isn’t an option because you can only use WiFi, look up your route on Google Maps before you leave. Google Maps will show you the pubic transit option and then you can take a screenshot on your phone and then have it always. Make sure you know your stop closest to where you’re staying so you can easily ask someone if you get lost.

Buying a Ticket at the Train Station

Taking Public Transit in Germany

If technology isn’t your thing, you can buy a ticket at the train station at an automated ticket counter. Many have the option to change the language to English, which is very helpful, as well. You just enter your destination, select the train you want to take, pay and take your ticket.

The biggest thing to keep in mind if you do purchase a physical ticket is that you have to validate it. You put your ticket into the machine and it stamps the date and time onto your ticket. This way it shows when you actually rode the train or bus and then it counts for one ride.

German Train Tickets

Ticket Options

There are several different ticket options that you can purchase for your trip. When we travel to a different city for a long weekend, we usually buy a three-day pass so we don’t have to worry about buying a ticket each time we hop on a bus or train. It usually saves money in the end, too.

You can also buy per ride if you’re just hopping on after a night on the town.

Beware Ticket Patrol

When you take the bus, you need to show your ticket to the driver. When you take the train, there isn’t someone there checking tickets to make sure you have a ticket. Everything is on the honor system. There are, however, train employees who will check your tickets at random times. If you don’t have a ticket, they will charge you on the spot and it will be extremely expensive, like about 30 Euro penalty.

Overall, taking public transit is the easiest way to get around Germany. It is safer than before and there are police and security all around the stations and I’ve never had an issue. I really enjoy taking the public transit in Germany and spend time reading, listening to podcasts or studying German.

Do you take public transit where you live? 

TAKING PUBLIC TRANSIT IN GERMANY

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My New Weekly Routine

 

Hi There. Happy Friday. I just love Fridays, don’t you? This Friday is extra special because I am coming off a new weekly schedule/routine. I am happy to say that I was able to increase the hours I am working at my marketing job from 12 hours per week to 20 hours per week. This past week was the first week of working more, and, I must say, I am exhausted!

I haven’t worked a full day for a year and a half. Whoa. That is insane, especially because I used to work 50+ hours per week! I am out of working shape, that’s for sure. I do like having a more consistent schedule, making more money (more travel!!), and still having days where I can focus on writing. My routine and Copley’s was totally different this week and thought it would be fun to share. I love reading about other people’s routines because it gives me so much motivation and makes me want to be more productive when I see how productive other people are.

Like most people, trying to find the time to work, exercise, hang out with friends and family, cook, travel and work is difficult. Each day is just a little bit different and if I stay organized, I’m more likely to get everything done that I want. And that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon certainly helps.

Every day I want to accomplish these things: some kind of exercise, hanging out with Vinn, taking Copley on walks, cooking a good dinner, cleaning something and studying German. I do my best to get most of these done and consider it a huge win if I do. Extra bonus points for reading before bed instead of watching TV.

 

New routine with Google Calendar

 

I have found through trial and error that having specific things to do on specific days helps me reach my goals and makes me feel productive on the days when I am not “working.” I put working in quotes because even though I don’t go into the office on Mondays and Fridays, I am working on blog stuff, which is more fun, more satisfying and, honestly, much harder. Here are the major things I accomplish on each day:

Monday: Blogging, cleaning the bathroom, laundry, possible lunch with a friend, gym/weights day.

Tuesday: Work 8-3, German lesson, cardio day.

Wednesday: Work 8 – 5, German homework, gym/weights day.

Thursday: Work 8 – 3, German lesson, cardio day.

Friday: Blogging, travel planning, more cleaning, possible lunch with a friend, gym/weights day.

Saturday: If we aren’t traveling, I use Saturdays to go to the grocery store, have another cardio day, perhaps some cleaning and then do something fun with Vinn and Copley.

Sunday: Rest day all around. We’ll do something around our city or take a day trip somewhere. Or we spend the entire day on the couch watching Netflix. No shame.

I put my routine in my Google Calendar still and I love it. Everything is color coordinated, I can see all my appointments, blog post ideas and to-dos in one place. My new schedule is definitely still taking some getting used to, but I am excited to have a more definite schedule. Would you be interested in seeing a “day in the life” type post on a working day vs. a non-working day? I want to write posts that you’re interested in reading. I’d love to hear how you schedule your lives, too.

What days are the busiest for you? Do you use an online calendar or a paper planner?

 

Getting It All Done, One Expat's Work & Blog Routine

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5 Favorite Organization Products

 

There’s something about August that makes me want a fresh start, probably because it used to be the start of a new school year. And a new school year means new pens, a planner, new notebooks, new clothes, and new goals for the future. In the spirit of a fresh start, I am using this month to get better organized and create a space with less clutter.

I absolutely love having a clean, organized home and believe these 5 products really help me stay on top of it. Now, I just need to find some way to organize all the beer Vinn buys.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Glass Jars

Nespresso Pods Organization

I am obsessed with glass jars. I have four in the kitchen. They are great for storing baking ingredients and Nespresso pods. I love that they are nice to display but also great for storage. I also love that these are relatively inexpensive, come in a variety of different sizes and can be used in many areas of the house. I even have a pretty large one to hold wine corks. These jars on Amazon are absolutely perfect.

Acrylic Mail Sorter

The amount of mail we receive has drastically increased now that we live in Germany. Most of it is junk mail but we do receive several bills on paper. I have a system on my desk as a way to organize all the paper thanks to an acrylic mail organizer (similar here). The first slot is for things that need to be dealt with (like bills), the second for cards or gift cards and the back two are for small papers that don’t really have any other place.

Pineapple Key Holder 

Keys Organization

Having a designated area for our keys makes it extra quick to leave the house because we aren’t searching for our keys in pockets or purses. I love pineapples because Vinn proposed at the pineapple fountain in Charleston and love having different pineapples around the house. I think the one I have is supposed to be nailed to the wall, but I love it as a key holder.

Wine Rack 

Organizing Wine at Home

This is a super small thing, but I love having a wine rack. It’s great for knowing what and how much wine we have on hand, as well as for a cute display. We have one from Crate & Barrel that can hold up to 8 bottles of wine. We usually have 6 bottles of wine at home at a time and this works perfectly.

Baskets 

Like glass jars, baskets are great for storing Copley’s toys, my hair products and makeup. I know this isn’t groundbreaking, but I used to use those big see through containers to store everything. While these worked well, they didn’t look pretty. Now with baskets, I have everything contained in a nice way, while still looking great.

These are my five favorite organization products that help keep my home neat and tidy. I would have all of my kitchen countertops covered in jars if I could. I would love to know your favorite ways to stay organized at home, at work or even on your phone!

 

Keeping Your Home Organized

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Living Without AC, Surviving German Summers

 

Summer is one of my favorite seasons. I love going to the beach and the pool, going on a boat and drinking rosé. What I don’t love is being hot and sweaty and feeling like there’s no relief.

I’m used to air conditioning and that air conditioning is always set to 68 degrees, especially at night. Walking into an air conditioned apartment after a hot day simply can’t be beat. And I miss it.

Many German homes do not have air conditioning. At all. Our apartment included. We have had some really hot days recently with temperatures topping 90 degrees! It’s been pretty terrible if I’m being honest. Somewhat thankfully, Vinn grew up without air conditioning, so he knows what to do to get the house as cool as possible. And thank goodness for that. I thought it’d be fun to share how we are surviving German summers without air conditioning because it is not the most pleasant thing in the world and I dream of air conditioning when we move back to America. If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Windows open at night and closed during the day. 

This is fairly obvious, but it’s two-fold. Thankfully, we have black out, electronic blinds that keep the sun out of our apartment. We open many of them at night and open the windows to let the cool air in and then close the blinds and windows during the day to keep the cold air in from the night before and the heat out. Sometimes I open the windows in the early afternoon depending on how hot it is and if I want to sit outside on the balcony and enjoy a good book and a cocktail.

Fans, fans, fans. 

I used to hate fans. I hated that they made noise and that they pretty much just spread dust all over the apartment. I am a vacuuming freak, not as bad as my friend, Kim, but still bad. (Hi, Kim!) Now, I love fans. We have one in our living room that we run all day to make sure Copley stays cool (similar here), one in our bedroom for sleeping and one in our dining room that we use only on super hot days because that one is a floor kind and intense (similar here).

Finding air conditioned spots. 

Many of the malls have air conditioning, which is sometimes dangerous. I can go shopping, bring Copley and enjoy some cool air. The car is also a good place to hang out. As silly as that sounds, getting in the car and having that cold air flowing directly on my face is a God send at the end of a long, hot day.

Drinking lots of water. 

Obviously, this is very important all the time, but it is especially important when it is so darn stifling. I keep a water bottle with me at all times and down probably 16 ounces of water before 9 AM. Staying hydrated helps me feel cooler and not like I’m on the verge of passing out, which has happened several times in my life because I was overheated. Water is so good for everything, isn’t it?

By doing these things, summer is bearable. Of course, air conditioning would make sleep better, but we do the best we can. The portable air conditioning units are super expensive and just not worth the cost for the few weeks out of the year that are in the super hot range. It certainly took some getting used to to live sans A/C but at least there are some things I can do to survive.

Have you ever lived with A/C? How did you deal with it?

 

Surviving Summer Without Air Conditioning in Germany

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