Traveling in Europe-Tips and Tricks to Surviving your first time Over-Seas

Okay, lets face it. Traveling can be scary, nerve-wracking, or just down right stressful. The first time I went to Europe I was so worried I would lose my passport and be stuck in a foreign country. This was especially worrisome for me because… 1. I was traveling alone and 2. I tend to lose everything. And I seriously mean everything. But after a lot of trial and error ( and lot of stress chocolate) I have learned how to successfully travel to Europe without all the stress and worry.  Hopefully reading this article will help equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate a trip to Europe.  So lets get started!

Before Traveling

  1. Get some Cash Out! Before traveling I recommend going to your local bank at home to obtain the currency of the country you are going to. Make sure you plan ahead when doing this because sometimes the bank with need a couple of days to mail in your needed amount of currency. It is important to have some cash on hand when you arrive. You can use this to pay for a taxi or whatever transportation service you are using to get to your accommodation. There are usually ATM’s or Cash Exchange Services at the airport but they often times charge huge amounts to exchange your currency. Avoid the huge fees by coming prepared with cash already in hand. Also, make sure to hide some cash is a secret place. Pick-pockets are very bad in Europe and you will need to have some cash handy if your wallet is stolen.
  2. Buy credit card and Passport sleeve protectors! Credit Card CoversAs mentioned before pick-pockets are bad in Europe. However with advances in technology comes advances in preventing pick-pocketers. To prevent people from scanning your credit card or passport information as they walk by you can purchase sleeve covers. I have one for all of my credit cards and one for my passport. I bought mine on amazon:)
  3. Outlet Converters– Make sure you have a power outlet converter that meets the standards of the country you are traveling to. This is extremely important because without it you will not be able to charge your phones, laptops, ipads (you get the picture). It is also super important for other electronic products such as hair curlers or straighteners. There are several different options and you can usually find these a stores such as Walmart or Target.

Flying in Europe

  1. Liquid containers for carry-on Bags. Quart sized BaggieThere are many important things to know when flying in Europe. First, they have a very strict liquids allotment for carry on bags! You are only allowed to have a quart-sized bag of liquids in your carry on. They will throw away anything that doesn’t fit in the quart sized bag (I have seen this happen and they do not care if it is expensive products). Another thing I was surprised about is what they consider a liquid. Lip gloss, foundation and even chap stick are all considered a liquid. I had my bag pulled aside and checked because I didn’t have my chap stick and lip stick with my liquids. Luckily I had enough room in my bag to fit these products but I have seen other fliers who had to throw away some of their belongings. This is very sad and don’t let it happen to you!

Arriving in Europe

  1. You have to pay for most public restrooms. This was a very foreign concept for me being from the United states where public restrooms are free. This is not the case in Europe. Most bathrooms, including those in train stations and bus stations require money to enter. Also, many of these money machines only except exact change. I always try to keep  2 -3 Euros in coin change when traveling.

2. Pick Pockets! Pick pockets are prevalent in most major cities in Europe. Some tips to avoid getting your belongings stolen are as follows: If wearing a backpack in heavily congested tourist areas switch it around so that it is facing forward. This might look funny but it helps you keep an eye on your things and helps prevent pickpockets from slashing the bag open with a knife. This has happened to several of my friends, don’t let it happen to you! You can purchase clothing with hidden pockets. I have a scarf that has a hidden zipper pocket. Another tactic is to wear purses across you body instead of just hanging on your shoulder. The best thing is to always be aware of your surroundings!

I hope these tips will help you be prepared to travel overseas. I will have more articles coming with more tips and tricks. Stay safe and happy travels!

 

 

Joshua Tree National Park

 

What do you get when you mix deserts, giant boulders, and thunderstorms? An unexpectedly adventurous trip to Joshua Tree National Park! Needless to say there were some exciting events on my trip to the park that made it a weekend I will never forget.

First, finding an open campsite was very difficult. If you want to camp at Joshua Tree during the Fall, Winter, or Spring on the weekend you need to reserve a campsite, often weeks, if not months in advanced. I was lucky to get a canceled reservation at the Cottonwood Campgrounds at the south end of the Park. I was only able to get a one-night reservation. Getting a two-night reservation at the park on the weekend is extremely difficult to do last minute so if you are planning a spontaneous trip to Joshua Tree then try to go during the week when the park is less crowded.

Okay to give you the lay of the land so to speak…most of the main campsites are at the north end of the park where the Joshua Tree Forest is. The south end of the park does not have Joshua Trees. So, plan ahead on which attractions you want to see before going to the park. I highly recommend checking out the Joshua Tree National Park website to view a list of campsites and sites to see before heading to the park: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm.

Cottonwood Campground

The Cotton Wood Campground was very nicely set up with fire pits and picnic tables at every campsite. There were also flush toilets and well water available. Overall, I was impressed by how clean and organized everything was. Also, at our campsite there was a little Kangaroo Rat I named Fluffy. If you have never seen a Kangaroo Rat, they are the cutest things ever! Google it! The campground was also conveniently placed next to the Cottonwood Visitor Center for the park. Here there is a gift shop. Park rangers are also available to talk to about hiking and nature viewing options. This is also the place you can get the cancellations for your national park passports…if you have not started doing this I highly recommend it!

The passport books allow you to get a cancellation (or stamp as I like to call them). Every park has a cancellation and sticker that you can collect. The parks sell small and large collectible passports that you can put the cancellations and stamps in. It is so much fun, and admittedly I am addicted to trying to get as many cancellations as I can😊.

Mastodon Peak Hike

The Mastodon Peak Hike leaves out of Cottonwood Campground A. This hike was a 2.4 mile loop that took roughly an hour and a half. The trail was nicely maintained and had lots of signs to keep you going in the right direction (this is especially important to me because I tend to get very lost very easily). The trail is mostly through a dry riverbed and consists of very deep sand footing. You will get a great leg work out! The rock formations were spectacular and there were several signs to designate the different plants and flora on the trail.

The trail takes you to the Mastodon abandoned mine that is located beneath Mastodon Peak. The 0.1 mile detour hike to the top of Mastodon Peak is an unmaintained trail and included climbing over large boulders to reach the top. Use caution if climbing to the peak. The view from the top was spectacular and you could even see the Salton Sea in the distance (the title photo was taken from the lookout point).

On the way back you pass the Cottonwood Spring. You cant see the water directly but there are several large palm trees in the area that were very impressive. There is a trail head directly from the springs to the campground. You can use this to walk to the springs from the campground if don’t want to walk the whole trail. The Mastodon Peak trail itself is a full loop.

The Storm

Our one and only night at the park was very eventful. The night started out clear and by 9pm you could see the whole milky way. One of the reasons I came to the park was to see the stars and I was not disappointed. However, at roughly 12am a huge thunderstorm hit. Within an hour a flash flood roared through our campsite and washed away most of our stuff. Luckily, we were staying in a converted camper in the back of my boyfriend’s truck but other campers in our campground were not as lucky. Some people were washed away in their tents! No one was harmed and the people who were washed out of there tents were able to take shelter in the bathrooms of the campground. Firetrucks came to check on us at roughly 2am.  By morning the whole campground and park had been destroyed. We had planned to drive up to the northern end of the park to see the Joshua Trees but all the roads in the park had been washed out and the park was closed. Luckily we had a truck and were able to make it out but we had to avoid giant boulders that had been washed into the roads. It was definitely a trip to remember!

Overall the trip to Joshua Tree National Park was so much fun. The storm was unexpected and very scary but luckily no one was hurt. I would love to go back to the northern end of the park so I could actually see a Joshua Tree. But, I got the next best thing. At the visitor center they were selling Joshua Tree seeds. So of course I bought a pack so I can have my very own Joshua tree! Follow me on Instagram @adventuresinlife.blog to see updates on the tree’s growth!

I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any questions about the trip feel free to comment below. Also, I know your all wondering, Fluffy the Kangeroo Rat survived the storm. We saw Fluffy the next morning:) Check out my instagram for a video of Fluffy. Happy Travels!

***disclaimer: I am not responsible for content on external sites.

Julian, Ca

 

Hello everyone!

In celebration of being back in California, today I will be writing about Julian, California. Julian is a cozy little town located about an hour and fifteen minutes from San Diego. Julian started as a mining town after gold was first discovered in 1869.  Today the town is famous for its pies…and they are amazing! So,  in honor of the upcoming fall season a trip to Julian to get some pies seemed like the perfect thing to do.

MOM’s Pies

Depending on which direction you are coming from, Mom’s Pies is located before/after the main historic district of Julian. If you are coming from San Diego, Mom’s Pies is located after the historic district. If you are coming from Temecula, Murrieta, or Los Angeles it is located before the historic district area. This cute little bakery in my opinion is the best place to get pie! You can buy a whole pie or by the slice. If you buy a single slice of pie you can add a scoop of ice cream to go with it. And my favorite part… they have cinnamon ice cream! It is delicious, creamy and a perfect match for the variety of apple pies available at MOMs.

Historic District of Julian

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This cute little one street strip hosts a diner, several pie shops and bakeries, a book store, and a variety of shops. The diner is cute and has a toy train that runs around a track that covers the ceiling of the restaurant. There are several historic buildings in the area and many of the shops have a guide to Julian pamphlet that has in it a free self walking tour guide.

Julian Bookhouse

The Julian Bookhouse was one of my favorite buildings mostly because I love reading. The bookhouse is a bookstore that was created inside one of the historic houses located on the main street. Each room is labeled by topic. Hardcover verse paperbacks are also separated into different rooms. If you are a book enthusiast I recommend taking some time to explore this cute store.

Julian Pie Company

The Julian Pie company is famous for their excellent pies. Unfortunately, we did not get to go to the store in the historic district due to construction. There is however a larger Julian Pie Company store located down the mountain. If you are coming from Los Angeles area this is the first pie shop you see and is located roughly 7 miles from Julian historic district.

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There are many more shops to see and if you are interested in visiting Julian, please visit: https://visitjulian.com/. Additional activities available in Julian include gold panning, antique shopping, and historical walking tours. Outside of Julian there is also the CA Wolf Center, and Lake Cuyamaca. Overall Julian is a fun place to go to for an afternoon of fun. The small town atmosphere is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of major tourist cities such as San Diego and Los Angles.

I hope this post was helpful and if you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section below.

 

***disclaimer: I am not responsible for any content on external links.