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For the Love of Travel Series- Christy from Living in the Promise (Guest Post)

*This week, we are going to try things a little differently, mainly because Loek takes issue with my use of orange font! So, the questions will be in bold. Let me know which one you like better. 

Today's post comes to you from someone who is more like a sister to me than a friend. Christy and I grew up across the street and one house down from each other. Along with our friend Hayley, who was four houses down from me, we were inseparable from the time we were eleven until eighteen. Then we grew up and moved away, went to college, started families, etc. But, whenever we get together it is like no time has passed at all. 

Christy just recently got her Master's in Counseling in Student Services in Higher Ed, she lives in Statesboro, Ga with her husband Scott. You can follow her at Living in the Promise. Let's start this shall we?

Where are you at this moment?

My husband and I live in Statesboro, Georgia, which is about 45 minutes West of Savannah. If you aren’t familiar with the state, we’re in the SE of the United States, and my city is in the SE of Georgia. We are very close to South Carolina and just a few short hours away from Florida. We recently bought a house, so I’ll probably be here for the next 5 years at least!
 
Where did you grow up?
 
Snellville, GA, which is close to Atlanta, that state’s capitol.
 
Do you have to travel for your job?
 
Very little. Sometimes I have to travel to other cities for conferences or other events, but it’s usually just to Savannah or occasionally Jacksonville, Florida.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
My favorite place I’ve ever visited would probably have to be London. I studied abroad and spent 6 weeks there in the Summer of 2007. It’s definitely the farthest I’ve ever traveled and for the longest amount of time. Part of what I loved about it was simply the independence of doing something so outside of my normal routine and having the guts to do it without any family or close friends by my side. Fortunately, I made close friends while I was there (one of them is actually my sister-in-law now because after coming back to the States, I met her brother and we fell in love.) But what I loved about London itself was the way that everyone walked around and used public transportation to get places, the history, the beautiful landmarks, the pubs, the plays, and the accents!!
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I guess my least favorite place that I’ve visited would have to be Nassau in the Bahamas. I’ve been twice. The first time I just visited the city itself. I’m not a big market shopper, so I wasn’t impressed with the straw market that everyone raves about, and I felt very uncomfortable with all the people trying to talk me into buying things. We went to Senor Frogs for lunch and it felt like a Spring Break party which is not really my scene. And I didn’t feel particularly safe walking around the city. The second time I visited, I went to Atlantis which was BEAUTIFUL! But I realize that’s just for tourists and isn’t a good depiction of what the city is really like.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
This is a hard one!! It would probably have to be during my honeymoon in Aruba. Everything was beautiful and fun and exciting, but I think my favorite thing was planning all the activities with my husband and realizing that I would be spending the rest of my life making plans with him and I couldn’t be happier about it!
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
It depends on the length of the trip. If it’s a week or less, I usually try to pack at least one outfit per day, and maybe a couple extra ones for just lounging around or fancy ones for going out. I hardly ever go through all of them, but I’m terrible about packing things “just in case!” If it’s a longer trip, like my trip to London, I try to pack enough basic pieces like jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, etc…things that can be mixed and matched, and just plan to do laundry. I always pack way more underwear than I’ll ever need! For other, non-clothing items, I always make a list just to make sure I don’t forget anything. I always pack a camera, sunscreen, aloe (I burn easily!), and at least one book.
 
 
 
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
My husband and I are thinking about our anniversary trip (May 30th is the big day…it’ll be 4 years!). We may go on another cruise (it’ll be our third one) or we may just do something low-key like getting a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia or Tennessee. We’ve also talked about doing a long weekend in Charleston or something. Honestly it’s going to depend on our tax refund and how much vacation time I can get at work!
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
We usually do one big vacation a year for our anniversary, and then maybe a couple weekend trips throughout the year. And we usually do a week at a beach house with my hubby’s family during the summer. When it comes to our anniversary, we first consider money. We usually spend most or all of our tax refund on that trip. So, we wait until we file taxes to see what we’re working with. Then we try to plan accordingly. After we have a destination in mind, we research all the attractions and make lists of things we want to do. We are definitely planners! When we took a trip to Disney World for our 2-year anniversary we had custom maps ordered from Disney that were specially marked with all the attractions we wanted to visit while we were there.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
I’m happy with trips small or big. I just love getting away for a while and spending quality time with my hubby. I think my dream right now would be to go back to London and take him with me. It was such a special time in my life and I have such wonderful memories from there. I just want to share those with him in some way. There are SO many places I’ve never been and would love to visit, but I don’t have one particular place I want to see more than others. I’m open to almost anything as long as the company is good! (Or to visit one of your besties who lives across the Atlantic?)
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I like city trips, like London. But I often feel like beach vacations can be the most relaxing and affordable. Sometimes we are working with a small budget and we just want something where we can be together and relax and forget about work or school or whatever else life has been throwing at us lately. Beaches often fit the bill better than anything else. And it’s much easier to control how much you spend at the beach. I don’t mind flying, but we don’t often go on vacations that require it. Plus I find that car trips can be a fun way to kick off a vacation. I love singing in the car or just having time to talk.
 
 
Thanks so much Christy! If you have any questions or comments leave them below! We love comments! Let me know how you feel about the new layout! Don't forget if you want to participate in this series, send an email to gapeachabroad.com
 
England
 
London Eye
 
London Big Ben
 
Stonehenge
 
Savannah
 
Savannah Forsyth Park
 
Savannah
 
 
Aruba
 
Aruba
 
Aruba
 
Aruba Sunset
 
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For the Love of Travel Series- Megan from Megan O Travels (Guest Post)

Welcome to this week's edition of For the Love of Travel, a series of guest posts where people share their travel experiences. I hope you are enjoying reading the stories as much as I am. This week's post is from Megan of Megan O Travels. She is actually going to be heading to Amsterdam later this week. 

Here is Megan's story.

Tell the readers a bit about you. 

For as long as I can remember, travel is the one thing that’s always made me happy. When I was a little girl, I looked forward to our family trips to the beach and the mountains, and made my dad tell me bedtime stories about how much fun Disney World was going to be. As I got older, I started dreaming about new places to visit and began venturing out on my own. Now, it’s blossomed into a full-on addiction, in which I can’t escape thoughts of travel. I seem to live my
life planning and preparing for or being on a trip, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
 
First things first, where are you at this moment?
 
I currently live in Austin, Texas.
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I was born in Austin, but raised in a small town in south-central Pennsylvania.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
I always have a hard time answering this question because I love so many places for so many different reasons. But I think the one place that absolutely takes the cake for me is Iceland. Iceland is just magical—the landscapes are absolutely breathtaking, the people are beyond friendly, the horses and puffins are adorable, and Icelanders believe in elves and trolls!
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I don’t really have one. I try to find something positive about every place I visit—even if it’s just one small thing.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
It’s a big memory—but the entire summer I spent in Rome in 2006. It was my first time traveling abroad, my first solo trip, and a trip that really forced me to break out of my shell and learn to be myself. I also met some of the most amazing people ever on that trip, most of whom I still maintain contact with. And lastly, that was the summer that Italy won the World Cup and the country just exploded in celebration.
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I’m the lead technical writer and web administrator for a government agency. Unfortunately, since it’s state government, I don’t get to go anywhere. Not even to other parts of Texas.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
I’m kind of neurotic about packing. I created a packing checklist and I always use that. I also sort of build every outfit before I go to ensure I’m taking the least amount possible. I always take my Kindle and iPhone. Beyond that, I always pack at least one nice outfit in case I decide to have a nice dinner or go out somewhere fancier.
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
I do! I’m headed to the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic at the end of this week. I couldn’t be more excited.
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
Typically I pick a destination (or several) that interests me and start looking into things to see and do. From there, I narrow it down, decide how long I need to go, and start planning the logistics: where to stay, do I need a car, how much will it cost, etc.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
This answer changes every few days. Right now, I’d love to get an over-water bungalow in Bora Bora and spend my days soaking up the sun, swimming, and reading.
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
I’m a pretty easy-going traveler. I prefer city and nature vacations. I’m not much of a beach person (which is probably strange given I just said I want to go to Bora Bora). I love to fly, take the train, and drive. I abhor buses (I had a really terrible experience taking a bus from London to Amsterdam a few years ago).
 
I’ve joined a few tour trips—mostly as day excursions from a particular destination. Otherwise, I prefer to travel with friends or family.
 
Check out these photos!
 
Iceland
 
 
 
Italy
 
 
Philiadelphia
 
 
 
London
 
 
 
Thanks so much Megan! If you have any questions or comments for Megan, leave them below. Want to be featured in the For Love of Travel Series? Just shoot an email to Gapeachabroad@gmail.com
 
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For the Love of Travel Series- Tania (Guest Post)

Palau

You guys, I am so excited to already be able to put up my first guest post. This one comes from one of my readers Tania. As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking to learn more about your travel experiences, so if you are willing to help just drop a comment or email to gapeachabroad@gmail.com

Without further ado here is Tania's story:

Tell the readers a little bit about you. 
 
Well, let’s see. I’m 28, love sea turtles and the color purple. I have lived in four different
countries and in several cities/states within those countries. I’m fluent in Spanish and English,
and currently learning Dutch. I’m happiest near the water.
 
First things first, where are you at this moment?
 
I’m living in NYC
 
Where did you grow up?
 
Between Honduras, Costa Rica and NYC.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
Palau, by far! It is an island in the Pacific near the Philippines and Australia. I lived there for
a year teaching 4th grade at a private school. It is pretty much paradise and the people are
amazing.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
During the year I spent in Palau I was able to swim with jellyfish without getting stung,
sharks, wild dolphins, and sea turtles. (This would be my nightmare!)
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I’m a school counselor. I haven’t traveled for business yet, but since I do a lot of career/
college counseling I’m hoping sometime in the future I can travel with my students to
visit colleges abroad.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
I’m really bad when it comes to packing, I usually leave it to the last minute. Fortunately
I have yet to forget to take anything! I try not to stress about packing because once I get
to my destination I can always just buy whatever I forgot. I hate chapped lips though so
several lip balms are a must. My camera is another item I would die if I forget.
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
I’m hoping to go back to Palau for a visit in May this year, and in the summer of 2014 I’m
planning on going to Amsterdam for my 30th birthday. (Yay! Amsterdam)
 
What kind of traveler are you? 
 
Beach/resort vacations are more my style to be honest. I like the idea of going
somewhere and falling asleep with the sound of the ocean and smelling the combination
of salt and tropical flowers in the air. However, I don’t rule out cities. In that case I rather
experience them from a local’s point of view rather than a tourist so tour groups are not
my thing. Fortunately, I joined Interpals.net and follow different blogs so I have local
contacts in different countries.
 
So far I’ve traveled with family and friends, but I’m planning a solo vacation for some
time in the future.
 
Wow, I don't think I could pick out Palau on a map! But after looking at Tania's photos, I might just have to add it to my list of places to go! Thanks so much Tania! If you have any questions for Tania about Palau or any of the other places she has visited leave some comments for her here. Seriously, how gorg are these photos?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Photo Dinsdag: Knit-bombed Leiden

Leiden is one of my favorite cities here in The Netherlands. It is full of history, and I will feature it in a City Guide soon. Since today is my first Photo Dinsdag, I decided that my first entry should be the lovely knit bombed Leiden. Knit bombing has been popping up in cities around the globe for a few years now, and this is how it is done, Dutch Style!

 

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New Year's in the Netherlands!

Fireworks!

Last night, I was lucky enough to spend my first New Year in the same country as my love, and I got to spend it in my new country! I can honestly say, it was the best New Year's ever. The Dutch really know how to have fun on Old Year's Eve!

Back home in Georgia, folks eat black eyed peas and collard greens for luck. Here in the Netherlands, the New Year's food of choice is Oliebollen. Think funnel cake batter but rolled into a ball, complete with powdered sugar. Unfortunately, when Loek went to the store yesterday, they were out. But I can say from previous experience this month that Oliebollen are awesome. You can get them with or without raisons. I get mine without. 

While it is popular to go out on New Year's, Loek and I decided to stay in. We are still on a single income and have some very important guests coming in later this month. So, we drank some beer and watched movies waiting for the magic hour. Our movie watching was disrupted by the occasional firework, but more on that later. Finally, it was Midnight so we kissed and headed up to the roof. *and now for a little background info* on New Year's eve the people of the Netherlands spend 50,000,000 Euros on fireworks, and not the puny one's the big ones! 

Because Holland is so flat, being at a higher elevation you can see for miles around. Which means that you can see fireworks from all the surrounding towns. All at once, in every direction you want to look in. Imagine it like if you were in Downtown Atlanta and could see all the fireworks there on the 4th, with Lawrenceville's, Stone Mountain's, Decatur's, Alpharetta's and every other small town in the surrounding area going off all at once. And instead of lasting half an hour, it lasts for at least 2. It was amazing! I never want to spend New Year's anywhere else! Check out Loek's video below. Happy New Year Lovelies! 

 

 

Where to Begin?

 

Hello Lovelies,

It has been awhile. You will have to forgive me, I did after all move to a whole new country! So many new and interesting things have happened in just a few short days. I guess though, I should start with the flight. I left Atlanta at 10:40pm on Tuesday. My bags were at 49 and 50lbs respectfully. Which means, I only had to pay for an extra checked bag! Atti's US papers were briefly looked over, and after $200.00. We were free to go on our way. Saying goodbye to my parents was really hard, but honestly I was really excited so I did not get as emotional as I probably should have. But, I miss them already!

Going through security was interesting, Atti had to come out of his carrier and I had to carry him through security. He was on a leash but honestly, he was such a good boy he didn't need it. Even the TSA agent said, "what an experienced little traveler, and I said, "no ma'am, his first time. He is just the best boy ever." The man behind me was nice enough to help hold the carrier open, so I could get him back in. Without me even asking, oh the kindness of strangers. I got to my gate, but sat at another, so no one could see Atti. People tend to freak if they see an animal. I gave him a sedative and we got on the plane. He barely fit under the seat! I gave him some water and checked on him to make sure he was okay. He didn't make a peep the entire time. He also didn't drink anything.or use the bathroom. My flight landed at noon, a full hour early, which was great but Loek wasn't supposed to meet me until 1:45pm. There was no line at security, it was a breeze. I tried to call Loek, but my phone wouldn't work inside the airport. For those of you who have never been to Schiphol, there are several places for arrivals to come out. You look on a board by time to see which one the arrivals are coming out of.

By 1:20pm, my flight was no longer listed. I found a pay phone and tried to dial Loek. Every combination I tried, didn't work. I went to the help desk and asked how to make a call. They looked at me like I was dumb then told me to dial 0 not the country code.  Alright, I know silly. I got his voicemail. Finally I found him! After wondering around with all my luggage in a car and Atti on my shoulder. I was so relieved, For a second, I thought maybe he forgot about me! But, he didn't and it was fantastic seeing my guy standing there.

Well, that's how I got here, I'll update you on the rest a little later!

Flickr image by: antwerpenR

 

 

I Am Most Worried About Not Being Able to Learn Dutch!

Few people know this, but when I was little I had a serious speech impediment. I had to go to speech therapy all though elementary school, every year in the middle of math. (which explains a lot). They could never discover the source of why I didn't say things correctly and finally I was able to convince my mom that I shouldn't go anymore. I think the reason I couldn't talk properly is that I don't hear sounds properly. I then try to mimic what I think I heard, causing mispronunciations. As I have gotten older, I have been able to fake my way through and disguise my problem, but with a new language comes new sounds and that makes learning a new language 10x, harder than it already would be.

I also have no phoentical skills, I have never been able to look at a word and automatically pronounce it correctly if I have never seen it before. ( I can normally say it somewhat right in my head, but when someone says something has a long a, I have no clue what that means) I couldn't say Hermione right until after the first movie came out. Which meant that in school reading out loud was my worst nightmare. After years of practice, I again can fool people in English, but probably not in Dutch or Nederlands as they call it. I am confessing my deep dark secret so that you, my readers, can understand. My biggest fear about moving all the way to The Netherlands is that, I will not be able to integrate into society because I won't be able to learn Dutch.

I have not been actively pursuing trying to learn Dutch in the States because, I am convinced that I will learn it wrong! I need someone to tell me over and over how something is pronounced.  If anyone out there has some foreign language learning tips out there, or recommendations for Nederlands classes near Utrecht that are good, I would love to hear them. I am just thankful that I am still able to telecommute for a bit to my current job, so I dont have to feel even more pressure than I already do. But rest assured, The Verlo will make sure I practice everyday until I speak Nederlands as well as he speaks English.

 

Kindle, An Expat's Best Friend?

I really love to read, and I really love to own books. I think they are great conversations starters and I like for people to automatically know I am smarter and more obscure in my references that they are.( Please read sarcasm in that last statement) Which is why it surprised people when this bibliophile purchased an Amazon Kindle. I am in love with it now and I think they are great for expats to have. I chose the Kindle specifically for a few reasons. 

So, why did I buy an ereader? Well, I am moving to a foreign country where English is not the most widely spoke language, and I don't read in Dutch. Most books in English are imports so they are uber expensive. My Kindle with 3G allows me to download books globally. So, I could spend on average around 10.00 for a kindle book or a lot more for an import. Kindle also have a ton of free books, including 15,000 titles copy written before 1923. That means, I can read all those great Russian Novels, that I never got around to, for Free! They also have a ton of free new eBooks and other specials.

I bought the Kindle instead of another ereader for a variety of reasons. I have always been an Amazon person, so I went with what I knew. They are easy to use around the world, and I like that you can use it outside, with limited glare. Not too big of a deal in The Netherlands, but nice none the less. I really hate reading on the computer, but for some reason I have no problem with the Kindle. You can adjust the size and spacing of your text, and look up words if you are unsure. Plus, I found the accessories to be the best. I bought a euro plug so I am good to go.

There are of course, a few things I would change; instead of a list of the books you purchased, I wish you could see the image. And, I just really think  that organizing your titles could be a little better. You also have to get a special case with a light to be able to read at night. Which is fine, my light is powered by my Kindle.

All and all, I am extremely happy with my Kindle purchase and know that it will allow me to read more and cheaper than if I had to buy English books in The Netherlands. 

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An Atticus Update: A Practical Guide for Moving Your Pet Abroad

A few weeks ago, I posted about how I was planning on taking my sweet cat Atticus with me to Holland. I wrote about how I was planning on being courteous to the other passengers by storing my baby below. After some intense research and reading countless horror stories, I have decided to hell with the people on the plane I will only see for 9 hours of my life, my baby is coming with me.

I started the process by first calling the airline to book Atti's space. You need to do this as soon as possible, as only a certain number of animals are allowed in the cabin. Of course, they couldn't find my reservation! But I got it taken care of. I had to specific if Atti would be traveling in a hard or soft carrier. I hadn't even bought one yet so I said soft. I wanted to make sure he could fit in the seat in front of me. For Atticus, I have purchased the small Sherpa bag from Amazon. It had favorable reviews and co-workers of mine will find humor in the name. The bag is incredibly small, but so is Atti and, he seems to enjoy it. 

When you are traveling with a pet, it is important to look up information on the country you are traveling to specific qualifications. For The Netherlands, Atti needs to be microchiped with an ISO Chip. You can not get these from your normal vet and the literature on the net really sucks in helping you. Here is the easiest way to make sure your pet is covered if you are moving to, not just visiting Europe- A special shout out to the staff of HomeAgain for helping me figure this out.

  1. Go to microchipidsystems.com, click on products. Click on  The TRAVELchip™ then select the World Chip. Place your order. 
  2. Check with your local USDA approved vet and make sure that they have a HomeAgain scanner with the yellow sticker. This will read ISO 134 kHz, which is required for Europe.
  3. Make an appointment and bring in your Euro 998 form to your vet. You can get this from the Dutch Embassy or any number of Pet-Relocation sites.Make sure the vet uses a blue pin.
  4. Mail the form to your State's USDA Vet Office, so that they can sign off on it. 

As of right now, I am waiting for the microchip to come in. I will keep you updated as the steps unfold. 

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My Gift to Myself on This My 25th Birthday!

Birthday's tend to make people reflect on their lives thus far. I have been very fortunate in my quarter of a century on this planet. I have learned a lot about myself and I continue to do so on almost a daily basis.  While it is true, given that I am moving to a country where I don't speak the language in order to be happy and spend everyday with the person I love, it might appear that I don't give a fuck what people think about what I do with my life. I still do a little bit. Slightly, alright really not all that much.

My birthday gift to myself, besides a kindle, yay kindle with Euro adapter. Is, I am going to listen to myself more. When I was younger, before high school took its toll, as it does to most of us, I was fearless. I would wear whatever made me happy, gold lame pants, hot pink sparkles- I know fashion victim, but I had no fear. It would surprise most of my friends now especially co-workers, that I am actually quite the fashion lover and I believe that what you wear has a direct influence on how you feel. So yes, I dress dumpy and dingy to my current job because being there makes me feel dumpy and dingy. After my few short workdays left, all those clothes are going to a new home. I will never again wear something I don't like because I am too lazy to get done up in the morning, and feel sad about going to work. 

I love how carefree I am in these. I also love my hair that color red. 

With life kind of up in the air career wise when I move to Holland, I vow to trust my instincts and to never again take a job that gives me nightmares in the middle of the night. I am going to work on listening to how I am and making myself happy. Which will in turn strengthen my relationships. I am also not going to buy clothes unless I love how they make me feel just because I am convinced that I am going to freeze in The Netherlands. Which let's face it, this girl from Georgia who is used to at least 97 degrees in the summer, probably will.

What gift will you give yourself this year? Also, just 50 days until I leave the Country! 

Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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