Eating Abroad, Eating in New Countries, Eating in New Country, Eating New Cuisines, Food, International Cuisines, International Foods, Love of Teaching, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel NYC, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

Eating Abroad

Eating abroad sounds fun and exotic…except when you have the palate of a 5 year old.  I live off of coffee, donuts, and Mac & Cheese.  My tastes have not changed much since childhood.  Vegetables? Bleck.  Fruit? Eh. Candy? Now you’re talking.

Sure, I’ve had great food.  Other times I questioned why the “pea soup” was red instead of green.  I asked my traveling partners what meat we were consuming and they simply shrugged because they couldn’t identify it either.  On the other hand, I’ve had fresh fruit off the trees that made my mouth water and crepes on the streets of Paris that made me promise to return one day.

However, as a traveler, it’s very difficult to not offend the culture but also eat something you’re not familiar with or even like.  So what should I do?

  1. Know what You’re Ordering.  Ah, the days of Google Translate are here folks and with a touch of a button.  Although Google has been ridiculed at times for it’s accuracy, it is now better and smarter at converting what is needed.  Luckily, there is even an app for that. Download the Google Translate app.  Word of advice: Once you pick the language you will need on your journey, download it so you can use it offline as well.  When I was in Mexico with my husband, we were lucky enough for most menus to be translated into English as well. Not the case when I was in Europe.  Although we used a translation tool, it wasn’t much help.  With the Google translate app not only can you type in your phrases or words, but you can also take a picture as well! If you’re unsure or have dietary restrictions, use a tool to help you figure out what you may need or want.  If you’re feeling adventurous, go for it. Yet for my Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free, etc. amigos, look up what you’re ordering first to make sure it’s what you need and avoid the added stress.  8890946c-af6e-4a80-9489-c40f6e9b53cf
  2. Grow a Pair and Try New Foods.  “Just try it!” my mother used to say to me over and over again.  Although I hate to admit it, some of my favorite foods are due to simply tasting the food. Pesto sauce–it’s green why would I like it? Tried it. Loved it.  Calamari–that sounds weird no thank you.  Tried it. Delicious.  There are so many foods that I fell in love with because I simply tried the food.  In new countries, it’s always a bit nerve wracking when trying and tasting new foods.  However, I gave myself a strict rule–eat what the locals eat.  If that means eating tacos that may in fact have burned my mouth and I began sweating in my seat and drinking a pitcher of water…hey, I tried it.  Eating locally can also mean getting to know the locals.  Through food I was able to learn more about English customs and what they ate on a daily basis.  So what were some things I tried? France–Escargot.  Germany–Wienerschnitzel and mashed potatoes (oh Mylanta, yum).  England–Chicken Tikka Masala.  Dominican Republic–Goat meat.  I found that items I hated at home were scrumptious abroad.  Sure, I found things I disliked, but I found I had a culturally sound experience through the food.  145a175f-af60-4b14-a57d-e8a7d542da4a
  3. Learn about the Eating Customs.  Sure, we like to think that our proper ways of eating are applicable to all countries.  Nope.  Sure, slurping your food here is not acceptable, but in Japan it is encouraged!  Find what your country customs include so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb. As I was researching for my own trip to Rome, I found that drinking cappuccino (or any form of milky coffee) after 10 AM was pretty much a big no-no.  Good to know since I’m in a constant state of drinking coffee!  However, the more you stick out, the more people will know you’re a tourist.  Learning about the eating customs may help save you some embarrassment.  Burping in China? Shows your appreciation of the food.  Thailand–don’t even think about putting your fork in your mouth. Don’t pass food between chopsticks in Japan. South Korea only wants you to eat when the oldest member has begun.  This list continues for various countries.  Even if you were in French club in high school…learn the customs.  3d819b79-b3b5-4b34-9b66-68e579551608
  4. Research Beforehand.  If you are traveling to a country and unsure of the foods do some research ahead of time.  For instance, my husband and I are going to Italy in the summer.  Although I am an avid fan of Italian dishes, I began looking up what items I may like or things that will be new to my palate. With the ease of modern technology, we can easily find simple food items that we like, want to try, or meet our dietary needs/restrictions.  Not sure about a restaurant? TripAdvisor will give you tons of information about what is available, pricing, and reviews.  Sure, we like to think that we can find something the same, but in reality, we are out of our comfort zone.  Do a little research before your trip to find what you want, restaurants to try, and cuisines to blend in with the locals.

    img_2612
    Bakery in London
  5. K.I.S.S.  When in doubt, keep your ordering to something simple.  Do not be “that person” who orders tons on the menu to only find you hate it and waste platefuls of food.  You like chicken–look for a plate that offers chicken.  You like sweets, check out a local bakery.  Tea time in London? Try a cup–trust me, it’s way better in England.  No wonder they have a specific time of the day designated for it.  Try new things, but keep it simple and your expectations realistic.  If you have a sensitive palate (or an immature one like me), keep your eating simple and you can gradually work your way up. img_2615

 

You may not like the food.  You may love it.  You won’t know until you try.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” ~Clifton Fadiman

Talk soon folks!

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Day in New York City, Love of Teaching, New York City, NYC in 24 hours, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel NYC, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

NYC in 24 hours

Have a day in NYC but not sure how to spend your time wisely? It’s true that the city that never sleeps is full of activity, people, and places to see. It’s hard to visit every aspect of NYC, especially in an area full of traffic and humans.

So what should I cover in a 24 hour time frame?

Here are 5 tips to make sure you get the most out of your NYC experience.

  1. Invest in Big Bus Tours (https://www.bigbustours.com).  Get to your main destinations by hopping on and off at their designated bus stops.  Yes, you’ll look like a tourist, but you need to get to your destinations easily and quickly.   I’ll be completely honest–this was a fabulous investment.  One I will use in future cities as well (the company extends to Europe, Middle East, and Asia-Pacific).  Although when I used this pass it was a snow storm and freezing, I loved that the company offered a map of the city and free headphones to listen to a guide explain each landmark and famous area.  Big Bus Tours gets you all over the city at a fraction of the cost of a taxi cab.  Tickets also offer options to Liberty Island and/or Empire State Building. Big Bus Tours
  2. See a Show.  If time permits, see a show on Broadway.  There is nothing like it in the rest of the world.  I have seen multiple shows on Broadway over various visits to the town.  Picking a matinee show allows you time to see a play and then follow it up with dinner and more sightseeing.  However, a later show allows you to do all of your sightseeing first and gives you some rest off your feet.  Tickets may be costly depending on your Broadway taste, but it is worth every penny.  212f1ebc-f6ce-4a3e-b878-def435d5da65
  3. China Town and Little Italy.  If you have never experienced this world in NYC, it is an absolute must.  You can find purses, clothing, and knick knacks for a small price, and bartering with the locals is always a fun experience.  If you are offered a price always offer something lower.  If an individual refuses, simply walk away.  99% of the time, the person will follow you out the store (and sometimes down the street) to make the sale with you.  Additionally, Little Italy has some fun restaurants with tasty food to give you some energy during your time.  In fact, it has the BEST cappuccino I have ever tasted in the Western Hemisphere.
  4. Times Square.  Talk about the hustle and bustle.  This is the area with the brightly lit signs.  You see individuals from all over the world trying to get a sneak peak of something new or a celebrity spotting.  In this area, you can visit M&M’s World, a giant Toys R Us, a two story Disney Store, and every other shopping place imaginable.  Yes, it’s crowded.  For some, overwhelming.  Yet, this is a well worth area to visit, find a place to eat, and get some great people watching time. 025e2fad-9fc4-429f-a460-1cfaa091abec
  5. Pick One Must See Destination.  Is it the statue of Liberty? Central Park? 911 Memorial Museum? Empire State Building?  Pick the one thing you absolutely want to see.  Those other areas are fun to see and easy to get to using Big Bus Tours.  Even with hopping on and off a bus, I walked close to 10 miles in my 24 hour period (Hint: use a good pair of walking shoes).  However, my must see recommendation is the 911 Memorial Museum.  I would absolutely suggest this for anyone who remembers the event and holds that time close to their hearts.  This museum is not particularly geared for kids, and the museum is generally somber and filled with silent sobs in specific areas.  It allows you to listen to telephone calls from those on the airplanes, see remnants from the crash and buildings, and view the history of the 911 plan.  If visiting, go straight in the morning when the memorial opens.  This avoids long lines and crowds of people. Whatever you pick, make sure you set time to see your destination.  Traffic is terrible and takes time to get anywhere.  With the right amount of planning and using specific routes, one can see multiple things in a short period of time! e29d6256-2915-4764-a811-0d6ca75ea71a

 

“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”
Tom Wolfe

Follow on Instagram @TeachingTraveling

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Career, Love of Teaching, Teach, Teaching, Teaching and Traveling, Travel, Travel Europe, Travel on a Budget, Travel the U.S., Traveling

Travel on a Teacher’s Salary

I have traveled since I was young.  Traveling is in my blood.  Loving it is an understatement.

Do I love airplanes?  Not particularly.  How about long road trips? Eh, not really.

Yet once I’m there, I am in love.  I have been to every state on the east coast, covered most of the midwest, and multiple states on the west coast.  I was lucky enough to have a parent that encouraged traveling, immersing in culture, and trying new foods, places, and customs.  I have had the travel bug for as long as I can remember.

Yet, here I am.  Teaching.  Adulting.  How can I afford to visit different places around the world on my little teacher salary?  Sure, when I was living with my folks I had the chance to go to Germany, France, Canada, England, and over half of the U.S.  But now?  How can I do it now?

It’s not easy.  Plain and simple.

It takes planning, budgeting, and LOTS of research.  So where have I been since I left the nest and entered the working world?  Over the past few years I have visited:

  • New York City, NY
  • North Carolina (multiple times and locations)
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Ocean City, NJ
  • Mexico
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Las Vegas, NV (almost every year at this rate)

What’s next you may ask?  Italy.  Booked and Paid.

So, let’s get a few things straight–I am not making millions at teaching.  Sure, I sell things on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I’m not making a salary off of it.  During my first year of teaching, I made a whopping $23K.  Yup.  After moving districts I was able to increase that salary, but it’s not raining money in my household.

So how do I do it?

  1. Set a certain amount/percentage to be taken out of your paycheck per pay to put towards travel.  This may be $20; it may be $100, but it’s training your mind and willpower to save the money.  For me, I had to transfer this money to an entirely separate bank account that I could not easily access.  Over the course of a year, you will have enough money saved to take you somewhere awesome.
  2. Look at companies like Groupon, Funjet, Kayak, and even Orbitz.  These places allow for vacation packages–flight and hotel.  Conveniently, these places also give you the option to look at reviews, proximity to local food joints, and even distance to the nearest airport/train station.  Websites like Groupon allow you to get great deals on awesome vacation packages; just make sure you read the fine print.  If you’re not around a major city, you can have your flight altered for a fee.  Talk to a representative for more information. Mexico Beach
  3. Research. Research. Research.  When my husband and I planned our Italian Getaway, we were immediately taken aback by the outrageous prices per person.  I put my head in my hands and wondered if I was ever going to return to Europe.  We spent days researching, browsing websites, and looking at prices.  My husband soon realized that a very expensive week was followed by an insanely cheap week through Orbitz.  After searching week by week from May to August, we found the perfect week that allowed us 5 days and nights in Italy in a 4.2 star hotel with flight for $700 per person.  Woah!  It was insane.  We booked it immediately.  Look for trends in prices, seasons, and even flash deals on the websites listed above.
  4. Sign up for offers through hotels.  Sounds crazy and will fill your email box with junk mail?  I’ll be honest–yes.  Yet there always seems to be a gold nugget hiding in the list of unopened emails.  During my first visit to Las Vegas, I went through an offer to stay at the Wynn Hotel for free!  Once I went to Vegas and signed up at multiple hotels, those rewards and offers continued.  Through this, I was able to see Fabulous Las Vegas multiple times in the course of a few short years, because I only had to pay for airfare and food.  img_2572
  5. Network.  Staying in contact with friends and traveling with a buddy has allowed me to visit new places for a fraction of the cost.  I visited NJ, NC, CA, NYC, and PA because of friends chipping in together.  We slept in the same small bed, but we didn’t care.  We were able to see a new city for $50-$100.  On the other hand, having friends and family in different parts of the country also allowed for new traveling experiences.
  6. Air BnB.  When I was in San Francisco, I had my first experience with Air BnB.  Although it was different from staying in a nice hotel, it was well worth the money for a few nights of sleep.  The host was kind and provided a clean place to sleep with a private bathroom.  Quite honestly, my husband and I never saw our host, and we were in and out so often that the room was a quick place for us to catch up on sleep and off we went again.  It was half the price of a hotel in the city, and we were able to walk to various restaurants and shopping.  To get into the city, we needed an Uber but it was close enough that it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
  7. Exercise and Plan to Walk!  As a traveler, I have found that taxis and transportation are easily where the money goes down the tubes.  Vegas–walked everywhere.  I was averaging 15 miles of walking per day and only took a cab at the very end of the night when my feet could no longer handle it.  London–walked.  Paris–oh good lord, I walked everywhere.  If you’re in a city that you can easily walk around and get to point B from point A, get on a good pair of shoes and walk.  Burn off those wine and chocolate calories through the city if you can.
  8. Transportation Options.  So what if I can’t physically walk for huge amounts of time or my hotel/room is too far away?  How do I find a cheap flight? Here are some options:
    • Bus--How did I get to NYC? Bus.  I took a bus overnight there and back.  Sure I didn’t get the most restful sleep of my life, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than a hotel.  Just invest in some coffee when you arrive in your desired city.  Bus transportation also is a great option in bigger cities to avoid outrageous cab costs.
    • Train–Although trains are available in the U.S., it is generally as long as driving and not always as cheap as one dreams.  However, in Europe, not only was this an affordable option, but it allowed me time to relax and take in the scenery that I otherwise would have never seen.
    • Airline Promos--Look at flights on Wow Air or Skiplagged.  These places offer affordable flights in specific time windows or find loopholes in the airfare pricing to give you the best deals.
    • Flight and Hotel Packages–Want to have your flight paired with your housing for the week?  Check out vacation packages on a multitude of websites.  Personally, I have found amazing packages through Groupon, Funjet, and Orbitz.  Not only does it help eliminate costs, but it also helps eliminate the headache of planning every detail.
    • Uber/Lyft–In a big city and the distance is too far to walk?  I have been in this situation before.  Uber and Lyft offer options much cheaper than a taxi or renting a car and generally give you the cost up front.  The drivers are usually friendly, and when splitting the cost with friends, it is the way to go with transportation. Germany train station**Train station from France to Germany**
  9. Make side Money.  As teachers specifically, we have options to do tutoring on the side, sell items on Teachers Pay Teachers, or even begin tutoring kids from other countries via Skype.  I do not make tons of money off of Teachers Pay Teachers, but a few bucks here and there do add up.  Additionally, I tutor two nights a week which equals roughly $60/week.  Even a small amount like that can easily be added to your travel fund over the course of 9 months.  Lastly, I have seen many positive reviews about VPKID–flexible tutoring schedule all from the comfort of your home. We don’t see the $20 here or the $40 here as a big deal, but when we don’t touch that money and save it, we end up with a vacation during the summer.
  10. Little bit of Luck.  It’s true.  Part of traveling is luck.  You find a great deal on a hotel or flight.  You find a friend that lives in the area and crash with them for a few days.  You travel with friends who also have that travel bug to split the costs and see the same attractions for a fraction of the cost.  Part of traveling is planning and budgeting, but another part will always be luck.

Traveling is one of the best adventures and memories one can make.  There is a wide world out there.  Get out there and see it.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Augustine of Hippo

Make sure to also visit me on Instagram @TeachingTraveling.

Talk Soon Folks!

xoxo

Your Wanderer