image via oficinadeestilo.tumblr.com

I’m leaving today for lovely Costa Rica. See you Monday!

What Credit Cards Do You Travel With?

Since I’m leaving for Costa Rica in less than a week, how I’m going to pay for everything is obviously on my mind. I was planning to only take only Discover card as my credit card, plus my debit card, but my mom convinced me that I really should take something other than Discover… just in case.

Which two cards and I taking and why?

image via Mint.com

Discover Open Road

Obviously. I’ve already mentioned it three times. Why? It has ZERO foreign transaction fees and they have made an effort recently to expand their international presence. Currently accepted in 50 countries worldwide, Discover’s largely in China and Central America/Caribbean right now… which is perfect since I’ll be in Costa Rica. It also has no annual fee, which I love.

image via USAA

USAA Platinum Mastercard

I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, I l.o.v.e USAA. I’m not even military and I think their products are the best around. Somehow, I never realized that non-military members could get credit cards. Even though the interest rate is a little on the high side, they gave me a substantial line of credit and it only has 1% foreign transaction fees–far better than the 3% my other Mastercards give me. Additionally, the line of credit will serve me well in case some disaster does strike. Theoretically.

So there you have it, the two credit cards that will be making the trip with me. What credit cards do you travel with?


Packing List: 5 Days in Costa Rica

I leave in ONE WEEK for Costa Rica!  Needless to say, I am very excited. I’ve even packed already. And I took pictures! I’ll only be gone for 5 days so I probably could have done with even less, but between the city, the beach and the rainforest, we are hitting a variety of weathers and places.

My two bags


  1. Light jacket
  2. Black long pants
  3. Grey shorts
  4. Black skirt
  5. Blue shirt
  6. Black tank top
  7. Swimsuit
  8. Underwear
  9. Bra
  10. Hiking boots
  11. Flip flops


  1. Shampoo
  2. Toothpaste
  3. Toothbrush
  4. Hair comb
  5. Razor
  6. Glasses
  7. Contact case
  8. Contact solution
  9. Sunscreen
  10. Small tube mascara
  11. Small powder set
  12. Chapstick
  13. Advil
  14. Inhaler
  15. Kleenex

 Everything else:

  1. Day bag
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Passport
  4. Notebook
  5. Pen/pencil
  6. Travel documents
  7. DSLR camera
  8. Camera charger
  9. Cell phone
  10. Phone charger
  11. Credit card
  12. Cash
  13. Paperback book
  14. Bandana

Most of the bags’ contents

What does your packing list usually look like? Are you more minimalistic when packing or do you always pack more than enough?


Adventures in Discount Airfare

(via Gadling)

Ugh.  I always knew that sooner or later purchasing a discount airfare through a site like Orbitz, Cheaptickets or Priceline would end up poorly. I’m lucky in that I realized it four months before the flight rather than immediately before.

Basically, I got a great deal on a flight from San Antonio to Portland for the World Domination Summit about a month ago on Orbitz. As always, I checked my itinerary after purchase with the airline I’d be flying (Frontier) and all was well.

Today my mom asks me a question about Orbitz, I login to check the answer from my account and suddenly realize my flight is from Denver to Portland.  I panicked, thinking I’d done something stupid (seriously, like I’d somehow bought a ticket from Denver instead of San Antonio?). But nope, my original email definitely had the correct itinerary.

After close to half an hour on hold with the Orbitz customer service line, I finally get a live person on the phone. Another half hour later I have the promise of a refund from Frontier. Note: Orbitz’s Twitter customer service team was exceedingly responsive and helpful when I complained about being on hold so long.

The experience left me feeling a little frustrated and annoyed with Orbitz, whom I’ve loved and preached to all my friends and family about. Yes, I should be getting a refund for the ticket price, but I’m most frustrated with the fact that NO ONE TOLD ME THE FLIGHT WAS CANCELLED. Then, when I discovered it myself, I had to sit on the phone for an hour total, with a customer service rep I could barely understand and I’m ONLY getting a refund. Still, it’s better than the other option of waiting till June and see if maybe the airline could find a partner to take over the flight. Um, no thanks.

But I’m getting a free refund, so why am I complaining? Well flights have raised over $100 for the dates I need (for the crappiest flight times) since I’ve lost nearly a month. Oh right, and it’s the weekend after 4th of July.

After getting my rant on, I regrouped, asked my parents for their extra airlines miles and am hoping I’ll be able to snag a decent rewards flight.

Have you had any seriously frustrating discount airfare or airline experience?


ABCs of Travel

I saw this by Suki over at [Super Duper Fantastic] and thought it was an awesome idea and follow up to the Costa Rica post!

A – Age you went on your first international trip:

When I was 11, I was in Michigan visiting my aunts and we hopped across the border to Windsor, ON! I was 14 going on 15 or had just turned 15.  My middle school science teacher organized a trip to Italy (Florence, Rome and Assisi) that my parents let me go on.  That followed up with a trip to Paris the following year with my mom.

B – Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

XXXX in Queensland, Australia. I think.

C – Cuisine (favorite):

I love Thai food, although I have yet to eat it IN Thailand.

D – Destinations – favorite, least favorite, and why:

I’ve loved almost everywhere I’ve ever been… Florence and Verona were totally overrated to me (aside from the amazing art in Florence) and I prefer to go somewhere a little less overrun with English speaking college students.

E – Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Flying over Greenland and seeing the ice caps breaking up into the Atlantic Ocean.

I wouldn’t have even seen it but the woman in the row in front of us woke us up to point it out, saying that it was super rare since Greenland was usually covered by clouds.

Another one would have to be the Aurora Borealis when I visited Churchill.  Talk about awe inspiring!

F – Favorite mode of transportation:

Around a city – on foot.  Around a country – regional train.  They’re incredibly slow but it’s fun to actually see all the small towns rather than fly through them.

G – Greatest feeling while traveling:

I love the feeling of freedom and adventure.

H – Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

That’s a good question… I live in Texas, so it’s all relative.  It was pretty toasty in Rome in the summer without air conditioner.

I – Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

I would definitely have to say the residents of Churchill, Manitoba.  Every single person we met in the small town of 100 people was so open and inviting.  My friend and I went dog sledding, then spent the rest of the evening with the owners.  They showed us the northern lights and then gave us a ride to the train station.

J – Journey that took the longest:

Probably driving to Vancouver from Texas, since it took about 24 hours of drive time or 2.5 days of travel.

K – Keepsakes from your travels:

Probably photographs.  It’s just so easy to transport me back when I look at them all.

L – Let-down sight, why and where:

I didn’t really fall in love with Verona when I visited, but I don’t know that I was expecting too much while I was there.

M – Moment where you fell in love with travel:

My mom raised me with a love of travel, so I’m not 100% sure of the exact moment.  I think it may have been on one of our trips to Washington DC.

N – Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Adara Hotel in Whistler, BC.  I got a great last minute deal for the weekend and took off.  I had an entire room with a loft to myself, it was so fun!

O – Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling and why:

Architecture?  I like playing with the composition of buildings, statutes and other inanimate objects in my photographs.

P – Passport stamps – how many and where from:

I think I have four five stamps and one visa.  Visa from studying abroad in Italy plus stamps from the following year, stamps from Mexico, Australia and Canada. This will be changing soon!

Q – Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

I really have no idea on this one… maybe the Jackalope statue or Cadillac farm in the Texas panhandle region?  I thought about this for awhile and really couldn’t think of anything else!

photo courtesy Sydney Bridge Climb

R – Recommended sight, event, or experience:

Climbing Sydney Bridge was seriously cool.  It was super safe but the view was amazing.

S – Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

I will always splurge for museums.  I love seeing the wealth of art, history and knowledge they house and don’t have any issues paying the fees to get in!

T – Touristy thing you’ve done:

I do touristy stuff all the time.  Take a boat to the Statue of Liberty, stand on a ledge at the Grand Canyon, go on a Quicksilver tour to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkle, and even going all inclusive at Cabo.  I do touristy stuff.

U – Unforgettable travel memory:

Seeing the sunrise at the Grand Canyon.  We took a bus out to one of the outer viewpoints on the South Rim, it was February and very cold, but we saw the sun rise!  It was amazing.

V – Visas – how many and for where:

One – from studying abroad in Italy during school.  And a Canadian work permit once.

W – Wine – best glass of wine while traveling and where:

I won’t even pretend I can decide on this one.

X – eXcellent view and from where:

Standing on top of anything.  Sydney Bridge, St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, the Duomo in Florence, Grand Canyon.

Y – Years spent traveling:

I think I went on my first plane ride at 18 months… so roughly 24.

World Cup game broadcast in Florence

Z – Zealous sports fans and where:

Italy during the 2006 World Cup.  I was studying there the entire duration and Italy beat out France in the championship game.  From 300,000 people gathered at the Circo Massimo to thousands cheering in the streets in Naples, it was far more powerful than anything I’ve ever experienced at home.