48 Hours in Santorini

Hi all,

Long time no speak! I’ve been adjusting to life back at school, as well as a new job but I’d like to think that the blog posts will be back to a more regular schedule! I’m starting back with a super fun post: what to do in Santorini for 48 hours.

When we were planning and researching our Greece trip, I spent so much time trying to find things to do in Santorini because we were going to be there for less than 48 hours. I thought I’d share what we did, as I feel pretty content with our somewhat unplanned itinerary.

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Day 1:

  1. Arrive to Santorini either by air or ferry. We arrived from Crete (via ferry) and had pre-arranged the pick up from the port with a shuttle company our hotel works with. I highly recommend this because you won’t need to worry about getting a taxi when you’re all frazzled and tired from your travels.
  2. Lunch: When we got there, our room wasn’t ready so we decided to walk around and grab a bite at Pitogyros.
  3. After checking into our room, we went to the Black Rock Beach (Katharos Beach), down the road from our hotel which was in Oia. **BRING WATER SHOES!!!** We had actually brought water shoes with us on the trip but didn’t think to take them when we went to the beach, which was a huge mistake! There’s no sand; it’s all pebbles and larger rocks so it really hurts! We only went out to the water once because the walking was too painful. The water is very cold, but it’s a really interesting place, different than anything we had ever visited. We stayed there until it was time to get ready to watch the sunset.
  4. Sunset: we had a room with a balcony, so we opted to grab a couple of beers and watch the sunset from there. If you don’t have one, I recommend finding a good spot about an hour or two before (the streets get very crowded and very quickly!)
  5. Dinner at Skala.

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    The moussaka- delicious!

Day 2:

  1. Breakfast at Vitrin Cafe Creperie. The sweet waffles are super delicious! (see below)
  2. Boat tour/excursion. We booked with Spiridakos Sailing Tours and we highly recommend them! We were a small group, the boat was luxurious, and the crew was so nice. We sailed around the island, stopping in a few different places to swim and snorkel.
  3. Once you’re back from your excursion, take a couple of hours to relax and watch the sunset before dinner.
  4. Dinner at Skala.

Day 3:

  1. Breakfast at Vitrin Cafe Creperie.
  2. Head to your next island.

Thoughts on Santorini

Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with this island, or at least with the area we stayed in: Oia. I don’t think it lives up to the hype. I do think that everyone should visit it once in their life to see what it is, but I don’t know that I would ever go back. Although, I do realize my perception of the entire island might be skewed by the fact that we only stayed in one town. During the day, it is SO crowded; it’s nearly impossible to get around without bumping into someone. I will say though, that being out of the busy streets and watching the sunset from our balcony was a real treat.

Also, you’ll notice that it’s pretty deserted at night (an hour or so after the sunset) since all the cruiseships have departed. There was such a difference between walking the streets at night and walking them during the day, I guess you could say it was like night & day πŸ˜‰. This was probably our favourite time to roam around. Note: it gets cold when the sun isn’t out. I was wearing jeans and a sweater both nights!

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Quick note: We stayed at VIP Suites in Oia and I don’t know if I would recommend it. It was the least expensive room with a balcony we could find, which is why we opted for it. On our second day, after placing our towels on the ground, they were picked up but not replaced. We were glad that we had brought our beach towels because if not, we wouldn’t of had anything to dry off with. There was also a strong rotten egg smell when we came back from our excursion. Luckily, it had dissipated when we returned from dinner. We didn’t bring these issues to management because the “front desk” was quite a ways away and we didn’t feel like hiking/walking for 10 minutes for towels. I don’t want this “rant” to be taken the wrong way. I’m extemely grateful to have been able to stay in that type of accomodation, and I know that these issues aren’t real issues. But for $250 a night, we expected a little bit more than what we received. And for the sake of this “review”, I want to be as honest as possible.

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The front of our room.
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Our room.

That’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed this little itinerary recap + mini review.

Have you been to Santorini? What did you think about it?

Marilyn

 

 

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East Asia Bucket List: My Top 5

Hi all,

It’s time for another bucket list post (it’s so fun to dream, isn’t it?)! This time I’m focusing only on East Asia, since Asia is such a big continent and there’s so much I’d like to see. Β We’ve pretty much decided that we will definitely be going here in the next few years, which makes me so excited to dream about this!

  1. Shanghai, China

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    Image from Pixabay.
  2. Tokyo, Japan

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    Image from Geography.name
  3. Beijing, China

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    Image from Pixabay.
  4. Kyoto, Japan

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    Image from Pixabay.
  5. Osaka, Japan

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    Image from Pixabay.

I hope you enjoyed reading this! Have you been to any of these cities? If so, I’d love to know what you thought of them! Should I add more cities to this bucket list? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Marilyn

Las Vegas: August 8th-11th 2017

Hi all,

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I was in Las Vegas last week with my mom and brother for a quick trip. That was my 6th time there (my first one being legal, though!) and I never get sick of the atmosphere.

I just thought I’d quickly share where we stayed & ate, along with some pictures.

Our Stay: We stayed at the Bally’s and although it’s not the nicest hotel on the strip, it’s in a prime location. It’s smack in the middle of “all the action”, being right across from the Bellagio. You can easily access the North end of the strip (towards Treasure Island, Encore, etc.) and the South end (New York, New York, MGM Grand, etc.). The rooms are quite large and the beds are comfortable.

We swam twice while we were there and the pool is great! It’s not big (compared to other strip hotel pools) but the water was so warm, it was like going into a bath.

Recommended: Pay a few extra dollars per night and stay at the Paris.

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Where we ate: We tried the breakfast buffet at the Paris and Bellagio, and the former was our favourite. We had dinner one night at the buffet at Harrah’s and it was awful- definitely not worth the money. Our second dinner was at In-N-Out (in the courtyard behind the Linq hotel) and we loved it! We also ate at the Cheesecake Factory at the outlets, and you can never really go wrong with that! We also got candy from Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions every night… they have so much choice!

Recommended: In-N-Out and Hexx Chocolate & Confexxions.

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What we did: We mostly spent our time strolling through the different hotels and doing some shopping at the outlets. Some of the hotels have such cool decorations. We did the roller coaster at New York, New York which was fun, but it definitely shook us a lot. Now that I look back on it, it doesn’t seem like we did much, but we literally stopped in every hotel on the strip. My brother went to see a show one night, so my mom and I spent a couple of hours playing the slot machines at the Bellagio.

Recommended: If you’re into jewelry-making, head to Discount Beads (4266 S Durango Dr. #G, Las Vegas, NV 89147, United States) for a great selection & prices!

Getting Around:Β We mostly stayed on the strip, but we did go to the outlets, as well as a craft store I had heard great reviews about and wanted to visit. We took the city bus both times and it went really well. The buses have screens that show you the upcoming stops, so it’s almost impossible to miss your stop (make sure you press the button to request it, though!).

Tip if you’re taking the city bus back from the North Premium Outlets: There are two stops and if you get on the first one (in the direction of the strip), you’ll be pretty much guaranteed a seat! We stood at the second one because it was the closest to the entrance/exit we came out of, and there were lots of people; it was a packed bus the entire way.

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Bellagio & Caesar’s Palace.
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New York New York Hotel.
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A display inside the Bellagio.

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Inside The Venetian Hotel.

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I hope you enjoyed this quick little recap!

Have you ever been to Vegas? If so, what’s your favourite thing to do or place to eat at?

Marilyn

 

Recap: Rethymno + Lake Kournas

Hi all,

I’m back with yet another recap post. This time, it’s our one day in Rethymno. If you read the post from July 20th (if you haven’t, you should go do that now and come back!), you know that we were in Chania for 3 days before going to Rethymno.

**You must rent a car on the island, the drives are so beautiful. The drive from Chania to Rethymno was the most scenic and impressive. There were massive mountains all around us, at certain points we felt like we were in the Swiss Alps, it was incredible!**

We didn’t really have concrete plans for what to do in Rethymno, but we knew that we wanted to stop somewhere on the way. We chose to go to Lake Kournas and we are SO glad we did it. I was a little bit hesitant at first to go here, because the pictures online didn’t seem that great but it quickly turned into one of my favourite places we visited on the trip.

Lake Kournas is a freshwater lake nestled in the mountains. It’s quite large; about 1km in diameter and the water is a deep blue that I’ve never seen before. The edges of the lake are turquoise, due to the shallow sand. We rented a pedal boat for 2 hours and went around the lake. We stopped a couple of times to swim. It was such an amazing experience. The water was a little chilly, but we quickly got used to it. There was something so magical about swimming in this lake, with the mountains surrounding us. We kept looking over at each other and telling each other just how beautiful it was.

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After our time there, we drove to the city of Rethymno. We circled around for parking, and after finally finding some, we lugged our suitcases to our hotel, which was about a 10 minute walk.

We stayed at Casa Vitae and we are so glad that we did. After staying 3 nights in a very small room, with barely any hot water, it was so nice to come into this big, comfortable and luxurious room. The staff was so nice and the grounds were beautiful, we felt like we were staying in a whimsical garden. We had breakfast at the hotel the next day (it was included in the price of the room) and it was delicious, there was so much food!

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This was the view from right outside our room.
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The courtyard.

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Breakfast area.
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Back gate.

After checking into the hotel, we walked around to go to the fortress. It was so impressive, there were so many structures. I found it quite fascinating to learn what each of them were used for. Plus, the view from up there was amazing, we got to see the reflection of the setting sun on the water.

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View from the top of the fortress.

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As per our hotel’s recommendation, we had dinner at Othonas and it was the best meal we had on this trip. I had the Pastitsio, and Michael had the Lamb stamna, which he still raves about.

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My pastitsio and Michael’s lamb stamna.

After dinner, we got a Nutella crepe and explored the town. I initially thought it looked very similar to Chania because of the lighthouse and harbour, but the vibe was very different. There was a street lined with palm trees and I felt like I was somewhere very tropical. It was really beautiful.

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Harbour.
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Lighthouse.
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Harbour.

I hope you enjoyed reading this!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Marilyn

Elafonisi Beach, Crete

Hi all,

Today I’m sharing a recap of our day trip to Elafonisi beach on the island of Crete.IMG_5632

After a couple days of exploring, we were really excited to finally get a beach day, but it didn’t go exactly as we had thought it would.

We were staying in Chania and decided to drive there ourselves, which took about 2 hours. We didn’t know this, but we had to drive through the mountains for about 40 minutes. This was 40 minutes of winding roads, the road being so narrow in some spots that only one car could fit. Also, there were barely any rails on the side of the road and if there were, it was definitely not enough to stop a car from falling over. Needless to say, we got really nervous driving here and we were just really thankful that we had cars both ahead and behind us.

When we finally made it, we got 2 chairs under an umbrella, which cost us 8 euros. It was extremely windy, so windy that we couldn’t just leave our towels on the chairs, we needed something heavy to hold them down.

We tried going into the water a few times but despite what it may look like on pictures, the water was freezing. We didn’t even make it in past our waists, we were just too cold.

Also, this really is our fault, but towards the end of the afternoon, we decided to get some drone footage. We must have been out in the sun for a good hour, and we got so burnt. The tops of our feet and the back of our legs got the worse of it. We were burnt for the rest of the trip, which was slightly annoying because we had to be super vigilant about our sunscreen application.

Apart from all this, our day was great! The beach was breathtaking, definitely the nicest one I’ve ever been to. Despite not really being able to swim as much as we would have liked, I’m really glad we got to see it.IMG_5658IMG_5647IMG_5665IMG_5634IMG_5653


Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think down below! πŸ™‚

Have a great weekend!

Marilyn

Recap: Chania, Crete

Hi all,

I’m so excited to share the first “recap” post of our trip to Greece. In these recaps, I’ll be sharing what we did, where we stayed, where we ate, along with loads of pictures! They won’t be travel guides per se, as I don’t think we know enough of each city to really be able to give a “professional” opinion.

Let’s start with the few days we spent in Chania, on the island of Crete. We stayed in the old town and it was seriously beautiful. It’s filled with narrow, cobblestone streets and colourful houses. It actually reminded us of Italy.

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I’ll start with a general overview of our stay and will then go more into day by day details.

Where we stayed:

Room Honeymoon. We had the room on the ground floor (there are only 2 rooms in this hotel) and it was very small. We couldn’t comfortably move around the room if our suitcases were open on the ground. However, for $50 per night, we couldn’t really argue. It was in a prime location and was so affordable.IMG_5424

What we did:Β 

  • Visiting the old town, stroll through the harbour
  • Venetian lighthouse
  • Ancient Aptera + Fortress
  • Elafonisi beach

Where we ate:

  • Breakfast: Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery. This cafe was a 30 second walk down the street from our hotel so it was super convenient to have breakfast here. We ate here twice.

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    This is “the view” from the cafe.
  • Dinner: Β –Lithos Restaurant: Facing the harbour. It was tasty but seriously overpriced. Palazzo Almare: Facing the harbour. We had the seafood platter and while some fish was good, we didn’t enjoy all of it, and it Β was very expensive. Semiranos: This one was tucked into tiny streets but it was very good. We had the Cretan pies as a starter and it was probably the best appetizer we had on our entire trip. It was stuffed with spinach and feta, but it had a different shape than the normal spanakopita.
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    The Cretan pies.

     

We also ate gelato every night

Now I’ll go a bit more into detail and our thoughts on this city.

Day 1:

We landed in Chania in the late afternoon and picked up the car at the airport. We rented a car for our 5 days on Crete and I would highly recommend this, especially if you want to see multiple cities (and you most likely want to, since it’s a really big island!).

We drove into Chania and found public parking right down the street from our hotel. We used the car every day and never had an issue finding parking when we came back in the afternoon.

It was raining that day so we just spent the evening walking around the harbour, going to the light house, and just visiting. Dinner: Lithos Restaurant.

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The Old Venetian Harbour.

Day 2:

Breakfast:Β Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery.

We didn’t really have a set plan for the entire island of Crete, so on our first full day in Chania, we decided on a whim to go to the Ancient Aptera. It’s basically Roman ruins, but not nearly as well preserved as in Rome. Some of the structures were very impressive, but the sight itself was kind of an eyesore. There is a theatre, which is nicely preserved though. We also visited a fortress that’s about a one minute drive away from the Aptera.

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The theatre.
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The fortress.
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View from the cliff next to the fortress.

After our time here, we drove back towards Chania and had to stop at a small shopping mall in the beach town of Platanias for some new shoes for Michael, his had gotten completely ruined somehow.

We spent the rest of the day walking around the old town of Chania and doing a little bit of shopping. We tried going to a couple of the museums in town but they were very small and we didn’t really feel like paying for something that would take us 20 minutes to visit.

Dinner:Β Semiranos (this was our favourite dinner in Chania!)

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Day 3:

Breakfast: Starbucks… We really wanted Crepes but the crepe restaurant only opened at 5pm (?!) and we wanted something quick, so this was our only choice…

Lunch: We went to the supermarket the day before and made salami sandwiches.

We went to Elafonisi beach, but I will be doing a whole post just for that beach, as the whole day was a really interesting experience! Once we got back from the beach, we had dinner at Palazzo Almare and just walked around.Β IMG_5428IMG_5429

Day 4:

Breakfast:Β Kormoranos Cafe and Bakery.

We started our drive toward Rethymnon and decided to stop at Lake Kournas, which was probably the best idea we had on the entire trip! Once again though, I will be going into more details about Lake Kournas in my next Greece recap post: Rethymnon.


I hope you enjoyed reading this! Let me know what you thought by leaving a comment down below πŸ™‚

Have a great weekend,

Marilyn

2 Week Greece Itinerary

Hi all,

I wanted to share our itinerary for the two weeks we recently spent in Greece. I’ll start by listing what we did and below I’ll speak about what I wish we had done differently.

Day 1: Travel to Athens overnight

Day 2: Land in Athens in the morning and travel to Chania, Crete. Pick up rental car. Spend night in Chania.

Day 3: Spend the day + night in Chania.

Day 4: Spend the day + night inΒ Chania.

Day 5: Travel to Rethymnon, Crete + spend the night.

Day 6: Travel to Heraklion, Crete + spend the night. Drop off rental care in the afternoon.

Day 7: Take a high speed ferry to Santorini. Spend the rest of the day in Santorini.

Day 8: Spend the day in Santorini.

Day 9: Take high speed ferry to the island of Paros. Spend the night in Naoussa.

Day 10: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 11: Spend day + night in Naoussa. Excursion to Antiparos on this day.

Day 12: Spend day + night in Naoussa.

Day 13: Travel by ferry to Athens. Spend the night in Athens.

Day 14: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 15: Spend the day + night in Athens.

Day 16: Come home 😦

What we would change:

I planned this trip rather quickly and decided on the three islands pretty randomly. Other than Santorini, I just took a chance with Crete and Paros. While we enjoyed our time in Crete, looking back on it, I’m not sure if I should have chosen this island. We felt like we were in Italy rather than in Greece.

We ended in Athens and I think I would have preferred to start there, since it was our least favourite part of the trip. It would have been better to start with “the worst part” and end with the best. Although it did make coming home a bit easier since we were eager to leave the city! (I know this may sound pretentious, but while we loved visiting the ruins, the city itself isn’t very nice- it’s not clean and it felt unsafe. I will be delving into more details with a full blog post on Athens in the next months.)

This is just the itinerary, I’ll definitely be writing more posts about what we did in each city in the next couple of months so make sure to check back for those! You can also subscribe to my blog that way you’ll never miss when a new post comes out!


Thank you so much for reading!

Marilyn

What’s In My Carry-On?

Hi all,

Today I’m sharing what I carry with me on the plane. If I’m going on a beach vacation, I take my beach bag as my carry-on so that I don’t waste space in my suitcase. For this trip to Greece, I took my backpack so that I can fit a lot more in it. So what do I bring with me?

  • Empty water bottle: I bring this so that I can always have water on me while we’re travelling/sightseeing so I don’t have to buy water wherever we go.
  • Neck pillow
  • Earphones
  • Lip balm + important liquids & medication
  • Book
  • Sunglasses
  • Reading glasses
  • Travel documents
  • An extra outfit: When I’m travelling in the summer, I always make sure to bring an extra pair of shorts, one top, one pair of underwear and a bathing suit, just in case our luggage gets lost.
  • Chargers
  • Sweater: I don’t put this in my bag, I wear it, but I don’t ever take a flight without having a sweater.
  • Snacks
  • Sun hat

Thanks for reading! What’s one thing you can’t travel without?

Marilyn

Travel Outfit Ideas

Hi all,

I love to travel and I love everything that has to do with travelling, including outfit planning! When I’m travelling by plane, I love to be comfortable but also look somewhat put together. Here are three outfit ideas that I would wear (and have worn!).

1. Total Comfort.

This outfit is perfect for long haul flights, especially those that are overnight. You’ll feel like you’re in your pyjamas and you’ll be able to fall right asleep. I always travel with a sweater on the plane because a) I get cold and b) it doesn’t take up room in my suitcase.

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Leggings: Champion.

T-shirt: GAP Factory.

Sweater: GAP Factory (this is a similar one).

Shoes: Nike Tanjun (bought at Famous Footwear).

 

2. Comfortable but work appropriate.

This one would be great if you’re going on a business trip and will be making an appearance at the office or at a client’s shortly after getting off the plane. The jeans are very comfortable (and affordable!) and the jean jacket makes for a put together look. Plus, it doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your suitcase.

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Jean jacket: Reitmans.

Jeans: Forever 21.

Flats: DSW (similar ones).

T-shirt: GAP Factory.

3. For vacation.

I love to travel in maxi dresses when I’m going on a beach vacation because it gets me in the vacation mode and it covers my legs so I don’t get cold on the plane. I always like to bring either a cardigan or little jacket with me even on beach vacations just in case, so I paired the dress with my jean jackets, so it once again doesn’t take up space in my suitcase (do you see a pattern here?).

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Dress: Shein.com

Jean jacket: Reitmans.

Sandals: Steve Madden bought at TJ Maxx. These are similar ones.


Thanks for checking it out! What’s your favourite travel outfit?

Marilyn

Money-Saving Travel Tips

Hi all,

This is the second year in a row that Michael and I have gone to Europe for our summer vacation so we’ve definitely learned a few things while planning both trips. I thought I’d share some of my tips to help you save money in certain areas to be able to put more in another, or just to save money in general. Here we go!

  1. Book non-refundable flights- If you’re 100% sure of your travel dates/plans, book these flights as they tend to be cheaper than refundable tickets.
  2. Book non-refundable hotel rooms- Once again, if you’re sure of your travel plans, make sure you choose the non-refundable option. On hotel booking websites such as Expedia, Hotels.com, Trivago, etc, you always have the option of choosing the non refundable rate, which is always less expensive.
  3. Don’t choose advanced seat selection- We always do this because I prefer to have the peace of mind knowing that I already have a seat next to who I’m traveling with but if it’s not a necessity for you- don’t do it. You could save a good $120, depending on the airline.
  4. Don’t stay in the city centre- This depends on what you want to do/get out of your vacation, but if your main goal is to save money, choose a hotel that isn’t in the main centre of the city, as these tend to be more expensive. For example, for our hotel in Athens, we chose one that is about 5km from the Acropolis and only paid $40 a night!
  5. Take public transit- Taxis can get so expensive, especially if you’re in a busy city and get stuck in traffic. It’s best to take the bus/metro as this usually costs only a couple of dollars per ride, depending on the city.
  6. Book your hotel on Hotels.com- We’ve used this website for the first time while planning our trip to Greece and it’s been awesome. When you sign up for an account, you can start collecting nights. Once you’re at 10 nights booked on the website, you get the 11th for free (the value is the average of the amount you spent on your 10 nights). The nights can accumulate quickly, especially if you’re planning a Europe trip. You get the free night once your 10th night stay is complete. Since we haven’t travelled to Greece yet, we don’t have the free night in the account yet, but I will most likely write another post reviewing our experience with Hotels.com once we can use our free night.
  7. Find hotels that have breakfast included- Some hotels will have breakfast included, which is great because you can save some money on a meal. I only think this is worth it if it’s truly included in the cheapest rate and not if you have to pay an extra to get the breakfast, because the extra is usually more than what a decent breakfast elsewhere would cost.
  8. Don’t eat out at every meal- Once again, this totally depends on your vacationing preferences. We like to eat out all the time on vacation but if you want to save money, don’t eat out at every meal. You can go to a grocery store and get things to make your lunches; sandwiches, salads, etc. and only have to eat out at dinner. Plus if you can get breakfast included at your hotel, you only have to eat out for one meal a day.

Here are some of the things that I think are worth splurging on:

  • Room with a view: if you’re going somewhere that is known for its view, such as Santorini, I think it’s worth it to spend a little bit more money here to get a room with a beautiful view and cut back on a hotel elsewhere where the view isn’t as important.
  • Unique dining experience:Β we’ll be in Athens and we’ve decided that one night we will be eating at a restaurant with a rooftop so that we can have a view of the Acropolis. This is obviously not a necessity, but while we’re there, we think it would be really nice to take advantage of this view.

What I don’t think is worth splurging on:

  • First class flights: unless you can truly afford it, I don’t think that travelling first class is worth spending an exorbitant amount of money on. Unless you’re on an 18-hour flight, I don’t think that it’s truly necessary.
  • Lavish hotels: this obviously depends on your preference, but I don’t think that splurging on a fancy hotel is worth it, especially if you’re visiting Europe. You’ll be so busy exploring that you’re basically only going to use your room to sleep. As I wrote above, I do think however that a room with a nice view is a good splurge.

Thanks for reading & I hope that this will be useful to some of you!

Do you have any tips that help you save money when you travel? I’d love to know, write them below!

Marilyn