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10 Things I Learned During My First Trip to Europe

TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
versailles trip diary

Hey guys! I'm back from my three weeks vacation in Europe and ready for a fresh start with ambinity. Sorry I missed our usual schedule (once a week, every Wednesday), but between the jet lag and just genuinely wanting to take a break, it was pretty hard to get back on track. #FirstWorldProblems, I know. But don't worry, you will see a new blog post this Wednesday, and I promise it will be a good one!  ;) 

Instead of doing a travel diary and bore you with a bunch of pictures that you probably already saw on Instagram, I wanted to share with you guys what I learned from this wonderful three week European Vacation in the hopes of inspiring you to make the decision too if you haven't yet! So without further do, here you go: 

1. The world is smaller than I thought

Before going to Europe, I thought every country in the Easter Hemisphere was almost unreachable. And even though it is definitely far from Puerto Rico, visiting it for the first time makes me think about all the wonderful possibilities outside my comfort zone. I may have checked a bunch of stuff off my bucket list, but I definitely added a lot more to-see's! 


2. There's no better classroom than traveling

I used to be the history nerd in high school. I loved learning about how a country became what it is through interesting people in history. I specially remember Pompeii, a city drowned by lava centuries ago, so watching it for the first time was definitely surreal and of course, highly educational. 


3. I am more aware of my surroundings 

I'm not just talking about keeping an extra eye on pocket pickers. I could literally take a break from the tens of thousand steps we took each day and be entertained by watching how people interact, act and even treat their dogs. People are interesting! You don't even have to talk to them to learn this. Try it! 

versailles selfie


4. it's not a myth: Parisians do have the best style ever

And speaking about people watching, you have to see Parisian women to actually believe what everyone says. Yes, they are in fact stylish, sexy and careless! I could definitely sense that je ne sais quoi.


5. We need more fresh food! 

Everything in Europe felt fresher and tastier, but much less seasoned than what I'm used to. Even though it was weird at first, I got used to eating with less seasoning pretty quickly, because I could actually enjoy the true flavors of the ingredients in my food.

Like everything, it is a matter of getting used to it. 


6. I love to eat, like, a LOT.

I specially learned this in Madrid, thanks to Mercado San Miguel and Mercado San Ildefonso. #oink 


7. When it comes to sparkling wine, I love Cava but hate Prossecco. 

What can I say? I loved Spain! 

8. Puerto Rico's colonial status is too sad/ hard to explain.

Hate to get all political here, but I felt the need to vent this. If you don't already know, Puerto Rico is one of the last colonies in the world and we have been since more than a 100 years. It is sad to explain this situation with fellow Hispanics and Europeans. I know we are worth so much more than what we credit ourselves for! 

versaille gardens


9. Luxury brands based in Europe cost almost half the price than in America – Jackpot! 

Remember that blog post about luxury goods I wrote a while bag? I actually purchased one of those things for actually half the price in America! Let me know if you want to know what I'm talking about. ;)

10. There is no better way to invest your money than traveling

No matter all the material things that I purchased in Europe, I would always compare it to my future trip. No money in the world can compare to the experiences that you gain while flying overseas. 

That's it guys! Let me know in the comments bellow where are you traveling next!

Until next time, 

María Elena

6 Ways To Save Money for a Trip

TravelMaría Elena RodríguezComment
Pic via Canva

Pic via Canva

One of my biggest regrets in college was not studying abroad. I was so scared I didn't have the money to survive, that I ended up doing a couple of paid internships in places in the US I had never lived before. But while these were great experiences that helped me grow as a person, I was still super wanderlust. So once I graduated and started working full time, I promised myself I would travel to Europe before I turned 25. And even though I am one year late, I'm finally on my way to accomplish my goal! I will be going on a three week Europe vacation this next summer. I honestly need to pinch myself every time I think about it.

I can imagine many of you have a dream trip you haven't been able to make yet, so I thought I would share with you guys all the steps I followed to finally pay-off my dream vacation:

1. Book your trip in advance 

I know this sounds like an obvious one because everybody knows air fairs can be lower months in advance, but check this out: If you book your trip early on, you will have more time to save up for your upcoming trip! I've been thinking twice about checking out my Sephora cart these days and I just KNOW I won't be keeping my VIB Rouge Status this year. But you know what? I couldn't give a f**k! I would much rather spend that money at French pharmacies once I'm there. 

2. Prioritize Traveling

via Giphy

via Giphy

If you have a little extra cash laying around, put it aside for your dream vacation. Don't just go shopping to buy things! I know it's so tempting and I've done it more times than I should've. Just remember: Traveling is an investment that you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

I was privileged enough to have a christmas bonus at my job this past December and even though I was really tempted to buy one of my dream bags, I knew I had made a compromise with myself to make my dream of traveling to Europe come true ASAP. So I used that money as a deposit so I could pay off the rest in comfortable monthly payments. 

But if you're going to spend your money, spend it on one of these pretty little piggy banks. Be smart, girl!

3. Travel with someone else

I know it's tempting to go on a solo trip. I've flirted with the idea several times and I highly encourage you to do it at least once in your life. But if you're on a budget and planning on going on an intercontinental adventure, a vacation package with someone else will lower the rates of your hotel. Plus, you can share expenses once you're there! 

And no, these are not alternative facts. 

4. Save up sample size beauty products

If you're a beauty addict like I am, part of the excitement of traveling is finding travel size beauty and hair products to take in your carry-on. You can also finally give some use to all those hand creams you received over christmas to save you from the horrible air at airplanes.

Another trick is to save up your rewards points until you find something you can actually use during your trip! That way you don't have to run to the drugstore the day before your flight. I talk a little bit more about similar tricks and how to save on beauty products in this post

Here are some of my favorite carry-on friendly (and cruelty-free, duh!) products:

5. Plan the places you want to eat at beforehand.

Before my Chicago trip last year, I literally created a Google Sheets with all the places I wanted to eat at with the price range of each restaurant. That way, I lost no time looking for places to eat that could've been too expensive or too average. I even made reservations month in advance.

When you're on vacation, specially on a place you've never been before, you definetly don't want to waste time. Time is money! 

6. Drink your coffee at home

via Giphy

via Giphy

I repeat: DRINK YOUR COFFEE AT HOME.

I know I know, coffee is so good these days. So many fancy coffee shops that know exactly the amount of froth your coffee needs to be a decadent treat to make your work afternoons better. But look at this: $3.50 x 5 days a week = $17.50. This means that by the end of the month you could be saving $70!!!! I don't know about you, but I would much rather spend $70 drinking coffee at a Roman cafe. 

Here are some beautiful thermal coffee mugs so you can bring your coffee from home, with style!:

What are your tricks to save up for a vacation?

Until next time, 

María Elena