15 Travel Tips That Might Make Life A Little Easier 

As I travel from city to city and country to country, I’ve come across many situations where I’ve learned something useful. 

Hopefully these give you some ideas and inspiration to make your life on the road just a tad bit easier…..

1. Using Google Maps around the city without using any data: I learned this as I was traveling throughout Europe. If you’re at your hostel/hotel/etc with wifi and you search your destination before you leave, you can still follow along with the route off wifi as you walk/take your bus/whatever. 

2. Talk to locals: This is one of the most important points. Talking to locals may mean stepping out of your comfort zone (which is a fantastic thing) and making you feel a little weird – BUT! Locals will show you the ropes. I’m tellin’ ya. This is how you find hidden waterfalls and the best restaurants in the city that you can’t find on TripAdvisor.


3. Don’t forget to treat yourself: Sure, traveling on a budget is phenomenal and saving money makes you feel on top of the world. But if you really want something or really want to experience something….do it. This may be your only chance. Take a gondola ride, get a Thai massage, or go paragliding in the Alps. It’ll be worth the money. Do you want to live with regrets?!

4. Purchase a sarong: I cannot tell you how much my sarongs mean to me during my travels. You can also get a large scarf or something similar, too. I bought my first sarong in Bali and I bought more because I use them so much. If you’re cold in the airports, bathing suit cover, as a towel on the beach, whatever you hope and dream for. I am always using them.

5. Breathe: Don’t panic and stress yourself out over situations you cannot change. Your flights may get delayed. Your hostel could have double booked. Maybe your moped gets a flat tire. Breathe and laugh it off. It’ll all be settled soon. 

6. Scan and photocopy your important documents: Scan your passport/social security card/license/etc. Life happens. People lose things. Things get stolen. Have a couple of copies with you in your bags. 

7. Learn bits of the language you’ll be surrounded by: No, you don’t need to be fluent in Portugese for your week in Brazil. But learning simple words and phrases can go a long way. It’s respectful and always looks good. Plus – if people speak broken English….knowing important phrases and words is GREAT. “Hello”, “Thank you”, “Please”, “You’re welcome”, “How much?”, “Toilet?” are all good starting points. 

8. Pack….and then take half of it away: Be honest with yourself. Do you need all of that? Do you need 4 pairs of wedges and 18 tops for your week in Florida? Make life easier. It’ll be less heavy and you’re less likely to get stopped at baggage claim transferring items to other bags and throwing things away.

9. Pack the crucial items in your carry-on: You’ll always have this bag on you. I’ve personally never had it happen to me yet, knock on wood – but bags do get lost and transferred on wrong flights. Make sure you have your medications, cameras and other electronics, and maybe even an extra outfit in your carry-on. This way if something does happen…..you have the necessary items with you on your back.

10. Carry face wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper with you: Sounds kind of weird – but some places you may not be able to shower…..many places don’t have soap…..and my god…..the toileeeettt paaapeeerrrr. 

11. Research the country you’re going to beforehand: Learn certain things that may be disrespectful – there are a lot of random things you would never think about. Check if the water is clean or not. Read up on weird rules and laws. This may be a life saver.


12. Compare currencies: It’s a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of the exchange rate between currencies. When you land and someone tells you it’s going to be 2,000 pesos to get to your hotel…..you’re going to want to have an idea if they’re scamming you or not.

13. Learn to haggle: Speaking of money. In many countries it’s acceptable and normal to haggle prices. Just understand when it’s okay to do it. It may only be a $3 difference for that dream catcher – but that $3 will catch you a Mango Juice in the morning. 😉 

14. Roll your clothes when you pack: This not only creates more space, but less wrinkles too. Hip-hip-hooray!

15. Appreciate: Traveling can become hectic and stressful situations do occur. But….it’s important to sit back, take everything in, realize where you are and the opportunities you have…..and appreciate them. It’s easy to get worked up over your phone dying as you’re booking your flight and it’s easy to swear and kick the dirt around when something isn’t going as planned. Just be thankful that you are traveling and surrounded by new and exciting things. 

I hope these simple 15 tips have helped you as you travel or before you embark on your next journey. Do you have any travel tips that you’d add to my list? Let’s hear ’em.

Thanks for reading my blog post. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns: please feel free to e-mail me: kimberlyncharters@yahoo.com

Also – follow me on instagram to see travel photos and inspiration almost daily – @waddupkim

• XOXO, KIM CHARTERS – AS KIM TRAVELS 

15 Travel Tips That Might Make Life A Little Easier 

The Windy City of Chicago

  
I’m on a roadtrip across America and my first stop is Chicago, Illinois. Known as “The Windy City”. 

I think it might be obvious that I have a thing for mountains and nature itself – but there’s a piece of me that thouroughly enjoys the rush and energy of a big city, as well.

I’m not here for long, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. I arrived, unpacked my bags at my couchsurfing host’s home, and was taught how to request a taxi ride. First thing you need to know while being in Chicago, of course. 

I took a ride to Millenium Park, grabbed a White Chocolate Mocha, and walked the streets of the busy city. Stopping in shops along the way.

  
I spent the evening eating pizza (typical) from a place called Roots with my couchsurfing host Rob, and another couchsurfer from Turkey. She shared with us a traditional alcoholic drink from Turkey called “Rakı”. It tasted like black licorice, you have to mix it with water though……it’s not called the “Lions Milk” for nothing. Phew.

   

 As I type this, I’m sitting at a place called The Breakfast Club before I have to head out for my next state. Chicago is beautiful, it was nice to get some big city life in before I head out to the deserts and mountains. 
I had an amazing couchsurfing host, Rob, who was easy to converse with. Not to mention he had KILLER art work around his home that he shared with me.

Overall: GREAT EXPERIENCE!

Off to Nebraska.  

 Sitting on the outskirts of “the bean”.

Xoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

The Windy City of Chicago

SOLO TRAVELING. 

A two letter phrase that intimidates and scares off way too many people: “traveling alone”.

 Don’t let it scare you. Please. 

Traveling solo can seem a bit intimidating – but my oh my, it is life altering.

 Touring the Roman Colosseum solo.

You find yourself and learn about yourself. This sounds super cliche and sounds like it’s straight out of a horoscope reading….but I promise you it’s the real deal. When you’re traveling alone – you get to know, well….yourself. You find out more about what you like and don’t like – whether that be places, foods, or maybe even alcoholic beverages. It’s just a very peaceful, soulful, experience. When you’re alone in a city where nobody knows your name – you have the choice to be who you want to be. You truly get to know yourself. Find yourself. And grow.

It forces you out of your comfort zone. This is awesome. Because I think everyone needs this little push sometimes. Talking to strangers and introducing yourself to people can be a little nerve-wrecking. But when you’re traveling alone – you have to step up….introduce yourself, talk to people, ask questions, and meet new people. It’s fantastic. 

Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. No, no, no! Traveling alone doesn’t mean you’re alone the entire time. Depending on how you like to travel – you can meet people in so many different ways. Whether you’re couchsurfing and staying with incredible locals or you’re staying in a hostel and meeting fellow travelers your age – meeting people can be a breeze. And they want to meet you too. So go for it. Say hi. And then go out for a pub crawl, climb a mountain, watch a movie in a different language, or go paragliding together. You only need to be alone if you want to be. 

 I met a girl and she went paragliding with me in Switzerland.

You get to run on your own time. Yes. One of the best things about solo travel. You get to do whatever you want…..when you want. You don’t have to do anything you’re not interested in. Don’t get me wrong, traveling with groups and studying abroad will still be great for you. But when you’re traveling alone, it’s nice to be able to have endless free time. Don’t like museums? Cool. You don’t have to go to any. You want to hike that mountain? Do it. You don’t have to worry about any “majority rules” within a group or someone simply just saying “I don’t want to do that”. You’re on your own, kid. And it’s magical. 

You will gain confidence. Traveling alone isn’t easy. You’re going to run into problems. You’re going to get lost. You’re going to be put into situations where you don’t know what to do. When you’re going into a trip where you’re traveling alone – you’re going to be nervous. You’re going to want to cancel. Because what were you thinking?! Traveling alone?! But in the end….you will gain so much confidence within yourself. You will be a stronger person. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to conquer the world by yourself. Being able to order off of a menu in Italian, mastering the transportation systems in Spain, making friends with the cashier at a market in Germany – it’s all going to make you a more confident person.

 You encounter those “peak experiences” more often. A psychology term. According to Abraham Maslow, peak experiences are sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, and possibly the awareness of “ultimate truth” and the unity of all things.  And you have a greater chance to feel that when traveling alone. Whether you’re sitting in a coffee shop and staring out the window in New York, walking down the winding streets of Portugal, or sitting on top of a mountain in Norway….you have time to collect your thoughts. You have time to reflect. You suddenly will get these moments where, out of no where, you just feel like you are right where you need to be.

Traveling alone sounds and seems intimidating. Being alone is something we shouldn’t be scared of, though. Solo travel has changed my life – changed me as a person – and has helped me grow into a more careful, happier, independent individual. 

If you have any questions about solo traveling, please feel free to ask. If you’d like to see more travel photos, follow me on Instagram – @waddupkim !

  

Xoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS

SOLO TRAVELING. 

6 reasons why Germany is the greatest country. Ever. 

I’ve been to Germany a couple of times and I’ve traveled to many cities within the life-changing country. With that being said….I have come to the conclusion that it is one of thee greatest countries. And here are 6 super-100%-completely valid reasons why.

 
Disclaimer: Not trying to offend anyone with this post. All photos taken by me. Drink on.

6: Germany just looks and feels like something out of a Disney movie. It’s basically a real-life fairytale. I mean…..it is home of the Neuschwanstein Castle (AKA the castle that you witness before the Disney movies).

Neuschwanstein Castle in Hohenschwangau, Germany. 

5: One word. Autobahn. Who doesn’t love going 120 mph without worrying about seeing those flashing red and blue lights behind you? Weirdos. That’s who.

4: The language ROCKS. I don’t care what you’re saying. You probably sound really fucking angry. And that’s awesome, okay? 

3: They have the best food. I can seriously feel myself salivating just thinking about it.   German pretzels. German sausages. And we can never ever EVER forget about Schnitzel.

 Pretzel (or Brezel) cart in Berlin, Germany.

2: BEEEEEEEEEEER. Yeah. Don’t tell me you’re some licensed beer critic unless you’ve had German beer, asshole. Schneider Weisse, Schöfferhofer Hefeweizen, you know, man? (In addition to the beer – the beer festivals are the greatest, too)

 My host family gave me a cold beer for my first dinner back in Germany.

1: Number one reason why Germany is the greatest? The people. Germans may sound angry…….but I can promise you – they are the best people. I don’t think I can even put into words how amazing they are. They are so warm-hearted, caring, and genuine. They want to do nothing but welcome you into their country, inform you about their towns and the history behind them, and give you a beer with your meal. Love them. Love them all.

So those are my reasons why I love Germany. And that’s only a select few of them. Have you been to Germany? Let me here about your experiences! 

Ich liebe dich, Deutschland.

Thanks for reading about my experiences within Germany and why I love it so much. If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to ask. If you’d like to see more travel photos, follow me on Instagram – @waddupkim

Xoxoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

Shout out to my best friend in Germany, Julia Hahn – for always allowing me to come visit and having such a great impact on my life. I wouldn’t have been able to experience the things I have in Germany without her. ❤️ 

6 reasons why Germany is the greatest country. Ever. 

Isola di Burano – The island of Burano, Italy. 

First and foremost, happy Travel Tuesday!

In order to make your Tuesday cheery and bright, I will share with you…

One of the most colorful cities in the world. An island in Italy called Burano. 

 

I saw a photo of this tiny little island of joy a few months before I left for Europe. I didn’t know if it was real. When I was in Venice, I took a boat and went island hopping. Burano was one of my stops. 

While you’re heading towards the island, you can visibly see all of the color from the boat. It’s incredible. 
      

Not only is this island so colorful that it just feels happy – but the people here are also so happy and kind. They are very welcoming with tourists – they’re probably used to them roaming their streets every hour of every day. 

Most of the homes don’t have closed doors and windows, but just a thin piece of fabric or curtain covering the openings. 

What is there to do other than ooh and aah over the colorful houses?

Not only is Burano filled with beautiful homes and buildings of every color you can think of – it is also thee spot for lacemaking. Many of the shops that occupy the streets consist of lace and magical people making it. 

 

There is a Main Street in Burano that holds lace shops, gift shops, jewelry, and FANTASTIC restaurants.
  
FOOD: I highly recommend “Trattoria da Romano” – it is a little pricey, but many of the locals recommend it and so does Anthony Bourdain. Heeeelllllo? It’s a must. The seafood is fresh, delicious, and it will have you thinking about it for weeks. 

It is a small island, and you can probably walk the entire island and visit all of the shops in only a couple of hours….but it really is worth all of the hype.

  
    

So yeah.

Burano is a real place. And it’s jaw-dropping with its color and charm. It will surely make you want to stay.

For a long, long time.

Thanks for reading about my experiences within Burano, Italy. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask!

To see more travel photos, follow me on Instagram – @waddupkim

  Kim “Facing the World” in Burano, Italy.

Xoxoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

Isola di Burano – The island of Burano, Italy. 

“The Floating City” – Venezia, Italia. 

Everyone dreams of packing their bags, heading to Venice, Italy and hopping on a gondola. Am I right or am I right? 

Update: I’m right.

Well. I did just that. And yes….Venice is everything you could hope and dream of.

  
Venice is known as “The Floating City”, or “The City on Water”, and it really is just that. This city is literally filled with old, beautiful historic buildings and what seems like millions of canals and small waterways. 

It’s pretty much just how you envision it. Old homes, shops, and restaurants. Tiny bridges over tiny canals. And hundreds of men in black&white striped shirts giving gondola tours and singing old Italian music. Yep.

One thing to add: So. Many. Tourists. 

As you walk around, it’s kind of difficult to remember your sense of direction. There are SO many alleys, streets, canals, bridges, and although each one is different…..they somehow all seem the same?

It’s just so awe-inspiring when you’re sauntering down the streets of Venice and interacting with locals. Don’t go to Venice, go on a gondola, and leave. The people here are truly incredible and worth meeting. They’re filled with culture, beautiful language, amazing cuisine, and stories that will make you smile. 

    
    
   
 GONDOLA TOURS: But you really do have to ride on a gondola. When you’re roaming the streets, there’s different points where you can enter and exit a gondola tour. Warning: they are expensive. Especially if you’re alone. 

Gondolas hold 6 people total. You can go with as many people as you want as long as it’s 6 or under. For an average of 30 minutes (give or take with water traffic) (yes water traffic is a thing in Venice) – it is €80. And if you want to do a full hour it is €120. The prices do not change depending on how many people you have. I was traveling alone, and preferred to go on a gondola alone because I wanted it to be more relaxing. I didn’t want to go with a bunch of tourists taking photos every .682 seconds, ya know? So yes. I paid the full price by myself. 

The routes are great. You will be taken through many different canals and your driver will tell you fantastic stories about different buildings you pass. 

Fun fact: many buildings on the water have black lines drawn on them with dates next to it. These lines indicate how high the water was at that point in time. Venice has many high waters and gondolas are not to be ridden then.

And no matter what – you will pass under the famous bridge – Rialto Bridge. 

 My point of view on my own personal Gondola.  
Me and my guide became friends. 

 FOOD: You’re thinking “Italy. Pizza. Yes.” Which is super true. But in Venice, Italy…..lean towards the seafood. When in Venice, I had some of the most incredible seafood dishes I’ve ever had in my 20 years. My favorite restaurant was one that had decor inside of the building that made you feel as if you were still outside in Venice. My hosts and I split an amazing meal.  

   
And you’re in Italy. So don’t forget about Gelato.  

 

WHERE TO STAY: This is the tricky part. Venice has hotels and hostels around the canals that lure in tourists. But they are very, very expensive. And you don’t typically get your money’s worth unless you are paying HUNDREDS of Euros. €€€ There is a small amount of hostels, and they average €50 a night…..but not good hostels. My trick? Can you guess? Staying with hosts. Couchsurfing. This way, it is free, but you also get to stay with locals. They can tell you where to go, what to do, where to eat, and fill your minds with incredible stories about their past memories and history of the floating city itself. 

EXTRAS: I also took boats and went to MANY different islands off of Venice – but I will make those separate posts. If interested: Murano and Burano are the most popular and deserve that title! Check them out. 

So yeah. Venice might be somewhere you want to go. I mean…..if you’re into like suuuuuper beautiful cities filled with rich culture and history. I guess. 😉 

  

Thank you for reading my about a few of my experiences and tips of advice when taking on Venice, Italy. If you have any questions – please feel free to contact me.

Until next time!

  Xoxoxo – Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS
  

“The Floating City” – Venezia, Italia. 

HOSTELS: and why you shouldn’t believe any bad assumptions about them.

“YOU’RE STAYING IN A HOSTEL? HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE MOVIE HOSTEL?!?!” #ThingsIGetAlot

Answer: No, I haven’t seen the movie “Hostel”, nor will I ever watch it. 

People, people, people. We gotta stop believing everything we see in movies. Hostels are the bomb.com and you have to experience at least one in your lifetime. 

Why? Let me tell you a little somethin’ somethin’.

When I’m not couch surfing, I’m staying in hostels. If for some reason I just can’t find a perfect host in a city, or maybe plans fall through….hostels are my life saver. 

Hostels are GREAT if you’re smart. I use hostelworld.com to search and book my hostels. 

Now, here are the best things about hostels. And why I don’t stay in hotels.

$$$: They are soooooo perfect for travelers because it gives you a nice bed to sleep in….for an awesome price. Depending on the city you’re staying in, some can be a bit pricey where you don’t really get your money’s worth (ex: Venice, Italy). But MOST are worth every dollar/euro/franc/DKK/NOK/whatever you pay. On average I usually spend about 20-35 euros/dollars/etc a night at hostels. 

Bedding: No, you’re not going to be sleeping on a blanket on a cement floor. Hostels have beds – and actually, some of them are quite comfortable. They provide you with clean sheets, blankets, and pillows when you arrive.  

 Example! My bed in Interlaken, Switzerland – Backpackers Villa Hostel.

Facilities: Hostels also offer high-five-worthy facilities. Some have free wifi, breakfast, different activities to join, lockers, kitchen services, hot showers, laundry, air conditioning or heat, some have terraces, 24/7 reception, and more. Now, not every hostel is going to offer all of these. But a lot do. Hint: when you’re traveling: wifi, breakfast, lockers, and laundry services are super important to look for. 

Activities: Depending on where you are at in the world, a lot of hostels offer joinable activities to their guests. Free walking tours, bike tours, pub-crawls, game nights, movie nights. When you’re by the water, some even offer surfing lessons or beach days. The possibilities are endless – and every hostel and destination is going to be different!

Common area: So most hostels have a common area. Some are small, some are huge. Some have chairs, stools, hammocks, or beanbag chairs. Some have ping-pong tables, pool tables, and other games and activities. Common areas are…..common…..for hostels. See what I did there? They’re great because this is typically where you find your travel friends. Ya know, the ones you meet, add on Facebook, and try to keep in touch with?

 Lisbon Destination Hostel – Lisbon, Portugal.

 Backpackers Villa Hostel – Interlaken, Switzerland.

Friendships: Dude. This is probably the best part about hostels. You make so many friends. Typically the friendships start out during a mean ping-pong tournament or maybe a pub-crawl when you guys get so-totally-wasted together and build an everlasting friendship together thanks to free shots of tequila. But when you’re traveling alone, especially, this is great. This makes you avoid the loneliness. You meet people from all over the world, build your connections, and do some awesome things together. Example: When in Switzerland, a girl named Kira from Utah, USA complimented the tattoo of the world on my ankle….a couple hours later I had her go paragliding through the Swiss Alps with me. When I was in Portugal, a girl named Latifha from The Netherlands asked me if I was going to the beach because I was in my bathing suit. 20 minutes later we were on a train together going town-to-town and adventuring. When in Copenhagen, I met a girl named Johanna at midnight when she asked me where to get a towel. The next day we ended up hanging out, going to dinner with a large group from our hostel, and staying up until 3 AM drinking tea and talking.

So no. Hostels aren’t unsafe, terrifying, experiences. And this is just a very short and sweet explanation of hostels. You’re not in a jail-cell type room, sleeping with one eye open because you’re scared you’re going to get stabbed in your sleep. You’re actually in a bed you get to call your own for the time being, and sleeping like a baby because you probably had a kick-ass day in whatever city you just spent your day in. 

#ENDHOSTELHATE

Please don’t believe everything from movies. Hollywood sucks. Hostels do not. Try it.

 My 6-person dorm in Copenhagen, Denmark at Copenhagen Backpackers.  10-person dorm at Lisbon Destination Hostel in Lisbon, Portugal.6-person dorm in Madrid, Spain at Room 007 hostel.

I’ve stayed in many hostels – this isn’t even half of them. But every experience has been great. I’ve never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. You meet amazing people and build long lasting friendships. You get to sleep in your own bed, take a hot shower, and sleep when you want. They’re relaxing. A home away from home. And my advice to you, my friends: JOIN THE PUBCRAWL. Spend the 12 euros to get drunk with strangers and hate yourself as you chug down that free shot. I don’t care if your flight leaves at 5 AM the next day. Do it. 

– xoxoxo, Kim Charters • AS KIM TRAVELS •

HOSTELS: and why you shouldn’t believe any bad assumptions about them.