Saturday, January 28, 2017

9 Essential Travel Apps


Plan your trip by viewing all possible ways to get from point A to point B. View prices and travel times, as well as get links to flights and train tickets. This is possibly my favorite app when thinking about multi-stop trips, or when first considering a new location. 


Skyscanner searches tons of websites for the most cost-effective flight, hotel, and car rental options out there, then links you to the website where you can actually make your purchase. My favorite feature is the "Everywhere" option. You type in your departure location, add your trip dates (or select an entire month if you're more flexible), and add "Everywhere" as your arrival- Skyscanner lists places you can fly to in price order all over the world! 


Check flight times, delays, gates, etc. for any flight. This is my go-to app when weather is bad to check on my flight, or when expecting guests. 


Like Rome2rio, Moovit helps you get from point A to point B. However, this app works better for daily commute, or traveling within a city. I use it when heading somewhere I haven't been before and deciding which public transportation to take, as well as for my daily commute- it gives you minute to minute updates on bus/tram/metro movement (meaning I can check from my apartment if I have time to stop for a coffee or not), and you can have it give you live updates, so can read having to pay attention to when it's time to get off the tram! 

Rail Europe 

Search for train timetables and routes within Europe, buy tickets, and save your travel itineraries from multiple carriers. This is a great app for finding routes as well as keeping your travels organized. 


This one is my lifesaver. I use it constantly to translate emails, or just look for words I need in Italian. You can even speak directly into the app and have it translate what you say! I have friends who speak another language than their boyfriend/girlfriend who swear that this is the key to a successful relationship. 


A great app for quickly editing all of your beautiful travel photos. It has more options than the iPhone Photo editor or Instagram, and gives you options within the app to share directly to Instagram or Facebook. 


A fantastic app for keeping in touch with family and friends! Touchnote lets you turn your own pictures into postcards and send them out directly. While the app itself is free, it does cost about $2.00, but that's about the cost of any postcard, and this way you can share your travels through your own perspective. 


Expedia is my go-to when searching for flights and hotels (others swear by Booking), but my favorite use for this is when I'm trying to be spontaneous. During both my "Go to the Train Station and Go Wherever" trip to Torino and my problematic "Go to the Train Station and Go South" trip to Rome, Pompeii, and Amalfi, I booked my accommodation from my phone through my Expedia app. I didn't end up staying anywhere fancy in Torino, Rome, or Amalfi, but I found somewhere relatively cheap and in great locations all three times- and checked in within hours of booking! It was also a lifesaver when I forgot to book my parents and I a place to stay in Stuttgart- again, we didn't end up staying in the best hotel we've ever been to (far from it), but Expedia saved the day for sure!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Resolution to Reality: Tips for the New Year

As someone who looooooves New Years, birthdays, new school years... really any fresh start, I've come up with a few ways to turn my goals into reality. 

Have a plan

I tell myself every year, "Jesye, this is the year you're getting in shape." Every year it doesn't happen. The problem is that my commitment is real because it isn't specific enough. This year, rather than "Get in shape," I'm committing to "Complete the Couch to 5K running plan." This gives me a specific, attainable goal that needs to be completed within nine weeks. I'd also like to get back to my crafty roots this year, but it's not enough to leave it at that; I found a cross stitch pattern I'd like to try and am going to commit to finishing just that specific project. Hopefully I'll fall in love with both running and cross stitch, but there is a plan in place that will force me to commit at least for a few months! Try creating a specific resolution with a plan for what you'd like to accomplish.  

Use a journal or a planner (or both!)

Using a planner or a journal gives you a place to organize, plan, reflect, list, doodle, journal, etc. I use Erin Condren planners for teaching and my own life, and love them. I tried Bullet Journaling and while I loved it, I always fall back on my LifePlanner, so it's up to you to find what works well for you. Use your journal or planner to list resolutions, brainstorm how you can fit them into your life, and literally schedule times to work on your resolutions into your week. 

Find someone to help you stay accountable

Whether it's a friend, a family member, a club or group, whatever, find someone who is going to encourage you! It doesn't even need to be a person- I'm hoping that writing more regularly will help me to keep on track with my goals. Sharing what I'm working on and where I've been will mean actually doing things that are worth writing about, which means I can't be lazing around with Netflix all day!

Get excited with new equipment 

I don't mean going out and spending a ton of money. As someone who knows the pains of going out and buying over 100Euros worth of running gear (and then running one time), I'm not suggesting breaking the bank. However, buying a new book on an activity you're pursuing, a new set of picks for the guitar that's been collecting dust in the basement, or a few pretty new crafting materials can help energize you in your endeavors! 

Sign up for a class

I avoided cooking at all costs- until signing my parents up for a cooking class and realizing how much I wanted to learn to cook delicious Italian dishes while living here. My languages skills stunted at "Scusa, non parlo italiano" (Sorry, I don't speak Italian) until signing up for a class twice a week. I've made more progress since last spring than I had in the first two and a half years all together! Making a commitment to a class can help solidify a commitment by forcing you to practice regularly, and igniting your passions with accelerated growth. 

While I love heading over to my Italian class each week, being part of the community of the school, and the interactions with the language, taking a class has never been easier with the online options available. One site I'm currently loving is You can find courses on every subject imaginable! This weekend, I found that the courses were on sale for only $10 each and went a little crazy- I signed up for classes on guitar, cooking, travel journaling, Italian language, and tarot. I know that's a little much, but I am PUMPED to learn about all of them! The site also inspired me to pursue a few interests that I've never really spent time learning about- Egyptology and art history. Those are on the back-burner/wishlist for now though; ain't nobody got time for (all) that!

Find a mantra

Finding a word or phrase that resonates with you can help you to center yourself as you work towards your goals. My mantra is typically, "Be brave, be kind, love life," which comes from a combination of words on a ring I have and Cinderella's mantra from the 2015 version of the movie. I tell that to myself when I need a pick me up, when I'm annoyed at work, when I'm frustrated with not being understood in Italian, really anytime I need it. This year, all of my resolutions tend to follow the theme of, "Be your best self." A friend of mine keeps notes to herself with mantras on her computer, on her bathroom mirror, in her planner, literally anywhere she'll see them. Find a phrase that will remind you of who you want to be and what you're working towards, and get in the habit of repeating it to yourself often; when you first wake up, when you finish brushing your teeth, when facing a challenge, before going to sleep. 

I hope these ideas work for you as they work for me! Tell me below what your resolutions are for the New Year. How do you plan to work towards them?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Goals

Photo by Brigitte Tohm


New year, new goals, and you know how much I love goals! When I was studying abroad, I remember feeling like the last month was crunch time. My friends and I did more, saw more, laughed more, and stayed out wayyyyy later than the rest of the trip because we had to use every last moment. I'm starting to feel that again now, despite having a year and a half left on my contract. While I don't need to be out and social every minute (I would probably die), I do want to be more conscious of how I spend my time! So here are my goals for the year. I'm hoping to keep myself a little bit accountable through more posts (and am putting that in writing so that I actually do!). 

Do more of the things I love.

I love to do so many things, but sometimes find that after a day at work, I look on Pinterest for new teaching ideas, or veg out on my couch with Netflix. This year I'd like to do more of what I love: traveling, crafting, reading, playing guitar, baking, and writing. I'd like to stop killing all of my plants and really learn to grow herbs, become a better photographer, experiment with new recipes, and learn to love yoga and running. 

Be a better Italian.

I need something to show for my living abroad all these years. This year, I'm making a serious commitment to my language skills by continuing with my classes. I'm also working on a couple other ways to practice, which I will share soon! I'd also like to continue learning to cook like an Italian!

Maintain a ready-for-guests apartment at all times.

My parents' house is perfect at all times- someone could walk in at any moment and it would look beautiful. I try, but leave out clothes if I'm running late, don't always make my bed, and don't always have a bottle of wine or snacks ready to share. I want to be able to say, on any day, "Let's stop at my apartment before dinner," or something of that nature and not feel the need to panic. 

No more takeout!

I'm the takeout queen and order WAY to often! It's so easy- I don't know about the rest of the world, but in Milan I use Foodora, JustEat, and Deliveroo at least once a week (typically more often, though). It's not even like I'm trying new things- it's always the same type of pizza, the same gyro, the same sushi order... I'm going to make it my mission to avoid takeout by cooking for myself, or actually going out to the restaurants and being around other people if I want to eat out. Hopefully this will help me to be more social, learn to cook, save money, see more of the city, etc. 

Be open to new things.

I'm a hardcore homebody, so I'll let you know as my "open to new things" idea progresses. 

So, there you go. These are my aspirations for 2017. As sad as I'll be to leave home and head back to my other home, having these to feel excited about give me a lot to look forward to! What are your resolutions? Do you have any advice for me as I work towards my different goals? Leave your ideas in the comments below!