Edinburgh, London, Paris | Travel Tips + Pics

For those of you that keep up with me on any level of social media probably noticed a crazy influx of photos that spanned from early- mid May. Ok, maybe I even stretched that photo flow into early June... but how could I not?! Why the influx? Well, I only traveled to Edinburgh, London, and Paris with my dearest of friends. And let me just say, my time in Europe was nothing short of beautiful. Leading up to the trip, and even after getting settled back into my American grind, I had/still have many people asking *young and old* how I was able to finance a trip like "that." The free-spirit inside of me gets a little queasy at the thought of finances and plans and schedules and how to unpack it all, yet my type-A tendencies root me back into the grounds of a safe and happy trip, and motivate me to sharing any sorts of tips and tricks for my fellow travelers. So, my response to those questions? 

First, you have to say yes. Of course, be wise. Think about your schedule, upcoming jobs, upcoming paychecks, ways you can be saving, trip routes, etc. The last thing you want to do is dig yourself into a hole of debt courtesy of wanderlust meets unpreparedness. Something I'm learning in this current season is the importance of being a good steward of your money. Something I'm also learning-- being a good steward looks very different for varying groups of people. I finally feel like I have a good grasp on my financial priorities... or at least enough of a grasp to tell me that giving is something that should be number 1 on my list, followed by a budget for food, work gadgets, and travel. So with all of that being said, I screamed a loud "YES" on the phone with Carley on December 25, 2016, as we booked our flight from ATL to Edinburgh, and Paris to ATL. My bank account took a beating, but hey, holiday cheer was waiting around the corner after I closed my Delta receipt and ran downstairs for more coffee and Christmas cookies. (I promise, I'm not as careless as I may sound LOL).

Second, timing is everything. That kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above paragraph. In order to say "yes," you have to decide on the time that you are saying yes to. For Carley and I, that time fell ideally a day after my graduation, and about a week or so after Carl finished her first year of law school (YES my best friend is a freakin' rockstar). We both had vacation time, but we also had enough time-cushion to save up and plan the nitty-gritty details of the trip. I know personally this time of year worked splendidly for me because I knew that I wasn't only entering into a season of weddings, but I also would be receiving gifts for graduating. Call it what it may be, but financially, it helped to have just graduated college... as ironic as that may sound. So, do your research! Examine your calendar-- maybe it's your birthday month, your kid's fall break, Christmas break, or right after graduation? You'll know when that time is, because the thought of leaving and taking time to rest should sound/feel stress-free. (Although I am totally aware of the unable-to-rest-and-take-time-for-myself-syndrome)

Third, make the decision early-on of what type of a trip it's going to be. Carley and I decided we were going to stay in cheap Airbnbs that were certified and looked safe, but not top-luxury. We also decided that we were going to smuggle Larabars and Cliff Bars in our suitcases haha. Those bars, as little as they might be, made great company for our daily flat whites in the morning. With that being said, our food choices made all the difference. Instead of eating in sit-down restaurants (which FYI are normally more expensive than take-away), we would grab something off the street or in a small grocery store. Something really great about the U.K. is that they have INCREDIBLE meal deals where you can buy a sandwich, chip or candy bar, and a drink for somewhere around 4 pounds... which is crazy cheap for all that you're getting. And especially cheap when you walk to the pub next door and the fish and chips are 13 pounds. So trust me-- their grocery store/gas station food is actually good. Like really good. We were always aware of how much we were spending on food, which saved us so much money. Of course, indulge in amazing coffee and to-die-for pastries, but don't break the bank over a chicken sandwich... not while you're in Europe. For 9 days, I think I spent, at most $200 on food items (including lots of macaroons, coffee every day, and a full belly every night). Our Airbnbs added up to around $300 for 9 days, which isn't too bad for great locations and a nice bed, kitchen, and coffee machine to call ours every night. And let me just say,  you can make lodging A LOT cheaper if you stay in hostels. Like I said before-- make the decision early on with what type of a trip it is going to be. 

In order to break up large chunks of reading, here are some of the pictures I took as I slung my camera around Edinburgh, London, and Paris. I'm really thinking about selling some of the photos as prints, so let me know if you'd be interested in having an Eiffel Tower print hanging in your room one day!  

I get giddy all over again after scrolling through those photos! All of these were taken with a Canon 50mm 1.4-- the lightest lens I had, that I figured would be perfect for traveling. Stay tuned for a second blog post full of recommendations of attractions, shops, restaurants, etc. in Edinburgh, London, and Paris. It is so fun for me to connect with others over travel, and share the places that have grown the most beautiful memories in my heart. If you have any further questions, please reach out! I would love to answer anything more in depth. 

Savanna Brown