July 2011

Long before I actually started this blog, I started scraping my money together for a trip to S.E. Asia. I started my blog with every intention of starting my travels in Thailand, then soon fell in love with the idea of going to Argentina.

For a vast majority of my trip planning, I thought I was going to Argentina. I budgeted and saved my money for Argentina.

Then the one way ticket to London came up, and it was something I just couldn’t let slip. But now I’m left with a glaring money hole since I’ve been saving for an Argentinian budget. All of us know how expensive Europe is right about now, and if this whole debt crisis situation in the US doesn’t get solved, the value of the dollar is expected to drop significantly. But don’t get me started on that. Sigh.

What’s a girl to do who wants to splurge a little bit and not scrape by? I started applying for a part time restaurant hostess job almost immediately after we purchased the tickets. I have 3 1/2 years of hostess experience, so I just went with what I know how to do best. I went through a crazy 3 week roller coaster of interviews, 2nd interviews, and even 3rd interviews without any luck. Despite feeling let down again and again, I kept applying. It’s amazing just how much the idea of travel motivates and pushes you.

After 6 interviews, a few letdowns and antagonizing long waits, I received not one, but TWO job offers. To say that I’m completely blessed to find jobs in this economy is an understatement. I burst into tears after I heard the news.

So for the next 3 and a half months, I’ll be working part time, having my dolla dolla bills to fill in my budget gap. While working as a hostess is obviously not the ideal job for me, it’s all about saving the extra money for experiences. I know that it’s part time, I know that is only for a limited amount of time, and I know I’ll be able to splurge on the occasional 3 course meal without having to eat on a stale baguette for a week because I spent too much money.

What types of jobs have you had to take for the sake of travel? Leave your stories in the comments!

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In 2007, I studied abroad in London for 5 months. In those short five months, London quickly became my home. I had favorite pubs, bartenders at martni bars knew my name. I learned where every Sainsbury’s and Tesco was in a few block radius. I learned to stand on the right side of the escalator. I navigated the tube like a complete pro. Studying abroad completely changed my life, and I’ve always dreamed of going back to London where my most amazing adventures began. Now that my dream is a reality, I’ve been making a list of all the places and things I can’t wait to revisit. Drum Roll please!

1. Tabio
Yes. I have completely fallen in love with a specialty sock store. From the moment I saw the Tabio store front on Neal St., I knew it was a match made in heaven. Living in California, Alabama and Florida, I never had a need for long socks or tights. But when I moved to London, I quickly realized that socks and tights were all the rage (plus it was cold as hell).  There’s so much to choose from at Tabio: wool tights, pattered tights, knee high socks, thigh high socks, even leg warmers! Yes, the socks and tights at Tabio are a little pricey, but the quality is well worth it. To this day, I still have all of my socks from Tabio and break them out every winter. I can’t wait to stock up!

strongbow super cider 10 Things Im Looking Forward to When I Return to London2. Strongbow Super
I’ve always had a long, outstanding affair with Strongbow. Yes, Strongbow Cider is available in America. But is Strongbow Super available? Sadly, no. While I was in London, Super Strongbow was a staple. Each can has a whopping 7.5% alcohol, and definitely gets the party started. Many of my hazy London memories began with cans of Stongbow Super.

3. Bodean’s
Bodean’s is an American BBQ food chain restaurant, something I found pretty unusual for London. But what made Bodean’s special was that the restaurant showed American sports (including football!). As a girl who loves her college football and the NBA, Bodean’s was a godsend. The place was always packed with American expats, and they had FREE REFILLS. If you’ve ever been anywhere in the UK or Europe, you know just how amazing a place is when they have free refills.

4. Harrod’s
Sure, Harrod’s is largely a tourist attraction, but damn, it’s awesome. I could seriously spend an entire lifetime there. I don’t know if it’s still there, but the teddy bear Globe Theatre display is one of the coolest fucking things I’ve ever seen. Each floor is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and I loved hanging out in the couture departments and pretending I could actually afford a $700 Burberry trench coat.

5. Dirty Martini Bar in Covent Garden
Dirty Martini is the home to the most delicious chocolate martini I’ve ever had in my entire life. My girl friends and I went to Dirty Martini so much, the bartenders knew us by name and gave us free drinks. Being in London around the time when the dollar was the weakest it had been in ages, free drinks were very much appreciated. Not to mention the fact that the drinks were insanely delicious. Another one of my favorites was the Berry Blast: Absolut Kurant Vodka and creme de mure muddled with fresh blackberries and raspberries then shaken with apple juice, lemon juice and a dash of vanilla syrup. Yes, I’ll take 4.

3303319897 7ac897829b 10 Things Im Looking Forward to When I Return to London6. TopShop on Oxford Street
The first time I stepped into TopShop on Oxford Street, I almost dropped to my knees and praised the fashion gods. It’s hands down the most amazing store in the world (to me). It’s HUGE, and has everything a fashionista like myself could ever want. You can even get your nails done, or a blowout for your hair! Part of the reason I’m trying to find a part time job is so I can have a shopping spree there ;).

7. PizzaExpress
I LOVED PizzaExpress. The pizza was delicious, the wine was awesome and the ambiance was to die for. I always went to PizzaExpress whenever I wanted an inexpensive, but nice meal before going out for the night.

8. The Crown
The Crown was the pub I spent the majority of my time in while I lived in London. It was located near a small university, so it was one of the few pubs I went to that actually had people there around my age. Not to mention they offered £5 burger and pint combos all day, every day. At that price, it was cheaper to go to the pub than it was to get a value meal at McDonalds! They also served pitchers of liquor, and a pitcher of rum and coke became the staple in me and my classmates lives. Some of my fondest (and drunkest) memories are at The Crown.

9. Walking
It’s so nice not having to rely on a car to get around. In London, everything I needed was within a few block radius. I walked to Covent Garden, Oxford Street, The West End, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square. And the places I couldn’t walk to, there was the tube to take me there. Being in LA, the most expansive fucking city EVER, it’s pretty damn near impossible to get around without a car. Some days, I swear I spend more time in my car than actually getting anything done. I’m looking forward to toning up my legs by walking everywhere.

dionysus 300x184 10 Things Im Looking Forward to When I Return to London10. Dionysus Fish and Chip Shop
If you were ever anywhere drunk in the West End, you’ve surely heard about Dionysus. Yes, I know Dionysus is closed, but it wouldn’t be a proper post about London if I didn’t mention it. Dionysus was home to the best drunk after the club food ever. After 2am, the line was around the block, but totally worth it. Fresh, hot chips/fries topped with cheese, Greek style chicken, and some type of garlic/vinegar/delicious sauce…I can’t even count how many hangovers Dionysus prevented. I heard rumors that they might re open somewhere else, and if you have the deets, please let me know!

What are some of your favorite places you like to go when you revisit your favorite city? Let me know in the comments!

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Since Johnny and I bought our one way tickets to London, we have been researching like mad. We’ve been figuring out what countries we want to visit on our European leg of our trip, what excursions we want to splurge on, how much weight I’m going to gain in Italy when I eat pasta every day… you know, normal things. And then I happened upon the most magical, amazing, glorious, glamorous thing I’ve ever laid my eyes upon.

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Words can’t even describe the feeling I felt when I first found out that such a glitzy, glamorous, luxury train exists. There are no jeans, tennis shoes or t-shirts allowed ladies and gents. There is only elegant attire allowed. According to the train’s official website: “Dressing for the occasion is all part of the experience. Our guide is that you can never be overdressed aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.” I might faint.

vsoe fashionclassandjetlag1 Wanderlust Indeed! A Look at the Venice Simplon Orient ExpressThe Venice Simplon-Orient-Express began as a luxury carrier for nobility and celebrities during the early 1900s. In the 70s, the train started to downgrade its routes, and slowly, but surely fizzled out. James Sherwood, a railroad enthusiast, purchased two of the cars at an auction in Monte Carlo, and then decided to restore, and invest 16 million dollars into the remaining cars. In 1982, the first London to Venice train ride took off, and has been going strong ever since.

venice simplonorientexpress fashionclassandjetlag61 Wanderlust Indeed! A Look at the Venice Simplon Orient ExpressThe train carriages are also rich in history (Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was inspired by the train), and the ride is one of the most romantic in the world. Can you imagine getting proposed to on a train like this? I cry.

Of course, such luxuries come at a pretty penny. A one way ticket for one person from London to Venice is $3,210. But I’d probably sell half of my soul to be able to ride on a train like this one day. Or maybe a leg… then I wouldn’t be able to wear any cute shoes. Okay, maybe a kidney. You can live with only one of them, right? icon wink Wanderlust Indeed! A Look at the Venice Simplon Orient Express

vsoe fashionclassandjetlag111 Wanderlust Indeed! A Look at the Venice Simplon Orient ExpressI’m dreaming of the beautiful, romantic memories I’d have on a train ride like this. Imagine sipping champagne as you pass by the Swiss Alps, dining on meals specially prepared by French chefs, sipping handcrafted cocktails while listening to a man in a tux play a baby grand piano… Swoon. I’m already planning what type of cocktail gowns I’d buy and what type of vintage luggage I’d bring aboard. A girl’s gotta dream big right?

{Photos via  Venice Simplon-Orient-Express}

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Planning Stages

Post image for Planning Stages

by Sheryll on July 21, 2011

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the short hiatus in blogging. I know I kind of left you on a cliff hanger (YAY, I’ve bought a ticket! But aww no more updates). I’ve been playing tour guide all week to my older sister and mom! Driving around LA, shopping, eating out, while all amazing and fun, has taken a toll on me. I’m exhausted. And I’ve totally been neglecting things around here, and in my own personal life.

So now that I’ve bought a one way ticket to begin the start of my adventures, I’ve been completely overwhelmed with trying to plan the trip. I know I have 117 days, but I know that those days are going to FLY by. Since we bought tickets, Johnny and I have been glued to the computer, creating mock itineraries and trying to figure out how we can get the most bang for our buck. Not to mention the fact I’ve been running around LA trying to get a part time job to make some extra cashola. Keep your fingers crossed for me! I should be getting a call soon!

Our original plan was to backpack our way around Europe. But if you know me, or have been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know I’m totally not the backpacker type. I hate carrying things, and I much prefer to stay in one area for an extended amount of time. Plus, how in the world am I supposed to fit my 5 inch, leather thigh high boots in a backpack? And yes, I really do have 5 inch thigh high leather boots. Didn’t you know I’m a bad ass bitch?!

Inspired by a post by Suzy Guese, Johnny and I soon realized that it would be a much better option for the both of us to rent an apartment in Paris (after we visit London!) and travel from there. A quick glance at hostel prices in Europe proved that staying in an apartment was a WAY more cost effective option than traveling week to week, country to country. Budget airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet offer awesome deals for traveling around Europe, not to mention the trains and buses that are available. And seriously? How could I say no to living in Paris? Just thinking about it gives me butterflies!

So now comes the hard part… Finding an apartment in Paris. We’ve found some great places, all of course well out of our budget price range. Do you know of any great places to find an apartment rental in Paris? Airbnb.com and Vrbo.com have all been great starting points, but I’d love to hear from my awesome readers!

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Are you a 20something trying to find your place in society? Trying to find a job? Trying to figure out what kind of job you want in the first place? Feeling depressed because you’re in your 20s and still living at home? I come to you today with a special treat!

Liz Funk Coming of Age in A Crap Economy – An Interview with Liz FunkLiz Funk is a New York based author, journalist, blogger, speaker and an all around awesome, bad ass 20something woman. She’s launching an incredible new 4 part ebook series titled ‘Coming of Age in a Crap Economy’ (available on Amazon and BN.com) . Chock full of interesting facts, statistics and real life stories, Liz has written an incredible guide for us 20somethings trying to navigate the job market today, or even create your own income independently! She does an incredible job of making you feel inspired, motivated and ready to get off your ass and do something.  And what makes it better is that she IS actually 20something, so she totally understands the plight of the quarterlife crisis. After reading her book, I was so inspired I actually went ahead and bought my life changing ticket to London. So, yeah, it’s amazing! I had the marvelous opportunity to interview Liz, and I’d like to share it with you!

What was your first inspiration for writing Coming of Age in a Crap Economy book series?

I got the idea to write the book in the public bathroom at the beach in Santa Monica, of all places.  I took a six-week vacation to Santa Monica in January/February of 2010, as a way to nip my quarterlife crisis in the bud (I had been pretty devastated by the realization that my dream of being a writer in New York City wasn’t really possible anymore, because of how the recession had decimated the media industry) and because I wanted to explore the possibility of moving to LA.  Between February of 2010 and now, I have had so many experiences—good and bad—that made me want to serve up a really honest, no-holds-barred look at what it’s like to be in your twenties in an economy that was essentially hit by a hurricane right as today’s 20somethings were graduating and trying to get settled in their 20s and to reassure other young people that they’re NOT alone and that the way to rock the recession is to create your own opportunities in the face of there being few structured ones.

What advice do you have to offer 20 somethings who feel lost and can’t find jobs in this economy? Do you think that trying to be self sufficient and work independently is a good route to go?

Yes, definitely! Looking for a job these days sucks.  Most of the twentysomethings I talked to who were in the middle of job hunting expressed that they felt like their resumes were being “sucked into a black hole” and that job hunting for a long period of time without success is pure misery. The next book in the Coming of Age in a Crap Economy series will go over the state of job hunting, but for now, I think that 20somethings need to focus on making job hunting fun—do it with friends, or give yourself rewards for every 10, 50, and 100 cover letters and resumes you send out. But I think that if young people have been job hunting for a prolonged period of time, aren’t seeing results, and are miserable, then it’s definitely time to branch off on their own and start working for themselves.  The trick, when you want to be a sole proprietor in a bad economic climate, is to figure out how to use your skills to address a community need. This isn’t the best time to go out on your own as a freelance writer or graphic designer or fashion stylist, but it’s an awesome time to market yourself as an SAT study party host where you bring pizza, soda, and flash cards to groups of a dozen kids whose parents can’t foot the bill for Kaplan classes. Or to open a consultancy that connects small businesses about to close their doors with 20somethings who only shop if there are awesome deals advertised directly to them! If you go this route, working can actually be really energizing, as opposed to being a huge drag when you’re writing your umpteenth cover letter and not even really expecting to hear anything back.  It’s about finding meaningful work that you have control over.

In your book, you mention a young woman by the name of Ophelia who moved from NYC to Paris to find work and explore herself. Do you think this is a reasonable option for 20 somethings?

Yes!  That’s Ophelia, from the great blog, the Eternal Intern!  She was so interesting to talk to and I definitely recommend checking out the blog that she writes with two other world travelers who have interned in France, London, New York, and LA to learn more about their stories. I think it’s definitely feasible to leave the US and travel if you’re out of work in your twenties, with a few conditions: 1) If you’re leaving because you can’t find a job, you have to be positive that you’ve explored all possible opportunities, like freelancing, starting a small business, or creating some kind of enterprise or small organization with another young people, 2) You should probably have some means of making steady money from the US while you travel, like ads on your blog or ghostwriting someone’s twitter feed or, best yet, writing a travel blog for some publication, so you go to Europe with a financial safety net, and 3) You should probably have concrete goals to work on while you travel (whether it’s “learn French” or “Get to know myself” or “Get ideas for novels”) so you don’t land at the airport in some foreign land and freak out because you have no concrete purpose for being there.  But yes, I think traveling is a great way to kill time in the bad economy and personally, after speaking with Ophelia, I’m exploring my options to go abroad for a bit! I think it’s also really interesting to explore living in places where the cost of living is lower, not just Paris (which is substantially cheaper than New York, but not cheap, per se) but India and Vietnam and Japan.

Most 20 somethings are expecting to have their own apartments, nicer cars, being able to afford fancy dinners and happy hours with their friends. Sadly, the norm is that most of us are living with far too many roommates, parents, family members, buying food from the 99cent store and buying Charles Shaw wine. What are some tips you have for 20 somethings to help shake the feelings of inadequacy?

Oh my God, this is SO true. Sometimes I want to punch Kate Hudson in the face for the completely unrealistic depiction of 20something life that she serves up in How to Lose a Guy in a 10 Days and Raising Helen and Bride Wars.  I think at the end of the day, young people have to acknowledge that the media has really sold us a false bill of goods about what our 20s are supposed to be like and we need to learn to find the fun in living on the cheap. Surround yourself with other people who have good spending habits and realistic expectations about where you’re supposed to be in life and you’ll probably find that contentedness has an osmosis effect.  And it’s worth mentioning that people who belabor the fact that they drive a shiny new Acura or that they pay “x” sum for their spacious one-bedroom apartment may not be that happy, so definitely don’t use those folks as a measuring stick.

Yeah, eating cheap food and drinking terrible wine isn’t fun, but try to make it upscale: buy funky plastic square plates and bowls from Target so even Ramen looks like haute cuisine and drink wine out of a proper wine glass (even if it’s a one dollar wine glass that you got on clearance from Ross).

Finally, try to make room in your budget, whether it’s $10/week or $10/month for a little bit of luxury, whether it’s Thai takeout or a lipstick from Duane Reade or a little trinket from an antique store.

What are some smart tips for saving money and getting out of debt?

I’d say, Make a budget. Know exactly how much you need to pay every month for rent, utilities, your phone, your insurance, etc. Then figure how much you need to pay on your credit cards and student loans every month.  Then figure out how much you want to spend on food and entertainment. What’s left over (hopefully there’s something left over), you can decide exactly how you want to use it. It’s so important to have a clear picture of your finances so you can avoid getting into a hole and so you can make concrete plans for the future!

Thanks, Sheryll!

And now, Liz has given me the awesome opportunity to give away a free copy of her new ebook! There are only two simple steps you must complete to qualify.

To Enter:
1. Be a fan of The Wanderlust Project on Facebook
2. Leave a comment at the bottom of the page with your favorite tips on how you save your hard earned dolla dolla bills. (I really have to get on the grind since I have a big trip coming up and I’d love to hear your tips!)

Entries close at 11:59PM EDT on July 21.

EDIT: I had a massive brain fart and announced the winner a day early. I blame driving around for an entire week playing tour guide to my mom and sister. I’m so sorry to all those that entered later.

PS. There are no affiliate links in this post. I just think Liz is wonderful!

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