I have to admit that the heavy tulle skirt stuffed underneath the form-fitting olive one was a bit daunting at first, because it felt very thick. But since the fullness at the bottom of the skirt made a nice contrast with the nipped-in waist of the jacket, I went with it. In the end I was glad I did, because the whole outfit had the vibe I was going for, and the two skirts together made the most pleasing swishing sound when I walked, which really enhanced the feel of the whole thing.
Outfit details: Jacket - F21, camisole: Papillon, Olive skirt: Skingraft, tulle skit: Noa Noa, boots: Mia
First up for the travel wrap-up part of the post, I thought I'd share the results of the survey I conducted, and how I plan to handle travel-related posts based on the results. Out of 97 responses, here's the breakdown:
- 66% would like to see me feature more travel posts
- 24% think they're ok once in awhile but not as a regular feature
- 10% say just stick to fashion
- Of those who like the travel posts, 75% would like to see them once a month and 16% say maybe once every 3 months.
Here's the breakdown of what topics you'd like to see me cover:
- Travel how-to's: 70%
- Destinations: 68%
- Budget Travel: 63%
- Travel-related links: 35%
- Other: 10%
In order to strike the best balance, here's my plan: I'll make the travel posts a regular feature, and post as often as I have topics; I'll shoot for roughly once a month but realistically it will probably turn out to be more sporadic than that. However, since some of you don't enjoy the travel posts at all, I'll post them on the weekends so that the number of fashion posts remains the same; those of you who aren't interested in the travel posts can then easily skip over them.
As for topics, the numbers that came up in the survey pretty much reflect the relative frequency of the topics I'd choose anyway, so the proportions should come out to mostly travel tips, destinations, and budget travel, with a few links and other tidbits thrown in from time to time as I find them. Several of you commented that you'd like to see me explore the relationship between travel and style, either as it relates to style in different destinations or to looking stylish while traveling; I will definitely weave these ideas into the posts as frequently as possible, since this is a style blog after all. Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey; it was very helpful feedback!
And now, I'll circle back to some of the topics covered in my series, and see if I can answer a few of your questions as well as share some of your input with everyone else. Here are some additional thoughts based on the comments I received on my posts:
Renting a condo, apartment, or house: This is a great option if you're traveling with friends. I've rented apartments in Prague and Riga that I split with friends, and they came out to just slightly more than a sparsely-equipped hostel, and with a lot more privacy, security, and amenities. The gorgeous villa that my friends and I rented in Mexico in 2008 cost each person under $300 for the entire stay. This is a great way to have more luxurious lodgings on a budget.
Bed and Breakfasts are another great option for inexpensive lodging that offers a bit more comfort and charm than hostels. Airbnb.com is a resource I wasn't familiar with, but sounds like a great way to rent a room on the cheap, as is Couchsurfer.com. Fare Compare is a good resource for finding cheap flights.
Travel insurance: This is a great idea if your plans are at all uncertain, and particularly if you don't have medical insurance that will cover you while traveling. The cost is usually modest and can save you thousands if you need to cancel or have mishaps while abroad.
Studying abroad: If you are still a student, SERIOUSLY CONSIDER this possibility. You will not regret it! I'll tell you a little story about this. In college when I was studying herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians, not the herpes virus!), my class was offered an opportunity to do some field work in a remote region of Africa, which I passed up because I had a boyfriend, who I later married. I could've had an obscure species of frog named after me, and possibly my own Discovery Channel show; instead I got an ex-husband. Think about it.
A great example of how to think creatively about your options for travel (from Ali): "Last year, for example, I was waiting for my next job to begin and planned to move to a cheaper apartment. In the interim, I put everything in storage, and I spent a month and a half in Asia for the same price it would cost to barely survive here in California. In the end, I didn't sacrifice a dime more than I would've spent had I not gone. And I got an incredible experience in return." I just love stories like this; thank you for sharing, Ali!
If you travel for work, find out if you have the option of building in some extra vacation time at your destination. I did this in 2008 when I had a conference in Germany; my company covered the airfare and I ended up with one of my long flight days being built into the business part of the trip rather than eating up any of my vacation time.
Some additional thoughts on traveling with kids: Small-to-medium sized European cities such as Salzburg and Krakow got the thumbs-up from several readers. Camping was mentioned as a great low-cost option, and a good strategy seems to be to choose a central location and take day trips from there, which is far easier than packing up several times and traveling to a new destination. Regions with good local produce and hearty regional foods -- think France, Portugal, Italy, and Spain -- are great places to save money by buying produce, bread, and fresh cheeses from local markets and making your own meals.
Security: A couple of people mentioned this, so I'll spend some time on this one. I know that money belts are often touted as a travel must-have, but I have to admit that I generally don't use one. Why? Well, they're uncomfortable and they look bulky under my clothes, plain and simple. Plus it's a pain to get things out, and it usually means exposing my midriff to do so. But I'm a city gal and I'm used to city ways, so I figure I'll be fine in any other city I go to. That said, I was pickpocketed in Rome, however all the thief got was about 20 euros and a couple of useless cards, because I made sure not to carry anything irreplaceable in any conspicuous place like a purse. It all comes down to being alert, avoiding overly-crowded places, not being too bogged down with bags and luggage (which was my mistake in Rome), keeping track of your purse or wallet, and not getting suckered by con artists. Common sense is really all it takes, and honestly, getting a few things stolen is only the end of the world if you let it be.
As for violence or other safety concerns, do not let the media's sensationalism of isolated cases blow things out of proportion for you. Right now Columbia is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous places to travel, and yet it's also quickly becoming one of the hottest new destinations (and in fact, a friend of mine just went there and had no problems). It's my feeling that pretty much any place can be safe (though obviously I wouldn't recommend going somewhere like Haiti or Sudan), just as any place can be unsafe if you don't exercise good judgement. Most countries have some sort of travel warnings associated with them; in fact, the good old USA seems like a hotbed of terrorist activities according to the Australian government. It's important to keep some perspective.
Destinations: There were several people who chimed in with some great suggestions for destinations; I'll point you to the comments, particularly on Part III, for those. Among the cities mentioned were Istanbul (which is on my short list already), Marrakesh (ditto on the short list), Edinburgh (headed there this year, among other places), Languedoc, Gdańsk, and a few others.
Finally, I'll do my best to answer a few specific questions that were raised. I'd love to hear what the rest of you have to contribute!
Natalia from Poland asked about travel in the United States. I haven't traveled too extensively around the US, so I'm looking to my readers for more input on this one. But what I can tell you, Natalia, is that the US is HUGE and you will have to do a lot of flying if you want to see more than just the Eastern seabord. A good sampling of the different regions might include New York, Chicago, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and San Francisco (C'mon, you KNEW I'd have to list my beloved SF; it's the best city in the nation!). But you're talking about a lot of flights, so it's going to depend on how much time you've got. Obviously from Europe, the east coast is going to be a lot easier to get to than the west, but as someone who is very partial to the west, I'd say it's a must-see. Readers, what places would you suggest?
H to the izzo asked which countries are on the cheaper side. This is a tough one to answer, because these days your single biggest expense in any trip is probably going to be the airfare, and oftentimes places that are cheaper to travel in aren't necessarily cheaper to travel to. Take Argentina for instance; you can have an amazing steak dinner with appetizers, wine, and dessert for around $30 per person, and yet good luck finding airfare from the US for under $800. On the other hand you can often find cheap flights to London and Paris, two of Europe's most expensive cities. So you really have to take the whole trip into consideration here. I'd start with finding the cheapest airfares, and then worry about exchange rates and all that. As long as you keep your airfare low and stay in hostels, you can make pretty much any destination work for your budget.
And finally, Sara from New York hit me with this rather tricky one: "If you had a small, small budget (of about $2,000 total) and could only travel from January to March, for about a week to 10 days, where would you go?" First off, the weather at that time of year is going to be an issue in much of the Northern Hemisphere, and I'm assuming that the Southern Hemisphere is going to be too far to travel for such a short trip. Unless you really love darkness and cold, you'll definitely want to avoid Scandinavia (plus it's an expensive destination anyway) and the rest of Northern Europe. So if I'm assuming correctly and you're interested in not freezing, then I'd start with places like Spain, Mexico, Belize, and so on. The weather won't necessarily be ideal at that time of year, but it'll be better than say, Denmark or Poland. Definitely start with the airfare to narrow down your choices. If you can keep your airfare low then you're in pretty good shape already. Assume you'll be able to find hostel or B&B-style lodging for $10-20 per person per night, which puts your total lodging expenditure at $400 tops. If you can then find a destination that keeps your airfare around $400 per person or less, you'll still have about $800 to play with, or $80/day for a 10-day trip. It'll be very tight, but you can do it. Finding the cheapest hostels can free up a little more cash for meals and other expenses. Good luck; I'd love to hear back from you as you're making your plans!
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to this series; it was a lot of fun to put together. Feel free to stop in and make requests for future travel topics at any time!