17 Tips to Afford Travel

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  1. Start small.
    1. Go camping at a national park.
    2. Visit one place at a time.
    3. Stay close to home.
  2. Prioritize and save.
    1. Skip the morning latte.
    2. Pack your lunches.
    3. Quell the shopping addiction.
  3. Split costs with a travel companion(s).
  4. Look for last minute deals.
  5. Plan months in advance.
  6. Go in the off season.
  7. Stay in hostels.
  8. Stay in Airbnbs.
  9. Stay with friends.
  10. Stay with family.
  11. Sign up for frequent flyer programs.
  12. Get a credit card that offers frequent flyer miles.
  13. Use cashback from credit cards for travel.
  14. Rent a car and road trip.
  15. Use your own car and road trip.
  16. Find alternate means of transportation.  For U.S. travel, try the Megasbus, Greyhound, or even Amtrak.
  17. Eat cheaply.
    1. Skip breakfast.
    2. Have one meal a day.
    3. Grocery shop.

Obviously these are tips you can choose to follow.  You don’t have to do all of them, but they are tips we’ve done in the past or recommended to us by friends.


Day Trip to Washington D.C.

Below are photos from our day trip to Washington D.C. in 2011.  At the time we were staying in Atlantic City and the drive down took 3 hours.  We didn’t mind the drive since it was our first time visiting the northeast.  In fact, it was rather an adventure for us although somewhat of a rude awakening because of the amount of toll roads crossed.  Over here in California we take our freeways for granted, and that was when I figured out where the name ‘freeway’ is from.

I’d definitely like to visit Washington D.C. again and spend a little more time in their museums since they’re free.  I’d also like to tour the White House because who wouldn’t right?  Historical buildings are just amazing to see!


Lincoln Memorial
The scale of the Lincoln Memorial is amazing.  I think seeing this in person blew me away.


Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial
U.S. State capitol building
U.S. State capital buildings

When We Went to Chicago

Chicago is a beautiful city.  We had the opportunity to visit in 2012 when our friends got married in Omaha, Nebraska.  And since we were in the mid-west, we made it a point to see downtown Chicago.  We purchased the CityPass because it gained us entry into the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck, Willis Tower, and the Art Institute of Chicago.  It was definitely a packed itinerary with a visit to Millennium Park, Lincoln Park Zoo, and gorging ourselves on deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s and Giordano’s.  It was a fun trip and we could definitely visit Chicago again.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from our trip.  Hope you enjoy!

View from the Shedd Aquarium balcony overlooking the city
Sue inside the Field Museum
Looking down from the Willis Tower
Cloud Gate in Millennium Park
Buckingham Fountain

Helpful Tips Before an International Trip

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Safety is always a priority when I travel.  Before choosing a place to visit, I first research what neighborhoods or areas to avoid.  Despite great deals on Hotel.com, Expedia, or other sites like Priceline, I base my accommodations on location.  I even go as far as looking at Google streetview, and if I’m happy with the vicinity, then I go ahead and book.  The other thing that I research especially when leaving the country is common tourist scams.  I don’t think anyone wants to be scammed, and I sure as heck don’t want to be kidnapped like the movie, Taken.  So other than researching safety, below are some other things to think about before jetting off to another country:

  1. Adapter plug for your phone and electronics.
  2. Check to see if the country you’re visiting requires a visa.  For Americans visiting Australia, it’s a requirement before entering the counter.  However, if you’re going to France you don’t need one.
  3. Your passport.  Invest in a passport holder so you don’t lose it.  For me, I put mine in a wristlet to be hands free when going through airport security.
  4. A credit card that doesn’t charge international fees.
  5. Currency exchange for transportation costs.  I’ve only used Travelex, but you can probably exchange currency at the airport.
  6. Initial transportation. Are you going to take a taxi, a bus, shuttle, train, subway, or Uber?
  7. Earbuds for watching movies on the plane.  You can use the ones provided in-flight, but for germaphobes, bring your own.
  8. Hand sanitizer and/or wipes if you want to wipe down your pullout tray and seat belt buckle.
  9. Water.  This will help you stay hydrated.  I once landed with a huge migraine because I didn’t drink enough water on the plane.
  10. Comfortable walking shoes if you plan to do a lot of walking.  As tourists, it’s recommended.
  11. In my opinion, a carry-on is enough for a trip.  A checked bag is okay if you have a direct flight, but I wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.  The less stuff you bring, the less that gets stolen.
  12. Dramamine if you get motion sickness.

What to Wear on your flight:

Comfortable clothes.  Just remember you’ll be sitting for at least 10 hours or more.  For those on birth control, overweight, or of old age, compression socks are highly recommended to prevent an embolism.  Yes, that’s right an embolism.


What NOT to pack:

  1. Fine jewelry.  You’ll probably get mugged.
  2. High heels unless you really plan on fine dining and/or a photo shoot.

Hope these tips were helpful!

Universal Studios in Hollywood

Our trip to Universal Studios was actually fun.  It was my first time ever going, and the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter park was the thing that got me to visit.  I can’t say I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, but I can say I did read all 7 books and watched all 7 movies.  So in a way, I am a fan but not unlike others who go above and beyond that.

The Harry Potter park is probably my favorite part of Universal Studios.  As a fan and also one who appreciates architecture, I loved walking through Hogsmeade and the castle.  The spaces are well thought out and creatively designed that it’s worth a trip despite the crowds.

Below are just a few photos I took at the park.  Hope you enjoy and find inspiration to go!

Trip duration: 2 day park pass (Aug 2016)

Waterworld show
Universal’s animal actors show
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

My Goal to Shop Less for a Sustainable World

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Since I’ve been studying for my architectural license I’ve been reading a lot about sustainable design.  Apparently 40-45% of energy consumption in the U.S. is from buildings, which has got me thinking about my own carbon footprint.  I think I’m fairly sustainable, but there are aspects in my life where I know I’m not.  I admit I have a little bit of a shopping problem, and also that I’m a sucker for fast fashion.  It’s a habit I definitely want to break because according to Ecowatch.com, the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world next to oil.

For the new year, my plan is to do the following:

  1. Shop less – The goal is to only buy necessities since I’m fairly happy with my closet.
  2. Donate the excess – I have a lot of clothes I don’t wear.  My plan is to donate unwanted clothes and shoes via ThredUp to the charity, Girls, Inc.
  3. Shop sustainable brands – I really want to do this, but need to do more research on sustainable brands.
  4. Thrifting –  I think for trendy items I may look into the idea of shopping second-hand.
  5. Go basic –  Instead of lots of patterned shirts and dresses, I plan to wear solids and use jewelry as a way to accessorize.  The goal is to avoid wearing a dress or shirt only once.  So investing in an LBD is probably the way to go.
  6. Buy workhorse items – I want to buy clothing items that can be worn for different occasions.  I realize I have this bad habit of buying a new dress for a wedding, which only gets used once or twice before I let it go to charity.
  7. Capsule wardrobe – I’m loving the idea of capsule wardrobes per season.  It’ll definitely pair down my closet and hopefully stop my fast fashion hauls.  The positives from all the shopping is that at least I’ve found my style.

12 New Things I Did or Tried in 2018 Including Travel Destinations

white and pink flowerson a book beside eyeglasses
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2018 was definitely a growing year for me.  I had some happy moments, but also some sad and really stressful times.  Despite the hard times though, I’m thankful for all the new things I got to do and try that I want to share them below:

  1. Korean Skincare Routine – This was the year I discovered Korean skincare and I have been loving it.  It’s affordable compared to items on Sephora and best of all it’s effective.  I just love how it transformed my skin especially for makeup, which brings me to point #2.
  2. Makeup – I was never one to wear a lot that is until I discovered Korean skincare.  With smooth and soft skin as a base, my makeup goes on naturally and now I’m a Sephora Insider (almost made it to VIB, but not quite).
  3. Investing – This was the year I started investing.  I know I’m a little late, but I spent most of my twenties trying to get out of debt (student loans, etc.) and the start of 2018 was when I became debt free!
  4. I passed 2 of the 6 NCARB tests for my license, but I also failed one test 3 times.  The third time was a low point for me.
  5. Austin, Texas – We went for a week and did a day trip to San Antonio to see the Alamo.  We didn’t do much.  It was raining for most of the time we were there so we stayed in and watched quite a bit of TV.
  6. Vancouver, BC – We went for 4 nights and 5 days.
  7. Day trip to L.A. – It was our first time flying to Los Angeles just for a day.  We went to see the musical, the Color Purple, and  I’m very open to the experience again in the future.
  8. Kevin Hart – We saw his show, “The Irresponsible Tour” and he’s hilarious!
  9. Miss Saigon – We finally saw it this year because the show came to San Francisco, and although the music is phenomenal, the story is so sad.
  10. Gucci bag – My first ever luxury purchase was this year in Austin, Texas.  For me, buying a luxury bag was to celebrate my becoming debt-free.
  11. Cordless Dyson – This is a game changer because now I love vacuuming and I do it several times a week now.  Cordless vacuuming is highly recommended.
  12. Crush – We saw Crush’s show in San Jose and he’s so good live.  I’m quite impressed my his singing.

I hope next year will be a year of more new experiences.  If I’m not trying new things, then I’m staying stagnant and to me it’s all about life experiences for self progression.