Travel Tips

One of things I was so excited about when I was coming to Romania was the possibility of travel. I love traveling. It gives me so much joy to visit other countries and see other cultures and ways of life. Even though I was an English major, I did a lot of history study so that I could enjoy literature in context.

The downside to not having my former job is that I have a lot less funds than before, but I consider myself fortunate because budget travel forces you to be a lot more inventive. I think traveling on the cheap can also help you to have a more authentic experience.

Some of our favorite experiences from the places we’ve visited in the past year have been either free or very low cost. For example, all the FREE WALKING TOURS we have done. I really can’t say enough positive things about free walking tours.

Here are some of the internet tools I use to plan our trips:

Google Flights – great for exploring prices in your potential travel window

ITA Flight Matrix –  this tool allows you to see the prices of flights for a specific route during a window; perfect if your travel window is flexible (select month view and you can see the cost of all the fares for the month to your destination)

Booking.com – can save you 10% on hotel room after a few bookings; sometimes will have lower rates if you select a non-refundable rooms (I used an affiliate link here, and if you book using this link you get $20 and so do I)

Wizzair – for air travel to and from Romania

VRBO/AirB&B – for when you can’t find a hotel or when you want to be able to cook your own meals

Now, none of these resources are very novel or secret. It’s just that they are reliable tools that routinely provide great results for me.

I use Booking.com usually because I get a 10% discount on what they call their “genius” bookings. After so many reservations (I think 5), you automatically get this discount. Now, I know it’s not much, but 10% can usually offset the daily city tax that you get charged in many European cities.

TripAdvisor also offers a lot of great reviews and pointers on their forums. Personally, I like to scout out the places I want to visit (as well as the restaurants) and save them to my Google Maps ahead of time. That way,  I can just consult the map to see if we’re close to any places of interest or good places to eat. I learned the hard way that trying to find a cheap and decent place to eat when you’re already hungry (and your phone is on 2G) is really difficult.

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All of the highly rated food places from Trip Advisor, plugged into my Google Map that I saved for offline use.

I think when it comes to budget travel, the word that comes to mind is flexibility. You must be flexible. Yes, you will be able to travel, but you might not always be in the best location or have the best flight time. Think about where you’re willing to sacrifice a bit – okay, maybe you’re not in the coolest neighborhood, but are you near a metro/bus stop?

Believe it or not, that sort of compromise can actually make your trip a lot more convenient. An early flight could mean that you can have a great nap on the plane. Instead of seeing these compromises as negatives, try and see them as opportunities for your adventure. Literally every time something goes wrong for Claudiu and I, we look at each other and say, “Adventure!” as in, this is adding some excitement to our trip and possibly another great story to tell our family and friends later. Of course, we love it when everything goes smoothly, but when it doesn’t, it’s more fun when you frame it in a positive way.

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This Vaporetto trip in Venice took a lot longer than we thought and we ended up being late – but hey, we were together (!) in Venice! Adventure!

Mici Mici Mici Mici

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The secret ingredient is Ciucas beer poured over the meat while it’s on the grill

Happy 1 Mici…I mean, 1 Mai, everybody!

The first of May is a special holiday in Romania. It’s labor day, which means almost everything is closed and almost everybody gets the whole day to chill!

Appropriate trips or activities for this day include: going to the seaside, going to the mountains, or getting out into the countryside.

But above all, you must grill mici.

From this Romania Insider article:

“The…peak [of Mici sales] is recorded in the May 1 mini-break, when the Romanians eat more than 30 million mici in 2-3 days, representing 1,500 tons.”

1,500 tons of mici.

For the uninitiated, the word mici means “littles” in Romanian, so mici are (little) sausages of minced meat. This can lead to some jokes, such as the one McDonald’s made a year or so ago in this commercial:

You can see, mici are more than a little popular (ha). You can find them everywhere – some places make them not-so-mici and they end up looking more like hamburger sticks. Any way you get them, you can dip them in some muștar (mustard) and they’re pretty tasty. I didn’t like them at first, but they’ve grown on me a bit.

So I hope everyone enjoyed their day of rest. We had beautiful weather in Brasov and celebrated with a backyard grill and sitting in the sun. Everything is so green here. It smells amazing.

Bonus picture of the mici magician, whose favorite trick is making mici disappear:

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“Abra-ca-DABRAchompGHGHHHgulp lick lick lick”