Thursday, September 19, 2013

Dress Smarter

If you are staying in a European Country, you definitely need to dress smarter. The key to this, is layering. You never know when an overcast Belgian day will turn sunny and make you rethink your whole outfit! At the same time, you never know when a cloudless sky will unleash constant spitting rain on you. 

When you get up in the morning and look into your closet, take a minute to think. Take a glance out your window or maybe check the high and low temperature, then add or subtract ten more degrees to each, and you might have a better idea. 

I always start with what shoes I want to wear. If its raining, or could rain (mostly any day in Belgium or the UK) then wear something with sturdy soles, like boots or good flats. Then go from there! 

Bottoms are up next, pants or a skirt/dress with leggings or tights. It doesn't get terribly hot or humid here, so you won't usually need any Daisy Dukes to wear on a daily basis. Once again for rainy days, be cautious of maxi skirts or dresses. 

Tops are the hardest. You should wear multiple layers, in case you need to take a few off when its sunny and warm while walking, and add some back while sitting in a colder classroom. Cardigans or pullover sweaters are good for this. Wear a simple top underneath that can work on its own if you need to take the sweater off. Always have a good coat or jacket with you, and don't forget a scarf! They can add the perfect bit of extra warmth you may need! And they are a European staple. You may want to get an umbrella, or if you are like me and have a tiny purse, I always wear a scarf and use that as a hood when it decides to rain. 

The weather can be unpredictable, but you can be prepared and stylish!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Traveling can be stressful. But necessary. 

When traveling its always important to be relaxed. Everything will be okay. The ruder you are to the people controlling your destiny (i.e. flight attendant, airport desk worker, ticket man), the worse off your traveling experience will be. So take a deep breath and put a smile on. While I was traveling to Brussels, Belgium from Louisville, Kentucky, my friend Karli and I had a series of frustrating yet uncontrollable experiences. 

  1. BOTH of our suitcases were overweight. How embarrassing! We just did some rearranging and ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, we were set to go! Always prioritize what you actually need as opposed to what you just want. Remember, many foreign countries also have body wash or towels!
  2. Our flight got delayed on the runway. This was sad. We sat on the Louisville runway for almost two hours, resulting in us missing our international flight. Always pack something to do, like a book to read, and something to eat, like a little bag of nuts! 
  3. We had to find a new flight. This is when a smile can be worth more than money. Our delayed flight cause a tremendous amount of angry people. We just kept smiling and thanking our Airways agent, and it was a breeze. She was stressed out too, and thankfully she did everything to help us get our tickets to our new flight to Frankfurt, Germany, then to Brussels. 
  4. No one met us at the airport/train station. Which was no big deal really, we are two savy young adults and we found our way. The walk would normally be a short one, but we were lugging a large 50 pound bag, rolling carry on and backpack! 
So my tips for anyone traveling for a long stay visit are: 
  1. Weigh your bag BEFORE you get to the airport.
  2. Bring snacks and entertainment. 
  3. Always bring your best attitude. (Don't forget, you are about to have one of the greatest experiences of your life!)
  4. Write down the address of where you are going! This saved us, we had to ask a few people, but we knew where we were going!
  5. Write down a few numbers in case you need some help. Like your RA, program director, or even a cab company! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Don't Forget

As I am getting ready to leave the country for the longest period that I have ever been in a foreign country, I am going through my head trying to check and double check everything that I can. Clothes and accessories can be purchased abroad, so there is no real need to worry about forgetting your favorite pair of knee socks. Some things are harder to replace once you get there. Here are some tips to remember when you are just a few days away from departure. 

  1. Make copies of travel documents- This is very important, because your passport and visa are what make it legal for you to be there! If it gets stolen, you will have to begin the painful process of getting a new one while abroad. BUT if you make a copy of your passport and visa, and leave one with your parents and take one with you and put it in your luggage, it will make the process much easier! The better option still is to not misplace it or have it stolen! So always be aware when you are out in busy areas abroad, but also bring copies just in case. 
  2. Put travel notices on all of your cards- Credit and debit cards that is! You need to call the number on the back of any credit/debit/bank cards that you plan on taking with you. If you don't, the moment you try to swipe your card to buy that Belgian waffle the moment you step out of the airport, your card may be declined. How is your bank supposed to know you are suddenly a world traveler unless you tell them? 
  3. Make a list of emergency numbers- If you are taking an American Phone, plan on taking a talk card with you or switch your plan to international before you leave. Some cell carriers won't have any service abroad if you don't have a certain plan. Ask if you plan on using your American phone. I suggest getting a cheap pay as you go foreign phone. Perfect for staying in touch with new friends you meet and in case of emergencies. The next thing you need to do is make a list of emergency contact numbers, in case you do not have internet access or in case your phone gets stolen or broken. Some numbers you might want to have are the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate (in case of lost passport), a contact for the program you are in if you are there to study, your bank/credit card numbers (in case your cards get stolen), the local emergency number, and a contact at home. 
  4. Packing liquids and meds- You can only carry on liquids under 3 oz, so plan accordingly. If you plan on taking big bottles, such as shampoo or sunscreen, a tip is to take off the top and put a piece of plastic wrap then put the lid back on. This prevents leaving through the top. The precautionary wrapping of the bottles in one or two plastic bags is always good too. Checked luggage gets thrown around, so always put fragile items more to the center, so the cushion of your clothes can protect them. Medicines in a carry on must be in original packs or bottles. Save yourself the trouble of the security man contemplating if you are a drug pusher by leaving them be! I always put my meds in my ziplock liquids bag as well. 
  5. What to wear- I know many people believe you wear sweats on the plane ride. I am not one of those people. If you are a student, and show up at the airport after a flight in leggings as pants and a frat tank, you will be judged, or at least labeled as a sloppy American. If you are cool with that, more power to you! But as it is, when packing for a long stay, you should try to wear as much and as heavy clothing as you can. For my flight I will be wearing my heavy brown boots, printed jeans, a tank, a v neck, a cardigan, leather jacket, scarf and fedora. I am comfortable in these clothes, and I will look nice one I get there! And I just saved my self a few pounds on my checked luggage- and trust me, every pound counts when packing for a semester long stay! 

Monday, September 9, 2013


When preparing for traveling abroad, always make lists. Such as:

  1. A list of what you need to take
  2. A list of what you will need to buy
  3. A list of everything you need to do before you can leave
  4. A list of people to send postcards to
  5. A list of places you want to go
  6. A list of what apps I need to download
  7. ect.
Then when packing, make a list of what you are taking, so that when you get over there, you don't frantically search your bag for your blue polka dot scrunchie that goes perfect with your "first day out on the town" dress. You will know what you have when you get over there, and you will know what you need to bring back! My sister and I packed the majority of my bags last week, and made a detailed list. Such as:

  1. 3 cardigans: black, maroon, teal
  2. 4 sweaters: yellow, yellow colorblock, sea foam, Hermoine
  3. 3 Long Sleeve tops: blue flowerdy, yellow, and yellow striped
  4. ect. 
It can also be helpful to make a list of outfits able to be made from the articles of clothes you are taking. There is no sense squeezing in your favorite plaid romper if none of your sweaters, shoes or leggings match it! Pack smarter not harder. Make a list of what CAN be worn with certain items. Such as:
  1. Blue Dress: black cardigan, teal sweater, yellow colorblock sweater, black leggings, black tights, black heels, navy flats, nude flats. 
  2. Sheer long skirt: black skirt, any sweater, black tank, grey tank, teal top, black heels, nude flats
  3. ect. 
Finally, the best lists are those composed on the plane ride. I always take a few minutes out of the hours I have in the air to reflect on what I really want to do. If you are flying with a friend, like I am, its a great way to figure out what you MUST do, what you COULD do, and what you WON'T do! If you have an idea of what you want to get accomplished, it is much easier to plan for it! Such as:
  1. Must go to Croatia, the UK, Venice, and Monaco
  2. Could go to the Louvre, Big Ben, Cologne, and Netherlands
  3. Won't go to Russia. 

What's it all about?

Hello readers of the World Wide Web!

My name is Janet, and I'm the Thrifty Drifter: one who flies by the seat of their wallet, and takes every opportunity to see the world on a budget!

This blog will be focused on my study abroad experience this fall at KU Leuven located in Belgium!

This won't be my first time to hop the pond though, since I have been abroad five times before in my life, and have visited 10 other countries! I know I am one lucky girl, and I want to share my experiences and hopefully make traveling abroad a breeze for other people! Follow me for tips on how to get the most use out of your Euro, must-see places to visit, and fun stories from someone actually experiencing it!