1 Day in Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont was just the city I wanted it to be. It was small — about the same size population as my hometown. It was charming — I’ll let the pictures do the talking. And everyone was as eco-friendly and tree-hugging as I’d heard. Burlington was the first stop on our Northeast Road Trip Extravaganza, (blog post coming shortly), so there was a lot of pressure to start the trip on a high note, and despite the cold and rainy weather, it really did. Here’s what we squeezed in our (less than) 24 hours in Burlington, Vermont.

Note: If you’re just here for the cold, hard facts, scroll down to the bottom for the overview and additional recommendations. 

We started our trip from Boston, driving in what appeared to be the Northeast’s first snow storm of the season. Making the best of the 4+ cars we saw in ditches, we blasted some Christmas music and got on our JOLLY WAY.

First Stop: Ben & Jerry’s Factory.

This was on my list of must-do’s — the $4 tour price tag and the simple prospect of ice cream had me sold. While the tour itself was only okay, the story of the ~birth of Ben & Jerry’s was interesting and inspiring. These were just two hippie guys trying to make chunky ice cream, and now here they are in every Target freezer in America! On a more serious note, Ben & Jerry’s had a nice little political plugs and sustainability comments in the tour that didn’t go unnoticed (in a good way). Very on-brand Vermont.

These tours run every half-hour at the factory in Waterbury, Vermont.

Second Stop: Freshen up and head to dinner.

After unpacking and freshening up from a long day of travel, we headed to Burlington’s main area near Church St. After a few recommendations, we chose American Flatbread for dinner, and I highly recommend. The restaurant has a great beer list from Zero Gravity Brewery (get the Forty Thieves Double IPA if you like hoppy beers), an eclectic menu, and a cozy atmosphere complete with wood-fire grill. I got the veggie special flatbread and loved every bite.

After Dinner, Grab Drinks

Not everyone loves hoppy beers (ugh) so we ended the night at Citizen Cider. Whether you’re a cider person or not, this place is definitely worth visiting. I spent $7 for a flight of five samples that included fun cider flavors, like ginger and basil — my two favorite. If you simply cannot give up an ounce of your masculinity, Vermont Pub & Brewery is convenient and close to many restaurants in Burlington. Now get some rest!

In the Morning…

Remind yourself you’re in beautiful Vermont upon waking, and then promptly grab breakfast. We opted for something simple and got bagels and coffee at Feldman’s Bagels. This is a great option for those who want something quicker, want to keep costs low (why is brunch so expensive?), or just like eating really good bagels. We like eating really good bagels.

Time to Explore

We spent our first few daylight hours roaming around Church Street– to me, this is quintessential Burlington. There are shops and cafes lining the street, a VERY photogenic church at the end, and tree lights lit during the daytime. This was my favorite part of Vermont, even in our rainy weather.

Conversely, if you happen to visit during the summertime, there are a ton of activities to do on and around Lake Champlain. This is probably (definitely) the most photogenic part of Burlington, and while we’re sad we missed it, it’s just another reason for us to go back.

To Conclude

Vermont was one of the few New England states I had yet to see, and it was not a disappointment. If you ever find yourself in the area — make the trip. It’s well worth it. Sparknotes below : – )

The Overview

Where to fly into:
Close, but limited – Burlington International Airport | Cheap, but far – Boston Logan International Airport (a little over 3 hours) | Somewhere in between –  Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (about 2 hours)
Where to stay:
Airbnb (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3) | Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain | Hotel Vermont| Courtyard Burlington Harbor | Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown
Where to eat:
– Breakfast: Feldman’s Bagels | The Skinny Pancake | Butch & Babe’s 
– Lunch/Dinner: American Flatbread Company | Farmhouse Tap & Grill (local recommended) | Revolution Kitchen (veg) | Duino Duende (eclectic)
What to Do:
Walk down Church Street | Visit Lake Champlain | Eat maple syrup, a maple creemee, and Vermont cheddar

Huge thanks to Sam & Taylor for hosting us and showing us the best parts of your city! Check out more of my travel posts here, and thanks for reading!

Why You Should Go to Europe in the Winter

I should preface this post by saying that nothing makes me more unhappy than the cold– going to northern Europe in January sounded almost worse than being in Chicago. That being said, when you’re notified (thanks, Scott’s Cheap Flights!) with a $340 round-trip flight to Paris, you make your sacrifices. Duty called, and my first trip to Europe was booked.

Since we’re in one of the best times to be booking January–March flights, I wanted to share why it was one of my best decisions.

1. Off-Season Prices

Every country/state has a “peak season,” aka prime time, and an off-season. In busy peak season (summer for Europe), hotels, Airbnbs, flights, and even activities and excursions can and do charge more when there’s more demand. Because Europe is just about desolate in the winter, we were able to snag ridiculously cheap flights and stay in discounted hostels. Western Europe is hardly considered a budget destination, so it’s a good opportunity to see it without paying summer prices.

2. Higher Availability

More availability means more options, which means more flexibility. We never had trouble finding accommodation, a spot on the train, or even hopping in on a tour last-minute. As we learned the hard way, sh** happens, and we were lucky on more than one occasion to be able to slide in somewhere that we hadn’t booked ahead. However, this doesn’t mean it’s cheap just because it’s available. Ask me about my time hitchhiking to Colmar, France because we didn’t book far enough ahead 🙂

3. Less Tourists

One of the worst things about tourist attractions is how crowded it can get. Even if you’re visiting Europe for the 3rd time, chances are, you’ll end up in popular spots checking out the main attraction of the city. While there will likely always be a line to see the Eiffel Tower, every queue was very bearable in the winter.

Paris, France

4. It’s not THAT bad

I was expecting Iceland to be a constant blizzard and days walking around in Paris to leave me with frozen feet and fingers. You guys – it was super tolerable (besides Amsterdam in the wind and rain. We were there when this video was taken, haha.) Iceland Air even advertises that winters in Reykjavik are milder than New York and Chicago’s! Speaking of Iceland, 5 hours of golden hour a day was incredibly cool to see– another plus of visiting in the winter.

Þingvellir, Iceland

5. Shallow, but…

Your hair and makeup looks great all day! Is this the most important thing? Maybe! Who knows?

Have you ever visited Europe in the winter? Would you want to? Should I stop asking questions? See ya!

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Cheap Flight Tools and Tricks

The starting point, the largest cost, and often the pain point of international travel planning is the flight. Looking for options can be overwhelming, and many times it has made a trip completely undoable– but sometimes it’s the one thing that actually ends up working out. And when that’s booked, you usually have no choice but to save up and go! Haha! (More on this mentality later)

These tools and tricks have been the reason I’ve been able to see so many places I never thought I’d see:

1. Book during shoulder season/off-season for your destination

Shoulder season is the 1-2 months that overlap between off-season and peak season. The gamble here is that you could have the disadvantages of off-season (weather, closed businesses, etc.), but oftentimes you’ll experience the advantages of peak season without the crowds. Off-season is a bit riskier, but most destinations have enough redeeming qualities to warrant a little rain or cold.

2. Fly into a nearby country with a larger airport

This works especially well in Europe/Southeast Asia where travel is common among the region. If Marrakesh, Morocco is your dream (as it is mine), but the $1,100 price tag is a bit steep for your budget, start your trip exploring in Spain and hop on a cheaper flight over. This is what we did to see Bali, Indonesia- my dream destination that I thought was completely out of my league.

3. Befriend Google Flights

My absolute savior. Stalking flights early and often is somewhat common-sense, I know, but it’s the best way to feel confident about your purchase. Plug in places or dates and scan for those green numbers that indicate a lower price than usual. They have a calendar view if you’re flexible on dates, and it’s super easy to navigate. 

4. Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights & Pomelo Travel

These services send out daily flight deals from major US airports. Scott’s Cheap Flights were the reason I got such a cheap ticket to Paris- an awesome surprise as we were looking at both Asia and Europe for that month. The only downside is having to pull out your wallet right away– the flight deals don’t last long and it’s recommended to book within a few hours of seeing the price, sometimes even on the spot.

5. Utilize Skyscanner’s “Everywhere” option

Skyscanner, a service similar to Google Flights, will accept “Everywhere” as an option. Just plug in your dates and see what’s available.

6. Set up flight alerts

I’m not big on flight alerts, but it’s great for super busy people. Alert services like Hopper or Google Flights will do the work for you and send you statuses on how much your flight is and when you should book.

7. Know what’s included

Don’t go for a budget or big name airlines if you have to pay another $100 for a carry-on. Many smaller airlines still offer free baggage in their prices, so make sure you check before booking with whatever’s “cheapest.”

8. Use airlines with free stopovers

A stopover is exactly what it sounds like– the airline will stop in a destination free of charge on the way to/home from your destination. This is a great way for countries to get tourism and for us travelers to essentially get a bonus destination in their trip. We use Iceland Air’s program last January and it definitely won’t be my last timing taking advantage of it. Read a full list of airlines to keep an eye out for.

And as always, there’s things I know nothing about, like credit card rewards and frequent flyer points. When I’m more of an adult I’ll be sure to update. For travel inspiration, follow my Pinterest boards. I promise it’ll never run dry.

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