Contest! Win a FREE Customized Postcard from ME!

A ByPost postcard I sent to my friend Billy in North Carolina, from my trip to Iceland.

I love getting things in the mail. What I don’t love however, is the process of sending mail. Post offices can also be a bit daunting while you’re abroad. I once sent twenty-seven postcards from a little town in Slovakia to my friends around the world. It took three hours because of language barriers, then I had to get cash because they didn’t take credit card and needed exact change, then we got in a fight because she overcharged some of the cards for no reason. Only half of the postcards actually made it to their destinations. The other half trickled in to their recipients between three to six months after my arrival back home (so much for the surprise…) AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FO’ DAT!

I’d given up on the postcard hobby until I came across this handy little phone app, ByPost. Read on about the app and then enter the contest below to experience it for yourself!

Perks of ByPost:

  • Send a postcard to anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world.  All you need is an internet connection on your phone, and you’re set!
  • Pay the same price, no matter where the recipient lives. Post a card for less than $2.  The more credits you buy, the less your postcards will cost. Upload your Paypal information for one-stop payment over a secure network.
  • Use your own photos. Everyone appreciates a cheesy stock image of the Eiffel Tower, but postcards get personal with ByPost. Take a photo of yourself in front of the Eiffel Tower instead.
  • No more post office procrastination. Don’t have time to deal with the post office? Go through the motions, and your postcard is ready for production. Within a few days it will post to your recipient, typically received within two weeks’ time.
  • Stash addresses on the app so you never leave a friend out.
  • Have sloppy handwriting? No problem! ByPost’s typeface is easy to read and clear enough that any postal worker can get your card to where it needs to be.
Some examples of postcards I've send

Some examples of postcards I’ve sent

CONTEST TIME!

Win a FREE ByPost postcard from me! ByPost has donated some credits to my account and I want to share this awesome service with the world. I will customize each and every card so that the one you receive is totally unique. Who doesn’t love getting mail?

Rules are simple:

  • You MUST be following me on Twitter
  • “Like” my Facebook Page
  • Answer a question that can be found somewhere on my website
  • Tweet about the giveaway, add ByPost on Twitter and Facebook, and download the IPhone App for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ve sent out a few cards to some lucky followers already, and they’ve been happy with the results. I love that I get to personalize my travels and the convenience is totally worth the price. The quality of the cards is fantastic – clear images and text, no weird image warping.

Bypost is currently available on the IPhone, and you can send a card to anyone in the world, no matter how large of a city or small of a village. ByPost is also developing an Ipad app which will be handy for those without Smartphone data plans.

This promotion was not solicited by ByPost, but is a personal reflection of good merchant service.

Katka’s Travel Gift Picks – Gifts for the Trashy Traveler

Gifts for the trashy traveler
Gifts for the trashy traveler by katkatravels

Happy holidays everyone! If you’re like me, you’ve left your holiday shopping until the last minute. For the rest of this week, I’ll showcase my top gift picks for travelers of all types. Happy shopping!

-Moleskine Passions Travel Journal: Make sure you record all of your precious shenanigans in this nifty travel journal, customized for your own trip.  There’s even fun stickers so you can categorize your trashy travels!  Write down the best places to get drunk, your favorite drug den, the best Frenchman you ever slept with…the possibilities are endless.

-Rum Runners: Cruise-goers swear by these compact flasks to sneak on alcohol to ships with outrageous bar prices.  Apparently, they are undetectable by the X-ray scanners but they can even be used to sneak in alcohol to concerts, clubs…basically anywhere you don’t want to pay for alcohol but still want to get smashed.  They roll up small when you’ve finished your drink and can be stuffed into a pocket, or refilled so the fun can continue.

-F1 Flyin’ Drunk Tag:  This is self-explanatory.  If you aren’t flying drunk, you’re not REALLY flying at all.

-TWELVEWAYS Multifunctional Dress:  I love this product even when I’m sober, but let’s face it ladies – wearing the same outfit on your walk of shame home from that crazy one-night-stand is uncomfortable and seedy.  With a Twelveways dress however, you can make the same material look and feel totally different.  You’ve transformed from a Euro-slut to a stylish and travel-savvy gal who’s impressive wardrobe warrants another romp in the hay, complete with a new outfit the next time.

-Tieks foldable ballet flats:  A night of disco dancing and bar hopping in stiletto heels takes a toll on the trashy traveler’s tootsies.  Behold, the stylish and compact Tieks ballet flat system, which are super comfortable and come in a plethora of colors and styles to make any inebriated adventure a customizable one.

-Condoms:  Duh!  Play it safe, especially while abroad, and always stash a couple of rubbers in your bag or pocket, “just in case.”  New York City has an awesome campaign where at select venues you can get condoms for free, advocating for safe sex in the city.

 

Holiday Gifts for the Go, Go, Go Traveller!

go t
go t by katkatravels on Polyvore

Happy holidays everyone! If you’re like me, you’ve left your holiday shopping until the last minute. For the rest of this week, I’ll showcase my top gift picks for travelers of all types. Happy shopping!

  1. Collapsible Lunch Box:  I love re-usable containers but I hate the bulkiness of Gladware and Tupperware.  This soft, easy-to-wash container folds up nice and compactly for when you are done, plus it comes with a spork-knife and a little top container for dips, dressings, etc.  I used it while road-tripping through Iceland, where food is sometimes hard to find for miles…
  2. Redfoot Foldable rain boots:  Let’s face it – no matter how much we want to think it, wellies are NOT fashionable.  Not only that but who wants bulky-ass rubber rain boots sitting in the corner of your cubicle after you’ve changed into your work shoes?  Presenting the foldable rain boot: wear them out in the rain, then roll them up and store them in your purse.  LOVE THESE THINGS!
  3. Grid-It: If you’re anything like me, your bag is a mess of unorganized junk.  If you’re anything like me also, you’ll buy a Grid-It.  Now when I need something, I pull out this thin, light organizer whose elastic grid keeps everything in place and easily accessible.  Great gift for the gadgeteer too.
  4. North Face Venture Rain Jacket:  You know how I feel about North Face products.  Well, here’s another one!  This rain jacket is powerful enough to keep you dry, and also using special textile technology that allows your skin to breathe (aka no sweaty, stinky heat-retaining interior).  Plus it flattens up superbly, meaning you can keep it at the bottom of your bag for emergencies and it will take up next to no space.
  5. REI Flip-Top Vacuum Bottle:  Coffee for the Go-Go?  It’s an essential.  This thermos is awesome because you can put scalding hot coffee inside and the outside will not burn your fingers off.  The vacuum top also helps seal the liquid in, so spills are a non-issue.  Keeps liquids warm or cold for hours.
  6. REI Quantum Shoulder Bag: When you’re as busy as I am, you need a versatile bag.  Pick it up from the top handle, throw it over your shoulder like a shoulder bag, make it into a messenger bag…however you need to get away, this bag can do it for you.  Plus this inside hosts a fantastic amount of organizational pockets, including room for your precious laptop.

Katka’s Holiday Gift Picks – For Lady Travelers

Katka's Holiday Gift Picks - Ladies
Katka’s Holiday Gift Picks – Ladies by katkatravels
Happy holidays everyone!  If you’re like me, you’ve left your holiday shopping until the last minute.  For the rest of this week, I’ll showcase my top gift picks for travelers of all types.  Happy shopping!
  1. Cavallini Mini Notebooks: I saw these at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and absolutely HAD to have them.  They are small enough to stash in your purse or clutch so no travel moment goes unrecorded.  I love their vintage style, and are pretty enough to store on a shelf later.
  2. Olympus PEN Mini E-PM1: This compact system DSLR is perfect for photographers looking to transition from their point-and-shoots to something more advanced.  The lenses are small and interchangeable and the features are very user-friendly.  The bodies also come in super fun colors (mine is a soft, rosy pink!).  No bulky camera bag required, you will be amazed by the size of this thing.
  3. North Face Fleece: At first I was averse to North Face products – thought they were more fashion than function.  Now I’m barely seen without my North Face zip-up hoodie, perfect for layering and super warm/comfy.
  4. Lunch Crock Pot: Let’s face it – leftovers just don’t taste as good heated up in the microwave.  Behold, the lunch crock! Plug it in to an outlet and your food heats up like it was freshly cooked.  Perfect for picking up soups or meals at the local market, to be eaten later.  Compact enough to pack in your luggage and safe to use in your hotel or hostel.
  5. On-Location Candle: Can’t travel this holiday season?  Bring the scents of your favorite places to you!  Bath and Body Works recently came out with a series of candles inspired by their favorite vacation spots.  There’s tea and lemon for London, and a spicy, musk-scent for Morocco.  And who doesn’t like the idea of cocktails and coconuts on a cold, winter night?
  6. Vapur Element water bottle: I absolutely adore this water bottle, which rolls up compactly once empty.  Eco-friendly, takes up no space and ensures you have clean water whenever you need.

Why I Almost Bought a $420 Ticket to Russia…But Didn’t

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@Jonk: got $420 tkt to st. petersburg, russia. 24h to fig out how to make it work since leaves from DC. :P /thx @theflightdeal pic.twitter.com/pqzo7vJr

SAY WHAT?!?!?!  I scoured the internets in search of this impossible fare.  Flights to Russia don’t normally get lower than $1,000.  This had to be a mistake, or something weird, like the plane was old and there would be a bomb on it or something.

But no – low and behold, the fare is exactly that:

$420.00 to fly from Washington DC to St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday to Saturday in April.  And not one, fluke day mind you – practically the whole month stood at that rate.

Rapid calculations proceeded in my head.  I could get a bus ticket from NYC to DC for about $30 round trip (probably less).  A hostel, at $25 per night, would bring me up to – OH MY GOD, $600 TO VISIT RUSSIA FOR 6 NIGHTS?!?!?!?!  Jesus Christ, this had to be done.

Oh wait, there’s just a few problems:

  • I have ZERO vacation time for the year 2013.  It’s bad enough I receive a measly 11 days off, but ALL OF THEM will be used for my 2-week observation period for my Masters degree.
  • Everyone is afraid to commit.  People want to travel, but no one ever “has the money.”
  • I am supposed to be saving money for rent.  With a new apartment looming in sight that will be slightly more money than what I pay now, should I really be spending money on travel?

It sucks, because:

  • am saving money by not paying rent.  And I don’t know when I’ll begin paying it again, so the longer this situation continues, the more I save.
  • I have something called a credit card!  Which I pay off in full every month!  And if I can’t, the APR is so low I can pay for my ticket PLUS someone else’s in installments!  But even if I couldn’t do that, I have a shit ton of money in my bank account right now!  Like, more than the average 25-year old!  So I can REALLY afford things!
  • I don’t mind traveling alone, but it would be more fun with friends.
  • The price of the ticket makes it almost worth it to take an unpaid week off.  But April starts out busy season, and I’m not sure I should leave in the middle of it…
  • If I don’t do it, I’ll regret it.  I’m a sucker for a good friggin’ deal.  One time, I saw a RT ticket from NYC to Madrid for $250.  I hesitated and lost the deal, and regret it to this day.  Will Russia be the same way if I don’t jump on this now?

I refrained from purchasing, because:

  • Next year is going to be crazy for me.  Not only am I going to be spending my vacation time in a classroom, but come September, I’ll be fully out of the job while I student teach for three months.  $420 may not seem like a lot, but that’s $420 I can be putting towards rent while I’m unemployed.
  • My boyfriend and I talked about the trip.  He wanted to go, which is surprising, and we almost bought the tickets. But we both reasoned that because of our housing situation, it’d be better to focus on saving money instead of spending it on travel.  Plus, he reminded me that:
  • When I become a teacher, I’ll have so much time off and so much money to spend, I won’t know what to do with myself.  Two full months off of school, plus three one-week vacations, throw in some long weekends and another 6 sick days INCLUDING  salary of at least $55,000 = it feels good to be gangster.  Russia will always be there.  I just have to decide when!

The thought of traveling to Eastern Europe for less than $600 is certainly an excitable opportunity.  Taking a deep breath and walking away from the computer for a moment brought me down to earth though.  Some say there will always be an excuse and that it is the fear that holds you back from doing things you love.  I agree with that, although I think my reasoning is valid – I simply don’t have the time right now.

If I wasn’t student teaching I’d say “fuck it,” but Tom was right – “taking an unpaid week off would be like doubling the cost of the trip.”  A $600 trip turns into a $1200 trip, which is the average cost of a vacation anyway.  So why go through the stress of squeezing in travel at a hectic time, when I could save and plan for a break during a later, more convenient date?

I know I’ll be alright with my decision.  Part of travel’s allure is it’s unpredictability, and who knows where I’ll end up next?  So I don’t go to Russia in April – perhaps I’ll go back to Iceland, in August (flights at $550 RT guys!)…