Pregnancy Update | 1st & 2nd Trimester

Hard to believe I’m on the last week of my second trimester! The first trimester crawled by but the second one went be so fast! Towards the end though, I was starting to feel it.


How far along? 4 weeks on the left, 25 weeks on the right

How big is Baby?  The size of head of cauliflower.

Image result for week 27 cauliflower

Baby Developments: “At 27 weeks pregnant, baby is as big as a head of lettuce. The average 27-week fetus measures 14.4 inches and weighs 1.9 pounds. But baby’s not just getting bigger—he or she is also getting smarter.
Inside your 27 weeks belly, baby’s practicing inhaling and exhaling with his or her rapidly developing lungs. And it’s official: Baby’s showing brain activity! From here on out, baby’s brain will keep getting more complex, turning that 27-week fetus into a real smarty pants.”
OB Appointments: My OB appointments are every 4 weeks. So far they’ve been good and uneventful. My blood pressure is usually around 108/60 and Baby’s heartbeat ranges from 140-160bpm. I am measuring right on target and my glucose appointment – to determine whether or not I have gestational diabetes – is next week, the first week of my 3rd trimester. Once in my 3rd trimester, the appointments increase in frequency.

Exercise? For most of the first trimester I kept up my exercise routine: Volleyball class Tuesday and Thursday mornings and working out for 30mins – 1 hour afterward. Once my sickness kicked in I didn’t workout or go to class as much. I anticipated that may happen so I registered to audit the volleyball class – I was able to participate but I wasn’t taking it for credit so I didn’t have to be there. Attendance was optional.
2nd trimester: I made sure to always take the stairs at work instead of the elevator.

Weight Gain? I don’t have (or want) a scale at home so the only time I check my weight is at my doctor’s appointments. The first trimester I didn’t gain or lose any weight. Actually I probably did both but since I was sick it balanced out in the end. Now that I’m halfway there my weight is up a total of 10lbs. I’m right on target for gaining the appropriate amount of weight.

I’ve never been one to care much about the numbers on the scale (hence why I don’t even have a scale). If you are eating properly and exercising regularly, your body will reflect that. If not, your body will reflect that too. I don’t necessarily need numbers to tell me that. Plus, I think I’d start obsessing over every pound if I had regular access to a scale.

It’s funny because when I stepped on the scale and saw that I had gained weight I was discouraged even though I was perfectly on track. I think it was just an automatic reaction to weight gain. Our whole lives society tells us that weight gain is synonymous with only bad things. “You’ve gained weight” has never been a compliment. So it’s a little difficult to reprogram your brain as soon as you get pregnant to think that weight gain = good. It was difficult at first but now it doesn’t bother me!

Sleep? In the beginning sleep was pretty rough. I’ve never had trouble sleeping through the night but as soon as I got pregnant (this was one of those clues) I could not sleep through the night. I’d usually wake up around 3am and be up for hours. Sometimes I may have been able to fall back asleep briefly before my morning classes.
2nd trimester sleep improved a lot. I was able to sleep through most nights. The most difficult part is just being bigger. It’s a whole ordeal just to turn from side to side.

Symptoms? In the first trimester I was hit with every symptom imaginable. My naïve pre-pregnant self though I knew what it’d be like or at least could imagine what it’d be like. But I was not prepared for it. I honestly didn’t think that I would throw up at all, let alone weeks and weeks on end. I had all the usual symptoms but the most notable were nausea, a bionic sense of smell, and tiredness.
Nausea: this was by far the worst. It didn’t hit until around week 7. For the first few weeks when I wasn’t nauseous, I was actually worried something was wrong because pregnancy felt too easy. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I started throwing up every. single. day. mornings mostly but sometimes all day. After a few weeks the nausea went away but I was still throwing up because my gag reflexes were SO sensitive. I couldn’t even take my prenatals. I had to camp out in the bathroom.. literally! I brought in a camping chair and blankets and set up a little place for myself. I would start getting ready for school, get sick, and then have to run to catch the bus so I could still make it to class on time. #pregnantincollege
Bionic sense of smell: exactly how it sounds. I could walk out my front door and smell the dumpsters. Upon opening the fridge I could smell everything that was about to go bad. I could smell everything that was cooked in the microwave just by walking past it (one of the clues I was pregnant). And it was only the bad smells. I would burn an candle and put it right next to my nose and nada.
Tiredness: this was also pretty bad. For the most part I was just too exhausted to do anything! I was usually asleep by 6pm. I remember getting through the front door and sitting down on the steps leading up to the rest of the apartment because I just did not have the energy to make it up there. If Simeon came in the door after me he’d have to push me up the stairs from behind. I’ve never been able to take naps during the day but as soon as I got pregnant, napping wasn’t so hard anymore.

I remember thinking multiple times “why do people of this twice?!” I mean the first time I can see.. you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into. But to do this to yourself again?! The response was always: you’ll forget about the pain and sickness. During my first trimester I would have never believed them. But now that I’m finishing up my second trimester I must say: as AWFUL as those 3 months were, it does get better. And the second trimester is as they say: the golden trimester. These past couple of weeks I’ve been getting a taste of the 3rd trimester life.

Food cravings? I haven’t had many cravings throughout the pregnancy. There was a time when Subway was the only thing that sounded good. I’m eating more sweets than usual. I used to NEVER eat anything sweet- I never really liked cakes, cookies, or brownies. Now during pregnancy I won’t seek it out but I won’t turn it down, either.

Food aversions? Yes. During the first trimester, almost all food could fall into this category. Anything with a strong smell or anything that was cooked and filled the apartment with its aroma would make me sick. I can probably count on 2 hands the amount of times I cooked during the first trimester. Coffee was a major aversion for the longest time. I’m not a coffee drinker anyway but smelled soooo bad!! Simeon was a rockstar and would occasionally brew his coffee out on the deck. I’ve been able to tolerate the smell now. Now, about the only food aversion that stuck around is ramen.

Mood? For the most part my mood has been pretty good. (I’m sure Simeon might have a different opinion.) There were a couple moments of break downs- throwing up, no sleep, and being sick and tired for months kinda wears on you after a while.

Queasy or Sick? Yes, all throughout the 1st trimester but not anymore!!

Best moments: Simeon felt Baby move! Baby was kicking pretty hard one night when we were relaxing by the fireplace. Simeon put his hand on my stomach and he felt Baby kick for the first time in Week 17! It was so special.

I think the baby was on jetlag, too because there were almost 3 days where I barely felt any movement. I was starting to worry because I would usually feel Baby after eating but wasn’t able to. I started trying other things to get Baby to move- drinking carbonation, eating a cold popsicle, laying on my stomach, poking my stomach, and even shining a flashlight on my stomach (I read that works)- but nothing! Finally when I was telling Simeon about being worried about it and we were praying together, Baby started moving 🙂 I was only 17/18 weeks so I was lucky to feel baby as early as 15 weeks.

Telling family was a pretty special time too – everyone is so excited!

We got 4 ultrasounds and got to see Baby 4 times! The last one was 3D/4D and we got lots of pictures from them.

Towards the end of the 2nd trimester, Simeon is able to feel almost all of Baby’s kicks. It’s such a special time – Simeon and I will be sitting down together and when Baby starts kicking I’ll grab his hand and put it on my belly. We don’t know what he’s trying to communicate so we just make it up 🙂

Worst moments: Going to the bathroom all the time. The baby is positioned in such a way that walking makes me have to go to the bathroom. Even if I have nothing in my system! This made walking around Stockholm difficult because there are little to no free public restrooms. We had to time our coffee shop breaks just right.

Being sick while in school and battling with 2 schools to let me graduate– things were pretty hairy up until the DAY BEFORE GRADUATION.

End of 2nd trimester pelvic pain and soreness. It’s so painful to stand up and walk from a sitting position. I can’t walk right away, I have to give my body a minute or two to adjust or I feel like my pelvis will give out and I’ll be on the floor! I’m hunched over like a little old lady. I started seeing a chiropractor and applying kinesiology tape – same-ish concept as a maternity belt – as an attempt to redistribute the weight. I’ve experienced a *little* relief but at least it’s not getting worse. Thankfully my back doesn’t hurt!

What I miss? Taking medicine for colds, putting on socks without sound effects, being able to bend over, and sleeping on my back. In the first trimester it felt like a long list of “No’s” but now I don’t care what I have to give up for my little baby, feeling his kicks are worth it.

What I’m looking forward to? Holding our little baby!! It’s hard to explain but I feel like I’m already bonding with this little one. I think Simeon is too but not on the scale that I get to so I can’t wait for Simeon to be able to hold him and bond with him.

Agreeing on a name. Simeon and I both have a name that we like.. but they aren’t the same name.. We still have a few months to work it out but each passing day solidifies our own choices in our mind. As a joke I started calling the baby by the name I want and Simeon did the same for the name he wants.. Simeon said, “Well, I guess we’ll just see which one he responds to.”

Milestones? We found out baby is a boy! I can’t explain it but I KNEW this baby was a boy from pretty early on. #mothersintuition We actually found out at 16 weeks but didn’t tell anyone until our anatomy scan ultrasound at 20 weeks.


Just like I KNEW this baby was a boy, I KNOW the name I’ve picked out is the right name for him.. I can’t explain it – it just came to me.. I just feel it.. But Simeon’s not buying it.

Quotes & Stories: As this post is already fairly long, I’m creating a separate post for all the fun quotes and stories of this pregnancy.

Simeon’s Thoughts: Simeon’s thought are so special that they also get their own post. 🙂

Non pregnancy related things: We are house/apartment hunting! Our one bedroom apartment has served us well but we are looking for something else. At this time there aren’t many great housing options – that haven’t been turned into college student housing.. Now we are looking for a bigger but cheaper place to rent once our lease ends in May so we can save more for a house.

I graduated!! A few days after I finished my final class I got a job and started working full-time. I’m an Office Services Coordinator (fancy way of saying Receptionist) at a tax/accounting firm. It’s a seasonal position during tax season so the timing is perfect! The only difficult thing is that Simeon and I are now on opposite schedules but it’s only temporary.

All in all this second trimester has gone by so fast. Even with the pain and pressure and the inability to get out of bed or off the couch without help, I’m really enjoying pregnancy! I park in the “for new and expectant mothers” spaces at the grocery store and feel no shame. Feeling the kicks every day is a big plus and makes it all worth it. I always have my little buddy with me. I can’t wait to meet him in person 🙂



Valentine’s Day

This was our last Valentine’s day without kiddos and what a great last one it was! Simeon had the day off so he took charge this year.

Simeon and I have been Valentines for 6 years now!

I was going to make him breakfast in bed early before I left for work but as romantic of a gesture as that sounds, I thought my hubby would appreciate sleeping in more. So I got his coffee all prepped and put together a french toast mix for him to quickly fry up when he got up.


I came home from work to the smell of fried shrimp and a SPOTLESS apartment!!!


The breaded and fried shrimp… most of which I have eaten.. 🙂


There were a dozen roses waiting for me on the table along with a nail painting station. (I’ve been asking Simeon to paint my nails for me for days- fun fact: with Simeon’s artistic skill and ability to focus, he is phenomenal at painting nails- much better then I could ever hope to be.)

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As if the clean house, roses, and meal wasn’t enough, Simeon had another gift for me!


He said he looked for the classiest looking perfume.

Simeon calls it an old tradition because on our first Valentine’s Day together (6 years ago!), he got me Versace- 1/4 of which I still have. He considers it a joy to slowly build up my nice perfume collection.


We sat down at a beautifully set table and ate the most delicious new york strip steaks I’ve ever eaten. Simeon had them marinating for a bit and it paid off. I generally don’t like much pink in the middle (so I probably shouldn’t be eating steak..) but Simeon made sure to get the thin kind so they wouldn’t have to cook long and dry out.


Sparkling cider and more flowers!

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Afterwards, Simeon and I were sitting on the couch discussing baby names and then I promptly fell asleep at 8:30pm.

And that was the end of a very wonderful Valentine’s Day 🙂

Valentine’s Days through the years:


Caption: “I have the best boyfriend ever!” Simeon had a dozen roses delivered to my door 🙂


I posted this photo to his FB wall.



Our first year of marriage! Simeon worked the night shift and had flowers waiting for me when I woke up. I rearranged our living room so we could have an indoor picnic.


no pictures


I came home from school again to a clean house and wonderful candlelit atmosphere!

Next year we’ll have a little Valentine!


Germany |3 Day| Itinerary

Germany is such a beautiful country and there is so much to see! Here is a detailed itinerary on places to explore throughout Germany if you only have 3 days. Prices here are shown per person and even calculated for a group of 4.

Day 1: Castle Tour


Hohenschwangau Castle


Neuschwanstein Castle

Attraction: Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle (Sleeping Beauty Castle inspiration)

Location: Hohenschwangau (2hrs via train from Munich)

Food: Eat breakfast at lodging: The Tent. Pack lunch to eat on train or purchase from village shops.

Transportation: Purchase Bayern rail / Bavaria Ticket – Valid on all local trains of all rail companies and all transport association services (S-Bahn, subway, trams and buses) throughout Bavarian Region

€ 38.00 total for everyone. (€ 23 + € 5 for each additional passenger up to 5 people)

Reserve tickets online no less than 2 days beforehand. Tickets may only be purchased on site at ticket counter.

Admission prices: Student (ID Card) – College students: € 21.00, Adult (over 18): € 23.00, + € 3.60 reservation fee / p.p., + € 7 if you want to go to the King’s Museum (or just 1 castle is ~ 11 EUR)

From ticket counter to castle [15 min bus ride]: Horse carriage €9/person round trip or bus for €2.60/person round trip

Pre-Departure: Reserve 1:55PM Tour time


9:53AM Take morning train from Munich hbf to Füssen (2 hours) > transfer to bus 78 for Castles > Pick up tickets no later than 1hr prior to start time in Hohenschwangau village > walk uphill to catch bus for Marienbrücke (2.6 EUR round trip) > admire castle, take pictures > continue by foot on path (15 mins) to castle entrance > wander until tour begins

12:00PM Arrive in Füssen

Eat lunch on train or purchase lunch in village

1:55PM Castle Tour

3:42PM Take bus back to Füssen train station

4:06PM Take train back to Munich <2hrs>

Arrive in Munich in time for supper. Go to market and get food for tomorrow and/or supper. Go out for supper or take bus back to lodging & rest and eat supper.

Explore Munich

Transportation: Purchase Bavaria Regional Ticket for € 38 / day / for everyone allowing unlimited travel throughout region

Lodging: Stay in Munich previous night at AirBnB near central station.

Stay at The Tent for €8-12 / person / night:

Day Total: €145 + €64 Lodging + Food €80 (€10/meal (Lunch & Supper)/person) = €293 all/ €86 individual

Day 2: Dachau City and Concentration Camp Tour


Visiting a concentration camp is a pretty somber visit. You may want to set aside a time to decompress and unwind afterward.

Location: Dachau (19km north of Munich)

Food: Eat large breakfast at The Tent. Pack Lunch

Price: Memorial Site: Free (optional audio guide €3), Dachau Palace: €2

Transportation: Walk or purchase München XXL Group Day Pass for €15,40. This allows for unlimited travel of up to 5 adults for 1 day in zones 1 & 2.


Take train & bus to Dachau using München XXL group pass

Pack up belongings and store in locker at train station.

Leave early for station to go to market and get food for lunch

9:48AM Take train S2 towards Altomünster departs station > stay on for 9 stops (21 minutes) > transfer to bus 726 at Dachau Bahnhof > stay on bus for 7 stops (7 minutes) > get off at Dachau, KZ-Gedenkstätte > walk 2 minutes to memorial site > Arrive at 10:30AM

10:30AM Self-guided tour (audio 3 EUR) or wait for tour to start, snack

11:00AM English tour starts (free)

Spend 2-3+ hours there

Find a park to eat lunch and process & decompress.

3:00 PM Explore city of Dachau

Possibilities: Dachau Palace & Park [renaissance castle, court garden],

Palace: Walk to bus stop > Take bus 726 towards Dachau Bahnhof for 3 stops (3 mins) > transfer to bus 722 for 6 stops (6 mins) > Get off at Dachau, Rathaus > walk 2 minutes to Kurfürst-Max-Emanuel-Platz

Transit time: 20 mins

Visit painting gallery and palace (4 min walk)

Arrive back at train station (change into nicer clothes)

Go out for supper and explore last night in Berlin

Travel to Berlin overnight via Flixbus for €9,9/person

Day Total: €31 + Food €80 (€10/meal (Lunch & Supper)/person) = €111

Day 3: Berlin


Transportation: Small Group Ticket €17.80 – unlimited travel throughout Berlin for up to 5 passengers

Lodging: PLUS Berlin – check in starts at 3pm but can drop stuff off early

PLUS Berlin: Luxury Hostel: €105 for 2 nights for 4 people, buffet breakfast +€7/person/day

Alternative lodging: One80 Hostel: Luxury Hostel: Great reviews, brilliant price. 136 EUR – 199 EUR (Breakfast included) for 4 people staying 2 nights [€17 – 24 / person / night]

Arrive at 8:45AM at Berlin Bus Station (ZOB, Messedamm)

Purchase BVG Small group ticket at station

Call ahead to hostel to see how early we can drop off our stuff or lock up at train station

Explore, hang out, and grab brunch

2:00PM Take train to hostel > walk from station to S Messe Nord/ICC Berlin (3 mins) > take train S42 to S Westkreuz > get on train S75 towards Wartenburg > Get off at S+U Warschauer Str. > walk 2 mins to destination

2:45PM Arrive & check in at PLUS Berlin

Rest, shower, and decide where to go

Museums: €24 – 3 day pass for all Berlin Museums/€18 – 1 day pass/€10-12 per museum, Students: 50% off

Rent bikes from hostel and ride to Alexanderplatz €12 day rental/€24 tandem bike


Stops along the way: East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is a section of the Berlin Wall that is now the world’s longest open air gallery.


This is by no means an exhaustive list but hopefully this can serve as a starting point or a reference for you. I only touched on the Berlin, Munich, and Dachau but there are so many other great cities to visit and worth spending a couple of extra days!


*Check groupon with specific country code for local food & hotel deals

*If you are a student, invest in an International Student ID card such as the ISIC that is accepted throughout Europe. Lots of places offer student or youth (under 26) discounts.

*Prices are usually cheaper during the off season or during the weekday

Additional Links:

Day 1 Castle Tour Alternative: Royal Castles of Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Day Tour from Munich

Location: Munich

Food: Eat breakfast at The Tent. Pack Lunch.

Price: $60 USD/p.p. for tour & transportation + 22 EUR/p.p. for castle entrance fees + $ for food

Transportation: Travel from lodging place to KARSTADT at Bahnhofpl. 7:

Bahnhofpl is across the street from the main station Hauptbahnhof.


Take bus to Bahnhofpl from lodging with München XXL group pass and arrive at 8:00AM

8:30AM – Tour departs from the front of the KARSTADT Department Store at Bahnhofpl. 7, opposite the main railway station. The meeting point is easy to locate and the guide will be waiting.

4 hours to explore Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castle and grounds & eat

1 hour to explore Linderhof

6:30PM – Arrive back at pickup spot

Total Time: 10.5 Hours (approx.)

Go to market and get food for tomorrow and/or supper. Go out for supper or take bus back to lodging & rest and eat supper.



I was only in Korea a week but I was surprised by a great deal of things.

Korea is a mix of modern



And traditional.



Samsung is a Korean company so the majority of electronics here are Samsung. But, Samsung phones are more expensive here than in the USA.

Samsung is everywhere. From phones, to air conditioners, to appliances, to cars.


Samsung makes cars.


Cars have blue foam stuck to the outside of the doors to prevent banging other cars when opening the door in parking lots. The dealers display the cars like that!


Cars here are very new. If someone has a car that’s 10 years old, that’s really old. The parking garages look like new car dealerships.

Car dealerships are little stores in a strip mall with just a few cars.

EVERYONE REVERSES INTO PARKING SPOTS. ALWAYS. This makes it easier to get out of tight spaces. Space here is incredible limited and there is usually only enough room for the body of the vehicle. Mirrors automatically fold in and there is not enough room to open the door. Parking spaces are so close together that you have to contort your body into weird shapes just to get in and out of cars parked next to each other.

People always carry around two pairs of shoes: inside shoes and outside shoes. Even at school. All the students and teachers bring slipons to change into once they get inside. Socks with sandals are all the rage.


My personal favorite: there have dummies on the side of the road dressed like police officers waving a fake baton reminding you to slow down. Apparently the dummies weren’t effective so they added in traffic cameras everywhere.



GPS constantly beeps at you for going even 1km over the speed limit and alerts you when approaching a traffic camera. Speeding tickets here are only $30 (and increase as the speed increases) and arrive in your mailbox for your convenience. Since being here, I’ve seen more fake police officers than real ones, and traffic cameras that placed every few kilometers.

Fine dust coats everything and hampers visibility. They say it’s the smog coming over from China.


When going out to eat, you do not order individual plates. You order serving plates for everyone to share and everyone gets their own personal plate put food on.




There is nothing quite like Korean BBQ. You grill your own meat to your liking. It’s wonderful.



Eating on the floor is also a given.


Fish isn’t so bad when you eat it all the time. And in Korea, you do. And yes, I have had fish eyeballs pop out on me while I was trying to eat it…


I’ve never had anything quite as yummy as Korean Ramen. (Sorry Japan)


Or Gimbap (Sorry sushi) Gimbap is the Korean version of sushi and doesn’t typically include raw meat.


If you do not have a toothbrush on your person at all times, you are not winning at life. I “forgot” to bring my toothbrush to school one day..

Personal hygiene in Western countries is just that: personal. You hope people practice good hygiene but you are not going to tell a stranger to wash their face and brush their teeth. Asking someone if they’ve brushed their teeth and washed their face is just as common as asking them if they’ve eaten.

Sleeping on the floor is more common than not.


But don’t worry, you get used to the bruised hip bones.

The culture here is based on collectivism, instead of individualism which is common in Western countries. With individualism, it’s all about the individual. You look out for number 1. Your success comes from you and how you as an individual are better than another individual. With collectivism, think as society as one big family.

Never compare Korea to Japan. Ever. Or any other Asian country.

Until next time, Korea!









Budget Airlines

Are they worth it?

In short, no.

I flew a budget airline once and said never again. Fast forward a year later to me sitting on another budget airline.. I’ve obviously forgotten my promise to myself. From then on I vowed to never go on a budget airline. They are well known for their cheap plane tickets. The price may seem low at first but once you start to add up the fees, are they really cheaper than regular cost carriers?

Budget airlines try to sell you on the “no frills” package. They say that boarding passes, luggage, customer service, etc., are all things that add to the cost of airline tickets. By taking those away, they can reduce the price of the actual ticket. You pay less because you get less.

Because the airlines are el cheap-o, staff is paid el minimum-o. Staff is cut to a minimum as well to save $$. Those remaining are forced to do the work of 2 or 3 people for a small wage.. talk about job satisfaction.

Budget airlines fly into airports that are generally off the beaten path. “Ryanair strives so hard to avoid the main Paris airports that they choose to fly 80 kilometres north into a different region of France.” Airports charge landing fees and this fee can be cheaper at less well known airports. According to an article published by the LA Times, the landing fees at LAX were just increased from $3.35 per 1,000 pounds of landed weight to $3.85. In order to avoid high fees, budget airlines take their landing business elsewhere.

If you choose to fly via budget airline and want service and luggage to be the same as any other airline, you have to pay a fee. One of the areas where the fees start to add up are baggage fees. For this example we will be looking at Spirit Airlines domestic flight fees.


Take the flights from Chicago to Washington D.C. for example. The cheapest roundtrip ticket on a regular cost airline is Delta at $230 while the initial price for 1 round trip ticket is $120 on the budget airline Spirit. When booking a flight, the price you see is the “bare fare”. This fare includes a small purse or laptop bag. If you need any more baggage, be prepared to pay for it.

A carry on bag is $37 if you purchase it when booking on the website. These prices are one way. Chances are you will be flying back with the bag so add another $37 and you have = $74.
It is actually cheaper to check a bag. A checked bag is $30 so round trip is $60.
If you forget to add your luggage when buying the flight, that’ll be an extra $10 (each way). Total for checked: $80. Carry on: $94
If you want to add a bag at the airport, add another $20. Total for checked: $100. Carry on: $114.

Let that sink in. $114 extra to fly round trip with a carry on. Luggage that is already included on regular cost carriers.

Those prices are cheap IF you purchase luggage when buying the ticket. Once you’ve booked, the prices increase all the way up to the gate. If you are really unlucky and don’t realize that the carry on is not included (which is a very easy mistake to make since on most airlines it is), you will be charged $100 at the gate (1 way) to bring that bag on the plane with you.

These are just the baggage fees.

*Savvy Saver Tip* When purchasing our tickets, it was cheaper to pay the checked baggage fee of $30 than it was for the carry-on fee: $37. These prices are one way only. 2 carry-ons would have been $74 (times 2 ways would have been: $148) while one checked bag, which my husband and I can share totaled to $60.

If you want to print your boarding pass off at the airport: $2. If they do it for you: $10. Want to pick your seat? $5-50. Otherwise cross your fingers and hope you get to sit next to who you are flying with.

Thirsty or in the mood for a snack? Snacks and Drinks (And WATER!) range from $3-15.

Cost breakdown for the same service:


Round Trip

Budget Airline Regular Cost Airline
Airfare $120 $230
Carry-On $114 included
Seat Selection $20 included
Print boarding pass at kiosk $4 included
Snacks & Drinks $12 included
Total: $270 $230

If you look at the cost breakdown of fees, budget airlines are not the cheaper option. They are actually MORE EXPENSIVE for the same services received on Regular Cost Airlines.

This is just the money aspect of it. It does not include the things you cannot place a monetary value on, such as friendly customer service and being treated nicely.

Budget airlines, base fares and super basic fares have a great initial* price tag. BUT. Once you go through to checkout, it’s almost never cheaper in the end. If you are saving, it’s not that much. I would rather pay the extra $5 for my “free” beverage and snack on the plane. The only way I can see these airlines being worth it for a consumer is if they really only need transportation from point A to point B, and their stay is short enough that they can pack everything they need into a small backpack. Otherwise, paying more money up front will save you extra in the long run.

Fly Like A Pro

First time flying? Or has it been so long that you don’t quite remember the ins and outs? Follow these tips and you’ll be (or at least look like) a well seasoned traveler in no time!

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Pack Light

Navigating through life is much simpler when you have less baggage. The same can be said about traveling.. literally. On most flights you are allowed a carry-on and a personal item. On international flights the free luggage allowance includes a checked bag up to 23kg. This does not mean that you must pack every kilogram or even need to bring every bag!

The easiest way to travel is by not checking a bag. Packing for 2 weeks can be achieved with only a carry-on and a personal item (backpack, purse, etc.) if done wisely. A quick google search will render millions of posts on how to do this. There are many benefits to only flying with a carry-on: your luggage is with you at all times. You can get through the airport much faster. No need to wait in line to check your bag and drop it off, and no need to wait after your flight in baggage claim. I used to pack my carry-on full to the gills but for some reason there is this increasingly popular trend for airlines to enforce their weight limits on carry-ons! Gone are the days when you could get by with your carry-on being almost as heavy as your checked luggage with no penalties. Not every airline does this but they are well within their right to, so save yourself the anxiety and keep your carry-on underweight.

I went to Sweden for the summer and packed a checked bag, carry-on, personal item, and even squeezed in a purse. If I had to do it again, I would pack differently. My carry-on and personal item were so packed that I didn’t have space for the things I bought throughout my time there.


How I used to pack a.k.a. how not to pack

If you are going to be gone longer or just need to check a bag, I would recommend forgoing the rolling carry-on and go with just your personal item. That way you only have to roll around one large bag. Be sure to stay within the weight limit because they will weigh this one and the overweight fees are pretty hefty. When packing a checked bag, keep in mind that airlines are ROUGH with luggage. My suitcase is always significantly more scratched when I pick it up. I remember sitting in my window seat on one flight during boarding and watching the crew chuck the suitcases onto the conveyor belt that brought them up to the airplane. NEVER place breakables or valuables, like a laptop, in your checked luggage, especially if they are not well wrapped. Put that in your personal bag.

*Just a heads up: if you are flying on a full flight and your carry on looks big or has wheels, they may ask you to check it when you get to your gate anyway. Be sure to take out breakables.

One final packing tip for those who plan on going shopping on your trip or will be bringing back lots of souvenirs (or if you’re like me and your clothes just always seem to multiply before your return journey) – bring an empty rolled up duffel bag in your suitcase. You can use this extra bag to put all of your extra goodies. If you have already used up your free baggage allowance you can always purchase more – I recommend adding this online before flying home for the most cost efficient option. Keep in mind that you pay for extra luggage and overweight fees both ways. An extra checked bag is $100 there and $100 on your return trip. If you pack an extra empty bag in your suitcase on the way there, you only have to pay for an extra bag on the way home. If you don’t have a collapsible bag laying around, go to a thrift store at your destination and look for a cool piece of luggage – it could double as a fun souvenir!

A handheld luggage scale is worth its weight (and all the weight it can carry) in gold.

suitcase scaleIt will save you so much time, money, and headache. Pre-luggage scale days we would step on a scale to weigh ourselves, step off, step back on holding our luggage and attempt to read the scale over the big suitcase obstructing our view. Or we’d cross our fingers hoping we’d come underweight when they weighed it at the airport. We have a manual one but you can find a digital one for around $10-15.

Personalize Your Suitcase

There’s a reason everything tries to be “the new black”. Simply: black is the best color. Black will always be the new black when it comes to versatility. It goes with everything, it’s gender neutral and doesn’t show dirt or marks. There is only one problem with having a black suitcase: EVERYBODY HAS ONE. Trying to pick out your black suitcase in a sea of black suitcases moving around on a baggage carousel is difficult. I’ve seen people grab a bag they thought was theirs, only to return it to the carousel after a closer inspection of the luggage tag. When walking through the airport I heard announcements asking passengers to make sure they had the correct black Swissgear luggage and to return the mistaken bag to the gate. Save yourself the trouble and opt for a color other than black.


We invested in a set of dark teal hard shell suticases – not too flashy but not black either.. and the funny thing is that we almost took the wrong suitcase! It was dark, we had been traveling for 24 hours, and the other suitcase was the exact same style.. just black.

Is black your only option? Tie a brightly colored scarf or piece of fabric around the handle of your suitcase for high visibility. This is great because you can always remove the scarf once you’ve found your luggage.

Book an Inexpensive Flight

Notice how I didn’t say cheap flight. There is a difference. An inexpensive flight is getting a good deal whereas a cheap flight is budget airline cheap. In most cases, budget airlines are not worth it as they end up nickle and diming you to death.. but more on that in my budget airline post. There are ways to book an inexpensive flight on a decent airline if you get the timing right. If you purchase a flight too far in advance, the airline thinks that you need to have that specific date (otherwise why would you be booking so early) and thinks you are willing to pay for it. So you will. A lot. If you book too late, the airline knows you need to have that specific date and will charge you heavily for booking last minute. Prices for flights tend to drop 3-4 months out for international flights.flight diagram

Flying out is cheapest on a Monday or Tuesday and during non-peak travel seasons. I like to use Kayak because it compares all the websites and lets me look at all the flights in a 6 day range of departure and return. Another website is Skyscanner and this is helpful for booking 2 one ways for a lower price than a roundtrip. Roundtrip tickets are usually less expensive than a one way but sometimes you can find 2 one ways cheaper when booked on separate airlines – this is called a hacker fare.

Check In Online

Most flights are eligible for online check in 24 hours before departure. This is a great time to pick your seat if you haven’t done so already. I prefer the window seat because I love watching outside, plus you have somewhere to lay your head. Once checked in, you are given the option to print your boarding pass or have it emailed to you. I generally print it out at the airport but have it emailed to me as a back up. Mobile boarding passes are finicky and aren’t always read easily by the scanner. I prefer paper boarding passes because they slide easily into my passport and I don’t have to constantly hand over my phone to TSA and ICE officers at various security checkpoints. Plus they make a great addition to your scrapbook.


If you check in online and aren’t flying with baggage, you can print off your boarding pass (at home or an airport kiosk) and go straight to security. This way you can avoid the baggage drop off lines.

Get Your Meal Faster on Airplanes

Depending on the length of your flight, you may be offered an in-flight meal.


Attendants generally serve food from front of the plane to back. Seats towards the front of the plane are sometimes marked as “priority” or “comfort +” and can be obtained for an extra price. Benefits include inches more of legroom and service faster. I generally find myself in the back of the plane, forced to smell the food for what feels like eons before I get it.. or I get the pleasure of watching it stroll by me to the front of the plane.

I was on a flight home from Stockholm chatting away with a lady when a flight attendant dropped a meal off on her tray. Only hers. The lady said it was because she requested a gluten free meal. On the subsequent plane rides, I watched attendants bring out the special orders before serving the masses.

In an age with increasing diet restrictions because of medical and religious reasons, or just sheer preference, airlines are becoming more accommodating. When booking a flight, mostly intercontinental, there is usually a place to state dietary restrictions or preferences. On my last flight, there were over 10 options to choose from – from vegetarian to gluten or dairy free to even kosher! If you choose one of these options, you will get your food first! The best time to request these is at the time of booking but anytime before 24-48 hours before departure works for most airlines. If you wait until you get to the airport, you will be too late.

*disclaimer: although I love the idea of getting my food 5-10 minutes faster, I have not personally tried this one out. I had the option but I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice meat or carbs..


Here are just a few tips for making the flying process easier. In no time you will be traveling like the seasoned traveler you are about to become!