It’s no secret that I love a good beer. One of my favorite pieces of travel advice is, “Try the local beer.” I tried quite a few while in Europe, and because I’m a hoarder, I kept a few of the bottle caps. Bottle cap coasters are another easy craft for making cheap souvenirs and putting them to good use. These are super easy to make, so let’s get started!
Step 1: Collect Your Bottle Caps!
You all know how to do this. Drink up (if you’re of age. Soda caps work just as well!) Nine bottle caps makes a nice coaster, so collect bottle caps from your friends if you need to!
Step 2: Collect Your Materials!
For bottle cap coasters, you’ll need:
Knife or Scissors
Q-tip or Small Paint Brush
Step 3: Cut Your Coasters
Measure out a square of corkboard. To cover a coaster in nine bottle caps, you’ll need at least a 3 3/4″ x 3 3/4″ square, but you can have fun with it! You can cut it with scissors, but a knife works just as well (better, in my opinion).
Step 4: Apply the Bottle Caps!
This is the trickiest part, and why you’ll need tissues. To most effectively glue the bottle caps to the coaster, you’ll need to add glue to the inside of the bottle cap (a Q-tip or a small paint brush are great tools for spreading glue to the inside edges). Then, stuff the inside of the bottle cap with a napkin or a cotton ball. The more the better, as long as nothing is sticking out after the bottle cap is applied. Spread glue on the corkboard where the cap will go, and voila!
Step 5: Let Your Coaster Dry
This will take a little bit. When first glued, the bottle caps may puff up or slide around. Placing a weight on top of your coasters will keep it together while they’re drying.
And you’re done! Homemade coasters for even more beer, or soda. Or coffee.
Hope you liked this post, give my blog a follow if you did! As always, comments and feedback are welcome! Thanks again for reading!
Not all of the people I have met along my journeys know or celebrate Thanksgiving. Without getting into the twisted history as to why Americans celebrate this holiday, or an explanation of the Black Friday sales that loom over our extended family’s heads while dessert is being served, I’ll say that Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. Anyone who has traveled in the past year has more than enough to be thankful for. Here’s a few of the things on my list:
Support – From my family. This time last year my father and grandmother were gifting me with a trip to visit my aunt and uncle in San Francisco, a city that has always fueled my love for travel. At the time I was really confused about my next steps. I had many talks with my aunt and uncle about the endless possibilities out in the world. My first big decision when it came to post-grad plans was to buy a one-way ticket to London. When I told my parents, I was surprised they didn’t freak out (ok, maybe internally, but they always supported my trip.) I’m happy to have a family that encourages travel, moving, and growing. Currently, my brother lives in Colorado and my sister lives in Chicago. I have family all over the country, including in Austin, Texas. My aunt and uncle here have been more than helpful in my transition to a new city. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with them today! I feel like I lucked out this holiday season.
Safety – I made it from Philadelphia to London, to 22 cities, to Madrid, and back to New York, all in one piece. (Even after having my belongings stolen.) When the attacks in Paris were happening, all I could do was rack my brain and try and think if any of my friends had posted that they’d be traveling to Paris on their backpacking trips. Anyone I wasn’t sure of, I checked in with. I’m happy to say all of my friends are safe. The world can be terrifying if you start thinking too much. Today, however, for a short moment, I’ll focus on my safety and the safety of my friends.
Facebook – Cheesy. Lame. Technology will be the death of us all, BUT, I got to wake up this morning with messages from friends in two different countries. I’m planning trips all over the world with a friend that I met on Facebook a few months ago. When my phone was stolen, I was able to contact my parents and let them know I was still ok. I’m thankful for the benefits of technology. I’m thankful I can keep in touch with friends from all over the world, (and I can live through those who are still on their travels). The people I met on my trip were a key part in making my travels so special; I’m glad I can still continue those relationships from thousands of miles away.
Actual books – Jack Kerouac ignited the flames in my traveling soul when I was 16. Five hour bus rides throughout Europe were a lot easier when I had Bob Dylan, Irvine Welsh, and Chuck Palahniuk by my side. Bookstores gave me an excuse to strike up a conversation with whoever stood next to me, rifling through the gently-used-fiction sections. Books give me an adventure while I’m sitting on my couch, saving money for my next trip. Call me a nerd, but I’m thankful for books, stories, and words.
Bunk Beds and Couches – My Couchsurfing hosts and hostels were also a key part in feeling comfortable in new countries. Opening up your home to strangers, for free, is sometimes thought as mad. But it allows people to travel easily. Just having a place to sleep at night, even if it was on an overnight bus or in a smelly hostel with snoring Australians, is a blessing that not a lot of people have.
Patience – The ability to travel at all is a blessing. In 2015, I was able to visit San Francisco, New York, Boston, and 22 cities in Europe, and move to Austin, Texas. I graduated college and opened a new chapter in my life. I still stutter and give different answers when I’m asked what I want to do with my life, and at this moment I couldn’t tell you my plans after my Americorps position. But one of the most important lessons I learned this year is that every day the world opens up more and more possibilities. I have tons of trips to take and stories to write. I’m not going to travel today but when I’m meant to board a plane to the other side of the world, I’ll be ready.
And I’m thankful for all of you who think my adventures are interesting and who read my blog! I hope you all have a lovely holiday season, no matter what you celebrate!
The spring before my trip, I became obsessed with making candles. I had so many glass jars and a disgusting Pinterest habit (still do. Follow me.) I figured if I collected the materials for candles abroad and made them at home, I would be able to save space in my backpack AND save money. Win-win!
Keep those ticket stubs, friends, I have a use for them! And the use smells great!
Step 1: Collect Your Souvenirs!
I knew I was going to make these candles ahead of time, which gave me an excuse to hoard during my trip. I saved everything: metro passes, museum brochures, ticket stubs, festival schedules, maps….
For the most part, the thinner the better. I glue all of my souvenirs to my candles (more on that later), so paper souvenirs have always worked best for me!
Step 2: Collect Your Materials!
Here’s what you need for a basic souvenir candle:
Glass Jar – of any kind. I’ve used mason jars, old pasta sauce jars, old shot glasses…anything.
Wax – I use soy wax! It’s easily accessible in bulk at any craft store or online. A pound and a half is plenty for a quart-sized mason jar.
Pouring Pot – It’s a lifesaver, and a burn-preventer. I got mine for less than 10 bucks online? It’s a great way to keep your candlemaking separate from your other stovetop activities.
Brush (0ptional) – It’s my favorite way to apply the Mod Podge
Fragrance (optional) – I’m using vanilla. I just like the smell.
Step 3: Arrange and Apply Your Souvenirs!
I arranged mine by country, with big maps or festival schedules serving as the background and smaller souvenirs in front. This is the most fun part! Get creative.
You can apply your souvenirs in one of two ways! The easiest way is to Mod Podge them to the outside of the candle. Simple! I usually add a layer of Mod Podge to the back of the souvenirs and then another on top, just to secure it to the candle.
Recently, however, I’ve been experimenting with putting them on the inside of the candle! This method can be tricky, however, as the wax may make its way in between the souvenirs and hide them a bit. However, with the way my Poland candle turned out, I think it adds a bit of an artsy, nostalgic touch. (Check it out later in the post.)
Step 4: Melt Your Wax, Add Fragrance (optional)
Put your pouring pot on your stovetop and add bulk wax. Turning the stove on low still melts the wax in no time. You don’t have to add too much fragrance, either…a few drops will do.
Step 5: Add Your Wick!
This is honestly the hardest part. Straighten the wick out, wrap the end around your brush (or a pencil, or a fork…) and steady…steady….there.
Step 6: Pour and Let it Harden!
Easy. The candles with souvenirs on the outside are going to look exactly the same before and after pouring wax, but the candles with souvenirs on the inside might be tricky.
As your candle burns, the wax melts and reveals the final details of your souvenirs. It’s a slow and lovely reminder of the trip you took and the memories you made.
Hope you enjoyed this blog post…if you make any souvenir candles, show me!! My instagram is @beatbrokebackpacking, I post pictures of my travels and my blog posts. If you have suggestions for more crafts, let me know in the comments! Thanks again for reading!
It’s time for another travel playlist! These playlists are fun to make, although this week’s playlist isn’t so upbeat and cheery. When I traveled, I spent a lot of time on trains and buses waiting for the next city. Before I left for Europe, I commuted to work every day via train, waiting for the next chapter of my life to begin. Trains are my place to finally embrace my exhaustion and overthink everything. Winter is a season to match these feelings, as you wait for the summer to begin again. So I present my somber, beautiful winter train ride. It gets hopeful toward the end…I picked a few songs for approaching your destination.
Before I show the highlights, I’ll quickly add at link to my short story about a sad train ride, To Pittsburgh. It might be interesting to pair with this playlist.
James Bay – Let it Go
Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash – Girl from the North Country
I’ve been in Austin for SIX WEEKS! It’s not a long time, but it’s the first time I’ve been in the same place for more than two weeks in…five months? Even though I’m already planning another adventure, I wanted to give everyone an update on what I’m doing in the Live Music Capital of the World!
Work: I’ve been working with AmeriCorps for the past four weeks. And yes, I’m doing construction. I’m building and repairing houses. I’m fulfilling four year old Megan’s dream from when she made popsicle stick houses and told people she would be a carpenter when she grew up. The best part of my job is that every day is different, I never get bored. Monday I demolished a bathroom (taking out a closet/bath so we could rearrange it and make it wheelchair accessible). Today I finished painting a ramp. A few weeks ago I finished working on a roof for one of the houses in the Mobile Loaves & Fishes program. I get to work with my hands and learn new skills for the time when I’m ready to build my own tiny house!
I also got rehired at Lush! Two jobs may be a lot to handle during the holiday season, but all of those extra savings (aka travel funds)? I’ll sleep in 2016.
Austin Film Festival: Despite doing manual labor from 9-5 every weekday, I’ve managed to get my butt off the couch in the evenings, usually to volunteer somewhere else.I enjoyed volunteering at Austin City Limits so much that when I saw volunteer applications for the Austin Film Festival, I figured, “Why not?” Even though I’m not as passionate as film as I am about music and other media (There are tons of classic movies I haven’t seen yet), I figured AFF would be a great way to meet new friends and see some cool new movies. I didn’t even know that James Franco would be at the festival until after I started my shifts; I kind of signed up on a whim.
I worked one party, two registration shifts, and spent Monday-Wednesday of the festival working at the Paramount Theater and watching the movies that were being shown that night. The movies were fantastic, and I was lucky enough to get a film pass to catch a few on Halloween! Oddly enough, I volunteered with people from Philly and met some friends who had also just moved to Austin a month or so ago. Volunteering has been the most effective way to meet people in Austin. I learned about a sci-fi film festival happening in December…I may just have to put that on my list of things to check out!
Fun Fun Fun Fest: Wednesday was my last volunteer shift at AFF, Thursday was my volunteer orientation for Fun Fun Fun Fest. Again…I’ll sleep in 2016.
Fun Fun Fun always has a killer lineup, and this year’s did not disappoint. Wu-Tang Clan, Cheap Trick, Odeza, Grimes, Joey Bada$$, Jane’s Addiction…plus a bunch of skaters, comedians, and pro wrestlers. Yeah. Not your run-of-the-mill music festival, for sure. Despite a rainy start on Saturday, the festival had great vibes, a good space, (gorgeous people), and awesome sets from rappers, rockers, and everyone inbetween. I volunteered in the mornings Saturday and Sunday, which left evenings (and the amazing nite shows) open.
The highlight of the weekend was definitely The Growlers’ nite show at Cheer Up Charlies. I had been waiting for over a year to see The Growlers and I had heard good things about Cheer Up Charlies; both exceeded my expectations. The surf/pysch-rock group had everyone outside bopping around and sharing love. At one point, I looked around the crowded space and watched girls dancing on benches, groups of friends sporting crazy costumes, people grabbing cheap beers and discussing the day’s shows.
It’s not the most professional picture of post-grad life, but it’s exactly how I wanted to spend my Saturday. The past six months (it’s been SIX months since graduation!) have been a whirlwind, and the next year is a complete mystery. Today, tomorrow, last Saturday however…Austin’s where I want to be. It’s where I want to spend my weekend. It’s where I want to explore until my next big adventure. It’s all good.
I’m pumping out another playlist and I’m going to be focusing more on holiday traveling in the next few weeks. As usual, any suggestions, comments, questions…post away!!
Hey friends! Hope your November is wonderful! I’m currently spending my weekend at Fun Fun Fun Fest (more on that in my Austin Update…I’ll post it on Thursday!) so I figured I would create a music-themed post this week! I make playlists for everything,so I don’t just have one travel playlist, but multiple travel playlists! They’re separated by mood and mode of transportation. I based this first playlist off of my next adventure: a good old fashioned road trip! On New Year’s Day I’ll be driving from Philadelphia back to Austin with my friend/coworker, so I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how it goes! Here are some highlights:
For Cruising on the Highway with Your Top Down:
It’s Nice to Be Alive – Ball Park Music
Hold Back the River – James Bay
4th and Roebling – The Districts
Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones
I Bet That You Look Good on the Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys
For Running from Your Troubles (In a Totally Bad-Ass Way):
Let me know what you think of the playlist, what songs you would add, and what playlists you want to hear in the future! Also feel free to give this playlist a follow, as well as my blog 🙂 Thanks again for reading….cheers!
Hello! So as some of you may have noticed while reading my blog, my updates go up to Week 7 and then stop. Let me explain. Week 8 was spent in Berlin: Couchsurfing meetups, full days of waltzing into art galleries and free museums, street art tours, amazing bars. Unfortunately, my last night in Berlin wasn’t so wonderful.
Here’s the Story: At about 2 in the morning, I was sitting with a friend outside drinking a beer. There weren’t many people around and the area was well lit (it was a seating area outside a bunch of bars in a more or less decent neighborhood.) My day bag was sitting beneath my feet. One moment it was there, the next…gone. I looked down at my feet in disbelief. I thought it was a joke, and it took me a few minutes to grasp the situation. This was the bag I used to bring with me all day while I was wandering. It had my license, my credit cards, hairbrush and sunscreen (not the most stressful things to lose, but just so you have an idea of how much was in there), and my phone. My iPhone 6 with a Mophie charging case. I was distraught, mainly because I was so disappointed. The theft could have been so easily prevented, and I wanted to complete my trip proving that theft didn’t happen to every tourist who went abroad. Sigh.
What I Did: Oddly enough, my last night in Berlin was the most convenient night for all of my stuff to get stolen. I was leaving for a Workaway program in Warsaw the next day…my accommodation for the week and my transportation there had been planned months ahead of time. I was lucky enough to have Internet in my hostel. In my backpack, I had my train ticket to Warsaw, my passport, copies of all of my important documents, about 50 Euro, and 200 Zloty (Polish currency) from my previous trip to Poland. I immediately walked back to my hostel with my friend (ok, I cried and went to every bar I could find searching for my bag, and then walked back to my hostel with my friend), got on the Internet to tell my parents what had happened, and sent them my information so they could send me a new credit card that week. (Also, shout out and thank you to the **very cute** guys who worked at Sunflower Hostel that gave me free Internet/coffee after I told them what had happened.) The next morning, I filed a police report and sent a copy to my parents to replace my phone.
I was extremely lucky. When I had my bag stolen, I was with a friend, I wasn’t hurt or confronted for my bag, and I still was in possession of my passport. The following week, my dear friend Paul lent me his iPad for the week and an old iPhone 3 for the remainder of my trip so I could connect to Wi-Fi and use maps/take pictures/communicate with my parents. My friends and family helped me out enormously during the situation (even the friends that just reassured me that a lot of people have their phones stolen in Berlin too.) Theft is never fun, so I decided to make a list of tips to prevent it and tips on what to do if it happens to you!
Top Tips for Preventing/Dealing with Theft Abroad:
1. Keep Your Items Separate
I was at a bar with friends the night before someone stole my bag. I made a joke about being ID’d and my host said, “What? No one ID’s here, leave your passport at home.” I had been carrying my passport around with me every day before the day my bag was stolen. That morning, I left my passport and half of my cash buried in my backpack. That night, I came back to them immensely relieved.(You’re the real MVP, Verena!) On a trip to Beijing, our chaperones told us to hide a few Yuan in our bras (sorry, boys). You can keep a key or IDs around your neck, different currency or credit cards in different pockets, etc. This way, if your stuff gets stolen, not all of it gets stolen.
2. Store Your Items on Your Person
When I think about my bag getting stolen, I bop myself on the head. I could have kept my bag on my back. I could have stashed my bag in my hostel before going out and kept my phone/credit cards/license in my fanny pack. (I know they’re dorky, but they’re one of the 5 Things You’ll Be Glad You Packed….) Similar to carrying items separately, carrying items on your person just makes theft that much harder. Stealing my stuff was easy, and I’d like to think if I had a fanny pack covered up by my shirt I’d still have my original iPhone 6 (and my photos of Berlin!) with me.
3. Make Copies Of Your Important Documents
I refused to take my passport anywhere with me on day trips, but I still had to identify myself somehow. Luckily, before my trip, my parents had told me to make copies of my license, passport, credit card, and school ID. I used the copies of my documents to verify my age, that I was in fact a passenger of most of the trains I had booked ahead of time, and that I was (ok, I had been, but in the case of free museums for students in Madrid, I still was) a student.
4. Bring an Extra Device to Connect to the Internet
This was a piece of advice I had received before my trip from someone who had all of his stuff stolen on a backpacking trip. Even though my accommodations had Internet and I eventually obtained an iPhone (thank you again, Paul), having my Kindle was great for connecting to the Internet on the go. I couldn’t just stay in my hostel all the time, so at the train station/wandering around Warsaw, I could find directions/reassure my parents that I was fine. I always kept my Kindle separate from my phone so I was happy to have it when I got back to my hostel room.
5. Remember that You’re Not Alone
I was disappointed to have my stuff stolen, but eventually I had to accept that it happens to a lot of travelers. My friends and family sympathized with my situation and were able to help me out, and the stuff that was stolen was just that…stuff. Overall, the incident didn’t define my trip; it was just one of the many learning experiences that made up my time in Europe. If it happens to you, just remember that the next few days of phone detox-ing and possibly even navigating a paper map (gasp) may not be fun, but it’s not the end of the world.
Have you ever had your stuff stolen abroad? Tell me your story in the comments! I promise next week’s post will be a little less serious and a little more fun!
Hey friends! I’ve got kind of a different post for you this week…it’s a little longer, with less pictures, but I’ve always wanted to write about my experiences with yoga. I’ve been exploring yoga on and off for many years and it’s really made a great impact on my health, physically and mentally. It’s a great thing to add into daily routine, but it’s also great for traveling, when every day can be different.
There are a few basic reasons why I enjoyed practicing yoga while traveling. You can do it anywhere, it keeps you fit, and it stretches you out after being cramped up on an overnight bus or spending your days hiking/walking/backpacking. Going beyond the physical reasons, however, yoga alleviates some of the mental strain that comes with traveling. I have three little stories about three different experiences I had doing yoga on my trip and when I finally settled down in Austin. Enjoy!
Yoga Centers You (Yoga in Berlin)
By the time I had arrived in Berlin, I had visited seven cities in the span of about two weeks. My head was spinning. I was jetlagged, and an overnight bus/ferry from Copenhagen had not helped one bit. I spent my first few hours at my Couchsurfing host’s house napping.
After scrolling through Couchsurfing meetups, we found a free yoga class in Tempelhofer Park, once of my host’s favorite places in the city. It was perfect: a free, fun activity in a beautiful location. The class was (luckily) held in English, and our yoga instructor said it was one of the biggest free classes she had ever held. People from all over the world attended, and Berlin locals even joined in throughout the class.
It had been the first time I had practiced yoga in a few weeks, but that’s the wonderful thing about yoga. No matter how far you can stretch or how well you know the poses, you can go through a class and get back to the meditative state that yoga provides. I could have been in Berlin, I could have been in Glasgow, I could have been in Philadelphia…but what I focused on during that hour was that I was in my own body. I began to use exercises I learned through meditation as I traveled: I began focusing on my feet as they wander through cities, the feeling of my back against my backpack, or my head pressing against the seat of a bus, train, airplane, etc. No change in scenery can change how I feel within my own body, so whenever I’m feeling lost, I return to focusing on that feeling.
Yoga Connects You with Others (Yoga in Kielce)
After Berlin, I spent two weeks in Poland volunteering for an English immersion camp for Polish teenagers. I volunteered with 20 other native English speakers. I hadn’t been a while since I had been surrounded by that many people my age for an extended (if you consider a week “extended”) period of time. I was so used to being by myself that when I was faced with so many people, I felt anxious. Were people judging me? Was I well-liked? I was asking the kind of questions I thought I had left behind in high school.
The second week in Poland was a change; many of the same native speakers stuck around, but we were in a new location. We stayed in a gorgeous hotel with a balcony. On the first day in this new location, I decided I would do yoga in the morning before breakfast. I always invited other native speakers to join. I played a YouTube video from one of my favorite yogis (which you can watch here) and some days I’d be by myself, some days I’d be joined by friends. One day in particular, the video wasn’t working. I basically had the video memorized, so I timidly offered to go through what I remembered. I was extremely nervous, but I tried to link together all of the vinyasas in the video the way I remembered. I even added in my favorite stretch during the practice (shout out to pigeon pose!!) By the end of the class, I was able to look at yoga from a new perspective. Paul and Angie were very relaxed as well; the session was a success!
I spent the rest of the day walking on air (even though I kept focusing on my bare feet against the ground). Yoga always provided me with a calm and peaceful energy, and that day I was able to share that with others. I was hooked. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to pursue yoga even deeper.
Yoga Shows You Where You Need to Be (Yoga in Austin)
For the time being, I’m stationary. I’ve moved to Austin and signed a year-long lease. Besides wanting to explore this amazing city that I’ve admired from afar for a few years, I really need to save up some money before I travel again.
Within two weeks of moving, I started attending free yoga classes held at the Whole Foods on Mondays and Wednesdays. One Tuesday night, I had been venting to my best friend about my job, asking, “Am I doing enough? Am I making the right choices?”
On the bus to the class, I saw a tweet advertising that finally volunteer positions for Fun Fun Fun Fest had become live. I had been waiting on this application for a while, especially after having a blast volunteering for Austin City Limits.
I usually keep my eyes closed while I practice, but something about the flow of the class that night led me to keep them open. I remember gazing at the lights strung along the trees on the Plaza. I saw 300 Austinites practicing with me. I saw the neon glow of Waterloo Records, just a street away.
At the end of the class, in savasana (Corpse Pose, aka when you lie flat on your back and soak in your practice), I felt the activation of my third eye. I hadn’t been focusing on that chakra, so it was kind of odd. I told myself I would figure out what this feeling meant later and continued with my meditation.
After class, I looked deeper into what the third eye chakra symbolized. I found this quote from personaltao.com: “The third eye is our ability to see what might be, to see potential.” That sentence tied my whole day together in a nice little present. When I was 15, I was determined to move to Austin. I didn’t really have that much reasoning behind it, but that type of intuition is what the third eye provides. I knew there was something for me here. The day of the class, I was gathering inspiration from Austin; the music festivals I hoped to work for, the record stores, the bookstore I had visited next to Whole Foods…even going to the class itself. When I explore Austin, I’m exploring my potential.
There are many things I hope to explore while I’m in Austin: the city itself, yoga, blogging, crafting, my next steps in life…and I’ll hopefully continue to post throughout this new journey! If you have suggestions/feedback/etc. let me know in the comments or shoot me an email! (Info is on my Contact page). Thanks again for reading!