Top Ten: Paris (Top things to do and see in Paris, France)

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Photo credits: macarons- Copyright http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:More_macarons.JPG Montmartre- Copyright Carles Tomas Marti http://www.flickr.com/photos/carles_tomas/2671023608

1. Champs Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe. Walk down the famous Champs Elysees and browse the high end stores. Make sure you stop at the Arc de Triomphe. You can take the stairs to the top for an alternative view of Paris, just note that there is an underground tunnel to get to the Arc de Triomphe. Trying to cross the traffic circle that surrounds it is a terrible idea if you want to make it through the rest of this list.

2. The Eiffel Tower. Need it even be said? Of course you should visit the Eiffel Tower. I love a good sky view, and the Eiffel Tower has a great one. Buy tickets online, ahead of time and arrive when it opens to avoid standing in line for half your day.

3. Macarons. One of the most underrated treats, macarons are a great Parisian treat. They also make great gifts to bring home to friends since they are quite travel friendly. Check out Pierre Hermé for the quintessential macaron.

4. Eat Baguettes (daily). If you travel to France and don’t eat baguettes at every possible occasion, you are missing the greatest part of french Life. Nothing hits the spot quite like a fresh French baguette and some French butter.  Perfect for a snack or light meal and very budget friendly.

5. Stroll through Montmartre. Montmartre is a quaint little neighborhood of France. When you picture walking the streets of Paris, these are the streets you are looking for. Vendors like the lanes and there are cute little places to grab a drink or bite to eat around every corner.

6. Take a boat ride down the Seine River. Give your feet a break and view Paris from a boat on the Seine river. Book a cruise in the evening for a great night view of Paris. They also offer dinner cruises regularly. Check out The Bateaux Mouches website.

7. Day trip to Versailles. Though not technically in Paris, we think the Palace of Versailles is good enough to make the list. Gorgeous grounds and tons of history make this a great day trip opportunity.

8. Eat crepes. If it isn’t clear, French food is famous for a reason. So many delectable things to try. You can find crepes just about anywhere and often the best ones are from street vendors or mom-and-pop shops. You can’t go wrong with a nutella crepe.

9. Picnic in the Luxembourg Gardens. The French love to hang out and relax here. Grab your baguette and wander through the scenic gardens.

10. Have some wine and cheese and a French wine bar. Nothing says French quite like wine, add some cheese with it and you will instantly feel like you are a Parisian. Paris has tons of wine bars to offer in all price ranges, make sure you stop at one before you leave.

Think we missed something? Let us know if there is anything you would add to the list.

How to Survive Long Flights: 12 Tips to Help You Keep Your Sanity on Long Hauls

There are many great destinations around the world to see, but some require a long flight in order to get there.  Here are a few ways to help you to not go crazy on that long flight.

1)   Pack a spare comfy outfit.  While wearing comfortable clothes on a flight is a given, even your most comfortable outfit may become uncomfortable after an extended period of time.  Pack an extra outfit in your suitcase that you can change into should the clothing you wore onto the plane become uncomfortable.  Even if you don’t need it for the flight, you can change into it upon landing to help you feel fresh or have a backup in case your checked luggage gets lost.  Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes that can be easily removed.

2)   Bring good headphones (and two pairs).  Many pairs of headphones will start to hurt your ears after extended wear.  Bring a set of a different kind to relieve your aching ears.  Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones for extra peace and quiet.

3)   Choose your seat cautiously.  If you typically choose aisle or window seats, think very carefully about where you should sit on a long flight.  Sit in the aisle and you may have to deal with people getting up and down often and may struggle to sleep in an upright position.  However, choose to sit by the window and you may get trapped in your seat by those sitting next to you.  Check if there are exit row seats available as they allow a little extra leg room.

SeatGuru shows you the optimal seat on your flight

SeatGuru shows you the optimal seat on your flight

Check out www.seatguru.com to find the best seat on every flight. It will show you the layout of your plane with each seat ranging from red (bad) to green (good seat). It will also show you the amenities available on the plane.

4)   Bring a pillow and blanket.  Nothing makes your cozier than your own pillow and blanket.  Check out the Lug Nap Sac I wrote about in “Travel Accessories We Can’t Go Without”.

Lug Nap Sac Travel Blanket & Pillow

Lug Nap Sac Travel Blanket & Pillow

5)   Leave the extra carry-on bag behind.  While it may be tempting to pack two carry-on bags, you will regret it when you want to stretch out your feet.  Try to keep your luggage to what will fit in the overhead.

6)   Bring food and water.  There is nothing worse than being on a long flight when all the meal options are terrible.  Prepare like the airline will not serve you any food instead of banking on eating what they serve or waiting for a flight attendant to bring you a drink.

Check www.airlinemeals.net for what you can expect to eat on your flight.

7)   Continue your daily routine.  If you wash your face, brush your teeth, etc. every morning and evening, bring the items you need to continue this regime.  Not only will it give you something to do for 5 minutes and a reason to get up; but it will help your body register the end of the day/start of a new one.  It may sound strange, but changing into sweat pants, and preparing like I am going to bed helps me relax and actually get some sleep on a long flight.

8)    Prepare for the dry air.  Recycled cabin air gets very dry.  Make sure to drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated to avoid extreme jet lag.  Make sure to pack eye drops, lotion, and chapstick to protect your skin from being in dry conditions for an extended period of time.

9)   Walk around regularly.  Get up at least every few hours and walk around just to get your blood flowing.  If you sit for an extended period it can cause cramps and other health risks.  Some travelers like to wear compression socks on long flights to increase the blood circulation in their legs.

10)   Bring back support.  If you often experience back pain (or even if you don’t) bring some form of back support to keep your body from aching upon your arrival.  Bring a lumbar support pillow to allow extra support for your back.

Adjust-Air Portable Lumbar Support

Adjust-Air Portable Lumbar Support

11)   Prepare entertainment for 1 ½  times longer than the flight.  If you have a 12 hour flight, don’t bring only a book that will take you 13 hours to read.  You are bound to either get bored with it or finish it faster than you expect.  When you are bored and in a contained space, it is hard to keep yourself focused.  Bring options to choose from to keep you entertained (movies, games, magazines, books, work, etc.).

12)   Take airborne before you go and/or while you are in the air.  A long flight can do a lot of damage to your body and immune system. Take airborne and other vitamin and mineral packed supplements to make up for this damage.  There is nothing worse than getting sick right when you arrive at your destination.

Best of: Marrakech, Morocco! MBA User-Submitted photos.

Hey MBA users!  Every now and then we’re going to post user-submitted photos of your coolest trips, pics, and places!  Be sure to send them in; you can Tweet us your pics at @MyBuddyAbroad , post it on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Buddy-Abroad/114357055324849?fref=ts or send it via e-mail to tyler@ newmediafluent.com

Our next Best of Series will be London, England! Be sure to submit your best photo!

“I never knew there would be so much to do in Marrakech.” Aubrey A.

“The Souk of Marrakech! Anything and everything you could want to buy is all here.” – Riley G.

“Beautiful pillars right by the Medina!” – Lacey B.

“A traditional Moroccan meal (maybe except for the French fries and Diet coke).” – Ally T.

“One of the cities greatest landmarks, the Koutoubia Mosque!” – Andrew J.

“Out sand duning around the Atlas mountains!” – Sarah B.

“Having tea in a rural Moroccan home outside of Marrakesh – amazing experience!” -Emilie S.

“Local school children watching us tourists. I wonder what they think of us?!” – Nick C.

“The beautiful medina from a rooftop restaurant, can’t wait to return!” Shaun B.

Best Free iPhone Apps for Travel

We pay a lot for our iPhone’s so why should we pay for expensive travel apps? These five apps have helped My Buddy Abroad members abroad and saved them tons of money.  Get your iPhone handy and download away!

1. U Packing List

1. uPackingListFree – Figure out what you need beforehand 

There’s no way you can forget anything with this app- it covers all your grounds.  Download this before you leave and you won’t be spending money on pricey necessities while you’re trying to enjoy your trip.

2. HearPlanet

2.Hearplanet – Learn about where you are

Sometimes finding time for a tour that also fits your budget can be hard, so use HearPlanet on any of your major landmarks and learn everything you need to know.

3. Tripit

3. Tripit – Organize your trip

Between flights and other travel plans things can get muddled up quickly.  Tripit centralizes  and makes the travel experience that much smoother by doing things such as sending flight confirmations and syncing up with your calendar.  A must have!

4. Road Trip Lite

4.  Road Trip LT – Calculate gas, MPG, and more.

When driving it can get pricey and frustrating.  RoadTrip is awesome tool to calculate how much you’re paying for gas and the mileage.  We learned that our car got us 39 MPG on a 1000 mile trip to Los Angeles.

5. Yelp

5. Yelp – Find the best locations 

Finally, you’ve got to find the best foods and fun and Yelp knows it all.  Whether you want it to use your location or find what you like by search, reading reviews and looking at photos will help pick the best places during your trip.

Travel smart, my friends.

9 Things You Are Probably Forgetting to Pack in Your Carry-on

Packing for a trip can be a daunting task.  There are probably a number of things that you will wish you had packed once you take off, here is a list of some of the most common things you’ll wish you had remembered to pack in your carry-on.

1)      Eye Drops– The air in planes is very dry.  Especially if you plan to sleep on the flight, you will want to pack some eye drops to put the moisture back in your eyes when you wake up.

2)      Socks– I like to be as comfortable as possible when I fly.  Often I want to take my shoes off, but don’t want to freak other passengers out by sitting in my seat barefoot.  If you pack a pair of neutral socks no one will notice you getting comfortable and your toes will stay warm.

3)      Layers of clothing– Never underestimate how cold airplanes will be.  If you are going to a tropical location, you will probably want to wear shorts and a tank top.  Even if you are not, bring multiple layers to accommodate to the cabin temperature.

4)      Billow– Okay, so you can take a little pillow and blanket, but a billow (a blanket that is stored as a pillow) is more fun.  If it is cold on your flight or you just want to snuggle up, you are going to want to bring a pillow and blanket.

5)      Water and Snacks– Relying on the plane food is a terrible choice.  When you get bored, you typically get hungry, so even if you don’t think you will use it make sure to pack drinks and a snack to tide you over.

6)      Tylenol or other painkillers– Whether you experience muscle pain, back problems, headaches from the cabin pressure, or any other issue, you will be glad you packed a painkiller for a flight.

7)      Immune System Booster- Planes are known as breeding grounds for sicknesses, take Airborne or some form of vitamin C to protect yourself as much as possible from getting sick.

8)      Everything you will need if your luggage gets lost- many people only pack the things they foresee needing on the actual flight, but if your bag gets lost you are going to want things that cannot easily be obtained at your location.  Make sure you carry-on your prescriptions, phone charger, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and anything else you wouldn’t be able to make it two days without.

9)      Hotel and transit directions in paper form- On a trip to Spain, I made the mistake of saving the address and phone number of the people I was staying with on my Iphone and Laptop.  When I arrived, both devices had died and I was without any way of locating where I needed to go.  Make sure you have exactly what you need to get to your final destination on a piece of paper or something that cannot go out of power.

If you think there is anything we are forgetting, let us know below!

Travel smarter, not harder friends.

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Ways to Save Money While Traveling

Prices for flights and hotels can be daunting in themselves, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank on every other expense.  Here are four ways to help you save money on your next vacation abroad!

-Budget airlines and travel websites

When I most recently traveled from Oklahoma City to Paris (France, not Texas), I didn’t want to pay $1000 so I found a website called studentuniverse.com – a website that caters to ANYONE (student, teacher, employee, etc) with a college e-mail.  I ended up paying $624 for a round-trip airfare.  Pretty amazing, right? Generally speaking, the longer you go, the cheaper it is, so keep that in mind. But if you want to take a short trip within your trip, check out budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet.  Some flights can cost as little as TEN AMERICAN DOLLARS, such as the one I took from Nice, France to Marrakesh, Morocco.  Not even their asinine baggage policies can put a damper on that price.

Better get in line at the airport early – budget airlines lines are notoriously long!

-Unconventional lodging

There are so many different ways around pricey conventional hotels.  For the daring traveler, try couchsurfing.com , a website that pairs you up with a local who hosts people from different parts of the world (normally these people are also globetrotters who love to meet people from different cultures . The idea is that this is a reciprocal exchange, meaning you need to host some people too and tell them the best spots in your hometown, so keep that in mind beforehand.  Also, if you’re traveling in a large group, look into renting out someone’s apartment.  In Amsterdam, seven of us rented a chic little apartment in a great location with more than enough space that ended up costing everyone less that $30 Euros a night.  We had free reign to do what we wanted, when we wanted, and in style.

This apartment in Amsterdam was a steal for the price.

-Internet booking

This might sound like a given, but when you add up the amount of attractions paid for during a trip, each dollar makes a difference.  Almost all attractions have discounts for booking online, such as the London Eye.  If you do this enough, you will definitely see a difference in your bank account.  Also, look for deals online such as Livingsocial- most people don’t think about it, but these deals are offered abroad too!

Booking online can save you money on everything from attractions to trains.

-Free Tours

Finally, the culmination of the of free – free tours!  Most people have the misconceived notion that these are not of the same quality as paid tours, but that’s entirely not true.  These guides make their living off tips and it shows in their presentation.  With the best historical anecdotes, the funniest personal accounts, and lots of information, free tours are among the favorite for most travelers. Plus, you can tip based on how you think they did.  It’s  a win-win situation for all.

You’ll always meet a very diverse group of people in your tour groups.

Travel smart my friends.

Top 5 North American Fall Trips

5 Fall Trips in North America

Looking for a great trip to take this fall? Here are some suggestions.  There is a little something for everyone whether you want to experience fall beauty or escape somewhere to forget about the impending winter.

1) Fall Foliage Trip 

Drive through New England to see the trees in hundreds of varying colors.  Famous Allegheny Passage from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania boasts some of the most famous views of fall foliage.  Stop along to way to visit apple orchards or to take a hayride. Travel anywhere from South Carolina to Wisconsin to experience picturesque views in the fall.

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2) Escape the Winter Trip

Visit locations close to the Ecuador for one last summer-like trip. Puerto Vallarta still has temperatures in the high 80’s throughout the fall.  As an added bonus, the tourist season doesn’t pick up until mid-November, providing cheaper hotels and airfare.

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3) Unusual U.S. Trip

Every fall there are a number of festivals throughout the U.S., perhaps one of the most famous of these is the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  Each year the festival draws thousands to view the hundreds of balloons ranging in shapes from a Pepsi can to a castle.

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4)British Columbia Classic Trip

Ski resorts in British Columbia, Nevada, and Colorado offer a place to stay in nature with an amazing view.  Like mexico, it is the off season in the fall, so you can stay in an upscale resort for bargain prices.

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5) City Trip

Prefer to take a trip to a location with lots of action and nightlife? Los Angeles can be a great option for it warm stable weather and plethora of things to do. Visit neighboring cities such as San Diego or take a trip to the farms in the valley while you are visiting.

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