Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yes! I just bought my ticket and I'm going to France! This gets me one step closer to my graduate school program which starts August 21st in Aix-En-Provence.

Finding inexpensive airfare can be a hassle! Before purchasing my ticket I weighed the pros and cons on a few different options:

1. I could combine my minuscule 9,000 points with with my mom's 35,000 on American Airlines and purchase a few thousand more to earn enough for an international flight;

2. Pay a visit to my new friend Grayce at Maupin Travel down the street from me;

3. See if could provide a good deal with a little flexibility on my part: leaving out of anywhere in NC, Atlanta, DC, or NYC and flying into Bordeaux or Paris (which would require a three hour train ride with lots of luggage for my extended stay);

4. Or call STA Travel to see what kind of student rate I could get with my newly acquired status.

I looked into all 4 with hopes of spending under $1,000. My costly dilemma is that I'm leaving during high season (summer travel isn't cheap), staying for more than three months, and returning right as the Christmas season gets started. Basically, if I'd waited any longer my chances would be slim to none for finding something in my price range.

I did some inside research on my own
a few different times knocking out options 1 & 3 to see if prices had changed. Then I looked into option 2 - ask an expert! I met Grayce when I was feeling ambitious one day. I was walking home from the nearby shopping area of Cameron Village, and saw a sign for TRAVEL. "I think that sign has my name on it" I said to myself, and walked right in. Grayce has been working at Maupin for a lot of years and knows what she's doing. She told me that it would cost me nothing - ziltch - nada to find a flight that would accommodate my needs (no service fee). She looked into it, but the price was still tooooooo high!

Last resort: option 4. I called STA Travel a few days ago to
inquire. STA arranges tickets for students under 26 yrs old as well as teachers. They hooked me up with a pretty good deal that takes me out of Dulles (DC, where I have family) to London Heathrow where I switch to London Gatwick via a 24/7 shuttle service, then straight into Bordeaux where my handsome boyfriend Phillip will be picking me up - Phil, would you mind picking me up at the airport on Aug 4th? My return flight is less complicated and leaves out of Nice, France which is a mere hop skip & a jump from the city of Aix.
STA Travel was awesome and hooked me up for $856, the lowest price I found, including taxes and fees. They also found all of my flights within the time frame I was looking for. If you're a student looking for international fares, or you want to come visit me!, STA Travel might be a perfect fit!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Raleigh Makes Forbes Best Places...

I was shocked to read that Forbes 2008 ranked Raleigh, North Carolina #1 on their list of Best Places for Business &! Its pretty neat to have good 'Ol Raleigh on the map for something as noteworthy as that. Charlotte, NC ranked 3rd which leads me to believe that nothin' could be finer than a job in Carolina!

See for yourself:

No. 1: Raleigh, N.C.

(Raleigh-Cary metro area)
2008 Population: 1,088,765
2007-2008 Change: 4.29%

Raleigh, which ranked first on Forbes' 2008 list of best places for business and careers, has done well with its hospitals, universities and more than 170 research and development companies. However, the unemployment rate for January 2009 was 7.9%, just 0.2% below the national rate.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rules of the Sky...

In the Travel section of last Tuesday’s The Wall Street Journal, “10 Rules of the Road for Air Travel” are given. I’ve chosen my Top 5 to share with you:

5. Travel is Difficult – I think we all know that! Writer Scott McCartney recommends knowing this in advance and being prepared to be flexible and assertive.

4. Book Smartly – Build itineraries with delays in mind. You can check on-time performance of any airline at sites like or look up the history of fare prices at &

3. Enjoy Perks that Pay – By using an airline associated credit card to book hotel stays and flights, you can consolidate and earn points towards your next trip!

2. Learn Something – If you’re in a city for a short business trip, extend your time a few hours and leave your bags with the hotel concierge in order to enjoy the city you’re in. McCartney mentions how impressive is when business travelers can share what they’ve learned about a city with their city dwelling clients. This could help you build a better relationship with clients and give you something to talk about other than work!
1. Never Check Anything You Can’t Live Without – I know a few people who’ve lost valuable things between dropping their luggage off at baggage claim A and picking it up a few hours later at baggage claim B. It is certainly important to keep all valuable items with you at all times and may encourage you to leave certain things at home!

And my personal contribution: Packing Light can be easy…depending on the season of course because obviously wool sweaters take up more room in a suitcase than do bathing suits! But, if you’re traveling from city to city in a matter of days its easy to repeat outfits thanks to Laundromats!! I was in a Laundromat in Aviemore, Scotland last summer, reading a book and using up my spare change. In fact, I’m currently in a Laundromat in Raleigh, North Carolina writing this entry!

Inspired by The Wall Street Journal “10 Rules of the Road for Air Travel”, by Scott McCartney

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Northern Outter Banks

If you're in the Carolina area and want to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing weekend at the beach, try the Duck & Corolla Beaches which are only a 4 hour drive from the State Capitol of Raleigh, and a half hour North of Nags Head in the Outter Banks!

I explored this region for the first time last weekend and had a blast! Dappled with crafty shops and sound-side restaurants run by the locals, this little haven is a perfect place for a short getaway!

FOOD: There's a lot to choose from!

$ We got our North Carolina Bar-B-Que fix at The Corolla Village Bar-B-Que shack right next to the Corolla Lighthouse. This made for a great afternoon lunch and was nestled in between a hand full of quaint shops filled with decorative finds!

$$ If you're looking for a retro-sports bar to grab some local food and watch the game, try Barefoot Bernies with their friendly staff and smoke-free atmosphere! I ordered the fish tacos and they were mmmm good!
$$$ If you prefer an up-scale environment to celebrate a special occasion, like Mother's Day, the Aqua S Restaurant is awesome! Our waitress had a great personality and so did our very special bartender and Jack of All Trades, Kevin! The next time I'm there I will be sure to check out the Aqua S Spa, above the restaurant for a massage and facial!

SHOPPING: The Corolla area is a 10 mile drive North of Duck. Be sure to stop by The Lighthouse Garden to say hi to the owner Carole, and search for decorative home and garden gifts! Tell 'er Heather sent you!

When in Rome: You'll definitely want to take in some of the local history while you're there and learn all about Blackbeard and his famous hidden booty along the shores of the Outter Banks! Also unique to this particular region are the wild Spanish Mustang Ponies that roam freely in a preserved and nationally protected beach area. These horses have inhabited the Northern Outter Banks beaches since the first settlers docked 400 years ago! To discover more of the local history and ecology, choose from among a few horse tours including Wild Horse Adventure Tours which will take you up HWY-12, an inner state made of sand!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sleep Much?

The French sleep more than any other industrialized nation in the world according to the Wall Street Journal. No wonder I often feel like a French woman! The article noted that the average minutes of sleep per night among French citizens is 530 minutes compared to 518 for Americans and only 469 for Koreans who are considered to be the “most awake” according to a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.

The OECD also studied the amount of time spent eating by each industrialized nation. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the French win in this category as well spending nearly 2.25 hours eating daily! Baguette anyone? They are closely followed by the Kiwi’s who enjoy munching for 2.20 hours per day. The United States ranked third to last with only 1 hour, 14 minutes devoted to meals daily. Fast food anyone?

It isn’t hard to believe that the French exceed nearly every other nation in the amount of time spent eating and sleeping because they also lead in the amount of time off from work, receiving 30 annual days of mandatory paid leave = get out of the office and live life! Next to follow is the UK with 20 annual days of paid leave.

Stats taken from The Wall Street Journal, by David Gauthier-Villars [May 5, 2009]

Friday, May 1, 2009

Top 10: Things to Get Mom for Mother's Day

Happy May first to you all! Can you believe we're already into May 2009!? This year is flying by and we're almost up to our next nationally recognized holiday: MOTHER'S DAY which will occur in approximately 10 days (May 10...don't forget!).

So my question is: What should one get for the mother in their life when that mother is probably sufficiently satisfied with everything she already has and is sick of collecting junk?

I've come up with a "TOP 10 Things to Get Mom for Mother's Day" List, leaving space for YOUR input!:

10. a massage appointment - unless she's especially ticklish and doesn't like having her bubble invaded;
9. a tomato plant - there's nothin' like freshness in your own back yard;
8. a "declutter" coupon - offer to spend a few hours cleaning all of the junk out of her upstairs attic / kitchen / garage. She most likely planned to get around to it three years ago, so your initiative could be a great help!

7. sign her up for a class - does she like to paint? enjoy cooking? or desire to play the tuba? Sign her up!

6. _____(your input here)______

5. a bottle of wine - I recommend Satinela, Marques de Carceres 2007(medium sweet Rioja)

4. flowers or a plant - classic mother's day gift

3. a walk in the park with a picnic - how lovely, and if its a windy day, why not get a kite!
2. toes and tini's - pamper her with a pedicure and a martini!

1. a book! I recommend The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine - only $6.39 on!
If you have any other ideas, please pass them on! <3