Hallo! Exciting things have happened since my last blog post… I got engaged! It is both super exciting and weird at the same time even though 2 months have already past since the proposal. If you’re curious as to my true thoughts on how the proposal went (knowing that I am a surprise ruiner), it went perfectly; even though we have been together for almost 10 years, I was 100% surprised when he asked on a beautiful 65 degree day, on our favorite beach during sunset. Wedding planning games have begun since then, and I’m sure I’ll be writing (or venting haha) about some of those #CHENCHALLENGES in the near future. There already has been a few.
My fiance (weird calling him that.. okay, my partner? significant other? less weird) and I also took a 8 day trip to the beautiful, history-rich lands of Germany recently, specifically Berlin, Munich, and Rhineland area/Frankfurt. It was an awesome trip filled with many firsts including renting an AirBnB place instead of a hotel, navigating the German rail and local train systems, eating German food, and driving (or in my case, being a passenger) 125mph on the autobahn.
Why Germany? Honestly, it was just fate… thanks to the flight pricing gods. We used Google Flights‘ Discover Destinations to check out which places would be cheap to fly to during specific dates. We saw that a few European cities were fairly cheap like Zurich, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and used the app Hopper to track flight prices. One day, we saw Frankfurt have $450 direct round trip tickets from JFK and immediately booked it. So, that’s how we chose Germany.
Of course me being a planner, I planned out my itineraries for the trip beforehand. I used a bunch of different sources for “the best things to do in X city” but mainly from TripAdvisor and friend recommendations. I used Sygic Travel to plot all my points of interest on a map so I could group PoIs close in proximity together, then used TripHobo to plan out my day to day itinerary. I liked that Trip Hobo included suggestions on what’s in the area as well as included commute time (walking, car, train).
Before my trip, I also wanted to get a no-foreign-transaction-fee card to use abroad. I used to have the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX (which had this and I miss dearly because it was awesome earning SPG points) but after the first free year, I couldn’t justify the $95 annual fee with my current spending habits – maybe we’ll meet again some day my friend.. Anyway, TLDR – I needed a free card that provided this benefit. There are a few no-annual-fee credit cards out there that include the no-foreign-trans-fee but I ended up going with the Charles Schwab Debit Card. I usually use cash abroad (many smaller shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards) and Schwab will reimburse any ATM fees. It is an online bank, so it is annoying that you can’t deposit cash directly and any money transfers from external bank accounts will take about 4 business days, but the customer service has been great so far, no annual fees, 1.0% interest for your checking account… it’s pretty sweet for an abroad card option. I do have to warn you that they do a hard pull on your credit (meaning their inquiry into your credit score will affect your score). So if you’re looking to get a loan in the near future, might not be a good idea to get it now. I didn’t have any problem using this card in the German ATMs BUT DO call them before your trip to notify them; I didn’t do this and I couldn’t charge anything to the card as they thought it was fraud.. ATM worked though.
I hope these few tips are helpful in planning your next trip! Stay tuned for more posts on what we did in Germany. Guten tag!