San Francisco

This trip was amazing…not only did we swim Alcatraz, but we swam it for a good cause. We swam for the FAST Foundation which raises money for awareness and water safety.

The Distance

The Alcatraz swim is about 1.4 Miles (about 2,500 yards).

The Conditions

Temperature: Water temperatures during our swim are in the low to mid 50’s. Pretty. Damn. Cold. My suggestion? Buy a full body wet suit off of Amazon.

How I got there

Airline points. It only cost me 5,542 points for a one way on Southwest from PHX to SFO.

One my way home segment…I used my Capital One Venture points and cash which is a new, awesome feature! I used 6,297 miles + $33.23. Not bad right!?

Where We Stayed
Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf. We loved it here. It was a pretty central location from our swim and all the main tourist attractions. The front desk agent even sent us free champagne for finishing our race. I highly recommend!
Where We Ate
  • Breakfast: Mama’s. There was a line that we waited in for about two hours, but it was definitely worth the wait.
  • Dinner: Cioppino’s for seafood.
  • Ice Cream: Ghiradelli’s where else…
What Else We Did For Fun
  • Rented bikes and biked across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Sausalito
  • Golden Gate Park
  • Mosiac Tile Stairs
  • Crooked street
  • Painted Ladies
  • Twin Peaks
  • Alcatraz
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Pier

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The ones who see things differently. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Apple

Travel Nursing

Travel nursing? Let me guess. You have a million questions because so did I. I decided to interview my friend Renee for this post because this is one option for working full time, but still seeing the world. She started her career at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Then, made the move to Phoenix, Arizona for her first stop of her adventure.

What inspired you to do travel nursing?

My first job was a good learning experience. I needed a positive change to help people. Travel nursing allowed me to do that and explore the USA.

How did you apply?

Research, research, research! There are a ton of travel nursing agencies. I honestly think this is the hardest part of the whole travel nurse experience. At first, I decided to go with a small local company in my hometown. I thought working with a local company would be nice so I could go into the office if needed. But, I found that the bigger companies had more options depending on what state you want to go to. Also going into the office really isn’t necessary.
– Just keep in mind that you may have to switch companies depending on what part of the country you are trying to go.
Also remember these companies are working for you so ask lots of questions.
Find a company that will reimburse you for your license, any certifications, scrubs, etc. Keep in mind they will not reimburse you until you get to that state to work.
Another thing to look for is to make sure companies offer health insurance.

How do you go about getting your license?

25 states are in the compact licenses which include licenses to all, but Ohio (which is where I got my original license) is not one of the compact states. So I have to apply to each state individually. I just went to each states board of nursing website and look for endorsement license. If you want more information to see if your state is in the compact license go here.

What states did you get and why?

Arizona: consisted of a two page paper with my contact information, I mailed it back to the board and then they mailed me a fingerprint card which I then took to a police station. Cost is about $10. They make you get a background check which cost $50. My Arizona license is good for three years and cost $240 total. It took me two months to get this license.

California: one page paper and they mailed you back a finger print Card. You have to get ahold of your college and get a transcript sent to the state. Keep in mind for all license if you miss any steps it delays you and with California the board is behind and averages 3-6   months to get your license. My California license is only good for one year and cost $179. It took me six months to get this license.

Colorado: this was the easiest and cheapest one. Everything was online, no finger printing needed. It was about 200 questions that you checked boxes and filled in your personal information. My license was emailed to me. My Colorado license is good for two years and cost about $90.

Texas: consisted of three pages of questions and an online test about their nursing law. I had to get finger printed and a background check. My Texas license is only good for one year and cost $216.

I had to go nursys.com and it will prove your license in your residential state. I paid $30 for each state that I chose. $30x 4 states= $120 (included in the costs above).

I chose Arizona first, because I wanted to go places based on weather and the time of the year. My next stop is Denver, because I didn’t want to be there in the winter. Then, my plan is to go to California and then Texas. The majority are 13 week contracts, but some places can do as short as 6 weeks. You can stay in one state for as long as a year before you claim residency.

How does housing work?

I would recommend finding it on your own. I looked into airbnb’s, VBRO, craigslist and even just googled furnished housing. For VRBO if you message the owners and explain you are doing travel nursing I have found they normally give you a discount. My agency sent me Extended Stay America and Hotel Engineer Apps.

How are your contracts broken down?

Think of it as a big pot of money that they break down into different sections. The agency will give you your hourly rate which will most likely be very low compared to what you’re used to, reimbursement for housing & meals, if you miss a shift how much you have to pay them, overtime hourly rate, holiday hourly rate, on-call hourly rate, and your call-back hourly rate. All of that is negotiable.

Join The Gypsy Nurse group on facebook. There is a lot of good information on there and it allows you to ask questions and get answers.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”- Mahatma Gandhi.

The Best Travel Credit Card

I started my blog in December 2015 and lately I’ve felt the need to take a step back. Why am I doing this? I’m not trying to brag about all the places I go. It’s genuinely a hobby and a passion.

I’ve found myself looking back at my blog posts that typically state the places I go, what I did, and how much it costs but often forgetting the most important part…how I got there.

I want to help you, your friends, anyone to make travel dreams happen. A lot of people I know can’t wrap their heads around  the crazy trips I do. Honestly I don’t spend a ton. I often use points to book all my airfare.

For those of you who know me this is something I am super passionate about. Sometimes I wonder why I’m not in sales, because I pitch this credit card to a lot of my friends. It boggles my mind how many of my friends still use their debit card.

My personal favorite: the Southwest credit card

Why?

Here is my personal snapshot on Southwest for 2015:

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Pro: After I signed up I earned 30,000 points after spending $1,000 in 3 months. DONE! So easy right? That is included in my 42,291 points shown above.

You get 2x points on all Southwest purchases and 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

You get 6,000 anniversary points.

AND no foreign transaction fees. Save 3%. Yep. I use this all the time while traveling internationally.

Con: Annual fee. While you can find a lot of credit cards without annual fees these days, I strongly believe you get more than the $95 you spend in the annual fee.

 

In 2015, I flew to San Francisco & Ohio for free using points. I would suggest using the low calendar fare and if you are flexible you can get some really good deals. Especially when Southwest has its sales. On average those flights cost about $ flying from Phoenix.

  • $321.96 PHX to SFO
  • $204.98 PHX to CMH (one way)
  • =$526.94 total savings!
  • -$95 annual fee
  • =$431.94 savings

Granted I spend most of my purchases on this card. Another thing I love about Southwest is their cancellation policy. You can cancel and use the credit. Plus, you get two free checked bags. Sometimes when you are searching for flights you have to take that into consideration. Although, a Frontier flight might be cheaper they will charge you for the seat and bags.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up here and start planning your dream travels. Right now they have a 50,000 after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months… which is even more points than I got aka more savings!

I hope to focus a lot more of my posts the specifics to get help you plan really cheap weekend trips or even a trip of your dreams. I have a few other travel credit cards so I’ll be sure to let you know in future posts what I use and how I get there. Let me know if you have any questions! I’d love to help 🙂

 

 

 

 

Maui

This is my fourth time being in Hawaii. I can’t say I remember them all though. This time we stayed on the island of Maui.

How I Got There

I actually paid this time not using points, but I recommend booking as far in advance as possible. I paid ~$500 on American from PHX to OGG. My siblings booked the same flight a few weeks later and paid over $600.

What We Did

1. The Road to Hana

The road consists of over a 64 mile drive of beautiful waterfalls and nature. Before you go consider brining: a fully charged camera, water shoes, sunscreen and bug repellant. Also, check the weather because since it is a rainforest there can be road closings.

Within the Road to Hana we hiked in the bamboo forest

It took about 1.5 hours from the spot my Dad dropped us off. The beginning of the trail looked like this… 

Then you’ll cross this wooden plank…

Then you’ll see a 3 waterfalls and have to climb up this ladder. Don’t worry there is rope! But I wouldn’t do this hike with my parents…

At the end of the Road to Hana you’ll arrive at the black sand beach.

2. Spa Day at the Sheraton Black Rock Spa.

3. Snorkel

My dad rented snorkel rentals for $10 a day which was way cheaper than getting them from our resort at The Snorkel Store.

DCIM100GOPRO

4. Haleakala National Park

Haleakala is known as the volcano that formed most of Maui. We drove up this over 10,000  feet above sea level. Apparently, the thing to do is watch the sunrise here which we didn’t do. I saw you had to make reservations. If you are an early riser, I would do this because I saw awesome pictures on Yelp. Overall, it took about a half day.

5. Massages at the Spa at Black Rock

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Westin in Ka’anapali. I would highly recommend. It’s very family friendly with a few kid pools. In addition, theres a lot of amenities on site. We went to breakfast and dinner to two of the restaurants. The rooms even have a kitchen. The only thing we wished it had was an oven. In the end, this hotel has everything you need including the beach.

Where We Ate

 Breakfast: go to the Gazebo. We got there right at 7:30am. There was already a line. We probably waited about a hour, but it was worth it for the beach view. They are known for the fried rice.

Lunch: Paia Fish Market in Lahaina

Cool Cat Cafe

Dinner: Seafood try Merrimans

Mexican: Fridas

Italian: Pulehu (in our resort)

Taverna

Colorado

I’ve been to Colorado a handful of times. I can’t believe I haven’t posted about things to do until now.

I’m so lucky that my college bestie lives there and can show me the ropes of the mile high city.

Here are a few of my favorite things…

Favorite restaurants:

For brunch we went to Denver Biscuit Co.. It was super filling and busy, but worth the wait!  For dinner I would recommend Linger l love the variety of options here. From sushi to burgers to pizza theres something for everyone.

Favorite Hotel:

The Art Hotel which is located in downtown Denver. It is super modern with different art features on every level. The rooftop bar with the fire pit is great place to grab a drink.

Favorite ice cream:

Little Man’s Ice Cream…enough said.

If you’re looking for a killer hike:

Manitou Incline Trail a little over 1.5 hours from the Denver airport.

Skiing

We went to Arapahoe Basin to skii. I rented all my equipment including skiis, boots, pants and a helmet for about $50. You can buy a day pass. This was only about a hour and a half drive from Breckenridge.


Breckenridge… although I didn’t skii here we used the time share hot tubs and walked around and shopped.

 

 

 

Charlotte

What I Did

Work work work work work. Literally. I was in Charlotte for almost 3 weeks so I had time to explore.

Hike

Thanks for the recommendation from my friend Taylor. Crowder’s mountain was an awesome hike! The only issue was I had to wait about 10 minutes for parking. There was a place down the street you could pay $5 to park and walk. Here is the link to the website with the hours and things to do at Crowder’s National Park.

Banana Suit Bar Crawl

The best $20 I’ve ever spent (including the suit). This was the 5th annual crawl. We got tickets here. If you are in Charlotte during February you have to do this bar crawl!


Shopping

My work mom Sandy took me to Birkdale Village. It was a really cute outdoor mall in Huntersville. We ate at Red Rocks which was a super nice restaurant. I highly recommend we had the best server named Lucky!

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Cliffs of Moher

The cliffs have been on my bucket list ever since I went to Ireland last time in December 2015. We drove straight from the Dublin airport which is a little over 3 hours to the county of Clare where the cliffs are located.

What to Know

  • You can buy tickets online ahead of time and save 10% here. Tickets are 5.40 euro per person online.
  • Check the weather ahead of time. You won’t want to go on a rainy day. 
  • They open at 9am all year round. Check to see when they close online it depends on the time of year.
  • There are a number of shops and cafes located in the visitor center. Bring cash!

What to Wear

It’s windy and expect rain. I wore boots and my winter coat. The trails were muddier than I expected. I probably should of wore my rain boots. The hood to my jacket and gloves were a lifesaver!

Pay 2 Euro to go up O’Brien’s tower

 

 

Miami

Where We Stayed

Hilton Miami Downtown. Only 3 miles from Miami beach. My friend Gabi works for Hilton so she gets the team member rate. That’s one way to travel on a budget (I miss working in hotels for this reason).

Places We Ate

You have to eat Cuban food while in Miami We ate at David’s Cafe Cafecito. I can’t say I’ve honestly ever had Cuban food,  but it was amazing. Try a cortadito which is cuban coffee. This place was super affordable plus free parking! 

Bodega in South Beach. This is a cute taco truck with a hidden bar. The drinks were pretty pricey, but I loved the vibe.


Make a reservation at Komodo for a fancier dinner. We got the Lobster Dynamite to start and sushi for dinner. The service was phenomenal! They really made us feel special. This is the new hot spot. The restaurant was still packed at 11pm on a Thursday. Celebrities go here including Kim & Kanye. We even saw Michael Bay aka the director of Transformers!


Go to happy hour at  Sugar in Brickell. We went right at 4pm when they opened and got an awesome table. It’s a rooftop bar on the 40th floor of a hotel that overlooks Miami. Although, they kicked us out after two hours since there was a long wait so that part kind of sucked. Other than that the sushi was good.

Overall, there’s a ton of great shopping, nightlife and beaches in Miami. I was only here for a few days so we spent most of our time at the hotel pool and dining out. 

Road Trip to Mexico

Road trip to Mexico…sounds crazy right? It actually was an easy drive from Phoenix. About 4 hours to be exact. The border is closed from midnight to 6am. I would recommend driving during the day. It’s safer anyways.

What you need?

You are allowed $75 USD tax free in new merchandise per person.

– Items for personal use such as clothing, shoes and toiletries according to the length of your stay.
– One (1) photographic or motion video camera, including a power source and rolls of film or video cassettes. (No professional equipment.)
– Books and magazines.
– One (1) used sports article or piece of equipment for individual use which can be transported by 1 person.
– Two (2) cartons of cigarettes or 100 cigars.
– Three (3) liters (appx. 3 quarts) of wine or Alcohol (including beer) per person if the passenger is an adult (21 or older).
– Medicine for personal use (with your prescription).
More questions? Click here for more information about Puerto Penasco customs.

Where we stayed?

We rented a villa for 11 people. It came out to $167 USD per person for three nights. This is for sure less than I would spend out at the bars for New Years 😉

Check out the website here. Las Palmas was easy to find and close to the beach. I would recommend it because it’s safe (all guests are required to wear wristbands).

 

Things to do in Rocky Point

Check out the website here for more detailed information here from whale watching to ATVing to night life.

We walked down the street from our resort and got two quads for $100 per hour. We had 6 people so only $16 per person. So cheap! There’s also a bar right by called Banditos that we watched the Fiesta Bowl and spent New Years Eve at. 

If you an looking for an affordable road trip this is it! I’ll definitely go back for a long weekend at “Arizona’s beach”. It’s super Americanized.

 

The Ultimate Traveling Bag

I’m excited to partner with my first company lvtrvl! I’m always looking for bags that I can travel with and this is the perfect one. I got the Wander Bag (10 ml) which is on sale right now for $21.99!! This bag is ideal for packing in your carry on, because you can roll it up in your suitcase and it can hold a lot while you are out and about. It is an air right dry bag so it’s great for outdoor activities.  For me, I can throw my water bottle, keys, snack, a change of clothes and my phone while hiking.

They offer a lot of cute clothing, stickers and even phone grips. If you hurry quick they are offering free shipping on all orders! In addition, if you subscribe to their newsletter you can save 10% on your first purchase. Hope you like it as much as I do 🙂