Yup. That’s the expense total.  On November 14, 2011 I set out to prove it was possible to travel leisurely and enjoyably for under $100 dollars a day.  This $100 a day budget was to include all transportation, lodging, food, tourism, and souvenir expenses.  Absolutely EVERYTHING.  Those of you who followed the whole trip will know, sometimes it was tough.  The average daily allowance fluctuated between the high of $100 and a low of $54.47.  Sometimes I was over budget. Sometimes I was under budget.  But not once did I pass up a tasty treat, pretty trinket, or chance for an added adventure.

I kept a tight record of my travel expenses, down to every 2 TL metro ride in Istanbul, and 5 Dinar glass of orange juice in Marrakesh.  Sometimes I felt miserly, but mostly I felt intrigued.  Would the average work out in the end? Would I come in under budget?  That Thing That Sucked Me In sucked pretty hard in Goreme, Turkey, when I bought over $300 worth of hand thrown and hand painted pottery (that included shipping, promise!).

But, I am happy to say, I DID come home under budget.  The total spent was $3,419.96.  A full $280.04 under the goal of $3,700 for a 37 day trip.  Wahoo!!!

So, what did I end up spending that money on?

$1,590.87 was spent on transportation.  Planes, Trains (and Metros/Trams), Buses, Boats, and Camels. Still no hot air balloon though.

$321.64 was spent on lodging.  Hostels mostly.

$459.87 was spent on food.  This included meals, grocery store trips, snacks, and water.

$266.64 was spent on other touristy things.  Things like museum entrance fees, my Sahara Tour, and tips for henna done by the little old ladies in Morocco.

$780.95 was spent on souvenirs. So I like new trinkets.  I’ll say it, and I’m sure others have said it- when traveling, go ahead an splurge a little on those strange and unique things that call you in.  What are the chances you’ll be back a second time to pick it up later? Pretty slim, I’d say, so go ahead and enjoy the shopping experience.

And of course, the souvenir budget wasn’t necessary for survival, so I could have skated in almost $1,000 under budget if I wasn’t such a sucker for the rare and hand made.

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased with myself for making it home with cash to spare.  So pleased, in fact, that I decided to spend the remaining funds on a weekend trip to Philadelphia, to visit with some old friends.  I managed to squeeze that trip out for $290; which included gas ($65), theater tickets ($56), a hotel room in center city ($89), food ($50), and a night at the bars ($30).  Getting to reconnect with college friends in a new Grown-Up way- Priceless.

Though I still think I prefer the $10 student rush fill in the front row tickets over the $56 with a terrible view tickets…

Well, now I’m back home and broke, a common enough state for an artistic fairy type. Stay tuned next month for a Great American Journey. A road trip to Arizona and the beginning of a most unique and exciting adventure- the Renaissance Circuit!

Westward Ho!

~Aeri Rose




airport campout

Here I am, another night in Paris. Kind of. Paris Airport at least.

You see, because I can be a stingy traveler (ahem, budget conscious!) I prefer to take the cheap, though often poorly scheduled, flights rather than the more expensive direct flights. So upon returning to Istanbul from Morocco, I flew up to Paris and than will fly down to Istanbul (well, via Munich). But it so happens that my flight up from Morocco left at 7:00 pm on the 14th (arriving in Charles De Gaul Airport around 11:30 pm), and my flight down to Istanbul left at 6:00 am on the 15th. Not enough time between flights to bother with a hotel or a trip into the city proper (an hour each way on a Nine Euro ticket), but plenty of time to leave me twiddling my thumbs at the airport.

This is the first time I’ve been in overnight flight limbo at the airport. My other late flight/early flight experience ended quite badly, and I was full of nervous tension on the flight over. Would it be like last time, in Rome, when I found out some airports CLOSE at night, and you’d best find yourself somewhere else to go? Or would I be able to sneak into some corner somewhere, unnoticed, to wait out the night. I compromised on worst cases- its not that cold out and I have a good coat. If they throw me out will I take the train somewhere, or will I just sit outside until they open the doors again? I had settled on “sitting outside” as my worst case scenario for the night.

But, yet again, I’ve really been pleasantly surprised. I arrived in Terminal 2 to a warm and well lit hall. After passing passport control I headed towards Terminal 1, where my flight departed from in the morning. Walking slowly I passed periodically stationed bathrooms, water fountains (I promptly filled up my water bottle), vending machines, and ATMs. You know, I thought, if you have to be homeless somewhere, an airport is a great place to do it. Sure, you’re stuck behind security lines like a rat in a cage, but also like a rat you’ve got plenty of food, water, and dry straw. All you have to do is hit the feeder button and out shoots a prettily packaged snack.

Arriving in Terminal 1, I wandered past a particular set of well cushioned benches which I decided to call Home for the night. Pulling two together, I took off my shoes, unpacked my computer, and began to write.

Somehow, being in this airport well past the time most customers have left, has put me in the Christmas spirit. Something about tiptoeing quietly around, awake when you shouldn’t be, in a special place- well shucks I feel like a kid on the night before Christmas. Or maybe its just that there is less than a week to my adventure left, and then I’ll return home in the thick of the Holiday Season. Warm and snug in my leather chair, it makes me laugh, now, to think about how nervous I was a few short hours ago, rationalizing a camp out beside the doors.

Well, at least in this quiet it gave me time to think up the introduction to my “Around the World in 80 Days” book concept. Let me know what you think, and if you want to hear more…HELP ME FIND A PUBLISHER!!!


Around the World, an Introduction

I’m going to travel the world in 80 days. No, my name is not Philleas Fogg, and I don’t have a loyal but bumbling French servant. I’m not undertaking this journey to protect my honor or my fortune. Philleas traveled the world to show off the speed and reliability of modern transportation- chiefly using railways and steamer ships. I’ll be traveling to show how wonderful it can be to travel slowly, and enjoy the journey and the details.

Transportation has advanced quite a bit since then, and one can now circumnavigate the globe in under 80 hours. You can get to the MOON and back in under 80 days, for goodness sake. But despite the modern speed and connectivity of technology, we know as little about people in the rest of the world ads we did in Philleas’s time. Now, travelers think a place isn’t worth visiting unless Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Channel have preceded them. Beaches are only as good as the all inclusive resort packages they offer- complete with airport to hotel, air-conditioned shuttles; ensuring the traveler needn’t set one foot in a strange land or breathe one refreshing breath of unfamiliar scents.

But I digress. I’ll be traveling around the world, to show how today’s technologies really can connect us. To show how much of the world there is to see, and explore; how many people there are to meet. And I’ll be following Philleas’s footsteps, because I agree a leisurely 80 days is a respectable amount of time to circumnavigate the globe (after all, the publishers would never go for “but it will take a lifetime to complete!”). I hope you’ll join me on my trip, and share in the excitement of my adventures. I hope you’ll be emboldened by my stories, and inspired to go on adventures of your own.


Well, what do you think? Want to hear more? I do! I can’t wait to write it! I just need to track down some of those handy publishers, with their cash advances and professional editors…

fair paris

Last week I was in Paris and I spent $280.00 (Well $279.55 to be exact). That is amazing, even to me. That works out to be $40, or less than 30 Euro, per day. How did I do it?

Friends. Friends saved me in Paris, a city of $6 coffee and harmless restaurants that blind side you with $20 glasses of house wine. Ah, I love Paris. So much coffee, wine, and cheese; parks and museums; and now home to so many close friends.

I arrived on November 30th and took a 9.10 Euro train ride to my friend’s apartment. I would be staying with her and her mother this week. I was greeted by warm smiles, big hugs, and good smells. We sat down to the task of catching up, which transitioned into the task of eating dinner. And I have to tell you, all week long, Cloe’s (my friend’s) mom out did herself with her French feasts. That night we had pig cheeks. Other nights were fish, froi gras, snails, buttery creamy side dishes, always accompanied by a cheese plate and fresh (and homemade) bread. I have never feasted so well in France as I did this week, at the generosity of my wonderful hosts.

Sadly, Cloe and her mom had to work the next morning, so after dinner we retired early. I was left to my own devices the next day. I wandered down to the nearest Metro station and picked up a “Paris Visite” card. (Since my hyperlink function is not working this morning, here is the website: http://www.ratp.fr/en/ratp/c_21894/paris-visite/) It seemed like the best option. Five full days of unlimited travel within Paris for 30.70 Euro. That worked out to be about 6 Euro, or three rides, per day- a minimum average I certainly exceeded.

I wandered for a bit, enjoying the architecture, while making my way to another friend’s apartment. Elise was hosting me for lunch. On the way I stopped in a market to pick up a bottle of wine for our reunion. Said bottle of wine, and a full meal later, and we were still catching up. We continued our day by browsing the winter markets that spring up all over Paris in December. Vin Chaud in hand, we browsed past stalls of scarves, jewelery, and other knick-knacks.

That night another friend, Sandra, was coming into town for the weekend- flying in from Zurich where she works with the IronMan Triathlon organization. We all met for drinks at a centrally located rum bar, deftly selected by Elise.

The weekend was spent enjoying the sights (we went to MontMatre, Sacre Coeur, a Dali exhibit, and Versailles), catching up with friends (some more old college pals had come up from South of France for the reunion weekend) and absorbing the city. I don’t have many travel tips for this week, because this week for me was more about reuniting with old friends than powering through the sights and smells of another new place. One lucky coincidence I can relate. In Paris, in the winter, the first weekend of the month, is free museum weekend. Many of the museums and famous sites are open and not requesting admission fees. Even the big ones like the Louvre and Versailles Palace participate. Since my Parisian friend Cloe was more interested in Versailles than the Louvre (and since I had been to the Louvre the last time I was in Paris, but had never seen Versailles) we decided to go with the palace. Because of my Paris Visite ticket, it only cost 3.40 Euro for me to get out the the palace, and free entry to enjoy the rooms, paintings, and the extensive garden. So, while you can’t plan your trip around these wonderful days, my tip is to always check the local happenings when you arrive. Perhaps your stay overlaps something rare and interesting and it can help guide your itinerary.

All too soon the weekend was over and my friends, who had traveled from Switzerland, Southern France, and Belgium, and all to meet in Paris for a few drinks and a good meal, had to return to their homes and prepare for Monday morning obligations. It was short, sweet, and wonderful, and made the trip worth every penny. Midnight of my last night I found myself with local Parisians Elise and her Fiancee, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle in the night, competing with the stars in the sky.

Paris, I love you, but without friends like these, I could never afford you.


Au Revoir,



the trip

This is the first trip I’m going to share with you.  Its about to happen and I am SO EXCITED!  But I’ve realized that people care a lot about this stuff  called “money”. They want to collect a lot of it, and try not to give it away once they have it.  But they have to trade it for almost everything they want!  Sometimes people think that when they don’t have too much money they can’t go traveling. Well, I never use much money when I travel, and I get to see great people stuff, and meet great people!  So, I’ll try to show you how I do it.  I hope it can convince some more people to go visit each other!

I want to show you how it can be possible to travel comfortably, and completely, on a total budget of $100 a day. Yes, one-hundred dollars per day for everything. That includes travel, tourism, food, souvenirs, everything.

So here is what we have so far.

The Dates: November 14 – December 20, 2011. That’s 37 days.
The Cities: Istanbul, Turkey; Paris, France; Casablanca, Morocco
The Budget: $3,700.00

The big travel tickets have been purchased.
Washington D.C. to Istanbul, Round Trip: $637.30
Istanbul to Paris, Round Trip: $222.23
Paris to Casablanca, Round Trip: $139.56

That great price between D.C. and Istanbul is what started this whole adventure. How could I pass up the chance to visit one of the oldest cities in the world? Nope, I couldn’t do it. And then, once across the pond I just had to visit my good friends Elise, Cloe, and Sandra in Paris. I think that will be the most challenging part of trip for my budget. But I think my friends will enjoy the challenge of the game as much as I will!

So, How’s my budget doing, before I’ve even taken off?
$3,700.00 starting budget – $999.09 for flights = $2,700.91

I’ve spent a little over a quarter of my budget on travel so far. I think I’m doing pretty well, but only the future knows the results of this little challenge.

To be continued…

travel blogger reboot

I promise we DID get to Portugal last December. It was a whirl of a time. We carried on to Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, England and Ireland before returning home. I guess the lack of posts shows just how busy and fun the trip was…right? Can I really get off the hook that easily? Well, the itch has risen again and this time it will be scratched on November 14. Five weeks in Turkey, France, and Morocco. I promise to be a better travel blogger. I PROMISE!

I’m putting myself to a challenge on this trip. We all know Rachel Ray’s $40 A Day show, on the Food Network. She travels around and shows viewers how to keep to a tight food budget, of only…”only”…$40 a day for food, and still get the flavor of the place (pardon the pun). That’s right, $40 a day JUST FOR FOOD!

Anyway, in the spirit of that show, I want to take it a step further. I want to show my readers how it can be possible to travel comfortably, and completely on a total budget of $100 a day. Yes, one-hundred dollars per day for everything. That includes travel, tourism, food, souvenirs, everything. If it works I’m going to either turn it into a book, or pitch it to The Travel Chanel. What do you think?

So here is what we have so far.

The Dates: November 14 – December 20, 2011. That’s 37 days.

The Cities: Istanbul, Turkey; Paris, France; Casablanca, Morocco

The Budget: $3,700.00

The big travel tickets have been purchased.

Washington D.C. to Istanbul, Round Trip: $637.30

Istanbul to Paris, Round Trip: $222.23

Paris to Casablanca, Round Trip: $139.56

That great price between D.C. and Istanbul is what started this whole adventure. How could I pass up the chance to visit one of the oldest cities in the world? Nope, I couldn’t do it. And then, once across the pond I just had to visit my good friends Elise, Cloe, and Sandra in Paris. I think that will be the most challenging part of trip for my budget. But I think my friends will enjoy the challenge of the game as much as I will!

So, How’s my budget doing, before I’ve even taken off?

$3,700.00 starting budget – $999.09 for flights = $2,700.91

I’ve spent a little over a quarter of my budget on travel so far. I think I’m doing pretty well, but only the future knows the results of this little challenge.

To be continued…

world entrepreneurship forum

Thwarted by embassies! Boo! I went to Paris on Thursday to attempt to get Russian visas for Adam and I. I was unsuccessful. But, I’m a few hours away from getting all the forms this time (as far as I know atleast….) And everybody keeps taking my money! Every step has another fee, I feel like I’m greasing palms. When I run my country (HAHA) I’m going to let everyone come, no visas necessary. Or if I HAVE to have visas, I’m going to make it really clear what’s required. And not charge stupid fees. For everything.


Exciting news- this weekend was the World Entrepreneurship Forum on EMLyon’s Campus. I volunteered to work the form, taking notes at the meetings. Towards the end, at one of the full group meetings, a list of recommendations that the WEF was going to make to the world was read off and the entrepreneurs were supposed to vote for them. HOWEVER, they didn’t like them and refused to vote! They practically staged a coupe and a group of women who had had a similar conversation over dinner last night voiced their own recommendations that they had come up with. The other entrepreneurs liked them a lot better so they decided to formalize theirs instead. Immediately after that meeting the six women were going to meet to do so. I “just happened” to be nearby when they were getting together to go find a room to work in and I volunteered to take notes for them at the meeting. I transcribed the recommendations they formalized, and turned it into a presentation, so they could show it to the full entrepreneur group after lunch. It was awesome seeing those women work, and I was happy with that thinking my interaction was done. BUT they made me go on stage with them when they presented and introduce myself. I said “Hi my name is Erica Hession. I am a student of the Global Entrepreneurship Program- a partnership between Babson College, EMLyon University, and Ziejiang University. I was just the note taker in this process, these women (gesturing toward them) were the masterminds.”

After that the entrepreneur that was really smitten with me, Laura the VC from Austin Texas, introduced herself, and said “She was not ‘just the note taker’. She is the future entrepreneur! Watch out for this girl!” hahaha! How great is that? I talked to her again later in the day to see what the follow up on the recommendations was and when I was leaving she said to keep in touch because she wants to hear about our adventures with the program so I got her card. I’d love to work for her!

I met this other great entrepreneur too. He has run a nonprofit environmental firm in Canada for 20 years. He started it when he was young after traveling in india for a year. He came back, tried to work for a real estate agency and quit after a year to start this company- Evergreen. He Adam and I went out for drinks that evening and he had really great stories to tell and great advice to give. I’d love to work for him too. They are working on this huge project right now converting an old brick factory into a sustainable campus with nurseries, a farmers market, classes, etc. They want it to be the “Greenest” building in the world!

All in all it was a successful weekend I’d say :D

paris, the first time


I went to Paris this weekend. It was really fun and really busy because we fit sooo much in! We (Adam and I) left Lyon Friday morning and took the speed train (only takes 2 hours) to Paris. When we got there we went to the Museum of Natural History and saw some exhibits and had lunch outside in the really pretty gardens. Adam brought food for a picnic. Nom nom nom. We fed the birds too, they were the healthiest looking birds I’ve ever seen!

Then we went to the Russian embassy to try to talk about our visas but they were already closed. From there we could see the top of the Eiffel Tower so we headed that way. We wandered around it but didn’t go up because I wanted to wait for Cloe. We were tired at this point so we took a rest/nap in the grass at the base of the tower. Luckily Adam had an emergency camping blanket in the bottom of his pack so we had something to sit on and stay dry.

Then we went for more of a walk and got some coffee at a café. We wandered up this street, Rue de Montagne, that was SOOO rich. There were Aston Martins, Mercedes, and a Bugatti parked on the road! The Bugatti had Arabic plates…I really want to know who owns it! The stores were major designers like Valentino, Prada, Jimmy Choo, Dior…wow.

On our walk we wandered past other sights like the Grand and Petite Palais, statues of Churchill, sculptures, gardens, etc. That evening we met Cloe at the Arc de Triumph, a big circle that many roads in Paris radiate out from. We saw the sunset there, and the Eiffel Tower light up. It was really pretty. We met up with Cloe, dropped our stuff off at her house, and went to dinner at her favorite local restaurant.

The next day, Saturday, it was rainy so we planned to go to the Louvre. First we took the subway to Notre Dame. It is such a beautiful, imposing building. The interior is so epic too. It was kind of sad though because they just cleaned the inside and out to make it prettier for the tourists, and yet there are beggars outside. Then it started to rain so we walked to the Louvre. On the way there we crossed the Pont Neuf (new bridge) which is actually the oldest bridge in Paris.

In the Louvre there is so much great stuff that you get overwhelmed. We only spent about 2.5 hours there but our brains and eyes couldn’t take in much more! We saw famous paintings (like the Mona Lisa, Muse’s Ship, and others whose names I don’t know but whose images I recognized), Italian sculptures, Egyptian artifacts, the glass pyramid…

When we left it wasn’t raining any more so we went on a walk and found some lunch, sandwiches at another cute café. We wandered for the rest of the day and went home to meet Cloe’s mom for dinner. She took us to her favorite restaurant. It was a little local co-op with delicious traditional French food. We got wine, frois gras (it is actually delicious), duck, and other delicious things. Adam left for Lyon after dinner and Cloe and I went home.

Sunday we went to the Eiffel Tower in the morning and went up. We didn’t get to go all the way to the top because it was closed, but we got to the second story. The view was wonderful. She pointed out a lot of the buildings we had seen from the ground. We took the elevator up, but walked all the way down the stairs!

For lunch we went to Montmarte an artistic part of town where La Bohem (the art movement “children of the revolution” period) started. We had a really good lunch that was slow but delicious. Then we went to this big beautiful church on a hill that we saw from the tower. The view from the steps of the church was beautiful too. This church was pretty too, but the inside was less ornate than Notre Dame, with beautiful stone formations instead. The shape of the church was pretty, it had lots of gargoyles on the outside and such.

Finally we walked down the hill to the Moulin Rouge. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be. By this time there was only a little while before I had to leave, so we went home so I could get my things. I took the train back in the evening and fell into my bed exhausted that night. What a great weekend. I feel I got a little taste of everything Paris has to offer (though not a good bite by any means!).


Some Pictures:

Tada! There it is!

Me and Mona…any resemblance?

What a great tour guide! Had so much fun with her this weekend. That is the Pont Neuf behind us.

i love all the free stuff you get for being a student

Archived post pulled from the travel blog I wrote while a student traveling with the Global Entrepreneurship Program (G.E.P.). It seems to start one month into my year with the program. The first month of posts seem lost to the internet ether. It is delightful to re-read posts from the beginning of my life as a traveler and blogger. Its incredible to see how much I’ve changed, and in what ways I’m still the same old wide eyed youngster…

I was really busy this weekend. I went to the Musuem of Contemporary art, an open house at the city hall (hotel de ville), Lyon’s car show, an open air market, and church at a HUGE basillica overlooking the city. Oh and I found a climbing gym RIGHT around the street and promptly signed up for a membership for my last two months here. can you believe I only have two more months in France already?

Here’s a picture of me with the new BMW Z4:

They had a Tesla at the show too (its a totally electric sports car. 0 – 60 in 3.9 sec)

Mom and I have decided to train for a marathon together. We’re going to run one in the fall when I’m back. that gives us a year to prepare. I ran 8 miles on friday, so I’m off to a good start I guess. She’s doing really well too :D

I’m going to book my trip to Italy today. I’m flying to Rome (tickets for 40 euro!!), and I’m going to stay there for a few days. Then down to Sicily to visit the family for a few days before heading back to Lyon. Soo excited for Italian food again. I can say with experience now that I like Italian cheese much better than French cheeses.