Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Travel on any budget!

Getting back to the main reason for this blog… Here are some suggestions to save you money while you travel!

One of the best meals some friends and I had in
Portugal, was at this small restaurant
at the recommendation of a local.
- Early morning and late evening flights tend to be cheapest.
- Stay in a business hotel (CBD) over the weekend. When the businessmen leave, so do the high prices.
- Visit places outside of peak season: Ski resorts in the summer, Beach resorts in the spring/fall, etc. Shoulder season can save you a lot, while still offering nice weather.
- Hostels aren't just for college kids. Some even offer senior discounts and private rooms/bathrooms. (Check out HostelWorld for rates and reviews!)
- Eat away from the tourist area of town. Ask a locals working at your hotel or coffee cafe what they recommend! Bound to get local flavor that way.
- Shop for souvenirs and snacks at a grocery store. You'll find local delicacies at a great price!
- Don't overtip! Believe me, I think a good tip for a job well done is nice, but see my separate post about appropriate tipping depending on the country.

Amazing price and amazing view from our hostel in Lisbon!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Create your own holiday!

I credit a friend with this suggestion… Pick a random date and make it your own holiday. Why? Because vacations around standard holidays are always so expensive! Airfare and hotel prices can easily double when everyone else is off work too. And, there's just that, everyone else is also traveling, making places insanely crowded!

Things to keep in mind when you pick your holiday's date:

1) Pick a time when the weather is ok wherever you like to travel. Shoulder season (April-May, September-October) is often great price-wise as well as weather-wise.

2) Pick a time when children are in school. This tends to go along with less crowds and lower prices.  (It also makes it easier if you aren't taking the kids along on your trip. Easier for relatives / babysitters to watch the kids while they are in their school routine.)

3) Avoid natural disaster times... If you love the Caribbean, don't travel during hurricane season (June-November)! If you love the national parks of the dessert Southwest, avoid the dangerous heat of the summer, etc.

4) If you like cruising, avoid the summer months. All destinations are in "peak season" since families tend to travel during this time. Typically the first few and last few cruises offered for any particular destination are the best deals.

Waikiki over Christmas is crazy!

Taking a trip to Oahu off-peak is peaceful!

Maui is another crowded island over the holidays.

Pick your own holiday wisely and the island is practically all yours!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Travel SMART

What do I mean by travel "SMART?" The US Department of State has set up a smart traveler enrollment program where US citizens can enroll and let the government know what countries they will be visiting. Why bother, you might ask. By enrolling in this program, you automatically get updates on your destination's travel warnings and alerts. In addition, it serves as a way for the US government to assist you in case of an emergency. Anything from your passport being stolen to helping you evacuate after natural disasters. For example, after the earthquake in Hati, the government was able to evacuate over 16,000 US citizens and also did so after the civil unrest in Lebanon in 2006. By enrolling, it lets the local embassy know that you need to be accounted for and also serves as a way to communicate and get news back to your family when cell phone service is intermittant. 

Remember to "let them know before you go!"

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Stay Connected Abroad

With the world so connected, there's no reason you can't stay in touch, even if you're far away. I've been a Tmobile customer for almost 15 years, and am very pleased with a new service they offer, free with most plans… Unlimited text and data in 200 countries, as well as phone calls for only $0.20/minute.  I'm not getting anything from Tmobile for telling you this, but genuinely feel this is a great service they provide! I've checked train times in Spain, sent emails from Portugal, and posted pictures to Facebook from Australia, all for free from my cell phone. If you're an avid traveler, and don't use Tmobile, consider checking them out!

Thanks to free data internationally with Tmobile,
I was able to post this picture online during a trip to the Caribbean.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Daycation

Museums and Aquariums are often quieter on weekdays,
and a good activity for a daycation!
You've heard of vacations, likely also staycations, but what about daycations? A friend introduced me to this term a while back, and it sounds like a great idea. Not everyone has enough vacation time (or money in the bank) for a trip every time you need a breather. Hence, the daycation. It's the perfect opportunity to take a break and relax, but just for a short period of time. Hopefully allowing you to come back to work a little more refreshed than after a normal two day weekend. 

Personally, I recommend taking your day off on a Monday or Friday, making for a nice three day weekend. If you decide to plan an activity, workdays are a great time to visit otherwise busy tourist spots, such as museums, beaches, and wineries. As Americans we don't use up all of our vacation time anyway, so why not treat yourself to a daycation and come back to work relaxed!