Travel en-US 5 Top Travel Destinations for 2014 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-top-travel-destinations-for-2014" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="climbing tree" title="climbing tree" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Winter is gone, and spring has fallen. Hopefully, the area where you live (and are reading this) has started to show some sunshine. And, with all this great new weather, the thought enters the mind, &quot;there may be other places with even prettier weather.&quot; And you'd be correct! So, future traveler, read on to learn more about some of the best destinations of 2014! (See also: <a href="">Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Dollar</a>)</p> <h2>Colombia</h2> <p>I'm a little biased towards Colombia, since I spent all of January in Medellin studying Spanish. There are several preconceived notions about Colombia, many of them negative due to the drug violence that disrupted the nation for much of the 1980s and 1990s.</p> <p>However, Colombia is now safe for travelers. And, with so much biodiversity, you can find the &quot;perfect&quot; vacation for any type of journeyer. The beaches of Santa Marta, north of the cruise port of Cartagena, are the dream of any sand lover. The jungles in the east of the country, at the headwaters of the Amazon, are sure to satisfy the eco-travelers reading this list. And, for the city lovers, Medellin, 2013's Urban Land Institute <a href="">Most Innovative City</a>, will not disappoint with its culinary offerings, wonderful cultural gifts, and thrilling nightlife surrounding Parque Lleras in the trendy El Poblado neighborhood.</p> <p>Get your <a href="">Columbia travel package</a> today!</p> <h2>Cape Town, South Africa</h2> <p>Featured on many &quot;best of 2014&quot; lists published this year, it would be foolish not to include Cape Town here as well. South Africa is frequently cited as one of the world's top emerging markets (it is the 'S' in the developing country acronym BRICS, after all), and the influence of all that new capital can be seen flowing through the city's culinary scene, nearby wineries, and beaches. Mosey over to Woodstock for the city's best cafes, organic food items, and art galleries. (See also: <a href="">Eating Great Food for Cheap While Traveling</a>)</p> <h2>Myanmar (Burma)</h2> <p>A country only recently opened to foreign investment and large-scale tourism, <a href="">Myanmar</a>, located next door to Thailand, offers incredible excursions for the brave traveler. The Pagan temples are worth the trip alone, and a visit to a country before the major foreign influences take over is always a more worthwhile one, in my book.</p> <h2>Dominica</h2> <p>In my opinion, this is the most &quot;unspoiled&quot; Caribbean island, due to it being less frequented by cruise ships.&nbsp;<a href="">Dominica</a> boasts a river for every day of the year. Much of the filming for &quot;Pirates of the Caribbean 2&quot; was done here, taking advantage of the lush jungles that climb the volcanic mountains that make up Dominica. Don't miss the abundant fresh water, of course, but also be sure to visit the island's shores and beaches. Champagne Reef is a special place, with harmless volcanic gas making your snorkeling experience feel like you are trapped in a champagne glass! (See also: <a href="">Cheap International Vacation Destinations</a>)</p> <h2>Riga, Latvia</h2> <p>Latvia? Yes, Latvia. The 2014 European Union Capital of Culture with dozens of Art Nouveau buildings, Gothic churches, ballet performances, and Baltic Sea beaches, <a href="">Riga</a> is certainly an &quot;off-the-radar&quot; pick. So, travel to Riga in 2014 before the readers of Lonely Planet or Fodor's get there first!</p> <h2>So, How Do You Travel There?</h2> <p>Travel can be expensive, but it doesn't have to be unattainable. I frequently consult with interested parties about using reward miles and points to travel the world for very, very cheap (see our top picks for the <a href="">best travel rewards credit cards</a>).</p> <p>To do so, you'll need to leverage your good credit to apply for and receive a miles or points earning credit card. There are credit cards out there that offer you a large amount of points, sometimes up to 100,000 miles, to spend a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time (usually three months). (See also: <a href="">Earn Tons of Miles Without Traveling</a>)</p> <p>You can then use those miles to purchase airfare without out of pocket costs. For some perspective &mdash; 40,000 miles is enough to secure a round trip domestic flight anywhere in the US. 60,000 miles can get you to Europe.</p> <p>There are many credit cards out there, including co-branded ones with your preferred airline. It's best to weigh several different options before applying for a credit card, and to see what your travel and spending habits are to make sure that you are making the right decision. And, fair warning &mdash; once you discover this trick, you will become addicted!</p> <p><em>Which off-the-beaten-path destinations would you like to travel to? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Top Travel Destinations for 2014" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mark Jackson</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel rewards travel travel destinations Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:36:45 +0000 Mark Jackson 1135887 at 4 Secrets to Getting the Lowest Rate From Travel Websites <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-secrets-to-getting-the-lowest-rate-from-travel-websites" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman using laptop" title="woman using laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Personalization is the next big thing in tech. Google customizes your search results when you're logged in to your Google account. And if you often see the same ads on multiple websites, it's because the ad network's algorithms suggest that you'd be interested in those products. (See also: <a href="">10 Surprising Marketing Tricks</a>)</p> <p>All this personalization is supposed to provide you with a better browsing experience. But in reality, its main purpose is to sell you the most relevant products and improve the bottom line for e-businesses.</p> <p>This is not a big problem when it comes to ads because you're not paying for them. But when you're about to make travel bookings online, the website can use personalization tools to coax you into paying more.</p> <p>Here are some tricks of the trade on how you can pay less by going incognito when you book a trip.</p> <h2>Hide Your Cookies</h2> <p>Travel booking sites often use cookies to track your activity and use the information to raise prices when they can. For example, if you've been coming back to the same website to search for a particular airfare, the reservation system knows that you're really interested in that fare and that you probably would still purchase it even if the price goes up. (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Get Free Airline Tickets</a>)</p> <p>To prevent travel booking sites from using your browsing history against you, all you have to do is clear the cookies stored on your Internet browser. The exact steps to do this are different depending on your browser, so use the browser's Help function for directions. Or you might use the &quot;Incognito&quot; feature of your browser, which deletes cookies when you close the window.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can use a different computer to make the booking. This is much easier and more straightforward if you have access to more than one computer.</p> <h2>Interrogate Your Operating System</h2> <p>Last year, Orbitz made the news when it became apparent that they were showing different search results for Windows users and Mac users.</p> <p>According to media coverage, Orbitz pushes higher priced options to people who make their bookings on Apple devices. Apparently, Orbitz noticed that <a href=";">Mac users spend up to 30% more</a> than Windows users on travel and are 40% more likely than Windows users to book rooms at four- and five-star hotels. In this particular case, personalization meant that Mac users are sometimes shown more expensive hotels on Orbitz.</p> <p>Fortunately, whether you're using Mac or PC, the price for any particular hotel room on Orbitz is the same. Orbitz only plays with the order in which the hotels are displayed, showing the pricier hotels first for Mac users. In other words, you can change the search results simply by choosing the option to sort the results by price.</p> <h2>Dump Your Frequent Flier ID</h2> <p>Airline websites often allow you to input your frequent flier ID when you search for airfares. Because the reservation system may have numerous fare classes, you may end up paying different prices for the same seat, depending on whether you check the fares using your frequent flier ID. (See also: <a href="">Earning Miles Without Flying</a>)</p> <p>If you belong to an airline's loyalty program, check the fares twice: once with your frequent flier ID and once without it.</p> <h2>Don't Give Away the Number in Your Party</h2> <p>If you travel as a group, you could be paying more for your airfares than you would if you were traveling alone.</p> <p>Airline reservation systems have multiple airfare classes and a set number of seats in any particular class. This is not about whether you book seats in the economy class or the first class. In economy class alone, there could be 10 different price classes.</p> <p>If you purchase a ticket for a lone traveler, the system would show you the airfare with the lowest price. Simple enough.</p> <p>It gets complicated when you make a booking for multiple travelers. In any one reservation, the system only allows you to book all tickets at the same price point. This means that if there's only one seat left in the lowest price point, all the passengers in your party would be moved up to a higher airfare class that has enough empty seats.</p> <p>For example, let's assume that you can book the last ticket in the cheapest airfare class at $150. But because you travel with a friend, the system bumps both of you up to a higher price point, at $200 per person. You would end up paying $400 for both passengers instead of $350 (one airfare at $150 and another one at $200).</p> <p>To avoid paying more than you have to, perform multiple searches. For example, find out how much the airfare costs for one passenger and for two passengers. If the price per person is the same for both options, go ahead and book both passengers on the same reservation. Otherwise, split the purchase into two reservations to take advantage of the one available cheaper seat. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Reward Cards</a>)</p> <p>This technique has its drawbacks, though. You may have to pay extra fees to select your seats so everyone sits together. Also, if you run into delays and the airline has to rebook your seats, the airline may not know that your group travels together and you may end up on different flights.</p> <p><em>Have you discovered any fare or fee quirks when booking travel? Please share in comments! </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="4 Secrets to Getting the Lowest Rate From Travel Websites" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel cheap airfare discount travel travel hacks Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:24:14 +0000 Deia B 1135750 at 8 Airline Fees That Are Actually Worth Paying <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-airline-fees-that-are-actually-worth-paying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="airplane" title="airplane" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Airlines are using more and more excuses to tack on extra fees to your airfare. Services that used to be included in the airfare are now only provided if you're willing to dig deeper into your pocket. (See also: <a href="">37 Hidden Travel Fees</a>)</p> <p>Sure, you can avoid paying these charges by going with just the basics. But as with everything else, you get what you pay for. Think about the benefits you'll be forgoing before you say no to these premium services.</p> <h2>1. Extra-Legroom Seat</h2> <p>Airlines call the space you get on the plane the &quot;seat pitch.&quot; This is the distance between the back of your seat and the back of the seat in front of you.</p> <p>The standard seat pitch in economy class used to be between 33 and 34 inches, but it has narrowed to about 31 inches. If you travel on a budget airline, the seat pitch could be as small as 28 inches. No wonder you feel cramped!</p> <p>There's always the possibility of you lucking out and getting a spacious seat for free. But if you have long legs and a longer journey ahead of you, maybe you should just bite the bullet and pay the extra fee.</p> <p>Prices for extra-legroom seats vary depending on the airline and the flight route, ranging from under $50 to a few hundred dollars. You can book the extra-legroom seat when you purchase the ticket or at the airport when you check in. (See also: <a href="">Tricks to Make Flying in Coach Feel Luxurious</a>)</p> <h2>2. Wi-Fi</h2> <p>If you have urgent matters to attend to, the in-flight Wi-Fi can be a lifesaver. It's also great for the fun stuff, such as chatting on Twitter or posting photos of the clouds on Instagram. Wi-Fi is still a relatively new in-flight offering, so you could impress many of your online friends just because you're posting from 35,000 feet in the air.</p> <p>The price for in-flight Wi-Fi service depends on the airline and the length of time you use the service, but it's generally under $50, and sometimes as low as $2.</p> <h2>3. Kid-Free Zone</h2> <p>Children may be the future, but they don't make very good travel companions. They cry, scream, and kick your seat.</p> <p>If you want to sleep in peace during your next flight, consider traveling in a kid-free cabin. Several Asian airlines have already introduced special kid-free sections, including AirAsia X and Scoot Airlines. There is no U.S. airline that currently offers a kid-free zone, but this could change in the future.</p> <h2>4. Entertainment</h2> <p>In-flight entertainment is often included in the airfare for many long-haul international flights. For domestic flights, some airlines require you to pay for it through tablet rental or headset purchase. At under $10, it's a small price to pay to combat boredom when you have nothing else to do.</p> <h2>5. Lounge Access</h2> <p>Some airport lounges offer exceptional facilities, such as Wi-Fi, salons, spas, massage chairs, bars, restaurants, showers, and nap rooms. Relaxing in a good airport lounge can be quite an experience, especially if you encounter a long delay.</p> <p>But not all airport lounges are created equal. You could end up with only cold sandwiches and tattered novels in some lackluster lounges, so do your research before you pay the access fee.</p> <p>Note that usually you can get into exclusive airport lounges for free by achieving a special status with a frequent flier program or by getting <a href="">certain credit cards</a>. Otherwise, you could pay a one-time access fee or an annual membership fee. The Sleeping in Airports website has a <a href="">big list of airport lounges</a> where you can get more information to determine whether a particular lounge is worth the fee. (See also: <a href="">How to Earn Miles Without Flying</a>)</p> <h2>6. Direct Flight</h2> <p>This is not an extra fee, but a direct flight is often more expensive than a flight with stopovers along the way. It can be worth the cost, though.</p> <p>If you have a large carry-on, it can be quite a hassle to lug it off the plane and onto another plane. The time you spend in stopovers also reduces the amount of time you have to enjoy the trip &mdash; not to mention the potential for missing your next flight if your first one runs late. And if you spend the stopover getting snacks and magazines at the airport, you might end up negating any savings you get from choosing the non-direct flight.</p> <h2>7. Baggage Allowance</h2> <p>It's always best to travel with just a carry-on bag &mdash; you'll avoid extra fees &mdash; but sometimes you just can't help having a lot of stuff. (See also: <a href="">15 Packing Secrets From a Pro Traveler)</a></p> <p>If you're lucky, you might meet a nice check-in agent who would wave you through despite your extra bags. But if you know ahead of time that you will have more than the allocated allowance, it's safer to minimize the fees by purchasing excess baggage coupons or vouchers prior to the flight.</p> <h2>8. Airport Choice</h2> <p>You could save some money on your airfare by flying out of smaller airports, which are usually further away from city centers.</p> <p>But before you book that flight, calculate how much the transport to and from the airport would cost.You might be better off choosing the flight that leaves from a busier airport.</p> <p>The main airport is more likely to have more public transport options, such as buses or trains. With a small airport, you're often limited to car rentals and taxis, which cost more.</p> <p><em>Are there any airline fees you just go ahead and pay, anyway? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Airline Fees That Are Actually Worth Paying" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel airline fees fees flying Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:48:19 +0000 Deia B 1135730 at 10 Essential Travel Items You Forgot to Pack <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-essential-travel-items-you-forgot-to-pack" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>You know you should pack clothes, toiletries and chargers when you travel. Other travel essentials are less obvious, but just as important. Simply having the right items can help drive down your travel costs and keep you comfortable.</p> <h3>1. Solid Toiletries</h3> <p>The TSA has strict limits on the amount of liquids you can bring with you, so every little thing helps. Savvy manufacturers recognize this, and now it&rsquo;s not just soaps that come in bars. You can replace your liquid shampoo and even toothpaste with solid versions.</p> <h3>2. Contact Lens Cases</h3> <p>For short trips, you may not need to buy travel-sized toiletries and makeup products. If you already wear contact lenses, you probably have contact lens cases lying around that you can use to store small amounts of creams and gels. By bringing only as much as you need, you&rsquo;ll be reducing your luggage load and leaving room for any liquid items you purchase during the trip.</p> <h3>3. Skype on Your Phone</h3> <p>Before you leave home, download Skype and add your family and friends to your contact list. This can save you a fortune. You may already know that Skype allows you to make online calls to other Skype users for free. But when you&rsquo;re traveling, you&rsquo;ll have to call a lot of people who are not Skype users. This is when <a href="">Skype Credit</a> comes in handy. <a href="">Skype Credit</a> gives you the freedom to call any mobiles and landlines around the world at very low rates, regardless of whether the other person is also a Skype user.</p> <p>I also personally have a <a href="">Skype number</a> (which can be purchased with <a href="">Skype Credit</a>). Skype number gives me one phone number where everyone can reach me, wherever I happen to be. When people call this number, the call is forwarded to a phone or device of my choice. This is great for keeping things simple when I&rsquo;m travelling. When you&rsquo;re traveling abroad for a long time, you can get a Skype Number with a local US area code, which will allow your friends and family back home to call you without having to pay international rates.</p> <h3>4. Spare Buttons</h3> <p>You know those spare buttons you get when you buy shirts and jackets? I have a whole box of them and have probably only used two in years.</p> <p>Put those buttons to good use next time you travel. If you have stud earrings, stick them through the buttonholes. This way, every pair of earrings is always together. Also, who knows? You might lose a button after all.</p> <h3>5. Pill Containers</h3> <p>The pill containers you see at the drugstore are not just for medication. You can use a pill container to store jewelry so your necklaces stay untangled and your earrings are always in pairs. Think of all the time you&rsquo;d save from not having to rummage through the entire bag to find small pieces of jewelry.</p> <p>If you plan to cook during the trip, the pill container is also great for storing small amounts of herbs and spices.</p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>6. Pen and Paper</h3> <p>Now that everybody has a smartphone, it seems like the old pen and paper are obsolete. But clear a little space for a pen and a paper notebook on your next trip. They&rsquo;re not just good for writing a journal or filling out custom forms.</p> <p>Sometimes when you travel, you can&rsquo;t get cell phone coverage or you might not want to spend a fortune on roaming fees. A pen and some paper then come in handy for relaying messages to the hotel staff and your travel companions. They&rsquo;re also great for getting directions and language tips from locals. You won&rsquo;t have to hand over your smartphone to a tuk-tuk driver to let him know where you&rsquo;re going.</p> <h3>7. Portable Travel Clothesline</h3> <p>Don&rsquo;t pay a small fortune for the hotel&rsquo;s laundry service next time you run out of clothes when traveling. If you wash your clothes by hand in the sink, you clean them for free and they&rsquo;ll last longer, too. To fully turn the bathroom into a makeshift laundry room, all you need is a portable travel clothesline.</p> <h3>8. A Sleep Sheet and a Pillowcase</h3> <p>Many budget hotels don&rsquo;t invest too much money in cleaning the bedding. Some hostels even charge an extra fee if you want a blanket. For a budget traveler who spends a lot of time at hostels and overnight buses, a travel sleep sheet and a pillowcase are essentials. They&rsquo;re also great if you have sensitive skin and get allergic reactions to the laundry detergents hotels use.</p> <h3>9. Plastic Bags</h3> <p>You can never bring too many plastic bags when you travel. When I pack before a trip, I place my shoes and all liquids in plastic bags. If anything leaks in transit, it won&rsquo;t flood the whole bag and ruin my gadgets.</p> <p>Before going home, I put all dirty clothes in plastic bags to separate them from clean items. This way, I don&rsquo;t have to separate the clothes when I get home. I can simply throw all the dirty clothes from the plastic bags into the washing machine.</p> <h3>10. Baby Wipes</h3> <p>When you travel, you may not have access to the sanitary facilities you usually take for granted. This is why baby wipes should be in your bag. You can use them to clean your hands before meals. And in some countries where the restrooms don&rsquo;t usually have toilet paper, baby wipes can be a good replacement. Baby wipes can even help you maintain a basic level of cleanliness when you can&rsquo;t take a shower, for example when you&rsquo;re camping or on a flight.</p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i><i><br /> </i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Essential Travel Items You Forgot to Pack" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel Skype Credit Fri, 11 Apr 2014 10:09:45 +0000 Deia B 1134735 at 15 Easy Ways to Save for Your Dream Vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-dream-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="vacation" title="vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="177" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've worked hard over the years, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of your labor. For that matter, the vacation of a lifetime might top your list of things to do. But after doing the math, a dream vacation can seem impossible. (See also: <a href="">Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Dollar</a>)</p> <p>However, don't immediately push the thought aside. You might not be the richest person in the world, but if you adjust your spending and make a few sacrifices, a dream vacation might be doable.</p> <p>Here are 15 easy ways to save for your dream vacation.</p> <h2>1. Set Goals</h2> <p>Before you start saving, determine how much you need for your vacation, and when you want to travel. This way, you know how much to save on a monthly basis. For example, if you need $4,000 and you plan to travel in 18 months, you'll need to save at least $222 a month.</p> <h2>2. Set up a Separate Vacation Account</h2> <p>Open an online high-yield savings account that's specifically for vacation funds. This account is separate from your emergency cash reserves and your retirement funds. Since online savings accounts offer better rates, you're able to maximize your growth and hit your target goal sooner. (See also: <a href="">5 Great Online Savings Accounts</a>)</p> <h2>3. Make Weekly Contributions</h2> <p>To reach your savings goal faster, commit to weekly contributions. Some people only contribute to their vacation fund on a monthly basis. This can work. However, once-a-month contributions result in larger one-time deposits. Weekly contributions, on the other hand, are smaller and more manageable.</p> <h2>4. Cook Meals at Home</h2> <p>It might be easier and faster to pick up dinner during the week, but you might spend more than necessary for food. For this to work you have to actually <em>bank the savings</em>. That means, figure out what you actually save by cooking at home each week, and then deposit that in your special savings account.</p> <h2>5. Look for Free Entertainment</h2> <p>Saving up for a dream vacation doesn't mean you have to sacrifice a good time. However, you need to choose your entertainment and recreation carefully. Check your local newspaper or go online and look for free ways to have fun. You can also have fun by simply getting together with friends and going to the park or each other's homes for game night. (See also: <a href="">Free Things to Do in Any City</a>)</p> <h2>6. Take Your Own Lunch and Coffee to Work</h2> <p>I know, the weekdays are crazy and between getting yourself and the kids ready, there's often little time to make a lunch or brew your own coffee. However, if you spend $5 a day on lunch or coffee, that's $25 a week or $100 a month. That's nearly $1,200 a year that can go towards your vacation fund.</p> <h2>7. Save Your Work Bonuses</h2> <p>If your boss gives Christmas bonuses or other bonuses during the year, rather than spend this money on electronics or clothes, deposit all or a percentage of this free money into your vacation fund.</p> <h2>8. Keep Your Tax Refund</h2> <p>Likewise, it might be tempting to spend your tax refund on fun stuff. But if you haven't been on a vacation in several years, free money from the government can jumpstart your dream vacation fund, helping you get to your destination sooner.</p> <h2>9. Rack Up Cash Back</h2> <p>Apply for a credit card that features a <a href="">cash-back rewards program</a>. Use your credit card for everyday purchases, such as groceries, gas, and even utility bills. The more you use your credit card, the more cash you earn. Redeem for gift cards or a check, which you can use toward your vacation. Of course, always pay off your credit card each month to avoid debt. (See also: <a href="">Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points</a>)</p> <h2>10. Sell Your Old Junk</h2> <p>Surely, there's plenty of stuff lying around your house that you don't need. It's faster and easier to throw these items away or donate them to charity. But if you're looking for a simple way to save for your dream vacation, sell these items and put the proceeds toward your vacation fund.</p> <h2>11. Start a Change Jar</h2> <p>Each day when you arrive home, go through your pocket or purse and toss spare change into a jar. This might seem like an insignificant move, but coins add up quickly. During the course of a year, you could easily save hundreds in change alone, which might cover some of your hotel, entertainment, or food costs while on vacation.</p> <h2>12. Shop at Thrift Stores</h2> <p>Even if you stop shopping to save for a dream vacation, chances are that you'll need some clothing during the year. Instead of heading to the mall or another retail store, shop at the thrift store. You might find exactly what you need for less.</p> <h2>13. Evaluate Monthly Services</h2> <p>Take a look at your expenses and evaluate where your money goes. Where can you cut back? The less you spend each month, the more you can put toward your vacation savings account. For example, could you eliminate cable or a telephone service? Could you get rid of your gym membership or stop your housekeeping services? Cut them and bank the savings. (See also: <a href="">8 Services You Don't Need to Pay For</a>)</p> <h2>14. Hold Off on Large Purchases</h2> <p>Technology is always improving and new car designs come out every few years. It's tempting to keep up with the latest and greatest. However, acquiring the next best thing can delay your dream vacation plans. Not that you shouldn't upgrade some aspects of your life. But if you're serious about taking a dream vacation, this should be your main focus.</p> <h2>15. Get a Part-Time Job</h2> <p>You might not jump for joy at the idea of working a second job. But if your income doesn't afford the opportunity to save for a dream vacation, working part-time a few hours each week, or asking your boss for overtime work, might provide the funds you need. If you can make an extra $500 a month &mdash; or $125 a week &mdash; that's an extra $6,000 a year.</p> <p><em>Do you have other ideas on how to save for a dream vacation? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Easy Ways to Save for Your Dream Vacation" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Travel saving saving strategies vacation Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:48:16 +0000 Mikey Rox 1135082 at 5 Things You’re Overpaying For on Your Vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-you-re-overpaying-for-on-your-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>Picture this. You&rsquo;ve just spent a glorious week on a beach somewhere, soaking in the sun and cooling off in the surf. You&rsquo;re ready to leave, and you&rsquo;re taking one long, last look over the beautiful resort that you&rsquo;d like to remember forever.</p> <p>As you&rsquo;re checking out, the clerk hands you the total sum of your charges. You go to sign, and have to catch your breath. How in the world did you spend that much? And how will you ever pay it, let alone finance another vacation in the future?</p> <p>Contrary to popular belief, travel does not always have to be expensive. In fact, many of the fees that travelers incur are not necessary expenses. There are often ways to drastically lower the cost of your vacation, especially when you&rsquo;re aware of which items often cost travelers way too much money.</p> <h3>1. Insurance</h3> <p>Many travel agents, airlines, and other travel services will ask if you want to purchase all sorts of insurance related to travel. These can vary from travel accident insurance to rental car insurance to lost baggage insurance, and more. Depending on your trip, some of these options may be things that you actually want to have. However, you don&rsquo;t always have to pay extra to get this coverage.</p> <p><a href="">Most credit cards</a> offer some sort of travel coverage, and some of the offerings are superb. Be sure you know exactly what your card offers, and if you need to do anything to qualify for the coverage. Sometimes, you have to let the credit card company know that you are traveling, or purchase your tickets on their card.</p> <h3>2. ATM/Transaction Fees</h3> <p>Your bank will charge you <a href="">an average of $5</a> every time you make a withdrawal from a non-network ATM. While it&rsquo;s usually easy to stay in network when you&rsquo;re at home, some networks don&rsquo;t even have ATMs in other countries, or even other areas of the same country! However, you can pick a bank in the <a href="">Global ATM Network</a> or bank with <a href="">Charles Schwab</a>, and you will be able to avoid these fees.</p> <p>Some credit cards also charge foreign transaction fees when you use them outside of your home country. Such fees used to be standard, and travelers just accepted them as a fact of life. But if you shop around, you can easily find travel <a href="">credit cards without such fees</a>.</p> <h3>3. Airline Tickets</h3> <p>There are many ways to save money on airline tickets. One great way is to <a href="">travel on a Tuesday or a Thursday</a>. Since most people tend to travel close to the weekends &mdash; on Friday and Saturday &mdash; airlines offer lower priced fares on other days. Unless you are traveling for something specific that is happening on a weekend, traveling on other days means that you&rsquo;ll avoid peak tourist times at your destination, too, and so you may enjoy your vacation even more.</p> <p>Sometimes, it is also <a href="">cheaper to fly out of smaller airports</a> in your area, or into a smaller airport at your destination. This isn&rsquo;t always true, but it is worth checking into the cost of flying out of another location, just to see if there are cheaper tickets available.</p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>4. Phone Calls and Texting</h3> <p>Most hotels, resorts, and even your usual phone carrier, charge way too much for calls and texts when you&rsquo;re overseas. Instead, choose <a href="">Skype Credit</a> which offers <a href="">low rates</a> on phone calls to both mobile phones and landlines all over the world (not just to other Skype users). They also offer good rates on worldwide texting, and you can even text from your computer (rather than your phone). They round out the package by offering free access to Wi-Fi hotspots and call forwarding, which can be especially useful when you&rsquo;re traveling.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s easy to set up your Skype Credit account, and then you can add money from your computer, your phone, or even from participating stores. You only need to add money when your account is running low, so you can control what you spend on calling and texting, rather than never knowing exactly how much you are being charged.</p> <p>One neat feature many people don&rsquo;t know about is <a href="">Skype Number</a>. For $5 a month, you can set up your own Skype Number that anyone can call from their phone, and you can pick up the call on Skype from any device. Plus you can set up call forwarding to your Skype number from any phone that has the feature. You can select a number from a variety of area codes in several countries. This can save your friends and family a lot of money when you&rsquo;re traveling. For example, say you&rsquo;re an American visiting relatives in France. Instead of having your French relatives call your US cell phone number, you can get a Skype Number with a local French area code. Your French relatives can call this number at local rates instead of international long distance rates, thus saving them a ton of money.</p> <h3>5. Souvenirs</h3> <p>You&rsquo;ll want to remember a great vacation forever, and so you&rsquo;ll want to bring something home. However, avoid the overpriced gift shops, especially those at resorts and other places that cater to tourists. There are many ways to get souvenirs that are both cheaper and more authentic than what you can get in tourist traps.</p> <p>Most foreign locales have local markets, where you can purchase cloth, clothing, jewelry, or even spices that are authentic to the region and cost a fraction of that t-shirt in the gift shop. You can also keep items like napkins and ticket stubs, which don&rsquo;t cost anything extra, and can make a great <a href="">scrapbook</a> when you get home. You can also journal, collect sand from the seashore, bring home some beautiful rocks, press flowers, and more.</p> <p>How have you saved money when you&rsquo;re traveling? Do you have any tips for your fellow readers?</p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Things You’re Overpaying For on Your Vacation" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel Skype Credit Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:31:55 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1134732 at How to Earn Tons of Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-earn-tons-of-frequent-flyer-miles-without-flying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="traveler" title="traveler" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I earned my first airline miles as a teenager by flying on airplanes via purchased tickets. At the time, I assumed that was the only way to earn airline miles. Turns out, that isn't even the main way to earn airline miles. You can earn airline miles doing everything from dining out to shopping online,to setting up an investment account. You can then use those miles that you earned in everyday life to fly to places near and far &mdash; virtually for free. If that sounds as intriguing to you as it did to me, here are a few simple ways you can rack up enough airlines miles to fly in first class on an award ticket without ever having to step on a plane. (See also: <a href="">Best Credit Cards for Travel Rewards</a>)</p> <h2>Airline Credit Cards</h2> <p>The easiest and quickest way to rack up a whole bunch of airline miles is via the airlines' co-branded credit cards such as the United MileagePlus Cards, the American <a href="">Citi AAdvantage World Cards</a>, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Cards, or the US Airways Dividend Miles Cards. Virtually every major airline has at least one credit card partner, and they often have at least one personal and business credit card available, and sometimes more than that. Make everyday purchases on those credit cards, and watch your miles add up.</p> <p>The sign-up bonus alone is usually enough to get you a couple of free domestic flights, or a good chunk of the way to a premium international flight. In addition to being a fantastic way to earn airline miles, these co-branded airline cards often give you perks like free checked bags, early boarding, or an annual discounted companion airline ticket. (See also: <a href="">5 Great Cards With Companion Tickets</a>)</p> <p>Some credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card aren't specifically labeled an airline credit card, but they still earn points that can transfer to airline miles, so don't discount those either.</p> <h2>Online Shopping</h2> <p>If you do any of your shopping online, you could be earning major airline miles for those purchases. There are online shopping portals such as United MileagePlus Shopping and American AAdvantage e-Shopping that will pay you airline miles for going to your favorite online retailer websites such as Gap, Home Depot, Apple, Sears, and more via their website. They will track the purchases you make by first going to their site, and then pay you airline miles for each dollar you spend. I have earned as many as 30 extra airline miles per dollar for making online purchases during some lucrative airline shopping portal promotions. In this case, a $100 purchase would earn 3,000 valuable airline miles, so it can really add up quickly. (See also: <a href="">Guide to Cash Back Shopping</a>)</p> <h2>Dining Rewards</h2> <p>If you register your credit cards with the Dining Rewards Network via programs like United MileagePlus Dining you can earn up to 5 miles per dollar when you dine at participating restaurants. This is <em>on top of any miles you might earn</em> directly from your credit card for dining purchases. Some areas of the country have more participating restaurants than others, but it is another free and simple way to pick up some extra airline miles. When you sign up, look for new customer promotions such as earning 1,000 United miles for spending $30 at a participating restaurant.</p> <h2>Send Flowers</h2> <p>If you need to send flowers to someone, then you can also have a smile put on your face by earning more than 30 miles per dollar for your generous gift! On a $50 flower order this would come to 1,500 airline miles! That is roughly the same as you would usually earn flying from New York City to Austin. The offers change from time to time, but FTD offers points for <a href="">United MileagePlus</a>, <a href="">Delta SkyMiles</a>, and <a href="">American Airlines AAdvantage</a> members.</p> <h2>Investments</h2> <p>You can earn airline miles for funding investment accounts. This one may not work for everyone due to the amount of cash involved, but you can get up to 50,000 <a href="">American</a>, <a href="">United</a>, or <a href="">Delta</a> miles for funding a Fidelity non-retirement brokerage account.</p> <h2>Being Social</h2> <p>Airline frequent flyer programs have become very active on social media in recent years, so from time to time there will be opportunities to earn free miles for participating in promotions, completing surveys, or via contests that they advertise on Twitter or Facebook. I recommend following a few of the major airline programs on your social media accounts so you can stay on the lookout for the free and easy miles they sometimes make available. (See also: <a href="">This Is How You Win Sweepstakes</a>)</p> <h2>Hotels and Rental Cars</h2> <p>Another way to earn airline miles is to stay on the lookout for bonus miles offers from hotel and rental car chains. You can often choose to earn airline miles instead of rental car or hotel points, and while this doesn't always make sense, occasionally bonuses make the airline miles you earn more valuable than the points you are forgoing.</p> <p>There are also hotel bookings sites like <a href="">PointsHound</a> and <a href="">RocketMiles</a> that will pay you literally thousands of airline miles for some hotel bookings that you make via their respective websites.</p> <p>These are a few of the main ways that you can earn enough airline miles to literally fly around the world without ever having to buy an airline ticket!</p> <p><em>Where do you pickup bonus airline miles? Please share some in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Earn Tons of Frequent Flyer Miles Without Flying" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Summer Hull</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards Travel credit card rewards miles travel Thu, 10 Apr 2014 09:36:28 +0000 Summer Hull 1135028 at How to Find and Book the Best Vacation Rentals <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-find-and-book-the-best-vacation-rentals" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hammock" title="hammock" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation rentals are a big part of the sharing economy &mdash; the idea that sharing things could financially benefit all involved. For example, travelers have been taking advantage of free accommodation by swapping their homes with each other through <a href="">HomeExchange</a> for decades. (See also: <a href="">Home Exchanges: Free Accommodations With Perks</a>)</p> <p>When you rent a vacation rental, you're dealing with a private property owner instead of hospitality professionals. On one hand, this could mean that the customer service standards won't be up to the level you usually enjoy at hotels. On the other hand, vacation rental owners can be warmer and more accommodating. And the prices are often lower than hotels, too.</p> <p>The quality of vacation rentals can vary wildly because there are no professional standards that apply to these properties. But if you're careful, you can improve your chances of having a safe and enjoyable stay.</p> <h2>When You Should Start Looking</h2> <p>You might be able to score a last-minute deal when you book a hotel room. But with a vacation rental, you should start looking as early as possible. If you only have one week before the trip, you might be better off booking a hotel room instead. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <p>Running the vacation rental is usually not the host's main job, so it could take a while for a host to reply to your message and confirm your booking. Allow at least two weeks to sort things out with your host.</p> <h2>Where to Find Vacation Rentals</h2> <p>By far, the most popular vacation rental site is Airbnb. As the pioneer in the peer-to-peer accommodation rental industry, Airbnb has a big pool of relatively active hosts and a high number of listings, so you're more likely to get a confirmed booking through this website.</p> <p>Over the years, other vacation rental websites have appeared. They may be worth a try if you can't find the right accommodation on Airbnb.</p> <p><a href="">HomeAway</a>, for example, markets itself as &quot;the UK's number 1 website for holiday cottages, villas and apartments.&quot; Other vacation rental websites include <a href="">VRBO</a>, <a href="">Wimdu</a>, and <a href="">One Fine Stay</a>.</p> <p>To save time, you can use a vacation rental search engine called <a href="">Tripping</a>. Tripping searches multiple vacation rental sites at once, although Airbnb is not included in its database.</p> <h2>How to Do a Property Search</h2> <p>When you perform a search on a vacation rental website, you usually have to enter the location, the dates of your stay, and the number of guests.</p> <p>Once the website presents you with the results, you can narrow down your choices by price, location, and whether you want a room or an entire property. Vacation rentals can be spare rooms, apartments, houses, or more unusual dwellings like treehouses and boathouses.</p> <p>For longer stays, the website may automatically show you lower weekly or monthly rates.</p> <h2>What to Look for in Listings</h2> <p>A listing usually has photos, a text description, and reviews from previous guests. If you carefully look at all the information on the listing, you can reasonably judge which properties are suitable for you. (See also: <a href="">How to Manage a Short-Term Rental Business</a>)</p> <p>Pay close attention to several parts of the listing.</p> <h3>Amenities</h3> <p>Come up with a list of all the amenities you need. With a hotel stay, you can safely assume that you'll get certain things, such as laundry facilities or a coffee maker. There is no such guarantee with a vacation rental.</p> <p>When you look at a listing, compare it to your list of amenities. Just because the listing doesn't mention something doesn't mean the host won't provide it. Note which amenities are missing from the listing description and remember to ask the host about these items when you send him a message.</p> <h3>Reviews</h3> <p>After a few stays at vacation rentals, I'm now willing to pay more for a vacation rental that has a high number of positive reviews. The guests who leave reviews vouch for the property's safety and quality, so you're less likely to come across unwanted surprises.</p> <p>Read the wording of the reviews closely. The reviews are often on the generous side because the guests may worry about getting bad feedback from the hosts in return. A remark that &quot;the place needs some dusting,&quot; for example, could actually mean that it's really dirty.</p> <h3>The Host's Profile</h3> <p>Depending on which vacation rental website you use, each host may have a profile you can check out. The profile displays the reviews the host has gotten from all of his listings. On Airbnb, you can also look at whether the property owner has submitted an ID and social media accounts for verification.</p> <h3>Fees</h3> <p>Pay attention to the fees displayed in each listing. Every listing has an Airbnb service fee, which is what Airbnb charges for using its reservation system.</p> <p>On top of that, the host may charge a security deposit, an additional guest fee, and a cleaning fee. The security deposit covers any damage that may occur during your stay and will be returned to you if everything goes smoothly. You may have to pay an additional guest fee if you have more than a certain number of people in your party. There may also be a cleaning fee to freshen up the space before and after your stay. (See also: <a href="">37 Hidden Travel Fees</a>)</p> <h2>How to Confirm a Booking</h2> <p>Before you have a confirmed booking, don't fall in love with any of the listings on vacation rental sites. Sometimes the availability on the website is wrong or the host just never responds to your message, so keep your options open.</p> <p>Send a message to a few hosts whose listings you like. In the message, tell the host a little bit about yourself and your travel companions. State the dates of your stay so the host can check her schedule and confirm whether the property is available. Don't forget to ask her about the amenities you want that are not mentioned in the listing.</p> <p>If you want to negotiate the pricing, do so in the message. Aside from the Airbnb fee, the host can change all prices and fees. (See also: <a href="">How to Negotiate and Get the Best Deal</a>)</p> <p>Once the host has confirmed that the place is available, you can make a booking. Don't wait for a reply from every single host to make a decision; some hosts may never respond to your message.</p> <p>When you make a booking, the vacation rental website charges your credit card and retains the money until 24 hours after you check in. This system allows you to claim a refund from the website if you see a problem at check-in time.</p> <p><em>What are your best tips in scoring the best vacation rentals?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Find and Book the Best Vacation Rentals" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel AirBnb micro-subletting vacation rentals Wed, 09 Apr 2014 08:48:22 +0000 Deia B 1134467 at Kids Going Abroad? 8 Ways to Stay In Touch Without Going Bankrupt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kids-going-abroad-8-ways-to-stay-in-touch-without-going-bankrupt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="125" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>Going abroad can be an excellent educational opportunity for teenagers and young adults. As a parent, you probably realize the benefit travel can bring to your kids, but you may also struggle with letting your young ones go so far away. Fortunately, there are many ways to stay connected with your children while they travel <i>&mdash; </i> often without breaking the bank.</p> <h3>Care Packages</h3> <p>Nothing says &ldquo;I love you&rdquo; like a care package filled with tangible comforts. Pack a box with your child&rsquo;s favorite local products that he may not be able to find in other countries. When I lived abroad, I loved receiving simple things like brownie mix, microwave popcorn, herbs and spices, my favorite shampoo and cleanser, deodorant (not always readily available in other countries), Ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medications, and quality coffee.</p> <p>Shipping a package overseas can be expensive. To save money, ship your package the slow way, but do it early. Several weeks (to even a few months) later, your child will receive your package right when she is starting to get really homesick! Remember to package items securely and to ship non-perishable items only!</p> <h3>Social Media</h3> <p>Following your child on social media can be a great way to stalk <i>&mdash; </i> I mean, keep in touch with <i>&mdash; </i> your child. <a href="">Facebook</a> and <a href="">Twitter</a> are easy ways to keep in touch, but may not be available in every country (for example, they were censored in China when I lived there). Fortunately, there are many alternative social media networks that are accessible around the world.</p> <h3>Image-Sharing Social Media</h3> <p><a href="">Instagram</a>, a picture-sharing site, is a great way to visually see what your child is up to (and Instagram can also auto-post to <a href="">Facebook</a> and <a href="">Twitter</a>). <a href="">Flickr</a> and <a href="">Picasa</a> are great image-sharing platforms that allow you to share albums. If your child sets up a video channel on <a href="">YouTube</a>, he can also share videos of his travels with you. Another great option is <a href="">Skype</a>, which allows your child to send any Skype user photo or video files of any size quickly and easily for free.</p> <h3>Blogs</h3> <p>You could also encourage your child to start a blog (free ones are readily available from <a href="">Blogger</a> and <a href="">Wordpress</a>), which is an easy way to preserve memories as well as easily share with friends and family. My parents have an email subscription to my personal blog, which sends them an email every time I update the blog. Blogging can also be a great way for young adults to hone their writing skills (and can even turn into a paying gig later down the road).</p> <h3>Other Social Media</h3> <p>Pretty much everything has a social media dimension nowadays. If you and your child are on <a href="">Goodreads</a>, for example, you can exchange book recommendations and reviews. Or follow your child&rsquo;s forays into international dining on <a href="">Yelp</a>. Or keep a game going with your child on <a href="">Words With Friends</a>. Find out what interests your child, and keep in touch that way.</p> <h3>Emails, Letters, and Postcards</h3> <p>Writing a full-length letter isn&rsquo;t as common as it used to be, but most young people can still send an email or a postcard once in a while. Maybe you can set up a once-a-week email commitment with your child (just don&rsquo;t be too offended if your child isn&rsquo;t super-consistent <i>&mdash; </i> travel can be demanding!). If your child has a mailing address, an old-school letter or card can be a welcome taste of home too (note: you can often send letters care of your child&rsquo;s school if she is studying or teaching).</p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>Use Skype to Call Mobiles</h3> <p>Skype is an easy and affordable way to keep in touch. Many of you are probably familiar with free Skype-to-Skype calls (computer-to-computer). For a small additional fee, you can get <a href="">Skype Credit</a>, which allows you to directly call mobiles and landlines all over the world.</p> <p>I used Skype Credit when I was living overseas to contact my parents on their home phone, which was easier for them than always having the computer on and also allows for more spontaneity than setting up a video chat date. After purchasing Skype Credit (available in increments of $10 and $25), you can call phones worldwide at very reasonable rates. For example, I could call (or text) from my laptop in China to a home or mobile phone in the US for just a few cents a minute. You can even call overseas using the Skype application on your smartphone (provided you&rsquo;re connected to the Internet) without having to pay outrageous fees through your carrier. Skype also has pay-as-you-go <a href="">WiFi hotspots</a> set up around the world, which you can use your Skype Credit to access in case you can&rsquo;t find a free WiFi spot.</p> <p>If you plan on making a lot of calls, consider using <a href="">Skype Credit</a> to buy a Skype Number, which is a US number parents, grandparents and friends can call at US rates that will ring the child&rsquo;s Skype account. Just be sure to keep the time difference in mind when calling!</p> <h3>In-Person Visits</h3> <p>Nothing will help you to understand your child&rsquo;s new experiences like being there. If your child will be away for an extended period, try to find a way to visit if your budget allows. Subscribe to an <a href="">airfare alert website</a>, which will let you know when flights are on sale. I was very fortunate in that when I was overseas, my entire family came to visit. With only one bed and a small sofa, several of us ended up sleeping on the floor of my tiny apartment, but it was worth it! Your child will be proud to show off his new language skills and cultural competency, so let him be your tour guide.</p> <p><i>Do you have relatives overseas? How do you keep in touch?</i></p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Kids Going Abroad? 8 Ways to Stay In Touch Without Going Bankrupt" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Camilla Cheung</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Technology Travel Skype Credit Sun, 06 Apr 2014 02:50:15 +0000 Camilla Cheung 1134078 at The Secret Flight Search Site Savvy Travelers Use <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-secret-flight-search-site-savvy-travelers-use" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="flight search" title="flight searc" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With so many travel booking websites out there, it can be tough to decide which one to use. But did you know that many of these websites are powered by the same search engine?</p> <p><a href="">ITA Matrix</a> is the powerful software behind such household names as Kayak and Orbitz. It's a great place to start when you're looking for airfares. (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Get Dirt Cheap Airline Tickets</a>)</p> <h2>Why Have I Never Heard of It?</h2> <p>Unlike other flight search websites, ITA Matrix does not book flights for you. Other websites earn money through bookings, while ITA earns money through selling its software to the travel industry. This is why consumers are not likely to see their ads or find them by googling &quot;book cheap flights.&quot; What ITA Matrix does is search for flights so you can book them elsewhere.</p> <h2>Why Use It?</h2> <p>Using ITA Matrix does involve an extra step, but it's worth the extra time because it's the most flexible flight search engine out there. It can take into account many different factors of your trip to help you find the perfect airfare. If you have a flexible itinerary or if you're using <a href="">air miles</a>, ITA Matrix can actually save you time by doing in one search what other websites can only do in multiple searches. (See also: <a href="">Negotiating All Your Travel</a>)</p> <h2>Searching for Airfares on ITA Matrix</h2> <p>At first glance, the search form looks like any other flight site's. You first choose between &quot;round trip,&quot; &quot;one-way,&quot; and &quot;multi-city.&quot; Then, you enter your city, the destination, travel dates, number of passengers, and cabin class. The magic lies in its other search options.</p> <h3>Flexible Dates</h3> <p>If you don't have specific travel dates in mind, you can take advantage of price fluctuations to get cheaper airfares. When you do a search on ITA Matrix, choose the &quot;See calendar of lowest fares&quot; option and enter the earliest date you can fly out. The website will show you a calendar view of the cheapest dates over the next month.</p> <h3>Flexible Trip Duration</h3> <p>If you can't decide how long to stay in your destination, ITA Matrix can help by showing you how much your airfare would cost depending on the length of your stay.</p> <p>For example, if you enter &quot;5-7&quot; in the &quot;length of stay&quot; field on the search page, you'll again see a calendar view of the airfares over the next month. But this time, when you hover over a date, ITA Matrix will show you how much the airfare would cost if you were to fly out on that date and stay for each trip length option &mdash; in this example, five, six and seven nights. (See also: <a href="">20 Secrets of Last-Minute Travel</a>)</p> <h3>Flexible Airports</h3> <p>Another way you can save big on airfares is by choosing to fly out of less-busy airports. With other flight search websites, you may have to search each airport one by one.</p> <p>ITA Matrix allows you to search multiple airports at once. You can enter each airport by name, but where ITA Matrix really shines is when you click the &quot;Nearby&quot; link and let the software search all airports up to 2,000 miles.</p> <p>This is especially useful when you have several destination options and can't decide which one to choose. If you enter all your possible destinations, ITA Matrix will show you whether it's cheaper to go to Fiji or Australia.</p> <p>This feature is also great for when you want to explore an entire region and have no preference on where you start or end your trip. For example, if you want to book airfares for a trip to Europe, you may search the entire region to see the cheapest entry and exit points. (See also: <a href="">Get the Lowest Rates on Airfare Even After You Buy</a>)</p> <h3>Using Air Miles</h3> <p>If you'll be using air miles to pay for the flight, ITA Matrix is undoubtedly the best place to find your airfare. The software has all sorts of advanced search functions that allow you to make full use of your air miles.</p> <p>If you click &quot;Advanced routing codes&quot; on the search page, you can search by airline. You can also have ITA Matrix calculate the price per mile of your flight.</p> <h2>Choosing Your Flights</h2> <p>After you choose a date from the calendar view, ITA Matrix will show you all your flight options, arranged by price.</p> <p>You can narrow down your search at this point by playing around with the column headings. For example, if you click the &quot;from/to&quot; heading, you can choose to see only flights leaving from the JFK airport.</p> <p>Another neat feature is the &quot;Time bars&quot; view, which shows each flight as a color-coded bar from departure to arrival.</p> <p>Once you've made a decision, you can choose an airfare by clicking on the price button. ITA Matrix will show you all the flight details you need to make a booking.</p> <h2>Booking the Flight</h2> <p>Armed with the flight details, you can go to the airline website and book there directly. For example, if you choose a flight on United Airlines, just go to the United Airlines website and find the flight there.</p> <p>Alternatively, you can make a booking through a travel agent or another website. Check their prices as well because no one website &mdash; not even ITA Matrix &mdash; will always show the lowest fares every time.</p> <p><em>Have you used ITA Matrix? Where'd you go? How much did you save?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Secret Flight Search Site Savvy Travelers Use" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel air travel flight search flights flying Sun, 06 Apr 2014 02:48:23 +0000 Deia B 1134184 at Best Money Tips: Cook Food From a Hotel Room <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-cook-food-from-a-hotel-room" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hotel" title="hotel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on cooking food from a hotel room, psychological life hacks, and building a resume when you have nothing to put on it.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="">6 Ways to Cook Food From a Hotel Room</a> &mdash; Packing wisely and asking for a fridge can help you cook from your hotel room. [MintLife Blog]</p> <p><a href="">Come Out a Winner with These 27 Psychological Life Hacks</a> &mdash; Framing requests as offers and chewing gum when you are nervous can help you come out a winner. [PopSugar Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="">How Can I Build a Resume When I have Nothing to Put On It?</a> &mdash; To build your resume when you have nothing to put on it, get great references. [Lifehacker]</p> <p><a href="">10 Simple Habits You Didn't Know Can Help You Live Without Anxiety</a> &mdash; Writing down your thoughts and taking time to relax can help you live without anxiety. [Lifehack]</p> <p><a href="">How to Slash Your Car Insurance Bill</a> &mdash; Slash your car insurance bill by bundling policies. [Mainstreet]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="">How Developing Your Interpersonal Skills Can Earn You More Money</a> &mdash; Your interpersonal skills can help you network better, which can allow you to earn more money. [Canadian Finance Blog]</p> <p><a href="">How to Reduce Your Energy Costs This Summer</a> &mdash; Taking cold showers and unplugging things can reduce your energy expenses this summer. [US News &amp; World Report]</p> <p><a href="">12 Things You Should Start Making Time For Again</a> &mdash; Make time to read books and spread joy. [Marc and Angel Hack Life]</p> <p><a href="">5 Critical Steps To Take Before You Can Delegate Effectively</a> &mdash; Having a clear idea of what tasks you can delegate can help you delegate effectively. [Time Management Ninja]</p> <p><a href="">8 Tips to Get Out of the House on Time in the Morning</a> &mdash; To get out of the house on time in the morning, check your commute and reward good behavior. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Cook Food From a Hotel Room" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Travel best money tips Cooking Food hotel Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:00:31 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1134137 at Never Leave Home Without These 10 Essential Travel Apps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/never-leave-home-without-these-10-essential-travel-apps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <p>Some people will tell you that traveling &mdash; really traveling &mdash; is all about living in the moment, getting lost, and finding surprising and amazing things along the way.</p> <p>And I agree ... to a point. But the truth is that sometimes when you&rsquo;re in a strange city, what you really want is to find some lunch <i>right now</i>, or somewhere &mdash; anywhere &mdash; to sleep. In other words, most travelers run into situations where they could use a little help. Fortunately, a whole bunch of handy travel apps have emerged over the past few years to help us all explore the world while avoiding some of the most annoying/frustrating things that can get in the way of a great adventure. Here are ten travel apps designed to help you navigate your trip. Bon voyage!</p> <h3>For Getting &mdash; and Staying &mdash; Organized</h3> <p>If you&rsquo;re going on a major trip, you probably have a lot of reservations organized &mdash; flights, hotels, ground transportation, activities, oh my! <a href="">TripIt</a> is a mobile trip planner that&rsquo;s designed to help take some of the headache out of organizing all this information. Just connect your email accounts to TripIt and this app will compile all your travel information for you automatically, allowing you to retrieve confirmation numbers, and even restaurant bookings, all in one place.</p> <p><i>Available for: </i><i>&nbsp;</i><i>Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Phone devices</i></p> <p><img width="605" height="308" alt="" src="" /></p> <h3>For Packing Smart</h3> <p>My packing strategy is to stuff every piece of clothing I own into my oversized suitcase (overweight baggage fees be damned!). I just can&rsquo;t seem to sort out what I need. I totally need an app for that. Next time I&rsquo;ll try <a href="">Packing Pro</a>, an app that helps you organize what you need, what you&rsquo;ve packed and what needs to be thrown in your bag at the very last minute. And get this: It even includes sample packing lists which, once you enter in several pertinent details, <i>will actually tell you what to pack</i>. <br /> <i><br /> Available for: iOS devices</i></p> <h3>For Surviving the Airport</h3> <p>Airports are a sort of travel purgatory. Before you can get to ________ (insert beautiful, desirable destination of your choice), you must survive hours in an airless monolith filled with other grumpy, exhausted travelers. That where <a href="">Gate Guru</a> comes in. After all, San Francisco airport has a yoga room that travelers can use to stretch and chill out before their next flight, while the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is home to an amazing collection of world-famous art. And several airports have great places to eat and drink. Oh, you didn&rsquo;t know? That&rsquo;s why you need this app.</p> <p><i>Available on: Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices</i></p> <p><img width="605" height="303" src="" alt="" /></p> <h3>For Getting Where You Want to Go</h3> <p>I love guide books, but they can be a bit bulky to carry around when you&rsquo;re traveling to several different areas. <a href="">City Guides, Offline Maps</a> acts as your own personal digital tour guide. This app knows some of the best things to do and see all over the world and allows you to select and save those attractions to your smartphone for use offline. That&rsquo;s a key feature. Depending on where you&rsquo;re headed, Internet connectivity may be spotty &mdash; and roaming charges can kill your budget in a matter of days. </p> <p><i>Available on: iOS and Android devices</i></p> <h3>And Getting to Know Your Surroundings</h3> <p>Traveling is filled with wonder &mdash; or wondering about what this building is, when that church was built or whether that cute restaurant over there is any good. Now you can find out by launching <a href="">Wikitude</a> and using the camera in your smartphone to view the neighborhood. This virtual reality app overlays what you&rsquo;re seeing with relevant information from sources like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Wikipedia to provide details about your location and local attractions. Cool, huh?</p> <p><i>Available on: iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices</i></p> <div id="kamidarticle" class="ggnoads" style="text-align:center;"> <div id="kamidarticle-middle-content"><center></p> <!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><!-- Skype_midarticle_300x250 --><div style="width:300px; height:250px;" id="div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0"> <script type='text/javascript'> googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1396271961711-0'); }); </script></div> <p></center></div> </div> <h3>For Calling Home</h3> <p>Despite the adventure, traveling also tends to come with a dose of homesickness &mdash; at least for me. That&rsquo;s when it&rsquo;s time to call home. But rather than dealing with payphones or roaming charges, <a href="">Skype Credit</a> makes pulling out your cellphone both practical and affordable. This pay-as-you-go system makes it possible to call mobile and landlines worldwide for much lower rates than you could get through other options. It also works across all devices, allowing you to call any way you want to. Yes, Skype&rsquo;s regular service is free, but both users need a Skype account and an Internet connection to make it work. When that isn&rsquo;t possible, Skype Credit is a great, inexpensive option. You can even send low-cost text messages and forward calls to a landline. </p> <p><i>Available on: Most devices. Find out more and buy credit </i><a href=""><i>here</i></a><i>.</i></p> <h3>And Communicating With the Locals</h3> <p>English is becoming an increasingly global language, but when you&rsquo;re in a foreign country it&rsquo;s still handy (and, some would say, more polite) to have a few key phrases under your belt. The <a href="">iStone</a> app can help you here. This travel translation app includes more than 300 words and phrases in several major languages. Where it really beats a phrase book is that it&rsquo;ll pronounce those phrases for you. <b></p> <p></b><i>iStone is available for: iOS devices</i></p> <p><img width="605" height="303" src="" alt="" /></p> <h3>And Enjoying Great Meals</h3> <p>For many travelers, eating is a (or<i> the</i>) main attraction. <a href="">Zagat</a> can help traveling foodies find the places that&rsquo;ll satisfy their palates.&nbsp;It lets you browse restaurants and get recommendations for where to eat anywhere and everywhere, even without reception. </p> <p><i>Zagat is available for: iOS and Android devices</i></p> <h3>For Exchanging Money</h3> <p>One of my favorite parts of traveling is shopping, but being frugal while using a foreign currency can be tricky. The <a href="">XE Currency App</a> is the pick of the litter when it comes to converting major currencies quickly and easily. Keep this one on hand to make sure you always know how much you&rsquo;re paying &mdash; and whether it&rsquo;s a fair price for what you&rsquo;re getting.</p> <p><i>Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices</i></p> <p><i><img width="605" height="303" alt="" src="" /></i></p> <h3>For Saving All Those Memories</h3> <p>Travel photos have always been a way to preserve the memories you&rsquo;ve made on your trip, but thanks to apps, you can also share your adventures with friends and family in real time. There are literally hundreds of photo apps out there, but <a href="">Instagram</a> is an old classic that many travelers still recommend. It allows you take pictures or videos, add cool filters and instantly post photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more. It&rsquo;s simple, it&rsquo;s free and it&rsquo;ll ensure that your pictures are safe and sound, even if your device is lost or broken.</p> <p><i>Available for: iOS and Android devices</i></p> <p><b>Bon Voyage!</b> (<b>&iexcl;Buen Viaje!</b> <b>Yāt Louh Seuhn Fùng ....)</b><br /> Travel apps can help you add more pleasure to your trip while removing many of the most annoying hassles. Sure, you could travel without them, but, really, why would you?</p> <p><b><i>Got a favorite travel app of your own? Share it in the comments below.</i></b></p> <p><i>Sponsored by Skype &mdash; Use&nbsp;</i><a href=""><i>Skype Credit</i></a><i>&nbsp;to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.</i></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Never Leave Home Without These 10 Essential Travel Apps" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel Skype Credit Tue, 01 Apr 2014 10:48:22 +0000 Tara Struyk 1133411 at When Should You Get a Vacation Rental Instead of a Hotel? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-should-you-get-a-vacation-rental-instead-of-a-hotel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="woman with luggage" title="woman with luggage" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation rentals &mdash; that is, rooms, apartments, and houses that can be rented in lieu of hotels&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 1.5;">&mdash;&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">started out as a little secret that only hardcore travelers shared. But since Airbnb's inception in 2007, the use of vacation rentals has grown a lot and become quite mainstream. In 2013 alone, travelers booked </span><a style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;" href="">6 million stays on Airbn</a><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">b. Other vacation rental companies have appeared in the past few years, although they're not nearly as popular as Airbnb. (See also: </span><a style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;" href="">Marketing Your Extra Space as a Vacation Rental</a><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">)</span></p> <p>No doubt some of Airbnb's success is due to its clever marketing campaigns. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, Airbnb used Twitter to reach out to high-profile <a href="">journalists who complained about their hotels</a>. During the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, Airbnb again used Twitter <a href="">to reward festival-goers with gifts</a> like Whole Foods gift cards and Airbnb credit.</p> <p>For me, the notion of sharing a space with a local individual is appealing. It's definitely a different experience compared to the usual dealings with nameless, faceless hotel chains.</p> <p>But even I will admit that vacation rentals are not for everyone. While staying at a vacation rental has its advantages, it also involves a lot more work than a hotel stay.</p> <h2>Vacation Rental Pros</h2> <p>Before we look at the cons, however, let's look at several reasons why vacation rentals are so popular.</p> <h3>Variety</h3> <p>AirBnB has everything from spare rooms in downtown Montreal to sprawling villas with private swimming pools in Bali. There are even castles, boathouses, and treehouses. No matter what your budget is, there is a vacation rental for you.</p> <h3>Nightly Rates</h3> <p>Speaking of budget, the rates of vacation rentals are often dramatically lower than hotel rates. These rates vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you rent, though, so do check hotel rates as well before you book.</p> <h3>Long-Term Stays</h3> <p>If your stay will be longer than just a couple of nights, you could enjoy even cheaper accommodation. Some hosts have competitive weekly and monthly rates that could help lower the cost of your long trip. (See also: <a href="">How to Land the Perfect House-Sitting Gig</a>)</p> <h3>Use of a Kitchen</h3> <p>Unlike hotels, many vacation rentals have kitchens, which should save you some money if you don't mind cooking during your trip. I once rented a spare room in a house where the kitchen even had a free-for-all shelf full of unopened cans of tomato sauce, pancake mix, bananas, and other random foodstuff left behind by previous guests.</p> <h3>Local Experience</h3> <p>When you stay at a vacation rental, you live in a local home and have local neighbors. It's a different experience from staying at a hotel, where you're always aware that you're just a visitor. (See also: <a href="">How to Live Like a Local While Traveling</a>)</p> <h3>The Host</h3> <p>The best vacation rental hosts are friendly, generous, and knowledgeable. They give you valuable local advice that often enriches the itinerary, ask you to come along on their weekend outings, and even offer to cook you dinner. When you're alone in a strange city, great hosts can make you feel like you belong there.</p> <h2>Vacation Rental Cons</h2> <p>Before you book a room in someone else's house, consider some of the downsides of the vacation rental experience.</p> <h3>The Host</h3> <p>You may not wind up staying with the nice people described above who are happy to cook a meal for you. You could end up with a grumpy host who just wants to make an easy buck. This would be quite annoying if you were to rent a bedroom and share the house with him, but shouldn't be a big problem if you rent a standalone property like an entire apartment unit or house.</p> <h3>Booking</h3> <p>In theory, it's easy to make a vacation rental booking. You're supposed to check for the property's availability on the website, contact the host, and book once you get a positive reply.</p> <p>In practice, it's not always that simple. Maybe the host doesn't update the online availability and his family happens to be visiting on the same weekend as your trip? Or maybe the host is not active enough on the website to reply promptly to your message, leaving you hanging for two whole weeks?</p> <p>To improve your chances, you can start looking well in advance, choose experienced hosts with lots of good reviews, and contact multiple hosts at once. But even if you do everything right, this whole process might take more time than you like.</p> <h3>Amenities</h3> <p>Some things are always available even at the humblest motel. A coffee maker, for example, or a hair dryer.</p> <p>With a vacation rental, you can't assume that such amenities will be available. You're renting someone else's home, after all, and that person may not be a coffee person.</p> <p>Before you book, read the online listing carefully to check if the host mentions the amenities you need. If not, ask the host through the website's messaging system, being as specific as possible with your question.</p> <h3>Safety</h3> <p>Staying at a vacation rental means that you'll be sharing the space with a stranger or at least living in a space to which a stranger has easy access. Vacation rental websites try to verify identities and make it as safe as possible for everyone involved, but there could be one bad host who slips through the cracks.</p> <p>Always check the host's reviews before you book. It won't guarantee a good stay, but a host with 10 positive reviews is a safer bet than a new host with no review. (See also: <a href="">11 Tips for Hotel Safety</a>)</p> <h2>Bottom Line</h2> <p>Rent a vacation rental instead of a room in a hotel if the following apply to you and your vacation plans:</p> <ul> <li>You don't mind spending more time on the booking process.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You like the idea of living like a local.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You want to spend less on accommodations &mdash; compare the vacation rental prices with hotel prices before you book.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You need a bigger, private space &mdash; book an entire apartment or house.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You like to meet locals and get their insight into ways to explore their city.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you stayed at a vacation rental? What was your experience like?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="When Should You Get a Vacation Rental Instead of a Hotel?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Deia B</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel accommodation AirBnb hotel micro-subletting vacation rental Tue, 01 Apr 2014 09:24:20 +0000 Deia B 1133958 at 9 Things You Must Do If You're Traveling With Kids <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-things-you-must-do-if-youre-traveling-with-kids" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family travel" title="family travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When we're planning family vacations, we envision leisurely days spent at the beach or exploring new cities with our angelic children at our sides. We often overlook the realities of prospective trips: long car rides, delayed planes, missed connections, and cranky children. Fortunately, there are simple steps to take your vacation from stressful to stress-free. Here are nine things to do before your next family vacation. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Family Vacations</a>)</p> <h2>1. Buy Travel Insurance</h2> <p>I was skeptical about travel insurance the first time I looked into it, but I'm fairly risk-averse, and I quickly realized it was a good investment for my family. Travel insurance can cover cancelled trips, medical emergencies, evacuation, and even lost luggage. I'd recommend it for any trip of a week or more that involves flying (especially international trips) as when you have kids, you never know if one will get so ill you can't travel. My favorite site is <a href="">SquareMouth</a> for travel insurance quote comparisons from various companies. Before you buy though, check to see if any of your <a href="">travel credit cards</a> include coverage.</p> <h2>2. Schedule Flights Around Naptime</h2> <p>If your kids <a href="">still nap</a>, be sure to keep naptime in mind when booking any airline tickets. If I'm taking a flight that's at least two hours, I look for one that overlaps with my son's naptime. That way he sleeps on the plane and is well-rested when we arrive. Even if the naptime tickets are a bit more expensive, it may be worth spending a little more to keep your kid from screaming on the plane. Consider it an investment in your sanity (and that of your fellow travelers).</p> <h2>3. Allow Adequate Time for Layovers</h2> <p>When I'm traveling with kids, I would much rather have a two-hour layover than a 45-minute layover. Especially if your first plane is late, rushing through the airport with kids in tow is stressful and sometimes impossible. Opt for a longer layover around a meal time so you're not rushed and everyone is well-fed when you board flight number two. (See also: <a href="">How to Get Through the Airport Faster</a>)</p> <h2>4. Call the Hotel Before You Leave</h2> <p>Do you need a portable crib or extra bed in your room? Call the hotel a week or so before your trip and tell them what you need. It might even be worth following up the day before you leave to confirm your room will be ready. I once had to wait until well past my son's bedtime for a crib to arrive, even though I'd reserved one when I booked the room. Remember, if you wait until check-in to make requests, they may not have any cribs available.</p> <h2>5. Bring Food. Lots of Food.</h2> <p>Whether you're traveling by plane, train, or automobile, pack plenty of snacks for everyone on the trip. There's nothing worse than searching for a restaurant at a road stop or in a crowded airport with hungry, irritable kids. (Don't forget snacks for mom and dad &mdash; cranky parents aren't fun, either.) Also, remember your <a href="">water bottle</a> to wash down the salty pretzels. (See also: <a href="">15 Cheap and Easy Travel Snacks</a>)</p> <h2>6. Pack a Comfort Object</h2> <p>Whether your child is 12 months or 12 years old, be sure to throw your kid's lovey, favorite book, or video game into the suitcase, even if your destination will have plenty of activities. A reminder of home can help little ones feel comfortable in a new place.</p> <h2>7. Plan for Entertainment</h2> <p>Regardless of your kids' ages, you'll need to think creatively about how to keep them entertained, especially on longer trips. For younger kids, new toys and games can do the trick.</p> <p>In addition to watching movies or playing with their phones, older kids on trips might be persuaded to put down their devices for a book like <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=1426309333&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas</a>. Or find some other creative ways to <a href="">keep kids entertained</a> on the road.</p> <h2>8. Be Realistic on Road Trips</h2> <p>A road trip that took seven hours back in your kid-free days may take nine or ten hours <a href="">with little ones in tow</a>. Remember you'll need to stop for diaper changes, bathroom breaks, meals, and time for running around to get energy out. Be realistic when you plan your trip so you don't get stressed out when you fall behind schedule. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Road Trips</a>)</p> <h2>9. Book the Right Kind of Accommodation</h2> <p>Consider all of your accommodation options when you're planning your trip. Websites like <a href="">Airbnb</a> can help you find apartments for short-term rentals around the world. If you're an adventurous family, camping is an economical and fun option. Many hotels also have suites with kitchenettes, which might be a better fit for your family. Think about what's important to you &mdash; a place to cook, free breakfast, a pool, proximity to entertainment &mdash; before you book. The right kind of accommodation can make or break a trip.</p> <p>Traveling with kids is always an adventure and, odds are, not everything will go according to plan. But there are plenty of steps you can take before your next family vacation to make it less stressful and more fun for everyone.</p> <p><em>What do you do to make traveling with kids fun for the whole family?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="9 Things You Must Do If You&#039;re Traveling With Kids" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Elizabeth Lang</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel children and travel flying with kids travel with kids Tue, 01 Apr 2014 08:36:17 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 1133536 at A Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-beginners-guide-to-miles-and-points" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="family vacation" title="family vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you think that racking up enough airline miles, hotel points, and credit card rewards to travel around the world at dramatically reduced prices is a treat reserved for full-time road warriors and the wealthy, you would be wrong. (See also: <a href="">Secrets From Frugal Frequent Travelers</a>)</p> <p>Traveling the world on reward points is for middle class working families, retirees, stay-at-home moms, leisure travelers, and lots of people in between. In other words, a world of very affordable, luxurious, and attainable travel is waiting for folks like you and me!</p> <p>I know this because I have been traveling with my family using miles and points for years. Sometimes it is in first class lie-flat beds across the Atlantic, sometimes it is in five star hotel suites, and sometimes it is more budget carriers like Southwest or Spirit Airlines, but it can all be done using miles and points that can be earned doing everyday things.</p> <p>The world of miles and points can seem a bit overwhelming at first given all of the earning and redemption options, but don't let that stop you from getting started. I'll help you break down a few easy and straightforward steps to your new hobby that can literally put the world at your feet.</p> <h2>1. Think About Your Travel Goals</h2> <p>Any good endeavor starts with a good goal, so think about where you would travel if money weren't holding you back. This may be taking the family to Disney World, taking your spouse to Hawaii, or heading by train across Europe. There are no limits to where miles and points can take you, so dream big. It will be much easier to know what type of miles or points to earn in the beginning, if they are being earned with a specific trip in mind. Plan your future dream vacation, and see it manifest. (See also: <a href="">Frugal Family Vacations</a>)</p> <h2>2. Research Your Dream Destination</h2> <p>In order to know what type of hotel points or airline miles to earn at the beginning, you need to know which type will help you get where you want to be. Find out what hotels and airlines serve the city (or cities) you want to visit, and then see which ones look like they would be your top choices. If you aren't sure where to start, <a href=""></a> is a great resource to discover the basics.</p> <p>While you can use some types of credit card points essentially as cash to pay for any type of travel expense you want, it can be easiest to begin your miles and points journey by looking at chain hotels like Hyatt, <a href="">Starwood</a>, or IHG Rewards since you will have the most points earning opportunities to get &quot;free&quot; nights at those types of hotels.</p> <h2>3. Check Your Credit Score and Review Credit Reports</h2> <p>Now that you have narrowed down where you want to go, it is time to get down to business.</p> <p>There's no denying the fact that the quickest and easiest way to rack up tons of miles and points is by obtaining <a href="">rewards credit cards</a>.</p> <p>This is something that I do in moderation, and it has been insanely lucrative for my family. However, before you decide if that route is for you, it is important to get a handle on your credit situation.</p> <p>You can obtain one free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus annually from <a href=""></a>. I also strongly recommend getting an idea about the range into which your credit score falls. You can get an estimate of your score free from sites like <a href="">Credit Karma</a> or <a href="">Credit Sesame</a>. There is no &quot;magic number,&quot; but if your credit score isn't at least 700, I would not recommend applying for rewards credit cards until you can bring your credit score up. (See also: <a href="">How to Rebuild Your Credit</a>)</p> <h2>4. Apply for a Good Rewards Credit Card (or Two)</h2> <p>After you determine that your credit score is good, then consider applying for a good rewards earning credit card&hellip;or two.</p> <p>There are dozens and dozens of rewards credit cards out there, and the best ones for you will depend on your travel goals. For example, if you are going somewhere that is served by United and has a Hyatt hotel that you want to stay at, then it makes sense to focus on getting the cards that will give you those types of points. This is where having well defined travel goals can help define how to get started in your points journey.</p> <p>There won't be one best card for everyone, but some that are often good for beginners include the <a href="">Chase Sapphire Preferred</a> that earns Ultimate Reward points that can transfer 1:1 to programs such as United, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, Southwest, British Airways, Marriott, and others.</p> <p>Chase Sapphire Preferred is usually my first recommendation for beginners, but other solid cards to start with include <a href="">Starwood Preferred Guest Amex</a>, <a href="">Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard</a>, and <a href="">Citi AAdvantage American Airlines card</a>. It is very possible to get $500 to $1000 worth of &quot;free&quot; travel from each of these in the form of sign-up bonuses.</p> <p>Keep in mind that there is usually a minimum spending requirement in order to get the sign-up bonus, so don't bite off more than you can chew. Go slow and focus on the sign-up bonuses that will get you the closest to your travel goals, or beyond. (See also: <a href="">5 Great Travel Rewards Cards</a>)</p> <h2>5. Shift Your Everyday Spending to Your Rewards Cards</h2> <p>The more you use your rewards credit cards, the more points you will earn.</p> <p>We have charged everything from car insurance, to daycare, to groceries, to doctor's bills, to gasoline, and more on our rewards credit cards. The result is that we earn a large number of miles and points each year for things we were going to have to pay for anyway.</p> <p>Once you get a bit more experienced, you can focus on utilizing cards that pay out a bonus in certain categories. For example, the <a href="">Chase Sapphire Preferred</a> pays out 2x points on dining charges, so we make sure to use that card when we eat out or hit the drive thru line on the way home.</p> <h2>6. Redeem Your Points for an Amazing Trip!</h2> <p>The miles and points you earn are only as valuable as what you redeem them for, so when you have enough for your first &quot;dream trip,&quot; use them!</p> <p>With many types of miles and points, you will have the greatest success if you start looking for award availability early and have some flexibility with your dates. Not all types of points require you to have flexibility, but with many programs that does help. Various sites, including my own blog, <a href=""></a>, aim to help you learn about some tips and tricks for how to earn and redeem over time. But to start with don't worry about getting the best redemption ever, just work on getting the trip you are after!</p> <p><em>Have you used travel rewards points for a family vacation? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="A Beginner&#039;s Guide to Miles and Points" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Summer Hull</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Credit Cards Travel family vacation rewards travel points Fri, 28 Mar 2014 09:48:17 +0000 Summer Hull 1133375 at