cheap travel en-US The Guide to Staying at Hostels for People Over 30 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-guide-to-staying-at-hostels-for-people-over-30" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="hostel" title="hostel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>While the term &quot;hostel&quot; seems synonymous with youth culture and student backpacking trips, I've met people of all ages and professions while staying in hostels. What many adult travelers don't realize is that hostels are great for business people, retirees, and even family vacationers who just want a clean bed to sleep in and a safe place to stash their luggage while they explore a new city.</p> <p>Most hostels I've stayed in throughout Europe cost anywhere from $40 to $70 per night, far less than hotels in the same cities. While I've met a huge array of people from all walks of life in hostels, I've found that people who prefer to stay in hostels are united by a minimalist travel philosophy more than anything else. I've met European aristocrats who stay in hostels because they don't see the value in paying for a hotel room that they will basically use as storage for their laptop computers and spare underpants. It's not just about stretching a Euro. It's about a type of travel experience that puts human interaction over privacy. (See also: <a href="">5 Reasons to Travel Off the Beaten Path</a>)</p> <p>If I could only give one piece of advice about staying in hostels as an adult it's this: <a href="">Read the online reviews</a> before you make reservations. Reading online reviews is the best way to avoid experiencing what my sister and I refer to as Wong Family Travel Blunders. And by blunder I mean our parents accidentally booking us into a Panamanian brothel for a family vacation. (In my parent's defense, the brothel's beachfront view was spectacular.)</p> <h2>Hostelling International</h2> <p>Official hostels are part of a huge network of hostels that operate under the umbrella of <a href="">Hostelling International</a>. HI requires a <a href="">membership</a>, which is basically just a card that costs $28 per year and gives you discounts and benefits such as currency exchange and free email access during your stay. If you don't think you'll be staying at least six nights a year in HI hostels, then you can stay at most official hostels for an additional $5 per night, and save a little money by not buying a membership. There's really no risk in not signing up for a membership in advance, as after six nights, HI will give you a membership. If you decide to pay as you go, make sure you pick up a &quot;guest card&quot; at your first HI hostel and get it stamped each day, so you can prove you've stayed the required six night minimum for membership.</p> <p>Although HI Hostels have to maintain safety and cleanliness standards to stay in the network (which is comforting) some official hostels still have curfews, daytime lock-out, limited check-in times, and other old-fashioned rules that are annoying to contend with as an adult business traveler who is arriving on the 3 a.m. train and doesn't want to wander the city streets until dawn.</p> <h2>Independent Hostels</h2> <p>Independent hostels are becoming more commonplace. Independent hostels are not part of the Hostelling International network and don't require a membership card. The benefit of independent hostels is flexibility; they don't have to conform to the rules and bureaucracy of Hostelling International. The drawback of independent hostels is that they don't have to conform to the rules of Hostelling International in terms of cleanliness. Also, while HI Hostels have gender-segregated dormitories, some independent hostels only have mixed-gender dorms and apartments.</p> <p>For women travelers who do not feel comfortable sharing communal space with men (or just want a make-up mirror and hairdryer in the bathroom) there are hostels that <a href="">cater to women</a> who are traveling solo.</p> <p>While there are <a href="">some</a> independent hostels that rival boutique hotels in terms of their charm, a lot of flea-bag hotels have started listing themselves online as hostels, since &quot;hostel&quot; apparently sounds more appealing than &quot;flop-house&quot; or &quot;roach motel.&quot; (Do your research or risk staying in brothel.)</p> <p>Although hostels supply guests with clean sheets and towels, you will have to supply your own soap and shampoo. While I don't enjoy schlepping extra toiletries with me when I travel, most hostels more than make up for this minor inconvenience by providing cheap or free Internet access and other money saving perks.</p> <h2>Book Early</h2> <p>Obviously, the best-reviewed hostels fill up early, especially during high tourism events like Oktoberfest and Carnivale. Make reservations early to ensure you'll have a place to sleep that fits your needs.</p> <p>Pro Tip: Call the hostel directly!</p> <p>Hostels, like hotels will usually hold a few beds for drop-ins, or don't update the online booking service when someone cancels a reservation. Even if the online booking service says there are no beds, it never hurts to double-check.</p> <p>Also, if you like a specific hostel, quiz the owner or manager for leads on other great hostels. I've been able to daisy-chain incredible vacation accommodations with no advance planning by asking my current hostel staff to reserve me a bed in my next destination city.</p> <h2>Co-Habitating with Kids</h2> <p>While I am usually twice the age of most of my hostel bunkmates, at age 44, I am rarely the oldest person at a hostel. In fact, Hostelling International offers a reduced membership rate for people over 55, which make hostels a great deal for senior travelers.</p> <p>Personally, I enjoy the company of Kids These Days, and likewise, exploring new places with people who are still full of vim and optimism about life. As a business traveler, sharing communal space with young adults is often a welcome respite after spending the day with grown-ups who view business travel as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity have fun.</p> <p>That said, I value my sleep, and make a point of avoiding hostels that have glowing reviews about their 24/7 <a href="">party atmosphere</a>. As a night owl, I hate lock-out curfews. They are infantilizing and cramp my late night snack schedule. As an old person who went to college, I love lock-out curfews because they force my bunkmates who are hardcore, binge-drinkers to spend the night barfing in the street and not in our shared shower.</p> <p>On a side note, because most car rental companies will not rent a car to anyone under 25 years of age, hostels in rural or suburban areas outside of the city center and beyond the reach of public transportation, usually cater to older people by default.</p> <h2>Consider Communal Spaces</h2> <p>While the classic hostel experience is sleeping in a twin bed, in a dormitory, and storing your luggage in a locker, many hostels offer private rooms or apartments with shared or private bathrooms. Sharing a private room in a hostel is a great way for couples to enjoy a romantic getaway on the cheap. Families can get a huge break on travel costs by sharing a suite or apartment.</p> <p>Hostels with communal kitchens can make a pricey vacation affordable. When I travel I eat the free morning meal that the hostel provides (which can be anything from a cup of coffee and a cookie to a huge buffet), and at night I make a simple meal of bread, cheese and fruit in the communal kitchen. Eating in the hostel for two meals allows me to blow my food budget on extravagant and memorable lunches.</p> <p>While I can count on one hand the number of bad shared bathroom experiences I've had in my life, take some precautions: Wear flip flops in the shower to avoid getting fungal infections and wake up extra early if you have an important morning meeting &mdash; you might have to wait in line for the shower. Also, if you are sharing one toilet with a number of strangers, be strategic about using it. Don't be the lady who pees in the sink of the communal kitchen because she waited until the last minute to go.</p> <p><em>Frugal travelers, please share the name of your favorite hostel, or your best hostel tip in the comments below!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Guide to Staying at Hostels for People Over 30" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Max Wong</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel cheap travel frugal travel hostels hotels lodging Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:29 +0000 Max Wong 1162783 at 15 Ways to Save the Most During a Hawaii Vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-ways-to-save-the-most-during-a-hawaii-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="surfing" title="surfing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Hawaii is a magical place that draws people from around the world.</p> <p>Nearly 8 million visitors came to the Hawaiian Islands in 2012, with close to 5 million from the U.S. alone! As more and more people visit, there are more and more hospitality businesses offering their services to travelers. Which means sometimes just getting started can be overwhelming, not to mention costly. (See also: <a href="">For Amazing Affordable Vacations, Travel Slowly</a>)</p> <p>To help you save the most in your next Hawaii vacation, here are the top 15 tips from a Hawaii resident.</p> <h2>Think Beyond Resorts</h2> <p>If you restrict yourself to resorts, you're imposing a major &quot;beach tax&quot; upon yourself.</p> <h3>1. Explore Other Hospitality Search Engines</h3> <p>Research shows that hotels have a <a href="">financial incentive to rig the reviews from sites</a>, such as <a href=""></a> and <a href=""></a>. By increasing a single point on TripAdvisor's five-point scale, a hotel could <a href="">increase its price by 11.2%</a> and still maintain the same occupancy. This means that you end up paying an extra premium.</p> <p>Here are some cheaper options to consider:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Airbnb</a>: Just for Honolulu, the site offers over 1,000 possible accommodations. A great advantage of Airbnb is that hosts often are willing to act as your guide, provide complimentary parking (most places charge for this!), and give freebies.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><a href=""></a>: Young travelers (and young at heart!) may enjoy the option to interact with travelers from all over the world, while saving a buck. This directory includes hostels, such as <a href="">Hilo Bay Hostel</a>, <a href="">Banana Bungalow Maui Hostel</a>, and <a href="">Kauai Beach House</a>. Read the fine print and verify that you qualify for a stay before booking.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bed and Breakfast: There are several B&amp;B's across the Hawaiian Islands, however these smaller operations cannot afford to advertise as much as others. Start your search for the perfect B&amp;B with directories, such as <a href=""></a>, and the <a href="">B&amp;B Hawaii Island Association</a>.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Tip</strong>: Clear your browser cookies every single time that you visit any hotel booking engine, so that prices don't &quot;suddenly&quot; start going up, forcing you to book ASAP.</p> <h3>2. Dine, Shop, and Use Services Outside Resort Areas</h3> <p>Don't do this:</p> <ul> <li>Chowing on a burger at Aulani Disney Resorts costs you a cool $21, and that's before tax and tip, and parking (sorry, Mickey doesn't give parking validations).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Learning to surf right on Waikiki with starts at $60 per hour (with a group) and goes up to $110 per hour (with a private instructor).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Renting a snorkel set from a hotel is a double whammy: a poor fit that diminishes your enjoyment and a $12-$20 hit every rental.</li> </ul> <p>Do this instead:</p> <ul> <li>Eat a Flintstones-sized burger at local chains, such as <a href="">Kua Aina Burger</a> or <a href="">Teddy's Bigger Burgers</a>, starting at $5.99.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Rent a surfboard at local businesses outside the Waikiki area, such as <a href="">Blue Planet</a>, for about $19 for a whole day or $149 for a whole month.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Invest in a new snorkel set that fits you well at a local Walmart or Costco. In just two dives you'll make your money back, have a great experience, and may even be able to return the gear.</li> </ul> <h2>Enjoy Free Activities</h2> <p>The Hawaiian Islands offer unique experiences, and the best part is, many of them are free.</p> <h3>3. Hiking</h3> <p>Hawaii has lots of hiking trails. For example, in the Hawaii Kai area you can find the <a href="">Kuliouou Ridge Trail</a>, the <a href="">Koko Head Steps</a> (a.k.a. Nature's Stairmaster), and the <a href="">Dead Man's Catwalk</a>. Most hiking trails in Hawaii have no admissions fee and provide free street parking.</p> <ul> <li>Explore a <a href="">full listing of hiking trails</a> and select a trail that matches your fitness level.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Bookmark sites that provide visual guides, such as <a href="">Unreal Hawaii</a> and <a href=""></a>, on your smartphone for your reference throughout the hike.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Be prepared and follow the <a href="">hiking safety guidelines</a> from the Department of Land and Natural Resources.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Among the very few trails that charge an admissions fee, the ones that are worth every penny are: <a href="">Diamond Head Crater</a> for its historic importance, and <a href="">Haleakala National Park</a> for its unique landscape.</li> </ul> <h3>4. Surfing</h3> <p>There is plenty of surf around the island. Locals stay on top of the latest surf forecast through the <a href="">Surf News Network</a>. Keep in mind the difference between regular height and Hawaii height of waves. In Hawaii, surf measurements are always in feet and scaled so the actual height on the face is roughly twice what's quoted.</p> <ul> <li>All beaches have public access by law, no one can charge you for surfing on the ocean.</li> <li>Avoid leaving valuables in your car, they are safer at home.</li> <li>Never surf alone in a beach that you've never been before.</li> <li>Oahu is chock full of opportunities to <a href="">catch a wave</a>.</li> <li>Pick a <a href="">surf spot</a> for your skill level; there are spots even for <a href="">beginners</a>.</li> <li>Wear plenty of sunscreen, and a <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;node=2237643011&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=W6HKN4TY7EBXVD4A">rash guard</a> (think wetsuit T-shirt) is always recommended for long sessions.</li> </ul> <h2>Do What Locals Do</h2> <p>When in Hawaii, follow the locals for the most fun and affordable activities.</p> <h3>5. TGIF</h3> <p>Skip the flyers handed to tourists full of overcharged events, and read the TGIF section from the local newspaper, which comes out every Friday and is also <a href="">available online</a>.</p> <h3>6. First Friday and Last Friday</h3> <p>In Oahu, every <a href="">First Friday</a> of the month visit Chinatown (free admission) and every Last Friday, the <a href="">Honolulu Museum of Art</a> ($10 admission)</p> <h3>7. Block Parties</h3> <p>Honolulu offers free-admission block parties or celebrations in the Chinatown and Waikiki areas around the year, some examples are:</p> <ul> <li><a href="">Honolulu Festival</a>: Marvel at the eclectic cultural mix that Hawaii offers.</li> <li><a href="">Waikiki Spam Jam</a>: Celebrating Hawaii's official &quot;meat.&quot;</li> <li><a href="">Lantern Floating Hawaii:</a> Beautiful tradition to remember our loved ones in May.</li> <li><a href="">Halloween's Hallowbaloo</a>: A major block party with costumed partygoers in October.</li> </ul> <h3>8. Important Landmarks</h3> <ul> <li>Visit important landmarks for great photo opportunities, such as the King Kamehameha Statue (both in <a href="">Oahu</a> and <a href="">Big Island</a>), and the <a href="">Duke Kahanamoku Statue</a>.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Invest in visiting the <a href="">Iolani Palace</a>, the only real palace in the entire U.S. (admission starting at $14.75 for adults and $6 for children)</li> </ul> <h3>9. Eat the Street</h3> <p>A family friendly food truck event that takes place on the last Friday of every month in Kakaako. <a href="">Eat the Street Hawaii</a> gathers 40 food trucks and vendors from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. View the <a href="">full calendar of upcoming events</a> and check if one takes place during your visit to Oahu.</p> <h3>10. Yelp Bash</h3> <p>Attention Yelp fans and elites: the local community is very active and has <a href="">several free bashes</a> throughout the year. While the event is by invitation only, it doesn't hurt to submit your RSVP and see if you qualify. RSVP confirmations are usually emailed out 48 hours before the event. The events offer free food, drinks, and entertainment. Plus, you have the chance to meet new local friends during your stay.</p> <h2>Avoid Big Fines</h2> <p>While local culture has a pretty relaxed attitude, Hawaii still has laws that everybody needs to follow. If you don't, then be ready to pay up.</p> <h3>11. Don't Use Cell Phone While Driving</h3> <p>Using your cellphone while driving is fined with $207, and $307 in school or construction zones.</p> <h3>12. Respect Local Animals</h3> <p>Hawaii offers great opportunities to spot beautiful wildlife. For example, in Oahu you can get close to green sea turtles in the North Shore's Laniakea Beach and to dolphins out in the ocean in Waikiki. However, you need to keep your distance and observe the <a href="">suggested viewing guidelines</a>. If not, then there are fines for <a href="">disturbing animals in Hawaii</a>, ranging from $500 all the way up to $100,000.</p> <h3>13. Use Your Seatbelt</h3> <p><a href="">Click it or ticket</a>! If you don't and are caught, then you can be fined $102 on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii, and $112 on Kauai. Repeat offenders may get additional fines up to $500 and be required to take a four-hour class.</p> <h3>14. No Jaywalking</h3> <p>Be careful when crossing the street and wait until you have the right of way. In Honolulu, the top two spots that tourists get fined for jaywalking are Waikiki and Chinatown. The fine for not using the crosswalk or <a href="">ignoring the &quot;don't walk&quot; sign is $130</a>.</p> <h3>15. Agricultural Inspection</h3> <p>And before you leave back to the mainland, don't forget to let airport staff do the <a href="">agricultural inspection</a> for all your checked-in baggage bound. Otherwise, you may get a fine.</p> <p><em>How do you save during your Hawaii vacation?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Ways to Save the Most During a Hawaii Vacation " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Damian Davila</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel cheap travel free events hawaii vacation Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1161525 at $20 in Baltimore: The 20 Best Ways to Spend It <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-in-baltimore-the-20-best-ways-to-spend-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="baltimore" title="baltimore" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Baltimore isn't exactly a destination city, but if you find yourself in the area, you can be sure that you'll be anything but bored. From relaxing rides on a water taxi to checking out John Waters' old haunts, Charm City has a little something for everyone at an affordable price. Check out these 20 things to do for $20 or less. (See also: <a href="">$20 in New York City</a>)</p> <h2>1. Ride the Water Taxi Around the Harbor</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src=" " alt="" /></p> <p>For just $7 one way you can board the <a href="">Baltimore Water Taxi</a>, which will take you on a relaxing ride around the famed Inner Harbor en route to local landmarks. You'll see the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center, and Fort McHenry, and travel to nearby neighborhoods like Fells Point and Canton. You can hop off at any of the taxi's 17 stops, but you'll have to buy another ticket if you plan to ride it back. Savvy spenders, however, will buy the $12 all-day pass that allows you to hop on and off as much as you'd like.</p> <h2>2. Picnic at Fort McHenry</h2> <p><img width="605" height="338" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="">Fort McHenry</a>, a coastal star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812, is a great place to brush up on your history (there's more to this national monument and historic shrine than being the birthplace of our National Anthem) and remember those who fought for our freedom all those years ago. Make a day of it by packing a picnic that you can enjoy along the water's edge. Admission is $7, and the pass is valid for seven days.</p> <h2>3. Enjoy the Scenery at the Walters Art Museum</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Home to thousands of artworks from around the world, <a href="">The Walters Art Museum</a> was founded in 1934 and still remains one of the most popular attractions in Baltimore. Perhaps that's because admission is free, but the museum also is well known for its permanent collection of ancient, medieval, Asian, and Islamic art. The limited-time exhibitions are worth popping into, but those require a fee.</p> <h2>4. Settle In for a Double or Triple Feature at the Local Drive-In</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Hands down, spending an evening at <a href="">Bengies Drive-In Theatre</a> (located about 20 minutes from the downtown area) is one of my favorite activities in the area &mdash; and you can't beat the deal. For an admission price of around $8 (prices vary according to the website), you can watch two or three first-run movies back-to-back starting at dusk. It's a fail-proof date night; trust me. There's also a concession center where you can stock up on all your favorite movie munchies, or you can bring in your own goodies if you buy a $10 food and drink permit. Bring pillows, blankets, and bug spray to make the experience all the more comfortable.</p> <h2>5. Play a Game of Disc Golf at Druid Hill Park</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="">Druid Hill Park</a>, which is situated adjacent to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, features 745 lush acres of playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts, and public pavilions, among many other recreational areas. One of the most interesting activities the park offers is disc golf, which is played like golf on an 18-hole course with a Frisbee replacing the ball (and clubs and snootiness). Get a group together for a little friendly competition.</p> <h2>6. Visit the Animals at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you're an animal lover, you'll enjoy <a href="">the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore</a>, home to a wide array of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and more. Among the most popular attractions is Polar Beach Watch, an exhibit about life on the edge of the Arctic. You'll use most of your $20 budget on admission &mdash; it's $17.50 &mdash; so you might want to pack your lunch.</p> <h2>7. Visit the Graves of Historic Figures</h2> <p><img width="605" height="339" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Plenty of famous (and infamous) people have lived and died in Baltimore. Thus, if you enjoy delving into the macabre every now and then, plan a visit to a local cemetery &mdash; like <a href="">Green Mount Cemetery</a> &mdash; where you can visit the graves of Betsy Bonaparte, John Wilkes Booth, and a large number of the state's politicians and servicemen.</p> <h2>8. Try Your Luck at LGBT Bingo</h2> <p>For $20 exactly you'll receive a book that will allow you to play <a href="">LGBT bingo at the Hippo</a> for several hours every Wednesday night. Though the price is hefty, your investment could pay off in cash prizes or the progressive jackpot.</p> <h2>9. Experience Cinema in a Beautiful Setting</h2> <p>For the low, low price of just $6, you can <a href="">catch a movie at the Rotunda</a>, a favorite local landmark. And since you saved so much on admission, you can splurge at the concession stand.</p> <h2>10. Get Inspired at the American Visionary Art Museum</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If your idea of great art includes mirror mosaics and paper mache statues, the <a href="">American Visionary Art Museum</a> is right up your alley. There's lots to enjoy here &mdash; inside and out &mdash; and it'll only set you back $15.95. Show your student ID, however, and you can gain entry for $9.95.</p> <h2>11. Have Lunch at the Famous Lexington Market</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Opened in 1782, <a href=""> the World Famous Lexington Market</a> is one of the longest-running markets in the world and a true Baltimore icon. Inside you'll find a plethora of shops, but it's the food that keeps the crowds coming. If you want to eat like a local, order an all-lump crab cake ($12.95) for which Faidley Seafood is renowned; snag a bag of fresh Utz potato chips; and satisfy your sweet tooth with a Berger Cookie, a shortbread delicacy topped with a thick layer of chocolate fudge.</p> <h2>12. Say Your Prayers at the First Metropolitan Cathedral Built in the U.S.</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you have an urge to get closer to God during your trip, pop into the <a href="">Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary</a> &mdash; billed as America's first cathedral &mdash; for a few moments of peace. While you're there, look around to discover neo-classical architecture, a 17th century organ, artwork, and more.</p> <h2>13. Show Your Team Spirit at a Baltimore Orioles Game</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>If you don't mind nosebleed seats, you can watch the Baltimore Orioles take on a rival team from April to October for under $20 &mdash; sometimes less than $10, even. Food and drinks inside the park will add up quickly, so I recommend grabbing your hot dog, peanuts, and drinks from a street vendor and taking them inside. Luckily, Camden Yards allows outside food and beverages.</p> <h2>14. Put On Your Dancing Shoes for Free Salsa Lessons</h2> <p>If you feel like cutting a rug &mdash; and learning a few new steps along the way &mdash; stop by Talara Restaurant for <a href="">free salsa lessons from 9 to 9:30 p.m.</a> with open dancing from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.</p> <h2>15. Test Your Knowledge at Bar Trivia in Federal Hill</h2> <p>Another one of my personal favorite activities, bar trivia in Baltimore will test your knowledge in a wide range of categories. You'll vie for prizes like free shots and money toward your tab all while kickin' back with friends and learning something new. It's free to play, and there are <a href="">plenty of locations from which to choose</a>, courtesy of Charm City Trivia.</p> <h2>16. Cool Off On a Hot Day at the Walter Sondheim Fountain</h2> <p>Weather too hot to handle? Visit Baltimore in July or August, and it may be. Don't get me started on the humidity. Yeesh! Thankfully, there's a free way to cool down with the public <a href="">Walter Sondheim Fountain</a>. All you have to do is slip on your swimsuit and act like a kid again.</p> <h2>17. Exercise Your Dog in Patterson Park</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Spend some quality time with your pooch at the <a href="">Patterson Dog Park</a>, a fenced-in off-leash park where your furry friend can run and play all day. Afterward, take a walk around the grounds to appreciate its <a href="">storied history</a> that dates back to 1669.</p> <h2>18. Ride Your Bike Through the Gwynns Falls Trails</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p>Hop on your bike and ride along 15 miles of the <a href="">Gwynns Falls Trail</a>, which starts on the Baltimore City/County border. Bring a camera to snap shots of wildlife, like the native Oriole bird.</p> <h2>19. Become a Hon During a Walking Tour of Hampden</h2> <p>Baltimore is known for a lot of things &mdash; crab cakes, snowballs (you MUST find one while you're in town), pit beef, Natty Boh &mdash; but its most characteristic element is the Baltimore accent, which is at its heaviest in the Hampden neighborhood to the north. Famous for its Hon subculture (<a href="">there's even a festival to celebrate it</a>), and its appearance in several John Waters movies, Hampden is a great place to soak up the quirky idiosyncrasies that make Baltimore special.</p> <h2>20. Start Up a Game of Bocce Ball in Little Italy</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" src="" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="">La Scala Ristorante Italiano</a> can put a dent in your wallet if you don't watch yourself, but there are items on the menu that are both filling and affordable. After you've noshed at this Little Italy staple, head to its private bocce ball court, where, if you're lucky, you can start a game with a friend or join a game already in progress.</p> <p><em>Are you from Baltimore? Ever been there? Tell me some of your favorite activities for less than $20 in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="$20 in Baltimore: The 20 Best Ways to Spend It" 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> Travel 20 bucks baltimore cheap entertainment cheap outings cheap travel Tue, 10 Jun 2014 17:00:20 +0000 Mikey Rox 1142083 at How to Get Travel Discounts on Stuff You've Already Booked <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-get-travel-discounts-on-stuff-youve-already-booked" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="couple traveling" title="couple traveling" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Travel booking is a complex game. You spend hours researching and monitoring various websites to get the best deals on flights, hotel reservations, and rental cars. If the price drops after all your hard work, you can feel like all your effort has been wasted. (See also: <a href="">Secrets of Last Minute Travel</a>)</p> <p>Fortunately, there are several tools you can now use to protect yourself from price fluctuations. These tools monitor prices, so you can take advantage of any price drops that happen &mdash; even after you've made a booking.</p> <h2>1. Yapta</h2> <p>With <a href="">Yapta</a>, all you have to do is enter your flight details into the system. This website then tracks the price of your flight and sends you a notification if it drops. You'll have to claim the refund from the party who sold you the airfare, so it will make your life easier if you booked directly with the airline.</p> <p>Your experience of Yapta will depend a lot on which airline you booked because each airline has a different set of re-booking rules. Yapta works with several airlines: Alaska, JetBlue, AirTran, Virgin America, Hawaiian, American, Delta, United, and U.S. Airways. While Alaska and JetBlue will provide full refunds, other airlines charge re-booking fees. All airlines give these refunds in the form of vouchers or credits for future travel.</p> <p>You can choose to get Yapta alerts by email, through its Internet browser add-on, via Twitter messages, or through its iPhone app. No matter which option you choose, this service is free.</p> <h2>2. CheapAir</h2> <p>If you make an airfare booking through <a href="">CheapAir</a>, you can take advantage of its Price Drop Payback feature, which gives you CheapAir credits of up to $100 per ticket if the price goes down. This free price drop protection applies to all airfares booked through the website, but you'll have to do a bit of work to get the refunds.</p> <p>CheapAir will not send you any alert, so you'll have to check the website from time to time after booking the flight. You can sign in at any time before your flight to quickly check the prices on the website. If the airfare has dropped, you can claim the travel credit. But you'll have to be careful; you can only get the Price Drop Payback credit once, even if the price goes down multiple times.</p> <h2>3. TripIt Pro</h2> <p><a href="">TripIt Pro</a> is not just a price drop alert tool; it's a travel organizer with many other features. It manages all your travel bookings, including flights, hotels, car rentals, and many more. You can integrate it with your email accounts to save all booking confirmations in one place. You can even link it to your social media accounts to quickly share your itinerary with your friends.</p> <p>This smartphone app has a flight refund feature that tracks price fluctuations and lets you know if you can claim refunds. TripIt Pro takes into account the airline's re-booking fees, so you'll know exactly how much you can save. You'll have to contact the airline, the booking website, or the travel agent to claim the refunds, however.</p> <p>Besides flight prices, TripIt Pro also tracks seat availability, air miles, delays, and cancellations.</p> <p>TripIt Pro works on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7 smartphones. It costs $49 a year, but you can try if for free for 30 days. As the website says, &quot;a single flight refund can more than pay for the price of TripIt Pro.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Tingo</h2> <p>When you book a hotel room through <a href="">Tingo</a>, the website continues to monitor the hotel rates up until 24 hours before your check-in date. If the price drops, Tingo will re-book your room at the lower price. Every time this happens, you'll get an email with your new booking details.</p> <p>You won't have to do anything or pay any re-booking fees. There's no limit on the refund amount, either. The cash refund will be credited into your credit card after you check out.</p> <p>Just be careful when you make the booking. Tingo only offers the price drop protection for refundable hotel bookings. The website does sell some non-refundable hotel rooms, so read the listings closely and stick with those explicitly marked &quot;Price Drop Refunds.&quot;</p> <h2>5. AutoSlash</h2> <p>You can use the price tracking feature on <a href="">AutoSlash</a> for free even if you booked your car rental elsewhere.</p> <p>In fact, it may even be better if you booked it elsewhere. Many car rental companies don't like that AutoSlash is lowering their profits, so now the website can't display these companies in its search results. In other words, there are few choices available when you initially search for car rentals on AutoSlash. But that doesn't matter much because AutoSlash works hard after you've made the reservation. (See also: <a href="">Save on Your Next Car Rental Without Even Trying Hard</a>)</p> <p>Regardless of where you book, AutoSlash tracks your booking and monitors your options. If AutoSlash can find a cheaper option, it will re-book you at the lower price, applying any relevant coupons and discount codes. AutoSlash continues to do this as many times as it can to lower your rental rates.</p> <p>There are no refunds involved with AutoSlash because you'll only pay for the rental when you pick up the car.</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of these or any other price monitoring services? Please share in comments.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Get Travel Discounts on Stuff You&#039;ve Already Booked" 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> Shopping Travel cheap travel price monitors Thu, 29 May 2014 08:36:24 +0000 Deia B 1140875 at 10 Best Ways to Spend $20 in Chicago <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-best-ways-to-spend-20-in-chicago" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Chicago" title="Chicago" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Despite its Midwestern location, Chicago is not a cheap city; a stroll down the <a href="">Magnificent Mile</a> will make that clear. Still, affordable outings can be had if you know where to look. Here are the 10 most fun, satisfying, or edifying adventures you can have in Chicago for about $20.</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a href="">Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 40,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on every purchase, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <p>And even after you and Andrew Jackson have parted ways, the fun won't be over, because you can still go see <a href="">The Bean</a> in Millennium Park &mdash; it's free. (See also: <a href="">$20 in San Francisco: The Best Ways to Spend It</a>)</p> <h2>1. Laugh Your Face Off</h2> <p>Chicago is justly famous for its sketch comedy troupes, crowned by The Second City. While Second City's <a href="">main revue starts at $23</a>, other hilarious acts at the famed theater go for <a href="">$17 a ticket</a>. Order on the phone and the service fee brings the tab to exactly $20, or walk up to the ticket office and save the extra $3 for a drink.</p> <h2>2. Cry Your Eyes Out</h2> <p>No ballpark in America is more guaranteed to make grown men (and women) cry than Wrigley Field. Whether it's the beauty of the Friendly Confines or the Cubs' heartbreaking knack for blowing leads, this place gets to all of us one way or another. You can spend well over $200 on a seat by the dugout, but you can easily get into the park for under $20. StubHub lists a number of <a href="">Upper Deck seats for $18.50</a> or less, and the box office sells standing room only tickets on game day; at last check these were still well under $20 each.</p> <h2>3. Sink Your Teeth Into Meat</h2> <p>Sink your teeth into some <em>encased</em> meats, that is. Anyone can say they went to Chicago and ate a hot dog, but if you want a real Chicago hot dog experience, you have to line up at <a href="">Hot Doug's Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium</a>, where a new <a href="">wild game sausage is featured each week</a>, and where the dog formerly known as the Shawon Dunston is now called the <a href="">George Mitterwald</a> (it's a chicken sausage on a bun). Two hot dogs, two orders of duck fat fries, and two &quot;pops&quot; (sodas) will run you about $20. (But hurry! Hot Doug's will <a href=",0,7406836.story">close for good</a> in October 2014.)</p> <h2>4. Go for a Swim</h2> <p>A Western newspaper travel editor recently visited Chicago and expressed surprise that the city has beaches. Oh, yah! Chicago has 26 miles of lakefront, and on summer weekends, <a href="">favorite beaches</a> will be crowded from the North Side to the South Side.</p> <p>City beaches don't charge entrance fees, but at some you'll need to pay for parking at meters or in pay lots.</p> <p>If you score free parking, you can save your $20 for umbrella drinks at one of the <a href="">beach bars</a>.</p> <h2>5. Take a Walk</h2> <p>Walking tours with the Chicago Architectural Society run from $10-$31, and you can learn about the Chicago Board of Trade, famed architect Daniel Burnham, and many other topics. <a href="">The Society's boat tours</a> are more renowned, but the only way you can get one of those for $20 is to pair up with a member, who can get the $37.85 tickets two-for-one.</p> <h2>6. Ride a Ferris Wheel</h2> <p>The world's first Ferris wheel <a href="">debuted in Chicago in 1893</a>, but don't worry &mdash; the 150-foot Navy Pier Ferris Wheel is not that old. The views of the city and shoreline from the top are spectacular. For $12, you can ride not only the big wheel but also another Pier attraction, like the <a href="">Wave Swinger</a> &mdash; and still have money left over for Dippin' Dots or Haagen-Dazs.</p> <h2>7. Visit a Museum</h2> <p>You can see <a href="">SUE the T. rex</a> at the Field Museum; <a href="">adult admission is $18</a>. Or venture off the beaten path to the <a href="">International Museum of Surgical Science</a>, where you can view a 500-year-old amputation saw and some of the oldest X-rays ever taken.</p> <h2>8. Drink Scotch</h2> <p>A flight of scotch, that is, at the <a href="">Duke of Perth</a>. You've heard of Irish pubs, but Duke of Perth is a Scottish pub, with 90 varieties of single malt scotch on the shelves. Flights of three different varieties start around $20 and go up &mdash; way up &mdash; from there. Another alternative for your $20 is to take a date to the all-you-can-eat fish fry on Wednesday or Friday, a steal at $10.25 each (Sorry, you'll need to scrounge 50 cents out of your sofa cushions for this one.)</p> <h2>9. Ride the L</h2> <p>Riding the venerable rail system anywhere is a Chicago must, and you can get a three-day unlimited pass for $20.</p> <h2>10. Meet Two Famous Chicagolanders</h2> <p>Two $2.25 one-ride L tickets will get you a trip on the Green Line to Oak Park and back. In this village just outside the city's western border, you can tour <a href="">Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio for $15</a>.</p> <p>Oak Park is also famous as the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway; touring the <a href="">Hemingway birthplace and museum</a> costs $10. Wright's <a href="">Unity Temple</a>, another popular tour, is $15.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite way to spend $20 in Chicago? Please share in comments &mdash; it's free!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Best Ways to Spend $20 in Chicago" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel cheap outings cheap travel chicago Wed, 28 May 2014 09:12:28 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1140736 at 5 Cheap, Amazing, and Undiscovered Vacation Destinations <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-cheap-amazing-and-undiscovered-vacation-destinations" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Tahiti" title="Tahiti" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The world's lesser-known travel destinations have something the Bahamas and central Paris have long lost: authenticity. Luckily, there are still some awe-inspiring locations on the map that have yet to attract the endless lines of tour buses and tacky souvenir peddlers that plague the globe's more popular landing places. (See also: <a href="">11 Vacation Destinations That Stretch a Dollar</a>)</p> <p>Here's a list of five great, off-the-beaten-path vacation destinations that haven't yet lost their local charm. Visit now before these hidden gems go the way of Honolulu and Manhattan &mdash; overrun with camera-slugging tourists and jacked-up prices.</p> <h2>1. Bosnia and Herzegovina</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Lush green landscapes, sky-piercing mountain peaks, and friendly fishing villages along clear blue waters await the rare traveler who ventures to this <a href="">Mediterranean treasureland</a>. While perhaps better known for the bloody conflicts that plagued the region, Bosnia and Herzegovina has since become one of southeastern Europe's best kept secrets for sightseers of all stripes.</p> <p>A trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina is like traveling back in time. The locals here are warm and welcoming. Tourists are scant, which means you can dip in secluded, turquoise swimming holes without the bother of noisy crowds. The region's rural parts are also ideal for crowd-free hiking, complete with drop-dead gorgeous views. And once you've toured the beautiful countryside, there are plenty of urban acres left to explore.</p> <p>Sarajevo, the capital city, is a place characterized by both its residual battle scars and a jovial, bohemian vibe. The streets are filled with hookah cafes, artisan bazaars, and quirky performance theaters as well as buildings riddled with bullet holes from the '90s civil war. Hearty Bosnian stews, grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice, and homemade Turkish Delight can be had in large portions at low prices. And just about every street corner offers majestic views of the steep mountaintops that played host to the 1984 Winter Olympics.</p> <p>If you go, be sure to visit Sarajevo's museum dedicated to the partially collapsed <a href="">wartime tunnel</a> hidden beneath the airport runway. The tunnel, hand-dug by Sarajevans, was once the only link to transport humanitarian aid, war supplies, food, and people in and out of the city during the Bosnian War.</p> <h2>2. St. Petersburg</h2> <p><img width="605" height="341" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Nicknamed <a href="">Venice of the North</a>, this architecturally brilliant Russian city is divided by its 65 rivers and canals into 42 islands, making for a uniquely maritime urban landscape. St. Petersburg is a place of opulence and beauty as well as the all-too-copiously consumed Russian vodka that's a mainstay of just about every meal. Romantic cruises aboard open-air boats complete with lap blankets and candlelit dinners of doughy <a href="">pelmeni</a> also make this city a perfect escape for lovers.</p> <p>St. Petersburg's most visited attraction is the State Hermitage Museum, an ornate royal palace filled with some one the most cherished artwork on earth. Here you'll find <a href="">works by Matisse, Picasso, and da Vinci</a>, to name a few. Another sight not to be missed is the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. Commonly called the <a href="">Church of Spilt Blood</a>, this gorgeous building resembling a fairytale castle is where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 by revolutionaries who bombed his carriage. Another building of note is the <a href="">Hotel Astoria</a>, where Hitler planned a banquet to celebrate his wrongly assumed World War II victory. (The invitation cards were printed, but, of course, the banquet never took place.) Art and architecture buffs will also appreciate lesser-known features scattered about the city such as the world's only equestrian statue with just two points of support.</p> <p>Perhaps the best way to enjoy this picturesque metropolis is to simply stroll its riverfront streets and tiny connector bridges. Go ahead, get lost. Along the way you'll discover cozy coffee dens, rooftop garden bars, hidden souvenir shops, and exotic sphinx statues imported straight from Egypt.</p> <h2>3. Tahiti</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Floating in the heart of French Polynesia, Tahiti is made of powdery beaches, turquoise surf, raging waterfalls, craggy volcanic peaks, sweet-smelling hibiscus flowers, and delectable fresh fish. Though it is the largest island in this South Pacific island chain, it has well under 200,000 inhabitants and a <a href="">rustic, laid-back vibe</a>. Above all, Tahiti is a place for exploration and utter relaxation. If you go, be sure to leave your worries at home.</p> <p>Much of the island's magic can be experienced without plans or reservations. Stroll the long, white beaches. Search for fish hiding in the technicolor coral reef. Drink potent <a href="">Mai Tais under the moonlight</a>.</p> <p>But there are certain must-do adventures that are worth a bit of planning and coordination. Trek to the Hitiia lava tubes; strap on a harness and rappel down a waterfall; and shop for artisan treasures, fresh fruit, and natural oils at the 150-year-old <a href="">Public Market of Papeete</a>.</p> <p>And if you have the time and means, ferry over to some of the more remote neighboring islands such as Bora Bora &mdash; a magnet for honeymooners &mdash; and drop-dead gorgeous <a href="">Moorea</a>. These outer islands are similar to Tahiti, but even more untouched.</p> <h2>4. Cambodia</h2> <p><img width="605" height="341" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Golden temples, thick-canopied jungles, rice paddies, and seemingly endless white sand beaches await those who set out to explore this small Southeast Asian country. Cambodia is a perfect destination for the more adventurous traveler. The country is still developing, which means your travel plans might not always run as smoothly as clockwork. The upside is that a trip to Cambodia is incredibly cheap. Comfortable <a href="">hotel rooms go for about $12 to $22</a> a night. Dinner will cost you just a few bucks, while most tours and attractions are between $10 and $20 for entry.</p> <p>Cambodia's mystical <a href="">floating villages</a> are a must-see. These river houses built on bamboo stilts are otherworldly, and the locals who live there are warm and friendly, happily vending food and artisan goods to tourists.</p> <p>The world's largest religious monument, Angkor Wat, is also here in Cambodia. Originally a Hindu place of worship, this well-preserved Buddhist temple is one of the most spellbinding sites on the entire continent. Banteay Srei is another temple popular among travelers. This beautifully carved 10th century red sandstone structure was built in honor of the Hindu god Shiva.</p> <p>If you're looking to spend time at the ocean, Sihanoukville is the most popular beach party town, complete with deserted islands, world-class diving, and a rowdy late-night scene. For those who prefer <a href="">secluded stretches of white sand</a>, nearby Kep offers the same coastal beauty without the crowds and the noise.</p> <h2>5. Lesser Poland</h2> <p><img width="605" height="341" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>Poland's more rustic, southern region is home to Krakow &mdash; the country's second-largest city, yet one that can been seen on foot in a single day. Quaint cobblestone streets, <a href="">a Gothic hilltop castle</a>, the largest medieval square in Europe, and the site of the factory that inspired the Hollywood movie &quot;Schindler's List&quot; await the traveler who ventures here. So do plates of sweet and savory dumplings, delicious regional amber ales, and the Polish people &mdash; known worldwide for their friendly, outgoing sensibility.</p> <p>On the city's outskirts are several sights well-worth seeing, including the Wieliczka Salt Mine, which boasts dozens of ornate statues and chapels carved entirely out of salt, and Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, the profoundly sad but important and well-preserved site of the most deadly of all the Nazi death camps.</p> <p>Pope John Paul II was born in the small city of Wadowice, located an hour south of Krakow. During a highly publicized homecoming from the Vatican in 1999, the pope recalled going to a local bakery after school with friends and pooling together money for slices of his favorite custard cake. Now every bakery there serves the pastry, rebranded the World-Famous Papal Cream Cake.</p> <p>Even farther south are less known locales with rich history and gorgeous natural views. Not far from the Slovakian border is Bielsko-Biala a destination for locals and tourists alike who come to ski, hike, and pamper themselves at spas in the surrounding mountains. Here there are <a href="">tiny, whimsical ski towns</a> from where ski jump champions have hailed, expansive spruce forests, and picturesque campsites along rivers teeming with fresh fish.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite frugal travel destination? Tell us about it in the comments section.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Cheap, Amazing, and Undiscovered Vacation Destinations" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Brittany Lyte</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle Travel cheap destinations cheap travel frugal destinations Wed, 28 May 2014 09:00:57 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1140665 at 25 Ways to Have the Best, Cheapest Summer Vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-ways-to-have-the-best-cheapest-summer-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="beach" title="beach" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I decided to leave my 9-to-5 and work from home, I knew it would take some financial trickery. I went over our monthly and yearly budgets over and over again to find room and determine areas where we could cut back. One of the first line items on the chopping block? Summer vacation funds.</p> <p>Not having much to spend on travel doesn't have to be the end of your great summer adventure, however. My family has found some rather crafty ways to get around and enjoy the sights and sounds of new places on the cheap.</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow">Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 40,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on every purchase, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <h2>1. Explore Locally</h2> <p>When I think travel, I often let my mind go wild with far off places. What I've discovered most recently is that there are tons of fun places to visit within my own home state. Head to your local welcome center (you know, the ones on all the major highways) and check out the promotional pamphlets for attractions near you. Then make your bucket list and go!</p> <h2>2. Set an Early or Late Date</h2> <p>Mid-summer is peak season at a lot of popular spots, so if your dates aren't strict, try different combinations. Many hotels offer (sometimes wildly) different rates depending on when most people have time to trek. Early June to the week before July 4th or early September after Labor Day are awesome times to get great prices on summer hot spots. Bonus: They'll be less crowded too! (See also: <a href="">Easy Ways to Save for Vacation</a>)</p> <h2>3. Be Counterintuitive</h2> <p>Along those same lines, head to the slopes this summer! Tripping in the off-season is a fun way to get to know a place more intimately. For example, I know for a fact that Vermont is just as gorgeous &mdash; if not more &mdash; in the warm months than it is when all the ski bunnies descend in droves.</p> <h2>4. Road Trip It</h2> <p>Part of the fun is in the travel itself. Rather than jet around from location to location, pack your car with necessities (and lots of snacks!) and plan a route that's worth the drive. One dream my family has is to plot out a road trip visiting with family and friends, which will be both frugal (free places to stay and free tour guides!) and fun. (Related: <a href="">10 Ways To Save Money on the Great American Road Trip</a>)</p> <h2>5. Try Camping</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>The first trip my husband and I took together was to the southern coast of Maine, and we camped there for five blissful nights. If I remember correctly, our site fee was around $30 a night and we cooked most of our own food, making for quite an inexpensive trip! If you're not totally into roughing it, check out <a href="">KOA campgrounds</a> &mdash; you can find one near most cities and big attractions in the US and Canada. Most have a selection of tent sites, cabins (with TVs!), and even more luxurious accommodations that are cheaper than hotels.</p> <h2>6. Cook In</h2> <p>Wherever you stay on vacation, it can be tempting to go out to eat for every meal. Last year when my family visited NYC for a week, we got a taste of local food without the added up-charge. Find a great local market (in that case, we stopped by <a href="">Eataly</a> daily) and assemble your own meals with local, fresh ingredients if you're staying someplace that will allow it. Our shore rental has a grill, and I can't wait to use it!</p> <h2>7. Mind Your Perks</h2> <p>Along those same lines, check out hotels that offer free breakfasts or other meals to guests. Growing up, my parents always chose Embassy Suites for their bountiful warm breakfasts (for free!) and evening receptions that kept both adults and kids satiated. Smaller hotels may also have discounts with local restaurants and attractions, so be sure to do your research ahead of time to get the best hookups.</p> <h2>8. Buddy Up</h2> <p>Chances are, you're not the only one looking for a change of pace. If you have close friends or family with similar interests, try planning a joint vacation and splitting some of the costs. We go to the Jersey Shore each year with family and everyone pitches in for food and the vacation rental. Setting ground rules ahead of time can help avoid uncomfortable situations, so making lists and designating different responsibilities accordingly is the key to keep everyone happy.</p> <h2>9. Try a Rental</h2> <p>That's right &mdash; our family shares a rental home for our beach trip. It's a heck of a lot less expensive than a hotel. Plus, rentals offer an impressive number of perks &mdash; like full kitchens, beach tags, community pools, etc. &mdash; that might help save you money in the long run. Try sites like <a href="">Vacation Rental By Owner</a> (VRBO) if you're new to this thrifty idea (and, of course, <a href="">Airbnb</a>).</p> <h2>10. Make It a Quickie</h2> <p>If you have your heart set on a certain place that happens to be expensive, consider shortening the trip to cut down on hotel, food, and entertainment costs. A weekend getaway is often just as refreshing as a whole week's trip, but with less than half the cost. (You can also save some of your vacation days by planning it in conjunction with a holiday &mdash; just beware that hotel and travel costs change as well.)</p> <h2>11. Plan Ahead</h2> <p>You can occasionally cash in on this year's rates for <em>next</em> year by locking in your vacation at checkout. Some hotels (and vacation rentals) reward loyalty with a small percentage discount, so it's worth a check if you'd like to frequent your destination for years to come. Plus, it feels sort of great knowing the fun is already on the calendar so far in advance.</p> <h2>12. Survey Flight Options</h2> <p>There are a host of considerations related to flight, not limited to fare fluctuations, baggage check fees, and hub of choice. If you're flying where you want to go, make sure you get the best fare by checking apps like <a href="">Yapta</a> to get alerts when ticket prices are low. Try airlines like <a href=",Kb=askBlue,case=obj%28634%29">JetBlue</a>, which offer free baggage checks. And investigate options with flights from both large and small airports for price comparison.</p> <h2>13. Stay Off the Beaten Path</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>It's true that major cities and other vacation favorites offer lots in way of entertainment and fun, but sometimes sticking to more rural locations can be a breath of fresh air. Whether it's scoping out the national parks or just visiting a less frequented beach or smaller city, you'll enjoy a bit more room to relax and a thicker wallet.</p> <h2>14. House Swap</h2> <p>Do you have a friend or family member in a far away place (or not so far away) who might be willing to switch residences for a week or two? House swapping is a fun way to see a new part of the country without spending outrageous lodging costs to stay there. By staying in someone's house or apartment, you'll be sure to have a kitchen and other necessities that simple hotel rooms can't afford you. Just be sure to water plants, get mail, and feed the cat so your friend will return the favor.</p> <h2>15. Offer Your Services</h2> <p>There are costs at home associated with travel that often get neglected in the planning. Things like animal boarding, house-sitting, lawn care, and other responsibilities can cost if you don't have a plan in place. Offer your services to cat sit and water plants for a friend and he or she will likely return the favor.</p> <h2>16. Volunteer</h2> <p>If you'd like to bring more meaning to your summer vacation, consider checking out these free and low-cost opportunities to volunteer abroad via <a href="">VAOPS</a>. Sure, your trip won't consist of days on end laying on a beach towel, but you'll be investing time and energy into an area with the reward of an amazing experience.</p> <h2>17. Consider Your Options</h2> <p>Before choosing a destination, search around for all the opportunities for free entertainment. Washington D.C., for example, has a plethora of free museums to keep you and your family entertained for days. Beaches can sometimes charge hefty parking or entry fees, but those off the radar are often free and much less crowded. Look beyond those popular spots for the most savings.</p> <h2>18. Utilize Resources</h2> <p>There are a number of travel websites with deals and steals on vacation packages, airfare, and more. If you don't know where to start, just check out our <a href="">40 Most Useful Travel Websites</a> &mdash; they can save you a fortune!</p> <h2>19. Ask Around</h2> <p>Once you get to your vacation spot, resist the urge to hit up all the ritzy tourist destinations. Instead, ask some locals for their favorite restaurant and entertainment picks. Usually these options are less costly and allow you to become more immersed in the place you're visiting.</p> <h2>20. Park Your Car</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="" /></p> <p>One of my favorite things to do when I get someplace new? Walk or run around town and identify places I might want to go. My family tries to stay somewhere central (even if it might cost slightly more) so we can leave the car behind. That way, we lower our gas bill, parking costs, and even those unexpected parking or traffic tickets. Those are pesky costs sometimes piles up when speed limits and meter rules are somewhat elusive.</p> <h2>21. Exhaust Alternatives</h2> <p>Have you ever checked out community marketplace <a href="">Airbnb</a>? It's sort of like VRBO, but it's more unique. You rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries. Better yet: You can <a href="">rent out your own spaces</a> to make some extra money for travel as well.</p> <h2>22. Frolic to a Festival</h2> <p>One of our beloved summer vacations is to a local music festival each July. The tickets go up for sale in the beginning of the year, so we try to sign up early to get the best rates. From there, there's a small onsite camping fee &mdash; but otherwise, food is the only major expense (and we bring most of it with us for what a week's worth of groceries would cost). All that's left to do is sit back, relax, and listen to the tunes waft through the breeze.</p> <h2>23. Pack Smart</h2> <p>If you know you're going to be driving through rest stops or waiting long hours at airports, try to resist the usual temptations. All those magazines, books, bottled waters, fast food meals, and other comfort items add up. Pack your travel bag the smart way and bring your own supplies &mdash; snacks, neck-pillows, library books, etc. &mdash; from home for free.</p> <h2>24. Fuel to Your Advantage</h2> <p>Now's the time to use your <a href="">credit card that earns points for gas</a> and other travel purchases. Apps like <a href="">GasBuddy</a>, <a href="">SmartFuel</a>, and <a href="">Fuel Finder</a> can certainly save you some major dollars on fueling that will accumulate to big bucks over time.</p> <h2>25. Stay Home</h2> <p>I think by now we've all heard the word &quot;stay-cation,&quot; right? The idea? If you're really strapped, you don't need to go anywhere to get some rest and relaxation. Sometimes just taking a few days off and living it up in your hometown does the trick. Much like with traveling locally, you'll want to make a list of things to do. Now's the time to check out that new restaurant that opened downtown. Hang your hammock and enjoy!</p> <p><em>How do you save on summer travel? The more tips the better &mdash; I'm sure we could all use a vacation!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="25 Ways to Have the Best, Cheapest Summer Vacation " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Ashley Marcin</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel cheap travel hotels road trips summer vacation vacation Mon, 26 May 2014 09:00:13 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1140314 at $20 in San Francisco: The Best Ways to Spend It <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-in-san-francisco-the-best-ways-to-spend-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="san francisco" title="san francisco" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>San Francisco is an expensive city to inhabit, with <a href="">rents topping Manhattan</a>. It also has the <a href="">highest minimum wage of any large city</a> ($10.74) and an employee health care law that leads some restaurants to add <a href="">surcharges to bills</a>.</p> <p>But despite the high cost of sleeping and eating, San Francisco is really not a terrible city for the frugal traveler, because so many of its draws are completely free. You can walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, climb on the ruins of the <a href="">Sutro Baths</a>, or lounge in lovely Golden Gate Park without paying a dime.</p> <p>And when you do have to get out your wallet, there are a number of classic San Francisco amusements that you can enjoy for around $20. Find even more inexpensive ideas at the Web site <a href="">FuncheapSF</a>. Let's look at some of my favorites!</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 40,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on every purchase, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <h2>1. Take a Short Walk Down a Long Pier</h2> <p>Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 routinely separate tourists from hundreds of dollars, but you can get some of the best of it for just $20.</p> <p>First, head to the <a href="">line of outdoor food stands</a>, and purchase a crab sandwich on a sourdough roll for $6-$8. A beer in a paper bag (not technically legal but routinely ignored here) adds another $4-6. After you eat, stroll over to the Musee Mechanique, where you can while away an hour plunking quarters into old fashioned amusement machines. Finally, walk down to Pier 39 &mdash; stopping on the way to visit the sea lions lounging on their own floating docks &mdash; and spend your last few dollars on a paper sack of warm mini doughnuts. You won't be sorry! (See also: <a href="">Free Things to Do in Any City You Visit</a>)</p> <h2>2. Ride the Cable Car</h2> <p>Cable car rides are now a whopping $6 each, so if you want to spend some time exploring the city on this fun form of transport, you might as well spring for a <a href="">$15 day pass</a>. You can take the Powell-Hyde or the Powell-Mason line right to the <a href="">Cable Car Museum</a>, which is free. Afterwards, stroll over to Chinatown and spend your last $5 on pork buns and other dim sum from a Chinese bakery; one Yelp reviewer noted that $5 at the <a href="">Good Mong Kok Bakery</a> is enough to put you in &quot;Food Coma Heaven.&quot;</p> <h2>3. Take in a Ballgame</h2> <p>You don't have to be a fan of the <a href="">Panda</a> to enjoy an afternoon in San Francisco's comely AT&amp;T Park, where some seats have <a href="">views of the San Francisco Bay</a>. If you buy one of the lowest-priced tickets at <a href=";y=2014">$8-$12 at the box office</a>, you'll still have enough for a basket of the park's famous <a href="">Gilroy Garlic Fries</a>.</p> <p>Or, you can watch a few minutes of the game from the <a href=";start=2500#qCdKKurcn810m1VOlq2mHQ">free viewing area</a>, under the right field promenade, and save your $20 for souvenirs.</p> <h2>4. Get out on the Bay</h2> <p>You can pay a lot for fancy dinner or sightseeing cruises on the San Francisco Bay, or you can cruise the same Bay &mdash; and see some of the same sights &mdash; by paying just a few bucks to ride a commuter ferry. First, head to the gourmet food stands at the Ferry Building and pick out a treat to bring aboard. A hot chocolate at the <a href="">Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Cafe and Milk Bar</a> is $3.75, and three chocolate chip cookies are $3.50. Then head out to the ferry boarding docks. A <a href="">roundtrip to Oakland's Jack London Square is $12.50</a>, and you get to ride right under the Bay Bridge. You can buy the ticket on board.</p> <h2>5. Go out for Coffee</h2> <p>San Francisco boasts some of the best local roasters in the nation right now, and the baristas take their pour-over talents very seriously. Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee made a <a href="">Zagat list of the most expensive cups in America</a>, and many <a href="">lists of the best</a> as well. A pot of <a href="">vacuum-brewed coffee</a> (enough for two people unless you want to see the rest of the city really, really quickly), costs about $12, but fans swear it's worth it. You can also get granola or a waffle in the morning at the <a href="">Ferry Building location</a>.</p> <h2>6. Take a Paddle</h2> <p><a href="">Paddle Boats</a> on Golden Gate Park's Stow Lake cost $25 an hour, but they can seat up to four, bringing the cost down to $6.25 per person. Yelpers call this &quot;a must&quot; and a &quot;hidden gem,&quot; raving about the animals you see in the lake and the view of the waterfall on nearby Strawberry Hill.</p> <h2>7. Commune With the Beats</h2> <p><a href="">Vesuvio Cafe</a> in North Beach would be one of the best bars in San Francisco even if it hadn't been a hangout of Jack Kerouac's. Sit upstairs and drop $5 on a beer special, then head across Jack Kerouac Alley to <a href="">City Lights Books</a>, founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who also started a publishing house of the same name and released Allen Ginsberg's <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0872860175&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=5UYKMXFRZOOR7FET">Howl &amp; Other Poems</a>. If you limit yourself to a paperback, you might have enough left for a gelato at another beat hangout, <a href="">Caffe Trieste</a> &mdash; and maybe even spot Ferlinghetti, who, now in his 90s, is said to be a regular.</p> <h2>8. Buy Vinyl in the Haight</h2> <p>The Summer of Love has been replaced by the perpetual summer of shopping on Haight Street, although the district retains a gritty feel, courtesy of numerous beggars camped on the sidewalks. There are many, many tempting places to drop $20 here, from head shops to vintage clothing boutiques to the always-brimming Goodwill store. But the favorite has got to be <a href="">Amoeba Music</a>, where you can honor the neighborhood's past by buying an LP, or embrace the future with a movie on Blu-ray.</p> <h2>9. Get the Luck of the Irish</h2> <p>Some deride the <a href="">Buena Vista</a> as a tourist trap, while others say the Irish coffees served here are the best they've ever had. A $20 bill will get you two of them. If the weather is chilly, as it often is near Fisherman's Wharf even in summer, this is a nice place to warm up and take in the views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, and the cable cars.</p> <h2>10. Graze the Food Trucks</h2> <p>Check <a href=""></a> to find out where to find this traveling food market; you can catch it in North Beach, UN Plaza, Civic Center, or near the San Francisco Chronicle's 5th and Mission headquarters, depending on the day of the week. At <a href="">Adam's Grub Truck</a>, $20 gets you a crab sandwich called The Kraken, a side, and a drink. Other cuisines include Indian, Mexican, and Japanese.</p> <p><em>What's your favorite way to spend $20 in San Francisco? Please share in comments &mdash; it's free!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="$20 in San Francisco: The Best Ways to Spend It" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel 20 bucks cheap outings cheap travel San Francisco Tue, 20 May 2014 08:48:21 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1139915 at Frugal, Amazing, and Easy-to-Navigate: The 10 Best International Cities to Visit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frugal-amazing-and-easy-to-navigate-the-10-best-international-cities-to-visit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Kathmandu, Nepal" title="Kathmandu, Nepal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you've got a dose of wanderlust but are battling a restrictive budget and maybe a few travel fears, this list is for you. These 10 international cities are easy to get to with lots of flights, buses, and trains arriving regularly, they're easy to get around in and enjoy, and it's easy to save money with lots of frugal options.</p> <p>Don't just take it from me; I've polled the frequent traveling community to get their votes on the best international cities to travel and be frugal in. You may even be surprised by some of the cities on this list!</p> <p>(See also: Our pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a target="_blank" href=";fot=1106&amp;foc=1" rel="nofollow">Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard - 20,000 mile signup bonus and no annual fee. Click here for more details.</a>)</p> <h2>1. Bucharest, Romania</h2> <p>Although Bucharest lacks the &quot;wow-factor&quot; that attracts hoards of tourists, it's a place that can get under your skin.</p> <p>Earl Baron has been traveling full-time since 1999 &mdash; working, volunteering, and living around the world. Among other things, he leads small group tours and runs his blog Wandering Earl. Earl spent <a href="">many months living in Bucharest</a>, and cites it as an extremely affordable destination, conveniently located (less than an hour's flight time to Istanbul), and a place where it's easy to meet people. &quot;This is a city where you can eat well, party well, participate in endless activities, stay in great accommodation, and all for a fraction of what it would cost in Western Europe.&quot; (See also: <a href="">25 Secrets From the World's Most Frugal Frequent Travelers</a>)</p> <h2>2. Kathmandu, Nepal</h2> <p>Getting to Kathmandu might cost you a few dollars (that is, if you're not flying with <a href="">frequent flyer miles</a>), but once you're there, your money will go a long way.</p> <p>Kathmandu is very tourist-friendly (tourism is known as the &quot;third religion&quot; in Nepal) and the Nepalese are always eager to make your stay memorable. You can stay at a local guesthouse for as little as $5 a night, and eat gorgeous, filling local cuisine for as little as a $1. It's a great hub from which you can go trekking (from $7-$30/day), and if you stay in town, a <a href="">tuk-tuk ride</a> to the city's many temples and attractions costs next to nothing. Don't forget to visit the many markets to get some unique handicrafts, as well as (fake brand name) trekking gear and clothing at massively discounted prices.</p> <h2>3. Mexico City, Mexico</h2> <p>&quot;Although Mexico city is pricier than some other destinations in Mexico, as an international city it is vastly underrated as a culturally rich tourist destination,&quot; says Dalene Heck, who has been traveling the world since 2009 with her husband, chronicling their journey at <a href="">HeckticTravels</a>. With the second busiest airport in Latin America there are lots of reasonably-priced flights, and once you're there the Metro only costs $0.40 per ride, so it's easy to get around.</p> <p>Dalene isn't the only traveler to extol the virtues of Mexico City; Tamara and Chris set out on a &quot;<a href="">Leap Year</a>&quot; sabbatical to explore Latin America with two backpacks and their 15 year-old dog, and Mexico City is tops on their list of places where it's easy to be frugal. &quot;Food, usually your biggest expense, is cheap when you eat the delicious street food (try a <a href="">tlacoyo</a>), pick up <em>pan dulce</em> at a corner bakery, or grocery shop in neighborhood <em>mercados</em>. Transportation and attractions are inexpensive too: we took a day trip to the pyramids in Teotihuacan for US$20.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Berlin, Germany</h2> <p>Berlin is the cheapest capital city in Western Europe, and full of culture, art, and good food. I was in <a href="">Berlin for just a few days</a>, but could easily have stayed for longer, with so much to do. It's easy to get to and from as it's an international hub with flights, trains, and buses arriving from all over Europe and the world.</p> <p>Barry and Simone (of <a href="">The Track and Off It</a>) have lived and traveled all over Europe. Barry is a fan of the public transport for being easy to navigate. &quot;With the famed German efficiency, directions are well signposted and all of them are in English. German people are incredibly helpful as well if you need to ask.&quot;</p> <p>And keeping costs low once you're there is easy. &quot;Food portions are enormous, especially the 'tag menu' (menu of the day) and could easily be shared (but avoid the multi-Asian cuisine places),&quot; says Barry. He recommends the free walking tours, and also suggests that it's cheap to rent a bicycle for the day to cover more territory in this big city with wide bike-friendly streets.</p> <h2>5. Lisbon, Portugal</h2> <p>Lisbon is also one of the cheaper cities to visit in Europe with cheap food, drink, local transportation, and lodging. Michael Hodson of <a href="">Go See Write</a> is a former lawyer from the States who took off at the end of 2008 to circle the globe without using a single airplane; he's still on the road. He and I met for the first time in Lisbon in 2011 before embarking on the <a href="">Ultimate Train Challenge</a> together. &quot;Lisbon is one of my favorite cities in Europe and the first one I mention to people that are on a low budget. Lisbon has more luxury hotels than any other city in the world and before you turn away at the word &quot;hostel&quot; realize two things: first, these hostels are the top of the top. Secondly, you can get a private room in almost any of them, if you think hostel always means a dorm room.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Bangkok, Thailand</h2> <p>Bangkok is another hub where your money goes further, with two international airports and flights arriving as low as $30 dollars. Jeff McAllister is a traveler, cyclist, and blogger of <a href="">Keyboard &amp; Compass</a> with a special interest in human rights and science journalism. He says Bangkok is customizable to any budget. For the very frugal, you can get by for about $20/day, &quot;less if you take advantage of the city's amazing Couchsurfing community. Shack up near an MRT or BTS station, eat from the thousands of street stands, and enjoy some cost-free people watching, temple hopping, or stroll through solace of Lumpini park.&quot; And if you've got a bit more to spend, even luxury options are cheaper than most other international cities.</p> <h2>7. Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam</h2> <p>I adored my visit to Saigon a couple of years ago &mdash; especially how budget friendly (and friendly overall) it was. I gorged on <a href="">street food</a> spending no more than a few dollars for a whole day, the hotel was cheap and cheerful, taxis were easy to use, and the tours were great.</p> <p>I'm not the only one with a love of Saigon. Jodi Ettenberg (a former lawyer turned traveler, of <a href="">Legal Nomads</a>) spends a few months in Saigon each winter, and gets the shakes if she goes too long without sticky rice. &quot;My rent is approx US$250-$350 a month depending on where I live, which includes Wi-Fi, hot water, cleaning, and laundry. Most street meals are $1-$2. There are quality Western meals available for $5-$8 a meal as well.&quot; She says it's both affordable and interesting, &quot;with nonstop motion, wonderfully chaotic markets, quieter restaurants and cafes when you want to step away from the noise, and an incredible street food scene.&quot;</p> <h2>8. Prague, Czech Republic</h2> <p>Prague is one of the cultural centers of Europe, hosting many cultural events and boasting more than 10 major museums and a variety of attractions. It's also beautiful, having been spared much of the damage that World War II inflicted on many other parts of Europe. With large numbers of expats and tourists, English is widely spoken in Prague, so it's easy to get around and communicate. And with a favorable exchange rate, the cost of living is very reasonable. Accommodation ranges from hostels for $12 a night to four star hotels for $150 a night.</p> <h2>9. Cusco, Peru</h2> <p>Just a quick flight from Peru's capital city of Lima, Cusco is the epicenter of the Incan culture and ruins. There are a dizzying number of things to do such as <a href="">trekking to Machu Picchu</a>, shopping at the many artisan markets, and simply soaking in the friendly Peruvian culture.</p> <p>Lainie and her son Miro are American travelers who have called Cusco their home for the last two years. &quot;History buffs marvel at the multiple ages of stone construction hidden throughout the city. Food lovers can sample the most interesting of local fare in the markets and surrounding restaurants for under $1.50 a meal. Outside of the tourist zones, travelers have the chance to meet the local artisans and buy their crafts at a fraction of the cost. Cusco is a large city that has a small town feel outside of the tourist zones, always offering a slice of local life, local prices and many warm smiles.&quot;</p> <p>This dynamic mother-son duo are setting up a one of a kind, teen oriented world-learning retreat in Peru's Sacred Valley called <a href="">Project World School</a>, and they blog about their experiences at <a href="">Raising Miro</a>.</p> <h2>10. Los Angeles, USA</h2> <p>Los Angeles is a seriously out-of-the-box suggestion for a city where it's easy to travel and be frugal. But <a href="">Chris Guillebeau</a> visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday, in addition to visiting every state and province while promoting his New York Times bestseller <a href="">The $100 Startup</a>. So he's got a great frame of reference.</p> <p>He says if you're shopping for mansions or designer clothes, of course Los Angeles isn't cheap. &quot;But as a visitor in an authentic neighborhood, you'll be surprised at the average prices of ethnic restaurants. Public transport may not be as easy as the Bangkok SkyTrain, but once you get the hang of the route map, buses and the metro are cheap. There are plenty of hostels, and if staying in hotels, you'll be pleasantly surprised to see that rates are much lower than in San Francisco and other west coast cities.&quot;</p> <h2>Bonus City: London, England</h2> <p>Most people (myself included) blow the budget in London, but not everybody does. &quot;London has a reputation as an expensive city but I think it offers exceptional value. No where else will you find more phenomenal free museums and galleries. Everyone knows someone who knows someone's cousin in London &mdash; odds are high you can snag a free bed for a few days. Plus London is a walker's paradise, the cheap eats food scene has greatly improved, and the British Pound is at a favorable exchange rate,&quot; says Vanessa Chiasson of TurnipseedTravel. On her site she features a series called the $200 challenge where two people travel for two days for $200 or less, and she recently took her <a href="">$200 challenge to London</a>.</p> <p><em>What hotspots did we miss? Is there an international city where it's easy to travel and be frugal in that you've visited? Tell us in the comments! </em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Frugal, Amazing, and Easy-to-Navigate: The 10 Best International Cities to Visit" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel affordable vacation cheap cities cheap travel travel Tue, 20 May 2014 08:24:22 +0000 Nora Dunn 1139921 at You Can Visit Europe for a Lot Cheaper Than You Think — Here's How <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-can-visit-europe-for-a-lot-cheaper-than-you-think-heres-how" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Pisa" title="Pisa" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As far as foreign travel is concerned, Europe is one of the most romanticized continents in the world. Indeed there is much to do there, from sipping wine under the Eiffel Tower to taking in a bullfight in Spain to zipping along Rome's cobbled streets on a Vespa. And while many Americans still make the pilgrimage to Europe on an annual basis, the lop-sided dollar-euro exchange rate means fewer people in the States can afford to make the trip. Or so they think.</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a rel="nofollow" href=";fot=1137&amp;foc=1" target="_blank">Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 40,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on every purchase, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <p>Yes, exchanging dollars for euros can be murder, but it's certainly not any reason to table that European holiday. There are many ways Americans can stretch their dollar and enjoy Europe's myriad sights and activities, and here are a few tips to do just that.</p> <h2>Travel in the Shoulder Season</h2> <p>The interim or &quot;shoulder&quot; season in Europe is between the high and low seasons. In the high season (mid-June to August) many countries are brimming with tourists eager to take in the many festivals and outdoor activities for which the nice weather allows. The low season (mid-November to Easter) is certainly a cheaper time to visit, but the snow and rain can be prohibitive. Thus the <em>shoulder season</em> (mid-September to December/Easter to June) is a nice middle ground. Tourists can take advantage of cheaper fares, but still have decent weather to be out and about.</p> <h2>Book Hotels Direct</h2> <p>There are a number of online resources for finding cheap European hotel rooms, with <a href="">Eurocheapo</a> being one of the better options. It inspects and verifies all hotels listed on their site, and there are plenty of customer reviews, too.</p> <p>However, while most major booking sites often have good deals, they also tend to leave out many of the smaller hotels who can't afford to pay the percentage. Therefore, travelers can often find better deals on smaller places by visiting a particular hotel's website. Inquiring about discounts for extended stays often yields big savings as well.</p> <p>Other lower-cost options include <a href="">vacation rentals</a> and hostels. Those who are going the hostel route should become a <a href="">Hosteling International</a> member, as there are hundreds of HI-affiliated hostels throughout Europe that offer <em>at least</em> a 10% discount to members.</p> <h2>Search for Entertainment Deals and Freebies</h2> <p>There are many to be found in Europe. In many cinemas and museums there are discounts or even free admission on certain days. (The Louvre offers free admission on the first Sunday of the month.) Also, there is no need to pay for expensive concerts or shows with all the festivals going on in Europe year round. From Bastille Day to the bull run in Pamplona to King's Day in Amsterdam, there is always some festival happening that is rife with live music, activities, and parades, and all of it totally free to enjoy.</p> <h2>Dine in the Day/Eat in Bars</h2> <p>By making lunch the largest meal of the day, travelers can enjoy the many executive specials that cafes and restaurants offer during the daytime. And those who like to imbibe can hop on over to Spain, where many bars and cafes still offer free <em>tapas</em> (small plates) with the purchase of a beer or cocktail.</p> <h2>Get Cheap <em>Intra-Continental</em> Flights</h2> <p>And because it often takes little longer than an hour or two to fly between most European countries, these cheap flights are in abundance. This is also due to the fact that many specialty airlines are competing with one another constantly. <a href="">Govolo</a> and <a href="">Europebyair</a> are great resources for finding such deals.</p> <h2>Embrace Public and Private Transport</h2> <p>It's important for travelers to Europe to not limit themselves when it comes to transport. Because not only can different methods of transport be great for traveling around cities, they can be great for traveling around <em>countries</em> as well. (See also: <a href="">Travel Slowly for Cheap Vacations</a>)</p> <p>Traveling by bus is a great &mdash; and cheap &mdash; way to get to know the larger European cities such as Paris, Madrid, and Amsterdam.</p> <p>Renting a car is another option. And Americans needn't be put off by the notion that car rental automatically means extravagance. In fact, in countries like Portugal, savvy consumers can find daily deals on car rentals for as little as <a href="">$15 per day</a>, give or take.</p> <p>One of the most famous methods of transport in Europe is the <a href="">Eurorail</a>, the continent's inter-country rail system. While this can be a pricey way to get around, companies usually have daily deals and discounts on tickets that can take the sting off.</p> <p>In the end, those who adhere to these guidelines will likely find that their European dream holiday doesn't break the bank. Having said that, it is crucial to plan detailed itineraries because freewheeling it across Europe can destroy any budget.</p> <p><em>How have you cut costs on international travel? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="You Can Visit Europe for a Lot Cheaper Than You Think — Here&#039;s How" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Chris McMurphy</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Travel cheap travel Europe travel costs Fri, 02 May 2014 08:36:33 +0000 Chris McMurphy 1137582 at 10 Things You're Paying Too Much for When You Travel (and How to Pay Less) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-youre-paying-too-much-for-when-you-travel-and-how-to-pay-less" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="travel" title="travel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You may eagerly anticipate a getaway or a weeklong escape, but traveling isn't always a bargain. The cost of airfare, hotels, transportation, food, and entertainment can hit your pocket hard. And if you don't plan well, you can easily overspend in these areas.</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a target="_blank" href=";fot=1127&amp;foc=1" rel="nofollow">Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard - 20,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on dining &amp; travel, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <p>Here's a look at 10 things you're probably paying too much for when traveling, plus tips on how to pay less.</p> <h2>1. Airfare</h2> <p>Gas prices aren't getting any cheaper. Typically, the more you pay at the pump, the more you will pay for airline tickets, too. The price of airfare can be the difference between a staycation and a trip away from home. (See also: <a href="">10 Ways to Get Free Airline Tickets</a>)</p> <p>But higher fuel prices doesn't mean you have to pay an exorbitant rate for a plane ticket. You may feel that your options are few, but there are ways to save.</p> <p>Always book your airfare in advance &mdash; perhaps three to six months. A travel website, such as <a href="">Expedia</a> or <a href="">Travelocity</a>, can help you find excellent deals. However, these websites may not have the lowest prices for all airlines. Therefore, you should check prices and promotions directly through individual carriers. For example, <a href="">Southwest</a> and JetBlue frequently have deals as low as $59 one-way to select cities.</p> <p>You can also use a rewards credit card to accumulate points and miles, and then redeem points when you're ready to book an airline ticket. (See also: <a href="">Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>2. Hotels</h2> <p>A nice hotel in a well-known chain will cost at least $100 a night &mdash; which adds up quickly.</p> <p>To pay less for hotels, prepay for your room. This is a nonrefundable purchase, so only prepay if you're absolutely certain that you will arrive on the selected dates.</p> <p>If you have a AAA membership or belong to another organization, ask the hotel about discounts. You can also compare hotel rates through travel websites. However, you may find cheaper prices booking directly through the hotel.</p> <p>Always ask if there's a cheaper rate available when you check in.</p> <p>Then again, maybe you don't care about luxury and simply need a clean place to sleep at night. If you're not overly particular, skip the chain hotel and save money by booking a night at a smaller, privately owned hotel. You might also find great deals booking accommodations through online services like <a href="">Airbnb</a>. (See also: <a href="">Is Your Hotel Hiding These 5 Fees?</a>)</p> <h2>3. Food</h2> <p>You have to eat while traveling. Next to airfare and hotels, this is probably your third largest expense. There are, however, ways to reduce how much you spend on food.</p> <p>Book a room at a suite hotel &mdash; which has a small kitchenette in each suite &mdash; and prepare all or some of your meals in the room. Likewise, you can save money by only staying in hotels that offer free complimentary breakfast. (See also: <a href="">Easy Ways to Score Free Travel Food</a>)</p> <h2>4. Baggage Fees</h2> <p>Not only is there the cost of flying to a destination, many airlines charge a fee for each checked bag. This fee varies by airline, but can run as much as $25&ndash;$35 per bag.</p> <p>To get around this fee, book with airlines that don't charge a baggage fee. Southwest Airlines allows passengers to check up to two bags free, and JetBlue allows one free checked bag.</p> <p>Many <a href="">travel reward credit cards</a> will cover baggage fees if you pay for your flight with the card. In addition, if you gain elite status in an airline's frequent flyer program, baggage fees are waived along with other perks such as early boarding.</p> <p>Additionally, closely monitor the weight of each piece of luggage. There is an additional baggage fee for any checked bag weighing more than 50 pounds.</p> <h2>5. Car Rentals</h2> <p>Car rental companies know that you need their services when traveling, and unfortunately, this service doesn't come cheap. However, rental rates are often lower on the weekends, as many companies promote deals that cater to leisure travelers. Include a weekend day in your reservation and you might save on the rental cost. (See also: <a href="">Easy Ways to Save on Car Rentals</a>)</p> <p>You can also knock dollars off your car rental by declining the rental company's insurance (if you have personal auto insurance), and by returning the rental car to the original pick-up location. Some companies charge extra for one-way rentals. Also, don't forget to refill the gas tank prior to returning the car. There's a fee for not replenishing the tank.</p> <h2>6. Transportation</h2> <p>Taxis are a fast way to get around the local area if you don't rent a car, but it'll cost you.</p> <p>Just to step foot in a taxi can cost around $2.50 (based on location), plus you have to pay a fee per every 1/4 mile and every idle minute.</p> <p>This is a convenient way to travel if you're in a hurry, but it's more cost-effective to take the subway, a metro train, or the bus. Your hotel's concierge may be able to help you navigate the local transit system.</p> <p>Book at hotels that offer free shuttles to and from the airport. And if you're staying in the city or at the beach, look into daily bike rentals. This is a fast, cheap way to get around. (See also: <a href="">Get Your Travel Rewards on the Ground</a>)</p> <h2>7. Credit Card Fees/Currency Fees</h2> <p>It might be easier to use a credit card when traveling abroad, but if your credit card features a foreign transaction fee, you'll pay as much as 3% per every transaction.</p> <p>There is a simple solution: if you're traveling to another country, bring a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee. And since the US dollar is commonly accepted in some foreign countries, such as Costa Rica and certain Canadian cities, you might be able to use cash and not worry about currency exchange</p> <p>If you need to exchange money in a foreign country, airports and hotels offer currency exchange. This is convenient while traveling, but you may pay a higher transaction fee. Banks and ATMs typically have cheaper exchange rates. Always check rates before exchanging money. (See also: <a href="">No Foreign Transaction Fees with Capital One Venture Card</a>)</p> <h2>8. Tours</h2> <p>Understandably, you want to see as much of the local area as possible, and you may feel more comfortable traveling with a tour company. Just know that some tour companies will take advantage of your excitement and charge inflated tour prices.</p> <p>To save money, compare prices among different tour companies before booking an excursion. If you're traveling with a group, ask the tour companies about group discounts. Also, check sites like Groupon and Living Social. These websites may have deals on local tours and other entertainment. (See also: H<a href="">ow to Live Like a Local When Traveling</a>)</p> <p>Online marketplaces like <a href=";aff_id=4437">Fiverr</a> may have ads from locals who give inexpensive walking tours. If you have a smartphone, download a self-guided walking tour app. There are city-specific apps for Charleston, Savannah, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City &mdash; just to name a few. All you need are comfortable shoes and your headphones.</p> <h2>9. Internet Service</h2> <p>An Internet connection lets you conduct business, stream movies, and stay connected while traveling. However, some hotels charge a daily fee for Internet service. To save money, look for hotels that offer free Wi-Fi, or book a hotel near locations that offer free Internet connection &mdash; bookstores, libraries, coffeehouses, or fast food restaurants. (See also: <a href="">How to Get Free Internet Access</a>)</p> <p>You can also bring your own Wi-Fi. Call your cellphone provider and see if you can use your smartphone as a personal hotspot, for an extra fee. Or purchase a 4G MiFi (mobile hotspot) and enjoy pay-as-you-go Internet service.</p> <h2>10. Souvenirs</h2> <p>Whether you're buying T-shirts, mugs, or keychains, souvenir purchases can cut into your travel budget. A local attraction or theme park will likely have an onsite gift shop &mdash; the seemingly perfect place to pick up a few items for yourself or family. However, if you exit an attraction and drive a little ways, you may find a slew of cheaper souvenir shops in the touristy areas.</p> <p>For something a bit more interesting or region-specific, skip the usual gifts and look for inexpensive alternatives. Maybe a hand fan or a traditional umbrella from Japan, or perhaps assorted French candy if you visit Paris. Other inexpensive options include wearable jewelry, hair combs or barrettes, Christmas ornaments, teas, and spices. And good ol' postcards are hard to beat both in terms of price and kitsch</p> <p><em>Do you have other travel traps to avoid that you'd like to share? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things You&#039;re Paying Too Much for When You Travel (and How to Pay Less)" 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> Travel cheap travel cheap vacations travel costs Fri, 07 Feb 2014 10:48:14 +0000 Mikey Rox 1123796 at 11 Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Dollar <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-vacation-destinations-that-stretch-your-dollar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="traveler" title="traveler" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A lot of people think they can't afford a vacation. That might be the case if they want to travel to expensive destinations like Hawaii or Paris. But not all destinations are created equal.</p> <p>Based on my experience, the more developed a country, the higher the costs. For example, North America, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand are typically more expensive; while Eastern Europe, Asia, and Central America are typically less expensive.</p> <p>(Wise Bread's pick for best travel rewards credit card is the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="nofollow">Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - 40,000 mile signup bonus, 2x miles on every purchase, and more. Click here for details.</a>)</p> <p>So the good news is the world is full of budget-friendly destinations just waiting to be explored. Here are 11 to get you started.</p> <h2>Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia)</h2> <p>If you're working on a shoestring budget, then look no further than Southeast Asia.</p> <p>While your flight might cost more up front, all other daily costs are very budget-friendly. For example, I traveled through Southeast Asia for over five months on only $25 per day, including flights and visas. (See also: <a href="">Top 5 Travel Reward Credit Cards</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Accommodations: $10 / night (guest house), $5 / night (hostel/dorm)</li> <li>Meal: $2</li> <li>Beer: $1</li> </ul> <h2>India</h2> <p>India is a huge country ,and the price of accommodations will range depending on your location. Overall, accommodations are slightly more expensive than Southeast Asia, while meals are slightly less expensive. (See also: <a href="">How to Budget for Your Next Vacation</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Accommodations: $15-25 / night (guest house)</li> <li>Meal: $1</li> <li>Beer: $1</li> </ul> <p>As a side note, if you're planning to overland travel through India, take the train rather than a bus to avoid bumpy roads and pay a few extra dollars for an upgraded train car. A comfortable bed and a little AC are worth it.</p> <h2>Nepal</h2> <p>Most people think hiking in the Himalayas is expensive. Heck, climbing <a href="">Everest can cost more than $60,000</a>! But not all hiking in Nepal is expensive.</p> <p>I hiked the <a href="">Annapurna Circuit</a> &mdash; an 18 to 21 day horseshoe shaped trek that winds around the Annapurna mountain range in the Himalaya &mdash; for under $20 per day. And don't get suckered into paying for a porter and guide. They'll add to the overall cost, and they're not required.</p> <ul> <li>Accommodations: $5-10 / night (guest house)</li> <li>Meal: $1-2</li> <li>Beer: $3</li> </ul> <p>Tip: It pays to be nice in Nepal. There were several guest house owners that offered me free accommodations just because I was nice. A friendly smile and a good attitude go a long way! (See also: <a href="">10 Ways Nice People Can Get Ahead</a>)</p> <h2>Central America (Guatemala and Nicaragua)</h2> <p>In Central America, I traveled more slowly and rented apartments by the month. A fully furnished luxury apartment in Antigua, Guatemala was $900 a month ($30/day) and a one bedroom apartment in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua was $580 per month ($20/day). (See also: <a href="">For Affordable Vacations, Travel Slowly</a>)</p> <p>Even if you don't travel for an entire month, you should still research the monthly cost of an apartment. The overall costs might be less expensive than a nightly rate. Plus apartments are typically cleaner and come with a kitchen, so you can cook your own meals. (See also: <a href="">Easy Recipes for the Traveling Chef</a>)</p> <ul> <li>Accommodations: $25 / night (guest house), $10 / night (dorm)</li> <li>Meal: $5</li> <li>Beer: $2</li> </ul> <h2>Hungary</h2> <p>I haven't been to Hungary since 2000, but the prices haven't gone up much. You can get a decent hotel room for under $25 per night or relax at one of Budapest's thermal day spas for under $10. For some real savings consider getting a one bedroom apartment in the city center for about $300 per month!</p> <ul> <li>Accommodations: $25 / night (hotel)</li> <li>Meal: $5-10</li> <li>Beer: $2</li> </ul> <h2>Peru</h2> <p>After traveling through Peru for a month in 2012, I was shocked at how reasonable the prices were. Most accommodations were under $20, and you could get a fresh bowl of ceviche for $5.</p> <ul> <li>Accommodations: $20 / night (guest house)</li> <li>Meal: $5-10</li> <li>Beer: $2</li> </ul> <p>Most people who visit Peru want to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which is very pricey. If you want to hike, consider staying in the city of Huaraz which offers world-class hiking in the Cordelia Blanca mountain range.</p> <h2>Start Planning!</h2> <p>Because these destinations are budget-friendly, they're also very popular among tourists and have plenty of accommodations. In most cases, you won't need to book in advance (unless it's during a holiday or major event).</p> <h3>Accommodations</h3> <p>To find accommodations, head to the main area of town and simply walk around. If you want more structure, <a href=";camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=lonely%20planet&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;sprefix=lonely%2Caps%2C303&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks">Lonely Planet guidebooks</a> provide accommodation suggestions for budget, mid-range, and high-end. Check out a few rooms before booking. If you've noticed there are several vacancies in the area, you might able to negotiate a better price or free breakfast. (See also: <a href="">How to Negotiate With Confidence</a>)</p> <p>If you're looking for a vacation rental, <a href="">VRBO</a>, <a href="">Airbnb</a>, and <a href="">craigslist</a> are good places to start.</p> <h3>Visas and Other Fees</h3> <p>Always research the cost of visas and taxes, which vary depending upon what country you're from and what country you are visiting. For example, the entry cost for a U.S. citizen flying into Santiago, Chile is $160. These hidden costs can add up fast and blow your budget.</p> <p>In addition to where you travel, it's how you travel that can save you a significant amount of money. You can stretch your dollar all around the world if you travel with an open mind and open itinerary.</p> <h3>Costs Elsewhere</h3> <p>Want to know the costs for another country?</p> <p><a href=""></a> is a handy website that lists the cost of living &mdash; including restaurants, transportation, and accommodations &mdash; for countries all around the world. Sort by cost and find your own value destinations, or compare a couple of destinations side-by-side and discover which is the better bargain.</p> <p><em>Where have you found great travel bargains?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Vacation Destinations That Stretch Your Dollar" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Darcie Connell</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel cheap travel discount vacation travel vacation Tue, 14 Jan 2014 11:24:09 +0000 Darcie Connell 1111182 at Taking Frugal Road Trips (Even When Gas Prices Are High) <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/taking-frugal-road-trips-even-when-gas-prices-are-high" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="road trip" title="road trip" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Vacation season is fast approaching &mdash; and it&rsquo;s time for you to solidify your plans. If you&rsquo;re looking for an adventure outside of a resort or your Aunt Em&rsquo;s farm, consider a road trip. Not only will you get to spend lots of quality time with your trip mates (for better or worse), but you&rsquo;ll have incredible stories and memories that you just can&rsquo;t get on a generic vacation. (See also:<a href="" target="_blank"> 5 Fun and Frugal Ideas for Family Road Trips</a>)</p> <p>Given the price of travel these days, specifically gasoline, how can you throw caution to wind and hit the road without draining your 401(k)? Consider these tips.</p> <h2>Gas</h2> <p>After food and lodging, gasoline will be your biggest travel expense. With some clever planning, you can trim the cost of filling your tank.</p> <p><strong>Pack Light</strong></p> <p>The more passengers in your vehicle during the road trip, the more ways you can split the cost of gas. But be careful. Each passenger will weigh down the vehicle, causing it to burn more fuel along the way. For every extra 100 pounds, <a href="" target="_blank">you can expect to reduce your MPG by up to 2%</a>. In that case, you&rsquo;ll have to be smarter and lighter in your packing &mdash; unless your suitcase can suddenly pay at the pump, too.</p> <p><strong>Go Where Gas Is Cheap</strong></p> <p>Plan your route so that you&rsquo;re traveling through places (or at least not stopping to fuel up) where gas is not at a premium. For instance, if you&rsquo;re driving from Baltimore to Boston, get gas in lower-price places like New Jersey instead of filling up in New York. To save on gas most efficiently, avoid top-tier gas destinations altogether and plan your trip to places that are consistently affordable or <a href="" target="_blank">less than the national average</a>.</p> <p><strong>Drive the Right Car</strong></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re traveling with passengers who all own a vehicle of their own, discuss beforehand whose vehicle has the best fuel economy. If you own a Ford F-150 pickup truck and your friend owns a Prius, it shouldn&rsquo;t take an engineering degree from MIT to help you decide which vehicle is best. (Although it might make sense to leave the Prius behind if the pickup has a camper shell and you plan to defray some of the cost of lodging by camping out.)</p> <p><strong>Drive Responsibly</strong></p> <p>When you&rsquo;re on the road, drive responsibly. Barreling down the highway like a speed demon will only burn gas quicker. Plus, you won&rsquo;t be able to enjoy the scenery along the way &mdash; which is part of the fun.</p> <p><strong>Drive at Night</strong></p> <p>If you can hack it, try to make the bulk of the trip overnight, driving in shifts if you have to. You&rsquo;ll burn less gas in the cooler night hours than in the warmer daytime.</p> <h2>Food</h2> <p>You have to eat, but you don't have to eat at diners and fast food joints for every meal.</p> <p><strong>Pack a Cooler</strong></p> <p>Smart, spend-savvy road trippers always pack a cooler filled to the brim with food. It may not be the healthiest food, of course, but this is vacation, so you can live a little. Packing these road snacks will help you avoid fast food joints and costly restaurants at which you may be forced to dine, especially when you&rsquo;re hungry in the middle of nowhere.</p> <p><strong>Set a Diner Budget</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;ll inevitably want to eat out sometimes along the road trip &mdash; and there&rsquo;s nothing wrong with that as long as it&rsquo;s not every meal &mdash; but for the times that you do indulge, have a budget set so you can manage your money well the whole way.</p> <p><strong>Find Happy Hours</strong></p> <p>Another great way to save when eating out along your trip is to find local happy hours that offer free snacks (<a href="" target="_blank">they&rsquo;re out there</a>) or by using discount apps like Scoutmob, LivingSocial, or Groupon for instant savings.</p> <p><strong>Accept Free Meals</strong></p> <p>Accept free meals when they&rsquo;re offered. Like if you stop at a friend&rsquo;s or family member&rsquo;s house and they insist on cooking your breakfast and sending you off with sandwiches.</p> <p><strong>Visit Grocery Stores</strong></p> <p>Hit up grocery stores along the way to restock your cooler. The price of a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, two bags of baby carrots, and two bags of potato chips will feed a group of four for a day for about $15. In comparison, a meal at a fast-food restaurant will cost more than $20 for four people &mdash; and that&rsquo;s just one meal.</p> <p><strong>Drink Water</strong></p> <p>Fill up your water bottles with free tap water along the way to stay healthy and hydrated.</p> <h2>Lodging</h2> <p>If you're an experienced road tripper, you probably already have a tent and <a href="" target="_blank">basic camping gear</a>. If you're really experienced, you may have an RV. If you're neither, you still have options beyond pricey motels.</p> <p><strong>Nap at Rest Stops</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;re allowed to nap in your car at rest stops. I&rsquo;m not saying it&rsquo;s very comfortable, and I&rsquo;m not saying it&rsquo;s very safe. I&rsquo;m just saying.</p> <p><strong>Camp</strong></p> <p>Renting a space at a campground is relatively inexpensive, but finding a secluded place to camp is free. If you plan to engage in the latter, make sure it&rsquo;s not private property, which is usually designated by signs.</p> <p><strong>Impose on Friends and Family</strong></p> <p>Plan your trip to areas where you have friends and family who have space to accommodate you. Not only will it be free (hopefully), but you&rsquo;ll also get to spend time with people you may not see very often.</p> <p><strong>Micro Sublet</strong></p> <p>For <a href="" target="_blank">other affordable lodging options</a>, look into Couchsurfing (which is free) or microsubletting sites like Airbnb. The latter isn&rsquo;t free, but you&rsquo;ll almost always get more for your money and have a better time than at a hotel.</p> <p><strong>Use Your Rewards</strong></p> <p>Cash in any rewards points that you may have racked up and turn them into a hotel stay. After a week or two on the road, you&rsquo;ll want at least one night of luxury. What else are you saving it for?</p> <h2>Activities</h2> <p>I don&rsquo;t expect that you&rsquo;re driving all over the country to spend all your time looking at things from inside the car. Sometimes you&rsquo;ll want to get out and explore.</p> <p><strong>Visit Public Sites</strong></p> <p>Plan trips to public and free sites, which are available no matter where you go &mdash; big cities and small towns alike.</p> <p><strong>Buy Daily Deals</strong></p> <p>Purchase daily deals in advance of reaching your destination to reduce the cost of higher-end activities. Remember that some activities that tend to be popular will need to schedule you in, so it&rsquo;s best to do this at least a week or two in advance so you&rsquo;re not shut out at the last minute with no chance of a refund.</p> <p><strong>Check Visitor's Centers</strong></p> <p>Stop in at visitor's centers to gather information on free events and activities and scoop up valuable coupons you can&rsquo;t find elsewhere.</p> <p><strong>Wing It</strong></p> <p>Plan your own activities. You&rsquo;re on a road trip with friends. Surely you guys can come up with plenty of fun things to do together that don&rsquo;t cost a dime. All you&rsquo;ve got to do is put your heads together.</p> <p><em>Have any more tips on how to have a frugal road trip?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Taking Frugal Road Trips (Even When Gas Prices Are High)" 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> General Tips Lifestyle Travel budget vacations cheap travel frugal road trip lodging road trip travel travel food Thu, 02 May 2013 10:24:44 +0000 Mikey Rox 973516 at 8 Free (and 4 cheap) Things to Do in Auckland with a Toddler <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-free-and-4-cheap-things-to-do-in-auckland-with-a-toddler" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Sometimes getting out and exploring a city, especially when traveling overseas, can be difficult to do with young children. It's easy for us parents to make the &quot;I have a toddler&quot; excuse and thus become restricted in what we are able to see and do.</p> <p>Also, when you are venturing through a new city finding fun things to do that don't bust your budget can be a drag.</p> <p>Recently, Courtney and I have settled in Auckland, New Zealand for a short time, while <a href="">backpacking overseas</a>. We've created a list of free (and a couple cheap) events within Auckland that are easy to do even with a young child. These are all items that we've already done or that are on our to-do list for the coming weeks!</p> <p>While this list may contain specific items in Auckland, even if you never plan on visiting New Zealand, you can <strong>use the list to brainstorm events that you may be overlooking in your own city</strong>.</p> <p>If you haven't spent time looking into it, you'll be surprised at just how many free options you really have!</p> <h2>Inside Auckland's Central City (CBD)</h2> <h3>Auckland Domain/War Memorial Museum</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location</strong>: Southwest section of CBD, bordered by AUT campus to the west and Parnell to the east</li> <li><strong>Transportation:</strong> You can take a pleasant walk through Grafton Cemetery and across the Grafton bridge. You can also catch the Link bus which cycles through the city's key destinations for $1.60</li> <li><strong>Admission</strong>: FREE (Museum is $5 donation)</li> </ul> <p>The <a href="">Auckland Domain</a> is a Central Park with grassy malls open for rugby scrimmages. The walkways are decorated with arching trees, which feature exposed roots, thick trunks, and low hanging branches. There's a lovely duck pond with a water fountain, a WinterGarden observatory, and <a href="">War Memorial Museum</a>. The domain is a common hot spot for festivals, races, and free concerts.</p> <h3>Auckland Library</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location</strong>: Wellesley and Lorne Street</li> <li><strong>Transportation:</strong> 5-10 min walk</li> <li><strong>Admission:</strong> FREE</li> </ul> <p>How many times do you see the library on a list of things to do in the city? I enjoy reading, but I never feels inspired when I see a library listed on an activities list. Please let <a href="">Auckland Library</a> change your thinking. They have interactive story telling, frequent guest speakers for kids, and the most decked-out children's play section we've ever seen.</p> <h3>Tepid Baths</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location</strong>: YMCA at the corner of Hobson Street and Customs Street</li> <li><strong>Transportation</strong>: 5 min walk</li> <li><strong>Admission:</strong> $5/person $0/under 2</li> </ul> <p>This is a small gym/pool in the center of the city. You probably won't find this on too many lists of things to do, because the facility is rather small. However, there is a second pool tucked inside where they have open swim. They'll pull out noodles, balls, and water polo nets. We just splashed around in the water for hours. As a bonus, many downtown hotels provide free passes.</p> <h3>Albert Park</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location:</strong> One entrance at Lorne Street and Victoria Street (one block east of Queen Street)</li> <li><strong>Transportation:</strong> 5-10 min walk from Britomart</li> <li><strong>Admission</strong>: FREE</li> </ul> <p>If you are looking for a quick escape from the city, wander over to <a href="">Albert Park</a>. Although it's not the largest park in the city, it has tree-covered walking paths, historical monuments, grassy patches, and a fountain surrounded by gorgeous flowers. The only downfall is the lack of playground.</p> <h3>Victoria Park</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location:</strong> Blocked in by Fanshawe Street and Victoria Street (one block west of Nelson Street)</li> <li><strong>Transportation:</strong> 15 min walk</li> <li><strong>Admission</strong>: FREE</li> </ul> <p>There are always scrimmages or organized games of some sort at Victoria Park. This is also one of the few parks in the CBD with a playground. Make a stop at the <a href="">Victoria Park Market</a>, a new Auckland souvenir shopping hotspot.</p> <h2>Outside Auckland's Central City (CBD)</h2> <h3>Auckland Zoo</h3> <ul> <li>Location: Western Springs</li> <li>Transportation: 25 min bus ride on GoWest for $3.20 or 10 min by car</li> <li>Admission: $19/adult $0/under 4</li> </ul> <p>The <a href="">Auckland Zoo</a> highlights included seeing a NZ native Kiwi and walking through the &quot;Walk-About&quot; where you enter the arena of roaming kangaroos and wallabies. There are several play centers, outdoor slides, and grassy areas. You can hire a &quot;pushcart&quot; &mdash; a stroller &mdash; from the gift shop. There is also a tram that travels next to the zoo which is part of MOTAT, the Auckland Transportation Council.</p> <h3>Mission Bay</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location:</strong> East of Auckland and Orakei, along the Harbor</li> <li><strong>Transportation:</strong> 15 min by bus for $3.20, 10 min by car</li> <li><strong>Admission</strong>: FREE</li> </ul> <p>Mission Bay is the more popular beach of the Eastern beaches. It has several seaside vendors and lots of room to spread out a blanket. Amazingly, this bit of paradise is only 15 minutes from the hustle and bustle of the city center.</p> <h3>One Tree Hill</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location:</strong> Epsom, next to Cornwall Park</li> <li><strong>Transportation</strong>: 15 min train ride for $2.80 and a 15 min walk</li> <li><strong>Admission</strong>: FREE</li> </ul> <p>One Tree Hill is a highlight for <a href=",_New_Zealand">New Zealand pop culture</a> and, unfortunately, the victim of several recent vandalism acts. The hill is treeless now, but there is talk to replant a new tree in place of the old. The walk is fun and grassy! Stop in Cornwall Park for a stroll and a picnic.</p> <h3>Ambury Farm Park</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location:</strong> 15km from Central City, Manukau Harbour</li> <li><strong>Transportation:</strong> 30 min drive on Southern Motorway, 1 hr by bus for $7.00</li> <li><strong>Admission</strong>: FREE</li> </ul> <p>Ambury Farm is a living farm operated by the government. You can visit the farm, interact with the animals, and run wild. Spring is best when lambs are booming out. There's a drive, but it's worth the free visit. Just watch that you don't take any dung home with you.</p> <h3>Rainbow's End</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location</strong>: 20km South of Central City, Manukau</li> <li><strong>Transportation</strong>: 20 min drive on Southern Motorway, 50 min by bus for $6.50</li> <li><strong>Admission:</strong> Adults $44, Castle Pass (2-5yrs) $15, Spectator Pass $15</li> </ul> <p><a href="">Rainbow's End</a> is the only theme park in the Greater Auckland area. The Castle Pass is geared specifically to toddlers and offers a significantly discounted price. As an adult accompanying, you can buy a Spectator Pass for only $15. There are family pass deals as well. This could a great option to satisfy everyone!</p> <h3>Kelly Tarlton's</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Location:</strong> Tamaki Drive in Orakei, northeast of Auckland along the harbor</li> <li><strong>Transportation</strong>: There's a <a href="">free shuttle service</a> that departs every hour from 172 Quay Street (along the wharf). 10 min by bus for $3.20</li> <li><strong>Admission:</strong> $31.50 /non-residents $0/under 3</li> </ul> <p><a href="">Kelly Tarlton's</a> is an &quot;Antartic Encounter&quot; and a &quot;Underwater World.&quot; Though I have yet to visit this museum, I hear about it on a daily basis. Students are constantly talking about how they saw a stingray over the holidays. In their pre-school books, they always show a picture of them visiting Kelly Tarlton's. I mostly hear about how they have penguins and how you can &quot;swim with fish if you pay extra.&quot;</p> <h3>Rangitoto Island</h3> <ul> <li>Location: 25 min ferry ride off the coast of Auckland</li> <li>Transportation: Fueller's runs several ferries in the harbor. $25/adult roundtrip, $0/under 2 yrs, $59/family</li> <li>Admission: The volcanic island is FREE</li> </ul> <p>Grab that backpack carrier, granola bars, and a sun hat. There are different tour options for how in depth you want to explore the island. With <a href="">Fullers</a>, you can take the $25 trip over and walk around. There's also a <a href="">Volcanic Explorer Tour</a> that guides you through the island on a 4WD Train $55 (including ferry ride).</p> <p><strong>There it is!</strong> You've lost your &quot;I have a toddler&quot; excuse next time you are in Auckland (or anywhere for that matter). This is just one example from one city. Even if you won't be visiting Auckland or New Zealand anytime soon, hopefully you'll be able to brainstorm some free and cheap spots in your own city!</p> <p><em>What free options are available in your own home city for families with young children?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Free (and 4 cheap) Things to Do in Auckland with a Toddler" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Adam Baker</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel Art and Leisure cheap things to do with kids cheap travel family fun Mon, 09 Nov 2009 14:00:01 +0000 Adam Baker 3798 at Little Road Trips Here and There: Little Savings Everywhere <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/little-road-trips-here-and-there-little-savings-everywhere" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="168" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We&rsquo;ve gone on two road trips this summer, with two more to go. Trips with a family of four can get expensive, but they don&rsquo;t have to be.&nbsp; Here&rsquo;s my advice on where to cut corners and where to splurge, and have fun doing so.</p> <h2>Rental car versus your car</h2> <p>Most rental cars aren&rsquo;t maintained for a lengthy trip. I reserved a car from Avis, but when I went to pick it up the tires were bald and they refused to put new tires on it. I refused the rental. They offered to upgrade but their upgrade was a gas guzzler. Be careful with accepting upgrades on rental cars. Keep your destination in mind. An explosive fight between a husband and wife unfolded in front of us as the husband accepted an upgrade to a bigger, better, longer vehicle. The wife called him any number of choice names. &ldquo;We are going to San Francisco!&rdquo; She screamed, &ldquo;just where do you expect us to park that boat?&rdquo;</p> <p>Unless your own car is on its last legs or you are concerned about adding miles to it, my mechanic says to take your own car.&nbsp; If you do regular maintenance on your car (tune-ups, oil changes, recommendations from the manufacturer) then your car should be up for the challenge. In my case, the road trips are what got me to give my car the tune-up it was asking for. So I now have a well maintained car with new tires, because the road trips made me anxious to make sure the car was in good shape. Without the threat of travel, I&rsquo;d still be behind in my maintenance. Apparently many people tune up their cars before road trips, so going on a road trip might actually <em>help</em> your car&rsquo;s maintenance.</p> <p>If you have kids with you---it&rsquo;s less stressful to be in your own vehicle. You never know when junior is going to get artistic with the back passenger side window. If it&rsquo;s yours, you panic less.</p> <h2>Food&nbsp;</h2> <p>My family likes to fill up a cooler and picnic basket full of food and drinks, along with a cutting board and knife. We don't forage exclusively from this, but it allows us some control of the food availability this way. There could be long stretches of the road where you'd be hard pressed to find a piece of fruit. That&rsquo;s when it&rsquo;s great to have carrot and celery sticks at the ready. An empty calorie fast food stop can run you up to $20 for a family of four.</p> <p>Having said that, we DO stop at fast food for the bathroom and maybe a shared order of fries. That saves $18 bucks each stop. We eat out of the picnic basket until we can&rsquo;t handle seeing anything in it or we finish it.</p> <p>We keep a look out for Asian restaurants that serve food family style. Family style means we can order for two people and have extra plates for the kiddies, instead of having to order a full separate meal they won&rsquo;t eat. That saves us money on the kids. On our last trip we dropped $60 bucks on a great Indian food dinner, but we took the leftovers and ate them for breakfast the next day! Nothing was wasted, everything was good.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you are going to some place known for its food, of course you don&rsquo;t want to skimp on the food. Instead, skimp on breakfast and dinner, and make the big meal lunch since lunch is often cheaper than dinner. Eat with your region. One of the most expensive things to do food wise is to try and eat the same as you do at home. Eat what the locals eat--it&rsquo;s going to be cheaper.</p> <h2>Accommodations</h2> <p>We do a mix of things. Obviously crashing on your best friend from college&rsquo;s couch ain&rsquo;t going to work with two kids and a husband (unless they are really mellow with a really big house). Our rule of thumb is that if we are invited to stay with friends, we stay one day less than they anticipated, and we only stay with people that are messier than we are.&nbsp;</p> <p>More often than not we wind up at motels. After much trial and error we&rsquo;ve decided that Comfort Inns and Best Westerns are the best way to go. They have more options on the continental breakfast (cutting out a meal on the road), have bath tubs (important with kids), have working pools (another important thing with kids) and are usually really clean. They take AAA discounts (which really just knocks off the tax).&nbsp;</p> <p>What works best though is going to the town next door to the town you really want to go to. For example Ashland, Oregon is the big theatre destination with rooms running up to $300 a night. So if we go to Ashland, we drive 10 minutes and stay in Medford, which doesn&rsquo;t carry the same high rate ( we stayed for 1/3 of what the price in Ashland was).</p> <p>If you&rsquo;ve got long term plans, think of housing swaps. In the 10 years that friends of mine and I have done this, I&rsquo;ve only heard one story from one couple where this didn&rsquo;t work out.</p> <h2>Souvenirs</h2> <p>When you travel with kids, this is the big one outside of food that can really set you back. Create family traditions that don't revolve around buying high priced and useless souvenirs. We put together a road trip scrapbook where we collect everything from leaves, matchbooks, postcards, menus, business cards--any piece of something that can be glued into a scrapbook. Time permitting, we like to stop at used bookstores or thriftstores where we might find the typical souvenir t-shirt from the area.&nbsp; Our souvenir becomes a few pages in the scrapbook rather than a shot glass that we might not use again. We know going into the trip that we are working on a scrapbook so everyone in the car is on the look out for symbolic things to put in the book.</p> <h2>Car toys&nbsp;</h2> <p>A couple of weeks before the trip, I glean the rooms and toyboxes for things the kids haven&rsquo;t seen in awhile that would be good to occupy the kids in the car. I add a homemade journal for each kid of plain white paper with construction paper covers. When they are strapped in the car seats I present them with the new old backpack of forgotten toys and journal. It works like a charm and keeps them from fighting for at least a half hour while they look at all their forgotten treasures.</p> <p>Lastely, don't forget that AAA allows you to get free maps and discounted rooms, as well as roadside assistance which provides a sense of security while you're on the open road.</p> <p>The most successful road trip vacations incorporate a balance of two important elements: spontaneity and planning. While these might seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum and enemies of each other, they really aren&rsquo;t. When applied successfully, spontaneity and planning go hand in hand. Keep this in the back of your head while driving.</p> <p><em>What are some of your road trip suggestions for making better, cheaper road trips happen?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Little Road Trips Here and There: Little Savings Everywhere" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Maggie Wells</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Travel AAA Art and Leisure cheap travel road trips road trips with kids Mon, 27 Jul 2009 18:00:14 +0000 Maggie Wells 3427 at