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Budget Travel | Travel Deals, Travel Tips, Vacation Ideas

Budget Travel | Travel Deals, Travel Tips, Vacation Ideas | lorilou_travel | Scoop.it
Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine; offering travel guides, travel tips, and advice on trip planning, restaurant recommendations, city guides, and popular destinations.
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Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor

Reviews of Hotels, Flights and Vacation Rentals - TripAdvisor | lorilou_travel | Scoop.it

Never, and Lorilou means NEVER, leave home without checking out your hotel/trip/city/restaurant on this incredible site. It is a lifesaver. Real people who have visited real places tell it like it is - warts and all. Some (like me) post photos of super rooms that you will want to request when making a reservation. It is also an amazing site for connecting with others pre-trip in order to find out details about your destination. Use the Forums to do this. I would never (there's that word again) go on a trip without using Trip Advisor. Get travel savvy! Leave your own reviews and receive feedback. Don't let glossy brochures and photoshopped web sites fool you - check with the experts first!

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Some Basic Travel Tips

To plan your trip:

 

First of all – take a deep breath. You totally do NOT need a travel agent in this day of Internet access and travel sites!

 

Make a list of the cities you will visit.If you fly one of the big carriers, make sure you sign up for their miles/rewards program. Why? Because you will be racking up a ton of miles on this trip and you may be able to squeeze in another trip in the continental U.S. out of the first trip! I did this – the trip to Spain paid for flying the whole family to an island off the coast of Florida a couple of Christmases ago.

 

Once you have those cities chosen, use Trip Advisor www.tripadvisor.com to start looking at potential hotels.

 

Consider train travel in foreign countries - it is fast, efficient, and a joy in that you can simply sit and enjoy the scenery, drink some lovely wine and eat some local bread, and not have the responsibility of car rental, driving rules, accident insurance, etc. Also make use of taxis to get around. You can also have a wonderful time taking buses, also.

 

Going overseas? You will want to take a power adapter with you. Check travel stores. Also, bring earplugs if you are used to sleeping in a quiet environment; ditto for eye mask. And, get used to the idea that others will be smoking out in public nearly everywhere you go.

 

Get passports NOW. Make copies of passports, credit card numbers/PIN numbers. I also made a very tiny little table in Word of all of our personal information (passport number, bank info., credit card numbers/PINs, medical information) just in case any travel documents were lost. I made these tables super small so they could be slipped into a small pocket in my travel backpack. Never had to use this. Remember that lots of hotels in Europe will ask to keep your passport while you are out and about and will return it when you check out.

 

You can change money at airports, train stations, banks, etc. Be prepared for the “ouch” factor when changing from dollars to Euros. No wonder some Europeans fly here for a day to shop in NYC – the dollar gives them so much more. Stores in Europe are not usually open on Sundays and you don’t haggle or expect sales. What you see is what you get.

 

Meals outside of the U.S. take a long time, because it is all about the socializing and enjoyment of the food (something we should learn from them).

 

We did not bring cell phones overseas. We made frequent, explicit plans to meet family members at certain places at certain times You can talk to your cell phone company and get a sim card and overseas service for a month, for an extra fee. You also have to have a phone that is compatible overseas. Your cell company might rent you a phone that is compatible. We were trying to keep it cheap, so we just winged it. This made me really nervous, travelling with kids who wanted to wander off on their own, but it all worked out. We even lost my husband on the metro in Barcelona, but he eventually made his way back to the apartment where our daughter was staying.

 

 

Sites to use for travel:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/

This site is a MUST. I never travel anywhere without using it. Real people give you the real scoop on hotels, cities, and restaurants. So once you determine exact cities, you can start searching for hotels in them that might work. They are ranked by popularity, and accurate pricing information is provided. You can read comments, and see photos, that people post regarding their experiences. I booked our overseas hotels based on what other people said, and then I went in and wrote reviews of where we stayed (Petit Palace Museum in Barcelona - simply loved it/ and Hotel Murillo in Sevilla – another hit). We stayed with relatives in Madrid, which was also nice because they made us traditional foods (Paella and Sangria) and knew all about transportation!

 

http://www.travelzoo.com

You can find incredible travel deals here. There is an excellent Ireland package now being offered. I’ve used this site several times with no problems. Sign up for the weekly e-mails and you’ll see different travel offers each week. If you see a place that sounds like where you’d like to stay, always cross-reference it with Trip Adviser (above).

 

www.bookingbuddy.com

I like this site because it runs searches on several of the airfare warehousers at one time. But it is not the final word in airfare! If you love Delta, for example, call them and talk to a real live person and see what they can offer you. This is what I did, and got the best price on the telephone.

 

http://www.aerlingus.com/home/index.jsp

This is the cheapest way to fly from the U.S. to Ireland. Make sure you check this out before Delta or the other big airlines. You can catch flights on Aerlingus to all over Europe. It is a no-frills airline, but gets you from point A to point B. If you have money to blow, go first class on your flight over to Ireland, and you can stretch out a bit. We flew coach and it is a long time to be stuck in such small areas!

 

http://www.vueling.com/?language=EN

Super cheap flights in Spain and to some European countries. Make sure you note that prices are offered in Euros and run the conversion. We used this company twice in Spain and had no problems.

 

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/us

Excellent travel guide; better than Fodor’s. Make sure you check this site. Cross check what you find on it with Trip Advisor. You can also buy Lonely Planet books online or at a bookstore, but keep in mind that you will not enjoy dragging travel guides everywhere you go. I left mine at home once I knew (sort of) where we were going. You could load this up as a mobile app if you are using a cell phone on your travels. One of our most fun nights in Sevilla actually involved spending hours drinking and eating at an Irish Pub (of all things) outside of the big Cathedral. It was freezing outside and we kept getting hot food and drinking more cold beer and were out until 3 a.m. wandering all over the city. Some of us got lost and met this lovely architect who led us back to the main part of the city, and we had so much fun using our awful Spanish on him.

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Priceline.com | Best deal on Hotels, Flights, Cars, Vacations & more!

Priceline.com | Best deal on Hotels, Flights, Cars, Vacations & more! | lorilou_travel | Scoop.it

Absolutely take the time to check out Priceline. It doesn't hurt to see what they are offering to get an idea of hotel rates for your destination. Then, suck it up and be brave and bid for a room! Downsides: You have to give them your credit card information up front; you are only guaranteed a room with a king size bed (great for couples, not so cool for large families); and you might be treated like a dweeb or undesirable because you got your room through a discounter. Upside? Cheap place to stay meaning that you can upgrade to a four-star hotel and pay two to three-star prices. If you don't mind not receiving special treatment, then throw out a bid. The worst thing that will happen is that your bid won't be accepted. Do know that once your bid is accepted your credit card is charged immediately. Once you are at your destination, don't be afraid to ask for a different room. I've also had luck approaching front desk personnel and nicely requesting a double room in lieu of a king room, and have never had my request turned down. Also be aware that when you stay in a large-city hotel you WILL get reamed for parking fees. Plan to take a shuttle or taxi and use public transportation instead. Or, be creative like us, and find a shopping center that validates parking, and move your car every four hours!

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