Category: What Expert Travelers Do

How to Trade Time for Money (and Vice Versa) While Traveling

One of the key skills that sets expert travelers apart is how they balance time and budget. What most people would struggle to do … they don’t!

If you had an unlimited budget, you could probably be picky about how much of your day you’re willing to spend doing things. How much time you’d spend to get yourself around, how much time you can linger over a glass of wine. Time is easy to find. Conversely, if you had months to spend you’d inevitably save money doing the same activity, just by spending a little more time in line, or waiting for the bus.

Here’s a few simple ways to save money by trading time, and how to smartly trade money for time. To be clear, sometimes spending time or money is not an either/or relationship.  Many of my favorite travel experiences were made by walking back to the hotel, or standing in line for food with the locals, or flying to a vacation in business class. You choose!

To save MONEY by trading TIME

  1. Stay in the next town over from your destination
    park_city

    Park City, Utah’s next town over is Salt Lake City, 40 minutes away.

    I learned this in my snowboarding days, but it works for nearly all travel. If I was going snowboarding in Jackson Hole, I’d stay in Driggs, Idaho, 30 minutes away from the resort. I’d save 40-50% over what staying in Jackson, Wyoming costs. 

  2. Prepare your own meals
    alpine_picnic

    Nothing wrong with this view

    I really look forward to eating the local food wherever I’m traveling. Doing that means dining out. But you can get a different but equally memorable experience if you prepare your own meal using local ingredients. You’ll need to shop, and that means going where the locals go. Another benefit!

  3. Spend time getting informed while on the road 
    gateau

    Half-price, if you’re willing to come on a Thursday. Credit: Juliana Su/Flickr

    As an experience-focused traveler, I really prefer to follow my instinct and let my feet and nose do the deciding. But this can get very expensive! What I do is get a grasp of what I would like to go experience, and then find the best deal going for that activity. Two examples: some culinary schools and academies have restaurants that serve the public awesome meals at rock-bottom prices, but only during limited hours. Museums too: many museums offer free entry but only on a particular day. This beats paying $25 or more for entry for each museum.  

    Louvre_by_Night

    Louvre, Paris. Free the First Sunday of Every Month

To save TIME by trading MONEY

  1. Fly Business class and sleep on the plane
    Business Class on Eva Air Credit: Edwin Leong/By Edwin Leong, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31769804

    Business Class on Eva Air Credit: Edwin Leong/ https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31769804

    For most overseas flights, this saves a day each way, so in effect your vacation is 2 whole days longer. Overseas Business Class is in my experience a bigger leap in creature comfort as well: food, entertainment and comfort are a big step up from coach on overseas flights. This also is true for sleeper cars on trains — the most tranquil place on many trains is the private berths, not to mention more secure.

  2. Take a private tour or book a private table
    kitchen_view

    Hard at work

    In many attractions, high demand means long lines, something to avoid at all costs if you’re careful with your time. Talk to your hotel concierge, and see if they can arrange a private tour for you. This also works for restaurants. Ask your concierge about getting a tour of the restaurant you’re interested in, and dining at the chef’s table, which is another word for the kitchen. I highly recommend it!

  3. Book a hotel room next door to your destination
    hotel_louvre

    Right Next Door!

    The most consistently time-saving technique I use is to sleep as close to the attraction as possible. For instance if you’re visiting the Louvre, stay in the 1st Arrondissement. Pricier! But a 5 minute walk beats 45 minutes.

  4. Take care of personal chores in the hotel 
    5 Stars. Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/streetcarl/ (Ben)

    5 Stars. Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/streetcarl/ (Ben)

    Ever wonder what’s the difference between 4 and 5 star hotels? The real difference? It’s guest services. Time taking care of the little things is time taken away from your visit. Small time stealers add up. In top hotels, you can arrange for most things to be done to be done for you. I especially like having my laundry done, it’s one of those things that feels like luxury when I travel. Haircuts, too. And of course, room service. 

 Amazing Airfare was created to offer travelers unbelievable discounts (in every case at least 50%) on airfare to international destinations. If you’re a traveler looking to find the biggest discount, or just too busy to keep searching for incredible deals,Amazing Airfare might be the ticket!

If you’ve found this post useful, or if you’ve got questions or comments, drop in your comment below, we love to hear from fellow travelers!

Brexit and Travel Impacts

Three ways travel is impacted post-Brexit:

1. Take Donald Trump’s advice and save some money

Trump explains travel

Trump explains travel

I never thought I’d take Donald Trump’s advice on travel, but today I am!  Here’s the quote: “…. traveling and for other things, you know, I think it could very well turn out to be a positive.”  Washington Post, June 24, 2016

All kidding aside, the British Pound’s trading at about 7% less right now (up from nearly 11% lower yesterday) versus the US Dollar and this has direct benefit if you pay in greenbacks.  Here’s how: Travel to UK or paying for UK goods and services (like a plane ticket, a hotel room or a West End play) will be substantially cheaper. The UK can be kind of expensive, so any discount is well worth seeking out, especially one this straightforward. If you’re thinking of going, book (and pay) soon.

2.  Border travel restrictions won’t change for at least two years.

More of this, in a few years

More of this, in a few years

 According to European Union law, The UK leaves the EU two years after it notifies the EU, about two years from today (the UK hasn’t notified the EU of its intentions.) For Europeans traveling to the UK, that means that travel won’t be impacted by EU resident checks for a few years. Same with UK residents: Travel to non-CTA EU countries won’t be restricted by border checks for a few years.  It is too early to expect more border patrols, but it is likely. This means that border crossing to or from the UK will be affected eventually – more red tape, more delays and more queues – but nothing changes right now.   

3.  A rare invitation into British and Northern Irish political attitudes.

No lack of opinions here

No lack of opinions here

One of my favorite insights about travel is from Mark Twain:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  

As Mark Twain suggests, travel offers us a different perspective on our world. From what I’ve read and seen, some areas of the UK were very strongly Remain, and some were decidedly Leave.  What’s the deeper reason? One thing I’m sure of is that British and Northern Irish folks probably have an opinion and might want to talk about it with you! It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the British and Northern Irish people and how they view themselves.

 Amazing Airfare was created to offer travelers unbelievable discounts (in every case at least 50%) on airfare to international destinations.  If you’re a traveler looking to find the biggest discount, or just too busy to keep searching for incredible deals,  Amazing Airfare might be the ticket!

If you’ve found this post useful, or if you’ve got questions or comments, drop in your comment below, we love to hear from fellow travelers!

Three Things about My Venice

I am so excited that we’re introducing a new series on Amazing Airfare’s blog, where we share three unique travel insights from our close friends! This series is all about sharing insider knowledge about places, and suggestions of things you might want to check out in these great places. These are from the heart, a connection with a place that you don’t forget.  We’re calling it Three Things.

Our first Three Things is from our friend Suzanne Mason. Take it away Suzanne!

There are so many places that I love and go back to, but I’d have to say that my all time favorite is Venice, Italy.

Gran Canal and Salute at dusk

Grand Canal and Salute at dusk

For me, Venice is as exciting as any mega metropolis in that it has immense diversity. La Serenissima has attracted people, customs, cuisines from all corners of the world, historically and currently.

The history of powerful doges, the spice traders, The Jewish quarter, the Grand Canal, the trade zones that set the tone for modern trade practices. The unique cuisine within the singular ecology of the Laguna makes it a place that for me is man and nature wrestling before your eyes daily.

A simple, everyday home renovation or pipe repair is like an archaeological dig with silt and clay being brought up from hundreds of years ago. It brings up evocative imagery of what the area might have looked like, who first lived there, who made the city what it is and how it is used today. It is all these lessons and more.

Whenever I go back to Venice: It never really seems to change, but I am always stunned at how blown away I am every time I go there.

The three things many people miss and should not miss in Venice are:

1) The Giardini (away from the biennale crowds) Just observe all the ordinary people in the gardens  — non-tourists, old people with their mongrel rat dogs, kids with their mothers going about their day.

Footbridge in Venice

Footbridge in Venice

2) The backside of the tourism centers — the neighborhoods on the edges of the grand quarters — the schools, the groceries, butcher shops, pasta shops, local cafes, the garden supply stores. These places show you how people live there in this fantastical place. How they get their groceries home, pass all the canals, over all the slippery Istrian marble bridges, up the ancient palazzo stairs. It makes you consider all the ways in which we are the same, but how the atmosphere and surroundings influence all that Venetians do. Even going to dinner could be getting dressed in sleek evening attire and then getting in your private paddle boat standing up and rowing to your favorite restaurant.

Home in Venice

Home in Venice

3) The Lido – the real Venice Beach, complete with muscle heads and scanty bikinis. It is the stuff of Fellini films…old muscle men with sagging pecs wearing banana yellow speedos, young bimbos with huge hair and hot pink fingernails, fat little boys crying and eating a fast-melting ice cream cone while their glamorous mothers are trying to hook up with the young Adonis who has been giving them eyes all morning…bike riding, goats, scallop shell lined streets with artichokes growing left and right…and most fascinating of all…cars! Cars! They look strange and displaced in this world that functions so well without them.

Paul Newman 1963 Venice Film Festival

Six Pack Delivery! Paul Newman on Lido Beach, 1963 Venice Film Festival

Amazing Airfare was created to offer travelers unbelievable discounts (in every case at least 50%) on airfare to international destinations.  If you’re a traveler looking to find the biggest discount, or just too busy to keep searching for incredible deals,  Amazing Airfare might be the ticket!

If you’ve found this post useful, or if you’ve got questions or comments, drop in your comment below, we love to hear from fellow travelers!

Five Essential Mobile Travel Apps

We’re passionate about travel. We believe travel experiences should be accessible to everyone, and the tools and talents we’ve learned should be shared with everyone. Having a great experience on your next trip really does start with going places that you can have a great experience, and for us, having a great experience is easier and more predictably enjoyable whenever we use mobile apps.

My first use of a mobile device on vacation was in France, in 2004. I caused quite a stir in Bordeaux when I showed up at Bed and  Breakfast table using Map Point 2004 on my Windows Pocket PC 2002 device! It felt like it was from the future, and it’s fair to say that it was a memorable experience for everyone involved.

Here are five free mobile apps useful after you find a great deal on airfare. We chose these apps for their class-leading utility, ease of use and free price. Many of these could be replaced by a personal preference, and if you prefer your app over an app here, by all means stick with your app! Finally, familiarize yourself with these apps before you go on your next vacation.

Maps: Google Maps:  Google Play iTunes  Not getting lost in a foreign country means getting a map, and mapping applications, as long as you have bandwidth, are a practical and handy way to find your way on the road. Almost everyone has used Google Maps, so sticking with a familiar app is a good idea.

The best reason to recommend Google Maps is that no other map provider offers car/bike/ferry/walk and rail options in the same app. In many parts of the world, where booking a train ticket or getting a seat on a ferry is the norm, this is a key feature. This was only recently added to the app (it had been on the browser version only) so we can now recommend the app over the website. Finally, Google Maps has a great feature that’s missing in most other free mapping programs: airport interior maps. Finding an international gate in a new airport for a connecting flight can be stressful. Don’t miss your flight!

Airline Info: FlightView Free iTunes  Google Play FlightView Free is the best app for real-time flight information. When is that flight scheduled to arrive? Get an alert for that flight. Departure gate changed? Get an alert. Connecting flight changed? Get an alerted as soon as it happens. You can set custom levels of alerts, see real-time flight paths, arrival and departure times (or delays) all updated within seconds. You can even find out information about the plane model. Enter your flight info, the app does the rest. Essential. From OAG.

Translation: Google Translate: Google Play  Itunes The app offers text, speech and snapshot translation, meaning if you can take a pic with your smartphone, you have a great shot at translating the sign. Google Translate now includes French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Portuguese as offline translators for when you’re tight on bandwidth (more on that later.) We still recommend learning a few conversational phrases (and knowing what they mean when you are asked the same phrases) but traveling with a translator opens up another level of great travel experience.

Mobile Device on Vacation

Mobile is for more than pics on your next vacation

Spending and Budget: Mint iTunes Google Play

Saving a lot of money on a plane ticket is a smart way to experience travel. Overspending your budget can be fun, but it can take away the benefits of saving a lot on your next vacation airfare. Mint helps you track expenses and keep your budget in mind when you travel. Since online privacy and security are a big concern too, we feel safe recommending Mint.

Mint is now part of Intuit, who have been making personal finance software forever, so the user experience and features are great right out of the box. 

Itinerary wrangling: TripIt: Trip Planner iTunes  Google Play

TripIt places high on our list of essentials because it’s an easy and free way to keep your travel plans organized. If you forward travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com, TripIt will create a streamlined master itinerary for each of your trips that you can access anytime, anywhere, on any device—for free. If you have a Gmail account, it will do its organizing on its own – no forwarding necessary.

Key Features of Tripit are:

  • Instantly creates a schedule with all your travel details in one place
  • Imports travel plans directly from your email
  • Gives you access to your travel plans on any device
  • Adds your travel plans to your calendar for you
  • Keeps family, friends and colleagues in the loop
  • Stores essential travel documents and contacts

Amazing Airfare was created to offer travelers unbelievable discounts (in every case at least 50%) on airfare to international destinations.  If you’re a traveler looking to find the biggest discount, or just too busy to keep searching for incredible deals,  Amazing Airfare might be the ticket!

If you’ve found this post useful, or if you’ve got questions or comments, drop in your comment below, we love to hear from fellow travelers!