Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Our pick for travel plug converter

We travel quite a bit..for work and for leisure...so when it comes to bringing our electronics, we often have to find the right plug converter.  A trusted website that we always buy from is DealExtreme. It has great prices for a variety of accessories.  This has to be the best deal we've seen for a portable universal travel plug - especially compared to the prices at the airport ! It converts for US/UK/EU and AU plugs.

This product works and for that price, it won't hurt your wallet when you lose it during your trip !

If you're planning to buy from DealExtreme, be sure to buy a month ahead of time as they take a while to ship...at least from my experience (but maybe because we also don't pay for express post!)





Looking to buy the product? Click below or this link !




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My travel checklist to South Korea

I'm going to Korea !  ...but after the excitement sets in, the real planning begins. So... how should i start planning my trip to Korea ?  First, let's look at some practical stuff :


Travel Plugs - Electricity Outlets


Things i always forget to check until last min is the types of outlets are used.  Here's the information for the electricity outlet in Korea

korea electricity outlets


Apparently, their plugs are similar to  France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Turkey !


Currency Conversion


Korea's currency is called Won


For Canadians, the conversion is similar to 1 Canadian dollar - 10,000 Won


Cellphone/ Sim Cards


Apparently if you are planning to use you're North American phone in Korea, it might not work because it is not compatible with their celluar network... Don't think it will be worth it to invest in a sim card if i'm going to be there for a few days...but that leads us to...




Wifi


They have ample of FREE PUBLIC WIFIs from what i've heard.  Apparently free wifi in Seoul is a government initiative to offer 10,000 free public wifi zones !! More info here - http://seoulistic.com/quick-tip/10000-places-to-get-free-wifi-in-seoul-with-maps-and-apps-2/

Transit

Since i'm familiar with Hong Kong's transit system, Korea has a similar one where you can get a re loadable card (by paying a deposit) and refilling money on it. This card is called the "T-Money".  You are also able to use this at convenient store...similar to the "octopus card" in Hong Kong.

Other options are M-Pass (which is similar to day passes) or Seoul City pass plus (which is a single fare ticket)

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Planning a Europe trip on a budget

Ever heard of how affordable traveling in Europe was?Well, i finally had the chance to experience it myself..and i have to say..it's true! With enough research and guts, you can find affordable accommodation, food and fun times.



My itinerary was quite packed for the 10 days i was there.


  1. Vancouver -> Frankfurt (lay over of 7 hours!...gave me a chance to explore the city)

  2. Frankfurt -> Florence 

  3. Florence -> Venice

  4. Venice -> Cinque Terre

  5. Cinque Terre -> Pisa

  6. Pisa -> Nuremberg

  7. Nuremberg -> Biberach

  8. Biberach -> Frankfurt/Vancouver

PLANNING


this was actually a very last min trip for me...i decided to go two weeks before i left!  there was a change in my work that made me take this opportunity to travel.  with that said, i was way beyond the three month booking period for cheap airfares, but even with limited discount i got away with some pretty good deals going to Kayak.com.


Kayak


i was on this site a LOT during the planning of my trip, checking out what times would the most optimal for my itinerary.  One trick i learned, that probably saved me some money, was to CLEAR MY COOKIES once in a while.




Air Transat


i also checked Air Transat during my research and ended up getting my flight home with them.  The only catch with Air transat is that they only fly a few days a week.  But if your schedule fits, it can easily get a flight in the $1100 range from the West Coast to Europe.


Ryan air


Famous for their cheap intra-europe flights ! my flight as around 60 euros, which was considered more on the expensive side from Pisa to Nuremberg.  But there are other options for cheaper depending on your flexibility.


Meinfernbus.de


If you're really pinched for your penny or you want to go to smaller towns in Germany, this coach company is a good place to look.


Trains


Trains prove to a reliable form of transportation in Europe too.  I've been on quite a few trains, new and old during my trip...especially in Italy... word of caution, looking at train schedules are a bit tricky in Italy!

Trenitalia - Itally

DB Bahn - Germany


Accommodation


Now that you've planned all logistics, it's time to look for a place to stay !

I went and booked my places on Hostelworld.  It's a pretty trustworthy site, and you can book directly on there.  We've had some pretty interesting places - like camping in Venice!

We also tried Airbnb in Germany and it worked out great.


Know anymore planning tools?  Let me know!


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Join a free tour in Florence!

Lots of time when you're travelling, you actually have no idea where you're going.  You might have an idea of all the tourist landmarks you want to go to, but actually finding your way there might be in an adventure on its own!


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To get a good idea of your surrounding, I always like to join a tour to see what's around.  We found this free tour that took us to all the tourist attractions in florence, and turns out there are many of these free tours in europe. all you need to do is give the tour guide a tip afterwards...so "free" in a sense that you don't have to pay for the tour guide up front, but it's a nice and expected gesture that you tip them in the end. this tour was pretty good.  One thing to keep in mind is that because it's free, you might be a big walking target for pickpocket-ers...so watch your belongings !


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Free tour florence

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How to stay connected in Europe - Where to get sim cards

It is great having a phone that was manufacture unlocked because it gave me the freedom to use my phone with other sim cards/mobile providers while travelling.




I did a bit of research to see what deals are available in Italy, and i started with TIM.  When getting a sim card and activating it in Italy, you have to give them your passport information.  So in case you don't already carry your passport with you - bring it to the phone store !


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I found this post most helpful which summarizes going with either TIM / Vodafone / Wind / Trebelow


The following was taken from Donald Strachan's blog:



TIM


The “TIM per smartphone” option is still one of the best deals around for a visitor. It costs 3€ per week, renewed automatically each week after activation, for 300 Mb of data. If you run out before the week is up, you can renew early (you will receive a text with instructions; reply with SI and you are refilled with data). To activate TIM per smartphone, just text TIMSMART3 ON to 40916 from your TIM line. There are a couple of further options to consider: TIM per smartphone mese (1 Gb valid for up to a month for 10€; text TIMSMARTMESE ON to 40916); and TIM per smartphone 4G (500 Mb at 4G/LTE speeds valid for a week for 6€; text TIMSMART4G ON to 40916).


Note, though, that TIM 4G coverage is limited to some cities only. Most of the country is covered with 3G only (and remote areas, not even that: slow EDGE speeds are still out there).


It is free to activate any of these options, as long as you do it by text or phone. In a TIM store, they will probably charge you an activation fee (often equal to the first payment of your prepaid plan). Here is the online TIM store locator.



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Vodafone Italia


Voda’s data-only add-on isn’t quite as generous as TIM’s: it costs 3€ per week for up to 250 Mb with the Mobile Internet option. However, Voda has fantastic all-in plans for mixing up talk, text and browsing. Vodafone UNLIMITEDoffers unlimited in-country Voda-to-Voda minutes (it costs a further 1€ per day for 200 minutes to anyone, debited automatically from your first call), unlimited texts and 1 Gb of data per month (at 4G/LTE speeds for no extra money, until May 31, 2013) for 11.90€.


Smart 350 is slightly better if you want to do more talking: 350 minutes to everyone, 350 texts to everyone, and 1 Gb of fast data for 9.90€ per month. Note, that’s a promotional price, and may rise after June 9, 2013. (It may not… prices on Voda’s all-in tariffs swing around a lot; check the updated tariff sheet they keep in most Vodafone stores.) Here is the Vodafone online store locator.



Wind


As with Voda, you get the best out of Wind with a minutes plus texts plus Internet plan. The All Inclusive plan has 120 minutes, 120 texts and 1 Gb of Internet for 7€ per month (until June 9, 2013; the regular price is 17€ per month, but after June 9 another promotion will almost certainly come onstream). To activate, text ALL SI to 4033. You can increase that data allowance to 2 Gb for an extra 2.50€ by activating the Internet No Stop add-on. Or make it 10 Gb of Internet by activating the Mega Unlimited add-on for 12€ per month (text UNLIMITED SI to 4033). Here is the Wind store locator.



Tre


The advice on 3/Tre remains the same: this is very much Italy’s “fourth” network. I have struggled in the past to find a signal in remote, rural areas. But if you expect to be city-tripping only, this is worth a look—mostly because the plans are straightforward and cheap. All-In Small costs 8€ per month for 120 domestic minutes, 120 texts and 1 Gb of high-speed Internet. Alternatively, don’t bother with a plan (other than the Power10 .10€/min. pay as you go rate) and addSuper Internet: 5€ for up to 3Gb of Internet valid for 30 days. Here is the Tre/3 store locator.iPad plans in ItalySIMs for iPads, iPad Minis and Android tablets are available on every network. Tre’s plan is the simplest and cheapest: the Super Internet package offers 3 Gb of Internet valid for a month for 5€; Tre SIMs usually cost 7€.Prices and plans on Vodafone and TIM vary with browsing speed (cheaper for standard 3G, pricier for HSPA+ [42.2 Mbps, in theory], priciest for 4G/LTE). TIM has the cheaper “starter” plan: Internet Start offers 2 Gb of browsing within a month for 12€ (plus 5€ activation fee). Pay a little more for Voda’s Internet Go package (20€/month) and you get 5 Gb of traffic at 3G speeds. For heavy use, TIM’s Internet 4G tariff allows up to 15 Gb of traffic in a month, at 4G/LTE speeds, for 35€. TIM and Voda SIMs usually cost 5€.



How do you stay connected when you travel?


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Travelling smart!

 
So summer is over, and we are dreaming of traveling to somewhere nice again. Here are some tips for you to travel smart!

Enjoy this guest post from Agnes Jimenez !

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Frugal Travel Options for Everyone

Even some of the most frugal people on the planet have to travel from time to time, including me. Whether it is for a visit with family, reunions, holidays, social activities or even just to get away, the largest traveling deterrent is always the cost. If you are traveling by car, train or airplane, there are a number of ways to stretch your dollar, so you can still participate in travel opportunities, without breaking the bank.

Trains, Planes & Automobiles
Chances are, none of your travel plans include walking to your destination. No matter how you plan to travel, there is a cost effective way of making it happen. If you are traveling by car, be sure and fill your gas tank up as full as it can get, without spilling over. Check your tire inflation levels to insure you are getting the most out of your gas mileage before you hit the road. Map out your route, so you are taking the most direct way possible to your destination to save time, gas and any headaches that accompany getting lost.

If you are traveling by train, consider taking a lower budget option, instead of the elaborate train cars that are available in the region. You are simply traveling from one place to another, so there is no need to apply a high maintenance attitude to your trip. The objective is simply getting there, as inexpensively as possible.

If you have to fly, consider booking your flight well ahead of time, if you can, to get the lowest rate. If you have to book a last minute trip, and have checked all of the online specials that are available, call the airline to see the best route and rate available from their perspective. You would be surprised at the deals a customer service person can provide you.

Ground Transportation
The golden rule in travel, as far as I am concerned, is to avoid cab fares as much as you can. It is not uncommon that some cab drivers take longer routes than necessary, or overcharge you for the trip. If it is possible to take a shuttle bus, subway or train for a lesser amount, you should. There is no reason to spend $50 on a trip from the airport, when you can have a friend pick you up instead for the price of a "thank you".

Also, once you are in a city, consider walking to lunch, or to a museum, instead of taking ground transportation. It will save you money, and give you a better view of the city!

About the Guest Author
Agnes Jimenez is a professional blogger and writer. She writes for many online establishments and supports those ones that offer alternative lifestyles to consumers.  As a frugal living advocate, she recommends DailyBread.com for travel lovers who want to get big savings in shopping for easy to carry foods that have a shelf-life of over two decades.  Click here to check several meal options for your next travel.



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Traveling with Groupons !! Good or Bad??



Sounds like a good idea right??


If you know you will be there for a long time and maybe if you BUY when you are at the place you are traveling to...then yes.

But we've learned the hard way to never PRE-BUY Groupons before our trips!

Here are some of the reasons:

  1. Time constraint - if you are unorganized, you might not realize you have to pre-book or the place is unavailable when you are free.
  2. The deal really isn't THAT good if you're not familiar with the place..might be better deals there
  3. Probably not in the prime location - you'll probably have to travel really far - and this is hard to do when you don't know that area well or if you don't have your own transportation.

You maybe saving yourselves a lot of money, but to be frank, you might be just lying to yourself and causing yourselves a lot of stress.
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Next Stop - Hawaii!


We've only finished posting about our LA trip, and it's already time for our adventure!
It seems like we travel A LOT! but we rarely travel this much...this is just one of those special summers =)

Well as a frugal couple, we - of course - did some researching before going - hopefully we won't be tourist trapped!

What do YOU want us to check out in Hawaii Honolulu? or food to try? of things to do? Leave us a comment!

Here’s our current plan.


Flight:

fly from Bellingham: Alaska Air → keep checking for price drops (better if you’re going with a group to have people check and alert each other)
park in Bellingham: don’t park at the official airport parking, its more expensive (10$/day). Park at those independent ones (7$ per day). They all use a shuttle service but the independent one, you dont have to wait much because they have less customers and time it so that they get to the gate at every flight. They are waiting for you. The gates of their parking lot is also locked overnight so less likely to have thieves visitations.
Moreover, its an domestic flight so you dont have to be there 2 hours ahead of time, in fact they dont want to see your face until 2hrs before the flight.

fly from Vancouver: parking is a RIP OFF! Let me tell you a story. I went on a work trip that lasted a week. The coupon said it would be 40$ (excuse all the $ signs after the number, i’m French Canadian) for a week, summer special.
http://www.geo.ca/August%20%2025%20LTL%20Specials%20e-Coupon%20template%20-%20Bonus%20Uniglobe%20Geo%20N%20Van.pdf (DO NOT CLICK UNTIL YOU READ THE FOLLOWING)
That sounds like a good deal, but...

I finish the week of work, wait for the shuttle for the longest time (10minutes, whereas i could just take a cab home instantaneously). Then they take you to the parking lot, you get to your car, get out of the parking lot. At the gate, they charge you something like 60$!!! I said, WTF, it says 40$. She explains this:

72*1.12*(some gas tax) - 32 = 60!!!!!!!!!
1- Gas tax? i didnt even use gas while in the parking lot, except for getting in and out!
2- what the hell calculation is that??? its not a 32$ coupon, its a coupon that says i pay 40$ per week!!!

I said what the hell? its 40$. She says, yes, but 50% tax. I said, 50%????? she said yes.
Company paid for it. And i paid for the gas of driving to the airport, which is about 7$ from my place. So really, how much did i save for all the trouble? 50$ taxi * 2 = 100$. This costed me 67$, and that’s with a coupon! imagine in normal days, it would have costed me 99$. the same thing as taking a cab and passing out in the cab. I digress.

Or you could take the skytrain to the airport and park your car on the street. I drive a Tercel so i dont really care where i leave my car. More than ready to get it stolen and get insurance for it. But even from Marine Drive station, the skytrain takes a really long time to get to the airport, that’s plus the waiting time, so you actually save lots of money, but you will lose a lot of time. I wouldnt do that if its company money as they can claim the cab money as loss but i cant claim my time as loss.


Accomodation
Aston at the Waikiki Banyan: we got condos that sleep 6. about 211.67$ (tx included) per night, in the summer!!! The place has a kitchen which really is a good balance if you’re staying long. There are things to buy and cook, a lot of strange fish that you’d want to try cooking yourself!
http://www.astonhotels.com/resort/overview/aston-at-the-waikiki-banyan


Snorkeling

Rent or buy? that is the question.
http://www.hawaiisnorkelingguide.com/rent_snorkeling_gear.html
That blog has a very good point, i’ll summarize:
- the snorkel and mask, you want to buy:
- hygiene reasons (you dont know where it’s been or if they clean it well)
- mask needs to be a good fit so you want to spend local time snorkeling rather than shopping around
- flippers, you can rent
    - they are pretty big so wold fill up your suitcase
    - its pretty cheap and you dont really care about much as long as they arent broken.

Motorcycle rides

- for transportation, we’re going to rent scooters, will let you know how it was.

Island hoping
- kinda expensive but... really should do it!

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Hawaii


Well, we're off to Hawaii in a little over a month!!
We've been planning this trip for a few months now and it's hard to believe that we'll be finally heading there soon!

Hm...time to get beach ready!! It's hard to get into the mood for a beachbody in Vancouver when it's always raining - it feels like Fall right now!

Stay tuned for some fitness routine to get us ready for Hawaii!
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