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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Westward Ho! (Part 2) 10.30.10

Today we’re going to continue down the coast to California and Nevada (though not technically on the coast, it is a huge tourist destination, and it’s still good to know how to save there). I’ve got a big list of free activities for you and some great deals. While this is a pretty long list of places to visit and things to do that will cost you almost nothing, it’s by no means a complete list. Plus, you gotta get there, so that brings me to my #2 budget travel rule.

Sign up for travel emails. I keep saying it, but I bet some of you scoff at this idea, because you don’t like the idea of “spam” clogging your email. If you want to waste your time scouring websites all day for a week to find deals, be my guest, but they offer their service as just that. A service, not as an annoyance. I like the convenience of having them sent straight to my inbox each week and being able to browse the sales quickly. Reputable travel companies will not sell your information or send you a bunch of junk mail that you’ll have to delete thirty times a day. Some will ask if you would like to receive email from their partner sites. It’s seriously easy to just uncheck the box before you opt-in for their newsletters. They want you to buy your travel from them, and they know if they annoy you with a bunch of stuff you don’t want, you aren’t going to.
I receive between 20 and 30 newsletters a week (that I opted in for), no related spam, and I get to choose from amazing deals. If they don’t appeal to me, I delete them and wait for the next week. Easy! If you are looking for something specific, then personalize your accounts with travel companies that send newsletters. Most will ask you to choose at least one preferred destination, so they can send you deals on those and make their service more useful to you. You’ll be the first to know about new deals to your chosen destination(s) and can jump on the sales before the masses who were not smart enough to sign up for newsletters. Go you!
Okay, onto the big-city discounts! As you all know, no vacation is cheap, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be affordable. Mix in some free activities with your must-do list and you’ll find that your dollars stretch further than you thought they would:

San Francisco: Known for high prices, it’s hard to say that any San Francisco vacation can ever be affordable. One of the smartest things you can do when heading to a city that has expensive hotels and food is to stay outside the city. You can take public transportation or even rent a car. With the difference in hotel prices between San Francisco and, say, OaklandAlbany or Richmond, you’ll see how this could potentially save you hundreds off a vacation.









  • Golden Gate Bridge – No trip to San Francisco is complete without at least driving across this beautiful bridge, but it is also open to pedestrians and cyclists during daylight hours. At almost 2 miles long, it’s a great way to get exercise while also seeing amazing views of the city. Take a break to browse the gift shop and visitor’s center on the southeast side.
  • City Guides – Local volunteers take tourists on free walking tours of the city. Find locations and schedules of tours online, by just searching for “free San Francisco walking tours”.
  • Exploratorium – This is another hands-on science museum that teaches young and old alike about electricity and other scientific principles. Admission is free the first Wed of every month and it can take up around 4 hours of your day, or more, depending on how fun you find it.
  • California Academy of Sciences – Free admission is available on the third Wednesday of every moth. Explore exhibits at the academy, including the African Hall, Swamp exhibit, T-Rex skeleton and aquarium. You can also get to the CAS through Golden Gate Park. Parking is free on nearby streets if you drive yourself.
  • Cable Car Museum – Just what it claims to be, you can plan to spend about an hour and a half in this free museum. Learn the history of cable cars while observing full-size cars and photos. Spend some bucks that you saved on admission on funky souvenirs made from cable car tracks.
  • Boudin Demonstration Bakery – Almost everyone enjoys some good sourdough bread, and San Francisco is famous for it. Watch bread being made through observation windows and right upstairs from the bakery is a free museum that gives you the history of sourdough in the Bay Area.
  • San Francisco Botanical Garden – Located in Golden Gate Park, spend an hour or two in the garden that’s open all year long. There is also a library and bookstore to browse after you’ve taken in all 55 acres of more than 7,500 plants. Every day, there are free guided tours at 1:30 as well. If you’re looking for something to take home, you can purchase plants at the nursery every Saturday.
  • Lost Canyon Winery – In nearby Oakland, taste some of California’s best wines for free Friday and Saturdays from 1-6pm.
  • San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club – Sure this is obscure, but it’s also fun. Get free lessons from club members in Golden Gate Park every Wednesday at noon.
Las Vegas: We’ve talked about Vegas before, so I won’t bore you with long explanations of free things to do, but I’ll do a quick rundown here, because there are a lot.
Sirens of TI – Free pirate show in front of the TI (formerly Treasure Island) hotel and casino. It plays at various times each evening.
  • Fountains of Bellagio – If you’ve never seen water dancing to music, this is a must.
  • Conservatory/Botanical Gardens – Another great freebie from Bellagio. It features over 1,000 plants.
  • Lions of MGM – This is truly one of my favorites. I love to stay at MGM Grand, but even if I don’t, I still make time to stop by and hang with the lions. They are the hotel mascots, well taken care of and like to play with trainers and toys, in between eating and sleeping.
  • The Fall of Atlantis – This is a fun animatronic show, worthy of Disney imaginers, featuring the Gods of Atlantis in the middle of the Forum Shops.
  • Carnivale – Several times a day you can see this spectacular Mardi Gras-esque show on and above the casino floor of the Rio. If you hang out on the 2nd floor where the shops are, you get a close-up view of the “floats” that travel the ceiling in this very unique parade.
  • Live Music – Most casino lounges have live music. You can just hang out and enjoy it.
  • Fremont Street Experience – This is one of the most famous free experiences in Vegas. Off The Strip, on Fremont Street, the sidewalks are covered with a screen that shows an amazing light show set to music.
  • Circus Acts – Circus Circus has something for everyone, including free circus acts throughout the day.
  • Hawaiian Marketplace – Resembling a marketplace of Honolulu, shop outside amid beautiful tropical plants. Visit theEnchanted Forest for an hourly animatronic bird show. Also, Polynesian performers sing, dance and tell stories in the marketplace each day, with longer, more elaborate shows on the weekends.

Save up to 30% off rates on top Las Vegas Hotels, such as PH Towers, Caesar’s Palace and the Paris with Travelocity’s Dazzling Deals! Travel by March 4, 2011 and book as soon as possible to take advantage of these low prices!

Los Angeles: While most people head to LA to visit Disney and any of the other many theme parks or to shop Rodeo Drive or to get famous, you can go out into the city and do free things on some days and give your wallet a little break before hitting The Matterhorn again with Mickey and the Gang.
  • Grauman’s Chinese Theater – Take a page from Lucy’s book and visit Grauman’s to match up your hand and footprints with celebrities all over the world.
  • Be Part of The Studio Audience – So many shows tape in LA, that it would be a shame if you didn’t try to get into a free taping. Yup, tickets are free. The range of shows available can change every day, but if you want to get in on the action of shows like “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune”, now’s your chance.
  • Downtown LA Art Walk – The second Thursday of the month is free gallery admission. Enjoy the latest art installations in many of the top galleries of the city.
  • La Brea Tar Pits – See where more than 100 tons of fossils have been unearthed. Located in Hancock Park, no trip to LA would be complete without a visit.
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame – Though Hollywood can be a dirty city, it’s still fun to walk along the sidewalk to see how many names you’re familiar with and snap a few pictures of your favorite celebrities, knowing they stood on the same spot you did when receiving their star.
  • Tour of Walt Disney Concert Hall – Take a short self-guided tour with historical facts and interesting trivia.
  • Hollywood Forever Cemetery – Visit some of the most famous Hollywood residents’ final resting places.
  • Yoga classes – Free 90-minute classes are offered in Sherman Oaks at the Sahaja Meditation Center 3 nights a week and on Saturdays.

Want to stay in Los Angeles from just $58/night? Of course you do, because that’s a bargain anywhere you go! Expedia wants you to stay in recommended 3-star hotels for awesome prices with their California Sale. If you book a package with airfare, you can save even more!  Book by November 18 for travel between now and the end of the year. (These deals also good for San Francisco, too!) 

Save even more off your travels by using CityPASS Hollywood, CityPASS San Francisco, CityPASS Southern California (which includes many attractions, including theme parks for the biggest savings you’ll find.

Fly JetBlue for rates as low as $32 each way on their fall sale going on now through November 2.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Westward Ho! (Part 1) 10.27.10

Today, I’d like to bring my blog closer to home and talk about how to save money up and down the West Coast. I live in Portland and, as often as we travel locally, we also travel to locations along the West Coast as much as possible. Traveling closer to home can be less expensive, but it depends how you go about it. I can spend the weekend in Seattle, but unless I do some strategic planning, it can cost me just as much to go San Francisco or Los Angeles, because they can all be equally spendy travel destinations. Because many West Coast cities are popular tourist spots, it’s not always that easy to find “cheap” deals. I think this is because western travelers think that the staycation and short trips will save them more money, they don’t stray too far from home. The truth is, you can spend the same amount of money driving to the coast and staying there for a week as you can flying to another state. Why? Location, location, location. Everyone loves the beach, even in the fall and winter seasons and there are limited hotels, so they can pretty much charge whatever they want. Even in the off-season, you could end up paying almost $200 per night at some of the ritzier “beachfront” accommodations. Here is my #1 rule for budget travelers looking to save money:
Compare costs. Just like you would with anything else you buy, compare your vacation options. Will going to Disney for four days run you the same as a seven-day trip to the beach or mountains? It COULD. Disney always has deals and many sites, such as Orbitz, BookIt and Expedia, have amazing package deals that can save you hundreds of dollars, making it more affordable than ever. Anywhere near the ocean or ski-worthy slopes can and will charge top-dollar if they can get it. The less expensive options always go first, so unless you book way in advance, you may be spending much more than you have to. But this is true with any destination. You always want to pick a few destinations; if you don’t have your heart set on anything specific, and see which would fit your budget better. I mean, if you can spend the same amount to go on a theme park vacation for a few less days than you would to rent a cabin and sit around reading a book, playing Scrabble and antiquing, it’s clear to me how I want to spend my money. I like my dollar to stretch and to get the most out of it I can. I’m packing for Disney.
Another thing to look at is what there is to do there and how much it’ll cost. You can augment your itinerary of must-see things with others that cost nothing or very little and still get as much fun out of your trip. Let’s look at some destinations in the west that might be on your list and things to do there that won’t break your bank at all and will only require a bit of driving or public transportation. 


Seattle: A mere 3-hour drive from me is the birthplace of grunge rock, Starbucks, Nordstrom and Microsoft. Seattle is steeped in history and tradition, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll go broke visiting. Do some of the offbeat tourist attractions for a whole different view of The Emerald City. 

  • Seattle Art Museum – Thursday is a great day to visit some awesome free venues in Seattle, including the Art Museum. The first Thursday of every month, SAM is free to visitors.
  • Experience Music Project (known as EMP) – This interactive museum of music is free from 5-8pm on first Thursdays.
  • Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame – The first museum devoted to Science Fiction shares a building with EMP and also has free admission on first Thursday from 5-8pm.
  • Pike Place Market – The market is one of the oldest in the country and is fun to shop or simply walk around and marvel at the stalls, especially the “flying fish” at the fish stall.
  • Coast Guard Museum – Located at Pier 36, explore the free museum of Coast Guard memorabilia.
  • Bainbridge Island Vineyard and Winery – While you’ll have to pay for a ferry ride (which can be super fun) across the Puget Sound, you can take a free guided tour of the vineyards every Sunday at 2pm.
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Vineyards is a short 15 mile drive from Seattle and offers a free wine tour and sampling.
  • Redhook Brewery – For the beer-lovers among you, take a short drive northeast to Woodinville and take a brewery tour with 3-4 samples. You only pay $1 for a souvenir tasting glass.
  • Freeway Park – This amazing park in downtown Seattle sits on 5 acres, overlooks the city, free Wi-Fi, a walking loop and in the summer offers free concerts and theater.

Stay at the Edgewater Hotel for as little as $99. 55% off regular rates, this waterfront hotel is a AAA Four-Diamond property, has been One of The World’s Best Places To Stay by Conde Nast and is super close to tourist attractions. Rates are valid for select date-ranges in November and December. Book by November 2. 



It’s not always easy to find a good deal on a rental car, but Hotwire has one for you. Rent a mid-size from them and only pay $11.95 or $13.95 per day for Seattle and Portland (respectively). That’s less than the cost of normally renting a sub-compact! 



As you may or may not know by now, I love CityPASS. It gets you a huge discount on what you would pay for all and, in most cases, even half of the attractions/merchants if you paid for them separately. Seattle CityPASS is no different. For just $59 ($39 for kids 12 and under) per pass, you save 47% over the price of the 6 attractions it is good for (including the Pacific Science Center, a Harbor Cruise and the Seattle Aquarium, which is amazing all on its own). If you only make it to 3 of them, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth. The Seattle CityPASS is valid from 9 days when you first use it, so whether you stay for a week or a weekend, it’ll work for you! 

 Portland (Oregon): I consider Portland my true hometown, even though I have only lived here a little over a decade and I, technically, grew up in Tucson (which will always have a place in my heart for the friends I have and the experiences that turned me into who I am today). Portland is where I belong. The city is beautiful, the people are polite and it’s so close to everything, whether it’s the beach, the desert or the mountains. It’s pretty awesome. Aside from being a dog- and bike-friendly city, we were also voted #1 Summer Travel Destination by Travel + Leisure Magazine. 



  • Saturday Market – Hundreds of local merchants sell their wares on Saturdays and Sundays. You can find handmade clothes, pottery, jewelry and more. There is always live music and street performers can be found amusing shoppers. 
  • International Rose Test Garden – For those of you that love flowers, this garden is open daily and has 8,000 rose bushes to marvel at. 
  • Powell’s City of Books – Literally, an entire city-block devoted to books of all kinds. You can seriously get lost in Powell’s and there are maps available to guide you through the stacks. While not the only Powell’s Bookstore in the metro area, it is the largest. You don’t even have to purchase books here. You can sit in chairs provided and read, get a coffee or catch up on some email. 
  • Brewery Tours – Portland has a large community of micro-brewers and most offer free tours. Among them include: Widmer, Portland Brewing and Bridgeport Brewing. You may have to sign up to get on a tour, but that’s pretty easy to do. 
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square – Smack dab in the middle of downtown, the Square offers a Starbucks, several food carts at lunch, a place to buy event/show tickets and fantastic people-watching. It’s also right across the street from major shopping venues, like Nordstrom and Macy’s. 
  • Multnomah Falls – A quick 40 minute drive east of the city on I-5 is one of the largest year-round falls in the country. Strap on your hiking shoes and bring your camera, hike partway up to gawk at the beauty from the bridge or hike all the way to the top if you’re up to it. When you make your way back to the bottom, enjoy and espresso drink at the coffee shop, grab lunch at the restaurant or browse the information center and gift shop.
  • First Friday – If art’s your thing, the first Friday of every month is devoted to it. Get into the galleries for free in the evening (generally 6-9) to see the latest art exhibits. Many galleries offer free appetizers and wine/champagne.
Portland is home to some great culinary gems: food carts. We're famous for them, actually, and you can save a bundle on dining by sampling some of the different foods they offer - crepes, hot dogs, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hawaiian, sandwiches and oh so many more! If you want it, it can be found on the streets of Portland.

Don't miss out on our best deals! Portland Perks has awesome 2-for-1 deals and more on everything you can find in the city. Great for dining, entertainment, personal services, etc. Get half off on paintball sessions and then take half off your beer tab! Pick up a half-price pizza and get a whole haircut at 50% off! Portland just got WAY more affordable!
It may be fall/winter in the Northwest, but for us that means rain. This may bring some people down, but it's still a great time to visit! Bring a raincoat and head on out like the locals do. A packable rain jacket is my best friend. It is lightweight and stuffs into a very small pouch, so if you don't need it, it's not cumbersome. Columbia has a nice range of them, like the one below. 
Restaurant.com is having a heck of a sale! Buy dining certificates for your trip and eat for practically FREE! 80% off until October 31st with the promo code: TREAT (order by clicking through Ebates and get 15% cash back on your whole purchase, too!)

Southwest has a fantastic 3-day sale ending Thursday at midnight. One-way fares starting at just $30 between select cities. Deals are $30, $60, $90 and $120 each way for travel Dec 1-15 and Jan 4-Feb 16. Book now, before seats sell out! 

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Saturday where we will travel down the coast and find out how to save and what freebies you can take advantage of south of the Oregon Border.



Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Fun Doesn’t End With The Plane Ride! 10.23.10

What’s the best part of any trip? Getting there, of course! You don’t travel to just sit on an airplane and then go home, do you? I mean, I enjoy the flying part, too. I think it’s exciting, because it means I’m going somewhere new (probably) and exciting (hopefully). Actually getting to my destination and exploring is even better. I spend 90% of my vacation preparation deciding what to do and where we will eat when we get there. And, as a friend pointed out: It’s better than sitting in your hotel all day watching porn. While someone might disagree with that statement, they can’t argue that it is definitely cheaper to get out of your hotel room if choosing between the two scenarios. Besides, don’t you want to do something you can’t do at home? Sure, you do!

Just like me, many of you are probably on a budget. Obviously this is the case, or else you wouldn’t come back twice a week to read my blog and see what new tips and deals I have to save you money. There are a lot of ways to not break the bank on activities, though, and many times you can do even more than you planned on and still come out ahead. Let’s talk about some.








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  • Do you like to golf? Reserve your tee times on Expedia and get a discount off course rates! They offer 250 courses across the world thru GolfSwitch. These aren’t generic courses either. They’re top rated and include some of the most sought after courses, like St. Andrews in Scotland! Search for available tee times at your leisure and choose one that best fits with your day’s activities. You can even read reviews from other golfers, cancel/change your tee time right online and sign up for Tee Time Alerts, which brings specials and promotions right to your inbox.
  • If you want to save money on checked bag fees and only plan to play a few rounds, consider leaving your clubs at home and renting them at your destination. This could save you significant money. Spend some of that savings on lunch at the clubhouse instead.








Follow me on Twitter! Same awesome deals, just in a smaller package!

Want to do something unusual? I don’t know about you, but I love sites like eBay and Craigslist. You can get things for a fraction of the price and it’s practically new or IS new, you can sell stuff, sign up for a class on jewelry-making or find a job! Well, Ooh.com is kinda like both of these websites combined. Individuals or small companies list tours, classes and other activities on a public “bulletin board” along with details, pictures or videos and pricing and you can browse what’s available and pick from the myriad choices available where you’re headed. Ooh.com is based in the UK, so most of the listings are going to be in that area, but they are branching out and you can now find activity listings in the U.S. and the rest of the world, too! It’s free to use and reviews from other participants are readily available. You can book right online using Paypal, so everything is secure and easy to track. Take anything from a walking tour to dance lessons to a class learning to reupholster furniture! One thing’s for sure, you won’t find many of these listings anywhere else.

Did you know you can share this blog post with friends? Click the “Share” button at the end of this post and select Facebook, twitter or other social networks! Don’t forget to subscribe to Shereen Travels Cheap, too!

Everyone likes to eat…and you gotta do it on vacation, just like you do at home. The only difference is that eating on vacation makes mealtimes seem way more special. It doesn’t have to send you to the poorhouse though. If you haven’t signed up for Groupon yet, put your browser in that direction and do it already! Groupon is a worldwide source of coupons for almost any touristy spot you can think of! Get daily deals delivered to your mailbox for anywhere fromPhoenix to Paris. Save HUGE on spa services, dining, tours and more. Many of the dining certificates take a significant amount off your bill. Sometimes as much at 50-60%. How many other times will you be able to eat for half price?

Turns out, you can do it a lot! Click HERE to sign up for TopTable and make reservations for dining online for participating restaurants in the UK and Europe. There are always discounts of up to 50% off many dining options in your area. Plus, the more you book, the more you save. Each time you complete a reservation (it’s easy: book online, show up and give them the name on your reservation), you get dining points. Earn enough points and trade them in for a certificate for free dining! It’s like I just gave you a secret code to get half your vacation meals for FREE! You’re welcome!

With all the stuff you’ll be doing, you need a place to keep track of it all. I have just the thing! The Knock Knock Travel Organizer is a binder with all the things you need to organize all your travel forever. Okay, maybe not forever. You might need to replace it after some years, but it’s so useful that it’ll be a sad day when I need to get a new one. The binder has 7 double pocket dividers, a place to work out your budget, write down all your important numbers and information, a pad of forms for planning each trip you take and for making a packing list. You also get labels for your dividers to keep everything in some sort of order. I use the first one to keep all my confirmations and itinerary and use others for upcoming trips. I have a pocket in the back for ideas on trips that I will eventually take, like restaurants, activities and destinations ideas. Use the arrow stickers to mark places on the included map that you want to go or have already been.

Keep yourself hydrated. First of all, having to buy a bunch of drinks throughout the day can really add up. Second, soda really isn’t going to give you better energy. The Platypus collapsible water bottle is amazing. Fill it up, put it in the fridge (if you have one) for a while and then take it out and put it in your daypack. As you drink throughout the day, it shrinks. When it’s empty, you can roll it up and not have a bulky bottle in your bag. It’s soft-sided and reusable, so it saves space and you are saving the environment one bottle at a time! They come in a variety of sizes and are convenient to tote around, even if you have more than one. Everyone can carry their own and then roll them up and put them in their pocket until they fill them up again!



Bring a bag for all the stuff you buy! Sure, maybe you aren’t expecting to buy anything, but that doesn’t mean you won’t. Those plastic bags they give you can make you grouchy, because they cut into your hands or make them sweat after carrying them around a while. Get a cloth bag that folds up to almost nothing, then unfolds into a very convenient (and comfortable) shopping tote. It’ll hold almost anything you buy, from new shoes to groceries you decide you need on the way back to your room at night. Travelon makes a great one that also doubles as a backpack to keep your hands free while traveling. Another great use: toting dirty clothes to the laundry facilities and back.
  











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You read it right. FREE MONEY! Okay, just like everything else, there’s a catch, but it counts as free if it’s something you planned on doing anyway and you get money for doing it. American Airlines wants to give you a gift for choosing them for all your travel needs. Between now and December 15th, book travel on American Airline’s website and pay with your Mastercard and receive a Mastercard gift card for up to $50. The more you book, the more you earn! Packages can be cheaper anyway, so you might as well get what the most for your money. If free dinner or shoes or theater tickets (whatever you choose to spend it on) sounds good to you, register now!
Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t just days to get amazing discounts on merchandise, they are also days were you can fly for low, low prices! Skip the mall or online shopping this year and jump on a plane instead.
  • CheapOAir wants you to get the best airfare rates with them. They offer sales on both Black Friday (get an instant $10 off already reduced prices and another $10 off with their online coupon code) and Cyber Monday (again, get instant $10 savings and another $10 off rates with their discount code right on the site!). Book by Nov 26th and Nov 29th, respectively. $10 savings codes are good for both airfare or hotels booked through the site.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Celebrate Veterans Day By Taking a Vacation 10.20.10

This year is just flying by. Veterans Day is 11/11. Also known as Armistice Day and Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, it’s a day to honor those who have fought for our country. What better way to do that then to visit memorials where they served and spread a little “economic stimulus” around.
                                          


Just a few reminders:

  • Join me on Facebook and help me reach 500 fans by December. "Like" Shereen Travels Cheap and tell all your friends to "like" it, too. When we reach the magic number, we have some great travel items to give away. See the Promos tab for more details. Winners don't have to live in the U.S., so everyone is entered!
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The Battle of Gettysburg was fought over 3 hot July days in 1863. Over 7,000 soldiers died there and another 30,000 wounded. It is one of the most visited battle sites in the nation. At night, people have said they’ve heard screaming and gunshots and others have seen soldiers on the field that resides in Pennsylvania. After touring the grounds and cemetery, you can visit the Gettysburg museum and gift shop to learn more about what happened there.

Stay near the battlefield or visit on a day trip and fly into Baltimore, which is a short 75 miles away. Be sure to pack for cold weather, as in the winter months it can get down to 20 degrees.  
  • While you’re in the area, why not make a stop in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Just a short drive away in Southeastern PA is a thriving Amish community. See how Americans lived before electricity and crafted everything by hand, from horseshoes to quilts.
  • If you have the kids with you, there’s something to amuse them, too. Jaunt over to Hershey and surround yourself in chocolate. From candy to amusement parks, if everyone in your party isn’t happy, there’s no pleasing them. Visit the Hershey factory and then head to Hersheypark and ZOOAMERICA. Two adjoining parks that offer both amusement park rides and zoo animals.  
  • Little kids might be more interested in Dutch Wonderland. It has 34 rides and an attached waterpark called Duke’s Lagoon. It features shows and games for children, like Thomas and Friends Live with Thomas the Tank Engine. It’ll make the trip to historical sites a bit more bearable.



Located in VirginiaWilliamsburg reminds me of my childhood. Every summer we would travel to this historical site and visit the memorials, Colonial Williamsburg and Busch GardensWilliamsburg was an important post of the American Revolutionary War and saw combat during the Civil War in what was to be known as the Battle of Williamsburg in 1862.
  • Package deals are available for around $300 per person, not including airfare through VisitWilliamsburg. All your attraction tickets, breakfast and hotel are included.
  • Fly into Richmond International Airport for the best rates and stay in Jamestown or Williamsburg for close proximity to everything in the historical district. Renting a car here is going to be essential for getting to everything: American Airlines can get you 35% off rental rates on Avis and you can earn up to 3,000 frequent flyer miles, making free travel that much more within reach.
  • American Airlines also offers discount tickets to Busch Gardens Williamsburg or you can buy a "Bounce Ticket" that allows you to get into Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg for a big discount.
  • For a more adult vacation activity, check out the Williamsburg Winery. The makers of over a dozen varieties of wine, take a tour of the vineyard and have a tasting and lunch combo. Get a tasting and lunch for the same price as a tasting if you book online.  


It’s a great time to travel to Hawaii now. With hotel rates dipping and new, cheaper flights, it’s never been more budget friendly to go there. The weather is beautiful and the beaches are always open. While there, travel to Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor and see the USS Arizona.
  • Stay at a four-star mystery Waikiki boutique hotel from only $105 per night. That's over 50% listed prices. Rates you can only get on BookIt. Book by midnight October 22 for travel before December 8.


The site of both World Wars, Germany has a lot of history, much of which was bloody. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany has become a wonderful tourist city. the whole country is rich with culture and cool things to see and do.
  • Save on airfare by purchasing airfare to Frankfurt via Reykjavik on Icelandair. Add Iceland as a stopover for as long as you want for no extra cost!
  • Purchase a city pass for major German cities like Frankfurt and Berlin and save big on attractions on your trip. Get discounts on museums, gardens, transportation, restaurants and more.

There are plenty packing tips I can give you for any of these trips, but the biggest one that matters is to buy good walking shoes. You'll be doing a lot of it, so treat your feet to comfort and get the best ones you can. You don't want your trip to be ruined by ouchy feet. This goes for everyone in your travel group. 
  • Aerosoles has up to 35% off all their boots. Great new styles and colors to go with every travel wardrobe. Choose from tall, short or ankle boots that will keep your feet comfortable all day long.
  • Patagonia offers many boot styles to keep your tootsies warm and dry. They may be expensive, but will give you your money's worth in the long run. 
  • You can probably find an L.L. Bean close to where you live. they have many quality fall and winter footwear options for men, women and children. Again, they can be spendy, but your feet will thank you. 

  • Got a desire to visit Japan or China? Fly round-trip to Tokyo or Okinawa from the west coast starting at $789 per person, including taxes. Book by October 28 for these excellent deals. Save over $500 on regular fares. You can use that money to visit Tokyo Disney! (China destinations start at $985)
  • Wow! Stay 4-nights in Guatemala for only $399 per person. Tours and air are included. This is $400 off regular rates! Book by November 3rd for travel on select dates of 2011. 
  • Lucky you! Ireland awaits from only $599 per person. 6 magical nights, including airfare B&B and castle accommodations, most breakfasts and rental car. Save almost $800 off similar packages. Book by October 29th for travel between December 1 and February 20. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey 10.16.10

I know it’s not even Halloween yet and people are talking about visiting family and buying turkeys. Holiday dinner can really break your budget, since you buy and eat two week’s worth of food over a long weekend. While you can have turkey sandwiches for another week of lunches, you still got to make that budget stretch, unless you will be a visitor instead of a host, but then your budget may be even tighter, because plane tickets cost more than a turkey dinner. I’m all about Orbitz this fine Saturday, because they have some of the best deals across the board for travel this month. They offer discounts on airfare, hotels, car rental, cruises, packages and you can even book activities and entertainment through their site! I love sites that have one-stop shopping.




  • We are slowly making it to our goal of 500 fans on Facebook. Get daily tips and deals and a chance to win one of these two fabulous bags from Travelon or one of two referral gifts if someone you refer joins Shereen Travels Cheap and wins.Remember, you don’t have to live in the U.S. to win, so suggest the page to everyone you know. Travel tips and deals are usable worldwide, too! If we can reach 500 by the middle of December (hopefully sooner), you can use these for your holiday travel or for gifts for the travelers on your list. I know you have at least one!
  • Follow me on Twitter for a shortened version of my daily tips and deals. Smaller posts, same big savings!
  • Don’t miss a blog post: Sign up on the right to subscribe to this blog. If you have a Kindle, you can subscribe through Amazon and get instant updates when new entries are published!

But you say, “Shereen Travels Cheap doesn’t have anything for ME.” Let me know! Comment on this blog post, on the Shereen Travels Cheap Facebook page, on ShereenTravelsCheap.com, by direct message on Twitter or take the Facebook poll. I’m listening and I want to be as helpful to my readers as possible. Let me know what you would like more of or if you are traveling somewhere specific and I’ll do my best to address some posts towards that.


  • Fly for under $200 with OrbitzOrbitz also has great rates for across the U.S. and also awesome package deals.
  • While you may only see your family once or twice a year, that still doesn’t mean you want to spend every waking moment with them. Staying with them can be cheap and save you a lot of money, but maybe you need to have your own space and be able to get away should any family drama occur. Orbitz has you covered for now and future travel! Book a participating hotel by October 18th and get up to 40% off, free nights and two $250 vouchers towards future travel that you can use between Oct 21st and April 15, 2011. That means you can visit family for Thanksgiving AND Christmas! Or take yourself somewhere else with your free money.  (Don’t worry, I have plenty of suggestions below.)

  • Having a house full of family is not always easy. Tensions get high, fights break out, too much wine is consumed, dishes get broken. If you aren’t lucky enough to have family that wants to stay in a hotel, you can always get out some frustration and energy by taking them all out for the day. Sounds expensive, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be. One of my favorite things that can last through Thanksgiving is a cornfield maze.  The kids can run all over, you can get lost apart from your family for hours and end up with some unexpected alone time that just allows you to breathe. Plus, fresh air is always a good thing. Most corn mazes are a short drive out of the city and fairly reasonable costwise. Usually less than $10 per person, which is a small price for half a day of activity and your sanity. Take a ride through the pumpkin patch, get lost in corn, pet some animals, have a hot chocolate, buy some pumpkins and go home and have everyone help make pumpkin pie.
  • Don’t cook every meal and still save money. Buy gift certificates through Restaurant.com and get a $25 credit for only $10. They come in bigger denominations based on the restaurant you choose, but it’s a major savings on meals. And if someone else offers to split the bill with you, it makes your half a LOT smaller.
  • Look for dining and entertainment deals for your area with Groupon. This daily deal site is awesome and has saved us a bundle just on eating out. Each day you’ll get an email with the day’s featured Groupon that can be up to 60% off regular price. One day it might be for a discounted mani/pedi (which you can use to relax after everyone’s gone) the next it could be for half off a great restaurant and the next it could be for super discounted bowling. You never know what you’re going to get, but the deals are always awesome and it’s a sure bet you’ll find at least one thing to satisfy your family. Maybe buy several of those spa certificates and have a girl’s day while the guys watch football.
  • Watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade outside on the streets of New York instead of on your TV at home with commercial breaks. Save 40% off hotels in New York if you book by the end of October. 
  • Take Norwegian Cruise Lines to someplace you don’t have to wear a coat to. Book by the end of the year to get up to $300 in onboard spending, 50% off your deposit, reduced airfare, cabin upgrades, Nickelodeon entertainment and more! Interior cabins on a 7 night cruise start at just $299 per person. 
  • Save up to 50% off all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, including resorts in Barbados and Jamaica. Break out your bathing suit, sip on a cocktail and soak up the sun. Book with Orbitz by the end of the month and receive resort credits, free nights and other incentives. Winter is the high season for the Caribbean, but you wouldn’t know it by the killer deals available. 
  • Walt Disney World is 40% off with Orbitz. Stay on Disney property and enjoy the freedom of the Disney transportation system that will take you to any all Disney resorts, parks, Downtown Disney and Disney water parks. It’s so convenient that unless you want to visit other locations in Kissimmee or Orlando, you can forgo a rental car and use that money for eating at great Disney Dining locations in the parks. (Don’t forget to make reservations, either online or by calling 407-WDW-DINE.) You can even purchase your park tickets through Orbitz and save even more money off box office prices. You’ll have everything you need to just whiz through the lines at the gate and start your day as soon as you get there. (See my last blog entry for more ways to save money and time at the parks.) Book by October 20 for these great rates.
  • Whisk the family off to Paris for four or more nights. At 40% off and free daily breakfast, the Novotel Paris Vaugirard Montparnasse in Paris is the way to go. With spacious rooms, attentive staff and huge buffet breakfasts you can’t go wrong. If you think so, just look out the window and see the beautiful sites of Paris outside to rid yourself of that feeling. After a day of sightseeing, a baguette, a ride on the Metro and a chocolate crepe, you will wonder why you didn’t go sooner. Good on bookings through year end. [If you DO go to Paris, buy a Paris Pass for each member in your party and get entry into over 60 attractions for one low price. Skip the lines and go straight to the gate everywhere you go. It saves you a ton of time and money. Order by 10/18 and get 10% off each pass you purchase.]

Capture your fall vacation memories and make a fun photo book with Photoworks. Get 25% off through Nov 3rd with the code: OCTOBERBOOKS If you've never used Photoworks before, sign up and get free shipping on your first order with the code MYFIRSTORDER. It is really easy to use and uploading your photos is simple and fast. 
  
Don’t forget to enter to win a week-long New Year’s Eve trip to London! This trip includes round-trip airfare for 2, airport transfers, 6 night’s accommodations in a luxury catered apartment, plus much more! Good luck. London is beautiful at holiday time. Take in the sites and then watch fireworks over the Thames and ring in the New Year with your chosen guest. An amazing once in a lifetime trip!


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