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Monday, December 11, 2017

Huge Cash Back deals during the Swagbucks Green Monday Sale!

You can earn money while saving it during Green Monday! The Cashback Shopping site Swagbucks is offering big cash back - 2x or more - at a number of different stores today only. They're also offering big payouts on a varieties of different deals and offers from companies that would make great gift ideas. Get great deals without waiting in lines or even leaving your home! 

If you're not familiar with Swagbucks, they offer cash back in the form of points when you shop. Then you can turn those points into gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Target, or PayPal cash. You can also earn points for discovering deals, watching videos, answering surveys and more!  

Click here to take advantage of the cash back, just create your Swagbucks account when prompted (it takes less than 30 seconds) and then you're all set! 

As a special bonus, if you sign up through me you get a 300 SB ($3) bonus when you earn your first 300 SB before January 1st! This site's a great way to extend your shopping budget, especially around the holidays!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review + Giveaway: Phoneloops

Everywhere you go, people are glued to their phones, which might be unsurprising, because they're basically a tiny computer you can carry in your pocket. They contain your whole life really. Now, I'm someone who stashes their phone in their back pocket when I can, but I also like to play games and text on-the-go. You too? Then read on!

How often have you tried to text or check your Instagram or take a selfie and fumbled your phone and dropped it (sometimes directly onto your face, because you are doing these things in bed)? With the increasing size of phones, they can be difficult to hold onto, especially if you have smaller hands. Phoneloops is your answer.

Phoneloops come in two different styles, one that you can use as a wristlet (Petite Loop) and one you can use like a belt (for your hand - Ninja Loop). They are ideal for those that always like to have their phone on hand and are great for those that need to keep a hand free for other things. Case in point: my dog always wants to snuggle with me when I'm trying to play Animal Crossing. I don't need two hands to play, but it's hard to get my person to walk and talk to people if I only have one hand free. 

Phoneloops is helping me to play, give my puppy pets and not be all awkward doing both at the same time. That's not all though. I am able to hold my phone while rummaging in my carry-on for something, while showing my e-ticket, having my ID ready and being able to drag my wheelie bag behind me. 

Are you a runner with no pockets? (because running shorts are woefully lacking) Do you have kids that never stop? Is your dog a bit rambunctious while out on walks? All of these are situations where Phoneloops will be helpful. They are unobtrusive when you aren't using them (so you can still put your phone in your pocket), but so helpful when you need them.  

I've been using my Phoneloop for two weeks and I have not dropped my phone once, plus I've been able to play my games, read my emails, text and watch videos with just one hand. It makes it easier to walk around and use my phone (when I have to. I wouldn't recommend this, because people walking with their nose stuck to their phone makes me want to push them into traffic, if they don't walk out there all on their own when they aren't paying attention to life), ride in the car and play Pokemon (while I'm a passenger), and take down notes with one hand and still keep my phone at an easy reading distance.

Not only that, but Phoneloops are really affordable and they come in fun colors and patterns. I received a handful of them and chose the tropical pattern, because I need a reminder that winter isn't going to last all year...and there are beach destinations on the horizon. It's a fun way to show off your style in a little way. 

Phoneloops are super easy to apply. The strap has 3M adhesive on each end and you press them onto your phone's cover on the inside. It fits through your phone case's holes to keep it in place and help it be more ergonomically-friendly for you. It doesn't harm your phone and it doesn't harm your case, so you can remove it and replace with a new one or change your case when needed.

If you have teenagers who are always dropping their phones, or worse, losing them, you might want to purchase a couple Phoneloops for their Christmas stockings, or a fun Hanukkah gift. This goes for everyone else on your list too, from the Instgram-scroller to your parent who has a shaky hand or a hard time handling small objects. They will love you for your thoughtful gift and your wallet will love you for their affordability. 

More details:
Where can I buy them? Phoneloops website
How much are they? Ninja Loop (shown) and Petite Loop: $5.99 on sale now for $4.99.
What colors do they come in? 
Ninja Loop: Black | Faux | Candy | Tricot | Banana | Stars | Bon Bon | Camo | Chevron | Serge | Maldives | Maze | Polka | Retro | Floral | Bloom | Lys | Pride | Purple | Petale | Charcoal | Anchor | GSD
Petite Loop: Rose | Noir | Zigzag | Picots | Turquoise | Herringbone | Jungle | Parfum | Raspberry | Frost 
Other specs: Your phone must have a case to use Phoneloops, Phoneloops works with the help of 3M adhesive, non-elastic fabric, fits all phone sizes and phone cases, using your case's openings, unobtrusive to phone's camera, charging port and headphone port.

Do you want to win your own Phoneloop? I have four and am giving away two of them! Choose your favorite from the photo above: pink, polka dots, stripes, stars. Comment below with the one you'd like and who on your gift list needs it the most (it's cool if that person is you). I'll randomly choose two winners between blog comments and Facebook comments on December 15th, so it can get to you by Christmas. {Sorry, this is restricted to US and Canada only}

Get to know Phoneloops even more and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Disclaimer: I was given Phoneloops for the purposes of this review and giveaway, but all opinions are my own.

Fun Travel Tours That You Can Book Today

While you can book a hotel room and spend your entire vacation lounging by the pool or checking out local museums, you can also plan a more exciting trip and sign up for a tour. These tours take travelers to fun and/or exotic destinations that let them engage in activities they never tried before like setting off across the desert on a camel or sampling some of the most delicious food in one city. You can learn more about these tours to see which one is right for you before taking time off work and making your travel plans.

Celebrity Tours

Did you know that you could actually book a tour and travel with your favorite celebrity? New Kids on the Block, the boy band who had a number of hit songs in the 1990s, hosts its own cruise. Guests get to hang out with other fans, attend special events, see the guys play live in concert and even attend events to meet members. Celebrity chef Paula Deen occasionally hosts her own cruise too that features cooking demonstrations and other fun events. 

Desert Treks

If you ever wanted to see the Sahara Desert for yourself, why wait? There are dozens of tours that move across this desert every year. You can book a tour in the middle of summer, to take a break in winter or any other time that you want to travel. Some treks let you sleep outside under the stars or in a comfortable tent, and you'll travel with guides who look out for your safety. Some tours provide travelers with camels that they can ride through the sand too. At cometothesahara.com/tours/morocco-camel-dessert-trek/, you'll find a number of tours departing when you want to travel.

Food Tours

Foodies love checking out hot restaurants and diners that feature some of the top dishes in a region. You can plan your own food tour or sign up for an existing tour before your next trip. New York City tours take travelers on a trip around the top delis, restaurants and food stores in different boroughs. You can also sign up for a tour that takes you to food spots that are famous from appearances on television and in films. Other tours let you sample food and pick up ingredients at different shops before taking you back to a kitchen to learn how to put those ingredients together.

For Singles

No one ever looks forward to going through a bad breakup, but it's something that many people experience. When you feel ready to jump back into the dating saddle again, you might sign up for a tour designed just for singles. These tours include cruises that take you to exotic destinations and gorgeous beaches, hiking tours that take you deep into the forest and camping trips for those who like spending time outside. Most tours feature special events to help guests get to know each other like happy hour events and dances.

Jungle Treks

Conquer your fear of the unknown with a jungle trek. Like desert treks, these tours take groups of people out together, but these tours let you spend your vacation hiking through the wilderness. You never know when you might turn a corner and see a herd of elephants roaming free or other wild animals in their native habitats. Tour guides and leaders will take steps to ensure your safety from the elements as well as those animals. Some tours are a little more upscale and features yurts or tents on platforms with decks that let you look out over the wilderness in the morning.

Older Travelers

Though you might think that travel tours are only for younger people, many companies now offer packages for older travelers too. You'll find groups dedicated to those over the age of 50, 60 or even 70. Some cater to widows and other older folks who are single, but there are tours that you can sign up for and enjoy with your spouse or partner. These tours design activities based around the age group of the travelers attending. When planning your next vacation, consider taking a fun tour instead of doing the same thing you always do.

What do you think? Is Morocco and the Sahara a new add to your travel list?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How to Make Holiday Travel Budget Friendly

The holidays are stressful enough, so why add more to it with your holiday travel? By planning ahead, you can save money and frustration. You'll be happy to see your family and friends instead of resentful that you had to spend so much to get there that you can't take a real vacation later.

Fly Early

If you're worried about getting bumped, - and who doesn't? - choose a flight early in the day. The first flights out have much lower chance of being delayed, plus many people don't want to get up at the crack of dawn, or earlier, to go to the airport, making those flights a bit cheaper.

Travel On Less Desirable Days

Generally, booking your travel during the holiday season is not super affordable, but you can reduce the sting by flying the least busy days to get the best deals. When demand is low, so are fares. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays tend to be less expensive than other days, because the majority of travelers are doing so over the weekend. The airport is always packed on Thursdays and Fridays with people getting out of town and then on Sundays and Mondays coming back.

If your family does their celebration on Christmas Eve or not until Christmas afternoon, then traveling on Christmas may work perfectly for you. Everyone wants to be with their families then, so airfare can be super low. 

Book as Far in Advance as Possible

Under normal circumstances, the sweet spot for getting flight deals on domestic flights is between three and five weeks, but for the holidays, you'll want to book as soon as you find an airfare deal. The closer to the holiday you get, the more airfare will be. There are almost never any last-minute price drops for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's Eve.

Use Your Airline Miles

If you're doing it right, you've probably been racking up those airline miles every chance you get. You are, right? Well, now's the time to cash them in. Again, the earlier you can book, the greater chance of getting a rewards seat, plus you can save the majority of your travel budget for later to go somewhere (more) fun.

Bring Just a Carry-On

Many airlines, especially so-called budget airlines, have upped their baggage fees. Do you really want to pay an extra $40 or more to bring your luggage along? You're probably visiting your family, so they aren't going to be bothered if you want to use their washing machine.

Pack light by choosing a mix and match wardrobe, where all your bottoms match all your tops, and try to keep your shoes to two pair. In the winter, you can easily wear a pair of boots and some fun flats with just about everything. Roll your clothing to save space and combat wrinkles. Think of it as a giant puzzle, using all available space, and you’ll be surprised by how much you can fit inside a traditional roller bag.

Pack Small Gifts 

Packing light can be a challenge, but if you're also bringing gifts along, consider small ones that are easily packable, like gift cards or jewelry. If you can't be restricted by size, ship your gifts ahead, because you'll save money mailing over baggage fees and there's smaller chance of them getting lost.

If you choose to bring gifts with you in your carry-on, make sure they are unwrapped, as TSA needs to see what is inside your bag and will open any boxes that are closed if you are chosen for a random bag check. Purchase wrapping paper, bows or bags once you reach your destination, or slip the flat items in a pocket of your bag to eliminate wrinkles.

Drive Safely

If you’re lucky to be close enough to your destination to drive there, make sure to get a tune-up on your car before embarking on your trip. A car in tip top shape will get better gas mileage and is less likely to break down. Use Metromile and other apps to find affordable gas along the way, pack a paper map for emergencies and have a list of all important phone numbers and addresses just in case.

Pack snacks and plan stops along the way, because getting out of the car and stretching out makes the trip more fun and snacks keep you from getting cranky and stopping for fast food.

Your holiday travels don’t have to break your bank. With a bit of forethought and planning you can save wherever possible, so the Season of Giving doesn’t turn into the Season of Giving the Airlines All Your Money. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Get More Free Gift Cards for the Holidays from Swagbucks (US)

The digital rewards site Swagbucks is offering big payouts during their December "Swago" promotion starting Monday, December 4th at 9am PT and running until Monday, December 11th! Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you're filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. 

If you're thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it, meaning you can get more gift cards faster. Here are a few tips: 
  • Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores! 
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete. 
  • You have until 12pm PT/3pm ET on Monday, December 11th to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely. 
  • Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. Once you’ve achieved a pattern, the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely. 
  • Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. PLUS, when you submit your board for a bonus you'll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner!
The Spin & Win Wheel will be available all throughout Swago and you have until 11:59pm PT on Monday, December 11th to use all your spins. 

Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points - if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus, which is enough for a $5 gift card from the retailer of your choice. 

Click here right now and click "Join" to get started! If you don't already have a Swagbucks account, you'll be able to quickly sign up; PLUS, if you earn 300 SB before the first of January, you'll get a bonus 300 SB!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Apps for Fantastic Holiday Travel

We all know that holidays can be totally stressful, especially when you add traveling to the mix. As much as I love to travel, when the airport is just a crush of people and you are looking at a security line so long you can't even see the front it just doesn't seem all that enticing. Usually I enjoy the trip to the airport – yes, I know that makes me a crazy weirdo – because I love the excitement of being there, knowing I'm going to be jetting off to a cool place, eating at places I only get to visit a few times a year or shopping/browsing the unique stores and watching the planes take off and land before it's my turn. When the holidays come around, it seems like everyone is on edge and there's hardly anyone having a good time waiting to get on the plane. 

If you want your holiday trips to be less stressful, or you just want to make your general travel more fun, I've rounded up some great apps and sites that will make you wish you'd known about them sooner. 

Get Away from Everyone

Can't fathom spending your whole stay with family? Get a vacation rental where you can retreat after you've had enough of the hundred people at the family host's house. I always love using Airbnb, but now you can also find rentals to fit your budget with Tripping, which compiles all the available rentals from sites like HomeAway, FlipKey and Roomorama, and Dwellable Vacation Rentals, which has over 250,000 listings in the U.S., Mexico, Europe and the Caribbean.

Make New Friends
If you aren't visiting family or friends, but want to make some and/or immerse yourself in a new culture, check out both BeWelcome and MealSharing. BeWelcome pairs you up with a host at your destination that will play tour guide for you, show you how they live and will also allow you to stay in their house. This is the perfect way to make international (and domestic) friends and fantastic for those that might like to travel solo, but don't want to "travel solo". 

MealSharing is an awesome site that matches travelers up with meal hosts. Maybe you'd like to have dinner with new friends or you'd like to invite others to your home when you aren't traveling. And, this year they are promoting their second annual ThanksSharing event, where they encourage others to spend Thanksgiving with others. Maybe you're traveling somewhere over the holiday and can't make your own feast. Why not find someone else you can celebrate with?
Do Something Completely Different
Want to see something other than the same boring tourist attractions? (I'm not knocking tourist sites, because I love them, but maybe you've already done them.) Let others give you cool new suggestions with the HeyLets app. The app is especially geared toward families with kids who enjoy doing something a bit different. Add your family's travel style to the app to get personalized tips on what to see and do. App users can add their own inspired activities to make the app even better and help other families travel better, too.

Where the Heck are the mashed potatoes?
Whether you're traveling to see family or they're coming to you, invite your family to join Cabin, where you can skip the multi-texts and phone calls while trying to organize everyone for the big day (or a vacation). With Cabin, you can send messages to all or individuals to make sure everyone knows when and where to show up, what to bring and more. Is Aunt Cindy not there with her famous green bean casserole yet? Cabin tracks where everyone is, so you can find out if she's on her way or just around the corner without having to call her every five minutes asking if she's lost or not. Imagine how easy this will make planning other family gatherings, too. 

Keep All Your Travel Plans in One Place
Not all great apps are about connecting with others. One of my favorites is TripIt. I use it online and as an app on my phone to keep all my reservations, confirmation numbers, important addresses and itineraries at my fingertips. If you are like me and hate to print out a ton of unnecessary paper, TripIt is the ideal travel app. Only print out the things you need to and everything else can live solely on the app for you to call up on your phone or computer when needed. it has saved us several times when we've needed an address for a cab driver or to get to on public transportation or to find the phone number to call and get directions or change a reservation.

Have you ever used any of the above apps/sites or do you have a favorite app or website that helps you travel or live better?
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