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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My Portland Coffee Tour - Part 11

Happy end of the month! Do you need a little pick-me-up? Maybe a steaming hot cup of coffee? While I can't get that for you, I can bring you a few reviews of coffee shops that I've been to this month. It's been a crazy busy month and not in a great way. We've been battling the flu off and on, so I've not gotten out of the house as much as I'd like, plus I threw myself a 40th birthday party which took up a lot of time planning and prepping for, but it turned out awesome. You can see some pics on Instagram if you're interested.


So, this month I only made it to two shops on one of my rare days off where I didn't feel like I was dying and didn't want to get out of bed, and I wasn't off doing something I had planned previously with family/friends.

Triump Cofee 

This was a lucky find for me. I had been planning a trip to the next coffee shop (below) and searched for others in the area. I checked out their website and was sold. Their food sounded awesome and I liked the feel of it. When I got there, I liked it even better. 


I described this shop as having coffee at your grandma's house, but in the best possible way, because there are comfy 70s-era seating options (look at those goldenrod velvet chairs!) and all the servingware is mismatched. I glimpsed a set of of 70s plates my mom had in my childhood. It felt a bit like home. 


I was pretty confident in a recommendation from the barista, and he suggested the Cubano latte ($4.75) and I'm never turning down a coffee with cinnamon. I also settled on a ham and cheese croissant ($4.50) from the case and it was warmed up for me. The two made a pretty hearty breakfast and I was not disappointed. The croissant was perfectly flaky and yummy and the coffee was smooth and just spicy enough. I didn't need any sugar, because it wasn't too bitter. If you can find a parking spot, or are walking through the neighborhood, this is absolutely worth a stop. I could tell there were a bunch of regulars here, but I didn't feel out of place at all. This is a true gem in Portland.

Push X Pull Coffee

I found this shop on Insta and was INSTAntly intrigued (sorry). They just opened a few weeks ago and do all their own roasting. In fact, their website says "roasting coffee since a couple of days ago" and that made me giggle. They don't purport to be a long-time roaster at all, so I figured it would be interesting to give it a shot. 


As you can see, the space is bright and airy, with a definite modern minimalist vibe. There are coffee sacks around the shop and this amazing roasting machine that looks like it belongs in a science lab. I, again, asked for a recommendation and the barista asked me a few questions and then we decided on a latte made with a newly-roasted Colombian bean ($4.50) and I couldn't pass up a fantastic looking apple danish ($4.25) sitting with some other pastries on the counter. She found me one that hadn't been sitting out and it came out on a square white plate. 

I loved the vibe of this place instantly, but I was quickly disappointed. They obviously have a bit of work to do here, but I'm sure this a place that you will either love or hate. The pastry was super dry, except for the middle, and the apples were "rustic" and still had their peels, making it tough to eat. My latte was nothing special, and not at all worth the price when I had paid just $.25 more for a fantastic cup at a shop up the street. I added some raw sugar for a bit of sweetness, but I still think this shop is a bit overpriced. 

I loved the open space, but the high industrial-feel ceilings just made everything much louder and hard to relax and enjoy yourself. Perhaps Push x Pull will settle into its own as it gains experience, but with so many other options so nearby, I won't be giving it a second shot.

Here's to next month when I hopefully can caffeinate myself a bit more outside the house, but I hope these two reviews gave you the little coffee bump you needed today.

Tell me about your favorite coffee shop where you live or from your travels.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

How to Keep Yourself Safe On Vacation

When you travel, you don't just have to worry about your safety out in the world, but also for your travel companions and your stuff back home. With a few pointers, you can assure that you'll be fine wherever you are and when you get back home. We've all seen movies like Hostel and The Shallows, so don't let any of that happen to you if you can help it.

Life Saving Travel Guide #infographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

What are your tips for staying safe on vacation?

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Good and the Bad of All-Inclusive Resorts for Couples

The popularity of all-inclusive resorts among vacationing couples is at an all-time high. At face value, they are the epitome of stress-free travel. Who wouldn’t want a travel package that covers all the fun parts of travel including entry fees, dining and accommodations? Not many people would resist the offer.


With all its advantages, all-inclusive resorts also have some downside. Before you book with an all-inclusive resort, you need to evaluate if the pros outweigh the cons. Here are some of the typical pros and cons of staying at an all-inclusive resort as a couple.

The Good

Specifically Designed to Be Stress-Free

Mexico and the Caribbean have mastered the art of the all-inclusive resort.

Usually, the target market for these resorts is couples looking for an easy and stress-free vacation where everything is taken care of. Usually all the inclusions in an all-inclusive vacation are listed on the resort’s website, so you know exactly what you’re getting before you book.

These packages usually include a listing of food, drink, spa access, accommodations, activities, and more.

Better for Budgeting

With an all-inclusive resort handling your vacation, you can basically leave your wallet at home. An all-inclusive price allows you to know how much your trip will cost in totality even before you leave your home.

There’s no better way to stay within your budget than to decide how much you are going to spend. If you spend your money upfront and then pay nothing else going forward, you’ll know exactly the cost. This arrangement will also help you avoid arguments surrounding the topic of money with your partner during the trip.

Everything is Grown Up

Choose an all-inclusive that caters to adults, and it will be more peaceful than your average hotel or resort that takes kids. If you are traveling as a couple with no kids, keep off the destinations that are marketed as specifically as family-friendly resorts. You won’t want a romantic vacation to be ruined with the cries of upset children.

A Beach, Pools and Endless Drinks

Nothing gives you the license to be lazy as an all-inclusive resort with beach access, a pool and the offer of an unlimited supply of drinks. You can be as lazy and as gluttonous as you want and no one will judge you. This is the promise of all-inclusive resorts, after all.

The Bad

Feeling as if Your Freedom Is Limited

After paying for an all-inclusive vacation, your vacation activities are pretty much limited to the offers specified in the package, unless you fork out more money.

Since you will have already paid for the lined up activities, you will be reluctant to skip them in favor of other activities that you may have to pay extra for, even if they seem more enjoyable.

Given the nature of most pre-packaged all-inclusive resort vacations, you will probably miss out on impromptu tours and may not get a chance to escape to the local streets to try out authentic cuisines. The majority of your vacation will probably be spent at one resort. This means that your experience of the destination will depend on your host’s accommodation and not on the choices you make day-to-day.

May Not Be Value For Money

Pricing is a tricky subject to navigate as different people value things and experiences differently. Further, when booking an all-inclusive vacation, you might be paying for services you will probably not take advantage of.

Resorts may be priced differently based on differences in star rating, location, experience of staff, celebrity value, brand recognition, and various other intangible factors. While researching for a place to stay, you and your partner should sit down and take the time to find a resort that meets all the factors that are important to you and at a fair price.

Expensive does not always mean better. You can find a very good all-inclusive resort at affordable prices.

Resort Life is Not for Everyone

The typical all-inclusive resort is miles away from most inland attractions, offer limited opportunities to meet different people every day, and have a list of designated activities. If you are used to a fast paced life and want several options every day, an all-inclusive resort may start to become boring the longer you stay.

The cure for this problem is to spend more money to experience other things outside of the offered menu. This contravenes the first principle of an all-inclusive resort that promises that everything you could probably want is included in your package.

Upsells and the Lure of Extras

No matter what all-inclusive resort you go to, there will always be some services that are not included in your package. These services could be in-land excursions or basic on-site services such as spa treatments.


You will probably be tempted to fork over more money to enjoy these services and the decision may lead to your budget to get out of control. Just do your research before you book and know what you’re getting. If there’s anything extra you can do, it will almost definitely be listed on the website and you can budget for that beforehand as well. 

Learn more about Sandals Resorts on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

What are your biggest questions regarding all-inclusive resorts?

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Sandals Resorts.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

10 Things I Take On Every Trip

I travel mostly the same way every time I go anywhere, no matter where I go. I have perfected my packing list and having a packing plan that works for me makes life so much easier. Part of my plan is taking the same things every trip, because it's familiar and it works. Here are the things I'm always packing, wherever I go.

Ziploc bags

You  never know when you'll need to separate something from something else, but also when you want to take a bag of cookies with you or keep your wet bathing suit from getting your rental car seats soggy or have an emergency diaper situation. I bring a handful of zipper bags with me anywhere I go. I've used them for snacks, for dirty clothes, for leftovers and for receipts and brochures. They are multipurpose and take up almost no room in your bag.

Back-up bag

Usually when you go on a trip, you buy stuff. That means you may not have room to pack it on your way home. Well, I try not to overpack my carry-on, but it's still just a carry-on. Because of that, I bring along a back-up bag to use for all my overage. I have this one and this one and they are both awesome. Just depends on how much you are willing to spend, but also how much you're restricting yourself on souvenirs when you travel. Sometimes I know I will be buying gifts, so I bring a bigger bag than normal.


Mesh pop-up hamper (laundry detergent)

Whether or not I'm on a long trip, I don't like living out of my suitcase and I don't like mixing my clean and dirty clothes. I have a great pop-up hamper that also works as a laundry bag that I put in the corner of my room to throw all my dirties. Then, before I go home, I can schlep it to the laundry room (or just drag it to the washing machine). I always have a small bag of dry detergent and a stash of quarters, so I'm ready for whatever the situation calls for. I have this one, which has really sturdy handles and four pockets, so you can even take along a book or game to pass the time. It's served me well for at least a decade so far.

Reusable grocery bag

I am a grocery shopper. I don't go out for every meal if I can help it. I generally show up at my destination and take a trip to the store on the first day to shop for breakfast foods, because that's the easiest meal to make and the least exciting to me to eat out. If you want to skip the back-up bag above, you can definitely use your grocery bag to bring back items from you trip. You can also use it as a laundry bag if you don't have that much. I've used it for both of these things before, since they usually have sturdy handles and nice flat bottoms.

Packable rain jacket

One time I didn't pack my rain jacket and it was a mistake. I've since learned that I should never leave it at home, even if I'm going to Vegas or Orlando. In fact, when it rains in places where it rarely rains, it often pours harder than you're used to, which sucks hard. I know lots of people like to bring umbrellas, but I don't, because a rain jacket is multipurpose. It doesn't take up as much room as an umbrella, but you can pack it down into your day bag and also use it if you happen to get chilly. You never know when a cold snap will present itself, even when it comes in the form of really insistent air conditioning. This is also why I always bring a scarf or wrap with me on the plane.

Sunglasses

The sun can really wreak havoc on your eyes. Even when it's not super sunny, you need protection from its rays. While you probably don't forget the sunscreen, but make sure you don't leave your sunglasses at home, because you don't want to have to pay 3 times as much as usual by purchasing them at your destination, or looking squinty in all your pics.

Snacks

Do you get hangry? I know I do! I always have snacks in my bag, because sometimes things don't go as planned and you aren't always in a place where you can get into a restaurant to sate your hunger. Toss a couple of granola bars or a piece of fruit or a bag of trail mix into your bag, just in case. You'll be happy if you have need it and sad if you do and didn't pack it. I also suggest a reusable water bottle, which I also count as a snack. We use this one.

Compression socks

Walking is hard on your feet, not to mention your ankles and legs. Most of us walk a lot more on vacation than we do at home, which can make our ankles swell and really hurt us at the end of each day. I pack a really good pair of compression socks in my bag that I can either wear under pants during the day or put on the second I get back to the room. I've been known to sleep in them when I've had sad, swollen ankles, and they help immensely. I swear by these Zensah socks.

Tablet

I don't always bring my laptop, and when I do, I only use it in my room. I always bring along my iPad Mini though, because I can read on it, take notes, listen to music and podcasts, play games and even check and answer emails. It's perfect for finding directions for your sightseeing before you leave the hotel and great for watching Netflix when there's nothing good on TV and you need to just unwind.

Back-up battery

Nothing sucks worse than when your phone battery dies as you're trying to call the hotel or get an Uber or take a picture of something awesome. You need a back-up battery. I have this one that will recharge my phone 2 1/2 times before it needs to be recharged. We actually have two, and we each carry one. This way Eric can play games on his phone all day and I can take all the pics I want and text with my mom. Because I can use any cord with this one, I can also use it to charge my camera or share with someone else to charge both our devices at once.

There you have it. The 10 things I don't leave on vacation without. I keep a lot of these things in my carry-on all the time, so my bag is halfway packed with all the things I know I'll always need. 

What do you never leave home without on your trips?

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The First Swago: Shopping Edition of 2018!







Still recovering from all of your holiday shopping? The online rewards site Swagbucks has a smart and fun way for you to earn and save when you spend.



Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago! What is SWAGO you ask? It's a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you've never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly.  
Click here to get started


Here’s what you need to know to get your 300 SB Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern):
  • Go to the Swag page and make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete.
  • Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  • You have a limited amount of time 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 - up to 300 SB - enough for your first $3 gift card.
  • 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.
  • The game ends Friday, January 26th at 12pm PDT/3pm EDT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Exercising On Vacation

I don't exercise much, but I do try to keep in shape by eating right and parking further from the store to walk more and taking the stairs. When on vacation it's hard to eat healthfully, so I look for ways to burn more calories when I'm out and about...and make the effort to order vegetables. 


vacation exercise tips

Walk Whenever Possible

Instead of driving or taking public transit, try walking. Some destinations are more walkable than others, but you can easily walk 4-10 miles in a day (or more if you're going to a theme park) without even noticing. Look at your map and see how far your destination is for the day (maybe plan some things that are close to each other) and strap on our walking shoes if they are doable. At a slow pace, you can walk a mile in 15 minutes, which isn't that long or that far. Of course, if you're like me, you're more likely to want to walk in the morning when your feet are fresh, so give yourself some motivation to get up and stretch your legs. You can take the subway later in the day. You may face lots of stairs with this option, too. 

Besides the obvious benefits of walking, you will be able to slow down and see more of your destination, possibly finding some hidden gems along the way. We saw a really good portion of London by just wandering around. Just remember to stay aware of where you are and what's around you to stay safe. 

Get Up Early and Use the Gym

Lots of hotels we've stayed in have had workout rooms that are free for all to use. Now we stay in vacation rentals or timeshares, but many of them have gyms included as well. The same goes for cruise ships. Now, I find that I never actually make it to the gym, even though I say I will, but if I made more of an effort, I would at least make it down to get on the elliptical for a bit. If you're on a business trip, this may be the only exercise you get, so make sure to pack suitable clothes. My pajamas are generally a pair of running shorts and t-shirt, so I am set.

Or Exercise in Your Room

This is easier to do when you have a vacation rental or a suite, where there is actual room for you to move around, but even if you only have a little free space and a chair, you can get in some extra calorie-burning:
  • Chair crunches - I love the fact that if you have a chair, you pretty much have a low-impact gym. Sit on the edge and pull legs up or do the bicycle or other ab exercises like these
  • Work your triceps - These also use a chair, though you can use anything flat and sturdy. At home, I use my coffee table, but you can also use a park bench. 
  • Planks - Work your core! They hurt, but I assume when I see results, they will be all worth it!
  • Squats - Work your butt. You can do these outside, too, but people might you funny looks. If you want to get more advanced, go find yourself a bench and do some step-ups.
  • Calf raises - Do these anywhere, like brushing your teeth, watching the news or waiting in line to get into the Louvre.
  • Arm curls - You can do these just about everywhere. Buy a couple of water bottles and use them as make-shift weights. If these aren't doing the trick and you don't have anything heavier around that could work, check out these traveling dumbbells called AquaBells that you fill with water for your workouts. 
  • Resist! Pack a resistance band (or set) in your carry-on and do more strenuous workouts in the time you have available. There are also these fancy loop bands you can use to strengthen your legs/thighs 

Get In the Pool

Eric prefers to get his extra workout in the form of swimming. If there's a pool, he's going to get in it and do some laps. I'm not a swimmer, but I'll come sit for moral support. Usually, this is when I do laundry. Lugging a laundry basket to and from my room counts as exercise, right?

Rent a Bike

The only thing better than walking your destination is getting around by bike. Lots of destinations now have city bikes you can rent by the hour or the day. See the city in a totally different way by riding around and moving those legs. Bonus is that many of them have baskets, so you have a place to put purchases and/or your day bag. 

Drink More Water

This isn't strictly helpful in exercising, but it will give you more energy if you stay hydrated, meaning you won't want to just be a lump (anymore than usual) when you could be exploring the city on foot or checking out another museum. It also helps if you don't overeat. If you're hungry, but not starving, remember that most places will serve you at least 1.5 times as much as you should eat. Sharing a plate is a way to satisfy your hunger without loading you down with carbs and other foods, so you won't feel like a nap in the middle of the day and drag, because walking is more beneficial when you do it at a brisk pace.

Do you exercise when you travel? What's your favorite way to burn all those calories you ingested over the course of each day?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Simple Ways To Save On Food When Traveling

One of the most exciting parts of traveling, besides going somewhere new, is trying new food. Are you always thinking about when and where you’re going to eat next? Do you want to eat your way through the city? With all the fresh air and walking one gets while out sightseeing, it might be the thrill of being in a new city or because all the extra exercise, but it feels like you just ate and are hungry again! 

Unfortunately, it’s impractical to eat all day. Not just because it’s unhealthy, but also because it’s totally unaffordable. Plus, how would you get any sightseeing done? Even if you eat just three times a day, you’re going to need some tips on how to do it inexpensively, so at least you don’t go broke doing it. Here are just a few of the rules to follow to get the best bargains and keep your wallet from emptying out by the end of the first day.

Bring snacks!

Trick your stomach by bringing snacks with you in your bag each day. This way, if you’re tempted to nibble on something, you know you have them on you and are less likely to spend money on food you don’t really need.

Eat where the locals eat

Just by avoiding touristy areas, you can save a lot on your meals. When you’re out, ask a few people where they recommend. They aren’t going to tell you they prefer a chain restaurant over their favorite local pub. The food is likely more authentic than those that you can find right near tourist attractions, making it cheaper, because it’s local and not shipped in from a different country.

Make lunch your main meal

If you really want to try one of the “hip” restaurants by a celebrity chef, make reservations for lunch. The food will be just as good, but it’s usually much cheaper at lunch than at dinner. 

Hit up the food carts

Food carts can have a huge variety of different local and international foods, but can be half the price of (or less) than dining at a sit-down restaurant. With this kind of savings, you can try fare from several carts with no regrets.

Rent a vacation home or stay in a hotel with a kitchen(ette)

This is a great way to stretch a food budget, because there are so many options. Renting can be a great value over hotel stays if you’ll be visiting for a week or more, plus it gives you the chance to check out the local grocery store. If you aren’t a big breakfast person, instead of eating out for that meal, shop for new cereals and pastries that you can’t get at home. There’s never a better time to try new foods!

Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast

You don’t realize how much dining out can cost until you go on vacation. A reasonable breakfast can cost between $8-15 per person. If you multiply that by the number of people you’re traveling with and the number of days you’ll be staying, that number can be huge. If you find a hotel in your price range that offers free breakfast, you’ve hit a jackpot of savings.

Sign up for Groupon

Groupon is an amazing little site that offers daily deals on a wide assortment of things, not least of which is dining. Each day a new offer goes up at a big discount off the regular price. Dining certificates can be purchased quite often and many times you can grab a half-off gift certificate to a new local restaurant or one just trying to bring in new customers. It works! Sign up at Groupon for the destination of your next vacation (they cover many international locations as well as the United States) and eat for less!

Don’t order off the kids' menu

If you travel with children, you’ll notice that all kids' menus seem to have the same small rotation of foods. Obviously, little ones don’t just live on hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets and PB&J sandwiches. Not only do they charge an outrageous amount for these “staples” that cost hardly anything to make, but they offer hardly any nutritional value and your kids are likely to eat only half of it before declaring they’re full. Instead, order a meal that you both will eat and share. This saves you money and might get them to eat a vegetable or two.

This is just a small list of things you can do to help stretch your food budget on your future trips, but they can save you quite a bit. Remember, the more money you save on meals, the more money you can spend on doing something else!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 Travel Trends

It's always good to know the latest travel trends when you are planning your trips. It can make or break your trip if you don't know that your destination is going to be overcrowded or more than usual. Check out this infographic from Airbnb to see where your top destination stands this year.


What are your 2018 travel plans?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Planning Your Budget Spring Break Getaway

Thinking about taking a grown-up (or family-friendly) Spring Break trip? Believe it or not, you can make it affordable. Because Spring Break can vary between early-March to mid-April, there are a good 6 weeks when things are more expensive than normal. 

spring break planning


Unfortunately, Spring is a great time to travel, because the weather is warm, but not too warm and most kids are still in school, so the crowds are small if you avoid typical Spring Break destinations like Miami and Cancun. So, let's take a look at how to be a grown up and take a vacay that doesn't look like those old MTV shows full of sloppy-drunk, loud-partying, half-naked 20-somethings. 

Choosing a destination

Set your budget
Here's a thought. Instead of picking a place and planning your trip around it, decide on your budget and work around that. You may find that there are places you hadn't thought of before, but are just as awesome (or better) than where you first thought you might go. 
  • Scour deals on Groupon, Living Social and other daily sites for affordable vacations that might work for your time off. 
  • Use Kayak's Explore feature to find destinations that fit within your budget for the month/season of your choice.
  • Look at BookIt's promos for vacation packages that are awesome and budget-friendly.

Visit non-beach destinations

There are a lot of places that don't really fluctuate in price for travelers throughout the year. Some even have beaches nearby, even if they're only lakes (which can be fun in themselves). 

Travel to less-popular beaches

Some destinations just draw college kids. You can avoid those large crowds so you can at least get a little strip of sand for yourself and not have to fight people to get to the bar for a drink.
  • Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Daytona, Florida (the small size makes it perfect for those looking for a bit of quiet)
  • Puerto Rico (cheap accommodations and dining)
  • Myrtle Beach (rent a condo for as little as $50)
  • Costa Rica (stay way from the touristy spots)
  • St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (no passport required!)
  • Willemstad Curacao (stick to the all-inclusives here)

When to buy airfare

Usually, the perfect time to buy your airfare for domestic flights is right around 5 weeks out, but because the deals for Spring Break travel might be few and far between, look to book your flights 6-8 weeks out. If you have a stash of airline miles, this is the time to cash them in, even if it's just for one way of your trip. 25,000 points and $5 (on average) is hard to beat for a flight, but the earlier you book, the more likely you will be to find a reward seat. Start looking now. 
  • Book airfare on Tuesdays, and Sundays for lower fares.
  • Fly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturdays for the best rates. These are the least busy days to fly.
  • Fly early in the day. The earliest flights out are generally a bit cheaper and have less of a chance of getting delayed.
  • Travel light and skip baggage fees. 

How to choose a hotel

As nice as some hostels are becoming, I still don't recommend them for grown-ups and the U.S. doesn't really have many. Look into hotels that offer extras: a kitchenette, free breakfast, kids stay free, etc. I'd also suggest looking at both Airbnb and HomeAway at vacation rentals. You'll have a bit more space, the prices are comparable to hotels and you usually have both a kitchen and laundry facilities. If you're traveling as a group, this can really save you money.
  • Sometimes paying up-front can score you an awesome deal on a room.
  • If you haven't pre-paid, keep checking prices up to the day you leave, in case the price drops and you can rebook.
  • Skip online booking and call the hotel to see if they can give you a better rate than what you see online.


Alternate choices

Not all vacations are traditional. If you can plan a great trip, but the airfare seems out of reach, look into driving instead. Is it possible that there are really sweet destinations within driving distance from home that you haven't been to yet? I'd be surprised if there weren't.

Looking for more tips? Check out this article that I contributed my expertise to on Cosmopolitan.com.

What are your Spring Break plans?

Monday, January 8, 2018

January Swago with Spin & Win (US)

The digital rewards site Swagbucks is offering big payouts during their January "Swago" promotion starting Monday, January 8th at 9am PT and running until Monday, January 15th! 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, January 15th 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, January 15th 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, including Amazon or Paypal credit.  

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, January 6, 2018

Get $3 when you sign up for Swagbucks in January (US)

Looking for a way to rebuild your finances after the holidays? 



If you haven't tried Swagbucks before, you can get a bonus $3 for signing up as my referral during January. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you're probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash. 

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a $3 bonus! Here's how: 


2. Earn 300 SB total before 2/1/18. You'll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it! 

3. If you want even more bonuses, you'll get a $10 (1000 SB rebate) bonus for making your first shop purchase! That's in addition to the SB you earn for every dollar you spend.  

That's it. It's super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I've earned over 61,000 Swagbucks that I use for Amazon purchases (for parties) and Paypal credit (that I use for vacations). 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

5 of 2018's Best Vacation Destinations

Each year experts look at the world's destinations to choose the most overlooked places that should be on your list. Whether they are affordable, tourist-low, or have awesome landmarks that you must see on your travels, these 5 destinations are amazing, fun and worth a trip in 2018. 


Put some new stamps in your passport and find new places to spend your vacation days. Even if you don't get to them this year, do get to them.

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Chile

Argentina and Peru have been on the top of lists for decades, but Machu Picchu is crowded with tourists and hiking, while Chile is cosmopolitan, charming, historical and has a killer wine region. With the addition of a new airport expansion, traveling the region is much more convenient. Pack your dancing shoes and your hiking shoes, because you can do all the awesome stuff you can do in other destinations all in one trip. 

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Montenegro

While not large, Montenegro offers big fun and luxury, which you can get in bordering Croatia, but with smaller crowds. Enjoy the mountains and the beach in one vacation, along with cool road trips full of tiny seaside towns, boutique hotels and shops, plus awesome nightlife. 

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Nashville

Known mostly for producing the majority of country music superstars, Nashville might surprise you as being a metropolitan city with so much more to offer besides Taylor Swift and the Dixie Chicks. Did you know that it is also the hometown of Kesha? It’s true! You’ll find amazing southern history around Nashville, including Civil War plantations. These grandiose homes are both awe-inspiring and educational. There’s no better way to learn about significant times in American history than to go right to the source. You can top off your days with down-home southern meals out and a vibrant nightlife full of all types of music.

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Madagascar

Climate change is rapidly impacting some destinations, including Madagascar, so you're going to want to visit it sooner rather than later. This island is one of the most bio-diverse on earth. You'll see the largest selections of animals, get eco-conscious education, and enjoy some of the best photos you'll ever take on vacation. Make sure you go snorkeling in the clear blue waters of Nosy Be, see the lemurs and even admire the majesty of the Baobab trees.

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Haiti

Caribbean vacations are evolving and now Haiti is becoming more popular. Though it's often overlooked, and people still remember the devastation of the country a few years ago, but the unpolished and wildness of it is what makes it so appealing. It's not a place you're going to go and have a big city sightseeing vacation. Discover the land and all it has to offer on your own or on an organized group tour. You'll find gorgeous mountainsides, bustling cities and almost deserted beaches. 

Runner up: Oregon coast

I may be a little biased, but the Oregon Coast is super beautiful and is virtually tourist-free outside of the summer. Of course, it's also pretty cool year-round and requires covering up a bit more instead of donning your swimsuit. The seaside towns of Oregon have some funky attractions, like the Undersea Gardens, Ripley's: Believe It Or Not?, the West Coast Game Safari Park, and the Prehistoric Gardens. If you're looking to visit in the Summer, know that Portland is one of the top family vacation destinations. And the beach is only 90 minutes away!

Where will you be traveling in 2018?
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