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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How to Plan Your Trip Using Public Transportation

This is a guest post from Ella, who blogs at TrekBible. See more at the bottom.

Public transit is very useful when you are planning a trip—whether you are traveling far away or close by. There are a number of things that you must do when planning a trip that involves using public transit. 

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Take A Deep Breathe And Think 

Planning your trip around using public transit can seem overwhelming at first. You may not be familiar with the public transit systems that you are about to use. If you are familiar with a given public transit system, there might be things about it that you don't know about. In public transit systems, there are all kinds of routes, schedules, timings, names and numbers. Sometimes, not knowing a particular area that you plan on traveling in can make planning more tedious and stressful, even if it is in the general area where you live. You just need to set some time aside, relax and just think things through as you plan your trip. 

Become Acquainted With the Area That You Are Traveling To Or In 

Looking at a map of where you plan on traveling is the first step that you should take. Being acquainted with the area will help you to plot out where you need to pick up certain types of transit, where you need to wait and where you will be let off. Try to remember street names. We are lucky to live in an age of internet street views. I would advise to look at street views online. 

Learn About the Public Transit System 

The second thing that you should do is learn about the transit system that you are going to use. Learn about what types of transportation are included in the system. Study maps of the public transit system to get an idea of which trains or buses to take. Study schedules very closely and keep in mind that some types of public transmit may run for the whole day while others may only part of the day. For example, some buses might operate on a fairly regular schedule twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, while others may only operate on certain days during certain times. 

The internet provides some really good information when it comes to looking up public transit systems. Search engines such as Google are great places to start when it comes to finding information about public transportation systems. Usually, transportation systems have their own websites where they show maps, schedules, fares and information. Outside of the internet, there are books and pamphlets that you can get to learn about various transportation systems. 

Learn about prices, and plan on how much you are going to spend on public transit. Some types of public transit cost more than others. However, sometimes the more expensive types get will you to your destination quicker. If saving time is important to you, then this is something important to think about. 

Consider Waiting Times 

It's easy to overlook waiting times until you find yourself on public transit, taking two hours to go from point to A to point B, one way; or waiting two hours for a train that will bring you to your destination in about an hour. There aren't enough hours in the day, and the time that it takes to wait for and take public transit can eat up a lot of your time. One of the wisest things to do is to think long and hard about wait times, schedules and transfers. You may have to wait a half-hour for a bus, ride a bus for forty minutes, wait for forty more minutes to transfer onto another bus and then get to your destination in an hour. Keep this in mind when you are scheduling what you want to do in your day. The time that it takes to travel on public transit can seriously throw a monkey wrench in your plans if you do not carefully plan your time. 

Listen To What People Have To Say About The System 

Try to see what people have to say about the public transit systems that you are going to use. Go online to find stories about people's experiences and opinions. If anybody around you has anything to say, keep it in mind. 

Work Out Every Option And Alternative 

Sometimes plans might go astray and you might need to take another form of transit. What will you do if the public transit that you plan on taking doesn't work for some reason, forcing you to use an alternative form of transit? Again,get really familiar with public transit system maps so you can plot out alternative routes. Gather phone numbers for cab companies so that you can call a cab if the situation calls for it. You never know what might happen. You may need to to take an alternative public transit route due to a major delay. Another commuter may be harassing you, and you may want to take another route to avoid that person. 

Keep Maps Around 

It really helps to keep a map of the streets where you are traveling because, as mentioned above, knowing where you are helps when using public transit. Some atlases actually have maps where they denote public transit stations and hubs. On Google maps, there are little symbols that indicate where train, subway and bus lines are in numerous places. You should also have maps of the transit system on your person.

Ella, Content Manager for trekbible, is a writer and content specialist with a predilection for learning and exploring new places and cultures around the world. With family scattered throughout the U.S. and South Korea, she loves to see cross-cultural influences around the world. Her favorite thing to do on her travels is to taste the local cuisine of each destination.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: Anti-Theft Tailored Crossbody Phone Pouch by Travelon

Sometimes when you travel, you may not want to carry much with you. Even when you go to a concert or out to dinner, you might just want the essentials: your phone, money and some lip balm. Travelon knows that not every bag works for everyone, which is why they have a variety and their new Tailored collection is both fun and functional. One of my new favorites is the little crossbody phone pouch, which fits all of the things I said above, your car keys and a few other items.

As someone who tries to go to a few nice dinners out and also some very touristy places when on vacation, I hate having to lug everything I own with me. I would totally just carry around my phone and some credit cards if I could, but there aren't many bags that fit those and aren't bulky, or  keep your items safe. Well, now when you're at that crowded museum or festival, you can carry the bare minimum and also have the peace of mind that your info and items are thief-proof. The Anti-theft Tailored Crossbody Phone Pouch is cute to wear, but also has those safety features you love from Travelon.

Look at this profile, and the color. I swear I swooned over this aquamarine, because it's gorgeous, right? 

This outside pocket has this handy little twist lock, so you can keep things handy, like receipts, tickets, or your camera, which is what I would put in there, because I take a ton when I travel, and it's nice to have it right there with me, easy to take out and put back in, without revealing everything else in my bag. 

Obviously, this pocket is large enough for other things, like maybe your backup battery for your phone or a couple of granola bars (you know how I like to have snacks with me). 

Despite the tiny profile, this bag has a pretty large inside compartment. My phone is on the larger side, and it fit in here pretty snugly and I had no issues zipping the bag closed. Plus I was able to get my lip balm, gum and compact in there with room to spare.

This cute little bag has a nice lighter fabric inside, several credit card slots and a larger slot that fits your passport perfectly. All of your cards and passport are RFID-protected (yay!). Try to find that in any other bag this small. 

As with all of Travelon's bags, they have included a key leashwith tiny flashlight. My car keys can be a bit bulky (like a lot of rental car keys), but they still fit in the bag with all my other things and were easy to find now. 

Your main compartment has a locking zipper. You don't have to use this, but if you are worried at all about your stuff, clip the zipper to the D-ring on the side of the bag. It's easy to use and totally subtle. 

Another awesome anti-theft feature of the phone poucn is the fact that you can unclip our shoulder strap, wrap it around a chair or railing, and then reclip and lock them, making it impossible to steal. The new clips attached to the strap are dainty looking, but also super easy to work. 

Your strap is nice and wide (but not too wide), and fully adjustable, so you can wear this bag multiple ways. It's also slash-proof, as is the body of the bag.

I love a bag that I can wear several ways. Carry like a regular shoulder bag or a crossbody. The strap enables you to make it as long as you need, because I know taller people probably have more of an issue than I do finding a crossbody that works for them. 

People are loving the fanny pack now, and you can cinch the strap short and wear around your waist. This is fantastic when you want a bag that's even more convenient to carry, like going to a concert and wanting your arms free and to not get caught on anyone while jumping around. It's also nice that the phone pouch doesn't carry too much, meaning it's not heavy, even when completely full, so it's not going to sag on your hips either.

I'm enjoying the chic look of this bag, since before now, anything similar to this size has been kind of athletic looking and didn't work with an outfit that was dressed up at all. The Tailored collection takes are of that, so you can carry it while wearing shorts or a more formal outfit. You're going to love it.

Additional info:
Where can I buy it: On Travelon's website
How much does it cost? $40, but you can get 20% off when you use my code: ShereenTravels20%
What colors does it come in? garnet | onyx | sapphire | sable | aquamarine (shown) | plumrose
More specs: Nylon Twill, size: 5" x 6.75" x 2", full strap length: 54", strap drop: 14.5"-27"

If you adore Travelon as much as I do, get social with them on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

Disclosure: I was provided with the Tailored Crossbody Phone Pouch for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Budget Beach Getaways

Got aspirations to go to the beach this summer? Well, you’re likely not the only one, especially since the kids are out of school and the sun is out and that makes people flock to beaches near and far. The problem with heading to the beach during the warmest months is that it is often quite expensive and crazy crowded. Considering most people are just lying on the beach on their trip, it makes no sense to spend a ton of money that you don’t have to. So, here are some tips on how to spend less than expected.

It’s summer, which means you don’t need to take much with you. Getting everything in a carry-on will save you checked bag fees and also get you on your vacation as soon as possible after your plane lands. Keep your travel wardrobe to a minimum by taking one nice outfit and then several tops and bottoms that mix and match. This way, even if you took only 3 tops and 3 bottoms, they could make two week’s worth of different outfits. 

I then suggest taking two pair of shoes that will work with your outfits as well. Normally, I take a nice pair of sandals that can also work with dress clothes and a good pair of walking shoes. This way, you will be prepared for anything. Throw in a pair of flip flops (which I don’t count as shoes, since they take up almost no space) and you’re set for bumming around on the beach or at the pool.

Find a full post for help to travel carry-on only here.

Trade in the ocean for a nice lakeside location. Not only will it be a fraction of the price of an oceanfront property (or even an ocean “view” one), but you can do almost the same things you can otherwise. You can lay out on the beach, make sandcastles, go snorkeling, fishing, swimming, jet skiing and almost everything else you can do at the beach by the ocean.

Look for an apartment/condo/house rental instead of a hotel. I keep saying this, but it really can save you a lot of money. Many times you can find something for $300-400 per week, when most hotels you find are going to be well over $75/night, and that’s only for two people. 

On top of the savings per night and per person, you’ll also be able to shop for your own food and make as many meals as you like. I tend to like to buy breakfast fixings, because I don’t usually like to go out for breakfast and I don’t like to rush in the morning. I can eat a bowl of cereal or a bagel while I’m getting ready for the day and I’ve saved at least $8/day just for me alone. A lot of restaurants charge more than that. Heck, you could easily spend that much at Starbucks for a muffin and a coffee. And if you come back in the middle of the day for a nap or to rest your feet, you can make yourself a sandwich for lunch, too!

Photo by Anthony Metcalfe on Unsplash
Go on a cruise. There are tons of deals going on right now, which means you can hang by the pool on the ship and then check out different beaches when you reach port. You also have the option of trying cool cuisines, saving money on food and accommodations while at sea and having a lot of shopping and sightseeing options.

Head to South and Central America where even during the summer, rates for hotels are pretty affordable. Places like Ecuador and Belize have wonderful beaches and budget-friendly food and lodging. Stay at a more luxury resort for a fraction of the price, which will help you stay on track with your travel budget and also give you more for your money. The beaches are just as good, plus you get to brush up on your Spanish or Portuguese.

Head to less-popular locations like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and other beachfront locations that have late summer travel deals. Many of these are located in the Southeast and in smaller towns, like Daytona Beach. While they may not seem very exciting at first, there are plenty of things to fill your spare time with, yummy fresh seafood and cool day trips as well.

So, if you’re hoping to work on your tan and enjoy some sand between your toes, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit, your sunglasses and a bunch of sunscreen and start booking your flights, which will not be cheap this time of year. Where will you be headed this summer? And while you're at it, enter to win this awesome trip to Scotland!

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Tuesday is Tax Day! If you're looking for ways to spend your refund on a budget getaway, make sure you're signed up for my newsletter. Tomorrow's email will contain some fantastic deals:

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Affordable Summer Travels

I know, some of us have finally just gotten out of winter, and some of you are still getting snow. Summer is the most expensive time to travel, with 75% of travelers going somewhere away from home June, July and August. This isn't always conducive to being a budget-traveler, especially if it's the only time you have to travel with the kids. 

Well, you're in luck! With my Summer ebook, you can learn all the tricks to getting cheaper deals on flights, food, fun and lodgings. How can you get the best rates on airfare? When should you travel to save more? How do you get the most from your dollars on accommodations? Can you get theme park tickets for less? The answer to all of these and more are in my Secrets to Summer Savings ebook, so you can do more for less on your summer vacation and still have money in your pocket when you get home for bills, food and a winter road trip. 

If you want to travel more without spending a fortune, this is the place to start. Not only will you have a great summer trip that you won't be paying off for years, but you may still be able to sneak in another getaway another time of year. In fact, using my own tips, I take a week-long trip in the middle of summer then also take two weeks in the fall. If you need some help figuring out where to come up with the money in the first place, find some of my top tips here. You can get my ebook on Kindle, which you can read on the Kindle app on your phone, tablet, laptop or your Kindle. It's free to download, making it super easy. Start saving and learning how to save more now with just a few clicks. 

What are your favorite summer savings tips?

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Budget Summer Travel Tips

Summer is creeping up on us and before you know it, it’ll be sunny and the kids will be out of school and you’ll realize you haven’t starting planning a summer getaway yet. Don’t wait until the last minute, because that’s when you’ll pay the most. Airfare alone can jump as much as 40% during the summer months, so here are some tips to help keep you in the black this year and have an amazing time:

budget summer travel

Shop for airfare on Tuesday and Wednesday and look for flights that depart on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday for the lowest fares. New fares are posted every Tuesday and Wednesday are the perfect time to get the best deals, and when you fly on less popular days, you can pay less and have a better chance of not getting bumped off your flight due to overbooking. One thing that'll make you happy is that this summer, flights will be the cheapest they’ve been in seven years. Of course, that doesn't mean you should slack and leave booking until later. You still need to get on that ASAP.

Go early. If your kids get out of school sooner the rest of the country, take advantage of your good fortune and vacation before the second week in June. Many schools have release dates in May, so if you can take time off before Memorial Day weekend, you can save a ton. The middle of June through the middle of August is going to be the most expensive time to travel almost anywhere, and the most crowded.

Go somewhere different. Your kids are always going to want to go to theme parks or the beach during the summer, but by changing up your destination, you can actually save a little or a lot of money. If they insist on going to the beach, look for lakeside resorts near where you live. Most still have a beach and everything that goes along with it, unless surfing is on the agenda. Other ideas are to visit cold-weather destinations or South America. The Southern Hemisphere experiences winter during our summer, making it a less desirable place to vacation. Less desirable equals more affordable. South America is close, but there are so many different places to choose from that are amazing, tropical and super budget-friendly.

Drive. Airfare can become a costly burden if there are many of you traveling. If you can spare the extra travel time, take a good old fashioned road trip to get to your destination. Make sure to plan fun stops along the way, like to see the world’s biggest ball of yarn, ghost towns or museums. It makes the whole trip seem like an adventure if you don’t just drive straight through.

A pic from our boat tour of Portland

Plan a staycation. If everything just seems too far out of budget this time of year, opt to do things around your own town and take your vacation over holiday break. Prices will be lower, most destinations will be less crowded and you will be able to see and do more than in the summer. Need some ideas for your planning? See my staycation post and check out my staycation board on Pinterest.

Don’t forget your cash back! Help keep a little money in your pocket or stretch the dollars you have by using Ebates to book your flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. You can even get cash back for buying essentials like sunscreen and shorts! It's totally free to join and it's super easy. In fact, they give you a gift just for making your first purchase. How can you beat that?

Plan ahead. Start planning for a cheap summer trip next year by picking up my Secrets to Summer Savings ebook. I give you all my travel saving tips to make summer travel cheaper and packed with more fun.

Where will you be going for your Summer vacation?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Get 300 bonus SB when you sign up for Swagbucks in April

All throughout April you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. 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, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus (that's $3)! Here's how: 

2. Earn 300 SB total before May 1st, 2018. You'll get a 300 SB bonus for it! 

3. That's it. It's super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I've earned thousands of dollars in SB, which I trade in for Amazon gift cards to buy travel goods or other items I use regularly and save the money I would have spent on it for my next trip!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Looking For a Cheap European Getaway?

When you think about travel on a budget, Europe probably isn't at the top of your list, but you can totally do it, and sometimes for the same cost as a a domestic trip. Here are the cheapest cities in Europe to start planning your vacation to.

Where's your next trip? 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: InTransit Travel Bag from Walter + Ray

As you know, I have a large selection of travel bags, but it's difficult for me to find one bag that I can use for everything I need, without taking another bag (besides my purse), especially when I travel alone and want it all to fit under the seat in front of me. Walter + Ray had just the carry-on bag I have always been looking for. It can be carried 3 different ways and even fits my monster laptop.

I like the squared structure of the bag and it has over 20 pockets! Everything has a place, in a compact footprint. I decided to pack this bag as I would if I were traveling back to Vegas for work. 

That front pocket pretty deep. Stash the front handle in there when you're using it as a shoulder bag or backpack, toss everything in your pockets inside for when you're going through security.  

This is also where you might want to put your headphones, as there is a great pass-through from inside the bag where you can keep your phone or iPod. That way you can stay organized and not have your headphone cord all tangled and annoying.

One of the best parts of this front pocket, besides the fact that it stays closed, is the secret pocket inside it. Got money you want to hide away or jewelry you purchased and want to keep safe? This is the place to put it! This pocket is RFID-blocking, too, and where you'll want to keep your passport if you're traveling with it.

Flip up the flap on the bag for more pockets. I used the two slip pockets for my ballet flats, but you can also use them for slippers or for one of the padded armrests for your airplane seat that Walter + Ray also sell. 

These slip pockets are on the front of yet another pocket that unzips. This pocket was designed to fit the TAB backseat organizer (sold separately), but you can use it for anything you want. I put snacks in it, though I could have zipped my little purse inside to keep it out of the way during my flight or while walking around the airport. There's also a pocket for your tablet. 

The laptop sleeve is amazing and fits my 17" laptop in a padded zip pocket. Almost no bag has this feature, and it really helps me get some work done on my trips when I'm able to bring along my computer. For short trips I can get along with something smaller, but it can be a pain. If you have a regular size laptop, it will be no problem keeping it safe in this pocket too.

The back of the bag also has threeother pockets. Two zipper pockets that are largeenough to hold a full-size magazine. This is where I also chose to put my envelope that I keep my travel paperwork and my smaller tablet. The top pocket holds your backpack straps and where you can stash that back handle when using the bag another way.

The InTransit bag has that all-important handle pass-through for your wheeled bag, because this will probably be your "personal" size bag or your carry-on for a regular length trip. I pack very small though, because I don't want to carry extra items if I don't have to.

When you want to go hands free, the adjustable backpack straps can just be pulled out, clipped on and ready to go. The straps are nice and padded, so they won't be digging into your shoulders and making you hate on life.

 The inside of the bag does all the stuff you want it to and has plenty of room for everything you need to carry. I was able to get a week's worth of clothing inside, plus my toiletry bag and my large travel scarf/blanket. Plus, look at all those pockets on the inside! Keep your phone, credit card, ID, pens and more within easy reach. There's even a key strap to wrangle your house keys for when you return home.

This bag comes with a TSA-approved 3-1-1 bag, which fit everything from my normal 3-1-1 bag inside, plus fit into its own pocket. Convenient! This handy bag only unzips on 2 sides, so if you have any spillage, it'll stay contained. I also love the handle on the bag. It makes it easy to pull out and even hang up somewhere in the bathroom when you get where you're going.
The bag also comes with a lunch bag that keeps stuff cold. It's that little blue bag in the corner. It has it's own pocket as well, when you aren't using it. I always want to bring my own snacks on a trip and this little bag is perfect for when I want to bring things that need to be chilled, like fruit and cheese (both excellent choices for a flight). 

The inside of the bag has a laundry compartment. If you're just using this bag as a carry-on, this is where you'll want to stash an extra set of clothes. If you're like me and using this as your main bag, use it for dirty clothes on the way home (or more likely the only clean clothes that are left) or as a space to keep your undies separate. 

Want to keep your electronics charged on the go? Well, you can! This mesh pocket inside holds your backup battery and has the ability to be plugged into the bag itself. Then, when you need to charge an electronic device, simply unzip the corresponding pocket on the outside of the bag and plug your cord right into the bag. You can either leave it for charging and zip back up or use it while charging with the pocket open. Love it! If you have a wireless charging station, this pocket works for that as well.

Charge your laptop and keep the cord out of the way. I hate having to try to find a place to put my stupid big laptop charger. Here I've shown the one that came with my actual computer, but it's way too short for me to sit too far away from a wall outlet. As you can see, this pocket will hold one that's much larger and it even has that cord pass-through. You know why? So you can charge your laptop without taking it out of your bag! Aw yeah! Then when you get to where you're going, you know exactly where your charger is and it's not going to get all jumbled in the bottom of your bag (where it always ends up, no matter where you put it). You can also put your shoulder strap in this compartment if you want to use the bag a different way.

Stay hydrated! Yes, having a bottle of water on-hand is always important. Walter + Ray knows this and so they added this fancy caribiner clip with a rubber bottle neck holder. Fit it over your bottle's neck and you're ready to go. It fits all standard size tops.

Are you wondering where you can put your boarding pass, besides your pocket? Welp, don't worry, because the front flap has a zipper pocket that fits it perfectly! They've thought of everything! I kind of don't want to unpack the bag for my next trip, and it's in July. If you use a bag for commuting, the InTransit might be perfect for that as well. It has so many compartments to keep you organized. The fabric is lovely for business travel and the size is great for overnights and weekends as well.

Additional details:
Where can I buy it? On Walter + Ray's website
How much is it? $119 just this lovely gradient gray
Other specs: 16″ tall X 12″ wide and 6.5″ deep, lightweight at under 3 pounds, 600 Denier Water Resistant Polyester, Punk Rock Rubberized feet keep your InTransit™ Travel Bag protected when on the ground.

Love seeing what Walter + Ray is doing? Want to know when their new Bukbagz is coming out? Find out first! Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Disclaimer: I was provided with the Walter + Ray InTransit Travel Bag for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.
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