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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Passport Required 2.23.11

I love my passport. I get excited every time I have to pull it out to get stamped by a customs agent. If they would let me get a new stamp for each state I visited, too, I'd whip it out all over the place. Alas, they don't give you validation for visiting Vermont. Of course, that's good for people who don't have a passport or need to renew. With the last fee hike on passports, it's no wonder many people didn't apply for one. It seems like I've gotten a lot of requests asking for passport-free locations lately. The great thing is that you don't have to leave the country to go somewhere cool. If you DO want to leave the country and not require a passport, you're in luck! You can travel to both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without one if you're a U.S. resident.

Are you a Shereen Travels Cheap Subscriber yet? If not, please take a moment to do so by entering your email over on the right. (Please tell your friends where they can find me, too.)

Not only is Puerto Rico a territory of the United States, but the currency is the U.S. dollar, you can dial the phone just like you do at home and English is spoken widely, along with Spanish. So, what cool stuff is there to do in Puerto Rico? With 55% off the country consisting of water, there is no shortage of water-related activities to choose from. The majority of the land is mountainous, making it perfect for hiking and the temperature is tropical at an average of 82 degrees all year long. There is an excellent transportation system that serves the metropolitan area. There are plenty of museums and historical sites to visit, golf courses to play on, sporting events to watch, restaurants to try and nightclubs to drink and dance in. The beaches are purely Caribbean: fine, white sand and beautiful for sunbathing, swimming, surfing or any other number of beach activities.

CheapTickets offers a great package deal on 3-5 night vacations, including RT airfare and accommodations. Some packages are eligible for up to a $100 hotel credit. Packages start at just $650 per person.

Book just your hotel and still save with nightly rates from $88 at fantastic, conveniently-located hotels all over the country, including oceanfront.

You can also book your hotel or vacation package through BookIt with rates as low as $99/night. You can use BookIt’s great BillMeLater option to book now and pay later (valid with credit approval on purchases over $250).

You can find Shereen Travels Cheap on both Facebook and Twitter. Please join me for even more deals, suggestions, travel tips, etc.

Twitter: @shereentrvlschp

Every time I hear of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI for short), I imagine picturesque tropical islands, with white sandy beaches and hammocks strung between leaning palm trees. Maybe that’s just me, since I’ve never been there and, until today, hadn’t really seen any photos or info on the islands themselves. Well, I wasn’t far off and if you love the beach and anything having to do with scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, windsurfing and other water sports, you’re going to love the USVI. It also has the same benefits of English being the official language and the official currency being the U.S. dollar.

While they aren’t “cheap” by any means, you can find some fairly good deals. Look for vacation rentals. With the added bonus of a kitchen, even if you’re spending a little more to stay in one, you can also save on your food by cooking some of your own meals and being able to bring back and reheat any leftovers you end up with on your dining adventures. You can also save big bucks with all-inclusives.

BookIt brings you amazing deals from as little as $67 per night per person. Receive freebies, like hotel and airport transfers and resort or spa credits. Book a condo, all-inclusive or resort. Whichever works for your budget and travel-type.

Don’t want to go quite that far for a vacation, but still want to enjoy the feeling of getting away from it all? Check out Panama City Beach, Florida. In fact, you can book a condo right on the beach for the low, low price of $79/night (not per person, per NIGHT), be within walking distance of many cool things, receive two free dining cards and more! Great if you’re taking your kids or going as a group.

Not really looking for a tropical getaway? Well, not everyone is. What about a Mediterranean one? Stay at the Miramonte Resort and Spa in Indian Wells, California from just $115/night and feel like you’re in the heart of Tuscany. Just 30 minutes from Palm Springs, but a world away from America! Miramonte sits on 11 acres with olive trees, citrus groves, gardens, 2 pools, an Italian restaurant on-site, spa, free Wi-Fi, fitness studio, golf courses and more! Book by Monday 2/28 to experience Mediterranean luxury close to home. (If you don't have a SniqueAway account, get an invitation on the top of the sidebar.)

Want to take Shereen Travels Cheap everywhere you travel? You can! Join other subscribers on Amazon and read me on your Kindle? Don’t have a Kindle? That’s okay, too. Download the FREE Kindle Reading App for your web enabled device (i.e. iPhone, iPad, blackberry, android…) and get instant updates as soon as new posts are published. Easy!

I'm giving you two today. While not technically "gadgets", the following products are super duper useful on your travels, especially if you'll be going somewhere tropical or beachy.

Don't forget your sunscreen again! With these awesome UV SunSense bracelets, you'll always be reminded to reapply. Put on before going out, apply your sunscreen on your skin and the bracelet. When the bracelet changes color, it's time to reapply or get out of the sun. Once they're used, you can recycle the whole bracelet, so no waste!
Sometimes you can't keep away from the bugs. Instead of taking up space in your 3-1-1 bag with a big bottle of bug repellent, pack these great insect repellent wipes in your carry-on and you can have one handy in your pocket or day bag at all times. Smells pretty good and biodegradable!  

You can’t beat a free vacation! Why not sign up for one of these fantastic giveaways. The worst thing that can happen is you won’t win and have to plan and pay for your own vacation. If you win, you’ll get a trip of a lifetime…and you better send me a postcard! With the money you save, you can go on a rockin’ vacation next year. Good luck!

Win a 7 day/6 night trip for two to your choice of Maui, Bangkok, Auckland or Rio de Janeiro from Febreze. This grand prize includes RT airfare, 6 nights’ hotel accommodation and $5,000 spending money! If you only win the FIRST prize, you probably won’t cry, because it includes a 7 night/6 day trip for two to Auckland, New Zealand (RT air and hotel) and $3,000 spending money.  One of each prize will be given away, along with daily prizes of coupons for a free bottle of Febreze. You must be 18 years of age or older and a U.S. resident or a Canadian resident of legal age for your province/territory.

“Escape to Maui” with Ready Made and this trip worth over $4,200. If you win, you’ll receive a 6 day/5 night trip for two to Maui which includes RT airfare, compact car rental for 6 days and 5 nights at the Royal Lahaina Resort. You must be a legal U.S. resident over the age of 21 to enter and win. You can enter once per day through March 22.

Win a spa trip for two to Thailand from So Delicious and their 100 Days of Change Giveaway. You’ll receive a trip for two to Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa in Thailand for 14 nights in a sea view suite, RT airfare, hotel and airport transfers and Detox package for two. There are also many other prizes you can win along the way.

Win a 6 night trip for two to Greece, including RT airfare and 3 nights in Athens and a 3 night cruise of the Grecian islands from Travel Channel. Just enter you email address and take a quick quiz. If you answer correctly, you double your chances of winning! Must be a legal U.S. resident, age 18 or older. 

Need more Frequent Flyer miles? Get free American Airlines miles with the Mystery Miles Giveaway on Facebook. Just enter your AAdvantage number and receive anywhere from 100-100,000 miles.

And don't forget, just 5 more days to "Like" Shereen Travels Cheap on Facebook (and get your friends to join) to win our Travelon bags and referral prizes.

This is the spot to look for new, cool stuff in the Shereen Travels Cheap world. In case you’ve missed the last couple of weeks, links to older guest posts have been moved to the sidebar on the right and there is also a nice list of links to my favorite sites that are super useful to travelers and money-savers. Makes it much easier to find what you may have read about in a previous blog post, but can’t quite remember the name. I hope this is more user-friendly for you.  

Yesterday Ebates kicked off Travel Week and they asked me to help start it with a blog post on budget travel. Who am I to say “no” to such an attractive offer? Read it HERE and you can check out their other awesome money-saving suggestions on the rest of their blog.
Last week I was given the honor of working with Independent Traveler and sharing with their readers my tips on how to beat the a la carte fees that are now the norm when it comes to air travel. I’ve given my most handy tips on saving on baggage fees, airplane food and more! Independent Traveler is a super great resource for people who book all their travel on their own and can help you find excellent deals on all your trips.

If you have a travel or money-saving blog/website that you would like me to write a post for, I am always happy to do so. Contact me HERE with details.

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