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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Go Outside! 4.23.11

Seriously, the weather is finally nice out, so why not go out and enjoy it? The best excuse for getting some fresh air and experiencing life and nature is to go on a trip! There’s still some time before Summer takes over and rates on airfare and hotels skyrocket. In fact, if you book and travel before the second week of June, you’re likely to pay half the price as those people traveling after that. I just saved you 50%! Okay, not really, but if you’ve been following my blog, you know that Summer is the most expensive time to travel. There are a few ways you can save, but not as much as the whole rest of the year. We’re going to stick with last-minute Spring travel today, since you still have about 6 weeks to book, plan it out, pack your bags and go. There are so many sales right now for short notice trips, it would be a shame if they were passed up by travelers thinking the only time they can vacation is in the Summer. Even if you have little ones, it’s way more economical to travel outside of the June to August peak season.

If you like what you read on the Shereen Travels Cheap blog, make sure to subscribe on the right with the handy-dandy drop-down menu.

Breckinridge, Colorado is one of those places high on the skier’s list of winter travel destinations. It’s also known for fantastic Summer traveling, but what about Spring? If you like outdoor activities, then Breckinridge is a great spot for you. They have hiking, biking, rafting and more – all of which can be affordable (or free) activities. Discovered by prospectors 150 years ago, the town has an old mining feel to it and is fun to just wander and take in the Victorian architecture. Not only that, but there is a delicious food scene, as well as fun shopping, art and history. During the Spring and Summer you can listen to live music at venues all over town.

The ultimate outdoor adventures can be found in Australia. Right now you can book roundtrip airfare on Qantas to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef from just $539 each way. Explore the Daintree Rainforest, dive off the Great Barrier Reef and find many other outdoor activities, including snorkeling, cruising, hiking and just hanging out on the beach. If you’d rather book all your travel at once, opt for the 5-night package deal that includes RT airfare, accommodations, hotel/airfare transfers, scenic railway tour, full-day cruise and much more from $1599. With both deals, you can add a stopover in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane for no extra airfare fee. Qantas airlines provides luxury, even in economy class. Each passenger’s seat comes equipped with a personal video screen with over 400 entertainment options, a personal comfort kit and complimentary food and wine. (Book online and save. Reservations made by phone are charged $30 more per ticket.)

Vancouver, B.C. is celebrating 125 years in 2011. In honor of their birthday, they’d like to give YOU a gift to explore their beautiful city! Book any two nights at participating hotels (listed on site – all different price ranges available) and receive a $125 activities card for free! Use the card on anything the Visitor Centre has to offer. Choose from show tickets, sporting events, tours, attractions, sightseeing and more! While you’re on the site, enter to win a VIP trip for 2 to Vancouver from Fairmont Hotels.

With its cobblestone streets and rustic buildings, Tuscany is a favorite of those that like to get out and explore. Whether walking, biking or driving through the countryside, the Italian landscape, people and food will win you over every time! Book a 6-night vacation, including accommodations at a 1,000 year old Tuscan estate, roundtrip airfare, midsize car rental and bottle of wine upon arrive from $1099 per person. You must book by April 29 to get this fabulous deal where you’ll be staying at the Ferragamo family estate (yes, THAT Ferragamo). Don’t forget to enjoy the vino! Add a 3-course dinner with wine tasting to your package for just $75 per person. You can even take cooking classes or archery lessons on-site!

Who doesn’t love the beach? Book a minimum of 2 nights at the Myrtle Beach Crown Reef Resort and pay just $59/night. The resort is right on the beach and breakfast is included in the rate. Your room will face the ocean, have a balcony, mini-fridge and free WiFi as well! With so many outdoor activities to do in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in and around your resort, this is a perfect way to get outside and save money! Book by April 27th for stays through June 9th.

Do you love food as much as I do? Win a trip from TravelSmith and Uniworld Cruises in the Taste for Travel Giveaway. The AMAZING Grand Prize includes an 8-day European cruise of your choice for two people from Uniworld (readers of Condé Nast voted these boutique-style cruise boats the World’s Best River Ships), gourmet meals prepared for you by master chefs, shore excursions in Europe’s beautiful ports of call, $2,000 air credit and a $500 TravelSmith shopping spree to get you ready for your trip.

With all the outdoor activities you’re going to be doing, even if it’s just reading a book while you drink a mai tai, it’s important to have the right accessories, like great walking shoes, UV blocking shades and some fantastic sunscreen. Shoes and shades are all a matter of preference (and what works for your feet and face). I suppose, so is sunscreen, but I discovered this great sun block at Sephora before my last trip where I was taking a cruise to Central America. I’m not a fan of sunscreen that smells like sunscreen or is oily or leaves a residue, so this one fit the bill. While it’s a bit more expensive than what you would find at the drug store Supergoop is worth what you pay for it. It’s lightweight, so you barely feel it, blocks rays to avoid burns and is mild enough to use on your face. Also, the slim container shape slides perfectly into the free space in your 3-1-1 bag.

There are a lot of things coming up for Shereen Travels Cheap! Our Facebook page and blog are going to be hosting many giveaways from awesome sponsors in the coming months. I want all our winners to be able to get their prizes before their big Fall vacations (although if you’re traveling in the Summer, you’ll probably have it by then). Here’s what’s happening now (if you don’t like FREE stuff, just stop reading):

Join Shereen Travels Cheap on Facebook and enter to win a fun prize pack from Knock! Knock! They put the “fun” in functional and were kind enough to give us two prize packs to give away. The first was drawn by Fluff’s Enough Giveaway Shoutouts on Wednesday and we got many new followers. (She does flash giveaways every Wednesday evening, so go check her out.) The second one will be drawn on May 1st, so you have plenty of time left to still enter. Just quickly fill out the form on the giveaway page. If you want to double your chances, you can get a BONUS entry by subscribing to this blog via Google Friend Connect or Networked Blogs and leaving a comment here and telling me your Facebook name used to enter. We ask this so we can verify that it really IS you.

On May 1st, we’ll be starting a totally new giveaway, sponsored by our good friends at Minimus.biz. You’ve heard me tell you to run over there and load up on all your travel-sized favorites. A purchase of just $25 gets you free shipping! We have a gift inside a gift with this giveaway and it’s very cool, a must for every traveler AND organic. It even helps you get through security faster! In fact, I like it so much, I’m ordering one for myself the next time I make a purchase. Get a jump on entering by joining my Facebook page and knowing the second the entry form can be filled out. You’re going to LOVE it!

Once we reach 1,000 Facebook fans – which should be soon! – I’ll be announcing a very special giveaway for a HUGE prize. You’ll be able to open the box and dump all of it into your travel bag right away, because it’s THAT good! Help us reach 1,000 fans by joining the page and suggesting it to all your Facebook friends. In fact, suggest it to those not on Facebook, too, so they join and get a chance to be a winner, too! Oh, and get great BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS, too!

Tomorrow I’ll be starting a promotion on THIS BLOG for a fun travel wine pack. It will require some audience participation from you to win, as in following my blog and then following Shereen Travels Cheap on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries. The wine pack will include wine diapers, so you can bring back your wine from your travels safely and conveniently. Easily pack your bottles in your luggage with these wonderful (and reusable!) padded bottle bags. You can even use them to ship your bottles home. If, heaven forbid, your bottle breaks, the bags prevent spillage and wine-soaked clothing/souvenirs. I will also include a rebate card for delicious Spanish Tapeña wine, so you can get excited for your travels and all the new and fancy wine you’ll be sampling on the way. If you’re a wine-lover, you’re in for a treat! Your only downside? Picking which one you want to try first.


I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of free money. Actually, I’m generally a fan of free anything, because it means I can use the money in my pocket for something. If you like free money, too, then take a trip over to Ebates! Ebates offers a cash back program that has hundreds of participating online merchants – including a selection of travel sites. They pay you to shop! If you were going to buy it anyway, why not get a discount? They put $5 in your account just for signing up. I use my cash back as travel bonus money!

And if you’re REALLY into saving, come join me on the Frugal Living Community on The Blog Frog. Sponsored by Ebates, the community is a great place to meet other people with tips on living and shopping frugally. I’m the only travel community leader over there, but I’m very active and you can ask questions and join in discussions with me and the other frugal living members. If you want to learn more about how to save on your vacation after you’ve bought your plane tickets, come join me on Tuesday 4/26 at 5-6pm PST for a live chat directed towards saving ON your vacation. Learn new tips for finding discounted activities, great dining deals and more! The chats are always fun and include everyone participating. We’ll be giving away a prize at the end of the chat as well, so BONUS!


My last update isn’t another giveaway item, but an actual update for something cool and usable for all of my readers. The first week of May you’ll be seeing a special blog post (in addition to my twice weekly ones) about Microsoft OneNote. It’s a great feature of Office 2010 and fantastic for travel planning. You can pull stuff from anywhere on the Internet with just a click of your mouse and save it for later placement in your itinerary. It has many more cool features, which I will share with you. Thanks to Microsoft, I was able to test it out for myself, so I could tell you all how great it really is and how you can use it for all your vacation planning needs. You’ll get a link to the OneNote page that shows how I and 39 other bloggers also used the product to create TripBooks to different destinations (mine was Melbourne, Australia) in a project called “Around the World in 40 Days”. 

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