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Friday, June 1, 2012

Super Useful Travel Links 6.1.12

Having just come back from a mini-vacation that included a bit of a shopping spree (very little, mind you), I got to thinking about shopping on travels and how you can make the most of your money, but still come back with some pretty cool finds. I love to shop like the next gal, but I realize that if I spend $200 on some fancy shoes, then I probably won’t be able to eat the next day or go see that production/concert/attraction I’d really rather experience more than a pair of shoes I don’t actually need. I can probably find something similar – and so much more affordable – if I shop around and then just have to eat lunch somewhere cheap, instead of having to eat PB&J sandwiches for the next 6 meals. Markets are a travelers dream, because not only can you get handmade awesomeness that is made locally, but you can also save a bunch of money by haggling. Maybe you’ll even meet some fantastic people while you’re at it. In Ecuador, everybody we bought something from was super friendly and somehow had a connection to Portland. We loved it!

Have you been thinking about taking a trip to Paris? I would definitely recommend it, but it can get spendy if you don’t plan ahead (just like almost anywhere). If you’re looking for a more unique trip – with offbeat gems to bring home – then check out Bonjour Paris’ post on Markets of Paris. Outdoor, indoor, linens, antique tchotchkes, jewelry, art. You will find something to suit any shopping experience you hope to have and find some fabulous items in the process. 

Do you love shopping so much that you can get lost in it for hours? Have you ever been to a “mega-market”? If browsing for half the day until you have no idea how to get out of the market is your idea of heaven (or you’re just super picky and need a HUGE selection of items for sale to choose something), then you will want to read up on these 6 Mega-Markets from Nile Guide. You will find one for whatever part of the globe you are headed to and can get everything from handmade alpaca sweaters in Ecuador to crazy weird food and drink in Thailand.

I am a sucker for outdoor markets, flea markets, farmers’ markets and the words “Gift Shop”. I can look at things I don’t need or want for half the day, because it’s fun and because it is usually different from what I can buy or find at home. While in Bend this past holiday weekend, we hit up the “Saturday Market” and had a good laugh. It had maybe 30 booths and was held in a parking lot. One of Portland’s festivals – and even ones in the suburbs – has at least three to four times as many vendors. There was a good representation of everything one could want from a market: wooden toys, handmade scarves and hats, fancy soaps and lotions, healthy snacks, jewelry, jewelry and more jewelry and some guy who made electric guitars from recycled wood and cigar boxes. Amazing! We whiled away about 45 minutes and then headed off in search of other things on our itinerary.

Did you know that some ways of trying to get cheap airfare just don’t work anymore? Shocking, right? As times change, so do some of the old tried and true practices of travel planning. You don’t need to book 9 months in advance or stay over a weekend to catch yourself a deal. In fact, some ideas that used to be standard – like you can always choose your seat for free – are changing. Check out FareCompare’s 10 Old Rules That Said Goodbye and be a smarter traveler for the modern age.

If heading to London for the Olympics was on your to-do list for the summer, you’ll be happy to know that hotel rates have fallen an average of $20 per night. Everyone was so afraid of high prices that bookings have been slim and hotels are scratching their heads over it. While the Olympics seem to be really popular, staying in traditional hotels…not so much. So, you can expect a bit of a price break on stays in the capital now, especially if you’ve waited this long to make a reservation. And if you’ve booked already, see if you can’t possibly cancel and rebook for a better price. Unless you are charged a cancellation fee, you may end up with a screaming deal.

I usually don’t add my own links to this list, but this week I’d like to point you toward a post I did for FareCompare on travel apps. There are, like, a bazillion out there and some are just the suck, right? I’ve whittled down to a list of five of what I think are some of the most useful apps out there right now that can organize your travel and also help you get through the airport efficiently. You’ll spend zero dollars to make this happen, too. Just download and go!

Have you come across any great or interesting travel-related news or articles that you’d like to share?

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