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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

10 Tips for Car Rental Deals

Most of the time when we travel, we rent a car, but it depends on where we go. Some destinations are easier to get around by car, like Orlando or Los Angeles, and some places are not or it's just more convenient to use public transportation. Of course, there are those destinations we've rented a car in and either wished we hadn't or did a little more research before we went, like Ecuador. It's always smart to know how things work in the city you'll be traveling in. Security and roads without signs aside, here are my top 5 Dos and Don'ts of renting a car.

tips for rental car deals

  1. Keep Looking Until the Last Minute because rates can fluctuate wildly. Most of the time you make a reservation and don't have to give a credit card or pay ahead, even with some aggregators such as Hotwire, so it just makes sense to watch for price drops all the way up until the day before you leave. There's no penalty for cancelling and rebooking, so do it if you can save a buck...or $100. It's been known to happen and keep an eye out for promo codes.
  2. Reserve the Smallest Car Possible. I almost always book a compact or economy car. There are only two of us and they are comfortable enough. The smaller the car, the cheaper the rates and the less you'll have to pay to fill up at the gas station. A bonus is that the smallest cars usually sell out first, so you get upgraded for free to the next car size available. Note, if you change your mind once you get to the rental counter, you can always upgrade on your own, but you can't downgrade, so pick the smallest size you are comfortable with. Three of my last four rentals were upgraded, since my flight came in in the evening and all the economy cars were gone. Bummer for me, right?
  3. Look at All Rental Locations. The airport isn't the only place you can rent a car and sometimes looking offsite can be more affordable. If the hassle is worth it for the price difference, that might make less of a dent in your budget. In fact, the government imposes fees on rental companies at the airport, so those are passed on to the customer. Sometimes it's significant. Sometimes it's just a few cents a day.
  4. Check the Weekly Rates. If you'll be traveling for 5 or 6 days, it can sometimes be beneficial to check weekly rates on rental cars, because they come with a price break that may just be cheaper than paying for separate days.  Make sure to check the fine print and see if you will be penalized for bringing the car back early. Most of the time you won't be, but some rental companies have caught on and want to squeeze as much money out of you as possible.
  5. Use Ebates for Extra Savings. Ebates gives you cash back on things you're doing everyday, including going on vacation. Sign up for free, then click through them to get to our favorite travel merchants, including a whole list of car rental companies, to get cash back and even current promo codes to save even more.

  1. Take the Prepaid Gas Option. While every once in a great while this is actually a deal, 99.99% of the time it is a total rip-off. Unless I'm in Europe, I should never have to pay $8+ for a gallon of gas. The rate is usually posted and, though it sounds really convenient, it's just another way for them to extract every last cent from your wallet or, more specifically, your credit card. The same principal goes for their GPS system. If you have your own or usually use your phone, bring it with you and save $15 or more per day. If your personal GPS gets stolen, it'll be a lot cheaper to replace.
  2. Get the Insurance. If you have a car with insurance at home, it's highly possible you are covered in rental cars. If not, the credit card you are using to rent the car probably protects you. make sure to check all possibilities that you already use before adding an extra $16+ per day to your rental. There's no sense in paying more when you really don't have to, even when that "only bring back the steering wheel" thing sounds awesome. It's designed to.
  3. Forget to Sign Up for the Rewards Program. It's free, it's easy and all your rentals give you points towards things like upgrades and free days. Those sounds like fantastic things, but the reason I really do it is for the increased savings. Members get access to special promos and discounts.
  4. Rent With Your Debit Card if possible. If you do, the rental company often takes your rental total and a deposit when you pick up your car, leaving you with hundreds of dollars less in your bank account that you probably counted on using on your trip. If you only have a credit card for car rentals, it will still be more convenient than not having one at all.
  5. Rent a Car for Your Whole Trip if You Don't Need To. Sometimes you only want a car for certain things. If you have several places you plan to drive to, then plan to do those things on consecutive days, so you only have to rent a car for those days instead of all of them. It seems like common sense, but many people never think about doing it that way and waste money they didn't have to.
Renting a car is not often all that fun, but I enjoy driving other places that aren't at home. Learn the ins and outs of renting before you get to the counter, that way you don't end up being that person who asks 900 questions and making everyone behind you want to run you over with their car. Somehow, I always get stuck behind the three people who've maybe never rented anything before and am reminded of being at the post office and the bank. If you can fill out all your info before you get to your destination, which is an option on some sites, especially if you've rented from them in the past, do so and you'll be in and out as quickly as you can sign the forms and get to the garage. you'll be on your way faster and everyone will be less stressed out. 

What are your tips for renting a car, in general or more affordably? 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

How to Survive Travel with Your SO Or Family

We travel as a couple and it's not always smooth sailing. The same goes for traveling with your family. Sometimes you get mad at each other. Sometimes you are crabby and snappy and sometimes things just don't go as planned. 

vacation rage

How can you be around each other 24/7 without wanting to murder each other on a one- or two-week vacation? It's not always easy, but with a little planning you can minimize ruffled feathers and maximize quality time on your trip.


My number one rule is to make sure you eat when you're hungry. If you don't and your partner is notorious for getting hangry (angry when hungry) as I am, then everyday is going to end up with snappish or yelled "conversations". Find somewhere to eat when one of you is hungry or pack snacks in your bag for those times between meals or when you have to wait a little longer than you want to eat. I can't even tell you how many mean things pour out of my mouth when I get too hungry, and snacks will only last so long before a real meal is needed. Luckily, Eric knows it and will quickly steer me into a food place even if he's not hungry. Eating a balanced diet when you travel can help you feel better and less stressed as well.

Compromise your travel styles

No one is the same, which is good, because that would make the world a very boring place. Unfortunately, this probably means you and your spouse don't travel exactly the same. Understand your differences and understand what the other wants. Meet in the middle when things differ and you'll enjoy your trip a lot more if you're not butting heads at every turn.

Take some alone time

I understand that you are on vacation together. I do, but if you don't take some time to just go off and do your own thing, you will start to stress out and hate the other person's face before long. This doesn't mean that you have to spend a whole day all alone. Maybe go do a little shopping or even just make time to have your own space. We often have a vacation rental and will just go into different rooms for a while each day or he'll go swimming while I just lay on the couch and watch the news or a cartoon. Even 30 minutes of privacy can be helpful.

Do something you don't want to do

You aren't always going to want to do the same stuff. That's life. But this vacation is both of yours, so if you don't want to do all the same things, make a promise to do something the other wants and vice versa. You might find you have fun, but if nothing else, you'll know you made each other happy and that goes a long way, especially when you at least act like you are enjoying yourself. (If you don't, it really doesn't count as being nice.) Just remember, if your significant other refused to do the one thing you wanted to do most at your destination, you'd be pretty pissed, so keep that in mind when you're doing the thing they truly want to do.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is important, and when you don't get enough of it, it's like operating on only partial power. This is going to make you moody, crabby and probably mean. Make sure you get enough winks in, so you aren't close to snapping at any moment. It's better to miss out on something than to not enjoy doing it because you didn't sleep enough and hate everything.


If you don't talk to each other, then it's inevitable that something will cause an unnecessary fight between you. If you have questions about something or aren't sure how to get somewhere, communicate it. If you aren't having a good time, let them know. Maybe just voicing it will make things just a little bit better. Also, you can't fix something if you don't know there's a problem.

Be open to change

I can't even tell you how many times things didn't work out as planned on our trips. Nothing is going to go smoothly 100% of the time. Expect and accept things may change/go wrong/come up and be willing to adapt and roll with it. It'll all work out in the end.

If you can just learn to be a little flexible and selfless, then you can have much better vacations that are filled with fun and excitement instead of stress and crying. Not everyone is going to travel well together, but it can really test the limits of your relationship(s) sometimes. If you can get through a whole trip without tears or sniping, I consider that a success, but it almost never happens over the course of two weeks, I'll take the little victories.

What are your best travel tips for not stabbing your significant other or family member?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Stay Home On Friday and Still Save!

I almost never go out and fight the crowds on Black Friday...or the rest of the holiday season. I don't have the patience to push people out of the way to save a few bucks. This year, why not stay in the cozy comfort of your own home and do your holiday shopping or travel booking? How can you do that? With the online sales and using Ebates. 

ebates cash back

I never buy or book anything without first checking Ebates. What is it? It's a fantastic - and free! - site that offers you cash back for purchasing from online merchants. If you plan to make a purchase anyway, you might as well get something for being a loyal customer (or even a new customer). This Friday over 500 stores will be giving double cash back, which means you can keep even more money in your pocket, or buy more on the same budget!

Here's how it works: Sign up is quick and easy, then you're ready to shop! When you have a hankering to buy something, say, at Sephora, go to Ebates, sign in, click on Sephora and it takes you straight to the main website. You must go through Ebates, so they can track your purchase. At checkout, make sure you use the same email address you used to sign up on Ebates and within a few days, your purchase will show up in your account. 

You can track your cash back total to see how much you saved and then every quarter, Ebates sends you a Big Fat Check (if you choose that method) or a Big Fat Payment via Paypal. You even get $5 just for signing up! Who else does that? If there are coupon codes available or special sales, Ebates will show them to you, helping you save even MORE! Actually, after your first purchase of $25 or more, instead of a $5 bonus, you get a $10 gift card!

I like to use my cash back as a travel savings supplement. Each time I make a purchase, I rack up cash and then it gets deposited right to my Paypal account. I use that money to purchase travel stuffs, like Groupons, clothing, tours and more! If I can get more cash back with it, even better! Of course, you can use it for whatever you want. This time of year, it's perfect for booking your holiday travel and buying gifts.

Both of these brands can be purchased through ebags.com
Stores you can shop at: Ebates has, literally, hundreds of online merchants you can choose from, including a long list of travel merchants. Just a sampling of those include: TravelSmith, Holiday Inn, Avis, Alaska Airlines, Camping World, Orbitz, Air France, Delta Airlines, HomeAway and even SkyMall! Keep your eyes out for the Daily Double. Each day one awesome merchant offers double cash back on your purchases for the day. And on Black Friday, a whole bunch of merchants give you double cash back.

Why get elbowed in the eye trying to buy a gift this Friday when you can roll out of bed and hit the sales on your computer? No looking for parking, bundling up or hiding gifts in the trunk of your car with Ebates. Sign up now for free! And if you ideas for gifts, check out my travel holiday gift guide.

Are you taking advantage of Ebates' great deals this Friday or will you be braving the crowds at the mall?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

It's that time again! Black Friday is less than a week away and people are creating their attack plans for hitting up the stores to get the best deals. Well, I'm not doing that. I'll be at home in my pajamas eating a turkey sandwich and watching a movie while other people are coming back home with black eyes and less hope in humanity than when they headed out. I last went out on Black Friday six or so years ago and that was after 10am, because there's nothing at a store I'm willing to wrestle someone over. It had been a good five or more years before that when I went out when it was still dark out to wait in line for a store to open, and it was so horrendous, I said I'd never do it again.

travel gifts

So, let's talk about the stuff you can buy from the comfort of your own home that won't be sold out five minutes after the stores open. You can buy them now, or buy them later. In fact, Wednesday I'll be sharing why you should also be using Ebates this holiday season (and every other time you shop online), to make sure to get the best deals without wasting gas, time or sanity.

Budget Options

Are you on a budget this year, but have a traveler on your list? Perhaps you have a few extra bucks and want to buy a little something extra or a stocking stuffer. Here's what I'm suggesting for under gifts under $50.

1. Lewis N. Clark Plaid Cosmetic Organizer: All your toiletries can fit in one place, with this lovely zip-apart wet and dry toiletry bag. One side can be used for liquids and work as your 3-1-1 bag and the other for everything else. It looks nice, feels nice and displays everything easily, so you aren't digging for things you need. $24.99 at Lewis N Clark or Amazon Prime {see my review here}  
2. Zensah Compression Socks: I can't live without these, while traveling and at home, since I have a part-time job that sees me on my feet 6-8 hours at a time. Beat poor circulation and swollen feet and ankles on flights, and at your destination, with these funky socks. They come in different colors and patterns and can make a vacation so. much. better. $29.99 at Zensah or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
3. Travelon Anti-Theft Active Crossbody Bag (Medium): Got a sporty traveler on your list that needs a new day bag? This lovely Travelon bag has a reflective body, all the best anti-theft features you want and can hold a tablet and something as large as a magazine. $48+ at Travelon or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
4. ORGO Lite: More often than not, when you travel, you find that there is little to no counter space in the bathroom. This makes getting ready really difficult. ORGO Lite expands to give you extra space, because it fits right over the sink. It also packs flat to take up only the minimal space in your bag. $39 on ORGO or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
5. Savvy Travelers wipes: Staying fresh on-the-go can be difficult, especially if you're trying to pack light. Savvy Travelers makes individually-wrapped, compostable wipes for taking off makeup, underarm deodorant, hand wipes, teeth fresheners and more. I love these and just ordered a box of makeup removers for my next trip. They're a great way to save room in your liquids bag as well. $10+ on Savvy Travelers or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
6. Travelon Anti-Theft Heritage Small Crossbody Bag: When I travel, I like to carry as few things as possible when I go out each day. I find that a heavier bag can hurt my back after a while, so I look for one that's just big enough to hold my essentials and this crossbody bag is it, plus it's adorable and has all of Travelon's best anti-theft features built in. The denim look is also very in and casual. $39.99+ on Travelon or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
7. Lewis N. Clark Packing Cubes: A lot of travelers find it difficult to organize or stuff all their belongings into their carry-on bag and constantly overpack and overstuff. I get it. It's taken me a long time to get my packing down and sometimes I still overestimate how much will fit in my bag. Packing cubes are great, because they are made to fit perfectly into your bag and keep everything in its place. $10 and up on Lewis N Clark or Amazon Prime {see my review here}

More Budget Options

I've reviewed a lot of budget-friendly items over the last few years, or have purchased them on my own for my travels and want to tell you about them. If you have a slightly larger budget, purchase several of these cool things to make a little travel gift pack. 
8. Zensah Coffee Socks: Okay, so my feet are always cold and I often travel with a pair of slippers, but they aren't always the easiest to pack and they only serve one purpose. These socks are made from coffee fibers, are extra warm, have a bit of compression to them, are cushy, moisture-wicking and are odor-resistant. They come in men's and women's sizes and colors and are a must for any traveler. $19+ on Fresh Legs or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
9: World Vision Handmade Gifts: Last Christmas I was able to try out this lovely mango wood beaded bracelet that was handmade in underprivileged regions. Each donation you make helps to give women and families in need small business loans and more, and with donations of $45 or more, you can choose to also receive a handmade gift from the list, which you can keep or give with your "a donation was made in your name..." card. $45+ on World Vision Gifts (though you can make smaller donations as well) 
9.5: HappyLuxe Wayfarer Wrap: I got all the way through this list before realizing this didn't have its own number. I'll be getting this lovely wrap any day now to review before Christmas, but I love the pretty colors and patterns it comes in and it can be used in several different ways, making it the perfect travel companion. I'll be using mine when it's chilly on the plane. When I make it to LA, I'll be using it to combat the cool air inside buildings and as a scarf at night when the temps drop. $39, on sale now for $24, on HappyLuxe
10: Cheeki Travel Undies: So in love with these undies that I now have at least eight pair and keep half of them in my travel bag. Cheeki come in several different styles and colors, look great, don't ride up (even after many wears and washes) and don't create a panty line. Each pair comes hermetically sealed and are ready-to-wear. They are great for your luggage, your purse, your car and are ready for any emergencies that might come along. $12 per pair + free shipping on Cheeki {see my review here}
11: Laken hot/cold Thermos: I received two of these and haven't taken a trip without them since they arrived. Cold stuff stays cold and hot stuff stays hot, for crazy long times. I fill mine with ice and add water to it and at the end of a long theme park day, after many water refills, there's still ice in there. Your coffee will stay hot all day as well. I now trade off on them on days that I work. In the morning, my coffee comes with me and in the afternoon my ice water comes with me. Having a hot or cold beverage can really make your day out so much better, plus many places are more than happy to fill them for you. I'm aware that Swell makes similar awesome bottles, but I love the lids on these, which can be clipped to a strap and carried over the shoulder. $13-65 on Laken or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
12: Butterfly Twists Foldable Flats: Flats are my new best friend. Ever since I got a stress fracture in my foot on my trip to Paris, I've purchased a bunch of flats, because my feet couldn't take heels for quite a long time. I love shoes that are cute and packable and Butterfly Twists are exactly that. They make foldable flats, rollable wellies and now loafers and sneakers. These are fantastic for the fashionable traveler on your list. $30+ on Butterfly Twists or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
13: Clip-on Cell Phone Camera Lenses: A lot of people use their phone as their main camera. I'm not one of them, but I find my phone works better in some situations than even my new camera, or my phone still has battery power and my camera doesn't. I love to try new photo styles and these clip-on lenses make your pics unique without having to buy different cameras or lenses. You can find them for under $10 for a set of 3, but this larger set is just $15.99 on Amazon Prime

Moderate Options

Perhaps you can afford a little more for your gift recipient. Here are ideas for gifts from $50-100.
14. Travelon Urban N/S Tablet Messenger Bag: Everyone needs a good messenger bag that can work for commuting, work, travel and more. This workhorse of a bag has two bottle holders, so you can stay hydrated and dry (if you use one for an umbrella), room for your full-size tablet or netbook, RFID-blocking card slots, room for your phone, snacks and tons of other items. The reinforced handle and adjustable strap will make it easy and comfortable to use, plus the classic look means everyone can use it and will want to. $64-80 on Travelon or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
15. Travel Gift Cards: If you aren't sure what to get them, then buy something they can definitely use. Choose a gift card from airlines, rental cars or hotels and make their travels cheaper. These are easy to purchase and work with your budget. Pay $50, $100 or $1,000 if you want. As much as I don't love giving gift cards as gifts, I make an exception for travel. 
16. Columbia Sportswear Omni Heat Jacket: We live in Oregon, where Columbia gear is everywhere. In fact, at least 1/4 of our wardrobes are probably outdoor clothes from Columbia. A must for travel is a lightweight, but warm jacket that you can pack without using up half your suitcase. Columbia's Omni Heat holds and reflects your own body heat, keeping you warm without the bulk. We both have at least one and they are thing, but mighty. I wore only this jacket when I was in Europe at it was 20 degrees out and I wear it all winter here in Portland. They are affordable, look good and don't take up all the room where your shoes and pants need to go if it needs to be packed. $60+ on Amazon Prime
17. CityPASS: Another great gift for those that are traveling and you know their destination city. CityPASS can save up to 50% off attraction and activities. $79 and up at CityPASS
18. Noise-Cancelling Headphones: If you just want to get some work done, sleep or generally ignore most of the people on a plane or other crowded space, noise-cancelling headphones are a traveler's best friend. By blocking out all that random background noise, you can concentrate on what you really want, even if it's getting some shut-eye. There are many different kinds in all price points, including the ones in the next section that I own two pair of. $60+ on Amazon Prime (make sure to read reviews if you're looking at a cheaper version)
19. Travel Jewelry: Let them showcase their love of travel through necklaces, bracelets or earrings. You'll find a whole host of great pieces in all price points on both Amazon and Etsy. I also love this sweet little camera necklace from Uncommon Goods. 
20. Kindle: If you have a traveler who loves to read on your list, then a Kindle is kind of a no-brainer. It saves room in a bag and the battery lasts forever on one charge, so even a long travel day will still have reading material available. From $80 on Amazon Prime

Splurge Options

Maybe you've been saving your pennies to make the holidays special for the traveler on your list, or you want to add these to your own wish list. These ideas are $100 or more.
21. Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Plus Convertible Backpack: Most travelers want a bag that can transition to fit their travel style. This convertible backpack can also be worn as a crossbody or carried like a briefcase and holds up to a 17" laptop, a weekend's worth of clothes and all your other necessities for a short getaway. This is a great travel companion and business bag so no matter what you need it for, it's there for you. $124-175 on Travelon or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
22. Lojel Nimbus Spinner Carry-on: Does your gift recipient head to destinations of all sorts, including ones where it rains all the time, like London, Portland or Ireland? The Nimbus spinner rolls easily over all types of terrain, is waterproof for many hours and the hard sides mean you can't overpack. The bag is lovely looking and sturdy, plus it fits in the overhead even on the smaller planes. $238+ on Lojel or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
23. Anatomie Style Women's Clothing: Just because you're not at home and trying to pack light doesn't mean you want to look like a schlub. Stock your carry-on with upscale pieces that are classic and versatile. Anatomie isn't cheap, but it's guaranteed to look good for years to come and help you blend in on city travels and cruise ships. Pieces are also lightweight, so they won't take up more space in your luggage than necessary. From $45 on Anatomie.
24. Lewis N. Clark WEA Carry-on Tote: I love a good tote, and Lewis N. Clark's new women's line has one of the better and good looking ones. Not only is it suitable for men, too, but it has a classic look, holds a laptop up to 17" and has tons of other space for clothing, snacks and more. Use it as a weekender, a commuter bag or a personal-size carry-on that holds everything else and fits under the seat. $100 on Lewis N. Clark or Amazon Prime {see my review here}
25. Sol Republic Air Tracks Bluetooth Headphones: Know someone who always has their headphones in/on? Maybe they've mastered the art of not getting all tangled up in their cords by now, but I still haven't. That's why I love these cordless (though they still have a cord if you want to use it) over-ear headphones. Not only do they eliminate that annoying cord, but they work on bluetooth, have a crazy long battery life and fit to adjust everyone's head, which I normally have an issue with. So, whether you're buying these for your dad, your cousin or yourself (and you're children will be sharing them), everyone can wear them without issue. $100 on Amazon Prime {see my review here - keep in mind that they are no longer available on Sol Republic's site, so that original link won't work}

Now that you have some great ideas for gifts, you should be set for next week. And if you don't have the cash to spend right now, Amazon Prime can save you money as well as time, because you don't have to go out and shipping is free! Remember, if you aren't a Prime member, that's okay. Just spend $25 or more to get that free shipping included.

Do you have your shopping list ready for the holidays? Or do you have another great travel item you like to buy as a gift?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Save On Your Holiday Shopping and Travels with Frugaa

If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, then you’re in good company. If you have, I might hate you a little bit. Either way, you’re going to buy stuff in the future, probably sooner rather than later. Why not save money on your purchases? With Frugaa, you’ll be able to buy more for less, which means you can spend more on vacation! Score! Plus, you can also save on vacation. Double score!

What is Frugaa? Well, it’s a website that offers a bunch of different things: promo codes and discounts, deals, products and even reviews.

Already got a website in mind for your purchase? Great! Search it on Frugaa to see if there are any deals or coupon codes you can use to make your order cheaper.  You’ll learn a little more about the merchant you’re ordering from, see their featured products and brands (so you know what others are buying), explore the types of products they sell and see all the current promo codes that can be used. Frugaa updates their site throughout the day, so promo codes are always up-to-date and relevant.

Want to know how to get the biggest discount? The site can help you by showing you the top deals and giving you tips about how to save the most at each particular merchant, you’re in the know for how to keep maximum bucks in your pocket. That means your holidays will cost less, or you can get more with the same money.

Not sure where you want to buy your stuff? Use the search function to look for a specific item on Frugaa’s marketplace. It’s a mini search engine for your purchases and shows you any product deals you can purchase directly.

You can also use the Savings Calculator to stay within your budget. Look in a particular category, like electronics or clothing, or store and add your budget for said purchase. This helps Frugaa narrow down their deal/merchant selections to match the amount of money you can spend. I thought that was pretty cool, especially since one of those categories is travel, and you know how much I like to save on my travels.

Say I have a budget of $500. I select travel, slide the budget rule to $500, and hit search. Scroll down the current promos until you find a match for your trip needs. You’ll even see on the left side under the company banner how much you can save. As someone who would be happy to just get away for a bit of sun this winter, I clicked on the Sandals Resorts 65% off deal and learned that I can head to Jamaica for $161 per night per person. Not only that, but it includes a free night, catamaran cruise, air credit, booking bonus and extra savings for booking online. I’d be ready to pack my bathing suit and sunscreen right now if I didn’t already have a trip planned this winter.

So, if you have to get away or need to make the rest of your holiday gift purchases (or both), Frugaa can really help you out. And after the holidays are over, you can continue to use it to save big bucks on many of your future purchases.

You can use Frugaa without having an account, but if you have one, you can earn points in the rewards program (earn by searching, sharing, engaging and more) and then trade them in for gift cards, meaning you’ve saved even more money, just by doing what you’d normally do!

Don’t want to search the site for deals? Subscribe to have the hottest coupons and deals sent straight to your inbox! No work needed on your part. Woot!

Sign up on Frugaa.com for free to start saving right away! You can also get social and engage with them on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |Google+

Now, who out there is actually done with all their holiday shopping? We need inspiration to start ours.

Disclosure: This post was brought to you on behalf of Frugaa.com, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Review: Travelon Anti-Theft Active Medium Crossbody Bag

When you travel, do you need a little bigger bag than I usually showcase? Maybe you have kids or like to take more things or use it to carry your purchases. If any of these describe you, you’ll want to check out the Anti-Theft Active Medium Crossbody Bag from Travelon. I’ve been using it as my everyday purse since it arrived at my door, because it holds everything I need, plus carries other items I sometimes take with me, like magazines, my iPad mini and my lunch.

Travelon travel bag

When you’re on vacation, you want a bag that’s multi-purpose and this bag is definitely that. It has large zippered pockets inside and out that are anti-theft, so everything you keep inside, stays inside. Use this bag as a large “personal item” when you fly and carry your necessities: 3-1-1 bag, electronics, games, snacks, travel docs, passport, wallet. And when you get to your destination, take out the items you don’t need all day to lighten your load and save your back.

It’s large enough to hold all your brochures and small purchases, but manageable enough to not get in your way when roaming a museum or browsing the outdoor market. Don’t want to carry your sweater? It’ll fit in there. That’s actually one of my favorite things about a larger day bag. I’m never missing any of my “just in case pieces”, like a scarf, card game, extra meds or band aids. That’s not the best thing about this bag though.

The Active line has a reflective fabric, so you can be seen in darker environments, even if you’re just crossing the street in the city. It’s always nice when people can see you instead of almost running you over. It also comes in lovely colors, looks sporty and is water-resistant. That’s a must in rainy climates like we have here in Portland. 

Inside, you'll find a large zipper pocket that is RFID-blocking, where you can stash your credit cards, ID, passport and travel docs, plus it's large enough for your tablet. I also use this to toss change into and keep my cash in there, so it's double secure!

There's also two great slot pockets on the other side of the inside, where I put my phone, earbuds and my camera, because that way it doesn't fall into the bottom where I have tor rummage for it. These pockets are large enough to handle your extra big smartphone, but not that Galaxy 7, because you can't take it to the airport anymore. In between those two pockets is a pen slot, which holds not one, but two pens. Love it!

The outside has two zipper pockets, which take up about 2/3 of the size of the bag. one is lockable and the other is not, as it is meant to be worn against your side, where it would be pretty difficult to get into for someone with sticky fingers.

The locking zippers are really easy to use, but they don't have the little doodad you usually use your thumb to open it with, so thieves will have a difficult time trying to figure it out in time before you notice. For you, who knows how to use it, it's fairly simple and won't make it challenging to get into your own bag to get out your money. These side zippers are also rubberized to make them water-resistant and impossible to break (another security feature).

Though this isn't a Mary Poppins' bag, even though it holds quite a bit, you might just need a little help finding things in the dark, so Travelon has added their tiny flashlight to this bag too. It's attached to a clip leash, so you can always find your keys and, in my case, my business cards.

Worried your bag might get snatched while you're having lunch at that cute little sidewalk cafe? Fear not! This bag not only has a slash-resistant strap and body (for when you're out and about), but it also has a locking clip on the adjustable strap, so you can attach your bag to your chair or table and you feel secure while you're enjoying your meal. 

Don't forget to stay hydrated! Or dry. Whichever you choose. You have a nice zip-out mesh bottle holder on the side of your bag, which can also be used for your umbrella. It will fit a regular 16oz size bottle. I didn't have one on hand, so I improvised with this larger bottomed bottle I had in the fridge. It fits nice and snug. Then it zips closed when not in use.

The adjustable shoulder strap is wide enough to be comfortable and not slip off your shoulder if you want to wear it over your shoulder instead of crossbody. It also adjusts to fit right on a small person or a tall person.

This a great bag for your travels, or as a gift for the traveler in your life. It's a reasonable size and price, plus comes in nice classic colors that are unisex. 

More details
Where to get it: Travelon website or Amazon | local travel stores
How much it costs: $44-65
Colors it comes in: black | wine (shown) | charcoal | teal
Additional specs: lightweight durable nylon fabric, size: 12.25" x3.75" x12"

Interact with Travelon online and share the love: 

Disclaimer: I  received the Anti-Theft Active Medium Crossbody Bag from Travelon for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tips for Making TSA Less Annoying

I love the airport, even during the holidays. I’m a weirdo, but I like shopping/browsing and trying the different places to eat. I love the fact that I’m going to go somewhere. I like to people watch and I enjoy checking out the airport art and other cool things they have that other airports don’t. These last two months I’ve been to the airport six times. Twice to come and go and four times to pick up or drop off. I’ll pay $3 to park so I can wander around. Sometimes I find awesome stuff there, plus Portland International is America’s Favorite Airport four years running. How can I resist that?

security travel tips

Anyway, if you want to make sure that you actually make it onto your flight to go somewhere fun (or at least to visit friends and family), then you’re going to want to be prepared for what TSA has in store for you.

Get to the airport early

This is a must! Security lines are longer than ever during the holidays, even on the slowest days. Just plan to wait in line twice as long as you usually do. You never know what’s going to happen and traffic sucks from November 1-January 2. Allow yourself time for all the inevitables and surprises and plan to get to the airport at two hours before your flight if you’re traveling domestic, and at least three hours if you’re traveling international. Bring a book, a battery back-up for your phone or tablet and a game. This way you’ll have something to amuse yourself in line and at the gate if you get there with plenty of time before you flight. Remember: flights generally board 30 minutes before take-off, so you’ll want to get there before that window opens.

Wear easy-on, easy-off shoes

Do you want to spend 20 minutes untying your hiking books to take off and put in the security bin? Probably not. Also, the people behind you do not want to wait for you either. Make sure you wear shoes that can easily be taken off and put back on, so you can make security procedures that much less painful for you and everyone else involved.

Do not wrap your gifts 

TSA is all about seeing everything in your bag. Even if you only have one gift in your bag, don’t wrap it. You will have spent all that time and energy making it look pretty and then getting it into your bag, only to have an agent rip your paper to shreds to find out what you packed. Bring small gifts that can be packed without boxes and wrapping paper. By all means, bring those staples with you to wrap at your destination if you have room in your bag.

Have your photo ID and boarding pass in-hand 

You can’t even get to the security conveyor belts and scanners if you don’t make it past the TSA agent in the line. Make sure to be prepared and keep the line moving, by having your photo ID (or passport) and boarding pass at the ready. Nobody wants to wait for you to dig around in your bag to find it and you will just make enemies of those people in line behind you. Even better, download the airline app and use the e-ticket to check in and get through security. You can use your phone to show the passes of everyone in your travel group, as long as they have their identification out.

Have your 3-1-1 bag out 

Don’t wait until you get to the airport to start rummaging around in your toiletry bag and finding all your liquids and gels. Buy a TSA-approved 3-1-1 bag online or at the store or pick up a box of 1-liter zip-top bags and fill it up before you leave home. It will make you less stressed and you’ll know that everything fits in there.

Make sure your laptop is easily accessible 

If you’re bringing a laptop, netbook or iPad, make sure you can quickly access it and slide it in and out of your carry-on. It will make the security line that much faster when you have to dump all your individual things into a bin: shoes, jacket, purse, pocket contents, laptop, 3-1-1 bag. The quicker these things can be put into a bin, the faster you can push them towards the X-Ray machine and make room for other travelers’ items and bins on the counter. (Another way to make this easier is to get a checkpoint-friendly bag, like this Travelon one.)

Don’t stuff your bag

Before I got Pre-Check (see below), I was always singled out for “random” bag checks and extra security. I don’t really care. I have nothing to hide and I don’t get embarrassed by my underwear being handled by strangers in front of a bunch of other strangers, but a lot of people do. Also, if you have Tetris-ed your bag so well that everything inside only fits in one way, it’s going to suck when you have to shove it all back in there (or are mortified when the agent tries unsuccessfully to do it) and it doesn’t fit again and you can’t zip it and half your stuff is hanging out on your way to your gate where you can try to get it all back in some order like before. Note: it never works. You’re going to end up shoving a pair of pants in your purse because they somehow no longer fit.

Go left

Most people head to the right after their ID or passport has been checked. Go left instead (if you have the choice) and you’ll likely get through the line faster. Another tip for choosing the best line is to look for one that has the fewest children. Nothing against them, but they are slow and their parents are basically trying to do the job of a cat wrangler while also doing all the security procedures. Don’t blame them. Parenting is hard. But that doesn’t mean you have to get stuck in the slow line behind them.

Get Pre-Check (or Global Entry)

If you travel a couple times a year, then this is a great investment. For $85, you can leave your shoes on and everything in your bag and just breeze past those other suckers waiting in line at security for 40 minutes. It’s like FastPASS for your travels. Read more on my post here.

Stop rushing the gate

You’re checked in, you have a seat. Nobody’s going to take that away from you. Unless you have a small child and you need extra time to get settled in, just chill out. While everyone else is freaking out and crowding the poor gate agent to get on the plane, you can skip the stress and just hang back until the crowd thins out. It might even help you get in the good graces of the crew to help you with this next tip:

Board last

This is one way to get a free upgrade, because when you’re the last passenger on the plane, you have a choice of any available seat, maybe even a first class seat if you’re really lucky. It helps if you only have a small carry-on with you that can fit under the seat. I’ll tell you why: there will likely be no overhead bin space left and having to wait longer for you to either find a place to put your bag or check it to go under the plane will not win you any friends and everyone will blame you when the plane leaves late.

Hopefully, these tips will allow you to get through security with minimal stress and get you on your trip faster.

What are your favorite security tips?
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