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Saturday, July 29, 2023

Your Perfect Barbiecore Vacations

With Barbie taking over everywhere and pink vibes around every corner, maybe you're thinking of more ways to get that lovely hue into your life. Did you know there are so many places you can go that a covered in pink homes, castles, beaches, and even religious sites? This isn't an exhaustive list, but a sprinkling of destinations that can pink up your travels.

Did you know there are so many places you can go that a covered in pink homes, castles, beaches, and even religious sites?

If you're looking for a great destination that can also be budget-friendly and easier to get to and get around in, check out Palm Springs. From free art to rainbows and mid-century architecture everywhere. Nassau in the Bahamas can also put you in the middle of a pastel paradise. The government buildings are all pink, the Atlantis Resort is a sprawling pink hotel and casino, the zoo has a flamboyance of flamingos that are the stars of their own show, and you can take a million pics of yourself among exotic flowers in the botanical gardens. Here's a very old post to help you plan a trip.

Complete your Barbie trip with some new travel goodies: 

Do you have a favorite pink travel destination? Let us know!

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links and I maybe receive monetarily compensated if you make a purchase through any of them. This enables me to keep this blog running and bringing you travel tips, so thanks in advance.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Use Travel-Sharing for Budget Vacationing

It's no secret that travel share is a booming industry. With fewer mainstream ways to travel on a budget, it's easier than ever to travel the world without going broke. I'm all for going independent when I can to save some bucks, especially if I have plenty of traveler reviews to back up the safety and legitimacy of it all.

Travel sharing is perfect for those that want to help out individuals while also getting a hyperlocal experience. Here are some companies to try.

Instead of staying in a hotel or eating at a traditional restaurant or going to the big box car rental places for some wheels, why not go local and more affordable?

I've been on the travel share bandwagon for a long time. While I love a hotel and still use them when needed, I love to feel more at home when I travel and enjoy having a kitchen and laundry at my disposal. If you do, too, try:
  • Airbnb - Indisputably the most well-known way to rent a vacation space. Choose from a room in a home to an entire apartment and everything in between. Get to meet locals where you can while making use of the spaces they aren't using. (Here's an account of one of my Airbnb experiences and here's a way to make sure you're helping the local economy and not a company when you rent..)
  • Homeexchange - Want to really save some money? Swap your house with other travelers where you want to go. Take in their mail, feed their dogs and generally be them for the duration of your trip.
  • vrbo - Like Airbnb, see a long list of spaces for rent, go through vrbo, so you know your reservation is safe and secure.

You may already be using Uber and Lyft to get around, but why stop there? If you want to drive on your own schedule, rent someone else's car while you're in town. See locals who can spare their wheels while you're visiting on these great sites:
  • Turo
  • Uber Rent
  • GetAround
  • ZipCar - Unlike these others, these are shared cars in a city. Rent it by the hour. Pick it up and drop it off at a designated location.

I'm open to meeting new people and I love to eat. Now you can visit locals for homemade meals or meet someone for food at a restaurant. This is especially good for people who are traveling solo and don't like to eat alone and those that are really outgoing.

Other stuff
Sometimes you get to a place and realize you want something specific, like golf clubs or skis. Since bringing them with you can be crazy expensive, why not rent some from someone while you're in town? 
  • Loanables
  • BabyQuip - Rent baby strollers, car seats and more.
  • Baby'sAway - Same as BabyQuip, but great if you're traveling with more than one baby.
  • Spinlister - Need a bike? Rent one at your destination!
Travel sharing is perfect for those that want to help out individuals while also getting a hyperlocal experience.

Do you have a favorite travel share company?

Saturday, July 15, 2023

My Favorite Travel Podcasts

As much as I would love to be traveling all the time, I can't actually do that and we both have jobs and a house and a dog. I spend a lot of time planning travel, but I also listen to podcasts. As I've gotten into more of them, I've accrued quite a few travel podcasts into my rotation. 

As I've gotten into more of them, I've accrued quite a few travel podcasts into my rotation. Here are my faves.

If you're looking for some inspiration or just want to learn new things, here are some of the ones I listen to regularly that you might also be interested in:

Atlas Obscura
If you like to learn weird and wonderful things, then this is for you. Each daily episode is between 8 and 20 minutes and tells you about things like the Tonopah Clown Motel, the Crochet Museum, or the Ben & Jerry's Flavor Graveyard. It gives you a little bite-size nugget of info for things you probably don't know and might want to know more about or see in person.

City Cast (Portland and Las Vegas)
I started listening to my local City Cast for Portland and liked it so much I decided to add Las Vegas to the rotation. The episodes are 20-30 minutes and tell you about things to do, local politics, history, new restaurants, and they talk to local experts. If you want to learn more about your own city or one you visit frequently or are visiting soon, they have them for Boise, Chicago, DC, Denver, Houston, Madison, Philly, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake, too!
Podcast: The Ride
Do you love a theme park? Me too! Also, these guys! Not confined to just Walt Disney World, like a lot of other pods, or even just the U.S. Learn about new stuff in all the Disney parks, Universal, Cedar Point, and on and on. I've just recently added this to my catcher, but I find the hosts easy to listen to.

Chasing Immortality
Okay, this isn't technically a travel podcast and it may or may not have been cancelled, but I have learned so many interesting stories of people who tried to cheat death and about the places they've been. It inspired me to go see Nicolas Flamel's house on our last trip to Paris (as well as the Harry Potter connection). He had a very interesting life. If you like cool stories about weird people, check it out.

Duolingo French
If you're in the middle of learning French and you want to be able to understand strangers more, then check out Duolingo French, where they have French speakers tell their story in French and you get interspersed English for context. While I don't understand a lot of the French, the stories are interesting enough to keep me listening and I've learned some new words just by having it on while I'm working. If French isn't for you, they also have a Spanish pod.

Take to the Sky: the Air Disaster Podcast
Do you love true crime? I'm a fan of a bit of morbid storytelling, so I started listening to Take to the Sky (on accident, because I was looking for a different podcast) that takes a historical air disaster and goes in depth on it for an entire episode. It's sad, it's interesting, it's inspiring, and it's maybe not what you want to listen to right before you get on a plane. 

Unpacked by AFAR or Travel Tales by AFAR
Some episodes are short (20 minutes) and some are quite long (90 mins), but if you're in need of inspiration on how to travel more sustainably or how to get better sleep on your trips or just listening to other people's travel stories, then check out one or both of these pods. I love learning new things and then finding places to travel that I hadn't thought of before.

I have several podcasts that I listen to that aren't travel-related and are great for when I'm on a plane or on a road trip. Some of those that I recommend are:
  • Ologies - Each episode talks to an expert in their field of -ology, so you learn one thing really well for an hour, like scallops, bees, reclaimed wood, beer, or sleep rhythms. It's informative, it's witty, and it's funny. People talking about their passions is always exciting to me. 
  • The Adventure Zone - A real play Dungeons & Dragons (or other RPG) made by three brothers and their dad. It's wacky, it's hilarious, it's got heart. I love it and devour every episode the day it comes out. 
  • Wonderful - One of the brothers from TAZ and his wife talk about things that they like, things that they're into, things that are good. It's just a sweet, feel-good 30 minutes to add to your life each week. You might hear about trampolines or obscure music artists, or poetry. You never know!
  • Was I In A Cult? - This one talks to people who have gotten out of cults and are willing to talk about how they got pulled in, what happened during their time there, and how they eventually escaped the life. The hosts are actually funny, but in a totally respectful way, because they were both in cults, too.  
  • Depresh Mode - Mental health is important. Our brains aren't always great or good to us it's okay to talk about it. Host, John Moe, talks to a different famous guest each week about their personal battle with their mental health. Whether you suffer from mental health problems or not, to any degree, it's helpful to hear other people talk so openly about theirs.
  • Zetus Lepetus - My three favorite theme park vloggers, who are all former WDW cast members, watch a new Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) each week and then spend an hour talking about how good or bad they are. You don't have to have watched any of them to listen or follow along, though sometimes it's fun and gives you more use out of your Disney+ account. 

Got ones I haven't listened that you love and want to share? They don't even have to be travel podcasts, if they are cool. Tell us in the comments!

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

When To Get Travel Insurance

Travel is never truly inexpensive, unless you camp or stay in hostels. Most of us are more interested in sleeping in hotels or going on cruises. Nobody likes to be screwed out of their hard-earned money by unforeseen circumstances beyond their control and travel insurance can prevent that from happening. 

Nobody likes to be screwed out of their hard-earned money by unforeseen circumstances and travel insurance can prevent that from  happening.

Now, you may have been traveling for years without taking this precaution, or you may have been in a situation where you wished you had taken out insurance to protect you. Fortunately, travel insurance can be affordable and easy to add on to your trip, but when do you really need it?

Look into the right type of insurance

There are many different types of travel insurance, including illness, injury, lost luggage, theft and more. You can also get basic coverage that includes many of these things, but you will want to get the one that suits the trip you are going on. If you are going to hike Machu Picchu, you will need a different insurance than if you are going on a European cruise.

You bought a package deal

When you purchase a vacation package, it is all tracked under one company name. You can usually get internal travel insurance with them, or you can purchase you own, in case the company goes out of business or their insurance doesn’t cover last-minute tragedies like a death in the family.

The vacation is a once-in-a-lifetime trip 

Sometimes you go on trips that cost a lot more than you normally pay for a vacation. There is a big difference in price between going to Napa for the weekend and going on a week-long Kenyan safari. If you have to cancel or rebook your trip to Napa, it probably won’t break you in the long run, but if something unexpected happens and you can’t go on your safari – weather, natural disasters and health issues are almost never something you can predict – you will be very sorry to be out thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars that you can’t recoup without insurance.

Unexpected things happen

With countries and airlines dropping health restrictions, a war that may move beyond the current borders, fire season starting, and volcanoes erupting, things in the world are always in flux. You might get Covid and can't go. The country you're traveling to may suddenly prohibit people from certain countries entry. Your country may not allow flights to certain countries. 

When we booked a flight to France for last September, including a package to go to Disneyland Paris, I knew that insurance was probably important. Our credit card would take care of our flight, but I totally bought insurance for our portion going to Disney, because there were many things that needed to happen, including getting a Health Pass once we arrived in France (which changed the month before we left), in order to do almost anything touristy. Up until we left, I wasn't sure if I would need to do anything special in order to actually travel. 

You travel often

Travel insurance will generally cost 5-8% of your total trip, but if you do more than just take a yearly vacation, then you might benefit more from buying yearly travel insurance plans instead of paying for each trip separately.

When you do insure your trips, make sure you know exactly what each policy covers. When something happens and you have to make a claim, take notes on everything that happened and who you talked to. If a theft has occurred, report it immediately and make sure you are tenacious if the insurance company seems to drag their feet on paying out. Obviously, they make less money if they have to pay out on a claim, but if you know what your rights are, you shouldn’t have a problem getting what’s owed to you.

Remember, if you make any changes to your travel plans, alert your insurance company as soon as possible, so you can be sure you are still covered for everything you need.

Have you ever wished you had travel insurance on a trip?

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Disability and Travel

July is Disability Pride Month and that had me thinking about places I've been that are just not conducive to any sort of physical disability. The last time we were in London, I realized that over half of the Tube stations didn't have elevators or escalators or any way for someone who is elderly or disabled to make use of that station.

July is Disability Pride Month and that had me thinking about places I've been that are just not conducive to any sort of physical disability.
photo credit

In America, 1 in 4 people have some sort of disability. 11% of people have a physical disability and just about that same number have either a hearing or vision impairment that affects their life. I know a lot of people who are limited by unseen disabilities, like chronic pain,  where navigating a million stairs or endless station tunnels would be nearly impossible quite quickly after arrival. If there were more accessible options, this would alleviate extra strain for them and others.

I know that most other countries have better heathcare and resources than in the US, but that is only for those living there. Disabled tourists don't have those same resources, so they just have no easy way to get around town. Buses are a bit more user-friendly for everyone, but they aren't as convenient for getting places quickly like the Metro or subway, and then there's the issue of getting to your destination in the first place. Disabled people aren't always treated with respect or kindness by the airlines. So, if travel is for everybody and a lot of cities rely on tourism dollars to thrive, why don't we make it easier for everyone to visit? It's just a thing to think about, and which may get a bit more attention now after we saw accessibility change so rapidly during Covid, but we are, unfortunately, seeing those same things being abandoned and going back to the way things were pre-Covid.

We shouldn't expect people who have a disability that prevents them from using mass transit and public buildings to have to spend more (money and time) to be able to travel like the rest of us. Next time you travel, look around and see if you could navigate your surroundings if you had more limited mobility or were wheelchair-bound. 

Do you or someone you travel with have a disability? If so, where has been the most disabled-friendly destination you've been to?

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Travel Items To Grab During Prime Day(s)

Once a year, Amazon Prime Day comes around, though it now stretches over two days. This year Prime day is July 11-12, which is great if you're planning a vacation soon and you need some stuff for it. I've been checking out what useful travel goodies are included and I made a list for inspiration:

I'm never going to be the person who pays hundreds of dollars for earbuds, especially when I'm so hard on the ones I already own or might lose on a trip. Buy these for a fraction of the price of others, with great sound quality and fun colors. $24.99 (50% off!)

If you don't want to lug around your laptop and your phone is too tiny for things that are bigger than Wordle and email, this Fire tablet is a winner. Look at directions, book reservations, carry all your books, and play games and movies. Plus it's lightweight and fits really easily into your carry-on or personal item. $89.99 ($100 off!)

Need a new carry-on or weekend warrior bag? This little wheelie bag has enough room for the basics, plus some snacks, and fits under the airplane seat, so all your belongings are with you every step of your trip. It also has big sturdy handles to carry down the plane aisle, which I'm always a huge fan of. $69.22 for Navy color (almost 50% off)

Going further or longer or need to pack for several people? All my larger carry-on bags are hardside now, because you can't overpack it to where it won't fit in the overhead, it's much more durable, and you're much less likely to have a a disastrous spillage issue or rain incident. Samsonite makes awesome luggage and I love the dividers in this one. $122 ($39% off!) -- If you're on a tight budget, but still want a great new piece of luggage, check out the Wrangler Hardside Spinner at $39 (25% off)

I love a good packing cube and I love ones that come in smaller, but still useful sizes, so I can pack small in a smaller bag, like a weekender. These slim cubes are ones I would use solely for my own travels or for underwear or children's clothes on travels with others, but they're a definite game-changer. $17.55 (35% off)

If you travel with more than you or want to take a little more, I swear by compression packing cubes. They fit so much better into your bag, because you pack them like usual, then double zip them, so they take up half the space. You get three different sizes, so you can easily keep track of everything in your bag. $26 (21% off)

Amazon Essentials Women's Short-Sleeve Maxi Dress
It's always nice to have a basic black dress for dressing up or down on vacation. Lounge around your vacation rental, wear it as a cover-up to the pool, or add some fun jewelry and go out to dinner. $20.18 (25% off) -- If maxi is not the length for you, check out the AE Swing Dress.

Add a lightweight layer for warmth that also looks great whatever your activity. Sometimes the weather turns, the evenings get chilly, or the plane is like a freezer. Be ready for it with this easy, packable outwear piece. $22.43 (25% off)

Want to watch a video on your phone, but don't want to break your neck looking down at it? Use this mount that works with the seatback tray, so you can watch it at eye level instead. $10.96 (39% off)

Ever have issues with your cables and plugs either getting lost somewhere in your bag, or tangled together, or somehow jumbled up with other things in your bag? No more! I never travel without a bag that fits all my electronics charges, cables, and bits and bobs. It, literally, makes you feel like you've got your ish together, like an adult traveler. $9.85 (38% off)

I kind of live in a good tee and having a couple for vacation are essential to me, because they can be worn alone or easily layered, so they work in all weather. I find a v-neck is more flattering for me, and Prana is a wonderful brand that makes pieces that are great looking, high quality, and moisture-wicking. It also comes in SO. MANY. COLORS. though only the black is on super sale. $15.57 (65% off!)

Never leave home without a power bank to keep you phone or other small electronics charged when in transit. This comes with two, in different colors, that both can change two things at once, so everyone will have power all day long. $19.99 (44% off)

Heading to the beach, or camping, or off to college? Turkish towels are the best for travel, because they are lightweight, super absorbent, easily packable, and so versatile. Use them as a regular towel, a sarong, a picnic blanket, a tablecloth, a blanket. This deal comes with two! $20 (25% off)

Keep all those amazing vacay photos in one place and save space on your phone with this huge flash drive. Add everyone's pics at the end of each day and start fresh the next day. Regular price $45.99

Do you want to do a bit of work or make it easier to reply to emails on your phone or iPad? Get a folding keyboard that fits right in your day bag and carry-on. It has a fingerpad, so you can mouse your way around the tiny screen, which I really love. It comes with a lightweight phone stand that you can use for a tablet as well. Regular price $58.99

I hope these help you get a good start on your next trip(s), whether it's a road trip, a weekend at the beach, Disney with the fam, or a romantic European getaway. Let us know in the comments where you're going next!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will be monetarily compensated. Your purchases enable me to keep this blog running and bringing you great travel tips, trends, and product reccs, so thanks in advance.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Free Summer Travel Activities

Summer is, officially, here! That means vacation for a lot of people. Over 60%* of adults surveyed said they plan to travel this summer. You'll be seeing high crowds, delayed & cancelled flights, and high prices. Some are cutting back on trips, due to inflation, which is totally fair and valid. 

There are always several free things to do in a city and those things multiply when it's warm out and tourists show up, so do a bit of research first.
Urban Light - art installation in LA

If this is you, here are some things that are always free and cheap and available in most destinations:
As you probably know, I love a good farmers' market. If there's one where we travel, I do my very best to plan a day around it. You are going to eat anyway, so this is your chance to try something hyper-local. It's also a great opportunity to interact with locals and learn more about the food they grow and eat. I've learned a lot about different areas and farms/ranches this way. People always love to talk about their products and practices with you, or even just their city in general.

Alton Baker Park in Eugene, OR

Green Spaces
All cities have public green spaces, and if you're in a popular destination, those parks can have a lot of cool amenities, like galleries, sculptures, water features, swimming, fishing, cool gardens, playgrounds, and more. Holland Park in London has a Japanese garden with peacocks.  Balboa Park in San Diego has a botanical garden. 

Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh

There are a lot of free museums when you travel. Some are very cheap and some cost quite a bit unless you go on certain days of the week/month. I've been to some terrible museums that charged a large fee and some fantastic museums that were totally free, both large and small. In fact, most of the museums in London have no entry fee, so you can see a Picasso or Monet for nothing, but almost every museum in Paris has an admission fee, and you may have to stand in line for hours to pay them. I opted for smaller museums this last trip that only charged 10 euro to get in and was pleasantly surprised. Look for museum passes in cities you want to visit and indulge in a lot of art, but make sure you'll get your money's worth first, as our trip to Paris before this was a disappointment, because we would have had to wait in lines longer than enjoying the museum, even if you get their before they open.  

Downtown Las Vegas

Street Art & Murals
Even smaller towns now work with local artists to beautify their spaces with public art, like sculptures, building murals, and even larger installations. Las Vegas is a wonderful place for this, but so is LA, Philly, Portland, and so many other cities around the world. Graffiti art is some of my favorite art, but seeing the vast array of different free art while walking around is always astounding to me. You can research this before you arrive and plan out a route to see some of the best things.

Walking Tours
You could find a company that takes tourists on walking tours and go with a bunch of other people. I have appreciated a lot of these tours, but I also appreciate a good self-guided tour that allows me to go at my own pace and make stops along the way, letting me do it all in one day or split it up over my trip. Check out the app GPS My City to find tours worldwide by locals and other tourists. You can find everything from food tours to history tours.

Not actually a concert, but this was in Spring Mountain Ranch outside of Vegas

Outdoor Concerts
Summertime brings out a lot of free entertainment and most boardwalks, town squares, or even large parks offer free concerts by local arts, and sometimes well-known musicians. Portland often does free concerts downtown and I've been fortunate enough to see some amazing bands, from Guster to Bon Jovi. San Francisco's Pier 39 has outdoor music, an often other entertainment, on weekends and in the evenings. 

Shakespeare In the Park
I love packing a blanket and a meal and setting up a space at a park to watch free theater. The quality can vary, but it's almost always fun and you can't beat the admission price of zero dollars. You might bring some cash for tips, but you're never required to contribute. It's just polite. 

The closest to hiking I get is at vista points off the highway LOL

Go On a Hike
By now, you all know that I'm not an outdoor person unless it involves sightseeing in a city. I love a view, but I don't love hiking. If that's you, great. Many places have all levels of hiking trails for those looking for easy hikes or those more experienced. This is the time to see local wildlife and plants and take a bunch of nature pics. If you aren't a go-hike-in-the-hills kind of person, maybe do this next thing.

Lime bike in Old Sacramento

Rent a City Bike or Scooter
This isn't free, but it can be a cheap way to see a city and also get a bit of exercise or cover more ground than just walking. Most cities have one or both of these options and you can easily pick up a rental and return it to a different location. 

Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh

Check Out a Church
Most historical churches are open for visitors and so many of them are free to enter. If you want to learn about the history of the building and see amazing architecture, this is a cheap way to do it. Sometimes, you aren't permitted to take photos inside unless you pay a nominal fee. St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh charged me 2£ to take pictures, which went to the upkeep, as it's still a working church, and I felt it was worth it, even if I had taken zero pictures. The building is phenomenal. 

There are almost always several free things to do in a city and those things multiply when it's warm out and tourists show up, so make sure to do a little digging on what you can do to fill in your time and stretch your dollars. It's fun to see a different side of a destination and save money in the process. 

What are your favorite things to do that are cheap or free when you travel?

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