Travel Tips

Las Vegas Without Opening Your Wallet

Las Vegas is the top U.S. travel destination this year, with more people searching for travel packages and tips about Las Vegas than any other destination. Travelers like Lindsey Stone can easily see this is because there are a lot of free activities in the city and the nearby countryside that make this a great destination even if you don’t gamble.

The Big Casino Hotels

The biggest casino hotels offer free events that attract viewers all day long.

The Venetian offers the Carnevale di Venezia, which is a 15-minute performance of opera by elaborately costumed artists. You can also see living statues, gondoliers and jugglers on stilts.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an airy atrium with hundreds of exotic plants and flowers in elaborate arrangements. It’s open 24 hours a day, has live music from 5pm – 6pm, and there is Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb to answer all your botanical questions.

Caesars Palace has a Fall of Atlantis water show that is out of this world. It starts at 11am and repeats every hour. There is also a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with more than 300 fish. There’s an even bigger one at Silverton’s with more than 4,000 tropical fish, mermaids and feeding times.

Every night you can see a 54-foot volcano erupt at the Mirage with all the requisite smoke, fire and lava.

Children, and adults, can watch a free circus show at Circus Circus that has trapeze acts, acrobats, jugglers and other acts above the casino floor as well as acts in the child-friendly midway.

The MGM Grand Lion Habitat is 12 miles out of the city, but the lions are brought into a special glass habitat at the hotel where you can view the lions from all angles.

In the City

Ethel’s Chocolates Factory Tour is free and fun. You get to watch how candy is made and get a free sample at the end. It’s an activity that is not associated with gambling and is a great alternative for a little quiet time. There is also the largest Botanical Cactus Garden in Nevada nearby with four acres of more than 300 species succulents and cacti.

Freemont Street

In downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade is worth the trip to Vegas itself. There are free nightly shows that have more than 12.5 million lights and 550,000watts of sound. It includes free concerts and special events. It has the world’s largest video screen and is a great place to people-watch. You should get there early to grab a table in an outdoor café and enjoy.

The Neon Museum is also on the street that includes a veritable history of neon in Las Vegas as well as many other historical signs. There are guides that give tours to explain the background of each sign.

There are two zip lines down Freemont Street. They’re not free, but definitely worth the price.

Outdoor Adventure

If you like some outdoor activity included in your vacation, the Valley of Fire State Park is just one hour from the city. It has bizarre rock formations and Native American petroglyphs. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is about a five hour drive away, but definitely worth the trip. You can camp there and return the next day.

Las Vegas may have a wild reputation, but it is an extremely family and budget friendly place for a really memorable vacation.

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8 Budget-Friendly Destinations for a Stress-Free Vacation

Popular tourists destinations are great…sometimes. Other times you may want to avoid the headache.

What’s wrong with the popular tourist traps? They’re expensive, they can be dangerous and they’re crowded.

There’s a better way.

Traveling to little-known vacation areas can be great for several reasons. They’re affordable, they’re less crowded and you can try something new and different.

Disney World is great and all, but smaller attractions can leave lasting memories for the rest of your life. It’s amazing how stress-free a vacation can be if you’re not spending hundreds of dollars everyday and you’re more focused on actually spending time together.

I’ve got a solution for you. I’ve compiled a list of 8 great places to go on vacation that won’t break your budget.

And be sure to stick around for some stress-free travel tips at the end…

1. Washington D.C.

Though the cost of living in the D.C. area may be high, being a tourist there isn’t. You can find decent lodging rates if you stay out of the city and take the subway in.

Food: There are several amazing pizza joints in D.C. and don’t forget to look for the little dinners and dives that are scattered all over.

Attractions: Free museums galore! Of course, American tax dollars are paying for them, but there is no cost to enter a plethora of museums and attractions in D.C., including The National Museum of American History, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Washington Monument and The Lincoln Memorial…to name a few.

2. Oklahoma City, OK

You won’t run out of things to do in this city with over 1,000,000 people in the metro area. Lodging rates aren’t too high in the city and if you look on the outer limits, you can expect some really great rates.

Food: World-famous onion burgers are one of the many choices you have for food in OKC. Eischen’s is another great place right outside of OKC. They are famous for their fried chicken and for serving it on a paper towel.

Attractions: There are all kinds of cheap/free museums and inner-city attractions. Don’t miss the Oklahoma City Zoo! With a ticket price under $10 for adults (half price for military), that makes for a cheap day exploring the giant wildlife wonderland.

3. Nashville, TN

The city of music and fun. If you’re looking for a night out, just go downtown and find any type of music you like, while eating some great food.

Food: It may not be Memphis, but the barbecue is comparable. If you’re looking for a treat, head over to Knockout Wings and be sure to try their famous butter biscuits, southern sweet tea and of course, amazing wings.

Attractions: From music museums to street performances, this is truly the city of music. If you like music, it’s easy to stay entertained for a week or longer, even on a small budget. Even if you’re not into music that much, there are several other museums and attractions around the town.

4. Branson, MO

With more shows than Las Vegas, Branson is a tourist’s goldmine. It’s a great summer getaway or a winter holiday vacation spot. Our family has been there during both seasons and both were awesome for different reasons.

Food: Look for the diners, they’re everywhere. You can find some great BBQ here and to top it all off, why not take a trip to the famous Joe’s Crab Shack?

Attractions: The shows are a given, but aren’t they expensive? Some are, but many are quite affordable. My family and I were able to see 5 shows for under $100 total for the family. You just have to find discounts and package deals. You’ll also want to spend a day or two at the new Branson Landing for shopping and dining.

5. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is popular and for a good reason, though it’s not overcrowded, unless you go during Mardi Gras. There is a lot to do and you don’t have to spend much.

Food: New Orleans is known for all kinds of delicious Cajun food. You’ll want to try a real po’boy from Johnny Po’Boy’s or one of many other great places. There is plenty of seafood to go around. You’ll also want to make sure you try some crayfish and gator while you’re there.

Attractions: The downtown area has much to offer, even if you aren’t there to walk Bourbon Street. The Audobon Zoo is worth a visit and you won’t want to miss the National WWII Museum.

6. Hot Springs, AR

I may be a little biased, since this is my hometown, but it’s really a hidden goldmine. The entire city is a National Park, so if you want nature, this is your place. As far as lodging, you have choices from cheap, clean hotels to very affordable condos in the Hot Springs Village.

Food: Great barbecue and southern food all over. While we’re talking about barbecue, make sure you try the famous “tamale spread” from McClard’s BBQ. You’ll see the pictures on the wall of a few celebrities, like Bill Clinton and Tom Green, eating there. There is also a surprising number of great authentic Mexican restaurants and taco trucks.

Attractions: Hiking, walking trails, museums, a historic downtown area and their famous lakes will keep you busy. It’s also a great place to get an affordable massage at one of the many spas downtown. You can even learn to scuba dive in Lake Ouachita, one of the cleanest lakes in the country.

7. Gulf Shores, AL

A city on the gulf with just a few thousand people makes for affordable restaurants, lodging and entertainment.

Food: You can find your fair share of fresh seafood and southern cooking, but if you want a real hole-in-the-wall wonder, head over to Old World Bakery and Pizza for some amazing Italian food. It’s a hidden gem that my wife and I were lucky enough to find.

Attractions: For starters, you have the ocean. It’s hard to beat that. There are free beaches everywhere. If you get tired of the beach, you can always find something to do in the little beach-front town, or you can take the short day-trip into the Florida panhandle.

8. Lancaster, PA

Lancaster is known for being “Amish country”, but it doesn’t end there. Take the Amish tours and see the beautiful country, but there’s more.

Food: There are plenty of Amish restaurants that serve fresh, natural, home-cooked meals. Be sure to try the baked oatmeal over at Lititz Family Cupboard on the outskirts of Lancaster County.

Attractions: Amish tours and outlet shopping are pretty popular. You could take the kids to Hershey Park or just take a tour of the Hershey factory and land. There’s also a gigantic Sight & Sound Theatre that puts on a great show.

Some Final Stress-Free Travel Tips

Hopefully you’ve found your next vacation spot! Before I go, I want to make your next vacation even more enjoyable. Let me give you some tips that I use to make vacations less stressful…

1. Keep an Inventory List: Keep a list of everything you need to take with you when you go. Don’t make a new list every time, just keep a standard “inventory list” on hand. You’ll want to make a separate list for flying trips and driving trips, since you will likely bring different things.

2. Call Ahead: Whether you’re staying in lodging or with a friend, call ahead to figure out what you don’t need to bring. They may already stock the room with most of the hygiene products you’re bringing and the front desk can always supply you with more if you run out.

3. Don’t Stress, You Can Buy It: With your inventory list and calling ahead, you shouldn’t forget anything, but if you do, remember: don’t stress about bringing everything; you can always buy small items if you need to. It’s not worth stressing out over a forgotten tooth brush…just go buy one. Remembering this saves me tons of stress.

4. Use Tools: With all of the resources we have on the Internet, you should never be searching long for a place to stay or a place to eat. Use apps like “Hotels By Me” (lodging) and “Urban Spoon” (food) to find a place near you. This unlocks the opportunity to read reviews and see pictures before you arrive.—–LINKS!

5. Ask the Locals: If you’re ever not sure what to do, ask the locals. They know the best restaurants, the best attractions and sometimes, they may even know of some cheap places to stay. It always helps to ask someone who is already familiar with the area.

Now for one last bonus tip. Can you handle one more? Sure you can…

You’ll generally be spending more money on vacation than you would normally, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of credit card rewards with each and every purchase. Don’t miss an opportunity to earn money. For more on this, you should check out “11 Ways to Make Money When You Spend Money“.

Here’s to your next budget-friendly, stress-free vacation. Cheers!

Author Bio: Kalen Bruce is the founder and main writer at MoneyMiniBlog, where he writes short, sweet and simple articles about money and productivity. Kalen lives a debt-free life with his wife and four children. You can learn more about him here. Get his free eBook: Financial Freedom on a Full Schedule.

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5 Reasons to Take the Family on Outdoor Excursions

The great outdoors can offer a view of the world that many city-folk may be missing. Although electronics and computers help make the world more efficient, experiencing nature firsthand could create memories that will last a life time. Be honest, how much of the amusement park vacation can you remember as opposed to various vacations in the outdoors? This isn’t saying that the family can’t enjoy city life, but there is more to the world than that of the tall buildings and merchandised family entertainment of various theme parks. Why should you pack up the family and look towards the landscapes instead of the glamour of theme parks?

Creating a Bond Within the Family

Unlike amusement parks that are filled with people, staff and security, the outdoors offers the element of the unknown. It’s through this experience that prompts family members to be more reliant on each other for basic survival – even on a subconscious level. This reliance may assist in deepening the bond within the family as everyone contributes to making the most of the vacation. Without various diversions, more interaction between family members can be done helping each understand the other in ways that were never thought of before.

Unique Opportunities

Unlike visiting the same theme park and riding the same rides, outdoor vacations offer a unique aspect with each visit. As nature changes rapidly, each visit to the same location could be incredibly different than the time before. Fishing patterns, wildlife migrations, trails and even scenery can change from year to year offering a unique experience. After you’ve been on an amusement park ride once, you already know the outcome of each subsequent ride. However, nature has a way of changing things up on you in the outdoors. Visiting companies such as Outdoor Traveler, you can find a vacation perfect for the family to offer a sense of that uniqueness.

Exploring Unknown Territory

Humans are inherently curious and many enjoy a good adventure of discovering places they’ve never visited before. The outdoors offers the allure of exploration allowing you to see and experiencing situations that you may be unable to duplicate anywhere else. If you take the family to a locale you’ve never been to, then it becomes a vacation that nobody can predict.

Personal Experience

If a picture is worth 1000 words, then experiencing something first hand would be the equivalent of a novel. Although technology allows people to take stunning photographs in amazing clarity, the personal experience adds more to the story such as scents and sounds. A picture can remind you of the vacation, but the experience is what creates the nostalgia from within. Pictures on the Internet simply cannot add the benefit of four other senses used when standing in the presence of nature’s magnificence.

Stress Relief

The great outdoors offers something that inner-city vacation tourist traps cannot – enhanced stress relief. The air quality of various areas allows for the body to absorb a higher quality of oxygen. The physical aspect of the outdoors provides exercise which in turn creates endorphin in the brain for a more natural euphoric experience. All of this and more can create a less stressful experience especially when taking into account the lack of people hustling about the area.

The outdoors promote a great deal of interaction with those around you. Without the diversions of everyday city life, the family is more likely to engage on an intellectual and personal level. Explore nature with your family and create an experience that will be talked about for years to come.

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Cash Is King When Traveling… (And Other Travel Money Tips!)

A lot can go wrong when you travel. Banks will strike just when you want to get your travel money out. ATM’s will fail. Your money will be stolen, or lost. You will take sick or take ill in your destination. All these things have one thing in common, they will keep you from your much needed money, or they will cost money.

It’s said cash is king in business. It’s the lifeblood that keeps the business machine chugging along. And needless to say, its also the oil that greases your travel experiences. Run out of it when traveling and you are in deep sh*t. So then, how do you handle your travel money? What is the best way to carry it, access it and use it? We’ve got some tried and tested tips for you. Read along and share yours too.

The Travel Money Tips

1) Always Carry Cash With You

You will never go wrong with cash. The best is to carry one of the major currencies. Especially the dollar. Most people have a rough idea of the dollar’s value at any given time. You can easily use dollars to pay for most things across countries. It is also easy to find exchange bureaus for the dollar compared to some other currencies.

Also in case of emergencies or failure by banks and ATM’s, you are well covered.

2) Separate Your Travel Money

Don’t put all your travel money in one pocket or bag. Separate it. Carry small amounts in each pocket. Also separate your credit and debit cards. This creates multiple backups in case you lose a bag, or you are pick-pocketed or other alternatives fail. Keep some smaller bills in an easy to reach place for sudden expenses. It’s better to keep the bulk of your money on body storage, such as bra pouches, long johnny boxers. This is especially handy in risky or shared spaces such as hostels.

3) Beware of Exchange Rates

Converting currency costs money. Sometimes you can lose as much as 8% of your money during exchanges. Keep exchanges to a minimum. Calculate the cash you might need locally and exchange that amount at once. Here are some fast rules of thumb regarding currency exchanges:-

  • Stick to reputable exchanges such as regulated bureaus and banks
  • Don’t change your money from street vendors. It’s a recipe for a rip-off
  • Exchange the bulk of your cash at the local travel destination. You get a better late than at your home bank.
  • Avoid exchanging money at the airports. The rates are awful. They know you are desperate.
  • Be aware of the local currency value in relation to your currency. Some vendors will try to rip you off.
  • Get a feel for the local currency. Study the coins and notes. Keep a vague mental value of the currency in relation to your currency. And count your money before you leave the counter.

4) Credit & Debit Cards

Most times, credit and debit cards are a reliable way of carrying and spending travel money. They are easy and convenient to carry. They can be safely used in most countries. However, most developing countries aren’t yet reliably hooked to the global card system. If traveling to those countries, cash will serve you right. For debit and credit cards, keep the following in mind:-

  • Store your cards safely
  • Inform your bank before you travel such that your card isn’t blocked for fraud when you use it abroad.
  • Study the foreign use fees charged by banks on your card. If the charges are too high, seek other alternatives.
  • Carry multiple cards in case others fail to work for any reason
  • Don’t let your cards out of sight, ever. Credit card fraud schemes have started when a cashier spent a lot longer time with your card.
  • Store emergency help line numbers for your cards handy in cases of theft or loss.
  • Put the larger purchases on your debit/credit card. This include airfare, hotel reservations, car rentals etc

5) The Local Currency Advantage

Use the local currency for your transactions. Most vendors will rip you off and add a huge markup price if you produce foreign currency. Their supposed exchange rates for their products is also awful. Using local currency, you can compare your purchases to that of the locals or even ask for their help with prices and understanding the currency. Regular, ordinary folks tend to be really helpful and genuine.

# The Bonus Tips

  • Local coins are worthless once you leave a country. Spend them on small purchases, change them for bills or give them away.
  • Exchange all your money back to dollars when you leave. See Tip #1
  • The traveler’s check is fast becoming obsolete in favor of ATM’s. Leave yours at home.
  • If all else fails. Have someone back home wire you the money through Western Union etc.

Conclusion

Carrying travel money abroad can be a hassle. There is always the risk losing the cash. As pointed out though, there are various safe ways to carry and spend your money. Research the various alternatives and chose the best for the destination you are traveling to. Money may be the oil that greases your travel adventures, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Instead, your focus should be on enjoying yourself.

How do you keep your money safe while traveling? Let’s us know in the comments below.

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Weekly Roundup – How To Fund Traveling Around The World

You are a travel blogger or you want to take the plunge in discovering our beautiful but vast planet. The big question to ask yourself is; How will i fund traveling this amazing planet? Don’t worry anymore cause I’ll be sharing those tricks I do to fund all my travels hoping it will be beneficial to you too.

Advertising

Companies pay you to advertise their products or services on your website. These advertisements can take many forms, such as sidebar banner ads, or sponsored content where a company pays you to publish a post about them. While advertising on your site, be cautious though, you might be penalized by Google loosing all your income in a fraction of time.

Affiliate Sales

Whenever you share maybe a book or any other product, always include an affiliate link to those products because if someone clicks that link and goes ahead and buy that product, you make a certain percentage from that sale.

Photography

The world is big and beautiful with infinite number of amazing photos to be taken. Be the one to capture the beauty of a sunset at the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro or the migration of the world beast at Masaai Mara. Depending on the country you are visiting, there is a good chance that you will make a reasonable income by selling them to magazines or sell them online. Just master a few tips and tricks that will enable you make your photos much more marketable and fashionable.

Freelance Editing

There are many different types of freelance writing you can do, from writing travel related articles for other websites to newsletters and blogs for various companies. I’ve been doing this for a time now and it worthy all your effort.

Brand Partnership

Brand partnerships are longer-term projects with companies. There are many brands out there with fantastic products that you would be happy to work with on a long-term basis in exchange for compensation

Is there any tips I’ve omitted you feel should be on this list? Share it with us in the comments below

Amazing Reads of the Week

Things I Did in Riviera Maya besides Diving – Electric Travel Girl

27 Inspirational Projects & Quotes from WDS 2014 – Travel Junkette

11 Ways to Make Money When You Spend Money – Money Mini Blog

Monetizing Your Blog and Spotting Dodgy Advertisers – Mo Money Mo Houses

Summer Project: Moroccan and Bohemian Style Patio – Continental Fairy

What to do, see, eat in Rome? Tips from a local Roman! – Getting Stamped

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Things to Consider While Traveling With an Infant By Air.

Infant seating

If you are traveling with an infant, one of the most important considerations to take is the seat for an infant. The baby should sit upright with the seat belt fastened. If your child is too small to sit in a seat, then you should be sit where it is comfortable enough for your child, due to oxygen constrains.

Pack smart

Children always come with responsibilities. Whenever you are traveling with your child,its important to keep close watch to your kid once in a while. A plane attendant may help you to locate a room where you can change your infant’s diapers or clean it up. If your baby is over 6 months old, it is important to carry along food supplies or sips of water to keep them busy and also full 🙂 .Also you may need to request hot water or ice from the flight attendants to keep items cold or hot.

Also make sure to carry your laundry needs as it will always be needed at your destination.

Strollers

Children may be used to transported in a stroller. However some airlines may not permit you to carry a stroller as a carry-on baggage. If you have to carry a stroller, carry a small and a collapsible one to avoid problems with the airline authorities. Some airline authorities may give a free service while checking the strollers and also they can be made available during the plane connections.

Keep the baby in your mind mind

Adjust your mind and keep in it that you will make lots of little breaks along your journey. It is important that you let the baby to stretch, wiggle and maybe roll on a blanket. It is important that you arrive early at the airport to keep the baby set for the air travel.

Plan your seat ahead of time.

During reservations, its is important to let the agents know that there will be a baby on board. This may guarantee the child’s safety as there might exist some restriction to where the baby should be placed. It might be good if the baby is placed near the window to avoid blocking other passengers who might be passing by. It is usually noisy at the back of the plane, so it would be better if the baby is kept far front as possible.

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