Travel Tips

5 Must Have Apps For The Budget Traveler

Chances are, you have a smart phone! In fact you are probably reading this post on a smart device (or not :)). Smart devices have changed the way we consume information and made life a whole lot easier! Remember when you had to carry a suitcase full of books on you vacation? Gone. Nowadays you probably just pack your kindle, tablet, or smart phone, and with it more books than you can finish reading your entire holiday.

Each day apps keep coming up that simplify a different area of your life. From tackling your personal finances to finding your next meal. The apps – and your smart device – have got you covered. In that spirit then, let’s get you traveling smarter! The following five apps will transform the way you travel, for the better.

#1. Kayak

Kayak is a popular app that let’s you search and compare different flights. Not just that, you can search and compare hotels and other amenities as well. With Kayak you can sort the flights from the cheapest to the most expensive. Kayak also let’s you compare flights given their departure and arrival times. It has a simple, easy to navigate user interface. Its only downside is that you usually have to navigate outside the app to make any sort of bookings.

View and download Kayak here.

#2. TripIt

TripIt is a travel/trip planner in a class of its own! It allows you to organize all your travel details in one place. You know, all those disparate details and information you need for your trips. From flight departure times to bookings with rental car agencies and hotels, TripIt will organize it all for you. Easily plan your master itinerary with TripIt and view all details on a nice dashboard with the scheduled events and activities. You never miss a beat on your trip.

View and download TripIt here.

#3. AirBnB

Airbnb helps you find accommodation wherever you are traveling! From hotels to private residences you can enjoy on a budget, Airbnb has it all. You can search, compare and view pictures of the potential destination residences as well as book and pay for a staying place using Airbnb’s secure platform. With the app you can easily communicate with your potential hosts and ask questions about the residence. The app lets you view your itinerary and get directions to your host’s residence all on the go!

View and download AirBnb here.

#4. Skype

Skype requires no introduction! It let’s you easily communicate with friends, family and business partners all over the globe. It saves you the hassle of purchasing local sim cards and subscriptions by allowing you to make calls and text wherever you can get an internet connection. With Skype you can enjoy video and audio calls as well as file and photo sharing. Your family and friends are a Skype call away wherever your travels take you!

View and download Skype here.

#5. Expensify

Expensify is an expense tracker. With this app you can easily keep track of your expenses while traveling. Take pictures of your receipts and other expenses and expensify will do the rest. It is especially suited for frequent business travelers keeping tabs on business expenses. At the end of your trip, a free expense report is created which you can use to seek reimbursements.

View and download Expensify here.

Conclusion

Apps are a life and budget saver! With a few free travel apps you can transform the way you travel, from finding affordable flights and accommodations to keeping in touch with family and friends wherever you are. Get yourself some travel apps today. Your next trip will be a whole lot easier and pocket friendly!

Which apps do you frequently use when you travel?

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The 5 Joys Of Solo Travel

There is joy in solo travel. There is an unspoken pleasure in finding yourself again amidst a new culture. It teaches you something. You get back to your roots. To your essence. You don’t have your homely friends and family to rationalize it. You live it. You prepare for it, and you live each moment of it. Traveling with others certainly has its benefits. Solidifying family and friendship bonds for one, but there is also a case to be made for solo travel from time to time. Why you ask? I’ll give you 5 reasons why.

 

1) Painless Logistics

It’s just you on this journey. You only have to take what you require to survive and have fun on your journey. You can pack a tonne. You can also just pick up the essentials and go. You decide the time, place and nature of your travel. It’s pretty flexible. Whereas while traveling with others you have to keep their logistics and itineraries in mind and in your plans.

2) Flexible Itinerary

Ever wanted to take a detour to a place but couldn’t? Because you had it all planned out with family or your partner? Well, with solo travel you can take those plans and ignore them! Yes you can. You have the freedom to go wherever you want and follow what catches your imagination and fancy. Am not denying that it’s good to plan ahead of your trip, all am saying is that you can ignore those plans and still rock your travel time.

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3) Bucket List Item Crossed!

Take out your bucket list now and have a hard look at it. (If you don’t have one, it’s high time you made one 🙂 ) What do you see? A lot of places you want to travel to, right? What has been stopping you so far? Well, you will say you can’t go and leave your family behind, or your partner or your cute little dog. However, if you travel alone (from time to time), imagine all the places you’d cross off on that list. And let’s face it. Sometimes it’s difficult explaining to others why you need or have to go to a particular place. There is a good reason why that destination is on your bucket list. So take the time, travel alone.

4) The Maestro Global Citizen

Have you ever noticed how you stick together with your travel buddies on trips? Because they are known quantities. Because as humans we are tribal. Just look at the many pockets of “little nations” we have in America today. We just cocoon together! Solo travel changes all that! You don’t have anyone to cling to. You are forced to meet, greet and get to know folks in your host nation/destination. You make friends, you meet other interesting people on a similar journey. You learn about them, because you realize that your situation would be precarious without them. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn about different cultures and be a truly global citizen!

5) Get Lost

You are thinking, “Why in the world would I want to get lost in a strange place?” I’ll tell you why. So that you can find yourself. By “get lost” I mean two things:-

a) Get physically lost – which come to think of it, who ever gets lost these days with GPS enabled smart phones, right? Try it though, walk a day without your phone. Get lost. Meander into unknown places. I mean, what’s the joy in life if everything is known, right? Plus, while lost you get to ask for directions. Many a friendships have been started that way. (Yeah right, that argument is weak-ish, but try it anyway)

b) Get Spiritually lost. Am using the term “spiritually” very loose here. But I mean you get to pursue your passions while you solo travel. You can be anyone. You can re-invent yourself and your life on the road. It gives you a chance to nurture yourself, to “sharpen the saw” as Steve Covey puts it. To rediscover yourself and what stirs you.

Conclusion

It’s true. Happiness is real when shared. There is nothing stopping you from sharing that happiness with the people you meet on your travels. Solo travel affords you the opportunity to rediscover yourself, re-invent yourself, think deeply about stuff. And more often than not you come back re-energized, full of ideas and ready to tackle the world. So, don’t hesitate. Pack yourself a bag sometime soon and fly away or drive somewhere. You’ll be glad you did it!

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How To Plan Your Vacation Thinking Modestly About Money

The following is a guest post . If interested in submitting a guest post please read my guest post policy and then contact me.

Vacation is something that just about all people dream about. After all, who wouldn’t want to escape the day to day stresses associated with work, family, friends, bills, and so much more? The only issue is that…well, traveling can be expensive. But, what if I told you that you could have an extravagant vacation on a fairly modest budget? Well, you can! Here are a few tips to help you plan your next vacation while thinking modestly about money!

Tip #1: Plan To Use Rewards – We talk about rewards credit cards quite a bit here at Modest Money, and we do for a reason. The reality is that tens of thousands of people take free flights, get free hotel stays, car rentals, and more every year; using rewards credit cards! So, if you don’t already have one, think about applying for one that will help you to achieve your vacation goals! You may be surprised at how much help they prove to be!

Tip #2: Buy Your Tickets At GoEuro – There are tons of places to buy your transportation, whether it would be bus, train or plane. You can use a search engines such as GoEuro to make your transportation arrangements. If you shop around, you’ll quickly realize how much markup is placed on flight. The reality is, by getting your tickets from trustworthy sources that don’t spend millions of dollars a year on TV ads often times leads you to the best deal.

Tip #3: Plan The Free – That’s right, I typed out the word Free in a vacation article. The truth is that you really don’t have to pay for everything you do on vacation. For instance, let’s say that you’re going to take a vacation to a mountainous region of the world. If that’s the case, I can almost guarantee that you can have a blast for 2 or 3 days at least absolutely free. The activities could include hiking, rafting (Although it’s not free, you can get a raft at Wal-Mart for $30 before you go!), picnics and more! All you need to do is think of amazing things you could do where you’re going that don’t cost you a penny!

Tip #4: Plan In Advance – I’ve got a few friends that like to do things very spontaneously. When they travel, they pack, buy tickets, and go. They never really plan where they’re going to stay or what they’re going to do. By planning where you’re going to stay before you go, you can save a killing on your hotel room. By planning what you’re going to do in advance, you can budget around your activities and make sure you don’t spend too much. So, always remember to take a few hours to plan activities, hotel stays, and car rentals before you go.

Tip #5: Consider Travel Insurance – Anything can happen at any time. Unfortunately, if you’re traveling, and you don’t have insurance, if something gets lost or stolen, you’ll have to cut it as a loss. Fortunately, travel insurance is fairly cheap and can cover you against the risk of losing items while you’re gone.

Final Thoughts

Vacations really don’t have to be expensive. By planning your vacation properly, you can fly for a low cost, often times free; find great things to do that are low cost or free; and make sure that you stay on target with regard to your budget. So, what are you waiting for, start planning your next trip!

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Top 5 Summer Travel Tips (2014)

summer-travel-tips

It’s hot, it’s fuzzy, it’s summer time! And despite the heat waves, increase in gas prices, talk of a slump (and the dreaded recession), folks are relentless about enjoying their summer. They are gearing to tour scenic American and offshore destinations. Am sure you are too. A little sunshine, after all, goes a long way. And to make your summer even better and unforgettable, today we’ll explore some tips and well-utilized secrets that will turn your vacation from a drab, so-so experience to one you’ll be regaling your grand-kids with for a long time to come!

Let’s Rock Summer!

#1. Plan Ahead

While it may seem counterproductive to fun, planning gives you more flexibility in what you can do on your vacation. Through planning, you identify alternatives in case your initial plans don’t work out. Carefully plan your itinerary, accommodations and double check your reservations. Due to the large number of vacationers, your reservations might fall through the cracks. Additionally, check out traffic forecasts and plan your trip accordingly. If possible, travel earlier to beat rush-hour gridlocks.

#2. Safety First

Safety comes first. Your goal after all is not only to enjoy summer but also come back (in one piece) and tell-all (or some)! For starters, consider your physical safety. Summer is characterized by a blazing sun and excessive heat in some places. Carry your sunscreen at all times and apply generously especially when exposed to direct sunlight. Keep the sunburns at bay. Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare by investing in a pair of sun-glasses. Stay hydrated at all times.

If you are taking a road trip, invest in a first aid kit and emergency gear such as flashlights, jumper ropes, water and fire-extinguishers. Teach kids basic emergency tactics. Have an agreed upon place for them to go in case they get lost. Dress them in brightly colored clothes to make them easily identifiable. You should also include a contact card with your details in their pockets. It might seem like overkill, but when you consider the sheer number of people traveling in summer, anything can happen. Better safe than sorry!

#3. Save, Save, Save!

Yes, you can have an eventful summer vacation while sticking to a budget. Research and take advantage of package deals (for example those that offer flight and accommodation as a single package.) They are not only cheap but convenient, more so when traveling with family. Summer is also an opportune time to redeem your airline miles for flights and upgrades. However book early since this is the high season for most airlines. Employ smart driving tactics if you are taking a road trip. With gas prices almost hitting the $4 mark a gallon, you ought to get smart about driving.

#4. Pack Smart

You don’t want to over pack, neither should you under pack and be forced to spend more to buy necessary items. Take the time to pack smart. Take a top down approach, going through items you might need from head to toe. Items such as hats to shield you from the sun’s glare and sandals for strolling in the heat. Pack appropriate clothing for the weather your travel destination is experiencing. Summer is pretty wet in some regions. Moreover, keep in mind TSA guidelines if you plan on flying.

#5. Relax

Isn’t it obvious? And yet how often do you break this simple rule? This is not the time to drag dense manuscripts to the beach! It’s a time to kick back and relax. Enjoy the warm air, the breeze, swaying the trees. Live the moment, be in the moment. Take the time to play. How often do you do it anyway? Enjoy time with family, friends and fellow vacationers. Unwind in a way you haven’t done in a while. Ultimately, that’s what will make your summer unforgettable.

Photo Credit: Trey

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The Best Ways to Carry Money When Visiting Multiple Countries

While traveling in multiple countries, the first thing that comes in you mind is how you will go about spending while on your travel. Speaking of spending, you have to think of what you will will have to use to get yourself moving.

Money is very essential that  every traveler should give a thought when it comes to security. It becomes very sad when you lose your money to slick fingered pick-pocket  or some opportunistic thief.

When this happens especially overseas, it puts a big dent to the traveler trip, especially when you figure out the time you need to get access to more funds.

Travelers must make an option of how to carry their money, with security in mind, and also minding accessibility of your money and how you will go about paying for your goods and services. You don’t have to spend more time searching for that note in your pocket, or even go to a point of stripping all your clothes because you cannot  really tell where you last placed your wallet.

With all that in mind, lets have a look at the best ways to carry your money when traveling in multiple countries:

#1 Keep your money in your clothes

We can call this one favor in body storage. In this case you can uses your under-clothing accessories such as sick neck pouches and money belts. Other options include bra stashes, as well as long johns, underwear, and undershirts with built-in pockets for safe storage.

However, apart from the on-body accessories being more vulnerable to thievery, they are more useful since you don’t have to seek for a secure place to have access to you money.

#2 Withdraw Just enough for your use

Withdrawing or changing large amount of money means you will have to pay less for exchange fee. However, you may end up having a lot of local currency hence carrying more money that you would initially have at your home. As you go on packing your luggage, make sure you pack small amounts of bills and coins for purchases such as food and miscellaneous expenses.

#3 Carry theft proof bags

This one goes for backpacks, purses and travel purses.  This usually targets to slow down and maybe deter opportunistic pickpockets.  Backpacks which are reinforced with slash-proof fabric, locking zippers and steel-cable-reenforced shoulder straps are the best for the security of your luggage especially money..

#4 Trim your wallet

If you own multiple credit cards, it s very essential to carry a universal card in your wallet. This will not only make your traveling light but also makes you to have less to replace in case your wallet gets lost or stolen.

Reader Question:

What other ways do you think is applicable in carrying money while traveling in multiple countries?

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Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations In The U.S.

What are your plans this summer?

After the long brutal winter and the so-so spring, it’s time to paint the U.S Red (or Blue depending 🙂 ) And you are not alone. A recent survey by TripAdvisor shows that almost 89% of Americans are planning some travel this summer. Of those, more will be traveling within the U.S. Why is that you ask? The World Cup in Brazil, The Golden Jubilee in the U.K and the summer Olympics have pushed global airfares up (ruining the fun for lots of people!). No worries though, you don’t have to leave U.S to catch all the fun. In fact, this summer might be the one you pack in most of the fun right here on U.S. soil. Today we explore some of the best summer travel destinations that are pocket friendly and offer unforgettable experiences.

Wipe out the sulk on your face! Get out there, soak up some sun and unforgettable memories!

Here Are The Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations

#1. Grand Canyon, Arizona

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You have to see the Grand Canyon with your own eyes to believe it. It’s awe-inspiring! Located in the Northwest corner of Arizona, the Canyon is the perfect destination for your summer travel. Enjoy a view of the mile deep valley from the edges, or take a trail into the belly of the beast! The Bright Angel Trail is just one of the routes down the Canyon. It’s equipped with restrooms, water and shade making it perfect for the average hiker.

Additionally, you can enjoy a cool evening watching the sunset from the edge of the Canyon. It’s one experience that will forever transform your perspective of mother earth!

#2. Yosemite National Park, California

After temporary closure back in 2013 due to Government budget cut backs, Yosemite is back and running. Located in the Eastern portion of California, Yosemite offers 47,956 acres of pure fun and exploration. With spectacular granite cliffs, streams, waterfalls and a biodiversity unmatched in most National Parks. Take your camping and hiking gear and enjoy breathtaking trails in the meadows of Yosemite. A visit to this National Park isn’t complete without a visit to the Yosemite Falls, the fifth tallest in the World.

#3. Las Vegas, Nevada

Need I say more? 🙂 It’s always happening in Las Vegas! Recent drops in per capita gambling and gaming expenditure has seen Las Vegas scramble to attract a new crowd of tourists. This has seen the rise of budget accommodations and a variety of attractions that will rock your summer travel. From vibrant art hubs to adrenalin parked indoor skydiving, Las Vegas will give you an unforgettable time. And you can still indulge in a hand of Blackjack or roll the dice and try your summer luck! Don’t break the bank though, there are still more amazing places to visit!

#4. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Summer marked the birth of the new nation! What better way to celebrate and capture that than Mt Rushmore? Located in South Dakota, Mt. Rushmore is a sculpture of the nations founding fathers in granite! Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy? looking upon the nation. Enjoy a panoramic view from the Grand Terrace or take the Presidential trail to the base of the monument.

#5. Washington, D.C

 

The nation’s capital is steeped in history making it a nice summer travel destination. From the White House, to the Lincoln memorial, Washington D.C. has no shortage of fun, educative places to visit. Enjoy a picnic in the National Mall, almost 2 miles of park stretching from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. Take in the amazing views of the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials at night. They are beautifully lit and the crowds are smaller at night. Washington summers are often pretty hot, stay hydrated and close to your destinations.

#6. San Francisco, California

San Francisco enjoys cool, breezy summers with temperatures in the 70 degrees range. Enjoy relaxed picnics, walks along the beautiful streets. Take a bay cruise to Alcatraz, a maximum security prison that once housed mobster Al Capone. Stroll across the Golden Gate bridge and catch a sunset there. Tour the city by the famous cable cars, or even drive Lombard Street – “the crookedest street in the world “. It has some of the sharpest turns and an incredibly steep incline. You thought cars couldn’t fly, think again 🙂

#7. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana)

Founded in 1872 and shared by three states; Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, Yellowstone is a 2.2 million acres of forest and wilderness! It has over 300 geysers shooting hot boiling water into the sky. Cool, right. The best known is the Old Faithful, it shoots 8400 gallons of hot boiling water 150 feet in the air, every 90 minutes. Pack your picnic lunch, enjoy the view time and again. You can also camp or take early morning hikes and get to see animals as they go to water!

#8. Ocean City, MaryLand

Two words: Stunning Beach! Located in Worcester County Maryland, Ocean City is an Atlantic Resort town with a lot to offer for your summer travel. Meander the 3 mile Boardwalk beach. Sample treats long the way. Dip into the salty waters. Summer brings with it special concerts and bonfires that will make your stay in Ocean City and unforgettable one.

#9. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Located in the East Coast of the U.S in Horry County, South Carolina, Myrtle Beach an endless supply of fun budget activities to keep you and your family engaged this summer. Relax on the beach and soak up some sun. Attend open air concerts. Indulge yourself in a game of golf on the splendid golf courses. Mini golf is available too! Enjoy some fireworks over Lake Broadway every Tuesday and most Friday’s all summer long!

#10. Orlando, Florida

Famed for its exquisite theme parks, Orlando Florida has distinguished itself as a major summer travel destination among North Americans. Located in Central Florida, Orlando has something for every traveler. Take your kids to Disney World, Resort Universal, Seaworld Universal or a myriad other interesting themed parks. Enjoy a rich culture with street performances, open air concerts or take a day to relax at the spas. Your fun in Orlando is only limited by your imagination!

#Bonus: Cancun, Mexico

Why Cancun? I’ll tell you why. It’s one of the most searched for destinations this year according to TripAdvisor! Located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, Cancun is world renowned tourist destination for its splendid beaches and clear, sparkly blue waters (well, among other…uuummm…things)! Tour the Cancum Underwater Museum, swim with the dolphins and enjoy the vibrant Cancum nightlife.

Conclusion

You don’t have to break the bank to have an unforgettable summer. There are remarkable destinations a flight or drive away that will spice up your summer. Get out there, soak up some sun and have fun!

What are your plans this summer? Where have you visited or planning to visit?

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