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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Travel Blogger Interview – MonkBoughtLunch

Stephen is the authors of Budget Travel and Photography blogs MonkBoughtLunch and Stephen Lioy. He quieted teaching job to travel the world. He have been all over Asia, North America, Europe, and the Middle East. You can follow Stephen on twitter, facebook or Google plus.

Tell our readers a little bit about who you are….

I’m a traveler, photographer, budget travel blogger, an several other –er’s who has been on the road for about six years exploring the world under various different titles. I graduated college in the US in 2008, moved to China for a one-year stint to teach English as a Second Language, and from there went down a path that hasn’t ended yet.

What led to quitting your job to travel full time?

I never really had a ‘proper job’ in the US before leaving. My first job out of school was as an ESL teacher in Shenzhen (China), and the schedule allowed for lots of opportunities to travel through China and Southeast Asia. At some point, intending to go to law school back in the US, I decided to opt out of the job and focus on travel for a while. Law school never quite happened, but the travel is an ongoing thing!

What is it about Asia that has kept it the primary focus of your travels?

The vastness, the diversity and the color. As a photographer, there is just so much beauty spread across Asia that I think I could travel here for the rest of my life and never see more than a few small corners of it. As a budget traveler, I love that it isn’t hard to travel fairly comfortably without spending a ton of money.

What is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?

Kyrgyzstan keeps drawing me back in, to the point that I’ve actually started looking for a part-time job in the capital city (Bishkek) in order to sort out a residence permit and stick around for a while. The mountains are amazing for hiking and camping, the people are incredibly friendly, and the cultural is sufficiently ‘exotic’ to me that it never gets boring. Uzbekistan is also great for travelers, though I’m not certain I would want to settle there for any length of time.

Are there any places that you regret visiting?

I’m hesitant to say there are places I ‘regret’ but there are certainly places I’m not in a hurry to get back to. One of my least favorite experiences ever has been Azerbaijan, but then I’ve also talked to other travelers that passed through there and really loved it. The thing is, these things are very personal and very context dependent – so even if somebody tells you a place is horrible make sure to give it your own consideration!

What places are still on your bucket list?

So many! Bhutan, India, and Bangladesh are very appealing to me as well as perhaps North Korea. Russia interests me a lot, as does Iran. I’ve also never made it to South America at all and have only been to Egypt in Africa. So, there are a lot of roads left to walk down. If the situation remains calm there after the ISF leaves, I’d really like to check out the Afghan side of the Wakhan Corridor in the next year or two to compare it to life on the Tajikistan side of the border.

I noticed you mention budget travel on your about page. What are the most effective ways you limit costs when traveling?

More than any specific secret, I think the best strategy is just to be conscious of where your money goes. I’m pretty good about tracking my travel expenses while I’m on the road, which helps me keep an eye on how much I’m spending. It can be easy to spend $3 and $5 there, and all of a sudden you’re spending $200 a day in a place that could easily be enjoyed for $50. The other best tip is what you guys talk about a lot on Airline Miles Experts: learn how to get the most value out of Points and Miles programs, and then exploit those as much as possible.

Are there any budget travel strategies that you tried but decided weren’t for you?

You know, I really love Couchsurfing as an experiential thing but as a budget travel strategy I usually don’t enjoy it. If I try to surf because I don’t want to spend the money for accommodation, it seems to negatively impact me experience in a place and my interactions with my host.

What’s your experience with airline miles credit cards?

Quite a bit over the last few years. I’ve earned and burned quite a lot of Continential/United; as well as some small interactions with AA, Delta, and Alaska. I currently hold cards with Alaska and US Airways, as well as the gold standard Sapphire Preferred. I think that with responsible management of spending and a solid strategy on how to spend the points Airline and Hotel cards can be an amazing way to travel for cheap or free – these two things are normally your biggest set costs after all!

What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received?

Slow down, pack less, listen more. Solid advice, whether for travel or life.

What led you to start your blog?

Originally I had a page that I would update occasionally to keep family up to date on life in China while I was teaching there. Once I decided to leave there and travel full time, it seemed worthwhile to create my own page (MonkBoughtLunch) to have more control over the layout and management. It sort of progressed from there to become what it is today, though I’m hoping to spend some time updating the design over the next few months to make it a bit more enjoyable to interact with. So, check back in over the next few weeks and see if you like the changes!

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Four Reasons to Purchase a Leather Bag for Your New Job

Did you just get a new job? Congratulations. This is an exciting time in your life. Although you are probably just focusing on showing up to work on time and getting the job done correcting, it is important to fine-tune your image before you show up. Presentation is half the battle in the workplace. When you show up looking presentable, you will make the transition to a new job that much easier. One accessory to invest in is a leather bag. You can choose a simple briefcase or consider something more fashionable like a leather attaché case for women. Regardless of the style, the bag will help you succeed for the following four reasons.

 1 – You Will Look Like You Care

When you show up to work with work related accessories, you look like you care. Sure you can bring a typical purse or nothing at all. However, a leather briefcase or a laptop case indicates that you are serious about performing well on the job. These accessories also enable you to have a more professional image when you are walking into the office. First impressions are everything. You will make a great one with the right bag in hand.

 2 – Easier Time Transporting Work to and From the Office

At most jobs, people have to work from home or on the road. When this happens, they need a functional bag that allows them to transport their work. A basic purse will not do the job, nor will a suitcase. Instead, women will need a suitable briefcase that looks feminine and appropriate. Men will need a bag that protects their laptop and other belongings. When they have this bag, life is easy on the go.

 3 – Protect Your Work Life

Another reason to use a leather bag at work is because it can help your protect your actual work life. For example, if you have documents that you need to transport to a client, a briefcase will protect them from damage. Laptop cases and tablet covers also protect portable devices as you transport them to and from the offices. These devices probably have important work documents on them. They are also needed to get your work done. With a cover, you can ensure that you can use them when you need to.

 4 – Longer Lifespan

Leather bags also have a longer lifespan than traditional bags. This way you will not need to invest in a new briefcase in a few months. Instead, you can have the bag for the duration of your job. You might simply decide to purchase a new briefcase because you need a change. However, as you use the bag, you will appreciate the durability of the bag. It will hold up to various weather conditions, heavy objects, and other abuse. The durability is probably one of the main reasons people prefer leather to other fabrics. Leather is also easier to clean, and it has been known to look better as it ages.

Before you head to your new job, consider investing in a great leather bag. These are just four reasons why it is worth the investment. You will be glad you invested in your new career.

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Your Favorite Places You’ve Visited and Why?

Today we’ll be starting a new series on Airline Miles Experts. In this series we’ll be asking some of our favorite bloggers their opinion or advice on a specific question. This way instead of just getting our thoughts on the topic, you can read a diverse range of views from some great bloggers.

If you’re a travel blogger and would like to take part in this series in the future, please contact us.

This week the question we asked bloggers was:

Of all the places you have visited, what is your all time favorite and why?

Stephen Lioy at MonkBoughtLunch

I really really love Hong Kong. It has literally everything I want in a city, and a whole lot besides. There are beautiful hiking trails and awesome beaches to get out and enjoy nature a bit, but at the same time you can get back to town in time to have a nice dinner out at a fancy restaurant or grab a drink in Wan Chai. The fact that it ALSO serves as a huge flight hub for both traditional alliance carrier and Asian LCCs means you can get to anywhere in the world without too many hassles.

Audrey Bergner at That Back Packer

It’s hard to choose favourites, but my recent trip to Prague completely blew me away! The first thing that struck me about this city was its beauty; picture Art Nouveau and Baroque facades painted in cheerful pastel colours. The average European city will have a charming Old Town Square while the rest of the city has a decidedly modern feel, however, in Prague even the residential areas further removed from the city centre had plenty of beauty to boast. I also liked that Prague had a mixture of historical sites (like castles and ancient fortifications) alongside fun activities (like room escape games and absinthe bars). This is a city I’d be happy to revisit.

Norbert Figueroa at Globo Treks

Thailand. It is the first country I backpacked solo, so it holds a special place in my heart. In addition, Thailand is a great country by itself. It offers everything from budget to luxury, adventures and culture, mountains and gorgeous beaches, and everything in between. I think it is a great place to start traveling if you’re curious about visiting Asia.

Auston Matta at Two Bad Tourists

David and I traveled to Madrid in June 2012. We immediately fell in love with the culture and our desire to learn Spanish really made it one of our favorite places we visited on our round the world trip. And even though we were applying for a long term French Visa when we decided to move to Europe, we quickly made Madrid our home over France. We love the pace of life, the energy of the people, the weather and the location, making it perfect to travel easily across Europe and beyond.

Jan Ross at Wanderlust Wonder

The Hawaiian Islands, without a doubt. The islands are a great vacation destination for families, couples, and groups of friends because they are so versatile and offer such a variety of activities for all ages and all types of adventure. Each of the islands is unique and travelers should make an effort to check out what each to offer. Our favorite activity in all of our many travels was flying in a helicopter over the active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Jacob and Vanessa at Cash Cow Couple

My family took a vacation every year when I was young. We never went back to the same place, because we always experienced everything the destination had to offer. Although I loved exploring new places, I always begged my mom to plan another road trip to Maine. When I was 14 we drove there from Missouri, and we stopped at destinations, bed and breakfast inns, and mom and pop restaurants along the way.
On the way to our way to our destination of Bar Harbor, Maine, over 24+ hours away, we stopped at Hershey Park and Niagara Falls before arriving in Maine. Once we were in Maine, we kayaked, went on whale watches, puffin tours, lighthouse tours, and ate the best seafood I’ve ever experienced.
This trip not only stood out because everything we did was fun, thanks to my mom’s meticulous research methods, but also because of the execution strategy of the road trip. A lot of people would have driven 24 hours in 2 days to get to their destination in Maine. But my family did it differently. What made it so memorable and enjoyable is that we truly took joy in getting there. Some of our mini destinations were a little out of the way, but that was ok. Most of the fun was getting there.
I’ve carried the memories of this trip with me throughout my lifetime, and I believe the same execution strategy should be applied to one’s life. Don’t be so focused on your destination that you miss out on the joys of getting there. That’s where the true memories lie, and what you’ll look back on as the best moments of your life.

Susan Shain at Travel Junkette

This is always the hardest question to answer! I’ll give you three: Italy for the oh-so-amazing food and wine, Colombia for the friendly people and vibrant culture, and Alaska for the gorgeous scenery and abundant wildlife.

April D. Thompson at The Absolute Travel Addict

That’s always a difficult question because I honestly have so many positive memories from every place I’ve visited. If I have to pick just 1, I’d go with South Africa. It was my first time on the African continent. It’s also the first place that I was able to spend an extended period of time as an adult exploring a foreign land somewhat on my own — from Durban to Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Umtata, through the Garden route and many more cities and townships in between. I was there for research, studying engineering education reform programs, visiting schools of all levels and learning about the history of the country. But what left the biggest impression (which is the case everywhere I go) were the people. And as cliche as it sounds, it truly felt like home.

This June, I had the opportunity to travel back to South Africa, specifically Durban. Nearly 9 years later, and yes, lots of things have changed, but my feelings being there hadn’t. It still felt like home. I look forward to returning again in the near future for a 3 month (or longer) stay.

Annette at Bucket List Journey

Traveling to Tanzania, Africa was one of my most memorable experiences because of how it changed my perception of such a foreign land. My prior knowledge of this continent had only been through magazines and television, so it was incredible to witness a portion of the land first hand.

During my time there, I was able to take a four day safari, go glamping in Serengeti, eat a traditional Ugali meal at a local restaurant, spend time at an orphanage in Arusha and visit the most amazing children in a private school.

I know you guys have traversed the globe. There is that place you felt in love with and you feel this is the favorite place you’ve ever been. Share with us in comment box below that place and the reason it’s your favorite.

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Money Saving Tips When on a vacation

While on vacation, many are the times we find ourselves in tight budget. However, you don’t have to break a bank to have that extra money.

With your budget, can can accommodate all your family needs and maybe be left with some extra bucks.

There are many ways you can handle you budget with and still be left with enough for your vacation.

Here are some of the easily attainable ways of saving money on your next vacation.

Save on Travel

1)Make your own reservations.

Make your reservations in advance. There are a lot of many hotels and airlines which offer discounts on online bookings. Doing a good research about the hotels and airlines can help you have a good list of variety of services you may want to get from them and compare the discounts being given.

2) Use a rental car.

It is fairly cheaper to consider renting a car rather than using the airport shuttle. This has an added advantage of having a flexible and available transportation. Renting a car is also cheaper as compared to using a personal car. It evades the extra wear and tear cost on your own car.

3) Carry light luggage.

Airlines are known to charge if you have two or more bags. Try to keep at most one bag per person. It can be great too if you all keep the bags packed up so as to minimize the number of bags being carried.

Save On Food

1) Make cooking for yourself fun.

Cooking while on family vacations can be a great fun.Considering the new experience of having yourself cooked meals  Though not many people do this while on vacation, it is a plus on your budget since you avoid paying for the same quality of food at that expensive restaurant .

2) Bring along individual refillable water bottles. 

As water is a basic need, we cannot avoid having some while on vacation for whatever use. It is much expensive to keep buying water from supermarkets, while you could have just carried some in a bottle which can be refilled from the available water fountains.

3) Have some meals away from the hotels.

There are high chances that there are other food joints near some hotels which are much cheaper. If you don’t mind a quick ride away, you can save several bucks and even enjoy a moment away from the hotel.

Save On Accommodation

1) Locate Vacation homes.

If you are traveling with your family for some days, its is advisable to stay in a vacational home rather than staying in a hotel all through. They will be probably cheaper, less expensive and more comfortable for your family.

2) Stay in a nearby towns

If you are going to a new country, consider staying in towns that are not far from the airport, could be a 15 minutes drive. This may tun to be relatively cheap.

3) Find friend living near your touring destination.

Friends or family members living near or at your travel destination can offer you cheap or free accommodation. So next time you are planning to go on vacation, look whether there might be someone you know living in that area.

Reader Question.

What other money saving tips do you use while on vocation? Please leave your reply on the comment box below.

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