Making the Most of Rome, Italy

Colosseum

I think we left part of our hearts in Rome. We kind of went in not expecting to love the big city. But Rome is so different, especially old town Rome, which is where you want to be anyways.

We stayed in an AirBnB, very close to the Pantheon.  Just outside was a Piazza and we would watch it go from a farmers market in the morning to restaurants at night. There was always something to watch in our little Piazza. It just made the whole experience that much more charming.

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Amsterdam

Dancing House Amsterdam

Dancing House Amsterdam

The biggest reason we chose to go to Amsterdam was the direct flight from Portland, OR to Amsterdam. Once you are in Amsterdam you must look around, right?

Here are a few things you need to know about Amsterdam if you are maybe uneasy about traveling to a foreign country. [Read more…]

How To Get To the Front of the Plane

Sitting in the front of the plane

Who doesn’t love sitting up front when you fly? Yeah, every single one of us.  One of the best things about collecting miles and points is you have the option to take advantage of the best class of service when you want to.  You get to enjoy the best of the best, all without spending a dime.

Something I recently discovered is there are a lot of opportunities for purchasing business and first class tickets for little more (sometimes even less!) than economy tickets.  I’m not talking about crazy expensive, fully refundable, overpriced economy fares, but normal priced ones we would all consider if we needed to fly somewhere on our own dime.

Amy and I recently took advantage of one of these opportunities, booking first class on Delta for both of us for $25 less than economy on the cheapest airline we could find (at the time it was Southwest).  We took advantage of a companion coupon we had on Delta.

One of the key resources that has gotten me thinking outside the box when it comes to purchased, as well as award airfare, is First Class Flyer.  This monthly newsletter details lots of ways to purchase cheap business and first class airfare, along with ways to maximize your miles and point redemptions for the best seats on the plane.

In the spirit of the holidays, we are going to give away THREE 12-week subscriptions to First Class Flyer.  One of the coolest things is you’ll have access to the entire archive of past FCF newsletters during the 3 months.  If you put in some reading time, you’ll learn a TON about getting to the front of the plane.

To enter, all you need to do is (Do one or all, each one will get you an entry)

Giveaway closes on Saturday, December 20th at midnight (pacific time)  and winner will be announced Sunday. CLOSED

Not Your Typical San Antonio Travel Tips

San antonio travel tips

Google what to do in San Antonio and you will get a list of ideas. Places to see, where to walk, what to enjoy and just maybe, how to get there. But what about all the great places that the locals enjoy in their city? Where are those places and are they just as fun as the tourist spots? What is the easiest way to get around if you don’t have a car so you can take in those hidden gems. Don’t worry, I have answers for you.

Let’s at least start with a few of the obvious reasons of why we went to San Antonio, then I will get into the stuff that will really help you get around and enjoy your time.
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9 Reason to See Crater Lake National Park Oregon

Yes! Crater Lake really is that blue

Yes! Crater Lake really is that blue

I’m embarrassed to say I have lived in Oregon most of my life and I had never been to Crater Lake. I had flown over it and thought it looked beautiful, but I had never driven to it and looked at it in all it’s glory. I will also be honest and say it wasn’t even on my radar as a place to visit, just a thought in the back of my head.

Then everything changed… [Read more…]

Prague

Prague at Night never gets old

I could wander the streets of Prague all night long. So incredibly beautiful.

I had very fond memories of Prague from 20 years ago. We had actually been twice and each time was quite the adventure. Think small winding streets with no GPS. Finding the place you had rented, from a shack about 20-40 minutes out of town, was not as easy to find as one might think. One time we got there after dark and trying to read a map and maneuver the streets took us over an hour to find our room. This time was much easier.

I was so eager to get back and experience it all over again, except this time…in Spring. We really did do all the touristy things, but I loved it.

Things to do in Prague: [Read more…]

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Beautiful Rothenburg Germany

Beautiful Rothenburg Germany

Out of all the places we visited on our Central European Driving Vacation this was our favorite place. I know kind of crazy that we would choose a small, very small, town over some of the beautiful big cities we encountered, but the slower pace won us over. Like many places on this trip, this was not our first time visiting this city. When we lived in Germany this was one of those places we would take friends when they came from the states because it’s that fabulous. One thing we had never done was [Read more…]

12 Things To Do In Astoria

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon

We drove down from Long Beach, Washington and arrived in Astoria on a Sunday and their Farmers Market was going on. We wandered through and decided to just stop and grab a bite to eat while we waited for our room to open up. We started with lunch at Clemente’s, which was fabulous. [Read more…]

How to Road Trip Across Central Europe

 

Road Trip Across Central Europe3

We started in Germany and made our way through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Czech and finally back into Germany. Here’s how we did it.

We started by planning all our hotels out in advance. It takes away some of your flexibility, but traveling with 10 people can be a bit over whelming to hotels. Not only that, it took us up to an hour to find a place we all wanted to eat, I can’t imagine having to waste time trying to find a place to sleep at the end of every day. Planning ahead was a good thing.

We drove through Switzerland. We heard it was crazy expensive, so staying there was out of the question. We did stop in Zurich. We really had no idea where we were going, but I had downloaded Pocket Earth on my iPhone. It gives me maps that I can use offline. I found Altstadt (old town) Zurich [Read more…]

9 Ways to Save Money While Vacationing

traveling-deals

This is a tough one.  We try really hard to have saved enough money that we don’t have to skimp while on vacation.  But, I would rather choose to skimp if it meant at least taking a vacation.

  • Plan your meals – Have it all worked out.  Know what meals you will buy and what meals you will take and what meals you will make.  Food is a big factor and fast food is cheap, but sometimes just not an option, so have a plan in place.  We usually try and pack snacks, eat light lunch then hit a nice local restaurant for dinner.
  • Plan your stay – Some places offer a free night if you stay for 3.  Check and see what deals are being offered and ask if you see nothing.  Stay in a place that is close to what you are doing.  Sometimes the places can be close enough you don’t even have to use a car.  Saving on car rentals or just gas. Also check and see if you can park your car for free.
  • Decide on souvenir purchases ahead of time – I have seen a couple of moms that bought cheap Mickey ears or t-shirts before going on their Disney trip and pulled them out of the suitcases when they got there.  Brilliant!!  If you decide to buy on your trip give your kids a budget.  Here’s a great example of how to set a budget.
  • Plan a destination that is not touristy – Want to keep from spending money aimlessly the whole time, go to beautiful Montana and take in the sights and enjoy the outdoors.  Hit beaches outside of big cities and just enjoy the sand beneath your feet.  You get the idea.
  • Don’t feel like you need movement every single minute – If you spend the day out and about, be ok with sitting in the hotel resting in the evening.  Don’t feel like you need to pay for the whole family to go to a movie.  It’s a vacation just relax.
  • Go to a Mexico all inclusive resort – I have a hard time spending money at these places because all your needs are met and paid for.  Sometimes we will leave for a meal, but what’s the point.
  • Don’t give up your money – I think cruise ships are the worst, but there are ways to stay frugal while on a cruise.
  • Going to Grandmas house on the farm is a vacation – especially if this is the opposite of the life you live in the big city.  Sometimes it just nice to get away for a few days.  I personally love leaving town and heading to the country where I grew up. In a town of 150 people you don’t tend to spend a lot.
  • Every city offers something free – Do your homework ahead of time and find free things to do.  Sometimes cities aren’t all about shopping and eating.  Sometimes just wandering the streets or the gardens they have is more enjoyable and that’s really getting to know the city.
  • Do your homework – Go into any trip with a plan.  Have your budget and stick to it.

What other ways do you stay frugal while on vacation?