Tag Archives: Trip

Your Local Museum Can Get You Into Others for Free When You Travel

Your Local Museum Can Get You Into Others for Free When You Travel

Tourist passes can save you money when you travel and want to visit local museums, but so can your membership to your local museum. Check with your museum, or the museums you want to visit, to see if your local membership will get you in abroad for free.

Many museums have partnership programs with similar museums in other cities. That means your membership at home will get you in for free or a discounted price while you’re on vacation.

A few examples are the Association of Science-Technology Centers passport program, de Young art museum’s reciprocal membership program, The Met’s partnership program, and the North American Reciprocal Museum Association. If you’re curious, contact your museum’s member services department, or check their site for member benefits—they’re probably listed there if there are partner museums. You can also visit the web site of the museum you want to visit to see if they list partner memberships. You’ll only spend a few minutes checking, but it could save quite a bit of your travel budget.

6 Easy Ways to Get Free Museum Admission | Travel+Leisure

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The Countries Where Your Vacation Dollars Will Go Farthest

The Countries Where Your Vacation Dollars Will Go Farthest

Stretching your vacation budget by finding cheap places to travel is great, but if you have a particular spot in mind, this index shows you how to figure out when’s the right time to visit to get the most for your dollars.

While this index is most helpful the sooner you use it (since the rates considered will likely change over time,) you can still use these two factors to figure out when your destination will be more affordable. Here’s what Vox used to calculate this index, and you can, too.

To answer this question, we combine two different pieces of data: the change in the exchange rate and the local inflation rate. For example, right now, one US dollar will buy about 14.2 South African rand — 18 percent more than the 12 rand you could get in April 2015. But the inflation rate in South Africa has been about 6.6 percent, so today’s rand won’t go quite as far as it would have a year ago. But even adjusting for inflation, a dollar will buy 10.7 percent more goods in South African than it would have a year ago.

Your goal is to use this index to find out if the country you want to visit is a good deal now, not to choose a destination. If you don’t have a particular country in mind though, it might help you pick one. Hit the link below for the full list.

The Vox Vacation Index: Let Economics Help Plan Your Summer Vacation | Vox

This Index Helps You Plan a Backpacking Trip Through Asia

This Index Helps You Plan a Backpacking Trip Through Asia

Many countries in Asia are inexpensive to travel through, but if you’re on a tight budget, comparing even cheap options can get you more from your trip. This price index of 31 cities throughout Asia will help you decide which destinations are within your price range.

Of course, price is just one factor when planning a trip, but this index is a good place to start when comparing your options. Southeast Asia dominates the list since travel costs there are lower than other parts of Asia, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a specific country or location. Even if you don’t want to go the specific cities on the list, it’ll give you an idea what various regions will cost to travel through. Here’s the criteria Price of Travel looked at:

  • One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews, or half the price of a double hotel room in places where there are no hostels
  • Two public transportation rides per day
  • One paid/famous attraction per day (Every city is loaded with free things to do for budget-conscious travelers, but here we take the average cost of a major attraction in each city for each day.)
  • Three “budget” meals per day (We took our minimum meal price and added 20% to make it more realistic for a longer trip.)
  • Three cheap, local beers (or two large beers) each day as an “entertainment fund.” Non-drinkers might have dessert and coffee or attend a local music performance instead, so this is a general benchmark that should be proportional for each city.

This is the same criteria they used for their European backpacker index, so check that out if you want to see how the two popular backpacking locales compare.

31 Asian Cities by Price: Backpacker Index for 2016 | Price of Travel

This Index Helps You Plan Your Dream European Backpacking Trip

This Index Helps You Plan Your Dream European Backpacking Trip

Backpacking is an inexpensive way to travel to multiple spots in one trip and stretch your travel budget. This price index of 56 European cities will help you figure out which stops fit your interests and your budget.

http://wayfarer.lifehacker.com/prepare-for-tr…

Price is only one factor to consider when planning your backpacking adventure, but it gives you a good idea of which cities will be more expensive for someone hiking or taking transit through town. Here’s the criteria Price of Travel used to evaluate each city:

  • One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews
  • Two public transportation rides per day
  • One paid/famous attraction per day (Every city is loaded with free things to do for budget-conscious travelers, but here we take the average cost of a major attraction in each city for each day.)
  • Three “budget” meals per day (We took our minimum meal price and added 20% to make it more realistic for a longer trip).
  • Three cheap, local beers (or wine) each day as an “entertainment fund.” Non-drinkers might have dessert and coffee or attend a local music performance instead, so this is a general benchmark that should be proportional for each city.

Unsurprisingly, the top ten spots are dominated by Eastern European cities, but even if you don’t want to go to that part of Europe, you can still use this index to compare options in the regions you do want to visit.

56 European Cities by Price: Europe Backpacker Index for 2016 | Price of Travel

What to Consider When Choosing a Vacation Bus Tour

What to Consider When Choosing a Vacation Bus Tour

Bus tours can be a great way to sightsee without having to arrange your own transportation and accommodations. Here’s what to consider before booking to make sure you get the right experience for your money.

You don’t want to go with a tour just because it is billed as popular. Many people book the tour before they realize what the experience will actually be like. Obviously, you’ll want to think about size and price, but you should also keep these things in mind too:

  • Itinerary: Some tours will have itineraries packed with more sites than others. Think about how long you want to spend at each site and make sure any of your must-see sites will actually be visited on the tour. The longer you want to spend, the less sites your tour company should visit each day.
  • How the guide is paid: Guides who are salaried don’t rely on commission so they take you to the best spots, not just the ones giving them kickbacks.
  • Intended audience: Consider who the tour company is creating the tour for. If it is a more family friendly tour, you’d have to deal with tons of kids on the bus and tours as well as some activities or sites geared towards them.

For example, if I were traveling solo, I’d look for a tour that caters to other solo travelers so it would be easier to meet new people. I’d also want to spend a long time at each spot, so I would pick a tour with a less crowded itinerary, maybe even one that stays in fewer places for more days. For more details on each of the above areas, and specific tour company recommendations, hit the link below.

Comparing Bus Tours | Rick Steves

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What to Look for in a Local “Fixer” When You Travel

What to Look for in a Local “Fixer” When You Travel

Personal guides, or local fixers who can guide you one-on-one or in small groups aren’t always cheap, but can enrich your travel experience and can get you behind the scenes access. If you work with one, you want to get your money’s worth. Here is what to look for to make sure you do.

http://lifehacker.com/when-its-worth…

When searching for the right fixer, create a list of qualities are most important to you. Travel writer Brook Wilkinson has some suggestions to get your list started:

  • They can help you skip long lines. They can do this in a number of ways, pre-buying the tickets, having guide or group passes, or just knowing the right person. However they do it, ask them before booking to make sure you won’t end up paying to stand in line with them. Also make sure they can access any site you want to see. Some sites require certain guide licenses and you want a guide with those licenses.
  • They’re knowledgeable in the areas you care about. They won’t know everything, but they should at least be an expert in the areas you’re interested in. For example, if you plan to visit a lot of art museums, you want a guide who knows about art and art history.
  • They take you to excellent restaurants and shops, not just the ones giving them kickbacks. For a truly authentic experience, you want to dine and shop in good, local, authentic places without worrying that you’re missing out on something better just because your fixer had their wallet in mind over the service you hired them for.

If you can’t find this information on their site or by talking to them directly, search for reviews for the local you’re considering. You can also ask to speak to some of their previous customers, although they may feed you only positive reviews. But, you shouldn’t have any issue finding reviews on good guides. If you do, then maybe they’re not a good choice.

Make Sure Your Private Guide Can Do These Six Things | Wendy Perrin

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The National Park Service’s Itinerary Index Is Perfect Inspiration for Your Next Trip

The National Park Service’s Itinerary Index Is Perfect Inspiration for Your Next Trip

A road trip is a great way to see a lot in one vacation, but figuring out where to go isn’t easy. The National Park Service has a ton of great itineraries that can offer inspiration and suggested destinations.

http://lifehacker.com/5992643/everyt…

You can filter the itineraries by region or state if you want to stick to a certain area. Here are a few great ones from the list:

  • American Latino Heritage: Sites are listed by state so you can plan a route that stops at the ones you’re most interested in.
  • Route 66: Includes sites between where the road starts near Chicago and where it ends near Los Angeles.
  • Aboard the Underground Railroad: Historic sites related to the Underground Railroad, again sorted by state.
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition: The sites in this itinerary are listed chronologically based on when they were part of the expedition (before, during, after).

Even if you don’t follow their itineraries exactly, you can use them to get theme ideas or to just find a couple spots to visit. For a full list of the National Park Service’s itineraries, hit the link below.

Travel Itineraries Index | National Park Service


Avoid “Independent” ATMs When Withdrawing Cash Abroad

Avoid “Independent” ATMs When Withdrawing Cash Abroad

Here at home, an independent ATM may mean lower fees and convenient cash, but abroad they can mean trouble. If you don’t need cash immediately, stick to ATMs inside or attached to banks to avoid currency conversion and other astronomical fees.

So how do you tell the difference between a good ATM and a bad one when you don’t know the bank names or brands around you? Rick Steves explains how to tell the difference:

Most bank ATMs in Europe don’t charge a usage fee, but stay away from “independent” ATMs, which have high fees and may try to trick users with “dynamic currency conversion.” These ATMs (labeled with names such as Travelex, Euronet, Moneybox, Cardpoint, and Cashzone) are often found next to bank ATMs in the hope that travelers will be too confused to notice the difference.

If you’re traveling to somewhere not in Europe, do a quick search before you go to find out the common names used in your destination for these types of ATMs. Beyond avoiding high fees, using the banks’ ATMs also means you’re less subject to scammers and can go inside the bank to ask for help if the ATM gives you any issues.

Tips on Using ATMs in Europe | Rick Steves

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The Best Time to Book a Campsite Is Six Months in Advance

The Best Time to Book a Campsite Is Six Months in Advance

You probably know you need to reserve a campsite if you want to visit a popular park or specific site, especially during summer’s busy season. What you may not realize is that you can book the site you want months in advance, whether you think your vacation plans will pan out or not.

http://lifehacker.com/reserve-americ…

Recreation.gov mentions that in general you can make reservations six months in advance, except for Yosemite National Park, which takes reservations in windows due to high demand. So if you want to go on a camping trip to a popular site or during a high demand time (like July 4th or Labor Day weekend), book as soon as reservations open. Sites like previously mentioned Reserve America and old favorite FreeCampsites.net can help You should still book ASAP even if you don’t have details like who you’ll go with and how long you’ll stay figured out, because you’ll have months to sift through the details, and by then, it would otherwise be too late.

http://lifehacker.com/freecampsites-…

FAQs – Reservation Information | Recreation.gov

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The Government’s Automated Passport Control Program Wants to Get You Through Customs Faster

Standing in a long customs line is an annoying way to end a vacation, but if you have a U.S. or Canadian passport and you’re coming home, you can get through faster by using the Automated Passport Control program.

Beyond those with a U.S. or Canadian passport, if you’re from one of the Visa Waiver Program countries, you can also use the Automated Passport Control (APC) program. You must be approved for Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA) and have visited the U.S. before after 2008. You and any family members traveling with you can all use one kiosk together.

You’ll answer the same questions that are in the Customs Declaration Form, scan your passport and fingerprints (if you qualify), confirm your flight number, and take a photo. The machine will print you a receipt, which you’ll show (along with your passport) to an officer at the check-out point. For a full walk-through of how the APC works, check out the video above from the Orlando Airport Authority.

You run the same risk as any automated machine: the person in front of you not knowing how to use it. But as someone who has stood in their fair share of very slowly moving customs lines, the risk in this case is pretty low since the customs line isn’t likely to be much faster.

You can find the APC kiosks at most major airports including LAX, IAD, SFO, JFK, BOS, and ORD. There are even a few international ones on the list like Dublin, Toronto, and Abu Dhabi. See if your airport is on the list at the link below.

Automated Passport Control