Archive for October, 2013

100 Days Until Sochi!

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

0_129222827Yesterday marked 100 days until the city of Sochi, Russia will hold the XXII Olympic Games from February 7-23rd next year.

Team USA Celebrates 100 Days In NYC today!

Team USA’s Road to Sochi 100 Day Countdown event took place yesterday, Oct. 29th in Times Square. Approximately 40 Team USA hopefuls for the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (teams for each sport are named in January) participated in the celebratory countdown that turned Times Square into a mini Olympic village for one remarkable day.

About Host City Sochi

The host city Sochi is part of what is called the Russian Riviera located on the Black Sea coast. It has a population of 400,000 people and is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region in Russia. Unlike most Olympic Games, all the events will take place within 30 minutes of each other. Many people don’t realize that these events are often quite spread out to other surrounding cities making the venues often difficult to travel between.  There will be a coastal cluster for ice events in Sochi, and a mountain cluster for the snow events located in the Krasnaya Polyana Mountains.

0_107478903The Sochi Olympic Park is being built along the Black Sea coast, for the ice venues such as the Bolshoi Ice Palace, the Maly Ice Palace, the Olympic Oval, the Sochi Olympic Skating Centre, the Olympic Curling Centre, the Central Stadium, the Main Olympic Village and the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre, will be (all new!) for the 2014 Games. The mountain cluster in Krasnaya Polyana will be home to all the skiing and sliding sports. Again, getting between the coastal and the mountain venues is going to be very easy for these Olympic Games.

Where is the Olympic Torch?

I enjoy following the torch relays of the Olympic Games.  The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay began in Moscow on October 7th and will end, of course, at the Opening Ceremonies on February 7th carried around Russia by more than 14,000 Torchbearers.  In fact, just this weekend the torch reached the North Pole!

Learn more on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay here! 

 

 

 
 

 

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City of the Month: Where to Stay in Niagara Falls

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Niagara Falls is really a fun weekend getaway. It’s easy, it’s affordable, and you can even get a stamp in your passport!

There are many hotel options on both the US and Canadian sides of the Falls. You are guaranteed to find exactly what you are looking for from water park hotels to quaint B&Bs to casinos or a great view of the Falls. In my opinion, the best hotel options are all on the Canadian side of the Falls, because they offer the best views of the falls. So, if you are US citizens, then you will need your passports. To see all the area has to offer, check out Niagara Falls hotels on Hotels.com. Here are a few hotel recommendations to get you started.

Hotels Near Niagara Falls

For Romance

Both the Prince of Wales and Queen’s Landing Hotels are part of the Vintage Hotels Collection and are located in the historic Niagara-on-the-Lakes region. The luxurious Prince of Wales has been a treasured landmark since 1864. The hotel features its own spa and an indoor swimming pool If you aren’t staying there, at least stop by for afternoon tea and experience the Victorian elegance of this timeless hotel. It’s sister property, Queen’s Landing, is equally elegant and romantic. Both are nicely tucked away from the crowds of the falls

The Sterling Inn & Spa, also in Ontario, caters to couples and even provides complimentary breakfast in bed and free parking. Just three blocks from the Falls, this converted milk processing plant (you don’t see that every day) is as unique as it is charming.

Fall-tastic Views

Be close to all the action when you stay at the Marriott Niagara Fallsview Hotel & Spa

Located in Ontario, Canada. Be sure to book a Fallsview room if that is important to you. There is a premium fee on these rooms but most visitors say the breathtaking views are worth it. This hotel is also directly across from the new Niagara Falls Casino.

The Tower Hotel is a 42-room boutique hotel perched 500 feet about Niagara Gorge. The hotel was recently renovated in 2011 and features sweeping views of the falls and even has its own wedding chapel.

Family fun

Great Wolf Lodge, Ripley’s Waterpark Resort is just three miles from the falls and only 23 miles from Buffalo, NY. And although it may look like a child’s campsite paradise, this resort features an Aveda concept salon and spa, restaurants, even a conference center.

From one mom to another, the family suites can’t be beat.

Sheraton on the Falls is located directly across from the famed Rainbow Bridge. With more than 600 rooms, this hotel has room for you and your friends and offers amenities that everyone can enjoy. Plus, it is connected to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark. A winter visit to Niagara can even feel tropical when you escape inside this water oasis.

Have a great Niagara Falls travel tip to share? Tell us here on Travel Smart Blog!

And check out this awesome infographic courtesy of vintage-hotels.com/explore_niagara :

Niagara Activities

Niagara-on-the-Lake is located in the prettiest corner of one of Canada’s top tourist destinations – the Niagara Region. Here are a few recommendations to help you plan your getaway.

Top 5 things to do in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Top 5 Wine related activities in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Top 5 Art activities in Niagara

Top 5 Romantic Spots near Niagara-on-the-Lake

Top 5 Niagara-on-the-Lake outdoor activities

Top 5 Niagara area Golf Courses

Top 12 wineries near Niagara-on-the-Lake

Top 10 tourist attractions in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Top 10 Dates not to miss in Niagara on the Lake

Top 5 adventure activities in Niagara on the Lake

 

  • Niagara Falls
    A visit to the falls is never a disappointment. And with so many tourist attractions, the short, beautiful drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake is always worth it. Family friendly activities, exciting attractions and corny but fun museums await.
  • Jordan Village
    Situated amidst the wineries of the Niagara Escarpment, Jordan Village is brimming with things to do and see – culinary delights, galleries, fabulous shopping, antiques, history, award-winning wineries, hiking & biking paths.
  • St. Catharines + Port Dalhousie
    Filled with magnificent gardens, beautiful waterfront and over 1,000 acres of lush parkland. St. Catharines offers trails, fishing charters, cycling tours, sky diving, wind surfing, beaches, boating, marinas, sports fields, arenas, tobogganing, rowing, skating and cross country skiing venues. Visit the charming Lakeside Park Carousel, rides are only a nickel!
  • Grimsby
    The Art Festival on Nelles Boulevard in early September and Grimsby Art Gallery, lure hundreds of artists and craftspeople, and thousands of visitors from all over Ontario and the United States to view the work of some of Canada’s most outstanding artists.
  • Welland
    Visitors marvel at the area’s natural beauty as they enjoy any number of festivals, sporting events, and outdoor activities. Known officially as the Rose City, Welland is home to over 350 acres of fine parks and has one of the finest rose gardens in the country. It is also home to the Welland Recreational Canal — once part of the St. Lawrence Seaway System – and Merritt Island, an outdoor paradise nestled along the waterway.
 
 

 

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City of the Month: Niagara Falls Wanderlust

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

TSBCotM

Did you know that Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S?

How about that it was once the scene of one of the most famous battles of the War of 1812? And, did you know it was a pivotal stop on the Underground Railroad?

0_73070662For most visitors, the Falls are the big attraction but there is much to explore and learn in this historic park.

Old Fort Niagara, the longest operational fort in North America, features the oldest original buildings on the Great Lakes and is the place to teach the kids a little history. The fort played an important role in the struggles of France, Great Britain, and the United States to control the Great Lakes region. Especially in summer, there are battle demonstrations and living history programs, though the Fort is open all year. Come and learn about the Fort’s ghost at Halloween and celebrate the holidays with two special weekends in December.

There’s no match for the experience of standing under the thundering American Falls on the Hurricane Deck. You can do this on the Cave of the Winds tour and on the Maid of the Mist Boat Tour, which I mentioned in my post earlier this week. Then, you should grab lunch or dinner at the Top of the Falls Restaurant. There’s not a bad view in the place, with floor-to-ceiling views of the Falls from every table.

But the Falls are not the only game in town. The Niagara region of Ontario, Canada is also becoming renowned for its wines. 25 wineries are within a 20-minute drive north of the Falls. The Niagara Wine Trail showcases not only wine but the beautiful countryside. Niagara Falls is well known in Canada for its Icewine, a dessert wine made from grapes frozen on the vines. In fact, every January there is the Niagara Icewine Festival.

stk213274rkeNightlife

Nightlife options are aplenty on both the US and Canada sides of the Falls from local pubs to nightclubs for late night dancing. The legal drinking age in Canada is 19 and many of the nightclubs caters to the energy of this crowd. And for those who want to test their luck, casinos are located a little further down the road. Major casinos include the Casino Niagara and the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort in Ontario and the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel in New York.

Hotel recommendations for your visit to Niagara Falls are coming up tomorrow.

 

 

 

 
 

 

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City of the Month: Next Stop Niagara Falls

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

TSBCotM

 

 

 

 

Tourist Boat in Niagara FallsFrom Marilyn Monroe to Superman, to The Office wedding of Jim and Pam, Niagara Falls is an icon of romance and adventure. Located between two major urban areas: Toronto, Ontario, Canada to the north and Buffalo, New York, USA to the southwest, Niagara Falls is not actually one waterfall, but three.

More than eight million visitors flock to the falls each year. You’ll spend more money and face more crowds by visiting in the summer but you can take full advantage of the weather and attractions. Spring and fall see fewer tourists with colder weather. And the winter sees many attractions like the boat tours to shut down. My husband actually surprised me for a Valentine’s weekend of fun in Niagara and nearby Toronto. And even on the coldest day of the year (at that time), we had a blast taking the Journey Behind the Falls tour. And you will definitely need a passport and an additional photo ID if you want to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada or to participate in any of the attractions that originate on the Canadian side of the falls (like the Journey Behind the Falls tour).

Getting There

From US cities, I think flying into Buffalo Airport is the easiest and least expensive way to get to Niagara Falls. From the airport and depending on your trip plans, rent a car or take a shuttle to visit the falls.

Things to Do

It’s touristy for a reason! The Maid of the Mist boat tour is as good as it gets for that impressive, “as close as you can get”, experience seeing the American and Horseshoe Falls. These boat tours have been operating for more than 100 years.

stk211412rkeAnd if you are into how stuff works then be sure to visit The New York Power Authority free visitor center. See first-hand how the water from Niagara Falls generates enough electricity to power nearly two million households. Check out the view from the Power Vista’s Observation Deck 350 feet above the Niagara River Gorge. Kids will enjoy the hands-on activities.

Holidays in Niagara Falls

And, if you are looking for a haunted getaway to Niagara Falls, check out their spook-tacular Halloween happenings coming up this weekend. Plus, the Falls are lit up with lights for Christmas in Niagara Falls.

Later this week, read more about great spots to explore in and around Niagara Falls and the best hotels in the area, too.

 

 
 

 

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Travel Sticky Situation: Tips for Traveling with your Boss

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Businesswoman talking on cell phoneIt’s bound to happen. If you advance far enough in your career, you will likely take a business trip or two that includes your boss or even your boss’s boss. So what’s the protocol for traveling with your superiors? Here are a few tips to keep things smooth sailing when on the road with “el Jefe”.

Take Care of Yourself. If you are a woman traveling amongst men, don’t assume that the social courtesies made toward a woman on a date apply in business. Be prepared to hail your own taxi, pay the bills and the tips, carry your own luggage and open your own doors. Chivalry is not dead but it should not be expected on a business trip. And regardless of whether you are a man or woman, take responsibility for your travel arrangements, ground transportation, and meals to confidently get you through your trip. Unless your boss suggests meeting for breakfast, order room service or go down to the hotel restaurant and eat your cereal solo. (It’s a good idea to carry a few breakfast bars.)

Assume Nothing. If there’s any question over who is responsible for what on the logistics planning or agenda during the trip, don’t assume the answer, ask and be sure of your responsibilities. Some bosses expect their junior executives to take care of everything from arranging transportation, setting up meetings, and securing reservations for dinner. Other bosses prefer to take the lead and expect you to keep up.

Carry Cash. Stop by the ATM machine before you leave and make sure to carry cash (small bills) for easy tipping. Traveling internationally? Check the exchange rate before you leave. It may be best to grab the local currency from an ATM in your destination. Be sure that you do before you try to get in a taxi or take the train. Many taxis outside of New York City and Chicago are not credit card friendly. Don’t forget to get receipts! If you want to be reimbursed for those tips and cash-related business expenses then save those receipts for the end-of-trip expense report.

UPIMRF-00019855-001Pack Like a Pro. You don’t want to be the one responsible when presentation materials or a cable turns up missing. In fact, impress them all and make sure you have an extra phone charger, socket adapter (for international usage), and connectivity cables just in case someone needs one. Personally, make sure you have a belt, panty hose (ladies), socks, band-aids, and an extra shirt.

Work on the Plane.  I look forward to a few hours of focused work time on the airplane. When you are in route to a meeting, it’s not the time to watch the latest flick being offered on the plane.

If your boss opens her laptop on transport, follow suit. Perhaps you can relax on the return after a job well done.

Do Your Destination Homework. If you are traveling to a new destination, don’t expect others to get you from A to B or choose the restaurants for dinner.  With just a little bit of research, you can become a pseudo-expert on the fastest way to get to and from appointments, great restaurants that will impress your bosses, and even off-hours diversions.

 

Do you have any great business travel tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

 
 

 

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#MyFreeNight in Vegas

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.25.58 PMHotels.com sent “improvisor, actor and delicious treat,” Robert Bacon to Las Vegas to kick off #MyFreeNight. All that ensued was the stuff of legend.

We’ll walk you through all the Bacon was able to accomplish during his #MyFreeNight experience  - check it out:

First, Bacon checked in to the MGM Grand Hotel on the Vegas strip. After a trip to the  MGM Grand Spa, where he played in the water fountain on the wall, he stopped at the MGM Grand Buffet for a quick breakfast.

lazyrivermandalayslide

After a relaxing morning, it was time for a bit of excitement at the Mandalay Bay pool & lazy river. Bacon made himself comfortable and enjoyed a nice drink on the lazy river.


But there wasn’t much time for lounging about… Bacon quickly climbed the stairs to the water slide and slid down wearing his #MyFreeNight helmet and GoPro!

Next up was a trip to Vegas Indoor Skydiving!

“Is it natural to be scared of a giant fan?”

He had no choice but to get over those fears quickly because moments later he was flying.

As if he hadn’t spent enough time in the air, Bacon’s next stop was at the Stratosphere Skyjump, where he jumped into a free fall from the 108th floor – about 1,149 feet up!

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.36.22 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.38.18 PM

All that excitement can really work up a guy’s appetite – so dinner came next.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.37.11 PMAfter  dinner at the Shibuya Restaurant at MGM Grand, he made his way backstage at Jubilee! at Bally’s Las Vegas, where he learned what it takes to be a Jubilee dancer… with his top hat and cane in hand, Bacon realized his dream of joining the show.

About five minutes in, however, it became apparent that a career as a professional dancer might not be in the cards, and decided to head out to enjoy the bright lights of the Vegas strip.

On the strip he made some new friends, saw the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas and went off in search of his next big challenge…

…Which he found immediately upon strolling into the PBR Rock Bar & Grill and spotting a mechanical bull.

“I’m going to predict that I rip my pants.”

 Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 6.11.55 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.26.44 PM

His wild ride on the mechanical bull lasted a matter of seconds and therefore he walked away unscathed with his pants and his pride intact.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 12.28.52 PMExhausted from the effects a long day and an angry bull, Bacon made his way to the Fountains of the Bellagio. Singing along to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” he held up a lighter and really soaked in the moment.

As he watched the sunrise, Bacon grabbed ‘breakfast’ at the Tao Las Vegas - where his 24 hour #MyFreeNight day came to an end.

Think you can top Bacon’s #MyFreeNight excursion in Vegas? Check out the full video here, below!

Where would you go and what would you do with one free night? Let us know in the comments!

 

 
 

 

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The Best of Halloween Haunts 2013

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

It’s scary how big of a business Halloween has become. Here are some of the best boo-tastic events of the season.

Most Authentic Halloween Haunt

Jack o'lanterns in row, duskSleepy Hollow: Not just the stuff of legends and TV shows. The actual town of Sleepy Hollow, New York “comes alive” this time of year. There’s something for everyone in Sleepy Hollow Country: haunted hayrides, Gothic mansions, blazing jack-o’-lanterns, cemetery tours, farmers markets, live music, street fairs, parades—and even the Headless Horseman himself. Throughout October, the 300-year-old Philipsburg Manor transforms into a fearsome landscape ruled by vampires, witches, undead soldiers, ghouls, and ghosts. This weekends-only event is NOT suitable for small children or for the faint of heart, but it is Sleepy Hollow’s premiere haunted attraction, right in the heart of the village.

Getting there isn’t so tough, Sleepy Hollow is located 2.5 hours from Philadelphia, 3.5 hours from Boston, and 5 hours from Washington, DC. If you fly into any of NYC’s three main airports, you can rent a car or perhaps take a hotel shuttle and you’ll reach Sleepy Hollow faster than you can say Washington Irving!

Best Amusement Park Halloween Haunting

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights in both Hollywood and Orlando locations could be the best Halloween extravaganza ever. With so many attractions already suited for Halloween: ‘Jaws’, ‘Men in Black’, the Monster Café, the Horror Make Up Show, even Shrek 3D movie is based around Halloween. Universal also creates some of the most detailed haunted houses around complete with super scare zones throughout the parks.

Tampa Busch Gardens wins on unique originality and hard core haunting. Howl-O-Scream takes place Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through October from 7:30pm – 1am. Prices begin at $35/person. It looks so scary, I could hardly look at the website!

It seems so scary that the warnings were enough to keep this squeamish girl away, but for those of you who love a good haunting, Nightfull in Old Tucson is one Halloween spooktacular event not to be missed! Plus, October is a perfect month for visiting Arizona. Check out these Tucson hotel deals from Hotels.com.

Best Not So Scary Halloween - Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

On select nights between now and November 1st, The Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando, FL hosts a fun-filled, trick or treat event from 7pm – Midnight. Tickets start at $57 per child. I love Disney in October: the crowds are fewer, the temperatures are lower, and the hotels are cheaper, too. This is more my speed.

Happy Haunted Halloween!

 

 
 

 

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Most Beauti-Fall Attractions and Festivals

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The autumn doesn’t merely mean Halloween happenings; this time of year is also ripe for colorful festivals, from apples to oysters, German traditions to Maine lobster. Celebrate autumn’s onset with the changing of the leaves; here are Travel Smart Blog’s favorite fall attractions.

Royalty Free stockFall Foliage with a Side of Lobster 

Make a trip to Maine this month; October is the peak of New England’s leaf peeping season. Maine’s 4-day Harvest on the Harbor Festival later this month (October 23-26) lures more than 5,000 people up to Portland’s shores to enjoy a celebration of Maine’s finest locally sourced foods, top chefs and other Maine-made products such as beers and wines.

Art and Oysters in Cape Cod

As if anyone needs an excuse to go to Cape Cod, I’ll give you two! The 2-day Wellfleet OysterFest (October 19-20) celebrates town of Wellfleet’s famed shellfish traditions through shucking competitions, tastings and cooking demos. All through October, towns across the Cape are showcasing local art and culture with concerts, special exhibits at art galleries, museums, and theaters, art activities for children, and more at the 5th annual Fall for the Arts Festival which runs to November 2nd.

The Wine-ding Roads of New England

New England’s country roads beckon to city slickers throughout the year, but there’s no more magnificent time for a drive than autumn. Follow the Connecticut Wine Trail for a sampling of some of New England’s most delectable wines and take in some of the most beautiful countryside in the Northeast. Further north in Reading, Vermont, October is a great time to visit Jenne Farm – North America’s most photographed farm. The only sign indicating its presence is a tiny board on Route 106 advertising “maple syrup.” But you’ll know it when you see it! Photographs of the farm have appeared on posters, magazine covers, notecards, calendars, a Budweiser commercial and served as a setting in movies such as Forrest Gump and Funny Farm.

If covered bridges in bucolic settings are what you are after than look no further than the Vermont’s Bennington County for its dense concentration of picturesque covered bridges. Bennington County is located in the southwest corner of the state, and this driving tour will take you to five nearby covered bridges.

Oktoberfest in Georgia?

Skyline of Raleigh, NCYes! The Oktoberfest celebration in Helen, Georgia, one of the most festive fall events in the Southeast, and lasts through the end of October. Thousands of visitors each year visit Helen’s
large Festhalle to enjoy authentic German music and dancing, food and beer. Helen, Georgia, a charming Alpine-style town located in the North Georgia Mountains, is fun to visit in any
season but it’s especially beautiful with autumn leaves aglow in red and yellow.

The State Fair is Fall-fabulous in North Carolina

The North Carolina State Fair located in the city of Raleigh attracts more than 850,000 visitors and is one of the largest 10-day fairs in the nation. The fall festival, which runs from October 17th – 27th, features concerts from top headliners such as Scotty McCreery, Georgia Florida Line, and Joe Nichols, as well as free entertainment, exhibitions, and fun for all ages. What will they fry next?

Need more ideas for fun during your fall vacation? Next week check-in to some of the most popular ghost tours and haunted hotels.

Also, share your favorite, fantastic fall festivals for our readers in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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20 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation – by Norm Schriever

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

522931_3571415679789_1895186066_n copyThe Travel Smart Blog was lucky enough to meet up with Norm Schriever for today’s guest post – 20 Tips to Save Big Money on Your Next Vacation! Norm is an Amazon.com best selling author, pro blogger, expat, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone.

His work regularly appears on the Huffington Post, NBC, MSN, Yahoo, the University of Connecticut, and newspapers, websites, and radio shows all around the world. He sees his words as a way to illuminate the commonalities of human existence, and thereby hopes to leave this planet a little better than how he found it.  This is why he writes.

Everyone loves going on vacation, but with the average cost for a family around $4,580, it’s hard not to stress about the price tag.  However, with some frugal planning there are ways to save hundreds, or even thousands of dollars on your next trip, leaving you relaxed enough to fully enjoy it.

Here are 20 tips that will help you save big money on your next vacation:

1. Many tours, museums, and even restaurants offer discounts for students, teachers, AAA, military, and AARP members, so bring your identification cards and always ask!

2. Stay at a hotel that offers free breakfast. Eating a good meal in the morning will get you ready for a day of sightseeing and save you money on one meal a day.  When you search with Hotels.com, you’ll be able to see which establishments offer complimentary breakfast.

3. The majority of air travelers want to fly on a Friday or Sunday, so you’ll find the best deals for flights if you fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Flights at the crack of dawn, at dinnertime, or red-eye flights are cheapest. Airlines release their new weekly fares on Mondays, so on Tuesday by 3 pm competitors have released their deals, making it the ideal time to search for tickets online. Studies show that the cheapest time to book is 49 days before your departure, or 81 days ahead of time for international flights.

4. Before you book your airline tickets find out if they charge for checked bags. Some airlines allow the first bag for free. Bring an empty carry-on that you can fill with souvenirs so you won’t get hit with an excess baggage fee on the way back.

5. If your vacation destination is within a few states, consider traveling by train. It’s a great way to see the country, less expensive than flying and Amtrak has modern, comfortable sleeper cars.

6. Take a self-guided walking tour. Instead of hiring an expensive tour guide to be ushered around in a stuffy bus, bring your GPS or map, comfortable sneakers, and a guidebook and hit the pavement of your destination city.

7. Souvenirs, nick nacks, and t-shirts are all wildly overpriced in touristy areas, so take a quick photo of what you like and buy it later via the Internet.

8. Don’t double up on insurance for your rental car. Rental agencies love selling you additional insurance, but it’s usually unnecessary. Check your homeowners and auto policy ahead of time to see if they cover rental cars. Some credit cards even offer automatic insurance if you pay with their card.

9. Whenever you show up at the airport, hotel, or rental car agency, ask for a free or low cost upgrade. The worst they can say is “no,” but you might be surprised what they can offer!

10. Book a hotel room with a small refrigerator and stockpile water, fruit, and snacks. This will help you to save on impulse purchases at tourist sites, restaurants, or from the expensive minibar.

11. When vacationing outside of the U.S., always negotiate prices when buying something on the street or in a shop. Often times you can end up at 60% the first quoted price, but we often forget negotiating is an accepted and encouraged part of many cultures.

12. Everything is more expensive by the beach, so remember that the exact same quality meal or hotel can usually be found for 30-50% less a few blocks inland.

13. Exchanging money at the bank will get you the most accurate exchange rate and fewer fees than at your hotel. Never exchange money on the street!

14. If you aren’t going to spend a lot of time in your hotel room, booking a 2 or 3-star hotel will save you a lot of money. Hotels.com makes it easy to see pictures and read reviews so you can get a clean, comfortable room for less than 5-star prices!

227532_1997268727099_654291_n15. If you’re bringing the kids on vacation, consider getting a suite, bigger room with two double beds, or have the hotel bring up a foldout cot so everyone can stay together. The savings will be worth it!

16. When traveling abroad, remember to turn off the cell network on your smart phone, where international roaming charges can add up alarmingly fast. Instead, take advantage of free Wi-Fi offered at hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites, using apps like WhatsApp, Viber, and GoogleVoice to make calls, text, and browse the web.

17. Before you book airfare, theme park tickets, or even restaurant meals, check the companies’ Twitter and Facebook pages because they often post otherwise-unlisted discounts on their social media pages.

18. If you have young children bring your own stroller to amusement parks, where it could cost $15 a day to rent one.

19. Only drink water at restaurants, where a few sodas or iced teas can add $10 or more to each meal.

20. Spend one day away from the expensive attractions. You’re paying for that hotel swimming pool… use it! Spend the day at the beach, zoo, or a nearby museum.

 

 
 

 

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Party Earth: Trick or Treat? Halloween in Los Angeles

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Double, double, toil, and lots of trouble. Welcome to Halloween in Los Angeles where the spookiest and most bone-chilling events are hosted non-stop for the entire month of October. Rest your vocal chords now because the list of scary things to do in Los Angeles this season is nearly endless, but here are a couple of haunted haunts you should make sure not to miss!

Party Earth HalloweenNot Just for the Kiddies

A hayride hasn’t been anywhere near our list of scary things to do for Halloween since we were kids, but the Los Angeles Haunted Hayrides in Griffith Park are a different story. These horrific rides place you in the heart of the park’s history of murder, torture, paranormal activity, serial killers, and abduction. But if you’re not ready to call your mommy after that, try your hand battling your way out of “The In Between” – a maze filled with all manner of ghouls, demons, ghosts, and other less-than-friendly supernaturals. Oh, and did we mention the maze was in pitch-black darkness? Good luck with that.

Real-life Horror

Some of the most renowned creators of horror in the film industry thought keeping their terrific plots confined to the big screen wasn’t enough. For The Purge: Fear the Night, the masterminds behind thrillers including Paranormal Activity and Insidious came together to create a bloodcurdling experience that allows guests to experience the frightening future depicted in the eponymous movie firsthand. This Halloween you get to be the star of your own horror story; think you can handle it?

Float On

There’s not much local Los Angelenos are surprised by when it comes to special effects and theatrics. So if you’re one of those who think you’re too cool for scaring, we dare you to remain calm, cool, and collected as you pick your way through the fog-filled, monster-ridden mazes at Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor in Long Beach. While the festivities aboard the Queen Mary do include live concerts, food, and cocktails that are more fun than fright, don’t let the popularity fool you. The ship’s haunted depths are not for the faint of heart.

Suit Up

Halloween comes with a built in excuse for dressing and acting completely out of character: costumes! But you already knew that. So suit up, have an extra shot or two, and get ready to rage with the pharaohs at the Egyptian Theatre’s King Tut’s Tomb party. This all-out extravaganza on All Hallow’s Eve promises to be an evening you won’t forget—well, figuratively speaking. We fully expect you to have enough fun that you remember nothing in the morning.

So, make sure you get out while you’re visiting for some of the best Halloween parties in Los Angeles! If you’ve done Halloween right, by November the creepy memories might make it hard to leave your house without putting the ghostbusters on speed dial first.

 
 

 

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