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4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

A new year is approaching, and with the new calendar date comes new excitement and (if you’re like me) new bucket list destinations. As 2020 creeps closer each day, there are some absolutely stunning cultural cities that I’m dreaming of visiting in the new year. Luckily, many of these places are affordable destinations too!

For those of us who have a budget in mind… good news! With the increased demand for affordable transportation, It’s a pretty incredible time to be a budget traveler. Here are four affordable destinations I’m adding to my 2020 travel plans …and you should to)!​​​​​​​

Mexico City, Mexico

With affordable, direct flights connecting it to many popular US cities, Mexico City has quickly become a cultural hub for budget travelers! Flying from New York is a grand total of five hours, making it an excellent choice for a long weekend or over a holiday break. 

Mexico City is a perfect affordable destination for cultural travelers. So, if you happen to be a traveler who longs for meaningful, historical, authentic experiences – look no further. As one of America’s earliest cities, Mexico City is stocked with many artifacts of the ancient world, museums, art exhibits and more. 

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Be sure to check out Mexico City’s Coyoacán neighborhood, dotted with beautifully aged architecture, as well bright and vivid colored homes and foliage. Mexico City’s culinary scene is also top notch! Foodie travelers will love its traditional, family-owned restaurants and appreciation for authentic flavors. Some of my personal eatery favorites? El Moro’s churros, Azul Historico’s one of a kind gaucamole with crickets and Cafe Don Porfirio for one of the best views in the whole city!

Johannesburg, South Africa

After just returning from a whirlwind trip to Johannesburg, I can confirm that the city is truly one that will​​​​​​​ always have me coming back for more. Johannesburg city is rapidly changing… making it a joy to rediscover time and time again. Johannesburg was my first solo trip I ever took, and it has a nostalgic and meaningful place in my heart. That said – I think the city is one of the most contrasting and intriguing environments out there.

Jo’burg’s friendly, chilled out vibe is incredibly welcoming to outsiders. Check out the city’s Apartheid Museum to learn about its troubled past and gain and understand of the context in which the city views its future. It’s a seriously moving experience. Also be sure to explore its up and coming neighborhood, Maboneng… its hipster feel will have you questioning where in the world you are! Feeling a bit more adventurous? The city’s relativity to some of South Africa’s most amazing wildlife reserve and game lands makes it a very special location for safari departures.

Budget travelers, something to keep in mind – your flight will perhaps be your biggest purchase for this trip! However, I’ve found that after landing, costs are very cheap (when exchanging the US dollar)… making it a relatively affordable destination all things considered.

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Cairo, Egypt

Real adventure seekers, 2020 is your year to discover the mystery of Cairo! Egypt is so much more than just ancient pyramids and camel rides through the desert. Trust me on this. Cairo is rich with wonder and adventurous excursions galore. Better yet, the country of Egypt is a relatively affordable destination for the adventurous soul with an innate curiosity for our ancient human history.

4 Affordable Destinations To Add To Your 2020 Travel Plans

Egypt’s large and expansive capital, Cairo, set on the Nile River, is filled with some of the world’s most prized and studied relics. After visiting the Great Pyramids, the Sphinx At Giza, and the Step Pyramid of Djoser At Saqqara – be sure to take a jaunt over to the city’s Antiquities Museum & Mummy Room. I truly believe that traveling responsibly means also investing in educating ourselves about other cultures – so I absolutely recommend taking an Islamic tour of the area to gain a greater sense of Cairo’s history and perspectives.

Cairo’s flights are extremely affordable if departing from parts of Europe! So, if you just so happen to be on holiday exploring – see if you can add an extra leg to Egypt at a cheaper price. Quite like Johannesburg, I’ve found that the exchange rate makes Cairo an incredibly affordable destination options based on day-to-day expenses.

Lisbon, Portugal

Portugal has stolen the hearts of international travelers in the past few years. And I have to say, after experiencing the magic of Lisbon, I can’t believe it’s taken this long for many of us to discover it! With its Western location along the Atlantic and many low budget airlines that connect in the city’s airport, there are many affordable flights popping up these days. (P.S. Lisbon is another hub of connecting flights to greater Europe – making it an excellent “long layover” choice!)

Lisbon is truly the hub of goodness – from its slow approach to living, delicious eateries, fresh, natural wines, and a serious appreciation for architecture and tile work. Lisbon’s laid back vibe is the perfect affordable destination for any traveler who wants to soak in the good life while also discovering one of Europe’s hidden gems.

Some of my favorites? A lunch at the Time Out Market, a breezy walking tour of the Alfama district’s homes, an excursion to Tower Belem (with a pit stop at the original pasteis de nata bakery), and a delicious, traditional Portugese dinner by the water! Imagine yourself exploring the hilly cobble stoned streets, popping into antique markets, eating delicious pastries and espresso and finishing the day off with port wine by the city’s waterfront area. Sound like your dream? Add Lisbon to your 2020 bucket list stat!

I don’t know about you, but my bucket list is ever-evolving and changing. But, there’s one aspect that I always find myself valuing – and that’s price! No matter what type of traveler you are, a budget-conscious destination is the best.

Do any of these affordable destinations make your 2020 bucket list? Did you ever consider these four destinations to be affordable options? Or are there other cheaper cities that have you drooling?

Advice Budget Giving Back Insider Tips Travel Planning

5 Alternative Ways to Travel

5 Alternative Ways to Travel

I think it’s safe to say that social media has bitten most of us with wanderlust and travelers are now exploring unimaginable corners of the world. As travel continues to become more people’s motivation, they will seek experiences that are completely unique whilst being affordable. With that said, it’s why we are seeing a rise in alternative travel.

Alternative travel, or termed also as anti-tourism, is a new way of experiencing travel to make it more meaningful and not conventional in nature. There are a number of reasons why people find alternative ways to travel, but I think the biggest determining factor is attainability. Budget is often something we consider when book flights and accommodation. Alternative travel makes things a bit more affordable as you save money or even make money along the way. Secondly, you learn empathy through authenticity. It’s a deeper dive into the culture and it’s people, and so you become hyper-aware of the way people eat, think, worship, and work. Finally, alternative travel brings accountability as we might look for ways to decrease our footprint, volunteer, or support locally.

Now that we know the benefits of alternative travel, let’s dive into some of the best ways to do it!

1. Volunteer

There is no better way to travel the world than by saving the world! There are a number of Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that act as the middleman between volunteers and local communities. All you have to do is cover the cost of some of the logistics and food per month!

2. Wellness Retreats

5 Alternative Ways to Travel

Travel teaches us so much about ourselves as we are oftentimes put in the most vulnerable of situations. There’s something so special about coming back from our travels with a peace of mind and reconnecting with ourselves. Think about ashrams, camps, and spas!

3. Teach or Study/Learn Abroad

5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel

The beauty of traveling abroad is exposing yourself to so many different cultures, why not partake in that? In college, I spent a year studying abroad and used it as an opportunity to learn a language and travel the region. There are also options to go abroad to teach English or learn/teach whatever you’re passionate about! Languages not your thing? Why not learn to cook up a Moroccan feast with La Maison Arabe?

4. House-sitting

5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel

The easiest way to get accommodation covered is house-sitting! You can find house-sitting jobs from a weekend to a year in length! It allows you to travel slow, live like a local and save an enormous amount of money. It’s how I was able to getaway to Haapsalu for a weekend in Estonia for free!

5. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)

5 Alternative Ways to Travel
5 Alternative Ways to Travel

This has become a growing trend among young people who want to do good for the world by promoting sustainability and I got to partake when I went apple picking in Kent. WWOOF is a global movement that connects people with organic farmers to exchange cultural, social and educational experiences without monetary exchange. Ecotourism allows people to truly live, learn and share organic lifestyles!

So, are you considering an alternative way to travel in 2020? What’s on your itinerary?

Budget Europe Hotels

Hotels We Love: Mr. Jordaan

Tucked away on a 17th century canal street sits Mr. Jordaan , a charming canal-house-turned-boutique hotel. The hotel is in the middle of the Jordaan, a popular neighborhood in midtown bursting with some of Amsterdam’s best shops, restaurants and art galleries.

The hotel’s location is pretty perfect — in just a 10 minute walk you can be window shopping on the picturesque Little 9 Streets (De 9 Straatjes) or viewing the largest collection of Van Gough works in the world at the Van Gough Museum.

I, however, had trouble not lounging the day away in my cozy attic room on the top floor of the hotel. This attic hideaway, and the comfy ground floor lounge with coffee, snacks and a great breakfast truly made Mr. Jordaan feel like a home-away-from-home.

The best part is that the hotel’s start came from the founder advertising his couch to travellers passing through Amsterdam at a local travel agency in the 1960s. People loved it so much that his couch eventually expanded from a room, to a full floor, to the entire canal house that it is today. This guy was the original trailblazer of traveling “like-a-local”, sorry Airbnb! His guests loved being greeted by a hot cup of coffee, local travel tips and being handed the old fashioned Jordaan house key. The hotel still to this day offers all of these things to it’s guests, making it an unforgettable Amsterdam experience.





Advice Budget

18 Ways to Save Money for Travel

Whether your goal is to travel full time or just to travel more, you need a certain something to get started. Yes, I’m talking money, honey! Here are some of my suggestions to help you save money for travel experiences of your dreams.

  1. Sell Your Old Junk: Maybe your closet is full of clothes you don’t wear anymore or you have old electronics laying around. Sell your stuff at second hand stores, a yard sale, Poshmark, Let Go, or eBay!
  2. Money Saving Challenge: ” My personal favorite money saving trick is the 52 Week Challenge. It’s such an awesome concept and easy to do! On week 1 you add $1, on week 2 you add $2, on week 3 you add $3, and so on. By the end of the challenge you end up with an extra $1,378! Creating and achieving a budget goal is so much fun.
  3. Pay Yourself For It: Say you land free tickets to a concert, an amusement park, a sporting event, etc. Even though the event is free, you can take the amount it would’ve cost (example: NHL hockey game = $70) and put the price of that ticket into a savings account. Another example would be if you want to go out for lunch during the week, but end up eating what you packed. You can take that $15 that you would’ve spent on lunch and save it in a separate account or jar. It adds up quickly!
  4. Freelance Writing: What was once a hobby that I used to do for free, now brings in a nice second income to fund my travels.
  5. Delay and Walk Away: Work on those impulse buys! Yes I know, way easier said than done, so try this. Give it a few days, and if you’re still thinking about that cute dress or craving that delicious meal at your favorite restaurant, go for it! You’ll be surprised how often you end up not even thinking twice about it.
  6. Drink Less: At $10-15 per drink, that can easily double or triple your dinner bill. I’ll usually get one (if that) then sip on soda water with a ton of fresh squeezed lime.  Sometimes I find myself craving that more than a cocktail. Not only have I lost weight since doing this, but I’ve saved a lot of money skipping the drinks on most occasions.
  7. Cook: Your dining out dollars go a long way in the grocery store.  Don’t get me wrong, I write about restaurants in addition to travel, and I love going out to eat.  However, it adds up! Going out to eat is a great way to catch up with friends, but those $10-20 takeaway lunches and dinners you’re getting alone throughout the week can be pretty unnecessary and pricey. Buy a few go-to items and pack your lunch for work.
  8. Find Free Events: In my hometown, it seems like there are always free events going on, especially in the summer! You can see a free live band instead of a concert or see a play in the park instead of a movie. There are so many free options such as free comedy shows, festivals, dance classes, outdoor movies, art galleries, and more! Do some research and find some free fun in your city.
  9. Miles Credit Cards: Get a miles card! I originally applied for it when I was preparing to travel to Europe to avoid transaction fees (my bank charged 3% on each purchase, so this is a great perk alone), but since having the card, I’ve received multiple free flights and a generous amount of cash back! I use the Venture Card because there isn’t even an annual fee, but you’ll want to research various cards to find the best one for you.
  10. Garden: Ok, a bit random but think about it. Fresh produce can get expensive and you can easily grow your own lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, herbs, and more which will save you a pretty penny on your grocery bill. Even if you don’t have the space, a simple windowsill herb garden of basil, parsley, and mint that can be added nutrients to salads, shakes and more.
  11. Look For Deals and Coupons: When my friends, family and boyfriend plan something fun like a comedy night, a jet boat tour, kayaking, etc. I search discount websites such as Groupon and Living Social that often have fantastic deals saving you tons of money on activities you were going to do anyway!
  12. PTO: Use your benefits! I see so many people let their vacation time build up and in some cases they lose it completely. Use the time that’s given to you. It’s important to unwind, so you can be fresh and ready to take on new challenges at work. Some of us simply can’t quit our jobs and have to balance our career with our need to explore.  Last year, I traveled to 15 different destinations while working full time, volunteering, freelance writing, and creating my website.  You can, too!
  13. Enough With The $5 Coffees Everyday: If you make your own coffee and skip spending $5 for a fancy shmancy latte, you can save A LOT of money. I went to the extreme and tried to give it up all together. I crack every now and then, but for the most part I don’t drink it anymore. That’s saved me hundreds of dollars every year!
  14. Walk or Bike When Possible: If you’re heading to meet a friend a few blocks away or running up to the grocery store for a few things, consider walking or biking a few times a week. Not only is it healthy, but you’ll save money on gas and it’s better for the environment.
  15. Workout Outdoors: Lately I’ve noticed cities providing free yoga, barre, aerobics, and dance classes throughout the summer.  Don’t be afraid to take advantage of that. In addition to the free workout classes, the warm summer weather make it the perfect time to also explore parks and to check off beautiful hikes on your list. It’s a great way to feed that adventurous side of yours for free.
  16. Meet with a Financial Advisor: There’s a company in my city called the Establishment, where they offer free financial advice in a series of classes.  You’ll leave feeling motivated to start planning your finances for future expenses and travel!
  17. Be Smart When Traveling: My friend once called me and said “I found 50 cent round trip bus tickets to NYC, so we’re going.” How amazing is that?! Sign up for deal alerts, research the best days to fly, what airlines offer stopovers, and more! You’ll eventually be surprised to discover how affordable travel can be.
  18. Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Better: This is a common misconception. When I was in Salerno, Italy with my two girlfriends we went to a small, family owned restaurant called Casa Rispoli. They’re not used to getting tourists in that area and wanted to provide us with a 7 course tasting menu of their finest, local dishes. Now, I’ve previously mentioned I write about food, critiquing dishes and restaurants for local publications. I’ve tried many fantastic meals, but this one takes the cake! Fresh seafood, creative ingredients, specialty items, a pour of champagne…for just $30! It was, until this day, the best dining experience of my life, and it didn’t break the bank!
Advice Budget

8 Frugal Tips To Save Money When Traveling On A Group Vacation

Group vacations are a great way to reconnect with old friends and relatives who live far away from your home. But money is a huge issue when you’re traveling with several people. The difference of opinion can lead to fights and wastage of money during group vacations.

A financial plan that suits everyone in the group can help solve these problems. Here are 8 frugal tips you can use when traveling with a big group.

1. Rent a house or a condo
The price ends up being lower than high end hotels. Besides, just think all of you can have fun 24*7 in complete privacy. You can cook breakfast or dinner together and save money on food. You can tuck kids into bed early and chat with friends in the living room until midnight. Buying groceries from the local market also helps to cut down costs.

2. Divide the expenses
Split the total cost of the trip with the group members. Don’t take turns to pay for things since this may complicate financial matters. Let me explain you why. Suppose you decide to cover the hotel expenses and another group member agrees to cover the food cost. Now it may happen that you end up paying more than the other group members since booking hotels is much more expensive than buying food.

Calculate the total cost of the trip at the end of your journey after you’ve recorded all of the expenses on paper. If you find it difficult, then use an app instead.

3. Save for the random night outs
When you travel with many people, you’re tempted to eat, shop and drink at a mere suggestion. Money is the least of your concern during this time. But this can add up quite quickly.

Save a little bit for the extra expenses. For instance, if your budget for the trip is $600, then save at least $800. This extra $200 can help you to say ‘yes’ to fun activities and random night outs.

4. Watch out for the group programs
Are you traveling with more than 10 people? If so, then you can qualify for group benefits. This includes discounted air tickets and reserved seating. Read about the various types of group programs offered by airlines. Compare all the group programs before booking flights.

5. Plan your trip in the off-season
Airlines and hotels are more than happy to offer big rebates during the off-season, especially if your group is huge. So plan your vacation early.

6. Find a good tour operator
Tour operators know about all the packages very well. So you can contact a reliable tour operator to know about the economical packages.

7. Talk about how to save money
Communicate with your group members if you’re worried that group is spending too much money. It would be terrible if you do all the hardships to save money and other people spend all of it. Discuss the possible ways to save money.

8. Find the best cruise deal
Cruises are perhaps the best option for group vacations with a variety of activities offered in the same place. You can watch movies in the theater, have sumptuous meals, play different games, swim in the pool, drink the best wines, and relax.

Some cruise agencies offer nice discounts on the total fare plus other amenities if your group occupies at least 8 staterooms. Make sure you plan in advance since group availability can be limited.