Category: Travel Tips

How to Plan Your Next Trip the Smart (and Inexpensive) Way

Travel Tips

How to Plan Your Next Trip the Smart (and Inexpensive) Way

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have told me that they wish they could travel, but can’t afford to. A lot of people automatically think of traveling as a luxury that only people with a lot of extra money can have, but that’s not the case at all. Take it from me. I’m young and  far from wealthy. However, I’m always planning at least a few trips a year. I’m actually planning my 22nd birthday trip right now, which inspired me to write this post. Through experience, I’ve learned how to do this as inexpensively and smartly as possible. That’s why I’ve compiled some tips and tricks to save you tons of money and be headed out on your next trip!

Get an airline credit card

If you have a favorite airline, I strongly recommend applying for a credit card with them. I actually very recently signed up for a JetBlue credit card because they’ve been my usual airline choice for years and I’ve already racked up quite a few TrueBlue points with them in the past. Enough points can get you free flights and since flights are often the most expensive part of planning a trip, they really do come in handy. The awesome thing about the JetBlue credit card (or any other airline credit card) is that you earn points for every purchase you make. You can pay for anything that accepts MasterCard with this card, so you’re not limited to just using it for travel expenses. If you use your credit card to purchase your next flight and even just daily expenses from gas to groceries, these points will add up in no time. I’m not sure how other airlines’ cards work, but with JetBlue your points never expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn. I can’t stress enough how much easier getting one of these credit cards will make traveling in the long run.


use travel search engines

A travel search engine is a type of search engine that helps you find flights at the lowest prices possible. You simply enter where you’re departing from, your destination, the dates you want to travel, and you’re given the cheapest price results available. Ever since I’ve discovered the power of using a travel search engine to book flights, I’ve always done it this way. The key when using one of these is to try and be as flexible as possible. This is how you’ll find the overall best deals. For example, if you have just a certain month in mind, but no particular destination, you can choose to just view the cheapest overall destinations in that month. Even a place that you’ve never considered going before can have all kinds of hidden treasures, so it’s worth a shot. Better yet, some search engines allow you to choose to view the cheapest month of the year as well as the cheapest destination, which can lead to some amazing deals. My personal favorite travel search engine is Skyscanner. Google Flights and Kayak are a couple of other good ones. The more open minded you are when it comes to dates, times, destinations, and airlines, the more you’ll get out of this tip.

search in a private tab

This is something so simple, yet so important when planning your next trip All of your searches that involve booking something, whether for flights or places to stay, should be done in an incognito or private tab in your browser. This is because websites often keep track of your data and if you’re constantly checking back for prices, they tend to raise them up. By searching incognito, websites cannot keep your data, therefore the price you see while you’re incognito is the actual price it will cost you to book.

be flexible with ACCOMMODATION

The way I see it, the place you’ll want to be the least while traveling is cooped up in the place you’re going to be staying in, so why spend a lot on it? Skip the luxury hotel. Motels are much cheaper and while they won’t be anything to brag about, they’ll have a bed, bathroom, and sometimes WiFi and breakfast, which is plenty. Sometimes staying in an AirBnb is even cheaper and you have the option of having an entire house or apartment to yourself. Hostels are another very cheap option, as long as you don’t mind rooming with other travelers. You may even be able to stay somewhere for free through websites like Couchsurfing. This website connects you to people who will allow you to stay in their home for little or no cost. Of course not everyone is comfortable with this option, but the website does allow users to provide verification of who they are and they can be reviewed by people who have stayed with them in the past. If you’re creative and have some kind of service to offer, like advertisement, some hotels and hostels will allow you to stay with them for free in exchange for your service. This is all a matter of personally reaching out to places and discussing this with them.


book ahead of time

Usually the case is that the longer you take to book your flight or hotel, the more expensive it will end up being. As soon as you’ve decided where you want to go and when, you should book everything necessary for your trip. If you don’t have the money right at the moment, but know that you will in the future, this is where your airline credit card from my first tip can come in. One common mistake when it comes to travel planning is hesitation. I’ve been guilty of thinking about a future trip, looking at the prices and taking too much time to consider going, only to end up booking a flight or place to stay later on and paying way more for it. The further ahead you book, the cheaper the prices will be in most cases. This isn’t to say that waiting last minute will always be ridiculously expensive, but it’s smarter to not take that risk.

always look out for deals

Last but not least, always keep your eyes peeled for travel deals. Some social media accounts are dedicated to posting insanely cheap deals that are only available for a limited amount of time. My favorite is the Facebook page Travel Pirates, which not only posts deals and messages them to you, but also occasionally holds travel giveaways. Groupon is also another great way to find travel deals. Sometimes they have entire packages that include flights, a place to stay and activities to places all over the world at affordable prices. The catch with most online deals is that they only leave from certain major cities like Los Angeles or New York, but sometimes its cheaper to travel from your hometown to one of these cities to get the deal than to leave directly from where you live.

If you follow these tricks, you’ll never have to break the bank while traveling. The more money you save when planning a trip, the more trips you can plan in the future!


Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

Travel Tips United States of America

Should You Travel Out of State by Bus?

When most people think of travel, planes, cars, trains, and even cruises come to mind. Bus travel is almost never considered as a way of long distance travel, at least in the United States. Is it time to consider booking a bus for your next trip or should you stick to whatever you normally do? I can’t give you a direct answer for this, but I can tell you all about my own experience!

A few months ago, I decided to take a Greyhound bus from Florida to New York. This was because I had already spent quite a bit of money to fly from New York to Germany, as well as fly back home. I’d never taken a bus out of state before, but as someone who loves saving money (who doesn’t?), it was time to give it a try! Here are some bus travel pros and cons I learned from my journey:

traveling by bus is really cheap!

The only reason I considered taking the bus from Kissimmee to New York City in the first place was because I assumed it would be affordable and I was completely right! It was actually cheaper than I expected. I’m not sure about other bus lines, but Greyhound actually gives you a discount code for your first ride if you create an Road Rewards account with them (this is NOT a sponsored post by the way, just a useful fact). In total, I only paid $59.20 for a one way trip. This means that if I had chosen to do this round trip, I would have only paid $118.40. Considering the fact that a round trip to New York by plane would normally cost me hundreds of dollars, this was amazing. 


The bus has wi-fi and charging outlets

As a blogger (and just a 20 year old in general), having wi-fi and a way to keep my devices from dying on the road is a great perk. As I was booking my bus trip, seeing that I would have access to these things actually brought me some relief. I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping myself entertained on this incredibly long trip (I’ll get to the length of it soon).

…but the wi-fi sucks & the outlets might not work

Sadly, the Wi-Fi was worse than just using my phone’s data, so I just ended up not really using it. It worked because I was able to use it on my laptop to finish a quiz for one of my classes at the last minute (oops), but it was very annoyingly slow. You can forget watching Netflix on the bus because loading videos was pretty much impossible, at least for my ride. To make things worse, the outlets on the entire side of one of the buses I was on didn’t work at all. I had to transfer buses a couple of times and the first one was fine, but this was only about an hour trip. On the second bus I couldn’t charge my devices at all and neither could anyone else on my side. This was apparently due to some outage problem on the bus, so it’s probably not a common issue. However, I’d advise taking a portable charger.

the ride felt extremely long

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this bus ride felt like forever. I’ve taken planes to other continents and these didn’t feel half as bad as this bus ride up the east coast. Driving to New York from Central Florida (where Kissimmee is) takes about 16 hours. Taking the bus ended up taking about 30 hours. This is because there are constant stops along the way, many of them requiring you to get out of the bus and wait for hours to board again. From Kissimmee to New York City specifically, the stops included Orlando, Jacksonville, Savannah, Fayetteville, Richmond, and Newark. If you’re feeling adventurous I suppose you could try and check out what’s nearby during the longer stops, but the bus driver made it very clear that they leave right on time and wouldn’t wait for you, so it’s not a risk I was willing to take.


the food at the stations is decent

Unless you bring your own food, you’re going to have to buy something at one of the stations to eat. Honestly, I was a little worried that the food would be gross, but it’s not. I remember having fries with cheese and bacon bits at one station, chicken tenders at another, and buying some juice. The quality of the food is comparable to what you’d get at a fast food restaurant, which to me isn’t bad. The prices for food are affordable, too. Basically, your meals won’t be anything to brag about, but you definitely won’t starve.

comfort is extremely limited

You’re going to want to bring a neck pillow and blanket if you plan to take a bus trip because the seats are nothing special. I would compare them to your standard airplane seats; nothing awful, but nothing extremely comfortable. The awful thing is actually that when you finally manage to fall asleep, you’re randomly woken up to get off of the bus and wait at a station. Trust me, being woken up at 3 am to sit on a freezing cold bench in a tiny station is definitely not a fun time. When I think back on this bus trip, I vividly remember being cold and tired beyond belief.



Conclusion: you get what you pay for

Like most things in life, you really get what you pay for when traveling by bus to another state. The price is extremely affordable compared to other methods of transportation, but it will usually take much longer to get to your destination. By the time you arrive, you’ll probably be exhausted. The bright side is that you can use the money you ended up saving on transportation for activities or accommodation. For me personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to take the bus to travel again because it was a long and uncomfortable experience. That doesn’t mean I would never do it again, but I would only do it if I desperately wanted to go somewhere and really couldn’t afford any other way of getting there. While it’s an annoying experience, it’s not so bad that I would miss a trip somewhere just to avoid it.

I do recommend this mode of transportation if you’re missing out on traveling simply because plane tickets are too expensive for you, but I wouldn’t do this just for the fun of it, because there really isn’t much (if any) fun to it.

Have you ever taken a bus to another state? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

Tips for Traveling with Pets

Travel Tips

Tips for Traveling with Pets

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge animal lover, so it’s no surprise that one of the first things that comes to mind when I’m planning a trip is what will happen to my pets. Luckily, a simple solution for me is to just get someone to take care of them while I’m gone, but what if I wanted to take them with me?

Should I even bring my pet on a trip in the first place?

  Before making any further plans to bring your pet along for your next adventure, consider if it’s worth it to begin with. Some animals (especially old or sickly ones) are easily stressed out, especially when faced with an unexpected change of environment and the journey to get there. Like people, stress in animals can take a negative toll on their health. If your pet is easily stressed, it’s probably best to spare them the trip altogether and leave them in the care of somebody you trust. You should always consider the happiness and safety of your pet before making decisions involving them.

How should I prepare before traveling with my pet?

  If you think that traveling won’t be a big problem for your pet, your next step should be finding out what requirements must be met for pet travel. If you’re traveling by airplane, make sure you go to the airline’s website or call them for their requirements. Prices for bringing your pet vary depending on the airline, pet species, and pet size, but you should expect to pay at least 100 dollars to bring them. Most airlines will also want you to have a health certificate signed by your veterinarian and may require them to have certain shots (animals that are not old enough for shots are usually not allowed to travel). A trip to the vet before traveling is a must for your companion. In addition to getting all the documents and shots that you need, it’s also a good idea to ask if your pet is healthy enough to travel (they will most likely give them a check up regardless, but it doesn’t hurt to ask). Another big thing to consider is getting a pet microchip. This chip is implanted underneath your pet’s skin and will contain valuable information about them, such as your contact information, that can be easily accessed by bringing them to any veterinarian’s office or animal hospital. You never know what could happen to your pet while traveling, so it will give you peace of mind to know that you can easily be reached if your pet is lost.

   If your pet is traveling by car, you should still bring them to the vet for a check up and microchip if they do not already have one. You should also pay extra attention to your pet packing list (I’ll go into this more later in the article). One important thing to have is a comfortable carrier so that your pet will be safe and secure in the car (be sure to restrain the carrier using a seat belt), as well as plastic bags and paper towels for cleaning up after them.

  No matter how you’re traveling, always double check that you have pet friendly accommodation! Some hotels do not allow any animals at all, or may only allow cats or certain dog breeds. Make sure you call your hotel before you book it and ask if your specific type of pet is allowed.

What should I pack for my pet?

Here is what should be on your packing list when traveling with your pet:

  • Food and water dishes
  • Pet food
  • Bottled water
  • Collar and ID tag
  • Bedding
  • Medication (if needed)
  • Animal first aid kit
  • Litter box and litter (for cats) or pee pads (if you use this with your dog)
  • Grooming supplies
  • Stain remover/deodorizer
  • Paper towels
  • Pet’s favorite toy or blanket

How can I keep my pet comfortable while traveling?

  As soon as you decide to take your pet on vacation with you, get them used to being in a carrier and a car. The more they experience being in a carrier and a moving vehicle, the faster they can adjust to it. This will prevent them from being overly uncomfortable on your way to your destination. Be sure that the carrier has enough room for your pet to be able to turn around comfortably and lay down. On the day of the trip, make sure your pet has eaten, but not immediately before you take off, as this can cause them to have an upset stomach. It is recommended that you feed them about four hours before your flight (or car ride). When it comes to water, staying hydrated is very important, so continue to make sure your pet has access to water up until it is time to take off. It also helps to give them small treats (not too many, though) before the flight and during, if possible. This can help ease their nerves a bit. One thing you should never do is sedate your pet before your flight (unless your veterinarian deems it necessary). Being sedated can affect an animal’s respiratory and cardiovascular functions. These effects can be enhanced by the pressure from high altitude travel. There have been many cases of animals dying from over sedation for travel, so this is definitely something that should not be taken into your own hands. Like I said earlier, if your pet does not seem fit to travel then simply do not travel with them, or if you must take them then be sure to get a veterinarian’s opinion on sedation first if you think it may be needed.

Did this article make you feel more prepared to travel the world with your furry friend? Let me know in the comments!

What To Do If You Get Lost In New York City (Without A Phone!)

New York Travel Tips United States of America

What To Do If You Get Lost In New York City (Without A Phone!)

We all get lost sometimes, it happens to the best of us (at least that’s what I tell myself). This is especially true if you’re going to be spending time in the enormous city that never sleeps, New York City. Getting lost always seems to happen at the worst time, too. Trust me, I lived in New York for about a year and during my last month there, it happened. I was on my way back from the Bronx, well after the sun had set, heading to my dorm in Queens. My charger was broken and the final percentage of my phone battery that I had desperately clung to drained away. It was okay though, I knew the way home like the back of my hand. Or so I thought. After waiting for what seemed to be forever (the later it gets, the slower the buses run in the city), my bus finally came. This was a bus I had taken several times before, so I got on, found a seat, sat back and relaxed. That was until I noticed the bus pull in to an unfamiliar location and stop. The location was full of other buses and everyone remaining on the bus got off. I didn’t know why or how (I still haven’t quite figured it out), but I took the bus to the final parking stop. Thanks to common sense, I managed to make it home from an unfamiliar area in NYC, late at night, with a dead phone. Here’s how I did it and how you can make it home if you ever got lost without a working phone:

  • STAY CALM! I can’t stress this enough. It’s easier said than done, but when you go into panic mode your mind is all over the place and thinking practically is the last possible thing you can do. If you realize that you’re lost, don’t start thinking about all of the awful things that could happen to you. Just don’t even allow the thought to cross your mind, push it away immediately and stay focused on your goal: getting back. Once I was back home, I realized I could have very easily been mugged, murdered, or any combination of horrible things, but at the moment I was so set on getting home that I didn’t let these thoughts occur to me.
  • FOLLOW A CROWD! Okay, so for me there wasn’t a large crowd anywhere at the stop since Queens isn’t the busiest area of New York, but there were a few groups of people walking in the same direction. The thing about New York is that there is bound to be some amount of people outside, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a common direction people are headed in. Of course, they might not necessarily be going where you want to go, but the whole idea is that if many people who don’t know each other are headed in the same direction, they are headed to public area, which makes it easier to get help. Just be sure to keep a safe distance when following them because you never know what kind of intentions people have. (Side Note: If you can’t find any kind of crowd, walk down a well lit street where you can see stores or some sign of a public area ahead)
  • DON’T LOOK LOST! This is extremely important for being lost anywhere. If you look lost, you look vulnerable and are an easy target for someone with bad intentions. If you look like you know exactly where you’re headed and are in a rush to get there, you’re more likely to be left alone. How exactly do you do this? Once you’ve found your crowd or general direction, walk directly towards where you want to go with your head up confidently, eyes straight ahead, and a quick pace. You’ll look very focused and very not lost.
  • ASK FOR DIRECTIONS! Be very careful with this step. You’ll want to ask someone who appears trustworthy (this doesn’t mean they are  trustworthy, but follow your instincts). Try to ask a woman if possible, not that women can’t do anything bad to you, but they are statistically less likely to. Stand a decent amount of distance away from the person that you’re asking in case you need to make a quick get away from them. What I did was once the groups I was following for awhile started to lead to a busier street with stores and more people walking, I asked two teenage girls where the train station was. Of course, this was an easy question to answer because it wasn’t far away, but if you’re in New York someone will know of one somewhere and can point you in the general direction.
  • BE OBSERVANT! The reason that I thought to ask where the train station was in the first place is because I remembered being near the area I wandered into at one point to take the train in a certain direction. This was only once a long time ago, so I wasn’t sure where it was exactly, but since I was observing the places around me I was able to piece together that I was somewhere near the station. Even if no matter where you walk you have absolutely no clue where you are, being observant will save you. You could be lucky enough to notice subway signs or a taxi service place. Even if you don’t see these, keep in mind that if you’re seeing a lot of stores and places to eat or things to do, you’re bound to be at least somewhat near a method of transportation. How else would people get to these things if many New Yorkers don’t have cars? While parts of New York can be extremely dangerous, it’s also not the worst place to get lost in because as long as you keep walking, you’re going to end up in a place with things to do.
  • GO INTO AN ENCLOSED PUBLIC AREA! For me, this was the train station that the girls pointed me towards. This is the perfect place to go when you’re lost, because even if you’re not sure what train to take, you can ask someone working in the station and they can help you. You should always be carrying money or a Metrocard on you wherever you go, but if you so happen to have none, a worker might give you a break and let you ride for free or at the very least let you use a phone so you can get into contact with someone who can help you out. If this enclosed public area is not a place to get transportation, go for it anyway if you can’t find any. Every business has a phone, so no matter what store, library, restaurant, or whatever you walk into, you’ll at least have a way to get in touch with help.
  • GET TO YOUR DESTINATION ASAP! Once you’ve found your public place and got your ride straightened out, go directly to where you need to go. As soon as I was in that train station, I swiped my Metrocard (that I very luckily had) and got on the train that I knew would take me back to the bus stop I was at to begin with. This time, when the bus got there, I asked the bus driver if the bus was going to my destination so that I wouldn’t have to end up going through the same thing all over again. It was, so I took it to where I needed to go and stayed alert the entire ride back to make sure I got to the right stop, let out a huge sigh of relief when I did, and went back to the dorm that I had never been so happy to see in my life. No matter how confident you are that you finally know your way back, don’t make any stops along the way or stop paying attention to the things around you. The faster you’re back where you need to be, the less likely it is that something will happen to you, so get back as soon as you know that you can.

That’s it! Every situation is different, but generally following these steps will get you where you need to be safely if you’re ever lost in NYC without a phone. Hopefully this never actually happens to you because it’s a scary experience, but now you’ll be prepared if it ever does (lesson learned though: always make sure your phone is charged or that you at least have a working charger). Have you ever been lost somewhere? What did you do or do you have any other advice? Let me know in the comments!