Frugal Travel Tips For Washington DC

You can not say you’ve seen the U.S. without seeing Washington D.C. Although hotels are costly and parking a challenge, the nation’s capital is full of free attractions and things to do.

The White House And The Pentagon

Entrance to President’s Park is free and gives the frugal traveler great views of the White House. The visitors center has some very nice permanent exhibits. Tours of the White House can be arranged for groups of 10 or more. However applications have to be received at least six months in advance.

Tours are also available of the Pentagon. These also have to be arranged well ahead of time.

Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument

The National Mall And Memorial Parks contain some of the U.S.’s most important monuments. These include The Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument within walking distances of each other. The Mall itself is a great place to picnic and people watch. Entrance is free

Smithsonian Castle

When I think of the Smithsonian, I think of the Smithsonian Castle, the first building. Entrance as with all of the 17 Smithsonian buildings and the National Zoo is free. There are also free tours available. The building itself is beautiful. The exhibits? It’s the Smithsonian.

National Museum of Natural History

Another Smithsonian Museum, the National Museum Of Natural History is a favorite with kids. They have tarantula feedings, dinosaurs, and preserved animals. As with all the Smithsonian Museums, the National Museum Of Natural History is free.

National Museum Of American History

Another free Smithsonian Museum, the National Museum Of American History showcases American culture and history. From Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to full sized locomotives, think of an American icon and you can likely find it in this museum.

Washington D.C. is full of free tourist attractions with American politics, history, and culture as the focus. The Smithsonian Museums alone, a great rainy day alternative, can take weeks to explore. The city is a must see for both American visitors and residents.…

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Frugal Travel Tips For Bangkok, Thailand

With the currency exchange, it is difficult not to find frugal attractions in Bangkok, Thailand. However, there are a few tips to make travel dollars stretch even further and to better the travel experience.

The Grand Palace And The Temple Of The Emerald Buddha

Yes, there is an entrance fee (200 Baht, roughly $6 U.S.) but this sight is a must see for any visitor to Bangkok. It hosts a range of Thai architecture.

Temples and other national monuments have a strict dress code. No shorts, sleeveless tops, or risqué dress. This is true of most religious places the world over but in Thailand, travelers should also not wear open heeled sandals (there must be a strap behind the heel).

Thai Customs

Which leads to some Thai customs that savvy travelers observe.

Shorts are considered appropriate only for children and the lower class.

The head is considered sacred (closest to the heavens) so do not touch. Actually try not to touch the locals at all.

Feet are also to be treated with care. To point your feet at a person is considered a grave insult and to sit with soles exposed extremely rude (especially in religious places). Sit with feet tucked under the body.

No public displays of affection. Keep that for the privacy of your room.

As with most countries, but especially Thailand, do not criticize the local government or monarchy.

This may seem like a lot of rules but most apply to almost every country a traveler is a guest in.

Also the Thai people are extremely polite so they are unlikely to express their disapproval.

Chatuchak Park Weekend Market

This is where frugal travelers buy their souvenirs. With over 15,000 stalls (pick up a free map at information kiosks), there is plenty to choose from. This is a place to haggle. Never take the first offer. Also be very wary of fakes (fake antiques, fake jewelry, etc) and of pickpockets (keep some small bills in an easily accessible pocket and hide the wallet away).

What to buy? Almost anything, especially handicrafts. My mother is an elephant lover and Thailand, with reverence of the animal, was the ideal place to pick up teak carvings (be careful of wood drying and cracking when you return home).

Wat Pho (Temple Of The Reclining Buddha)

With another very, very inexpensive entrance fee (20 Baht), Wat Pho is the largest and oldest Buddhist Temple in Bangkok. The highlight is, of course, the 46 meter long, gold covered Reclining Buddha. However, the buildings and I found the orchids were also noteworthy.

Bangkok is a bargain hunters paradise. Attractions, dining and shopping is inexpensive.…

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5 Tips For Booking A Hotel On The Cheap

Everyone is aware of the fact that one can easily save money if they opt for a budget hotel. But sometimes you just crave to have a five-star experience. Luckily, there are a few ways through which you can book a hotel for cheap without making any sacrifices in your choice for accommodations.

Here are five tips for saving money and booking a hotel room for cheap, no matter where you stay.

Time Of Your Booking

Time is essence in this case. On any day prices can vary as per the hotel’s liking if they think they will be able to fill all the rooms for the night. Your best time to book is before 24 hours of your stay; these are the times when hotels keep changing their prices just to fill their vacant rooms. But this creates a lot of uncertainty, and it’s not a wise thing to do if you are traveling to an unfamiliar place.

Revisit The Same Hotel

If you are a regular traveler and you visit the same location frequently, then you should book the same hotel as you can get great deals or offers. If the same hotel has a chain of hotels around the globe even then you can score great discounts quickly. Just remember that when you book your room mention that you have previously stayed at the same hotel. When the hotel sees your reputation as a returning customer, they will offer you a better rate or perhaps give you an upgraded room.

Make Use Of Deals And Coupons

You can save money when you book your hotel from websites that are hotel booking agencies, but if you want to save more money on your accommodation expenditure, it’s best you search for online deals and coupons before booking a hotel. Many money-saving sites offer deals and coupons for different hotels and motels. It’s always wise to make use of such offers and save as much on your travel expenses.

City Breaks Are Economical In Summer

Keep in mind the season in which you are planning to travel. City breaks usually are less expensive in summers, as there are fewer events, less business travelers and a huge migration towards the coast.

Travel Solo

If you are traveling solo – then take full advantage of it. Many hotels assume that there will be two persons staying so they offer a good discount for the room. This way you can enjoy a double bed suite all by yourself.…

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Frugal Travel Tips For San Francisco

San Francisco is my favorite city hugging the west coast. It is also one of the most expensive especially for hotels. Lucky for the frugal traveler, many of the sights are free.

Note: When I first went to San Francisco (driving up from L.A.), I was very surprised by the decrease in temperature. Check the weather before arriving.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square cover about 6 blocks along the waterfront. This tourist destination offers great views of the famous Alcatraz, souvenir shopping, seafood vendor and street performers. Some of the local “residents” include pelicans and sea lions. The souvenir to take back for chocolate loving Moms? Ghirardelli chocolate. This is where it all started.

Cable Cars

While at Ghirardelli Square, grab a few photos at the Cable Car Turnaround (the end of one of the lines). The cable cars, calling San Francisco’s living monument, are a good break for the weary.

Note: There are no transfers with cable cars. Each ride requires a new ticket.

Chinatown

The Chinatown in San Francisco is second in size in the U.S. only to New York City. It is great place to get cheap supplies and an inexpensive meal.

Lombard Street

Known as the crookedest street, Lombard is another one of those photo opps tourists love. Walking down is free.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Another famous and picturesque walk is across The Golden Gate Bridge. On a clear day, the views are fantastic (and will work off all that great Chinese food you’ll be eating). This suspension bridge is a little less than 9,000 feet long so plan your round trip accordingly.

Cable Car Museum

Love the cable cars? Then visit the Cable Car Museum on Mason Street. Admission is free and the museum deck overlooks the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables. Great photos can be taken in the vintage cable cars.

A city of different cultures, bordered by the sea, San Francisco has a perfect mixture of historic attractions and modern sights. Many of them free.…

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Frugal Travel Tips For Chicago

Chicago offers many free attractions for the frugal traveler. These free sights offset more costly splurges like deep dish pizza, the entrance to the famed Shedd Aquarium, and a trip up the Sears Tower.

Free Trolleys

From Memorial Day weekend through the Labor Day weekend, between 10am and 6pm, free trolleys operate every 20-30 minutes to Chicago’s most popular tourist destinations. There are stops along Museum Campus, Michigan Avenue (The Magnificent Mile) and Navy Pier. Do a few of the loops to get a sense of the city. Drivers often give out bits of information about landmarks.

Street parking downtown is often free on Sundays.

Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, and Millennium Park

Buckingham Fountain (seen in the opening credits of the tv show Married With Children) in Grant Park, close to the waterfront, was designed to emulate the great fountains in the palace of Versailles. It consists of three basins, surrounded by four bronze seahorses.

More modern art can be found in the adjoining Millennium Park. The Crown Fountain has two giant glass towers with projections of faces on them. Water squirts out of the faces’ mouths, much to wading children’s delight. Cloud Gate resembles a giant stainless steel jellybean, warping the reflection of onlookers.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier hosts a street carnival type of environment. There is a classic styled 148 ft Ferris Wheel, a musical carousel with painted animals, a children’s museum, a museum of stained glass, and a funhouse maze. Add seasonal street performers, food vendors, and face painters, and travelers can people watch for hours.

The Old Water Tower

The Old Water Tower, situated on the famed Michigan Avenue near the John Hancock Center, is one of the most famous survivors of the Great Fire. Designed to resemble a tiny European castle, the Old Water Tower is now a visitors center.

The Art Institute Of Chicago

With great American masterpieces like Grant Wood’s American Gothic, the Art Institute Of Chicago is a must see for art lovers and a freebie for the savvy traveler. From May 31st to August 31st, admission is free after 5pm on Thursday’s and Friday’s.

There are many other free or frugal attractions in the Windy City, window shopping on the Magnificent Mile, facades such as Dearborn Street Station and others.…

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10 Tips for a Hotel Stay in New York City

Before you embark on your New York journey read about the hotels that will make your stay a memorable one.

The Library in Midtown Manhattan

The Library Hotel is more ‘literati’ than ‘glitterati’: more private club than hotel. Each of the ten guestrooms is dedicated to one of the ten major categories of the Dewey Decimal System: Social Sciences, Literature, Languages, History, Math & Science, General Knowledge, Technology, Philosophy, The Arts and Religion. Each of the sixty rooms is individually designed with a collection of art and books relevant to one distinctive topic within the category of floor it belongs to. Guests may request their room based on their personal interests. The Writer’s Den with its skyline views and the Poetry Garden, a sparkling green house, are perfect places to relax and absorb this culture.

Tips:

Access to the hotel’s video library of the American Film Institutes top 100 films — Monday through Saturday there’s a complimentary wine and cheese reception — For the night time players, magical nights await you at the Bookmarks Lounge on the 14th floor, which serve signature cocktails like the Great Gatsby and the Capote.

Sofitel New York in the Manhattan area

The contemporary 30-story Sofitel New York, represents the French art of living through its décor. Art work of old Paris and New York fill this space. Traditional French fare is served at the French brasserie, Gaby Restaurant and even the staff uniforms are designed by renowned designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac. Guests will enjoy the hotel’s evening turndown services, which include Evian water and a fresh cut rose. The Art Deco sitting room is the perfect place for some downtime as well as viewing the extensive collection of contemporary art that adorns the walls. The hotel’s award winning design surrounds a 30-story curved tower bordered by two 20-story wings, which overlooks the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.

Tips:

Don’t leave New York without sampling the inventive French cuisine with Asian influences, served up at the Art Deco inspired, Gaby Restaurant — The Petit Bijou gift shop is an exquisite emporium with items imported from France.

The Hudson Hotel in the Midtown area

The Hudson Hotel is a brand new offering from hotelier extraordinaire, Ian Schrager. It is said to be the hippest hotel on the block with stunning views across the Hudson River. Designer, Phillipe Starke has created a fantastical world where flawless design dances with daredevil technology in a perfect combination of light, sound and shape. There’s an exhibition kitchen restaurant, a lobby bar, and library bar with billiards, indoor and outdoor private park, and a ceiling fresco by renowned painter Francesco Clemente, 18.000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space and a business centre. The design was inspired by ocean travel romance and the setting of a private cabin on an upscale yacht. Vogue Magazine describes the hotel as “surreal chic, brilliantly designed, and gorgeous.”

Tips:

Hudson Sky Terrace located on the 15th floor is a large private

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Frugal Travel Tips For Las Vegas Attractions

I don’t gamble so I often get asked why I visit Las Vegas at least once a year. The answer? The free attractions make Las Vegas a frugal traveler’s paradise (and we’ll save the dining discussion for another article). Almost every casino has some sort of freebie gimmick to attract gamblers. In this article, I will cover, what I consider to be the must-see’s to give tourists a flavor of Las Vegas.

The Fountain Show At Bellagio

With nightfall comes the fountain shows at Bellagio. In the massive pool of water on the Strip side of the casino, illuminated spirts of water dance to a variety of music, popular, classical and even opera. They usually operate every 15 minutes (check with the casino to ensure), with a different song and show each time.

Sirens Of TI

Every night, in front of Treasure Island on the Strip, a battle takes place between sexy sirens and renegade male pirates. There are usually four identical kid friendly shows nightly. Get there early for best viewing (especially if you are vertically challenged). Stand close and you could get a bit wet.

Circus Circus Shows

Approximately every half hour in the Circus Circus casino on the Strip, there are free yet world class midway acts including jugglers and trapeze acts. I stayed for three shows and all three were different.

Freemont Street Experience

Las Vegas is more than the Strip. Situated in the heart of downtown, the historic Freemont Street Experience is a pedestrian walkway, covered by what they bill as the biggest big screen on the planet. There are street performers, vendors and every night at multiple times, a light and sound show.

Ethel M’s Chocolate Tour And Botanical Cactus Garden

Want to get away from the Strip yet do something free? Check out the Ethel M Chocolate Factory (One Sunset Way). A must for chocolate connoisseurs (I have purchased chocolate from all over the world for my Mom, her favorite is Ethel M’s), there is a self guided tour, free samples, and products for sale.

Outside there is the Botanical Cactus Garden with over 350 kinds of cacti, succulents from the local area and around the world (also free admission).

Note: There is an Ethel M’s at the airport if you are concerned about chocolate melting (check hours of operation as every time I go, its closed).

There are many, many other free attractions in Las Vegas. Attractions that are changed often to ensure the city remains fresh, exciting and a frugal traveler’s paradise.…

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New York Hotel Deals – Tips for Planning Your Next New York Trip & Booking a Hotel

Are you planning a NY trip? Going to the Big Apple or spending time traveling around the state? Whatever your travel plans may be, it’s important to use internet search tools to find New York hotel deals. Unfortunately, one thing NY is not known for is low-cost hotels. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find a good deal on one, or at least find an inexpensive one outside of the city.

If you already have a specific area in mind, look over all of the hotels and B&Bs in that location. The more flexible you are with the dates, the better the chance of you getting a low rate. If you absolutely must travel on a specific date, take other factors into consideration instead of just the price. For instance, how close do you want to stay to the airport or Grand Central and Penn stations? Does the thought of taking a subway or bus make you feel uneasy, but you don’t have the budget to spend much money on taxi fares? If so, then it’s probably in your best interest to narrow down your hotel search to a location that is relatively easy and quick to get to, and not just from the airport or station either – but from any landmark you want to see.

While Midtown is the ideal destination for most tourists who want to be near all of the best entertainment and shopping in NYC, the hotels are not the cheapest. The big names like Crowne Plaza Time Square, Hilton, the Sofitel, and Marriott Marquis are around here. Any of these are worth staying in if you want to be in the middle of all the action. If you want to get the lowest rate possible, wait until January (after New Years) and February (except for Valentine’s Day) to visit. These tend to be the cheapest months to visit Manhattan.

Use Transport Options for Better New York Hotel Deals

If you’re confident that you won’t get lost and don’t mind taking the sub, you might want to look in areas other than Manhattan for New York hotel deals. What about a two or three-star hotel in Staten Island? Bronx? Queens? Brooklyn? September is a usually a cheap month to stay in Staten Island. Don’t be afraid to give hostels or lesser-known B&Bs a try either. Since you’ll be spending so much time outside experiencing the city, all you really need is a warm, clean bed and bathroom in a safe neighborhood.

As for other parts of the state, Albany and Rochester offer really good New York hotel deals – especially the latter. Depending on where you book your room, you can find Niagara Falls hotels for less than $110.…

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Tips for Turning A Vacation Into A Volunteer Opportunity

When most people consider the idea of taking a vacation, one word tends to comes to mind – relaxation. With the hyper-busy lifestyle that exists today, a vacation offers a much-needed relief to the everyday hustle-and-bustle of the business world. For many, the vacation objectives are simple: to get as far away from reality as humanly possible, to leave all work-related issues and stressors behind, and to enjoy the time off relaxing with family and friends. While many Americans still prefer the more “traditional” type of vacation, a relatively new trend is gaining much popularity in the travel industry today: voluntourism.

What is voluntourism? As the name implies, voluntourism combines vacationing and volunteering at the destination visited. Instead of extravagant beach getaways, some Americans are sharing their time with people in need. In fact, according to some recent studies, the number of organizations offering volunteer vacations has doubled over the past few years. One of the many great things about voluntourism is that people of all ages and lifestyles can participate and offer something unique to the cause.

For those who aren’t too keen on traveling overseas or simply want to volunteer their time to causes within the United States, there are many voluntoursim opportunities that exist here in your own backyard. The US government has a site (serve.gov) dedicated to helping Americans connect with volunteering opportunities. Websites like these offer a starting point for those interested in giving their time and efforts to a cause like yours.

In this article, we cover a few helpful tips for those interested in launching a voluntourism event.

Keeping It Affordable

Keeping expenses low can make a voluntourism trip even more enjoyable. Every effort should be made to reduce the expenses incurred by your volunteers. Think creatively for ways that your organization can partner with other local nonprofits and businesses to reduce costs. For example, contact local restaurants or churches to see if they would be willing to provide reduced-cost or free meals for your volunteers. Ideas like these are great ways to reduce costs and make the experience that much more enjoyable for your participants. After all, providing a memorable experience will help to build a lasting relationship with the individuals involved in your cause – and make them that much more likely to return in the future.

Research Fun Things To Do In The Area

Your location may have more to offer than you think. Don’t rule out your organization as a potential voluntourism destination just because you believe that you live in a boring city. Often times, people overlook the many interesting sites in an area. Do your research. Request travel guides for your state, search the Internet, and maybe even take a road trip to explore your location with an open mind. Recreational parks, monuments, historical sites, and even sporting events are great attractions to keep in mind. Remember to look beyond your backyard – you may find something of interest as much as a couple hours from your …

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New York Hotels – Tips to Find the Ideal Hotel

New York regarded as the beautiful city of skyscrapers, with its large variety of just about everything, from restaurants to food stores, and the numerous hotels. Many hotels dot the city’s skyline, ranging in accommodation, price, and style that suit every taste. New York Hotels are simply heaven for the large number of tourists that visit the city and enjoy their grand stay.

New York Hotels are present in every pocket of the city. If you cannot afford luxury hotels, then the moderate priced hotels are a good option. The types of rooms in a hotel in New York City vary from the elaborate suites that range with price tags of more than $500 per night to those that charge a flat, cheap rate by the hour. Before choosing a New York Hotel to stay in, it is imperative to ask yourself the following questions in order to determine the ideal place.

1. What area of New York do you plan staying?

New York is divided into various districts and these districts determine the range of hotel fees, thus you need to make up your mind if the hotel should be located in Manhattan, where most of the New York attractions can be found. Alternatively, if you want to stay in an upbeat district, then the hotels in Greenwich or Soho would be your ideal locations. Those desirous for a fun trip in the city should check out the Pod Hotels in the trendy Midtown East part of the city, located close to Radio City Music Hall and Central Park, with small rooms that include free wi-fi services, LCD televisions and MP3 player docking stations.

2. Who all are accompanying you, including pets, if any?

Incase you have a large family or kids, then not all New York Hotels can open their doors to welcome you, the suggested hotels would be the Hilton Time Square and the Doubletree Guest Suites, which are both well known for warm, effective and reliable service. The list of hotels would narrow down further if you are carrying pets with you, though hotels like Carlyle Hotel and 70 Park Avenue Hotel even offer dog-walking services incase you get busy touring the city yourself.

3. How much are you willing to spend?

Once the location and the number of people accompanying you is set, the next step is to consider the budget, as the New York Hotels range from the exorbitant, luxury hotels to the wonderfully cheap and affordable variety, depending upon the features and services you would like.

4. What services and features would you require?

If you are on a holiday trip or planning to host a gathering then you maybe interested to check out the hotel facilities and see what suits the events, or what kind of services the hotel provides. Not all hotels come with facilities like a spa, fitness centre, Olympic sized pools, thus consider all these points when choosing a hotel. In case you are on an official business trip, …

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