Monthly Archives: October 2011

Tricks, for the Treat of Cheap Airfare!

Here’s a Halloween treat for you! I always get asked about finding the best airfare – what day, how do I find it, etc.

Thanks to one of my favorite travel websites, AirfareWatchdog.com, here are your answers in one consolidated place!

In addition to the tips in the link, I’d like to add just a few more tricks.

1 – Look at the airport’s website to see if there are smaller, local airlines that may fly your route. These smaller airlines may not show up on the big search engines. Examples of these are Allegiant Air and Sun Country.

Sun Country does have layovers in Minneapolis so you might want to think about the time of year if your final destination is not MSP…which brings me to point number two.

2 – If you are going to have a connection,  try to avoid cold weather cities, in the winter. You don’t want to be flying from Boston to LA, only to get stuck in Chicago thanks to a snowstorm. Try looking at connecting through cities in warmer climates during the winter!

My sister once had an opportunity to get bumped, and get a free ticket, from a cross-country flight. She was supposed to have a layover in Houston. It was wintertime. They rerouted her through Chicago. I figured she was going to get stuck in Chicago. Not so. But I still wouldn’t have taken the chance. Ok, for a free ticket, maybe 😉

3 – Always try to avoid layovers in NYC.

Maybe it’s because the ‘big three’ are my home airports but ugh, ugh and more ugh.

4 – Be flexible with your airports and get creative. Flying into the Big Apple, you have at least three options. Flying to Miami? Also take a look at West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Want to avoid the big airports of Vancouver or Seattle? Look at Bellingham, Washington.

Last year the boyfriend and I were flying from EWR to PHX for Thanksgiving — and as expected airfare was a fortune. We were flexible with dates and were able to fly on Tuesday night – which was still very expensive.

Do you know it cost less for us to fly EWR to LAS (yes, Vegas), spend the night and then get one way tickets (it’s only an hour flight so whoever had the cheapest fare won) from LAS to PHX on the Wednesday morning? For the return, I was able to secure a nonstop flight from PHX into EWR.

Even with the additional expenses: cab fare from the airport to the Strip, one night in a hotel AND a cab back to the airport in the morning — I still saved a few hundred dollars, making this convoluted trip well worth it.

We were delayed arriving in Vegas but everything else ran smoothly. Had we experienced a delay leaving Vegas, I might be singing a different tune.  And if you are wondering, I didn’t lose that saved money in the casinos either.

Hope these tricks help you score a great treat and Happy Halloween!


WAH WAH WAH

Why is it that the only thing that is a constant at a drive-through – whether it’s a bank, or a fast food chain – is that the speaker systems are terrible? Does Charlie Brown’s teacher work everywhere?!

With all the technology available to us in this day and age, wouldn’t this be one thing worth updating?!


Rush Hour

On a recent Monday morning, I noticed that people rush to get to a place they don’t want to be (work).

The people who weren’t rushing (tourists) were the ones who wanted to be doing what they were doing.

Kind of like parking on a driveway and driving on a parkway, no?


Meet Plan Go

Meet Plan Go is leading the career break movement in North America. On October 18th, hundreds of people, including myself, attended the second annual nationwide Meet Plan Go event.

Meet Plan Go’s co-founders, Michaela Potter, Sherry Ott and Michael Bontempi, organized an event that was held the evening of October 18th in 17 cities across North America – from New York to Toronto to St. Louis to Honolulu! Events in each city featured a local host, a panel of veteran career breakers and crowds of people filled with wanderlust.

If you have been reading my blog for some time, you may recall previous posts from my experience at the Meet Plan Go local NYC meet up here and also here.

What are your thoughts on taking a break from your career to travel?

Do you think it’s ‘crazy?’

— It’s not. There is a whole community of long-term travelers who are doing it, who have done it and who are contemplating it.

Are you thinking it’s got to cost a lot of money?

— The cost of living in North America is among the highest in the world. For example: the price of my usual lunch (a sandwich) here in NYC is equivalent to a day’s (or two or three) worth of food elsewhere in the world.

Or do you think, now is not the time?

— There will never be a right time. Life is short.

And for those of you who think you can’t do it because you have young children…

— Many people have taken their kids along for the ride. Including my friend Rainer, his wife and two boys who visited 28 countries in one year.

Sherry recently addressed career break travel myths with CNN. It’s good reading for those of you who may think it’s ‘crazy.’

If you are interested in learning more, Meet Plan Go is committed to continuing the momentum online through Facebook and the #MeetPlanGo hashtag on Twitter. Check it out.


City Mouse or Country Mouse?

Just because I have been to Paris does not mean I have seen France. It would be like a foreigner coming to New York City and telling people he has seen the United States.

Large cities only give a taste of the local culture. I think travelers may (I said may, as this post might spark some debate!) get more out of small or even rural towns that may not even have a name, to really get a sense of a place.

Of course in a city there are more opportunities to take advantage of cultural opportunities (museums, theatre and the like), but in my experience, the people you are interacting with, came from somewhere else! And that ‘somewhere else’ is what I like to explore most on my travels.

Being that I spend a good deal of time in NYC in my ‘normal’ life, I like to get outside of cities when I travel and/or vacation.

Comment below. Are you a city mouse or a country mouse when you travel?


Out of Office Reply

The boyfriend and I met an Italian while in Argentina. He was a lovely man who was very much up to speed with US politics, government and vacation days.

Whenever we meet people on our travels, and we confirm that yes, we don’t get six or eight weeks of vacation, the looks, the gasps and the sheer disbelief is embarrassing. I guess they think it’s not the truth, until they ask…only to find out that it is.

Our new Italian friend was clearly distraught by the lack of vacation time offered in the States. He told us that it’s our collective fault. By accepting two weeks of vacation, we, as Americans, have made it okay for companies to continue to offer only two weeks of vacation.

WHY are two weeks socially acceptable? That’s not enough time to recharge ones batteries…no matter where you decide to go…whether it’s across the ocean, or being a tourist in your own town.

When I worked in London, I had four weeks of vacation PLUS the week between Christmas and New Years — and I was only going to be working there for about five months! When I returned to the States and started a job with a company based in the UK, I was offered the same four weeks of vacation PLUS the week between Christmas and New Years.

I don’t know if our Italian friend thinks we should cause an uprising but I have to agree with him. I also have to assume that no one ever laid on their death bed and said, ‘damn I wish I spent more time in the office.’


Great medical care in unexpected places

One of my fears about traveling is getting sick and just wanting to be home.

After reading this story from Legal Nomads and being surprised with the level of care found in Siberia, it’s good to remember that Western medicine may not be the be all end all, and to have an open mind about medical care while on the road.


If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

I have mentioned before that I am not a fan of golf umbrellas.

I have had to duck more times than I can count. I can’t stand when people hold their umbrella like a spear with no regard for anyone around them.

I always wondered why people kept it up when there was just a drizzle (will they melt if they get wet?) or as they walk under covered buildings, or under scaffolding – where clearly there is already a shortage of personal space.

I bought a golf umbrella, in the shop where I took golf lessons. Note 1: I totally believe that golf umbrellas belong on a golf course.

But as there are more and more golf umbrellas on the streets of Manhattan, I decided to join in to increase my personal space. BUT I will only carry it if it is pouring when I leave my home in the morning. If there’s just a chance of rain, or it hasn’t started, I will bring a normal umbrella. The golf one depends on the timing of when I leave my apartment. It’s not used for just any rainy day.

When I am walking past people taller than me (more likely the case than not) I adjust the height of my umbrella accordingly as to not hit their (more likely the case than not) golf umbrella. Far too many douches with golf umbrellas have no regard for where there points pieces of their umbrella will go…in my face usually.

I noticed there are so many people who simply do not pay attention to where there umbrellas are pointing, or where they are walking.

So as I was recently walking with a co-worker, under my golf umbrella, we noticed two women walking with the umbrella opened like a shield but we could clearly tell they were not looking were they were walking. So, with my golf umbrella I merely tapped their umbrella. I felt that my move reminded them to pay attention.

Uh oh. Does this make me a douche with the golf umbrella?

Me thinks it may be time to get the heck out of NYC 😉


Subscribers: a note for you from me

If you subscribe to my blog, you may have been bombarded with emails as I played a game of blog catch up today.

As I made my New Year’s Resolution, one of my goals was to get myself writing consistently, with a post a day for one year.

I apologize. I got behind, very far behind. I usually have drafts saved and ready to go…and as I came up with ideas, I just got behind on actually writing those posts.

If you experienced a barrage of emails earlier today, I apologize. But thanks for reading. Now I should be caught up, and then some!


Passport pages

I have a beef with the newest passports. I recognize this is not a problem in the grand scheme of the world, but since it’s my blog, I just want to point out something that the printers should fix in the next go-round.

While I think the photos on the pages are beautiful and representative of the United States of America, the pictures are too dark.

Some of the stamps I have received are so very light. It’s not that  haven’t thought about asking a customs agent to please ensure they refresh the stamp with a hit on their inkpad, it’s just that I would never do it. But something like my Bosnia-Hercegovina stamp is something really cool to me, and the darn thing is just barely visible.

Granted how and where* I got the stamp is a cooler memory than some ink on a page, but still. WAAAH!

* Our guide was driving us from Dubrovnik into Bosnia-Hercegovina to visit a town called Mostar, with a few stops at smaller towns along the way. We were crossing the border from Croatia into Bosnia-Hercegovina with a local, two Americans and two British passport holders. It was a lovely country road with beautiful scenery on either side.

As we approached the non-descript border we noticed a little shed on the side of the road. The border agents came out, our guide explained in one of those languages that his passengers wanted stamps. Our driver and the border agents all had a laugh and the border agent left for some time and came back with four stamped passports. Obviously mine was stamped first or last because it had the least ink. Not really a situation (I don’t think there is any situation where this would be appropriate) where I can ask him to restamp it please.

Just before we had arrived at the border, one of our travel mates had to ask the driver to pull over on the side of the road to vomit. The roads were winding and she got carsick. We had a laugh a little later, because had she timed it right, she probably could have puked on the border. No passport stamp could be more memorable than that!