Resourceful Ways To Save Money For Travel

Have you been eyeing an Alaskan cruise? Or, even a romantic getaway to Hawaii? Maybe your kids have been begging to go on a summer vacation. Yet each vacation requires some kind of dollar bill and it’s being pulled in every direction. In order to help, here are some great and resourceful ways to save money for travel. Because the best time to travel is always now and the benefits of travel are far greater to your well-being!

  1. Get a travel agent! They can save you money on your trip in ways you wouldn’t be able to if you booked on your own. Get the sale, deal, and more for your buck just by having a travel agent book your vacation for you. The best part here at Columbus Travel is that you don’t have to pay for a travel agent’s services because the agents are paid by commission! That means you pay for the vacation you want. The cruise lines, resorts, etc., pay the travel agent, not you!
  2. Probably one of the easiest ways to save and to avoid forgetting to set vacation money aside is to open a savings account specifically for travel. This provides you with the perfect opportunity to set up an automatic transfer from each pay check. That way you know you are not overspending for your vacation or taking out money needed for everyday living.
  3. Start minimizing those extra expenses and use the money instead for travel. Say you are going to buy a soda at the gas station. Instead, use the money you would spend on the soda and put it in an envelope, jar, or somewhere safe. You might be surprised at how fast a dollar here and there can add up. This also applies to grocery store spending. Just look at the bottom of your receipt to find out what you saved that transaction. Whatever dollar amount is given is what you can put into your vacation savings.
  4. Consider getting rid of your landline or cable if you have one. Or do some research and work on the side for some extra income doing things such as selling homemade crafts or having a garage sale. Simple things like lowering your grocery budget each month or not purchasing a gym pass can help towards a vacation. Another possibility is to do what Teri Cettina[1]  wrote called “Pantry Week.” For the months building up to your departure, dedicate one week each month as “Pantry Week.” This means no eating out or buying groceries for that week because whatever you decide to eat must come from what you already have in the pantry and/or fridge. Every penny counts!

Most of all make the savings a couple or family event. Make it fun! Track your savings in a way that is easily accessible and creates action (Example: put a star on the chart). You are saving for something fun, so why shouldn’t the saving part be easy and fun too?!

[1] Cettina, Teri. “8 Last-minute Ways to save for Vacation.” Bankrate. 01 Feb. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2017.

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Beginners Guide to the Dominican Republic

The Caribbean Islands have long been a popular destination for families, honeymooners, and leisure travelers. Recently however, the Dominican Republic has become all the rage for visitors. It is full of wonder, romance, and family adventure. While this is not a full beginner’s guide, it is sure to help you get started on learning about the amazing, exotic island of the Dominican Republic.

Where to Stay: The Excellence El Carmen is the perfect stay for those who want to relax and unwind. Beautiful stretches of sandy beaches at your front door and poolside swim up rooms at your fingertips. This resort is the definition of contemporary luxury. As an all-inclusive, you will have access to 24-hour room service, lavish nightly entertainment, activities such as scuba lessons, and much more! As for the food, you can choose from 12 different restaurants depending on your taste pallet.

Food to try: It’s hard to limit food recommendations because there are so many good dishes. But here are a few must-try foods you won’t want to miss.

  • Sancocho – This Seven Meat Hearty Stew may include ingredients such as beef, pork, chicken, goat, ham, bacon, plantains, corns, etc.
  • Fried Plantains – Eat this as a snack or as a part of your meal.
  • Habichuelas con Dulce – After dinner, try this sweet bean dessert.
  • Morir Soñando – This delightful drink is usually a mix of orange juice, sugar, and milk.
  • La Bandera – A traditional dish full of meat, beans, rice, and salad.

 

What to Do: The Dominican Republic is a bit “more than twice the size of New Hampshire.” But don’t let the size fool you. There are plenty of things to keep you occupied for weeks.

  • Go windsurfing off the beach of Cabarete
  • Samana Tour by Plane (perfect for the honeymooners or couples)
  • Dolphin Encounter Tour
  • Zipline
  • Horseback
  • Santo Domingo City Tour
  • Cave Expedition
  • Snorkel
  • Dune Buggy Excursion
  • Take a Catamaran Cruiser
  • And so much more!

 

Favorite Beaches: The following is just a small portion of the many stunning beaches on the Dominican Republic.

  • Punta Cana – This lovely beach is where many all-inclusive resorts are placed. However, with about 20 miles of beach, there is plenty of space for you to make a comfortable spot.
  • Sosua Beach – If you love snorkeling and diving, then this is the beach for you.
  • Playa Boca Chica – As one of the most popular beaches of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana offers a unique mix of beach, calm waters, and market stands. It is partly surrounded by coral reefs making this beach perfect for families. This is also a close beach to hit if you are spending time in Santo Domingo.
  • Playa Bavaro – This stunning piece of paradise is a main attraction. You won’t regret lying on the soft sand and stepping into the clear water off the shores of Playa Bavaro.
  • Macao – A UNESCO approved beach that is the ideal spot for swimmers and beginner surfers.

 

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How To Get The Most Out Of The Utah Travel Expo

If you have never been to a travel expo before, or even if you have, then you are in for a treat! The Utah Travel Expo, hosted by Columbus Travel will be here January 6-7th, 2017. We can hardly wait! Whether you need inspiration or more information, the Utah Travel Expo is the perfect opportunity to help you plan your next vacation.  Get ready to meet and visit with experts from Delta Vacations, Funjet Vacations, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruise Line, Holland America Cruise Line and so many more! What better way to get help in the right direction than by meeting the experts themselves.

Before You Go:  Set goals for what you would like to get out of your time at the Utah Travel Expo. For example, if you’re just there to browse, then your goal could be to learn about 5 new vacation vendors.

Make a Plan: Get access to a map of the expo (www.utahtravelexpo.com) and know who the vendors are. Make a list of what booths you want to see and be sure to put the “I can’t leave without seeing” booths at the top of your list.  Leave time for browsing, do some wandering and find some new vacation interests.

Take Notes: Write down what you like about each booth you visit to help you remember which ones stand out. Even as you walk around, having a pen and piece of paper comes in handy for writing down questions you want to ask vendors. For example: “What makes your cruise line different from others?” or “Do your all-inclusive resorts have kid clubs or activities catered to children?”

Be Involved: Increase your chances of winning travel prizes or a free trip by entering the drawings. Another way to get involved is to attend the seminars which will give you in-depth knowledge about specific vacations and vendors. And what better way to get involved with others than by bringing family and friends to the expo to start planning and getting ideas for your next adventure together.

Enjoy the Show: If a booth is crowded, come back later. This will give you more time to ask questions one-on-one and get a closer view of a vendor’s booth. If you want to see more booths than you have time for, grab a business card or marketing material that the booth is handing out. Also, plan on doing some walking, good walking shoes are a must. Temperatures in the expo building can vary, so layered clothing can help to ensure you aren’t too hot or too cold.

Hope to see you there!

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Give the Gift of Travel

Need an idea for an extra special gift to give to someone this holiday season? Then look no further! Here are 5 reasons why you should give the gift of travel:

Make memories: Whether it’s your brother creating annoying noises that make you cringe or your family laughing so hard your stomach hurts, these memories last a lifetime compared to the 6-12 month memory span of an object tied in paper and bows. While your material gifts will eventually be given to charity or thrown in the trash can, your travel memories will long be remembered and appreciated.

It’s a family thing: Not a selfie thing. It doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 85, travel applies to all ages. It’s hard to forget a little girl’s face when she meets Mickey Mouse or an elderly father’s excitement about going to a country where his ancestors are from. Not only will you be giving a gift to someone else, but you get to be a part of that gift because you can go along! Travel isn’t excluded to just one person; it can be shared by the entire family.

Increase Knowledge: All who regularly travel know that getting to a destination is more than relaxing on a beach or hiking through a jungle. Traveling not only grants the opportunity to learn about different cultures, but you also learn more about yourself. Kids realize that there is much more outside of the bubble they live in and can learn to appreciate those who are different from themselves.

Unique Gift: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched on Pinterest for “unique gift ideas.” While some items are quite unique, they can’t compare with the excitement travel gives well after the present has been opened. For birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, etc., material objects are always available and new items are being created. There really is no end to it. On the other hand, travel comes in a variety of packages and sizes and cannot be replaced. The experience and memory only happens once because even if you go to the same destination multiple times, you create new memories every time you travel.

Change Your Life: Travel inspires, motivates, and encourages. Experiences abroad can give you better clarity to battle with trials on the home front and to make better decisions. Life isn’t based on the material possessions, but on the memories and bonding experience you make with family and friends. The gift of travel is a way to give the gift of spending time with someone.

Travel is one of the best gifts to give. So for this Christmas and many to come, give the gift of travel.

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3 Ways to go on Vacation

There are three ways to see a destination and no wrong way to go about it. Each will give you a different perspective of the culture and history of the land. Wondering what route is right for you? Here are the advantages of an ocean cruise, river cruise, and land tour:

Ocean Cruise
An ocean cruise is the perfect way to see a broad spectrum of countries and cities and the best part is you only have to pack and unpack once. Not only are you able to set foot onto different ports, but you can get a taste of different cultures through a variety of shore excursions. These destinations are robust and exotic, prepared to enhance your journey for fun and exploration. Landing in different ports isn’t the only experience you’ll enjoy. Your onboard experience is a destination in and of itself. If you don’t want to explore the cities at each port, you can stay onboard. You also have access to islands and locations where you may not have the time or energy to get to by another route. An ocean cruise is easy to plan and there are always great deals to help you save money.

River Cruise
You can forget about asking “Are we there yet?” because on a river cruise, you are at a new port every day! Leave the fears of big open water at home, for these river cruises follow the banks of well-known cities. This vacation is easy to plan and the packing and unpacking is only done once, giving you more time to divulge in the culture and see more on your trip. The ships are smaller than ocean cruises, which gives a more personal and familial touch. All of your shore excursions and meals are included. Don’t want to worry about formal wear and lots of kids? Then you’ve come to the right place because dress code is casual wear and kids are a rarity. Whether you are on or off the ship, you have many opportunities to engross yourself in the culture.

Land Tour
If you want to roam free and set your own course, then a land tour is the perfect opportunity! Enjoy an itinerary personally customized just the way you want it. Even something simple like a dress code is your preference- whether you want to dress formal for the night or casual. With an infinite number of cities you can travel to, your options are endless. Touring a destination by land allows you to catch a view of the scenic route, where you can dive deeper into places no boat can go. On your journey, you can receive insight about the local culture and sights available to you from the people themselves. Since you’re making your own unique adventure, you can count on no surprise costs at the end of your trip.

However you decide to travel, you can’t go wrong. You may even choose to try all 3 adventures!

What way do you like to travel?

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“Must See” Sites in Paris and Rome

Let’s say you’ve never been to Paris or Rome. What are the places you have to go to while you are at your destination?

First, bear in mind that in either Rome or Paris you’ll find hop-on hop-off tours available.  These are usually double-decker buses that cover major tourist attractions, where you can hop off if you want to explore, and then hop on the next bus to continue to more sites on the itinerary.

When in Paris

The “Big Bus Paris Hop-On Hop-Off Tour” is just $36.08 for a one day ticket; however, you should take the “Paris Hop-On Hop-Off Combo: Sightseeing Bus and Seine River Cruise.”  It’s only $51.87 per person for a two day pass during November through March.  Highlights include:

  • The Champs-Elysées, including the Arc de Triomphe (walk the grand boulevard, climb the Arc)
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral
  • The Royal Palace
  • The Eiffel Tower (even riding the elevator it will take several hours)
  • Be sure to eat some French pastries

 

Take an entire day to visit:

  • The Louvre (included in the Hop-On Hop-Off – you can’t see everything and if you try, you’ll o.d.)
  • The Palace of Versailles (take an R.E.R. train)
  • Disneyland Paris (special train ride)

 

When in Rome

The “Rome Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Tour” is a mere $28.19 per person November through March.  You’ll be able to see:

  • Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and Colosseum
  • The Vatican, including St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
  • The Trevi Fountain, and a few short blocks of walking to the Spanish Steps

 

However, you should upgrade to a “48-Hour Pass with Entry to the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum and Colosseum.”

  • You should devote one entire day to St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums.
  • It will take at least half-a-day to see and tour Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum;
  • And you should devote time to enjoying some wonderful Roman cuisine.

 

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GETTING COMFORTABLE IN COACH

You probably think getting comfortable in a coach airline seat is mission impossible and in some ways it probably is.  It seems like airline seats were designed for Munchkins rather than real people.  Here are some helpful suggestions of what you can do to make your trip at 30,000 feet more enjoyable.

  • Get to the airport early, check-in, and get through security.  This will not make your airline seat more comfortable, but it will reduce your stress and anxiety.  You may wish to consider applying for TSA pre-check that speeds you through TSA security.  See: www.tsa.gov/precheck.
  • Check-in with your airline online, reconfirm your flight times, and print your boarding passes.
  • Airlines board their planes by zone.  Inch a bit closer to the entry gate so that when your zone is called you will be one of the first to board.  You are more likely to get overhead bin space than if you board later.
  • When choosing your seat assignment, look at www.seatguru.com.  This helpful web site will tell you what seats to avoid, including seats that have no or limited recline, less leg room, or next to the toilet.
  • Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing that “breathes” well.  Bring an extra pair of socks or slippers so you can remove your shoes.
  • Consider bringing a good travel pillow and something for lumbar support.  This can make a huge difference in your seating comfort.
  • Get up, stretch, and walk up and down the aisle every hour or so.  Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious health concern for all airline passengers sitting for long periods of time.  It helps if you have reserved an aisle seat as you do not need to “crawl” over people to get up.
  • Bring along earplugs, eye masks, and noise-cancelling headphones.
  • To pass the time, have some reading material and/or electronic devices.
  • The sit back, relax, and dream about Hawaii!

 

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The Best Website for Country Information

Are you about to travel to a foreign country? There are websites out there that talk about safe countries and travel requirements. However, there is only one official website geared towards U.S. citizens that gives necessary information you need to help you stay safe, to help up you know what preparations to make, and to help you decide where to travel. That website is travel.state.gov. Here is the information offered for each country destination you research:

Embassy Messages: On travel.state.gov, enter in the desired country destination. It will direct you to a page that specifically talks about the country you searched for. Right under the title of the country, any or all Embassy messages will be there. This is important because if the U.S. State Department has issued any alerts or warnings about the country, this is where you can find out.

Quick Facts: Learn about currency restrictions, vaccination requirements, and how many blank passport pages are required for an entry stamp into the country.

Embassies and Consulates: To contact or locate a U.S. embassy or consulate in another country, you can find all the contact information in this section.

Destination Description: Learn more about the relationship between the U.S. and the country of your choice, as well as, current leaders and facts.

Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements: Read about what official documents you need in order to get into the country and back home to the U.S. This is also the place where you can find out about traveling with minors or when you need a visa.

Safety and Security: While many cities and towns you will be traveling through may be considered safe, it doesn’t hurt to be on your guard. Learn about places or situations you should avoid, what the crime rates are, what the country can do for you, and what to do if you become a victim of a crime.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances: Just because you are in a different country doesn’t mean you are free from the law or that your home country will come save you if you are in dire need of help. Foreigners are subject to local laws.  Inform yourself on criminal penalties, mobility issues, and local laws. If you are a student or a woman traveling alone, read up on information specifically for you.

Health: Any potential health inflicting hazards, medical facilities, insurance, medical payment, etc., are topics of health that will help you be prepared.

Travel & Transportation: Driving or getting around on your own? Learn about traffic laws and safety, road conditions, public transportation, and potential fines.

There is also a map of the country and a link to enroll in the STEP program (which registers your trip with the closest U.S. embassy or consulate) on each country’s page. This website is the key in helping you make the right travel decisions. Go ahead, try it out!

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40 Destinations for Fall Travel

What isn’t there to love about fall? Besides the cool weather and the change in colors upon the trees that happen during this time of year, there are festivals to attend and lots of delectable treats to eat.  As autumn is upon us, think apple cider, warm blankets, falling leaves, and a vacation to a destination that emanates fall. If you love autumn and festivals, then the following destinations are a must-see.

  1. British Columbia, Canada
  2. Dia de los Muertos Festival in Mexico
  3. Vermont, United States
  4. Ukanc, Slovenia
  5. New York, NY
  6. Paris, France
  7. Perthshire, Scotland
  8. Thanksgiving in Plymouth Plantation, MA
  9. New Orleans, FL
  10. Bridge of Orchy, Scotland
  11. Anchorage, AL
  12. Entrenennen (Duck Race) in Germany
  13. Prague, Czech Republic
  14. Portland, OR
  15. Cumbria, England
  16. Munich Oktoberfest in Germany
  17. Bruges, Belgium
  18. Wicklow, Ireland
  19. Portland, ME
  20. Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival in Ireland
  21. Nashville, TN
  22. Piedmont, Italy
  23. Jidai Matsuri in Japan
  24. Loire Valley, France
  25. Jousting of the Saracens in Italy
  26. Ahornboden, Austria
  27. Bavaria, Germany
  28. Masskara Festival in Philippines
  29. Boston, MA
  30. Halloween in Transylvania, Romania
  31. Lugano, Switzerland
  32. Poland
  33. Disney World Halloween Party in Orlando, FL
  34. Diwali Festival of Lights in India
  35. Australia
  36. World Music Festival in Chicago, IL
  37. Bruges, Belgium
  38. Guy Fawkes Day in United Kingdom
  39. Festival of Dashain in Nepal
  40. Mid-Autumn Festival in China
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12 Airport and Airline Etiquette Tips

For the benefit of your flight experience and for those around you, follow these 12 etiquette tips:

Step away from the baggage carousel: By stepping a foot back, you avoid getting bumped with someone else’s luggage or bumping someone with your own.

Not moving? Stay to the side: Don’t you hate it when you are trying to get somewhere and people are blocking your way?  Whether on the moving belt or in the hallway, if you are not moving somewhere, stand to the side.

Don’t cut in line: Each person has places to go and things to do. Be patient and wait your turn in line.

Wait for your zone: If your zone has not been called, there is no need to crowd the boarding area. This blocks people who have been called to board from getting on the plane.

What to wear: As cozy as sweats or pajamas are, the airport is not the best place for them. Always wear something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in by someone you know.

Phone charging: If your electronic device doesn’t need charging, avoid sitting at or near a charging station. Allow space for those who need to charge their devices. If you are charging a device, try plugging in only one at a time, even if the station is not crowded.

Carry-on luggage: When you are getting on the plane, carry-on luggage, including your back pack, should be in your hand. This ensures that the people already sitting down won’t get smacked as you walk by to your assigned seat.

All about your feet: Trays, arm rests, cabin walls, and the seat in front of you were not made to be foot rests.  If you are adamant about taking off your shoes, at the very least, bring shoe scents and be mindful of those around you.

Middle seat person: The person in the middle seat doesn’t have an aisle to stretch out their legs every once in a while and doesn’t have the cabin wall to rest their head. So in all fairness, the middle person should get both armrests.

Bringing food on the plane: No matter how awesome your food tastes or what wonderful smell it produces, when it is trapped in an enclosed space, it can be too much for those around you. If you can, eat your food before boarding and not on the plane. Smells impact people, so let’s be courteous.

Touch screen: The touch screen is not your punching bag. If it doesn’t seem to be responding to your touch, ask a flight attendant to restart your screen. The person in front of you will be grateful to you for not poking them in the back.

Reclining your seat: Out of respect, check behind you before reclining your seat. You will be invading someone’s space, so be conscientious about when your seat is tilted back, especially during meals.

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