Tag Archives: travel

Have you Ever had to Travel at the Last Minute?

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Travel can be expensive, and last-minute travel is even worse! If you’ve ever had to do this, you know it can be a major pain in the pocketbook. I’m in Iowa with my family, and it was a last-minute trip. I had to change plans that were already in place to something completely different in order to come home to Iowa when I did on Friday.

It was costly, to say the least. But, I do have five tips that I jotted down to hopefully save you some money if you ever have to book a last-minute trip.

  • Search every website that you know of. Don’t just go to one site. That’s crazy. Costs will be different on every site. Even if they pull from the same data, you never know which will have the best cost.
  • Let them choose the times if you’re flexible. This is a big tip, because it can spell the difference between spending a thousand dollars, and spending three hundred.
  • Make more connecting flights if you need to. I prefer to fly direct. But if it means a savings a few hundred dollars… I’ll make connecting flights.
  • Call the airline’s hot line. They may have some kind of special last-minute rate for you. I know it’s possible to get discounts if you’ve had a death in the family, for instance. Ponzi and I were planning to travel elsewhere already. I called the airport, explained my situation. The airline was fantastic. They canceled our other tickets and refunded most of them. They also helped me get a lower rate on my tickets to Iowa, as it was an emergency situation. So call the airline. You may be happily surprised.
  • Check nearby airports, and possibly drive the remainder. I could have rented a car and driven it home, had a connecting flight cost a lot more. You can literally save hundreds of dollars this way.

All in all, any travel is expensive these days. Do your research, and try to be flexible when at all possible. This can mean the difference of several hundred dollars.

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What can you do in Argentina? Don't cry…

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Joaquin is a 15 year old community member from Argentina. He and his mother put together this excellent list of things you can do if you are ever fortunate enough to visit this beautiful place.

  • The city of Buenos Aires is gigantic, and each neighborhood offers rewards in architecture, cultural treasures and urban life. Tango was born in the neighborhood of San Telmo and La Boca. The government is located in the Buenos Aires City Center. Shopping is extremely unique, and the nightlife is vibrant. Transportation is abundant, but it’s wise to bring a pair of comfortable shoes and take a walking tour of the city.
  • Iguazu Falls is one of the unclaimed natural wonders of the world. The entire journey there, and the semitropical jungle itself, is an adventure you will never forget… not to mention the endless waterfalls that border with Brazil in this Northern Argentina attraction. Make sure you take the boat ride underneath the falls, and use plastic bags to keep your things from getting wet.
  • Buenos Aires Tango is the most unique cultural contribution Argentina has made to the world in the last 100 years. To make the most of a day in Buenos Aires, the Buenos Aires tango tours are the ticket. You will get a tour of the different areas of where Tango began and why. You get a Tango lesson, tango shopping, a tango restaurant and one of the best Tango shows available. And if this still does not satisfy, you can go to a Tango milonga for late night entertainment.
  • The Recoleta Cemetery is located in the neighborhood of Recoleta. This cemetery brings to life the history of its country like no cemetery in the world. All the legends of Argentina are laid to rest here including past dictators, scoundrels, heroes, and the most famous woman of South America, Eva Peron. The Recoleta Cemetery is a 13-acre labyrinth of concrete, sculptures and architectural masterpieces… so it is a good idea to have a knowledgeable English-speaking tour guide.
  • Bariloche is a progressive Southern Argentina city that is growing swiftly due to its healthy environment. It is located on a lake in the Andes mountains range. Bariloche is also the jumping-off point for outdoor adventures in the Patagonia region. But this mountain town is most famous for superb world-class skiing.
  • Salta is an exotic city steeped in history and located in an arid region in Northern Argentina. This area was once part of the Inca Empire, and the Inca ruins are worth exploring. The famous train here is called The Train In The Clouds. This train offers panoramic mountainous views of the area. Sadly sometimes the train is covered in clouds because its so high up that you may not see outside. Still, Salta is beautiful with historic sights, excellent fishing and a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Argentina beef has become world famous because the cows graze on nutrient rich river basin soil from the Rio De la Plata. In addition, the climate of the Pampas region is mild and moist all year round, making the beef tasty and succulent. The cow itself led the country to an economic boom in the early 1900’s that allowed for great infrastructure, and decadent architecture that remains intact today.
  • Buenos Aires restaurants are where you can find the beef. You pay for what you get in Buenos Aires. Most restaurants have the same Italian menu and are very conservative. However even in those, you will find great parillas, good beef and chorizo. But if you cough up a little extra devauled currency, and go slightly upscale, you will find just about every kind of dining experience available to man at these excellent Buenos Aires restaurants.
  • The Colon Theater in Buenos Aires has hosted some of the most famous performances of each decade over the last century. It is still one of the top opera houses in the world and worth a look. Today it houses one of the most extensive costume collections on the planet.
  • Argentina products and shopping are great! Due to the devaluation of the peso in 2001, Argentina tries to rely heavily on its own industry and production. Therefore, in the shops scattered all over Argentina, you will find unique goods only found in Argentina and at fantastic prices. This includes rare stones, leather goods, and clothes and shoes. And don’t forget about Argentina wine! The Melbec is the best but since it’s hard to pack, I recommended that you finish the bottle before you leave the country.

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How to Travel

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Along with the holidays comes travel to visit friends and family. Here are some great tips sent in by a community member to make your traveling a bit easier.

  • Always plan ahead of time. This will always come in handy especially when holidays come. This is a very famous tip. It will save you money and you will get flight or room ahead of time while late people (people who plan at the same minute as the trip) will have to look and look for a flight or room.
  • Buy online airplane tickets. You should shop online because you don’t have to go over to the place where they sale the ticket and shopping online will be right in front of you and you might even save gas money.
  • Car or bus travel. If you can’t find or afford airplane tickets take the bus or drive your car. This will save you money but this will probably waste gas money but you save money on the airplane ticket so you don’t waste money.
  • Don’t waste money before the trip. You should always save money in case of things you need to eat on the way things you want to buy to remember the trip. The only thing you need to buy before the trip is food and drinks if you are on a car or bus.
  • Get a travel agent. Usually they can find great deals and save you money and can get you a lot of fun with less money the average person spends without a travel agent.

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Cheap Airfare Help

Farecast.com is the first airfare prediction website. They help online travel shoppers save money by answering the question; should you buy now or wait? In their beta version, they now offer airfare predictions from over 75 U.S. departure cities to top domestic destinations. And from a Gnomedexer blog post (thanks Derek), here’s a bulletpointed synopsis:

  • When should you buy airfares, and where?
  • Predictive model of what’s happening to airfares in the past and future
  • Based on a CompSci model from UW
  • Designed to be quick and responsive
  • Lots of filtering and sorting
  • Updated every night
  • Lots of traffic driven in by prominent bloggers
  • Blog interest drove interest by mainstream media
  • “Bloggers I’m telling you, we kick ass.” – Chris

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Yucatan Travelers

If you asked me how it felt to walk among the ruins of Chichen Itza, I’d say it was relatively “surreal.” I’ve seen hundreds of photos / videos of this Mayan landmark, but being there in person was nothing short of amazing. My mind is still digesting what my eyes took in; history comes alive, even in the natural silence between the towering structures. Here’s a civilization that Western cultures once considered “savage,” but they obviously posessed advanced knowledge and skills – engineering, astronomy, mathematics, et al. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.

According to the tour guide, the word “Yucatan” is actually a truncation of a translation given to foreign conquerors by the Mayans; when asked for this land’s name, local leaders responded in Mayan: “Listen. I don’t understand what you’re saying.” The first part of this phrase sounded a lot like “Yucatan” – and that’s what stuck. I also didn’t know that as a country, Yucatan requested of former US President James K. Polk full statehood! Admission to our nation was denied due to then-British settlements to the south. It’s such a beautiful land – not adequately experienced through high school textbooks and television shows.

I’d like to return some day, though not without some kind of professional archaelogical guidance (read: Indiana Jones). I’d want to dive in deeper and get more than just a taste next time around.

Orchard Hotel Review

Ponzi picked the Orchard Hotel at 665 Bush Street for our trip to San Francisco this weekend; we’ll be staying here for a couple of nights before flying back late on Saturday. But I may never want to leave.

First, we found that it was conveniently located downtown – close to restaurants, shopping, and BloggerCon. Second, the doorman stopped what he was doing to smile and open the door for us on our way in. Third, the hotel offered free wired broadband without hesitation or limitation (yes, the information is clearly visible at the front desk).

Fourth, the clerk informed us that daily breakfast was included in our room charge. Fifth, the doorman walked up to us after we checked in to offer brochures which could help us get around the city. Sixth, they have a full DVD library of new movies which they let guests borrow for free (two at a time, unlimited). Seventh, the room comes with over 50 popular cable television stations. Eighth, the TV has a DVD player hooked up to it.

Ninth… do I really need to list a ninth point as to why this is has been the “worst” hotel experience I’ve ever had?! Of course, I use that term loosely – as other hotels pale by comparison. Doesn’t matter what happens from here on in, the Orchard Hotel already can’t score less than four and half (out of five) stars in my book.

I recommend this place, wholeheartedly.