Archive | February, 2013

Reviews and Recommendations

24 Feb

Everyone has a little different expectation in mind when they are booking hotel accommodations wherever they are traveling. Some things are more important than others and some things we aren’t willing to compromise on. That’s why it’s beneficial to research and see what other visitors have commented regarding their experiences. TripAdvisor is a site that offers that. In fact, it’s the world’s largest travel site and offers over 75 million reviews to research.

TripAdvisor’s website offers many different things to assist in the travel coordinating process. You can take a look at reviews at a glance without having to read through the whole response, which makes it easy when you’re researching multiple locations. It also offers flight pricing with taxes and fees included, so you’re getting a realistic idea of how much you’ll actually be spending. And you can also save information on potential future trips to your profile and continue researching later. They also recently included another new feature offered on Facebook where you can see if your friends have traveled in the places you’re looking and see what they recommend. To read more about how TripAdvisor and Facebook partnered up click here.

The reason I like to use TripAdvisor, is I can go onto their site and create a profile and it will send information on places I’m planning to visit. This will help in deciding what time of year is best to travel and it also offers pricing on various vacation packages. This site makes it a great way to research and see exactly what people are saying about where you are traveling. The information other people provide you can be very valuable and can help with the things you aren’t willing to compromise. Writing reviews online aren’t just for disgruntled customers anymore, it’s for people like you and me.

If you haven’t written a review online, whether it was for a restaurant or a hotel, please go onto to TripAdvisor.com and write your first review. 

To Buy Travel Insurance or Not?

23 Feb

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Deciding to buy travel insurance is something that people may struggle with when they are getting ready to pay for a big trip. It’s an additional cost to add to the already pricey flight. Some may ask if it’s worth the extra expense or not. I’d like to offer the reasons I believe traveler’s insurance is essential, especially when traveling abroad.

As I usually do before I make a big purchase, I ask around for opinions regarding what other people have done in their travels. It wasn’t long before the few people I talked to strongly encouraged me I wouldn’t regret purchasing travel insurance. There is something to be said about buying the insurance and having peace of mind before you even leave for your trip. Many different things can come up between the time you purchase your tickets to the time you’ve arrived to your planned destination.

There are many reasons you could need the insurance, such as the chance of getting sick before the trip, having a canceled flight, lost luggage, or god forbid you need to visit a hospital wherever you’re traveling and the list goes on. Travel insurance is designed to help cover those costs and won’t leave you traveling vulnerably. After all, purchasing traveler’s insurance isn’t very expensive when you think how much money it could save you in the long run. In some cases, traveler’s insurance pays up to $250,000 in medical expenses. Here are a couple of useful things to know before you book your trip.

  1. Most often when booking travel online there will be an opportunity to add on travel insurance at the time you enter your payment information, so you don’t have to necessarily go out and buy it from another company (unless the coverage isn’t great).
  2. Some credit card companies offer travel insurance if the entire trip is purchased on their credit card. Call your Credit Card Company and find out – could save you some money. (I know Capital One and American Express offer it)
  3. Know what the insurance will cover! Like anything, some are better than others. It’s important to have this information in the event you will actually need to use it.
  4. Not all health insurance companies will pay for medical expenses abroad, so understand what’s covered and what’s not if you are thinking of not purchasing the insurance.

If you are not given the opportunity to buy traveler’s insurance when you book your travel, you can click here to learn how to buy good travel insurance.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you’ve had to use travel insurance on a previous trip, please tell me about it by leaving a comment. Interested in hearing more about travel? Subscribe to my blog and follow me on Twitter @lindseyagrellas

 

 

Thinking About a Trip to Ireland?

18 Feb

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Some people call it the travel itch and I definitely have it. Two years ago my husband and I decided we would take a trip to Ireland. We traveled in May 2011 for ten days and had an awesome time. The island is so much prettier and greener than any picture or movie could ever depict. Before we even left we were talking about making a trip back. Not only was Ireland a great country with great people, it’s also a great place to go because it’s small enough to see a lot of the country in little time. With that said, I want to share my knowledge and advice for vacation packages to Ireland.  If you’re looking for a little adventure I believe this is the best bang for your buck.

When I started researching Ireland I wasn’t even really sure where to begin. I had never been out of the country (other than a cruise to Mexico 7 years earlier) so I didn’t have any experience with international travel. I started seeing more and more information on Bed & Breakfasts (B&B), so I started to do a little research and comparing pricing. I came across this site www.AuthenticIreland.com and requested for more information. I was very impressed with the quick response from an actual human being and not an automated e-mail.

After I told the travel consultant roughly what we were looking for she offered me this, “Go as You Please” Bed and Breakfast tour. This was a package that gave an allowance of daily travel vouchers (depending on how long you were staying) to a B&B. It allowed either booking your B&B prior to arriving in Ireland or book it the night before and you just give the voucher at the time of your stay. The flexibility on the trip would allow us to spend more time in one area or another and there are more than 1,000 participating B&B locations available in Ireland. This package surprisingly included a rental car, as well. We ended up booking with them and I was happy. There also weren’t any hidden fees or things that came up that weren’t expected, which was always a fear for me, so that also made me happy. It was nice that since (quite obviously in the name) the Bed & Breakfast gives you your first meal of the day, so one less meal to worry about spending money on. We would each eat a decent breakfast, then a snack, then dinner. This way we weren’t spending 3 meals a day out. Got to make up for the beer expenses somehow!!

This Go as You Please package flexibility really made our trip fun and exciting. Just being able to decide the night or two before where we’d be staying and in which county made things that much more interesting. The Authentic Ireland Company also mailed us a complimentary package of maps, coupons, guides to major cities, and other useful travel information (including B&B vouchers – but those you paid for to get the complimentary pkg…ok so maybe it’s not complimentary).

I do recommend if you’re going to do a bed and breakfast tour that you book your B&B for the first night (or two) and your last night (or two) just in case. When we went there they were having a bank holiday or public holiday and rooms were a little harder to get the last couple nights. I also recommend, if you’re a student, bringing your student ID. I’m thankful I did because I got discounts at a lot of the castles and museums.

Our Package Included

  • B&B Accommodation – For as Many Nights as You Require
  • Rental Car – Includes Insurance, Unlimited Mileage & All Taxes
  • Full Irish Breakfasts – Sumptuous Full Irish Breakfasts Each Morning
  • B&B Guide – Details All Participating Properties – More than 1,000 Nationwide
  • Optional Upgrades – Include a Castle, Dublin Hotel or Medieval Banquet
  • Your Vacation Online – 24/7 Access to Your Tour Details & Travel Documents
  • 5-Star Customer Service – Expert Advice, VIP Service & 7-Day Travel Helpline
  • Risk-Free Cancellation Policy – No Change or Cancellation Fees

So if you’re interesting in book a trip to Ireland, I recommend using Authentic Ireland. They offered prompt, professional, and accommodating customer service. The price was pretty reasonable considering it included your B&B and a rental car. It’s always a little scary booking your first international trip, so having some knowledge and background as to what worked for someone else is always helpful.

If you’re interested in booking a trip to Ireland, please share your comments or ask questions.

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Pub in Doolin, County Clare

 

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Cliffs of Moher – Where I got engaged!

 

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Blarney Castle Mansion, County Cork

 

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Blarney Castle grounds (a view from top of the castle)

Money Saving Tip for Booking Travel

16 Feb

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With the tight economy there aren’t as many people traveling out of the country for leisure. So when I decided I wanted to take a trip to Europe after graduating this year, I thought about how it was important to make a conscience effort to research things and make sure I save money any way I can. In doing so, I’ve been telling people about my trip and getting new ideas and tips on how to save some money. In turn, I’m sharing this money saving tip that made me happy when it saved me $140!

A lot of us shop around online for the best price when booking travel. Most of us want to make sure we are getting the best bang for our buck and why not try and see what options are out there if it’s available to us. So I got to talking with a colleague about my impending trip and she gave me a very interesting tip that became very valuable to me and ended up saving me some money I can use on actual vacation ventures.

My colleague told me websites cache your information when you visit their site and if you leave that site and go back shortly after they recognize your cached IP address and bump the prices up. This, I believe, was designed to create urgency to get people to book before the price goes up again. I thought this was pretty awful but remembered this conversation when I was ready to book my flight.

I was online with my credit card in hand ready to book (flight in cart) and the internet went down. After dealing with brief internet technicality I went back online to the same website and requested the same flight I had in my cart a few moments before. What do you know…the price went up by $70 per person! I remembered my colleague’s advice and closed my web browser and opened it back up and put “InPrivate Web Browsing” on so the website I visited couldn’t be tracked back to me, went back in and requested the same flight and the price went back down! I was in shock but was so glad I was given this useful tip. Here’s a “how to” on private web browsing and I’m hoping this money saving tip can put a smile on your face like it did mine when I saved $140.

How to save money booking travel:

  • If you are using Internet Explorer to book your travel, press Ctrl+Shift+P and there will be the words “InPrivate” next to the URL in the top left hand corner.
  • If you are using Google Chrome as your internet web browser, press Ctrl+Shift+N and it will pull up a “New Incognito Window”, which does not allow websites to track and store your IP address.

I invite you to apply this money saving tip next time you are booking travel, whether you’re booking a short weekend trip or a long vacation to Europe.

I’m interested in hearing any comments about this fascinating tip. Have you ever heard of this before? Has this ever saved you money?

Thank you for reading!

Photo Credit: http://www.businessinsider.com/free-alternative-to-microsoft-office-adds-new-users–and-hackers-2012-2

The things that make us happy

10 Feb

What each person finds as their way to make them happy can vary significantly. I live a very busy life with many new and exciting ventures all the time. I’m repeatedly finding myself trying to balance doing the things I enjoy that make me happy. I personally enjoy traveling, cooking, and doing things with the ones I love. In doing the things that make me happy, I’ve learned through personal trial and error and through tips and tricks on how to do things easier and/or more conveniently. With this knowledge I’d like to share it with anyone who would like to read it.

It’s safe to say that everyone enjoys saving money since we all work hard to earn it. With an impending graduation from college I’ve decided to take a trip to Europe this summer. It’s not an easy task to organize a trip out of country. I always like hearing about ways to make sure I’m not being scammed by some company wanting to earn a couple extra dollars off the next person. In my new blog, I will do my best to give offer the information I’ve received on how to travel most cost effectively and overall what types of things we can do to keep our sanity in the busy lives we live in.

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