It's not a hoax or a hack. It's a helpful hint that will change all my future travel plans.
I've said it a hundred times: The great thing about travel is how you're always learning. But today I'm not talking about learning history or geography or languages. Nope, I've been schooled in a whole new way and it changes EVERYTHING!
It all started with my friend Andrea, who blogs at WanderingiPhone. She's an all round lovely gal who appreciates a savvy bargain as much as the next person. Andrea was telling me about an amazing trip she took to South Africa, "hacking" her points to get free layovers and stopovers in Ethiopia, Israel, and Poland along the way (much like we did in 2013 - seriously, we flew around the world for $350.)
And then Andrea told me that Ethiopian Airlines gave her a free night's accommodation at a Hilton in Addis Ababa, plus meal vouchers and ground transportation. Uh, WHAT?!?!
Two trips for the price of one? It's not a scam! It's a layover and it's how we see the world.
Istanbul, New York, Singapore, San Francisco, Stockholm. We've seen all these cities (and more!) for free, thanks to flight layovers. Layovers happen when a plane touches down for less than 24 hours in one city while on route to another and embracing them has become a key part of our value travel philosophy.
Layovers allow us to explore new cities without spending any extra money to get there. In fact, sometimes we even save money! Most travelers avoid long layovers and indirect routes like the plague and thus these undesirable flights are often less expensive. Seeing more and playing less? We'll chose that option every time!
If you're ready to fall in love with layovers like we have, here are some practical considerations for getting the most from the experience.
Kangaroos and Koalas? What Could Be Better?
You don't have to be an outdoorsy person to fall in love with baby rescued animals! Even the most nature averse person can't help but melt when confronted with a small and cuddly critter! Our recent visit to Australia provided us with the chance to meet some of the most unusual animals we'd ever seen and we were grateful for the opportunity to see a different side of the country after spending so much time in Sydney.
Sometimes a Chain Hotel is the Best Idea.
Singapore is home to some of the most gorgeous and unique hotel properties in the world. They offer stunning views, amazing roof top cocktail bars, and the chicest of design. So why on earth did we opt for the Holiday Inn Express on Orchard Road?
In short? We didn't think we'd be in any hotel long enough to appreciate any special features. Arriving late at night from Bangkok, we'd literally be in the room just long enough to sleep before heading out to explore early the next morning. We needed something that was centrally located, close to public transit, clean, safe, convenient, and EASY. It didn't exactly scream hip Singapore style, but it included free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, and rang in at around $150 - not our greatest deal ever, but still a respectable bargain for the city.
You've hit the travelling mother-load at Mother Land Inn 2
Have you ever been so happy to see a place that you nearly cried? In truth, it wouldn't have mattered what Mother Land Inn 2 looked like, or how friendly the staff were, or how comfortable the rooms were. We rolled into Yangon after the worst travel experience of our lives, 20 hours of pure misery on the overnight train from Bagan. It was a bone jarring, flesh bruising, filth accumulating experience and MLI2 appeared to us like a mirage, then an oasis.
5 star location, 3 star room. And the bathroom? Oh my stars!
Every writer - and perhaps every single visitor - dreams of a cozy nest to call their own in Paris. Even the most humble of Parisian hotels can't help but be romantic. All you need to do is look out the window and you'll find a reason to swoon! I've been searching for a while for a "go-to" hotel in Paris and therefore, with a few romantic flutters in my writing soul, I was keen to try the Hotel Academie.
The Osprey Porter 46 is one of the most popular travel packs on the market....
Packing obsessed? Who, me? Maybe just a little! I'm constantly in search of the perfect bag and, at one point, I thought I had found it. In a previous post, I wrote that I was thrilled to have discovered the Osprey Porter 46 - but now that I've traveled with it for over a year, how do I feel?
The Osprey Porter 46 is the absolute lightest pack I've found. It weighs about 1.2 kilograms, much less than traditional backpacks and significantly less than conventional carry on suitcases. A big travel pet peeve of mine is "ultra light" carry on bags that actually weigh closer to 10 lbs! Carry on weight restrictions are increasingly enforced and this bag's tiny weight is a huge asset.
A Review of San Francisco's Hostelling International Fisherman's Wharf
A huge sign asking "Where in the world are you sleeping tonight?" greets us when we enter San Francisco's Hostelling International Fisherman's Wharf at Fort Mason. It turns out this remarkable building has worn many hats over the years, including being an army barracks, a pharmacy, and part of a national park. If you like some history and character with your accommodations, this is the place to be!
Exploring the Hidden History of Alcatraz Prison
For most travelers, being in a maximum security prison with no chance of escape would be the ultimate nightmare; but for me it was the ultimate adventure! When the prison in question is the legendary Alcatraz and it's the 50th anniversary of its closure, the idea of spending a night in jail has tremendous appeal.
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