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?!?!
"Just how much is a Gondola ride in Venice?"
Have you ever seen a news report about a ferry that tragically capsizes, unable to bear the burden of its oversized load of passengers and parcels? Thankfully, I've never faced a travel crisis that dangerous but I did have a moment of genuine fear and intense claustrophobia in the most unlikely of boating destinations: Venice!
We emerged from the train station and approached the water bus 'stations' - aka the vaporetto terminals - with enthusiasm and confidence. Not only would we ride to our hotel in comfort using water borne public transportation, we'd also have a classic Venetian sightseeing experience for a fraction of the price of a gondola! After all, I had looked into how much a gondola ride is in Venice and I was shocked. More on that in a minute.... I thought I was a genius for picking an alternative plan. A vaporetto ride costs just a few Euros. Brilliant plan, right?
Alas, our brilliant plan wasn't as unique as we imagined - everyone else had the exact same idea! It was peak time (early afternoon) in peak season (a weekend in August) - and those boats were PACKED. We let the first water bus (aka the vaporetto) pass, alarmed by the amount of passengers bursting its seams, certain the next boat would be better. Ha!
Flying with Turkish Airlines has opened our eyes to a different style of travel.
Lemonade, mint soda, or fruit punch? Step inside the most colorful, coziest, loveliest way we've ever gone from point A to point B! Traveling from Montreal to Istanbul with Turkish Airlines business class was an unforgettable experience and a wonderful lesson in travel elegance. We will never look at travel the same way again!
This trip marked the one and only time we've ever flown in business class (well, okay, there was that time Ryan managed to weasel his way to first class while on route to Las Vegas but that's a sore point). And, just like you'd imagine, it was absolutely divine! But it comes as no surprise that flying in business class is "nice." We wanted to bring you behind the scenes to see just what our experience was like so you can decide for yourself if the upgrade from economy to business is a smart move for you.
How much time do you need to make your connection? It's hard to say...
I have an 18 year old bone to pick with a certain travel agent in Kingston, Ontario. As a naive (some might say angelic) first year university student with virtually no travel experience, I eagerly put my blind faith in the itinerary given to me when I presented myself in their office to book my holiday flight home. With just a 45 minute layover in Toronto's Pearson airport, I thought I had won the lottery. Who would ever want more time? Ha! I learned the hard way that the 45 minute layover is synonymous with disaster. Let's just say I got my cardio that day -and I vowed to be master of my own travel game.
Readers often ask me if they can make a connecting flight within a certain time frame. Unfortunately, it's an impossible question to conclusively answer. There are so many variables for every traveler and airport. But I can share my best strategies and advice for making the most of a tight connection and improving the odds of catching your next flight. So tighten your shoelaces and prepare to abandon all moral principles! This is how you make it through an airport in record time!
A blizzard and a busted battery left us in a bad situation that was rapidly getting worse. We learned (almost) the hard way just how dangerous winter road trip travel can be.
Winter driving is a fact of life for those living in cold weather locations, like us here in Ottawa. We mark the start of the season by installing new snow tires and celebrate its end by driving around in flip flops as soon as the temperature climbs above the freezing mark. Every winter is a delicate dance between a deep seated desire to leave the house and a prosaic prudence that warns caution and urges us to stay home.
Fortunately, we've had mostly good luck on our winter road trips - and so far this year we're having a wonderfully mild season - but one bad past experience proved to be a timely reminder on the importance of relying on preparation, and not just good fortune.
We broke some basic travel rules and learned our lesson the expensive way. Here's what we wish we had known about booking Calgary Airport hotels with shuttles. Don't worry - there's a happy ending!
Say hello to the Four Points by Sheraton hotel by the Calgary airport! This was our home for less than seven hours when we were cobbling together a series of inexpensive flights to make our way across Canada and eventually to Hawaii. Without enough time to visit friends or see the city, we nevertheless embraced our short stopover as an opportunity to get some much needed sleep on what was a very long voyage.
A quick look at a map told us that were many Calgary Airport hotel with shuttles that were so close to the airport, they were practically touching it and, even better, there were dozens of properties to chose from. That gave us an advantage when it came to online booking. We knew we were spoiled for choice and the Four Points won thanks to a combination of its price (under $100!) and its star rating (it was less expensive than some adjacent three star properties.) This was a chance for us to treat ourselves to some sweet stop-over sleep and we were very smug for being such savvy spenders.
Little did we realize we were about to make a big, BIG mistake!
Going to Newfoundland is an amazing journey. But how do you get there? Should you take the ferry crossing to Newfoundland - or is there another option?
There are few places that can boast such stark beauty and warm hospitality as Newfoundland. It's with good reason that so many people travel there each year. But getting to Newfoundland takes a bit of foresight and travelers always debate if they should fly or take the ferry. And if they do take the ferry, which one? I'm hoping my research and personal experience will help!
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has two distinct (and equally amazing) parts. Labrador shares a border with northern Quebec and is accessible by plane and by car. Visiting there also requires planning and preparation for transportation -a topic deserving of it's own future blog post! The more visited island of Newfoundland is traditionally accessed by commercial airlines from other Canadian provinces (plus some international flights) and by passenger ferry run by Marine Atlantic from Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. But which way of travel is best?
I've experienced all the ferry routes multiple times and have flown in and out of St. John's and Cornerbrook quite a bit as well. I even lived in St John's for a few years during grad school! So while I'm no means an expert, this is the information I wish I had before my first few trips and some tips and tricks I learned along the way.
Layovers are so much more than just crossing another city off your list...
Seeing two cities for the price of one? That's the beauty of a flight layover and it's a key strategy in how we see the world for less. In a recent post, we shared our best logistical tips and tricks for making the most of your layover time - and hopefully inspired some of you to embrace a layover on your next trip. But the 'two in one' concept is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why we're in love with layovers. If you're still a bit hesitant about embracing them, if you're still not sure that it's worth the planning and preparation, I hope we can convince you otherwise!
Two trips for the price of one? It's not a scam! It's a layover and mastering layover logistics is how we see the world.
Istanbul, New York, Singapore, San Francisco, Stockholm. We've seen all these cities (and more!) for free, thanks figuring out layover logistics when we travel. 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.
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