Planning a budget trip to Hawaii? These are our favourite frugal and free things to do in Waikiki for $5 or less.
When Ryan and I took our first international trip together as a married couple, we went to Hawaii. While we had long dreamed of warm weather getaway, we hadn't exactly spent much time planning and saving for the trip. A combination of fortuitous factors meant that we snagged a last minute departure and a great hotel deal at the final hour - but we didn't have a lot of money to splurge on Hawaii's biggest temptations, like submarine rides, helicopter tours, and famous luaus. Instead, we put together a list of extremely frugal and free things to do in Waikiki, our main base. The result was an incredible week in a tropical paradise and a very affordable one as well.
My goal for this list was to limit costs at $5.00 per person or less and to concentrate primarily on the Honolulu neighbourhood of Waikiki but you will find great value at many price points across the state. Whether budget travel is a necessity for you or simply a preference, I think you'll love this affordable take on Hawaiian travel.
Axe throwing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, is easy for everyone.... except maybe not for anti-adventurists like me. This is what happened when I stepped on the axe throwing platform at the Boxing Rock Brewing Company.
Have you ever signed up for an activity you're a little unsure about it and the organizer tells you not to worry, that they've never lost someone/ had someone capsize/ had someone utterly fail? It's a heartening speech designed to bolster low confidence and soothe the very nerves that lead to shaky performance. And thus far, it's proven true for me.
Until now, folks. Until now.
This is what happened when a confirmed anti-adventurist (that's me) took on one heck of a crazy challenge (that's axe throwing in Shelburne, Nova Scotia) and utterly failed.
Rogers Interzip zip line connects Ontario and Quebec and offers unparalleled views of downtown Ottawa and plenty of thrills. But would this anti-adventurist be able to take the ultimate leap of faith?
There are many reasons a person might decide to step outside of their comfort zone. Perhaps they want to test their limits, experience life to the fullest, or make an incredible travel memory. Or maybe, just maybe, they want to show their husband that they don't know you as well as they think they do.
The latter was me. In an effort to make Ryan think "Hmmmm.... Maybe I don't know Vanessa all that well. She is far more enigmatic than I gave her credit for" I found myself on what is billed as the world's first interprovincial zip line.
Yes, fellow anti-adventurists. I went zip lining. On my wedding anniversary. All so I'd appear just a smidgen more inscrutable than normal to a spouse who knows me very, very well.
The best things to do in Kittery, Maine, for foodies, history lovers, shoppers, and more.
Coastal Maine has long been a favourite spring time destination for my family. I love shaking off the last days of winter and road tripping to the shore to soak in the gorgeous gardens (seriously, does everyone here have a green thumb?) and listen to the waves, and maybe search for a bit of beach glass. While there are no shortages of sweet spots to base ourselves, we've grown partial to one area in particular. There are so many things to do in Kittery Maine that we always find ourselves happily occupied for a long weekend and we usually start planning our next trip on the drive home!
On our most recent trip to Kittery, Ryan and I brought along our dog Oliver. Oliver is one discerning traveller and he loved every spot on our list! I bet you will too.
What are the best souvenirs from Paris? We spoke with Jo Karnaghan, author of The Ultimate Paris Address Book, for her recommendations. This is what she has to say about everything from second-hand books to Chanel bags.
Long time readers of TurnipseedTravel are well acquainted with my friend Jo, the voice behind FrugalFirstClassTravel.com. Her hometown expertise for Sydney, Australia, has featured prominently in early blog posts here (like this one about the best sweet treats in Australia and this one about an insider's guide to the city). Over the years, we've not only connected in Sydney but also in Ottawa and even in Athens. Jo was by my side when I almost caused a bit of a scene in the Athens meat market! But if there's one destination that I always go to her for advice about, it's Paris. And there's no better person to connect with to chat about souvenirs from Paris.
Jo first visited Paris in 1991 on a bus tour of Europe. While she didn't stick with the formulaic group tours (can't blame you there, Jo!), she DID stick with Paris and has been back to the City of Lights about 20 times - and counting. In fact, she was in Paris when she conceived the idea for her blog. As she says: "It was mid 2011 and I was sitting in a cafe on rue du Bac. I literally wrote out my first "business plan" on the back of a paper napkin. (From memory I was eating duck confit as I did it)". Frankly, of all the possibly souvenirs in Paris, coming home with a vision for a travel empire seems like the best possible one of all! But for more every day gifts and souvenirs, I knew Jo would have amazing suggestions. After all, she packs light (so she knows a thing or two about being practical), she embraces frugality (hey, it's right there in her blog name!) and she always has an eye out for a first-class experience.
I chatted with Jo about her new book, The Ultimate Paris Address Book, and got her expert advice on how to source memorable souvenirs from Paris. (Plus - there's a special coupon code for readers at the end!) This is what I asked her...
This virtual Moroccan cooking class is perfect for travellers. It's fun, easy, and - best of all - delicious!
There's nothing so lovely as a homemade meal when you're travelling and I learned firsthand just how delicious a Moroccan tagine with chicken, potato, zucchini, carrots, preserved lemon, and saffron can be when you share it with friends. But I wasn't in someone's home and I certainly wasn't in Morocco! Yet that's what it felt like when I took a virtual Moroccan cooking class with Khmisa and Kawtar, a mother-daughter team based near Rabat.
In pre-COVID times, Khmisa and Kawtar hosted in-person cooking classes. However, like so many small business owners, they've had to pivot with the times and now people from all over the world can join them in their kitchen - virtually, of course - to cook and chat with them. While I would have dearly loved to be cooking with them in person, connecting with them over Zoom was an absolute delight. I was the only person in the class and it felt like I was enjoying a wonderful time with my new girlfriends. In between instructions to marinate my chicken, prepare a delicious appetizer, and get my spices just right, we spoke about what foods are popular here in Ottawa, the challenges of lockdown, and - of course - food.
I booked this experience through Airbnb (you can see their class here) and it only cost me about $23 with the exchange rate, making this one of the best travel deals I've ever enjoyed. And I didn't even have to leave my house! Here's what it was like in my virtual Moroccan cooking class.
These are my favourite cozy micro-adventures and things to do in Charlottetown, PEI's capital city and all round amazing travel destination.
As Canada's smallest provincial capital city, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, is just made for cozy adventures. But it's not just the size of this 40,000 strong city that makes it so snug and inviting. Charlottetown's pretty seaside location, impressive architectural history, and prominent place in Canada's political, cultural, and social fabric make for an irresistible combination for visitors. This is where you want to be if you'd like to celebrate the meetings which led to Canada's confederation in 1867, to honour the artistic legacy of Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery, or simply feast on homemade ice cream, rich lobster rolls, and damn fine coffee. With no shortage of things to do in Charlottetown, I've focused on the coziest experiences I've enjoyed in more than 30 years of visits and I have a feeling you'll love them just as much as I have.
With two days in Bordeaux, you'll find plenty of bargains and indulgences to choose from, from tiny pastries to incredible wine tours.
If there's one thing I learned from my recent trip to Bordeaux, it's that there's no period of time too short or too long to explore. If you have a tiny layover, you can still cram in a wonderful visit. And if you have a week, a month, or even more, you would have no problem filling the time. But for most visitors, I'd argue that 48 hours is a great introduction to this gorgeous French city. My perfect two days in Bordeaux starts like this:
With a coffee and canelé (or three...) in hand, I head to the market, weaving my way along some of the city's best shopping and sight seeing streets. I'm hoping it's a Saturday, as the market is always extra busy then. Then I head over to my favourite wine shop for some amazing browsing, free samples, and maybe pick up a few bargain-priced bottles for later. Next door is le Grand Théâtre, where I'll pop in to see if there are some frugal last-minute tickets to be had. Nearby is the tourism board, where many wine country tours depart from. That's how I'll spend my afternoon, exploring two or three Chateaux. I'd spend my evening at the opera or maybe having dinner in wine country.
Come day two, I'd have a leisurely start with croissants and cafe au lait, before heading to one of the free Sunday attractions listed below. I'd splurge on a wonderful lunch at La Cite du Vin, tour the exhibits, and finish with a free glass of wine. I'd sneak in one more freebie museum or attraction and finish up with some shopping or maybe check out one of the recommend walking routes in my guidebook.
Now your perfect two days in Bordeaux might look exactly like this - or it might be totally different! In an effort to break down some of your best value options, I'm listing my favourite "saves", "splurges", and "steals" so you can craft your perfect trip, at your perfect price point. No matter what you choose or how long you go, I'm certain you'll love Bordeaux as much as I did.
From boats to balloons, Hawaii to hotels, these are ten of our most memorable travel experiences in ten years of blogging.
"But really... what's your favourite place?" "So where should I go next year?" "Well there must be some place you didn't like."
After ten years of blogging, I hear questions like this all the time. Alas, dear reader, I am horrible with these queries. If you need someone to weigh in on finding pizza in Bruges or the quality of food tours in Quebec City, I am your girl. But sweeping generalizations are not my strong point. I can tell you about some destinations I didn't like - but I'd also have to get into how I slept funny the night before and skipped breakfast and honestly, that's probably what made me dislike Istanbul on my first visit (for the record, I love it now). The reverse also holds true. I'm convinced that an unexpectedly stellar hotel and accompanying breakfast factor into my long standing enthusiasm for Athens as the spot everyone should visit next.
That leaves the biggest question of all, my favourite place. People seem to think it's a bit of a cop out if I try to explain about how sometimes the most memorable trips aren't the most fun in the moment, or that the things that made me love a trip had less to do with the particular destination and more with other factors in my life. So sometimes I just name Hawaii as my favourite destination but this is what feels like the real cop out to me. Like, a decade spent travelling and writing about the world and my best answer is the one place that has long been established as the most desirable destination? Surely I can do better than that?
And that is exactly what I'm going to attempt here. These are ten of my most memorable travel experiences and destinations after ten years of blogging. I'm not going to go so far as to rank them or even say that they're my definitive top ten travel moments. These are simply the stories that flood my heart with happy remembrances and what they all have in common is that I invariably thought at some point that I truly have the best job in the world. And I do!
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