Monday, April 30, 2012

Laundering Money

Well, not exactly laundering money. Ironing, maybe.

There are many countries, particularly in Latin America, that will accept U.S. currency in addition to their own. However, the bills must be clean, unmarked and in very good to excellent condition. So if I was heading to Latin America, I would start putting aside $1s, $5s, $10s and $20s that meet these standards so I have what I need when I'm ready to take off.

Sometimes, though, I'll end up with a bill that looks good but is a bit on the crushed/wrinkly side. And those I iron. I set my iron on med-high and give the bill a quick once over.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Have you heard about Hipmunk?

Hipmunk is a new tool for finding flights and hotels.

I played around with it for a while. For flights it is really easy to use and I really like the way the flight prices and times are displayed in a grid. Makes it easy to see what is available by several criteria including price and departing time.

I tried the hotel search tool also. That worked fine until I tried to use the Heatmap tool. There is a little introductory video that I watched but I still don't understand how to "read" the Heatmap. Might have to play around with it a bit more.

When I look for airfare I typically start with Kayak but Hipmunk might be worth checking out.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Living in the eastern U.S., I hear a lot about people visiting Disney World in Florida. I wonder how many of the children making that visit know that the original is Disneyland in California.

Disneyland is located in Anaheim, California, just south of Los Angeles. In 1953, Walt Disney started looking for a site that would hold his ideas for rivers, mountains and waterfalls; for his giant teacups and flying elephants; for a fairy tale land of castles and moon rockets -- to be called Disneyland -- a design that combined experiences in a way never done before.

If you will be visiting the original, be sure to do some planning before leaving home. The park itself can be overwhelming and it helps to have an agenda laid out. For instance, one hint from regular amusement part goers is to get to the gate at opening time and go left since most everyone else goes right. That way you avoid the crowds.

Planning will also help by saving you money. Making hotel reservations well in advance gives you a choice within a wide range of prices, instead of last minute having only the most expensive available to you. And planning ahead allows you to save on your Disneyland tickets by being able to order them before arriving in California.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

For Princess Gamblers

I was reading Cruise Critic and there was a question about being able to get chips at the table using your cruise card. I knew it was possible to get cash at the slot machines using the cruise card. I had actually written a post for this blog on using the slot machines to turn cruise credit into cash.

Well, word from current cruisers on Cruise Critic is that you can just lay down your cruise card at the table, tell the dealer how much you want, sign a slip and get the amount in chips. There is no longer a fee.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cabs and Credit Cards

You arrive in a new city and plan on taking a taxi cab from the airport or from your hotel. And you plan on paying by credit card. While most taxis in major cities can accept credit cards, a lot of the drivers don't like taking them and will tell you, at your destination, that you have to pay cash.

So, if you really want to use that credit card tell the driver how you'll be paying BEFORE you get into the cab. If the driver tells you that you'll need to pay in cash, grab another cab.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Picking The Right Airline Seat

Ever end up with a seat in the row in front of the emergency exit row -- and then find out the seat doesn't recline? Ditto with the seats in the last row in an economy cabin.

Do you have an overnight flight and don't want to be near the galley or the bathrooms?

Several websites can come to your rescue and help you pick the best seats or simply avoid the worst ones.

The sites are Seat Guru, Seat Expert and Airline Quality.

Seat Guru has really improved since I first started using it. Previously, a bit of research had to be done, finding the equipment that was going to be used on my flight. Now Seat Guru, like Seat Expert, asks for your flight information and finds the equipment for you. Airline Quality goes even further by providing airline and airport reviews.

All of these sites are a wealth of information. For instance, on Seat Guru, when you click your airline, a page comes up with detailed airline information including equipment, contact information, and in-flight amenity information. Tabs along the top provide additional information about baggage and check-in requirements.

Ever wonder if you should spring for the extra bucks to get an upgraded economy class seat? United calls them "Long-haul Premium Economy Class." The chart on the Seat Guru site shows that generally, the premium seat provides 3 to 4 inches of additional leg room. If you have a long haul flight, the cost of that premium seat might just be worth every penny.