Thursday, July 26, 2012

Keeping Food Costs Low When Traveling Internationally

Start by staying at a lodging that includes breakfast. Be sure to eat hearty so you can get by with a light -- and inexpensive -- lunch.

Buy sandwiches at the local deli or supermarket. Or the classic bread, cheese and wine.

Look for restaurants offering a "plate" or "menu" of the day which are typically cheaper than other menu items.

If the restaurant has a counter or tall tables, eating standing up is cheaper than eating sitting down.

Check the menu if you want to eat outside. In Lisbon we discovered (fortunately not too late) that it was more expensive to eat outside.

If food or water is placed on the table without your ordering it, be sure to ask if there is a charge before touching it. Americans, used to having bread placed on the table, typically dig right in, only to discover the bread is not free. If you don't want the item, politely ask the waiter to take it away.

Check the menu to determine if tax and/or tip is included or if they will automatically be added to the bill. In Iceland, both tax and tip are included in the menu price. Nice!

Stay young and eat at a university cafeteria. This is also an opportunity to have some interesting conversations.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Travel Ideas. Travel Tips. Travel Warnings.

That is the title of another travel blog I've been working on.

While I could be wrong, I believe most of my Travel Snippets subscribers are interested in reading about my personal travels. While it is nice to post a travel hint or tip here or there, I have turned up several resources that are providing me with a lot of tidbits of information and I don't want to clutter my personal travel blog. So Travel Ideas. Travel Tips. Travel Warnings. evolved.

If you have enjoyed reading my Travel Tips in this blog, then you'll definitely want to subscribe to Travel Ideas. Travel Tips. Travel Warnings. New posts drop there every couple of days. Looking for ideas on places to go and things to do? You'll find it there. Want tips to make travel easier? You'll find that there also. And you'll also find warnings about problems in countries around the world to help keep your travel safe.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Travel Insurance - What Happens If You Just Don't Go

Travel insurance can cover a lot of things. It can cover the cost of the trip if you can't go because of illness or death. It can cover flight interruptions, lost luggage, medical expense and evacuation costs.

But what happens to your insurance payment if you just cancel the trip. Well, it depends upon which insurance company you use.

Allianz, formally Access America, will allow you to transfer the coverge, once, to another trip.

With Travelguard you'll lose the premium totally unless (from a question I emailed to Travelguard):

If you have set travel dates for an alternate trip, we can generally modify the purchased policy’s travel dates, destination, etc with a request in writing to match the new trip’s information.

Travelex said it would be refunded if there were "no penalties incurred" (whatever that means) and the trip was cancelled by the tour company due to lack of participation -- not by you.

Anyone have any information about other travel insurance companies?

Looks like this is a good question to ask before buying your travel insurance.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Join Us - We'll Be Heading to Costa Rica!

Jerry and I started looking at tours to Costa Rica. What we found for a small group with a standard fixed itinerary would cost around $3600 per person based on double occupancy (air and insurance not included) for nine days. Not what we are looking for.

First, if we are going to go that distance, I don't want to spend only 9 days. Second, the per diem is a bit on the high side. So instead, I’ve decided to work with my travel agent on a totally customized 14 night itinerary, where the cost will be under $2900 per person based on double occupancy (air and insurance not included). 

The group will be small and personalized -- and the pace will be slower (mostly active seniors) with a focus on wildlife including Tortuguero, Arenal, Monteverde and Manual Antonio.  For those who like a little more on their daily agenda, optional activities will be available to fill out your day.  The plan right now is departure in early April 2013.  Singles are welcome although there is a single supplement.  Final itinerary and cost will be available in a few weeks and the number of participants will be limited.

We hope you'll think about joining us. Please contact me at if you'd like your name put on the interest list! Remember it will be a small group and when reservations open, it will be on a first come, first served basis. So get your request for information in early and you'll be in the first group that receives details.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Buying in the Duty Free Shop - Don't Forget 3-1-1

I had been talking with my daughter about buying stuff in the duty free shop when we flew from Lima after our Amazon trip. She reminded me that I would have to consider the TSA liquids and gels 3-1-1 rule.

When she few from Italy she saw several people had bought alcohol in the duty free shop which is delivered to them directly on the airplane. After they went through customs in the U.S., if they had a connecting flight, they had to pack the liquid in their checked suitcase. This caught several people off guard.

For one, some were traveling only with only carry ons -- like we do -- and really didn't want to check their bag. And others had bags they were checking that were already stuffed to the gills. So there they all sat on the floor in the airport, rearranging their packed suitcases to make room for the bottles they had bought in the duty free shop.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Protecting Your Identity

Since 2007, all US passports have carried Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. Some credit cards also have them. Unfortunately, these devices can be scanned by a nearby person with the right equipment, raising concerns about identity theft. Fortunately, there are now many products available to protect your information and they are not expensive. Here are a sampling of the types of wallets available:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ever Want to Visit LEGOLAND?

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