Monthly Archives: June 2016

What are you wish on travel

unduhanWhen I came back from a week-long vacation in Madrid and Marrakech, my friends bombarded me with questions: “How did you pay for it? That must’ve been expensive…”I’m no millionaire. Or my personal favorite: “Did your family pitch in?” No, I’m a damn independent adult. To be honest, my paycheck is more like a reality check. I’m a writer, living in a 400-square-foot studio in Manhattan that costs half my salary and only fits a quarter of my stuff. Which is why people were amazed (and extremely doubtful) when I explained that the trip was actually affordableI promise, I’m not in debt!

With the stress of bills, rent, student loans and other obligations, it’s easy to resign yourself to the idea that a vacation is more of a “one day” dream that isn’t in the cards right now. But, with the help of some money-saving shortcuts, it can be done.

Rack up credit card rewards

Almost every card out there has a point system or a cash-back clause. So every time you make a purchase, you’re automatically earning redeemable extras on the side. I’m a shameless promoter of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, especially when it comes to travel. If you spend $4,000 in the first three months, you’ll get a 50,000-point sign-up bonus (they just increased it from 40,000 points last November). That’s equivalent to $500 cash, or $625 toward trips AND 3:1 points if you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, you get double points for any travel-related charges (hotels, plane tickets, cabs, restaurants), and 1:1 points for regular consumer purchases. Six months after I got the card, I racked up enough to cover all my flights to Spain and Morocco — a saving of close to $900!

Apply for airline points

Similarly, stock up on those loyalty rewards. Signing up for an airline membership is almost always free, so you can collect miles with each flight you take for no cost. (And you don’t have to stick to just one — I have accounts for American, United, Delta and JetBlue.) if you prefer one carrier over the rest, look into credit card affiliates like Citi’s AAdvantage card. It works similarly to Chase, where it has a huge sign-on bonus, but instead of cold hard cash, it’s in American miles. Think about it this way, every time you travel you could automatically be earning double points: from both your credit card and airline account.

Scope out the travel deals

I’m not a first-class flier. I dig through the bargain bin when it comes to airfare because I’d rather have a four-course meal or a day of activities than extra legroom. So, I often stalk sites like the Flight Deal, SkyScanner and Airfarewatchdog as well as apps such as Hopper and DealRay. Though the latter isn’t free, it’s worth it for the airline pricing mistakes they dig up — I once found round-trip airfare from New York to Portugal for $300! But keep in mind, many of these sale sites don’t show every carrier. Make sure to check Southwest, Spirit, Icelandair, and other budget airlines as well.

Search for affordable destinations

When you’re pinching pennies, narrow down which countries are in your budget. While Australia may have to wait, Southeast Asia is a deal, and there are a ton of affordable European countries to choose from thanks to low exchange rates and discounted flight routes. I went to Marrakech, where the dollar is insanely strong: one Moroccan dirham is equal to 10 cents! I stayed in a gorgeous riad for $50 a night (which was on the high side of typical hotel rates), and the most lavish meal I had — kefta mkaouara (Moroccan spicy meatballs, tomato sauce and fried eggs) and tajine d’agneau (lamb shank with couscous and veggies) at Le Jardin — added up to only $25.

Consider low-cost lodging

No, we’re not talking about bare-bones youth hostels (though, it’s always an option if that’s your style). A host of chic boutique hotels are available for a steal — as in under $100 a night. Favorites include: Ellington Hotel in Berlin, Hotel La Semilla in Mexico, The Royal Beach Seminyak in Indonesia, and Hotel Ambasciatori in Florence. If you do want to live the high life, but can’t afford to splurge on a week-long stay in the penthouse, you can still get a taste of luxury. I usually crash in an economy room for most of the trip, then treat myself to a night or two at a more glamorous resort. JS Tip: Book on Tingo, which reimburses you the difference if the price of your hotel room drops after you’ve paid.

Know more about VAT Refund that you need for

You need to prove that you took the goods out of the country. But if you’re driving or taking the train, you may not encounter a customs agent. France, for example, will consider your application if you get it stamped at the French embassy or consulate at home (bring purchases with you). Submit that, proof of residence, a copy of your plane ticket, and an explanation within six months.

…you forget (or don’t have time) to get the form stamped.

While we can’t officially recommend it, if you’re returning within the export window (often three months), there’s nothing to stop you from bringing everything back.

…your refund doesn’t arrive.

Ann Druery, a U.K.-based advisor who specializes in VAT, says to make inquiries after two months. If your refund was processed by a third-party service like Global Blue or Travelex, try its online tracker. If you think a merchant is ripping you off, your credit card company may be able to help.

Latin American countries are more affordable, with Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic rated among the most inexpensive places to study. Conversely, European countries, which draw more than 50 percent of American students, are not represented on the cheapest list at all. As a matter of fact, six of the top ten costliest countries are European: Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Denmark. You might want to start brushing up on that Spanish.

Best place to visit when you would like to study abroad

Studying abroad is a great way for students to step outside their comfort zones and experience unfamiliar ways of life. It’s becoming increasingly popular with students around the United States, and for some collegiate programs taking a semester away from the main campus is required for graduation.

Still, living abroad doesn’t come cheap. So, how are you going to get the most bang for your buck? That depends on where you choose to globetrot. ValuePenguin, a research firm, recently conducted a study to determine just that.

The team looked at the 48 most popular countries that American students choose to study, and determined the cost of nine major spending habits in each country: rent and utilities, flights, groceries, nightlife/dining out, clothes shopping, recreational, monthly transportation, mobile plans, and a student visa. Each destination was ranked on a scale from 1 to 48 for each category. A “1” represents the cheapest option whereas a “48” represents the most expensive.

Latin American countries are more affordable, with Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic rated among the most inexpensive places to study. Conversely, European countries, which draw more than 50 percent of American students, are not represented on the cheapest list at all. As a matter of fact, six of the top ten costliest countries are European: Switzerland, Norway, Ireland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Denmark. You might want to start brushing up on that Spanish.

Let’s Enjoy Vacation This Summer

The complex algorithms airlines use to set prices can make getting the best deal feel like hunting for a needle in a haystack. But the travel site Cheapair.com has used its fare data to put together a calendar highlighting the best days of the week, and best overall days, to save money on flights this summer.

Here are the key points as you plan that luxurious getaway to Cape Cod/Big Sur/Oregon.

Do fly on these days.

The least expensive days for each month are:

  • June 1st (Technically, not quite summer yet, but why not get a jump on it?)
  • July 26th
  • August 31st
  • September 20th

 

Don’t fly on Sunday.

 It’s reliably the most expensive day of the week to fly. And bumping to Monday won’t make that much difference, saving on average only about $20.

Do fly on Tuesday or Wednesday.

You’ll save an average of about $80 on your ticket on those days.

Don’t fly in July.

 It’s the most expensive month this summer, though if you can fly on the July 4th holiday, you’ll dodge at least a bit of the premium.

Do fly in September.

Overall, it’s the cheapest month of the summer.

The not-too-surprising takeaway is that the best times to fly are, simply, whenever other people aren’t.

Related: Plane Collides With ‘Drone’ Near London’s Heathrow Airport

Of course, the other factor in getting a good deal is when you buy your ticket, with 54 days in advance being the exact sweet spot.

And if you’re deciding whether or not you want to travel at all this summer, remember—we’re in the midst of a solid dip in overall prices. So strap in.