Category Archives: Travel

Your Dream Trip Will Be Comes True

imagesIf you’re a budget conscious traveler, you likely already know about farecasting sites like Hopper, FLYR, and Kayak, rock-bottom flight deals to Europe on carriers such asWow airlines, and the destinations where your U.S dollar will go the farthest this year.

But do you know how to save the money for your trip to begin with? If you consider yourself a newcomer to the world of personal finance, read on. Diane Harris, editor ofMoney magazine, shares her tips for saving money, below.

Make your goal concrete.

“When it comes to something like a trip—a very particular goal—there are a number of tricks to get yourself to save more,” explains Harris. “The first would be to make what you’re saving for as concrete as possible. Decide which vacation, when, where you want to go.”

“Also, put a number on it. Set a budget. See how much airfare would cost, your hotel, meals. Have a very specific idea of how much you need to meet your goal,” Harris says.

Find pictures of the destination, and post them by your computer. Or have a picture in your wallet—the more that you can remind yourself of the goal the more likely you are to save.

“Also, put a number on it. Set a budget. See how much airfare would cost, your hotel, meals. Know how much you need to meet your goal.”

Make saving easy.

“The next thing you want to do is make it easy on yourself,” says Harris. “Most of us are creatures of inertia—if you have to think about it each time you put money away, life will intervene.” Instead, Harris suggests setting up a separate travel savings account with automatic deposits. All it takes is filling out a simple form at the bank, or making a request to your HR department to have portions of your paycheck deposited into separate accounts. “Money that we haven’t touched—we don’t miss. You will automatically adjust your budget,” says Harris.

Also, if you have a sudden windfall (a raise, a bonus, a tax refund), put a portion of that toward saving for your trip as well.

Make it public.

Tell other people about your goal. “There’s a whole body of research showing that if you tell someone what your goal is, and if you write it down, you’re much more likely to achieve it. Tell your mom, tell your kids, tell your friends and co-workers that you’re taking this trip. Write it down and put it on your refrigerator or your bulletin board at work.”

Hold yourself accountable.

“The last thing is to hold yourself to it, to make yourself accountable.” There are a number of online tools to help with this step, but Harris recommends Stickk, a site designed to help people set goals, and then achieve them through reminders and alerts. You can even designate a friend as your “referee” to monitor your progress and keep you on-track.

Those are the basics, but Harris offered a few other tricks as well.

Save your change.

“Never pay with change—only pay in paper currency, and you’ll have a bunch of change at the end of the day,” Harris suggests. “Taking all of your loose change and putting it into a jar actually adds up,” she says.

Keep your hands to yourself.

“When you are shopping—don’t touch anything,” she says. “Research has shown that if you touch something, you feel psychological ownership, and you’re more likely to buy.”

Institute a waiting period.

“To avoid impulse shopping, wait 24 or 48 hours before you buy something. If you think about it again, and you won’t make half of the purchases.”

Write it down.

Another trick Harris recommends is to spend the week writing down everything you spend, from a stick of gum to a magazine. Studies have shown that once you see your habits written out, you’ll self regulate, and cut back.

Luxury Hotels With Affordable Price

Even if you’ve already shelled out top dollar for luxurious accommodations, getting a luxe little something for free can make your stay that much sweeter. While complimentary Wi-Fi and mini bars are nice, some gratis designer duds are even better. Forget stealing those little bottles of shampoo and conditioner—these five hotels provide their guests with some of the most lavish takeaways ever:

Kahala Hotel & Resort in Honolulu, Hawaii

Presidents, celebrities, and international royalty have been visiting this legendary hideaway for years—which is why they don’t just offer your typical toiletries. Book a suite for access to white sand beaches, stunning ocean views, a plethora of spa services, and—yes—free Bulgari beauty products. Known for their high-end jewelry, the company made these aromatic luxury products for the most discerning of customers.

Langham Place in New York, New York

Manhattan is home to some of the world’s most well-regarded works of art. WhileLangham Place, Fifth Avenue will gladly direct clientele to any number of galleries; the hotel has offers a little something extra for those little guests still working off an allowance. The “Little Collectors” package includes a stay in a Family Place Room or Family Suite, as well as a complimentary framed limited edition print and signed copy of David Levinthal’s book, “Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty.”

The Grand Amore Hotel and Spa in Florence, Italy

This 11-room luxury boutique is all about creating that ultimate personalized experience. Before arrival, guests fill out a pre-check-in questionnaire that covers everything from preferred mattress type to favorite flower. With such one-on-one attention, it’s no surprise that guests receive a departure gift that is both totally unique and completely tailored to them. One couple received an antique cigarette case from the 1930s and a ’60s vintage Gucci tie, while other guests have been gifted Ferragamo, Pucci, and Cavalli foulards.

The Upper House in Hong Kong, China

It might just be enough that their mini bar (or, as they call it, the “Maxi Bar”) is free, but The Upper House ups the ante when guests book Studio 70 rooms. What’s included: an in-room manicure or pedicure from the city’s top salon—using Christian Louboutin nail polish, no less—and a complimentary card holder from the brand to stand out in that next business meeting.

The Gritti Palace in Venice, Italy

Complimentary robes and slippers are always a nice added touch, but this former noble residence on Venice’s Grand Canal goes one step further. Those staying in suites receive handmade slippers courtesy of the Venetian fabric company—and the palace’s interior decorator—Rubelli. And, just to make sure guests feel a little more like royalty, the hotel stocks bathrooms with Acqua di Parma amenities. (That tiny bottle of shower gel retails for $74.)

Tips for save money on next vacation

juAmericans are notorious for leaving their vacation days on the table partly because of work pressures, but also because they think they can’t afford trips. Financial expert Jill Schlesinger visited MONEY to offer a few vacation planning tips:

Set a realistic budget

Do enough research to figure out costs in advance, and then plug the trip in as a separate line item in your annual budget, so that you’re not scrambling to come up with cash just when you’re dying to get away.

Expect the gotchas

From breakfasts to museum costs to special excursions, make sure you’re budgeting well beyond just hotel and dinner costs.

Save separately

To avoid diverting your travel funds to cover day-to-day costs, set up an automatic monthly transfer that will create a separate pot of money dedicated to your vacation.

Don’t skip time off

Even if you’ve got big costs elsewhere, commit at least to a staycation. To make it special, treat it as you would an out-of-town vacation: Spend time at museums or other tourist spots you might not otherwise have time for, don’t check work email, and avoid blowing that time off on ordinary errands and chores.

You should also be aware of foreign transaction fees your card may impose, and see if you can get around ATM fees. Start your search for a new card at MONEY’s Best Travel Credit Cards.

Tips to Avoid Major ATM Fees in Europe

ATMs are getting trickier to use overseas, with some offering “dynamic currency conversion”—asking if you want the ATM to convert your dollars into local money, instead of letting your home bank do it. Agree, and you’ll get hit with a service fee, usually 2 to 3 percent. Some travelers in Europe have spotted sneaky tactics, like buttons that seem designed to confuse you into accepting and machines that ask repeatedly if you’re sure about your choice. Read each screen carefully before completing your transaction.

Also watch out for a double-whammy of fees from your home bank—some big banks charge 3 percent plus $5 for each international withdrawal. The ATM operator can tack on a fee, too. To avoid the extra costs, use in-network ATMs, if your bank has them. We’re not talking about the Plus or Cirrus networks, which just indicate whether your bank card will work at a particular machine. Bank of America customers get fee-free use of cash machines operated by its partners, including BNP Paribas in France and Deutsche Bank in Germany and Spain. Citi has its own branches in London, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. Or, open an account with a bank that refunds ATM charges: credit union USAA, for instance, will give back $15 in fees each month.

Tips for the US Abroad To Visit

If you’re planning your first trip overseas, millennial money expert Stefanie O’Connell has some money-saving tips.

Alert your bank that you plan to take this trip. You don’t want to be in a store, trying to make a purchase only to find out that your credit card is declined.

If you tell your card issuer that you’re going overseas, you may be able to avoid that.

You should also be aware of foreign transaction fees your card may impose, and see if you can get around ATM fees. Start your search for a new card at MONEY’s Best Travel Credit Cards.

 Also watch out for a double-whammy of fees from your home bank—some big banks charge 3 percent plus $5 for each international withdrawal. The ATM operator can tack on a fee, too. To avoid the extra costs, use in-network ATMs, if your bank has them. We’re not talking about the Plus or Cirrus networks, which just indicate whether your bank card will work at a particular machine. Bank of America customers get fee-free use of cash machines operated by its partners, including BNP Paribas in France and Deutsche Bank in Germany and Spain. Citi has its own branches in London, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Russia. Or, open an account with a bank that refunds ATM charges: credit union USAA, for instance, will give back $15 in fees each month.


How much money that you need to visit in Shanghai Disneyland

When guests first enter the doors of Shanghai Disneyland on June 16, they’ll experience a multitude of new attractions, enjoy never-before-seen entertainment, and be the first to see a completely new Disney park.

But how much does it really cost for international fans? The $5.5 billion dollar resort has relatively low ticket prices, but there are plenty of additional costs for those who want to plan a trip around the theme park.

With the park currently open to select Disney staff members and their guests, we dug through their hotel Instagrams, the #ShanghaiDisneyland tags and even found a few restaurant menus in YouTube vlogs. From what we can tell, this is how much a trip to Shanghai Disneyland Resort will cost you—and this isn’t including the flight or souvenirs. All pricing has been converted from Chinese Yuan and rounded to the nearest US Dollar.

Getting There

Flight prices will fluctuate, but one thing that won’t is the cost of a Chinese visa. Each adult American citizen will have to spend $140 on top of the $10 or so required for new passport-sized photos. And if your passport does not meet China’s requirements (you’ll need at least two blank pages, and the passport must not be within six months of expiration), a replacement passport will cost you $110.

Total: $150 – $260

Ticket Prices

Guests hoping to experience Shanghai Disneyland’s exclusive rides, like Tron LightCycle Power Run and Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure, will save money when it comes to tickets. Shanghai Disneyland’s pricing is actually well below that of the California parks. One-day adult tickets are $56 and $76 during peak season; in Anaheim, single-day admission ranges from $95 to $119. (The park is also said to be priced 20 percent cheaper than Hong Kong Disneyland, which is about a two hour flight away.)

Total: $56 – $76


Lodging is pretty reasonable, too. Rooms at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel start at $250 before taxes and fees with the standard option topping out at $340, and the Magic Kingdom Suites range between $478 and $570. The less expensive option, Toy Story Hotel, has rooms starting at $130, with garden view rooms priced between $175 and $220, and park view rooms between $250 and $296, on average. To compare, a weekday off-season standard room at the mid-tier Disneyland Hotel starts at $340, so the savings stack up.

Total: $130 to $570


What exactly will guests spend all the extra yuan on? Food. Soup dumplings are more than six times more expensive inside the park than in the rest of the city, and the pricing of most food items is on par with American parks.

Disney park mainstays, like character cupcakes ($4), churros ($4) and turkey legs ($8) are just as expensive as cute homeland favorites, like red bean buns in the likeness of Minnie ($5), as well as Mike Bread, a green sweet in the shape of Monsters Inc.’s Mike Wazowski ($4).

Combo meals in Fantasyland cost $12 for fish and chips or $11 for Sichuan chicken, but some choices are more frugal than others. Guests will spend nearly $13 for a Rapunzel-themed drink in a souvenir goblet, but standard beverages are much less expensive than at the U.S. parks, with soda, juice and tea costing just over $2 each.

That’s not to say it won’t be worth it for guests visiting from the states. Packaged meals may be brought in, which can curb high food cost. The pricing also feels far from exorbitant, as many of the foods will be Chinese favorites with a distinct (and somewhat adorable) Disney touch. Roast duck pizzas come shaped like Mickey Mouse and dishes like braised pork knuckle are paired with Mickey carrots, while plenty other dishes are served in Mickey-shaped bowls and containers.

Other Entertainment

You can experience even more of the cultural mash-up on Shanghai Disney Resort grounds, and not just by bypassing the $9 hot dogs in Tomorrowland. The DisneyTown district just outside the park is home to the first-ever Mandarin staging of The Lion King, and tickets are much more reasonable than the show on Broadway. Upper level tickets start at just $29 on some nights and $44 on others, and top out at $152 each for prime orchestra seats. (A premium orchestra seat to The Lion King on the same Saturday night in New York City is $215 dollars.)

Save Money Tips For Reant Car When You Are Traveling

Do you travel for business? Uber is hot on the heels of your rental-car habit. A recent study by Certify, a company that sells software to track travel expenses, found that in the first quarter of 2015, 29% of business travelers took an Uber when they were out of town for work, vs. 36% who rented a car and 35% who traveled by cab. Avis better start trying even harder than it did before.

But what about when you’re driving yourself on vacation, particularly in destinations that lack reliable public transportation? How do you determine whether Uber is going to be cheaper than a rental car, especially considering the unpredictable and variable pricing that affects both modes of travel? We looked at several common vacation questions and came up with these five guidelines:

No. 1: The Length of Your Visit

For trips that last three or four days—say, an extended weekend—Uber often comes out on top. For a short stay, travelers are more likely to explore the city and its immediate surroundings but not drive too far to attractions on the outskirts of town. As a general rule, if your longest round-trip is between the airport and the hotel, taking an Uber to and from will save you money.

No. 2: Walkability of Your Destination

Can you walk to a few restaurants, as well as museums and historical sites? If you’re staying in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, for instance, you’ll have easy access to the National Aquarium, a slew of tours, shopping, and eateries. If you estimate most of your trip will happen on foot—but you might need a ride to one spot per day—Uber wins out. One good tool to help you estimate:

No. 3: Parking Garage Availability

More often than not, this factor tips the scales. If you’re staying at a hotel with its own free parking lot and you can come and go as you please, you’ll almost definitely want to rent a car. But if you’re staying in the city center, where parking’s at a premium, think twice about a rental. Most urban hotels have a garage with valet parking, which will cost anywhere from $14 to $25 a night. Some hotels have a self-park option available or nearby; but those garages, which can be just as or more expensive than valet parking, charge you a fee each time you enter. If you’re looking at a parking bill of $75 or more (in addition to your rental fee and gas), Uber often sneaks in well below that total, even if you take more than one car trip a day.

No. 4: Timing Is Everything

Traveling to Louisville around Derby Day? Forget about Uber. The company hikes fares when demand rises, so keep an eye out for “surge pricing.” You can’t totally predict the variable bottom line, but you probably know if you’re likely to be out during peak times (weekend evenings, for example). Search for any local happenings in your destination during the visit that could contribute: huge conferences, school and business holidays, annual contests, and even sporting events can result in surge pricing that might mean the fixed cost of a rental is the way to go.

No. 5: The Hotel’s Take

Not sure if Uber will be available when you need it? Call the hotel concierge and ask whether he or she has heard complaints. If the concierge seems knowledgeable, also ask about any local patterns in surge pricing. On the flip side, ask about parking options too: valet costs, self-park options nearby, etc.

Wondering how these tips may come together to help you save on an actual trip? Check out our three-city comparison for travel scenarios—and some great vacation ideas (at no extra charge!).

What is the important of travel rewards card

You often hear of travel hackers earning first-class flights, and reposing in four-star hotels, by strategically employing a host of travel reward signup bonuses and limited-time offers. You may also yearn to be as crafty.

But new research from NerdWallet shows that travel rewards cards often fail to provide the best value on your spending, and that some customers would be better off sticking with plain old cash back.

It all depends where you’re going, and how much you tend to spend.

If you are flying to MONEY’s Best in Travel destination San Diego, for instance, or hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer, you’re probably better off with a cash-back credit card, according to a new NerdWallet survey. Travelers sticking in the U.S., and planning to spend less than $8,600 a year on flights, hotels, and restaurants, would do better with cash-back cards, which tend to deliver higher return rates.

The calculus may change under certain circumstances. “Most Americans should opt for cash back rewards, but there are always exceptions,” says NerdWallet credit card expert Sean McQuay. “If you travel internationally, if you spend more than $8,600 on travel per year, if you use travel benefits like free baggage, or if you tend to open new cards every year or two, consider a travel rewards credit card.

A few reasons you might still benefit from a travel card:

If you travel internationally at least once a year.

Global travelers save $120 both by getting higher rewards — worth $26 more, NerdWallet finds — and by avoiding foreign transaction fees, which average 3% on other cards.

If you change cards every year or two.

The best value of a travel card is the signup bonus, which can be worth more than $600. The further you get away from that initial sugar high, though, the lower the card’s returns, NerdWallet notes. Plus, travel cards often come with higher annual fees than cash-back cards, although the fee is often waived the first year. Motivated cardholders might consider canceling the card after using the bonus, but before the fee kicks in.

If you actively use the ancillary benefits.

If you travel only with carry-on bags and go offline for your flights, some common travel card extras won’t be worth much to you. But benefits like free checked bags and free on-board Wi-Fi can save quite a bit of money for frequent fliers who’d otherwise pay for those privileges.

How to get free on traveling

No one likes to waste money, least of all on a vacation. Nothing kills the buzz of a dream trip faster than standing on line for that top tourist attraction, handing over your hard-earned cash, and discovering that it was all a bunch of hyped holiday hooey.

To save you money and time, we’ve compiled a list of 20 sights that are, in fact, worth every dollar. Some are on the expensive side, such as the $50 ticket to the country’s best aquarium. Some aren’t that pricey at all. (Guess where you can take any streetcar you desire for only $1.25?) And how much would you pay for an underground cave that doubles as a bluegrass concert hall? How does $45 sound?

In addition to these worth-it wonders, we’ve added a few that you might call meh. They’re the kind of places you should avoid, either because they cost too much for what you get or they just cost too much, period. You might well disagree—and if you do, please tell us why. Even better, send us a postcard. Just remember to have fun wherever you roam.

P.S.: We’ve organized this photo tour by cost, starting with the cheapest, going forward to the most expensive, and ending with the stuff that’s not worth your money. (Though do check them out here, to save you the trouble on the road.)

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.