I’m just going to get this out of the way right off the bat. I don’t think that using airline and hotel points for travel is always the best and cheapest option to see the world.
There’s a lot more to travel than knowing what to go see and booking a flight to get there. There are visa issues, of course, and those can be horrifying. Then there’s the whole food thing – what can you eat? And are you sure?
It boils down to this: if you know a little about the culture of the place you are going to visit, you can probably figure out a lot of stuff that might stymie a tourist who isn’t as interested in a spot of adventure.
And sometimes the best way to know what to do is to know what *NOT* to do.
You know that feeling when you discover something that you wish you had known a long time ago? That’s exactly how I felt when I discovered that I could get cash back on my VRBO and Booking.com just by making my bookings through Ebates.
I’ve been using Ebates for years, and have earned hundreds of dollars in rebates for things I was already going to purchase online. Somehow, I failed to notice that there were lots of travel options available. Duh!
While there are over 115 listings in the travel section, the ones that jumped out at me are:
Booking.com 2% rebates
Home Away up to $6.00 rebates
VRBO up to $6.00 rebates
I have used these websites many times, and I can’t believe that I have missed out on all those rebates.
Ebates rocks for all your online shopping, even travel. If you haven’t joined, you can earn a $10 gift certificate to Target or Kohls when you make your first purchase.
I hope this trick helps you stretch your travel dollars just a little further.
I’m not going to lie, our family has a deep love of visiting South Africa. It’s a fantastic place – one of the most beautiful places in the world -with incredible wildlife and an outdoorsy lifestyle that gives a visitor no chance for boredom. And while I normally stop reading any travel article that uses the word “vibrant” to describe a place or culture, I honestly can’t think of any other word that fits South Africa as well.
If Vienna and London are imagined in the staid grays and whites of a proper European city and Budapest is a sepia tone of historic struggles, South Africa is bright purples and reds, with contrasting colors everywhere you look.
But when you are from America, South Africa doesn’t seem all that big. After you visit the big tourist names of Cape Town and Johannesburg and see all there is to see on day trips, what else is left?
What is left is Durban. And Durban is amazing.
I’m a planner.
I use travel books like doctors use latex gloves – which is to say that some of them area great and sometimes I’m allergic to them and have to find a reasonable latex substitute.
I’m sure you can understand why, as of the middle of September, I was rather reluctant to use reservations we made using United mileage points way back in April. Maybe you can’t. But you *could* if I told you that those reservations were made on a route that would be using Accra, Ghana as a transit point to get from one place in Africa to Marrakech, Morocco in December.
Okay, maybe you’re still a little confused. Let me illustrate:
Travelling is always a great experience. It is even more great if you know some of the area’s history, and can see things in context. That’s why we’re bringing you this randomly occuring series, Before You Go, Read.
Naples, Italy is an amazing and awful and fascinating and frustrating city. During a day in Naples, it is not uncommon to feel all these things on the same day. Two books can help to unlock the mystery of Naples.
The first book is historical fiction with a strong romantic theme. The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capella is the story of a young Italian woman who is a fabulous cook, and follows her life as it is impacted by World War II. It is also the story of a young English officer sent to Naples to prevent marriages between local women and English soldiers. While the outcome seems obvious, the story is truly amazing. The book cover and the Amazon listing both focus on the romantic story, but I was significantly more fascinated by the evocative descriptions of war-time life in Naples. Prior to reading this book, I could not imagine the ways in which the war destroyed the city. It gave me a new perspective on both the city itself, and an amazing appreciation for its older residents.
Understanding the physical and social destruction of the region helped me to better understand the things I read in the second recommended book. Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’ Organized Crime System is non-fiction, and sometimes a little hard to read. It also sets the scene for why Naples is the way it is, why things don’t get done (or why they do), and why the residents tolerate certain things that would make most other big-city dwellers crazy.
There is no way to adequately express how much my perspective on Naples was altered by these two books. I give them my highest recommendation for deepening my appreciation for the region and its people.
The following is a guest post from Mr. Kate:
A recent quick trip to the States led to a new experience: flying Virgin Atlantic. 20 days ahead of travel, the price was hard to beat. For this short trip, the chance to minimize jet lag with the non-stop flight from Gatwick to Orlando sealed the deal. The airline cultivates an image of a maverick challenger, with affordable swankiness. You’ll find mixed online reviews, but my unscientific sense is that most of the negatives use the word “disappointed,” so the marketing is at least working to set up expectations.
I’m a HomeAway junkie, I’ll own it. Whenever we decide to make a trip, HomeAway is my first stop to find accommodation. We’re usually traveling with at least three children, and like any parents we like a little bit of privacy.
Two weeks in single hotel rooms with two double beds and a roll-away is a recipe for disaster. Also death threats. Possibly sanitarium time. Definitely a need for a vacation-from-the-vacation.
That’s where my obsession with HomeAway comes in.