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Friday, September 29, 2017

How To Travel On A Budget

Are you one of those that browse through instagram and look at travel photos and get a little envious? Then get annoyed with the people that post them like it's their job? Let's face it, we all wish we could do that but most of us are not born with a trust fund or have a sugar daddy/momma to fund spontaneous trips to exotic destinations and eat at Michelin restaurants. The majority of us works 5 days a week, probably get only 14 days or less of vacation time a year, and have expenses like a mortgage or college loans. 

So, what's my secret to traveling to awesome places without breaking the bank, staying at 4-5 star hotels, and even eating at Michelin restaurants? 

1. Budget your everyday finances
First and foremost, it's really important to see where your money goes on a daily/monthly basis. Find a way to include travel into the budget plan. Find  a way to save money, like skip that mani pedi. Cook at home rather than eat out. Sell items/clothes lying around. 

2. Flexibility of Date and Destination
Use Kayak Explore for airline deals or travel sites that allow you to see travel deals. Be flexible. Don't get stuck in just going to a particular destination. But if you are set on a certain destination, look into when it could be inexpensive to travel to that destination (Kayak can send you notifications when price drops for that particular destination). I know we all have a travel bucket list but the world is huge and if you keep an open mind of your next travel destination, you'll be surprise where you might end up. 

3. Travel to destinations where your money will go much further
I like going to countries where I can stretch my dollar. SE Asia is always a good place where you can get luxury for less - food and accommodations. Bali, Indonesia is always a go-to. In Siem Reap, Cambodia we stayed at a boutique hotel in middle of town (close to Pub Street) for about $60 that included free breakfast and ride to the airport.

4. Travel off season
Go when everyone is not traveling. Summer and Spring is usually more expensive especially on flights and accommodations. You'll find 4-5 star hotels for 1/2 the price. 

5. Research areas for restaurants, transportation, accommodations
Google, instagram, blogs on to find these things. I do this to give me an idea of how much I'm going to be spending for the trip.

6. Budget your trip
I give myself a budget or at least an estimate of what I want to spend. I try to spend less than $100 for food, transportation, and other expenses per day. I always eat cheaply for most of the trip and then splurge on a final meal at a nice restaurant. Stay at modest hotels in the beginning of the trip and stay at luxury hotel closer to departure date. I do the nicer stuff at the end of the trip because I'm winding down and I want to be relax before flying home. 

7. Use Credit Card points to pay for travel expenses 
In San Sebastian, we stayed at the Maria Cristina, the only 5 star hotel in the city by using credit card points. Some credit cards allow you to redeem points for hotels, airfares, and activities.

8. Travel with just carry ons
On one trip, I went to 5 countries and went on about 12 plane rides. Some airlines will charge for check in bags - that's added cost you don't want and the stress of worrying if you're going to reunite with your bags. I travel light and organize my carry on to maximize space and I usually find a laundry mat to wash my clothes. 

  9. Discounted accommodations
Use BOOKING.COM to look for deals. Get that discounted room from a friend/family that works in the hotel industry. This is another way to stay in luxury hotels for less. Also, check out boutique hotels- they often are cheaper than the large hotel chains.

10. Accommodations that include breakfast/happy hour
These types of deals are money savers. Sometimes all we have to spend is on lunch/snacks. When there is a happy hour that serves wine and light snacks, I sometimes skip dinner because I'd be too full when dinner comes. 

11. Visit places where admission are free
A lot of monuments or points of interest are free. 

12. Buy where the locals shop for food and toiletries
Australia was expensive - it still is. We spent a few days in Melbourne and by the time we got to Sydney, we were spending about $100 before lunch came. So, we found a grocery store and bought  bread, meats, cooked shrimp, that we substitute for a meal. 

I hope this helps you and feel free to share how you travel on a budget.
(Complimentary breakfast at Logis De La Cadene)


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Places to Eat in San Sebastian (Donostia), Spain- A Gastronomic Experience

Yeah...this photo sums up my food personality. I'm always daydreaming about what I'm going to eat, where I'm going to eat, or how I can replicate a dish and make it my own. San Sebastian is like coachella, wanderlust, foodtopia (is that even a word?)for the most adventurous eater. Currently, they're not so openminded to vegans yet but there is potential. Found a place or two that caters to y'all. But the thing is, how can you not try every vegetable, seafood, or cow. Is it cruel that after a dairy cow stops producing milk is exiled to the pasture to eat delicious grass for the next 9-13 years of its life? I think not! Anyway, I definitely could come back to San Sebastian for the food and just overall the people and vibes.

customary to always have coffee/tea after dinner

first pintxo bar we checked out

this was a great bite


this Iberico pig is fed acorns to get 
that amazing flavor

Beti Jai Berria

blood sausage, mussels, & tako (octopus)

fresh white asparagus

one of the streets to find pintxos

Goiz-Argi's crab bisque & their famous shrimp

Bar Zeruko

Foie gras

Cheesecake from La Vina

Bar Nestor
how something so simple taste so damn freakin' amazing?
heirloom tomatoes with salt & olive oil.

The famous Chuletas!

this steak was so delicious but unfortunately, 
between the two of us were unable to finish it.

1. We stayed at Maria Cristina, which was close to all the pintxo restaurants in the old town area. We were given a pamphlet of the top pintxo spots and what each place is known for. Ask the front desk for a map.
2. Walk, walk, walk! Everything is walking distance. Taxi was a little pricey.
3. Customary to have 1 or 2 pintxos along with a drink at each bar/restaurant. Do not take more than 3 or 4 at a time.
4. Keep track of the number of "bites" and drinks you have. You pay after you're done and move on to the next.
5. Don't try to cheat on the number of pintxos and drinks you had because they know. Just be honest.
6. Dinner is usually taken after 2000. 
7. Most bars/restaurants will have napkins all over the floor which is normal. At the end of the night, it's easier for them to clean up.
8. Try the txakoli or their local beer. It will always be cheaper.