Ways to Plan a Trip to Seattle on a Budget

E. L. James’ epic novel definitely has a minor contribution towards an increasing number of people visiting Seattle, mainly wanting to get a slice of the city that provided the setting for Ana and Christian’s steamy encounters.

All of that apart, Seattle is a vibrant and fun city to be in; be it a weekend, or longer. And no, you wouldn’t need to break the bank to have an enjoyable trip here either. Just follow our lead and plan a fabulous holiday in Seattle.

Planning an Affordable Trip to Seattle

Getting There
While booking a flight, it is always recommended that you book early in order to get a decently affordable fare. However, it has also been observed that last-minute booking can also yield fairly low prices. So, whether your trip to Seattle has been planned in advance, or is completely on the whim, you stand a good chance of booking a cheap flight ticket to get here.

Alternatively, you may even travel to Seattle by bus, train, or your own vehicle. Compare costs and decide your mode of transportation.

Places to Stay
Seattle has an array of budget hotels and hostels to choose from, whatever your tastes and expectations may be. Here are a couple of options:

City Hostel | 2327 2nd Ave. Seattle, WA 98121
This place has dorm-styled as well as private rooms, priced between USD 30 to USD 75, breakfast included. This is a quirky, artsy kind of place located close to the Pike Place Market.

Hotel Hotel Hostel | 3515 Fremont Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98103
Fremont is a fantastic neighborhood to live in while you’re here, so here’s an option. Hotel Hotel is actually a hostel, so you have the option of living in a dorm, or have a private room to yourself. It will cost you anywhere between USD 30 and USD 70 to stay here.

Where to Eat
Ah! Where to start? Seattle has quite a reputation when it comes to dishing up some delectable seafood, considering its proximity to the Pacific. Anyway, here are a few must-eat-ats in Seattle.

The Walrus and the Carpenter | 4743 Ballard Ave. NW. Seattle, WA 98107
Yes, it is a bit on the pricier side, but this restaurant is the pride and joy of Seattle, if you can call it that. Locals and tourists throng this little place that serves some delicious oysters, and also a tasty grilled octopus. If your budget is too tight, visit the place during happy hour when they’ve got those one dollar oysters.

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery | 5427 Ballard Ave. NW. Seattle, WA 98107
Further away from The Walrus… lies this wonder of a bakery that sells some heavenly molten chocolate cakes in tiny jars. The milkshakes, spiked or otherwise, are also a delight.

More grub on the cheap can be found in the International District/Chinatown area, where you can down a stomach full for as low as USD 10. A mandatory trip must be taken to the original Starbucks | 1912 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101 for a steaming hot cuppa, Starbucks-style.

Getting Around
The most affordable way to explore Seattle is on foot or riding a bicycle, as the city’s roads are quite easy to navigate. Ferries are an excellent option as well, as they take you along the waterways to view the most picturesque parts of the city. Other low-cost options include streetcars and monorail. Renting a car is recommended for those who also plan to explore the city’s outskirts.

Places to See
For all you artsy ones, Seattle’s museums including the Seattle Art Museum | 1300 First Ave. Seattle, WA 98101, along with the Museum of History and Industry | 860 Terry Ave. N. Seattle WA, 98109 are a must-see.

Pike Palace Market | 1st Ave. and Pike St. Seattle, WA 98101 is a landmark of this city, and has no entry fee. You’ll find the city’s best produce here, along with a long line of shops and restaurants.

The Seattle CityPASS booklet (USD 74 for adults, USD 49 for kids) will let you enter the city’s 6 prime attractions, including Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, EMP Museum, etc.

On a concluding note, do not get bogged down by reports of Seattle’s perpetually dank weather. Yes, it does rain a lot, but the weather here is susceptible to change by the hour. Unpredictable as it is, you can get that coveted spot of sunshine at the end of a cloudy day.

Travel Tips For Old People

Rohit’s parents will be completing 50 years of their marriage next month. He wants to send his parents on a tour to North India to celebrate their anniversary. But one thing about which Rohit is concerned, is about how his parents will manage their health.

But if think over it, it is not that difficult. By taking care of few things you can easily send you parents on tours and trust them for managing their health.

Following are few useful tips which you have to take care before help them to pack their bags…

  • Health: Before making any kind of reservation check if your parents are well and are not suffering from any health issues like cold, cough or fever. It is always better to ensure they are fit to go for the trip. Avoid if any of the two are not keeping unwell or having any kind of illness.
  • Medicines:If your parents are on any kind of medication then it is better to check that they carry all their medicines. Inform your family physician about their tour and ask him if they need to change their medicines or carry any other extra medicines with them. It is advisable to carry medicines for some basic things like vomiting, headaches, body aches and diarrhea as all these are common problem one faces while travelling due to climate change and change in diet. It is common for old people to forget things and taking medicines is one of them. If you don’t want this to happen then remember to set alarms in their mobile phone which will remind them to take their medicines on time.
  • Health Insurance Card: It is very important that your parents carry their health insurance card with them without fail.Health exigencies can arise anytime and at such times your parents can easily take treatment with help of their health insurance card.
  • Right bag:Most of the times, old couples carry wrong bags when travelling Oldies are prone to slips, falls so make sure you give them right kind of luggage. You can opt for Strolley bags which can be easily dragged and will also avoid back and shoulder aches.
  • Mobile Phone: Give your parents a mobile phone which will act as medium to communicate. Make it a point that you call them once a day and ask them about how their day went, did they eat properly, took medicines etc.
  • Clothes:Ensure that your parents carry right clothes according to the climate. Make sure they carry warm clothes if they go in winters and carry cotton light clothes in summers along with hats or umbrella to avoid headaches due to sun. Along with clothes it is very important for them to carry right kind of shoes. Buy them a pair of sports shoes if not there, as they very comfortable while walking and travelling. Also make sure that they carry extra pair of sandals and slippers.

Tips to Save Money on Food While Traveling

A Tip to Remember:
Hotels make a huge profit on room service, hence you should avoid calling for room service whenever possible.
Traveling is a great way to find oneself, and discover the beauty around. It’s an amazing way to explore different parts of the world, meet new people, try out new things, and have fun. However, everything in the world comes with a price tag, and traveling definitely comes with an expensive one.
When we plan for a trip, we tend to focus mainly on the airfare and accommodation. We leave the rest unplanned, and that is where our downfall lies. Expenses while traveling can quickly add up, and before you know it, you will have already crossed your budget. We make a mistake by not planning the rest of the trip, which includes our food. Most people think that food gets accounted for in the accommodation cost, but this is far from true. Of course, the hotel you are staying in might provide complimentary lunch or dinner, but the chances are slim. Most hotels offer only a complimentary breakfast, making huge profits when you dine at their restaurants.

In the end, you realize that the most expensive part of your trip was not the airfare or the accommodation, but the food. Well, thankfully, there are a few simple ways by which you can reduce the money you spend on food while traveling. In this article, we give you tips to ensure that your food expenses remain lower than your airfare.

Do Your Homework

You need to conduct proper research about the place you are going to be visiting. Once you have finalized the destination, look for people who have been there and ask them about general costs. Look for hotels or motels that provide complimentary food. These might be few and far in between, but you will end up saving a lot if you find such a place. Also, make sure you understand the terms and conditions that accompany the complimentary tag. Most big hotels will not provide lunch and dinner, so try to avoid big hotels. Look for a B&B, or a motel that is not too close to major tourist areas.

Look for Kitchenettes

While searching for places to stay, try to find places that provide a kitchenette facility. This includes a small refrigerator, some utensils, and a microwave. Again, stay away from big hotels, as you will not find such facilities there. A few hotels and motels might allow you to cook food in your room. Cooking in your room, even if it is something simple, saves you from going out and paying exorbitant rates every time you are hungry. Again, a bed and breakfast, or a small motel away from the city is your best option.

Spend Wisely on Water

Water is something you need frequently. You may not be able to carry a lot, which means you will end up buying a lot of it. However, spending on water can be done wisely. Buying a bottle of water every time you are thirsty is not the way to go if you are looking to save money. Instead, buy a big bottle of water and carry a smaller bottle, which you can refill, every time you head out. Try to avoid drinking tap water when you are traveling, especially if you travel to a different country. When you are thirsty, do not try to quench your thirst drinking sodas and the like; these will only make you more thirsty.

Choosing Restaurants

When you travel, your natural instinct will make you eat the local cuisine served at local restaurants. This means, you will be eating out, shelling out more money every time you do so. However, here are some ways to ensure that you don’t spend too much. Try to eat at modest places; if you opt to go to a swanky 5-star place to eat, then you are going to have to pay a lot more. Try to move away from popular tourist zones; prices here are generally higher. Some restaurants may have promotional offers, try looking for these in the local papers. Restaurants that have just opened are also a good bet; they usually have promotions and discounts that you can avail of. If you have kids with you, there are a few places where they serve kids for free. Simply stepping into the first place you see is not the way to save money.

Try the Street Food

Many places around the world have a huge culture of street food. Vendors prepare the food right in front of you, and the best part is that it hardly takes a few minutes. In some places, the street food may even be better than fancy restaurants. Such vendors are usually found in heavily populated tourist areas, so this is something that you don’t have to go around looking for. Street food is nowhere as expensive as food served in a restaurant, so you will end up saving a significant amount of money.

Look Out for Deals

Many stores, hotels, and restaurants have promotions that they advertise for in various places. While you are searching for your flight, or booking your hotel, you may come across these offers. Taking these offers can reduce a significant part of your expenses on food. Offers are also available at the airport, the bus-stand, or taxi-stand. Newspapers are another source of these offers and coupons. Make sure you research well before you finalize any restaurant.

Heavy Lunch

In most places, restaurants charge a different rate for lunch, and a different rate for dinner. Usually, the rate for lunch is cheaper. If you can identify any such restaurants around the place you are staying, then you can opt to make lunch a bigger meal, and eat less for dinner. Not only will this help you save money, but is a healthier option as well. Also, when eating out, there is no need to order all the courses, you can order an entree directly. You can even get your leftovers to be packed and taken back to the hotel to be eaten later.

Drink Smart

Having a few drinks while eating out is the fastest way to increase your food bill. It is best to avoid drinking at restaurants while you are traveling. If it is a necessity, then look for places that serve complimentary drinks with the food. Many places have happy hours, where the cost of drinks and food is slightly lower than the normal rate. You can visit these place during these hours to make the most of the offer. If it is legal in the country and the hotel you are in, then you can even have a few drinks in your room before heading out. Wine-tasting offers you free samples, so don’t forget to check for such deals.
These were a few suggestions that can help you save some money on food while you are traveling. You can also visit a supermarket and stock up on things that you can eat in your room, like chips, pretzels, and the like. Similarly, stock up on water and beverages instead of heading out for a coffee all the time. Also, make sure that you are choosing your restaurants wisely, and compensating for unnecessary expenses. Keep a track of all your food expenses in a journal. This should help you keep those food expenses in check. Have a nice trip!

How to Plan an Affordable Trip to Spain

As much as we’d like to curse the state of the Euro at the moment, it isn’t the only factor that’s making our European holidays expensive. It is the cumulative cost of air travel, hotel stays, internal transport, meals, entrance fees, taxes, and the likes which deliver a lethal blow to our best laid plans. But worry not, as we’ve lined up the best penny-pinching tips to help you plan a fabulous Spanish sojourn. Let’s begin.
Book your tickets early … or late.

Both might give you a cheaper deal, but if you’re looking to be on the safe side, book early; as early as three months in advance. If you think your transatlantic flight to your Spanish destination is very expensive, you may try booking a cheaper ticket to a different country close to Spain, and then book a seat on a European budget airliner like Ryanair. Keep in mind, though, that most budget airlines have a knack of levying “extra” surcharges that can elevate the cost. Therefore, it is prudent to do all the math before you book; but it is recommended that you fly direct, especially if this is your maiden visit.

Last-minute deals could be up for grabs on sites like Expedia or Orbitz. But these may not always be enticing enough, which is why early booking is your best bet.
Hotels? Or Hostels?

Yes, hostels are cheaper, and we’re all aware of that. But we’re telling you to opt for neither. If you happen to be going solo/as a couple/in a small group, we recommend Couch surfing or Airbnb. These sites will help you get in touch with people (in Spain) who will allow you to house-sit for free, while they’re traveling themselves. The arrangement works well for people who are planning an extensive stay in the country. The advantage is that it lets you stay among the locals, than be cooped up with fellow travelers in a hotel or a hostel.

If you’re not comfortable with house-sitting, or if you are traveling in a large group, renting an apartment makes more sense. The overall cost works out to be cheaper, and you always have a kitchen at your disposal―which means that you can cook and save some dough which you would have otherwise spent. You may not believe it, but home-cooked meals save you some serious money, and you only realize it on the penultimate days of your holiday. And as we all know, it is one of life’s greatest joys to discover a surprising stash of our own money when traveling abroad.
Did we hear cheap grub?

Spain, for one, is a delightful place to be in if you are a food aficionado. Their cuisine is out-of-this-world amazing, and though, we recommended that you cook a few meals in your apartment, eating out in Spain is a must. Spaniards believe in keeping their breakfast light, and their lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Which is why, they have the concept of Menu del Dia or Menu of the Day. This is a rather filling, all-inclusive meal that costs under USD 10, and feeds you all the delicious Spanish delicacies of your dreams.

Spanish people have a proclivity for late dinners, which is why they gorge on tapas, which are appetizers sold in bars. At times, they come as a free accompaniment with the drink, or you can purchase them separately. Two or three rounds of these, and you feel like you’ve drowned in food, especially if this is on a day when you’ve feasted on the Menu del Dia.
Tighten your travel expenses.

Barcelona tourist bus
Buses in urban Spain are relatively cheaper than trains. That said, Madrid and Barcelona have an excellent subway network that is easy, efficient, and not-too-expensive. Renting bicycles in Barcelona is quite the rage among Eco-conscious travelers, and is a great way to explore the city for cheap. SANDEMANs NEW Europe Tours conduct walking tours in Madrid and Barcelona. These are conducted by well-informed local guides who work on a tips-only basis. If you’re traveling to the interiors, you may want to rent a car if you have a large group, or take advantage of Spain’s extensive bus and train network. Renting cars in the big cities is definitely nor recommended, since parking fees in most urban areas tend to be exorbitant.
Sightseeing for less.

National Prado Museum
Most museums in Spain tend to have a free-entrance policy during late afternoons or on Sundays. Of course, you can expect serpentine lines during these times, but if saving money is a priority, this should not be too bothersome. Checking individual websites of attractions will let you visit these places sans the charge.

Discount cards are offered in most major cities of Spain. These passes allow you to enter several city attractions at discounted rates, and can be used over the course of around 4 weeks. This option is suitable for travelers who plan to stay put in Spain for an extensive period, rather than those who will just be spending a couple of days in a city.

Each major city also has a system of public transport discounts combined with attraction tickets, like the Barcelona Card, for instance. These passes are fabulous budget savers as they combine the cost of transportation and entrance fees as well.
Steer clear of tourist traps.

Tourists on Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain
Unfortunately, tourist traps are an inevitable part of the tourism business, and we can’t really help it. But as someone wanting to stick to a budget, it is advisable to keep these places at an arm’s length. A visit to Barcelona’s La Rambla could be on your agenda, but whatever you do, avoid shopping there, as everything is insanely expensive. Yes, even a silly Sagrada Familia fridge magnet can set you back by a cool 15 Euros. Are you really interested?
Big tips aren’t necessary.
In Spain, the generous tippers usually tend to be tourists. By Spanish standards, a 5% tip is more or less the upper limit, as against the American norm of 20%. Also, locals mostly tend to leave loose change in tips, which should give you a fair idea about the tipping customs here. So, avoid leaving hefty tips, and don’t beat yourself up for having done so.
Saving money on money matters.

Withdrawing money from ATM in Spain is a better option than carrying currency from your country of origin. You will need to talk to your bank regarding the charge levied on international withdrawals before your departure. It is recommended that you avoid money exchange bureaus, since they charge hefty fees for money transfers.
The Value Added Tax (VAT) refund in European nations is mostly seen as a hassle that most tourists don’t wish to bother with. However, if you are planning to shop a lot, do take the effort of claiming the VAT refund when you’re leaving the country. To avail this refund, your purchase has to be above a certain amount, which is 90 Euros. Also, this minimum amount has to be spent at a single store at one go―you aren’t allowed to add up your purchases from various shops to reach the required amount. Finally, when you’re leaving the country, you need to carry the transaction receipts, the billed purchases, and your passport to prove you’re not a resident of the European Union. The Customs officials will examine your documents and the corresponding goods, and the refund will be debited to your credit card in about two months’ time.

Now, there can never be an end to money saver tips, and if we were to list them all, you’d actually never end up in Spain at all. So, while budgeting is important, do not let it get in the way of having some wholesome fun. You’re going to be in Spain, after all.