My Italy itinerary in Summer 2018 – North to South

Currently it’s not the best time to plan new trips (I also wasted my plan to go to Spain & Portugal this spring) but it’s maybe a good time to think about old itineraries. That is the one from July 2018 in Italy. It was pretty hot, and pretty awesome! I think you can see the main character of italy with this itinerary. Because of work I had only 2 weeks, but this is not the perfect duration.

For transfers I used the awesome and not so expensive Italy train network. But be sure to book at least a few days before for the heavily used tracks (like Rome-Naples).

1. Stop Milan

I took a cheap Ryanair Flight (20Euro) from Cluj to Milan. It was so cheap, because Milan Bergamo (little airport about 45km away from city center) is one of the main hubs of Ryanair. But after the not so short transfer, I came to this special city of Milan.

A visit to the Milan Cathedral, the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci in Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Castello Sforzesco should not be missed.
If you want to get to know another side of Milan and still quickly get to all the sights in the old town, it is best to stay in the non-tourist Chinatown. For example in the Hotel of the artist Camille, on whose over and over balcony overgrown with plants to the inner courtyard is the most beautiful place for a morning coffee in the otherwise so lively urban jungle. Not far away, by the way, is the Bosco Verticale, a high-rise tower planted with shrubs, bushes and trees that has won a few architecture awards. Milan is developing more and more into a bicycle city. Especially if you want to explore the districts outside the old town, I can only recommend you to rent a bike like we do and to get from A to B like the locals. It’s crazy how many people ride the bike in this not always bike friendly environment.

2. Stop Pisa

The whole world knows it the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a real must-see of Italy! To my amazement it is really tilted! But there is much more to see in Pisa

, the city itself is very worth seeing with its yellow houses. Wonderful is also the cathedral Santa Maria Assunta, to him belongs the leaning tower of Pisa, because the tower is only the bell tower which was built later to the church.
Also the Baptistery, the spherical baptistery, is located directly on the Piazza del Duomo. The square is wonderfully maintained and looks almost heavenly.

Besides the beach is not far away, I really needed it (35°C).

Pisa

3. Stop Rome

In the capital of Italy you will find countless ancient cultural monuments, one more interesting than the next!

Rome is simply incredibly worth seeing. Among the most famous sights are the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon. If you like guided tours, you can look here. I myself like to explore by myself. But every now and then guided tours are quite nice, too. I think there are enough guides for this great city. Be sure to stay here at least 3 nights. For the summer it’s really worth to take the train to the beach. They are overcrowded, but it’s also a nice way to see the local life. Yes, Italy is this too and not only pizza and soccer haha.

4. Stop Naples

The city of a thousand alleys and nativity scenes. Apart from pizza, we also owe these fairytale little towns our Punch and Judy from Pulcinella in Naples.But what I liked best was the underworld below the city. On a guided tour (cost 8€ for young people, 10€ for adults) you go a few meters underground.My tip: Don’t drive into the city by car if you have something against dents and scratches. Rather use public transport like train, bus or explore Naples on foot.

5. Stop Sorreno

Not far away from Naples is Sorreno. Sorrento is located on the Almai Coast, which is world famous for its wonderful cliffs. The small town offers beaches, streets between high gorges and unforgettable views of the coast.

You can take the ferry from here to Capri which is an awesome island with perfect beaches. But sometimes a little expensive (look at the restaurant menu before and not after entry haha)

 

6. Stop Palermo

If you have time over and it’s not the middle of the summer – take the train to Palermo. It’s the main city of Sicilia.

Away from tourist highlights such as the Norman Palace or the Cathedral, the lively market activity in the Vucciría is particularly suitable for capturing the special atmosphere of this city. To get some peace from the colourful hustle and bustle, the beautiful courtyard garden of the Archaeological Museum is the ideal place. However, with the abundance of destinations in Sicily, there is usually little time to experience the city in its entirety. Directly southwest of Palermo, the famous cathedral of Mont Reale is enthroned high up on a mountain, which should not be missed on any round trip through Sicily. From here it is not far to the picturesque port city of Castellamare del Golfo.

A detour to the seaside resort San Vito Lo Capo is worthwhile, as the path leads through the scenic Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro. Among the cultural highlights in the north-west of Sicily are Segesta, famous for a large antique theatre and an unfinished temple, and the medieval town of Erice, not far from Trapani, which lies high up on a small rocky plateau. Trapani itself is especially beautiful in the evenings and invites you to go window-shopping or to stroll along the long promenade.

 

So if you like, you can easily travel a lot slower and still have enough to visit. I would suggest 3 weeks for this tour, because the beaches and the food in Italy is awesome.

Palermo

 

The special spirit of traveling

Imagine yourself sitting in your office chair, staring at your computer screen, pecking at your keyboard, checking the time, get a cup of coffee, repeat. Let’s face it, the craziest thing you did today was trying your coffee with no sugar (or with 10). You’ve got a routine, this place is familiar, you have to work with these people everyday, why would I do something CRAZY?

There are so many excuses in this world to remain tame and lame. But suddenly, you find yourself in New Zealand, and think about how you’ve always wanted to skydive, 

Look, some people have a hard time doing what they really want to do. This can be out of fear, content, or just pure laziness. But traveling can transport your body and mind putting you in a completely new mindset…

The Deadly Triangle: Fear, Laziness, and Content

You’ve always wanted to go to Thailand for as long as you can remember. You think it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, I mean, it’s your computer background, you’ve got posters of Thai beaches plastered across your room, you tell people every chance you get, “Yea, I am dyinggg to go to Thailand, but…” BUT… I’m afraid of flying, I don’t know the language, I don’t know if I can afford it,

I’m gonna get mugged or scammed or kidnapped or end up in jail for a law I inadvertantly broke or killed. Guess what’s more scary than all that? NOT going.

Overcome the fear of unfamiliar: We like to know what’s going on and we like to create routines and systems to manage the things we do every day. Traveling disrupts all this and it scares the sh*t out of us. Once we take the first step out our comfort zone, things begin to get a lot crazier.

When in Rome… : I’m not saying it has to be Italy but when you get to wherever you’re traveling, something happens to you. Besides the tingly, butterflyish, feeling, you start to feel empowered. You got here. You did it! Now what else do I want to do? I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand as I imagined it as the ultimate place of adventure. When I finally did, I went further and decided to do all the things that I had wanted to do but was too afraid to. And that’s how I went skydiving, caving, white water-rafting, and hiking on an active volcano in New Zealand. Fly everywhere

Put it in front of me and I’ll try it: We are lazy. I’ll give you an example, not that you need one, but because it shows you exactly what I am talking about. The pains in my stomach are now getting to the point that I can’t concentrate, I am starving! I haven’t eaten all day when my mother walks by me and says, “Do you want dinner?” I perk up, “Of course I want dinner…” “Oh, well go ahead and make something.” And I wither back into the sofa, deflated by the effort it’s going to take to conjure up something eat. If she had placed food in front of me, anything really, I would’ve devoured it. I like to think the same way about travel. Get out there, see the world and magic will happen. When Mt. Doom is looming in the distance, you are almost 100% more likely to climb it. When you’re standing above a cave system covered in glow worms, you’ll probably a lot more likely to rappel yourself down into the deep dark earth. You’ll do these crazy things that usually only other people do. 

Things are not that bad: Things are going fine. I’m pretty happy. Do you know what the definition of content is? “To be satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.” I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty damn sad. I think once you travel and find yourself in a radically new place, an unfamiliar enviroment, out of that oh so comfort(able) zone you find maybe you weren’t so “satisfied” or “happy” and maybe there is actaully a lot more out there you want. Give yourself the opportunity to see what you could be missing out on and I bet your ass you won’t be so content anymore

Why I love McDonals for traveling

McDonald’s, a great American institution, a place I lovingly referred to as the “The Golden Arches” when I was a child. Truth be told, I never really go to McDonald’s. However, when I visit another country it is almost always a required destination.

Free Wifi

I don’t really have to explain how useful this is, right? The internet makes the world go round brothas and sistas! Got some down time? Need to find directions to your next destination? Need to call someone but don’t have a phone? Have to check your email, get in contact with family, need to read your favorite blog, load your pictures/ video online???  Yea free wifi. It’s a good thing.

Charge Up

Yea, food is fuel, but I’m not talking about that. Whether it’s your laptop, iPad, or trusty iPhone, these batteries don’t exactly last very long. Mickey D’s can be a great place for taking a little break from walking and charging up all your devices for the road.

Cheap Food

Nuff Said

Let’s face it, you can say you love the fries or chicken nuggets or whatever at McDonald’s all you want, but if they were to cost more than a few dollars you would probably look elsewhere. Macas is cheap! It’s true that if you find yourself in southeast asia, eastern europe, or africa, you will probably be able to find cheaper street food options but in places like Europe, North America and Oceania the prices are really hard to beat. You can get pretty damn full on $5 or less.

When I lived in Sydney (a very expensive city), even though Mickey D’s wasn’t cheap by American standards, they had a few gems like the oddly cheap (obligatory) 50 cent ice cream cone. I’m convinced this is the cheapest thing, by far, that you can purchase in OZ. Also, when I was finishing my trek in New Zealand, me and a buddy pretty much ran out of money before returning to OZ and had to eat every meal for our last two days at McDonald’s. Not the greatest thing ever, but hey, it was the only thing we could afford!

Besides being cheap, the food is generally safe to eat as well. This isn’t a huge concern in most places but while a Big Mac may not be the healthiest thing you can eat, it usually won’t give you food poisoning or anything terrible like that which you run a greater risk  of when eating food from unregulated street vendors.

Clean(er) Public Bathrooms

Are you gonna eat off the floor of these bathrooms? I really, really hope not (You sick person). BUT, in general, McDonald’s bathrooms are a lot cleaner than your other options. Living on the road you get used to a little more filth than usual but appreciation for a clean porcelain throne is universal.

Macas is also a great option when you just can’t find a public toilet.  For some odd reason, even in NYC, a city of 9 million people, there are almost no public places to displace your waste. I mean seriously! With the exception of McDonald’s, good luck finding a bathroom you can hang out in.

If you’ve been traveling for a while, you sometimes get a little… odorous (that’s me being modest). These bathrooms are great for an impromptu bird bath and face wash. A great way to freshen up.

Culture

What’s more cultural than a McDonald’s? You’re right… I don’t know! McDonald’s is something every American can relate to, even if they aren’t a huge customer, so seeing it abroad is a somewhat comforting feeling. It gives you a sense of familiarity even when you’re very far from home.

What I think is great is that, each one that you encounter abroad will be infused with a local flavor. Just exploring their menu can give you insight into what some of the more popular food offerings are in that area.  Also, McDonald’s is akin to a watering hole where all types of people gather and can give you a great sense of the place you’re in. I can’t tell you how different the people who go to McDonald’s in NYC are than those in South Carolina or Utah for example.

Besides, if you’re just hanging out in the hope for some free entertainment or a great story, McDonald’s is a great place to start. I’ve seen marriage proposals, a drunk kid (jokingly)(maybe…?) offer to sell a cop drugs, and a series of fights over line cutting. If nothing else, McDonald’s is a darn good time.

Cool Down & Drink Up

I sweat a lot. I mean a lot, a lot. Like “did you just fall in a lake?” a lot. McDonald’s is a perfect refuge from the heat and the sun. Sometimes all you need is a little relief and Ronald McDonald is always there with open arms.

In addition to the nice AC, you can usually talk your way into getting some free and clean water. Even if you don’t eat anything, staying hydrated is really important. Drinking the water can sometimes be dangerous (think Mexico) and require you to purchase expensive bottled water which is bad for the enviroment and bad for your walet.

 

Save Money and have a longer travel route

Me and a friend spoke to a travel agent who told us that the cheapest flight to New Zealand that she could get for us would be at least $700. That just wasn’t going to cut it with our plans. So we sat down and spent hours online comparing and tweaking every option trying to find the cheapest flight that we could. Finally, we saw it! $398… by far the cheapest fare we had seen. We were elated and rushed to book it. I missed one of the fields and had to resubmit my info. My buddy had gotten a confirmation already. I rushed to submit my info and when it went through the price suddenly shot up to $570!!

This was a painful lesson to learn but also one I learned to exploit in the future. What I hadn’t paid any attention to was that there was only 1 seat remaining on the particular flight. The few minute delay I had due to resubmitting my info caused the seat to be filled and the fare to increase drastically for me. After this ordeal, I did some research and found that the same thing happened to people attempting to purchase 2 tickets for a flight and receiving a much higher price than when they attempted to buy a single ticket.
If the same thing happens to you or if you and a friend discover a low fare with only 1 ticket remaining, there’s a way to assure you both receive the low price.On seperate computers, you and a friend can submit your respective information and click ‘Reserve Reservation’ at the exact time to receive the same price. I’ve used this technique a handful of times and it has always worked. Apparently, I’m not the only one as others have had success with this as well. Now there is the risk that you may not be on the same flight but this has never happened to me yet. The hundreds of dollars saved just means that once you get to the destination you’re headed you can do that skydive you’ve always wanted, or stay another week longer, or visit a few more places nearby that you wouldn’t have. Try it out yourself!
PS: I found this cool website last night for creating travel routes. Maybe give it a try for your next travel planning!
Whats your next travel plan? 🙂

Save the ATM fees abroad

For most people ATM fees are an accepted inconvenience and cost that we think little about. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

When I graduated and moved to New York I realized I had to get a new bank account. The local bank I used only had one branch and it was going to be hundreds of miles away from me. That meant that everytime I needed cash I would have to pay an absurd ATM fee. I spent hours searching before I finally found the perfect bank account for me.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking

No More ATM Fees…Worldwide

As I waded through the options, there were always concessions to be made: a minimum balance, an anual service fee, no interest rate, etc. Then I found Schwab. The first thing that lured me in was their offer of unlimited fee rebates from any ATM worldwide. No dreaded ATM fees ever again. No limit like some other accounts, no complicated qualifying stipulations, and it was WORLDWIDE!

Look, you shouldn’t be carrying around pockets full of cash. It’s unsafe, especially for travelers.  If you’re mugged or your money is stolen from your hostel room, you really have no remedy. The money is gone forever. That’s why you should do your best to always carry your money on a credit or debit card.

ATM Fees are a pain in the ass but they also can get pretty damn expensive. You can pay Domestic ATM Fees of $1.50-$4.00 and International ATM Fees are even worse, ranging from $4.00 – $7.00. That’s a lot of dough your wasting getting your own money!  Those fees can really add up if you always need to access your money (which is your right)… and they’re better spent on food and enjoying memorable experiences.

No Service Fees, Minimum Balance, and Interest!

This sounded too good to be true. But when I looked a little closer, it only got better. Not only was there no service fees and no minimum balance, you also earned interest on your balance. True, it isn’t a lot (0.15% APY) but the offer alone is higher than most competitors, most who offer no interest at all. A nice touch.

No International Transaction Fees

When I had studied abroad, many of my friends not only had to pay the exorbitant ATM fees but also an exchange fee on every transaction. I was lucky enough that my bank did not do this but I found this to be extremely inconvenient and borderline sneaky. So I called to confirm this was not the case with Schwab. It was confirmed for me that “Schwab Bank does not have any foreign currency or international transaction fees for the use of the Schwab Bank Platinum Visa Debit Card overseas.”

Another problem I had when abroad in Sydney, Australia was getting in contact with my bank’s customer service. The time difference made it extremely hard for me to catch them during business hours and the calls were super expensive. Without even asking, the Schwab customer service rep I spoke to assured me that they could assist with an international toll-free number for my use.  Not only would it be free to call but it was 24/7. 

An interesting alternative is for german people the Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB). They offer free services – worldwide.

Blackpool – what to do?

Blackpool Sea
Blackpool sea

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is a city break or an escape to the seaside is a must to help recharge your batteries and feel completely invigorated. Now is an ideal time to have a few days away, even if it’s a weekend break with the family – the run up to Christmas can be hectic and the chance for a little breather is usually welcomed with open arms. Plus, escaping the madness for a weekend with your family in a popular tourist destination can be great fun and appreciated by the children who are looking forward to the Christmas holidays.

Head to the Lancashire coastline for a few days; you can find here cheap hotels in Blackpool, placing you in the heart of the action and a stone’s throw from plenty of attractions that will keep your weekend jam packed. The summer season may have been and gone, but there’s plenty of life left in this seaside resort, even with the cold sea winds.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach
An obvious suggestion when it comes to Blackpool’s attractions – this thrilling and fun-filled theme park has progressed massively over the last few years, with plenty of rides to suit all preferences and the newNickelodeon Land to keep the kids happy.

It’s closed for the winter season but will be open in the New Year. In the meantime, Nickelodeon Land presents the 12 Days of Christmas, which includes rides, attractions and festive characters in a transformed winter wonderland paradise. Btw at Your Travel Itinerary you can find more tips like this about cool spots in englands seaside and more England itineraries.

Blackpool Tower
It’ll undoubtedly be a little gusty at the top of the Tower during our prevailing winter conditions, but it’s still an attraction that shouldn’t be missed.

Sea Life Centre
Whatever the time of year, the sea life centre welcomes visitors through their doors. Located on the Green Mile, between Central Pier and Blackpool Tower, this marine haven is perfect for you to get up close and personal with underwater life, without actually getting wet.

The Dungeons
For lovers of the macabre and gory, the Blackpool Tower Dungeons are a perfect attraction. If your party are happy to experience a scarefest, head over to this thrilling walk-through attraction, where you will come under attack from the Vikings of the North, feel your stomach churn on the Extremis: Drop Ride to Doom and dodge the witch-hunts in search of the Pendle Witches.

Whatever the reason for your trip to Blackpool, just because it’s a seaside town doesn’t mean you have to visit in the height of summer. Pack your layers and head for the coast this winter and make the most out of this fun-filled town away from peak season. Book your budget Blackpool hotel to keep your budget low and enjoy some relaxed time with your family.

Bad weather memorys

Sometimes the best thing is bad weather. Why?

I’ll admit it, I love traveling because it gives me stories to tell. A story is something I can tell my friends, my family, a stranger and no matter how it goes I really enjoy telling them.

Going through a difficult or uncomfortable situation brings people closer. The weather, in particular, has the power to bond people in wonderful and unexpected ways. It is one of those things that is universal and affects all people, breaking down barriers and leaving the opportunity to make something good of it. Now, that doesn’t change the fact that if you offered me sunny and 80 degrees everyday I wouldn’t take it, BUT much good can come from bad weather.

Zion Park

When my two best friends and I set out on a 2 week backpacking trip across the country to Zion we had done all the planning we could. We checked what the weather usually was at this time of the year, I had checked the 10 day weather forecast everyday starting 2 monthes before, just “trying to gauge the weather patterns”, and the weather leading up to our departure was absolutely ideal. So what happened when we got out on the road? A freak cold front and snow storm of course! I had camped all my life but I had done very little cold camping before. Brrr…

 

Every night I put my 4 layers of shirts on, 2 pairs of wool socks, my beanie, and then curled into the fetal position inside my sleeping bag. I’d like you to guess how much that helped me stay warm? If you happened to guess “not at all” you would be so entirely right. Every night turned into a bone-chilling, teeth-chattering, adventure which consisted of one of my friend Matt and I swapping strategies that “seemed like they were helping” while our other friend slumbered at ease.

 

These were probably some of the most sleepless nights I’ve had in my life but every morning we laughed about our attempts the night before to stay warm, creating new techniques and ideas that we thought would keep is warm as we hiked. Besides literally bringing us closer together (how close is too close for your face to be to your sleeping friend?) we bonded over the cold and gave us some great stories to tell. It also made every day trekking in the sun all the more enjoyable and appreciated.The experience was something completely new for me and I’m glad I took up the challenge. Maybe next time I’ll just bring 6 layers of clothes though.

But then we trekked in this!

Tongariro Crossing – Mount Doom and the Wind Monster

Mordor. Mt. Doom. Mount Ngauruhoe. Call it what you want… I was climbing that bad boy. How could you pass up the opportunity to see where the One Ring was forged? As we arrived into Tongariro a severe wind storm was passing through. We spoke to the local Visitor Center and were strongly advised not to hike it, since there would be “no assistance if stranded” because of the severe wind warnings. We were only going to be in town for 2 days and decided that we would wait to see if conditions improved. The next morning we woke up early to find out the conditions were worse, there were 70 mph winds on the ground! We would be 7,516 ft in the sky! Thankfully, with a little help and encouragement from our insane hostel owner we set off.

As we got on the trail we saw a group of German kids camped out at the trail head in a lean-to. They weren’t going to attempt the trek because it was too dangerous. I was worried for a second that my friends would be scared off by this. Instead, we rallied and forged ahead, leaning into the wind just to make progress. The further we got and the higher we climbed the scarier it got. The wind whipped and any misplaced step was perilous. There was no going back. In the end, we reached the peak ridge which was approximately 5 feet across with steep drop offs to either side, and climbed on our hands and knees. The wind was far too strong to stand up and the loose volcanic rock made every step an unstable one.

 

Kaituna River White Water Rafting – Rainy Days and Flooded Ways

One disclaimer that is integral to this story: I can’t fucking swim. Yea, I know. Call me whatever brand of idiot you want, I just can’t seem to learn.

This brings me to my next subject, white water rafting. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t because of my inability to swim. I was convinced by my friends that it really wasn’t that bad and that the boats almost never tip. It was just a glorified float down the river. Yea. Right.

When we finally arrived at the Kaituna River we were worried we wouldn’t be able to go ahead and raft. It had been downpouring for the last couple of days and the rivers were raging. This did not help my anxiety.

I want to highlight a few moments that followed our arrival that almost made me shit my pants if you don’t mind:

  • As we arrived, the receptionist said “We need to check if we are still doing this today. It seems that all the other rafting companies have pulled out today because of the dangerous waters” Fantastic!
  • Taking the shuttle to the river, we are given a quick primer on what to do, “Everyone can swim right, so doncha worry, sweet as.” (“sweet as” or “as” is apparently used to accentuate or intensify an expression. A lesson learned after a girl walked off our shuttle and the driver yelled “sweet as”, only to be given a dirty look, followed by a helpful explanation) Back to the point…this guy just expected that we could all swim. Not so my friend. I approached the guy about this small problem of mine after our ride and was given a nervous laugh followed with a confident punch to my shoulder “you’ll be fine fella”
  • Oh! Kaituna River features the highest commercially rafted waterfall (7 meters) in the world.  I am ignorant and didn’t know that ahead of time.
This all made for an exceptionally nerve wrecking and hilarious experience. One that my friends still give me a hard time about. The fear in my eyes was obvious to everyone in our group and many asked if I was alright. Now I am. And I’m so happy I did it. And our lucky silver fern saved us from flipping our boat over on the waterfall! The risk was so completely worth the reward.

So is testing the wrath of the cold, wind, and water always a worthy decision, I can’t say for everyone. All I know is that those times when weather seemed like they would ruin our plans and make us miserable, they have resulted in memories I look back on very fondly. I don’t regret any of these experiences and there is no doubt the inclement weather only intensified my memories of them which I will never forget.

Cheap flights – tricks with Kayak

Flights can be expensive. This is no secret. It’s often cheaper to drive but time restraints and other factors can make the option unviable. BUT the decision to fly or drive is not always as clear cut as this. By not flying all the way you can score a much cheaper trip with little or no added time.

This trick works best when you’re flying from smaller airport hubs to major hubs. For example, when I was in college I had to fly out of Albany airport as it was the closest. Albany is not a major hub and as expected, flights were often much more expensive and were never direct flights. This meant that I was paying more for a flight AND having to often having lengthy layovers that would make the total flight time pretty long. On the other hand, JFK airport out of New York City is a major airport hub.

Travel Hacking

A flight from Albany, New York to my ultimate destination, Nashville, Tennessee would take approximately 4 hours long. The price in this example is $214.

 

A flight from JFK airport in New York City to Nashville would take approximately 4.5 hours long. The price in this example is $136. Since we are starting in Albany I could take a Greyhound bus from Albany to New York for a measly $19 and arrive there in under 3 hours. This brings the total trip time to 7.5 hours and the total cost to $145.

 

*Flights are one-way and savings are bigger for round-trips.

**This hack doesn’t always work to your favor and on some date combos the price was actually higher from JFK to Nashville. You have to play around with it, but this works most of the time!

Bus Travel Pays Off

Trip Time

Yes, some of you won’t want to spend the extra couple of hours adding a bus trip to the mix but the time difference is often misleading to say the least. With layovers and frequent delays you can end up spending just as much time (or muchhh more) when flying.

With that said, heavy traffic, accidents, dead squirrels, and bad drivers can likewise delay a bus on the road. I find it’s a risk either way but in my experience I’ve run into far more delays on flights than I ever have on buses.

Price

Obviously a huge advantage of buses is the affordable price. If you can do a segment of your trip on a bus you can save a nice chunk of drinking money. The savings is multiplied when doing a round trip as the example above uses one-way flights. For many routes that aren’t too far such as Washington DC to NYC a bus trip is a no-brainer. Bus trips can cost as little as $15 each way while flights are $100 or more. The time differential is about an hour and half which is severely eaten into by the added time of going through airport security and check-in.

The savings goes farther than just the sticker price though. For the frugal traveler every little amount counts and buses definitely have a few nice advantages:

  • Food: Food purchased in the airport or on the plane costs a premium. When taking the bus you can purchase cheap food before or during a rest stop during the trip. I just hate being stuck in an airport and paying $4 dollars for a snicker bar because it’s the cheapest thing you can buy. (Disclaimer: This is not about Snickers…I freaking LOVE snickers!)
  • WiFi: While some airports are getting better about this, in my experience most airports charge for wifi internet access. Wifi has just been introduced to planes relatively recently and is not exactly widely available. When it IS, you’ll pay far too much for it. Almost all buses have free wifi to boot and that is a nice touch.
  • Outlets: Again, while some planes have charging ports, they are not as readily available as they are on buses. Keeping your iPhone, iPad, and laptop charged is often essential and at the very least can ensure that you’ll be able to read your eBooks, listen to music, play games, or even get work done for the duration of your trip.
  • Comfort: Unless you’re sitting in first class, comfort is not the first word that pops into your mind when you think of airplane seating. Bus seating is much more spacious and allows more leg room when every inch helps (seriously).

A bus ride cross country is often out of the picture but using bus travel as a complement to air travel can often cut the price drastically with minimum added time. It also includes some nice perks that make it worth your consideration past the sticker price.

 

What kind of travel hacking have you used to cut the price of your travels? What are the perks? What are the tradeoffs?

Get free E-Books for your travel trip

I’m not going to get into the debate between books and ebooks because that is irrelavent to me. In my humble opinion, ebooks are the future. For the traveler, I think ebooks are essential. The advent of the ebook means we can pack a small library of books anywhere we go, packed into one device, whether that be an ereader, smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Since ebooks allow you to bring as many books with you as you want, without the physical limitations of weighing you down, there’s nothing to keep you from loading up your device with loads of them… except maybe cost. However, theres a great resource that the digital age has made most of us, or at least ME, largely forget about, the library!

When I was younger and wanted to stock up on books to read, I could head to the library and check any book out for free, as long as it was available. But things have changed! It’s a new age man! And libraries have finally begun to evolve too.

Use OverDrive to Find A Participating Library Near You

Use Overdrive on almost any device imaginable

OverDrive is a global digital distributer of ebooks and audiobooks.  Their OverDrive Media Console works on everything: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and even Windows Phones as well as pretty much any ereader you may own. 

All you have to do is head over to OverDrive Search and input your zip code. From there you can select the library nearest to you. The OverDrive network is massive and there’s usually a great chance there is a participating library nearby.

Some libraries allow you to check out your ebooks online and transfer them to your device. They will be counted as checked out on your library account and you’ll have to check them back in when your lending period is up. Still, there are some backwards libraries that still require that you walk into the library and check them out in person.

Many of us grew up checking out free books to read but OverDrive gives us the option to move this process into the digital age. If you’re looking to download free ebooks and get around the limitations of checking out and checking in your books, Project Gutenburg is an awesome resource to use for classic books and novels that have been digitized so you take as many as you want on the road with you.

Reading was the first way I learned to travel through my imagination and it can still take me places that I can’t physically travel too. Now, more than