Luxury Travel on a Shoestring Budget – Money Saving Travel Tips

Love to travel but don’t have the thousands of dollars to do it?

You can get luxury travel on a shoestring budget by planning your vacation or trip just a bit more carefully.

Read a few of these tips, and then go on your well-deserved getaway without burning a hole in your pocket.

Always remember: When planning your trip, timing is key.

For example, school vacation weeks are the worst times to plan trips. Most parents have no choice but to travel at these high-peak seasons, so school vacation periods in any country are always going to be crowded. The airfare is always sky high – no pun intended.

If you’ve traveled during these peak seasons, you may noticed that coach seats during a school vacation week could cost you more money than a first class ticket during the off-season. So remember, unless you MUST travel during these peak periods, avoid winter and spring breaks at all costs.

Here’s another important tip: Regardless of how you decide to book your luxury travel arrangements – either through a travel agent or through an online travel website – make sure that you know exactly who you are working with. For example, your best bet to save on a hotel and car rental package is probably going to be with Priceline.com’s “name your own price” option. However, Priceline.com is not the best choice for international airline travel. You’d be better off with an agent. Either way you go, try to use the same travel agent or service. This makes sure that you build a solid relationship with the company you’re dealing with. If you are loyal to them, they will be loyal to you. Always remember, they want your business.

Think about how frequent flier programs work: if you choose their airline consistently, they’ll reward you by giving you a free flight. Granted, you’ll need to do a lot of flying if you’re just going to earn points sitting on a plane, but with a little research, you’ll find ways to make loyalty programs work in your favor. When booking online or with an agent, make sure you always ask questions. You will never get anywhere from being silent.

If for some reason the company you’re working with makes an error, be sure to take advantage of it. Most companies want to keep up a high level of customer satisfaction, and they rely on their guests to provide them with information on how to achieve that. See if they could possibly upgrade an aspect of your trip. Your coach tickets could turn into first class, or maybe your suite could turn into a deluxe version. Don’t be scared to ask for upgrades. If they say no, then you’re no worse off than before. Your criticism will ensure that yourself (and other travelers) will have a satisfactory luxury vacation.

When you’re looking your vacation online, you should search travel review sites for agents or an agencies who have shown they willing to work with unhappy customers, an have proven that they excel at customer service. Many times, customer service representatives get aggravated with customers who complain, or the service reps are based in a foreign country and can only read from a script. And you probably already know that scripts don’t cover every possible customer service issue that a traveler may encounter.

You’ll find just about any travel service rated on a review site somewhere. Just keep in mind that people like to complain about bad experiences, so you’ll find many more complaints than good reviews for even the most well-known travel services. So take the complaints with a grain of salt. Look for the most commonly re-occurring complaints (like bad customer service). Most bad experiences are not usually the fault of the service. Rather the experience occurred because of the traveler’s misunderstanding of the travel site policies.

* * * Read your travel site’s terms and conditions BEFORE you book reservations * * *

You want to consider all aspects of your deal; not just the price tag. Quality wins over quantity in some cases. You find a rate online offering a room at $20.00 a night. It may sound appealing, right? Maybe you’re taking your family to Disney World and you figured you just need someplace to rest your head at night. But when you check-in, that’s when you discover the bathroom is shared with everyone on the floor, there’s police tape strung across the the door to the room next to yours, and you see prostitutes wandering in the parking lot. Maybe this deal WAS too good to be true.

Do your research. There’s plenty of information available to educate yourself on discounted travel mastery. Most of it is available for free; some of it you may have to pay for if you don’t want to do the research. Go to travel websites and forums specific to the type of trip you’re planning to take: Cruise, adventure tour, etc. If you are itching to take a trip that you don’t want to pay full price for, and you opt to pay for money-saving travel information online, I’d recommend that you only consider offers that give you a 100% money-back guarantee. If you don’t get great money-saving travel tips, at least you can get your money back.

Follow these simple practices, and you’ll have the luxury you want on a shoestring budget.

Why Should I Engage in Outdoor Recreation Activities?

More and more people engage in outdoors activities these days, as outdoor sports are becoming very popular. The top recreational activities include kayaking, jogging, walking, hiking, and camping.

This article is for the people who love to spend their time outdoors, enjoying new adventures in fresh air.

How can outdoor recreational activities be beneficial to you?

The foremost advantage of spending time outdoors is gaining a good mental spirit and healthy balance of your body. Not only will it help in giving you the liveliness that everyone should have, but it will also pump your life force and the love of living.

Activities such as walking, bird watching, kayaking and camping all make you feel happier while appreciating the beauty that we often forget during our busy hours at the office. Nowadays the stress level has increased so much in everyone’s life that everyone, without exception, deserves a small break to get rid of this stress. Sometimes a small walk in the park will do the trick and can lighten up your tensions and make you feel happy.

In today’s hectic life styles, we hardly find time to spend with our families and friends. Engaging regularly in various outdoor activities can help you create much stronger bonds with your family and friends. You can interact and talk more with your friends and family while sharing the astonishing experiences of a different outdoor activity each time you go out.

How can outdoor recreation help you in saving money?

Our lives are never smooth and secured; everyone comes across various difficult times in their lifetime. Taking the time to engage in simple outdoor recreations will not only help you mentally, but you will also find that it costs close to nothing. For example hiking does not cost anything when compared with cycling. All you need is a pair of good shoes and a mountaintop to hike to. Another example is simply playing outdoors with your kids. Nothing will beat playing soccer or tags with your kids, especially when you take time off from a stressful job.

While there is other activities like hunting that are somewhat costlier however they will provide you with a lot of thrills and great sense of accomplishment. If you can’t afford spending money on such activities then you still have many options that will definitely suit your pocket.

You should try to spend as much time as possible in these types of activities. You should also encourage your friends, family and kids to spend such a wonderful time together building good memories. Nothing can be more enjoyable and beneficial than gaining a good and healthy lifestyle by being in the outdoors.

Take full advantage of the beautiful world we live in and its alluring nature that surrounds us that we inheriting for centuries from our ancestors.

4 Easy Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Camping Tent

Your camping tent is not only the place you will sleep in when you’re outdoors, but it also protects you and keeps you safe from outside elements. Having said this, your tent deserves care and attention to help it extend its life.

Here are some ways on how you can care for your camping tent:

Protect the floor of your tent

The key here is the spot where you’ll be setting up camp. An ideal area would be a spot that is smooth and level. Clear the area of small debris like rocks, twigs, pine cones and the like as these might cause cuts to your tent’s floor. To further protect the floor, use a footprint, a ground cloth that will provide the floor of your tent an even smoother surface to be set up in. Lastly, don’t bring any foot wear inside!

Keep away from the sun

Not only are the sun’s UV rays harmful to your skin but to your tent’s surface, too. The UV rays would do damage to both the fabric and the nylon fibers. Your best bet is to set up camp at a shady area, but if you can’t find one, use a tarp to shade your tent. If you’re going to be out for a while (hiking, fishing or backpacking), remove your tent from direct sunlight.

Keep the food outside

Don’t bring food and eat inside of your tent. There are a multitude of insects out in the woods and food attracts many of them. You don’t want insects to be crawling all over your tent and trying to chew their way in through the fabric just to get to the food. And besides, camp food should always be placed in tightly sealed containers to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife to the campsite.

Keep your tent clean

While packing up, give your tent a good shake to get rid of any dust and dirt that may have accumulated both inside and outside. It’s ideal to wash it every after use to ensure that there’s no mildew on any surface and also to remove dirt in the zipper which will help prevent it from malfunctioning in the future. Don’t forget to dry your tent completely before storing it loosely in a bag at a cool, dry place.

Follow these easy tips to extend the life of your camping tent and you’re sure to enjoy its service for many years to come!

Venture Back Through Rugged Wilderness and Into The Old West: Hike Poland Creek, Crown King, Arizona

Summers in Arizona are hot! But that’s just the central and southern portions of the state called the Sonoran Desert Region. What many people don’t know is that here in Arizona even in the summer there are still plenty of beautiful and interesting places to go if you want to get outdoors and cool off for the day. So if you’re up for a new hiking adventure with the possibility of getting wet, then check out Poland Creek, in the Castle Creek Wilderness, Crown King, Arizona, and journey back through rugged wilderness beauty and into the real old west!

I have always been interested in taking a trip out to Crown King which is located south of Prescott and in the Bradshaw Mountains, bordering the Castle Creek Wilderness. If you have a truck or 4wd then you should do just fine because Crown King is only accessible by a 27 mile all dirt road. But I recently joined an excellent local hiking group called the TLC Hiking Group, and when they said they were heading out to Crown King to hike down into a place called Poland Creek to a 30 foot waterfall with a large swimming hole called the “Big Dipper”, I thought wow, that sounds pretty interesting and eagerly signed up.

So bright and early on a Saturday morning, I met the TLC Hiking Group at Anthem, just north of Phoenix at about 6:15am. Those of us with passenger vehicles car pooled with other members who had trucks, jeeps and 4wds. We were also advised to try and car pool together due to the limited parking available at the trail head. By 6:45am we were on our way to Crown King heading north on route I-17 until we reached the Bumble Bee exit, just past Black Canyon City. We exited the freeway and took a left onto FR 259. Most of FR 259 in the early 20th century used to be an old rail road line called the Bradshaw Mountain Rail Road and its one lane bridges are still being used today. We first passed through the small town of Bumble Bee, then on through an even smaller and much more old and rustic looking town, called Cleator. The drive on FR 259 is absolutely beautiful with scenic views all around as you slowly climb up in elevation and further into the rugged Bradshaw Mountains and Castle Creek Wilderness. Overall, I thought the road was in pretty good condition and in dry conditions would be very passable for regular vehicles if you took it slow enough.

We arrived up at the top, elevation 5500 feet, called Poland Vista Point, and our trailhead by 7:30am. It’s not an easily recognizable trail head from the road but at mile marker 25, watch for the small pull out and parking area on the left. After a couple of group photos, we set out on our hike by 7:45am. In order to reach Poland Creek, you first need to follow the Algonquin Trail. The views of Horse Thief Canyon from the Algonquin Trail are breath taking and the decent, although a total of about 1000 feet, is really quite gradual. After making our way down, we hung a left and headed down into the canyon and into Poland Creek. This is where the hike actually becomes a bit more strenuous as you begin hopping over huge rocks and boulders in the creek bed. We continued on for a short ways past various small swimming holes until we reached the falls area, what’s called the “Big Dipper”. Unfortunately though, the water level at this time was too low and no water fall was running. A small group ventured on in search of another possible swimming hole while the rest of us hung back and rested. When they had returned, they reported having seen a full grown Black Diamondback Rattlesnake sunning itself on a rock!

After about an hour or so, and with temperatures starting to quickly warm up, we decided to head back. The return trip back over the rocks and boulders in Poland Creek, then up 1000 feet in elevation on the Algonquin Trail felt more difficult by this time. However, the scenic views of the surrounding area were again absolutely stunning as I stopped here and there to catch my breath and take some photos. Most of us had arrived back at the hill top where our cars were parked by about 11am for a total round trip hiking distance of about 3 miles.

After collecting our group at the trailhead, we got back into our cars and headed two miles down the road into the old west town of Crown King. They had a lot of road construction going but after only a couple of minutes wait, we were allowed into town and immediately were personally greeted and welcomed. We were also invited to have lunch at “The Mill Restaurant” up on the hill, an old reconstructed Gladiator Mill built in 1893, and said to have the best food in town, and it did! The food was great and the service across the board, very friendly, personal with everything done with a homemade touch. Really excellent! After lunch we decided to check out the rest of the town of Crown King. The town originated back in 1875 after a prospector found gold and then grew for about 45 years after that as a gold mining town with the Bradshaw Mountain Rail Road to support the mining economy. However the mines were not productive, they say, and the rail road went out of business early in the 20th century. Today, they still have a few gold mines in operation and mining their own gold too. It’s definitely a very quaint town that hasn’t lost its “rustic” old west history or charm. Nestled in the pines at elevation close to 6000 feet, the temperatures on this August day were warm, but mild, in the low 80’s and with a slight cool breeze too. Perfect! After checking out the town’s old saloon, Prospector Mall and General Store & Post Office, we returned to our cars and left Crown King at around 2:45pm.

The drive heading back down in elevation on FR 259, was single lane with many switchbacks and tight s-curves. It seemed a bit more hair raising too with a lot of oncoming trucks and construction vehicles, all of whom seemed to be driving at a fast clip. We almost went head on with a dump truck! But thankfully, my good friend Dan was a great driver with a lot of experience behind his belt so we were in good hands. We thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the beautiful drive and arrived back at Anthem, where our cars were parked by 4pm.

In all, it was a great day of fun, amazing mountain wilderness scenery, an excellent “moderate level” hike with some really wonderful people and a very enjoyable visit to the old west town of Crown King. So if you’re up for a hiking adventure and a scenic day trip back into the old west, then I definitely would recommend checking out Poland Creek in the Castle Creek Wilderness, at Crown King, Arizona.

Isle of Colonsay – Why It Is Calling

Where? Colonsay? With all the world to choose from, why on Earth would you choose an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, barely 10 miles long by 2 miles wide, with only 130 inhabitants? Here are the reasons, and they are fairly compelling:

1. Saving the world: anyone in Britain can get to Colonsay by public transport – the mainland port is Oban, easily reached by train or bus. Both ScotRail and CityBus operate frequent services between Glasgow city-centre and Oban. No private pollution is entailed and you enjoy a stress-free journey, no traffic jams, no motorway service-stations, just the ease and comfort of a bygone era.

2. The pleasure of the journey: the West Highland Railway (ScotRail) is acknowledged to be one of the most scenic journeys in the world, and it is followed by a 2 hour cruise through the magnificent Firth of Lorne, aboard a comfortable modern ship operated by CalMac Ferries Ltd, wholly-owned by the government.

3. The fascinating geology: you do not have to be an expert to recognise the overwhelming power of the ancient ice-sheets in the surviving contours of the land, nor to appreciate the massive pressures that suppressed the island and so slowly unveiled the extraordinary raised beach exposures of the present day. There are dramatic dykes filled by the magma of long-extinct volcanic action and the evident action of erosion upon a landform first created some 4,000 million years ago.

4. The magic of the island: vibrant with one of the largest bird colonies in the Inner Hebrides, blessed with hundreds of species of wild flowers, sea-girt and fringed with literally miles of flawless golden sands.

5. The romance of the place: at a critical junction in the sea-lanes of antiquity, Colonsay is endowed with significant remains from almost every period. The Mesolithic sites are amongst the finest in the UK, and there are also Bronze Age graves, Iron Age Forts, early Christian chapels, Viking settlements and enigmatic settlement and field systems from every age.

6. The lure of a proper holiday: every destination is within walking distance, there is golf, and fishing, and sand-castling and skinny-dipping and painting and photography and cycling and everything else that makes for true relaxation, and two restaurants and a pub, a bookshop, a brewery, a choice of two local gins and an excellent range of arts and crafts… to say nothing of the ceilidhs and the craic!

7. The satisfaction of a good choice: with the pound plummeting, foreign holidays are a bit of an indulgence. With airports becoming more crowded and oppressive with every passing day, flying is the new purgatory. With pollution and global-warming being what they are already, nobody wants to make things any worse.

Of course, you might say “Why Colonsay?” You might even say “Why not Skegness? Or Mull? Or Coventry? Or London?” In fact, you will only ask that question if you have not yet been to Colonsay – just look it up, and be surprised. It may be small, but it is very special, it is easily reached and it can easily become that very special place for you and your family.