Flying on a Budget Airline

 

If you've worked with me by now, you know I am a fan of budget airlines. I mean, why pay $1000 for a trip when you could pay $400 if you just plan ahead a little bit?

Here are my top tips for flying on a budget airline:

1) Pack light. If you can avoid checking a suitcase, you usually save yourself a large fee. Budget airlines bank on charging you for every little thing to make up for the low fare. We always bring one backpack and one small roller suitcase with a little bit of empty space on the way there.

2) Bring your own food. I can't emphasize this one enough. The main way these airlines make their money is by charging you when you are desperate. On the way there, I pack a HUGE lunch and dinner and snacks ahead of time. We both eat it on the plane and are happy as clams. I try to bring sweet things, fruit, veggies, crunchy snacks, and two main courses (sandwich and some sort of leftovers). On the way home, we make a stop at the grocery store wherever we are and load up on foreign grocery store food. 

I've gone whole flights only seeing the flight attendant once. It's kind of a blessing in disguise. Nobody waking me up to ask if I want soda. 

I've gone whole flights only seeing the flight attendant once. It's kind of a blessing in disguise. Nobody waking me up to ask if I want soda. 

3) Bring TWO water bottles and fill them before you get on the plane. Most airlines don't charge for water, but another way they save money to get you a cheaper price is to down staff flight attendants. I have a serious fear of being without water for any amount of time (thanks pregnancy and nursing), so I hate waiting for a flight attendant to fill up my bottle.

4) Bring your own headphones! We are so bad at this. This is another way they get you. Many airlines offer TV, but charge you for headphones. So be one step ahead!

Ok but really, I could totally see this happening on a budget airline.

Ok but really, I could totally see this happening on a budget airline.

5) Lower your expectations. You get what you pay for. You are likely saving a TON of money flying budget, so if there are delays or things you don't expect, just roll with it. Honestly, it happens on nicer airlines too, so at least you aren't paying an arm and a leg to get delayed!

With a little advance planning, flying budget can be a great experience! It has been for us. 

It is highly amusing to me when people are surprised by what budget airlines charge them for and act all indignant. You get what you pay for. I like paying a little bit and fending for myself so I can go on many trips!

It is highly amusing to me when people are surprised by what budget airlines charge them for and act all indignant. You get what you pay for. I like paying a little bit and fending for myself so I can go on many trips!

 

Pismo Beach with Shelley!

Shelley contacted me just a week before she wanted to travel with a request for a family Spring Break destination that was within driving distance. After going back and forth a bit, we settled on Pismo Beach.

Morro Rock is a favorite surf destination in our family.

Morro Rock is a favorite surf destination in our family.

It was a struggle to find an affordable hotel or Airbnb without much notice! All my favorite spots seemed to be booked. After a lot of phone calls and much searching, I found this adorable little place up in the green hills. Oftentimes when people go to Pismo Beach or any beach destination, they refuse to search for places that are not right on the beach. However, when you expand your radius, you can often find a gem in for a much more reasonable rate.

The Madonna Inn is completely worth a visit but is NOT an affordable place to stay.

The Madonna Inn is completely worth a visit but is NOT an affordable place to stay.

Here were her 4 favorite things she did, in her words:

1) Morro Rock was so cool we went twice.

2) We loved the ATVs and we had fun playing games at our Airbnb.

3) Marc and I liked Hearst Castle more than the kids did but I am totally good with that.

4) The elephant seals were super fun to watch.

"My daughter and I had fun, while my son and husband had crazy-fall-off-your-ride fun."

"My daughter and I had fun, while my son and husband had crazy-fall-off-your-ride fun."

Thanks for letting me plan your trip Shelley! You were super fun to work with. She's trusting GG with her Oahu itinerary next.

It is only $25 for a full-service weekend getaway planning, so if you've been thinking about trying out GG, a weekend getaway is a great place to start. 

 

Costa Rica with Celia!

Costa Rica with Celia!

One of my intentions for starting this blog was to feature different trips that people have gone on for inspiration! My sister just got back from Costa Rica and had a fabulous time, so I asked her to share. Here are 5 Q&As about her trip to Costa Rica!

Aren't they cute? They've been married for 25 years (they got married when I was 1). Relationship goals.

Aren't they cute? They've been married for 25 years (they got married when I was 1). Relationship goals.

Q1: Why Costa Rica?

We wanted to go somewhere we'd never been before, somewhere warm, and not too far away or expensive. 

They also wanted to go somewhere where they could see lots of animals! They checked out many books from the library on the different flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

They also wanted to go somewhere where they could see lots of animals! They checked out many books from the library on the different flora and fauna of Costa Rica.

Q2: What was the best thing you did there?

River rafting the Pacuare river. We had a boat guide who happened to be missing one of his eyes and he was the BEST wildlife spotter. He could spot a monkey so far away we thought that he was making it up, but as we got closer, there it was! 

Q3: What advice do you have for someone who wants to take this trip?

Fly.  Costa Rica's attractions are far apart but you can drive to them.  Most people rent a car and drive around the country.  The roads are bad and crowded and not well marked and it eats up days of valuable vacation time to drive.  I would recommend flying within the country on puddle jumpers.  We are so glad we spent the extra money to do that.

We also brought plenty of dollars (about 500) in small denominations to hand out as tips and we are glad we did. Skip the Arenal volcano town of La Fortuna (too touristy) and go to Monteverde instead.

Q4: What was the best animal you saw?

I loved the mammals.  Sloths and monkeys.

Q5: Was there anywhere that really impressed you with their service?

Yes, Tortuga Lodge had excellent service and I would highly recommend it.  The company also has a lodge in Monteverde that we wish we had stayed at.

This service definitely looks impressive!

This service definitely looks impressive!

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Disclaimer: I did NOT plan this trip. She used a local tour company called Costa Rica Expeditions. If you are the kind of person who likes a very guided experience I recommend using a local tour company and can help you find the best one for your budget. 

What Am I Getting Exactly?

What Am I Getting Exactly?

It's been about a month since I launched Get Globetrotting. I have been excited by all the interest so far! Planning trips is so rewarding; I am glad I took the plunge and started doing it for real!

I've had some inquiries about exactly what it is that I do. Here is what you will get for a $40 full-week trip planning service. 

Overview: This is your trip on one page with a brief list of activities organized by day. 

Interactive Map: Everything you're going to see color-coordinated and laid out on a map. This is when it's handy to have a husband who is a Data Scientist. ;)

Booking Checklist: An itemized list of everything to book before leaving on your trip. This includes things such as hotel information, flight information, and any activities that require advance booking. All of the websites and prices for everything are included in this list, so it's easy to get a snapshot of how much a trip will cost. This is one of my favorite things to provide for my clients because it ensures that they don't miss anything important by not planning ahead! One example of an activity that requires advance booking: Da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan. I'm still kicking myself for not getting advance tickets because we didn't get to see it!

We did get to see this amazing place however.

We did get to see this amazing place however.

Detailed Itinerary: This is the meat and potatoes of your full trip package. Every day is laid out for your traveling ease. I use Rick Steves, blogs, museum websites, Pinterest, and personal experience to craft the perfect trip. All you have to do is tell me the ages and interests of your group. One lady just sent me her Pinterest board and I planned her whole trip off of it. Here is an example of the level of detail for one day in Paris for a couple in their 30's. Of course it looks different than the trip to Paris I planned for a family of four. 

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Morning: Orangerie Museum. Either follow the tour or just go in and experience Monet’s Water Lillies for yourselves. (RS tour p. 191)

Directions: Metro stop Concorde or bus #24. The museum is in Tuileries Garden where you will be spending the day.

Inside the Orangerie Museum.

Inside the Orangerie Museum.

Midday: Reservations at Angelina. This place has the best hot chocolate in all of Paris! Their pastries are also delicious. Some of their food can be overpriced, so you may want to find some lunch elsewhere and then come here for the pastries and hot chocolate.

Address: 226 rue de Rivoli 

(reservations: https://module.lafourchette.com/fr_FR/module/53361-93fc5)

Note: There is also another macaroon place worth knowing about near here. If you can stand it, maybe visit is after the Tuileries Garden. It’s called Laduree boutique and the address is 14 Rue de Castiglione.

While researching this trip, I found there is a Laduree in Beverly Hills! Except I would rather fly to Paris than get on the 405. 

While researching this trip, I found there is a Laduree in Beverly Hills! Except I would rather fly to Paris than get on the 405. 

Afternoon: Tuileries Garden: Go find the toy sailboat rentals and the Ferris wheel. Make sure to get a nice break outside between museums. Wander over and check out Pont des Artes, a bridge over the Seine where lovers put a lock on the bridge and throw the key into the river. Other option: go home and rest before your night at the Louvre.

Evening: Louvre. Fantastically huge museum with the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo. Open until 21:45 on Wednesday nights only. Museum passholders can enter through the group entrance in the pedestrian passageway (labeled Pavilion Richelieu) between the pyramid and Rue de Rivoli. It’s under the arches a few steps north of the pyramid; find the uniformed guard at the security checkpoint entrance, at the down escalator. Allow about 2-3 hours here at least, so arrive around 6 pm. (RS tour p. 131)

I can't look at this pyramid without thinking of the Da Vinci Code. 

I can't look at this pyramid without thinking of the Da Vinci Code. 

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And there is your peek into how GG works!

Grocery Store Tourist

Grocery Store Tourist

The absolute best money saving thing you can do while traveling (besides having me plan your trip!) is to grocery shop! 

When I travel somewhere, I like to pretend like I live there. Do the people who live in Paris eat out for every single meal? I'm pretty sure they don't.

Do the people in London have tea in Hyde Park every day? I'm pretty sure they do.

Do the people in London have tea in Hyde Park every day? I'm pretty sure they do.

But they probably don't spill tea on their tea dresses.

But they probably don't spill tea on their tea dresses.

Some of my favorite travel memories include traipsing around the grocery store trying to figure out what to buy and decoding packages in different languages. It's just fun to pick out weird mustard and try new candy bars. Grocery shopping makes me feel like I am actually experiencing the country rather than just being a tourist.

Funny story: I kept a picture list and rating scale of foregin candy bars for a while. 

Funny story: I kept a picture list and rating scale of foregin candy bars for a while. 

This is not to say you can't go out to eat. Honestly, when we were in Italy, we ate at restaurants twice a day. I had a friend who went to four pizza places in one day. Goals. But in Norway? No offense to Norway, but their restaurant food is overpriced and not super delicious unless you like very salty fish. Their chips and bread though? Unforgettable. I miss those blue Norwegian Doritos. Also they happen to have a scary looking do-it-yourself bread slicer in each of their stores. We figured out how to work it and still managed to keep all of our digits, though the directions were not in English. 

Guess what my contribution was to this lovely picnic! I said grocery SHOPPING, not grocery PREPARING. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

Guess what my contribution was to this lovely picnic! I said grocery SHOPPING, not grocery PREPARING. Ain't nobody got time for that. 

Here is a sample list of things we buy when we touch down in a new country: bread, some sort of meat, cheese, mustard, Nutella, fruit, cereal, milk, plastic bowls and spoons, baggies. We bring along a little lunch bag and always have some food to eat on our person. This keeps us from getting hangry or getting stuck at an overpriced tourist trap restaurant. It encourages us to seek out worthwhile food instead of eating for convenience. 

This also helps me to not have travel scurvy. I am not talking about the ten pounds you gain while traveling, (can't help you there) but the feeling of being constantly stuffed and not eating fruit or veggies. Plus, picnics! The only thing to make a beautiful sight better is to have food to enjoy while viewing it. 

If you squint, I am pretty sure this is a picture of me, Alex and my tiny baby in the future. Hint: take me to Paris Alex.

If you squint, I am pretty sure this is a picture of me, Alex and my tiny baby in the future. Hint: take me to Paris Alex.

What I've Been Working On

Here are three trips I've been working on this week. I love thinking about what the families will want to do, perusing travel books and blogs, and then finally writing it all up. I've been working hard to tailor the trips to the interests and ages of the people going, while also keeping costs low. It's not as easy as you might think! 

Hunchback not included.

Hunchback not included.

10 days in Paris for a family of four. This trip has been SO fun to plan. I'll be honest, I am scanning flight deals for my family to go to Paris and follow this trip because it looks so fun. This family is interested in art, pastries, strolls, and flea markets, so I put together an itinerary that has all of these things! I also peppered the busy days with some leisurely park days so that their children don't get too exhausted. Alex has been doing some fancy computer coding to get an interactive map for this trip, something I hope to be able to offer for all trips eventually. ($35 for 10 days and the interactive map.)

This place looks unreal!

This place looks unreal!

5 days in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This trip is for a mom and her three adult daughters. They are really adventurous and wanted a trip filled with waterfalls, hiking, temples, and animals. So I spent a while researching ethical animal parks and amazing hikes around Chiang Mai. They are also going to the most famous temple at dawn to watch the sunrise. That will be an unforgettable day! ($25 for 5 days, airfare, and hotel.)

4 days in Branson, Missouri. This trip is for two retired couples. Apparently there are a crazy amount of shows in Branson! One challenge with this trip was actually getting them to Branson. It's not a huge city with a big airport hub, so finding flights at a reasonable price was very challenging. I had to use a lot of different price scanners to nail down the best fare. I also found them a hotel within walking distance of all the shows! ($15 for a weekend getaway.)

Hopefully this gives you a bit more of an idea of what I do. So far, I am loving travel planning. The deal for February is half off all travel planning. Get your spring and summer trips all planned now! There are some great summer travel deals going on. Ask me for more details!

How to not hate your significant other while traveling

Tivoli!

Tivoli!

Want to hear a funny story? My husband Alex and I were traveling in Taiwan. It was near the end of our trip and we were both exhausted. We were at the Chiang Kai-shek memorial and he flat-tired me so I glared at him. And so began WWIII. We were so mad at each other!

We continued to bicker until we got back to our Airbnb. I couldn't stand looking at him for one second longer, so I went to shut myself in the bathroom. I forgot that we had accidentally booked a weird Airbnb that happened to have a glass bathroom. So after I slammed the door, Alex just waved at me from the other side of the glass because we were still face-to-face!

This picture will live in infamy. 

This picture will live in infamy. 

You really get to know people while traveling, which can be good for a relationship or very very bad for it. You are in stressful situations together but also experiencing new and amazing things together. It's normal living elevated. 

Here are my top five tips for ending a trip without ending your marriage.

1) Never let yourselves get both hungry AND tired at the same time. That was our mistake in Taiwan. We kept sightseeing through dinner when we were already tired. If one tank is empty, fill the other. So if you can't get food, take a rest. If you are trying to fight jet lag, make sure you are eating enough.

Warning: a good sense of direction is only partially useful in Italy's winding streets!

Warning: a good sense of direction is only partially useful in Italy's winding streets!

2) Have a clear set of duties. For example, I like to plan the trip and Alex likes to navigate when we get there. This way we feel like we are both contributing. Neither part of the couple feels like they are doing the work or like they are being dragged everywhere without giving their input.

3) Take turns choosing things to do. I want to see the Barbie museum so I must accompany him to the Ferrari factory. Don't let one person choose every single activity!

4) Have a budget decided on beforehand for the day. This saves you from many little arguments throughout the day every time your spouse wants to stop for gelato. Four times a day for Alex, I kid you not. 

Self-timer: good for romantic shots!

Self-timer: good for romantic shots!

5) Take time away from each other! In real life (not on vacation) you spend time away from each other. One thing that Alex and I like to do is have designated phone time when we hit wifi or my personal favorite, a reading meal. We both bring our books and read as we eat at a restaurant. No talking allowed. 

6) Ok I said 5, but your last tip is to travel with Alex. He is the best and most thoughtful travel partner in the whole world, even if he does blow all our money on ice cream.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Don't forget to take advantage of GG's deal today. Romantic getaway budget estimates for only $5! No booking required. 

He literally just walked by me eating ice cream as I am typing this.

He literally just walked by me eating ice cream as I am typing this.

How Does it Work?

One of my friends just posted: "Every time somebody tries to sell me something on Facebook, an angel loses its wings." I laughed. I agree, there are far too many people trying to sell you stuff you don't need on all forms of social media! Disclaimer: I buy a lot of it, marketing works on me.

Hyde Park. I've spent many an afternoon here wandering about. 

Hyde Park. I've spent many an afternoon here wandering about. 

Get Globetrotting is not trying to sell you something you don't need. I started this service for a few different reasons:

1) I recently quit my nursing job to be a stay-at-home mom. I enjoy staying at home with my baby, but now I have some extra time I didn't have previously. I loved being able to serve people every day as a nurse. Becoming a travel planner will help me continue to serve people AND use my brain.

2) I noticed that friends and family were spending too much money when traveling because they didn't have the time to properly research and find deals. I've made something of a hobby out of finding great deals on self-planned trips for my husband and I. 

3) I also noticed that when I got back from my trips, people would say things to me like: "I could never afford to take a trip like that," or "I have too many kids so I can't travel," or "I could never figure out how to work Airbnb," etc etc. I want to help people solve these problems because I believe travel is important and affordable if you are organized!

Sagrada Familia. It has been under construction for its whole life. Me too, Sagrada, me too. 

Sagrada Familia. It has been under construction for its whole life. Me too, Sagrada, me too. 

The idea is that I will actually save you cash in the long run by using GG's services, not take your hard-earned money for things you don't need.

Additionally, I am giving away a lot of services this month so that you can see what GG is all about! That's right, free stuff!

So what is it that I am giving away?

Do you think the family will be able to fit me in their suitcase?

Do you think the family will be able to fit me in their suitcase?

Get Globetrotting plans either complete trips or portions of trips tailored to the group's budget and interests. For example, I am currently working on activities for a family of four who are going Paris in April. They submitted their travel dates and interests, I sift through travel books, blogs, and Pinterest to give them a day-by-day itinerary that's perfect for their family. 

Other services include: airfare research, accommodation research, cruise and tour information, weekend getaways, and advice on a pre-existing travel itinerary.

Please throw away your giant suitcase

Travel Tip Numero Uno: Get rid of that huge suitcase. You know the one. It's too huge to fit down any airplane aisles. Toss it. Or use it to store Christmas stuff, I don't care just do NOT take it with you. 

"But I'm going for two weeks, how will I fit everything??" You will. Trust me. You just need to pack better and possibly do laundry once.

Here's what will happen if you take your giant suitcase with you:

  1. You will likely have to pay extra baggage fees.
  2. You will not fit down any train aisles.
  3. You will not be able to store your luggage in a locker while exploring cities.
  4. You will have to heft it up and down stairs unless you are rich and can hire someone to do it for you.
  5. You will be sorry.

Less is more when gallivanting off around the world! So do yourself a favor and pack light. 

I am not a travel agent

While coming up with the idea for this company, I had a lot of people ask me if I was going to be a travel agent. I respect travel agents and what they do. In fact, I interviewed quite a few before starting this endeavor.

Apparently this is a big problem for travel agents. But this is exactly what I want you to do! Gain independence and feel confident booking your own trips.

Apparently this is a big problem for travel agents. But this is exactly what I want you to do! Gain independence and feel confident booking your own trips.

The difference between travel agencies and my business model is where their incentive comes from. Most travel agencies make money off commissions. For example, they book you a cruise and the cruise pays them a percentage of that booking. The cost is the same for you with or without a travel agent, except you get a more personal experience than if you had booked the cruise yourself.

Get Globetrotting is different. First, I don't plan on booking anything FOR you. You are perfectly capable of filling out credit card information. My strength lies in recommendations. You pay me a small fee and I look everywhere to find you the best option. I don't have any partnerships with anybody paying me anything so my only motivation is to score you a great deal!

Additionally, many travel agents are used to working with people with disposable incomes. My aim is to work with real people with normal jobs and possibly kids who still want to travel. I want to help you maximize your time and your money when planning your trips.

Soooooo let's get planning!

Why I Started Get Globetrotting

I thought long and hard about what I wanted my Mombby to be. You know. My Mom Hobby. I wanted to make it something that: supports itself financially, something I can do from home while my baby naps, something creative, but most of all I wanted to do something that MATTERS. Travel matters to me. 

In Milan at 8 months pregnant. Baby's made of gelato, so we gave him an Italian name.

In Milan at 8 months pregnant. Baby's made of gelato, so we gave him an Italian name.

Time and time again I am blown away by how much more affordable travel is getting and continues to get. If you time it right and you know where to look, it's cheaper to travel outside the country than inside it! I'm amazing at finding those deals, if I do say so myself. I want to share that skill with others. 

Travel is more important now than ever. The news makes us think that everything is a disaster all the time. The media trains us to hear certain places as synonymous with DANGEROUS because that's what makes a good news story. Yet when I've gone to these places, I find normal people who are trying to find happiness. We have more in common with others than we think we do. Travel is the cure for ethnocentrism, something that is plaguing this country. 

I have a castle problem.

I have a castle problem.

I want to remove people's barriers to travel. Money constraints? Let me show you a trip that ACTUALLY fits your budget. Too many kids? Travel is the best education there is! Let me show you some countries that offer free things for children. Not enough time to research a foreign destination? Let me do it for you. Can't navigate all the confusing travel websites? That's what I'm here for!

Welcome to Get Globetrotting. I'll help you become an informed, brave world traveller.