ADVERTISEMENT

Watch Budget Travel on Facebook Live: 'U.S. Road Trips'

By The Budget Travel Editors
March 25, 2019
Fb Live Roadtrip Horiz
We'll share some of our favorite affordable and scenic drives from coast to coast.

Budget Travel's editor in chief, Robert Firpo-Cappiello, will be live on Facebook on Wednesday, March 27, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern presenting “U.S. Road Trips.” (Can't watch it live? No worries - all of our livestream segments are archived on the Budget Travel Facebook page for bingeing whenever the mood hits you.)

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK

To join our fun, informative discussion, go to Budget Travel’s Facebook page and “like” us. Then, sit back and learn about affordable and scenic drives, from the Pacific coast to the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond.

SEND US YOUR TRAVEL QUESTIONS!

One of the most informative and entertaining portions of our Facebook Live segments is when readers share their travel questions for our editors to answer live on camera. There are three ways to share your questions with the Budget Travel newsroom:

  • Email us at info@BudgetTravel.com.
  • Post your questions on Facebook during our livestream on Wednesday.
  • Post a comment below.

See you LIVE on Facebook on Wednesday afternoon, March 27.

Keep reading
Travel Tips

Skincare to Go: 5 DIY Hacks for the Road

It’s happened to the best of us: You arrive at your destination only to realize that you left your moisturizer at home. You’re in a foreign country, and you can’t get a replacement. Who knows what effect a different brand might have on your skin? With or without your favorite product, however, breakouts and dryness could happen—that’s just one way your body might react to the various stressors brought on by travel. But there are ways to get your body back in alignment that don’t have to involve a visit to the drugstore. To get the details on tried-and-true do-it-yourself remedies, we turned to Violet Mkhitaryan, an aesthetician and spa owner who’s carrying the torch for time-tested skincare regimens—no designer products or fancy labels required. A trained biochemist in her native Armenia, Violet long ago realized her preference for the recipes and healthy practices learned at her grandmother's knee, and today, she incorporates those tips and tricks into the additive- and preservative-free products she makes by hand to use and sell at her spa, Violet Skin Boutique (violeltskinboutique.com), in Brookline, Massachusetts. She showed us how to bring some of her long-practiced tactics to modern life, especially when travel calls for you to reboot your bod. 1. Exfoliate to Clean and Refresh Anything abrasive gives your skin a deep clean and helps remove dirt and oil. There are plenty of natural ingredients that’ll do the trick, and chances are you already have them at your fingertips. Violet recommends mixing used coffee grounds with a teaspoon of sour cream, massaging the blend into your skin, and leaving it on for 10 to 15 minutes. The grounds act as an exfoliant, and the cream moisturizes. 2. Renew Your Natural Glow To help close pores, nourish skin, and rejuvenate your look, Violet turns to a dense, soothing slather: a tablespoon of oatmeal blended with a dollop or two of heavy cream. Apply to your face and leave for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse off. 3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate Fruits and vegetables have a higher moisture content than any other food. Take two strawberries, three grapes, and a third of a banana. Mash them together in a bowl with the back of a spoon, add a dollop of sour cream, apply the mixture to your face, and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse and feel refreshed and hydrated. 4. Tone It Up Regardless of whether or not you’re traveling, your skin needs a regular boost. Think of a toner as the skincare equivalent of yoga: It simply gives skin a chance to open up and breath. Violet turns to cucumber or watermelon juice. Use a cotton ball to apply, then lay a tissue over your face as a sheet mask. Let it sit for five minutes, then rinse off. 5. A Simple Cure for Puffiness Nothing can mess with your skin’s moisture levels more than a plane’s recirculated air. At high altitudes, you’re dry. Back on the ground, things can change drastically, especially if you arrive somewhere humid or rainy. The consequences aren't pretty: puffiness, especially around the eyes. According to Violet, though, there’s an easy solution. Massaging your face with ice for a few minutes should help recalibrate everything.

Road TripsTravel Tips

Summer Road Trip Forecast & Tips

If you’re planning to take a family vacation in 2019, you’re in good company: A recent AAA survey predicts that nearly 100 million Americans (that’s about 4 in 10 adults) are planning to do the same. With that data in mind, AAA shared some stats, know-how, and trip inspiration that every Budget Traveler should know. By the Numbers According to AAA’s survey, two-thirds of family travelers will take a summer getaway, with more than half of them planning to make that getaway a road trip. One factor that’s inspiring travelers to plan road trips and scenic drives is the lower cost of gas, down about one quarter compared with last year. Gas prices are expected to rise, but remain lower this summer than last. AAA reports that a third of Americans surveyed said they would add another road trip to their summer plans if gas prices stay down, Planning Your Route “To make the most of their vacations, AAA recommends families plan and research as far ahead as possible to avoid missing out on popular activities and fun,” says Stacey Barber, executive director, AAA Travel Information & Content. Budget Travel has been covering great American road trips for more than 20 years, and offers a wealth of itineraries and advice. It turns out, AAA’s top routes for summer travel (according to AAA member road trip routing data) align very much with some of Budget Travel’s all-time favorite U.S. road trips, including the National Parks of the Southwest, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the mountains of New England. READ: 5 Perfect U.S. Road Trips Tips for a Successful Family Road Trip We also echo AAA’s common-sense road trip tips, which you can start implementing as early as, well, right now, to ensure a smooth summer excursion: Pack smart. Bring books, games, and music, information on your destination, and healthy snack. Stay safe. Stop every 100 miles, or every two hours, to help stay alert. Make sure all passengers are safely wearing seatbelts or sitting in child safety seats. Be patient. Be prepared to hit traffic, and reduce your chance of delays by hitting the road earlier or later than most drivers, especially on holiday weekends. Map out your route. Sure, GPS is awesome, but it’s always best to map out your route in advance, including reliable lodging, restaurants, and gas stations, especially if you’re traveling a relatively remote area where you may lose cellular service for a time. Get your car ready. Have your car inspected and tuned up, carry a flashlight, extra batteries, flares or reflective triangle, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, and plenty of water.

Travel Tips

How to Decode an Airbnb Review

Vacation rentals such as Airbnb can save you money on lodging and provide a comfortable home base at your vacation destination. But it can be a challenge to navigate Airbnb reviews when the average Airbnb rating is a whopping 4.7 out of 5 stars, according to a recent study by Georgios Zervas, an assistant professor of marketing at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. That’s a surprisingly high number when compared to hotel reviews on TripAdvisor, where the average rating is only 3.9 out of 5 stars for hotels with more than 100 reviews, a Cornell survey found. Zervas suspects there’s a psychological component at play. “People might feel bad leaving a negative review because they know that many hosts are using Airbnb to supplement their income and help support their family,” says Zervas. Some Airbnb customers might also be hesitant to write a negative review because they fear repercussions. “Hosts also review guests, and future hosts can see every review you leave,” says Emily McNutt, an editor at ThePointsGuy.com. Translation: “if you write a scathing review, a future host might be less inclined to let you stay at their place,” McNutt says. Another reason why Airbnb ratings are so high? For many people, it’s difficult to be critical of someone they’ve met and gotten to know—even if they had a bad experience. “If you’re reviewing a restaurant on Yelp, you’re not talking about the owner directly, but on Airbnb you’re essentially rating the host just as much as you’re rating the property,” says McNutt. To Airbnb’s credit, a recent Consumer Reports survey found that 92% of Americans that have booked a home-sharing service say they are likely or very likely to do it again, and fans said homestays make traveling more authentic and affordable. If you’re planning to stay at an Airbnb, you’ll want to check out guest reviews before booking a trip. But since ratings on the website are so high, it’s important to have a critical eye when reading reviews. Take these steps to accurately interpret guest reviews and find a great Airbnb. 1. READ THE PROPERTY DESCRIPTION Before reading what guests have to say, look at the property description (under “about this listing”) to see what the host promised to provide. “If a guest complains about the noise level but the host said the home was located in a busy neighborhood, it’s not the host’s fault that the guest was unhappy,” says Evelyn Badia, a short-term vacation rental coach and founder of TheHostingJourney.com. 2. TAKE GLOWING REVIEWS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT Reviews that simply lap praise on the property or the host aren’t very useful when evaluating where you should stay. In other words, you should be looking for reviews that talk about specific aspects of the property, like cleanliness, not gushing reviews that tout generic compliments, like “great place!” or “perfect apartment!” 3. FOCUS ON OBJECTIVE PROBLEMS Some complaints from guests point out valid issues with a property, but some things just boil down to personal preference. For example, “if a guest says the Internet broke and the host was notified and didn’t try to fix it, that’s an issue,” says Badia. However, negative comments about the home’s décor, per say, shouldn’t matter all that much to you. (After all, you’re not buying the place.) 4. AVOID AGGRESSIVE HOSTS Airbnb’s website enables hosts to post public replies to guest reviews, and how hosts communicate with guests is indicative of how the host might behave during your stay. You want to find a host that’s respectful—someone who thanks guests for writing suggestions instead of attacking the person for pointing out areas for improvement. While checking out a 1-bedroom listing in Washington, D.C. with 4 stars, I found that the host wrote hostile replies when guests offered constructive criticism; that’s certainly not someone you’d want to rent from. 5. GIVE AN OWNER CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE Problems can arise that are outside the host’s control; say, the power goes out in the building, the dishwasher breaks, or the dryer won’t start. In those instances, what really matters is how the owner handled the situation, says McNutt. For instance, if a guest says in a review that the Internet shut down but the landlord responded immediately and contacted the cable company to fix it, there’s no harm done; in fact, that’s the sign of a good host. So, when reading guest reviews, try to assess whether the host is accessible and responsive when issues crop up. 6. IF YOU SEE A SCATHING REVIEW, DIG DEEPER Some guests are impossible to please, and many of these people will write negative reviews regardless of their experience. Therefore, if someone leaves an overly harsh review on a property that has relatively high ratings, click on the person’s profile to see what reviews the guest has received from hosts in the past. If someone has consistently bad reviews from hosts, it’s best to disregard that person’s opinion when deciding where you want to stay.

Travel Tips

9 Ways to Plan an Affordable (and Amazing) Honeymoon

Honeymoons are romantic, but they can also be expensive. On average, couples are shelling out $5,342 on their honeymoon, according to a recent report from The Knot, an online registry and wedding planning site. That’s on top of what they’re spending on their wedding, which costs, on average, $33,931 nationally. But, there are ways to trim your honeymoon budget without taking away from the romance of this special trip. Here are nine things you can do to plan a budget-friendly honeymoon. 1. Book Flights Early Do a Google search for “best time to book a flight” and you’ll find a seemingly endless number of studies claiming what the best day is to hit the “buy” button. Don’t fret, though—we’ve sifted through the research and found there’s a consensus: travelers typically get the best prices by booking flights at least three weeks in advance. Indeed, CheapAir.com recommends booking within a window of 21 to 105 days ahead, depending on the season, with a domestic-flight sweet spot of 54 days before departure. Supporting that is a 2018 report from Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which examined billions of data points to identify travel patterns and found that bargain-minded economy travelers should book 30-plus days in advance. 2. Avoid Paying Foreign Transaction Fees Planning to honeymoon abroad? Some credit cards charge up to a 3% fee on foreign transactions. Though that may seem small, it can effectively negate whatever rewards points, dollars, or miles you’d earn using the card. That’s why Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at LowCards.com, recommends international travelers always bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. One caveat: some destinations, such as Cuba, do not honor U.S.-based bank or credit cards—meaning you’ll have to arrive with cash if you’re heading to one of those locales. 3. Save Big on Lodging Good news:T are some simple, yet effective strategies to save on lodging. If you’re planning to stay at hotels, call the concierge to find out what the rate is—sometimes the over-the-phone price is cheaper than the online price—or use a bidding site like Priceline where hotels compete for your business. If you’re shopping for vacation rental, such as an Airbnb, don’t be afraid to haggle with the owner for a lower rate. (You’ll have more leverage if can request a multi-night stay.) 4. Choose a Destination Where Your Dollar Will Go Far One way to trim your trip’s expenses is by choosing a location with a strong exchange rate. On the extreme end of the exchange-rate spectrum, you may want to consider honeymooning in Argentina, Sweden, or Nigeria, where the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is predicted to decrease by double digits in 2019, according to a forecast by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a U.S.-based travel management company. But you can also opt for a more moderate exchange rate by doing your homework before choosing your destination. 5. Travel During the Shoulder Season Traveling during the “sweet spot” between high season and low season can help you nab a great honeymoon at a shockingly low price. Though shoulder seasons can vary when traveling abroad, most airfares and hotel rates in the U.S. drop in popular summer destinations as summer turns to fall, especially in beach towns, National Parks, and theme parks. 6. Want Fixed Costs? Book an All-inclusive Honeymoon For couples that have trouble sticking to a budget while traveling, staying at an all-inclusive resort may be the most cost-effective option. With an all-inclusive resort your room, meals, drinks, taxes, and airport transfers are paid for as one flat fee—meaning you’ll never feel tempted to whip out your wallet and make an impulsive splurge. Pro tip: Staying at an adults-only resort will up the romance—letting you enjoy candlelit dinners for two and couples’ massages without the hustle-bustle of families with children nearby. 7. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment When you’re on the ground you can curb expenses by going to free museums and events. Nearify, a free mobile app (available on Android and iPhone) that compiles happenings in hundreds of cities, can help you discover free events near your location. Also, a number of cities offer free walking tours, which you can find on Google and FreeToursByFoot.com. 8. Redeem Discounts for Premium Memberships Many hotels, rental car companies, and attractions offer reduced rates for members of frequent flier programs, credit card holders, and organizations like AAA and AARP. However, you may need to do a little digging to find these discounts, or inquire about them when booking reservations. 9. Need a Bigger Budget? Set Up a Honeymoon Registry Nowadays many couples are creating a honeymoon registry to supplement their travel expenses. Having this registry will make it easy for your family and friends to donate cash for your honeymoon. Most wedding registry websites, including WeddingWire and The Knot, let you set up a honeymoon registry alongside your gift registry.

ADVERTISEMENT