Travel Points Hack! This Free Online Service Helps You Earn Rewards FAST
For frequent flyers and points-collectors, the holy grail is is free travel, preferably a free plane ticket—or more if you play your (credit) cards right. Sometimes, though, it can feel like the fine print on those programs and credit cards is conspiring against you. They certainly don't make things easy, do they? And forget about fast.
When you have your next vacation in mind, check out RewardExpert. It's a free online service that helps travelers navigate frequent flyer programs and credit card rewards to maximize their options. It’s personalized for each person based on destination and how many points and miles you already have under your belt.
Whether you want to go to Miami or Shanghai, and whether you have silver status or are just starting out, all of those details are taken into account. The service gives you the best strategies and tell you how long it will take to earn rewards for different routes. Even better, the information is unbiased and independent. RewardExpert doesn’t work with credit cards, so it doesn't receive commissions.
Create an account in six steps:
• First, select your destination goal.
• Then, identify and enter your monthly spending with credit and debit cards.
• Create a reward wallet by adding loyalty programs, including how many miles and points each one has.
• Check out your strategy options, then apply for the suggested travel rewards card to increase your points with the sign-up bonus.
• Finally, register for the free reward program with the destination’s airline. You’ll be on your way soon!
After you’re all signed up, RewardExpert will keep tabs on your progress and notify you about easy ways to earn miles (think magazine subscriptions) and bonus promos tailored to your goal.
Instead of spending time taking the guesswork out of miles and points—which can be confusing—you can put that effort into planning your trip.
Now, the hardest part is picking a destination. May we assist with that? Check out BT's picks for Where to Go in 2016!
Meet the Coolest Small Town in America 2016
Congratulations to Sykesville, Maryland, the winner of Budget Travel's 11th annual Coolest Small Town in America contest! With an enthusiastic campaign to amass the votes needed to claim the title "coolest," Sykesville earned its victory by a wide margin. The Coolest Small Town in America contest is one of the high points of our editorial calendar at Budget Travel, and we love getting to know more about these amazing communities across the country where so many truly cool things are happening in the worlds of art, food, public parks, and community spirit. This morning, I had the privilege of hearing from some of Sykesville's residents, and I couldn't help asking the obvious question: How does it feel to wake up in the Coolest Small Town in America 2016? Stacy Link, Sykesville town council member, enthuses, "When I pulled into town this morning, crossed the railroad tracks, and turned the curve at Baldwin's Station to get a clear view of our Main Street, I was like, 'Yes, we are!'" Mary Vaccarino, owner of Revive & Company, says, "We're SYKED! This contest inspired us to show our community spirit and it shines. We are feeling blessed to live in such a great community. Rachael Beck, owner of EW Becks Pub, tells us, "If you’re from Sykesville, you’re family. If you are a visitor to Sykesville, we will make you feel like family before you go." Steven Colella, director of economic development for the Town of Sykesville, shares, "Waking up this morning to find out I work for the Coolest Small Town in America was pretty surreal. I knew throughout the contest that if we won, it could do big things for our town – promoting tourism, community events, and new businesses, but I was so focused on promoting the contest that I didn’t stop to think what it would mean if we won. Now that we did, it’s exciting and a little overwhelming to think of all of the COOL things that lie ahead!" And each resident of Sykesville is looking forward to upcoming events such as First Fridays, the town Farmers Market, and Farm to Table Progressive Dinners. Budget Travel's 11th annual Coolest Small Town in America contest started by gathering online nominations from tens of thousands of readers. The towns that received the most nominations (subject to a bit of editorial discretion for geographical and cultural diversity), made our 15 semifinalists list, and a month of voting saw towns like Sykesville; Baker City, Oregon; and Pipestone, Minnesota vying for the top spot. This year's nine runners-up (all cool towns in their own right) deserve a shout-out: Pipestone, MN Baker City, OR Fairport, NY Abingdon, VA Kidron, OH Ocean Springs, MS Niles, MI Taos, NM Steamboat Springs, CO
Foodie Alert! Meet London’s Brand-New Cheap Eats Mecca
History! Culture! That accent! Potentially seeing Keira Knightley! Those are just a few of the many reasons London tops must-visit lists. But the two most common gripes we hear are about the reputedly not-so-great cuisine and the fact that the city can be pricey. The foodie scene has been evolving for a while, though, and there’s a new game in town that's taking a big step toward countering both of those stereotypes. Mercato Metropolitano is a 45,000-square-foot market set to open June 30. Come hungry, because you won’t want to miss anything in this edible metropolis, where admission is free. As we like to mention here at BT, visiting markets is one of the best ways to experience a city's culture. Here's what you need to know: Located in the new SoBo area (south of Borough), part of the Borough Triangle that is currently undergoing a £3 billion regeneration, Mercato Metropolitano is housed in a former paper factory. The warehouse has been transformed into a mix of indoor and outdoor spaces where farmers, artisans, and small producers from across the U.K. and Italy can mingle, all in the name of great food. Expect the best pizza maker from Naples, award-winning British food retailers, a bakery, fishmongers, butchers, coffee roasters, artisan beer makers, cheesemongers, specialist charcuterie, a wide variety of the best wines from Italy, fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta makers, an outdoor street food area, and much more. Also tucked inside the three-story building is Prezzemolo e vitale, a family-owned fresh supermarket from Palermo known for having the best of southern Italy’s produce. Mercato Metropolitano won’t just be for eating. There will also be an in-house cinema, cooking demonstrations, workshops, talks, and cultural events open to the local schools and public. You can find activities in the urban garden and talks from producers about their favorite foods, as well as musical performances and cultural exhibitions. How’s that for the flavors of London?
Prepare to Binge on Budget Travel's Addictive Coast-to-Coast Video Series!
My name is Robert and I am addicted to Budget Travel's Coast-to-Coast by Word of Mouth video series. I honestly thought I was immune. After all, I'm the editor in chief who greenlighted the crazy coast-to-coast concept: Our photo editor, Whitney Tressel, would drive from Los Angeles to Charleston, sans GPS, sans guidebooks, following only the advice of locals she met along the way; Whitney would shoot video and still photography and deliver dispatches from the road, which our senior, Jamie Beckman, turned into fun blog posts, a huge feature, and a pleasantly endless slideshow. But I'm not immune to binging on this incredible video series. From the moment Whitney hits the Pacific Coast Highway in Los Angeles to her final sunset in South Carolina, these short films keep me watching and smiling. And I'm not the only one: The great travel tips, amazing food, and friendly faces of Whitney's informal "tour guides" earned Coast-to-Coast by Word of Mouth a nomination for MIN's Best of the Web award for multi-media feature. To watch our Coast-to-Coast by Word of Mouth preview and episodes 1 through 4, visit Budget Travel's video collection (where you'll also find incredible "day-in-the-life" footage of Cuba, Antigua, Miami, Berlin, Bangkok, and more).
This Genius App Will Organize All Your Vacation Photos
After the post-vacation buzz has worn off, there’s no better way to relive those great memories than by swiping through digital photos. But if you love to take snapshots—on vacation and in your regular life—the jumble of pics on your phone can make you more stressed than Zen. That’s where Timebox comes in. The free iOS photo app does the work for you by automatically organizing your photos by date. The latest version, Timebox 4.0, sorts images and texts by date on a scrolling timeline instead of the typical hard-to-search thumbnail grid. Plus, the photo journal app requires practically zero interactivity. All you have to do is adjust the settings, and Timebox will create photo stories or daily videos for you with a single tap. It will include video, photos, titles, captions, and locations with no editing needed on your end. Once the content is ready, you’ll get a notification so you can easily share it through Timebox's social media tools on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, Flickr, WhatsApp, Evernote, and others. You can search for pics by title, date, or location, which makes it easy-peasy to find snapshots from trips that go way back. For fun scrolling, use the "On This Day," "During This Week," and "New Unread" built-in search options to check out your images. And if an old-fashioned album is more your style, the latest version of the app also makes it a cinch to create hardcover photo albums and other print products using Kite.ly. Think smartphone cases, posters, prints, stickers, and magnets. Now you have an excuse to take even more photos on your next vacation. If you need travel inspiration, making your very own magnet for the fridge is a great way to remind yourself how much you love to travel—and inspire you to plan where to go next...