Showing posts with label travel tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Travel Tuesday: “Screamin’” and other Cyber deals

We’re taking a break from our Tales of the South Pacific because we have some tips on travel deals for you today. . .

DSCF0037We’d been home from the South Pacific for about 72 hours, travel clothes were still piled in the family room awaiting their turn in the washing machine.

That’s when The Scout came across such a ‘screamin’* deal that we booked ourselves to Istanbul, Turkey. Just like that!

That’s the way it works most the time with the ‘real deals.’ They come and they go within hours so there’s not a lot of room to waffle. . . you book, and go. 

Since we’d already penciled in a return trip to Greece next spring, the deal just forced us to give it real dates and a starting point.

Now we can start planning the Greek trip with the bonus of Istanbul at either end.

Istanbul's Spice Market
The ‘screamin’ deal:  Round-trip ticket Seattle to Istanbul for $608US, flying Lufthansa Airlines with a stop and change of planes in Frankfurt.

 The Scout found and booked the deal on Kayak (this link takes you to the flight page).

Those low rates were still available Monday, Nov. 4, at the time of writing this post.To put that fare in perspective, the round-trip ticket price from Seattle to Honolulu in January on Alaska Airlines is $880 and the best we could find to Athens was more than $1,000!

Closer to Home – Some Tempting Pacific Northwest Cyber Deals

On Dec. 2, Provenance Hotels is launching its first ever Cyber Monday sale offering Facebook fans and email subscribers of the award-winning, art-filled hotels a discount of 35% off the best available rates at Hotel Max in Seattle, Hotel Murano in Tacoma, and Portland’s Hotel deluxe, Hotel Lucia and Governor Hotel for stays between December 2, 2013 and March 31, 2014. (They also have a hotel in Nashville).

Note: Cyber Monday sale booking links will be emailed to subscribers and posted on the hotels’ Facebook pages on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 10 a.m. PST.  Travelers can subscribe to email newsletters and follow the hotels on Facebook at:

•       Hotel Max -,
•       Hotel Murano –,
•       Hotel Preston –,
•       Hotel Lucia –,
•       Hotel deluxe –,
•       Governor Hotel –,

The catch: The 35% Cyber Monday discount will be available to the first 100 people that book prepaid nonrefundable reservations at each hotel or until December 5, 2013, whichever comes first. Blackout dates may apply.

Or check out Vancouver, B.C.’s "Holiday Shopping Days" Deal

· This deal is good from Nov.22 until Dec 1, 2013. 

· What you get: One-night stays at $88, $118 and $148 price points at a wide selection of Vancouver hotels and one $50 American Express Gift Card (which you can use anywhere) for every reservation booked.  · You also get passes to the Holiday Shopping Days Shuttle on Vancouver Trolley. 

From November 22 to December 1, The Shopping Days Shuttle will connect shoppers from the West End to the West Side with drop-offs at various shopping districts throughout the afternoon. The Shuttle runs four times each day so you can hop-on and hop-off as you want. · Book it at:  www.tourismvancouer/shop (will be live on Nov 5)

Thanks for the time you spent with us today~ please encourage others to drop by. Check out our Deal Finder page for links to other resources. Then head back here on Travel Photo Thursday.

And about that ‘screamin’ deal: our neighbor is from Istanbul and travels there often. We ran the deal past him and he labeled it, not just good, but screamin’ good! And  that's when we booked.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday: Packing, Pickpockets, Part 2

DCVegasSeville2011 157Prior to our Greece trip I wrote about packing and pick pocket prevention. Several of you responded with comments that bear repeating:
An anonymous  reader suggested: “Instead of the plastic hangers, you might want to check out "flocked" slim hangers. Available at all kinds of stores like Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc.
What I like about them is: much thinner than plastic so they fit better in a suitcase, nothing slips off of them, and best of all the hanger top swivels so you can hang them over doors or on bi-fold closet door hinges.”

I couldn't find any prior to our trip so took the plastic hangers and clothes pins - and used them many times. But will find some prior to our next trip.

From South Korea, Nancie McKinnon who writes Budget Travelers Sandbox added:
“I throw a door stopper in my bag. If I end up somewhere where I think security is not that great, I can pop it under the door. I also carry a small foot brush. It's especially great when you are walking around in sandals, and cleaning up after a long hard day of sightseeing.”

Canadian blogger friend, Leigh at Hike Bike Travel where I first read about Clever Travel Companion security pocket tee shirts, wrote that she has worn them and predicted we would like them.

We did wear ours - several times in Greece - and called them 'the Piraeus shirts' a reference to The Scout's previous pickpocket incident on the Metro from there. The front-and-center zippered pockets comfortably held a passport, money and credit cards. The downside of the shirts was they are made of a blend of material which makes them stretchy and the sizes run small. That combination made it feel like wearing a body girdle (a hot one at that).  I would recommend ordering a size larger than you usually wear - but for peace of mind, they were fabulous!

Karen McCann, (a native Californian who moved with her husband to Seville, Spain ‘for a year’ in 2004 and still lives there) writes the blog Enjoy Living Abroad, and recently wrote a post on travel security tips that was so informative I told her I was going to direct you all to it.  Believe me it is full of good tips;  check it out by clicking on:  Enjoy Living Abroad

washington wednesdays 005And if you’ve got a tip or two for saving money, packing and/or keeping yourself and your belongings safe, please add them in the comment section below on the home page or for you subscribers send us an email:

I’ll make sure they get shared with everyone in future posts. If you missed that first post, you can click here to read it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Travel Tuesday: ‘Trusted Travelers’ Down Under

The United State’s Trusted Travelers Program* just got better!

(*aka Global Entry/PreCheck that we've told you about in earlier posts – click the blue link above) 

KOandSeattle 041First, I must tell you that we used the Trusted Traveler fast-track Pre-check lines at Seatac and  Honolulu airports in January.
And what a snap!

Laptop and our quart-sized bag of liquids stayed in the carry-on bag; we wore our shoes and jackets. There was no one else in line . . . were through security in less than five minutes! 

Trusted Travelers  ‘Down Under’

Note: The following information is from an email we received last week from the Department of Homeland Security:

KOandSeattle 046“Visiting Australia is now easier than ever for U.S. Trusted Travelers. Late last year, Australian Customs and Border Protection opened up access to its automated border processing system, SmartGate, to U.S. Trusted Travelers. Now when you arrive in Australia, you can bypass the passport processing queues and self-process using an ePassport¹.

How does it work?

SmartGate uses facial recognition technology and biometric data to perform the customs and immigration checks usually conducted by an Australian Customs and Border Protection officer. You can still choose to talk to an Australian Customs and Border Protection officer if you prefer, but as long as you have a U.S. ePassport¹, you have the option to use SmartGate.

Can I use SmartGate?
You can use SmartGate provided you are:
  • flying into Australia;
  • 16 years or older; and
  • traveling on a valid U.S. ePassport¹.
There is no additional enrollment process to participate in SmartGate and it is open to all U.S. citizen Trusted Traveler members enrolled in the Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI programs.
Tips on using SmartGate in Australia

Australian Customs and Border Protection has produced a new fact sheet to help US Trusted Travelers use SmartGate with confidence. The fact sheet is available at:

Australian Customs and Border Protection would like to hear from you

Have you tried SmartGate in Australia? Australian Customs and Border Protection would like to hear about your experience. Please email your comments, suggestions or any questions about SmartGate to
For more information on using SmartGate in Australia, visit
¹ For more information on ePassports, please visit

And TravelnWrite wants to know if you’ve tried Global Entry yet?  What have been your experiences? If you are a subscriber and want to leave a comment, click the blue TravelnWrite link or the headline on the article to reach the blog's comment section.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Travel Tip Tuesday: Ridin’ the Rails for Free!

washington wednesdays 005Mary and her husband, who live in south central Washington State, will be traveling round-trip to Chicago aboard Amtrak this fall – on free tickets – thanks to Amtrak’s Rewards Program and a Chase credit card offer she received.

That is a savings of $636.

The Amtrak card – which doesn’t have an annual fee -- works much like those cards that offer airline points.  Mary received 16,000 points from Amtrak for joining the rewards program and another 16,000 from Chase for signing up for the card. The Chase points were added to her Amtrak account as soon as she made a purchase using that card.  It took between a month and six weeks for the points to be posted.

Once they appeared in her account, she put in their travel dates and destination ‘hoping to get a few dollars off the cost of the tickets’. Instead, she found that the amount of points required for the trip was 32,000. Her points paid for the trip. She’s booked it!

“I already had booked a neat brownstone in the Lincoln Park area and will use the card to pay for it and hopefully accrue some more points by next May, when we plan to take Amtrak to Carmel,” she wrote.

Mary’s note came right before news of the latest round of price increases on airline tickets. If you’re tired of airports and want to give Amtrak a try, you might want to also check out the Amtrak credit card site. (Offers can change so you may not find the same deal that Mary got.)

If you missed last week’s money-saving Travel Tip,’ click here to read it.

If you’ve got a tip – place to stay, a good deal, a way to save travel dollars – send us an email to Be sure to include details and we’ll use it in a future Travel Tip Tuesdays! 

And, if this is your first visit to TravelnWrite, welcome! Hope you’ll return soon or better yet, sign up to have TravelnWrite posts delivered to your inbox.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday’s Satchel: Travel Tips, Bits and Pieces

washington wednesdays 005The travel satchel has several tips and tidbits in it today thanks to you who’ve responded to recent posts:

Half-Price Haute Cuisine: prompted Paula in Kirkland to send a reminder about Happy Hours’ half-price  drinks and food as a good way to save travel dollars. As an example, she says, Kirkland’s Milagro Cantina’s Happy Hour fish tacos are only $3.

Our favorite Happy Hour stop in Vegas: The Trevi Fountain Restaurant in Caesar's Forum Shops. Their “Trevi Time” half price bar menu and drinks keep bringing us back at least once during each trip to sunny ‘Sin City’.

Packing Tips: brought an email from Teresa in Seattle who said safety pins are a key item to pack for a number of reasons.  They can be used for instant mending needs,to secure bandages and even hold up arm slings if necessary.  I’ve grabbed some for our ‘kit’.

Spain Travel Tips:  Christine* in Phoenix sent us off to a Yahoo travel site for some recommendations in Barcelona, noting that the city has been named on of the travel destination hot spots this year.

Soft Landing _3 (1)* A  tidbit: (Christine Sandifer, is a long-time friend of ours and an artist in Phoenix. During our recent trip we finally had some time to learn more about her art and her studio.  She creates hand-pulled monoprints such as the one pictured to the left. I love its title, “Soft Landing”.  She uses real leaves when doing these pieces – pretty amazing stuff.

If you’d like to learn more about her monoprint process or see more of her work, visit  her website The Town.)


TravelnWrite News: 
0006100-R1-039-18Those of you who receive our posts in your inbox  may not have seen TravelnWrite’s new pages. 

Links to the pages are under the homepage photo:  About Us, Deal Finder, Our Favorites, Pacific Northwest Travel and Contact Us.  We added these pages to help answer the two questions most often asked us: 

“How do you find those deals?” and,
“What would you recommend?”

If you aren’t yet  receiving posts in your inbox, simply sign up in the box on the right side of the home page.  You won’t get spam from us – just posts. . .and they are free!


It seemed appropriate for us to be ‘on the road’ in Arizona when a guest post I’d written for Dick Jordan’s Tales Told from the Road appeared. Dick ran a series of guest posts about how the attack on 9/11/2001 affected various travelers.  The end result was an interesting compilation of travel experiences.  Ours can be found at:  Italy Delayed.

And thanks for reading!  We’ve had more than 30,000 page views with readers hailing from more than 100 countries.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Treating the Travel Bug

Over coffee recently two friends chided me for plans to head to Las Vegas - again - as they put it. 

One laughed and said, "Well, at least she didn't say Hawaii." 

I responded, "No, . . . that's a few weeks later" which prompted that maybe-she-needs-help looks from them both. We get that look so often from family and friends, that I wrote in this year's Christmas letter:

"We have good health. . .with the exception of the after effects of being bitten by the travel bug some decades ago. The disease has no known cure.  It's something that must run its course until stopped by advancing age or other medical ailments." 

Those suffering from the travel bug are either traveling or consumed by thoughts of it when not living out of a suitcase. Often, we find, our travels aren't salve enough. We talk travel, watch travel shows/movies and read travel books and magazines.

We discovered a new treatment this last year ~ travel tales and tips of other bloggers. Even if your favorite mode of travel is the armchair, you will enjoy a visit to:

Dick Jordan blogging from Vienna
using his Palm LifeDrive PDA
Tales Told From the Road, is written by Dick Jordan, a freelance travel writer/blogger, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area.  In addition to his own travel tales he offers great insights on the latest in travel-related technology 'gizmos' as I call them and links to the latest travel headlines.  It's a fun read and a great resource.

Vera Marie Badertscher

A Traveler's Library, is to readers and travelers what a candy shop is to those with a sweet tooth. Freelance writer Vera Marie Badertscher, who lives in the Tucson, Arizona area, writes this blog and has just co-authored with Charnell Havens, a biography about Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist, which will be released in April, 2011.  Their blog, tells the story of their writing of the book - and is also worth a visit.

John Heald's Blog masterfully blends facts about Carnival Cruise lines into some of the funniest blog narrative we've read. As Carnival's Senior Cruise Director he provides a most candid report of the happenings aboard ships on which he is sailing, as well as stories about his own family. It took a while to get used to his quirky, sometimes 'frat boy humor',  but we are now among his 8 million (not a typo) readers.

Symi Dream, brings back memories of one of our favorite Greek Islands.  Through the blog we can imagine ourselves back in Symi, keeping track of the lives of its creators, Neil Gosling and James Collins and others living on the island.  We visited the Symi Dream gallery, last spring.  Take a few minutes to watch the video they just added and you'll see why Symi charmed us.

What about you?  Have any travel blog recommendations for us? Use the comment section below and tell us about them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Starbucks and other travel tips

You might call us cheap, or frugal, or thrifty. . .or you might call us wise travelers who look for money-saving deals.  Whatever you call us, our approach to travel allows us to spend nearly four months a year living out of our suitcases. Here's some ways we've saved money:
                         Starbucks menu - Rhodes

Saving Money

Starbucks, our Seattle-based coffee company that has taken the world by the cup, has already saved us several hundred dollars this year. How? In a word, Via.  Via, is their instant coffee ( Italian/bold and Columbian/ milder), sold in a 12-packet box for $9.95, less than a dollar a cup. The Italian is strong enough for us to use a single packet for two cups of coffee.

In Greece, the price averaged 2.50E, or a bit over $3, a cup for coffee; no free refill and was often made with a packet of a mild instant Nescafe.  Being accustomed to at least two cups each in the morning and another in mid-afternoon of strong coffee, we calculated that over the course of the month we were gone, we would have paid more than $300US for coffee had we kept up our caffeine habit at restaurants and hotels. 

By using the hot water pots provided in our rooms -- a nice touch that we've found a part of our European stays -- and our Via, we saved big bucks.  We replenished our supply at the Rhodes Starbucks. 

We were not so frugal as to pass up cappucinos or lattes, but made our own black coffee. . .except on our Easy Jet flight from Rhodes to London where we paid 2.50E for a cup of Via. 
Back home, I've purchased hot water pot to use at home that is similar to those we used in Europe. I took it along on our recent road trip through the Western United States. It was incredibly convenient to have coffee in our hotel rooms and it again saved us money;  a cup of plain black coffee at Encore in Las Vegas was $3.50.

Room Rates

We learned a lesson about room rates on our road trip. Opting out of the afternoon pool time when Las Vegas temperatures hit 107-degrees, we did some Web-surfing in preparation for our departure the following day. We were seeking reasonably priced first-night-on-the-road destinations. The place that had the best prices it seemed  was Reno, where at its Silver Legacy Casino Resort, the internet price for a standard room was shown as $49.  We still were hesitant to book it, just because some other place might call out along the way. We planned to just call from the road the next day to make the reservation. 

Out of curiosity, I called the hotel while we had the price on the computer and was told the rate for the sametype room on the same night would be $89; at best it would be $59 if I held any of a number of memberships. . . that settled it; we decided to book then and there - using the internet.

       Greek trip began on Kirkland bus

Public transit
If you pack as we do - no more than a roller bag sized for an overhead bin and smaller carry-on bags then public transit systems can be navigated with luggage and save enormous amounts of money. Using our local Metro bus  and new LINK light rail system we traveled from our Kirkland home to SeaTac some 25 miles away for $10.50 for the two of us; taxi fare would have been $50. 

In London we caught the Piccadilly Line (The Tube) for a 45-minute trip to Heathrow after walking two blocks to the station from our hotel. The cost for both L9, or about $13 at the exchange rate at the time.  This compares favorably with the taxi fare to Paddington Station and then the Express Train to the airport. The train tickets alone would have been L33 or just under $50US.

FROM THE INBOX -Places to Stay

United Kingdom: Val and Bill Kitson, the murder-mystery writer and his editor wife, whom we met in Crete, reported staying at a great -- reasonably priced as well -- place on a recent stop in his book signing tour.  They recommend  The Best Western in Mexborough where they nabbed a Saturday night stay for L56 and that included free WiFi and a buffet breakfast.

Greece:  Michael has sent some great ideas for places to stay and eat in Karpathos, Greece.  Karpathos is an island between Crete and Rhodes where we'd contemplated a stop on our recent trip, but ferry schedules didn't cooperate. We would like to return to Greece in the spring and Michael has recommended Holy Week as the best time to visit Karpathos and Olympos for the island's best photo ops.  Do a little armchair travel and check out his son's website,  for great photos and information.

We are always looking for travel tips; if you have some to share please comment below or send them to so that they can be included in a future Tips Post.


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