I've definitely been asked about my favorite travel apps and to be honest, I don't use very many. The ones I do use, however, are super helpful and I would definitely be lost without them. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments below!
In the interest of full disclosure, yes, the boyfriend works for Uber. However, that's not to say that this app doesn't rock. Any ride sharing app is awesome for travel because they are usually cheaper than taxis and instead of having to spend time flagging down a cab, you can just order a car on your phone and it comes right to you! I also love the fact that you don't need to have cash (all payment happens on your phone) and there's no tipping (great for my tipping anxiety). What more do you need? Uber is available in more than 100 cities and 30 countries. Yeah, you'll need to have some sort of cell service to use the app, but it's perfect for domestic travel.
If you're new to Uber, you can use my discount code, 5xe9p, for $10 off your first ride!
Plotter Social Maps
City Guide: Vancouver, British Columbia
Review: Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver
Review: Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver
Review: YVR Maple Leaf Lounge
Back in March, I took a wonderful weekend trip to what has become one of my favorite cities I have visited: Vancouver, British Columbia. I may be a bit biased, but I love Canada. There’s something about the abundance of maple, the amazing scenery, and the wonderful people that makes it such a great place to visit. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s just a quick trip across the border and you can speak English, use US dollars, and basically fit right in.
I’ve now taken two weekend trips to Vancouver and thought I’d share some of my recommendations in the first of what will hopefully be many city guides. Feel free to share any additional recommendations in the comments below!
If you’re thinking about visiting Vancouver, you will likely hear Stanley Park mentioned several times. It’s a huge (1,001 acre), gorgeous park on the edge of downtown Vancouver and it has everything from rocky coastline fit for biking to a collection of colorful totem poles.
The park is absolutely massive, so I would recommend renting a bicycle and biking around the perimeter of the park along the seawall. We rented a bike from Spokes, which was right near the entrance to Stanley Park and had pretty reasonable prices. Biking along the seawall allows gorgeous views of Vancouver Harbour, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, and English Bay.
I want to use Tuesday posts to give quick travel tips that I've found to be most useful. Enjoy!
Airline Twitter Teams - If you're not tweeting, you're doing it wrong.
If you don't have a twitter account and you do any sort of traveling, you need to get one. My favorite travel tip is how amazing airline twitter teams are at responding to tweets. It's always 100x easier to get help via twitter than it will be using any other method, I guarantee you.
As someone who has experienced a fair amount of travel-related mishaps including, but not limited to: delays, broken DSLR cameras in gate checked bags (oops), a forgotten Kindle (same flight), cancelled flights, etc. - twitter is my best friend. Consider this: as bad as airline customer service generally is, their social media teams are usually the complete opposite.
I always get questions asking for the best websites to find cheap flights. I know that everyone is hoping there's a magic site that they haven't heard about yet that will have all of the cheapest flights in one place (me too). Unfortunately, that's not the case. Finding flight deals is hard work and unfortunately, there's no magic site. I usually spend quite a bit of time searching multiple websites before I make any decisions. Below are some sites that I like to use when planning both US-based travel and international travel.
Fare Matrix by ITA
The Fare Matrix by ITA software can be used for both US and international flights. It's a powerful flight search tool that is often used by professionals like travel agents to find the best flight deals for a given routing. With the Fare Matrix, you can also set a starting point and and end point, choose a length of stay and set the system to search +/- two days and it will spit out the cheapest dates to buy your flight on. When you're getting ready to drop $1000+ on an international flight, it's a great idea to check the Fare Matrix and see if you can get a cheaper flight by flying out on Thursday instead of Saturday.
If you would like any additional information on how to best take advantage of Fare Matrix's features, check out this guide from The Flight Deal and also this post from Hack My Trip.
Part I: Credit Cards
Part II: Points and Miles
Part III: Aspirations, Earn and Burn
So far, we've covered earning all of these awesome miles and points, but now we need to cover the fun part - spending them!
One of the most awesome parts of travel hacking is the aspirational travel you can achieve. Have you ever taken one of those long international flights in an economy class middle seat directly in front of a kicking, screaming three year old? Have you considered how much better that flight would be in a first class lie-flat bed with bottomless champagne? Have you ever considered paying tens of thousands of dollars to upgrade?
My guess is that you answered “yes” to the first two questions and a resounding “no” to the third question. First class does cost an incredible amount more (in some cases, up to $20,000 for one international ticket), but once you start travel hacking and earning miles and points, you could be traveling in style - totally free!
Here are a few of my aspirational travel goals:
Fly first class on Emirates Airlines
Did you know they have a shower? On the plane? While you’re flying? Enough said.
I priced out a sample fare on December 1, 2014:
Example flight: SFO > Dubai, First Class
Cost (in dollars): $23,327.90
Cost (in miles): 90,000
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.