Sunday, March 15, 2009

Now is the time to go

As readers of this blog know, I love to travel and paint all over the world. I have been teaching one or two small group painting trips each year since around 2003 and have been privileged to travel with the most wonderful people on these trips. This year I have a trip to Belgium scheduled for September 5 - 12, 2009 and a trip to Santorini Greece scheduled for September 26 - October 3, 2009.

Many of you have said I really want to go to Belgium or I really want to go on your Santorini trip but......... the economy has me worried, I am afraid to spend the money, I need to watch my savings, etc. etc. and then adding, "I'll wait and see". Well I now must report to those of you that were "waiting and seeing" before getting your deposit in on the Belgium trip, that you have waited too long. The trip is now full.

Before this happens to those of you thinking about the Santorini trip, I suggest you get your deposits in to Patrick at ToscanaAmericana. Click here to go to the information about my trip and how to enroll on the ToscanaAmericana website.

And by the way did you see the Sacramento Bee article today "Take a Vacation Without Breaking the Bank". "Thanks to airfares at obscene lows, half-empty hotels and a surging dollar, now is a good time to book a vacation, provided you can afford it. " The article goes on to give some great advise on traveling within your budget including listing my two favorite travel websites and which compare flights with fees and taxes included. Here's a few of my travel on a budget tips from me:

Frequent flyer miles: I use a business credit card for all my business expenses that earns me airline miles. I keep track of expenses using the online and phone tracking system so I never charge more than I can pay off at the end of each month and thus; never pay interest. I do have to pay an annual fee, but I think an $80 fee in exchange for an airline ticket that would cost me $1,400. is a good deal! We use another airline miles card for our personal expenses so we are collecting miles on two airlines at once. Look for frequent flyer accounts that let you buy miles if you are short the total miles needed. By collecting miles on our two cards with separate airlines I have been earning one free overseas flight almost every year since 2001.

Rick Steves guide books are the best and worth their weight in my back pack ALWAYS! I like to add a little personal exploration and painting time prior to my workshops I teach and that's when I depend on Rick Steve's guide books. A couple of examples of good finds in these guide books: A wonderful little hotel in Paris, and a tiny little place near Saint Marks Square that was actually very affordable in otherwise expensive Venice! His restaurant recommendations are always good, and without his book I would never have figured out how to read the Italian train departure chart in time to catch my train in Milano.

Europe's trains are fabulous, get me everywhere I want to go. But if I am in a hurry I can find really inexpensive flights on little commuter airlines like Ryan Air and Air One. Find them on

Stand up meals in a deli are much cheaper than sit down meals in a restaurant and the food can be just as great!

I spent $75. a night for the AARP price for a room in my chosen motel in Santa Fe a couple of weeks ago even though the motel told me their lowest price was with an AARP card and it was $89. a night. I called the motel first and got their price. Then I went on and entered the name of the hotel in the search box and my dates. Kayak told me I could get the room with my AARP card for $75. if I booked it through Expedia. I booked through Expedia, but confirmed my reservation by calling the motel directly to make sure Expedia did not mess up.

I don't like bus tours with loads of people that move you from one place to the next so you are always moving and never resting. I also prefer tours that are all inclusive so my bill is paid before I leave the states. So my painting trips are small group trips, and we stay in one place the whole time. You know what the trip costs because my trips are all inclusive accept airfare, that way those with frequent flyer miles can fly free.

Oh and always always, take out travel insurance to cover the cost of your entire trip and emergency medical as you just never know.

So as the Sacramento Bee article says, if you can afford to travel, this is a great year to go.

1 comment:

Connie Williams, California, USA said...

Thanks for all of the great travel tips, Sandy!