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Lost No Longer: A Trip to Tokyo

Note: A version of this blog was also posted as a guest post on Femme Frugality.

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Japan is a truly incredible place to visit. In 2016, my husband, Travis, and I visited friends who lived there, and we were struck by the proud history and majesty of this beautiful culture. One of the things that really stuck out to me about Japan is the low crime rate and the honesty the people showed. Let me give you an example. (more…)

A Single Day in San Francisco

Disclaimer: I did not get paid or compensated for any product or company mentioned in this blog.

There is something magical about flying somewhere for just one day—a flight out in the morning, and coming home at night. No hotel, no luggage, just a small bag and a day in a different city.

A one-day trip is something I always dreamed about doing. It is slightly impractical, unless you have a company that pays for your commute. If you invest in a plane ticket, I would assume you would want to really soak in your destination. Right? (more…)

5 Tips on Holiday Travel

IMG_9404Ah, the Holidays—it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Also the most expensive—especially when you don’t love near your loved ones. Holiday travel can be awesome or awful. Here are a few tips that can help when it comes to booking your travel.

  1. Avoid Peak Days: Don’t travel on peak days. Guess what—Everyone is flying those days! They are by far the most expensive days to fly. For Christmas, those days are December 22, 23, and 24. For New Year, it is December 29 and January 2. Look at your schedule to see if you are able to tweak your travel days just a little to get the best price on flights.
  2. Travel Early or Late in the Day: Another thing to keep in mind is that the cheapest flights are generally the first and last flights of the day. Don’t be afraid to adjust your sleeping schedule just a bit by flying super early or super late. These are going to be the cheaper flights.
  3. Do your research: Use apps like Hopper to find the cheapest days to fly. They will even keep you alerted to when it comes time to buy at the cheapest rate. With Holiday travel, buying sooner rather than later is always advised.
  4. Shop Around: When it comes to flying, use those dates you got from Hopper and plug them into a site like skyscanner.com, or go directly to airlines sites. Southwest only posts on their website—so make sure you check southwest.com for the prices they have on flights. Keep in mind, also, that though Southwest is not always the cheapest fare, your bags will always fly for free. That can make all the difference!
  5. Send Presents Ahead: If you can get away with it, don’t check a bag. We know the holidays mean lots of presents. Think ahead—use Amazon Prime to ship directly to the people receiving them or the house you will be staying in, or send them ahead of time. It will save you headaches when it comes to sweating your connections or losing your bags. It will save you time, and sometimes it can even save you money!

What are some of your favorite tips and ways to save money when it comes to Holiday Travel?

5 Tips on Holiday Travel

IMG_9404Ah, the Holidays—it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Also the most expensive—especially when you don’t love near your loved ones. When I lived in England, I was privileged to fly home for the holidays. The best part was I didn’t/forgot to tell my parents and it was the best surprise of the year! There’s nothing quite like the presence of your loved ones to make the season bright.

Holiday travel can be awesome or awful. From inflated prices to the hoards of people also flying around the world, there is a lot to navigate when it comes to the adventure of flying during the holidays. Here are a few tips that can help when it comes to booking your travel:

  1. Avoid Peak Days: Don’t travel on peak days. Guess what—Everyone is flying those days! They are by far the most expensive days to fly. For Christmas, those days are December 22, 23, and 24. For New Year, it is December 29 and January 2. Look at your schedule to see if you are able to tweak your travel days just a little to get the best price on flights.
  2. Travel Early or Late in the Day: Another thing to keep in mind is that the cheapest flights are generally the first and last flights of the day. Don’t be afraid to adjust your sleeping schedule just a bit by flying super early or super late. These are going to be the cheaper flights.
  3. Do your research: Use apps like Hopper to find the cheapest days to fly. They will even keep you alerted to when it comes time to buy at the cheapest rate. With Holiday travel, buying sooner rather than later is always advised.
  4. Shop Around: When it comes to flying, use those dates you got from Hopper and plug them into a site like skyscanner.com, or go directly to airlines sites. Southwest only posts on their website—so make sure you check southwest.com for the prices they have on flights. Keep in mind, also, that though Southwest is not always the cheapest fare, your bags will always fly for free. That can make all the difference!
  5. Send Presents Ahead: If you can get away with it, don’t check a bag. We know the holidays mean lots of presents. Think ahead—use Amazon Prime to ship directly to the people receiving them or the house you will be staying in, or send them ahead of time. It will save you headaches when it comes to sweating your connections or losing your bags. It will save you time, and sometimes it can even save you money!

Make the most of holiday travel with these simple tricks. There are still so many out there, so let me know  some of your favorite tips and ways to save money when it comes to Holiday Travel.

Happy Holidays and happy travel!

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Checking In With an Announcement!

When I started Wanderlust For Less at the beginning of the year, it was somewhat of an experiment. I was traveling around the country and the world teaching US military members about financial education and how they, too, can invest in experiences and not just things. Wanderlust For Less was, and is, a perfect extension of that mission. I love pointing the people I meet to this site for more information on the things I am so deeply excited about.

Since then, as many of you know, that same job has been keeping me very busy, and I have not kept up with Wanderlust For Less as much as I would have hoped. In all transparency, it is hard to write about traveling and saving money when you are out there traveling to make a living. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world!

These past few months have been mind-blowing, and after attending some awesome conferences and meeting incredible people in this space, I have gained so much clarity when it comes to the Wanderlust For Less brand. I am excited to share some awesome developments with all with you!

I have officially extended the blog to the Wanderlust For Less YouTube channel where we will be talking about the exact same things—living frugally so we can have the financial freedom to invest in experiences (like travel). Since I travel as a public speaker and emcee, video is a much more comfortable medium for me. Don’t worry, this blog will still be up, as well! It just has a younger brother to look after and play with.

Thank you to you, my Wanderlust friends, on hanging with me. I am looking forward to a bright future with you, my fellow Wanderluster!

Discovering Norway

These last two months have been full of traveling and seeing the world, but there is nothing like coming home to my Hobbit Hole, my routine, and my blog! Travis and I recently traveled to Oslo, Norway. It is an incredible place to explore and wander, and we had our fair share of learning experiences.

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We flew into Oslo and rented a car for the 45 minute drive to the city. Pro Tip—If you are renting a car, make sure your hotel is car friendly. Life is all about adventures, and there is nothing quite like the adventure of navigating downtown Oslo’s myriad of one way streets, almost running over pedestrians jumping out in the middle of the street, or driving through tram-only stops in efforts to find a parking garage nearby to park your car for 3 days. Train might be the best way to go.

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We got a private tour Oslo Highlight tour from the Oslo Guidebureau. It was incredible to walk around the city with an expert. Our guide was very personable and we were able to ask questions about what we were interested in. June was the perfect time to go because the streets were lined with Lilac trees and so many other types of flowers. It is a very walkable city with so much to see, including the Norwegian Parliament Building, the Royal Palace, and the Grand Hotel, which is the annual venue for the winner of the Nobel Peace prize.

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The highlight of our Oslo walking tour was hopping on a boat and heading across the waters to the Viking Ship Museum. It was the ONE thing Travis wanted to do more than anything else on our whole vacation. It was absolutely fascinating to see these ships and what life was like for the Vikings. These ships were excavated in 1880 and 1903 and were found to be burial ships. The clay soil they were buried in kept them beautifully preserved. Similar to the Egyptian pyramids, respected individuals would be buried with their possessions and anything they would need for the afterlife. There were quite a few artifacts on display, but the majority of them are in storage beneath the museum. It is a smaller museum, so it didn’t take much time to see it in its entirety. They have plans to expand in the near future in order to put more items on display.

fullsizeoutput_478On our third day in the Oslo, we decided to make good use of the car we rented and take a little road trip outside the city. We ventured south of the city to Tønsberg, which is the home to the Saga Oseberg—a successfully replicated, sea-worthy Viking ship. It is also a pleasant scenic walk along the docks and through the town. After a few hours wandering, we hopped in the car again to explore the fjords and Norwegian countryside. It  was gorgeous.

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We only had a few days to explore the beautiful country of Norway, but as always, there is so much left to discover! Here are a few things that are on the bucket list for next time we visit:

Norway in a Nutshell: This tour was highly recommended by quite a few sites I researched. We didn’t have time this trip, but I want to go back JUST to do this! You are able to explore the beautiful fjords of Norway. Like, we are talking Lord-of-the-Rings-epic fjords. You take trains, boats, busses to see some of the the coolest, most picturesque parts of Norway.

The National Gallery: There are so many awesome pieces of art on display. Of the most notable, The Scream is one of the most famous paintings by Norwegian painter, Edvard Munch. There is also an entire (separate) museum dedicated to him and his works. in another part of the city.

The Vigeland Sculpture Park: This park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist, Gustav Vigeland. There are hundreds of sculptures around the park made from so many different mediums: plaster, marble, wrought iron, and several more. I am so bummed we didn’t get a chance to explore it while in Oslo, but it will be one of our first stops when we go back one day.

Happy travels, friends!

Bethany

Subscriptions: Knowing When to Quit

4b6a008e-2a80-4048-9683-70bd5b6422edHere is a quick reminder on the continuing journey of saving money: watch out for those subscriptions! It seems like you can pretty much get anything you could ever possibly want or need through subscriptions these days—music, razors, socks, makeup, snacks, full blown meals, and basically everything else. You guys—monthly memberships can add up FAST. I am constantly evaluating the things I am signed up for and making those calls to customer service to cancel. Let’s take an long hard look at all these subscriptions and evaluate if they are thus deemed worthy to be a part of our budgets, and redirect that money to fun funds like travel. Or retirement.

App Subscriptions: 

IPhones are sneaky. When you sign up for a subscription via the iTunes store (so basically any time you have purchased something through an app), it could renew your subscription without you even knowing it (even if you have canceled that account!). There is a quick way to see if you are being charged for things you don’t want to. Go into the Settings on your phone. Scroll down to the iTunes and & App Store. Click on your Apple ID and press “View Apple ID”. Press manage subscriptions, and toggle on or off the subscriptions you want to keep, or even evaluate the kind of subscription you have. Often, subscriptions are in bundles. If you use that app all the time and you feel it is worth the subscription, consider upgrading to a longer subscription for a better value. However, if you aren’t using it at all, consider unsubscribing or subscribing for a lesser time.

Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Redbox Instant:

There are pros and cons to each of these services. If you pay for some sort of TV streaming service, are these services really necessary? My parents don’t have any sort of TV service, so they find these to be beneficial to keep up with all their favorite shows. My husband and I, on the other hand, chose to have an AT&T bundle that has both TV and Internet, so we don’t pay for any online streaming. If you do decide to go the online streaming route, how many of those do you actually need? Do you really need Amazon Prime AND Hulu AND Netflix AND Feeln AND Vudo AND fill-in-the-blank-whatever-video-streaming-service is out there. You might as well just pay for TV. Take time to add them up and see if you are spending too much.

Music:

Spotify is pretty much my jam. Literally. I listen to it every single day. I totally think it is worth the $10 I pay a month for it. My dad loves his iTunes subscription and uses it all the time. This is the way we get our music. But I only pay for one service at a time. I am not going to pay for Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, etc. all at the same time. Rule of thumb—paying for one is enough. But I should add that I also don’t buy music anymore. Why would I when I can listen to it through my subscription service? I think that is the point. But still, if you can get away with listening to ads, that’s an extra 10 bucks a month.

Box Subscriptions:

I know you have seen them out there—monthly “box” subscriptions. Birtchbox, NatureBox, Ipsy, PopSugar’s Must Have Box—like every kind of box imaginable. There are boxes for your dogs, for you kids, for your socks (yes, really). Sometimes these subscriptions can be lucrative and money-saving, like the Dollar Shave club. Let’s face it, we all pretty much buy razors, so why not have them sent to you for $4 a month? Win. But sometimes, they are not saving you money and they aren’t things you really need. I used to be subscribed to Ipsy, a makeup subscription that came in a cute little makeup bag every month. I eventually stopped it because: 1. That is $120 a year on makeup I ended up throwing away or not using, 2. I had a MILLION Ipsy bags everywhere, and 3. I really didn’t need a service that I didn’t use! Reevaluate those box subscriptions.

Automatic Subscriptions:

When you buy items from online stores like JustFab, Fabletics, JewelMint, you have to pay attention to the policy agreements. Often, you have to manually “skip” buying an item each month, or you will be automatically charged. I didn’t realize one of these sites worked this way when I bought an item. Three months later, I realized they had charged my credit card 3 times! I called customer service and had them remove the charges and then canceled my account. Be smarter than those sites and cancel before they charge you a small fortune.

Watch Out for the “Free” Subscriptions:

Often, sites will allow you to have a free trial of their services. Sometimes I forget I even signed up for this until I am charged. When you notice a charge on your credit card, call their customer service right away. They are often very helpful and are able to reimburse your card. When I was a student, I got a free trial of Amazon Prime. When time came to pay, I couldn’t afford the fee when the time came to pay up. I completely forgot about this until they charged my card a hefty little sum. I called customer service right away and they reimbursed the entire amount since I hadn’t used the service since my card was charged.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind:

What is usually a temptation to buy are email subscriptions. Is your inbox flooded with pesky emails reminding you to spend money? What I have found helpful is to Roll them Up. unroll.me is a great way to clean up your inbox. When you sign up you are able to unsubscribe from emails you end up deleting anyway, or you are able to put all your emails into one email they will send you each day. I put in things that I like to look at every once in a while (DSW, Fabletics, JustFab,TravelZoo, Apple, RetailMeNot). This way, I am not tempted to look at the email and buy something.

BONUS:

Here is another quick tip when it comes to canceling. If you aren’t sure about a service that you may want to cancel, call customer service. Sometimes they will give you incentives to stay with that particular brand. For example, I was thinking of canceling a snack service called NatureBox. When talking to customer service, they offered a free box after pausing my subscription for three months. I ended up taking the free box but still canceling because it was just a stretch too far. This has happened several times in different ways, but it might be a good idea if you are thinking of canceling or not, it could work to your benefit.

Until next time friends, happy savings!

Bethany