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Priceline 101: How to Travel for Cheap

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Good morning Loves.  If you’re planning a summer vacation or a weekend road trip you may be searching the web for a good deal.  That’s really the key to travel freedom, do it for cheap and you’ll be able to travel more often.

Where do you want to go on vacation?

I am lucky to live in Montreal which is close to several major American cities such as New York and Boston.  It’s also pretty close to Maine, although I’ve never been.  I like to get away but since Montreal Airport is not a hub it can be quite expensive to book flights.

I’ve found a way to travel for cheap without being totally inconvenienced or staying in a bed bug infested hotel.  It’s called Priceline.  You may have seen the commercials on TV with William Shatner and Penny from The Big Bang Theory.  Priceline is a discount travel website that offers really cheap deals on hotels, flights and car rentals.

I usually book my hotels on Priceline, but I’ve also reserved a rental car and booked flights occasionally.  Over the years I’ve become obsessed with trying to find the best deals so I can travel for cheap.  I honestly feel like I’ve mastered the art of booking travel on Priceline.com.  Today I’m sharing all my secrets with you!

4 ways to travel for cheap with Priceline.com

Book on Tuesdays

A lot of people like to search for hotels and flights on Saturdays.  This is a huge mistake.  Think of Priceline as life insurance, the cost changes with the supply and demand.  I find the prices to be substantially higher if you book on weekends.  Tuesdays seem to be the day with the cheapest deals.  I recently booked a flight from  Montreal to Charlotte, NC for $360 roundtrip.  That’s an amazing deal because on the United Airways website the flight was $500.  The more you save on travel the more you can spend on eating and shopping. Right?!

Use Express Deals

I have spent many days calculating the difference between regular deals, the name your own price option and express deals.  Priceline charges fees and taxes on hotel bookings and the cost is similar amongst all three price options.  I like to use the express deals because the prices are cheaper than the  regular deals.  If I can’t find a hotel in my budget I will try the name your own price feature but I’ve only used it a couple of times.  In March I booked a 4 star hotel in NYC for $89 a night.  It was awesome.

Get Coupons

Priceline is all about customer service.  After a hotel stay you’ll receive an email request to rate your stay as well as a coupon for 5% or 10% off your next booking.  It’s really a great service and I find the prices to be a lot cheaper than Travelocity or Expedia.  You can also join discount and cash back websites such as Ebates.com.  If you book your Priceline reservation through Ebates you’ll also receive cash back on top of the deal, now that’s smart shopping.

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Friday Faves: 3 Reasons to Cook at Home

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Happy Friday Loves.  It’s the weekend, what are your plans?  I usually spend my weekends working, watching movies, sleeping until noon and eating French Toast.  Occasionally I venture out of my apartment to stack up on take-out, that’s if I didn’t do it Friday after work.  Usually I live on grab and go food, but not this weekend.

I’ve started cooking at home.  Mind you right now my meals mostly consist of sandwiches and bowls of cereal, however I’m getting better at baked pasta and homemade pizza.  I have wanted to learn to cook for years, but the time commitment is far outweighed by the convenience of grabbing take out or going out for dinner with friends.  Last night I admit I went to Chinatown for fried rice and bubble tea, but for the next two days I’m staying in to prepare my meals.

Here are three good reasons why cooking at home is better than eating out.

It’s a lot cheaper

Now trust me when I tell you I can argue both side of this point.  However for the sake of this post let’s say that cooking at home is cheaper.  I like being able to walk around with $0 in my wallet and know I’ll be alright.  There’s nothing worse than craving food, getting to a restaurant and finding out they only take cash when all you have is a credit card.

I like seeing my bank account and credit card balances stay the same.  My usual transactions consist of grocery stores, pharmacies and a lot of takeout food.  It will be nice to see exactly how much I’m saving if I can keep this up over the next few weeks.  So far I’ve calculated that I’ll save $10 on Saturday’s lunch, $30 on Saturday’s dinner and another $10 on Sunday’s lunch.  So I just saved myself $50.  If I keep this up I can save $200 a month, that’s $2400 a year!

It’s makes you appreciate your food

It’s true that nothing tastes like home cooked food.  I like to eat out because usually anything – and I do mean anything – I can buy in the store tastes better than anything I will try to attempt to cook at home.  However I am going to make a solid effort to try and cook at home over the next three days.

I tend to appreciate my food more when I have to work for it, it’s almost as if I’m reaping the rewards of my labor and that’s always nice.  Cleaning dishes afterwards is not my favorite thing in the world, but at least it’s a result of my hard work and money saved.  It’s a win-win.

Baking makes my apartment smell good

There’s nothing like the smell of apples and cinnamon or fresh banana bread to start the weekend off on the right foot.  I absolutely love how our apartment smells when there’s something baking in the oven.  I am actually better at baking than I am at cooking.  I say it’s because in my Catholic high school the girls had to take a cooking class and learn to bake while the boys took shop and learned to build things.  Ah yes, gender stereotypes, hhhmmmm.

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4 Reasons I’m Obsessed with Groupon

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I’m a girl who loves a good deal.  I am telling the truth when I say I really really love saving money.  It makes me feel like a million bucks.  I’m all about high quality experiences and goods at low prices.  That’s why I love shopping at places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls.  I’m also a huge fan of Groupon.

Why try something new if you love what you have

I know there are some other discount websites out there that offer goods, services and vacations for less than market value, but I really love Groupon.  Part of that is because Groupon was the first deal website I ever signed up for and I don’t really like change.  Another part of my obsession is just because everything about Groupon, from the easy experience to the quality of goods is awesome.

I first joined the site because my co-worker purchased a $20 restaurant gift card for only $10.  I wanted to have lunch with her so I joined too.  I was immediately in love with getting 50% off essentials, like food.  Then I started receiving daily deals emails showcasing new discounts on a variety of products.  Obsessed!

It’s all good now, but it wasn’t always all good

At the beginning my experience with Groupon was a love/hate relationship.  I purchased a few deals that weren’t worth the money, meaning even the discounted price was a waste.  When I tell you that saving money makes me happy, wasting money makes me sick – physically ill. I had a couple bad experiences but for some reason I kept coming back.  Ah the things a girl will do for a good deal.

I purchased a few cheap haircuts and ending up going to see my regular hairstylist afterwards.  Oh well I guess we live and learn, right?  Now that I’m older and wiser I use Groupon to buy discounts at places I already know and love.  That way I can avoid being disappointed when trying new things and I save money on  my regular purchases.  It’s a win-win.

If you haven’t tried Groupon yet here are four reasons you should get on it:

It’s easy to use.  You can join/login using Facebook or your email address.  It’s really that easy all you do is enter your email address and a password and you’ll start getting deals in your area.

Mega discounts.  I’ve purchased deals at restaurants, spas and even at stores I love.  I once got $40 of products at The Body Shop for only $20.  How amazing is that!

Vendors love it.  I thought the process at the actual vendor would be complicated, but it’s really not.  A purchased deal only includes the price of the actual services.  Taxes and tips are at your own cost, but even then it’s still a good deal.

You can buy gifts.  There are usually no restrictions on deals.  You can buy them for yourself or for a friend.  That way you can enjoy the deal with someone else.

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How to stay healthy when travelling

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Good morning Loves.  As you know I love to travel and with my new job as a social media consultant I’m getting to do it for business as well as pleasure.  Traveling is fun because you get to stay in hotels, explore new cities and work from remote locations.  However with busy schedules, meetings and late nights it’s not always to easy to stay healthy when travelling.

I’ve travelled quite frequently over the last three months and unhealthy habits from travelling seem to stick with me even after I get home.  It takes me about a week to shake off all the sugar, carbs and caffeine when I get home from a week (or even a few days) away.  Travelling to new cities is exciting because we get to try new food and indulge in treats that we normally wouldn’t eat.  I don’t know about you but my normal habits usually go out the door when I travel.

When travelling I eat in bed (sometimes from room service), which I never do at home.  I always order dessert with a meal, which I also don’t usually do and I don’t bring my running gear because it takes up extra room in my suitcase.  Those are all usual healthy habits that go out the door when travelling.

During my most recent trip I decided that I would no longer live an unhealthy lifestyle while away from home.  Here are a few ways I try to stay healthy while travelling:

Keep fruit in your hotel room

Breakfast is always the hardest meal of the day for me.  I don’t really like to leave my room before I have to in the morning and room service is always a waste of money for breakfast.  The last hotel I stayed at charged $18 for coffee, toast and muffins.  Keeping fruit in the hotel room for breakfast and snacking avoids binge eating and over spending.

Limit your spending per meal

Most companies give a daily spending limit for business travel.  I like to limit myself to $5 a meal for breakfast and $10 each for lunch and dinner.  That definitely helps control portions and calories.

Plan your meals ahead of time

Whenever I travel to a new city  I always like to look up restaurants online and plan my meals.  That way I am less likely to snack during the day if I’m looking forward to a meal later on.  It’s definitely motivation not to eat when you know you’re having a good meal later on.

Walk whenever you can

You may not have space in your luggage to bring workout gear but that doesn’t mean you can’t be active.  Try going out for a walk to explore the new city or if you’re going from point A to point B try walking instead of taking a cab.  Adding in even 30 minutes of low impact exercise will help you stay active while travelling.

Take advantage of the pool

This is my new travelling trick.  Instead of bringing running shoes and workout gear I just throw a bathing suit into my luggage and swim laps.  It’s a space saving way to keep active while travelling.  After the pool it’s also nice to sit in the sauna and decompress from a busy day.

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