5 of my fave resources for inexpensive flights

Every day I scour the internet in search of awesome airfares I can take advantage of.  I used to do the whole Kayak/Priceline/Mobissimo searches, but they became long, complicated guess-and-check processes and I wanted faster results. These sites below that offer me a lot of flexibility and send me into travel daydreaming super easily!  Check them out:

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TheFlightDeal

This is my favorite site for low-cost, flexible fares.  The design is no-frills – the price and location is laid out for you, along with explicit instructions on how to acquire the fare.  These are consistently deep discounts and if your travel schedule is flexible, you can score big time.

Example fare: $702, New York – Beijing, China.

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TravelZoo

This site is better for vacation package deals, but every so often, the provide info on discount fares.  It’s how I found out about round-trip flights to Norway for less than $450, January – March.

Example fare: $510, New York – Dublin, Ireland.

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Fly.com

This is the conglomerate site that TravelZoo directs you to once you’ve discovered one of their low fares.  The results are quick to collect, and the site is easy to use, but sometimes they fall short of their bargains.  For example, when looking for fares to Norway, a $222 RT fare popped up from Brussels Airlines. I went through their website only to discover that taxes and fees were not included.  Suddenly, the $222 turned into $850.  But they also have a great fare calendar that tells you the cheapest places to fly at the moment.

Example fare: $346, New York – San Jose, Costa Rica.

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SkyScanner

I use SkyScanner to price-check and compare fares.  Sometimes the fares are awesome, sometimes they are out of reach.  But their search criteria options are fantastic, and they also have an option to search “Everywhere” and “Whole Year” so you can pick a flight based on price, not destination or dates.

Example fare: $301, New York – Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

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AirfareWatchdog

This is sort of a weird site.  Often, they are the first to detect and advertise crazy-low fares, but you can’t actually book anything through their site.  Basically you have to then go digging on your own to find the fare, which is often gone by the time you begin.  They have a lot of functions which I suppose, if you sat down and went through them all, would help you out, but when I need a fare fast, I usually look elsewhere.  Still, it provides you with a good place to start.

Example fare: $795, New York – Johannesburg, South Africa.

Guest Post: Traveling with a Student Credit Card

Today I am happy to post a guest piece by KC Owens.  I’d never heard of this special student credit card for travel, but I wish I had while I was abroad!  Read through his article on this interesting topic and leave some love in the comments!

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When you’re on the go, you don’t have time to flip through cash, find coins and try to convert currencies in your head, right? Well, neither do I. When I’m traveling, and I bounce around from country to country pretty often, I always carry a student credit card with me. Having a credit card while you’re traveling can be a lifesaver; it’s one of the most useful tools you can have with you in your arsenal of gadgets. I wouldn’t recommend running out and applying for any random card but do some research; find something that works well for your situation and your needs and it will be rewarding.

Country Hopping:

Like I said before, when I go backpacking around the world, I always bring a credit card with me because it saves me when I get into a tight spot. One of the reasons why I bring a card with me is because it automatically calculates the currency exchange rate of whatever country I happen to be in.  So I always try to put different expenses on my card like overnight lodging, different meals at restaurants and plane and train passes.

There are, however, places around the world that won’t take your credit card. That’s okay; there are debit cards for this occasion. These are handy because ATM machines are all over the world and you can pull cash from your account and you’re back on track. Once you have your cash, you can use it anywhere, obviously. Be aware that currency exchange kiosks will charge you a percentage to trade currencies so don’t try to change a lot of money and try to not make it a habit. When I’m on a train to a new country, I always try to do some research on their currency to see how it will effect my bank account.

Financial Safety While Abroad:

One of the major reasons to use a credit card while traveling is safety. I always carry my valuables (passport, cash, cards and phone) in a money belt that I keep on my body at all times. Why? Because many foreign cities have problems with pickpockets and they target out of town travelers. If your belongings are tucked under your shirt, someone is going to have to work real hard to take it from you without you noticing!

For this reason, I carry cards and a small amount of cash. If someone were to see me pull a giant wad of cash out of my wallet, I’d instantly become a target. If I pull out a credit card, then they would be apprehensive about stealing from me because they would know I could go online and cancel my card immediately. This is a great feature of all credit cards, but especially prepaid credit cards. It can give you peace of mind while traveling as well as the confidence to use your card to help you eat, sleep and wander.

Credit cards can be helpful tools that allow us to travel, play and experience the world. They can also be dangerous if not used correctly. Do some research before you apply for a card and know what you’re getting yourself into before you travel on credit.

headshot by ETKC Owens is a college student who loves traveling, college life, fitness and a good survival kit. He enjoys studying different cultures, meeting new people and leaving his footprint somewhere most people only read about.

My Latest for Travel Fashion Girl: Laser Hair Removal for Travelers

My latest article on Travel Fashion Girl

My latest article on Travel Fashion Girl

I’ve been following Travel Fashion Girl for quite some time. I’ve always wanted to create a site dedicated to travel and fashion, but Alex beat me to the punch! We have been talking about collaborating for quite some time on various subjects, so expect to see more of my posts on her fabulous site, dedicated to everything from what to pack by country, to budget versus luxury travel fashion, and even interviews with famous travel bloggers on how to travel without looking like a pile of garbage!

My first post on her site deals with laser hair removal. I am a HUGE fan of this process because A) I am a naturally hairy gal and B) shaving while traveling is a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS. For reals yo, if you’re a woman you know it’s either spend fifteen minutes (sometimes a day) shaving your bod, or go caveman style and embrace the furriness.

But LHR is incredibly beneficial for male and female travelers alike. It’s effective, it doesn’t have to be expensive, and most of all, it is one less thing to worry about while traveling.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “Laser devices send specific concentrated beams of light through the skin that are absorbed by the melanin (dark) pigment present in the hair follicle shafts. Because hair grows in cycles, repeated treatments are necessary to destroy the hair follicles.” You can find more information online and always read reviews before purchasing a package, to ensure the laser clinic or dermatologist is a good fit for you.

Read up on why I think laser hair removal is the best thing for travelers since the invention of the sarong:

Permanent Hair Removal for Women – Toss the razor!

My Latest Article for Matador Network: Why You Should Start Traveling Alone

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A few weeks ago, an poingent article was written by Bart Schaneman entitled “Why you should stop traveling alone.”  The essay is interesting and presents some very good points, its main thesis being that travel can be more fulfilling and memorable when experienced with friends.  I think Schanerman meant well, or perhaps was being purposely controversial, since most of the travelsphere is made up of solo travellers.  This is evidenced by the backlash his essay received from readers who seemed like their acceptance of independent travel was somehow attacked via his argument.

I read the article and immediately thought “Yeesh, this guy doesn’t know who he is writing for.”  Not in a bad way, but telling people to stop traveling alone is a pretty bold statement, considering that most travel writers, bloggers and hobby travellers take their trips alone.  So I wrote a response article supporting why people should start traveling alone.

Hot damn, did that garner some attention.

There’s no mistaking that traveling alone can be lonely. But you can feel just as insecure in your own backyard – if you’re going to feel sorry for yourself, do it somewhere cool.

I figured there might be equal backlash from people who agreed with Schanerman’s essay.  After all, travel is only as good as a person, or people, make it, and travel experiences are subjective.  There is obviously no right way to travel.  I however enjoy solo travel more than traveling with friends, due to my independent nature.  Apparently most travellers on Matador Network do too..

This is my most successful Matador article yet, and I am so happy with the response.  I’ve received positive feedback, criticism, and folks who swing both ways.  But I am so happy reading how my article has inspired people to travel on their own.  That was never my intention – I was merely presenting my side of the argument – but I received countless twitter messages, emails and Facebook comments thanking me for helping them overcome their fear of traveling alone, and how my article gave them courage to do it now.

Call me a narcissist, but that’s an amazing fucking feeling, folks.

How do you feel about traveling alone?  Are you a fan?  What makes it special or revolting to you?  I love discussing this topic with people and hearing their viewpoints on such a polar topic.

Read my article here:

Why you should start traveling alone

 

Instagram’s Updated Terms of Service: How It Affects Travelers

Doesn't it look pretty?  Keep your fucking hands off, corporations!

Doesn’t it look pretty? Keep your fucking hands off, corporations!

My Instagram account was created with my wanderings in mind – I found it to be an easy way to share some quick snaps with my followers and transport the images to various other social media sites. Since I am an amateur photographer, I take pride in the photos on my Instagram account. Mostly when people take my photos for their blogs or tweets, I’m always credited. That, to me, is satisfactory enough. It’s social media use, in a social media world. But now, those boundaries are being crossed.

According to an article on CNET.com, “Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world’s largest stock photo agency…That means that a hotel in Hawaii, for instance, could write a check to Facebook to license photos taken at its resort and use them on its Web site, in TV ads, in glossy brochures, and so on — without paying any money to the Instagram user who took the photo.”

If I used Instagram for recreational purposes, I’d say “fuck it, if someone really wants to use my photo of my friend and I making ‘duck lips’ to the camera on New Years Eve, be my guest.” But that’s not how I use Instagram – for the most part, at least. Yeah there are sometimes stupid photos that I post but oftentimes I am trying to help my readers and followers understand the places I am in, in the moment I am there.

Do I want to be compensated for my Instagrams? I mean that’d be awesome, but I’m not going to hunt down lonely bloggers to pay me for posting my cool image their Tumblr. What I don’t want however, is for a brand or a location or something similar to take my photo and call it theirs. I’m definitely the type of person who warrants credit when credit is due. The fact that most of my photos do highlight this Mexican resort or help followers vicariously travel with me through New York City, is not something for corporations to bastardize simply because they are too damn cheap to pay photographers.

In fact, I’d feel better if those who paid Facebook to buy my photos at least plugged the source where they got them from. “Photos by KatkaTravels” or “Follow KatkaTravels on Instagram” would be sufficient for me. It’s this idea that the people who take these photos and then have them essentially stolen by big-wig publications and their creative merit is never even touched upon.

So what’s the solution? Delete Instagram accounts? Demand the clause be taken out? Develop an even better social media photography app that doesn’t rape us of our creative rights? There is a good chance that with all of the uproar Instagram will conveniently take this part of the bargain out, and yesterday,  co-founder Kevin Systrom released this statement.  But in reality, the shittiness of the internet includes not being able to tell who is using your images and under what capacity.

In the meantime, feel free to experiment with The Next Wave’s Instagram Alternatives: 8 Great Choices.

What do you think about the new Instagram policies? Are travelers and photographers making too big of a fuss, or not enough?