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Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast

  Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences,…

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Many people think that the Pacific side of Costa Rica is the better coast to visit. The remote Osa peninsula, the monkey-filled area of Manuel Antonio, and the touristy Nicoya coast all beat the Caribbean, which has more rain, less wildlife, fewer “modern” conveniences, and uglier beaches. No matter where you go, the Caribbean side just won’t be as nice. Having now been to both coasts, I’m not sure what these people are talking about. Traveling down the Caribbean side, I did find it to be rainier, but it was no less beautiful and had many wonderful places to explore.

 

 

Tortuguero, the Costa Rican version of the Amazon rainforest, dominates the northern coast. This massive area is a series of rivers and canals that crisscross the jungle. It rains all the time, and although the beaches are beautiful, a full day of sunny beach weather is rare. To top it off, the currents are strong, and toothy barracudas and sharks roam the waters. Despite all that, there are many reasons to come here. The biggest draw is the large numbers of turtles that come to nest along the shoreline. The best time to see them nesting is in April and May. But even during the off-season, Tortuguero offers a few places to go hiking, lots of canal cruises, and an abundance of wildlife, this area is known for its birds. Tortuguero is not easy to get to nor is it cheap. It takes five hours to get there from San José and supplies are brought in by boat. It’s not a budget destination. But if it’s something remote and off the typical backpacker trail you’re looking for in Central America, Tortuguero is the place to go.

 

 

You’ll find great surf sites, deep sea diving, lots of people, and parties galore down the coast toward Panama. This part of the coast is a lot easier to get to and much cheaper than Tortuguero. Most travelers head for Puerto Viejo, the region’s main hub. This is backpacker central, and it’s easy to get sucked into the surfer/party life here. Puerto Viejo is a rocking seaside town with a strong Caribbean feel. The town is small, it’s easy to get around, there are beaches everywhere, and there are a ton of good restaurants, ranging from local “sodas” where you can buy cheap food, to amazing Western places with delicious baked bread or good sushi. You’ll be rocking to reggae as you wander along streets, as there are more Caribbeans than Spaniards in Puerto Viejo.

Near Puerto Viejo are two other towns worth seeing: Cahuita and Manzanillo. Cahuita, a tiny town situated right next to a stunning national park with the same name, is about an hour north of Puerto Viejo. Like Tortuguero, this is a place to relax. There’s one bar that gets lively on some nights, but for the most part, after a day of hiking, swimming, or surfing, most people just sit and read.

Manzanillo is only 12 kilometers from Puerto Viejo, which makes for an easy day trip. In fact, you can walk here from Puerto Viejo in about two hours, just follow the beach. The town is even smaller than Cahuita, and no one ever really visits. The reef system there is close to the shore, and this is the area’s main diving spot. Most of the people who come here are older couples, families, or retirees. Come here to dive and relax after all the partying and noise of Puerto Viejo.

 

 

After visiting Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, I can say that it’s just as beautiful, interesting, and majestic as the Pacific coastline. And since it rains more on the Caribbean coast, you’ll find far fewer people on this side. The huge resorts, overpriced meals and tours, and thousands of expats that flood all parts of the Pacific, especially the Nicoya Peninsula, are hardly anywhere to be found. So let them do what they want while you enjoy fairly empty beaches, cheap seafood, and lots of wildlife.

 

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You Can Save Money on Airfare With Hidden City Ticketing

The UK’s Daily Mail carries a piece on saving airfare with hidden city ticketing. It sounds mad, but it is possible: an airfare hack that will save you a fortune provided you ‘miss’ a connecting flight. Known as ‘hidden city ticketing’, the trick works by…

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When I found out about this hack, I just had to share.  Ladies and Gentleman, may I introduce 2017’s biggest game changer so far… The Hidden City Ticket Scam.

http://millionmilesecrets.com/2014/10/07/save-money-on-airline-tickets-hidden-city-ticketing/

The UK’s Daily Mail carries a piece on saving airfare with hidden city ticketing.

It sounds mad, but it is possible: an airfare hack that will save you a fortune provided you ‘miss’ a connecting flight.

Known as ‘hidden city ticketing’, the trick works by booking a flight to a destination where your intended city is a layover, rather than the final stop.

 

There are some important cautions that I don’t think are well-enough spelled out in the piece, however.

 

What Is Hidden City Ticketing?

 

Hidden city ticketing is one of 10 Techniques to Save Money on Your Next Airline Ticket.

You may be able to save hundreds of dollars on a one-way fare buying an itinerary that connects in the city you actually want to travel to, and never taking the flight beyond that city to the final destination on the ticket.

This technique is most useful when you are flying to an airline’s hub city since they’ll have connecting flights beyond the hub. Just pick a (usually nearby) city to fly to where fares are cheaper, likely because of competition from low cost carriers or because there’s less business travel. Just avoiding non-stop markets dominated by a hub carrier can be sufficient due to greater competition.

You’ll want to check out my guide Using Hidden City and Throwaway Ticketing to Save Big Money on Airfare and see how this technique can sometimes save on fuel surcharges on your award tickets as well.

Why Is Hidden City Ticketing Controversial?

 

Hidden city ticketing is not illegal (and the New York Times “Ethicist” endorses it), but it’s generally against airline rules, and there are some basic practices you need to follow to make sure you or your bags don’t wind up in the wrong city.

  • You’re buying a ticket from A to B to C, where A to C is cheaper than buying A to B, but getting off in B.
  • You can’t check bags or else they will go to C.
  • In the event of weather or cancellations, an airline may want to reroute you to C via a different connecting city (“D”).

Airlines see themselves as selling you a ticket from A to C, rather than a seat on a plane for A-B and also B-C where you have the right not to sit in the B-C seat.

What Are the Risks of Hidden City Ticketing?

 

If you put the frequent flyer number of the airline you’re flying in the reservation they could do something unpleasant to your frequent flyer account.

 

They probably won’t, at least unless you do this very regularly. But I like to use a partner frequent flyer account in the reservation, just in case, when doing any kind of throwaway ticketing.

Travel agents who did this regularly for clients would get ‘debit memos’ — requiring them to pay the difference in fare (or risk losing their ability to issue tickets on the airline). Individual flyers aren’t forced to pay up.

Which Airlines Are Most Likely to Go After You For This?

 

British Airways has been cracking down on this.

Brian Sumers reported that United Airlines sent a memo to airport employees telling them to be on the lookout for ‘hidden city’ tickets.

The memo tells agents “[w]hen fraud is suspected, the Customer Service Representatives should send an email to Corporate Security for follow up..”

 

I’ve had two readers recently tell me that United sent them letters detailing their hidden city tickets and demanding payment for the difference in fare between what they paid and the prevailing fare for the routes actually flown. In both cases they (1) employed the technique frequently (more than monthly) and (2) gave their United frequent flyer number to the airline each time.

How Can You Mitigate the Risks When Employing Hidden City Ticketing?

 

As a general matter,

  • As long as you’re only skipping the final segment of the ticket you’re not going to cause problems for your return. You don’t want to do this on anything other than the last segment in your itinerary (unless you really know what you’re doing, you can sometimes skip a flight on one airline when the rest of your itinerary is on another).

 

    • Don’t check bags
    • Don’t put your preferred frequent flyer number in the reservation
    • Be prepared to explain the need for your original routing in the event of flight delays and cancellations
    • Only drop the last segment of your itinerary
    • Don’t do this super regularlySo you want to do this with one way tickets, or with the final segment of a roundtrip only.

       

      There’s always the risk of irregular operations — that your flight will get delayed or cancelled and the airline will want to reroute you through a different city. I’ve never actually had a problem insisting on my original routing (and I’ve even concocted some squirrely reasons why I needed this, like “I’m having an affair in connecting city ____, don’t worry I only need 45 minutes…”). But it’s something to deal with.

Check out the full article on BoardingArea

Photo Courtesy of Single Dad laughing and MillionMileSecret.com 

 

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Insane Travel Gadgets

Welcome to the future friends, a world where women are peeing standing up, people are sleeping like ostriches and farts are now odorless.  The world of travel gadgets is getting insane and I’m diving in head first. Ok, I’ve now officially seen it all, these…

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Welcome to the future friends, a world where women are peeing standing up, people are sleeping like ostriches and farts are now odorless.  The world of travel gadgets is getting insane and I’m diving in head first.

Ok, I’ve now officially seen it all, these gadgets inventors now have absolutely nothing left to invent. If you have spent any amount of time on an airplane, then I’m sure you have taken a gander at the Sky Mall magazine. This hilarious catalogue is a hodgepodge of weird and wacky inventions that are supposed to make life much easier, but in reality all these things do is clutter up our life.

If you are like me though, you love gadgets and can’t get enough of any new technology or cool doohickey. My wife has even implemented a plan in the event that I purchase another useless invention; I have to get rid of something if I come home with anything new. Our rule is simple, something comes in: something else needs to go. As a man who loves gadgets, my house is a continuous revolving door of funky products and useless inventions.

I’ve scoured the internet for ridiculous travel inventions and I’ve compiled my favorites here, I hope you enjoy.  

 

Knee Defender

I was first alerted of the Knee Defender in a news article about an air rage incident where a fight broke out over legroom. The airlines have been reducing the legroom on their flights for decades and now the passengers are literally starting to fight back. The Knee Defender is a pair of small pieces of plastic that restricts the amount an airplane seat can recline. This gadget actually attaches to the seat in front of you at the bottom of your tray table and the passenger ahead of you won’t know why their seat can’t recline. This is obviously a fight waiting to happen.

I see the perfect scenario where an airline passenger has had a few cocktails to relax and the person behind them attaches the Knee Defender without their knowledge and when the intoxicated person attempts to recline their seat, a huge argument occurs. A fight breaks out between the two while the plane is in flight and it now has to make an emergency landing, both passengers are taken to jail and the Knee Defender gets lots of free publicity. Then the Knee Defender will probably go on Shark Tank and Mr. Wonderful; will buy into it because he is a horrible person and terrible people all over will but them.  

The Knee Defender seems like an invention for passive aggressive people all over the globe, probably going to sell a million of these things.

 

GasBGon Flatulence Odor Control Seat Cushion

This next gadget actually has some merit and grabbed my attention immediately.  It’s no secret that planes are fart zones; the constant noise makes farting a breeze, but the smell will get you caught every time. Now the all-new GasBGon Flatulence Odor Control Seat Cushion is here to help with your stinky farts.  The name could use some work, maybe try something shorter and something that isn’t 6 words, geez.  This handy little seat cushion also doubles as a fart barrier so the smell doesn’t affect all the other passengers. I honestly don’t know anyone who would buy this thing, because once the fart leaves my behind, it’s not my problem anymore.

This is the country that went crazy for the pet rock and the shamwow, so who knows, maybe this will be the next Furby. I’m still bewildered by the actual technology behind this, but i hope for all our sakes that it works.  Talk about revolutionizing our world with this gadget, this is like sliced bread or the wheel.

 

GoGirl Female Urination Device (FUD)

I thought this was a joke until I actually did some research. The GoGirl is a real product and has been around apparently for years. I first heard of this gadget on the Howard Stern Show so I obviously assumed it was a bit for the show, boy oh boy was I wrong. It’s basically a female funnel that the woman uses so she can urinate standing up, solving an age-old problem. No more sitting down or squatting behind a tree for you lady adventurers. No word on what you do with the GoGirl once it’s been used, although I would toss it in trash, seems wasteful to me.

I’m all for female empowerment and if they want to strand and pee next to me at a urinal, cool.  Welcome to the club ladies, just keep that thing away from me, it seems quite unsanitary. 

 

Ostrich Pillow

The Ostrich Pillow is an odd looking device that is apparently supposed to help with sleeping in public.  The problem with this invention is it looks so ridiculous, how is this going to help you feel more comfortable sleeping in public?  The pillow is made to reproduce the way an ostrich sticks its head in the sand to sleep. I for one have never dreamed of sleeping like an ostrich, but now I can. With holes for your arms as well as head, the pillow is certainly going to turn heads in airports and train stations all over the world.

The infomercial does look pretty sweet for the Ostrich Pillow, which can double as a horrifying Halloween costume.  Check for it next time you want to scare a child or sleep like a big bird, maybe you can nap on Sesame Street.

 

This is just the start to all the insane travel gadgets I’ve found online, so expect more articles to follow with more goofy items from around the web.

 

Photos Courtesy of TheVerge, Sur.ly, DailyMail, GoPako, tenthandforth

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Adventure Travel: Push the Limits of your Vacation

  A new year and a new you, time to push your limits like never before. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself in immediate danger but I am saying you should test your boundaries. Let yourself live and maybe you will improve your regular self. Exploration and self discovery rarely are found in a […]

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A new year and a new you, time to push your limits like never before. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself in immediate danger but I am saying you should test your boundaries. Let yourself live and maybe you will improve your regular self. Exploration and self discovery rarely are found in a pool or a bar stool, you’ll need to walk a few steps outside your norm to find what you didn’t know you were looking for.  Go on an epic adventure and see what life is really about.

http://www.deopulence.com/

Exotic Transportation

Instead of renting a car, try a motorcycle or scooter on for size. This small adjustment to your normal itinerary can completely change your vacation. Let the wind rush through your hair and grab onto those handlebars tight as you vroom through the streets. Can you feel the power between your legs? Have you lived like this in a long while?

A small adjustment to the standard vacation can really turn things upside down. Side note: don’t rent a motorcycle if you have never ridden one before, maybe start with the smaller engine on the scooter. You can still feel the rush without seeing the inside of the local hospital.

Why walk when you can get pulled in a tuk-tuk, a rickshaw or by some local bovine. When I’m in NYC I always take a hansom cab ride around Central Park, this may not be too exotic for most but to me it’s fantastic. A hansom cab is a horse drawn carriage that tours you around Central Park. I’ll always remember the time my wife and I first visited New York and we took our first hansom cab ride. A cold February night had us in a romantic mood, so we hailed a hansom cab and got all cozy under the blankets. Our driver gave us a wonderful tour and we still talk today about that night.

Step Outside your Resort Walls

How about instead of sitting around by the pool, you venture outside the all-inclusive resort. Take a stroll through the town, or maybe a jungle hike. Get the blood flowing and your heart beating. Take in the clean air and beautiful surroundings. When I travel, I usually bring my hiking boots because I look for adventure at every turn and couldn’t imagine just sitting around a pool all day. Although, I have had some of my best vacations just sitting round a pool, but that’s another article altogether.

goabroad.com

Look for Adventure

Every vacation destination has brochures and pamphlets advertising their local attractions, these are great places to start. I usually tend to ask locals for advice or do some previous research on fun activities. But, you would be surprised at some of the awesome adventures that await just around the corner. Zip lines, waterfalls, ancient ruins and guided tours are just the start. Some of these tourist attractions are just traps and ways to suck money from the weary traveler. That’s why I do the added legwork and some light planning to find my true adventure.

STATravel.com

Travel for Adventure

Ditch the all-inclusive resorts and head out for adventure completely. Instead of sitting by the pool, try snorkeling in the ocean or white water rafting down a rushing river. Adventure awaits you at any experience level so don’t let your greenness deter you from an adventure. If you search hard enough, you can find a journey for every expertise level. My kayaking skills are lacking but that won’t stop me from trying. All I know for sure is I won’t get better at kayaking by not kayaking. Grab life by the proverbial balls and live it.

http://www.aitkenspenceholidays.lk/

Extreme Dream

This is not for everyone, but can be for some. Skydive, cliff jump or bungee jump, to start your vacation. Obviously do it with caution and only after you have done some proper research, but hell man, live it up. There is nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get that blood pumping through your veins. I’ve done it all and haven’t regretted an instance. Sure, skydiving may not be for everyone, but the same adrenaline rush I get from jumping out of a plane, you might get from eating exotic fruits. Each his own and you make your own adventure, as long as you are living it up; I’m cool with it.  White water raft down a river or cliff dive into the ocean, life awaits. 

Now I’m not saying that chilling by a pool at a resort can’t and isn’t fun, what I’m trying to say is maybe spice it up a bit. Sitting by the pool all day is perfect after you hiked 10 miles and bungee jumped off a bridge. We only get one ride on this planet so you should enjoy every step you take.

Travel on my friends; enjoy your ride, wherever it may take you.

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