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Escaping The Non-Essential Costs Of Vacationing

  

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Summer travel season is just around the corner and it’s only becoming more and more expensive to see the world. If budget is important to your family, try saving some major bucks with these considerations. Remember, your wallet deserves a break as well.

Airport parking fees

     Airports can be some of the most expensive destinations you’ll visit on vacation. Airline baggage fees, excessive foods costs, and insanely high parking rates. It’s like you’re already breaking the bank before you even leave town.

On average, on-site airport parking hovers around $20 per day. It’s time to get resourceful in finding a cheaper alternative to parking on site. Many hotels offer free parking with one night’s stay, so search around for some great deals.

Many people will just find a ride to the airport and leave your car at home. Car services like Uber and Lyft can be very convenient for situations like this. You can always ask a friend for a ride – calling in a favor is a great way to save money.

If parking at the airport is your only option then search for discount lots around the airport that will generally be half the price of on-site lots. 

Baggage Fees

     Airlines now charge insanely high baggage fees and even higher penalties for overweight bags. It’s good practice to weigh your bags before you go to the airport. Make note of the baggage restrictions and see how much a bag can weigh before they charge you an overweight fee. Generally, the limit is between 50-60 pounds per bag. Most airlines charge between $30-50 per bag, so it usually saves you money to carry on more than you check. Reputable airlines offer two free carry-ons for free, so take advantage of their generosity. Some budget airlines charge for every add-on…

Hotel Fees

     Hotels are picking up on this ala carte style of charging guests so get ready for tons of hidden fees next time you stay at a hotel or resort. Of course, the mini-bar is where they get you, steer clear of in-room dining in general. Hotels are now charging for early check-ins, holding luggage at the front desk and late checkouts, so be aware that they will try and squeeze every cent out of you.

 

Eating Out Constantly

     Eating out on vacation is where a good portion of money ends up being wasted. Try cooking or preparing one meal a day and see how much you save overall. Maybe you will be swayed to eat two meals a day on the cheap and one nice restaurant meal.

Rental Car Expenses

     Rental cars often end up being huge wastes of money. If you are going to be at a resort the entire time, why rent a car? Most resorts offer a free shuttle service and cabs are usually so cheap.

If you must rent a car, make sure you aren’t wasting money on expenses that are not needed. Your insurance should cover your car, so avoid the rental car insurance; it’s a scam. Pay with a credit card, as they will insure most purchases and services.

Peak Travel times

     The best way to save big on summer vacations is avoiding the busiest times. Try and fly out on a Tuesday and return on a Tuesday, Wednesday or a Saturday. Avoid holidays like the plague; they are the most expensive time to travel and often the busiest.


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Destinations

How to Choose the Best Italian Restaurant

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In a recent survey, Italian food was crowned the world’s favorite cuisine.

But how do you find the best Italian restaurant when you get that craving? It’s not just about pizza and pasta anymore. Italian food has so much more to give.

So if you’re feeling hungry, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to ensure you’re getting the best of the best.

If you’re serious about Italian food, it’s important to do some research before visiting a new restaurant. A few key questions you will want to answer are:

  1. Who are the owners?
  2. Is the food authentic?
  3. Is the restaurant self-service or table service?
  4. Do they serve other cuisines?
  5. How are the reviews?

Ideally, you will be able to find the answers on the restaurant’s website. However, in some cases, you may need to look further, such as on social media. 

Who Are the Owners?

Great food comes from passionate Chefs. When trying to decide how to choose a restaurant, the owner should play a part in your decision.

Finding an Italian restaurant run by an Italian is a great start. Chances are the food is more authentic, having been passed down through the family. 

However, it is possible to find authentic and delicious food made by a non-native. The key is to avoid franchise restaurants with generic menus that are the same at all locations. 

Is the Food Authentic?

A few keys things to take into account when checking out an Italian menu are:

  • Italian food is usually seasonal
  • The dishes shouldn’t be covered in cheese and sauce
  • It’s so much more than just pasta

Great Italian food changes with the weather and highlights quality ingredients. They use lots of fresh vegetables, and rarely will you see a bowl full of pasta drowning in sauce. 

Is the Restaurant Self-Service or Table Service?

Typically, a self-service restaurant is thought of as a lower class of dining experience than table service, and in some cases that is accurate. 

On the other hand, when you learn more about it, you can see why many restaurants are changing their business models – especially in the current climate. By removing the servers, the restaurant has the opportunity to focus more on the kitchen and the quality of food. 

Do They Serve Other Cuisines?

Although you should be looking for a variety of dishes, a kitchen that serves up a variety of cuisines might not be the best option when it comes to quality. 

A restaurant that is trying to cater to everyone is less likely to be the best option if you want real Italian food. Their focus is more on getting tables booked than what they are serving. 

How Are the Reviews?

Checking reviews is a must. Any great meal can be spoiled by a rude server or an unappealing atmosphere. 

Search for local Italian restaurants and see what people have to say. In many larger cities and towns, you should be able to find reviews left by tourists. Look for those by visitors from Italy to get the most trustworthy information. 

It’s Ok to Order Pizza

Italy is the home of pizza, after all, so don’t be ashamed to order one when you find the right Italian restaurant for you.

By doing a little research beforehand, you should be able to find a place that will offer you some authentic local cuisine, along with the familiar favorites. The difference will be the quality of the ingredients which you will no doubt be able to taste. 

Check out our food section for more help with finding your next great meal. 

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London’s Connaught Bar top the Best Bar’s List of 2020

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The Connaught Bar wins the Best Bar of 2020 title despite the unstable condition of the times. Nevertheless, it was forced to close its doors again.

The Connaught Bar has been named the Best Bar of 2020. This comes after England had to declare a 4-week lockdown to halt the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the country. Thus, the exclusive bar had to close its doors to awaiting customers even when it merely reopened in mid-September.

Picking the best bar of the year was altered, as well. Last year’s event was a stand-up gig at London’s famous Roadhouse. Journalists and the industry’s known personalities gathered for the celebration, complete with typical soiree of sorts. 2020’s version, however, was completely different as everyone who had a say had to make do with today’s new normal meeting place, Zoom.

In spite of the hugely diminished revelry, Connaught’s Agostino Perrone and the whole bar’s team of employees are extremely pleased with their victory.  “It’s the achievement we’ve been looking for,” gushes Perrone.

Already considered a Mayfair institution, the Connaught Hotel opened its doors to the public way back in 1815 with the former name, Prince of Saxe Coburg Hotel. Its 1920s-style bar is also an impressive experience.

The Connaught bar has been a consistent feature in the past 11 year’s Best Bars lists, although it is only this year that it was able to get the most yearned for topmost title. Maura Milia, the bar’s assistant manager shares that consistency and quality have been the guiding principles of the establishment. These could be deciphered when ordering the best bar’s iconic martini—a drink that can still be ordered via takeaway.

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted the hospitality industry this year. All over the world, various bars and hotels needed to close particularly during the early months of the crisis. Due to the need to stop the exponential spread of the disease, physical distancing and quarantine procedures were put in place. For months, bars and other similar businesses had to shift to takeaway service and crowds were discouraged from mingling about.

Giorgio Bargiani, the best bar’s senior mixologist praises the Connaught Hotel for its unrelenting support as employees and customers had to connect via the internet, replacing the age-old routine of in-house service. Perrone looks forward to next year as he hopes that the gradual easing of lockdowns will permit them to reopen once more. “Recognition is always an injection of energy, an injection of creativity,” he asserts.

The World’s Best Bar Academy is populated by 540 bar experts coming from all over the world. They are equally halved by gender, as well. Judging occurred between January 2019 until March 2020, abruptly curtailed by the unprecedented onset of the pandemic. Voting happened earlier in July.

The Best Bar title was fought over by New York and London, although Asia had its representatives with 4 of Singapore’s bars appearing in the top 15 list. “We’re looking at a whole lot of options, because we think that 50 Best has an important role to play in promoting the hospitality sector in what are very challenging times. The precise way we do that is going to keep evolving,” posits William Drew, 50 Best’s director of content explains.

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Thai Government Wants Tourists to Wear Digital Wristbands

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Tourists will be required to wear digital wristbands in Thailand. This will enable the Thai government to easily track their health status while touring the said Southeast Asian country.

To sever possible COVID-19 transmission, Thailand plans to require would-be tourists to wear digital wristbands while staying in the country. This mandate will allow the government to track their whereabouts including their health as they visit Thailand’s different traveler destinations.

Last month, the said Southeast Asian nation opened its borders to a group of Chinese visitors—the first ever arrival since April when Thailand halted inbound travels to control COVID-19 transmission. The country has been doing quite well in the battle against the novel coronavirus. Hence, it has been reluctant to reopen its doors to visitors wanting to explore its various tourist spots.

The recent October group of Shanghai tourists were automatically required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, especially since they planned to stay within the country for a month. They were also relegated to a government-accredited hotel.

Nevertheless, aside from the automatic quarantine period, recent Thailand updates assert that the nation now plans to mandate all approved, incoming tourists to wear digital wristbands, “Smart Bands” as they are called. These devices will help the government track the tourists, particularly their health, as they visit the different places within the country.

The said digital device measures the body temperature of the wearer which will, then, notify nearby health centers. Tourists who wear digital wristbands will also be able to ask for help should they ever get lost while touring the country.

Not all would-be visitors will be able to enter Thailand, however. At present, only visitors from low-risk areas will be given a Special Tourist Visa. This visa can be obtained by paying 2,000 Baht ($64.25).

Additionally, a would-be tourist needs to have a “fit-to-fly certificate” from a certified doctor, a negative PCR COVID-19 test result, and a health insurance policy of at least $100,000 that will cover COVID-19 treatment within the country.

If you plan to travel to Thailand, you must be able to secure these requirements before buying your ticket. See to it that you will be coming from a country that is enlisted as a low-risk area by the Thailand government. You should also obtain the necessary “fit-to-fly certificate” from your doctor, have a negative PCR COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before your flight, and an insurance policy of the above-stated amount before you can apply for the said Special Tourist Visa.

As of writing, Thailand has only less than 4,000 total COVID-19 cases, a far cry from the overall COVID-19 cases worldwide that has already reached more than 46 million. Hence, the Thai government strictly monitors tourists who are allowed to enter their borders. The planned mandate to require tourists to wear digital wristbands while staying in the country will greatly help control possible COVID-19 transmission which may be brought on by the gradual reopening of its borders.

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