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One of the Most Visited Countries in the World!

There are so many great reasons to visit Italy.  From the world famous attractions, detailed architecture, historic ruins and breathtaking coastline to the amazing food and wine, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most visited countries in the world.  There’s so much to see and do in this amazing country you could spend a lifetime exploring it. 

Italy is home to some of the most vibrant cities around.  The capital city of Rome offers so many sites all within close proximity to one another.  Home to such iconic attractions as the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and, of course, the Vatican.  The piazzas are always filled with the aroma of amazing Italian cuisine where you could sit and enjoy a meal alfresco while sipping on a glass of their fine wine.  Head north to enjoy the center of Italian renaissance with a visit to Florence.  Its top attraction is the ironic tiled roof of the Duomo.  Walk the cobblestone streets to take in all the beauty this city has to offer.  Florence is the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy.  This region is known for its wineries, extraordinary landscape and medieval villages. It’s the Italian experience at its best.  Further north is Pisa, with its famous leaning tower and charming town.  Venice is just a bit further North and is a must-do on any trip to Italy.  Be sure to take a gondola ride, see the sites and allow time to “get lost in Venice.”

Along with its exciting cites, Italy also offers many seaside attractions in the Mediterranean.  Explore the wondering coastline of the Amalfi Coast, which stretches from Sorrento to Salerno, and experience the dramatic coastal mountains as they plunge into the sea.  Visit the beautiful beaches of Italy’s two largest islands, Sardinia and Sicily for their breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy. 

Italy also offers its share of winter fun and recreation.  Italy boasts more than 300 ski areas.  For beautiful scenery and a variety of terrain, enjoy skiing the Dolomites in the Italian Alps.  Skiing in Italy is known to have excellent value for money and, of course, great food and wine. 

You’ll not only want to plan a holiday to Italy but you’ll want to return again and again.  Make it easy, and stay in one of IVHE’s luxury homes located in a number of different locations in Italy! No matter what season you visit, you’ll find a warmth and hospitality that will have you feeling like you’re one of the family.

Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros

An Overview of Los Angeles from a First Time Visitor

The vibe of LA was summed up in a few words of wisdom from a bartender shortly after we landed.  He said, “LA is a lifestyle, not a city.  Think about it.”  I not only thought about it as I sipped my Cosmo but decided to make that our mantra as we set out to explore our new surroundings. 

I love exploring new cities and while I’ve been to most major cities around the world this was my first time visiting LA.  I can certainly see what all the hype is about, why everyone wants to live there and why those who move there never leave.  The thing I love the most about visiting new cities is that each one takes on a personality all its own and while LA was pretty much what I had envisioned there were a few things that I didn’t expect.  Here’s my take on the city through the eyes of a newbie.

It’s Very Spread Out
The areas you want to see as a tourist are very spread out.  Much more spread out than other cites I’ve visited, so you really need to rent a car or hire a driver to ensure you see all the sights. 

 Yes, the Sun Always Shines
I chatted with a man who was from the East Coast originally who told me that the weather is so sunny that he actually misses the rain.  I guess it’s true what they say about too much of a good thing.

The Oscar Night Red Carpet is Actually the Road
Adobe Theatre is actually located on a very busy main street.  When Oscar time rolls around, the intersection just before the Adobe Theater is closed off and the famous red carpet is put down in the road leading up to the theater.  The cars and limos drop off at the intersection while the stars get out and walk the red carpet lined with paparazzi.  It was interesting to see exactly where all the Hollywood magic happens on that night.

No One Visits Downtown
I guess living near NYC I just assumed all the action was in downtown LA so I was surprised to find out that’s not the case.  No one actually goes downtown and there’s not much to do there.  I’ve heard they are revitalizing the area so that may change if you plan to visit in the coming years.

You Won’t See Any Familiar Faces on Rodeo Drive
I always imagined Rodeo Drive packed with the Hollywood famed and since I love a good celebrity sighting this came as a bit of a disappointment.  It’s too touristy for them I was told but I did learn that if you want to shop with the rich and famous your best bet is Melrose Avenue.  I had no luck with a sighting there either though I have to admit I’m not the best at identifying them. 

If LA has always been on your Bucket List, then you can live among the stars by booking a luxury home swap through International Vacation Home Exchange.  They offer properties in 70 countries around the world so if you don’t spot a celebrity in LA you might try catching one in London, Paris or one of the many other cities IVHE offers properties.  I just hope your star spotting abilities are much better than mine. 

Thank you travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

Shopping & Eating Your Way Through Boston

I had the pleasure of taking two weekend trips to Boston recently. One was to visit one of my favorite gal pals and the other was college touring with our teenage sons. Since I don’t have daughters, I relish my shopping trip with girlfriends. When I’m out with my husband and boys I barely even window shop and when I do it’s at a blurred pace. So needless to say, one trip was quite relaxing and included lots of shopping with discussions over chardonnay on what’s “coming back in style” while my other trip to Boston was centered around where the next meal was coming from. Both were enjoyable, of course, as Boston has always been one of my favorite cities.

My friend and I enjoyed a relaxing day browsing around Newbury Street and popping into the quaint shops on this tree-lined historic section of the city’s Back Bay.  You’ll find a selection of international shops and local boutiques as well as world class dining.  When I revisited this area with my sons we cruised right past these shops to grab a hamburger at Abe & Louie’s on Boylston Street.  Don’t miss a stop at this sophisticated steakhouse which is truly a throwback to a past era and the clam chowder was amazing. 

A short walk from Newbury Street is The Shops at Prudential Center where you’ll find a variety national chain stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.  Prudential Center also offers a unique mix of dining options.  Located not far from these shops is Copley Place which offers more of an upscale shopping experience with stores such as Tiffany & Co, Jimmy Choo, and Louis Vuitton, to name a few.

No trip to Bean Town is complete without a visit to Faneuil Hall.  It’s a must-see for both a gal pal getaway or a teens-in-tow weekend.  The teens will still roll their eyes in boredom but will later admit it was a pretty cool area.  Faneuil Hall Marketplace Shopping Center offers some interesting shops and boutiques.  It’s a great location to dine, shop or just people watch.  You will usually find some type of event or street entertainment taking place.  A must-do dining experience when in this part of town is dinner at the Union Oyster House.  It is considered one of the oldest operating restaurants in the US and has continuously operated since it’s opening in 1826.  There’s good reason for that as the seafood was certainly everything you would expect it to be and it even managed to put a smile on the face of a couple of teenage boys. 

A great way to experience the city and live like a local is through a home swap.  International Vacation Home Exchange offers this city center apartment.  You’re sure to find it a “wicked” good place to stay while you explore this exciting capital city.  

Thank you Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

The Pulse of Taipei

On the northern end of Taiwan, sits Taipei, a teeming, breathing metropolis that many overlook.  From its high-end District 101 to its numerous night markets, Taipei offers surprises around every corner.  

I recently sat down with two-year Taipei resident, Bronson Glaittli who gave me a foreigner’s inside look.

Taipei, 101
District 101 is a wealthy district and the busiest part of the city.  Taipei’s financial center and home to one of the tallest buildings in the world (Taipei 101), District 101 always has something happening.  The towering skyscraper serves as a landmark and a place of reference much as the old and new World Trade Centers do in New York City.  There is also an enormous exhibition center.
A great way to see the Taipei (which according to Bronson, who speaks Mandarin, is pronounced closer to “Taibei”) is on a “U-bike” which you can rent for about $3.00 or $4.00 per day.  In fact, transportation in Taipei is excellent and convenient with “Easy Cards” which are good on all transit including the world-class MRT system (you can reach the southern tip of Taiwan from Taipei in just three hours for a satisfying day trip).  Interestingly, the MRT bans food and gum on their trains.  If caught with either, the penalties are stiff.

Night Life and Cuisine
Especially entrancing at night, Taipei features night markets with numerous street vendors selling food, knick-knacks, carnival-type games, and other delights.  Street food is unusually inexpensive and varied, so much so that Bronson said it was normally just as cost-effective to eat out utilizing street vendors as it was to eat in.  You can get a good meal on the street for approximately $5.00.  If you choose to eat at an indoor restaurant, the tip is usually included; however, if it is a western restaurant, prepare to tip.
Also unusually varied is the choice of drink shops featuring fruit juices and all manner of teas.  The passion fruit and mangos are superior, and the pineapple sweeter and less acidic than is found in the West.  The West’s presence, however, is ubiquitous with 7-11s all over the city.

To see Taiwanese and Chinese treasures, visit the National Palace Museum.  The famous Jadeite Cabbage is housed there.  Considered a masterpiece in jade, both the essence of the jade and a Chinese cabbage are captured in green and white; even the veins of the cabbage are visible.  Unfortunately, the identity of the artist is now unknown adding to its mystery and lure.  There are also ceramics, beautiful calligraphy, and murals.
Regarding cultural norms, Bronson said that it is in the character of the Taiwanese to be very business-like in professional settings, even at restaurants.  The fawning over that Americans are used to does not exist there when dining.  To the Taiwanese, this is simply professional and dignified.  However, if you are invited to a Taiwanese home, prepare to be treated warmly; they are wonderful hosts.

Day Trips
If you need a break from the city, there are densely forested hills near Taipei with Buddhist and Taoist temples hidden in the jungle.  It is advisable to always carry an umbrella as rain can appear suddenly, drop a deluge, and then disappear, a little like Florida.
Other day trips include a visit to the Taipei Zoo, a twenty or thirty-minute ride on the MRT from downtown.  The pandas are especially captivating.  The Maokong Gondola offers beautiful views of the hills and is a great escape from The Big City.  The Beitou Hot Springs, north of Taipei, are home to a former public bathhouse.  Yangmingshan National Park can be reached on foot from Taipei and is famous for its cherry blossoms.

Are you interested in visiting Taipei?  International Vacation Home Exchange has this luxury home exchange available.  See how this works.

Thanks to Bronson Glaittli and Travel Writer Sona Schmidt-Harris – You can follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

Lost Your Heart? Find It in San Francisco

Have you lost your sense of romance, place or even hope?  There is no better city to reclaim them than San Francisco.  Bravely and dramatically facing the Pacific and drawing in and attempting to coddle its restless and luring bay, San Francisco calls to the adventurous and aching heart as well as to those seeking comfort and a sense of home.  It is a paradoxical city.  The birthplace of the hippy movement and eclectic crossroads of the American West Coast is now home to some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.  The iconic, Victorian architecture, ever welcoming, is out of reach financially for the average citizen; yet, you do not need to set foot in one of these beautiful homes to feel received.  Very few American cities elicit such a feeling.
Home to just over 800,000 people, San Francisco’s relatively modest population surprises most. Yet within a somewhat small geographical area, there is no place more alive.

For a sojourn into the truly exotic, all you have to do is visit Chinatown.  Chinatown has the largest Chinese community outside of Asia.  Restaurants, shops specializing in embroidered linens, and Asian pharmaceutical-type stores with remedies of pungent, dried roots for all sorts of ailments transport you into a lively dream.  Bring your walking shoes for a vigorous stroll up and down hills.

Little Italy
Home to numerous cafes and restaurants, Little Italy is a favorite destination of both San Franciscans and tourists.  There is a bright and open feeling to many of the cafes—a strange contradiction in that it is the birthplace of the restless Beat movement.  City Lights, the bookstore and publisher that first introduced Allen Ginsberg’s visceral poem, “Howl” still thrives.  Founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetic dream breathes in the 21st century.

The Financial District
To experience the rhythm of the city, go to the financial district on a weekday.  Busy, well-dressed sorts walk quickly to their next appointments; however, California being California, there always seems to be time for a quick jog at lunch.

Sausalito Ferry
The Sausalito Ferry takes you across San Francisco Bay to where else?  Sausalito.  Even if you don’t disembark in Sausalito, the ride across the bay is worth it.  You get a closer view of the infamous, former prison Alcatraz in the middle of the bay (truly eerie). 
Sausalito itself has a long tradition of drawing artists, and a walk through town yields sightings of many eclectic, creative treasures.

Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf offers tasty and fresh seafood most of its lively day.  For a reasonably-priced and fun lunch, buy off of the street and watch the human parade go by.  For a more sophisticated meal, try dinner in one of the Wharf’s many restaurants overlooking the bay.

Ghirardelli Square
Even if you’re not a fan of Ghirardelli chocolate, Ghirardelli’s famous square is both energetic and one of the best places in the city to sit down with a good cup of coffee and look out onto a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Would you like to visit swank and funky San Francisco? International Vacation Home Exchange offers these premium luxury home exchanges in the San Francisco area.  Read how this works and testimonials.

Thank you to travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris -  You can follow her on Twitter @Sonag2000

Reconnecting With Nature on Holiday

After spending a relaxing afternoon tubing down the Delaware River recently, I was reminded of how rewarding it is to unplug from technology for a while and enjoy all that nature has to offer.  The only thing better than getting outside for a few hours on a sunny afternoon is spending an entire week long holiday appreciating the outdoors.  Companies like International Vacation Home Exchange offer luxury properties around the world to help you do just that.  Whether you choose a log home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming or a luxury beachfront property in Anguilla there are many ways to be at one with nature.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

Whether your idea of biking is enjoying the rough terrane on a mountain bike or an easy glide on a beach cruiser, biking is one of my favorite ways to get out and breathe in some fresh air. 

Kayaking has always been one of my favorite activities.  We even own our own kayaks including  two tandem kayaks we used when our boys were younger.  They would always argue about which one “had” to ride with mom.  I may only be 5’ 4” but I did a pretty good job of keeping up with my 6’ 4” husband though my kids would disagree.  

No, that’s not short for “what’s up” but rather an acronym for “stand up paddle boarding”.  This activity has gained a lot of popularity in recent years.  I’ve tried my hand at it on the ocean a few times when the waters were calm.  It’s definitely a full body workout and mastering the balancing takes some practice but it’s great fun once you get the hang of it.

Al Fresco Dining
If rigorous outdoor activities aren’t your thing then there are many other way to enjoy nature.  Enjoying a nice meal on a beautiful day while dining Al Fresco is always one of my favorites.  If you are lucky enough to take in a scenic view than that’s an added bonus. It actually doesn’t matter what the view is when you are dining outside as long as you get to enjoy the warmth of the sun of your face while being cooled by a nice breeze.  Remember to leave your iPhone at home even though you might risk insulting the chef by not taking a picture of your plate when your food arrives. 

Watch a Sunset
You can enjoy the outdoors by doing something as simple as watching the sunset.  I have yet to actually experience the phenomenon of the green flash known to occur just after the sun sets but I always keep an eye out for it, maybe you’ll have better luck.

Last but certainly not least is just taking a simple walk.  A nice walk either in the early morning or just after dinner on a lovely evening is one of the best ways to enjoy nature.  Again, be sure to leave the technology behind while you appreciate the beauty of the trees, flowers, a hummingbird or whatever other wonders of nature you might come across. 

That should be enough to keep you busy for a week.  As much as technology has greatly enhanced our lives, it’s always a good reminder to take a “tech break” and give the beauty of nature your undivided attention, not to mention, it’s the only foolproof way to keep your phone out of the lake. 

Thank you to Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on twitter @lisamedeiros_

Eastern Tennessee: A Haven for Nature Lovers

I was not familiar with Virgin Falls when we began hatching a plan to travel there. I was certainly not familiar with Sparta, TN, the rural town, home to just over 5,000 inhabitants, that sits nearest to the falls. I was born and raised in the southeastern US, so I at least had some level of familiarity with Tennessee in general. However, my limited expertise pretty much began and ended in Memphis, so this trip was going to be something entirely new for me. IVHE has previously highlighted what a great spot Tennessee can be for nature lovers and fans of the outdoors, but I was not as yet familiar with this reputation. The area to which we traveled was a reasonable eight-hour drive from our Floridian home, being just over the boarder of North Carolina and into Tennessee. This made the actual travel portion of our journey fairly simple. My husband and I, along with another married duo, made the trip to this out-of-the way locale in White County. Thankfully for us, our friends had previously visited the area (in fact, they were the reason we found out about Virgin Falls in the first place), so they served as our guides in the mountainous regions.

We made plans to camp at the falls for a couple of days, but decided on getting a hotel room for the first night so that we could begin our hike into the mountain at first light and not risk getting stuck in the dark on a steep trail. It was the dead of winter, but we were lucky to find Tennessee having a mild time of it. There were a few patches of ice and decidedly chilly temperatures, but no snowfall to reckon with as we made our way. We pulled into Sparta quite late at night, and I'll admit that the drive through the winding mountain roads put me a bit on edge. The fog was incredibly thick and frequent signs warned of falling rocks - a phenomenon we were all too aware of as we drove over the evidence of smashed rocks already in the roadway. Thankfully, we made the "perilous" journey safely and tucked in for a few hours of anxious sleep. We were all quite eager to get on the trail, but the rest did us a world of good before our big trek.

The trails themselves were a sight to behold. I'm sure that no matter what time of the year you visit, these falls and the surrounding state park are gorgeous, but I was particularly impressed with the stillness of the woods in the wintertime. Our drive from the hotel to the park area was even remarkable. I'll admit, Sparta grew on me in the daytime, after the fog had burned away and the scenery was more visible. The fact that there were no more signs in this direction which mentioned falling rocks helped enhance my experience, I think. We had quite a bit of gear between the four of us (for the record, I told my husband he was over-packing), so it was a bit of a physical undertaking to get ourselves and our packs to camp. However, we were all at least moderately experienced hikers, so it was manageable. We took frequent rests, but were still able to make it to our camp and get set up before nightfall. We got a prime spot, in a cave directly underneath Big Laurel Falls. The rush of the water created fantastic white noise for our first night of sleep, but the trade-off was the sheer amount of bat guano coating the cavern floor all around us! If you could get around that, and didn't mind leaving your hiking boots outside of the tent, it was a killer location.

We took day hikes to the much taller Virgin Falls and explored the well-marked trails in the area. The chilly temperatures were far from a burden, making the physical exertion of the hike much more enjoyable. Going into this trip I did not have many preconceived notions of Tennessee, outside of the bigger cities, but I can assure you that the more rural part of the state is a sight to behold. We met plenty of hikers who were visiting the falls for the day, along with a couple of fellow campers. Everyone in the area seemed to know how pristine this spot is and what a great day trip it makes. 

While staying in the state park definitely constitutes a "primitive" camping experience (no toilets or potable water available), and we were all very happy to see a real restaurant at the end of our hike back to civilization, the scenery and serenity make the trip well worth it. You needn’t go so far as pitching a tent in a cave to enjoy the wilderness of the area either, with an abundance of scenic rural areas just a short drive from civilization. I would gladly sing the praises of Virgin Falls to anyone looking for an outdoorsy vacation idea. Even if you're not much of a camper, the trail lends itself well to a reasonable day hike, with lots of picture-worthy spots to stop and rest along the way. The state park educated visitors on the surrounding landscape and provides several different routes of varying difficulty to hike, so that everyone from the most advanced hikers to novice outdoorsmen will find a suitable trek. I would have easily overlooked this particular little dot on the map in East Tennessee, but if you're planning a trip to the area (including the western part of North Carolina, just across the border) I'd encourage you to put Virgin Falls on your travel itinerary! If you’re looking to go off the grid for several days, or just hoping to stretch your legs in a uniquely pristine environment, the mountainous areas of Eastern Tennessee have plenty to offer you.

IVHE will help to make your trip a little lighter on the bat guano, with lovely luxury accommodations throughout the area. Take a look at our available properties to see what might suit your tastes for potential Tennessee accommodations.

Thank you to travel blogger Emma Sledge.  

Starting a Travel Bucket List

I am certain that the travel buffs among us will all know the feeling: you are on the way back after a truly magical vacation. You’re happy to be heading home at last, but have a conflicting feeling of sadness when you think about your most recent adventure coming to a close. There is something decidedly bittersweet about wrapping up a trip; you know that the excitement has peaked, the wave has broken, and you won’t feel that way again until the next time you’re able to snag some vacation time. It’s no cause to fear though, it’s just a natural part of the highs and lows of the travel experience. However, if leaving your vacation state of mind behind is getting to you, there might be an option. So far, there has been only one thing that I have found to be truly effective at curing this post-vacation slump; the travel bucket list!

The psychological benefits of planning avacation have been well documented, so don’t feel guilty for indulging in this act of daydreaming – it’s good for you. When I have returned from a trip, and before I have cause to plan my next, I like to take the time to work on my bucket list. The first place to start is with some travel inspiration. Sitting down to any episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on Netflix or scrolling through National Geographic’s Instagram will usually get me scribbling the names of exotic places pretty darn quick, but you can find great travel inspiration nearly everywhere. It can be as easy as Googling “best travel destinations in…” to find nearby destinations that can make for great day trips right in your own backyard. Of course, one of the best ways to find inspiration for your travel bucket list is right here on IVHE’s blog.

The materials that you need to start a bucket list of your own are likely already right in front of you. Most people who love travel have a few key destinations already in mind that they’ve been meaning to visit, feats they are hoping to accomplish, or sites they would love to see; viewing sunflower fields in Tuscany, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or glimpsing the illusive Arora Borealis, for example. Start by jotting these down in a safe place, and don’t forget to add to them as you go. There may even be a particular IVHE property that speaks to you loudly enough to earn its own entry on the list (as is the case for me and the world’s first rotating house). That is what is so inherently fun about making a vacation bucket list, it’s completely about what speaks to you!

The next time you find yourself in the unenviable position of not knowing when or to where your next vacation is going to be, might I suggest breaking out the vacation bucket list? It will help get you excited for what is to come and, in time, become a memento of all of the great trips you have taken. There are few feelings in the world better than ticking off one of the entries on the bucket list and thinking, “I did it!”

Thank you to Emma Sledge.  

Uber on Holiday: Much More than Just a Ride

I booked a boatload of Uber cars on my travels this summer and met some really interesting folks along the way.  Uber is one of the best ideas to come along for travelers in a long time.  It’s a quick, convenient, cashless and very economical means to get from Point A to Point B plus it’s a much more personal experience than a traditional cab ride.   Each driver has a story to tell and by the time you’ve arrived at your designation you’ve made a new friend.  If you haven’t yet tried out this service let me give you an amusing little overview of the types of drivers you are likely to encounter. 

The Retired Executive
He’s not in it for the money. His wife wants him out of her hair for a few hours each day and he’s not a golfer.   Uber driving provides a way for him to get out a few mornings a week on his own schedule.  You won’t find him picking you up after a night out on the town, he’s fast asleep by then even though he’s probably napped.  He’s most likely a kind, older gentleman who’s used to being a productive member of society and not ready to give that up just yet.

The Young Girl in Transition
She’s super sweet but a bit lost in life at the moment and usually lost on the roads as well.  It’s probably her first or second day on the job but don’t look for her in the weeks to come as she’ll most likely be on to something new by then.  I find I often take on a mothering role with her by saying things like, “You should finish your degree” or “Don’t accept customers who have below a 4 rating.”  There’s plenty of time for counseling as you direct her to your destination. 

The Professional Uber Driver
This is his main source of income and he has no plans of leaving this vocation.  He’s out to get a 5 star rating.  He appreciates your business and he’ll let you know that several times throughout the ride.  He knows shortcuts to avoid traffic and knows where construction could cause potential delays.  He’s expecting a big tip so give him one, he’s earned it. 

The Nightclub Caterer
He doesn’t mind the late night shift.  He knows there’s an abundance of clients at that time and he doesn’t mind dealing with the “over-served.”  You might even come across one who has a disco ball and strobe light in his car in an effort to keep the party going (true story).  He counts on you wanting to be driven from club to club in search of your friends, knowing that you’re incapable of doing the math.  He’s not out to take advantage of the situation though.  You’ll appreciate the fact you got home safe and sound even if you don’t remember how. 

Uber is widely used in tourist areas and major cities so if you’ve booked a luxury home exchange with a company like International Vacation Home Exchange and you’re wondering how you’ll get around town then I highly recommend Uber.  Not only will they get you to your designation but will also give you some local history and a quick tour of the area unless, of course, your driver is one of these sweet young girls…then you’re on your own. 

Thank you travel writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

6 Ways to Spend Less on Your Next Vacation

If you’re like most folks, by the time you’ve booked your flights and arranged your travel plans you’re already stressed about how much money you’ve spent and you haven’t even left your couch yet.  Not to worry, there are many ways to cut your vacation costs and save money so you can continue to live out your travel dreams. 

Look into What’s Free
Wherever you may be heading on your next getaway there’s bound to be a host of free activities for you to enjoy.  For instance, many cities offer their visitors free admission to area museums or they may offer some outdoor attractions that do not require an admission fee.  It’s worthwhile to do some research and hunt down a few of these “freebees.” 

Cut Out Hotel Cost
There are many accommodation options available these days that can save you a bundle on your next vacation.  Home exchange is a great alternative to paying a hefty hotel bill.  Companies like International Vacation Home Exchange offer some great luxury home options while saving you a bundle on your vacation budget, on average IVHE members save over $5,000 on a two week vacation!

Use Uber Instead of a Car Rental
During my travels this summer I ended up returning my car rental several days earlier than planned after finding it much more economical to Uber to my destinations.  After doing some quick accounting, I figured out that the amount I was paying in car rental fees plus parking would be equivalent to many more Uber rides than I could ever possibly need.  It’s also a much more convenient way to get around unfamiliar surroundings. 

Eat In
Choosing a home exchange option can save you more than just exorbitant hotel fees.  It gives you the opportunity to dine in a few nights and pocket a big savings.  Make a quick trip to the grocery store, throw together a simple meal and not only will you save money by not eating in restaurants but you may find it a more relaxing way to spend the evening.  Isn’t that what vacationing is all about?

Buy Tickets in Advance
For those attractions that are on your Bucket List but not on the “freebees” list be sure to buy your tickets way in advance.  It’s worthwhile to spend some time researching all the deals that are out there for your destination.  For example, many cities offer a City Pass that allows you to see many of their main attractions at a discounted price.  You’d be surprised how spending a little time on Google can yield you some big travel savings.

Try Not to Forget Anything at Home
If hiking is on your travel itinerary and you discover you only packed flip flips then get ready to waste some precious travel funds on a pair of shoes you don’t really need.  When it comes to packing, take the time to really plan out what you will need and be sure to double check that you have everything.  Forgetting items is not only a waste of money but a waste of precious time. Time you could be doing something more enjoyable.

So now that you’ve saved a few dollars with these money saving tips you’ve earned the right to  splurge a little.  It is a vacation after all.  Spend of little of your hard earned savings on special souvenir or take that exciting excursion that may be a bit out of budget.  The goal isn’t to not spend any money at all on vacation but rather to spend it as wisely as possible.   Happy travel.

Thank you Travel Writer Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on twitter @lisamedeiros_

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