The Best Laid Schemes: Money Matters While Traveling

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It is with chagrin that I write this. It has been a few months since my Ireland and Scotland trip. And what I came back to certainly wasn’t fun. Last year I wrote about being careful while traveling, especially where money and safety is concerned. I had two incidents happen to me while traveling, even though I was vigilant and had planned well in advance, was always on guard. One of the big drawbacks of traveling alone, you don’t have a mate to watch your back. You spend a great deal of time watching every corner, when really you want to be watching the sights. How do you tour and enjoy sights while not being targeted is the big question. And even when you plan, you can still get swiped.

In my last article I wrote about how to carry your money, do money belts really work, how hard was it to travel with cash or money. This most recent trip I had gathered up and taken some cash from the UK and Ireland, Pounds and Euros. I kept a certain amount for both on or locked in safes in places I stayed. I only carried small amounts of cash and guarded my concealed chip card fiercely. I still had incidents. I didn’t want to have to access ATMS or anything that would be compromised unless I needed to. Best laid schemes and all.

Cash

Cash is always good to have, especially when you have a desire to not collect chip card fees. It is also a bit of a burden while traveling. You can keep large amounts of cash, but it’s not usually a good idea. Even with a lockable case, or if you are lucky, a hotel room with a safe, you shouldn’t have large amounts on your person as you are making yourself a target. So, I had to decide what the cash budget for a day would be, try to keep that very low, conceal it, stuff a fiver or a tenner in the key pocket of the Levis for cash items, the rest was prepaid travel card. I didn’t want to have to access foreign exchanges too often, there were always fees involved. Card use depended on using for food at restaurants mainly, and I tried to keep that down because fees may be charged again. They may seem minimal, but usage fees can total over £ 50.00 by the end of your trip, and if you are limited to currency because your card company won’t do two or more currencies to your card, you will get exchange fees. So budget £ 5-8.00 for a day if using one for the extra fees.

For the most part, money belts do work, especially if you get a low profile one that you can sling low and hide in jeans it’s not quite as obvious. Cloth money belt may be more desirable due to heat and moisture, but one with internal pockets.

I carried my cash from town to town and through airports using a money belt. Problem was they made me take it off and put in the bins during boarding. This was extremely nerve wracking as it was out of sight and I had to keep chasing down the bin and keep track of everything else as well. The money belt worked otherwise for the most part, I found it was better while traveling on trains. So, even though the belt was made to not trigger alarms at the airport, they still found it. Concealed card holders usually make it through if there is not a metal snap. Better to wait and get the cash there after you arrive.

Backpacks

Most of the cities you will tour are filled with students, and backpacks are the norm. You also want to be able to meet and greet locals and get a feel for a place. You should be able to just talk to anyone, right? But you always have to think the most affable could be sizing you up. Pickpockets have been in the trade for over a thousand years. And they have gotten more sophisticated than you think, think super spy.

If you are touring and doing serious backpacking with a kit and this is your mode for travel as well, you will probably want to take a smaller low profile version along for town day excursions. Back packs are magnets for a lift or slash. If you are touring and need to do several hours away from hotel or other lodging, purses and such are not a good thing. Too easy to slash and grab. You can buy modified purse/backpacks with reinforced straps, but the best thing to do is buy very small back packs with low profile or lockable zippers. While some thieves will still slash a bag, many are subtle and will unzip while standing next to you and you are distracted by the sights or your companions. Be wary of who is next to or near you.

I purchased a very low profile, small backpack that really sat against my body. It had hidden, recessed zippers and a compartment for my iPad. However, with careful planning I still was almost a victim. While in Dublin in large crowds, apparently someone went for my iPad. The recessed zippers hadn’t mattered. I had barely noticed the jostle and almost forgot it all together until two young girls came up and said that my pack was open and looked like a grab had happened. I checked everything and luckily the would be thief had not made off with the iPad, or any other valuable item like the passport. The girls said it happened a lot in the area. So, whenever possible, practice looking tragically hip while guarding your backpack, especially in the Temple Bar area.

Cash Card

I went with a cash card again on this trip. However, I did bring my ATM card as a backup if it got stolen. Big mistake. I had been really vigilant about getting cash. I was trying not to use the chip travel card to get cash, wasn’t sure how safe it would be. If I needed cash I went directly to accredited money exchangers after checking Yelp for reviews, and in some UK Post Offices you can use their exchange. I figured if you got a receipt and if they are a chain, you have some recompense if there is a problem. However, depending on remote locations, sometimes the card wouldn’t work for buying meals and such, being WiFi processing dependent. I was doing really well with managing the money, and really thought I had done okay until I got back to the US and found my checking account had been cleared out. The bank got me the records and after contacting Scotland Police by email, I began looking at a trail of how my account was cleared out. It appears the one time I got desperate for cash on a tour, I used a small stand alone ATM at a petrol station. Bad idea. A card skimmer had been attached and as I looked at records, I followed a parallel track to my travels, going through the Highlands and into Edinburgh, the same days I was there for Fringe Festival. Lesson learned, don’t bring anything attached to your bank account and use it to access funds.

Credit Cards

When traveling we often use our credit cards, they usually can be replaced when lost or stolen while traveling if your card is supported internationally. Just be prepared for the the foreign transaction fees. Check with your bank about their rates of exchange before you go. Always plan in your budget for the fees that will hit you when you return. Depending on your countries of travel, you may want to have a card that is with one of the major card companies, Visa or Master Card. Virgin Money is still only available in UK, Europe and Australia.However, the interest rates are terrible. Use credit card sparingly and use the prepaid card for food and expenses.

Large card companies will have the best infrastructure to wire money or replace card overnight in some countries. Travel cards that you preload can be advantageous, but will also accrue per use fees, and if you return and still have money on them, you may get charged monthly fees as well. Close out your cards when you return unless you plan to travel within a year. Contact your card holder for details. I went with Travelex again and for the most part they worked, but the cards were not the latest processing cards and some of the newer chip readers had trouble with them. If you bring your card, make sure you know about any emergency limits. If you have a medical issue in another country, your personal insurance will not cover most expenses. You should buy travel insurance for your trip, make sure that there are allowances for transport fees (ambulance) included. Your credit card will help get you in the door of a medical facility, and you will have to work with the travel insurance later. Pay as you go cards may not be accepted at Casualty rooms.

Travel Cards

I had a Travelex card which is a UK card. Coming from the US, I was told I could only purchase one currency. While in the UK and EU countries, there are cards that allow you multiple currencies on the card. Research this before you go as new card services are popping up, exchange rates will always accrue.

American Express is not accepted by most merchants, if any in the UK and Ireland.

Piece of Mind

There are no guarantees in travel. For the most part, if you have companions you can look out for one another. If you are the single traveler, you have to be even more prepared to be a target. Think about what you really need to do, and do you really need more money in cash. I didn’t want all my eggs in one basket. Even though the travel card was supposed to be the best option, I was concerned about if it got stolen, and considerations about tracking and stopping the old card going to get me refunded funds or were they truly lost. The company claimed it would refund me, but I had my doubts. So, when shopping for your travel cards, research well in advance and talk to them about all their policies. Look at their online interface and see if you think you will be able to access while abroad, or if they have an app for your smart phone. Research through articles and see which cards are performing the best, and in which countries. I found the online web interface really difficult to get to with Travelex. Their app was easy for daily monitoring and topping up.

Hotel Safes

You can shop for accommodations that have a room safe. While you are looking for accommodations on a travel website, contact the accommodation and see if they have room safes. These usually rely on a code that you set yourself, however there are a few locking types which means you have another key to keep track of. In days of old when you traveled, you could rely on a main hotel safe for passports, etc. Try to avoid them. You have no guarantee that the employees won’t skim your funds or access your passport.

UK and EU Travel Cards Information and Articles

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/travel-credit-cards

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/travel-money-options-cash-cards-and-travellers-cheques#using-pre-paid-cards-abroad

http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-prepaid-travel-cards

UK Residents http://www.holidayextras.co.uk/travel-money-card.html

https://www.what-prepaid-card.co.uk

Cards

Travelex

Check if you can have multiple currencies https://www.travelex.com/travel-money-card

Visa Prepaids from Visa Partners https://usa.visa.com/pay-with-visa/cards/card-finder/prepaid-finder-page.html

Virgin https://uk.virginmoney.com/virgin/travel-prepaid-card/index.jsp

 

Dublin Heat

quaysIt was sweltering in Dublin in July. I hadn’t planned for that. Global climate change was touching Ireland, and lucky me, I walked right into it. Ireland has the reputation for changeable weather in summer, mostly rain to clear. I’d planned for mostly that, but not the intense heat I encountered. Never thought I’d get sunburn in Dublin.

 

wilde

Oscar Wilde

Dublin is one of the most complex and busy cities you will visit in Europe. It is also one of the most expensive to live in, eat in and tour. Unless you stick to a strictly free as much as possible day. The people of Dublin are cosmopolitan and eclectic in their tastes, and the food is fusion and experimental. The architecture is grand, with Regency Era buildings and a hodge podge of old and new. I have been in large cities, large tourist towns like San Francisco where I lived for many years, and London which is a huge tourist metropolis. I have not see anything quite like what I experienced in Dublin this July. The streets were teeming with people, you couldn’t walk down sidewalks, people poured into the streets, blocking everything. Massive groups of Italian students with their bright coordinating backpacks in swarmed like bees, turning much of Temple Bar into a piazza.

Bog Men to Vikings

Dublin is a great city for museums and each national museum is by subject. The museums can take up a day or two of your visit as the exhibits are very in depth and well curated.  There are the large extensive museums and many smaller museums focusing on specific people such as my favorite, Oscar Wilde. The majority of museums are south of Temple Bar around the Trinity College area, a place filled with great buildings and architecture, buskers, and shops. This summer there was an exhibit on Vermeer paintings. All the other museums, Archeology, Decorative Arts and History, Country Life, and Natural History are free to the public.

What to do when there are so many museums and only a few days? I usually tour museums when the weather is inclement and save the rest of the days in a city for exploring. With the heat, they became a great refuges to escape the sunburn I was acquiring.antiquities

Archaeology Museum, Kildare Street

One of my main drives to get to the museums is the rich human history Dublin has. This museum had great exhibits on Viking and Mediaeval artifacts that showed the vast wealth of history Dublin had in shaping Ireland. I had not had a chance to see actual Viking objects before, so it was a great treat to see models, weapons, jewelry, and pieces of everyday life objects the Vikings would have used. The medieval history objects and stories of local chieftains and their battles over who would lead and rule Dublin are not to be missed. Then. There are the great Celtic objects on the main floor, filled with Torcs and other jewelry displayed. Truly some of the decorative pins in size and magnitude defy logic.

Molly

Molly Malone

However the best part was the one I had been trying to get to Dublin for many years for. The bizarre Bog Men exhibit. I must admit that since I was very young and took my first Archeology classes, I had been intrigued by the story of the men and women ritually killed and left in bogs, with bodies being discovered and put on display. It was really a thrill to see the examples in this museum. I was excited to get to a city with Viking history again. When you live in the US, history starts at 1600 with the later colonizations. While Vikings may have landed in Canada and attempted settlements, we don’t get a lot of exposure on these ancient cultures in the US.

phoenix park

Natural History, or the Smelly Dead Zoo

National Museum of Natural History. Another fascination from childhood was with taxidermic animals. I have been to many exhibits of these over the years, and the one in Dublin is a find collection of animals collected mostly in the Victorian era. Sadly this means the specimens are very worn and tired. Now, there are some really amazing examples of extinct creatures that you should see, my favorite being the giant Irish deer from prehistoric times. The rack of antlers on these are the largest in the world.

Food and Drink, Temple Bar

This is one of the most heavily populated tourist areas in Dublin. The entertainment area is packed with restaurants and other venues. It is elbow to elbow crowding usually at night, but that week it was from late morning into the evenings. I often found that I had to circumnavigate the area and give it a wide birth, or sneak up an alleyway street.  I tried to avoid this area, I knew it would be a serious tourist trap on this side of the Liffey river. The winding shop streets in the Grafton area seem to keep leading back to it and there is no escape, especially when tourist runs kept dragging you along. I steered clear of the American filled pubs and bars, packed past capacity. My one respite on day was to have sushi and sake at Banyi Japanese dining. Great restaurant with great food.

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Temple Bar

shane

Shane

Icon Factory Dublin Interview With Aga Szot

Icon Factory Dublin Interview With Aga Szot

 

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(c) Icon Factory Ltd / Icon Walk Ltd

All major cities have art museums. A large metropolis like Dublin is no exception, it has quite a few. But great art I find is always down at street level. Great nonprofit experiences like Dublin’s The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory represent great art. It’s art  that is alive and kinetic, even if it is a few static pieces. Color and subject can make it vibe. I love my mural walks and planned to tour this one next month. In preparation for my trip I contacted Aga Szot at The Icon Factory for a interview to share with you. I am hoping you can come take a stroll with us in Dublin on this fine walking experience. Stay tuned as I will visit and review the experience for you.

Come realize the power of art to help create a clean and safe Environment for all. Please visit their website and donate if you can to help keep this great experience going for all.

How did your museum get it’s start, and how have you seen it grow in the last five years?

Since its establishment The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory has become a highly rated tourists destination in international tour guides, rating higher than Dublin Castle & The Photographic Archive, and has received an endorsement by the UNESCO City of Literature office as an important site for the celebration of Irish literary talent and culture. We have been featured in many national newspapers, tourguides including the front page of the Arts and Culture page of the New York Times.

When we moved into Aston Place in 2010, the surrounding lane ways were in a sorry state, filthy and run down. It was an illegal dumping ground, a harbour for drug-taking,often used as a public toilet and a festering den of petty-criminality. We couldn’t believe that a half mile of lanes in the heart of Dublin’s business and tourist district would be allowed to fall into such a state of dilapidation. In 2010 we began work on the Icon Walk, a series of panels showcasing key Irish cultural icons also The Icon Factory Gallery when we show emerging artists work on a regular base. Once an area to be avoided, the lanes are now a mostly safe, vibrant destination for walking tours and average citizens, also more and more artists are taking part in exhibitions.

Our maintaining the area and preventing its reverting to its previous conditions is reflected by both increasing foot and online traffic. Google has reached out to us to inform us that 10,000 people a month see and search information about our project, check our activities and find us.

All our events are free created to encourage cultural activities for adults and children are fully booked every year. Aga’s Szot studio is one and unique life painting studio experimental installation in Dublin.

There are clear benefits in the increased number of artists, internship and volunteers taking part in the project. Every year the numbers of visitors increases daily, over 200% in 5 years, fourfold increase in tour groups. The Art Festival footfall increased 300% per day over previous years according to our visitor book. Our project encourages locals to care about the area their work.

Has there been anything surprising that happened that you just ran with in an opportunity to create an exhibit?

We now find ourselves playing the leading role in creating cultural & educational experience in Temple Bar including public art installations, art events and activities, keeping area safe and clean, making people feel respected and the area safe without as much as even one Euro of public money.

We were able to provide space to artist for their exhibitions, creations of new artworks for The Icon Walk, and create a Summer Cultural Festival in the lanes during which we opened the new sections to the public.

To this date we held exhibitions by over 50 artists over seven years. In many cases these have been the first exhibition by the artist. Unlike most galleries we do not charge for exhibition space. All we ask is for one image from the artist that we can use in our merchandise to help ‘keep the lights on’. We give facilities to artists to print and sell their works. We give advice and encouragement to the artist in planning their exhibition. We ensure that the money raised from sales goes back to the artist. In this regard we have become a hub for local talent.

What do you consider the most challenging part of running a museum of your kind?

The Icon Project is registered charity and fully based on volunteers. If the Icon Factory could survive on goodwill alone, then the future of the project would be secured for many years to come. We have had thousands of visitors through our doors over the past few years, all expressing admiration and enthusiasm for what we have accomplished but reluctant to give funds.

The Icon project fully depend on funding and every year our big challenge is to get funding for a basic running costs. Despite the previous  years supports Icon Factory received no funding for 2017.

After several years depending on once off funding we now recognise that the Icon Project needs a regular funding base and this is most challenging part for us.

What is the planning process for creating new exhibits? Do you have any behind the scenes video or articles that future visitors can look at?

We have a  good few short documentaries made about our project which you can check on the links below:
Is there a committee that decides to feature something or a finding that becomes available and you build around that? Or does the planning involve a specific structure?

Board members of registered charities are involved in application process for the exhibition. Artist are asked to provide their portfolio and cover letter. After positive application process artists meet with the members to discuss process of setting up the exhibition and work on the featured Icon which will be donated to The Icon Walk project.  

It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?

This year our exhibition season is planned on a monthly base case no funding crisis.

Do your exhibitions centre on the local only or do you have art and future or contemporary issues come into play occasionally?

All artists locals and international are welcome to apply for the exhibition at the gallery including different art disciplines starting from classical art, drawing, paintings, sculpturing, photography, installations and conceptual work.

It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?

At the moment The Icon Project is reviewing its financial situation and no further exhibitions are planned till the end of September.

The Icon Factory is located in the Temple Bar District of Dublin.

Location

The Icon Factory

Aston Place

Temple bar

Dublin 2

Ireland

iconfactorydublin@gmail.com

Opening Hours

Mon – Sun 11.00am – 6.00pm

For more information:

http://iconfactorydublin.ie/newsite/the-icon-walk/

https://www.facebook.com/TheIconFactory

Videos on Vimeo

Bob Geldof, Sinéad O’Connor and others https://vimeo.com/user33528482

https://vimeo.com/149507513

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlNtSB20ENM

http://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-tv/travel-tv-is-temple-bar-a-lost-cause-or-has-it-finally-found-its-feet-31246089.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/temple-bar-s-icon-walk-celebrates-irish-women-writers-1.2796989

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTS8jAJkzH8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FphoM7-UhHE

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+icon+factory+dublin&&view=detail&mid=805EAC64D1E20E701410805EAC64D1E20E701410&FORM=VRDGAR

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=the+icon+factory+dublin&&view=detail&mid=B181C7A4981BE19A84F8B181C7A4981BE19A84F8&FORM=VRDGAR

More:

Art Walks: Spring in the UK and Ireland

Science Gallery Dublin

 

 

Saturday Musings: Dublin Out and About Spring What’s On

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I love watching people. When I go to a city I love to sit in a cafe and just people watch. I also like to do and explore. I have always been a wanderer of the odd and strange. I like neighborhoods and their communities. I can’t wait to get back into a place like Dublin and get a feel for things. Tough when you are not a local, or a Dub. You can try to scratch the surface of a city, but not necessarily get a truer feeling for it with online guides. So, the answer is, always read up on the local What’s On, and I always look for the independent and non mainstream.

When you land in a city and need to get a feel for it, neighborhoods are the best bet I feel. Catching up with a local feel even if you aren’t a local to this city is more holistic. Starting with a cup of coffee in the morning, and finding the right cafe is key. While Dublin and many other Euro cities have Starbucks imports, just like at home here in the PDX the fine crafted local coffee and beer brews are the thing. You are supporting small businesses which mean local families. Plus you can really talk to artisan baristas about what they are doing.

Clement and Pekoe sounds like the treat for me, and will I check out Petit Cafe as I really like the small homey ones, since that’s so up my alley for sleepy wake up mornings. What will you adventure with in coffee in Dublin? Let me know your favorite coffee spaces.

Article The Top 10 Independent Coffee Shops in Town
https://lovindublin.com/food/the-top-10-independent-coffee-shops-in-town

Lunch or having your tea in the afternoon after walking the town? I spend hours roaming area and trying to get to as much as I can that is alternative or just unique to an area. I find that restaurants can be hit or miss, but pop ups can be fun because someone new is coming in with a new foodie sensations to try. In Dublin the places for Pop Up culture are Granby Park, Temple Bar area, Dawson Street area, Henry Street and Merchant Quay areas. Pop-Ups happen as they are much easier to start up than a brick and mortar type restaurant or shop. They still have their challenges as any merchant will tell you, but the Pop-Up can offer you a great affordable experience to your shopping experience, and talking to the people running these fabulous treats will give you great cultural insight to the area. Chat up a Poppie.

Oh, and of course moving on to the lovely afternoon brew of the well crafted amber liquid will snag your taste buds too. Dublin has started exploding with craft beer in the last few years. Dublin has beer a plenty, and besides it’s most famous exports, has the crafty artisan variety plenty. Look for Porterhouse Brewing, Trouble Brewing with it’s Pumpkin, and Eight Degrees.

Not a beer drinker. I must confess that being a Cali Expat, I grew up on wine. Wine can be hit and miss in the isles I have found, great imports mostly from France and Italy, you can find some really good wines. In my recent travels I did find that some South American Sauvignon Blanc seemed to be popular. Sometimes you can find a good German Rhine at some wine merchant’s. For some of the best wine bars, try Ely Bar & Brasserie or La Caverna. Or check out the wine merchants in town to snag a bottle for an evening picnic since it’s light until 10 pm or later in the summer.

Now, what’s really going on this next month here, well Drop Dead has a Burlesque show Sunday the 30th, looks like some great Ska music going down on May 5 With Selector and The Beat for an after party. For some great shows, go to The Grand Social.

Calendar for May
http://www.dublintown.ie/whats-on-events/may-listing-at-the-grand-social/

Check Out What’s On
http://www.dublintown.ie/whats-on/

15 Top Craft Beer Bars in Dublin
https://foursquare.com/top-places/dublin/best-places-craft-beer

Top Wine Bars
http://thetaste.ie/wp/13-great-wine-bars-to-visit-in-dublin-this-christmas/

10 Dublin Pop-Ups
https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ireland/articles/10-dublin-pop-ups-to-check-out-in-2017/

Are you a resident Dub or travelled there recently, share your foodie finds with us.

Travel Dates or Solo: Any Travel Bloggers Out There Want a Meet Up?

Sitting in a cafe in the PDX, listening to Reggae on an Easter afternoon, I ponder the traveling adventure I am about to embark on in two months. I often find traveling alone has it’s drawbacks. One is that you sometimes try to share out what a great experience you are having with some fellow traveler nearby and they give you the glare, the what are you doing disturbing my vay cay thing. Really sad. Then there are the ones that if you even say “Good Morning” to want to glom onto you and vampire your day. It’s one extreme to another sometimes. I usually hang in public with myself, people watch and probably smirk too much to myself. It’s amazing how much complaining some will do while on vacation. Rooms suck, food sucks, whatever. Usually they are ‘Mericans and a few pensioners from the UK really had me in stitches last trip. Travel is a work. Seriously, getting to any destination is going to take effort, and with the luck I have had, rail strikes and whatnot, it will be again. The trick is to just let it go as part of the adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I drip of sarcasm most days and can outdo many a person on that front. I just try so hard to not do it when traveling because I have just waited too long to get back at it, why waste the time? But there is some fun in commiseration if done right. So maybe meeting up intentionally with a group is the ticket.

So, if you are stuck on your own traveling, or by choice, but would still like to maybe meet fellow enthusiasts and just talk about fabulous experiences, try to arrange a meet up in a city you plan to visit. But how? There are plenty of web resources out there. If you have used one not listed her, let me know and I will add it to the list.

2017 Trip July 19 to August 5

Glasgow

Dublin

Galway: Arts Fest, are you going?

Belfast

Skye

Inverness

Edinburgh: Aug 5-8 Fringe Festival, are you going? 70th Anniversary

Trip Together

https://www.triptogether.com

Website offers a travel meeting/dating like arrangement thing. You can arrange to either meet or start travels together with other people. Granted, in looking at this site I see an awful lot of good looking women and would caution that some may be using this as a pure hook up situation. Hope that’s not the case, but if that’s what you want, hey.

Go Girl Guides

http://gogirlguides.com/

Women travelers meet ups, and travel tips. They are expanding to having travel groups meet in various cities so you can meet others planning to travel, maybe find some compatible people to travel with.

Solo Traveler World

https://solotravelerworld.com/

Website dedicated to the solo traveler and many great articles or travel. You are alone, but not alone here.

Meet Up

https://www.meetup.com

It’s worldwide and many people create groups. Each city has it’s own flavors, but most have a travel meetup group or a few. Contact a bit ahead of time and see if they are still meeting and get on the list if it’s a day you may be in that city. Everyone has an adventure to share.

Note: Always proceed with caution on any site where meeting strangers may happen. Sadly there are some real toads out there, to downright villains. Sadly I have read of travelers getting harmed in their travels, so just be cautious. Look at reviews on the site if they have them, see if there have been any complaints. Good luck.

Best of the Online Travel Guides: So Many Choices

33550586520_efb665b672An update and furthering of reviews online booking platforms as you gear up for the spring and summer travel seasons.

There are so many travel guides online it’s overwhelming. There are so many places to book your stay, and they may all list at several booking sites. Many of these sites come with travel guides included, but they may be very limited. Tourism is a huge industry and everyone wants their piece. How do you claw through it all and find one that really works for you? You have to glance through a few and check out the features. Then you have to decide if the choices you are being given are relevant. It’s travel in the digital age, we rely too heavily on the apps and web resources. Did you get your hard copy map yet? I must confess that I use my cell phone a great deal, take along a battery pack as the data usage will suck it up.

I have booked my itinerary with Booking.Com this year because I can access it with the app and change things. Last year I used Expedia and well, wasn’t too happy with some of the results. You get better with practice. I have found that since I had made so many plans and had to readjust my booked places due to one property being sold (that was a fun alert I can tell you). So far any of the features such as contacting the property owners has been pretty useful. There are several sites like this, last year I used TripAdvisor.com mainly, but found some things a bit chunky, and well the reviews are skewed to the hotels viewpoint. If you want to get real with the location you are going to, you need to find more real travel sites. You can start with local tourism sites and dig for information on the neighborhoods.

The Basic Travel Bonanza Sites

Domestic Sites to US and Canada, but covers world travel. I did a lot of comparisons with these in the fall of 2016 while planning 2017 travels. Not lot to offer, you can have them all up and search for the same flight or bookings and get a gamut all over the map pricing thing that will drive you nuts. Be patient, open a few browser windows and compare. Not all sites offer flights, some are accommodation and tours only.

Kayak.com

Expedia.com

Orbitz.com

Trivago.com

Travelocity.com

Hipmunk.com

lonelyplanet.com

European

Oyster.com

Gogobot.com

Skyscanner.com Used this one to get cheap flights between Ireland and UK to continent flights. Pretty good information.

Coolcamping.com

Rometorio.com

Thehotelguru.com

Thefestivalcalendar.co.uk

i-escape.com

Alternative Tours and Guides

Atlas Obscura

http://www.atlasobscura.com/

This site is filled with fun alternative travel destinations and weird facts. I love it. It’s a great place to get information on places like the Mummies of Dublin, which are really bog bodies at the National Museum of Ireland. Great articles and musings on fun and obscure things in many countries with an interface that is not to overpowering.

Indie Guides

http://indie-guides.com/en/

For the alternative traveller, this site has great views on going abroad or even next door. If you have traveled a city that is not among their guides, hit them up to help create a section of your idea of the best for alternative tourism in the city you love.

The Alternative Travel Guide

https://www.thealternativetravelguide.com/

Fun blog with travels abroad and in out of the way places. Very eclectic travel articles.

Extreme Tourism

I would like to travel the path less known, but I am not a huge adventurer. I would need to do even more physical training than I am already doing to get ready for this next trip. Next year, I hope to do more hiking and climbing training so I could climb a mountain. I have begun to prep towards that, and I have already given myself an injury. Great work. Of course, I mean I got tendonitis on the last trip, you’d think I would learn. If you are thinking about doing some serious tourism like ecotourism or grabbing a Munro ( a Mountain of more than 3000 Feet in Scotland) trail, you should start training well ahead of time. But these kinds of tours exist and there are sites dedicated to them.

Nerve Rush

http://www.nerverush.com/extreme-tourism/

This site is not for the faint of heart traveller. It’s a community of extreme travel junkies. Join their list for postings and articles that may become very addictive to you, and way you go.

Sites by Cities

Cities I will be going to (again) and testing these sites out:

Belfast

http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/whats-on/whats-on-news/seven-quirky-things-around-belfast-9168147

http://wanderluce.com/11-alternative-things-to-do-in-belfast/

http://secretbelfast.co.uk/

Dublin

https://dublinunderground.net/an-alternative-guide-to-dublin/

http://gottakeepmovin.com/alternative-dublin-city-guide/

http://almostginger.com/2016/04/08/alternative-guide-48-hours-dublin/

http://www.eattravelraverepeat.com/travel/alternative-guide-dublin

Galway

https://galwayundergroundguide.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/local-alternative-underground/

http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-guides/ireland/galway/

Glasgow

https://www.skiddle.com/gigs/Glasgow/ Because it’s about the music here

https://www.thecrazytourist.com/top-25-things-to-do-in-glasgow/

Edinburgh

http://www.lovefromscotland.co.uk/Weird-things-to-do-edinburgh

http://www.grumpycamel.com/12-things-to-do-in-edinburgh

London

http://curious-london.co.uk/bucketlist/

http://www.eatinglondontours.co.uk/blog/unique-things-to-do-in-london/

Like the old time hard copy guide books, read these reviews in the Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/aug/09/best-quirky-guidebooks-world-print