My Top Tips For Booking Cheaper Travel Like Pro

Let’s face it, airfare can easily be the largest expense of your trip, leaving us picking a more affordable destination or spend less money at your vacation stop to stay within your spending limit. Since first publishing this blog post in 2013, times have changed and many of the tips offered don’t exactly apply to travel in 2019. I’ve also have added in other money-saving tips to help along with your travels.

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Visit During Shoulder Season

Peak-season rates on islands often reflect nearby countries' vacation schedules rather than the best time to visit. Bali's hotels, for instance, fill up with Japanese in early May and with Australians in January. In low season, many businesses shut down. Shoulder season--when crowds are thinner, but the weather is still good--is the solution.


Sign Up For Emails & Alerts

The best airfare and hotel sales are typically unannounced. Airlines and hotel companies target specific subsets of travelers, and notify them via email. This includes loyalty program members, holders of certain credit cards, and people who have registered on their website. To keep your in-box from getting bombarded, get a dedicated email address for such alerts; and check it when one is ready to start planning your next trip. One of my absolute favorites is Scott’s Cheap Flights for flash deals on flights.

By setting alerts for price drops, can help save on flights. Ticket prices can fluctuate on a daily basis, even a small drop can result in a large savings if you need to buy a ticket for each member of your family. Google Flights will even show you the different flight trends in a graph format.


Rewards Travel

Credit card miles are also amazing, and how I travel for the most part. I also LOVE the United Explorer Card. When you sign up up, you get earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in the first three months that your account is open. This card is great if you fly United or any of the Star Alliance airlines. Another card I highly recommend for any and all travel is the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. The high-value Ultimate Rewards® points on every purchase, making them an ideal referral for most anyone who travels (or wants to do so). Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus you’ll also get $300 Annual Travel Credits as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. TSA Pre-check, Global Entry, Uber Rides… all covered by this travel credit!


Lounge Access

While you’re waiting out a long layover, nothing seems more enticing than the airport lounge, or even better, being able to freshen up after a long international flight. With amenities like free Wi-Fi, drinks, snacks, outlets to charge up, and glossy magazines, airport lounges feel like the answer to a lot of your travel annoyances. At the very least, they can give you sanctuary from the noise. A lot of credit card companies and airline loyalty programs offer lounge access. United Explorer Card offers two complimentary passes per year and the Reserve Cards and Amex offer lounge access through Priority Pass.


Get The Best Room For Your Dollar

At luxury properties, rates vary considerably according to occupancy. A room could be $450 one week because there is a large group, and $250 the next because nobody is coming. For top-end hotels that have on-site reservations desks, call and ask the manager when, during your travel window, the hotel will be emptiest and therefore have the lowest rates. Then ask something like, "If I come on that date, would there be a chance of an upgrade to ocean-view?"

Even better? Apps like HotelTonight offer same-day deals on hotels. This is one of my go-to’s when it comes to last minute hotel stays. I’ve gotten a chance to stay at really nice hotels for a fraction of the cost. If you use promo code VFIDAN you’ll get $25 your first booking!


Time it Right

Traveling off-peak days — and at off-peak times — means lower fares, a less crowded cabin, and a greater chance of snagging those elusive mileage award seats. It used to be that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturdays used to be the best days. But according to travel data from May-December in 2018, booking flights for domestic travel on Saturdays and international flights on Sunday for the cheapest day to book a flight. Want to play it safe? When looking at all destinations around the world, Sunday on average had the cheapest.


Hop Between Cities at Midday

When traveling through Europe or Asia, and want to get from one city to another; consider scheduling transportation for the middle of the day.

Why? Because if you are leaving at dawn, you might miss the sunrise--ideal for photography and observing locals. Sunrise is also a great time to get those amazing instagram shots with no one around. Plus, leaving at the wee hours of the morning, you’ll likely reach your destination at midday, when temperatures are the highest, the light is at its worst for photos, and it is too early to check into your hotel. You’ll also fight rush-hour commuters and miss a breakfast that is included in your hotel rate.


I hope you found these helpful! Do you have any travel tips? Share them with me on Insta! @valeriefidan


Published March 2013; Updated June 2019.

The Best Tools To Use To Take Insta-Worthy Food & Travel Pics

The Best Tools For Insta-Worthy Food & Travel Pics  - best travel gardgets, travel accessories, 2019 best travel photography gear - www.letsregale.com

Let's talk about Instagram for a sec. Would you believe me if I told you that I've been on Instagram since the beginning of Instagram time? Ya, true story! (User #110,431!)

This app was interesting when I first came across it in late 2010, but it was so boring because none of my friends were on it and there were very little users. I posted my first photo in 2011 at Coachella but then deleted it (and later reposted months later (view here). My second photo was posted a few months later, and now is my "first photo" on my feed. I'm happy it's grown in popularity and now is the "go-to" social app for many of us.

I often get asked what kind of camera I used, what apps are my go-to's, and if I plan my posts ahead. I'm going to share with you some of my recommendations and tips.

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What kind of camera do I use?

I use a Canon 80D, and Olympus PEN E-PL7...and most recent, my Sony Alpha a6500 where I can change lenses - my current fav is the 12–50mm (for depth and blur) and the pancake lens (for ever day, pocket use). I use the Canon with various lenses and filters for food photography. It's amazing and the 50mm is still my favorite for Canon as well. I use the Olympus as my everyday use camera because it's similar to a point-n-shoot but has all the functions of a DSLR. The Fuji camera I use a lot for photos. I guess it's really which one I'm in the mood to use!

Cameras

Canon 80D

  • Lens - best for close-ups & people Canon 50mm f1.2

  • Alternative to f1.2, and a great starter lens - 50mm f1.8 50mm f1.8

Olympus Pen E-PL7

Sony Alpha a6500 with the Sony 50mm lens

Favorite Tripods


Do I use my phone to take photos?

I'd say that 99% of my Instagram photos are taken through my cameras and 1% on my iPhone7. Both the FujiE-X1 and Olympus Pen E-PL7 are mirrorless cameras., which make them less bulky, less heavy, and they can produce images like a DSLR. Size and weight is everything to me; the smaller and lighter, the better. I also use lens filters to help make images a bit more crisp or block out UV light.

Do you need a fancy camera?

In short, no! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a fancy-shamncy camera to snap great photos. All you need is a camera that you're comfortable with, the right lighting, the right composition, and a great edit. (Seriously, it's all about post production!) All of my photos are edited using Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and/or VSCO app.

Tools To Use To Take Badass Instagram #FoodPics

Tools To Use To Take Badass Instagram #FoodPics

What are my favorite apps?

Ok, so, none of this is groundbreaking stuff, although, here are the apps I use on a regular basis to keep my Insta snaps looking cohesive. On my iMac i do use Lightroom and Photoshop. When it comes to photo editing on my iPhone I use these apps:

VSCOCAM

This one is an obvi! I know, you all use VSCO, it’s the best, right? It’s the only app I use to edit my pictures at the moment. It just does everything I need it to do and has the best filters. I use the A5 or HB1 filters, brighten up the exposure, clarify, sharpen, and decrease the warmth to get rid of the “yellowish” color.

SNAPSEED

Snapseed is a great all-round for sorting out the basics. The sliders for brightness, contrast, etc. give you far more control than VSCO. Snapseed is perfect for people that want to do a little editing but maintain that no-filter look.

BEFUNKY

You’re going to love this app. BeFunky is FREE and has all the amazing capabilities that you need to edit photos on the go.

FACETUNE

Ok, so Facetune is great if you want to smooth out your skin or patch up a photo. I don't use this one often, but when I do it's very handy for that purpose.

AFTERLIGHT

Afterlight is also pretty darn amazing. It has a ton of filters, with lots of fun extras, like putting your picture in a circle or adding a patterned background. It also has some great light leaks and vintage camera grain. Everything you need in one app!

PLANOLY

I kind of let out of a sigh of relief when I downloaded Planoly. And, if you're like me and take Instagram far too seriously and meticulously plan how our feeds look, you're going to love this one. It’s as easy as adding images, adding captions and hashtags, and hitting post. It's drag-n-drop feature is intuitive, and it also has functions for scheduling and hashtagging your posts. This was all I need, a simple way of checking how my images fit together on my computer or phone, and a way to schedule them. They do offer a free version, but if you are posting a lot or manage multiple accounts, Planoly has different paid options. Another one I recommend is Mosaico. Although, they don't have a website, the mobile app is great!

Where do I save all of my photos?

I save all of my photos on DropBox, Google Photos, and an external hard drive. That's three places! DropBox and Google Photos are great because you can automatically sync your photos to their apps. The external hard drive is a great 3rd source because you never know what can happen to these companies!

So there you have it! You now know my little Instagram secrets! What type of apps and tools do you use? (Post your answers here!) Follow along on Instagram - @valeriefidan!

Updated 3/2019

Wildlife, Wallabies and Wine Instagrammed in Hunter Valley

IMG_2462Gregg and I opt not to celebrate the commercialized Valentine's Day, because, well, if I must say it...I love my husband 365 days out of the year, not on just one day out of the year; I know he feels the same. I think it is ridiculous to pay a premium price for flowers, chocolate, gifts, and the stress of not being able to secure a table at the trendiest restaurant where one will pay a prix fixe menu cost. Unless it is your first year of dating, there really isn't a need to celebrate. This year was no different. Except, we were in Australia!

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We decided to take a wine tour of Hunter Valley. Surprisingly, the only date that was available for the week and that coordinated will with our plans was February 14th with Kangarrific Hunter Valley Wine Tour.

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The tour looked and sounded fun. The tour started off with a special morning tea with friendly wildlife and wallabies at a wildlife sanctuary outside of Sydney. From there we made our way to Hunter Valley, the oldest and prettiest wine country in Australia. We got a chance to taste wonderful wines, indulgence in locally made chocolate, fudge, wine, cheese, gelato, olive oil and beer!

It's not only a wine tour, but a wildlife, chocolate, cheese, wine and beer tour! Try not only some amazing wines at small picturesque boutique wineries, but visit a chocolate factory, taste some local cheeses and visit a brewery. Our morning tea with kangaroos, koalas and other native animals is a very special experience too.

Here is a taste of Hunter Valley, instagrammed:

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xxo, valerie

Are you on instagram? Follow @valeriefidan and tag your awesome travel photos with #ramblist!

Instagramming Two Weeks in Sydney in 20 Photos

Known as the Harbour City, Sydney is on the largest, the oldest and one of the most cosmopolitan city in Australia. Like San Francisco,  Sydney has earned an enviable reputation as one of the world's most beautiful and liveable cities. The city is home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on the planet. Two weeks in Sydney were just the right amount of time to enjoy the city sites. Much of our stay revolved around checking out the famous sights (you know, the touristy things), going off the beaten path (the not-so-touristy things), strolling Bondi, ferry rides to Manly and North Sydney, noshing on gelato from Gelato Messina in Surry Hills; and getting lost to genuinely discover the Harbour City in a non-tourist way. We even ate our way like Bourdain, ate Mexican Food (Yes, Mexican...as in cuisine south of the border from California. Shocked? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely!); and walked our way all around town. (Sydney is a very walkable city)

Where we stayed: Our first few nights we stayed in a hotel in near Kings Cross. We quickly learned to not trust the guidebook, based on this recommendation. Not to mention the cost of internet (or lack of). We quickly switched gears and found a lovely room-share via Airbnb in Surry Hills; Surry hills reminded us much of San Francisco's Mission-meets-Marina district in terms of the vibe, the coffee culture and foodies. The last leg of our stay here we also opted for a room share via Airbnb in the charming suburb of Redfern near Surry Hills. The place where we stayed was a penthouse with stunning views of the Sydney city scape, close to virtually everything. Our hosts at both locations made our stay feel as if we were at home.

Insider Tip: If you are planning a trip to Australia , DO keep in mind that this is a VERY costly city. Whatever your budget is, double it! Even Londoners were complaining about how darn expensive Sydney is.

This trip seems like it was long ago, and it was difficult to select 20 photos. Two weeks in Sydney, Instagrammed in 20 photos

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Flying into Sydney

xxo, valerie

Are you on instagram? Follow @valeriefidan and tag your awesome travel photos with #ramblist!

3 Essential Gluten-Free Mobile Apps to Download Before Traveling

paris, france, travel, gluten free travel Having gluten intolerance can make basic things like dining out and grocery shopping much more challenging, even more so while traveling. One learns to become a label-reading whiz, and know just the right questions to ask waiters before ordering an item off the menu. But as much as we can try to be gluten ninjas, we still need a little help along the way. As I am preparing for my forty day trek around Southeast Asia and Australia, I have put some thought in the essential apps, aside from Instagram and Camera+, to have on my iPhone.

If you are an iPhone owner, here are a few of my favorite apps that will come in handy when one is on the go.

Gluten Free App travel appGluten Free Travel Guide This app is a fantastic resource to have. For an app, at $9.49 it is a bit pricey, but well worth every cent. This has come in handy while traveling in Europe. I am interested in seeing how useful it will be in Southeast Asia and Australia. The app covers vital information such as gluten free food standards, brands, dining out tips, and languages spoken in a country.

 

Gluten Free App, Gluten Free Restaurant Cards from CeliacTravel.com (Coeliac_Celiac Disease) for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App StoreGluten Free Restaurant Cards Gluten Free Restaurant Cards is an app that features over 40 card images from CeliacTravel.com in many languages. The dining cards can be shown to a waiter/chef to explain the restrictions for those on a gluten-free diet. This is an essential app to have.

 

CeliacFeed, Gluten Free AppCeliacFeed The free CeliacFeed app helps one find gluten-free restaurants in your city and other locations. I love that users can post photos with recommendations — a photo is undoubtedly worth a thousand words! This app is great if traveling around the United States (I have yet to use outside the States).

 

 

Have you used any of these apps?