American Airlines DFW Flagship First Dining REVIEW

I’ll put it simply: Flagship First Dining is the most exclusive lounge experience American Airlines offers. I had the chance to sample it at DFW. Click through because you love pictures of exclusive lounge experiences.

The post American Airlines DFW Flagship First Dining REVIEW appeared first on Andy's Travel Blog.

Source: Andys travel blog

London: A guide to visiting a traditional pub

Headed to London? A stop-off (or several!) in a classic London pub is a must-do for most visitors in the city.

If English people seem uptight on the tube, the pub is where we kick back and relax, catch up with our friends and put the world to rights.

Needless to say, a visit to the pub comes with its traditions and customs we’ve been learning since we’ve been old enough to drink. You can’t go home without experiencing this classic British tradition.


A guide to visiting a classic London pub

Drinks can be expensive, so we compiled some tips on how to enjoy a British boozer on a budget. Cheers!

The legal bit

You need to be 18 to purchase alcohol in the UK. However, people under 18 are allowed into London pubs depending on the licensing agreement of each pub, and 16 and 17-year-olds are allowed to drink wine, beer or cider with a sit-down meal as long as someone over 18 accompanies them. Picture ID might be asked for: a passport or driving license will both do the job.

Pub

The cozy exterior of a classic British pub. Photo: Edmund V

Where to go

Now you know if you can go, where should you go? Sadly, London is expensive for drinking, and you’ll find that a pint is cheaper outside the capital. Wealthier areas of the city, such as Knightsbridge, Chelsea and Fulham, are likely to be more expensive too. Try and seek out places a little off-the-beaten-track for better prices: the pub guides on the Londonist website are a great place to start.

Related: Our 10 favorite local pubs in central London

There are a couple of chains that always offer lower prices: Wetherspoons and Samuel Smith. Wetherspoons can be a bit hit and miss, and some Londoners are very sniffy about them, but you’re almost guaranteed to meet an interesting cross-section of people drinking in one.

There are over 20 Samuel Smith pubs in London, and they often win praise from locals. As well as their inexpensive, own-brand drinks, the pubs are notable because they always have very traditional appearances. Well worth seeking out is their Princess Louise pub in Holborn. Not only does it have a great location close to the British Museum, but it’s also got a gorgeous mirrored original Victorian interior, as well as the cheap beers. Unsurprisingly, it’s often very busy!

Solo traveler?

There’s no reason to miss out on a pub visit, even if you’re traveling alone. If you fancy a chat, install yourself at the bar, if you want to sit back and survey the scene, take a seat at a table instead. Female travelers are fine going in by themselves, although they may feel more comfortable at less busy times. Read more about traveling solo in Europe.

London Pub Closing

Remember, the closing time for pubs is around 11 PM. Photo: straightfromthecask

When to go

Again, opening hours depend on individual pubs: although theoretically, they can be open 24-hours a day, many pubs stick to the traditional closing hour of 11 pm. Often “last orders” will be announced by a member of staff or the ringing of a bell about twenty minutes before the pub will close. Friday and Saturday evenings are usually a pub’s busiest times.

How to get served

If you’ve been spending time in Europe, you’ve probably got used to being served at your table. Not so in a traditional British pub, where you’ll need to go up to the bar to place your order. Calmly waiting and trying to catch the bartender’s eye is the best way to get served.

No matter how busy it is, don’t be tempted to wave your money around. Another key difference is that we don’t tip at the pub. If you want to extend gratitude for some superb service, you could offer to buy the bartender a drink but, other than a simple “thanks” as you pay for your drinks, that’s the most that would be expected.

Beer on tap

A selection of beer on tap at a traditional pub. Photo: trombone65

What to drink

Budget drinkers should always stick to what’s on tap, rather than opting for bottled beers. English ales are almost always cheaper than foreign lagers. Be sure to check the price of ordering something such as Peroni first. Don’t be afraid of asking about the different options, because most bartenders will be happy to advise and may even let you sample before you buy.

If you’re not sure what you kind of drink you’ll like, you can always order a half pint, a cheaper way of trying things. Want a longer drink, but not sure if you can handle a full pint? Try a shandy: lager mixed with European-style lemonade. It’s a refreshing drink that’s lower in alcohol content.

Be slightly wary of house wines — they tend to be cheap and undrinkable or highly expensive. Again, your bartender should be able to advise.

It’s also worth checking the price before you order soft drinks. Sometimes they can be almost as expensive as alcoholic drinks. Tap water, however, should always be free. Pub-served coffee, however, is generally not worth your time or money.

Fish and chips

When it comes to pub food, go for classics like fish and chips to help wash down that beer. Photo: Bestian

What to eat

A traditional pub is bound to have some snacks on offer, whether bags of peanuts or crisps or typically British fare such as Scotch eggs, sausage rolls or pork scratchings. The majority of pubs now serve more substantial meals too, but they range hugely in quality from microwaved meals up to “gastropubs”, where prices can be higher than in a regular restaurant! Good pub food is probably quite basic and hearty: burgers, pies, fries and the like.

Pubs can also be the perfect place to try out a Sunday roast. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites for under £15.

Related: 10 ways to save on dining in London

Your favorite pub

Where do you like to sip pints in London? Tell us in the comments.

The post London: A guide to visiting a traditional pub appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

The New and Improved Amex Green Card

American Express has revamped the old standby lower-level charge card with a new offer and changes to their bonus categories and perks. Here’s my rundown of what’s new:

The card comes with a 30,000 point welcome offer after completing a simple and reasonable $2000 worth of spending in the first 3 months of card ownership. I found it interesting that the offer showed at 45,000 points if using a private browser window in either Safari or Firefox. It could just be a glitch but that’s how I applied and will let you know the end result when my points post.

They have increased the points earning on travel and dining categories to 3X from 2X and have broadened the definition of travel to include rideshare apps, public transit, and taxis. The dining 3X is available worldwide.

For those that apply before January 15, 2020, you will receive a new launch credit of $100 on the purchase of AWAY luggage. Act quickly. That is a limited time offer if you need new luggage.

To help offset the $150 annual fee the card offers a $100 credit on CLEAR which can help speed your way through the airport or events admissions. For those of you with TSA precheck, you can relate to how successful that program has become with the length of the TSA lines sometimes longer than the standard lines. Major airports and event venues can be more accessible, more quickly with CLEAR

And an annual $100 LoungeBuddy credit can help offset the cost of some peace and quiet in the airport with statements credits when you buy daily lounge access. There is no longer the need for a high-end credit card if you want access without a huge annual fee.

I used the Chat feature online with Amex to clarify if the card is considered a charge card or now a credit card. The rep told me it is a “hybrid” with the ability to use the “Pay over Time” feature. The other Amex charge cards also offer that option so IMHO it’s still a charge card.

And the newest most unique feature is the card is made out of recycled plastic to ease the strain on our environment. I’m glad to see American Express take a lead in this area. We should all be looking for ways to clean up that plastic waste.

Will I get the card? Yes, I applied and was approved. We are just not taking advantage of the lounge access provided on the high-end cards and this LoungeBuddy $100 credit really helps offset the annual fee. If you are a big city dweller or frequent event attendee, I know the CLEAR credit will come in handy as well.

Kudos to Amex for thinking and improving the card for the middle of the pack while looking out for the environment as well.

Enjoy your new American Express Green card

Source: frugal travel guy

Visit Big Cities on a Sunday

Visit big cities on a Sunday for car free zones when biking and for free entertainment

If you’re visiting a big city on almost any continent and are looking to stretch your budget, try to time your travels so that you will have all of Sunday there. It’s often the best time to bike around or take a walk without dodging cars. It’s usually also a good time to catch some […]

Want to live a better life for half the price? Sign up for the Cheap Living Abroad Newsletter.

             

Source: Cheapest Destinations

Teamwork Makes Us All Better Travelers

I just got back from speaking at the 10th annual Chicago Seminars. For those unfamiliar with the event, each year in October about 400 of us get together to share tips and tricks in a wide array of travel-related topics. The topics run from booking multiple award seats to the best credit card deals to how to increase your income in cash and miles playing this game.

This year’s, like other years I have spoken about the value of your good credit as one of the most important assets in obtaining large numbers of miles and points. We discussed the five factors that affect your credit score, what some of the rules of the road are in regards to how many applications you can make in a given time frame and just in general brought some of the new members of the group up to speed with how we are all so successful in this hobby.

Out of the 400 attendees, almost half were first-timers and newbies to the hobby. It is extremely important to let them know they do not need to play this game alone. Although some of us may have more time and experience in the game, everyone is willing to help the newbie along. Newbies tend to be shy and we have to at times draw them into the hobby. I used an example that illustrated that concept, hopefully very clearly.

As I stood at the front of the group, I asked if Mark O was in the crowd. Unfortunately, he was sleeping in. I then ask if Chris C was with us. He answered yes and I asked him to stand. I continued by telling each and everyone in attendance I was going to give them a tip that would generate for them each $100 in about 6-10 minutes time. All eyes were front at that point.

I proceeded to tell them about an offer than Mark O brought to my attention from a financial institution called SoFi wherein if you deposited $100 in their money account, they would add a free $50 with no strings attached. And in addition if they deposited another $100 in an Invest account SoFi would give them $50 worth of free stock.

The money account pays 1.8% interest has no ATM fees anywhere and no monthly account fees. The accounts are online app-driven accounts and also offer referral bonuses of $50 for each referral you send that signs up. I personally was all in when I read Mark’s post and have gotten both accounts and my $50 bonuses have already posted.

I went on to suggest the Chris C lives in California and confirmed for me that this SoFi, (I knew nothing about had just spent millions to earn the naming rights of the new Los Angeles Football stadium. That bit of information gave me even more confidence in the legitimacy of the offer.

So I suggested to attendees if they would write down their first name and email address on a piece of paper and give it to either Chris or me, we would make sure they got an invitation to join SoFi and pick up a free bonus or two. The response was overwhelming and Chris and I each spent over an hour filling out a referral for the seminar attendees.

Now the naysayer readers will say that I personally profited by this announcement, and I will. But my reply is “and so did the attendees who of their own free will decided to participate as well”. Those that decided to take advantage will get $100 in combined stock and cash for about 5 minutes of their time. I know. I did it.

If you’d like the opportunity to sign up I’ll make the same offer to you. Send me your first name and email address to [email protected]. Or, you can simply sign up with my referral code.

And don’t forget, you too have your own network of friends and relatives that you can refer and both you and they will also benefit.

You can be a naysayer if you’d like, or you can join the gang helping one another out. That’s what this hobby is really all about

Source: frugal travel guy

Amsterdam: 5 budget hotels that offer a unique sleep

Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most interesting and quirky cities, so why not opt for a hotel to match? Tourism keeps rising, but there are still plenty of hotel deals if you know where to look.

Whether you want to sleep on a boat, immerse yourself in art, sleep in a futuristic neon cube or surround yourself with the Red Light district adult entertainment, there is an accommodation to suit your needs.

Related: Amsterdam Hotel Advice: Read this first


Unique and cheap Amsterdam hotels

To help make your trip to “The Venice of the North” more interesting, here are five unique hotels in Amsterdam:

Beagle Houseboat

Aye Aye Captain! Go below deck to sleep on the water at Beagle Houseboat. Photo: EuroCheapo

1. Beagle Houseboat: Sleep on a boat

Beds start at $40 per night

Adventurous travelers will love Amsterdam’s Beagle Houseboat, a one-room accommodation set on, you guessed it, a houseboat. Beagle Houseboat sits on a scenic canal and delivers a one-of-a-kind experience to guests while also immersing them in the city’s iconic canal culture. The boat, which is more like a hostel, offers four single beds below deck, so you can choose to share with new friends or buy out the entire space to yourself.

While the boat provides the bare minimum — hot shower, toilet, bed, sink, lamp, nightstand — there is a lounge with free coffee, tea and Wi-Fi. To add to the quirky ambiance, boat owner Aart keeps a glowing blue light in the bedroom corner to give the room a psychedelic feel.

Citizen M

The modern design doesn’t mean sky high prices at citizen M. Photo: Provided by hotel

2. citizenM Hotel: Sleep with modern style

Double rooms start at $115 per night

Upon entering citizenM Hotel, your first thought will be you somehow landed on an episode of The Jetsons. In reality, you’ve actually landed in the hotel of the future. Located in the Zuid-Amstel neighborhood, technology and design-enthusiasts will love the 215 futuristic rooms that feature remote-controlled amenities and mood lighting, censor-automated showers, electronic window blinds and pod-enclosed toilets that open and close with the push of a button. Not surprisingly, free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the building.

Backstage

Even the common areas reflect the rock n’ roll attitude at Backstage Hotel. Photo: EuroCheapo

3. Backstage Hotel: Sleep like a rock star

Double rooms start at $71 per night

Considered “Amsterdam’s Rock and Roll Hotel,” Backstage Hotel offers guests the chance to be a rock star for their stay. Walking down the halls, you pass vintage posters and modern cover art, while the lobby showcases a grand piano and a chalkboard talking up the city’s current shows. Snare drums and saxophones adorn the bar walls and Guitar Hero is always ready to go.

Black-and-white rooms feature high-wattage vanity mirrors, sexy artwork, drum light fixtures and even a spotlight on the bed to help you feel even more like a VIP. If you’d like to go out and paint the town red, the hotel is located near Leidseplein close to an array of music venues.

Winston

Get ready for wacky and wild rooms with artistic flair at St. Christopher’s at the Winston. Photo: EuroCheapo

4. St. Christopher’s at the Winston: Sleep with art

Double rooms start at around $110 per night

For those who want an accommodation that’s also an attraction, St. Christopher’s at the Winston is like staying at an interactive contemporary art gallery where you sleep inside the installations. Located in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, the property was the first in the Netherlands to offer an art-focused hotel, with each of the seven floors and its rooms offering a different creative theme.

Some fun rooms you may want to request include the Heineken Room, with a green-bottle theme, the Tranquility Room with black and white photographs and the Ultraviolet Room with neon works. And, don’t think this hotel is afraid to push the limits. Some rooms contain paraphernalia like kinky dominatrix photos of women.

Qbic

Futuristic rooms add a come with high-tech perks for a low price. Photo: Courtesy of hotel

5. Qbic Hotel Amsterdam: Sleep in a cube

Double rooms start at $107 per night

Located south of Amsterdam’s center in the city’s financial district (and near RAI convention center and Schiphol airport), the Qbic Hotel Amsterdam offers an interesting budget accommodation option for those willing to make the hike out here. Along with modern amenities like Wi-Fi, cable TV, a restaurant, air conditioning, a restaurant and bar/lounge, this quirky hotel offers guests the chance to stay in a “cubi.” These futuristic cube-shaped rooms resemble Japan’s cubicle hotels, but with more space.

Room features include an extra-long Hastens bed, LCD TV, creative work-and-dine sets and, the best part, the options to create your own atmosphere with changeable lighting and glow, like a mellow yellow, techno-trance purple, cool blue or sexy red. The lobby also fits into the futuristic theme, with a touch screen digital kiosk acting as your local tour guide.

More hotels in Amsterdam

For many more interesting accommodation options, visit our guide to read reviews of our favorite cheap hotels in Amsterdam, all visited and inspected by EuroCheapo’s editors.

The post Amsterdam: 5 budget hotels that offer a unique sleep appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Northern Italy: 10 ways to save when visiting Lake Como

In the tucked-away villages of Lake Como, painted frescoes and secret wine cellars deep underground are hints of a life that happens unhurriedly. Head away from the touristy towns, or come during low season to score the best deals.

If you’ve ever caught Nespresso’s ad set in a luxurious lakeside villa starring Jack Black and George Clooney, you’ll know that legendary Lake Como attracts Hollywood’s heavyweights — at least that’s what big corporations would like you to think. And it’s partly true. But is this lake, one of Italy’s finest, just for the big spenders?

Locals know better. Since long before Mr. Clooney attracted any tourists, Lake Como, with its picture-perfect location and climate, has been a hub of settlements and small communities, with visitors coming from all over the country. Artists, writers and philosophers have sought inspiration here for generations. Today, many holiday homes still belong to locals who either have their original dwelling higher up the mountain, or in the bigger cities.

Related: 11 Simple ways to save on a trip to Italy

Tips for visiting Lake Como

Even if you only have a few days to sight-see, try to move away from the shopping towns to reach breathtaking views uphill: rustic stone chapels standing strong against bellowing winds, sheep grazing in pastures, children scrambling or biking up mule trails to reach school. It’s unforgettable and can be surprisingly affordable.

Here are 10 ways to do more for less while visiting Lake Como:

Hiking Lake Como

A rustic trail near the town of Pigra on Lake Como. Photo: Dennis Matheson

1. Walk or hike

Going by foot is the oldest way of traveling, and still the cheapest. Take the rugged footpaths which start at lake level before winding up at craggy mountains. They may not be found on any map, and there’s your adventure. Switch up your level of intensity by choosing how high or low you walk.

Tip: Follow this link to get information on local hikes.

2. Rent a bike

Move around effortlessly and hit multiple beaches by pedaling your way along the trails lining the lake. In recent years, more towns have constructed paths fronting its shores for easier access to the water.

Tip: Get cycle routes and bike rentals in Bellagio with this helpful website. Giancarlo’s Bike Rental in Sorico (north) rents out from around €15 for a day. You can get a guide as well, to learn some history — and Italian — as you cross the protected Pian di Spagna Nature Reserve. Call +39 338 471 7186

Lake Como Market

Head for a local market to save big on a bottle of wine. Photo: Doug M.

3. Buy spirits from local supermarkets

The Valtellina region is world-renowned for its fantastic vineyards and local wine cellars. You don’t have to sit in a swanky restaurant to indulge. At a third of the price of what that could cost, you can enjoy premier wines sold on local supermarket shelves.

Tip: Iperal is the big supermarket with a mall in Colico (east) in case you feel the urge to shop. Lidl, a German chain, has also quality items at lower prices. Bottled wines from every region start as low as €2.99.

4. Order house wine with your meal

Anyone who turns a stuffy nose up at the offer of vino della casa in Italy clearly doesn’t know how exceptional the local wine can be. Many places have basement cellars and produce their own aromatic reds (it won’t come with any label, but no matter) from the plump Nebbiolo grape.

Lake Como Food

Experience the bounty of food at Lake Como. Photo: Kristian G

5. Eat in an Agriturismo

No-frills, farm-to-table goodness is hard to beat for taste and price. Italy’s agriturisimo restaurants are famous for generous portions of food that are locally sourced, often from on-site farms, that you can visit before dinner. Get ready for some serious comfort food cooked with extra cream. You might end up rolling home, but at least your wallet’s still intact.

Tip: We like surprising visiting friends with such porzioni abbondanti as El Mercante serves in Colico.

Boat on Lake Como

Seeing Lake Como by boat is an affordable and fun treat. Photo: Joanna Daniels

6. Kayak, SUP and canoe rentals

To get a close-up view of the lake, rent a kayak from the many water sports schools that now offer decent priced options for aquatic playtime.

Tip: Rates can be as low as €10 (Standup Paddle Boards) and €7 (kayak) for an hour.

7. Get locally-sourced tips

Google doesn’t always know where the good stuff is. Local festivals, art workshops, town marathons and private wine-tastings may not even be advertised on the usual travel sites. To find out about events that are open to the public, check out the local tourism office website (before your trip) and visit the office in person upon arrival. Plus, look for events in the local newspaper, and stay on the lookout for posters and flyers when visiting.

Tip: Check out the websites about visiting Gravedona and Lario News. You can also pick up a copy of the newspaper La Provincia.

View from the Bus

Taking the bus is cheap, and you might get views like this! Photo: Paula Funnell

8. Ride the public bus

Although it comes at sporadic times and you need to purchase your ticket in advance at the local tobacco store (where they sell everything from lottery tickets to grappa), the public bus is still a great way to hop from village to village. Prices start at less than €2 and an unused ticket is valid all year long.

Related: Crossing the Italian Alps by train

Ferry Lake Como

Hopping aboard a ferry on Lake Como is a quick way to get across to another village. Photo: Joanna Daniels

9. Fast Boat Ferry

Another option for village hopping: You can cross Lake Como in just two minutes by taking the ferry from Domaso to Colico, or vice versa. Or use it to sail 45 km south in less than an hour, where you can then continue on your on-foot excursion if it’s bedazzled Bellagio you seek.

Tip: Find the ferry schedules here.

10. Come during winter

Layers of light filtered through a lazy haze make the Lake Como region magical in the winter months. Winter is low season, meaning you’ll get prized accommodations for much less, and the absence of crowds make it seem as if you have this gem all to yourself.

Related: Lake Como in Winter: Budget tips for an Italian Alps holiday

The post Northern Italy: 10 ways to save when visiting Lake Como appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo