American Reorganizes Executive Ranks and My Interview with the New Customer Experience Executive

Big news from American today and somehow I got to speak to the new Customer Experience executive about what’s next. Click through because you want to see me act like a serious journalist!

The post American Reorganizes Executive Ranks and My Interview with the New Customer Experience Executive appeared first on Andy's Travel Blog.

Source: Andys travel blog

5 Cheap New York City hotels for Thanksgiving visits

There’s nothing quite like visiting New York City over Thanksgiving weekend and taking in the Macy’s parade, holiday activities, shopping and “pre-Christmas cheer” in all its splendor.

But how do you do it without breaking the bank? Considering that average nightly hotel rates during Thanksgiving in New York can reach well above $500 per night, getting a deal is no small task.

Good news, Cheapos, we’ve been keeping an eye on hotel prices for Thanksgiving’s big-ticket nights (Wednesday, November 27th through Sunday, December 1st) and were pleasantly surprised by the number of affordable hotel options still available.

Let us preface this by saying that hotels in New York, by and large, aren’t always cheap. In fact, during peak times the rates have a tendency to become fairly outrageous. Fortunately, our editors have scouted out dozens of budget hotel options that are central, cheap, clean and perfect locations to explore this wonderful city.

Hotels for an affordable Thanksgiving in New York

Here are five of our favorites that have availability and reasonable rates for this Thanksgiving holiday. Note: Rates quoted are based on double occupancy for searches conducted on Thursday, 10/10/19. Rates will likely increase as we get closer to the holiday.

Jane Hotel

The enchanting lobby at The Jane Hotel.

#1: The Jane Hotel

113 Jane Street in Greenwich Village / West Village
Thanksgiving Weekend Price: From $125

Perk: Charming neighborhood and free bicycles for guests

From our review: “Part SRO (Single Room Occupancy) and part hipster den, the Jane Hotel is a beautiful beast, a glammed-up flophouse in a gorgeous ‘hood. And best of all for visiting Cheapos, the Jane offers twin rooms with shared bath for low prices.”

Staying in the West Village is a treat that will usually cost you a bundle. If you’re looking for something that’s a little bit quirky and fun, The Jane might be for you.

Pod 51 Hotel

Pod 51 Hotel makes a fun and affordable Thanksgiving stay.

#2: Pod 51 Hotel

230 East 51st St. in Midtown East / Murray Hill
Thanksgiving Price: $189

Perk: In the heart of Midtown near the subway

From our review: “The two-star Pod Hotel is an appealing and affordable option in the heart of Midtown East, offering well-designed (if tight) rooms with seriously low rates.”

The rooms might be really tiny but they’re also well-designed with a modern look. If you don’t mind sharing a bathroom, you’ll have a great location near Grand Central Terminal and the United Nations. The famous Fifth Avenue stores and holiday window displays are also a quick stroll away.

Seafarers & International House

A clean and comfy room at Seafarers & International House.

#3: Seafarers & International House

123 East 15th St. Broome Street in Union Square / Gramercy
Thanksgiving Price: $102

Perk: Near Union Square’s holiday market

From our review: “The Seafarers and International House is run by the Augustana Lutheran mission as, officially at least, a sanctuary for sailors and sojourners… In addition to its great location, a stone’s throw from Union Square, and affordable rates, the Seafarers and International House provides a friendly — if undeniably religious — atmosphere.”

Rooms might be basic, but with an incredible location like this for such a cheap price, we’ll happily hop on board!

Score a very affordable room at Hotel 31.

#4: Hotel 31

120 East 31st Street in Murray Hill
Thanksgiving Price: $143

Perk: Old-school neighborhood feel close to Midtown.

From our review: “Hotel 31 offers simple, clean rooms and is a dependably inexpensive alternative to the pricier hotels crowding the neighborhood. All rooms are equipped with television and air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi is offered for free throughout the hotel.”

Hotel 31’s location is a 10-minute walk to Grand Central and the Empire State Building, and the neighborhood has lots of affordable restaurants.

Mayfair Hotel

Score an excellent deal at the Mayfair Hotel close to Times Square.

#5: Mayfair New York

242 West 49th Street in the Theater District
Thanksgiving Price: $223

Perk: Stay close to the parade.

From our review: “A love song to “classic New York,” the Mayfair Hotel shows its age, but the simple three-star hotel is a good value for the unfussy traveler looking for a clean, central place to sleep…”

Room decor is a bit busy and floral, and a far cry from contemporary, but it charmed us, as did the hotel’s old-fashioned lobby and superb Theater District location (it shares the block, in fact, with two Broadway theaters).

Which one would you choose, Cheapos? 

Are you headed to New York this Thanksgiving? Tell us about your hotel! Also, if you’re planning a visit, be sure to read our previous post on the best spots to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The post 5 Cheap New York City hotels for Thanksgiving visits appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

How to save on New York City hotels

New York City is notoriously expensive to visit — especially when it comes to hotel prices. A basic room in a standard chain hotel that would cost $85 a night anywhere else in the country may soar to $250 or more when you book it in the Big Apple. So how can you save on New York City hotels?

Surprisingly, there are still plenty of good budget options in the city, including dozens of independently owned hotels, if you know where to look and if your timing is right. You might miss out on a few upscale amenities at these places, but you won’t mind with all of the money you save. Besides, you won’t be hanging around your room all day when you have a big city to go explore!

It’s important to pay close attention to details like location and when you book. We’ve compiled our top tips to show you the secret to booking an affordable hotel in NYC.

Are you ready for a New York getaway? Check rates for New York hotels now.

More New York tips:
Cheapo Guide: Visiting New York City on a budget
Cheap New York hotels near Broadway and the Theater District
5 Super cheap hotels in Manhattan

The Hotel @ Times Square puts you right in the heart of Manhattan.

How to save on New York City hotels

Here are ten of our top tips for finding the right hotel room in New York City on a budget.

1. It’s all about location, location, location.

It may sound obvious, but where you plop yourself down at night should depend on what you want to see during your visit. If you’re intending to hit the top sightseeing spots in town (Empire State Building, Central Park, Wall Street, etc), then Manhattan is the obvious choice.

And even if Times Square doesn’t appeal to you, don’t overlook it. The neighborhood is crammed with hotels, which can lead to competition and drive down rates, and the subway access is second-to-none. (Check out this list of cheap hotels in Times Square and the Theater District.)

We also quite like the budget hotels in Greenwich Village and the West Village, as they’re further afield from the tourist action and still very convenient, day and night.

In short, by picking a central hotel, you’ll save money on transportation (especially expensive taxis and Ubers), and save time spent getting around. Sleeping in a far-off corner of the city might save you some cash, but it could also put shackles on your schedule.

Having said that…

The view from Courtyard by Marriott Long Island City is a doozy and it’s just a subway ride away from Midtown.

2. Consider looking beyond Manhattan

Remember that New York is comprised of five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Although we always recommend that first-time visitors try booking a hotel in Manhattan first, there are excellent deals to be found in the outer boroughs. We recently did a round-up of a few cheap hotels in Brooklyn that we added to our hotel guide.

For example, if you find a room in Long Island City, Queens, or Williamsburg, Brooklyn, you’ll be just a quick subway ride from Manhattan. The photo above shows the view from the Courtyard by Marriott in Long Island City.

Search for hotels in the outer boroughs:
171 Hotels in Brooklyn
158 Hotels in Queens
19 Hotels in the Bronx
16 Hotels in Staten Island

Just be sure to double-check exactly where the hotel is located and if a subway station is nearby (meaning a 5-10 minute walk away).

And speaking of subways…

3. Stay near the subway

Choosing a hotel near a subway station accomplishes a number of goals for discerning Cheapos. On your arrival, you can skip the expensive taxi from the airport and take the subway to your hotel. If you don’t have a lot of luggage, it’s an easy way to get to your hotel, especially if you fly into JFK.

Once you’re checked in and ready to head off and explore the city, just get a MetroCard and the city is at your fingertips. Remember, in New York, the subway runs 24 hours a day!

Cheapo Pick: The Seafarers & International House is located one block from bustling Union Square where you can catch nine different subway lines!

Rooms at the Wellington Hotel, just around the corner from Carnegie Hall, drop to under $100 during the offseason.

4. Choose your dates wisely

Want to see the famous skating rink at Rockefeller Center on Thanksgiving weekend? Don’t expect a deal! The holiday season and summertime in NYC can see rates skyrocket, but if you’re flexible with your dates, and don’t mind coming in the off-season (especially from January to April), affordable hotels are easier to find than you think.

Just keep an eye out for big events on the calendar like Fashion Week (see dates) and the UN General Assembly in September.

Related: Strategy Tips: How not to get stuck with the worst hotel room

5. Plan a weekend getaway

Surprisingly, you might be able to enjoy a more affordable escape to New York on a weekend. With all of the business travelers coming for meetings during the week, rates can run higher on weekdays. Prices can spike on a Monday but fall on a Saturday. Spend a Saturday morning getting dim sum in Chinatown or a Sunday afternoon strolling along The High Line.

Cheapo Pick: Pod 51 offers small but very attractive rooms in the heart of Midtown for low rates. On weekend mornings you can get up early and beat the crowds at the renowned Ess-A-Bagel right around the corner!

6. Book a refundable room in advance

Many hotels allow reserving a room with the ability to cancel up to 24 hours in advance. If you find a great deal, book it right away!

Cheapo Pick: Booking a refundable room at the 3-star Sohotel only costs $10-20 more than the non-refundable option. This chic yet affordable stay is located in the fun Lower East Side neighborhood.

You can always cancel later on if you find something better. Or if you’re not one to plan way in advance…

The hip rooms at Hudson New York can be a deal if they have rooms available at the last minute.

7. Keep an eye out for last-minute deals

Sometimes good things come to those that wait. That’s not usually the standard rule for New York City hotels, but it’s always worth a shot. Depending on what’s going in the city, you can find some very nice deals a few days before you leave… or even at the very last minute!

8. Watch out for extra charges on your bill

Even if you see a hotel for $104 a night, it might not include all of the taxes and fees. That low rate can quickly rise to a very expensive final bill. In New York, there is a 14.75% hotel tax plus a flat fee of $3.50 per day.

When you book through EuroCheapo, these fees are included in the rate you see, so you won’t end up with unforeseen costs. Check out our favorite New York hotels under $100.

9. Consider a private room in a hostel

The word hostel usually conjures up images of sprawling rooms filled with bunk beds and a party-hard clientele. But Cheapos in search of a deal shouldn’t overlook hostels In New York. There are several hostels that offer private rooms for hostel prices in a more adult atmosphere.

Cheapo Pick: The Jane offers swanky rooms with spic-and-span shared baths in the West Village.

The shared co-ed bathrooms at The Jane Hotel are actually quite spiffy.

10. Share a bath

Speaking of hostels, there are still quite a few reliable places that offer bunks at deeply discounted prices. If you don’t mind sharing space — and a bathroom — then you can stay in Manhattan for less than $50 per night.

Cheapo Pick: A favorite is the HI NYC Hostel on the Upper West Side.

There are also a surprising amount of cheap hotels in Manhattan (such as the Pod 51 Hotel in Midtown and Hotel 31 in Murray Hill) that offer shared baths. If you don’t mind this, then you can save a few hundred dollars over the course of a week.

11. Don’t overlook smaller, independent hotels

We admit that chain hotels have a lot of advantages, especially when it comes to price. Manhattan is home to every chain hotel you can think of. However, nothing beats a memorable stay at a friendly independent hotel. There’s just something about the personal touches and human interaction that we really enjoy. We’ve waxed poetic about London’s wonderful family-run hotels and New York has a few to seek out as well.

Cheapo Picks: Hotel 414 is a cozy B&B with budget-friendly rooms and an easygoing staff in Hell’s Kitchen, while the Chelsea Pines is a fun spot with a super-friendly crew and decor dedicated to Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Search New York budget hotels now

Know your travel dates? Search our database of New York City budget hotels in the search box above, or in our guide to cheap hotels in New York.

The post How to save on New York City hotels appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

My Relaxed Valuation of Points and Miles

I’ve been asked to come up with my values for each of the types of points and miles we strive so hard to collect. I know some of my fellow hobbyists can quote you values down to the tenth of 1 cent and clearly explain and justify why “X” point is worth _ and “Y” point is worth just a little bit more. I like to look at miles and points as a way to obtain experiences and not have to pay cash out of pocket. If I accomplish that simple goal, I’ve won.

That being said, though I certainly understand that we should be earning and obtaining points at a price per point far below any reasonable redemption gives us.

There certainly is validity to the notion that every good points collector has the opportunity on any credit card transaction to earn 2% cashback from a simple cash back card. And that leads many to value a transaction as a loss if they don’t earn at least 2%. I never worry about that though as every new card welcome or sign up bonus I do earns points at a far higher rate than 2%. A recent sign up I got was 60,000 points for $1000 of spending or 60X per $. The card had an annual fee of $159 but dividing that by 60K only represented a little over 1/4 cent per point. I don’t know of a way you can redeem points that low.

And every credit card transaction I do is structured to take advantage of bonus categories. I buy groceries with a card that pay at least 3 points per dollar, gas 3 points per dollar, dining 5 points per dollar and 5x on travel as well.  If the transaction doesn’t count as a bonus category, I’m earning at least 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar with an Amex Business Blue card or 2.625% cashback with a Bank of American Travel Rewards card.

So for me, the real issue is: “Do I want to pay cash out of pocket for this expense or can I cover it and get a reasonable value using points?”

I’ve only got 3 levels of value for points and miles

1. .5 cents for Hilton   (And I just did a redemption at.4 cents as I didn’t want to go out of pocket for $2000+

2. 1 cent for airline miles domestic. I won’t pay 25k miles for a $200 domestic ticket but will gladly pay almost anything they want for a first-class long haul lie-flat seat, as long as I’m getting at least 1 cent value from that mile I acquired for almost nothing

3. 1.25 cents per point for flexible bank program points like Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards and Thank You points that I again acquired for virtually nothing. The added value is in the multitude of uses available and numerous transfer partners.

I learned from my old buddy Ray that life is just too short to get hung up on tenths of a cent.  If you’ve got the points, you can always get more. And that’s after many years of playing this game. You can always get more. But once you pay with cash, that money is gone forever and it is a much more diversified avenue of payment that our points and miles.

Source: frugal travel guy

Venice: 5 cheap and charming hotels from our guide

Ah, Venice. Just picture yourself strolling through the romantic streets and sitting down to a delicious Italian dinner along the canals.

But what about your hotel? It’s easy to spend a fortune if you’re not careful, but luckily, it’s also possible to find a cheap and charming hotel in Venice. Before you lay down a few hundred dollars for a night’s stay, browse through our budget hotel listings to find rooms as low as $47 per night.

Here are five of our favorite cheap hotels in Venice that have an old Venetian charm to them. All of them receive excellent guest reviews and put you close to many of the popular attractions in Venice. Just book as early as possible to find the best price!

Related:Cheap hotels in Venice with canal views | Budget hotels in Venice with great locations

5 cheap and charming hotels in Venice

The entrance to Casa Cosmo Lodging House. Photo:

The entrance to Casa Cosmo Lodging House. Photo:

Casa Cosmo Lodging House

Address: San Marco 4976
Rates from $74

For one of the best deals in Venice, book a room at Casa Cosmo Lodging House. Nestled away on a tiny street near the Rialto Bridge, tracking down this hard-to-find hotel is well worth it. Breakfast of coffee and a brioche is delivered right to your room every morning. Head to the rooftop terrace to relax before or after a day of sightseeing.

So what’s the catch? They only have five rooms, so it can be hard to find a reservation for your vacation dates. Read the full review.

We love the charming and cheap rooms at Locanda Art Deco. Photo:

Score a charming and cheap room at Locanda Art Deco. Photo:

Locanda Art Deco

Address: San Marco 2966
Rates from $70

Spend your evenings away from the throngs of tourists at this guesthouse featuring early 20th-century style. Tucked away near Campo Santo Stefano, the rooms here come with beautiful private bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and a free continental breakfast. There are only six rooms, so book ahead to find the best deal. Read the full review.

The lush entryway of Acca Hotel. Photo:

The lush entryway of Acca Hotel. Photo:

Acca Hotel

Address: S. Polo – Calle Pezzana – 2160
Rates from $67

You’ll love the friendly and welcoming staff at this simple one-star hotel near Campo San Polo. Every room includes a private bathroom plus free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, and a TV. The cheapest rooms are quite small, but with free breakfast and rates well below $100, this is one of the better deals in Venice. Read the full review.

Al Gazzettino. Photo:

A double room at Al Gazzettino. Photo:

Al Gazzettino

Address: San Marco 4971
Rates from $69

Located just a few minutes from Rialto Bridge, this three-star hotel has classic Venetian-style rooms with free breakfast. Although rates can be unpredictable, if you book a non-refundable room, you can lock in a super cheap price. Six rooms have canal views, but you’ll pay extra for those. Read the full review.

Locanda SS. Giovanni e Paolo. Photo:

We love the style (and price!) of the rooms at Locanda SS. Giovanni e Paolo. Photo:

Locanda SS. Giovanni e Paolo

Address: Castello, Barbaria Dele Tole, 6401
Rates from $47 for a single room

This popular budget hotel proves you don’t have to spend a fortune to stay in a beautiful 18th-century palazzo. An intimate guesthouse overflowing with Venetian style, the six rooms are surprisingly spacious. You won’t find a TV or phone, but there is air conditioning and Wi-Fi in the public areas. Read the full review.

More budget hotels in Venice

Want to see more hotel options? Read all of our editor’s picks in our guide to budget hotels in Venice.

Do you have a favorite cheap hotel in Venice? Let us know in the comments section below!

The post Venice: 5 cheap and charming hotels from our guide appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Eat Local, Drink Local, Buy Local When You Travel on a Budget

drinking chicha in Peru near Urubamba

The “locavore” and “slow food” movements have taken off bigtime in the last decade, but budget travelers have been following them for ages for economic reasons. If you eat local and drink what’s made in the region, it’s much easier to be a budget traveler. Sure, there are high-minded environmental and social reasons for consuming […]

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


Source: Cheapest Destinations

How to Hit the Jackpot on American Airlines Miles

There’s no better way to quickly accumulate a stash of points or miles than to apply for a credit card with a hefty signup bonus. Occasionally, competition between banks provides consumers with an unexpected bonanza. One such opportunity is the American Airlines credit card market shared by Barclays and Citibank.

When US Airways merged with American back in 2015, the new mega-airline was faced with a challenge: Barclays was the exclusive issuer of US Airways cards, while Citi had the sole rights to AA. After much negotiation, a compromise was reached: both banks were allowed to continue issuing cards, but Barclays could only market theirs in airports and on board flights. That distinction has almost disappeared by now, and the Barclays AA cards are promoted widely on the web.

If you have a good credit score and haven’t applied for a slew of credit cards lately, you’re in a position to quickly gain a large pile of AA miles. Before you do so, though, how valuable are those miles? Frequent flyers complain about American’s lack of award space, particularly at the Saver level, but the best use of AA miles may be with partner airlines. You can redeem American miles with their 13 Oneworld alliance partners, as well as six additional partner carriers.

If you want to hit the jackpot with AA miles, here are the cards to apply for in the correct order:

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: This one is a total no-brainer. The current offer is 60,000 AAdvantage miles after your first purchase, with no minimum spending requirement. The annual fee is $99. You earn two miles per dollar on AA purchases, and one mile on all others; after spending $20,000 in a membership year, you’ll receive a $99 companion certificate. You also get preferred boarding, your first checked bag free, fraud liability protection and no foreign transaction fees. If you’ve had a Barclays AA card before, you may not be eligible for the bonus.

Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: This card gives you another 50,000 miles after making $2,500 in purchases within three months of account opening; there’s also a $99 annual fee here, but it’s waived for the first year. The benefits are similar to Barclays’ Aviator Red Mastercard (preferred boarding, two miles per dollar on AA purchases and no foreign transaction fees) with a few extras (double miles at restaurants and gas stations, plus a $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 on the card in a membership year). You’re not eligible for the bonus if you’ve had a Platinum Select account within the past 48 months.

At this point, you’ve accumulated 110,000 miles or almost enough for two roundtrip award tickets to Europe in Business Class. Now for the icing on the cake:

Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard: Just as with the personal card, this one couples a great bonus with a low spending threshold: Earn 50,000 miles after spending only $1,000 in the first 90 days, plus an extra 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card (available at no extra charge). In addition to some of the same perks (preferred boarding, first checked bag free, no foreign transaction fees), you receive two points per dollar on both AA purchases and office supplies. There’s a 5% mileage bonus on your purchases each year, and the opportunity to earn a $99 companion certificate after spending $30,000. Best of all, you can earn $3,000 in elite qualifying dollars after spending $30,000 in a calendar year, helping you to obtain AA elite status more quickly.

Citi also offers its Platinum Select card in a business version, although the spending requirements are steeper: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of account opening. To balance that, the $99 annual fee is waived for the first year.

You may qualify for a business credit card whether you realize it or not. In most cases, it’s not necessary to have an incorporated business with an established track record and a roster of employees. Your Etsy website would probably suffice, as would your babysitting gig, car washing service, or any other side job you engage in for extra income. Having a business credit card allows you to separate your personal and business expenses, and gradually build a credit file for your small business.

Bottom Line: Having both Citi and Barclays issuing AAdvantage credit cards provides an unusual opportunity to snag a large pile of AA miles quickly. Those miles may be used for awards either on American, their 13 Oneworld partners, or six other partner airlines.

Source: frugal travel guy

Norway: Budget guide to Tromsø and the Northern Lights

There’s a reason that so many European magazines and newspapers were buzzing a few years ago in 2014 about the Northern Lights. And I was lucky enough to witness what is known as the solar maximum, a peak in activity in the sun’s 11-year cycle.

Oh, the Northern Lights. I saw them once on a February visit to Tromsø, and they were magnificent. But as everyone in Tromsø will tell you, the Northern Lights are fickle. Some nights they’re out, and other nights they’re nowhere to be found. The best way to make certain that you will spy them is to base yourself for a leisurely period in a rural location in the Northern Lights Belt, which in Europe stretches along northern Scandinavia and Russia.

But if you don’t have two weeks to hang out at a farmhouse in northern Finland and want to maximize your likelihood of viewing the Northern Lights, Tromsø is an ideal base. Low-cost airline Norwegian even flies direct to Tromsø from London Gatwick four times per week. My one-way fare was only 660 NOK ($73 at the time of purchase.) I returned via Stockholm on SAS.

Tromsø budget guide


The center of Tromsø offers a few affordable places to stay like Smarthotel. Photo: Kim G.

Finding an affordable hotel room

On the ground, the high-cost index means that you’ll never forget that you’re in Norway. But there is relief. I found a “smartroom” at Smarthotel, a Norwegian hotel chain that opened a Tromsø outpost in 2013. A “smartroom” is tiny (7 square meters) but cute. I enjoyed the simplicity of the space: brushed concrete walls, a bed alcove tucked along with a window and a little bathroom. Those seven square meters felt much bigger than they were. And with breakfast, my room was one of the very cheapest on offer in all of Tromsø.

Search for hotels in Tromsø.

Exploring during the day

Northern Lights excursions leave in the evening, which means that days will be free for exploring. The first stop for many is the Polar Museum, the best-known museum in the city. The Polar Museum includes exhibits on Fridtjof Nansen, polar bears, Norwegian polar expeditions and Wanny Woldstad, the first female hunter in the Norwegian Arctic territory of Svalbard. Admission is 70 NOK.

Free museums

But honestly, the Polar Museum is not the best museum in town. It is informative, no question, but it feels a bit dated and claustrophobic. Perspektivet Museum, on the other hand, is a sheer pleasure to visit — and free to enter, to boot. They have rotating exhibits but a lovely tribute to Norwegian writer Cora Sandel is also on permanent display. A few blocks away, the Art Museum of Northern Norway is also free to enter, with permanent collections devoted to Norwegian art from the early 19th Century onwards. The permanent collection prioritizes artworks that address Northern Norway.

Artic Cathedral

The Arctic Cathedral is an architectural highlight of Tromsø. Photo: Augusto M.

Soaring cathedral

Museums aside, it is the soaring modernist Arctic Cathedral (admission 50 NOK) that is to my mind the city’s star attraction. Designed by Norwegian architect Jan Inge Holvig, it is located in the neighborhood of Tromsdalen across the sound from the city center. Aluminum-coated concrete panels give the building its dramatic form; on the inside, these panels illuminate the interior in a glowing peek-a-boo. The cathedral is ambitious, grand, and welcoming.

Getting around town

Tromsø’s 24-hour public bus pass is a great value for visitors planning to do any running around. It’s 100 NOK; the bus pass begins to pay for itself after two rides. (A one-way bus journey costs 50 NOK.)

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights just outside of Tromsø. Photo: Lars T

If you’re lucky, you’ll see the Northern Lights, and when you do you’ll have no doubt who runs the show. But even if you don’t, Tromsø has real autumn and winter appeal. It’s worth a trip to see this unique Norwegian city just to experience its Arctic charm.

Your Tromsø and Northern Lights tips

Have you been to Norway to see this natural wonder? Tell us how you saved on your Arctic adventure!


The post Norway: Budget guide to Tromsø and the Northern Lights appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Pictures of the Week: Incredible Military Jets at SkyBall!

B-52, F-22, F-35…and an American 777? Come check out epic pics of military and civilian jets during one heck of a sunrise before the annual SkyBall fundraiser at DFW, click through because you love meaningful fundraisers!

The post Pictures of the Week: Incredible Military Jets at SkyBall! appeared first on Andy's Travel Blog.

Source: Andys travel blog

Amsterdam: 5 easy and affordable day trips

Amsterdam is a no brainer when visiting The Netherlands. It has tons of old-world charm and plenty of excellent budget hotels.

After a few days in this vibrant city, usually next on the list would be a day trip to Rotterdam, the Keukenhof flower garden or The Hague.

But staying in Amsterdam offers a variety of other day trips for Cheapos. Escape the crowds and mainstream sites by trying one of these five other options just a bike or train ride away.

Our favorite Amsterdam day trips


The original town where New York City’s Harlem gets its name from is a quaint and cute Dutch city. A day can easily be spent wandering the old streets and canals of Haarlem that date back to the 1600s.

Admiring Grote Kerk square with a coffee on a terrace is a must. Corrie Ten Boomhouse is where a family hid hundreds of Jews during World War II. Today the house is a free museum with a 1940s feel that captures an important moment in Haarlem history. It also rarely has a wait (unlike the Anne Frank House). The Jopenkerk is a popular microbrewery inside an old church. Out-of-towners also come for live music at the Patronaat concert hall. Shopaholics love Haarlem for the endless dress boutiques and department stores, while foodies can appreciate the casual dining from organic vegetarian to Indian and Japanese.

Getting there: Trains from Amsterdam Centraal Station leave a few times an hour. The trip is about 20 minutes one way and a roundtrip ticket costs €9.

Related: A guide to visiting Haarlem on a budget


Rent a bike and head out to Volendam for a fun day trip. Photo: m fernandezh

Bicycle Trip to Volendam

Vollendam is a tiny place off the coast of the Islomeer lake with an adorable sailboat harbor. You can get there by an hour bike ride through the Dutch countryside with a couple of cheese farms and clog shops open to visit along the way. The small-town strip is dotted with souvenir shops, fried fish stands, ice cream parlors and authentic brown cafes.

Artists like Picasso and Renoir liked hanging out here, and nowadays it feels like a lazy Dutch seaside town. The traditional garb of bonnets and striped vests are usually spotted on a few locals, with a couple of dress-up photoshops in business as well. There is also a ferry here that goes to the Marken peninsula — a somewhat forgotten fishing village with traditional wooden houses and adorable lighthouse.

Getting there: Take the Amsterdam Central ferry across the Ij River to Amsterdam Noord. From there, follow bike path signs to Broek in Waterland (the original town Brooklyn is named after) and continue north to Monnickendam and then Northeast to Volendam. The green bike signs mean scenic, the red ones mean quickest. It takes about an hour each way. Want to bus it? Take number 316 from the north side of Amsterdam Centraal and get off at Katwoude, Hotel Volendam. The trip takes about 25 minutes, and a roundtrip ticket costs €6.

Zaanse Schans

Zaanse Schans is a quaint district of Zandaam with a museum and windmills. Photo: Bert K

Zandaam and Zaanse Schans

The town of Zandaam is famous for its scenic collection of six historic windmills, clusters houses and water landscapes. The windmills at Zaanse Schans here are leftover from its 17th-century heydays as a major milling area for oil, saw, dye and mustard. Most windmills are still open to the public, and some still sell what they make.

The village looks like it never left the 1600s. There is an old Albert Hein market (the major grocer of Amsterdam), a clog factory and a cheesemaker. Tourist buses love to drag visitors on board a day trip, but just go on your own to absorb the historic feel of Zandaam and its surroundings. It’s easier to dodge the crowds that way. Try to catch the ferry across the Zaan river, it’s a €5 ride running May to September and a great sightseeing perk.

Getting there: The trip is an hour bike ride each way, but it’s best to have a map for the loopy turns. Otherwise, local trains (aka Sprinter) going to Alkmaar from Amsterdam Centraal Station stop at Koog-Zaandijk are about a 35-minute ride. Hop off there and walk along the “dijk” towards the windmills (about 10 minutes). The cost of the train is €19.50 roundtrip. You can also get there if you purchase an Amsterdam & Region Day Ticket.

Castle De Haar

The gorgeous Castle De Haar is straight out of a fairy tale. Photo: Ryan Beck

Dutch Castle: Den Haar

One of the best perks about visiting Europe is all of the castles, and the Benelux region is full of them. Just outside of Utrecht is Castle De Haar, a beautiful place open for viewing and hanging around the lush gardens. The oldest parts of the foundation are from the early 1500s, but most of the castle you see today was built in the 1890s by the same architect who designed Amsterdam Centraal Station and the Rijksmuseum. The exterior is a beautiful garden of flowers and trees between a moat and small canal ways. Guided one-hour tours are the only way to see the inside. The Dutch family who owns this property have wined and dined celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot and Roger Moore during their heyday.

Castle details: The gardens are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the castle is open Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. An adult ticket is €17, but if you just want to admire the castle from the outside and wander the gardens it’s only €6. More info at

Getting there: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Central Station, and change trains to catch the Sprinter to Vleuten on platform 18 (train destination: Den Haag Centraal, not the intercity, but the sprinter). At Vleuten take bus 127 to Kockengen and get off at the ‘Brink’ bus stop in Haarzuilens. From Monday to Saturday the bus departs every hour, on Sundays every two hours (from 12 noon on). It is a 15-minute walk to the castle from the bus stop. It’s about a 60-minute trip in total and the travel costs are about €20 roundtrip.


Experience the easy-going Dutch lifestyle along the Oudegracht Canal in Utrecht. Photo: Dominik Morbitzer


A student town with a healthy dose of canals, cafes and character, a day trip to Utrecht offers a look into life in Holland that’s laid-back and breezy. One of the most unique sights in Utrecht is the old wharfs along the main Oudegracht canal that have been transformed into cafes wither waterside terraces. People come here to wander around the old city center and take a look at the big Dom Church that was destroyed by a storm in the 1600s. It also has budget hotel options if you want to stay outside of Amsterdam.

At night the cafes bring out the dinner menus with Dutch classics like fish and steak tartar. Check the music listings at Tivoli too, a five-room concert venue that pulls in impressive and popular acts of all genres.

Getting There: Take a train from Amsterdam Centraal to Utrecht Central Station. It’s about a 20-minute train ride and the cost is €18 roundtrip.

The post Amsterdam: 5 easy and affordable day trips appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo