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Old 03-01-2016, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,967,079 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbpakrfan View Post
All of this talk about trips to Europe has me wondering if I stumbled into a chat room for multimillionaires.

We had thought about an Italy trip this summer until we checked the airfares. From Phoenix, fares are in the $1500 per person range. That's about $3000 just to get there and back. And that's riding in the coach cattle car. Don't get me started on Business Class. Then you have to add in all of the other trip costs...hotels, food, getting aronud, miscellaneous other expenses.

How do you guys go to Europe so often with the high air fares? You would think with the oil prices crashing this year that air fares would drop accordingly. Guess not...
I want to go back to Italy this year. For two of us, with airfare and all else, it would be a pretty steep ticket. I'm actually considering going with a local group, all-inclusive cost. It's a short trip, only 10 days alas, and I'd be spending about 4 grand tops. If the other half doesn't go, that solves our dog sitting problems, which in and of itself could cost a bundle.
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:01 PM
 
13,872 posts, read 7,386,288 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robyn55 View Post
P.S. Forgot to mention. The best Chinese food/dim sum we've had recently was in Singapore a couple of years ago. Not surprising since the majority of people in Singapore are of Chinese descent. It's kind of a long way to go for a dim sum lunch - but worth it (our Chinese food in Florida is pitiful). And it's much easier to get a front of the plane FF reward ticket to Singapore than to Hong Kong or mainland China (at least on United).

BTW - we'll be in New York in the fall. First trip to New York in quite a few years. If you or anyone else has been in New York lately - any recommendations for dim sum there?
My Singapore dining story:

I was working in an office that was pretty much 50% ethic Chinese and 50% ethnic Indian. I'd alternate going out to dinner between the two groups who didn't socialize with each other much. The Chinese crew took me to this al fresco Chinese food pavilion. We sit at a nice white tablecloth table under the stars and they handled the ordering. About half-way through the meal, the waiter brings out a big silver covered platter, sets it on the table in front of me, removes the cover, and there are a bunch of prawns on the platter. I guess my eyes got really big because I thought I was supposed to eat shrimp jumping around the plate. They laughed and said that's to show how fresh they were.

My sister is a lot more up on Singapore dining than I am. She has colleagues from Singapore mule this magical chilli crab seasoning to her when they're meeting at a conference somewhere in the world. My Asia these days is Korea, Taiwan, and China.

I remember my first exposure to Dim Sum in Hong Kong in the mid-90's. It was one of those "where has this been all my life?" things.

I've tried to find good Dim Sum lunch in Manhattan Chinatown a couple of times in the last decade and can't recommend anything. I'm looking for carts and interesting things beyond the usual half dozen frozen ones like shumai (pork), hargow (shrimp), chi siu bao (BBQ pork), and sticky rice in lotus leaf you can get anywhere. Jazz in the village a few times is the only thing that has gone well for me in a while. I can point you to "pretty good" in Boston and as good as Hong Kong in Vancouver.

I have a huge pile of United miles I never use. My sister is a top-100 Air Canada frequent flyer so she usually burns her miles and uses her status to put me up front in an Air Canuckistan flight to Vancouver. I sit in steerage on United occasionally. It's been a while since I had elite FT status with them and they're awful unless you're at least Premier Exec. I'll use my miles when I'm retired and can plan trips way in advance.
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Idaho
1,451 posts, read 1,152,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbpakrfan View Post
All of this talk about trips to Europe has me wondering if I stumbled into a chat room for multimillionaires.
We took advantages of airline credit cards offers which typically give 50K miles after spending something like $1K to $3K in 3 months (depending on the airline). These cards have no annual fees in the first year so we just cancel the cards before the end of the 1st year.

This Europe trip through Delta only requires 42K miles and the tax/fee came out to be $47 per person. Besides using FF miles, we also try to travel in off-peak or shoulder seasons and plan our trips based on sale opportunities - a good example is to switch our plan from going to Iceland to England/Scotland/Ireland this year. We expect to get cheap flights to Iceland from Bradley airport in CT later this year or next year or go to Iceland from Boston with WOW air.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-no...0S02YF20151006

We don't spend a lot of money on foods while travelling. The generous breakfasts at BnB usually last us until 1 or 2pm. Our lunches are usually bread, lunch meats, pastry, fresh fruits and vegetables from grocery store. For dinner, we try to find good but inexpensive restaurants frequented by the locals and not tourists (by googling, asking local folks etc) and only splurge at fine restaurants once in a while. Some nights, we just have light dinners with bread, cheese, fruits, snacks and a bottle of wine. If the lodging have a kitchen or even just a microwave and a fridge, we can fix ourselves some hot breakfasts and dinners. One time, we stayed at a lodge in Turks and Caico and did all the cooking there including baking bread, muffins making great use of the stove, oven and the grill. We did not even eat out at a restaurant once!

We use the same approach for lodging staying at reasonable price BnB or even holiday camps (we think they are much better than budget motels!), and only stay at a nice lodgings (with views etc) occasionally. Sometimes, we get these nice lodgings at last minute deep discount prices.

You don't have to be a multimillionaires to travel abroad. You just have to be resourceful and flexible. Retirement certainly gives one tremendous schedule flexibility.

Last edited by BellaDL; 03-01-2016 at 04:52 PM..
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:55 PM
 
Location: RVA
2,164 posts, read 1,264,175 times
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We use VRBO to stay in small apartments in Europe. The neighborhoods are less touristy, with better restaurants, and for a one bedroom with amenities it is less than half, sometimes a third of any decent hotel. We stayed in a gorgeous apartment 5 minutes walk from the Coliseum in a residential area for about $100 a night, and the owner picked us up at Termini and dropped us off at the airport for half what a cab costs. There is a nice boutique Hotel at the end of the same block, and just a plain old room there, discounted was $240 a night. We always travel at the very end or beginning of the low rate seasons. We always fly with FF points, normally the red eye in Business from Dulles. Tickets cost less than your Economy fare. It's not hard to get a lot of points on credit card offers, or hasn't been for us. But we only travel like that maybe every 3 or 4 years, now, while still working. I am working an extra year just to pad the pension and savings specifically to spend that money on travel, so we can take advantage of the specials in retirement at any time. I'd rather take a 2-3 week fantastic vacation every 3 or 4 years for $5k, then a nothing vacation for $1k every year. When retired, they will be much much longer.
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Old 03-01-2016, 04:52 PM
 
Location: SoCal
13,191 posts, read 6,301,958 times
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I've got 21 days free of hotels in Euro from my non FF credit card awards like Chase Sapphire. The hotels are better than Rick Steves' hotels but nothing luxurious. For some reasons we spend more money on nice hotels when we travel with my kids but just the two of us, husband and I, we sort of in the non wasting mode. I hope I will not be bitten by bed buds because of my cheapskate.

Last edited by NewbieHere; 03-01-2016 at 06:19 PM..
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,628 posts, read 17,920,408 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffD View Post
My Singapore dining story:

I was working in an office that was pretty much 50% ethic Chinese and 50% ethnic Indian. I'd alternate going out to dinner between the two groups who didn't socialize with each other much. The Chinese crew took me to this al fresco Chinese food pavilion. We sit at a nice white tablecloth table under the stars and they handled the ordering. About half-way through the meal, the waiter brings out a big silver covered platter, sets it on the table in front of me, removes the cover, and there are a bunch of prawns on the platter. I guess my eyes got really big because I thought I was supposed to eat shrimp jumping around the plate. They laughed and said that's to show how fresh they were.

My sister is a lot more up on Singapore dining than I am. She has colleagues from Singapore mule this magical chilli crab seasoning to her when they're meeting at a conference somewhere in the world. My Asia these days is Korea, Taiwan, and China.

I remember my first exposure to Dim Sum in Hong Kong in the mid-90's. It was one of those "where has this been all my life?" things.

I've tried to find good Dim Sum lunch in Manhattan Chinatown a couple of times in the last decade and can't recommend anything. I'm looking for carts and interesting things beyond the usual half dozen frozen ones like shumai (pork), hargow (shrimp), chi siu bao (BBQ pork), and sticky rice in lotus leaf you can get anywhere. Jazz in the village a few times is the only thing that has gone well for me in a while. I can point you to "pretty good" in Boston and as good as Hong Kong in Vancouver.

I have a huge pile of United miles I never use. My sister is a top-100 Air Canada frequent flyer so she usually burns her miles and uses her status to put me up front in an Air Canuckistan flight to Vancouver. I sit in steerage on United occasionally. It's been a while since I had elite FT status with them and they're awful unless you're at least Premier Exec. I'll use my miles when I'm retired and can plan trips way in advance.
Are you still working - and traveling to these places on business trips? My business trips when still working were mostly to places like Lakeland and Tallahassee in Florida. Not exactly the same thing when it comes to dining . I am envious in terms of your business travels .

Keep that pile of United miles. Easiest way to not forfeit the miles is donate 500 to charity every 18 months - before they expire. Or perhaps buy a magazine you don't want.

Dim sim carts are really going out of fashion in most cities these days (lalthough us older folks tend to like the format). This was our favorite dim sum lunch in Singapore (no carts):

Hua Ting Restaurant

Robyn
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:44 PM
 
Location: Idaho
1,451 posts, read 1,152,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robyn55 View Post

Keep that pile of United miles. Easiest way to not forfeit the miles is donate 500 to charity every 18 months - before they expire. Or perhaps buy a magazine you don't want.
I find the easiest and cheapest way to keep FF mileage from expiring is through online shopping. There are many stores that you can shop (best buy, newegg, rakuten, staples, walmart, home depot, lowes, sears, macys, neiman marcus etc.). If the store does not offer free shipping or requires certain minimum amount for free shipping, you can order online and pick the items up at the local stores.

I had also racked up quite a few free miles by taking advantage of special mileage offers: 5 miles, 10 miles and sometimes even 25 miles/dollar or with 'bonus' 2500 miles for an order.
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Old 03-01-2016, 08:25 PM
 
Location: too far from the sea
19,824 posts, read 18,832,665 times
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I think our entire three week trip to England last fall cost us a total of $3000. Take credit cards that don't charge an overseas fee and that give you cash back rewards.

We flew Aer Lingus to Ireland and then a short jaunt across to Manchester. At Manchester Airport we had already reserved a car by CC and just had to pay the insurance. Since the car was small, just perfect for two people, we paid very little for gas in three weeks of driving long distances almost every day.

Our trip was a road trip this time and dh is English and LOVES to drive. I wanted to see Devon and Cornwall, two places I have missed before. The scenery was absolutely spectacular! Turquoise blue water, palm trees, flowers everywhere, endless history. If there's a next time, I'd like to find ONE place in Cornwall or Devon and stay for a week. That's what the natives do. Just find a great place and go for leisurely walks, look out at the sea, poke around in the shops, talk to the people, take it easy and relax in all the beauty and history. Just stay away from that part of the country in the summer!

If you go in Sept. the kids are back in school and things are not so crowded.

We started in Lancashire, saw the baby grandson for the first time and then went to Yorkshire to see my relatives--but the north is fabulous for things like the Lake District (Wordsworth's Cottage!) and Bronte Parsonage, York Minster--and the city of York, itself, gardens and good food everywhere--plus gorgeous green scenery wherever you go. There are stately homes if you're interested in history and the decorative arts and there are medieval homes for purely amazing history.

Norwich is nice--I went there once in spring. There's a lavender farm and there is the (cold) ocean and this laff a minute shopping town called Great Yarmouth. There isn't a lot to do; it was a place to stay for a few days and relax.

The Cotswolds are a short train ride from London and their cottages are pretty and their little villages are charming. Pretty scenery all over too and genuine old timey pubs for lunch. It's a pricey area but I have a cousin there so we saved. We took some really nice walks there--walks are free and free is good. There are cute little outdoor cafes for lunch.

I enjoyed Salisbury with its cathedral and fabulous shopping district. It made a good home base to stay because there are some interesting towns nearby.

Plymouth (Mayflower) was good for a day--nice shops, sidewalk cafes, history.

We saved money (to the person who asked about money) by eating our favorite simple foods, like fish and chips or just going to the grocery store and buying sandwiches and drink. Tesco makes beautiful sandwiches. In the north Morrison's grocery stores (UK grocery stores are wonderful!) have good cafeterias in them and retirees often eat dinner there--you get a full meal, not cafeteria food. But everywhere, we went to the local pub for lunch and might eat out again for dinner or would hit the local grocery store for food to go.

For lodging, don't count on signs along the highway, because those signs are not allowed. You need either a smart phone or you'll need to make reservations at least a day in advance. All hotels and motels have internet so we just looked up our next stop on the laptop and gave them a ring. We found that places filled up fast. We saved by staying at small, older, charming hotels, and sometimes a Travel Lodge. We, by far, preferred their older hotels. You pay extra for breakfast no matter where you stay, but the breakfasts at those charming little hotels were TDF! B&B's are nice places to stay, but this time we were on a budget and they seemed to pricey for us. We don't give a hoot about luxury hotels at all--we always prefer to stay where the locals stay.

You don't have to tip in restaurants so you save that way. Food is cheaper than it is here. People are extremely helpful no matter where you go--just ask. Days are long even in September--we were driving around in the Yorkshire moors (lost) at about 10pm and it was still light. With the long days you can get a lot done in a day.

The shock was the return to HOT, muggy Massachusetts in mid September after three weeks of beautiful, sunny, warm to cool, soft weather in the UK. I'd say anywhere in the UK is a great getaway --the language is similar, the food is good, the scenery is spectacular, as is the history, and the weather is mild--usually about 70 degrees in summer.
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Old 03-01-2016, 09:31 PM
 
13,872 posts, read 7,386,288 times
Reputation: 25351
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robyn55 View Post
Are you still working - and traveling to these places on business trips? My business trips when still working were mostly to places like Lakeland and Tallahassee in Florida. Not exactly the same thing when it comes to dining . I am envious in terms of your business travels .

Keep that pile of United miles. Easiest way to not forfeit the miles is donate 500 to charity every 18 months - before they expire. Or perhaps buy a magazine you don't want.

Dim sim carts are really going out of fashion in most cities these days (lalthough us older folks tend to like the format). This was our favorite dim sum lunch in Singapore (no carts):

Hua Ting Restaurant

Robyn
I was at the mothership in South Korea last March. I'm trying to avoid a 2016 trip. My little division was sold by a Taiwanese parent to a Korean outfit 15 months ago. I had some Taiwan and China travel as well as a couple of Europe trips then. At one point in my career, I was in Europe monthly.

The vast majority of my business travel is domestic. Orange County, CA, Denver, a bit of St Louis, DC out by Dulles, Philly, drive-to Long Island. Over the last year, it's been an awful lot of Korean food.

I had a travel gap with United a couple of years ago. I got their credit card and pushed enough cash through it to get the big frequent flyer mile bonus. I cancelled it at 1 year when it had a fee. I usually fly them enough to stay current.

In the world of strange coincidences, my sister emailed me late this afternoon. I have a command performance in Madrid and Portugal in October for a couple of weeks with a bunch of her friends to celebrate her 60th. I've been to both places before but Madrid was a week of meetings where I didn't do much tourism. I just booked the morning BA flight from Boston to London. American now gets 30,000 FT miles and $230.00 to book a BA transatlantic segment plus the taxes. I also had to pay $48.00 with BA to get an aisle seat in the back of the bus. American killed off their BOS/LHR flights. I always used to fly their morning flight. BA is awful in their economy section. I can deal with it for 5 1/2 hours of flight time. No worse than BOS/LAX. That was the only flight I really cared about. I'll book the other flights later.
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Old 03-02-2016, 05:34 AM
 
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach FL
14,628 posts, read 17,920,408 times
Reputation: 6716
Quote:
Originally Posted by in_newengland View Post
...For lodging, don't count on signs along the highway, because those signs are not allowed. You need either a smart phone or you'll need to make reservations at least a day in advance. All hotels and motels have internet so we just looked up our next stop on the laptop and gave them a ring. We found that places filled up fast. We saved by staying at small, older, charming hotels, and sometimes a Travel Lodge. We, by far, preferred their older hotels. You pay extra for breakfast no matter where you stay, but the breakfasts at those charming little hotels were TDF! B&B's are nice places to stay, but this time we were on a budget and they seemed to pricey for us. We don't give a hoot about luxury hotels at all--we always prefer to stay where the locals stay.

You don't have to tip in restaurants so you save that way. Food is cheaper than it is here. People are extremely helpful no matter where you go--just ask. Days are long even in September--we were driving around in the Yorkshire moors (lost) at about 10pm and it was still light. With the long days you can get a lot done in a day.

The shock was the return to HOT, muggy Massachusetts in mid September after three weeks of beautiful, sunny, warm to cool, soft weather in the UK. I'd say anywhere in the UK is a great getaway --the language is similar, the food is good, the scenery is spectacular, as is the history, and the weather is mild--usually about 70 degrees in summer.
The first time we drove through the UK - in 1977 - our first trip outside the US - we tried to do the "reserve the day or two before" thing - with dismal results (many places were sold out). We've never tried to travel that way again. I strongly recommend making reservations in advance - especially during peak travel season (which can easily run from mid-spring to mid-fall these days.

Tipping is often expected in more than the most casual "sit down" restaurants with table service in the UK. Although in lesser amounts than one would tip in the US. A lot of restaurants we've dined at add service charges in various amounts to their bills. And - depending on the level of service - we would usually add a bit more:

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel...Etiquette.html

Better to be viewed as somewhat generous than an "ugly American".

Note that the only country we've visited where there is absolutely positively no tipping anywhere is Japan (it's simply not part of the culture).

We've been to (various parts of the UK) 5 times. All trips in May or September IIRC. And have found the weather extremely variable. From extremely pleasant (cool and sunny) to extremely awful (rainy - windy and cold). Sometimes all in a single day . Best to pack layers - along with some rain gear. Robyn
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