My husband Scott loves to travel so much he sold his beloved motorcycle to surprise me with a trip to Spain and France for our 35th anniversary and we leave tomorrow! Part of me said - no, we shouldn't being going and the other part is screaming YES! I had to laugh when I saw this perfect card that DT Member Melissa Bove made using our Wine Lovers Digital Set
He searched around on the Internet and found a great deal on airfare, accommodations and a car and we talked 2 friends in to going last minute (actually that was easy). We are meeting up with 2 of our daughters for 3 nights in Barcelona. My shipper Shelley is back from her chemo and feeling great and Jessica is going to look after the office.
Before I tell you more, I also need to announce the winner for the 6 Digital Stamp Sets Giveaway - #2 , Jennifer Scull. Thanks to everyone who entered and for all your feedback - which is really helpful and affirms we are on the right track! I also have some great samples to show youI've said before how much Scott loves to travel. He sold his sport car and bought a $500.00 car in 1978 so we could go on a amazing honeymoon. When he was just 14 his father died of a heart attack and he has always said his best memories were of the family vacations they took and how his dad only had a couple of years until he would have retired. Life goes by in a flash so I think it's important to have adventures. You don't need to wait until everything is perfect or spend a pile of money - just go!
Have you gone on any adventures or taken trips this summer? I love all the fun ideas in these samples created with our Travel Scraps
Our double sided Travel Scraps on sale for $1.95 now
Look at this great 'guy' card that Marie-Alice posted on Splitcoast recently using our Car Classics Stamps, now a Digital Car Classics Set for $9.95. The way she matched the car to her map colors and matting looks great and the brads look like destination markers.
Map paper is so popular and works so well for guy cards and background paper. We added some map paper and travel words and images on CD 3.
I have a few tips to share today from years of learning ways to save on travel and I will do a big photo post when I get home like My Trip and Tips to French Flea Markets, Antiques, Brocante Sales I did 2 years ago after Paris. UPDATE: I'm back home and here are links to 3 vacation photo posts: Barcelona , Costa Brava Spain and Provence France Markets and Shops
1. Don't go when everyone else is going. You can save money on airfare and accommodations if you go just when it changes to the 'off season rates' which is Sept for many parts of Europe, plus Sept or Spring often provides perfect weather, not too hot or cold. Don't go in Aug when many locals have the month off. The roads are busy and many businesses close.
2. Renting a car can save $ and give you freedom to travel to all the small villages and see the sites but you may not want a car in big cities with crazy drivers and parking. We don't need a car for the first 3 nights we are in Barcelona where we can hop on the metro. When we leave Barcelona we rented a car for 2 weeks which cost $400.00 CDN divided by 4 = $100.00 each (plus gas and tolls) but still less than trains and tours, or being stuck in 1 spot. That being said - the trains in Europe are super fast and organized!
More Tips for Traveling by Car - Car rentals can be twice as much if you pick up and drop off in different location, so try and do it from the airport you fly in and out off. Ask for a diesel car which is less costly than gas. Automatics cost more to rent than a standard and many roads are very narrow in old towns so compact cars work best. Make sure you have a bunch of change for toll booths, especially if you travel on major highways - there are so many tolls! We like to use the country side roads (the old highways) which are so much more scenic and take you through all the villages. The gas stations on the freeways sell Michelin Maps for far less than amazon.com
3. You can save money by renting a house instead of staying in hotels which is great for family and friends traveling. Also consider a B&B's. Look at HolidayRentals on Trip Advisor and sites like VRBO - Vacation Rentals by Owner or HouseTrip.com and specify your price. Both houses we rented in Spain and France have swimming pools, full kitchens, look beautiful and work out to about $75.00 per bedroom a night for a 3 bdrm house. You can save money by making meals like breakfast, pack a picnic lunch and BBQ some dinners.
4. Search by price from $ to $$$$ for accommodations and restaurants and try typing in just 1 $ and $$ dollar signs to see the least expensive and then look at the reviews to see how high they rank. We found great places in $$ range! Note: you often have to rent for a week but we plan to do day trips every day to explore different outdoor markets in the villages and we can drive all the way to Italy in less than 2 hours if we like.
5. Travel Light for a few reasons - you may be charged if you bring more than the allotted amount your airline allows and you can shop and not worry about your bags being too heavy coming home. Once in Europe you can fly all over super cheap on Ryan Air, Easy Jet and other airlines but they will kill you on luggage. Consider stowing extra bags in a locker or at a hotel and fly with a small carry on or back pack. You can pick up the extra luggage before you head home.
6. Things to Pack - A. a electrical converter as the outlets are a different voltage than in the US. You will need one to run a blow dryer, curling iron, ipad and cell phone charger but amazon sells them for less than $3.00. B. Consider bringing your cell phone. You can buy a data package and texting can be vital to communicate, plus you can use the camera on the phone. C. package of wipes, nice ones like the kind you use to take makeup off, not the harsh disinfectant ones that transfer worse chemicals into your skin than the germs you're trying to remove. D. bring an extra camera battery or a charger. E. a travel umbrella or a least a jacket with a hood. F. I loved having my Kindle to read and it fits in my purse. G. Bring some healthy snacks for the long flight like almonds and granola bars. H. Inflatable neck pillow
7. Bring Euros in cash instead of using your Visa all the time. Traveler's checks are a pain to use and there are ATM machines everywhere but contact your bank to see how much the service fees are and let your credit card company know you will be traveling. I think we had a $3 Euro charge when we took out 200 Euros.
8. Shop and eat where the locals do instead of tourists and you can save a bundle.
we had a rule not to spend more than 5 Euros on a bottle of wine in local grocery stores (supermarché) and drank fantastic wines the entire trip! This is where we also bought staples like milk, yogurt, etc that we didn't find at the outdoor markets. I just added the photos of the Paella and roast chicken that is often sold at most outdoor town markets.
9. Learn a few phrases so you don't feel entirely helpless, plus it's polite to try and converse. Here's a good link to popular French 'shopping vocabulary'. It's considered rude not to say Bonjour to a shop keeper when you go into a store.
10. Eating Out at Restaurants - Dinner is usually around 8 PM. The French like to linger over meals and the waiter won’t bring you the bill until you ask. Tipping is factored into the price of the food, so you don’t need to tip like we do in North America but you can leave the change with a few Euros. Some touristy restaurants charge for the bread they leave at your table. Ice is not as important as in North America. Ask for tap water if you don't want to pay for mineral water. The house wine is usually good and less money. Many restaurants offer great specials on a set 3 or 4 course menu. Often I would order 1 entree and we would share a salad and the dessert from the 3 course Scott would order.
Come back and see my Fairy Garden at our Linky Party this Monday, Sept 2/13. DT Members Vicki Chrisman, Sheila Rumney and Kathy Clement are also going to take turns posting on the Blog while I'm away.
Next, I wanted to show you this lovely digital layout that DT Member Sheila Rumney created of her pretty niece using our Double Sided Classic Damask Pink/Scene Papers
Also, check out this beautiful Sunflower card by Lori Craig from Splitcoast Stampers that she colored with Distress Markers. It's too bad the Clear Sunflower Set just sold out but on the new Digital Sunflower Set the flower is 6.5 x 9"H, large enough to make wall art or shrink down to pendant size.
MY brother will be staying here with his kids and my mom and dad. I took this photo today when they were checking out the fairy garden I'm building for them.
Come back this Monday, Sept 2 to see our Sept Linky Party and Design Team Challenge. I will have my Fairy Garden Photos and I'm in awe of some of the projects I've seen by our DT ladies! Join in the fun and post a project you have created and receive a $6.00 coupon and be entered to win a $50.00 CS Gift Card!
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