For 2) (beach, if lots of walking) and 3) (someplace warm), you’ll want a comfy pair of walking sandals.
Walking sandals with wrap around straps (forcing your foot to press against your foot, unlike a flip flop) are a better choice.
Depending on your dress style you may want something fancy in travel sandals.
Best sandals for walking that we’ve found:
In terms of brands, I used to recommend Birkenstocks but have had some terrible quality and customer service issues.
I had the strap fail and separate from the sandal after just 6 months of light wear.
I do not recommend anymore; and Kimberly prefers Tevas and Chaco sandals, which are known for their durability and comfort.
If I were going to buy a pair of walking sandals today it would be either Chacos or one of the following brands: Keen, Uggs, Clarks, Born, Mephisto, Hush Puppies all have good comfortable dress sandals that will also be good for walking.
Best Travel Walking Shoes
If your destination isn’t 90 degrees and hot, you’d probably prefer a pair of close toed extra comfortable travel walking shoes (like the Propet Women’s Travelwalker II).
Depending on your travel plans and amount of luggage, you may want walking shoes that double as hiking boots or travel walking shoes that double as dress shoes.
That said, your best best might be to invest in a good pair of hiking boots (like the Keen Targhee II or the Moab Ventilator) and a small cute pair of flats (like the Bloch London) Arabian Ballet Flats that don’t take up much room in your suitcase.
Best Travel Shoes: Hiking and Walking Shoes for Traveling
If you’re looking for walking shoes that double as hiking boots, look for a pair of low cut hiking boots.
For Argentina I purchased these Merrills (the Moab Ventilator) and love them.
Kimberly bought some Keens and loved those.
We wore these shoes regularly for both hiking and city walking.
There are a number of great brands of hiking/walking shoes, the trick is to find a pair that fit well.
Best Travel Shoes: Walking and Dress Shoes
If you want travel walking shoes that can double as dress shoes, there are a few brands that turn up comfortable walking shoes that look nice enough for a fancy restaurant.
Check out: Ecco, Mephisto, New Balance, Rockport (men) as they all get good reviews for fancy, yet comfortable, walking shoes.
Shoes are difficult to buy online because you can’t try them on.
But, you can get better prices.
There are a lot of reasons to buy shoes online and a lot of reasons not to.
Here’s an experience I had trying to buy hiking shoes just a week before we left for Argentina.
A previously written but unpublished post.
I knew I had a pair of hiking boots. Somewhere. They served me well during a 3-week backpacking trip in Poland years ago. After digging around for them, I found my trusty Merrells tucked away in my parents’ garage. A few seeds in them. And what else… chewed up padding. Apparently a mouse had found the hiking boots before me.
With only 3 weeks until my departure (and 1.5 until my move) and 45 minutes from the nearest REI, I knew I had to act fast. After pouring through hiking boot reviews online I still couldn’t decide which pair to buy.
I knew I wanted Merrells. Mostly because I knew what size I wore in them.
But there are probably 50+ Merrell hiking boot options. So I slowly but surely narrowed the choices down.
While this takes its toll on the environment because of shipping, the stress it saves me (plus the long drive to REI) certainly pays off. But then there’s the problem of costs. Shipping costs a lot of money.
Thank goodness for Zappos. I ordered all three pairs of shoes on Tuesday. Free 4-6 day shipping was included. Lucky for me they upgraded me to free overnight shipping. Woo-hoo!
Wednesday I received all three pairs. I tried them on.
The $90 pair slipped off my feet. They were sort of elasticy.
The $115 pair was really heavy. Plus, they are made of Gore-Tex which, for environmental reasons, I’m on the fence about.
The $80 were very comfortable. They were soft to the step. Plus I think they are the best color.
I’d heard good things about Zappos (like this story about Zappos sending someone flowers which I still am so impressed by).
But now I’ve experienced it for myself. I will definitely shop there again since it makes my life so much easier.
So there you have it.
Everything you needed to know (and more) about the best travel shoes, travel sandals, walking shoes, and hiking boots, plus where to buy them online.
Update: I have also heard good things about Endless, which also offers free shipping.
I bought an international plane ticket in March, got married in June, and changed my name in August.
My plane ticket was for December.
I called American Airlines three times to change my name, and they told me it would cost either $100 or $200 (depending on who I talked to) to change my name.
Because it was an international flight, the stakes were considerably higher.
Getting stuck in Miami is one thing.
Getting stuck in Belize is another altogether.
Plus, the ticket was multi-destination so that we could see family for the holidays before heading to Central America, which meant there were more tickets to be issued and more security lines to go through.
Suffice it to say, I was nervous.
Then, fate was suddenly on my side. I found a way to sign up to get fast-tracked to get the elite Gold Status on American Airlines.
After I signed up, I called the Gold hotline — instead of the general customer service number — and was told I would probably be fine flying with my new passport, as long as I brought legal documentation (official name change document or marriage certificate) with me.
The representative still wouldn’t change my name on my ticket, but she did add a note to my file so that when I checked in for my flight, they would already know what to expect.
The fee wasn’t even mentioned.
Bolstered by that conversation, I decided not to change my name on my ticket.
Worst case scenario, I would have some problems getting out of Belize.
It was a tough decision since I was flying internationally, but I figured there are far worse places to get stranded than a tropical destination surrounded by clear blue ocean.
I was able to print the boarding passes with no problem, but that wasn’t the part I was concerned about.
I was worried about security.
Armed with my new passport and driver’s license, a copy of my old passport, and my name change documentation, I held my breath as I approached the TSA security officer at the first airport.
Part of me was sure he wasn’t going to let me through.
He asked to see my legal documentation, carefully check it against my passport and ticket, asked me if I’d gotten married, then let me through.
And he was even friendly!
It went almost as smoothly at airport number two, though there was more hassle at the ticket issuing stage, then no hassle at airport number three on the way back.
I’d made it — without having to pay any fee!
I couldn’t put this post up without a disclaimer.
There’s no way I can know if my situation is unique, or if that’s the way it generally goes.
There are a number of factors that might have been different for me, that you should consider when making your decision about whether or not to pay the fee to change your name before you fly:
The airline you’re flying and its policies.
Do your research.
Elite status. My frequent flier status probably didn’t matter for security line purposes, but it definitely made the airline treat me differently.
Legal name change (including getting married).
I’m sure this would have been completely different if I had just put the wrong name, or misspelled my name, when buying my ticket.
Since I’d legally changed my name due to marriage, it was easier.
Maiden name on passport.
I took my maiden name as my middle name (and my entire name is on my passport), so my former first and last names, plus my new last name, were all on my passport.
I had an original copy of my name change document with me, which is what I showed the TSA officers.
Definitely carry yours with you.
5 Tips for Flying Without Changing Your Name on Your Airline Ticket
Call the airline and ask what their policy is.
Ask if they can change your name (it’s worth a shot) and when they say no, ask if they can add a note to your file so that check-in is easy.
Call back and see if you get a different result with a different agent (it didn’t work for me, but you might as well try).
Get there early.
Give yourself plenty of time to try to go through security with the ticket in your old name.
If it doesn’t work for some reason, go back to the airline counter and see if you can pay to change your name.
Bring all of the documentation you have.
Bring copies of old IDs (passport, driver’s license, other), as well as new IDs and your name change document or marriage certificate.
Find Cheap Airline Tickets – People often ask, “What’s the best search engine to find cheap airline ticket?”
The simple answer is that there is no one best search engine. It depends on where you’re going, when you can go, and your flexibility in both of these.
In short, you’ll find the cheapest airline ticket when you’re flexible about your dates and about your destination.
Find Cheap Airline Tickets
So, what I’ve done here is compile all the best search engines for finding cheap plane tickets.
They are categorized depending on what type of travel resource you’re looking for.
Ultimate List of Cheap Airline Ticket Search Engines
Below I’ve listed the category of travel search engines/websites.
For instance, International Travel Search Engines or Domestic Discount Airlines. Then I’ve given a brief description of when to use those sites, and then I’ve listed the best sites within that category.
For people who frequently search for cheap airline tickets, there are a few sites and tools that may even be new to you — like those in the Market Comparison section.
Without further ado, I bring you the:
Find Cheap Airline Tickets Cheat Sheet
Market Comparisons / Buy or Wait
Before you buy a ticket, check out these sites to see average fares, price history, and if prices are rising or falling.
Again, check these sites out before you start looking into airfares to get an idea of what you should expect to pay.
Farewatch (Shows average fares) Kayak (After searching, click on ‘Show Chart of Fare History’ in left hand corner) Farecast (for tickets in the next 30 days; shows if prices are rising/falling)
The best search engines for searching for airline tickets.
You don’t book through them, rather they redirect you to the airline’s homepage.
This is what makes them different from online travel agencies.
Kayak or Sidestep (same company now) TripAdvisor Farecast FareCompare
Non-Aggregators/Online Travel Agencies
These sites allow you to search for cheap tickets and buy through them.
This means that you deal with that company and not the airline if something goes wrong.
I generally advocate booking directly with the airline.
The online travel agencies may charge ticketing and booking fees for booking through them.
Orbitz and Farecast (30 day window)
Cheap Flights Business Class, First Class, Premium Economy
Way back when, in order to book airline tickets, you almost always had to use a travel agent.
The internet has changed all that — cutting out the middleman. It enables consumers to compare prices, dates, etc. to get the most convenient and best pricing.
So why use a travel agent?
If you are going on a more complicated trip — maybe long-term travel or a luxury eco-friendly vacation — a travel agent can be a great resource.
Advantages of using a travel agent
Travel Agents Know More Than You Do
An experienced travel agent will have the knowledge and connections that are helpful when planning expensive or long-term travel.
They will know what airports to avoid and how much time you need between flights.
Planning a trip to an unfamiliar destination?
A travel agent can give you advice on what tour guide to hire, how much to pay, and what area of town you’ll want to stay in.
Travel agents stay up-to-date on latest hotel openings, new nonstop flights routes, and travel deals.
Travel Agents Have Access
In addition to having more information than the rest of us, travel agents also have more access to people and resources that will make your trip go smoothly.
We had some luggage issues on our honeymoon in Greece.
On the last day of our honeymoon, rather than lounging on the beach, I was camped out the lobby of the hotel trying to talk to the airline.
Then it dawned on me that I could call our travel agent for help.
One quick call later, he was talking the airline and resolving our luggage problem.
Travel agents also have access to locals and maintain relationships with them.
If you’re going to a foreign country where English is not the first language, an English-speaking guide will be very much appreciated.
A travel agent will be able to suggest guides that not only speak English, but will be a match for your needs and interests.
It sure beats scrambling to find someone once you get to your destination.
Travel Agent Can Save You Money
There is a common misconception that a travel agent is a luxury that most of us can’t afford.
But the truth is, a good travel agent can actually save you money.
Often, for international flights, our travel agent comes in with prices lower than we’d get booking directly through the airline — this is especially true when we’re doing a flexible flight search.
Sometimes the financial savings comes in when we’re able to avoid cancellation or change ticket fees.
When my husband and I got married, we were living in South Africa.
I was hoping to get my new passport from the South African Embassy in Cape Town, but I ended up having to renew it on a short trip back to America.
I was planning on just carrying all of the documentation (old passport, new passport, and marriage license) on my flight home.
However, when I went to the passport agency to get my new passport in my married name, they informed me that the airline probably would not let me board the flight since it was booked in my maiden name.
Since our travel agent booked the flight for us, I was able to call her immediately.
While we waited at the passport agency, she made a few phone calls to sort out the situation.
It’s really quite easy to travel responsibly. And frankly, it’s fun.
You meet lots of new people and see plenty of new sights that you wouldn’t otherwise.
As we continue on with this series we’ll go into more details about how to travel green, like how to make a green travel plan or about green vacation planning.
Not sure where to start?
Favorite Things About Green Travel
Eco-conscious travel is great because it benefits the environment, but there’s also a more selfish advantage to it.
Whether you’re journeying across the world or to a neighboring region in your own country, traveling green can enhance your overall experience.
5 favorite things about environmentally-friendly travel
I struggle to be a vegetarian (and often fail) when I travel because I believe that to fully experience a culture or destination, you should try local foods — even foods you might not ever eat at home.
Sampling cuisines that people in the area you’re visiting have been eating for hundreds, even thousands, of years will give you insight into the culture and enhance your travel experience.
Plus, you’ll support local business and eat locally grown and raised food, which is better for the economy and the environment.
I love trying locally produced beverages for the same reasons I enjoy indulging in local foods.
With alcohol, it’s fun to see where the locals drink and what the vibe is like.
And it helps that I always feel more comfortable striking up conversation with strangers after I’ve had a drink or two.
Perusing the local market is always fun, even if I don’t buy anything.
I enjoy seeing crafts the locals create, and have been creating for generations.
Plus, you can interact with the people — farmers and craftsmen alike — whose goods you’re buying, which is an interaction that can be harder to come by in the U.S.
I personally like Choose Climate because it allows you to enter the type of ticket and plane, but it’s not the prettiest of the calculators.
Or if you like visuals you might like this calculator by the UK’s Transport Direct.
However, when considering this calculator read the next three principles.
photo credit: Redvers
Be a Skeptic
Let’s face it, there’s money to be made in the world of “green.”
And many of the organizations that offer carbon calculators offer them for just that purpose – $$$.
Moreover, while calculating carbon emissions should be an exact science, no one seems to have perfected it yet.
One of the reasons this variation occurs is because calculators differ in their assumptions of size of plane, number of passengers, coach/first class, number of stops, and one-way or return flight.
Because of the possible ulterior motives and the lack of precision in calculators, don’t immediately make your transportation decision on the results of a single calculator.
Consider the Impact of Flying High
Another piece of the puzzle when considering green transportation is the difference in carbon emissions on the ground versus in the air.
Planes fly higher in the atmosphere, thus their emissions are much harsher on the environment.
Oxford University estimates that “the full climate impact of aviation is deemed to be between 2 and 4 times greater than CO2 alone.”
Use Common Sense
The bottom line is, use your best judgment.
Trying to consider ways for green transportation is a great first step.
A train is going to be better than a bus which will be better than a car which will be better than a plane.
And the more people that fit into these vehicles the better.
You also need to think about what makes sense for your location.
Going from Washington, D.C. to New York City via Amtrak is reasonable for most people (in terms of the time the trip takes), but going from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco on a train isn’t realistic for many folks.
In the end, you have to weigh your personal wants and needs against your impact on the environment.
Traveling Green to Your Favorite Gaming Conventions
But gaming conventions take place all around the world and travelling extensively or even a little can involve leaving a significant carbon footprint impact upon the environment, so how can green gamer’s travel to their favorite gaming conventions?
Getting around gaming conventions
If you are relatively local to a gaming convention, then travelling to the venue in an ecologically-friendly manner should not cause too much of a problem.
You could take a bicycle ride to the event if you feel you are fit enough and have confidence to travel on busy roads.
You could also work out alternative routes that take you through back roads and countryside which may make your journey one of discovery as well as of fun.
Not only will you be exercising by cycling to your local gaming convention, but you will leave virtually no carbon footprint on the world.
If you do not feel comfortable in working out your own route, then see if there are any bike tour companies who can guide you.
But what if your favorite gaming convention is a way away?
Perhaps you really want to go to Blizzcon in Anaheim, CA, the convention created by Bobby Kotick and his company Activision Blizzard, who have created some of the most diverse and engaging video games on the planet and who founded the charity Call of Duty Endowment, but you do not live anywhere near there?
By the way, it is a big year for BlizzCon as it is the convention’s tenth anniversary and the twenty-fifth anniversary for Blizzard.
But anyway, cycling to the convention is probably asking a bit much, but if you do have to drive, perhaps you could rent or invest in a low carbon vehicle, such as an electric car.
If you become the owner of an electric car, it is highly likely you will be entitled to some incentives during the purchase process, and will have far lower running costs in terms of fuel.
The key to getting the most economically out of an electric car is to maintain a fairly constant speed and it also reduces your carbon footprint.
If, on the other hand, the gaming convention you want to attend is abroad, then you have two main options: either to fly or to go by sea.
Air travel is notorious for being a huge polluter, but there are some ways you can make a contribution to lowering the carbon footprint.
For example, you can fly economy class, and this lowers your carbon footprint because more people are able to travel in the one airplane, so the damage is spread.
You could also work out if you need to travel the whole distance to the gaming convention by plane.
Could you, for example, take a short flight to an area that has good road connections and perhaps cycle the rest of the way?
Going by sea to a gaming convention is perhaps something of a luxury choice, as it will undoubtedly take longer to travel and you may well ask how that is good for lowering carbon footprints.
The only way this is so is if you consider travelling on smaller boats rather than the usual floating palaces that are cruise ships.
If time and money is not a consideration for you when travelling to a gaming convention abroad, perhaps in Europe, you could take the opportunity to work in a vacation and see something of the countries you pass by, as well as getting up close and personal with wildlife.
If you are planning on attending a number of gaming conventions in Europe, you could ditch the car and the plane and travel by train or even bus.
Both trains and buses are considered to be much more energy efficient than other motorized forms of travel, and can have the added advantage of having quicker journey times because you do not have to factor in the time spent at airports getting through security and waiting at the dreaded baggage carousel.
If you care about the impact we humans have on our planet, but do not want to give up attending gaming conventions wherever they may be in the world, then you can find ways to travel to them that are environmentally friendly, and which may even be better for your finances.
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle – It was just over a year ago when the BPA in water bottles information flooded mainstream media (though environmentalists had been warning about it for a long time) and we wrote one of our most popular posts:
The prices there are competitive (and we get free shipping with Amazon Prime.)
While Klean Kanteens Stainless Steel Water Bottles are little pricey – they last forever.
Just refill it 18 and it’s paid for itself.
About Klean Kanteen and their Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Here’s a bit more about Klean Kanteen (quoted from their website):
Before anybody else was making stainless steel water bottles for personal daily hydration, before the current widespread concern about health and environmental issues in relation to plastics, we were cobbling together the first Klean Kanteen prototype from things we bought at the local hardware store here in Chico, California.
The first Klean Kanteen onto the market because we wanted to give people something better than plastic: a lightweight, re-usable, body-friendly bottle free of bisphenol A (BPA); a bottle durable enough to last a lifetime; an easy-to-clean, easy-to-carry beverage container for people of all ages; a bottle that keeps drinks fresh and clean-tasting no matter how many times you refill it; a simple design engineered for function in every way.
In those early days, we shared Klean Kanteens with folks we met at music festivals, environmental fairs, outdoor recreation events, and other sorts of groovy gatherings.
“Where can I get some more of these?” they’d ask. “I love my Klean Kanteen.”
Klean Kanteen has grown over the past five years from a tiny, upstart company to a leader in the stainless beverage bottle industry.
During this time, we’ve also taken significant steps toward lowering our environmental footprint through consideration and adjustments in every aspect of our facilities and practices.
Ensuring our office paper is 100% post-consumer content, providing hand and dish soaps that are fair trade and eco-friendly, using Energy Star-certified office equipment.
These are just a few of our earth-in-mind internal operations choices.
Our commitment to sustainability also extends to the very beginning of the production process; we’ve increased oversight and conducted third-party audits of factories making our products in China to ensure they’re meeting Klean Kanteen’s high environmental and fair labor standards.
In addition to including environmental and fair labor consciousness in our business practices, we partner with local, national, and international organizations to support efforts toward health, clean drinking water, and protecting the environment.
Klean Kanteen became a member of 1% for the Planet, committing to donation of at least 1% of our annual sales to non-profits working to protect and promote the wellness of this one great Earth.
Priceline bidding has been around forever — it’s actually one of the sites I remember accessing from dial-up AOL back in the late 90’s.
And while it’s still a great tool for finding cheap hotel rooms, rental cars, and airline tickets, now there are even more resources available about how to use Priceline for bidding – making it less of a guessing game.
I’ve pulled together all the best links and tips for this “Ultimate Guide to Priceline Bidding.”
Here’s what you should know about Priceline bidding:
If you don’t want to participate in the bidding process, Priceline also offers regular “published fares” just like Travelocity, Orbitz and the rest of them.
To purchase regular rooms/tickets/rental cars without the Priceline bidding process click here.
How to Use Priceline Bidding
Determine your destination and dates.
Check published fares on Kayak, Orbitz or on Priceline’s main search engine (without Priceline bidding) etc. to get an idea of what prices are common for the class of hotel, rental car, flight you’re considering.
This prevents you from overbidding.
Check the winning Priceline bids for top cities for the category you’re looking at.
These are numbers that Priceline officially distributes based on the Priceline bidding process.
Place your first bid on Priceline based on these winning prices and the prices you found in step 2 (for regular airfares/hotel/rental car).
You can always bid higher later, so it’s best to start low.
A good baseline for starting is at about 50-80% of the listed price.
At this point Priceline with either accept or reject your bid.
If Priceline biddgin rejects it, follow some of the Priceline strategies listed below to rebid.
Best Priceline Tips and Strategies
Priceline is almost always great for rental cars, but with hotels and flights you may not get the specifics (like location or flight time) that you’d prefer.
Make a “ridiculously low bid” and still get an offer for what may be a good deal. (from Indianapolis Travel Examiner)
Dorm bed: $10-$15 bed /night Double room: $30-$50 room / night Apartment: $35+ / night
Food in Argentina
Empanada: $0.75-$1 Argentina Parrilla (steak): $8-$10 Salad: $3-$6 Ice cream cone: $3-$4 (Surprisingly expensive when compared to other food) Bottle of wine in a restaurant: $7 and up Pizza: $7-$15 Coffee: $1-3
Transportation (getting around Argentina)
Local bus: $0.30-$1.50 Taxi: varies immensely (see note below) City-to-city bus: $40-$75 Plane, city-to-city: $175 and up
Activities in Argentina
Park Entrance fees (for Iguazu Falls, Punta Tombo, Peninsula Valdes, etc) $12-$15 Museums: $5-$15 Day trips and guided tours: $40-$60
Note: Prices are significantly more expensive in touristy towns — especially those in the South.
For instance, in Buenos Aires we paid less than $3 US for a Lomito (steak sandwich).
In El Chalten, the cheapest Lomito was $10 US.
Similarly, we paid about $5 US for a 15 minute taxi ride in Buenos Aires.
In El Calafate, Patagonia a 20 minute taxi ride was $20 US.
Lack of coins in Argentina
The lack of monedas (coins) was at times frustrating since no shop owners seemed to have them.
Exact change was a necessity for taking public transportation.
We often wondered why the government didn’t just produce more coins.
But Argentines seemed used to the change shortage and soon we were too.
Shopkeepers being innovative about lack of coins
I browsed the internet and came across an article from Clarin.com, an Argentine news agency, about the “ingenious” plan hatched by Chinese supermarket owners.
Apparently the Chinese store owners have decided to create a system where, instead of giving change, they give tickets equivalent to that amount of change.
And when customers come return to the store for their next purchase, the tickets are worth 10% more.
Thus, customers have incentive to be regular shoppers at these stores.
It turns out there’s a huge black market for coins in Argentina, which I was blissfully unaware of during my travels, that store owners are currently forced to turn to in order to have adequate change.
And to top it all off, the government and the banks don’t seem to have a better solution.
Problem for green travelers who favor public transportation
You need exact change for public transportation.
The one green traveler problem I foresee if this tickets-in-lieu-of-coins system really takes off?
Supermarkets are some of the few places travelers can easily obtain change.
There was one day we went to four different supermarkets and small shops, trying to spend just the right amount on small items to get back the exact change we needed to take the bus across town.
Eventually, we succeeded, but we were turned away by at least two stores saying they didn’t have any change.
If all of the markets start issuing paper tickets instead of monedas, how will travelers get the change they need to take public transportation?
Interesting trades for Argentina money
One of our more interesting experiences was when we bought cold medicine and received aspirin back in lieu of the pesos that we were owed.
It happened when I went to the local pharmacy.
The dictionary we brought didn’t translate “cold” as in sick, so instead I tentatively asked the pharmacist “Tiene Sudafed o pseudoephedrine? (“Do you have Sudafed?”) while gesturing to my nose and head.
The pharmacists said “Oh, para fria” and handed me some cold medicine.
Turns out “cold” translates directly.
I went to pay the $18.84 AR bill with a $20 AR note (the Argentina money equals about $7 US).
The pharmacy didn’t have any Argentine peso — at this point not entirely surprising — so instead of my $1.16 in change, the pharmacist gave me four aspirin.
I read that if a store doesn’t have coins they might give you candies to make up the difference.
I have to say, as someone who’s slightly addicted to sweets, I was disappointed to get aspirin instead of candy.
I shared my story with a local who worked at our hostel in Rosario.
He laughed then told us about a shop he visited everyday to buy cigarettes.
The owner always gave him change in candy because she didn’t have coins.
He saved the candy for months and when he had a bag full, he presented it to the shop owner to pay for his cigarettes.
The shop owner resisted at first (apparently no one had thought to do this before) but made the exchange.
From that point forward she always managed to find coins to give our friend change for his cigarettes.
Choosing the Right Travel Backpack for You Green Travel Friendly Travel Gear Ultimate Packing List for Round-the-World Trip
Wherever you travel, remember to bring and wear your money belt.
Do you have any Argentina money stories to share?
Below are links to some of our articles about our experiences in South America:
We visited the Jardín Japonés in the Palermo neighborhood. It was a beautiful day.
We walked around, ate lunch at the restaurant on-site, and saw lots of koi fish.
We would definitely recommend visiting it.
We even saw this lovely parakeet there.
We learned it was a monk parakeet.
Tierra Santa Theme Park in Buenos Aires
I am not sure if I should recommend this place or not.
I would highly suggest considering the pictures below so you know what kind of experience to anticipate.
Some might be offended; others will find it kitschy and fun.
There are a lot of different scenes with detailed statues.
Keep in mind the price, the cost to get there if you are taking a taxi, etc., and how much time you will be in Buenos Aires.
It is considered a “theme park,” though there aren’t any rides.
His gigantic head was the first glimpse I caught.
Then, out of the plastic mountain, came His outstretched arms and 60 foot tall body.
Once Jesus was about halfway out BAM! the Hallelujah Chorus blasted from the surrounding speakers.
Had I not experienced and seen this place with my own eyes, I would not have believed it existed.
After buying tickets, we were ushered into a skit portraying the birth of Christ.
Only it wasn’t a skit so much a light show with robotic biblical characters, performed to music.
It was the perfect introduction to a day that would only get more bizarre.
After the light-show-skit ended, we were released into Tierra Santa, free to roam about the life of Jesus, as portrayed by life-size statues.
First stop: Adam and Eve.
From there we “saw” Moses.
Then He turned water to wine and multiplied loaves of bread.
I guess the food was so realistic-looking that people were tempted to touch it, so the theme park authorities added a “don’t touch” sign to ward off offenders.
We took a break at this point to watch (real) women dance in “period” costume as some men played the drums.
We bought a snack from a food vendor, also in costume and also a real person.
Then we witnessed the Resurrection — the clincher of any trip to Tierra Santa.
Technical difficulties prevented me from capturing the resurrection of a 60 foot tall Jesus on camera, but dozens of YouTube users have me covered.
Overall, Tierra Santa in Buenos Aires, Argentina was a bizarre experience.
There were elderly people and families there who were obviously having religious experiences.
Then there were teenagers giggling as they posed with the statues.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of this supposed “Holy Land,” but it was worth the trip for me.
Where else can you pose with a life-size statues from biblical times, dine on falafel, watch a dance show, and see a gigantic Jesus rise out of a mountain to the soundtrack of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus?
Buenos Aires Dog Walkers
Sometimes I wonder what in Buenos Aires I missed by spending so much time looking at the ground.
Trying to avoid loose tiles, potholes, and lots and lots of doggie doo-doo.
I know that picking up after your dog isn’t the norm in many international cities, but I’m still astounded by the sheer amount of dog poop in Buenos Aires.
Luckily, there are plenty of cute dogs and puppies and seeing them makes up for having to watch my step.
In the residential neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, and specifically in the better off areas like Recoleta, people hire dog walkers to let their beloved animals out during the day.
These dog walkers don’t walk 1 or 2 or even 4 little dogs, I’ve seen one dog walker that probably had about 12-15 large dogs with him.
Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires
We strolled through Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery) where thousands of famous — including Evita Perón — and not-so-famous Argentineans are buried
The cemetery is massive, and the tombs are beautiful.
Some of the tombs are well cared for while others are falling apart.
There’s a striking life and death contrast about the place.
Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina: Evita Homeland
On the bus into Buenos Aires from the airport, I spotted a billboard announcing Eva: el gran musical argentino.
I loved Evita and decided we must see this musical.
We headed to Teatro Lola Membrives in Buenos Aires for a performance.
Although the play we bought tickets for had a slightly different title, I was secretly hoping to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita in Spanish.
After the curtain rose, though, it quickly became apparent that this was indeed a different musical.
I pushed aside the tinge of disappointment as I struggled to understand Eva Perón’s life story as told in operatic Spanish.
Having seen Evita the movie and the play years ago definitely helped, but it still wasn’t easy to follow the plot.
Here’s what I understood: Eva leaves small town Junín for Buenos Aires because she wants to become an actress.
An agent laughs in her face and kicks her out, but she gets a small part later, then is on a radio show, and eventually gets her own show.
At some point Eva meets Juan Perón, who later gets arrested, and Eva demands of the guard that he be released.
She leads protests to the affect.
Apparently historians say this never happened, but it makes for a better story so playwrights keep it in.
Perón is released, and he and Eva get married.
He’s president, and she’s running for an office (vice president, my later research revealed).
Eva gives money to the poor, chats it up with commoners, and scoffs in the faces of traditional women who tell her she can’t hold an office because she’s a woman and too young.
Eva is very busy, always meeting with people, and gets tired.
She becomes sick, gives a dramatic speech from the balcony (apparently dropping out of the running for VP, though I missed that during the play), and dies shortly thereafter.
It was quite an experience seeing a musical about Evita in Argentina.
I imagine it would be like watching a play about John F. Kennedy in the US.
Some members of the audience remembered when Evita was alive, and most revered her.
It was an excellent musical, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I followed most of it, I think, though I’m sure I missed some important details.
It definitely put my Spanish to the test.
And from what I remember of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s story, this version is pretty similar.
After the play, we decided to do some Google and Wikipedia research to see if we missed anything major.
We learned that after Eva died, Juan Perón was overthrown as president and Eva’s body was hidden away by the government for the next 16 years.
For a decade and half, no one knew what happened to the body of the beloved Eva Perón.
The government forbade anyone to even mention the Peróns’ names.
It wasn’t until 1971 the government revealed her body was hidden in a Milan crypt under a pseudonym.
Now returned to Argentina, Eva rests in a crypt we visited in Recoleta Cemetery (see above).
The government is afraid someone will try to steal her body so the tomb is booby trapped.
A dramatic end to a dramatic life.
San Telmo Market: Rain or Shine
It was a cold, rainy morning, but the sun came out in the afternoon and the crowds rushed to the trendy San Telmo Market in Buenos Aires.
Here you can buy everything from antique keys and original paintings to hand-knit scarves and glass necklaces.
Some vendors were out in the morning, but many more came to enjoy the sun — and the tourists it brought with it.
Check out the difference.
San Telmo on a rainy morning – less people
San Telmo on a sunny afternoon
Quick trip to Uruguay
The weather wasn’t great, but we only had two more days in Buenos Aires, and we wanted to see Uruguay before we left.
So we hopped on a Buquebus ferry near Puerto Madero in BA for the one hour journey to Colonia, a small town on the Rio de la Plata in Uruguay.
There’s not a lot to do in Colonia but enjoy the view and wander the cobbled streets, so that’s just what we did.
It’s a nice day trip from Buenos Aires and I imagine it’s amazing on a sunny day.
It was a bit chilly, but the rain held out until an hour before we left so we managed to snap a few photos.
Here are some of our favorites.
Our trip in Argentina
We had an amazing time in Buenos Aires hanging out in the restaurants and walking whenever we could to get a real sense of the culture and people.
After our week here, we visited the middle part of the country, including the Lakes Region of Patagonia.
Then we visited the Atlantic Coast, including visiting Peninsula Valdes.
We were fortunate to see Perito Moreno Glacier as well as Iguazu Falls.
We also volunteered while we were in Argentina.
It was difficult to plan online and was a lot easier once we arrived. We spent time volunteering at Chacra Millalen, an organic dairy farm.
It was an amazing experience.
We also spent time in Guatemala, including a history and nature-oriented trip to Tikal National Park.
This was the trip of a lifetime.
If we ever go again, we would visit some of our favorite spots and look for new things to experience.
What to know about Argentina Parrilla
After spending months in Argentina, we started logging our Argentina parrilla experiences.
We didn’t have steak or meat every day; sometimes we were just tired of it.
However, it is served often here with some amazing flavors and combinations.
We traveled from the United States to Buenos Aires, then all over Argentina, and compiled our top list for the best steak ever.
Our first week in Buenos Aires we visited an Argentina parrilla recommended by a fellow hosteler.
We arrived at the parrilla at 9 pm. Despite it being early for Argentines to eat, the place was already packed, and when we left a few hours later there was a line out the door.
At this parrilla we had a bife de chorizo (sirloin steak), a chorizo (sausage), fried provolone cheese, and a bottle of wine.
We spent about $25 US. At the time, this was the best steak I had ever tasted.
Parrilla 2: Rosario
With some fellow hostelers and staff in Rosario, we bought meat at a market and cooked it on the parrilla grill on the roof.
It was 1am by the time we ate.
It’s a little hard for me to enjoy dinner after midnight but the food was amazing, and the experience was fun.
The cost for all the beef, potato salad ingredients, bread, and drinks was about $5 US per person.
Parrilla 3: Mendoza
At nondescript parrilla in Mendoza, we gorged on our the largest Argentina parrilla yet.
We split a “mixed grill for 2” — an entire grill full of steaks, sausages, blood sausages, intestines, and sweetbreads for about $14 US per person.
Once he had cooked the meat on the large parrilla, the owner brought a small grill table side to keep the food warm.
Yes, all of that meat was for us.
Parrilla 4: Bariloche
In Bariloche, we experienced our best tasting (and most expensive) parrilla.
We consumed a half bottle of wine, a huge portion of fried provalone, a chorizo sausage, a bife de chorizo (sirloin), and a bife de lomo (tenderloin).
The bife de chorizo and lomo were both considered half portions even though one half portion alone could have fed 3 people.
The beef was cooked perfectly — medium rare and just a little bit bloody in the middle.
The chorizo, provolone, and bife de chorizo were all excellent.
But the bife de lomo was the most amazing piece of meat I’ve ever tasted.
Words can’t describe it.
It was incredibly tender.
This meal cost a whopping $36 US.
We went back a second time.
Because this Argentina parrilla was so amazing we went back a second time, this time limiting ourselves to a half portion of bife de lomo, a beef empanada, and some delicious thin cut french fries.
Good thing we’ve been enjoying our Argentina parrilla.
When we volunteer on the farm later this week at Chacra Millalen, it will be all vegetarian meals!
Enjoy more articles like this one with Argentine cuisine – top 17 foods & 1 drink you’ve got to try, and learn about a typical Argentine breakfast.
We thoroughly enjoyed eating our way through Argentina.
Bariloche Argentina chocolate taste test results
“Bariloche is the chocolate capital of Argentina,” were the magical words that enticed me to visit to Bariloche Argentina.
It turns out Bariloche has plenty of other sights to offer, but their chocolate is what initially sparked my interest.
We were on an extended stay in Argentina, and after visiting Buenos Aires and Peninsula Valdes, among many other cities, we enjoyed some time in Bariloche Argentina.
I devised a great scheme to eat as much chocolate as possible. I would buy chocolate from each shop and conduct a taste test.
However, once I actually arrived in Bariloche Argentina, all I had to do was walk down a few blocks to see that with the sheer number of shops, I would get either sick or go broke (probably both) if I sampled from each one.
So, we bought chocolate from four shops — Mamuschka, Benroth, Turista, and Reyes — and conducted our very own double blind taste test.
Mamuschka won hands down for best milk chocolate.
Tourista was second best followed by Benroth and Reyes tying for third.
We bought some Mamuschka milk chocolate as unique Valentine’s Day gifts for our loved ones at home.
There’s much more to Argentine cuisine than steak, but Argentine’s eat beef like it’s their job, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s high-quality, tender, delicious, and far less expensive than it is in the United States.
You will easily find an Argentina parrilla, a restaurant that specializes in steak, because they are plentiful here.
There are so many cuts of steak offered that it is easy to get overwhelmed when you look at a menu.
The good news?
It’s all tasty.
After being here for over two months now, I can say with confidence that grass-fed beef definitely tastes better.
If you’ve traveled in the southern US, you might have tried chicken fried steak, steak that’s battered and fried.
A milanesa is similar, but very thin, a bit tougher, and more lightly breaded.
Milanesas often come on sandwiches, and the steak can be replaced by other meats.
A choripan (on the left in the photo below) is a tasty sandwich made of chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread).
Add a little chimichurri sauce and you’re in for a treat. It’s simple and delicious.
Lomitos are amazing steak sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, and whatever sauces you decide to add.
You can also get a lomo completo (or lomito completo), which usually comes with cheese, ham, and egg on it.
The best lomito I had was just outside the nature reserve in Buenos Aires.
These tasty little sandwiches are layers of ham, cheese, and very thinly sliced bread.
We made the mistake of getting too many for a bus ride and got sick of them.
But the ones we had were good. Argentines eat them as a snack between lunch (at 1pm or 2pm) and dinner (at 9pm or 10pm).
Argentina has amazing pastas.
They’re always homemade, even in restaurants, and generally inexpensive.
We’re tried everything from gnocchi to ravioli to tortellini in cities across the country.
It’s all been delicious.
If you’re ordering pasta in Argentina, look closely at the menu.
Oftentimes, the pasta itself has one price, and the sauce costs extra.
Did you think you would be eating pizza in Argentina?
You can definitely see the Italian influence when you walk down the street in any Argentine city — there are pizza places everywhere.
And it’s not Domino’s-style, either.
It’s homemade, well-seasoned, and delicious.
The great thing about pizza is you can get it any time of day.
So if you don’t want to wait to eat dinner until 9pm like the locals do, you can order a pizza instead.
The quality, style, and flavor of empanadas vary from region to region.
These delicious pastries can be filled with meat and olives, ham and cheese, spinach, corn, and even apples.
With the exception of the sub-par one I had in Iguazu Falls National Park, the empanadas I sampled were quite delicious.
My favorites were the roquefort one (below) I had in Buenos Aires and the many flavors I tried in Trelew.
In the Lakes Region of Argentina, trout is a local specialty.
It’s generally more expensive than we like our meals to be (though still not as much as it would be in the US), so we only tried it once.
The dish we ordered came with a mushroom sauce and a side of amazing grilled veggies (a welcome alternative to french fries).
It was delicious — one of the best meals we had in Argentina.
Growing up in Texas, I’ve had my fair share of quality venison.
But the deer meat we ordered in San Martin de los Andes was some of the most interesting, most tender venison I’ve tasted.
It was served with spaetzel, which was a nice compliment.
I’m not sure this qualifies as a national food of Argentina, but there are pancho (hot dog) restaurants all over country.
Curiosity got the best of me in Mendoza, and I decided I had to know what the fuss was all about.
I ordered this super pancho, complete with lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.
The taste was good, but I felt a bit sick afterwards.
Ice Cream / Helado
The helado (gelato-style ice cream) in Argentina is some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had.
It’s creamy, rich, and delicious.
Plus there are tons of flavors, and you don’t have to pay extra to get more than one on your cone.
Argentina has some of the best baked goods — from cookies and cakes to bread and scones — I’ve ever had.
The country is well-populated with panaderias (bakeries) where you can get them fresh, so it’s no wonder that Argentine’s eat more sweets per capita than anyone else.
Restaurants serve fresh bread, which they’ve either baked themselves or bought from a nearby panaderia.
Croissant-like medialunas come in two varieties — plain and slightly sweet.
When they’re fresh, they’re quite good.
But since these compose the main (and usually only) course of an Argentine breakfast, I’ve had my share of mediocre medialunas in hostels and cafes.
Bariloche in Patagonia is the chocolate capital of Argentina, which you’ll know after just one walk down the chocolate shop-covered street.
We sampled a lot of chocolate in Bariloche, and I especially enjoyed the more exciting flavors like mint and honey.
But I have to say I still like Russian and German chocolate the best.
Argentine Dulce de Leche
This thick, sweet, milky sauce falls somewhere between jelly and caramel. It’s hugely popular here.
Argentines eat it on bread and medialunas, but you can also find it in cookies and ice cream.
Personally, I think it’s a little too sweet, but some people love it.
Argentina is known for these cookie sandwiches, which usually come filled with dulce de leche.
The best ones are from a bakery, but you can also get them pre-packaged in supermarkets.
The best version I had was from a bakery in Buenos Aires and was dipped in white chocolate.
Something interesting about alfajores is they’re not just desserts.
The buses in Argentina serve them with coffee as a sugar-filled breakfast.
Argentina doesn’t have a ton of variety in its cuisine.
Spicy food, for example, is nearly impossible to find.
But it sticks to what it does best — mouthwatering steaks and sandwiches, delicious pizzas, and sensational baked goods — and will satisfy any foodie’s cravings.
Want to try your hand at Argentine cooking?
Check out Argentina Cooks!
Treasured Recipes from the Nine Regions of Argentina and Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way.
What do people in Argentina eat?
We listed the must-try foods and the best of Argentine cuisine… but we couldn’t forget the must-try drink.
Walk down any street in any town in Argentina at about 3:00 in the afternoon and you’ll see someone pouring hot water from a thermos into a gourd, drinking it through a straw, then passing it to a friend who repeats the process.
They’re drinking yerba mate (pronounced mah-tay), a bitter herb that’s high in caffeine and is brewed like tea.
It’s usually consumed from a hollowed-out gourd, though some people drink it from tiny metal mugs.
You drink it through a metal straw-like utensil (called a bombillo) that has a filter on the end so the mate leaves can’t get through.
It’s almost always shared with someone else.
Drinking mate is a social activity and offering mate to a stranger isn’t uncommon.
Everyone drinks it.
Teenagers sit in parks passing around a gourd, just as elders share it on porches.
It’s the perfect way to pass siesta, the break everyone goes on from 12-5 pm.
After two weeks in Argentina, we couldn’t resist the urge to try mate for ourselves.
We bought a gourd and bombillo from a store in Rosario, then headed to the market for yerba mate and a thermos.
We searched online “how to drink mate” and read that you have to cure a mate gourd before you use it, so we waited impatiently for two days while our gourd cured.
When it was finally ready, we were nervous.
We’d read all about how mate has an incredibly strong flavor and is an acquired taste.
Argentine cuisine and drinks are something to look forward to
But we didn’t give up.
We found that adding sugar, as some Argentines do, helped with the bitterness.
And the more water you add, the weaker it gets, so we started watering down our mate even bit.
We shared mate with others on occasion, with people who worked at hostels and a tour guide.
Perhaps yerba mate, with its high caffeine content and herbal benefits, will become a trend in the US.
I like to think that I eventually acquired a taste for it, even though that first sip always had more bite than I expected.
Foods in Argentina
I’m glad we gave yerba mate a try.
Like the other foods on our Argentine cuisine list, this really is part of the ultimate Argentine experience.
After sampling typical, authentic Argentine cuisine and trying yerba mate, we felt so much more a part of the culture and less like a tourist.