Stainless Steel Travel Mug Contigo Travel Mug Review

Stainless Steel Travel Mug

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Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug – We’ve written a ton about stainless steel water bottles; but as the school year approached I began to consider how I was going to transport tea to school.

We had previously gotten rid of all of our BPA-infused travel mugs…we are now BPA-Free!

So, I explored my options and settled on a Contigo Travel Mug.

Contigo was kind enough to send a few of their Contigo travel mugs (see them here) for review.

Here are my thoughts.

Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug
Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug

The Best Stainless Steel Travel Mug?

I would venture to say that the Contigo travel mug is the best stainless steel travel mug there is.

It has honestly revolutionized my life.

Why?

It’s leak proof.

Totally 100% leak proof.

So leak proof that I put it in my laptop bag (next to my laptop) filled with hot tea.

I’m not much of a risk-taker, and honestly it took me awhile to trust my Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug enough to be able trust it, but it really can be tossed in a bag and it won’t leak.

I do usually turn it up and down just to be sure it’s sealed.

Spill-Proof Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Not only does the mug not leak when I travel with it, it also is spill proof when I knock it over.

BPA-Free

Besides the BPA-free stainless steel travel mug, Contigo also sells BPA-free plastic.

I use this to heat up water in the microwave at school to make my tea.

Probably not the best idea to put plastic in the microwave, but it works.

Stainless steel travel mug, Contigo  Insulated 

Did I mention it’s double walled and vacuum sealed?

During October, when we had unseasonable cold weather and snow, I filled my Contigo travel mug with tea heading off to school.

Two hours later (after waiting for the bus outside for a good while) the tea was still warm.

I love using my Contigo for tea, but if you’re looking for a tea-specific travel mug, you might want to check out Teas Etc.’s travel mug set.

For more tea travel mugs (tea-specific travel mug ideas).

It wasn’t piping hot, but warm enough to comfortably drink.

Kids Sippy Cups

Contigo also makes their autoseal cups for kids!

Downsides to the Stainless Steel Travel Mug

My only negative thought about this mug is that it does retain smell or taste.

If you don’t wash it out right away it can really smell; we had to use a vinegar soak in it one after leaving coffee in it for a few days.

Also, since Kimberly drinks coffee and I drink tea, we’ve found that even with a good washing it still maintains the smell taste just slightly.

So, I would recommend that if you drink multiple hot beverages you get two.

Use one only for coffee and the other only for tea.

Alternatively, you could remember to wash it out every night and not leave it in the car for a week.

Would I Recommend It?

I would highly recommend Contigo’s Stainless Steel Mug for any traveler, student, or commuter.

It really will change your life.

Here’s what Contigo’s website says about their mugs:

AUTOSEAL® Stainless Steel Travel Mug (Vacuum Insulated) – Never spill another drop!

100% spill- and leak-proof travel mug uses exclusive AUTOSEAL® technology to prevent accidental spills.

Press the AUTOSEAL® button to sip, and release the button to automatically seal.

This self-sealing lid technology is combined with a double-wall, vacuum-insulated, stainless steel mug, providing exceptional temperature retention.

Beverages stay hot for 4 hours or cold for 12 hours.

Benefits of the AutoSeal:

Patented AUTOSEAL® lid is 100% leak-proof and 100% spill-proof.

Drinking made easy!

Press to sip.

Release to seal.

The AUTOSEAL® Stainless Steel Mug automatically seals between sips to ensure no spills.

Vacuum-insulated technology keeps beverages hot for 4 hours, and cold for 12 hours.

Contoured body makes this travel mug easy to hold and easy on the eyes.

The AUTOSEAL® Stainless Steel Mug will hold up to 16 oz. of your favorite beverage and fits most standard car cup holders.

Constructed with a double wall and stainless steel inside and out for maximum travel mug performance.

BPA free.

AutoSeal Specs

Volume: 16 oz.

Weight: 0.8 lbs.

Dimensions: 3.6”L x 7.9”H x 3.3”W

With go-anywhere style and convenience, this thermal mug features AUTOSEAL® technology for 100% spill- and leak-proof performance.

Double wall construction helps retain beverage temperature and prevents external condensation.

Other Stainless Steel Travel Mugs

If you’re not interested in a Contigo, we’ve heard good things about these Stainless Steel Travel mugs (though we haven’t tried any of them):

Thermos Nissan Tea Tumbler with Infuser has free same day shipping.

Yeti Tumblers review and the review of the Walmart’s Ozark Trail Tumbler.

No matter what you use it for, the Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug is a truly fantastic product.

It’s BPA-free, safe, and convenient.

I would highly recommend it for coffee, tea, or anything else you like to drink warm.

Best Travel Shoes, Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes and Hiking Boots

top view of men's shoes

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Best Travel Shoes, Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes and Hiking Boots – If there’s one thing you can’t leave for your next vacation without — it’s travel shoes.

And given that, when traveling, you probably walk a good deal more than usual, it’s critical to have the best travel shoes and travel sandals.

So, we’ve compiled a list of what to look for in the best travel shoes so you know which traveling shoes to pack.
Best Travel Shoes

Best Travel Shoes – Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes, and Hiking Boots

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Best Travel Shoes, Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes and Hiking Boots

Best Travel Sandals: Best Walking Sandals

There are three reasons you might need travel sandals when traveling (and they might overlap):

You’re hosteling and want shower shoes

You’re heading to a beach

You’re headed someplace warm

For 1) and 2), you may be fine with a pair of flip flops.

Flip flops are easy to transport and relatively inexpensive making for great shower and beach shoes.

I usually get mine for less than $5 at Target or Old Navy, but I have friends who really like:

  • Reef
  • Rainbow
  • Teva (have arch support) for Women and Men
  • Havianas for Women and Men

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.

I’ve been wearing my Keen Women’s Shoes (Mary Janes) and they are perfect for this.

Travel Hiking Boots

How much hiking you’ll be doing should influence what kind of hiking boots you’ll need.

If you’re doing day trips or low-intensity overnight trips you might be able to get away with a pair of low cut hiking boots that can double as your walking shoes.

This is what we did in Argentina and it worked out very well.

Plus, it saved a lot of space in our luggage.

If you’re planning on a lot of hiking, you’ll want the best hiking boots money can buy – with plenty of ankle support.

These boots will be taller and bulkier, but the last thing you want is a twisted ankle, 3 days trekking into the Alaskan wilderness.

Try on many pairs of tall hiking boots to find a pair that fits well.

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club has a great resource about finding hiking boots that fit.

Buying Travel Shoes Online: Zappos Review

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.

To three.

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.

Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS Environmentally Friendly Travel Shoes

I stumbled upon Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS two years ago during my search for an environmentally-friendly alternative to my beloved Vans tennis shoes.

I wanted shoes that were more durable than the Vans, but as attractive.

I was even willing to sacrifice the awesome velcro, but only for the right eco-friendly shoe.

Then I saw it: the Simple Satire, a member of Simple’s ecoSNEAKs line.

These are also recommended for Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts for Your Favorite Green Traveler

Features of Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS

  • Certified organic cotton uppers with recycled PET laces
  • Vegan shoe! No animal byproducts or even regular animal products
  • Certified organic cotton linings
  • The “pedbed” (the cushiony and supportive stuff at the bottom of the shoe) is made of super soft and squishy polyurethane and recycled car tire
  • Partially recycled shoe – the bottom of this shoe is made from a recycled car tire
  • The foot form inserts are made of post consumer recycled paper
  • Even the boxes are environmentally friendly – made of post-consumer recycled paper, soy based printing ink, natural latex and starch based glue

I quickly ordered the black hemp version (they also come in leather, silk, and suede) and eagerly awaited their arrival.

I ordered black because, of course, I wanted something I could wear with almost anything.

If I bought another pair, I would look at other varieties as well.

I was happy when I opened the box: the shoes were cute and looked durable.

I slipped them on and promptly wore them as I walked the monuments in Washington, DC.

The 5+ mile walk was quite the initial test, but I wasn’t as excited as I wanted to be.

I wanted to love them.

I wanted them to be my go-everywhere, perfect travel shoe.

But I found them less comfortable than I hoped; specifically, the sole didn’t have enough cushion.

It almost felt like I was wearing flip flops.

The ball of my foot had virtually no support.

And my arches were completely unsupported.

I hope Simple has improved the “pedbed” in newer editions of the shoes.

Pros and Cons of Simple ecoSNEAKS

ecoSNEAKS Pros:

  • Very eco-friendly — where else can you get a shoe made with recycled tires
  • Cute
  • Can dress them up or down
  • Comfortable except for the sole
  • Durable
  •  

The cons of ecoSNEAKS:

  • Lacking arch support – my Vans lacked arched support so I was expecting this and also okay with it.
  • Not enough padding in pedbed
  • Since they’re made with old tires, they’re a bit heavy for travel

Would I recommend the Simple Women’s Satire?

Yes, I would — for everyday wear. If you’re walking more than a couple miles, I’d stick with traditional tennis shoes.

I also wouldn’t recommend them as being your sole (no pun intended) travel shoe, since they’re a bit heavy and not as comfortable as other travel shoes I’ve tried.

For that, I’d recommend a more supportive hiking boot.

Check out Best Travel Shoes: Travel Sandals, Walking Shoes, and Hiking Boots plus Zappos Review for more travel recommendations.

Best Lightweight Slip On Shoes: Patagonia Women’s Advocate

But these are cute and while I’m not one to follow the trends, they are trendy.

The Simple Satire ecoSNEAKS are a fun addition to any wardrobe.

ecoSNEAKS sustainable sneakers by Simple Shoes

Quality footwear is essential when you’re hiking around new cities for six hours every day.

ecoSNEAKS are made of organic cotton, recycled paper pulp, and old car tire, which makes for a pretty sweet pair of sneakers.

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Change Your Name on an Airline Ticket Lessons Learned

close view of airline ticket

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Change Your Name on an Airline Ticket – Last fall, I posted about my failed attempts to change my name on my American Airlines plane ticket.

In the end, I was able to travel on that ticket without paying a fee — but it wasn’t easy.

Read on to learn how to fly with your current ticket, without paying any fees, plus 5 tips for tips for flying without changing your ticket.

What Countries Require Proof of Onward Travel

Change Your Name on an Airline Ticket

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.

The Twist

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.

The Decision

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!

The Disclaimer

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.

Documentation.

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.

These are important documents so be sure to keep them safe.

Don’t update your name on either your driver’s license or your passport.

Keep one with your old name (preferably your passport) and use it to fly if you’ve already bought a ticket in your maiden name.

This wasn’t the case for me, but it would have made things easier!

Be nice.

I’ve found that being nice to people in the transportation industry gets you much further — literally.

Remember they have people yelling at them for things that usually aren’t their fault.

Sometimes if you’re nice, people are more willing to help you out.

I hope this helps people in a situation like mine!

Above all, keep your paperwork and IDs safely with you at all times.

How to Not Pay Airline Baggage Fees

In a desperate attempt to cover their costs, airlines across the US are charging for something that was once included in your ticket price: checked luggage.

Whether you’re flying overseas or regionally within the United States, airline baggage fees can add up quickly.

These days, it’s common to pay $25 each way for just one checked bag.

For a family of four, that’s $200 for a round-trip flight!

Thankfully, there are a few simple ways you learn how to not pay airline baggage fees.

Book with an Airline that Doesn’t Charge Baggage Fees

This may sound obvious, but when you’re comparing flights it’s tempting to go for what appears to be the cheapest option.

But with airline tickets, things aren’t always what they seem, and there can be hidden fees.

Before you book your flight, check the airline’s policy on checked luggage.

When you factor in the luggage fees, sometimes you’ll pay less by opting to fly with an airline that offers free checked luggage, even if the ticket is more expensive.

Thankfully, there are still a few airlines that don’t charge baggage fees.

Southwest Airlines seems to be the holdout, and we love them for it!

They still doesn’t charge for your first or second bag.

Even though the fare was a little bit higher, my husband and I used them earlier this year when we knew we couldn’t get around having two pieces of checked luggage each.

We saved over $100 each way by not paying fees for checking luggage.

While passengers flying on JetBlue and WestJet used to be able to check one piece of luggage for free.

Even when all the other airlines began charging — that is no longer the case.

They are both charging now.

It’s a good idea to pack light!

Fly Internationally

Thankfully, most airlines will still give you at least one free checked bag when flying internationally.

Delta, for example, offers one free piece of luggage when flying between the United States and most international destinations.

The only exception is the United States to Canada though it is free going to Mexico.

If you are in First Class or Business Class, it will be free to check one bag then too.

Not all airlines offer free checked baggage on international flights, so be sure to check before you get to the airport.

There are ways to travel green internationally and save money too.

Get a Frequent Flier Miles Credit Card

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get a credit card just for the card member perks.

But when you start to add up how much checked luggage fees can cost for frequent travelers, it makes sense for many people to do what they can to avoid the extra fees.

With Delta’s SkyMiles credit cards, you get one checked bag per person for each flight.

I really like that you don’t even have to use your card to book your ticket to get the free first checked bag.

Additionally, you can use the benefit for up to 9 people when they’re traveling under the eligible card member’s reservation.

United offers a similar program with the United MilagePlus Explorer card.

Most of these cards do have annual fees attached, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re using your card enough to actually save money.

If so, frequent flier miles cards are a great way to avoid airline baggage fees, especially if you frequently fly the same airline.

Go First Class or Business Class

If you’re really trying to get out of airline baggage fees (or if someone else is footing the bill!), fly first class.

Many airlines offer up to three free pieces of checked luggage for first class passengers.

Plus, you get the perks of the first class cabin — free cocktails, extra legroom, and attentive service.

You work so hard to get the best deals while traveling, make sure you take some time to learn how to save money on your car rental too.

There’s ways to save money when you travel so be sure to research before you buy.

A decade ago, even the most seasoned travelers wouldn’t have dreamed that they’d be paying extra for checked luggage.

Back then, when we purchased an airline ticket, we knew that it would cover the entire cost of our flight.

Times have changed, but there are still ways to avoid airline fees.

As more airlines start charging for what once was free, use these tips to get around airline baggage fees.

Find Cheap Airline Tickets: Cheat Sheet

Find Cheap Airline Tickets Cheat Sheet

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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

Can Americans travel to Saudi Arabia
Can Americans travel to Saudi Arabia

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)

Aggregators

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

AirBusinessClass (round trip, one way, or multiple cities)

airport security screening

International Searches

When you’re searching for an international ticket, I have found these search engines to be best for finding a cheap airline ticket.

Vayama
Mobissimo
Skyscanner
Momondo
Trabber
Trax
And Wotflight.com is a great place to look for cheap flights in Australia.

Flexible Dates Flying on Weekends

If you’re looking for a flight on an upcoming weekend, these sites are best.

Kayak
CheapTickets
Orbitz

Flexible Destinations (including last minute travel)

If you don’t care where you’re going, you just want to go somewhere cheap, these sites list destinations with cheap airline ticket prices.

Last Minute (formerly Site59)
GoToday

Kayak Buzz
Farecast
Mobissimo Activity Search
Airfare Watchdog

Airport Parking

Finding parking at airports is critical to success in finding a cheap plane ticket.

Here are some sites that allow you to do that:

Holiday Extras offers low prices and great choice of Luton airport parking – both on-airport and off-airport locations.

Airport Transfers

Suntransfers offers airport transfers between airports and your destination – worldwide.

I hope you find this Cheat Sheet useful.

Please consider bookmarking it with your favorite bookmarking site, so that everyone can learn how to find a cheap airline ticket.

What are your favorite travel search engines?

I’m a bit of an airfare search engine geek.

I love searching websites and flight aggregators to try to find the cheapest plane ticket possible.

As I’ve become more conscious of my environmental impact, this also means searching for nonstop flights.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that many websites don’t make this easy.

As a green traveler you too should search for nonstop flights, since much of the fuel burned on airplanes occurs during take-off and landing.

So, to assist you in your efforts to search for nonstop flights I’ve put together this list of websites that offer 1-click non-top preference buttons on the front page of the sites.

On all of these websites you can check a box to indicate that you prefer nonstop flights.

Nonstop Flight Travel Search Engines: 1-Click

Kayak Cheap Flights
Sidestep
CheapTickets Flights
Booking Buddy
Orbitz Flights

For comparison, here are the websites that don’t offer front page no-stop preference buttons.

Most of these sites offer nonstop once you’ve done your initial search, but not before.

Airfares Flights
Farecast
Fare Compare
InsideTrip
Fare Chase
Mobissimo
Dohop
Sky Scanner
Vayama
Cheapo Air
Expedia
Travelocity
Momondo

I hope this list saves you time and energy searching for nonstop flights.

More importantly, I hope it saves the environment as more people choose to pass up multi-leg flights.

Best Search Engines for Flexible Travel: Search for Airfare 330 Days Out

When searching for plane tickets, you can save a ton of money by searching with flexible travel dates.

As part of our cheap travel tips series, I’m going to reveal my three favorite search engines for when you have very flexible travel dates.

All three of these search engines allow you to search with more than the standard flexible search of 1-3 days around your travel dates.

Instead, they allow you to search for flexible travel within the next 330 days.

Searching for flexible travel dates can save you literally hundreds of dollars on a flight.

For example, if looking at airfare from Washington, DC to San Francisco, if you have flexible travel dates for when to visit you could pay $219 to for a flight in June.

But, if your dates aren’t flexible — forcing you to leave a few days earlier or later — you would pay $319 for the cheapest flight.

This is how flexibility saves you money.

Again, very few travel search engines allow you great flexibility when searching for flights.

Usually the “flexible search” option is 1-3 days around your given date, but these search engines allow you the maximum flexibility — 330 days from today.

The three best are FareCompare, Kayak, and Travelocity.

Kayak for Flexible Travel

Kayak’s search function also shows a popup window when you type in your to/from cities.

Cons: Kayak’s flexible travel search is based on other’s recent searches– so the results they show aren’t necessarily fares that are still available for you to purchase.

This can be frustrating if you find a great fare, but then it’s no longer available.
Kayak Flexible Travel

FareCompare for Flexible Travel

I like FareCompare the best for flexible travel because it shows you the cheapest dates earliest in the searching process.

As soon as you type in your travel to/from airports, the cheapest and most expensive months to travel appear on the right hand side.

Then as soon as you click on the departure date, a calendar pops up. It’s fast and easy to follow.

Travelocity for Flexible Travel

Travelocity also has a great flexible travel search option that searches 330 days out.

It lists the very cheapest ticket price first (no matter what month it’s in), but I don’t like it as much for three reasons.

Travelocity Cons

First, it isn’t laid out in a format that works well for me.

I like the calendars that appear on both Kayak and FareCompare.

Why?

Because if it’s only $3 more to fly on a Friday versus a Thursday, I’m going to pay the extra $3.

With Travelocity it’s much harder to see the flexible travel dates that work well with a certain schedule.

Second, it takes 4 or 5 times as many clicks to choose your actual flight options — this gets cumbersome.

Third, Travelocity don’t include taxes/fees in their results.

Giving you an artificially reduced price (until the final screen).

Searching for airfare with flexible travel dates will save you tons of money on your next airline ticket.

Save Thousands with Flight, Hotel, and Rental Car Preferences

I almost always use Kayak search engine during some part of a trip planning process because I love Kayak’s search preferences.

So I’ve put together my favorite travel hacks that you can use on on Kayak flight, hotel, and rental car searches.

Kayak’s customization search bar is awesome, through TripAdvisor recently launched an aggregator that has pretty nifty search preferences as well (it may even top it).

The following tips show you how adjusting search preferences (on any travel search engine) will save you thousands of dollars.

Cheap Flights Search Tips

Adjust Leaving Time To Save on Transportation

Ensure that your flight departure/return times allow you to take public transportation (or is at an hour where a friend/family member can pick you up).

If your flight is leaving at 7 am out of Washington-Reagan Airport, the Metro won’t be open early enough for you to take it — resulting in a hefty cab fare.
flight times

Take Overnight Flights to Save on Accommodation

Check the “Red Eye/Overnight Flights” box to search for overnight flights.

While red eye flights aren’t the most enjoyable for sleeping, that $75-$200 you’ll save in hotel costs will be nice.

Choose Nearby Airports to Find Lower Cost Alternatives

Frequently nearby airports turn up cheaper fares.

Make sure you include them by checking the appropriate box when you search for your flight.

For example, in a recent search I would save $103 by flying into LaGuardia instead of JFK in New York.

Newark was $20 cheaper than JFK.

nearby airports

Include Taxes and Fees

Taxes and fees add up — even though Orbitz, Expedia, et al recently suspended some fees.

Kayak automatically includes these, so there should be no surprises when you click through to buy.

Review Airline Fees (e.g. Checked Bag Fees)

TripAdvisor includes these in their search results.

Kayak has a nice summary that’s frequently updated.

You can save anywhere from $15-$200 depending on number of checked bags, snacks and drinks, and pet fees by carefully comparing airlines’ fees.

Cheap Hotels Search Tips – Choose a Hotel Nearby

If you’re in town for a convention, wedding, to visit relatives, or any other event where you’ll be frequenting one place more than most, choose a hotel near that location.

Kayak allows you to enter an address, or choose from a landmark, to search for a hotel nearby.

Look for an Airport Shuttle

Choosing a hotel with a free airport shuttle can easily save $10-$50, and you’ll avoid the hassle of a cab or rental car.

Find Hotels with Fitness

Search for a hotel with a free fitness center to avoid shelling out extra cash to use the treadmill. Savings: $10-$15/day.

Search for Hotels with Internet

Find hotels with internet, then narrow it down to find free internet to save $5-$15/day.

Check Parking (if you’re renting a car)

If you’re renting a car or driving, you’ll save up to $40/day (depending on the city) by finding a hotel with free or reasonably priced parking.

Bonus: In this economy, give the hotel a call and negotiate for free parking if they don’t already offer it.

Cheap Rental Car Search Tips

Adjust Miles per Gallon

Save money and the environment when you choose a car with better gas mileage.

Check the Unlimited Miles Box

If you’re driving a really long way (like Minneapolis to Chicago), check the unlimited miles box to save a ton (up to $0.89/mile).

Types of travel coupons and codes

Here’s some information that’s good to know about using travel coupons and codes and discounts on traveling.

Travel Coupons and Codes that Set Dollar Discount

Some online travel sites offer coupon codes for a certain dollar amount off.

For instance, there are numerous online travel booking sites that will give you a $10 or $15 discount with a coupon code.

It doesn’t matter if you spend $100 or $10,000 the discount will still be the same set price.

Travel Coupons and Codes that are Percent Discount

Most car rental coupon codes come with a percent discount.

Occasionally you may find cruise coupons with a percent discount, but the majority of the time only car rental companies offer a percent discount.

Travel Coupons and Codes that are Package Deal Discount

Many of the “travel coupons” you’ll find will actually be a package deal discount.

Though they are frequently referred to as percentage discounts.

This means that by renting a car, booking airfare, and hotel all with the same agency you are saving money.

It’s not quite the same thing as a coupon, since it’s usually offered to everyone visiting that site, but these can still sometimes be a good deal.

More frequently, however, you’ll find a travel coupon offered on a package deal – then you really may be looking at a bargain.

Travel Coupons and Codes that do not have Booking Fees

Again, this isn’t technically a discount, but look for sites that offer no booking fees as you’ll save money.

travel coupons and codes

Rip Offs and Scams with Travel Coupons and Codes

Before we start posting travel coupons, I want to make it perfectly clear that sometimes coupons don’t mean a good deal.

Some companies and online travel agencies have a higher base price to start with, or add extra fees – so even with a coupon code the bottom line isn’t all that great.

It would be like using a coupon for an item at a gourmet grocery store – you might have been better off shopping without a coupon at the discount supermarket.

Please beware when using travel coupons and continue to be a contentious consumer.

Best Travel Coupons and Codes

The best travel coupons are the ones that you can use.

If you aren’t taking a discount international flight with Vayama, then there’s no point using a coupon with them.

If you know where you’re going or what company you’re booking with, click here for coupons and travel discounts that specifically match your needs.

But, if you’re flexible with where to travel, then you may get an amazing deal with any variety of coupons.

Where to Find Travel Coupons and Codes

Another great place to find discount travel codes is by subscribing to the newsletters of online travel agencies you frequently use.

Lastly, one of my favorite places to get coupon codes (Travel and otherwise) is on RetailMeNot.

Consumers submit codes and then vote on whether or not certain codes worked for them.

Secrets Hotels Don’t Want You to Know in Finding a Cheap Hotel Room

There is one thing that hotels don’t want you to remember when you book a room with them:

You can (almost) always cancel your hotel 24-48 hours before you are scheduled to stay there.

This means that if the hotel room price drops or you find a cheaper room at a different hotel, you can cancel and rebook for the cheaper price.

When planning a trip where you’ll be staying at a hotel here are the steps you should take:

Search Aggregators

As soon as you know your trip dates, search an aggregator like Kayak (you can click on Kayak to also search Orbitz, Expedia, and Travelocity at the same time).

Sort through the results to find a hotel that meets your needs for dates, location, and price.

Check the Hotel’s Website for Additional Specials

Sometimes hotel websites will list additional specials or codes (like AAA discount codes) that you can’t always find on the aggregators.

Ensure a Fully Refundable Cancellation Policy

Read the fine print to be sure that you can cancel your room and note when you must cancel.
travel coupons and codes
photo credit: The Consumerist

Book the Hotel Room

Book the hotel room directly with the hotel, assuming they give you the best price.

Set up Price Tracking

With an online travel tool, you can track the price of a hotel.

Once you’ve chosen your hotel, sign-in to Yapta and start tracking the hotel price.

Yapta will then alert you if the price drops.

If it drops, call the hotel to see if they’ll lower your specific room price (this is easiest).

If not, book with the cheaper priced room and then cancel your original room booking.

Generally hotel rates don’t fluctuate as much or as often as airline ticket prices do.

But when they do drop, it’s easy to cancel and get the better deal.

Travel coupons and codes aren’t always the easiest to find, especially ones that aren’t expired.

But it’s worth it as travel is expensive.

Even a small percentage off is worth using.

Here’s great 7 Tips for Finding Last Minute Travel Deals.

Note: We only recommend products we’ve tried out and liked.

We do link through affiliate links when they are available.

We are not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites, or other topics.

We will only recommend products or services that we believe, based on our experience, are worthy of endorsement.

Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Why Use a Travel Agent? Learn Why You Might Need One

In recent decades, the only way to research flights and airline prices was through a travel agency.

Now, the Internet enables anyone to prepare their own itinerary, so why use a travel agent?

There are lots of reasons to use a travel agency.

I definitely consider myself a do-it-yourself traveler, especially international travel.

I’m on track to visit 30 countries by my 30th birthday.

So people are surprised when I tell them that I sometimes use a travel agent.

Of course, there are times when I opt to book my own travel.

For example, we’re visiting friends in Orlando soon, and I bought the tickets online directly through the airline.

If you’re taking a trip within the United States, I suggest using a website like Expedia or Priceline to buy the tickets instead of going through a travel agent.

Taking a cruise?

By all means, book away.

Why Use a Travel Agent

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.

She called me back in 30 minutes to tell me that she had worked with the airline to change the name on my plane ticket, and even convinced the airline to waive any fees.

It was great to know that she was on our side, advocating for us and saving us money.

Travel Agents Protect Your Investment

There are definitely trips that are all about the adventure — the mishaps and hiccups along the way are part of the fun.

But then are the trips where you want to do everything you can to make sure your vacation goes as planned.

Maybe it’s a trip you’ve been saving for or a vacation to celebrate an anniversary.

That’s where a travel agent comes in.

For a lot of us, a trip to Australia or an African safari are once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

An experienced travel agent will make sure that your trip goes smoothly, and that your travel investment is protected.

Why Use a Travel Agent

There are so many advantages to using a travel agent that you might only realize when a problem arises.

You will be glad you have one on your side.

How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets

How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets, the ultimate guide to saving money on plane travel.

This guide will help you save time and your hard-earned money every time you buy a plane ticket.

If you’ve traveled lately, you know that plane ticket prices are all over the board.

One day an airline will promote a huge sale, but then the next day ticket prices are even lower.

Then the day after that ticket prices jump to three times the price they were two days ago.

Confusing, right?

And then there is the luggage. How many carry-on items can you bring? What size? How much is it to check a bag? Do you want to pay in advance to check your bag?

There’s more! Where will you sit on the airplane. Will you pay for an upgraded seat?

Do you want to add on the insurance option? 

Add to this is the enormous number of airfare search engines on the web today.

  • Should you use Kayak or CheapTickets or Expedia or NewestGreatestAirfareSearch?
  • How do you know if you’re getting the best ticket price?
  • Should you search all of them or just one?
  • What if you buy a ticket and the price drops the next day?
  • What if you buy a ticket and the price drops by half a week later?
  • How do you know what a good price is?

All of these issues make searching for airfare complicated.

It’s incredibly easy to get so tangled up in the process of finding a cheap plane ticket that you just give up, shut your eyes, and press buy — hoping you didn’t get a bad deal.

But what if there was a way to stay organized and save money?

How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets

Create a personalized, automated system for searching for plane tickets

We know you’re busy and don’t have time to waste scouring countless search engines trying to keep track of the cheapest airline ticket that meets your time table.

We’ve been there: backtracking and hunting. It’s time-consuming and frustrating.

“Didn’t I just see this fare for cheaper on Orbritz?” or “What happened to the flight option that left at 2:30pm?”

Master airfare search engines

Master airfare search engines
There are a lot of websites and informational products out there that tell you that XYZ Travel Search is the absolute best travel search engine.

Guess what?

In reality, there are dozens of great travel sites.

And many are the “best” at something, depending on your needs.

Are you looking for a flight that leaves tomorrow, or any time next month?

To a particular destination, or just somewhere with a beach?

Depending on what you’re looking for, different tools will help you find the cheapest ticket.

How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets may not be for you:

If You Buy First Class Tickets

If you like buying first class tickets, won’t be able to help you.

We can help to find the cheapest tickets every time, which are usually in the main cabin.

If You Have Hundreds of Thousands of Frequent Flyer Miles

If you are a frequent business traveler, and buy all of your airline tickets with miles, you aren’t going to benefit from this guide.

4 Reasons Why you need to Find Cheap Airline Tickets

More than just about anything else in the world, I love exploring new countries, tasting new foods, and experiencing new cultures.

But I do nonprofit work and am getting ready to go to law school in the fall, so I don’t have a lot of money to waste.

For me, a top priority is affordable travel, and I want all travelers to feel like they can take the trips they love.

I’m Committed to Green Travel

While flying isn’t the greenest way to get around, we advocate simple steps you can take to travel greener (learn more about our mission) — even when you’re flying.

But eco travel isn’t just about transportation; a big part of green travel is exploring other cultures, foods, and economies.

And most people choose to explore these other cultures while on a vacation that includes a plane ride.

I think a big reason people don’t travel and learn about other cultures is because they think it’s more expensive than it is.

I wrote this ebook because I want to help others experience new cultures and foods, and because I want travel to be financially feasible for everyone.

I Like Systems That Keep Me Organized

A large piece to Find Cheap Airline Tickets is showing you a system — not just throwing a bunch of links at you.

Too often I have lost money and time because I have spent hours searching for cheap tickets.

I would search one day, then decide not to buy; then I search the next day, and maybe a week later, and then would miss a good deal because I waited too long or didn’t stay organized.

Then one day I realized finding cheap tickets doesn’t have to be arduous.

So I created this process for myself, in order to save myself time, money, and honestly a ton of hassle.

I Hate Seeing Others Pay Too Much

Honestly, it drives me crazy when people pay booking fees when they could have booked for free.

I want you to have more money to spend on food, souvenirs, and activities when you’re actually in a place.

Save money on your ticket, and you’ll have more funds once you’re there.
Save money on your travel
Just to summarize: I don’t want you to waste your time and money.

Waste of any kind is not good for our environment.

I’m sure someone somewhere can prove that when you save dollars and when you save time you’re really saving the Earth.

We’ve provided free content here at Go Green Travel Green since 2008 and will continue to do so.

Photo credit:  Kossy@FINEDAYS and Widerbergs

Related Articles:

Green Business Travel for Frequent Business Travelers

hotel room with old television and laptop

Updated:

Green business travel – When you travel for work or pleasure, it’s important to consider your impact.

Here are simple tips for green business travel.

Before I left my job to travel to Argentina, I traveled several times a month for work.

While I enjoyed seeing new places, meeting new people, and sampling local foods, I felt guilty about the impact my frequent business travel had on the planet.

green business travel

photo credit: vipeido

Thus, I did everything I could to be a greener business traveler.

Here are some of my Green business travel Hacks

Teleconference

Before you decide a business trip is absolutely necessary, check first to see if a teleconference could happen in place of meeting in person.

Sometimes the people you are working with are just as happy to have a tele- or video- conference and it saves you time and expense while having less environmental impact.

Take the Train or Bus

If you can, take a bus or train, instead of an airplane, to your destination.

I took the Acela fast train from Washington, D.C. to New York several times.

It was less of a hassle (no security lines, easier to get to, fewer delays) and a fun way to see the East Coast.

Fly Nonstop

When a train isn’t an option, fly nonstop.

You reduce your emissions by up to 50% with nonstop travel.

I flew non-stop when I visited United Arab Emirates, found my flight via Etihad Airways Booking.

Schedule Trips Back-to-Back

If you have several different cities to travel to, schedule the trips back to back.

While this can get tiring, you will save time and resources by not flying home in between.

Take Public Transportation to Get Around

Once your at your destination, take public transportation to get around.

In many cities taking the subway or metro can be faster than a cab inching through traffic.

Public transportation has come a long way, and it’s a great way to travel.

Hop in an EcoCab

Most major cities now have hybrid taxis and eco cabs.

If you must take a taxi, see if this is an option.

Share Transportation

If you’re traveling with co-workers, schedule your travel at the same time so that you can share taxi rides or rental cars.

Hybrid Rental Car

If renting a car is the only option that makes sense, get a hybrid rental car.

The prices usually fall within a company’s per diem and you can justify it with gas savings.

Green Hotel

Green hotels are a great option for business travel.

I personally like the Kimpton Hotel chain. 3

Related Article: Learn about LEED and green hotels for the best options.

Green your Stay

How Online Learning Helps Green Travelers Stay Green

When staying at a hotel, do everything you can to use fewer resources.

This includes hanging your towel, adjusting the thermostat, and turning off the lights.

Bring a Water Bottle

You know how much I love my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle and insulated stainless steel water bottles.

They are sleek enough for professional settings.

Another option is to reuse your disposable water bottle several times over the course of a short business trip.

Carry One Bag

If you’re a frequent business traveler you probably having packing in one bag down to a science, but if not, check out our tips for packing light.

How to Travel Green in 4 Easy Steps

Understand Why You Should Travel Green.

You’re probably not going to want to learn how to travel green if you don’t know why you should.

We believe that you should travel responsibly because it’s good for the environment, it’s good for local economies, and it’s good for you.

Recall the basic principle: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

In it’s simplest form, the answer to “How do I travel green?”

Can be summed up with the phrase: “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

When it comes to being a green traveler you will generally focus on reducing your impact where ever you go.

But, it’s just as important to reuse and recycle whenever you can.

photo credit: e-magic

Know the Categories Where You Can Reduce.

Generally, you can reduce your impact in Transportation, Lodgings, Food and Restaurants, and Activities.

By being aware of these categories, you can systematically go through your travel plans and green them.

While Traveling, Commit to Minimizing Your Impact in These Areas.

Check out some of our favorite posts about minimizing your impact.

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

Food

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.

Drink

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.

Shopping

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.

Remember, wherever in the world you are, to only buy sustainable souvenirs.

People

By staying in hostels and locally owned lodging, taking public transportation, and dining in non-chain restaurants, you get to know other travelers and locals.

Being an environmentally-conscious traveler gives you almost limitless opportunities to strike up conversations with people you may never have met staying in a huge hotel, or traveling by car.

Nature

There’s no experience quite like hiking through the mountains and looking down over electric blue Moraine Lake in Canada, or swimming under a waterfall at the top of a mountain in Belize.

I think one of the best ways to experience any destination is on foot or bike — you’re close to the land, where you can observe details, rather than whizzing by them in a bus or car.
green business travel

Green business travel is easy

Business travel can take you anywhere.

It’s your responsibility to be as green as you can be getting there, getting back and during your stay.

Hopefully you will find green business travel is easy to continue while you are back at home.

I believe the greenest act I can do is saving money when buying my Air ticket.

Green Transportation ~ 4 Principles to Help You Choose

How do you go about choosing green transportation when thousands of websites have launched carbon emissions calculators?

Often these sites only lead to more questions, like.

How do you choose the most eco-friendly route?

Does a bus, plane, train, boat/ship, or car emit less carbon?

And why do some sites say that flying produces fewer carbon emissions than driving?

Basically, how can you be more green on the road?

These are all valid questions.

When I started researching carbon footprints, I was astounded by the widely varying results I got from different carbon footprint calculators.

Therefore, to help you choose the most environmentally-friendly form of transport, I’ve put together 4 principles for choosing green transportation.

Ways to Choose Green Transportation

These principles rest on the basic assumption that you cannot realistically walk or bike to your destination.

Test an Emissions / Carbon Footprint Calculator

The first step to choosing an option for green transportation to reduce your carbon footprint is to do some basic research.

There are numerous carbon calculators available online and Climate Outreach and Information Network has put together a list of the best carbon calculators.

In the transportation/travel category they rank the following as top air and land travel calculators.

Top 5 Air Travel Calculators

Resurgence.org
Chooseclimate.org
MSN.com
Coinet.org.uk (author note: I can’t find the actual calculator on this website)
Nef.org.uk

Top 5 Land Travel Calculators

Resurgence.org
Co2balance.com
Carbonfootprint.com
Carbonbalanced.org
Clevel.co.uk

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.

green transportation 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

Many people who enjoy gaming want to take their passion to the road and visit as many gaming conventions as possible, or at least those that interest them the most.

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 Review BPA-free Bottles

travel water bottle for kids

Updated:

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:

We have also recently written about Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets and why you don’t want toxins in your kitchen.

In that post we declared our love for Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel water bottle.

A reader recently asked me to go into further detail about the Klean Kanteen bottles including my likes and dislikes of their product.

Here’s the extended version of my review.

And please note that I received absolutely no compensation or freebies for this review.

Though I wouldn’t mind a free 40 ounce bottle or Wine Karafe…

I just feel strongly about their product and the need to be BPA free.)

Klean Kanteen: best travel water bottle for kids
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle: What I Love

Klean Kanteen is BPA Free

The number one reason I purchased my Klean Kanteen water bottle was because it contains absolutely no (even trace amounts of) BPA.

For more information about the dangers of BPA check out.

Klean Kanteen is Durable

My Klean Kanteen can be thrown around and the worst thing that has happened is some scratches.

In a year it still hasn’t dented.

And it doesn’t crack the way plastic might.

Klean Kanteen has No Lining

Some stainless steel water bottles are lined with a product containing a small amount of BPA.

The Klean Kanteen is not lined with anything.

Klean Kanteen is Dishwasher Safe

When I had a dishwasher (our new house does not), it was easy to put my Klean Kanteen in the dishwasher.

Now I wash it by hand, which is simple enough as it has a wide mouth.

Loop Cap

This may seem small and insignificant, but I really love the loop cap on my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle.

It makes it easy to attach to bags for backpacking.

Klean Kanteen is Cool

Given that it’s stainless steel, it makes sense that the Klean Kanteen stays cool in cool temperatures (see needs improvement for my thoughts about warm weather).

Klean Kanteen 27 Ounce Bottle

We have an 18 ounce bottle and a 27 ounce bottle.

The 27 ounce bottle is the perfect size for day trips or traveling or just sitting on my desk.

Plus, it’s on the skinnier side making it easy to hold.

I find the 18 ounce bottle to be a little small for most activities.

I may some day invest in a large 40 ounce Klean Kanteen for tennis matches or events where I need a lot of fluids.

Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup

While we don’t have kids, someday when we do, they’ll be drinking out of these too.

I really appreciate that Klean Kanteen makes sippy cups.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Wine Karafe

Wow, this has got to be the Greatest Idea Ever!

So great I decided it needed a heading of it’s own.

A wine carafe (or Klean Kanteen Karafe if you care for the alteration).

Shatterproof, portable, and drinking wine out of it would lead people to believe you’re just drinking water.

Well, except for the fact that it says Wine Karafe on it…

But it’s made to perfectly fit a bottle of wine, and the Klean Kanteen Wine Karafe is pretty.

I like the idea of packing a bottle of wine along with my bottle of water for a day hike.

Kimberly pointed out that you could just pour your wine into a water bottle, but having Carafe seems so much cooler.

Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle: What Needs Improvement

Klean Kanteen Sports Bottle Top

The sports water bottle top on the Klean Kanteen does not work well.

It makes a terrible high pitched squealing when you drink from it.

This is pretty embarrassing when you’re at the gym and everyone turns to look to see where the noise is coming from.

That said, it appears that the new sports bottle tops are different than the old.

If anyone has a new Klean Kanteen sports bottle top, I’d love to know if it works well.

Also, note that you can buy the tops separately from the main bottle allowing for easy changing depending on your activity.

Klean Kanteen Flavor

At first my Klean Kanteen left a very very slight metallic flavor in the water.

This only lasted for a few weeks and now it’s gone.

Perhaps it just needed a few more times in the dishwasher.

However, this is one of the biggest complaints that I’ve heard from others about their Klean Kanteens.

Klean Kanteen Heat

When it’s warm outside the Klean Kanteen gets hot.

Some people use the Built bags around their bottles.

I just throw some in some ice or freeze the water before I go.

Bottom Line Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle Review

The bottom line is that I love my Klean Kanteen.

Despite my short “needs improvements” list, I wouldn’t give my Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle up for anything.

They seem to be a good company and I appreciate the Klean Kanteen commitment to the environment and my personal health.

Where to Buy Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle

I tend to buy everything on Amazon.com, including my Klean Kanteens Stainless Steel Water Bottles.

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.

Related Contents:

Ultimate Guide to Priceline Bidding Hacks

Priceline for Car Rentals

Updated:

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.
Priceline Bidding

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)

Make a backup reservation for hotel/rental cars you can fall back on if Priceline process doesn’t work. (from New York Times, Make Priceline do Your Bidding)

While Priceline makes you wait 24 hours to rebid, you can change the hotel class, zone, or dates to bid sooner.

The trick here is that you can “game” the system by adding zones that don’t have hotels in your class (e.g., if you bid on a 4 star hotel, add a city nearby that doesn’t have any 4 star hotels in it).

Details at How to Beat Priceline

Check Priceline’s Airline Statistics for the most popular routes to see savings. (from Airfare Watchdog, Priceline Now Posting Bid Statistics)

Be patient. If you have time (months) until your trip, don’t rush the bidding process. (from About.com Priceline Bidding Strategies)

Priceline works best for 3 and 4 star hotels, not 2 star hotels and lower.

Get around the wait rule by using a different email address and credit card number. (from Mr. G’s Guide to Priceline)

Check forums to see what other deals people have gotten with their Priceline.

These resources are tremendous and you shouldn’t book with Priceline without first checking them out.

Biggest sites for Priceline bidding are:

BidLess Travel

Better Bidding Forum

Bidding for Travel

Bid 15-50% below published fares for a rate that will likely be accepted.

Related Posts:

Argentina Money Hacks: Costs, ATMs, Coin Shortage

hotel room with old television and laptop

Updated:

Argentina Money Hacks – We learned so much about Argentina money while on our extended vacation there.

Everything from the limited amount of Argentina money you can withdraw from an ATM.

How inexpensively we could live for the day?

When to expect to need exact change?

The coin shortage in some parts of the country.

We experienced some interesting “trades” and how to manage our money traveling abroad as well.

What to know about Argentina money

We spent several months in Argentina, going everywhere from Buenos Aires to Peninsula Valdes to Bariloche as well as many more cities.

If you’re ever planning on visiting Argentina, there are two key things to note, and they are so important I wanted to discuss them.

Cash is king In Argentina

You need cash.

Some places accept credit cards, but frequently these shops will tack on an extra fee for using them.

So, while Visa may be everywhere you want to be, it’s everywhere you want to be with lots and lots of fees.

Cash is hard to get

At some point during our journey, the Argentine banks had some sort of crackdown and starting imposing 300 peso withdrawal limits which is about $86 US.

At first we thought it was just the banks in the small town we were in.

But even when we were in Buenos Aires this happened.

What was worse was that the ATM informed me I had “insufficient funds.”

Another time it stated I had reached my daily limit.

This caused a bit of a panic the first time it flashed across the ATM screen.

I contacted my bank, and they told me that neither of these situations was the case.

After doing some online research, I found a number of forums indicating that there was a $300 (Argentine) limit on withdrawals.

Luckily this didn’t happen until the end of our trip.

Bottom line: it’s not fun to hop around from ATM to ATM each day, especially when your bank charges you ATM fees.
Argentina Money Hacks
When you head to Argentina, make sure you either plan to visit the ATM frequently, bring US dollars to exchange, or (and I hate to suggest this) bring Travelers Cheques.

And if you’re lucky enough to find an ATM that doesn’t limit you, withdraw enough cash to last you awhile.

Argentina money won’t go as far as it used to

Argentina is not as cheap as it used to be.

When the economy crashed in the early 2000’s, Argentina was an amazing bargain.

Now, it’s a good, but not an amazing, deal.

We are pretty frugal people, but we enjoy a good meal and a comfortable bed occasionally.

So, before I list our average daily costs, realize that you could shoestring it and spend less, but you could also spend a lot more.

On average, we spent about $50 person/day in US dollars while in Argentina.

There were days we spent a good amount less and days where we spent a bit more.

This includes all in-country costs: transportation, souvenirs, food, lodging, and excursions.

(Round trip plane tickets from Minneapolis to Buenos Aires were not factored into this.)
Argentina moneyphoto credit: alex-s

It would be easy to spend a lot more if you stayed solely in private rooms, at a hotel, and ate all of your meals out in fancier restaurants.

You could spend less by sleeping in only dorm beds and getting by on $1 empanadas for your meals and not ever traveling around the country.

How much Argentina money will you spend?

Here are some average costs in US dollars.

Lodging in Argentina

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.
Argentina money
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:

Buenos Aires ~ What to See and Do in Buenos Aires

It’s our dream coming true… we get to go to Buenos Aires.

We’ve always said when we move from Washington, DC we’ll travel for a few months before settling somewhere else.

We actually did it. We went on an extended vacation to Argentina in early October and stayed through mid-December, and then traveled around Central America through January.

We were excited to experience the culture and the people, the Argentine cuisine, and see the sights.

Our first stop was going to be Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.

We were blessed with the opportunity to be in Argentina for months.

This is how we spent our time in Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires here we come

We  booked our flights into Buenos Aires and loosely planned our itinerary.

We ultimately planned for our first week at a hostel there.

Being Argentina’s largest city, it was definitely a place we wanted to explore.

Known for its European architecture and vibrant culture, we learned it is sometimes referred to as the Paris of South America.

The Porteños, the “people of the port” in the Buenos Aires region, were very friendly and encouraged us as we used our steadily-improving Spanish vocabulary.

What’s a typical Argentine breakfast?

Will we love Argentina parrilla?

What will we see and do?

Colectivo 86: Insight into Buenos Aires Culture

After our long flight, we got pesos from a bank, and found our way to the bus stop for Colectivo 86, the bus to Hostel Arrabal, all in just 30 minutes.

Pretty impressive, I think.

The hostel’s website told us the 50 cent USD bus ride (per person) would be 40 minutes.

We read elsewhere it could take 2 hours.

It took 2 hours and 15 minutes.

We must have hopped on just as rush hour began — there were kids busing to school and adults commuting to work.

In our sleep-deprived state, we were eager to find our accommodations and a bed, but the long bus ride wasn’t all bad.

Buenos Aires

We saw parts of Buenos Aires we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, like the shanty town barrios where houses were haphazardly constructed of cinder block and cement.

And it gave us insight into the culture.

How people interact, protocol on public transportation, and a chance to reacquaint ourselves with the language.

But like the bus drivers in our ex-hometown of Washington, DC, Argentine drivers are aggressive.

Our driver didn’t completely stop at intersections, started driving away as people were still climbing on, and kept the doors open until he accelerated to full speed.

We had near-collisions at least a dozen times.

I sat by the window, and had it been open, I could have easily reached out and touched the people in the bus next to us.

Fortunately, I was too exhausted to be afraid.

At any rate, the US $0.50 bus ride plus free cultural insight beats the alternative, a US $25 cab ride.

Plus, public transportation is easier on the environment.

I would definitely do it again.

Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve: A respite from the city

We made our way to explore Puerto Madero, a lively port lined with interesting restaurants and some shops.

We had lunch, enjoyed the view and the people-watching, but only stayed about two hours.

From there, we made our way to the Reserva Ecológica de Buenos Aires, also known as Reserva Ecológica Costanera Sur.

Being green travelers, we always look for ways to walk, explore, and appreciate our surroundings.

There could be no better place than an ecological reserve.

There are three different trails which are well-groomed (though not paved) where people run, bike, and roller blade.

Buenos Aires

The Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve is home to over 250 species of birds including flamingos at certain times of year.

While we didn’t see anything particularly exotic while we visited, lyrical chirping provided the soundtrack for our trek.

The reserve provided fantastic views looking back at the city and overall was an excellent getaway after a sightseeing filled week.

Buenos Aires

Another great perk: the food stands aligning the park.

Parrillas and Parrillónes with names like Que Parrilla, La Parrilla, El Parrillón, Su Parrillón, Mi Parrillón, and Scooby Parrillón provide cheap eats of choripan and lomitos.

Buenos Aires

For less than $4 U.S. we had sausage and steak sandwiches which are best eaten with chimichanga sauce.

Not only are they cheap but there is almost no waste since they serve the meat-juice-dripping sandwiches with a single napkin.

In Buenos Aires, I had the best steak ever, maybe of my entire life.

Along the southern edge at Ave Bordega, there is a market where you can buy everything from Barbie doll clothes to antiques and shoes.

We decided to stick with cotton candy.

Buenos Aires Japanese Gardens

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.

Buenos Aires

We even saw this lovely parakeet there.

We learned it was a monk parakeet.

Buenos Aires

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.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

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.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

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.

Buenos Aires

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

Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires

San Telmo on a sunny afternoon

Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires

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.

ColoniaCityGate.jpg

ColoniaSycamores.jpg

ColoniaPinkBuilding.jpg

ColoniaMotorcycle.jpg

ColoniaBoats.jpg

ColoniaManwithDog.jpg

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.

Argentine steak is renowned. After traveling around the country, it was easy to see why the beef is so good.

There is plenty of grass for the cattle to graze on and space for them to wander.

You eat the beef at a parrilla (steakhouse).

Parrilla can also refer to the type of grill it’s cooked on.

Before arriving in Argentina, I heard about the wonderful steaks.

But I was a little skeptical.

How good can a steak really be?

You won’t know until you’ve been to Argentina, but I’ll do my best to recap our top four Argentina parrilla experiences.

Top Argentina parrilla you will want to try

Parrilla 1: Buenos Aires

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.

Argentina parrilla 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.
Bariloche Argentina

Milk Chocolate

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.

Dark Chocolate

In the quest for “Best Dark Chocolate in Bariloche,” we had completely opposite opinions.

I liked Mamuschka and Tourista a lot and didn’t like Benroth at all.

Kimberly favored Benroth followed by Tourista and Mamuska.

Other Flavors

At Reyes, we enjoyed the peppermint in white chocolate.

Benroth had an amazing coconut cream.

From Mamuschka a flavor with honey and almond was delightful.

If you enjoy citrus, Mamuschka also had an excellent orange and lemon cream.
Bariloche Argentina
Here are our complete tasting notes:

Milk chocolate reviews in Bariloche

Mamuschka in Bariloche Argentina

Elizabeth: Smooth and creamy.

Less sweet than Turista.

Very milky.

It tastes like what milk chocolate should taste like.

The most creamy of them all.

Kimberly: The best of the three.

Good flavor and very smooth.

Not too sweet.

Much better texture.

Benroth

E: Tastes a little old.

Crumbly texture.

More milky and less sweet than the others.

K: Texture is pretty good, though not amazing.

It’s smoother than cheap chocolate.

The flavor is interesting — there’s something fruity in it.

It’s good, but not amazing.

Turista

E: Very smooth and creamy.

Extra sweet.

Good for sugar lovers.

K: Sweet, but not too sweet.

Better flavor than Benroth.

Still not an amazing texture.

Dark chocolate reviews

Mamuschka

E: Richest I’ve tasted.

More like what I’m used to dark chocolate tasting like.

Very sweet.

K: Tastes like black licorice.

I can’t get past it.

Benroth

E: Very crumbly.

Dark and rich.

Hints of alcohol burns a little but not in sugary sort of way.

K: Very dark, but not too bitter.

Good flavor.

Interesting but kind of weird texture; not really creamy or smooth.

Overall, pretty good.

Turista

E: Very smooth.

Not super dark, but rich.

Hints of peanut or vanilla?

Extra smooth but strange flavor.

The most creamy of them all.

K: Creamier texture, very cocoa-y.

Kind of a weird flavor somewhere in there.

In the end very good, though.

When traveling to Bariloche Argentina, all of these delectable chocolate shops can be found on Mitre Street.

It is absolutely stunning here.

Check out these views from the window of our in Bariloche, with no zoom.

Bariloche view at sunset

Bariloche Argentina
We took too many pictures to post but here are some of our favorites of the area.
Bariloche Argentina
Cows have the right of way in Argentina, and there are plenty of cow crossing signs to prove it.
Bariloche Argentina
Bariloche Argentina
Bariloche Argentina
In Bariloche Argentina, we enjoyed hiking, relaxing, and eating the delicious chocolate for which the region is known.

This is definitely a must-visit destination.

Tikal National Park, Guatemala – Hidden Ruins, Animals & More

Tikal Mayan Ruin view

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It was New Year’s Day, and we stopped in Flores, Guatemala for lunch on our way to Tikal National Park.

The small island on Lake Petén Itzá, connected by a causeway to the mainland, was eerily empty.

Only a few shops were open and almost no one was out on the street.

We found a spot for lunch.

Afterwards we walked the entire picturesque island before continuing on to Tikal.

Flores offers beautiful scenery and good local food.

It’s the perfect stopping point for anyone driving from Belize to Tikal.

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Now the plan is to go to Tikal National Park in Guatemala for a few days to see Mayan ruins.

Most visitors come to the park, located in the rainforest of Guatemala’s Petén region, to see its expansive ancient Mayan ruins.

But the array of wildlife draws tourists and bird-watchers from around the world.

Tikal is a national park as well as an archaeological treasure

We had planned to stay in Guatemala longer than this but after our extended travel to Argentina, we are feeling the effects of travel burnout.

We were disappointed we were not going to be able to experience Guatemala in the way we’d hoped.

Volunteering, taking language classes, and touring the country.

But at the same time, I realize that with long term travel, it is often hard to fully appreciate everything in our burned out state.

I’m glad we decided to save it for a future trip, and I’m looking forward to getting to experience Guatemala at a later time.

Mayan History and People at Tikal National Park

After studying it in school, I’ve been fascinated by the Mayan history and people.

My first visit to Mayan ruins was to Lubaantun in Belize several years ago.

Since then, I’ve also been to Xunantunich, a magnificent spot near San Ignacio, Belize.

Because of these trips, I felt well-prepared for our visit to Tikal National Park in Guatemala.

But I wasn’t prepared for Tikal.

Tikal National Park is huge.

The grounds were far more expansive than anything I expected and the number of buildings was amazing.

But even the size didn’t surprise me as much as the number of unexcavated ruins.

Less than 20% of the ruins at Tikal National Park are excavated.

Hidden for centuries in the overgrown jungles exist a fallen empire and the remains and ruins of a great ancient city.

In 1956, archaeologists began excavating the massive area.

They found entire cities, towering Mayan pyramids, countless ancient buildings, for acres and acres.
Tikal National Park
This means that as you go from temple to temple, you walk by huge mounds of dirt and grass, often with large trees sticking out.

And do you know what’s under these trees and grass?

More ruins.
Tikal National Park
Tikal National Park

It absolutely astounds me that there is so much yet to be uncovered.

Buried in these ruins there could be tools, jewels, hieroglyphics, and more.

The mystery!

As I wandered the grounds, my imagination running wild, I thought about the future of the Tikal Ruins.

I first thought of all the archeology students who could study abroad in Guatemala and excavate.

They’re cheap labor and their universities could fund the research.

The Guatemalan government doesn’t have the money for excavations.

But then it occurred to me that perhaps we should leave the ruins in peace.

They’re well preserved when covered.

And visitors to Tikal can continue to ponder the mysteries of the hidden Mayan ruins.

What do you think?

Impressive size of Tikal National Park

There are 18 km (11 miles) between the main entrance of Tikal National Park, Guatemala and the actual visitor’s gate where you can walk the grounds.

Unfortunately for anxious visitors, but fortunately for the many animals of Tikal, the speed limit between these entrances is only 45km/hr (27 mph). And it’s enforced.

It’s incredibly ironic that this is the smoothest paved road in Guatemala.

But I digress.

Interesting signs within Tikal National Park

The drive through thick jungle felt long as we were so excited to get to the Mayan Ruins.

But the signs posted along the road gave us hope for animal sightings.

Along that 11 mile drive, we only saw a turkey and coati; luckily we saw many more later that day.

But the signs are fun and not road signs you’d see on your average day of driving anywhere else in the world.

Check them out:

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park

Tikal National Park

Amazing Animals at Tikal National Park

From spider monkeys and toucans to jaguars and parrots, Guatemala’s Tikal National Park (Parque Nacional Tikal) has it all.

Since we only had two days to spend in Tikal, we decided to maximize our experience by staying in the park rather than in town.

We stayed in Jungle Lodge, a very basic bungalow-style hotel.

There’s also camping inside the park.

We watched the sunset from a Mayan temple and woke up with the animals at dawn.

After spending time at Iguazu Falls and Peninsula Valdes in Argentina, we were excited to see the native fauna of Guatemala.
Tikal National Park
As we hiked to a Mayan temple, we heard a rustling in the trees above.

Then, as bits of discarded monkey food rained down around us, we looked up and spotted a group of four spider monkeys swinging through the trees above us.
Tikal National Park
What struck me most about the blue-crowned motmot was its unique tail, which looks like it’s missing a section at the end.

According to my wildlife reference book, it’s called a “tennis racket” end.
Tikal National ParkCollared aracari

Although Tikal National Park is home to a variety of toucans and toucan relatives, we only spotted the collared aracari.

There was a group of five of these smallish birds high above us in the trees.

They hopped around quite a bit so it was hard to get a good photo of them.
Tikal National Park
This duck-sized bird was scouring the grass near a swamp for insects, then plunging its beak into the grass when it found one.
Tikal National Park
The orange-breasted falcon is an endangered species in Guatemala, with only 50 breeding pairs left in the country.

This one is nesting in Templo IV, and we spotted it guarding its nest from the scaffolding outside the temple.
Tikal National Park
When we ran under a tree to avoid the rain, we looked up and saw this male summer tanager.

Its bright red color contrasted brilliantly with the green leaves behind it.

These birds are seasonal migrants to Guatemala.

Female summer tanagers look almost identical, but are yellow.
Tikal National Park
It’s hard to miss parrots in the park, since they squawk loudly as they fly around.

They usually travel in pairs.

This red-lored parrot flew in with another, then landed in the tree above us.

It took me a while to spot him since his feathers are perfect camouflage in the trees.
Tikal National Park
This outgoing group of Ocellated turkeys was hanging out near some picnicking locals, likely waiting for leftover food.
Tikal National Park
We spotted a few of these large birds wandering around Mayan temples.

We only saw males, though; females are brownish in color.
Tikal National Park
After our early morning hike through the jungle, this small yellow flycatcher was perched on a pillar.
Tikal National Park
Just like the coati we saw in Iguazu Falls National Park in Argentina, this guy was hanging out near people scavenging for food.
Tikal National Park
This baby crocodile was swimming through a swamp near the visitors center in the park, taking in all of the tourists.

We learned that sometimes they find poachers in the area.

They may hunt jaguars, pumas or crocodiles for their skins.

They chop down unique and rare trees to make and then sell as furniture.

They even have been known to uproot endangered plants and flowers.

In rare instances, they have even found these poachers living deep in the forests.

When we woke up at 5:00 am on our second day in the park, we were greeted by the eerie calls of howler monkeys.

We searched for them as we hiked through the jungle an hour later, but didn’t spot any.

If I hadn’t seen a group of spider monkeys and some awesome birds, I might have been disappointed.

But the wildlife and Mayan ruins I saw in Tikal National Park made our time in Guatemala the best part of this leg of our trip.

While we came here from Belize, we have friends who flew from Guatemala City to Tikal National Park and flew over active volcanoes and jungles.

That might be something to try next time!

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Argentine Cuisine – Top 17 Argentine Foods & 1 Drink You’ve Got to Try

tuna dish with tomatoes

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On our extended stay in Argentina, we were very excited to sample the Argentine cuisine.

One of my favorite ways to get to know a destination is by sampling its foods.

Argentina is a huge country, and it has remarkably good Argentine cuisine like steak, stellar ice cream, mouthwatering pastas, and dozens of other savory items I’d never tried before.

It’s been a delicious, belt-busting ride.

Wondering what people eat in Argentina?

Here’s our summary of the best Argentine cuisine.

Read to the end to see the top drink, our #18 pick.

Argentine Cuisine

Here are the top 17 Argentine foods you must try

Argentine Steak and Parrilla

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.
Argentine CuisineArgentine Cuisine

Milanesa

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.

Choripan

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.
Argentine Cuisine

Lomito

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.

Migas

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).

Pasta

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.
Argentine Cuisine

Pizza

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.
Argentine cuisine

Empanadas

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.
Argentina cuisine

Trout

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.
Argentine Cuisine

Venison

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.
Argentina Cuisine

Panchos

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 verdict?

The taste was good, but I felt a bit sick afterwards.
Argentina cuisine

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 cuisine

Baked Goods

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.

Argentine Medialunas

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.

Chocolate

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.
Argentina cuisine

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.

Argentine Alfajores

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.

Yerba Mate

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.
Argentine cuisine
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.

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