Save Money: Book Your Holiday Travel Early
Once Labor Day has come and gone, the countdown to the holidays officially begins. For families, this often translates into a mad dash to book airfare and secure car rentals and hotels around the busiest time of year to travel. What can make holiday travel truly painful aren’t so much the crowds, delays and other annoyances, but rather the costs. Prices escalate quickly. If you would like to have enough funds to actually have holiday celebrations and gifts, you will need to spend your cents wisely in regards to holiday travel. Here are a few tips for this holiday travel season to ensure you still have a budget for gifts under the tree or a turkey in the oven.
Book Flights Up to Three Months in Advance
Many online travel search engines release studies and data informing travelers when the air fare for holiday travel is at its lowest. Usually, holiday flights for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are at their most reasonable between September and mid-October. While there is no sure date or time that will ensure you get the lowest-priced ticket, you can set up air fare email alerts with several airlines and booking agents to alert you when the prices are rising or dropping.
Take Advantage of Fare Locks on Flights and Early Hotel Booking Discounts
Many airlines offer fare locks in which you can lock in a good rate for a few dollars if you are still trying to decide on your holiday travel dates. Fare locks are ideal for holiday travel as the air fare can rise quickly. There is perhaps nothing worse than watching a flight you were contemplating purchasing increase in price just a few days later. Also, many hotels offer discounts if you book well in advance. You can save by being the early bird and booking your accommodations as far out as possible.
Secure Hotels with Ample Freebies
Not all hotels are created equally. Some might look like a great deal for the holidays but once you get there, you never seem to close your wallet. Many properties charge for parking, Internet, breakfast and gym usage. These costs can quickly eat away at your budget. It is best to look for hotels that offer ample free amenities. You don’t want to check in and think you budgeted for everything, only to have pricey amenities be a burden on your holiday travel.
Get a Ride or Take One Depending on Your Situation
If you scored cheap air fare for your holiday travels, you can quickly forget these savings when you roll up to the airport parking lot. Parking costs will ruin a holiday budget. If you can, have someone take you to the airport for your holiday travels. If you aren’t flying or still on the fence about flying, you might want to look into driving instead. If you have a big family looking to get to Grandma’s house a few hundred miles away, it might be more cost effective to take your own wheels rather than renting or flying.
To help you save on holiday travel, Extended Stay America provides discounts for those who book early. In addition to this advanced purchase discount, you can also save by taking advantage of all the free amenities on site.
5 Hotspots for Celebrity Sightings in Los Angeles
A visit to Los Angeles isn’t quite complete until you have had a star sighting. Celebrities fill the City of Angels, heading to their favorite coffee shops, hiking to stay in shape and touching down back home after returning from far off places. If you want to spot a celebrity during your visit to Los Angeles, here are a few places you are more likely to see glitz and glamour in the flesh.
1. Carbon Beach
If you seek out the sands of Malibu, you are bound to find a celebrity soaking up some sun with friends and family. Carbon Beach is a stretch of white sand reaching from Carbon Canyon Road to Malibu Pier. As pricy beachfront mansions line this stretch, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assume those who reside along there like to stroll the sands too.
2. Los Angeles International Airport
Most travelers do everything in their power to spend as little time at the airport as possible. However, in Los Angeles, you might rethink that notion. For celebrity spotting, LAX is one of the best places to see the rich and famous. You can often catch a glimpse of stardom at one of the arrival terminals at the airport. While the stars can duck into first class lounges, they still have to pick up their bags like the rest of us. If you are arriving or departing from the airport, it is worth keeping your eyes peeled to see your favorite celebrities a little jet-lagged and road weary.
3. Runyon Canyon
The celebrity lifestyle includes getting fit somewhere in Los Angeles. While many head to Pilates and yoga classes in town, you can expect to find several at Runyon Canyon. The 130-acre park sits just two blocks from Hollywood Boulevard. It is a popular spot for the famous to work off the pounds for their next role. You can enter the park through three different routes, two at the bottom in the south and one at the top in the north.
4. The Ivy
Many Hollywood tours with a focus on star spotting make a stop at The Ivy for a very good reason. While not known for the cuisine, The Ivy is a well-known celebrity haunt. This eatery is where many celebrities want to be seen. You can easily spot a star having lunch on the front patio of the restaurant.
Grabbing a cup of Joe at a coffeehouse is just one stop on the long list of Los Angeles attractions. And celebrities need their caffeine just like anyone else, so spotting them while you’re getting your morning pick-me-up is not unheard of. You can often find a sunglass-sporting, hat-wearing, incognito celeb at Intelligentsia, a coffeehouse with three locations in the area. At Intelligentsia locations in Silver Lake, Venice and Pasadena, you can easily expect to sip on a fresh cup with a few familiar famous faces. Celebrity spotting at a Los Angeles coffee house is made easy as you can head to these spots with your laptop to catch up on work and emails, all while seeing a celebrity or two.
After all of the star gazing around Los Angeles, you will want to rest up for the night right in the heart of the action at Extended Stay America Los Angeles. Suites come equipped with kitchens, separate bedrooms and premium television channels so you can feel a bit like a celebrity with your own digs in Los Angeles.
How to Save Money on Travel During Retirement
Many people save and save for retirement. They work the majority of their lives so that once retirement does roll around, they can enjoy a calmer life, namely one filled with travel. However, traveling during retirement doesn’t come without its challenges. With a fixed income, you can’t stray too far away from a strict budget when you travel. If you are retired and looking to save money on travel, there are a number of measures you can take to ensure your dollars stretch a little further and allow you to still see the world.
Take Advantage of the Ability to Travel in the Off-Season
If you are retired, you have a leg up on many other travelers out there. You aren’t limited to two weeks vacation in the summer. You can now use your flexibility of schedule to your advantage. Rates on attractions, air fare, tours and accommodations are always heavily discounted in the off-season. Your money will travel a lot further and longer if you don’t travel in the peak season. Seniors will also avoid crowds and competition in the process. Off-season travel is often much more enjoyable and relaxed when you don’t have to pay double and elbow your way through crowds in the process.
Know Your Senior Discounts
While some companies have pulled back on offering discounts for seniors, those who have retired should still look for these deals. From the ticket booth on your tour to your hotel for the night, it never hurts to ask if the establishment offers discounts to seniors. A few dollars off here and there can help you achieve affordable travel. You don’t want to be missing out on discounts that you are entitled to have.
Cook Your Own Meals When You Can
A large portion of a travel budget goes down the drain, or rather into your stomach. Eating out every night of your travels once you have retired will only limit how long you can travel. When possible, seniors should try booking accommodations that have kitchens where they can prepare meals as they would at home. The few nights off here and there from the restaurant scene will help you save a large chunk of change. Home-cooked meals will also help you keep up with healthy eating habits.
Seniors looking to save on their accommodation costs can take advantage of the special discounts for seniors offered at Extended Stay America. Not only are suites nice and roomy, but seniors don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for such luxury as they travel.
6 Hikes to Discover in Southern California
Riddled with canyons, sandy beaches and rocky mountains, Southern California is a hiker’s paradise. Trails forge a path to get up close and personal with that California beauty. Whether you are taking a road trip along the coast or just staying in Los Angeles or San Diego on business, the southern half of the state is crawling with appealing hikes. If you think you’ll be ready to get out and stretch your legs after being in the car for hours on end, check out these six hikes in the area.
1. Mount Woodson Trail
Located in the city of Poway in the San Diego area, Mount Woodson Trail is somewhat off the radar. The 4-mile trail snakes past a lake and up Mount Woodson. However, the main reason many make this hike is for the photo opportunity with its most famous rock, Potato Chip Rock. The massive rock formation looks very much like a potato chip and presents a fun and somewhat frightening photo opportunity if you climb on top of it.
2. Kelso Dunes Trail in Mojave National Preserve
Some hikes are the most appealing at sunrise and sunset. Kelso Dunes hike in Mojave National Preserve is one of those trails. The 3-mile round trip hike rewards travelers with views of sand dunes highlighted the rosy color of the sun. The park itself spans 1.6 million acres in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
3. Solstice Canyon Loop
Still within reach of the beach, Solstice Canyon Loop in the Santa Monica Mountains provides a little bit of everything for hikers. You can choose to take the leisurely hike of just a couple miles, or the more challenging 6-mile route. Along the way, hikers will spot a waterfall, a creek and a ruined mansion.
4. East Fork Trail
Along the San Gabriel River in Southern California, you can follow the 10-mile East Fork Trail. The trail leads to the famous Bridge to Nowhere, a bridge that literally goes nowhere in a rocky canyon. It was originally built for a failed road project in the 1930s.
5. Yucca Point Trail
For a typical Southern California hike, a beach stroll is always a possibility. At Torrey Pines State Park near La Jolla, hikers can traverse the Yucca Point Trail for a coastal hike. The trail is short and easy, perfect for families or new hikers. You can appreciate views of the Pacific Ocean and direct beach access from the trail.
6. Sturtevant Falls Trail
If you are looking for hiking in Los Angeles that isn’t too difficult, Sturtevant Falls Trail provides just that. Located in the San Gabriel Mountains, the trail wanders from Chantry Flats to Sturtevant Falls, a 50-foot waterfall. People have been making this trek outside of Los Angeles since the 1900s.
After hiking around Southern California, you can kick up those tired feet at Extended Stay America Los Angeles. The central location and the luxurious suites provide guests with a fine venue to feel at home and even stay on a while to experience more of the area’s natural beauty.
5 Must-See Museums in NYC
In a grand and sprawling city like New York, seeing it all can pose quite the impossible challenge, especially if you don’t have much time. The museum scene is just one fraction of the attractions that can overwhelm visitors due to the quantity, scope and array of venues to explore in town. If you need help paring down your museum stops in New York City, here are the top 5 you don’t want to miss.
1. Metropolitan Museum of Art
The massive Metropolitan Museum of Art is a New York City icon. With one of the largest collections in the world, the colossal museum boasts it all, from 20th century works to ancient Egyptian finds, featuring a burial chamber from ancient Egypt. In addition to sculpture from the Romans and Greeks, you can also expect to find musical instruments and European masterpieces. While there is technically no admission charge, it is recommended that adults donate $25.
2. American Museum of Natural History
If you are looking for a museum in New York City that is sure to please the whole family—even Mom and Dad—the American Museum of Natural History fits the bill. Since its foundations in the city in 1869, the museum has grown in popularity to become one of New York’s most visited. The American Museum of Natural History features plenty of dioramas to give insight into environments and ecosystems of the past. Easily the most popular exhibit, the dinosaur area of the museum brings the enormous creatures to life.
3. Tenement Museum
Much of the framework of New York City revolves around its immigrant history. To delve a little deeper into that history, New York City offers the Tenement Museum. Only visited by guided tour, the museum has restored the apartments of residents from different time periods. Tours go through a tenement apartment building on 97 Orchard Street, a building constructed in the Lower East Side in 1863. It was once home to around 7,000 working class immigrants. Today you can learn their stories and the history of immigration in New York City on one of the museum’s many tours.
4. New York Historical Society Museum and Library
For a museum visit that is truly unique to New York City, the New York Historical Society Museum and Library provides a fine venue to get to know the city’s colorful history. The museum contains historical artifacts, sculptures and paintings to illustrate the history of New York City. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum is also on site, a venue that brings 350 years of the city’s history alive for the little ones. Admission costs $18 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-13. Those four and under receive free admission.
5. Museum of Modern Art
In terms of New York City museums, the Museum of Modern Art takes the cake. With a collection of around 150,000 pieces, admission grants you the chance to see modern and contemporary art in the form of sculptures, paintings and films. You can expect to see a number of notable works including Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans. Admission costs $25 for adults and is free for children under 16 years of age.
While museum hopping can be enjoyable in New York City, it can also be exhausting. To rest up for the night, Extended Stay America New York City suites provide all of the components for a relaxing time with premium television channels and hot tubs.