Reviews

Tuesday Travel Deals

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Domestic Travel Deals

Travel to and from select cities in the U.S. for only $15 each way. Travel times are between August and October.

International Deals

Visit multiple countries In Europe, from multiple cities in the US starting at $408. The hardest thing about this deal is narrowing down what county to visit. For those who don’t live in one of the chosen departing cities consider making it a two for one. Take a flight or train near you to the departure city a few days earlier. Plan to visit some sights my favorite are sky scrapers where you can take in view of the whole city, and African American museums, preferably underground railroads equipped with knowledgeable curators. While the interactive technological locations are entertaining, it doesn’t compare to the wealth of knowledge or value you get from someone who intimately or are personally aware of the history of the location.

So should you leave from Tulsa, Oklahoma be sure to stroll down Black Wallstreet, but before you go check out YouTube videos which gives the history behind it, like this one.

Interested in maximizing the most of your travel experience? Book a bid, and purchase an itinerary from me. You’ll travel for far less, on your time, and with the headache of planning taken care of for you. Join TC Travel Club, and stay abreast of all my travel tips and more details on travel deals.

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Froride: For Traveling Like An American In Israel

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This has revolutionized my trips to Israel and is well worth every penny if you don’t want to find yourself stranded in a foreign land where English is not the first language.  The potential disadvantage of not having a prearranged tour package to Israel is thwarted by this little device that makes communication at home so easy.  Let’s face it everything and everyone communicate via cellphone and while renting a car to travel the land is doable a phone is a lot more affordable and will allow you to go beyond the Israeli/Palestinian borders to explore the Holy Land in its entirety.

Having a phone in Israel allows for you to arrange transportation when it is convenient for you, not on a pre-scheduled format.  It also allows for you to get current up-to-date news which could require you to have to change your plans for the day.  No different then it is in the U.S. if there is an accident on the Highway you don’t want to use up a vacation day sitting in traffic, or if there are major closes in the city then access to wifi will give you access to what’s new in Israel.

Gett Taxi is a service similar to Uber and Lyft and when you are in Israeli territory a very useful taxi service that allows you to arrange taxi service in advance.  However, fortunately if you want to save a few more pennies then public transportation is usually available unless you like to travel late at night.  Wifi in Jerusalem is usually available at least on Jaffa St.  but other places it can be skippy and although the buses promote WiFi usage I have found that to be unreliable in several occasions and when you are on a bus where the majority of the people on it don’t speak English this is not a time where you want to be without cellular service.

Arranging last minute sleeping arrangements:  Its also a nice feature when traveling by bus.  Sometimes because of public transportation, and the distance from Southern to Northern Israel it is more convenient to rent an apartment that can be your home base in Bethlehem and carry an overnight bag to stay in another distant area in Israel or Palestine.  This is especially true when traveling by bus for a number of reasons, one your travel can take a considerable chunk out of your day which means you may not see what you wanted to see the day you get there, secondly buses don’t travel to and fro all day unless you’re talking about within areas in Tel Aviv and the like.  The more remote the less frequent the bus or train stops which means that you could miss the last bus or train out.  With a phone this is not a problem within minutes you can find an airbnb, or a hotel and secure an overnight stay at a fraction of what you will pay as a walk-in.  Shopping around always has its perks.

So you can imagine how excited we were when we found out about froride a service that you can purchase from the U.S. that allows you to reserve a phone and pick up directly from the airport.  You just choose what you want online using their very simple program, provide them with your flight number and arrival time and they email you information as to where to go to meet them.  There they will be with phone in hand and ready to go.  If you feel confident that your phone can use an international simcard and function well then save yourself even more money by purchasing an international sim card.  We personally have always used the cell phone, although you can try the card once you get there we have found that should they run out of phones when you arrive and the simcard doesn’t work then you are out of communication while in the land and this can make maneuvering the land very difficult.  Last minute phone finding just doesn’t sound like a good idea, not to mention you run the risk of paying more money simply because well you need the supply which increases the demand and in the wash this scenario never works out in the best interest of the savvy traveler.  Thus my advice is unless you are 100% sure your phone will work with a sim card that you get the phone.  Another very helpful feature of the phone is apparently in Israel calling the U.S. is much cheaper then it is for us to call from here and as such calling the States or Canada comes with any phone you borrow.  The battery on these phones are amazing I can literally go a day and a half without charging no matter how much I use it, and trust me I use it a lot traveling the way we do.

So if you are planning a trip in Israel I HIGHLY recommend investing in renting this phone, its simple, easy, and well worth every penny when traveling as a native.  Click here to reserve your phone today!

FYI, they also offer other services as well so if you absolutely insist on renting a vehicle you may find their rates to be more competitive for your navigation device.  Also, they offer mobile hotspots this also is a viable option for those who would prefer to use their own cellular phone and service plan.  Having mobile date means you can communicate with Whats app, facebook, and other social media apps to stay connected.  If your accommodations are through Airbnb this is also a useful way to stay connected with your host family.  However, my personal preference is the phone simply because even if mobile data doesn’t work for some reason you still can have phone access.  If your phone doesn’t work in some places or for some reason you can’t get service everywhere the phone although it too can fail you it is still usually much more reliable in the long run.

Unfortunately, Froride is currently only available in Israel so if you are traveling anywhere else and find yourself in need of reliable cellular service then you’ll have to do your research.  If you should find some other services comparable in other countries please write a comment I will definitely check it out and would love to add it to my resources for others as well as for my own use.

 

 

Chi-Town Critique

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So other then the airport and visiting with family I never really had a chance to check out Chi-Town for myself.  It is easy to put it in the category of New York another big city with bustling night life and houses on top of each other, but indeed I must admit they have a lot of unique facets to it.  Personally, even with the hassle of going through TSA traveling by plane is still my preferred mode of travel.  Long distance driving becomes tiring although admittedly you do get to see a lot more, yet in cities parking is definitely at a premium rate, making it way more expensive then using the existing public transportation.  While I must admit international subway systems have spoiled me U.S. transportation options are convenient but in big cities can be intimidating.  Unlike Japan that sports populations in its metropolitan areas as large as New York it does so from a culture that inherently has none of the safety issues that one has to encounter in major cities.

We traveled to Chicago for a family reunion so we didn’t do a lot of sight seeing we stayed in a suburban area about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, but we were able to take a stroll down to the city to see what we could see.  I was surprised that around 10 o’clock at night the city was slower then I imagined, well at least depending on what street you were on.  The Ferris Wheel was still going and the traffic was flowing but many of the shops were closed other then the clubs and a few of the restaurants that were near the clubs.  The skyliners were amazing, especially at night.  It was a much quieter and cleaner downtown area then I was expecting, but come packing cash because Chicago is high end traveling for sure.  If you are driving expect to pay over $20 to park your vehicle, and if you are touring expect to pay $40 or more dollars for museums, boat tours etc…  Time got away from us so other then doing a little light shopping and vehicle cruising we were able to save ourselves a few dollars on the tours and just enjoyed family which was what the trip was about.  I would definitely do Chicago again and would love to do so while traveling by public transportation.  There is way too much of Chicago to see to spend it all on parking!

The Traveling Homeschooler’s Advantage

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Finding amazing deals is all about research, timing, and flexibility and if you have this there is no reason why you can’t see more of the world then what these borders of fifty states have to offer for less then it would cost you to go from Dallas to Los Angeles. Finding amazing deals is what I do I am truly a beast when it comes to researching the internet and finding amazing vacations for amazing prices. I suppose I would be the equivalent for travel as a fashion buyer is for boutique stores. As a former homeschooling stepmom I had no clue about this world of traveling and how affordable it actually can be, had I known then I would have made it my business to save up so that we as a family could at least once during their school years expose them to an International experience, but the Lord knows when these things should take place and clearly it wasn’t time. But the reason why I say homeschoolers have a greater advantage then those in the mainstream population is for these 3 reasons.

  1. bulletin-board-3127287_640Flexibility in time – Homeschoolers aren’t limited to taking vacation only during the summers or major holidays. For travelling these are the WORST times to travel price wise because everyone knows just like that “must have” amazing toy during the year everyone is looking for, that sellers can mark their prices up for top dollar because lets face it we know that on December 26th that must have toy for the big day is going to go down in its value considerably once the day is up. Yet, even though we know this it is worth it for some of us Americans to pay the extra just so that we can see our children light up as they unwrap the toy they didn’t think they would get for Christmas. Well, imagine how much better giving your children exposure to Paris, London, Israel, Africa or Australia would be? A life changing experience that they will not soon forget. I still remember the first cruise I ever took at the tender age of six years old, but couldn’t tell you all the toys that I received that same year. Go figure! Homeschooling families with parents that can opt to choose their vacation time can take advantage of off season traveling at any given moment.
  2. airport-2373727_640Flexibility in location – You’re not talking about going to Disney World or Disneyland in the U.S. at least, but you’re talking about traveling abroad. We’re not talking about visiting Aunt Mable in Florida or Uncle Tom in Wyoming, but traveling over the BIG water and trust me planes are looking for a means to fill those seats, this becomes a homeschool court advantage as traveling becomes a part of the curriculum. An opportunity to take the classroom in the air and over the seas so that as a family you can look, taste, feel, touch and hear the sounds that you have studied in a book or on the web upclose and personal. This means it doesn’t matter where you go over the waters, only that you go and this type of flexibility is available for all reasonable budgets. Having a little creativity will go along way to creating a traveling adventure that you and your family won’t soon forget.
  3. kitchen-1940174_640Taking home on the road – When traveling with children you’re used to living in shared spaces and well this becomes a great advantage with accommodations. Airbnb provides an amazing opportunity for you to not only save money on accommodations but gives you amenities that are just like home many sporting washers and dryers and full kitchens with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. Making maneuvering in home spaces much easier and affordable. As eating out can be pricey for two but for four or more could break any budget. However homeschoolers are use to being happy campers and while experiencing food abroad is a part of the experience a couple of eat out meals will accommodate that need and stocking your fridge will make a far less dent in your budget. By being willing to share or rent a home abroad you will be pleasantly surprised at the nice amenities that are available to you and enjoy the privacy it gives to families to be able to enjoy one another without the concerns that comes with staying in hotels. Beware, while with research this is a great alternative, but only for the one who is willing to do their due diligence in research. You can have a nightmare of an experience without doing so. Always bear in mind if the deal sounds too good to be true well it usually is.

 

These are just a few reasons why homeschooling families interested in traveling abroad can do so while spending less to travel abroad then they would from the east to the west coast of their own country.   I have never planned an international trip for a homeschool family, but would absolutely love to. I take it as a personal challenge that I would like to meet. So if these three aspects of traveling with your family doesn’t scare you then I would be honored to plan your family adventure. Submit to me your bid so we can get you started today!  If you would like more travel tips that can help you craft your own traveling itinerary and much, much more including how to videos and travel preparation materials then be sure to join my TC travel club.  You will also be the first to know about any specials or discounts that I offer for my services or products.  Joining is absolutely free for now, so get in while you can to this exclusive traveling club and start planning your next adventure today!

 

A Layover in Iceland

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In most instances especially when traveling in the United States a long layover is not very exciting. However, what may appear sour one place may be an opportunity to make lemonade in another. This is especially true when traveling abroad its like having two trips for the price of one. I wrote about this on our first trip to Israel where we had a 9 hour layover in Paris. On this last trip we had a 19 hour layover in Iceland. I would have planned much more had it not been on a Friday nearing a Shabbat. Of course in Iceland the sun goes down after 9:00pm during the season of Passover so that still gave us quite a bit of time to see some things.

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There is lots to do in Iceland and our plan was to catch the Perlan Museum in the city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Unfortunately it was closed due to a fire a couple of days before we got there. It seemed simple enough the cost to get a two way bus pass from the airport to the city was significant, around $127 total on the Flybus. From there you take a transfer to a smaller bus (the total price includes this transfer) to the Harpa station and finally something free. A free shuttle bus will get you from the Harpa station to the Perlan Museum. Once there, plan to spend $29 per person to see this museum. The museum gives you a history of how Iceland’s glaciers were formed and would allow you to experience one the way I would like to experience being in an icebox, virtually.

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We were blessed to come in on a beautiful day in Iceland. Iceland has very sporadic weather that can be nice one minute and the next an ice storm can occur. Fortunately this layover was a good one and the weather was cold and crisp, but sunny as well. What it lacks in weather it makes up for in beauty. Breathtaking views and public bathrooms are about the only thing free in Iceland. Iceland is very expensive, to eat a meal even a simple one expect to pay airport prices even at bus stations. Water over $3, meals over $20, I bought some black lava crackers that were $9.99 and the cheapest souvenir that was decent enough to pass for something memorable and useful for a child was a glowing globe pen with Iceland written inside of it, $8.07. My husband bought a book that was a comedy book concerning what Icelanders think about American’s for $36.00. So when you go expect that you will pay a lot for transportation, excursions, and food. Accommodations well we didn’t have to stay over night we chose to stay in the airport. However, I did book a trip for a friend who will be spending a week there, and if you are willing to share a room you can find some accommodations with a central location on Airbnb for $55 a night. Taxes are also expensive so just expect to pay a lot even for something simple. This is when tax free and duty free shopping really comes in handy.

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A note about the airport it was beautiful and the craftsmanship in the place was amazing. From the wooden functional chairs with tables and hookups, to the displaying wall decor that included an electronic board inside the window that showed the views of the city. The bathrooms were amazing as they are fully enclosed and completely functional. The sinks were automatic and the hand drying system is a part of the water faucet saving both space and just plane practical. The sort of privacy you want when you are in a bathroom, especially when it is public. One of the things I enjoy about traveling abroad is it gives me ideas about how we as a nation can improve what we have. All it takes to lose our position as the leader of the free world is to get comfortable and from what I have seen we as a nation have truly gotten way more comfortable then we should.

The people and the food was amazing. The airport experience was a breeze I must say I have found the airport experience abroad in most places I have visited to be a lot smoother, efficient, and faster. An airport is basically like a welcome center to tourist and with that perspective I can see the importance of really making it spectacular.

This is a place that takes health seriously from crackers made out of activated charcoal to juice bars sporting chia seeds and fresh squeezed juice. But health comes at a high premium there as it does here. Those who enjoy all sorts of sea foods will definitely find what they are looking for here as that is also available in abundance. However, other cultures from American made burgers to BBQ and Mexican dishes are there in abundance.

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As I stated before we couldn’t tour the Perlan museum but as one door closed another door open. We made our way to the Harpa which is a concert hall newly completed in 2014. It was absolutely amazing from the structure to the technology involved, and the views of the area. To go into the place is free, but to get a tour is like the VIP pass into the actual halls and how they work. We really enjoyed the experience and it cost us half the price of the Perlan Museum. While the salesman tried to say it was better, I can’t confirm that since I didn’t get a chance to visit the Perlan but as beautiful as it was I highly doubt it was comparable to virtual glaciers. While music halls are things I have seen a glacier is not, but if you go hopefully you will tell me. Happy traveling and I hope this glimpse of Iceland will spark your interest to travel to the lava land island yourself an dip in the Blue Lagoon and enjoy the natural wonders. Dress warm, travel light, and work overtime this spot will definitely put a dent in your budget but well worth the visit.

Medgar Evers Museum

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I always enjoy learning about history and especially my history.  Museums are popping up all over to share amazing facts about our past and I must admit I prefer the Tour Guide assisted ones the most.  There is nothing quite like a well prepared curator to transport you back in time and recreate the treasures of history that is lost from the pages of textbooks.

Located in Jackson, MS it is truly something different about standing in the space that this man who gave his life for fighting for the freedoms I now enjoy that renders you speechless.  In his own words he lived with the fear of his inevitable demise his stand for freedom would take.  He left behind three young children and a young wife who would have to continue on in the fear of being targeted.  Indeed as scripture says, you must first bind the strong man if one is to take a house. (Matt. 12:29)  His death was a tremendous blow to the cause and delayed justice of his murderer was a slap in the face.  Mississippi is one of the most ruthless places for the atrocities of those of us of color in the land. For that cause it’s fitting that it would house within its borders so many museums that preserve that fact. Of course not to its complement though unfortunately many people would consider it’s distasteful treatment of its own citizens to be otherwise, nevertheless I am thankful the accurate history is made available for those of us desiring to discover it.

The window that has preserved the bullet hole still visible and the furniture and walls where a bullet ricochet through still visible to reveal the horror a family had to endure for refusing to apologize for their existence and demanding equal treatment for a system that is receiving equal pay through taxes and patronage from his hard earned money.

His daughters room, Reena, now holds the wall with his life’s story as a beautiful collage and honorable tribute. When decent and humble people can’t raise their family in peace it is a tragedy.  The struggle had never been about being treated better or receiving something for nothing, but being treated equal. Being treated as you want others to treat you.  Such a simple biblical principle that all people should be able to have access too and be willing to live by.

 

 

Me with Minnie Watson our Tour Guide

I am often amazed at how peaceably those who are blessed to be historical orators are at sharing such a profound history.  To be trusted to pass on such valuable information is like having ownership of a trust.  The most important thing about a trust is what will you do with it? How will you keep the legacy, how will you preserve the treasure of such a name? I was happy to hear the family is continuing the work. Reena is actively working to make a difference in the African American youth of Mississippi and her brother and Mother helps her in that work.  I am equally glad that they have chosen to make their home a landmark that will stand for future generations so that they never forget what love looks like and the devastation hate can cause.