Top 10 Travel Hacks

  1. Use Price Alerts

If you have the time to watch flight rates you can catch ticket prices at their lowest if you use price alerts. How? Search using Google Flights and if you don’t like the price listed, set an alert. You will get an email alert every time the prices changes allowing you to book the moment the price suits your needs.

  1. Outsmart Baggage Fees

Baggage fees can cost you up to $125 if you choose to check your bag. If possible consolidate your items into necessities and clothing items that can be warn several diverse ways with many different mix and match options. This can allow you to fit everything into a carry-on sized bag costing you nothing.

  1. Free Water

Airports charge triple the amount you would pay for a bottle of water anywhere else. To prevent these charges bring an empty water bottle with you through security and fill it up at one of the water fountains on your way to the gate. This will help save time and money that could be spent elsewhere.

  1. Be Snack Savvy

Airport snacks are expensive! Take advantage of TSA’s approved snacks that you can pack at home and take through security. All food must go though the X-ray machine with your bag, so be sure not to unwrap or open the snacks prior to the security checkpoint. Some approved snacks include, sandwiches (wrapped), fruit, granola bars, pretzels, cookies, pastries, instant oatmeal, and chips.

  1. TSA Pre-Check

TSA Pre-check saves you time, and the stress of long airport security lines. Airport security can take hours to get through, but for $85 you can become TSA Pre-check certified for five years. No longer will you have to remove your shoes, laptop, liquids, belt, or jacket. You will wait five minutes or less to get through security no matter how crowded.

  1. Contact Cases

If you are only traveling for a couple days, contact cases can save you a tremendous amount of room by downsizing your full size lotions, moisturizers, face wash, etc. This will save you the anxiety of spills or leaks during travel, and will allow you to continue your daily beauty regime without switching to travel size products.

  1. Take Advantage of Upgrades

Airlines sometimes offer upgrades at the gate for minimal pricing compared to when you book. Hotels do the same, you can either asks at check in or prior to arriving you can sometimes check your reservation online and see custom upgrade options. Hilton offers premium room upgrades if available for as little as $15 extra per night.

  1. Frequent Flyer? Take Advantage

If you use the same airlines, stay in the same hotel, or always rent a car from the same company sign up for their loyalty rewards program. Sometimes just signing up gets you benefits that you otherwise would not have. These loyalty programs can score you free miles, free hotel stays, free rentals, or just better customer service which is still a plus.

  1. Paperless boarding

Most airlines offer paperless boarding allowing you to skip the check in line and head straight to security if you are not checking any baggage. Having the app allows you to get immediate notifications if your gate is changes or your flight is delayed, saving you a lot of stress and hassle of trying to find your flight on the enormous board of flight and gate numbers. One downfall of technology is that sometimes our phones glitch and apps freeze. When you first check into your flight on the app be sure to screen shot the boarding pass in case something prohibits you from pulling it up at the gate or security.

  1. Middle Seat Doom

Do you hate sitting in a middle seat? Start looking at the type of plane you will be flying in while booking. Boeing 767 have fewer middle seats than other plans, increasing your chances of an isle or window seat if you don’t want to pay extra to choose your seat.

 

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Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, “the land” full of sports, music, and a one of a kind food market experience. This town is sure to hit all your senses! First stop, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For the price of $23.50 you can spend hours going through decades of music history. See rare artifacts from your favorite artists throughout your life. This museum is a must stop when in Cleveland.

Are you a sports fan? Home of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Quicken Loans Arena you can catch a siting of LeBron James getting ready for the night’s nail biting game. Quicken Loans arena is a great place to catch a game, beer, and a foot-long hotdog while your in town. Quicken Loans arena is a great location to move about town before or after the game, surrounded by night-life, restaurants, and Jack Casino right across the street.

If baseball is more your thing, the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field can fill your night with homeruns, winning streaks, and more hotdogs. The field gives you a great view of the city and minutes away from downtown for any after game adventures.

While you are venturing around the city, don’t forget to stop by the river side located behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Here you can find the infamous Cleveland Sign that will allow you to mark your whereabouts on Instagram.

After you have finished taking pictures and walking along side the river take a stop at Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar   where you can taste their fresh margaritas by the flight. Join them for happy hour every Monday – Friday 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. for drink and food specials.

A must stop on Saturday or Sunday mornings is West Side Market. Wander your way around fresh produce, meats, sweets, and treats! From macaroons to pork loin you will find what you are looking for from local vendors.

The Market is open year-round on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00am – 4:00pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00am – 6:00pm, and Sundays from 10:00am – 4:00pm. The Market is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Click here for holiday hours.

The market is usually always busy so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes since I can promise that you will be making several lapse around the market finding your perfect assortment of goodies. Also, another way to ease the rush is to bring cash. This allows for quick and easy transactions.

Do you love chocolate? Malley’s Chocolates is a wonderland of different specialty chocolates that are the perfect take home gift for your friends and family. Their beautiful pink silos is a perfect place to snag a pretty cool picture.

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Cleveland has a plethora of mural walls that make the perfect back drop to any photo. From West Side Market, downtown, to the suburbs you will find these gems hiding everywhere.

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Need a taste of the south with some chicken and whiskey? Check out Soho Chicken + Whiskey to get your fix. Their deviled eggs, and pimento cheese “snacks” will please any palette. For a main course you can dip you fork into their mac +cheese with sweet corn, almonds, spinach, parmesan cream, truffle, and ricotta. There is also their mouth watering shrimp + grits with asparagus, bacon, tomato, and cheddar.

What about the World’s Largest Rubber Stamp? Make yourself FREE with this giant wonder of the world. This Cleveland landmark stands at a remarkable 28 feet tall and 49 feet long.

Brunching is one of my favorite past times. Avocado Toast is my go-to. TownHall located at 1909 West 25th St. in Cleveland is a farm-to-table hot spot that serves every audience. With a wide range of organic, vegetarian, gluten free options, and an alcohol menu you are set.

After your savory dinner I am sure you will be craving something sweet. Tremont Scoops has 24 wonderful flavors to make into our personalized cone, milkshake, or sundae. They also have ice cream sandwiches, chocolate covered bananas, and a famous chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick.

My personal favorite is their vegan and lactose free vanilla and cookies and cream flavors. Need a gluten free cone? They have you covered!

Happy Cleveland Travels!

Pittsburgh, PA

I fell in love with Pittsburgh the moment I laid eyes on PPG Place, the river side PNC Park, and the endless fresh pepperoni rolls being sold on every corner. A town that can fill any sports fanatic’s cravings from watching home runs from the Pittsburgh Pirates, touchdowns from the Steelers, or some ice action from the Penguins.

Let’s start with the food! I hope you love pierogies because Stuff’d Pierogi Bar is a must while in town. We ordered the buffalo chicken and the breakfast pierogi’s and they exceeded expectations. Growing up eating Pierogi’s these gave my grandma’s recipe a run for their money. Their entire pierogi menu will help satisfy any mood you may be in with their array of flavors. Located in the heart of the cultural district, the walkability to and around the restaurant is amazing!

Next restaurant on the list is City Works , a great brunch, lunch, and dinner menu to choose from and a prime spot if you want a view of the Market Square or want to watch the Steelers play on Sunday on one of their many TV’s throughout the restaurant. With a great beer selection and a mouth watering menu you cannot go wrong.

One place that is a must stop while in Pittsburgh is Primanti Brothers. Let’s talk about a sandwhich full of meats, cole slaw, and fries! That’s right, I said fries! No need to utter the words, “and a side of fries please” because they come ON the sandwich. The original Primanti Brothers location is located in the Strip District, open 24/7! A perfect stop before or after watching a game, or grabbing a couple drinks with friends. If you prefer a Market Square view you are in luck because if you can snag a table you can enjoy the view of the square or catch a game inside while you watch the masterpiece of the legendary sandwich be made.

While you are enjoying one of these massively large sandwiches don’t forget the napkins, you will need one……or twenty.

Onto things to do besides eating your way through Pittsburgh. How about a quick trip to the intriguing Andy Worhol Museum? Seven floors, and an underground full of Worhol art, history, and his story. This is one of the neatest, most interactive museums I have ever been to! From getting to film your own screen test, or getting to enter a room full of large silver balloons it pulls out your inner child.

Get to see the revolution of Worhol artistry from his pop art, screen printing, videos, and his life from the time he was a child to the day he died. If you want to make some art of your own enter the basement where you can get hands on with some paint of your own. Also, if you are a student be sure to bring your student ID since they do offer student discounts on admission.

 

The Strip District is a must when visiting. With farmers markets every Saturday and Sunday morning you can find anything you may be craving. Home to the largest assortment of international grocers you can get fresh pasta, breads, pepperoni rolls, or sweets of your choosing. This is where I got to experience the best pepperoni roll I have ever had and all I can tell you is that it was the best $6 I have spent at a portable food stand.

Need some gear to cheer on your favorite local sports team? The Strip District has you covered with fan shops on every corner and all for a reasonable price! This hat I am wearing below….$10!

Market Square is home to the most beautiful structure I have ever seen, fit for a queen. This square is a perfect destination for the wanderers and the hungry. Surrounded with restaurants that serve every purpose between breakfast, dinner, to desert. The square always has fun events going on from craft fairs, to morning yoga sessions. When there isn’t an event going on you can take part in some of the over sized chess, jenga, and checkers that are placed about the square. Another option is grabbing a one of their many colorful tables and connecting to the downtown wifi network to get some work done will enjoying the scenery.

Do you love sports? Pittsburgh is your town! From baseball, football, to hockey it has you covered. You can usually snag some pretty inexpensive Pittsburgh Pirates tickets and whether they win or loose, the view is worth it! We got Club Level Seats on the third base line that gave us a beautiful panoramic view of the city. Plus, the pierogi races that occur between innings is pretty comical.

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No matter what you are into or how old you are Pittsburgh has something that would interest you. With a high walkability score you can get to a lot of things with a simple pair of comfortable walking shoes.

Happy Travels!

Niagra Falls: Canada

Who would have thought three prestige waterfalls could bring so much joy, attractions, and people! I have visited both the U.S. and Canadian sides. This post focuses on everything you can do on the Canadian side. So expedite that passport and pay the $5 toll to cross that boarder and enjoy a weekend!

Food:

Sweet Jesus: Such a fitting name for some absolutely outstanding ice-cream and coffee. This is the perfect stop on your way to the falls on the Canada side.

Niagara Brewing Company: A great spot for the beer lovers in the family. There are great $4 Beer Specials everyday from 3pm – 4pm, 7pm – 8pm & 11pm – Midnight. Niagara Brewing Company is only steps away from the Falls making it a great stop along the way.

Queen Victoria Place Restaurant: Absolutely stunning views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. A great place to sit outside and enjoy a menu full of fresh local produce and ingredients. Throughout the summer you can catch their free concerts and fireworks.

Hershey’s Chocolate World: That is right, CHOCOLATE WORLD! Half store, half bakery serving up Hershey specialties. My personal favorite is their chocolate shakes!

 

Attractions:

Niagara Skywheel: Canada’s largest observation wheel gives you breathtaking views of the Niagara skyline and its various falls. With one rotation lasting around 10 minutes you will have plenty of time to capture those pictures.

Niagara Helicopters: From Toronto to Lake Eries you can see miles wide of natural beauty. This unique experience allows you view the falls like never before. Open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to sunset. This may not be the cheapest thing to do with adult tickets ranging around $150, but it will provide a lifetime of memories.

Casino Niagara: Two floors of gaming with 1500 slot machines, 45 gaming tables, a comedy club, weekly live Niagara entertainment and four different venues for dining and drinks for you to enjoy.

Fallsview Casino Resort: This Casino is for the family full of gamers and non-gamers alike. With over 100 gaming tables and over 3000 slot machines, Niagara Fallsview Casino is one of Canada’s premiere destinations for live performances, gaming, a luxury hotel and spa, shopping and an array of dining options.

Hotels:

Niagara Falls Hilton: With falls view suits with a jacuzzi and fireplace available you cannot go wrong for a romantic getaway. The Hilton Hotel and Suites Niagara Falls Fallsview and the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort are also connected by a heated and air conditioned indoor glass walkway so in the winter months you don’t have to layer up before going anywhere.

Embassy Suites Niagara Falls: Has both falls view suites and dining that allows you to have spectacular views all night long of the falls. If you can snatch one of their corner rooms you can have panoramic like views. With everything from Starbucks, TGI Fridays, and The Keg Steakhouse + Bar you will never have to leave the hotel.

Marriott Niagara Falls Hotel Fallview & Spa: Voted the No. 1 Fallsview Hotel according to Trip Advisor, you cannot go wrong here. Canada’s first Morton’s Grill located inside the hotel allowing you to sip some of your favorites from Niagara’s best drink menu.

Kinzua Bridge State Park

Wow! Just Wow! Who knew this gem could be hidden in the heart of Mt. Jewett, PA. Voted as “One of the World’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Skywalks and Viewpoints in the World” by the Culture Trip. Located in the Kinzua Bridge State Park, a tornado created this skywalk for us to see today. Used to be the World’s Longest, Highest Railroad Bridge that allowed trains to reach one mountain to the other that was hit by a tornado in 2003. Today the massive steel showers still remain allowing visitors to look 225 feet down into the valley below.

For more information about the Kinzua State Park and all it has to offer visit their site at Visit Allegheny State Park

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Disney World

Walt Disney 101

  • 4 Parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios
  • Magic Kingdom has extravagant seasonal decorations for fall and winter
  • Epcot has the most indoor activities (great for the rainy day on your vacation)
  • If you are a runner you are in luck with Disney’s various running and marathon events. 
  • Want to experience Disney without the cost? Disney Springs! 

Image result for magic kingdomMagic Kingdom Favorites

Attractions:

Cinderella’s Castle, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain (all the “mountains”), and cannot forget the Mad Tea Cups.

Dining:

Be Our Guest Restaurant  You are dining in the Beast’s Enchanted Castle for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Cinderella’s Royal Table (will be temporarily closed from February 28 through March 2, 2018, for refurbishment) Reservations are required and can be made up to 180 days in advance.

Ferrytale Dessert and Fireworks Cruise

 

Image result for animal kingdomDisney’s Animal Kingdom Favorites

Attractions:

Avatar Flight of Passage, DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids,

Pandora- The World of Avatar: Full of avatar adventure including Avatar Flight Passage, a 3-D ride through Pandora.  Na’vi River Journey that takes you deep into the bioluminescent rainforest. Valley of Mo’ara which allows you to hike the floating mountains and other wonders of Pandora.

Dining:

Rainforest Cafe

Restuarantosaurus: This is an easy dining, american menu full of burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc.

 

Epcot Favorites

Epcot is celebrating their 35th Anniversary this year! It is rolling out new merchandise, food, and events to mark the occasion. If you would like to learn more about the 35th anniversary visit Word of Mouse.

Attractions:

Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, Test Track,

Dining:

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival If you can go to Epcot in between , 2017. During this time the International Food and Wind Festival is going on at Epcot. This meansspeciality food vendors, seminars, and demonstrations.

Image result for hollywood studiosDisney World’s Hollywood Studios Favorites

Attractions:

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Dining:

Tune-In Lounge: Speciality coctails with a 50’s theme and a menu full of your flash from the past “TV Dinner’ inspired menu.

Dine with an Imagineer at The Hollywood Brown Derby: This dining experience is unlike any other you will find within the Walt Disney Theme Park range of dining. You get to dine with one of the creative minds that helps bring Disney to life every day.

Image result for disney springsDisney Springs Favorites

Dining:

The Boathouse: Services lunch and dinner and will help you get your seafood fix!

Coca-Cola Store Rooftop Beverage Bar: A pure beverage “bar”, but you can experience everything from floats, smoothies, to Icees. If you cannot decide you can try the International Tray for $8.50 where you enjoy sixteen sparkling and still beverages from around the world!

Earl of Sandwich: When I lived in Florida this was a must have every time I went to Disney Springs. It is open until 11:30 p.m. so great for a quick bite after a day full of roaming the parks.

Jack Lindsey’s Hanger Bar: This is one of the newest additions to Disney Springs. This 1940s airplane turned dive bar is a cool bar and appetizer space that is a must visit.

Shops:

Basin: All natural bath, body, and hair products is my first stop always! You can try their hand products using their in-store sinks that have always left my hands soft, and smelling amazing!

Francesca’s: Did you forget to pack a nice dinner outfit or want to grab something new to wear to the park the next day? Francesca’s is a great place to do that!