By Kacey Mya of Drifter Collective

If you’re a traveler in desperate need of a last-minute getaway, you don’t have to compromise by paying sky-high prices. In fact, there are plenty of great deals and savings only available to those who are willing to be flexible and purchase deals a day or two before departure. So if you want to save when planning your next last-minute trip, follow the tips below.

1. Compare Ticket Prices

Don’t purchase the first flight itinerary you come across. Do your research and look across multiple platforms. In some cases, buying two one-way flights offers a better discount than one round-trip ticket. If you’re traveling internationally, you must book your return flight before you depart. When you arrive at the airport, they will typically want proof of your return in the form of a receipt or itinerary.

2. Use Your Points

If you have a credit card, look at which rewards are available to you. Many cards offer points for each purchase you make, which can later go towards travel purchases like airfare or a hotel room. Some cards even offer money back, such as one to two percent of every purchase returned in cash. You can then use this extra money to pay for expenses like taxi fare or meals.

3. Save With Bundles

You can easily find savings when you look at travel packages which bundle the flight, hotel and even a rental car. If your vacation is a spontaneous one, many bundles can be booked just 24 hours ahead of time. If you want to plan your whole vacation in one swift move, look for a travel bundle that also includes fun activities in your destination city.

packed luggage strategically

4. Travel Mid-Week

It’s known advice that to get the best airfare deals, you should travel during the middle of the week. The cheapest days of the week to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, with weekdays typically being more affordable than weekends. Avoid Friday evenings and Monday mornings, where an excess of business travelers tends to jack up the rates.

5. Use an Agent

Sometimes planning a last-minute vacation can be a hassle, especially when you want to save money. One great option is to consult an expert — a travel agent, in other words. Since agents are paid by the airlines and hotels they choose, you pay no fee for using their services. Agents are also an excellent resource for figuring out how to make the most of your time and money once at your destination.

6. Try Alternative Lodging

Going to a hotel website and booking the first room you find will often mean paying exorbitant and unnecessary prices. In the age of apartment and room-sharing, there are plenty of online sites where you can find unique local accommodations for a fraction of the cost. Or, if you’re into the adventure of traveling, try staying at a hostel. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing a bunk bed, many offer private rooms for a few extra dollars.

7. Find Last-Minute Deals

Last-minute deal sites and apps are a great way to find hotel specials you can’t get anywhere else. Many of these sites negotiate directly with hotels to fill empty rooms and get you a better deal. If you don’t mind taking some additional risk, you can save more money by booking a mystery deal, where your accommodations aren’t revealed until after you’ve confirmed the booking.

dimlit hotel room

8. Practice Hotel Hopping

Having a base camp during your travels, like a hotel room, is a great way to stay relaxed and comfortable on your trip. But if you don’t mind a tad less stability, you can save money by practicing hotel hopping: switching hotels from one night to the next. When you wait to book a room until the day of, many rentals offer steep reductions in the price. Using more than one hotel during your travels is an easy and effective way to save cash.

9. Pack Bags Strategically

Gone are the days when you could bring jam-packed bags to the airport without having to worry about exorbitant fees. Now, the best way to save cash is to only bring a carry-on, which is free on most airlines. Keep in mind that some brands, especially budget chains like Frontier and Spirit, charge a fee for carry-on baggage, which increases the longer you wait to purchase a baggage pass. This fee can range anywhere from $30 to $65.

10. Consider Ride Sharing

While it can be nice to have a cab to yourself, you can easily save money by looking at ride-sharing options. Some of the most common are app programs like Uber and Lyft, where you can order a ride directly from your phone. If you’re at the airport or a hotel, many offer free or cheap shuttles to popular destinations. If you aren’t afraid of public transportation, the local bus or train can also provide great savings.

Prepping for Your Last-Second Trip

Just because you’re planning a last-minute trip doesn’t mean you can’t find exclusive savings. There are plenty of deals available to travelers who wait until the last minute. From flights to hotel rooms, you can plan your ideal trip without breaking the bank.


Kacey Mya Profile Picture

                                            ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.


By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Even if you’re the kind of person to take a last minute trip, vacations always take at least a little planning. You have to think ahead about what you want for meals, where you can get the food you like and what are the best places to stay. There’s also always time spent looking into what you can do around your vacation spot. This part of vacationing can feel monotonous, but it’s also exciting.

You get to plan a trip that’s going to blow your mind, so make sure you plan it the right way. Depending on where you’re going, your planning process is going to look slightly different. Trips to Europe in particular can be challenging for North Americans, because there are so many different countries and cultures to immerse yourself into.

If You’re Traveling to Europe, Here Are 8 Tips That Will Help You Make the Most of Your Trip

If you’re planning a trip to Europe, you don’t need to feel overwhelmed. Read on for some great tips that will help you make the most of your trip. You’ll never feel like you’ve missed anything, so you can just enjoy your vacation. Lose yourself in an incredible vacation to Europe and you’ll soon be planning your return trip in the near future.

lovelock in Germany

1. Don’t Try to See It All

When people visit popular US destinations like theme parks or large cities, there’s often an attempt to see everything in one trip. While that may be possible with a tight schedule, there’s no way anyone can see everything Europe has to offer. Don’t waste time stressing about timing flights or hotel bookings.

Instead, make a list of what you want to see first. Try to visit the top five places, if they’re in the same general location. You’ll eventually work your way down your Europe sightseeing bucket list with future trips, so don’t sweat it if you only stay in one area for your first go around.

2. Investigate Your Travel Options

Europe has a lot to offer visitors, but the destinations aren’t nearly as spread out as vacation spots in the US. You don’t need to get expensive flights to every city, which is why you should investigate your travel options. See if you can use things like tour buses or trains to save money. You can ride in style with the major tourist buses or try to blend in with the locals with trains or ride sharing apps. Know the options that are available in the places you want to visit before you get there so traveling is a breeze.

3. Take a Cruise

The phrase “backpacking through Europe” is a cliche for tourists to use as their framing device for a Europe vacation, but it’s not the only way you can travel the world. Check out your cruise options, since there are so many that will take you through the best places in Europe. You can get your food, board and entertainment wrapped up in one package, in addition to not having to pay for parking when you get to your destinations.

Deck on Viking River Cruise
Take a look at why you’re too young for a Viking River Cruise

4. Book Hostels to Save Cash

Americans are used to booking a hotel room whenever they travel, but Europe has other lodging options that might be more affordable for your budget. Hostels have existed long before room sharing apps. They were meant to house students and workers as they traveled, but tourists are now welcomed too. They’ll make you feel more like a local and not charge you typical hotel fees.

5. Travel During Off Seasons

Like any other popular vacation spot, Europe has its peak and low seasons that you should be aware of. If you travel there during the peak tourist season, you’ll find long lines and sold out spots that will be crushing not to visit after flying all the way out there. The low season is typically from November to March, so you’ll have a much better chance of encountering lower tourist volumes if you plan your vacation for the fall, winter or early spring seasons.

6. Research Upcoming Festivals

Picture the town where you live and the little festivals it probably has throughout the year. Now picture those festivals magnified for all of Europe to come visit. European festivals are one of the biggest tourist attractions that Europe has to offer. You should especially consider going to a music festival, since those tend to be the most popular. They’re a great opportunity to listen to the latest music and have a great time jamming out.

Budapest Chain Bridge

7. Pack One Fancy Outfit

The goal on a big trip to Europe is to pack light. Recycle outfits whenever you can, but it’s also smart to pack at least one fancy outfit as a backup plan. You may want to try a local restaurant that’s requires nicer clothes than jeans and a t-shirt, and you don’t want to miss out on an experience just because of what you didn’t pack. Have something business casual on hand for last minute wardrobe changes you may need to see a fancier venue or location.

8. Save as Much as Possible

You may be planning your trip down to the last minute, and that’s great if it’s what you prefer. There are still some unknowns you may be facing though, so it’s wise to save as much as possible before your trip begins. Tipping will be different in different countries for your dining experiences, and travel rates for buses and trains may not be the same.

There’s also an important factor to keep in mind. You don’t want to pay to travel to Europe and not enjoy every minute. Don’t waste time by ordering room service or eating in the hotel restaurants. Go out and see the cities you visit, eat at local restaurants and discover new experiences. You’ll get a better time from your trip if you have the freedom to go out for meals and other little things that you may have stayed home for on other trips.

Even if you put off your trip for a couple months to save, it’ll be worth it when you get there. You’ll have the ability to travel farther and see more. While you save, consider things like where you want to go and if a cruise could get you to those places. Looking at your trip differently than you would when traveling to an American city will transform your trip planning and give you a fantastic vacation.


Kacey Mya Profile Picture

                                            ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.


By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

One of the best ways to experience travel is by indulging in the local cuisine.

In Portland, Maine, there are many dishes crafted with fresh, local food that every visitor must try. Here are the top 10 dishes that Portlanders love — and visitors will, too:

1. Pancakes With Maple Syrup

The most important meal of the day needs to be delicious and satisfy hearty appetites. Pairing buttery pancakes with fresh fruit and local syrup to make breakfast is classic. For Portlanders, the pancakes are great, but they aren’t necessarily the highlight. It’s the maple syrup — which is produced all over Maine — that makes the meal.

People from Maine love their maple syrup so much, they have a day called Maine Maple Sunday each year in March to celebrate the official state sweetener.

2. Potato Donuts

Typical donuts are made with yeast, salt, butter, sugar, buttermilk and flour — but then there are potato donuts. This Portland staple has those same ingredients as well, but there are also mashed potatoes thrown in, making them heartier than your typical glazed or iced breakfast treat.

People in Portland love that they can eat their savory spuds in a sweet way. The Holy Donut, made potato donuts a staple when they opened in 2011 and started cranking out 40 dozen a week — all made from scratch — before growing to 100 dozen and more. Now, they make over two million donuts a year.

3. Poutine Fries

Poutine is also popular among Portland potato enthusiasts, especially when it originated just next door. Originally from Canada, poutine is made with thick-cut french fries, locally sourced cheese curds and homemade gravy. The dish is typically offered as an appetizer or side and is gone within minutes.

4. Hot Dogs

Carnival and fair food have a place on the Portlander’s plate as well.

Jazzing up a hot dog is something Portland takes pride in, especially when creative renditions become popular. Made with local beef, restaurants like Blue Rooster Co. and El Corazon are crafting franks featuring flavors like kimchi, peanuts, beans and guacamole. Adding a bit more to the hot dog seems to give it a better spot on the menu.

5. Crab Salad

Crab salad is a customizable dish, which can be offered as an appetizer or main meal. Crabbers catch and harvest their crabs off Portland’s own shores, so the crab is always fresh. Top a bed of fresh greens with it or use it to dress up your pasta salad for some northern Atlantic flair.

6. Clambake

A traditional clambake you might find in New England is done over a fire-pit in the sand — but it can also be done without. It’s made of mussels, clams, lobster and any other kind of seafood you like, along with corn, potatoes, onions and other veggies. It’s completely customizable, so it’ll likely vary a bit depending on where it’s being served, but it’s perfect for those who want to indulge in a variety of seafood. Plus, it feeds multiple people at one time, so it’s ideal for sharing at parties and special occasions.

7. Haddock Chowder

Haddock and fish chowder is another delicacy Portlanders love. The dish was created by Helen and Larry Mugnai when they opened Helen’s Restaurant in 1950, and it’s been called a New England classic ever since.

8. Lobster Grilled Cheese

It wouldn’t be the best bites of Portland, Maine without mentioning lobster.

Lobster finds itself in many seafood dishes, but none are like the lobster grilled cheese. Seared between two thick slices of bread with melted butter and cheese, lobster grilled cheese is a classic made for Portlanders of all ages.

9. Lobster Pie

Besides adding lobster to their grilled cheese, Portlanders have found ways to incorporate lobster into other dishes, too.

Combining all the warm, comforting aspects of pot pie with Portland lobster, lobster pot pies are popping up on the food scene and delighting taste buds. It’s like chicken pot pie, but it uses lobster tails and crab combined with the chicken broth and fresh vegetables instead.

10. Lobster Rolls

Offered at many restaurants and food stands, lobster rolls are one of the best dishes when it comes to traditional Portland fare. Blanketed with butter that highlights the fresh catch and seeps into the soft bun, a lobster roll is something every Portland visitor should experience. It’s one of the must-eat items when you visit Maine.

The Way to Portland’s Heart

Any of the dishes above are bound to turn visitors into happy travelers. When stomachs are satisfied, so are hearts — and they’ll want to come back.


Kacey Mya Profile Picture

                                            ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. You can find her on Twitter & Pinterest.


By Veronika White

There is a big problem in society today… we are falling apart! It seems that we simply don’t have enough free time any more to actually bother to deal with even the most common ailments that impact us every day. Especially with our busy, 21st-century lifestyles, many people have just stopped taking the time to fix those little problems that can become bigger problems if not handled properly, which can be a bad idea in the long run if those little problems do decide to get bigger.

Luckily, there are quick, affordable, easy (and usually homemade) ways that you can deal with things like fatigue, headaches, sore muscles, depression and digestive distress.

**Please note, these remedies are not a substitution for medical attention or prescribed medications. Consulting a physician for any ailments or medical issues is always advised. Always confirm what is safe to be combined with any prescribed medication you are already taking**

Life’s Busy? Here Are Some On-the-Go Natural Remedies for Common Ailments

 

fatigue remedies

Fatigue

If you’re experiencing fatigue, here are some natural remedies that can help!

  • Try licorice root. Licorice root (in standardized form) is a commonly used natural remedy for fatigue, as well as adrenal fatigue. Look for standardized licorice root in extract or pill form. Speak to your physician if you take blood thinners, potassium, or blood pressure medications, as interactions can occur.
  • Get more maca. This is another great home remedy for chronic fatigue. This plant is part of the cruciferous family (like bok choy or Brussels sprouts) and is known for giving a caffeine-like energy boost without the jitters and shakes of coffee. Those seeking maca root as a remedy for exhaustion can find it in powders, liquid extracts and capsules. Anyone with thyroid issues should consult with their physician before taking maca.

Headaches

When it comes to headaches, things get a little tricky. Head pain can be so diverse that it is sometimes hard to nail down one suggestion that works for every type of headache. However, there are a few things that seem to work consistently well for most headaches.

  • People who suffer with frequent headaches often have low levels of magnesium in their system, so increasing your levels of magnesium can bring all-natural headache relief. You can get the extra magnesium that you need simply by consuming healthy foods like whole grains, beans, broccoli, nuts and seeds.
  • Doctors recommend consuming 200 to 600 milligrams of magnesium per day for most people to help prevent headaches.
    • FOR PEOPLE ON THE GO: taking magnesium in supplemental capsules is an easy and super quick way to make sure that you are meeting that nutritional requirement. Simply grab the capsules and some water on your way out the door in the morning.
  • Try consuming more foods rich in vitamin B12. Another nutrient that provides natural headache relief is vitamin B12. A lot of people do not get enough of this vitamin in their diets, so sometimes supplementing may be beneficial. Healthy foods that contain this vitamin include most types of fish, nutritional yeast, almonds and sesame seeds.
    • FOR PEOPLE ON THE GO: it may be easier to just take a solid multivitamin to ensure that you are getting enough B12 (this would cover your magnesium needs as well).

nuts and health promotion

Sore Muscles

Nobody likes to have sore muscles. They may be linked to a variety of causes, including blood flow problems, dehydration, certain medications, lack of certain minerals (such as calcium, potassium and magnesium), exercise, injury or overuse.

  • Magnesium oil can help stop leg cramps. Magnesium is a fantastic muscle relaxant. An added benefit is that it can be applied via spray pump bottle very quickly and easily.
    • FOR PEOPLE ON THE GO: magnesium oil is great because it can usually be applied in less than five minutes on your way out the door in the morning.
  • Another effective treatment for sore muscles is applying heat. A warm shower or bath is a natural muscle relaxer, which can be great for tension-knotted shoulders or tight muscles.

Depression

Depression is a tough thing for anyone to deal with. It hits hard and can last a long time. Too often, doctors will prescribe medications to treat depression. However, there are a few natural treatments that do not involve chemicals which are proving to be very effective for a lot of people.

  • Try using saffron. Saffron extract may improve symptoms of depression, but more study is needed. Just be aware that high doses can cause significant side effects – Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
  • John’s wort would be very helpful. However, use with caution. St. John’s wort can interfere with many medications, including blood-thinning drugs, birth control pills, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS medications and drugs to prevent organ rejection after a transplant. Also, avoid taking St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants — the combination can cause serious side effects.
  • Add fish oil to your diet: according to the Mayo Clinic, researchers have found that people who have low levels of two brain chemicals found in fish oil supplements may be at an increased risk of depression. Therefore, supplementing with these oils may help ease or even prevent depression.

Digestive Distress

Digestive issues have so many causes that sometimes it may be difficult to determine exactly what is causing your unique set of issues. There are certain steps that you can take to help ease the discomfort:

  • Exercise more. Always exercise more. This solves a lot of problems
  • Avoid foods that cause gas
  • Certain sweeteners can cause gas (such as fructose and sorbitol). They are often found in candies, chewing gum, energy bars, and low-carb foods, so these foods should be avoided
  • Avoid carbonated drinks
  • Start focusing and try to eat and drink more slowly. Eat mindfully
  • Stop smoking
  • Try not to chew gum
  • Try to eat less fatty foods

It’s easier than people think to live and be completely comfortable in your body and not suffer like the majority of people seem to. There are natural remedies everywhere for just about any ailment, and many of them are extremely effective. Try these, or research some to find what’s best for you… good luck!

**Please note, these remedies are not a substitution for medical attention or prescribed medications. Consulting a physician for any ailments or medical issues is always advised. Always confirm what is safe to be combined with any prescribed medication you are already taking**

                                                


ABOUT THE AUTHOR                                                             

Veronika is a student of Holistic Nutrition, with plans of opening a grassroots nutrition business after graduation that will help to educate people about how to live a healthier life through how they eat. She designs recipes that are nutritious as well as delicious, using real, whole ingredients and using foods that people might not normally choose (with the hope of teaching people more about them so that they will eat them!). In her spare time, Veronika enjoys working in her garden, yoga/tai-chi, writing, hiking and cooking. Stay tuned, as she is releasing a cookbook (based on helping redefine what healthy actually is) next year!


 Keep this post for later or share with others on Pinterest – just hover over the image below & click “Pin it”! If on MOBILE, tap the photo below & click ‘Pin It’ when it appears!

On The Go Natural Remedies For Common Ailments

 

 

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Maintaining a healthy diet while traveling challenges the most avid adventurers. You must graze upon what’s readily available, and if you’re between flights or own a plane, the challenge makes you feel like you’re on an episode of “Survivor.” For those with dietary restrictions, it can risk your life.

Suddenly, a bag of baked chips costs the price of a fancy latte. You order a “dollar” menu burger for breakfast — sure, it’ll do, and you tell yourself you’ll make up for it by eating healthier later. Don’t wait for whenever that’ll be and prepare in advance with these airplane snacks and packing tips for every eater.

Fig and Fruit Bars

Bring fig and fruit bars along with you on the plane. What’s not love about a part-cookie, part-cake snack? There’s fruit in there, so it’s healthy.

You can find the prepacked fig and fruit bars in the granola bar area of the grocery store. You can also make your own and seal them in sandwich bags.

String Cheese

Want something the whole family will eat? Try string cheese as a simple peel-and-eat treat without any fuss or mess. You and your child can enjoy peeling apart each string, and this motion benefits developing motor skills in youngsters.

Purchase them individually-sealed to maintain optimal freshness, or vacuum seal each individually. If on a long flight, choose a hardier cheese to endure the hours. Keep this dairy item fresh in an insulating and cooling travel snack bag with other fruits and cold items.

Dried Fruits and Vegetable Slices

Dried fruit and vegetable chips satisfy cravings for crunchy snacks. Fruit and vegetables turn brown when plant tissue is exposed to oxygen —  enzymes inside the chloroplasts quickly oxidize compounds in the fruit tissues. Dry fruits and vegetables slowly in a dehydrator or the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until crisp.

Purchase small containers with airtight lids perfect for dipping sauces. Pack peanut butter, honey or whatever else you like.

vegetable tray an airplane snack ideas

Sliced Vegetable Straws for Dipping

Prefer dipping “fries” over chips? Instead of dehydrating chips, simply slice up hardy vegetables into straws perfect for dipping, such as carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower. Don’t forget the sauces.

Go Nuts with Trail Mix

Choose nuts for their simplicity and protein count to tide your appetite over until the plane lands. Many campers and hikers use dried fruits and nuts to make their trail mix because these ingredients travel well and satiate various cravings while meeting nutritional needs. You can mix bananas, raisins and other nuts for an energy boost, or if you want big flavor, opt for Cajun spices the mix. Add dark chocolate nibs for sweetness.

Purchase ready-made trail mix at the store or online or make your own trail mix. A compostable bag with a zip lock makes this snack eco-friendly and fuss-free.

Squeezable Applesauce + Other Ideas

Squeezable applesauce is fantastic for traveling toddlers and families, but they’re also great for the professional with a strong inner child. You know what they say — an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
It’s all in the perspective you take. You’re less likely to get your business suit messy when you squeeze an applesauce pouch as versus eating out of a plastic cup with a spoon.

With trial and error, make your own homemade and refillable pouches for applesauce and other ingredients, such as guacamole to squeeze on your chips. You can also seal peanut butter and other items this way. Open your airplane snack options with squeezable pouches, even if you feel a bit like a childish mad genius.

Jerky

Jerky is a protein-rich, travel-friendly classic for meat lovers. It’s not only for the trail — jerky is a nutritional snack on the plane, too. From smoky to spicy, it comes in many flavors and endures in individual packaging or together in its original packaging.

Tips For Packing Your Airplane Snacks

From fruit bars to jerky, these simple snacks will fit in a food-friendly, temperature-controlled bag that you can easily slip underneath your chair for a treat as you get hungry. You can satisfy your cravings and meet your dietary needs.

Place heavier items at the bottom of the bag and lighter, squeezable items on the top. It doesn’t take much to fill you up when you pack the right mix of healthy fats, sweets, carbs and protein. Bon voyage!

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Porch.com, Tripping.com and more!

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!


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Airplane snacks and packing tips

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

City living is wonderful, but the cost of living in some of the big U.S. cities—looking at you New York and Los Angeles—is a big deterrent for living there. Luckily this country has multiple wonderful cities throughout it where the cost of living is more affordable. Here are 10 of the most affordable cities you’ll find in the U.S.

1. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh is a great place to get the hustle and bustle of the city without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also cheap, especially when compared to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s other main city. One of the best benefits here is the low cost of housing and utilities.

Built around where three rivers meet, it’s also in a unique and gorgeous location. Even when you live there, the view of the city from Mount Washington doesn’t get old. Three major sports teams have stadiums there, and the energy in Pittsburgh on game day is something that’s hard to find anywhere else.

2. Fayetteville, AR

Another city with a very low cost of housing, Fayetteville comes in under the national average in every major expense. If that doesn’t sell you, the city has also been in the top five in the best places to live ranking two years running now. Factoring into that ranking was the low commute times, low unemployment rate and a lower crime rate compared to cities similar in size.

There are multiple parks in the city, as well as Lake Fayetteville, a sizeable lake great for fishing and kayaking. If you’re into history, the Clinton House Museum is here, as well as one of the most intact Civil War battlegrounds in the country, Prairie Grove.

3. Omaha, NE

omaha nebraska

Image via Flickr by vwCampin 

Omaha is also under the national average in all the major expenses, with housing and utilities being the farthest under. The city is located right in the heart of the country, giving you equal distance to all sorts of destinations.

Omaha itself offers a strong arts and culture scene with many museums and cultural events. The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is outstanding and takes at least a full day for you to see it all. Sports fans looking for something out of the box can enjoy the AKSARBEN Stock Show & Rodeo.

4. Des Moines, IA

Des Moines has a solid 10% lower cost of living than the rest of the country—housing and groceries being the lowest amenities. It tops the list as the most affordable city in the country due to less than 25% of income being spent on living expenses. It’s the only city that’s under 25% in that category.

If you’re a political junkie, the Iowa caucus is one of the biggest factors in a presidential election, meaning campaigns are sure to stop here. Downtown has been revitalized recently and is home to festivals, restaurants and other hot spots.

5. Indianapolis, IN

Indianapolis is becoming more affordable, with its housing prices going down a bit this past year. Indy boasts both the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Colts, so it’s another city that’s heaven for sports fans. It has a great arts and antiques scene, as well as live music. And if you need a break from the city, it’s surrounded by state parks.

6. Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids MichiganImage via Flickr by amtrack_russ 

While the transportation costs are a bit above average, Grand Rapids makes up for that with low housing and health care costs. If you love public art and craft beer, Grand Rapids is a great choice. The city gives off a small-town feeling, with people always waving hello as you walk by. There are 1200 acres of parks within the city, and if you’re looking for more water than the river offers, Lake Michigan is less than an hour away.

7. Knoxville, TN

Knoxville’s housing costs come in at a whopping 23% below the national average. Knoxville is known as the most dog friendly city, which is probably the best selling point a city could have. The Knoxville Museum of Art has fun classes so you can continue to learn and hone skills throughout your lifetime. Turkey Creek offers 300 acres of shopping if you’re craving some retail therapy.

8. Buffalo, NY

New York City may not be affordable, but Buffalo definitely is. It’s also one of the most beautiful cities to live in with all the waterfront views—it’s right on Lake Erie and the Niagara River. You’ll also have one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, Niagara Falls, a short drive away. Winter is king here, with great skiing and ice-skating areas.

Whether you are looking to move, or just visit, check out this guide to Buffalo for where to stay, where to eat, what to do & what to see!

9 + 10 Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN

They don’t call them the twin cities for nothing. Both of these have a low cost of living and residents only pay a little under 26% of their income towards housing and utilities. The cities offer a high quality of life and the job market there is in its prime. You can be right in the thick of two cities and reap the benefits from both. It means more things to do and explore, and more job opportunities that are close to you.

Living in an amazing city doesn’t have to break the bank. While they might not be the biggest cities the country must offer, they still have that city feel and their own unique charms—not to mention being affordable.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!


By Kacey Mya of Drifter Collective

Going on a trip means that you’re going to have to pay for a place to stay, and there are so many options to choose from nowadays that it can be difficult figuring out what to do. Do you book a rental from your phone, or reserve a hotel room online? When you’re traveling, staying in a place where quality is guaranteed can make the whole trip worth it, which is why luxury hotels are the best places to stay at on vacation.

If you’re going to spend more money than usual on your room, you have to know what to look for. Not only should you keep your eyes out for any deals on your room package and any extra amenities your hotel may include (think restaurants and bars), you should also look for the small things. Not all five star hotels have the perks you’re used to, and they could make all the difference.

Free Wifi

More affordable hotels almost always offer free wifi as part of your room deal. It makes for a great advertising opportunity to draw travelers in who just want to relax and surf the web after a long day on the road. Not all luxury hotels will include this though. Pay close attention to the details listed under your chosen room option to see if wifi is free or not, and prepare to work it into your budget if it’s an extra charge.

Sometimes free wifi makes the difference between staying at a particular hotel or not, depending on your budget and how long you plan to stay there. It’s easy to forget that it’s not freely offered at every venue, so don’t forget to check before you click that reserve button!

Complimentary Breakfast

tea and towels hotel amenities

Free breakfast is another amenity that many hotel guests take for granted. It can save you a good chunk of money in your meal budget, especially if you plan on staying somewhere long term. Some luxury hotels include this feature in the room price and some don’t, even though complimentary breakfasts were recently discovered to be one of the top three hotel room amenities.

If having a free breakfast or not is what makes you choose to stay somewhere, you’re not alone. Make sure that when you pay top dollar to stay at a luxury hotel, you’ll also get some food included in what you pay so you can grab a snack for the road before you head out on an early vacation adventure.

Free Parking

Depending on where you live, the idea of not having free parking at a hotel could seem crazy. Most regularly priced hotels don’t make you worry about parking, but it really depends on the location that you’re staying at. Because luxury hotels are often where people visit the most, you may end up forking over money just to leave your car in the lot.

This is another feature that many guests consider a deal breaker. Free parking is actually one of the most important features a hotel offers, according to a survey taken by frequent travelers. That’s because the price of parking can really add up, and the cost isn’t exactly predictable if you don’t know how much you’ll be going in and out of the lot on your trip.

lowes hotel vogue montreal

Blackout Curtains

Not everyone thinks about curtains when they’re trying to find an available hotel room, but curtains can be the one thing that turns a good hotel experience into a bad one. Don’t just assume that your luxury hotel has these in each room. Call ahead of time and ask if the curtains in your room will blackout lights or not. These kinds of curtains are one of the things that should always be in hotels, so if your luxury hotel doesn’t have them, you’ll know to spend your money somewhere else.

 

Just because you’re planning on spending money on a luxury hotel doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to have a great time just because of the price tag. Hotel experiences come down to the little things, like the amenities that you’ll be using. Do all the research you can on the luxury hotels you’re looking at to make sure these basic needs are included in your room payment, because they can make a great trip quickly turn into a terrible experience.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.

Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!


By Taylor Schear of SOFLOFOODFINDS

We all know that traveling is fun, but let’s be honest… it’s not easy. I always go through the dilemma of what to pack, what to wear, and most importantly how to make it all fit in the suitcase! My biggest dilemma is what to stick in my carry on for flights. I fly into a new city and within the first hour have to be in a meeting. There is no time to spare, and I surely can’t go digging through my suitcase.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Travel Without

After much trial and error I have put together a list of my tried and true travel essentials.

Essential #1: Mable Toothbrush

Mable Toothbrush ranks at the top of my list due to the amount of times it comes in handy. Something about gum just doesn’t cut it for me. I always feel like I need to brush my teeth at the airport before heading out to a business meeting. The best part about Mable is the fact that it helps save the planet. Rather than the plastic toothbrushes everyone is used to, Mable is made of biodegradable bamboo and vegetable based coloring. The toothbrush stands on its own, which is a lifesaver for those airport and hotel bathrooms!

Essential #2: Monkey Mat

Alright so this may seem far-fetched at first glance, but adding a Monkey Mat to my carry on has probably been one of the best choices I have made when it comes to traveling. For those not familiar with the product, Monkey Mat is a 5’ x 5’ mat that stuffs into a pouch the size of a softball. The mat is water resistant and has weighted corners. Honestly, it’s great as a replacement for a beach towel or picnic blanket. However it has a complete different purpose for my travels. The mat is great for layovers at airports. Every time I have a long layover, everyone has already taken the seats at the terminal, and the last thing I want to do is sit on the dirty floor. Well, I use the Monkey Mat as my portable clean floor, and it works like a charm!

Essential #3: Bobble

essentials for carry ons

Bobble is one of the best products ever created. Purchasing water at airports is like buying a beer at a baseball game… expensive. I toss my Bobble in my backpack empty (makes it past security) and then fill it up at one of the water fountains once inside the gate. The filter takes all of the unwanted items out and leaves you with water comparable or even better than the $8 bottles the little kiosk tries selling you.

Essential #4: Healthy Snacks

You knew this was coming… no one can make it through a flight without eating. I am all about staying full for as long as possible. The problem with having meetings right after a flight is it leaves you no time to grab an actual meal, and I’m sorry but typically airplane food won’t cut it. I have three snacks that I carry with me at all times: Super Yummys, Goodness Knows, and Kind Bars. Super Yummys comes in handy when I have a sweet tooth. The coconut snacks have less than 80 calories each and give me just enough sweetness where I’m not craving more. Goodness Knows is a go to since the bar is separated into 4 larger bites. I like this due to the fact, I can eat half and then save the rest for after the flight easily. Lastly, Kind Bars are just plain amazing. The amount of protein and minimal sugar makes me feel all good inside.

Essential #5: TOMS Backpack

This is what holds all the pieces in place. Can’t pack a good carry on without the proper bag. TOMS is known for their iconic shoes, but what people don’t know is that they make amazing backpacks. I refuse to use any other bag besides theirs for a carry on. The backpack is larger than the typical which allows me to carry more. Additionally, it has a padded laptop holder, side pockets, and loops for clip ons. Not only that, but I love the philanthropic side of the business. For every backpack purchased, TOMS helps assist a safe birth for a mother in need.

 

 


Taylor Shear ProfileABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey guys… it’s Taylor Schear! Thanks for reading! I always love being able to share my passion for food and adventure with others! If you have enjoyed joining me on my food quest throughout the South, then make sure to continue to follow me! I am @soflofoodfinds on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. For more food travel guides then check out soflofoodfinds.com!

 

 

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By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

With more than eight million people living in New York City, you’d be hard pressed to find room to plant and cultivate a full-fledged vineyard. Fortunately, though, the concrete jungle is surrounded by greener pastures, where some experts have been able to grow those tasty grapes.

The next time you’re in New York City, set aside some time for a day trip outside of the metropolis to find the bona fide wineries New York City has to offer. We’re not talking about the exquisite wine bars you’re sure to find on the island, either: these are green, rolling vineyards with more to offer than just a delicious glass of wine.

Read on to find out where you’ll stop on your next Big Apple getaway.

Benmarl Winery

Benmarl Winery is widely known as America’s oldest vineyard, since its first grape vines were planted in 1848. Since then, the place has flourished and expanded to produce 15 varieties of wine, with many flavors inspired by the winery’s location in the Hudson River Valley. Speaking of which, you can take in some lush, green scenery while you sip amidst the valley’s rolling hills.

Martha Clara Vineyards

The Martha Clara Vineyard knows its clients might be coming in from New York City, so they’re prepared: groups shuttled in by bus, limo or car service can sign up for a group tasting once they arrive. And the flavors they sample won’t be disappointing: the winery has barreled everything from trendy rosé to super sweet Riesling.

Bashakill Vineyards

wine glass

The Hudson River Valley is clearly a hub for New York wineries, but developers have only scratched the surface of the area’s potential: 225,000 acres of land viable for wine-making, only 500 have been used so far.

Fortunately, Bashakill Vineyards has taken up shop — and taken advantage of the near-constant temperatures and high humidity in the Catskill Mountains. The winery can produce precisely aged pours because of this climate, and you’ll be glad to imbibe their tasty creations.

Wolffer Estate Vineyard

Most New Yorkers heed the call of the Hamptons each summer, but they do so to lay out on the area’s pristine, star-studded beaches. Your next trip should also include a visit to Wolffer Estate Vineyard, where Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are never in short supply. They pair these staples with smaller batches of specialty wines and ciders.

Oh, and, speaking of pairing: you can get the right charcuterie or cheese board to match your wine here, too. And, if you’d rather just sample the wine, they have tasting flights on the menu as well.

Orchard Hill Cider Mill

wine glass in a field

Mixing things up a bit, the Orchard Hill Cider Mill serves up hard ciders rather than wine. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking that cider is a one-flavor, one-size-fits-all beverage. Instead, Orchard Hill has multiple ciders on deck, including extra-dry and fizzy varieties. Much like Wolffer Estate Vineyard, they pair their pours with seasonal food, though they also incorporate their ciders into the ingredients list to create savory glazes, for example. Yum.

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard sites on Long Island, and its picturesque pastures full of horses do more than just produce wine. They also provide homes for the livestock at this half-winery, half-horse-rescue. They’re equally as serious about both pursuits, too, as they brought their vines directly to Long Island from France.

If you head to Baiting Hollow, you’re likely to be told how many of the pours take their names from horses who have been saved and rehabilitated there. You can also see the horses for yourself Thursday through Sunday, when the winery offers pony rides and live music to its guests.

It’s not the first, second or even the third thing that comes to mind when visiting New York, but the state’s winery reputation just keeps getting better and better. So, as you plan your trip to the Big Apple, don’t let a day trip outside of the city fall to the bottom of your list. Instead, experience all that New York’s wineries have to offer and add another unforgettable destination to your big trip. Cheers!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital, and for good reason: the city has a rich history and a lively, diverse culture to match. In other words, you’d be remiss to spend every single night out at dinner and a movie when there’s so much else to do.

Date Ideas To Spark Some Fun & Romance in Washington, D.C.

Need a little help planning your next out-of-the-box excursion? Here are 10 ideas for making your D.C. date something extra special:

Picnic in the Park

A picnic is a roundabout way of eating a meal on a date: you won’t be dining at a restaurant, but you can still whip up a meal to impress. On top of that, you’ll be able to go and grab a seat at any time you want without reservations. If that’s not enough incentive, the city has a lengthy list of gorgeous parks that would paint a picturesque backdrop to your picnic. It might even be more romantic to dine on a blanket beside the Potomac or under a cherry tree, right?

Monument Tour

Chances are, you’ve seen the majority of D.C.’s most famous monuments. But, when is the last time you went on a stroll to see them all in one fell swoop? You and your date can embark on a walking tour of the National Mall and check out the city’s most famous landmarks. Plus, all that time walking will give you two a chance to chat and really get to know one another.

Washington DC Monument

Arcade or Billiards Bar

Another dating rut to fall into is grabbing drinks over, and over, and over again. Instead, make your trip to the bar a bit more memorable by choosing a spot with tasty beverages and a memorable activity. A gaming bar like the city’s Atlas Arcade allows you to play retro video games while you imbibe. Or, you can hit up a billiards room and play pool, as well as darts, shuffleboard and arcade games, depending on the place you go.

Outdoor Movie

Okay, so this is technically still a movie date. But the fact that you and your date can grab a blanket, some snacks and sit under the stars while watching a movie makes it just a tad more special. scape the room by solving various puzzles, too, so you can find the one nearest to you or the screen showing the movie you most want to see. Offerings range from blockbusters, to 80s classics, to cartoons — the choice is yours.

Escape Room

Don’t worry — it’s not as scary as it sounds. Places like Escape Artist DC give participants a full narrative, creating a world that has a puzzle to solve within it. You and your date will have to try an escape the room by solving various puzzles but it will be a fun challenge for you to complete together. Once you’re out, you’ll feel like you really earned a good cocktail, which will round out a seriously memorable evening.

Kayaking

The Potomac River you picnicked beside is the perfect place for a kayaking trip, too. You and your date can sign up for a guided tour, or simply rent a kayak or canoe together and start rowing. If you want to do something a little less challenging, you can also rent paddle boats in smaller bodies of water like the Tidal Basin, where you’ll have incredible views of the Jefferson Monument.

Washington DC Date ideas

Museum Hop

Washington is home to some of the nation’s best museums, and they cover a broad range of interests. In fact, allowing your date to choose the museum you’ll visit will give you an insight into his or her interests and personality. Will it be the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, or the International Spy Museum, where you can pick up an alias and try your best to live like an undercover? The choice is theirs.

Visit a Winery

You might be surprised to find out that there are some bona fide wineries within a stone’s throw of Washington, D.C. Many of them have open hours, tours and tastings, as well as activities like live music, movies and bocce ball on the vineyard lawn. Your date will be impressed as you whisk him or her off, though it would be best to grab a shuttle or taxi out to the winery so you can both imbibe.

Volunteer

The nation’s capital has endless opportunities for locals to get involved and make the city — and world — a better place. You and your date can brainstorm the causes you care most about and find a charity involved with your top choice. Then, sign up to fill grocery bags at a food bank, walk shelter dogs or help re-paint a local school. The few hours you spend doing good will make you feel pretty good about yourselves and each other.

Cook Together

Finally, you can always keep things casual and simple and still eat a hearty meal. Simply skip the fancy restaurant dinner and find a recipe online instead. You can work together to peel, chop, sauté and bake, producing a full meal as a team. Sometimes, a meal you make yourself tastes even better than what you buy in a restaurant, anyway — you should try that theory out and see.

Now, Make It A Date!

Chances are, at least one of these date ideas suits you and your significant other. So, cancel your dinner reservations and plan something out of the ordinary instead. You’ll both enjoy doing something different, but mixing things up will make you enjoy those special dinner-and-a-movie nights even more. To us, that sounds like a win-win.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.