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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Travel Internationally to Save Money

Yes, you read that right. Why plan a trip to the beach – where hotels can cost as much as airfare – when you could spend the same amount on a trip that's more exciting and might include a beach? I'm always in favor of going somewhere new and farther away than someplace old that I can go to anytime. Here are 5 destinations you can visit where your dollars will go further and you'll get more culture than your nearest waterpark or boardwalk.

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South America is always a great money-saving destination. Buenos Aires – "The Paris of South America" – is a hotspot for culture, nightlife and food. Take your time lingering over amazing dining experiences, learn to tango and explore historic neighborhoods and museums. You'll find plenty of affordable wine sipping opportunities, plus you can save on accommodations. Find suites for as little as $60 per night.

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Dominican Republic
With tons of all-inclusive resorts, you can pay one price and have your sleeping and eating – and some entertainment – totally taken care of. Lay on the beach, go hiking and generally enjoy nature in one of the prettiest and budget-friendly destinations you'll find anywhere. 3- and 4-star resort rates will totally floor you and you'll find yourself looking for ways to splurge a bit in between the tanning and relaxing. Maybe by spending a little extra for the luxury of a 5-star resort.

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If you can handle some of the crowds in the touristy parts of the country, like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, you can find some really great hotel rates. It's no secret why a lot of people flock south when they go on vacation. Look at resorts along the Yucatan Peninsula for more scenic views or search for places that have all the things you enjoy doing on your trips, because Mexico has it all, and at better rates than many other countries. You just want to make sure you do your research so you aren't stuck in a million-room resort with a bunch of stuff you'll never do or use. Check into cottages, bungalows or boutique hotels instead.

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One of the most up-and-coming vacation destinations, Nicaragua is a country where you can get by on as little as $25 per day. Up the luxe for just $50 more, which is still cheaper than a lot of other places you may have on your travel list, but it still gives you a historical and European-esque feel, but with the lower airfare of a Central American location. Instead of huge resorts next to the crowded ocean beaches, you can enjoy a quiet forest eco-lodge or beautiful beachfront cottages, plus engage in amazing diving, a visit to coffee fields or a hike in the cloud forest. 

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Portugal (and Spain)
Even on a budget, you can totally plan a trip to Europe. Portugal and Spain are culture-laden, delicious (and affordable) cuisine and tons of local wines. Spend your days lounging on the beautiful beaches, wandering the myriad museums and walking along cobblestoned streets. Both off everything you could want for less and also give you the chance to practice your Spanish with the locals. Just make sure you set up a price alert for airfare, because that's the only thing stopping you from enjoying Europe right now.

What are some of your favorite budget-friendly vacation destinations? Have you ever been surprised by how cheap a place has turned out?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: Packable Wellies from Butterfly Twists

April showers bring May flowers, but sometimes it just leads to more showers like it does here in Portland. From November to July 5th, you pretty much just plan for rain when you go out. There are other places like this and if you want to go out and do things, you’re going to face mud and big puddles. I have a ton of shoes, but when it’s particularly rainy or I go somewhere it’s bound to be muddy, it’s nice to have a pair of Wellington boots (wellies) in your closet to put on and enjoy the day without ruining your normal shoes or fancy boots.

I love wellies, because they are fun and cozy, but the problem is that normally they don’t have much support for all-day wear and you usually have to wear, like, three pair of socks to keep your feet warm. Butterfly Twists have taken care of all your wellie problems, including the fact that most aren’t all that pretty to look at. They’re made in London – where it rains all year round like it does in Portland – so you know they know all about wellie woes, especially when having to wear them walking around the city and up and down tube station stairs. Unhappy feet are a no-go which means these are perfect for traveling, too.

I have been lucky that we have had a lot of rainy days since I’ve received my Windsor wellies. I put them on with a pair of jeans and felt ready for anything. I wore them to an arena football game and immediately received a compliment from the lady next to me on how cute they were. And they are cute, but they are super functional, because they have memory foam insoles that support my feet and also make them really comfortable to wear all day.

These wellies are also lined, so they keep your feet warm, whether you wear fatty boot socks or not. That’s perfect for wear I live where it rains in the winter and in the summer and all the months in between. Butterfly Twists come in whole sizes. I wear a size 6.5 in shoes, so I had to choose to go up or down a size. The wellies are made a bit bigger for those who like to wear thick socks with them. Because they are lined and I wanted to wear them year-round, I went towards the small size (a 6 instead of a 7) and they fit perfect, even with socks on.

You know what else? There’s totally enough room for my toes! That probably sounds weird, but often you get boots and it feels like your feet are crammed into them. These boots fit fantastically. Your foot doesn’t jostle around in them (as happens with a lot of rain boots), but they don’t squish your feet either. Even if you wear normal socks with them, they have the fun sweater detail to make it look like you’re on trend and own those special socks to go with wellies, but without actually buying them and stretching them out for the look. Not sure you like the sock detail? Get a pair of Carlisles instead that are just as cute, but a little more stylish and like regular boots that will also go with dresses and slacks.

Aside from being pretty attractive and comfy, the Windsor boots have your back…er, feet? They have a grippy sole, so you won’t slip and slide on rainy sidewalks at the farmers’ market or while squishing through the mud in the forest or through a corn maze (which I’m totally going to wear these boots for in the fall).

Because they are lightweight, I can keep them in my bag wherever I go, plus they won’t make my carry-on extra heavy like other boots. That packability is what is going to make them a perfect travel companion to rainy destinations and on winter trips. These would have been awesome on my trip to Paris where it rained almost every day and was crazy cold. Next time I’ll have them and you can make sure you have a great pair of Butterfly Twists on your next trip like that as well, and at home when you need them most.

On my trip to Ecuador, I needed a pair of rubber boots to wear in the rainforest, but I didn’t have room in my bag to pack any. We ended up buying some cheap pairs at an outdoor market and then leaving them at the eco-lodge for future visitors. If I’d had these Windsor wellies from Butterfly Twists, they would have fit in my carry-on, not cost me any extra on my trip and also fit much better and offer support for my hikes.

Don’t get dirt and general bottom shoe gunk on your other belongings. Your Windsor wellies come with a waterproof travel bag so you can keep them separate from the other stuff in your carry-on or day bag. Bonus! {P.S. These would make a great gift for the mom on your list for Mother's Day!}

Next week I'll have a review up for Butterfly Twists' foldable flats!

Other Information
Colors they come in: Navy/Yellow (shown) | Green/Orange | Grey/Pink | Black/Grey | Red/Black | Navy/ Red
How much are they? $80
Where can I buy them? On the Butterfly Twists website
Other specs: Rubber structure, fleece-lined, 100% waterproof

Like Butterfly Twists? Why not connect with them on: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Google+

Disclaimer: I was provided with a pair of Butterfly Twists Windsor wellies for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are 100% my own.
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