Archive for February, 2008

The U.S. State Department provides a number of free information services for travelers and citizens living abroad.

+ At the Travel Registration page, you can notify the local embassy of your intended whereabouts. This makes it easier to find you in event of an emergency back home or evacuations due to civil or political unrest or natural disasters. Registering your passport details speeds replacement due to loss or theft abroad. Finally, the local embassy will send you email updates with news and information specific to the country or region you will be visiting. This is a smart thing to get into the habit of doing before each trip.

+ Sign up for subscriptions to State Department News and Updates by entering your email address and selecting your preferred lists.

+ For a subscription to travel warning and passport regime updates, follow the link and instructions on this page.

+ To subscribe to updates from specific countries where you are resident or travel often, send an email from your preferred address to:


and in the message body type:
Subscribe ACS_COUNTRY First name/Last name
(example: Subscribe ACS_SWEDEN John Doe)

It’s that simple! Sign up today!

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A three-night trip to Malta, including round-trip airfare, cost me a whopping 50 euros. I’ll show you how after the jump.Mdina

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As of June 2008, the world’s airlines will no longer offer paper tickets to their customers as they move exclusively to e-ticketing. It’s probably been years paper airplanesince most readers have flown with a paper ticket, as e-ticketing is long the norm in the U.S. and Western Europe. However, certain airlines, flights to certain destinations (most notably the former Soviet Union) or flights on certain types of flexible tickets still require paper tickets; there are 100 days remaining for these holdouts to bring their systems into line.

It is important to note that any paper tickets already issued will continue to be honored after June. Student fares and around-the-world tickets, such as those sold by STA Travel, will soon be entirely in electronic form; itinerary changes will be made, depending on the fare type, either directly by the airline, through the STA website, or through a local STA representative.

Anyone who’s ever had to pay extra for printing or shipping a paper ticket or for reissue following loss or theft will gladly welcome this universal step. While the booking code may be necessary for ticket changes, generally presenting your passport at the counter or swiping it at the self-check-in kiosk is all you need to get your boarding passes; the truly plugged in arrive at the airport with boarding passes in hand, printed out with seats selected via online check-in.

Moral of the story: put your paper ticket stubs in your scrapbook or time capsule — your grandchildren are going to want to see what those relics looked like!

Thanks to Family Friendly for the tip.

Is e-ticketing the best recent travel innovation? Chime in with your opinion at the Budget Travel poll.

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Houseguests over the past couple of weeks have reminded me of a few of the rules — the give and take — of hosting and being hosted. Today’s post is on the role of the gracious guest.

In the power hierarchy of the guest-host relationship, guests are at the bottom. A gracious host will make you feel that you and your wishes are at the center during your stay — but a wise guest is one who makes his host’s wishes his own, thereby honoring his host.

This simple question — “Am I honoring my host?” — should usually steer your behavior down the right path. See how after the jump.


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Welcome to the third Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Here you’ll find South American, African, and Middle Eastern (and Antarctic!) travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Bandiagara girlPhotographic inspiration for our carnival this week is again thanks to Intelligent Travel. Romel Jacinto snapped this image of a girl in Bandigara, Mali — read further details at its Global Eye post.

Those wonderful IT folks drew my attention to a relatively new feature at the National Geographic Traveler website: Laura Morelli, an art historian, writes a monthly article on indigenous crafts called The Genuine Article. This month’s topic is, aptly enough, The Art of Brazilian Lace.

Brazil is also the focus of many of Matthew Hamilton‘s posts over at Fuego Y Agua – Travels In Latin America. Two posts with budget pretensions are Brasilia — the City as an Art Exhibit and Showering in Waterfalls. And you are probably missing something if you’ve never tried Latin Loving — “Passion Without Limits” at Love Motels; thankfully, Matthew helps us all experience the, um, pleasure vicariously.

Making its way around the blogosphere is Priya Jestin‘s post on Top 25 Most Beautiful Castles in the World at International Listings Blog. Seven of the castles on her list can be found in the Middle East, Africa or South America.

Wrapping up this week, Raymond presents The Best Travel Rewards Credit Card | Money Blue Book posted at Money Blue Book.

If you’d like to see your post on budget travel in South America, Africa or the Middle East in this carnival, submit using the online form found here. Readers, encourage your favorite regional bloggers to submit posts for next month! Our next carnival will be posted March 1, when we return to Europe. You can submit your posts for that carnival here.

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https://i2.wp.com/spaceweather.com/eclipses/03mar07f/DiNasso1_med.jpgWe’re two months into our 2008 Travel Events calendar, and in case you forgot to note it down, tonight is a total lunar eclipse, visible from Europe, Africa, and the Americas. USA Today translates the times across the U.S. continental time zones. While Americans can wander outside after finishing dinner, Europe and Africa will have to stay up past their bedtimes to catch a glimpse of an eerily orange moon.

This is the last total eclipse until December 2010. If skies are clear, bundle up, get away from the city lights and check it out!

More about the science behind a total eclipse and tonight’s star-moon-planet triangle can be viewed here.

For the shutterbugs, more information than you ever wanted to know about photographing a lunar eclipse can be found here.

And for fun, two songs to get you in the mood: LUNAR | ECLIPSE

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Less Than a Shoestring reached 20,000 hits this week, doubling total page views in just one month! I’m so happy you’re reading along and I thank you for your comments, questions and bookmarks.

This feat is in no small part due to the wider coverage the blog has gotten in the last month. Here’s a quick rundown:

Budget Travel Magazine This Just In, Budget Travel magazine’s blog, encouraged readers to check out Less Than a Shoestring in their February 12 post “Max out your vacation fund effortlessly.”

My recent post on solid alternatives to travel liquids was featured by BlogHer in the February 18 post “WTF and Other Travel Odds and Ends” and in the February 15 post “Tips on Traveling with Toiletries” from the Go San Francisco Card Blog.

msn logoMy free state maps and travel information guide was highlighted in the February 5 Festival of Frugality #111, by msn Money blog Smart Spending in the February 14 post “One-stop shopping for free state maps and tourist info” and in Rambling Traveler‘s February 4 post “From Other Travel Blogs.”

The latter was also kind enough to recommend my safety tips for solo travelers in her January 28 roundup. The post was also included in the February 15 Carnival Against Sexual Violence 41 and the February 6 post “Advice for solo female travellers” at Confessions of a Career Breaker.

My warning to RyanAir fliers on the airline’s questionable online check-in policies for non-EU residents got a lot of leg this month, with citations at upgrade travel better logoUpgrade: Travel Better (“Upgrades and Downgrades,” January 24), Eyeflare (“Great Reads #6,” February 3) and Curiouser and Curiouser (“RyanAir: Chiselers?” February 4).

wise bread logoWise Bread pointed readers to my advice on printing your own passport photos in their January 27 post “Save 50% on your passport application?

Illustrating that the reach of a blog has no bounds, Slice of Life featured my post on alternative uses for your camera (phone) in a January 25 post.

Life Lessons of a Military Wife Carnival #6 included my post on the currency conversion fee refund.

Organic Picks accepted my post on fuel-saving advice for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Carnival #7.

Last but not least, Less Than a Shoestring made it into the Travel Blog Hall of Fame!

If these fine publications have added the Less Than a Shoestring feed to their daily reads, why haven’t *you* done so yet? With the click of a button, the latest no-budget news, advice and daily blather is delivered immediately via your host of choice! It really is that simple. Use the link above, at the top of the blog, or in the sidebar to subscribe.

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Last week’s Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York left me with two thoughts burning in my mind:


I mean, you saw the Best in Show winner Uno, right? WOOK AT HIS WITTLE FACE! I’m not even really a dog person (gentle reader, please don’t hold it against me!), but I want an arrROOOOing bucket full of beagles to take home with me. All the press for this cutie has rekindled a desire for a beagle I developed after staying at a B&B near Middlebury, VT, that had two or three fat beagles lazing around on the couch, tummies exposed for scratching by a never-ending supply of guests, in front of a fire in the common room. Boy, did they have the life!

But enough of that. The real question is: where do those thousands of dogs and their owners stay in New York City? Find this answer and other advice for keeping your pets in top form on your travels after the jump.


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Welcome to the third Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Asia, Oz. Here you’ll find Asian, Australian, New Zealand and Oceania travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

sleeping backpackerMarilyn Terrell of Intelligent Travel sent in the post Walking Taiwan. It features the blog of D.C.-resident Jeff Chen, who spent his Christmas break walking the length of Taiwan, meeting people and discovering his ethnic heritage. (The photo illustrates what can happen if you don’t pick your camping spots carefully. . .)

I believe this quotation from Jeff’s post captures why the no-budget traveler often chooses to walk when s/he could fly:

The thing about walking is that it’s accessible to most people across the world and it really helps you understand the land. People take note of what you’re doing and ask questions. Questions turn into conversations, and then there’s an exchange of cultural information that’s priceless. For the world to meet one another is an endless opportunity of both inner and outer exploration. It’s that simple.

You can find all of Jeff’s adventures at A Walk (and a car-ride) on my Ethnic Lines.

The rest of this week’s picks are after the jump.


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U.S. citizens and permanent residents with permanent disabilities are entitled to a lifetime Access Pass to U.S. National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. The pass grants free admission for the pass holder and passengers at per-vehicle fee areas or the pass holder and 3 other adults at per-person fee areas. When extra amenities charges apply, the pass holder is granted a 50% discount. The Access Pass is available upon presentation of documentation of disability from any U.S. National Park; acceptable documentation includes: statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran’s Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.

A similar pass, valid for one year, is available to anyone volunteering 500 hours on behalf of the National Park Service. You can search for volunteer opportunities near you on this page.

Not free but nearly so is the Senior Pass, another lifetime pass for U.S. citizens and permanent residents over the age of 62. It is available from all National Parks for the bargain price of $10. This would make a wonderful gift for any grandparent, elderly neighbor or retired friend! Also a great reason to invite your favorite senior citizen along on your next trip.

Wondering where your closest national park or federal recreational area is? Use the interactive map at the National Park Service’s website to pull up information on the parks closest to you!

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