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Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Once a year, Ben and Jerry’s gives away ice cream at its scoop shops free.

fcdheader2TODAY’S THE DAY!

In the U.S. and Canada, find your nearest scoop shop here.

Overseas, give one of these two links a try:  1, 2.  (You’ve got a chance if you’re in Aruba, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, or the UK.)

Enjoy!

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With the focus on staycations and naycations, there’s little reporting on important nuts-and-bolts issues affecting thousands still on the road.  Expect to hear about these only when they start causing major snarls for casual tourists unaware of the changes.

  • Flying to the United States this year?  As of January 12, 2009, all travelers to the U.S. from Visa Waiver countries (that’s Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom [and in the near future, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Poland  and Romania too]) will be required to submit their travel plans online 72 hours prior to travel.  Failure to complete ESTA authorization before travel may result in denial of boarding or entry.  Read the details about this change in the post U.S. to Require Online Registration for Visa-Free Travelers.
  • After January 16, 2009, you’ve got to use Euros when traveling in Slovakia.  They’re the 16th EU country to switch to the currency since its introduction a decade ago.  Later this year, expect the Czech Republic to finalize a date for their switch (expected early 2010).
  • Travelers transiting or changing planes within Mexico will now be subject to customs inspection before continuing to their next flight.  International travelers to the United States will be familiar with the drill:  claim checked baggage and proceed through customs, then drop off baggage again before heading to the connecting gate.  Flights from the Caribbean, Central and South America have already begun the procedure; February 1 is the date for flights from Canada, Asia and Europe; flights from the U.S. have until September 1 to comply.  Be aware and avoid tight connections.  And don’t forget to lock that luggage!
  • Starting June 1, 2009, it will no longer be possible to travel by air, land or sea without a passport to destinations in the Western Hemisphere, such as Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean.  Children under 16 may use a birth certificate in lieu of passport.  This requirement also applies to Americans attempting to reenter the United States.  Details here.

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December or no, things aren’t always roses and sunshine in the world of a no-budget traveler. Being human (and not just a blogging robot), even an “expert” is also bound to make mistakes. After the jump, I share three recent travel planning misadventures and the lessons learned from each. Share your own budget travel blunders in the comments. (more…)

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Shoestring reader and friend of the blog James D., currently of the Big Apple, took a trip to Montreal this summer and had the following tips for fellow no-budget travelers:

+ Getting There: if you have time, take the train from NYC. Yes, it is a long ride, but it is a beautiful one, and the best part is the train station is right in the middle of downtown. The airport is about 30 minutes outside of the city.

+ Getting Around: like NYC, the city is on a grid, making traveling around really straightforward. The Metro is fast, cheap and easy to navigate.

+ A City of Green Neighborhoods: during the days, I explored the city on foot. A great hike is up the Mountain (Parc du Mont-Royal). This was an all day hike, up and around. There are breathtaking views of the city and there were a lot of people picnicking up there.

The sightly less trendy part of the city is the Plateau. This is north of Parc la Fontaine, another wonderful park in the city. Down the hill from the park (down rue Amherst) is a nice little market that is a great place to pick up a snack for lunch.

For the historic charms of the city, head to Vieux Montreal — the Old City (think European cobblestone streets). Here you’ll find lots of museums and a nice walk along the water. Wandering around the back streets, I found a small store with a sandwich and drink combo for under $5.

The last day I walked over to one of the islands in the St. Lawrence River, Parc Jean-Drapeau. The home of the Biosphere and the Olympic Fields, you can beat the crowds by getting lost instead in the surrounding woody area.

+ Free (and Useful!) Brochures: the two best things I picked up were totally free: the first was the official tourist guide to the city. I saw stacks of these in every hotel and B&B. It has some small maps and lots of historical information about the different areas of the city and some of the more touristy things to do. It is paid for by advertisers, so I was wary of the food recommendations. The second was a free city map. This was large, but even the locals had them, so you don’t stand out holding one.

+ Practice that French: while a lot of people do speak English, a little bit of French will go far. If you get lost, it is faster to start off in broken French and the person will do their best to help you out.

+ Bring your Own: the main street in Montreal is Ste. Catherine. It is great during the summer since the majority of it is closed off and becomes pedestrian-only. However, like all downtown areas, it is the most expensive part of the city for food. I went there almost every night with a coffee and sat in one of the many little parks just to watch the city go by.

+ More Cheap Entertainment: Montreal also has a great bar culture, with many no-cover shows: jazz, rock-a-billy, etc.

+ When to Visit: every weekend during the summer, the city comes alive with festivals and parades. During the Jazz Fest you’ll find numerous free concerts all day long. Another festival I caught while visiting was Gale-rue d’Art, an art street festival.

+ Where to Stay: Montreal is filled with B&Bs. The one I stayed at fed me tons of food and allowed me to do laundry there. The manager also gave me suggestions on things to do every day. Talk to locals! Plus, if it is a good B&B, they will feed you enough for two meals.

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Last week marked the end of the one-month trial period of Montreal’s new public bicycle-sharing program, Bixi.

The system will be up and running for good from mid-April 2009, though those signing up before December 15 will have access to the bikes earlier than the general population in the spring.

Cheapest options for tourists will be either daily ($5 CDN) or monthly ($28 CDN) subscriptions, which allow you unlimited 30-minute rides during your stay for free.

Toronto has expressed an interest in implementing a public bike system itself and last week invited Bixi representatives to present their program to its citizens. The Toronto Star reports the program should be up and running by summer 2009, despite the lack of a public plan or even a mention of any such thing on Toronto’s Cycling Committee webpage.

If you’re interested in reading more about the nuts and bolts of the system Montreal developed (in order to, for example, suggest it to your city council), check out this link: Public Bike System.

Planning a trip to our neighbors to the north? Tune in tomorrow for a guest post full of no-budget tips for Montreal visitors.

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If you’re new to Less Than a Shoestring, please take some time and have a poke around! I welcome your questions and comments on the site. This blog shows that travel can indeed be both pleasurable and frugal. Because I live in Europe, you’ll find loads of information on European no-budget travel — but in keeping with This Just In’s post and for your ease, I’ve put together below a collection of my U.S. tips and bargains.

Once a month, the Travel on a Shoestring Carnival turns its focus to the Americas. You’ll find lots of great tips from around the blogosphere collected in the following posts:

Every Friday, the blog features a travel freebie. Some timeless classics for U.S. staycationers and backyard travelers:

Not free, but cheap activities include:

For those traveling a bit further afield, take a look at the posts:

If you’ll be driving to your destination, you’ll want to read:

Before flying, from the wild and wooly world of U.S. airline travel:

Changes U.S. travelers and visitors should know about:

See the no-budget traveler take on the New York Times’ “Frugal Traveler” in the posts:

If you like what you see, subscribe to the RSS feed and have the latest no-budget travel tips delivered to you! It takes just a second to set up, ensuring you never miss a single post.

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Carnival of Cities logoWelcome travelers!  I’m happy to be hosting the Carnival of Cities this week.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you should appreciate the variety of locations included in this weekly carnival; if you’re a follower of the carnival, welcome to my blog on no-budget travel and feel free to poke around!

Now, without further ado . . .

If planning a weekend trip to Canada, you’ll want to stop by Go Green Travel Green‘s post Vancouver in 2 (Eco-Friendly) Days at Go Green Travel Green.

Heading south to California with Fido? Nancy Brown presents Upscale and Affordable Dog-Friendly Lodging in Mendocino County posted at What a Trip, saying, “Welcome to my new website! Less Than a Shoestring readers will appreciate the budget minded and dog friendly Fort Bragg recommendations, as well as the insider tip on a FREE off leash dog beach in Mendocino County.”

Another California destination — Half Moon Bay, to be exact — is presented by the baglady in Expensive cars are unnecessary for a good time – The Baglady’s 1st Anniversary Trip posted at xynny.

Looking for a cheap hotel in Chicago?  You can’t believe everything you read on the internet says Neil in B.Y.O.F. posted at Your Mileage May Vary, saying, “Some shoestrings are stringier than others…”

Hopping the Atlantic to Europe, I’ve got a post on what to see on a quick layover in Berlin in my post Two Hours in . . . Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Part II here at Less Than a Shoestring.

A train ride eastward brings us to Caitlin Fitzsimmons’ Photo Friday: Jewish Krakow posted at Roaming Tales, saying, “The Jewish quarter in Krakow still persists but it’s a shadow of its pre-World War II self. The Jewish Cemetery is a poignant reminder of what’s lost.”

Down on the Mediterranean, Jason Green presents The other side of Croatia – Pula « Europe a la Carte Blog posted at Europe A La Carte Blog, saying, “The Croatian city of Pula has beautiful beaches, a Roman arena and excellent seafood.”

Flying on to the subcontinent, AdmirableIndia.com presents Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore: Part 1: Ancient Watch Tower and Organic Cultivation posted at AdmirableIndia.com.

Closing ceremonies this week in Beijing make Wendy’s post on City Icons: Beijing China at Escape From New York the fitting end to this carnival edition! 

Thanks for visiting and submitting!  You can easily get in on the next edition of Carnival of Cities by using the handy-dandy carnival submission form.  See you next week at the newly rebranded Family Travel Logue!

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