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Hope everyone had a nice holiday and has recovered from and repented for any gluttony they may have participated in. ūüôā Just two reminders and a belated photo this Monday morning.

First, it’s your last chance to get your suggestions in for the running Reader Tips Contest for New York City and Washington DC. I’m still waiting to hear *your* best tips and tricks before I take off on Wednesday, so please add your comments on the linked post.

Second, today is the final day to make your donation to the Passports with Purpose fundraiser/raffle for Heifer International. If you’re interested in winning, chances were best on the prizes linked here¬†or here. The drawings will be held tomorrow.

Finally, a tardy Photo Friday entry from the chilly wilds of northern Minnesota:

snowy berries

Though the cold keeps us indoors and the ice and snow off the slippery roads, there are some mornings too beautiful not to appreciate winter, right?

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Focused readers (and those feed reading rather than bellying up to the trough) may have overlooked two new elements in the sidebar.  Let me draw your attention to them now.

Further down the page I’ve added a “Crossing my Radar” box in which I share links to some of the most interesting and useful posts I’ve spotted across the blogosphere.¬†¬† If you like what I’ve got to say, I think you’ll like these too.¬† This is constantly updated as the articles, ahem,¬†cross my radar, so keep checking back to find the latest and greatest in no-budget travel news.¬† It is even possible to add these as a feed piped directly to your prefered feed reader, if you swing that way.

For the month of December, I’ve added a link to the Passports with Purpose project.¬† If you haven’t read about it yet, here it is in a nutshell:

Passports with Purpose is a travelblogger-driven fundraiser for Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate hunger and poverty around the globe.  I know many of you are kind-hearted souls who have probably given or received a duck or sheep or two with this organization and are familiar with their programs. 

If you haven’t given¬†Heifer money yet this year, or if you’re still unsure what to give some of those hard-to-shop-for ninnies on your list, let me suggest you donate by¬†purchasing a raffle ticket from Passports with Purpose.¬† All proceeds go directly to Heifer, but you (or your chosen ninny) are also¬†eligible to win some amazing (and expensive) prizes, donated by travelbloggers across the globe.¬†¬† You can find the full list of prizes here¬†— there’s plenty for travelers and non-travelers alike.

All tickets are sold through 29 December over the¬†First Giving site.¬† For each¬†$10 donation you make, you’ll be entered into the raffle for the prize you’ve selected.¬† Be sure to enter your email address and the prize you want to win in the comments field.¬† The organizers will pull winners and notify them via email on December 30th.

For even better chances at a teensy-tiny¬†prize, I’m still looking for reader suggestions for NYC and DC.¬† I’m surprised that no one’s left a comment on New York yet (meaning your chances of winning currently stand at 100%).¬† So click through and add your hard-won experience today!

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Tickets are purchased but plans are still loose:  the no-budget traveler is tackling the American capitals of New York City and Washington DC at the start of the new year.  Lincoln MemorialWith just 2.5 days for each city, time and money are at a premium.  What budget secrets have you uncovered for museums, transportation, or restaurants?  What are your favorite free sights and experiences?  What is best avoided at all costs?

Share your voice of experience and earn a modest prize if I deem your advice the best or most useful. Entering is easy: simply leave a comment below!

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For the price of a ‚ā¨10 RyanAir airfare (round-trip), I’m headed to Edinburgh in mid-November (because who doesn’t like traveling when it’s dark and cold?!).

I turn to you again, my wise and fearless readers, for your no-budget travel advice. I‚Äôve got 4.5 days and 5 nights in Scotland, flying in and out of EDI. Know where to get the best pub food or — God forbid — haggis in the city? Visited a must-see exhibition on right now? Recommend heading to Glasgow instead and have a great deal on train or bus travel around the country? I‚Äôd love to hear it all!

Your wisdom can earn you a modest prize in this absolutely subjective contest if I deem your advice the best. Enter by leaving your comments below.

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I’m busy with all the last-minute must-dos before my trip begins tomorrow, so just a quick post/plea:

National Geographic is sponsoring an ecotourism changemakers competition and awarding three winners $5000 each towards their project.  You can read about these 20 inspiring finalists at the link above.

Today is the last day to vote for your favorites, and you’ve got to pick three for your vote to count.¬† So let me make it a smidge¬†easier for you by encouraging you to vote for the Great Baikal Trail project.¬† Having visited Baikal, I know this is a region sorely in need of¬†sustainable ecotourism development and having¬†lived in Russia, I know that environmentalists there need all the support they can get.¬† I also know $5000 is going to go far on this project.

So pretty please, pick yourself two other winners, register at the site (it takes just 30 seconds), then cast your votes.  Our Russian friends thank you!

Thanks to Elizabeth for the tip!

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Help *me* feel the love!¬† There’s just¬†two more days for you to give me your advice on Frankfurt-Hahn and surrounds, Cologne/Bonn, Seville and Granada.¬† Everyone leaving a¬†comment has a chance to win a modest prize, hand-selected from each destination by yours truly.¬† So get entering!

Carla from Phoenix¬†is planning some extensive travel around the Midwest, “Chicago to Madison, from Madison to Minneapolis, from Ann Arbor to Chicago from Chicago to Iowa City and Urbana,” and wanted to know the cheapest options for getting around.

It makes most sense to look at the major ground carriers:¬†Greyhound, Megabus and Amtrak.¬† If you’re willing to share rides, Craigslist for each of those cities should come up with a list of people offering space in their cars (for example, Minneapolis); don’t overlook university websites, either¬†— try contacting the student government at each university for more information on online ride boards.¬† If you have more money, you can fly between the bigger destinations.¬† Naturally there is also car rental as an option.¬† What’s right for you will depend on both the budget and the time frame involved.

Dana from Durham wanted to know what detergent to carry for travel laundry needs.

If you are cheap or have allergies, it is possible to use the laundry detergent you have on hand while on the road. If you use a liquid, pour some over into a 100ml or less travel bottle and carry in your liquids bag. If you use a powder, half a snack-size baggie should be more than enough for your trip.

Popular in Europe are “travel tubes” of handwashing detergent.¬† You can get these tubes¬†for under a euro at any drugstore.¬† Unfortunately, most are 125 or 200 ml, making them too large to fly in carry-on luggage.¬† I did find a travel-sized tube of Burti, but 30 ml struck me as quite small!¬† I will purchase¬†the mini Burti¬†for my upcoming trip and report back.

In a pinch, shampoo is always quite good — it smells nice, breaks down oils, is readily available and cheap!

Next cheapest option is simply buying detergent wherever you arrive. A bottle of store-brand detergent can be found for $2-3 in most any grocery or drug store.

Then for convenience and peace of mind, there are travel-sized packets of Tide or Woolite for washing, Shout Wipes for instant pre-treating. 

Finally, a¬†worthwhile addition to the travel laundry kit is Febreeze — it handily takes the stink out of smoky, sweaty clothes when you don’t have time to wash. There are now¬†“Febreeze-to-Go” bottles that are TSA-friendly, but you can pour over any bottle you already have into a mini spray container or atomizer.

Patricia from Norman wanted to know how to best exchange money when arriving in [insert developed country here].

Most straightforward and cheapest is an ATM withdrawl.¬† There will certainly be cash machines at any international airport; often if you google for the airport in question, you can even find which banks have ATMs and where they are located, which can save you withdrawl fees if your bank has international partners.¬† Don’t forget to call your bank and credit-card companies in advance and warn them of your impending international transactions; otherwise, you may find yourself blocked off from your own money, for your own security!

You¬†should ALWAYS¬†have at least one¬†backup method; if your primary method is electronic (i.e. credit or ATM), be sure your secondary method is¬†physical currency, such as cash or traveler’s cheques.¬† $100 in backup¬†is enough to get¬†you through a pinch, if¬†necessary.¬†

Megan from Ithaca wrote with a plea on behalf of international exchange students:

American families can help make international travel and education affordable for high school exchange students by hosting these young travelers. If you have seen the world and relied upon the generosity and kindness of the international travel community, I encourage¬†you to give back by hosting a young adventurer. Volunteer host families in the U.S. are hard to come by these days, but they are the reason that many of these students are able to visit the U.S., learn English and share their culture with us. To those of you who have hosted, I thank you on behalf of the international education community. For those of you who have considered hosting and have not, please take that next step —¬†reach out and help a student study in the U.S.!

Even if you cannot take someone into your home for a school year, remember there are lots of ways for you to help foreign students while they are in your country:¬† invite them over to celebrate holidays with your family; take them along on an outing, excursion or vacation; drive them around (since they don’t have driver’s licenses and cars, even trips to the mall are welcomed!); teach them how to cook a local specialty and let them cook theirs in your kitchen; etc.¬†¬†Start the good karma rolling by¬†reaching out just once this year to¬†an international student (university as well as high school students).¬† College students, it is so easy for you to extend hospitality by simply inviting the kid from down the hall to go to the dining hall with you or to accompany you¬†on your next¬†Target run!¬† They will be grateful for your efforts, I promise.

That’s all for this round.¬† If you’ve got a question, feel free to¬†shoot me an email via the contact form.¬†

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Readers are often skeptical at first that I travel as cheaply as I say I do, and the first target of their criticism is usually the cost of my flights. Looking over my budgets, you’ll see that I don’t crack the 30 euro mark on airfare, even when my trip is made up of six different flight legs. I revealed my secret here, but the short version is: let RyanAir pay the taxes and fees! If I still haven’t convinced you of my sincerity or cheapo cred, head over to the RyanAir site right now: they are holding another no-taxes/no-fees sale for the month of June, which they’ve extended till Thursday. You too can book your own flights for 1.51 euros!

For less than 17 euros airfare (that’s four tickets), June will find me traveling to Seville and Granada, Spain, via Frankfurt-Hahn airport. So my wise and fearless readers, I’m once again seeking your advice. I’m looking at two days near the airport and four nights in Spain. Have you successfully visited the “Romantic Rhine” without a car? Would you split Seville and Granada with two days each? Any hot tips on Andalucian cuisine?

Further, I’m making plans for daytrips with a visitor to Berlin and am looking at Rostock or Leipzig. Been there and have a preference? I’d love to hear about it.

Your wisdom can earn you a modest prize if I deem your advice the best. I’ll select a winner for each destination. Enter the contest by leaving your comments below!

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