Archive for the ‘France’ 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.)


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The travel season is in full swing, as you can tell by the questions rolling into my e-mailbox.

  • First up is Patricia from Norman (welcome back!), who wanted to know how to treat her luggage if she feared it had been exposed to bedbugs.

This is a serious (if icky!) question, as no one wants a bedbug infestation at home. Bedbugs retreat into crevices, making them extremely difficult to eliminate once they have been introduced. If you have followed the news, you will know that due to a ban on the toxic chemical once used to kill bedbugs, they have begun infesting even 5-star hotels in major cities. Once more, ick!

One of the best resources I found online addressing this came from the University of Minnesota Extension office. Most essential information is the following:

How can I assure that my items are not carrying bed bugs without throwing them away?

Many people may want to discard all luggage and clothing after discovering an infestation, but this is unnecessary. The key is to contain all items suspected of carrying bed bugs in plastic bags until the items can be laundered, washed by hand, heated, or frozen.

Before leaving the infested site, anything that can be laundered should be sorted and placed in plastic bags. Separate the laundry as you would if you were normally laundering items, specifically: light colored clothes from dark items; delicate items from items that can be laundered on wash / dry regular cycles; and finally, dry cleanable items. Separating the clothing permits easy loading of the washing machine and you can avoid escaping bed bugs as you try to sort the laundry at home.

When washing, set the washer and dryer for the hottest setting that the fabric can withstand. If you need to use a dry cleaning service, mention to them that the items may have bed bugs and they can keep the articles in the plastic bags until just before loading into the machines.

Suitcases and other items that cannot be placed into a washing machine should be carefully inspected, and if bed bugs are found (or you are not sure) place them into plastic bags, as well. Suitcases may be hand-washed. If hand-washing any items, use soapy water and make sure that the hottest water possible is used. Test the item to make sure it will not be affected by the hot water. A target temperature of 100°Fto 120°F should be sufficient. Use a scrub brush along the seams and folds.

Items that cannot be washed may be heated or frozen. Currently, research is being conducted to determine the most effective thermal conditions for killing bed bugs, while not damaging materials. However, based on related research, a two-hour core exposure at 120°F (45°C) should be considered a minimum target temperature for heat treatments. For freezing, a minimum of 23°F (-5°C) must be maintained for at least 5 days. As the temperature is decreased, the time of exposure is shortened. For instance, the articles could be “flash frozen,” resulting in a very short time of exposure, but the target temperature should be -15°F (-26°C), the conditions required to instantly freeze the eggs. Keep in mind that most household freezers will have varying temperatures between 30°F and 20°F, and a 2-week freeze time is recommended if you are uncertain of the freezer temperatures.

Remember, if heating or freezing conditions are used, remember that these adverse conditions must reach the core of the articles being treated.

Patricia chose to “treat” her suitcase by placing it in the hot Oklahoma sun for a few hours. You may have to adjust your method based on location and season.

At the time that Patricia wrote me about bedbugs, a friend of mine was dealing with a lice outbreak in the family. Here is an article with links to lice-control resources. If you are not the parent of a school-aged child, you might be surprised to learn that lice are gaining resistance to the chemical most commonly used in shampoo treatments (which you might remember from your own childhood), making nit-picking combs the most reliable method for eliminating eggs and nits. Hopefully you will never deal with a bedbug or lice infestation on vacation, but it never hurts to be prepared for these ugly sides of travel as well.

  • Next we have Mark in Orlando who wanted to know the best time to buy his train tickets for a Munich-Paris trip in September.

Any time you’re considering travel across Germany, you’ll want to brush up on how to do it cheaply by reading the following two posts: Getting Across Germany Cheaply, Part One and Getting Across Germany Cheaply, Part Two. If you’re set on the train, the first one’s for you.

Mark wrote in his email that online forums suggested it would be cheaper to wait until arriving in Germany to purchase his ticket. This is simply false. It is possible to purchase tickets from any computer in the world up to 90 days before your travels using Deutsche Bahn’s online search function, and it pays to buy as close to the 90-day border as possible. The cheapest tickets — inside of Germany called “Dauer Spezial,” across Europe called “Europa Spezial” — have limited numbers and will be snapped up quickly. Here is a page describing how to book your tickets online (or by phone, if you prefer), along with the delivery options (printing vs. mailing vs. picking up).

In Mark’s case, there is a special sale between Munich and Paris called Europa Spezial Frankreich, with tickets available for as little as 39 euros! Unfortunately for him, on the date he wishes to travel, all of the 39-euro tickets have already sold. There are, however, three trains with 59-euro fares and one with a 69-euro fare, so it still pays to book in advance.

What follows is a quick tutorial in searching for scheduled trains and their prices for your trip:
+ Enter your information here: Munich, Paris, date and approximate preferred time. No need to change anything else. Click enter.
+ Because it’s an international connection, it will ask you to enter your age, in case you are eligible for a further discount. Put in your age and hit enter.
+ On the next page, it will bring up three trains around the time you entered. If you want to see earlier or later trains as well, click on the Earlier and Later arrows in the “Time” column. You will see it also shows you the standard fare as well as the savings fares. In order to see which prices are actually available, click on “show availability for all.” When you find the time/price combo you like and want to book online, select purchase. On the next page, locate the proper fare and select purchase again. You will then be taken to the booking engine, which will make you register before allowing the transaction.

  • We close today with Margaret in Italy, who is wondering how to deal with a serious case of homesickness while spending the summer alone abroad.

First stop for anyone feeling homesick (or irritable, sad, or otherwise emotionally unstable abroad) is this article on culture shock. It is important to remember that what you’re feeling is absolutely normal and you are by no means alone.

> Contact with home is important, but it only helps to a certain degree — it can feed the homesickness if you dwell on it too much. That said, we all need somewhere to vent, and that generally means calling your nearest and dearest. If a phone is not available, a Skype account allows you to call people using the internet and it’s pretty darn cheap.

> Is your suitcase fully unpacked and stored away somewhere, or have you been living out of it? Put your things on shelves and give yourself a mental cue of permanence.

> Make new habits and rituals. Always buy your bananas from the same guy, always get the same pastry at the same shop. As people begin to recognize you, are friendly, and can anticipate your needs, you have the feeling you belong.

> It might help to reflect on your experiences, to distance yourself somewhat from your feelings. Journaling or blogging and photography are a good way to get a new perspective: think about how you would distill this experience for others and simply document it.

> Try to cherish the opportunity everyday by doing something Italian that you *can’t* do at home — hang out on a piazza, surrounded by ancient buildings, drinking coffee or just listening, watching people parade by with their baby strollers and high heels; try a new gelato flavor (or three); visit a museum and admire the marble sculptures; go to the market and buy fresh ingredients for a bufalo mozzarella and tomato salad dinner; wander town without a map and discover new things; get on the train and take a weekend trip to Rome, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Venice, Bergamo!

> I know the saying is “Feed a fever,” but a taste of home can be a quick fix. For Americans, try to:
+ bake something, anything — banana bread’s a good one, your favorite cookies or brownies are another
+ whip up something typically American: hamburger and fries or potato salad, taco salad or fajitas, BBQ chicken

> Laughter and distraction are also good cures. It can’t hurt to:
+ see a movie or watch a DVD in English; serve with buttery popcorn
+ watch The Daily Show, The Colbert Report or some other (keyword: ) funny show you like [I have heard but am not condoning that a computer with internet access can find most any programs from abroad using a proxy and Hulu or Surf the Channel]

> If doing things by yourself makes you feel lonely (and thereby homesick), then take someone with you or pick up someone along the way. Read the post Meet People While Traveling for more ideas.

Thanks to these readers for writing in. If you’ve got a question, feel free to shoot me an email via the contact form.

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Welcome to the fourth Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Europe. Here you’ll find European travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

Photographic inspiration this week comes from yours truly, with a sloping street view of flowering balconies, rain-slicked cobblestones and lush wisteria growing over ancient stone walls captured in Girona, Spain in April.

Andrew Evans reminds us of the pleasures travel has to offer if we simply give in to fate in Paris Sans Agenda posted at Intelligent Travel.

Karen Bryan of Europe a la Carte has the scoop on the latest cheapo hotel rooms for early-bird bookers across the UK in Travelodge UK £19 rooms Summer offer and a warning for rental car travelers flying out of Pisa in Almost impossible to refuel your hire car near Pisa airport.

See the new Europe on two wheels with help from Tim Leffel‘s resource-studded guide to getting off the beaten path of cycling tours in Biking in Eastern Europe, posted at Transitions Abroad.

Headed to Firenze?  Tom Meyers of EuroCheapo Blog is helping Italian travelers easy the pain of dropping dollars with his tip-off on a new program in Florence: Americans save 10% on hotels, food throughout 2008.

Alex Robertson Textor provides a few more clues on the architectural and cultural puzzle that is Brussels in his post Brussels: Some Impressions, Some ‘Hoods, and a Great City Guide at Spendthrift Shoestring.

Get your celeb on with Christine at the Cannes 2008 – Short Film Corner – Tarantino in Cannes posted at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France.  Unless you’re there to work, Christine advises enjoying the festival from the outside rather than in.

If you haven’t had enough Hollywood action after that post, check out the Indy Adventure Contest Winner: #3 posted at Intelligent Travel.  Anyone who’s ever chased a speeding bus will sympathize with this one. 

Christopher Cook describes one easy method for avoiding transaction costs in Understanding ATM Fees: cutting the cost of bank fees overseas posted at noambit -Travel Europe.  One tip, from experience:  before you go signing up for a Bank of America account, make sure you search the internet for their latest account signing bonus, which usually ranges from $75-100 in FREE MONEY.  (If that link has expired, try a quick search for “Bank of America” at the site Bank Deals.)

Who knew guidebooks were so darn useful?  If you haven’t figured that out cornerstone of travel yet, take a gander at Global Traveler‘s post Vacation Guides – Your New Best Friends at Traveling Around The World.

Raymond of Money Blue Book is still gaming the credit-card offers in The Best Frequent Flyer Airline Miles Credit Cards For Cheap Flights and How To Maximize Your Free Citi Thank You Network Credit Card Rewards.

Wrapping up, Joshua Seth presents a USB solution to your in-flight power problems in Laptop Charger Travel Tip posted at Joshua Seth Blog.

Thanks to everyone for contributing! If you’d like to see your post on budget European travel in July’s carnival, submit using our online form. Next week, we’ll be back to North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Submit your posts for that carnival before next Wednesday!

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Happy Monday! Lots of news and updates since my last roundup post.

First, Europe changed their clocks on Sunday — I meant to blog about this before any of you could have missed your flights, buses, cruises, trains, breakfasts, what have you . . . Due to a U.S. law passed in 2005, neither springing forward nor falling back now occur at the same time in North America and Europe, meaning shoulder-season travelers must be aware of the potential for time-related mistakes. You can verify the time difference between cities of interest at Time and Date, where they have two quite detailed articles about Daylight Savings Time around the world: North America, everybody else.

Second, anyone on their way to Berlin will want to take notice of the following two points:

+ As of 1 April 2008, prices will increase on a number of local transport fares — most importantly for visitors,

  • the short hop ticket increases to 1.30 euros
  • Schoenefeld Airport moves back into zone C; those traveling to the city on AB day or week passes will need to purchase an additional zone ticket at the increased price of 1.40 euros
  • the Berlin ABC ticket — for daytrips to Potsdam — increases to 2.80 euros for a single trip, 6.50 euros for a day ticket
  • the small group ticket increases to 15.90 euros for zones AB, 16.10 euros for ABC
  • the introduction of a 4-trip ticket for 8 euros, a 10% savings over single tickets

If you are holding onto any unused tickets whose prices have now increased, those tickets will lose their validity on 14 April. Put another way, if you’re in Berlin for the next couple days, purchase your tickets TODAY at their “discounted” price for use over the next two weeks.

+ The BVG workers have threatened to strike again, beginning at midnight the morning of 1 April. This affects all buses, trams and U-Bahn (subway) routes, but NOT S-Bahn routes. Keep abreast of the situation at the BVG homepage, where the emergency bus schedules will also be posted. I will update on the situation tomorrow as necessary.

Third, everyone is abuzz with talk about the potential benefits to travelers coming from the Open Skies agreement, which took effect yesterday. The NY Times had an article last week — and naturally, the Cranky Flier covered all the details a full year ago. Biggest immediate effect is 130 new flights per week from cities around the U.S. to Heathrow, across Europe an 11% increase in flights between the continents in April alone. Sadly, it seems that high fuel prices are likely to keep most passengers from seeing beneficial decreases to their transatlantic fares for the time being. The good news: RyanAir has been considering an entree into the market, which would certainly shake things up for the better.

Speaking of RyanAir, they’ve finally launched domestic flights in France and Germany. Beginning in May, it will now be possible to fly Paris (Beauvais)-Marseille and Berlin-Frankfurt (Hahn). The latter service is twice daily; fares on both routes are currently being offered for 10 euros all inclusive.

Fourth, BoltBus launched last week and Budget Travel’s Just This In was there to test out the $3 NYC-DC service. Read their full (positive, despite a few kinks to be worked out) review here. The Washington Post covered the DC-NYC leg, which reached largely the same verdict.

Finally, there’s just one week left to nominate your favorite travel blogs for this year’s Travvies (which, forgive me, sounds like something you could Travvies logocome down with on the road, relegating you to unsavory moments in your hotel’s water closet). Every individual can nominate up to three blogs in each of eight categories for consideration. Quite a few of my regular readers are themselves travel bloggers — it is allowed (and encouraged) for you to nominate yourselves. Be nice and throw the name of two of your other favorite blogs in as well, so as not to look like a total egomaniac . . .

I’m still busily planning my upcoming trip to the UK and Spain — please please PUH-LEASE contribute your tips and advice here for your chance to win fame, prizes and my undying affection. (Where else will you find that this Monday?)

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Welcome to the third Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Europe. Here you’ll find European travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend.

cornwall surferThis week’s photographic inspiration is courtesy of Heather Cowper at Heather on her travels. Her post Bright skies and blue seas in Cornwall describes “a weekend with the family in a Cornish Youth Hostel — cliff walks and surfing for the brave.”

If I’ve caught you here from Frugal Hacks or a personal finance carnival, perhaps you’re already familiar with Wise Bread. I’m here to tell you travel folks would do well to click over there and check out some of their recent articles for good frugal travel ideas. For example, Thursday Bram gives readers 5 Tips for Sightseeing on the Cheap, while David DeFranza asks, How Do You Spend Money When Traveling? If you were enamored with my post Solid Recommendations for Travel Beauty Products, Myscha Theriault‘s posts Extreme Green 1 and Extreme Green 2 have further product suggestions for you. A great link for DIYers spotted in the comments led me to Beth Terry at Fake Plastic Fish‘s recipe for homemade solid lotion! So many great ideas out there — click over already!

If Berlin is your destination of choice, Jul at Europe String outlines one route which can help you See Berlin by bus – for cheap! Christine at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France blogs about her visit to the Berlinale; you can read all the posts from the trip starting at Our Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) Travel Plans.

Meredith Franco of EuroCheapo has the lowdown on where to snag your rental wheels in Amsterdam: the cheapest bike in town.

Before heading to Paris, stop by Levi Reissextensive descriptions of 20 arrondissements at Wine in your Diet.

Wrapping up this week, for your listening pleasure, Chris Christensen of The Amateur Traveler Podcast talks with Linda Martin from The Indie Travel Podcast about the island nation of Malta. It’s a great companion to Thursday’s post, Baring My Budget: Malta.

Thanks to everyone for contributing! If you’d like to see your post on budget European travel in this carnival, submit using our online form. Next week, we’ll be back to North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Submit your posts for that carnival before next Wednesday!

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Welcome to the first Travel on a Shoestring Carnival for Europe. Here you’ll find European travel tips for those without a lot of money to spend. We’ve got a number of interesting posts from around the blogosphere, sorted geographically.

UK and Ireland

Two posts this week deal with tours in and around London.

First up is Dana and England, Day 3 at From My Wandering Mind. Dana has a series of posts detailing a trip to England she took in the spring; this one elaborates an easy daytrip to Greenwich. Dana adds, “The trip to Greenwich with London Walks is worth it for the tour guide’s knowledge, but if you want to save yourself the 6 pounds, pretty much everything there is free to tour on your own. Going with London Walks does reduce your transportation fee to just 3 pounds on the way there, though.”

London at nightNext is Christopher Michael and Walk Like You’re British: totally free guided tours around London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris posted at -noambit -Travel Europe. Christopher writes, “This article introduces a totally free guided tour I discovered in London. This is a great way to get to know a new city and save money. The tours are also available in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam.”

If you’re famished afterwards, no fear — Christopher follows up with a post entitled, You Can’t Go Wrong With a Cheap Pocket of Meat: a great snack or lunch place in London.

Karen Bryan’s post UK budget travel tips at Europe A La Carte Blog details a reasonable daily budget for two UK travelers.

Western Europe

Headed to Italy? Susan of the The Innovative Traveler recommends you Sleep with the Nuns… and save money over hotel accommodations.

If monasteries are still out of your price range, try camping, says Christopher of
-noambit-, adding, “Why spend extra money on a hostel or hotel in Rome when you can save half and stay just a bit out of town with even more amenities? This article discusses what Italians call camping and how it is not at all what you would think.”

Roma PassOne final tip from Christopher: when in Roma, Please Pass the Time and Money: a great way to save money in Rome and see the sights for less. If you’re weighing your transportation and admission options, consider purchasing the pass he describes in this post.

If you’re looking to save dough on tickets to cultural events in Europe, you can’t go wrong with Christine’s advice in Being Frugal in France: Buying Cheap Theatre, Opera and Dance Tickets at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France. “Enjoy France on the cheap! It’s not always necessary to spend a bundle. Sometimes we just need to know our options — and saving big on theatre, opera and dance tickets in France is an option!”

Chris Christensen at the Amateur Traveler has advice and inspiration this week for Interlaken and Grindelwald, Switzerland.  You won’t believe the views from the hostel in this podcast!

Wrapping up this week, Janelle Nanos ponders the ethics of travel to endangered places in Climate Change Voyeurism? posted at the ever-interesting Intelligent Travel website.

If you’d like to see your post on budget European travel in this carnival, submit using our online form. Next week this time, we’ll be back to North America, Central America and the Caribbean. Submit your posts for that carnival before next Wednesday!

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January 1 marked the start of a six-month French experiment with free museum entry at a variety of cultural institutions. If you can read French, check out the press release here. For the rest of you, more info after the jump.


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