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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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Safety is one of the primary concerns of every traveler. Here are a few freebies to help protect yourself on the road (like the treacherous one below I recently spotted in Linz, Germany):
+ from germs
+ from cooties
+ from insects
+ from password theft
+ from sunburn (scroll to “Product Features”)
+ and, if you’re crafty, from pickpockets (1, 2, 3)

Like free stuff? Browse previous Friday Freebies.

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Planes, trains and automobiles! We’ve got it all in this week’s news roundup.

Traveling around the UK over a bank holiday weekend can lead to major delays on public transportation, warns Pam Kent of the IHT Globespotters Blog. In a recent post (inspired by tomorrow’s holiday), she notes,

Network Rail, the government body that looks after the rail network, tries to schedule engineering work on weekends, particularly those with a public holiday tagged on. That may be a plus for business travellers and commuters. But if you want to get away on a public holiday weekend, beware!: . . . [this weekend] major road and rail disruptions are expected, including the complete closure of the main railway line north out of London, between Euston and Birmingham. There are alternative routes to destinations on this stretch but they are not as direct. 20 per cent of the network will be undergoing improvement – in many cases replacement bus services are laid on for the stretches that are closed – but these lengthen the journey time considerably.

It’s always a good idea to find the transportation authority websites of your destinations before you travel and note (or bookmark) the section on delays, construction and strike warnings.

Greyhound has announced a new service in the vein of other low-cost bus services called NeOn, connecting Toronto and New York twice daily. A limited number of seats on each 10-hour ride (ugh!) are available for the low, low price of $1. The good news: like BoltBus, the buses are equipped with WiFi and each seat has its own outlet to power laptops and portable DVD players. Even more good news: in celebration of its launch, all seats from May 29 through June 1 will sell for just $1.

If you’re planning to book, here’s the salient pricing info: maximum round-trip (refundable) fare is $165 (excepting holiday periods, when the maximum fare rises to $192). 1-day advance purchase will net you $150, 2-day $120, 3-day $90, 4-day $50, 5-day $30, 6-day $2 round trip. However, discounted fares are strictly limited, with no more than 5 seats each (searching shows max. 3 at $2 and $30 and max. 4 at $50 and $90) at the lowest four levels. It pays to book these tickets early! $1 tickets are now available for itineraries till September; check the booking website directly for more details.

Thanks to This Just In for the tip!

Finally, unless you live under a rock, you’ve likely heard the news that American Airlines will begin charging passengers for all checked luggage. This follows the announcement in February of $25 fees for the second piece of checked luggage, a move which quickly became standard across U.S. legacy carriers. Price for the first piece of checked baggage on all American flights after 15 June is $15. Interestingly, there’s still no mention of the change on the airline’s luggage FAQs. While this is standard fare among low-cost carriers in Europe (a checked bag on RyanAir currently costs the equivalent of $21, including the necessary airport check-in fee), the public is likely to react negatively to perceived nickel-and-diming by major (read: expensive) airlines. Here’s hoping the rest of the industry doesn’t follow suit this time . . . In the meanwhile, keep honing your carry-on packing skills, just in case.

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+ Before you take off on your trip, purge your wallet of all unnecessary cards (library cards, gift cards, Blockbuster, etc.) and leave them at home. Better yet, use a different wallet for your trip and selectively and consciously put items you need (ATM card, credit card, insurance information, driver’s license if you’ll be renting a car) into it. Not only does this lighten the weight, it also minimizes the costs and hassle should your wallet be lost or stolen.

+ Speaking of petty theft, many travelers already know that keeping your valuables in a difficult-to-reach place helps protect them from pickpockets. If they don’t know where you’re keeping your money, they can’t steal it, right? Two more useful tools in the fight against five-finger losses: 1) a plastic bus pass holder for your transportation tickets and 2) a coin purse. Instead of pulling out your entire wallet, simply flash your pass or use the coins (or small bills) in the coin purse to pay for most of your daily transactions. Keeping these items separate keeps your wallet more secure!

+ Universities are a great resource for a no-budget traveler. Head to the library for free internet access, photocopiers, and lockers where you might stash your luggage. When desperate, head there for free bathrooms and taps to fill your water bottle. During the daytime, the university’s cafeterias offer inexpensive hot meals.  If you need assistance, university staff and students are the native population most likely to speak English well.

+ Still thirsty? During working hours, many banks offer water coolers in their lobby, with both hot and cold varieties available.

+ Traveling on the German Autobahn, you will soon discover that the restrooms at rest stops are monopolized by a company called Sanifair. Your 50-cent admission purchases a coupon that not only gets you in and out of the turnstiles to the toilet but also grants you a face-value discount on any purchase at the rest area. These coupons are good for one year and fully transferable, so save them up or pool the tickets from your travel group to purchase meals, drinks and snacks for free!

+ Didn’t find one postcard for sale in the small town you visited, or simply didn’t have a chance to pick some up? Head to the post office; they almost always have local postcards for sale, and while their selection is generally limited, it is better than nothing when your loved ones are expecting mail! Bonus is the post office can also sell you the appropriate postage at the same time.

Thanks to Megan for help with this list!

Looking for further tips?
Random Travel Tips #1
Random Travel Tips #2

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An unfortunate scenario: you’ve booked yourself on two low-cost flights connecting at London Stansted airport and find yourself with an entire day to kill between them.

Common sense dictates that if you’ve got less than four hours between arrival and the next two-hour check-in window, you simply stay put. There are plenty of restaurants and shops on both sides of security to keep you occupied; sort through your receipts, write out those last-minute postcards, review and label your digital photographs or simply settle in with a book or your iPod. If you’ve got a WiFi-enabled computer, you can purchase one-hour, three-hour or 24-hour internet access from T-Mobile, BTOpenzone or Cloud, with prices ranging from £4.50-10.

If you’ve done the math and have a healthier chunk of time, however, feel free to consider the following five suggestions for interesting and nearby outings, all under £15: (more…)

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You’ve got seven hours ahead of you on this trip — seven hours where you feel you should be doing something, seven hours where you’ve got to keep yourself, maybe your spouse, maybe your van full of kids entertained and busy. Suggestions after the jump.

(more…)

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I just hate airports that charge for wireless internet connections; like it’s not bad enough that all the food is overpriced and my flight is delayed, now you want me to cough up $9.95 an hour to go online? Thankfully not every airport is a Scrooge. Here you can find a list of U.S. and international airports that let you online for free.

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