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Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Some friends of mine made an unhappy discovery when departing the Czech Republic with a long-sought bottle of wine (or two):  their duty-free purchase was confiscated when making a connection in another EU airport.

As much as I complain about the security theater Americans abbreviate TSA, there is one upside to the system:  once you’re in (and don’t connect in a stupid airport [ahem, JFK] where you have to exit and reenter secured areas when changing flights), you and your liquids are in.  Put that chapstick back in your pocket, enjoy a long swig from your refilled water bottle — no one will bug you about those items again.

Unfortunately, if you are connecting onward through a European airport, you will be subject to repeated searches — necessitating the return of your chapstick to your 1L ziploc, the dumping of your secure-area beverages and, for the unlucky, the confisciation of your duty-free liquids, creams and gels.

How do you avoid this expensive dilemma?  Find out after the jump.

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‘Tis the season to make a numbered shopping list!  Thankfully, the no-budget traveler is easier to shop for than you’d imagine.  If you’re still looking for ideas, take a look at last year’s list, then follow me after the jump for another 20 items for under $20 (18 under $10) your favorite travel fiend.

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Still doing your holiday shopping, or just need to pick up a couple last-minute gifts? Avoid the crush at the mall by ordering those items online — and, if you time it right, enjoy the benefit of free shipping, too!

Free Shipping Day logoHundreds of online merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day on (and only on) Thursday, December 18 — the last day most will guarantee Christmas Eve delivery on regularly shipped items.  (Click on the link above to see a partial list of participants.) Not sure if your preferred merchants are participating and can’t tell from their website?  Contact their customer support and ask!

Just because the offer is timed for the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of it for your own personal ends — to pick up that guidebook you’ve been meaning to on Overstock, for example, or to order some hiking boots or comfortable sandals for next summer’s travel adventures from Zappos.

Thanks to Frugal Hacks for the tip!

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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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At the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers in the lovely city of Koblenz, Germany, stands a large Deutsches Eck, Koblenz, Germanymonument called Deutsches Eck (German Corner).  Originally dedicated to the empire of Kaiser Wilhelm I, its partial destruction in WWII led the remnants to serve as a memorial to German unity until 1989.  It was rebuilt by Koblenz in 1993.

Climbing inside the central structure (below the statue) affords views along both river banks and of the town itself.  Koblenz is a well-maintained city with abundant plantings and whimsical fountains and figures sprinkled throughout.  The center of town is dominated by pedestrian shopping areas, though it’s easy to find refuge from inclement Church Steeples, Koblenzweather in the indoor (and partially underground) Löhr Center mall at the edge of this area.  The monument is at most a 15-minute walk from the central bus or train stations.

Given its location, the area is popular with river-cruising tourists.   You don’t need to commit a week, however — one- or three-hour boat trips are readily available at standard rates.  In the summer, it is possible to make a leisurely daytrip all the way from Cologne or Bonn by boat.

The monument (admission: free) has many details to be discovered by visitors.  Each of the German states are represented by a plaque in the rounded area while their flags grace the waterfront.  I’m a sucker for reliefs like these giant carved stone snakes above the benches at the base of the monument.  For younger visitors, there is plenty of open space for running, climbing and jumping.

Stone Snakes, Deutsches Eck, Koblenz, Germany

Koblenz can be reached by bus from Frankfurt/Hahn airport and, if the timing is right, is an enjoyable day out for any passengers connecting on low-cost carriers with a long layover.

Find (and join!) other Photo Friday participants here.

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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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There’s only one time of year when any post outranks my post on how to get your check-in fee back from RyanAir, and that’s late September . . .

OKTOBERFEST TIME!

Seems I’m not the only one who wants to know how to save serious cash while looking like a native at Germany’s biggest festival!O'fest 2008, courtesy of Carija Ihus

I’m headed there this weekend myself and will be sporting my homemade dirndl, but this post outlines where to find the best bargains on Trachten for the beerfest.

Are you headed to Munich this weekend? Leave a note in the comments and we could do a meetup! Before you get there, save money and time by reading my other posts on German travel:

+ Getting Across Germany Cheaply, Part One
+ Getting Across Germany Cheaply, Part Two
+ Cheap Calling on the Go: Germany
+ Baring my Budget: Hamburg
+ Baring my Budget: Rostock and Warnemünde
+ Avoiding Overpriced Train Station Services in Cologne
+ Two Hours in . . . Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Part I
+ Two Hours in . . . Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Part II
+ Why Carry your Own Heavy Luggage?
+ ITB Impressions: Beer Tourism
+ Friday Freebie: City Guide Podcasts
+ Comparing Foreign Websites for Deals

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