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Destinations, for me, can be in the city you call home or continents away. Journeys can last minutes, hours, or days. Whether a cozy coffee house or an island oasis or some other spot, they offer a reprise. The places I want to experience are too numerous to name. But, unfortunately, my funds are limited.

I seek advice from others to maximize the best use of my money. You’ll find reviews here that I hope help you do the same. Click on the cities below for reviews of attractions, hotels, eateries, etc.

You’ll notice that I generally bypass chain establishments. The chains I do critique are usually local or regional. That’s because nationally recognizable businesses have the plenty of advertising muscle to flex. While I might patronize them occasionally, I’m intrigued more with relatively unknown places. I stumble upon some while reading articles and others while simply driving around. Long lines at  establishments are the best beacons. But if you’re not someone who gets lost often (Hey, I’m working on this!) then try these strategies:

Pick a review site wisely: Opinion data, like any other form, can be manipulated. I prefer Yelp and Trip Advisor. They have mostly well-written and extensive feedback and they allow reviewers and business owners to provide updates. Both allow users to email questions to reviewers.

Let savings come to you: How did we survive before sites like Scoutmob and Groupon? I’ve discovered restaurants I passed constantly but never noticed. I’ve also kicked myself because I missed a deal that would’ve saved me money. These sites feature attractions, services, and events too. Subscribe to group savings sites not only for their deals but also for the ideas they spark. If you’re traveling and don’t have an itinerary, this is especially helpful. Set up an additional email subscription for the destination city. Most deals last at least a few months from purchase.

Announce your arrival: Sign up for postal visitor guides to cities and attractions during early planning stages. They often contain coupons. Sign up for email newsletters to restaurants, malls, and stores closer to your visit date. These establishments offer savings that expire quickly. Try the same strategies if you are planning a local excursion or having out of town guests who want to explore the area.

Double check: Go online and type the name of the place you’re visiting followed by the word “coupon,” “deal,” or “sale” to compare new offers to the one you planned to use. According to travel and personal finance guru Clark Howard, the browser used when checking prices online might affect quotes. Apple product users, in general, get charged higher fees. He also advices that groups of 10 plus usually reap no benefit of booking travel together. Compare group rates to those quoted when fewer travelers book together.

Set aside time to enjoy: Ever notice how the best meals aren’t rushed or how  the best vacations allow us to slow down, losing dependence on deadlines? Before visiting any place, clear your schedule. Take care of true priorities so you can savor the experience instead of focusing on tasks awaiting you upon return to work, home, etc. Everyone needs an escape now and then. Make the most of yours.



New York