Ways to Travel on a Budget in Expensive Cities

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Traveling on a budget can be hard. Especially if you know you’ll be visiting a notoriously expensive city. In theory, you may know all the travel hacks and steps to take to ensure you keep to a strict spending amount. Yet in practice, all your careful planning and money-saving tricks may go out of the window. Resulting in you in an expensive city, way over your original budget and trying to decide how to remedy the situation quickly.

A New York travel company AllTheRooms the world’s first vacation rental search engine has some suggestions for ways you can travel on a budget in expensive cities. Whether you’re spending a fortnight in London exploring all the sights, learning the difference between good coffee and bad coffee in Melbourne, or shopping in the bustling city of Seoul, the tips below are ones that should keep you from scrambling, just remember to stay safe.

  1. Stay in cheap accommodation
    Accommodation is usually a big expense when you’re traveling, and a great way to pinch the pennies is to choose a budget option when looking where to stay. If you’re traveling solo, a dorm room may be the best option for you, as they start at very low prices and are great for socializing. If you’re traveling in a group, getting a vacation rental may be the cheapest and most convenient option, plus, you’ll be splitting the price between everyone, so might just work out more cost-effective.
  2. Cook for yourself
    It may not sound like the most fun option, but if you are really looking to stick to your budget, cook some meals for yourself. Eating out is a huge expense whilst traveling, so opting to go without a few brunches or fancy dinners will save you money. Of course, cooking depends on your accommodation situation, but most hostels nowadays, and most vacation rentals, have kitchens and prep areas to store food. Whether you rustle up every meal yourself or just make breakfast and a packed lunch for the day, you’ll be amazed how much you save. Not to mention, you’ll also get to improve your culinary chef skills!
  3. Take public transport (or walk)
    Using the city’s public transport is a great way to see the city and keep within your budget at the same time. If you’re in a location for a while, look into purchasing a weekly or monthly travel pass. Most cities have these passes as an option for using across the train, bus, and tram services. Better yet, if possible, skip transport altogether and walk or cycle around the city. Some places offer city bikes, where you pay a deposit and small fee to explore on two wheels — great exercise and fun! Remember to avoid taxis in general, as they tend to be more expensive and can sometimes overcharge people who are notably tourists.
  4. Book in advance
    If you know the main attractions you want to see in your chosen city, think ahead and book entry tickets before your trip. Booking in advance is generally cheaper than purchasing on the door, and you won’t have to worry about long lines. It’s also worth noting to keep an eye out for joint tickets and tourist passes. These include entrance to a number of key attractions in cities, such as museum and art galleries, and are available at a discounted price.

Using these simple tricks will help keep your spending limited without compromising your vacation experience. Luxury doesn’t have to mean big $$, just remember to do your research, plan ahead, and be realistic with what you can afford.

Florida More than Just a Spring Break Destination

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Florida is one of the most visited states in the USA, and it’s easy enough to see why. The state offers a wealth of delightful experiences, from huge theme parks to sandy beaches so beautiful you’ll never want to leave. We particularly loved our visit to Destin when our daughter was about six months old and our trek to Key West years before.

However, Florida is also a state that you have to negotiate carefully when booking a trip. If you get it right, your vacation memories will last a lifetime. But if you get wrong, you could be in for one of the worst kinds of memorable trips, one with horror stories. 

“Summer” is not necessarily the best time to visit
When most of us are planning a vacation, we plan for the summertime. Students are out of school and the annual summer vacation is something the vast majority of families plan the year around. However, summer is not a particularly great time to visit Florida.

The reason for this is simple: hurricanes. July through to September is generally considered to be the hurricane season, so it’s best to avoid the state during these times. While the chances of getting caught in a massive category 5 storm like Hurricane Irma are low, you could still find yourself vacationing during lower-category hurricanes and tropical storms. These might not be life-threatening but will prevent you from enjoying your vacation to the best of your ability. 

So when should you visit? May or October are considered the best times to visit Florida, so keep this in mind when booking your trip.

There’s more to Florida than Miami and Orlando
Miami and Orlando are the choice destinations for most family visits to the Sunshine State. To an extent, that makes sense— Miami is a vibrant, wonderful city that is hard to overlook, and Orlando is the home of Disney World. However, there’s more to Florida than these two cities.

If you want to avoid the worst of the crowds, then it’s worth considering a change of destination. Spend a couple of nights at a hotel in Tallahassee, taking the time to explore the local museums or visit the beautiful St. Mark’s Lighthouse during the day. Alternatively, head further north for a stay at the Jacksonville Marriott, giving you the opportunity to visit the wonderful Museum of Science and History. Florida is filled with alternative cities whether you prefer a beach vacation, a museum-centric vacation or a little bit of both!

Be prepared for the humidity
The Sunshine State promises plenty of sunshine, but you also need to be prepared for the humidity. Due to its near-tropical climate, Florida is easily the most humid state in the USA. The humidity can make the air feel much warmer than the actual temperature, and many visitors struggle during the hottest points of the day.

There’s relatively little you can do about the humidity itself, but you can follow these tips for dealing with high humidity to ensure you stay as comfortable as possible.

If you’re looking to book a vacation to Florida soon, keeping the above in mind can help improve your holiday, and ensure you and your family have an experience you’ll remember for all the right reasons!

Make the most of your vacation

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Vacations are few and far between, so you don’t want to waste one when you get the chance. There is nothing like taking time away from the office and seeing the world. Not only does it broaden your horizons, but it also de-stresses you and can force you to relax. Below are a few tips to help make sure you set your vacation up for success. 

Pack Everything You NeedLots of people use the “we’ll get it when you get there” policy and it backfires. Yes, it is a good way to save space and time, but only if you get to your destination early. No one wants to find themselves in a position where they have to wait hours before they can start to enjoy their vacation. With that in mind, pack everything from battery chargers to your favorite water bottle. Consider looking into glass bottle supplies. Glass also doesn’t affect the taste. Whatever you need for your vacation, take it with you to make the transition easier.

Pick A Different Place Each YearIt goes without saying that Hawaii, New York and New Orleans are two unbelievable holiday destinations. However, if you go there every year, at least try to go at different times of the year. But also don’t be afraid to try a new location. Changing up where you go is also a great way to discover some of the best vacation destinations on the planet. A vacation should be about experiencing new environments and cultures, and you can’t do that in the same location.


Go More Than Once: Most Americans bank their vacation days and spend them all at once. You might find taking smaller mini vacations can save you time and money versus taking a longer vacation. A mini vacation doesn’t have to be an exotic, expensive retreat. It can be as simple as vacationing in the same country state or even your neighboring town.

Open Your MindUndoubtedly everything will seem different when you travel. It is part and parcel of leaving your comfort zone. The trick is not to see it as a problem, but to see it as an opportunity. Sure, the food might not be the same and the customs different, but that is a good thing. Dive in head first and enjoy everything that comes your way. 

New Orleans Musts

I’ve loved New Orleans since I first visited and ate a mile high ice cream pie (I was 10!) at the now-closed Ponchartrain Hotel’s Caribbean Room and saw the lavish Mardi Gras costumes at the museum. Every time I’ve visited since then, I’ve fallen more and more in love with the city. My list of must see and must do will always have additions with each trip, but here’s the start.

Best place to stay
The iconic and oft-photographed Royal Sonesta is right on Bourbon Street even being right on the street, the hotel is surprisingly quiet though a pair of ear plugs wouldn’t hurt.

Royal Sonesta

Provides an excellent view of any second lines.

Some of my most favorite places to eat are:

  • Acme Oyster House, known for fresh, hand-shucked Louisiana oysters. We love the gumbo, raw oysters and the waitress-recommended chargrilled oysters.
    img_0041 img_0042
  • Langlois Culinary Crossroads a next-generation New Orleans dining experience, offering hands-on Cajun and Creole cooking classes.
  • The popular historic Cafe DuMonde, while you’re there be sure to check out the French Market.
  • Cafe Beignet actually has the BEST beignets in the entire city if you ask me. img_0092
  • Jazz Brunch Buffet at the Court of Two Sisters Restaurant
  • Commander’s Palace, known as much for their white glove service of all patrons as for their food. The restaurant has their own cookbook and shares many of their signature dishes on their website. You must try the turtle soup.
    img_0114 img_0113
  • GW Fins, on Bienville Street a lavish, delightful, perfect dinner. The lobster dumplings are one of the top appetizers in New Orleans, so much that Chef Matt at Langlois highly recommended them. They are some of the best dumplings, but the crab pot stickers were even better. The French 75 was one of the best drinks we had the entire trip.
  • Also good are the crab cakes and alligator sausage at Oceana Grill.
  • The menu at Bayona is fantastic and the daily specials worth trying.

Places to see/visit/do:

New York City Musts

I loved NYC before Sex & the City and well before Gossip Girl. My love for the city started in middle school. I was exceptionally lucky to visit my father’s dear friend and surrogate uncle there once or twice a year. I did all of my school clothes shopping in the city and even spent the 1999 New Years Eve in Times Square with my family and best friend. New York is a city like no other. If you visit, I highly recommend the following:

Some of my most favorite places to eat are:

  • Russ and Daughters (179 E Houston St  New York, NY 10002) THE place to get bagels and lox.
    Russ & Daughters NYC Russ & Daughters
  • Gray’s Papaya for a hot dog (2090 Broadway New York) There are TONS of locations and all of them are good.
    Gray's Papaya
  • Another NYC institution is the famous Katz’s Delicatessen on East Houston Street.

    Katz's Delicatessen pastrami

  • One of my most favorite places to eat in the entire city is Union Square Cafe. It where I first had tuna tartare and beef carpaccio. Amazing!
  • The Jordan Lobster Farms (1 Pettit Pl, Island Park, NY 11558) in Island Park is really good
    Jordan Lobster Farm
    Jordan Lobster Farm Menu

There are often other places I love like Prosperity Dumplings (now closed) and Izakaya Ten (also now closed), but like lots of great things in NYC change happens. I always like finding new places every time we visit.

Places to see/visit

  • The High Line (West 29th Street near 10th Ave)  This is getting more and more built up and it’s amazing. I had some of the best street popsicles I’ve ever had there.
    NYC The High Line
  • Museum of Natural History (81st Street and Central Park West)
  • The NYC Public Library. I’m a sucker for Old Winnie the Pooh and the originals are there!
    NYC Public Library Winnie the Pooh Originals NYC Public Library Winnie the Pooh
  • No trip to NYC is complete without a walk through Times Square (it’s super overwhelming regardless of time or day)
  • The Post Office by Penn Station is a great place to sit and people watch for a bit.
  • The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a lot of fun and worth the price of admission. (J and I trade museums. I like art and history and he likes military and history so it works out = )
  • Of course the Shopping in SOHO is amazing.
If you’re looking for a day trip, I cannot recommend Fire Island enough. It was pretty heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but they’ve done a lot of rebuilding. It’s one of my favorite places in the continental United States. While there the fish tacos at Castaway are really good. There’s a pasta place Dinner at Michael’s Ristorante & Pizzeria which has delicious Spaghetti Militare.
New York 2012 (back up) - 110New York 2012 (back up) - 122
Have fun!