We just returned from a two week trip to Peru. Let me tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to travel to South America-or anywhere really-I hope you take it...IF you can afford it. Travel reminds us how small we all really are in the grand scheme of things. It teaches us about other cultures, traditions, foods (that ended yours truly up in the ER but it was still worth it), beliefs and yet, at our core we are not all that different. We all want to laugh, feel loved, eat and share memories with people we care about.
Peru is magical. The towering Andes mountains offer so many natural wonders, that your breath is constantly being taken away (well, that and the extremely high altitude that you are at in many places). Lima is a city of over 11 million people that offers a foodies dream come true for every pallet. Cusco's history is astonishing, and the charm of the town and train to Machu Picchu will leave even the grumpiest traveller with a smile. Then there is the Incan ruins. While Machu Picchu gets the most notariety, there are ruins all over the Sacred Valley and other areas of Peru. Ruins that are made of perfectly crafted boulders that have no space between one another. Ruins that even the Peruvians themselves cannot fully explain how, in just a hundred short years, the Incans were able to build so many villages, buildings and walls (all with no tools). Ruins that, for me, proved that we most certainly are not the only form of life in the universe.
Y'all-I believed that there was definitely life out there somewhere before this trip...but now I whole-heartedly believe that we have been visited at some point. Think I am crazy? I get it. But go to Peru and if you can explain how they did it, I have an ear ready to listen.
Traveling to foreign countries ain't cheap. But I use quite a few travel hacks to maximize my trip experience while not blowing the lid off the bank account. Here are a few quick ones for you:
1. The Obvious-Frequent Flyer Miles. We flew first class on frequent flyer miles. And not just any first class...my seat laid down AND had massagers in it. Rather than be cramped up for over six hours, I donned my eye mask, enjoyed the free cocktails and slept most of the flight. If you have not already signed up for a frequent flyer program, do so now. It's free, so even if you never have enough points to use the miles you also have nothing to lose. If you have a credit card that isn't earning you some kind of points, (cash back, amazon rewards, frequent flyer miles) then switch your card now and get one that does! Unless, of course you are working on your credit and that would hurt your score-then wait until the time is right and start banking your points. Also, some cards get your bags on the plane for free!
2. The group I travel with likes to stay in fancy-schmancy hotels. While that's not my thing (you know I would prefer a great Airbnb), when I am traveling with a group that is not left up to me. Fancy resorts like to charge a boat-load for drinks. So me and my husband always try to stop at a local convenience store and buy our wine there to enjoy back at the resort. To show you how much we saved on this trip-one bottle of wine at the resort was 250 sole (aka $80). Three bottles of the SAME wine was 300 sole (aka $100) at the grocery store. The savings on the three bottles was almost $50 per bottle! If we drank wine half of the nights we were there (which we did), our total trip savings was $300!
3. Don't be afraid to deal. Many foreign countries are willing to negotiate prices of their goods. Take the time to negotiate. There was a silly gift we wanted to get for all of our nieces, nephews and friends. The starting price per gift was 45 sole ($15). We took the time to negotiate and got the price down to 30 sole ($10). Guys-we purchased 20 of this item...that means we saved $100 by negotiating....even though that is not super comfortable for either of us!
4. Park in the economy lots. I see no reason to ever park in the lot closest to the airport...unless you are just a lazy ass. Park in the economy lot and take the bus. Yes, it takes a few minutes more but can save you tons of money based on the length of your trip.
5. Dryer sheets. I LOVE this one and just learned it myself. Rather than have your clothes cleaned while traveling, simply pack a few ziplock freezer bags and bring dryer sheets. If you have clothes that need freshening-up...put them in the freezer bag with the sheets and ta-da, the next day you are smelling fresh as new!
I hope that you get the chance to travel often Boss Ladies. If you do, make sure to share your stories and tips with us!