Thursday, April 19, 2018

Reward Apps- Worth it? Yes! And not really...: Job Spotter and Frequent Flyer

Hey, all!

Money Making. I know everyone says they have an app for that. Remember that commercial? Travel savings/rewards and money back are on tons of apps. Be mindful that some say they pay in gift cards, some in air miles- seems really cool and all that but it's not always as described! Read below to check out my thoughts on a couple "money" style apps designed for travelers or just movers and shakers.

Job Spotter

So, while perusing one of those Penny Hoarder posts that are basically all surveys and shopping receipt apps, I stumbled upon Job Spotter.  It's powered by Indeed for job hunters and people hiring.
Looks like this. 

It's really easy to use and pays out in Amazon gift card codes*. I have had this app for years and love it. It's not a get rich quick kind of thing, just more of an if you're already out thing. It needs to be on a Smart Phone of some sort with location tracking on and a camera. That's all.
*NOTE: The app works internationally BUT I do NOT know if Amazon works internationally.

What you do:
Download the smartphone app- obviously.
When you see a Now Hiring sign at a business, ANY business, you take a photo of the sign up close and then a photo of the business name (be it on the door, a sign, an awning, etc) and submit. It takes literally seconds per. The big box stores and national chains like CVS or Burger King and places that say apply online are not worth much- each point in JS is worth one penny and those chains can be as low as 5 points- BUT the points go up to 150 per post on small businesses like local markets or antique shops or something. It all adds up.

Plus as an added incentive to the app, you can also verify other people's shots to see that yes, this IS a hiring sign and it is indeed at [Given store name]! Or sometimes it's not. You do have to be paying attention to these because it has a trust rating for you and the lower your rating, the lower points you get per pair. Each set goes up to 100% and is worth 10 points (so a 5 star trust rating is 5% per pair verified), but for each location YOU shoot, no matter what it's worth, you get a slew of verifications to tend to. So even if you only get 5 points on a photo you snapped you can still earn another 20 or 30 cents from the pile of verifications you get for taking that photo in the first place. It's like a reward incentive- the more you post, the more you get to verify. I didn't discover this part of the app until much later- like a year ago, honestly- but I tell you, it works!
I cashed out at Thanksgiving time and paid for half of my Christmas list. Then I cashed out NYE to have a zero balance for 2018. $35 free dollars in a month just from taking a few photos.

Though this app is FAR from a scam, people leave bad reviews because it doesn't "pay enough"! Those people are idiots. Not sorry. You get what you put in, like in most things, and if you are one of those people that need to be told to get off the couch and go outside then this app probably won't do it for you. I am out and about a lot, sometimes even just taking walks and will see a hiring sign. Or I take a walk around the mall just to see who's hiring. Around Christmas it's a gold mine! It also lets you retake photos after a few weeks. So if you know the Mexican place around the corner is ALWAYS hiring with their handwritten sign on the door, go ahead and snap it every couple of weeks. If it's anything like the one near me then the people that were hired a few weeks ago are already gone so it still helps. It runs through Indeed.com and will update itself accordingly. Literally-all you do is go for a walk and snap, snap, send. Cash Out. I choose to leave my rewards for an extended period of time, not cash out every week like some whiner did online then complained about only getting $2. But you do you, boo boo!

I usually get my reward emailed to me same or next day as I hit the redeem button. I don't think I've ever waited for more than a full 24 hours.

This app is a MUST if you wander around a lot or don't live in a farm town. Or even if you do! It's easy, potentially helps others and pays in legit Amazon codes. I use it as often as I can.

The Good: Easy money!
The Bad: Your husband or friends will pretend not to be annoyed that you stop at every other store at the mall to take photos. But hey, money is money!

Frequent Flyer

So, a long, long time ago (May 2016) on some sort of money saving post ad I saw an app presentation for the Frequent Flyer Travel Reward App. The app goal says you can collect free travel, collect air miles and more. Well, I have this app pinned in my back screen so that it tracks me as it says it's supposed to. It does track- and it doesn't. Every day or two it offers a survey that asks where  you were at this time and so on, and you just respond by tapping your responses. Most of the time it's counting when you're stopped at a red light and asks you if you visited such and such place at the corner of where the red light was. Or it's three blocks from where you actually were. So it's not TOO terribly intelligent for being programmed to track locations.

However, It has been a long time with this app and I have yet to receive the reward of my choice. The prizes open at sweepstakes entries that I'm not convinced anyone actually wins (200 points), all the way to my goal, a $25 Airbnb/hotel gift card (25,000 points). I had one accidental sweepstakes entry and one on purpose but in the rest of the time since 2016 I have yet to achieve anything- and that's AFTER visiting 6 new countries and various US road trips. I'm at 23,500 points and will hang on until I can reach 25,000 and claim my reward. Then it's gone. My phone says it drains the battery an extra 2%, so, bye Felicia!?
The Good: It promises rewards.
The Bad: It's been almost two years with it pinned to my background and still nothing. It's literally just a drain on my battery at this point.

Update 4/9/18: In the month that this post has been awaiting an update (of points and rewards) I have reached the goal of 25,000 points and am currently cashing in- I sent in my request for a $25 Marriott gift card code so that when Husband and I go on our road trip this summer we can save a few bucks on a hotel one night. A lot of work, it seems, just to save $25 on one night of hotel service, but, every little bit helps! That's pretty good savings.

Second Update 4/19/18: Still waiting. Usually when things say two weeks like this- where it's just delivering a code to your email- it takes a day or two. I've checked my spam and everything. I guess they actually mean two weeks worth of business days.

Neither of these apps will lead to many riches. But especially if you use Amazon a lot and can ship things directly to your brother's house in Florida for your nieces, at least ONE of these apps is worth it. Personally speaking.

What apps do you use to save a few bucks or earn a few back into your life? Tell me below! And let me know if you download either of these apps! I'm the only one I know who uses either besides talking my sister-in-law into getting it when we went to the mall over summer.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Travel App Reviews: Still Searching for that plane ticket deal?

Cause I sure am!
This is what true love looks like.

As I had mentioned back here, I am looking for a one-way ticket to Providence, Rhode Island, so that I can catch my Norwegian flight to Dublin. I was hoping to score some last minute deals but now it's 28 days away and I'm starting to get panicky because I'm not good at last minute stuff unless it's local or part of my job. I tend to be more prepared around this time! So even though the rest of my European trip is ready to go, I'm still not at my flight to leave America yet, so to speak!

Turns out TF Green (PVD) is not a huge airport and not all flights go there. It's seemingly a specialized airport and I'm kicking myself that I booked my Dublin flight leaving from here without knowing PVD's circumstances and knowing how flights are harder to come by at a decent price. (It's important to note that Boston, Chicago and New York were all excluded from going to Dublin on Norwegian) I figured a one-way flight wouldn't be too hard to come by, and it's not, it's just that unless I want to arrive at 7am for a 9pm flight to Dublin OR catch a flight that lands as my other ride is taking off then I need to keep shopping and expect to spend around $100- which is only a few dollars LESS than my flight to Dublin in the first place, which is annoying and anti-thrifty.

Again, alas. I have cleared my cookies and cache and am ready to research!

So, in order to run through all of these apps I download that all insist they're the ONLY place for go for the BEST cheap flights... I will be searching this specific flight from Detroit to Providence for one adult passenger on May 1 (one-way) and see how many of them are the same or better or worse. I know a started a short list a while ago but I want to expand and see what's better for me so that if you're looking up these apps, you can see what sounds best for you, too.
Since so many claim to be the best, let's give 'er a looksie:

Spirit: Doesn't fly to this airport. Sucky.
CheapOAir: Lowest cost $114.30 on American. Not so cheapo here but is usually ok.
NavigatoFly: $87 on American
Flight Search: $87 on American -pretty much exact same app as Navi only it's orange instead of blue. Uninstalling. 
Fareboom: Turns out the App is for car rentals only despite having an airplane as their logo. Unless you've already booked? Confusing but only showed me cars just now. Uninstalling. Checking their website: it's garbage. Just another site that pops up 45 different low fare windows. Waste of time.
SkyScanner: $88 cheapest BUT lands at 11:54 pm. Rats. Next cheapest if $95 but arrives 8 hours ahead of my flight and I can't possibly sit in one place for 8 hours just to get on a plane and sit in one place for another 8 hours.
Fareness: $95- cheapest price for the month. Not the best app, but they provide a calendar of rates.
Kiwi: $90.39 but leaves at 6:05AM. Shortest flight, though. For $96.58 I can cut that time in half still with a direct flight, if only my outbound to Dublin were at 2am next day... Seems better for hotel deals than flights.
Hopper: $100 Still my fave though. Just not here.
Jetradar: $88 on American and not stupidly early morning! One I can actually use!
Momondo: $95- same as everyone else. Seems better for international flights but I'm still not impressed with anything it shows me even in my pretend vacations. I don't understand why people love it.  It's the same as everything else, just with a better marketing team. Uninstalling.
LastMinuteFlights: $87. Not bad but for an app that claims it is the ONLY go-to for last minute flight deals it's running all of the same flights as everyone else. So this app is full of lies? I tried moving up the date to April 11th (at random) JUST to see if the actual more last minute idea is legit since a month out isn't last minute.  Nope, prices are $40 higher. I bet they're just banking on that last minute panic for most of their sales. Uninstalling.
CheapFlightsTickets: Nope. Seems to only be Europe to Asia type of flights. Detroit exists on their menu but I couldn't even pull up Boston. Uninstalling.
CheapTickets: The app just takes you to their website. Then the site tells you to download the app. $102 cheapest and not in a timely manner. Uninstalling.
EasyJet: Nope, not American. We don't exist here. Uninstalling after I play a minute longer. (IE doesn't even exist on the app, just Belfast UK)
Hipmunk: They won't let me create a google account without access to my Google Wallet. They want you to use it with your GW and pay for everything that way but even though my GW isn't even hooked up to anything or used, I don't need an app having any sort of access to my money or information like THAT. Uninstalling!! And SCARY!* Cute logo though. 
Jetcost: $46 if I go to Boston on Spirit but same old $88+ for PVD. I may keep this app. Even though it gave me the same results, I got them at least 50% faster than most of the others above.
Secret Travel: Not a flight deal app, per se. It's more of a deal package app, which is ok for later.
SkipLagged: $87

I have been thinking just fly to Boston and take a bus or train or whatever RomeToRio has to offer or something and using my Spirit miles could save time and money. I guess another set of research is due for Boston?
Boston as low as $48. I could take the train for $13 at 3:30pm and arrive well ahead of schedule for my outbound flight and the train drops me off right at the airport?? Well, shit. At least I worked through the apps I don't like. I think I freed up half of my phone storage!

Still so much to do for my flight over, but at least we ran through some of these "best apps ever for flight deals". The best ones I looked at today: Jetcost, Jetradar.

*You should never have to allow any wallet access to an app that you're not comfortable with, nor should they ask for it just to get started. I'm sure should you choose to use it it would be easy, but if you're not even interested in with Hipmunk has to offer- guess what, you already gave them FULL ACCESS to your Gogle Wallet and all subseqent banking information. So now that's out there in a way that seems less trustworthy than the apps you choose to use like Amazon. If you want to attach your GW or any credit cards to something it should be YOUR choice, not the app's. They're asking far too much and it's a big red flag.
I left a review of the app on their DL page and they responded to it saying that they don't ask for that information at all EVER and told me to email them why I think that they do. It was pretty condescending sounding, honestly. So I edited my review and gave explicit details of how I tried to create an account and was denied my account opening because I refused to allow permission to access my GW. No account was made. 
Does this not look like they're asking for permission to use my Google Wallet to you??

Are there apps that I missed? Websites that are better? Any tips? leave it all in my comments!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Whaley House- Haunted or Nah?

According to Wiki, "The Whaley House is an 1857 Greek Revival style residence, a California Historical Landmark, and museum located in Old Town, San Diego, California. In the 1960s, the Whaley House was designated as an official haunted house by the United States Commerce Department."

I call malarkey. Or at least a notion that maybe it USED to be haunted, but too much goings on has happened and the spirits left to finally be in peace. I imagine even ghost mothers don't want to hear your screaming and unattended children who leave sticky jam hand print all over their ancient walls when they are rumored to have their own ghost baby to take care of (RIP Thomas). I visited this house for the first time in April of 2004 with my Winterguard team during our trip to Winterguard Internationals ( WGI Hollaaaa) and it was more that we were talking about hauntings and looking for ghosts than actually feeling haunted or alert to our surroundings. In 2005 TIME magazine labeled the Whaley House as the most haunted house in America, even besting the Amityville house, the Whitney Detroit and the Sallie House which have all been proven multiple times. Me thinks TIME was promoting a business and a museum over actual proof. In 2014 I visited Ole Whaley again.

As an avid ghost hunter with an actual documentary short about Historic Fort Wayne Detroit with Metro Paranormal, I can tell you that the gut feelings you have in one place that's, to a sensitive person like me, proven itself to be with spirit like that- the Whaley House feels just like plain old house.  
I love all theatres. The older the better!

But this house is DOOOOPE! If you go thinking it's a cool museum with a fun and also horrid graveyard backstory of suicide and shame, it's really cool (and sad). As a historical landmark this house has seen it all. It was home to the Whaley family, of course, the Whaley General Store, a commercial theatre and a courthouse. The family lived there, then didn't, then did, then left, then came back, all lived in it together, preserved it as a museum and stayed a family home until 1953 when the last remaining family member, Corrinne Lillian, died. 


It opens with a pre-room leading into the courthouse. It's small but so interesting. Imagine having a courthouse in your home! So weird. The theatre was really cool, imagine all of the people who came there, too! In your house! As a theatre major, I was into it! However, as much as you'd like to think all old theatre spaces are haunted ala The Phantom- they're not. At least not in the afternoon time. What you think is a moving curtain from on stage is really just an air duct pushing out cool air. That's the only motion you'll be likely to see there. Sorry. Spoiler Alert? My favorite room besides the children's room with creepy dolls and fancy clothes about was the family sitting room. Here you see some of the art collection, the family piano and credenza for what looked to be their correspondence desk. It was difficult to get any good bedroom or kitchen photos due to the plastic walls and the amount of sunlight bouncing, but perhaps a third visit may be in order. It's all really neat to marvel at. The craftsmanship alone! I have shirts that I have owned for a year that have already fallen apart and these clothes are over a century old and still exist! The dolls and toys may not be as functional as they used to be but they're still there! (IS a doll functional??) Time has aged them but not destroyed. Things used to be made better...
I'm told it can still play.

The photos I did manage to take make it look almost normal, but to me there is almost nothing normal about a dolly that has been sitting on the same bed for 70 years or more with plastic windows surrounding it. However, it was all really cool. It's a glimpse into a different time, a different world. The admission is cheap at just $8 with Military, Child and Senior discounts available. It's also available on the list of locations for the Go! San Diego CityPass card mentioned in my previous post here.

If you're interested, you can check out their Website to plan a trip or just investigate for yourself from afar. It's fun to give yourself the chills, so why not stop here if you're in the San Diego area? It's definitely worth seeing for yourself. 

My verdict: Not haunted, just an old tale to get people in. But maybe my two times there were slow haunting days and the spirits just had things to do otherwise. Maybe they're like Hogwarts portraits, dipping into various spots around the grounds. Either way, it's a fun visit. 
If you say you're scared of ghosts and haunted houses then this is your perfect destination. If haunted at all I will say it's lightly ghosted, so you can still say you were in a haunted house but you are HIGHLY unlikely going to catch any cold spots or see any figures. 

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you toured the Whaley House and have a differing experience? Let me know below!

Be kind, everyone!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

A Craft Worthy of Travelers

Hi friends!

In my last post about crafting souvenirs I had mentioned that I wanted to try the map idea for photographs. And so I have. I've always been crazy about maps in school, I loved map days where I could just see what was close to which location and pretend I was actually leaving for something worthwhile. It's not nerdy. Maps are cool. And at least with this map it shows where I've been as well as where I have yet to go. So, it's hopeful!

This project got me thinking about a few things. It got me thinking about how much fun it would be for family photos and something to do with the kids (and how I wish I could find my family photos from my youth), and it got me thinking about my boss, who RVs all over the US with his wife and three boys. They probably have way more photos to cut into state shapes than I do. Hi, Yum Fam! You should do this project with the kiddos since you can fill more than a tri-state area to start. Plus, it makes a physical reminder- yes, we saw Charleston and here's a photo, but now we can remember which state it's in, kids.

What you'll need:

  • Maps
  • Scissors
  • Regular tape
  • Glue or double stick tape
  • Photographs or something alike for memory making

Well, I got pretty excited about this craft, which is sad considering I've only really been to about 7 states and have photos to show for it! (still on the fence- DO airports count? What if you purchased something whilst in one and paid their state sales tax? Yes? No? I never know. Alas...) I ordered two US maps from Ebay for $5 each- one for cutting each state out of and one for, well, mapping, and they're a little larger than I thought they'd be. Let's just say Texas is most of my face. Non-affiliated Amazon link above.

Finally a real use for a fancy box- of which I have many!

I had a lot of fun (psyche!) cutting out each state as best as I could. My scissor skills aside, though, I'm pumped to begin! I ordered a few prints from Shutterfly and off I went. Eventually. It's kind of a slow process if you need to wait for things like the US post office and actually traveling to other states to take photos in.....

Wedding Day in Detroit

It's easier to buy two maps than trying to trace each state shape in a shadow like I saw someone else try to do. Who has a projector to trace with anyhow? And why? Then I taped each state over the photos like so and got back to cutting. Some are much more difficult than others but I'm not too worried about every line being perfect. Your choice.
Pro Tip: Also I saw someone try to cut their map shapes out but then piece it together like a puzzle without a second map. Seems less fun and more work because with this map I can decorate the water or Canada or add more things or even just safely roll it up like a poster if I need to move it.

Some states!

Getting it on the wall was fun. Come to find out, our new house's walls are thinly plastered and we have a few cracks already, but for some reason, putting four thumbtacks into the library wall was NOT easy- get a stud finder, too, if you go the tack route! Chris and I needed a hammer because the thin ass wall was bending the cheap ass tacks! So I'm not sure if it was us over-exhausted or the dollar store products, but either way, four corners took seven tacks! But we got there! Perseverance, y'all! 

It really is the easiest thing if you have the space for it. Once that was hung I started to put up my states. I opted for double stick tape because it's easier and because I already had some. Some people enjoy waiting for glue to dry, but I'm not one of them. For a craft that will take me years to decades to complete I am incredibly impatient about it. 

Still waiting on a fiend to send over a WI photo but I've been there, too! Twice!

Once I get the rest of my library in order with the new book shelf I plan on spending time actually decorating the outside of the map so that it doesn't look so 3rd grade classroom. I'm not positive how yet, but it will get done. I can't decide between just fun stickers and color blocks to fill the space or adding more pictures and usable souvenirs like map pieces and looted goods. Or all of it. What do you think you would do to yours?


I haven't been to a lot of states, mostly just the same few on repeat- but that's what happens when your brother moves to Florida and your favorite band only comes as close as Chicago! I have a stop in Rhode Island before I head to Ireland in May and a trip already booked for a weekend in DC directly after that, so, those teeny tiny places will make it look .05% more filled in. 

I think this is a great craft idea for families on the go. I bet my neighbors would have done it when they used to pack up their gray minivan and head to cool places as a family if they'd thought of it (M-m-m-mammoth Cavesssss). Eric LOVED his maps and roadtrips. I hope to take in some weird views around towns like the biggest ball of yarn tour, a house of cheese, the Devil's Tree or haunted graveyards and use those photos to help tell the tales. World's best pie, mystery spots, things like that, too. America!

I'll definitely have to go to a few places again- Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee, because I don't have photos from my stops there. I look forward to that! Until then, this is my sad map. It's a cool idea and it will only get cooler the more I add to it, I think! 

Here's to crafting with your memories to make them last forever! Be kind to one another.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I’VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR A LIEBSTER AWARD!

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award!!
I've seen a whole host of blogs that I skip to time and time again who have all been nominated, and I figured 'hey, maybe this time next year when I get some more experience' but my pal Hanna at BubuBackpacks nominated me for the award! This award is a way to promote bloggers within the community, a way to show off some of your efforts and friendships while praising those that inspire you or keep you going! How flattering, Hanna! Def visit her page, she's an inspiring lady who not only has smart things to say, but is a trip addiction enabler- her photos and stories of living in Washington DC caused me to book a trip there this coming May! It really is an addiction...


The Rules:
The way the Liebster Award works is that the blog that nominated you gives you a list of questions to answer in a post. You then you get to nominate another few blogs and come up with your own questions to ask them! And finally, link back to the blog who nominated you as a way to spread the love.
1. If you could give one piece of advice to your former self before you started your first trip, what would it be?
Well, my first real tip that wasn't with family or my winterguard team would be when my old boyfriend and I planned a trip to Disneyworld for our one year anniversary in 2008. I had only gone once before om my 18th birthday and it rained the whole time and half of the stops were closed and no characters came out due to the weather. So I was excited to go! We used a travel agent because he pushed for it, and when we went we did have a lot of fun but it was then that I really realized how selfish and pushy he really was. So, looking back at it I would tell myself to be more assertive in what I wanted at the time and not let myself get pushed around into missing things I really wanted to do because he didn't want to. You don't always have to compromise your feelings for someone else, especially if you feel like it's once in a lifetime stuff like the rocket launch we missed because he "didn't feel like it". (We broke up two months later because I stood my ground finally!)

2. What's the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city?
Walk around. Sounds dumb, but I like to get a lay of the land. And food! A lay of the food. I always have my phone or camera in hand, ready to see and capture everything, and check around for desserts. I think trying new desserts is one of my favorite things about new places. And old places.
THIS hot chocolate! Yeah, that's a lava cake.

3. What is your favorite travel memory or experience?
 I can hardly pick just one, but definitely meeting my penpal Suzanne for the first time in Disney, and again in her home country of Holland are top tier. Being in Ireland in general is just about the best feeling, and nearly falling into the gross foam in the North Sea with Suzanne and Chris! Seriously horrendously gross brownish foam, but so fun to run away from!

4. How did you decide to start a blog? And what advice do you have for someone who is thinking of starting a blog of their own?
I started a blog in thrifty travel because I, like most people, brag when great things don't cost a lot! That's me- exciting things on a thrift store budget! Well, people would ask how I booked a trip to such and such place for cheap, or how do I find all of these deals, and so on. So I tell them- hours of painstaking research for every action on the trip! The questions and fandom really began in 2015 when my husband and I flew down to Orlando to meet my penpal of (now) 18 years at Disneyworld. It was one of those THIS IS HAPPENING things that you absolutely cannot pass up no matter the cost (our first time meeting in person after years of friendship and sisterhood). So, as I was running a wedding dress consignment shop for dollars a day, and had no real right to be planning an expensive trip for two, I decided to hunker down on my days off and research the hell out of the best deals I can find. I managed to score a Disney-adjacent hotel during PEAK season (June 1-5) for only $36/night with a free shuttle to the parks and other areas around town! Since it was an absolutely necessary trip to take, we went! Since then I have helped myself and a few others book for less and really broke the habit of saying there's not enough money to travel.

5.What’s on your long-term travel bucket list? Do you have a place or experience that you just HAVE to do at some point in your life?
My bucket list is lengthy! There is an Emerald mine in North Carolina that I would love to go panning in, I'm hoping to get there over Memorial Day weekend, but we'll see! I also am obsessed with Greece (theatre major) but I want to see all of Europe, NYC, Vegas, the Grand Canyon! So many things so see and do.

6. What’s your travel-planning style? Do you book flights spontaneously with no plan, or do you meticulously plan every detail? What do you find most helpful when planning your trips?
I do all of it, really. I am mostly a planner, not every detail to the minute like some people I know but I definitely booked my trip to Dublin on the fly and made the inside plans after booking. It was pretty exciting to find such a great deal on accident, and as it's my first solo trip I'm not overly concerned with planning the day to day stuff other than just getting to Dublin and Holland safely. What I find most helpful is looking for the best deals. Yes, it's work, but I stress less about the tip if I'm not overly freaked out internally about the cost. If I can cover the expenses better then I feel like I can relax more about the whole thing. That's probably normal, and the basis of why I started doing this in the first place!

7. What’s the number one destination on your list for this year?
My 2018 goal was to go back to Dublin and I am doing that in May! I think it's the fastest I have ever achieved a long-term goal. Aside from that, as mentioned above, I am hankering to go to Emerald Hallow Mines in NC all day sluicing. 

Now for my nominations:
1. Shanelle Jerril
2. Shae Pepper Photography
3. Globe Jamun
4. Blooming Brilliant
5. Different Frame of Mind

Your Interview Questions:
1. What is your favorite travel destination and why?
2. What is the best food you have had on the road?
3. Have you ever experienced any culture shock while abroad?
4. What inspires you to keep blogging?
5. How do you feel your blog does in inspiring others to step out of their comfort zones?
6. What is the best new product you've tried, be it traveling or at home?
7. Where do yo see yourself going over the next 12 months?

Thank you again, Hanna, for nominating me and making me feel like I'm reaching someone! It's important to know, even though you tell yourself you blog for you, that someone else cares, too!
I hope we can all empower and educate one another and keep this award sharing up so that others can feel the love as well.
Be kind. Be well. Do good.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Air Deal Email Alerts- Yay or Nay?: Scott's Cheap Flights, AirfareWatchDog

So, I, like you, love a good deal. And so when looking for travel arrangements and so on, or even for just a good reason to travel like a price too good to pass, I signed up for a few email blasts about deals, mistake fares and so on. Two that I joined that had great recommendations were AirfareWatchDog and Scott's Cheap Flights. Both boast savings of hundreds, blah blah but I wanted to see for myself.  Granted, it's only been a month at each of these, maybe a touch more, so I haven't booked from them or tried to yet. But I get roughly 20-30 emails a week JUST from these two lists. It's overwhelming. And spammy.
Scott's Cheap Flights: I might not ever book from them because they don't tailor anything without a long set-up process. You can set an alert or hope that your computer cache collects info, but basically they just send you deals from any place to any place unless you do that frustratingly repetitive process of tailoring a free site to suit your needs. As you know, I'm in Detroit. We have a pretty big airport. So I can hope on a flight to Europe or Asia if I wanted (and I do). But with Scott's, their emails are mostly flight deals, yes, but having nothing to do with my preferences or even my airport. So yes, an RT flight to China for $693 is a great deal BUT not if I have to spend $350 to fly to Chicago or Atlanta to catch it. Ya know? But I guess the nice thing is that right in the header it lets you know if there are extra fees for bags and such. But still, I like a good hunt when it's my own creation and I will possibly stay on this list just in case, but honestly, it's a lot of emails. It is posted that the free list like I have only gets a THIRD of the emails that the paid premium list gets! I legit just got another email as I was typing this paragraph.
and.....?
Another annoying thing- in EVERY email it pushes you to sign up for their paid premium  subscription ( $5/Month, $25/6 Mos, $39/Yr). I get it, it's a business and they need money to operate, but spamming me with flights I can't even get to without another RT flight because Detroit Metro is not on your radar and then telling me how much money someone ELSE saved? It just makes me feel more bothered than anything. I don't understand how I can get 4 emails a day and it's still telling me I'm missing out on anything. It also does me no good to know that the company saved a random amount of people a random amount of money. It's like when Wish or RoseGal sites say that they slashed a price of a jacket that cost $58 down to $6. Did it REALLY cost that much to begin with or is that just what you SAY to look irresistible? Because, honestly, if you're sending me this much garbage I can't really think that you actually CARE about saving me anything, you just want me to use your snake oil. I want to like Scott though- he seems adventurous and really into what he's saying and I think for a business guy he really believes he is helping people, and I can get behind that I guess. He has a few books out that I may see if my local library offers and go from there. So this is still a maybe.

Airfare Watch Dog: They're just a spammy as Scott, maybe even more. I get 3-5 emails a day from this group- fare deals, tips on traveling, trip watch alerts, hotel deals I never signed up for, etc. The plus here is that it is location based most of the time. So it's not showing me arbitrary deals from San Fran to Sydney or something, they're mostly deals I can cash in on without having to fly to the airport I fly from for the actual trip. Mostly. You can sign up for trip alerts that let you know if something you're looking for changes in price, they say. But it's hopeless because you open the email and get an alert about checking to see if price dropped that you click on and it opens another page. Then that page opens a page to an airfare calculator list thing and you basically are RE-researching your own flight listings all over again just to see if they went down via 15 other pages. So, this list that is supposed to save you time and effort looking for trip deals basically just makes more work for you. I can't recommend joining unless you are someone who gets excited by receiving junk mail simply because it's not a bill. I can't see this email list as being helpful considering the amount of muck you need to swim through just to find something useful. It'd be easier to pick a vacation and research it for yourself than hope that Watchdog will send you something worth seeing. Either way, though, you're still spending hours poring over websites thought the email links. I've had enough. I'm breaking up with Watchdog.
This is the alert I got for cheaper hotels in Key West for a flight not even leaving from Detroit that i didn't book. It's not a link to a good deal. It's a gimmick trying to get you to open all affiliate links and make you angry. There were 12 hotels on the list that I would have to test individually to check prices. And $5 off a $200+ room is NOT a deal, guys, ok?

All in all both of these lists are of course spam. Scott's boasts the best deals and mistake fares and really makes you think you're getting in on something special but I'm here to remind you that if you join a free email list from a Facebook blast- it's not anything special just for you. Their website does make you feel a little thrilled, though, until you remember that that is what businesses are supposed to do. They WILL ask you for money to be further "helped" but if the free emails are already trash-worthy I can't imagine paying $39 a year just to delete 97% of the emails. Watchdog just sends too much. Neither of them reflect well on individual tastes without spending that hard earned cash, and honestly, a monthly payment for spam is just not worth the trouble, even if it is small. When it comes down to it, I have a job that I like and a lifestyle that isn't built for pick up and go travel whenever I feel like it. I have to be choosy. So paying to be a part of a handful of lists that urge me to book flights within 48 hours of the deal or miss out do not make financial sense for someone like me to keep joining. These lists are better for nomads and couples who make their money on the road. Also, I am a curmudgeon. I want kids off my lawn, junkmail right in the recycle bin and don't like anybody tying to pull my leg to make a buck or waste my time.

Have you tried either of these lists and have differing opinions? Let me know below! I'm always down for some good app and alert list tips as well, so if you know of anyone one worth a darn let me know about that as well.

As always, be kind to one another.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Travel App Review: PackPoint, TripIt

I know what it's like to forget to pack something, but, mostly I start packing well ahead of time. Weeks ahead, actually. In fact, I leave for Europe for a week in two months and I've already started my mental list of what to bring. Well, I tried both of these apps on recommendations from some travel friends who say they swear by them just to see if it was anything better than my brain would be.
Just the essentials.

Note: I think it's silly to rely on an app for a packing list or itineraries when a piece of paper would do just fine and wouldn't take up phone memory. But I gave them a gander anyhow, and here are my thoughts:

PackPoint: It first asks you to start off by choosing your gender. Weird, but not too weird, I guess. Then you choose your destination and dates and what possible activities you might be doing. Maybe it's because I'm snarky as shit, but if I know that I am going to be swimming as a vacation activity and I need to be reminded by an app to pack a swim suit then I am a dummy. Like a kid in an elevator, I clicked all of the options except baby. Then it just says Begin Packing.

It shows me the projected weather and an ONGOING list on list on list of things to pack. You can choose to customize your list by paying $2.99 for the premium app. Also, it IMMEDIATELY asks you to rate the app before you even begin really using it.

I actually went through and chose things that I actually own and would pack as if this mountain climbing, photography, campfire, sightseeing trip triathalon were happening in Dublin. I'm only in the first section, camping gear, and I'm already sick of doing this. Perhaps I should go back and act as if I need an app to tell me what to pack for the trip I am actual taking? For the sake of being thorough, alas, the list grows. There's nothing else after the lists, though- nothing. It's just a whole app taking up storage so that you can look at a list you clicked instead of wrote. And someone recommended this?! It also reminds me to bring my house keys? Come on.

The Good: This app is pretty good if you have never once ever packed for a trip- even to grandma's house. It reminds you, sometimes in triplicate, to pack your lists with what the app things you should pack. It's probably fun if it's your very first trip, or you're waiting in line at the Secretary of State.
The Bad: This app is only good if you've never packed a suitcase ever in your life. Or seen someone packing in a movie. Or have never gone to a movie. Or outside. I can;t recommend or keep this app for anyone who has ever gone anywhere before. It's frustrating how simple it is because it's such a waste of time and memory. Get a notepad and a pen. Customize the list you write any way you feel and you don't have to worry about it dying on you or feeling dumb for not packing the appropriate amount of casual shirts.

TripIt: This one makes a little more sense in the way of traveling. Instead of asking me to pick things to pack, TripIt's main focus, it seems, is to help keep you travel plans in order. You can set your check-in reminders, your itinerary plans and flight information. It keeps it handy in case of emergency. Basically, it's a digital record of all of your paperwork so that it's all in one spot in case you need to look something up.

The Good: It's good to have in case of emergency. I guess. It's nice to have it in one handy place, but not if you find yourself in an emergency with only 2% battery. That's why I'm still a strong advocate for actual paper.
The Bad: There's nothing really bad about this app, it's just a little redundant if you're like me and write things down, save your important emails and sometimes screencap information in a process you've been using for years and don't necessarily want to change. But not everyone does that! I don't think I will keep this app because I don't think I'd necessarily use it or remember to look at it. But it would be a good one to keep in mind if you're in the style of using apps as memory tools.

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