Budget Travel for the Adventurous Cheap and Inspired Explorer. Beaches, Hidden Islands, Lost Cities, Off-the-beaten Path Lodges and Get-a-Ways. Finding the easy way into the most lavish and expensive destinations in one of my favorite hobbies.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tip #2!!

Money Money Money!!

When traveling to other countries, don't buy or change money at airports or train stations, this would be like buying food at an amusement park, they rip you off!!

Use an ATM to withdraw local currency, your bank will always give the lowest exchange rate at the time of withdrawal. If you can't find an ATM try and use your credit card for everything!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Virgin Gorda's Marvel

All I can say about this place is ...WOW... from the people to the beaches to the food and everything in between.....

Virgin Gorda is truly an amazing getaway for anyone..be it a group of friends, love birds or families...it offers everything anyone could ever desire in an exotic fantasy island and more.


Being fairly easy to get to I was surprised at how uncrowded and overpopulated Virgin Gorda actually is. Air Sunshine offers the best and most convenient flights from Puerto RIco to Virgin Gorda, anyone else will be over priced or not direct. So all you really have to worry about is coordinating your flight arrival into Puerto Rico ((i flew Jet Blue from LA and was not an issue at all even though we missed our original Air Sunshine flight due to Jet Blue's random schedule, but were placed on the next Air Sunshine flight with no issues))

Once you land on the small gravel paved strip airport you know you're in for something completely different and unique.


Virgin Gorda offers probably the best in beaches in the caribbean as far as exclusivity and quiet palm lined sands go. No real nightlife to speak of here, though the locals do a good job of keeping a festive buzz going through out the week, with well advertised night parties on the beach or midnight parades for the Moon, and don't worry about not knowing what's going on, everyone from the cab driver to the bar tender get involved in everything involving local culture, and by the way don't be surprised if you Bar tender was your Cab driver :).

Home away from Home

Virgin Gorda has it's share of luxury resorts. Not so many that it becomes overwhelming, but enough to satisfy that type of traveler... these include
both of these resorts welcome visitors, weather to enjoy their Spa services or just take advantage of their beach or marina. Little Dix has a great Spa Pool but Bitter End offers an amazing sea weed wrap which was well received after a long two days in the strong sun.

But as far as where to stay you have several options as Virgin Gorda is versatile in its hospitality, next time I go i will probably look into a Villa Rental because I came to find out they are quite amazing and very very well priced... that being said it will be hard to pass up my beach side, (and I mean BEACH SIDE) bungalow at Fischer's Cove Beach Hotel. When I first booked this hotel I was a bit apprehensive at the low price but the pictures looked amazing, and trust me i had a back up and was prepared for the worst. Upon arrival I could not have been more pleasantly surprised. The Beach front studio room was more that I expected, it had its own paved run way to the water which was about 20 feet away and the room was clean and spacious with its own kitchen and bathroom, but the main prize was the sunset over the water that lit up the entire room in Gold, just breath taking.
There are some obvious visits you are going to want to check out while you're here like THE BATHS which is a must see, but don't leave without stopping by MAD DOG for a mind eraser and peanut butter and jelly sandwich!! And take a fairy to Tortola etc. etc. What i will tell you about is certain things not many know but are must sees....

The Skipper in you!
Virgin Gorda is very much a boating/yachting community, so much so that a lot of the places are only accessible by boat or dingy, but don't fret, the island is fairly equipped with ferries and small boats you can rent depending on your budget. We rented a small four person boat for the whole day for about 100$ (i think less) and we tooled around the whole bay from spot to spot....one of which...

or just Prickly Pear is a bare island in the middle of the busy Bay of Virgin Gorda. It became a BVI National Park in 1988 ... meaning no further development of the island will take place. Prickly Pear lays claim to several of the territory's bestl beaches including Vixen Point! Swimming, snorkeling, hiking and limin' at the Sand Box Restaurant and Beach Bar are the four main things to do here. The beach bar is great and attracts pople from all over the carribean from ST. Barts to Puerto Rico. the swimming around the island is quite secial, was the first time i swam with a sea turtle. All that said, probably the most memorable part of our visit to Virgin Gorda had to be our dinners and lunches at the

...I am so not a fan of eating in the same place twice while on holiday but OMFG...i still dream about this place. I think i went once a day for one of our meals. You can either take a free ferry from Gun Point or get there on your own boat...yes you might invest in a local map and a fairy schedule, but yes only accessible by boat, but oh so yummy!!

The people in Virgin Gorda are so beautifully friendly and helpful that by our third day we felt like locals we even went to someone's private residence for dinner. Its truly an amazing place to visit.

One of the places around Virgin Gorda i was most interested in was a place called


I read about this place prior to arriving in Virgin Gorda and was obsessed by its mystery, its a huge island entirely at sea level so otherwise undetectable from a distance but a beautiful place none the less. Well this place delivered an experience like no other!!!

First off ferries from Virgin Gorda to Anegada only run 3 times a week and with our stay those ferry times were a bit too spread out as I only wanted to spend one night if at that since I didnt know the place so I investigated...What we ended up doing is booking a daily excursion to Anegada which ran us about 50$, there are daily trips to Anegada that leave at about 9am and come back to Virgin Gorda at about 5PM..but I hate being on anyone's schedule. So I booked the daily excursion trip the day before the Ferry, so We went to Anegada with the tour on Tuesday to come back on the ferry that runs on Weds. It worked perfectly we went with the tour group and left them in Anegada upon renting our car from the ONE (very very friendly) car rental guy Louis.

Needless to say the beaches and snorkeling here were immeasurable. I was floored by the white sand stretches and crystal crystal clear water, few places in the world offer you the feeling that you truly went as far as you could go. The island is so exclusive NEPTUNE"S TREASURE the hotel we stayed at doesnt even use room keys.."nobody here gonna mess with you mon" and to top that? while we were checking in? "what would you like for dinner tonight?" i was dumb founded... "what do you mean?" I asked....

"Lenny is going out at midday to catch what ever you want to eat" I will never forget


Hi everybody, was away for a while but I'm back!! ....Up coming posts St. Tropez and Virgin Gorda secrets...... stay tuned!!!

I will also be adding some tips not everyone may be aware of.....


American Express Travel Points......

Not getting enough variety in your flights to Europe from affiliated Amex Partner Airlines...try this trick.......

Open an account with AEROPLAN.... its partners include Lufthansa and other frequent fliers to Europe and other over seas destinations, they take AMEX points and their point value for Business and/or First Class seats is about equal to a Delta and other american airlines' coach seats... worth the extra 15 minutes to transfer points if you ask me.....Safe Travels!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

DUBAI....United Arab Emirates...its not as far as you think it is....

I know what you're thinking..."Dubai? on a budget?" ...Well, yes. This amazing place was as much a surprise to me as it was finding its small little secrets. Dubai is not as expensive as it might seem, with its fast growing tourism and architecturally advanced hotels and resorts, it invites the adventurous and fun traveler.


You can get to Dubai many different ways, from Los Angeles or New York City and other major US cities there are a few direct flights on Emirates Airlines they have some great rates for direct coach flights, which by the way is pretty ample and comfortable compared to a lot of other carriers. However; if you prefer, there are other alternate ways of getting there. Because Dubai has become such a chic metropolitan place to be it is easily accessible from any major European city, Easyjet, RyanAIR to name a few budget airlines that fly you there for cheap from almost any point in Europe. Once in Dubai customs is just as easy (and actually better organized) as any other place in Europe.


Everything you are assuming about being in a middle eastern country is probably less intense in Dubai, because of its growing youth population things are changing fast and the tolerance and conservative ways are bending everyday. To keep it safe lets just set some ground rules shall we? During the day is when most of these restrictions should be observed...

Keep your mid-drifts covered and try not to sport the short skirts or low cut blouses as you might attract some unwanted attention from the extreme conservatives whom unfortunately are the ones that shout the loudest. Aside from your attire there are no other obstacles you will face, the government is also actively stepping up their game to attract more of the western tourism so you can feel safe as long as you don't look like a pussycat doll during the day.

Not much here to worry about; however, to my gays and their friendly counterparts, don't be fooled by the men walking down the street hand in hand... it's perfectly acceptable for male friends and family to walk hand in hand especially to and from the Mosque.


Dubai is probably the fastest growing tourist spot in the whole world at the moment, with hotels and resorts sprouting up almost monthly you can be sure to swing some crazy deal. The best way to do Dubai, or any city in my opinion is not to blow your cash on a room you will spend no time in right? that being said, comfort for me is very important as well, but I don't need slippers at the end of my bed or a chocolate on my pillow (i'm allergic).... these are my pics for a great stay at a low price, METROPOLITAN CITY HOTEL, HATTA FORT HOTEL, METROPOLITAN DEIRA HOTEL. The Hatta came highly recommended and well worth it and beautiful, you will find that the hospitality in Dubai is overly welcoming and sincerely caring no matter what your budget is.

Where ever you drop your bags there are a few GEMS you absolutely must visit. As afore mentioned these places are extremely welcoming to visitors so don't worry if you don't have a room they will treat you like you're staying in the presidential suite....

This amazing place is like an adult theme park, with a Venice type twist, surrounded by small creeks that are navigated by gondolas you can board at any time (for free) it seems to go on forever. Every turned corner reveals interesting shops, restaurants and bars and amazing pools you can park yourself at .......you may want to never leave. They have an amazing beach front and yes the water in Dubai is amazing! TIDBIT: Don't miss the boardwalk bar, you can't miss it, it is right on the beach with a 100yd board pier with a fantastic scenic bar at the end. Fromt the bar you will see the next must see

This hotel is Dubai's architectural signature and must not be missed. Both places have amazing restaurants and beach fronts and pools, your challenge will be dividing your time between these two great places, but don't worry you will probably find your self back here at night, their bars and nightclubs are some of the best in Dubai. Other places to see Emirate Towers Burj Halifa, the tallest building in the world.


The nightlife in Dubai is like no other I have ever experienced, first off all rules go out the window, the women dress like pussy cat dolls and the vibe is very relaxed and very very charged. I found myself bar hoping with these group of local Australians that took us around to all the clubs Boudoir, Irish Village, Apartment Lounge, Kasbar and some others of which most are in all of the resorts I mentioned above, taxi cabs are very readily available so don't bother renting a car.


Dessert Tour probably the most amazing thing I did while in Dubai, they pick you up at your hotel (wherever you stay) at around 3PM and you are out for the rest of the day/night... they take you on an exhilarating dune riding experience through the most beautiful sunset drenched sands...

We got lucky it was a full moon so you can imagine...they finish it up with a camel ride to a BBQ Oasis complete with fire breathers, snake charmers and a belly dancer, all for 99$ (give or take) totally worth it!!

The Souks are located downtown a quick cab ride from anywhere.... there is the spice souk and the world famous GOLD souks...haggle a good price for a nice piece of gold.

The Creek in Dubai day or night is also a site to take in, the creek runs from the souks up the town through the hotel district and the business district, you can take a cab ride to the souks or a boat both cheap but the boat more fun.

There are great museums, Aquariums, and of course the famous PALM and WORLD island developments that are truly inspiring.....

and if you thought ice skating at your local mall was fun...how about a good slalom down ski at an indoor mall ski slope?
Anything that is possible is done in Dubai at a grand scale....I left this place with a truly genuine idea of what man is capable of...with a lot of money ..lol...I hope you get the chance to visit this place at least once in your life, and remember, its not as far out as you may think, I mean they have a Starbucks for f***s sake

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Playa del Carmen

So as my first post I had to stay true to myself and, of course; tell you all there is to know about Playa del Carmen located in the Riviera Maya...a small town about 45 minutes south of Cancun, and is not a tourist trap or over developed like Cancun is, so if you love huge resort hotels and big air conditioned shopping malls this is NOT the place for you..... No real need to divulge any real hidden budget secrets here, as it is all doable on any budget, Mexico is a great escape for those short on cash, but Playa de Carmen, with its jetsetting crowd and modern boutique hotels and hopping clubs, adds a couple zeros behind that ten dollar bill in your pocket.

There are some great hotels in Playa that won't upset your budget, my favorite is Hotel Kinbe, cheap and chic is the way I like to go, this boutique hotel offers everything you need and not much else for a great place to drop your bags and chill or go and explore, a great roof top deck for late night star gazing and a new pool they just added which was a huge plus last time I went.

The following Hotels are also very chic and not too expensive and don't worry about the location they are all around the same area, which surrounds the main drag in Playa del Carmen which has all the shopping, nightlife and yes FOOD that you will find. Hotel Deseo Hotel Blue Parrot Tidbit: Don't bother with a beach front room, or beach front hotel lures, you will find yourself hopping in your car and driving to secluded beaches or cenotes (lagoons) all around this beautiful area, the beach in the town of Playa is great, but very populated with locals and disco beach clubs which if you like sipping champagne and eating fries on the beach Mamitas is the place for you.


Playa is like no other place in Mexico, the nightlife here is a mixture of people from all over the world....It always amazed me that the clubs and restaurants at night did not reflect the quiet laid back atmosphere the town exudes from sunrise to sunset.... but once the Sun goes down the lights go up!!!

I always take into consideration the Night Life in my travels because it's a huge part of a cultural experience when I visit anywhere, and don't worry you won't find Yard Beer chugging college hommies here, they don't make it down this far....the town attracts the Jetset crowd that hits the beaches of Caan, Rio, St. Barts, St. Tropez and more....((all of which I will blog about later so stay tuned))

Playa basically is centered around 10th Avenue or Avenida 10...all the mom and pop shops and great hotels and restaurants are either on this street or just right off of it....the thumping music and disco crowds get going around 10pm so if you're an "early to bed" you'll miss all the fun. If you do miss the jetsetter nights ...don't fret you can catch them all at MAMITAS during the day, this hot beach club cranks the tunes and really put beach front Clubs on the map...with canopy beds and a sexy wait staff this is an alternative way to spend the day on the beach. I like it private and quiet but sometimes I need to be surrounded by gorgeous people who really can have a great time at whatever time of day.

Beaches and such......

Like I said the beaches to visit in Playa del Carmen are all throughout some you can hike to, some you have to drive to, also something to not miss are the amazing CENOTES ((fresh water lagoons)) all along the area, some are harder to find than others, but worth the adventure. TIDBIT: There are plenty shuttles to and from the Cancun airport and any spot in Playa del Carmen, so I would rent a car AS NEEDED in Playa.

North Playa del Carmen Beach located just north of Playa, about a 10 minute drive up the main highway, exit is marked and don't get spooked by the Jail that you will drive by....

Tulum Beach is a bit more of a trek but worth is, the best cenotes are around this area, the best thing to do in my opinion, is make your way to Ana y Jose's Charming Hotel they have a great beach front and cabanas you can sit at if you order a cheap beer or two, behind them are several roads that lead to random cenotes and hidden private beaches for the romantic or the reclusive.

There is much more to this wonderful area, and I love that it is also Family Freindly with parks like Xcaret a sea world type amusement park that is actually enjoyable and fun for everyone, even me! There are also several family resorts around the area most in PLAYACAR which is just south but still connected to Playa del Carmen, my favorite and most charming of these is the Mahekal formerly the Shangrila, worth looking into even if you don't have kids....

Well I hope you enjoyed my first stab at this, I will post more about this great place and of course the food I haven't even begun to talk about, and hit me up with any questions or comments, especially if you are planning on visiting!!

Map of beaches in and around Playa
Map of Cenotes to Visit