14 September 2015

Big Easy on a budget | New Orleans

The home of jazz and Mardi Gras should be on everyone’s bucket list—from Bourbon Street to tasting those sweet, sweet beignets, there’s a reason it’s one of the most traveled cities in America.

But for a young traveler like me, it’s not in the budget to spend like Gatsby and live like it’s 1922, so my trip to the Big Easy was one I planned in advance to keep the costs down.

Just because it’s a plan doesn’t mean you have to skimp on anything though—I like to call it being conscious rather than thrifty—and I lived it big by taking advantage of the free attractions, branching out from the tourist traps and doing just a little pre-trip prep.

So if you’re looking to save on the green while partying it N’awlins style, check out these tips for making the best of your vacation. 

1. Think about taking a cruise.

Want to get two vacations out of one? Take a cruise to (or from) New Orleans and get the tropical experience rolled into your Big Easy trip. Book a jaunt to the Caribbean with Carnival or Norwegian and head down to New Orleans a few days earlier to see the city—it’s like getting two vacations in one.  

To get an even better deal, book your cruise last minute; the longer you wait the more those dollars will just shave off the bottom line.

2. Go in the off-season.

Most of the tourists are going to visit between February and May for all of the festivals and the spring weather so why not decide to head down for Thanksgiving? Or Christmas?

One of the great things about New Orleans it’s temperate winter and for anyone who is used to 12 feet of snow come November, this could be the opportunity for you to take a break from the shovel. With an average high of 64 during the day and low of 46 at night, it’s coat weather but no need to bring a parka and it’s got the added bonus of being a thin time for tourists so you’ll get a better deal everywhere.  

3. Pick one meal to splurge and one to save.

You know what’s free? Water. With all the walking you’re doing while checking out the haunts of the French Quarter, you should be drinking a lot of it. Not only will it keep you from getting heat stroke (it’s really humid in Louisiana) but it’s also an easy way to say $2.50 at lunch.

Pick one meal a day--be it lunch, breakfast, or dinner--and make a budget. Lunch specials make this the easiest choice for the “save” meal and it’s a no-brainer to grab a piece of fruit for breakfast, which can save you upwards of $40 a day. Either you can use the extra money for a night out at the bars or a really nice dinner at R’evolution—either way, it’s more bang for your buck.

4. Check out the free attractions.

Mardi Gras is the biggest free attraction in New Orleans, but the city has many, many more festivals and things to do that are just as friendly for your piggy bank. Depending on when you’re heading down, the French Quarter Festival in April is the region’s largest free festival, and the jazz concerts in Armstrong Park during spring and fall, and both are great options for getting a taste of the local flair for less.

Take a stroll through the French Market, check out Jackson Square and it’s beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, hunt for azaleas in the Garden District, or head to Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve. The options are endless!

5. Don’t waste money on an international phone plan.

If you’re not from the States, your trip to the Big Easy could get really expensive (and quickly) with as much as everyone is on their phones these days. Want to save the hassle of taking hundreds out of your bank account just for a few text message? Opt for a SIM card.

Found in all airport terminals and in local convenient and electronic stores (maybe even Walgreens if you’re lucky), the SIM card is your answer to saving on the essentials and they’re easy to use. Once you’ve bought card and unlocked your phone, all you have to do is install the sim in your phone and viola! Instant savings.  

6. Buy things off the beaten path.

The prices are always going to be artificially high in the tourist areas; everything from gas to groceries will have a price hike the closer you are to the most popular parts of town and New Orleans is no different.

If you need more sunscreen or want to grab a couple of groceries to make your own picnic one day, try going a few streets past St. Charles to get the better deals. Same goes for souvenirs; ditch the shot glasses and opt for something more personal, like a 1920’s postcard from an antique shop. Not only will it be a more personal gift, it will be a fraction of the cost and gather much less dust.

With these money saving tips it will make it easier for you to take it easy in the Big Easy, so sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation in the heart of Southern Cajun culture!

07 July 2015

Galleries and Museums In the North of England

Are you are wondering what to do over the weekend or where to go for your summer vacations without having to spending too much? Why don't you consider exploring places in the North of England? Galleries and museums situated in that part of the country are bound to leave you fascinated and stunned. You can take your family on a historic excursion and visit these galleries and museums, which will prove to be a great trip for the children. You can get to all of these destinations quickly, affordably and safely by train. 

The cost of train tickets will vary depending on your departure destination, but you can usually save by booking in advance. Here is a list of 5 must visit galleries and museums in the North of England:
The Pencil Museum

You begin with entering a replica of Seathwaite mine, which is popular known as the origin for graphite. From there you will embark upon a journey on the history of the pencil. One of the mesmerizing historic importances of the pencil was the manufacture of 'secret pencils' by the British government and M19, which held a secret map and compass to help stranded pilots. They have a kids' art studio which will keep your little ones occupied as you browse through the museum and marvel at its wonders. Visit them for more information or bookings.


The Royal Armouries Museum

It is home to over 75,000 world-renowned objects and it houses UK's national collection of arms and armour from the past. This magnificent array of weaponry is displayed in five impressive galleries: Self Defence and Hunting, War, Tournament and Oriental. It displays armour and weapons, which were used in the early ages by medieval knights as well as modern-day soldiers. There are artefacts that come from different empires and golden ages for instance the Ottoman Empire, Japan, India, Europe and the Wild West. The museum holds an interactive programme of daily events which includes talks and tours and combat demonstration to give you and your family an insightful experience about the specific weapon or armour used in that specific time. 
Yorkshire Museum

This stunning Georgian building is home to some of the greatest collection of Britain's finest archaeological treasures, which include rare animals, birds and fossils, which date back to more than 1000 years. Medieval artefacts from the Roman Empire, Viking Era and Anglo-Saxon include items such as jewellery, mosaics and silver show their lifestyles and rich culture, which surrounded them. From swords, amazing warrior stones, detailed plant fossils to life size statues, hand crafted pottery and battle-axes, you will be left spellbound by all these historic objects. The museum has fun activities for the kids in each of its gallery; there is also a trail that you can follow around the museum and its grounds. 

The museum facade is often illuminated - see below

Royal Pump Room Museum

This bizarre establishment was built by Isaac Shutt in 1842, and is considered one of Europe's strongest sulphur well, which tells the story of Harrogate as a premier spa building. It was reopened in 1953 and since then has served its purpose as a museum and invites people to its absurd spa treatments. The water in these wells is popularly known to have healing qualities that cure anything from lumbago to gout. To know more about this spa building visit their site.

Streetlife Museum

Situated in Kingston upon Hull, it is a transport museum, which dates back to the early 20th century, which includes epic and vintage modes of transportation. Take your children down memory lane of transport history, which is over 200 years old. Let them experience the smells, sights and sounds of the past as they walk down the 1940s replica high street and board a train to enjoy a carriage ride. The museum is popularly known to house veteran cars, horse driven carriages, trams and bicycle gallery.