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Alright you guys, listen closely because we have the some of the best news ever for travelers with Down Under on the to-do list. This very second is the best time to make moves on planning that trip to Australia.
Today may be the first official day of summer in Oz and sure, the temps are already very warm, but there's plenty season left for you to take advantage of the latest news: the Aussie dollar has hit a 4-year low against the U.S. dollar.
Basically what this means is that your money can now go much further than it has in the past 4 years. To be honest, we have battled with unfavorable exchange rates for about 8 years now. Looking at the numbers, each of our hard-earned greenbacks buys about $1.18 AUD, which turns out to be just under 25% more than in 2010. This can only mean one thing: souvenirs, tours and hotels booked in AUD are nearly 20% less expensive, and if you've been to Oz before, you know this is a helpful "markdown."
Burma Field Trip / Myanmar Field Trip / Burma Travel / Myanmar Travel / Yangon Travel / Southeast Asia Travel / Mandalay Travel / Bagan Travel / Nay Pyi Taw Travel / Pyin oo Lwin Travel / Taxis / Public Transportation / Travel Tips / Money / → All Tags
It seems like everyone and their moms are going to Burma. Or is it Myanmar? (For the answer, see here.) Thanks to political and humanitarian reforms of the last several years, this Southeast Asian country is more open than ever to tourism. Over the next week or so, Jaunted's Julia Buckley will be sharing her tips and experiences as a traveler in Burma without a tour group and without memorizing a guidebook, but with common sense and open eyes on a Burma Field Trip.
This week in Burma we’ve been concentrating on how to get around, and while it’s the most expensive (and bourgeois) option, hiring a taxi or a private driver is certainly the easiest. It’s also more affordable than you might imagine.
Private cars are good for longer journeys, obviously, but they’re also the best way to spend a day sightseeing. You may (as we were) be expecting Burma to be a land of tuktuks; it isn’t. And Burmese cities are big, with the main sights spread all over the place. If you’re looking for a day of sightseeing, your best option is to hire a driver (motorcycles could be another optionwe were offered one in Mandalaybut it’s pretty hot, so you’ll almost certainly want a car).
We found rates varied by city, and also by driver (we were told $50-80 was the going rate in Yangon, for example our driver quoted $50). Also, you’ll be pleased to know, the vast majority of people aren’t out to fleece you; we only had one driver, in a pickup truck in Bagan, who tried to overcharge us. Everyone else was entirely reasonable.
Here’s a list of rough rates we found, as well as drivers we recommend. This doesn’t mean they’re the only reliable drivers, of course – but we met all these, they had good cars, and they themselves were great.
If you thought only Silicon Valley investors and your techie friends who miraculously debug your slow computer—hint: Did you know you’re accidentally downloading every episode of Gilmore Girls?—use the digital currency Bitcoin, then you’re missing out on the luxuries of this worldly coinage. Sure, the currency is great for buying software online or exchanging money with BeatDaChamp5000 during an online poker game, but Bitcoin, surprisingly, is growing to help your travels.
In addition to an assortment of gift cards—for restaurants, shops, gas stations, and even lingerie—available to purchase via Bitcoins to put towards your vacation, what airlines and hotels can you reserve via the crypto currency?
Travel Tech / Money / Apple / iPhone / iPhone 6 / Apple Pay / Currency / Shopping Travel / → All Tags
Apple Pay is the hot topic of conversations this week, as Apple releases their "credit card killer" for easier, and more secure payments. So far it's only available to Americans, for use in the United States, but as this is only the beginning of Apple Pay we can see an expanded future ahead. So, how to get started?
First off, you must be in possession of an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini 3 or iPad Air 3 running iOS 8.1, and you must enable passcode lock and, for the iPhone, Touch ID (fingerprint recognition). It's extra layers of security.
For help with setting it up, check out AppleInsider, which we did and then immediately headed out to Walgreens to purchase a few mini travel toiletries.
Apple Pay performed beautifully. When the cashier totaled up our purchases, our Passbook Apple Pay screen switched itself to prompt us to place our finger for Touch ID. When our print cleared, the phone vibrated and chimed, and displayed a small record of the transaction including store name and location.
Social Media / Money / KLM / Facebook / Twitter / Travel News / Travel Tech / → All Tags
We've said it before and we'll say it again now: KLM consistently kills it on Facebook. Even beyond Facebook, the airline does stupendously across the board with social media, and it's no wonder considering they employ 130 social media "agents" to answer the approximately 35,000 interactions on Facebook and Twitter every week.
With so much online action, KLM is now set to up their game by accepting payments via Facebook and Twitter, for everything from flight bookings and seat reservations to flight changes and extra baggage.
Travel Tips / Money / Currency / → All Tags
It's rare but, hey, sometimes it happens that a traveler returns from overseas with a little too much leftover foreign currency. Perhaps you overestimated prices, or didn't do as much market shopping as you wanted, or simply handed over a credit card and forgot about the cash burning a hole in your wallet. Whatever the reason, you're stuck with excess money and you've already left the airport and its currency exchanges.
Simple solution: deposit it into your bank account.
Latvia Travel / Euro / Europe Travel / Currency / Money / → All Tags
We’ve got an extra twenty euro note hanging out with our passport, and it’s ready to be used on our next trip across the pond. Well there’s a new country where we can exchange it for some souvenirs, as Latvia is now part of the big family utilizing the euro.
January 1 was the big day, so things have been going on for a few weeks now. Citizens tossed their old former currency aside—known as Latvian lats—in favor of what is used in plenty of countries across the continent. With Latvia joining the party there are now 18 countries doing the euro thing. For those that are still finding lats in their pockets when doing laundry the exchange rate is set at one euro for 0.7 lats, so go ahead and exchange those suckers.
Should FAs get a tip just for securing the overhead compartments?
Airfare Watchdog recently conducted a survey of 900 fliers and found that 27% of them have tipped flight attendants for their service. Obviously this is a small sample size, but the site followed up the survey by saying that tipping in the skies was something to get on board with, since we tend to tip so many other people in the travel industry (think hotel staff, sky caps, drivers, etc.)
This contributor has a pretty firm and direct response to their call for action: Over my dead body. And, luckily, 73% of the people surveyed felt the same, citing "no, they get paid for their job" as the number one reason for not handing out singles.
Tonight’s Powerball lottery jackpot is expected to climb to roughly $400 million, and you know we’re already dreaming of where we can go and where we can visit. Obviously things like the world’s longest flight—in business class of course—would become a regular option for us, but with that kind of coin we’re thinking we can take the spending to another level.
There’s a new travel company on the block, as Intrav is looking to woo those travelers who measure their wealth in millions rather than in twenties. Things are very much still in the planning stage, but eventually Intrav hopes to start offering up ridiculous itineraries in 2014 and 2015.
Airport News / Airports / Spain Travel / Money / → All Tags
We know the recent lottery craze has come and gone, but the next time you are busy wasting away an afternoon spending your imaginary millions—we’ve got an idea for you. There’s an airport up for sale over in Spain, and if you’ve got the cash then it’s yours for the taking.
Of course we would love to score our own airplane, but why not take it to the next level with the whole darn airport? Ciudad Real Central Airport—about a couple hours south of Madrid by car—was built a few years ago for around a billion bucks, but now it can be yours for just around $133 million. The airport was previously known as Don Quijote Airport and South Madrid Airport, but of course with the right amount of cash you can name it anything you want.
Rental Cars / Cars / Road Trips / Money / First Class Travel / Rolls-Royce / Bugatti / → All Tags
We’ve seen our share of expensive rental cars, yet unfortunately we’re never the ones behind the wheel of anything zippier than a Sentra. Recent offerings from Hertz have been pretty intriguing, but deep down we know we’re limited to the compact—or maybe an intermediate—level of rental car for the time being.
That’s not the case over at Jalopnik where the car-focused site is doing their best to try and determine the world’s most expensive rental car. Over there a quick search yielded a solid option from Gotham Dream Cars, as they have a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe for just shy of $5,000 per day. We’ll assume that’s before you prepay for the gas, and add a bunch of those extra insurance charges and damage waivers—ha.
Money / Singapore Travel / Awesome Stuff / Airports / Airport News / Hong Kong Travel / SIN / HKG / → All Tags
Just last week we detailed 21 countries that use the "dollar" other than the United States. Although they share the name of the US' money, almost all were far more colorful and richly illustrated. Indeed, travelers will be delighted to find that airports take pride of place on two currencies.
First, there's the $500 Hong Kong Dollar bill from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. You may know them better as HSBC. This note depicts a view of HK's Chek Lap Kok Airport (plus the control tower and tail of a 747) with such detail that terminal and maintenance buildings, and even aircraft taxiing to the runways, are clearly visible. Too bad they didn't throw in an easter egg, like a "Where's Waldo?"