First of all I’m a true supporter of the entrepreneur, and a husband and wife team, Naveen and Shaylee Dittakavi, developed this site. Naveen, a software developer and travel junkie, found it tiresome (as we all do) and almost impossible to hunt through the many travel sites out there to find the best deals, at the exact moment they are released, as they often disappear in an instant. Last year Next Vacay was developed, which automatically searches countless airfare sites, finding the best deals from your home airport (and those surrounding) which are delivered right to your inbox.
Once you are registered, their system searches multiple databases, sending emails alerting you when deals, both international and throughout the US, are found from your home airport. If a flight looks interesting, instructions to book directly with the airline are provided; which is a bonus as it’s easier to work with the airline directly in the case of cancellations or rescheduling.
Using their system, Naveen and his wife claim they were able to fly from Georgia to India for $300 each round-trip and Barcelona for $600 round-trip.
Since joining 2 weeks ago, I received a total of 5 emails most notably a flight deal from Cleveland to London for travel between early February and late March ($575 round-trip) as well as a deal from Philadelphia to Venice, Italy for travel in late March to early May ($450 round-trip). Both airports are several hours away but again, if the deal were one I couldn’t pass up, I would consider it; and these are both really low fares. The email, although automated, had that personal feel which is lacking in so many other services and they encourage users to notify them when booking a trip as they appreciate the feedback.
On the other hand if a “hard to pass up” deal were to land in my inbox there is a good chance that I would book a spontaneous weekend trip which would justify the membership fee. Also, I’ve read they plan to release more personalized options in a future version of the site, possibly allowing users to choose specific destinations. So it seems there is a lot of potential for Next Vacay as they refine their system. Being a small operation allows them the flexibility, as well as the personal connection with users, to understand their needs and to update the site accordingly.
Next Vacay is obviously not for every traveler however if you have flexibility in your destinations, travel dates, are able to travel with only a couple months notice, I’d say this site is for you!
Check out "Next Vacay" here... NextVacay.com
2. Uncover the Stairways
Seattle is hilly, and many buildings have lovely stairways. If you enjoy obscure adventures, what's better than setting out in search of steps? The quest will take you to all types of buildings and neighborhoods. Here's a MAP to get you started! Speaking of neighborhoods…
5. Go Swimming
Seattle offers many swimming options, including the fun Lake Washington, Puget Sound and indoor and outdoor pools. Be sure to check out Colman Pool, which could quite possibly be the top pool in the U.S. It's even saltwater.
6. Take Advantage of Nature
From whale watching to hiking to visits to the San Juan Islands, the Seattle area has plenty of opportunities for you to get in tune with nature; take advantage of them, especially the beaches! Once you dive into daily life, it's harder to carve out these times.
Other iconic spots include Dick's Drive-In and the Space Needle. No explanation needed for the Space Needle; it's what represents Seattle on TV. Dick's is an iconic Seattle eatery that was founded in 1954 and that has since spread to multiple locations. Best burgers around! Pike Place Market is like a farmer's market, and you can find the freshest seafood and produce there, while the Elliott Bay Waterfront offers gorgeous views of the bay and is easily accessible in downtown Seattle.
10. Meet People!
People are one of the best things about Seattle. Activities abound, including volunteer efforts, workshops, book readings, yoga classes and fitness camps, so you can find at least one thing that interests you.
Also... check out the business organizations; there are many professional groups, such as the American Marketing Association - Puget Sound Chapter, Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) and the National Property Management Association (NPMA) - Northwest Chapter.
There's a city out there waiting for you to explore it. Time to get started!
You would not appreciate your friends trashing your house like a rock star trashes a hotel room, would you? So of COURSE you would not do it to your friends home.
Don’t do it to their COUNTRY either!
Obey the local rules and customs, even if they are different than your own.
If you have a “no smoking” rule in your home, you certainly would not appreciate friends or relatives ignoring that rule and turning your coffee table into a giant ashtray, right?
It’s a simple thing, but guests are good guests by being sensitive to the local rules and culture, and by trying to fit into the surroundings. This one thing can greatly enhance the quality of your trip too, as the best way to do this is to ASK a local what the common courtesies or cultural norms are, and in doing so, you’ll earn their respect and make a new friend.
Treat your surroundings with respect, leave it better off. For instance, I always pick up additional trash while disposing of my own. Another way you can do this is with the American custom of a gratuity. Many service workers are paid little, and often are not tipped at all. Make their day a little brighter by flipping them a few dollars.
It’s also a safety issue to pay attention to your surroundings.
And, please, don't be like some of these other people, whose stories I read on the internet…
"Just about every beach and harbor of Cornwall (seaside touristy area of the UK) has a strict rule about NOT feeding the seagulls, with prominent signage to that effect. As a result of constant feeding by tourists, there are huge numbers of gulls, which are very aggressive and bold enough to snatch food from your hands even if you’re not aiming to feed them; they will also attack children, cats and small dogs. Their beaks are very, very sharp, and a wound from one will almost always go septic because they’re such “dirty” feeders. Yet every year you see visitors moaning and wailing (or even trying to sue the town councils) because they’ve been injured while feeding seagulls - generally whilst standing in front of a large sign saying “DO NOT FEED THE GULLS.”
Apparently tourists never see a bird a home...
"In a cafe off the Piazza in Venice a family of English speaking tourists caused an incident. My family was eating at one table, theirs at another. They were throwing bits of bread to the pigeons.
Pigeons on the Piazza San Marco are quite a thing to have to deal with, and the cafes have strict rules about feeding them. Vendors selling bird seed further toward the center of the square have taught the pigeons that presence of humans plus the presence of food equals pigeons getting food, so the birds are very bold near the open-air cafes. It's a constant battle to keep them from hopping and flying right on in.
The waiter came out and asked, very nicely, in perfect English, if they could please stop. They stared at him as if they didn't understand a word he said, and went back to tossing bread as soon as he left. Pigeons got closer and closer. Patrons looked down, startled, as they felt birds around their ankles. Others tried to shoo them off tables and chairs.
The waiter tried again, a couple more times if I remember correctly. I know the family were English speakers, because they spoke to one another every time he left. They just chose to ignore him, and you could see he was getting very frustrated. At the time I got the feeling that he didn't want to make a big deal, and kick them out, because the family had children. Each time, they stared at him blankly, but then kept tossing… I guess seeing the pigeons go after the bread was just too much fun for them to stop. At one point the waiter actually took away the bread, but the children found little rolled bits they'd dropped on their chairs and clothes and kept going.
Long story short, from there it was a very short jump to the patio being swarmed with pigeons, who perched on the tables and ruined the place settings. Spoiled the meal for everyone, especially that poor waiter."
One tourist even told a story on himself... AGAIN with the birds...
"I learned the hard way about birds and restaurants. I was in Phoenix on business and sat outside on the patio at a Mexican restaurant. My salad had those tortilla chips on it, and I saw a little sparrow a few feet away. So I tossed it one. ONE. Sparrows came from everywhere. I won’t over exaggerate the scene, but there were dozens. Fortunately, I was on the patio by myself. A couple of birds perched on the backs of chairs right next to me. I really thought they were going to dive-bomb my salad to help themselves to the tortilla chips. I covered my meal with my napkin and tried to stare them down. I don’t know who looked more stupid at that point."
Since he was alone, I’m guessing…. HIM?
"A wealthy woman from a foreign country first arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport from Paris last July with her sister and adult daughter. The Customs and Border Patrol officers found undeclared items in their luggage, including designer bags, a fur coat, diamond jewelry and watches, Total value: $160,000.
The woman attempted to then bribe the customs officer offering a watch and US$10,000 if he would turn a blind eye. After the officer excused himself and put on a hidden recording device, the woman upped the stakes and offered to “sleep with” the officer if he allowed them to pass through.
She is presently out on a bail of$250,000. USD."
Probably the best thing you can do before traveling is READ up on the areas you will be visiting.
Search on Facebook for locals in that area, send a friend request and ask them if they have some tips.
Search YouTube for videos of the area so you can familiarize yourself with the local culture and customs.
All of this will make your trip go more smoothly, will allow you to make new friends around the world, AND, just as important, will help you blend in and not be a target to local petty criminals looking for a pocket to pick or a bag to swipe.
No matter where you go… just treat other people the way you would like to be treated!