Traveling For Cheap!

For a lot of people, May marks the month in which they graduate, either from high school or college. For many young people, a way to mark the start of their new life is to travel for a few weeks to a few months. Unfortunately, one of the most common factors these graduates think are standing in their way of traveling is not having the funds to do so. Thankfully, they are wrong! Even if you save up a minimal amount of money, there are resources that can help you to travel to different countries and let you celebrate your big achievement without breaking your bank account (as little as it may be).

One big help that students, teachers, and people twenty five or younger should definitely take the time to obtain is a travel discount card. These cards are internationally accepted and help save money on airfare, accommodation, shopping and more. These cards do cost $25, but the amount they end up saving you would definitely be worth it in the long run.

If you have an Iphone or Android cellular phone and have the Comfi Dial application, you can make calls to people who also have the application for free if you use the “free call” option when placing a call. This would save you a lot of money on calls to home or to people you meet along the way. Just make sure if you do bring your cell phone to another country to not use any data, as your phone provider will most likely charge you roaming fees.

A good option to consider in order to travel while having free housing is working abroad. There are many websites (such as interexchange.org or bunac.org) for working overseas as an au pair, waiter, camp counselor, cruise ship worker, or seasonal worker. The good thing about these jobs is that they do not require any special training or a lot of work experience. You could even work on a farm for a certain amount of time in exchange for room and board. Websites like wwoof.net (world wide opportunities on organic farms) connect travelers with organic farmers.

Teaching abroad is a better option for those looking to travel while making money. The bare minimum requirement is that you speak fluently in English and will dedicated a specific set amount of time each week teaching. Depending on where you are looking to travel, you will most likely have to obtain your TEFL certificate first. Some, but not all countries and schools require the teacher to have an undergraduate degree from a university. There is a high demand for English speaking teachers around the world and many countries will pay for your flight as well as your room and board.

International house sitting would be one of the easier job options that you could choose. You could house sit and/or pet sit in a country you’ve always wanted to go to and get paid for it. Some websites that match home owners with house sitters are mindmyhouse.com and trustedhousesitters.com. This is also a good option because you would be able to use their facilities and have a kitchen to cook food in. One of the biggest ways to spend money is going out to eat, it is much more cost efficient to make your own meals.

If you just want to try traveling without working overseas, and just want to find an option for sleeping somewhere for free couch surfing is a reliable network that connects travelers with locals who are willing to let them stay at their house for free. Depending on who you stay with, you could end up having a room to yourself or staying on a couch. The cheapest option besides couch surfing would be to sleep in large hostel dorm rooms, you would have to pay, but only a considerably small amount.

Any of these options are great for traveling abroad for a poor college student who just graduated. There are so many options, the only thing standing in your way of traveling is your own excuses. So go out and enjoy your life the way you really want to, you deserve it!

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Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

For Mexico and the United States, next Monday is the annual celebration of Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May). Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in honor of the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862, when an army of about two thousand Mexican men won against an army of approximately six thousand French soldiers. Many people mistake Cinco de Mayo as a celebration of Mexican independence, but that was actually declared more than fifty years before the Battle of Puebla.

In Mexico, the fifth of May is usually observed with political speeches and battle reenactments. This day is recognized as a bigger holiday in the United States, with cities hosting annual parades and festivals as a way to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. If you are part of the large Mexican population residing in the United States, or you just want to celebrate the Mexican culture that has added dimension and warmth to America’s melting pot, you should definitely check out one of these fun festivals that all are geared toward helping the people and communities that they are hosted by:

Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
This two day family event in Phoenix, Arizona, is the largest celebration in the southwest. The 2014 festival starts on May 3rd and marks the 21st anniversary of this celebration. There will be family carnival rides and games, an abundance of food, activities, ballet folklore, amateur Olympic style boxing, and live music performances (including Grammy award winning Los Lonely Boys). Along with all of the activities, there will also be over $500,000 in youth scholarships awarded to students in Phoenix looking to further their education.

San Francisco Cinco de Mayo Festival
This 10th annual festival, hosted by Mission Neighborhood Centers’ will be held on May 3rd. Approximately seven to ten thousand attendees are expected to join in this celebration that will host the very best of Mexican and Latin American cultures. There will be a large assortment of foods, music, dancing, and artistry. For the children, there will be a petting zoo, arts and crafts, and there will be a station set up that will let them try out musical instruments, such as: the Latin percussion, guitar, violin, cello, accordion, and trumpet. Proceeds from this event will benefit Mission Neighborhood Centers, who have been providing multi-generational, multi-cultural safety-net services to children, youth, seniors, and families throughout San Francisco for over fifty years.

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo
This year marks the 31st annual celebration of Cinco de Mayo in Old Town and is the largest event of its kind in southern California. This three day festival starts on Friday, May 2nd. There will be four live music stages, two cantina beer gardens, a low rider car show, a childrens area with plenty of activities, and ballet folklore competitions. This event is hosted by the Fiesta and Historic Old Town Community Foundation and is intended to support the history, diversity, and Hispanic heritage programs of the Old Town school program and California state parks.

All of these festivals are held to be social, fun, entertaining, and are meant to support community outreach. If you have family or friends in Mexico, I suggest giving them a call (with your calling card, of course) to catch up, and then attending one of these festivals to surround yourself with the authentic music and delicious food that will remind you of Mexico.

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Safety Tips for Staying in a Hotel

When vacationing, the last thing you want to do is worry or have to deal with anything other than a good time, but in order to have a fun time, you must make sure the place you are staying in is safe. For the time being, your hotel room will be your home base and place where you keep everything you are travelling with, so if it is in a city or country you are unfamiliar with, it is important that you feel secure there.

The first step to having a safe hotel stay is to do your research before booking a room. You should see if the city or country is going through any hardships or unusual changes that would make it unsafe for tourists. You should also check to see if there are certain regions or cities that are known to be safer than others in one area. Look to see what type of neighborhood the hotel you want is in: the difference between a busy city location and a residential neighborhood can affect the security measures taken within the hotel.

Statistically, the safest rooms to book in a hotel are the rooms on the third through sixth floors. Hotel rooms on the ground floor and those closest to those are the easiest to break into.

After you do book your room and when you first arrive at the hotel, make sure you have access to a reliable telephone- either a cell phone or a landline. It is a good idea to get the emergency number for the area you are in (from the front desk) in case anything does happen, it is unlikely you will need it, but it’s always better to be prepared. It is also a useful to have a calling card so you can keep your family or friends back home updated on your travels and let them know you are safe. Checking in with someone from home on a regular basis is smart because then they will know to worry or to help if something does happen to you.

During your stay, always remember to lock your door. When you go out for the day or night make sure your shades are covering your windows and lock your windows and door. It is also a good idea to leave a light on and to put your “Do Not Disturb” sign on your doorknob to give the allusion that someone is in the room, which will deter someone from thinking about breaking in.

Lastly, if someone does knock on your door at night, ask them who it is and use your peephole to see what they look like. If they claim to be someone from the hotel staff, it is ok to call the front desk to make sure the person was sent there for authorized hotel purposes. Never open the door for a stranger, especially at night and if you are travelling alone.

These tips are intended on keeping you safe during your stay in a foreign city or country. Safety is one of the most important factors when travelling, but remember: enjoy your time, whether you are there for business or pleasure, do not forget to go sight seeing and embrace the culture of the area that you are visiting. Be open to new experiences, but also trust your gut. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable then leave, but if you are enjoying yourself then stay and have a good trip!

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Columbus Day Sale!

columbus_day

Take advantage of our Columbus Day Sale and enjoy 10% off all mobile app and calling card purchases/refills. Sale valid October 9 – October 16.

http://www.shop-cards.net/calling-cards/USA?coupon=COLUMBUS13

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New to Russia: Krispy Kreme

Americans know the delight of Krispy Kreme donuts – the sweet treats are quite popular in the States. However, Russian citizens likely have not had the chance to try the confections unless they visited the U.S. – until now. According to the Washington Post, the very first franchise of the American chain has finally come to the streets of Moscow.
Krispy Kreme’s newest outpost
Russian individuals who have used international calling cards to discuss cuisine in the U.S. have likely heard of Krispy Kreme donuts, which is famous for its light, airy and delicious donuts that are often served hot. Though the store didn’t open its doors until Thursday morning, a line had already begun to form nearly 24 hours in advance. This may be because the first customer would win free donuts for a year.

Sussana Agababyan, a 21-year-old Italian translator, waited until the crowd died down before paying the store a visit. She sampled a chocolate donut as well as the original. “They put something in it,” she joked with the news source. “I had the original. It’s really tasty.”

Agababyan said she had heard of a rumor of a Krispy Kreme opening in Moscow, but because it had been delayed, she was disappointed and began to fear the big day would never come. Thankfully, she and other fans can now enjoy the donuts whenever they like.

The store is located on Nikolskaya Street, which has an interesting history. It was on that street were Russia’s first book was printed, way back in 1564. The first college in Moscow opened on Nikolskaya Street in 1685, and the first newspaper in the country was published there on 1703. It’s also located very close to the Kremlin and the Lubyanka, which houses the nations’ security police.

A history of Krispy Kreme
Krispy Kreme’s roots date back to 1937, when Vernon Rudolph purchased a top-secret recipe from a French chef in New Orleans. He took that recipe to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he began selling the first Krispy Kreme donuts to grocery stores.

Since then, the popularity of the donuts has allowed the stores to expand immensely. In 2000, the first international Krispy Kreme opened near Toronto, Canada. There are now Krispy Kremes in Sydney, London, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Turkey and many other locations around the globe.

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Americans, Mexicans celebrate ‘El Grito’

September 16 is a very important holiday for Mexican citizens and people with Mexican roots. Mexico Independence Day celebrations are held on what’s known as “El Grito,” which translates to “The Scream.” This year was the 203rd anniversary of the holiday, and people all over the world celebrated. It was most likely the topic of discussion for individuals using calling cards to Mexico.
In San Jose
Celebrations were happening all over Mexico, but many of the festivities happened in California, where there is a large population of Mexican-American citizens. According to the San Jose Mercury News, San Jose was alive with various holiday activities. The primary spot of the festivities was at Discovery Meadow, which is located near the Children’s Discovery Museum.

The weather was ideal, which may be in part what inspired the large turnout. But many people likely also came to enjoy the music – there were both classic and contemporary Mexican musicians showing off their skills. In addition to the tunes, celebrants could enjoy food, dance presentations, games and a market where Mexican items were sold.

LA Celebrations
In Los Angeles, people gathered at City Hall for the city’s celebration of “El Grito,” according to local news station KTLA.

“I, like the other 1.2 million Mexican and Mexican-American Angelenos, am very proud of my heritage, and it brings me great pride to be this year’s sponsor for ‘El Grito’ festivities,'” said LA Councilman Felipe Fuentes, according to the news source.

The newly elected member of LA’s local government also participated in the ringing of the “rebellion bell,” which is a part of “El Grito” tradition.

Coachella Honors “El Grito”
Coachella, California, also held a major celebration, reports MyDesert.com. The number of visitors climbed into the thousands, all gathered under two large canopies to help keep them cool on the hot September day. This year, the festival was moved to a larger venue, Ranchos Las Flores Park, because so many were expected to take part. The reason for the increase in the number of celebrants was in part due to the booming Mexican-American population in the region.

Live music, food, games and free prizes were all part of the Coachella celebrations. Some of the cuisine for sale included Elote, a Mexican corn treat, and delicious shaved ice.

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Combating homesickness while you’re living overseas

Whether you’re living overseas for work or taking a long vacation, you’re bound to experience some homesickness. It can be painful and put a damper on your time abroad, but there are ways to combat this issue. Here are a few quick tips to help you through the difficult moments:
Packing some mementos
If you are going to be gone for a while, it’s a good idea to bring a few sentimental mementos from home to remind you of friends and family. One good idea is to ask each of your loved ones to take a silly photo of themselves, which you can then post on your walls or place into an album. You can also bring a beloved stuffed animal, a book given to you by a friend, or a few articles of clothing borrowed from your significant other. Having these items around will help remind you of your connection to home.

Keeping in touch
By far the best way to combat loneliness when traveling is to keep in touch with friends and family. There are many ways to do this, from email to Facebook. However, sometimes written exchanges don’t feel quite intimate enough, which is why you should equip yourself with a few international calling cards. Simply hearing a loved one’s voice can make you feel much more connected.

A reminder of home
Sometimes, it’s not the people you miss but the place. Living in a foreign country can be difficult, because it’s likely some of the customs you were used to at home simply no longer exist. One way to cope with this is to meet other people in your community who come from a similar place. Look for groups of ex-patriots from you country of origin, or post an ad on websites like Craigslist to find others in your same situation.

Your living space
While you may not be able to change the culture of where you’re living, you do have some control over your own space. If you’re staying in an apartment, for example, you can rearrange the furniture so it is similar to what you had at home. You can also cook your favorite foods when you miss them and hang up posters and photographs that remind you of where you came from.

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