Monday, August 3, 2009

Voted one of the world's best Travel Podcasts!

I am excited to post that How to Tour Italy was voted one of the best travel podcasts in the world. Check it out here. Download it here and decide for yourself.

Thank you Donald Strachan for your kind words. And thank you Telegraph UK for printing it.

I'm am most grateful and humble.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Context Travel is up for a NatGeo Award!

Context Travel is a finalist in the National Geographic Sustainable Tourism Award.  This is a huge deal and a well deserved honor.  Please click on this link and help Context earn this prestigious award.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to save money in Italy

Italy can get expensive.  Follow these tips to save money every step of the way.

1.  Book your hotel on through my Venere partnership and sort by price.  You're in Italy to be in Italy not your hotel room.  As long as you have a private bath and shower you are good to go.  
a.  Rent an apartment for the week at  Much cheaper than a hotel room.
2.  No need to stay next to the Pantheon in Rome or the Piazza San Marco in Venice.  Italian cities are small and walkable...yes, even Rome.  The 15-20 minute walk to the main sights will save you a bundle of money and help you work off those fabulous Italian meals you'll enjoy.  Plus, being a bit away from the main sights means your hotel will be a lot more quiet.
3.  Eat panini or pizza for lunch at a cafe.  
4.  Shop at the local market for fruit and snack on it throughout the day so you eat less at the restaurants.
5.  Grab those breadsticks in the package from the restaurants you eat in and toss them in your bag.
6.  Buy one bottle of water and refill it at the FREE fountains in Rome, Florence, Venice, and Siena.  Can't find a fountain?  Pop in to the cafe and fill it up from the tap.
7.  Buy and drink only house wine by the 1/2 or full liter.
8.  Eat far away from the tourist sights.
9.  Take the bus or metro everywhere you go...never take a cab.
10.  Walk, walk, walk everywhere.
11.  Rent an apartment with a kitchen, shop at the market, cook at home.
12.  Need shampoo or something?  Go to the dollar stores.  They have them all over.
13.  Don't buy soda, water, or gelato from the carts near the sights.  Expensive and not too good.
14.  Buy your train tickets when you get to Italy and save the service charge.  There are lots of trains available so when you get to Rome, or wherever, go to the train station and buy your tickets then.  You can choose the date to travel, the time, and you can make a seat reservation all at the kiosk.  The days of rail passes are pretty much over.  
15.  Eat a snack before dinner like a panino or some cheese that you bought at the market or an affordable cafe.  Then at dinner you can share an antipasti, primi, and secondi.  Better yet don't get a secondi...they are usually the most expensive anyway.
16.  Grab a kabob for lunch.  I know you're in Italy, but they are good and affordable.
17.  Go to aperativo hour (happy hour) at the cafe.  Grab a glass of wine and snack on the great free food that is available.  Then go to dinner so you can order small.
18.  Don't go to Venice!  Just kidding.  Perhaps make it a day trip.  Venice is a very expensive city and that includes the food, public transportation, and hotels.  
a.  To get from the train station to St. Marks is Euro 6,50 by water bus.  Or you can walk over the bridge to Sestieri Santa Croce (a great neighborhood) and cross through to St. Marks Square by foot.  Fun, easy, and beautiful.  Best of all it's free and not very far at all.
b.  Venice doesn't offer free aperativo like the rest of Italy because the finger foods are part of their local culture and cuisine called cichetti.  This a great way to eat in Venice for a lot less money than a formal dinner.  So, hit a cafe and grab some cichetti.  Or better yet.  Do a cichetti walk and find a few to enjoy and skip dinner altogether.
c.  Stay in the Sestieri Castello in Venice.  You can find a place for around Euro 90,00 a night most of the year.
19.  Never sit at a cafe.  Order at the bar, drink or eat it at the bar, and save the surcharge and cover of table service.  
20.  Take full advantage of the free breakfast at your hotel.