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We have visited 106 countries and 48 U.S. states in our lifetime.

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at says: “Choosing to run away with my husband and best friend has been the most rewarding lifestyle change one can make. It's brought us closer together.”




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From a former Economics professor, experienced traveler (106 countries), award-winning photojournalist/blogger, featured speaker at large travel shows, and travel TV host (Plan Your Escape® TV), turn your travel dreams into reality with this acclaimed, groundbreaking, and inspiring how-to travel better book.

Available as paperback or as Ebook for $9.99 on Amazon, you will learn to safely realize and afford your travel dreams with comprehensive planning tools and checklists. You deserve this 5-star rated book! It also makes for a great gift that keeps on giving.

Former Economics professor and experienced world traveler (106 countries) tells 100′s of powerful cost-saving tips revealing proven secrets the travel industry does not want you to know! Learn to get the best deals on airfare, hotels, tours, cruises, tours, car rentals, restaurants, and more.

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Airfare deals - How to Be the One on the Plane Who Paid the Lowest Price

Airfare deals - How to Be the One on the Plane Who Paid the Lowest Price

Note: we are not paid directly by any of these resources and use them to find travel bargains just like you would.

For good airfare deals, we use Google Flights (Google.com/flights) and Skyscanner.com.

Many of the large online travel booking sites have been bought and owned by the same companies so the prices they yield are almost the same. The Frommers travel organization did a study of all the major airfare booking websites and Google Flights (Google.com/flights) and Skyscanner consistently reported good airfare deals.

For International airfare deals: Airtrek.com books a substantial number of flights and they do deals with airlines for volume deals. We have been using AirTreks for years now. After searching fares and coming up with goods deals, we then called AirTreks and they always had as good or better rates.

Be flexible – Dates, Times, & Airports - It is amazing that just changing your flight timing a day or so, different hour, or even to a nearby airport will yield great airfare deals. Again, Skyscanner offers a "Whole Month" option where you can see cost of flights on days around the day you are interested in and an "Everywhere" option to evaluate possible savings to nearby airports.

On the average, flying on these days offer the best airfare deals: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday.

Again, on the average, these are the best days to purchase for airfare deals: Saturday through Tuesday afternoon. Click here to learn more.


Booking ahead can yield good airfare deals – 8 weeks Domestic (average 19% savings) and 24 weeks International (average 27% savings). If you are flexible in your travel plans, waiting to book the last minute can also yield airfare deals if you can risk not finding a flight or possible higher prices.

Basic Fares - The major airlines need to compete with the budget airlines and are offering lower service 'Basic Fares'. They can be good airfare deals but be sure to read the details. Sometimes they are non-cancelable and regularly have fees such as luggage, seat selection, and possibly other fees. But if that is OK, go for it - we do.

Airfare alerts are a good way to find airfare deals. You can go to the following websites and enter in your flight plans and when good fares come up, they will notify you - Yapta.com, Skyscanner.com.


Airfare deals in Europe: Many booking websites do not include flights from budget airlines. You can use Flycheapo.com when searching flights in Europe to locate the budget airlines that service your needs and then you can go to their websites to book your flights.

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Click here to see many more free travel tips and bargain-finding strategies to travel for half the cost for all levels of travel.

Idyllwild, California USA

Idyllwild, California USA (May 19-20, 2023)

Welcome to Idyllwild California
Welcome to Idyllwild, California
Located just a 2-hour drive from San Diego and Los Angeles, Idyllwild offers a fun 2-3 day getaway out of the city and back to nature. This Southern California mile-high alpine resort town is known for its picturesque tall-trees forest environment ringed by rocky mountains and its small town vibe with a friendly downtown.

Map - Idyllwild California
Idyllwild was an artist community and you can see the art heritage all around town. Today it is a nice laid-back place to relax, recharge, breath in the pine-scented fresh air, enjoy the many beautiful forest hikes, explore the unique shops and art galleries, eat well at local restaurants, engage in mountain adventures, and stay in cozy accommodations. All Idyllwild businesses are local owned - no franchises here.

Cafe Aroma Idyllwild California
Cafe Aroma - Idyllwild
Idyllwild restaurants are local-run with an alpine atmosphere and good food. Not to be missed on a visit to Idyllwild for dinner is Cafe Aroma located near town (see photo). The food and service is excellent and the open-air seating is a wonderful setting. Reservations are highly recommended and and be made on their website.  

Red Kettle restaurant Idyllwild California
Red Kettle - Idyllwild
Gastronome is a very nice restaurant located in the center of town open for lunch or dinner. Housed in a mountain cabin, it is lovely to sit in the shaded patio deck during a warm day or be cozy inside around the large fireplace when it is cold. For a classic American mountain experience, the place to go is the Red Kettle (see photo) in town for breakfast or lunch - try one of their homemade pies. For a more modern place for breakfast or lunch, try the Alpaca Brunch Cafe just south of town.

Rustic Theatre Idyllwild California
Rustic Theatre - Idyllwild
Accommodations in Idyllwild include cozy B&B’s, hotels (a couple modern ones), or renting a mountain cabin. The Village Market in town has good groceries and across the street is a Shell Gas Station. Also in town, the Rustic Theater (see photo) offers current movies and special events - we attended one and it was fun. Look out for notices about other special music and art events held in town.

Good hikes around Idyllwild
Good hikes around Idyllwild
Many alpine hikes around Idyllwild are family friendly with more challenging ones for the adventurous (see trail map). You will likely see an array of birds from blue jays to Stellar’s jays and woodpeckers. An easy stroll along Strawberry Creek near town is beautiful (see photo at bottom of this post).

Located a few minutes drive from town, we liked the Idyllwild Nature Center, a nature preserve located in a beautiful mountain setting with easy forest trails, picnic areas, and an informative museum about the local birds and animals. There is Ranger to answer questions. We enjoyed the easy (less than 1 mile) Nature Loop Trail. The Perimeter Trail offers a longer hike.

Rent Mountain Cabin Idyllwild California
Rent a Mountain Cabin - Idyllwild
Close to town is 202-acre Idyllwild Park, a great place for gathering with family or friends. Many picnic tables are available and you can enjoy exploring the different hiking trails where you are able to see tall trees, clear lakes, and views of the mountains. You can also mountain bike the trails. Camping is available in shaded campsites with fire pits.

Pretty Lake Fulmor
If you prefer a flat, easy hike around a pretty lake, head to Lake Fulmor, located about 10 miles north of Idyllwild (see photo). Around the lake, you may see ground squirrels, tree frogs, butterflies, and noisy jays. This recreation area is good for fishing stocked with rainbow trout or have a picnic in the shade of beautiful trees. It also has restrooms.

Downtown Idyllwild California
Downtown Idyllwild
Good for history buffs or for an indoor day, the Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum is a local museum housed in a circa-1930’s cabin. There are old photographs, artifacts, and relics once owned by locals who lived in Idyllwild and its surrounding area.

Painted Deer Project Idyllwild California
Painted Deer Project - Idyllwild
During your visit to Idyllwild you will probably notice the painted deers public art throughout the town and businesses. This project highlights Idyllwild as a quirky and beautiful art center (see photo).

Idyllwild is the gateway to the San Jacinto Wilderness. A variety of recreation opportunities are found here including hiking, camping, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing. 

Palm Springs Tram
After your visit to Idyllwild, you can take a drive on the scenic Pines to Palms Scenic Byway for about 45 minutes winding down the mountain into Palm Desert. The change in landscape is fascinating and the view down into the desert is breathtaking. 

You can enjoy the scenic landscape of Palm Springs on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up from the dry terrain of the Sonoran Desert to the cool heights of the San Jacinto Mountains 8,516 feet above sea level (see photo).

Strawberry Creek Idyllwild
Strawberry Creek

Enjoy your time in Idyllwild… we did!

 
Click on these links to see our other 13 posts on beautiful California:
 
 

Laguna Beach, California

Mammoth Lakes, California


 
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Travel for half the cost for all levels of travel from budget to luxury and 100's of other unique travel tips! From a former Economic professor, experienced traveler (106 countries), award-winning travel photojournalist/blogger, featured speaker at large travel shows, host of the travel TV show Plan Your Escape® TV aired on the CW network, and travel columnist for the Huffington Post, and experienced travelers (106 countries), our popular 5-star customer rated groundbreaking and comprehensive how-to world travel book Plan Your Escape, Secrets of Traveling the World for Less Than the Cost of Living at Home reveals secrets how you can travel and see more for half the cost for all trips from weekend getaways to longer vacations and trips, experience more adventure and romance, safely realize your travel dreams with comprehensive planning tools & checklists, travel the world for less than $100/day for a couple, and much more!
Buy this popular book on Amazon.com (also available as Ebook for $9.99), CLICK HERE

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia

Victoria Falls Pat Dunlap Zambia
Spectacular Victoria Falls!
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia (1/22-26/2023)

Magnificent Victoria Falls definitely lives up to its reputation being one of the world’s seven natural wonders! Viewing this amazing site and enjoying some of the many fun adventures in this area should be considered by all travelers.

This is What You See from Zambia Side
The fissure framing Victoria Falls is over a mile long of the Zambezi River (see photo) where during its height an incredible one-third million gallons of water per second rush over a vertical, 328-foot-high drop creating this natural wonder. The rim of the Falls is broken into separate falls with names like the Devil’s Cataract, Rainbow Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Armchair Falls - all amazing!

Rain Forest Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Rain Forest - Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Due to its close proximity to the Falls, we chose to stay in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, within a 10-minute walk to see a spectacular panoramic view of the Falls (better than the Zambia side) and stayed in a lodge where we could see the water spray. The view of the Falls and the gorge is spectacular from Zimbabwe. While enjoying the Falls, you walk on a trail in a small rain forest with exotic flowers created by the spray on the Zimbabwe side (see photo) - bring a rain cover. The political unrest in Zimbabwe is much reduced now and staying in the more relaxed town of Victoria Falls is safe.

Knife Edge Bride Victoria Falls Zambia
Knife Edge Bride - Victoria Falls Zambia
Although located about 6 miles from the Falls many choose to stay in the town of Livingstone in bordering Zambia because it has many nice safari lodges along the Zambezi River and adventure lovers enjoy the many thrilling activities like the Knife Edge Bridge (see photo) where you can experience the power of Victoria Falls on an easy but very wet hike on this footbridge - magnificent views of Victoria Falls can be seen here. It’s fun and you will get wet.

Devil's Pool Victoria Falls Zambia
Devil's Pool - Victoria Falls Zambia
Also providing a high level of thrills on the Zambia side are the steep steps down to the Boiling Pot (a huge whirlpool), bungee jumping (available from both sides), and during low water season swimming in the Devil’s Pool (see photo) on Livingstone Island looking over the Falls - exciting! Day-trips activities to the other side in both Zimbabwe and Zambia can be done staying on either side of Victoria Falls when purchasing the necessary VISAs. Guided tours are reasonably priced and well worth the transportation, assistance with immigration and trails, and interesting narration.

Lions Chobe National Park Botswana
Lions in Chobe National Park - Botswana
Travel Tip...
When visiting Victoria Falls, for those wishing a serious African game-viewing experience (see photos), a day trip to the famous Chobe National Park in Botswana (click here to view) is only about 44 miles from the town of Victoria Falls. Day trips normally include a boat ride on the Chobe River, lunch at a Safari Lodge, afternoon game drive, and transportation from your hotel and assistance with immigration.

Elephants - Chobe National Park, Botswana
Note:
The dry season (May through September) is considered best for safari game viewing in Chobe because it is easier to see many more animals coming out of the dry forest for water along the Chobe River. Chobe can get crowded with vehicles this time of year and it is the most expensive time to visit. The green season (November through February) is less expensive but you will probably see less animals. There are more baby animals and Victoria Falls has much more water flowing over it.

Victoria Falls Main Falls Zimbabwe Wayne Dunlap
Victoria Falls Main Falls - Zimbabwe
The town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, has grown since the 1970’s. It has an easygoing feel and most of the compact town is within easy walking distance to the Falls. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted in Zimbabwe, and although credit cards are now used for many hotels and excursions, they are not always accepted so bring some U.S. cash. ATM’s issuing U.S. Dollars are available.

Map Victoria Falls
Map - Victoria Falls
English is spoken everywhere and people are wonderful! Visas are required in Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana. Fortunately, if you want to also visit Zambia or Botswana while in Zimbabwe, purchase a KAZA UNIVISA (available for US$50/person at Victoria Falls Airport when we visited). It allows multiple entries into Zimbabwe and is good for day trips to Zambia and Botswana - good deal instead of purchasing multiple Visas. If you do not intend to visit either Zambia or Botswana/Chobe, then a standard single-entry Visa may be less expensive.

Horseshoe Falls Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Horseshoe Falls - Zimbabwe
Best time to visit Victoria Falls…
The Falls at Victoria Falls are spectacular any time of year. To witness it at its peak, the time to visit is from February to May, after the summer rains, when you will see the world’s largest sheet of falling water flowing at its greatest volume. The spray from the powerful Victoria Falls can rise hundreds of feet above the Falls and can be seen from up to 20 miles away.

Cataract Falls Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Cataract Falls - Zimbabwe
Unfortunately, at the peak, people report the spray is huge and the view of the Falls can be obscured this time of year. Also, expect to be soaked and it can be hot. In addition, visiting Victoria Falls at this time doesn’t coincide with peak safari season in nearby Chobe in Botswana or Hwange in Zimbabwe - wildlife viewing can be limited. Some activities, like swimming in Devil’s Pool and certain sections of white-water rapids, are too dangerous when the water is at its highest and fastest.

Victoria Falls Zambia
Victoria Falls - Zambia
To beat the heat and witness a high level of the Falls, the best time to visit Victoria Falls combined with a Chobe River game safari in Botswana is the dry winter period from June to August. At this time there is good game viewing, warm days and cool nights, little rain, and plenty of water still thundering over the precipice. 

Victoria Bridge & Falls
Swimming the thrilling Devil’s Pool and walking along the bottom of the Falls is available. For seekers of the ultimate adrenaline rush, try the 364-foot bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge (available from Zimbabwe and Zambia sides - see photo). This is a popular time to visit and hotel prices can be higher.

Pat Dunlap Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Pat at Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park
During October to November the water level at Victoria Falls is at its lowest and the weather is hot and humid. During the low-water season you will have panoramic views (no misty spray) on both sides of the Falls, but the Zambian side (about one quarter of its width) may dry up and all you will see is bare rock. Water flow on the Zimbabwean side is permanent but lower this time of year. Safari wildlife viewing is very good this time of year.

Victoria Bridge Batik Gorge Victoria Falls
Victoria Bridge & Batik Gorge
Located just below the Falls, Batik Gorge (see photo) is actually a series of gorges 75 miles long dropping away from Victoria Fall’s high cliffs of Zimbabwe and Zambia. They are named First Gorge to Fifth Gorge followed by Songwe Gorge and finally the official Bataka Gorge. Some say it has the world’s best one-day white-water rafting - only for the most adventurous.

Zambezi Explorer Sunset River Cruise Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Zambezi Explorer Sunset River Cruise
We enjoyed a sunset boat ride on Pure Africa’s elegant Zambezi Explorer river boat (see photo). The upper ‘Signature Deck’ is luxury with uninterrupted views on comfy couches and premium drinks. Also, many consider taking a helicopter ride over the Falls to be a highlight of their visit to Victoria Falls.

Elephant’s Walk Shopping Mall Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Elephant’s Walk Shopping Mall
Victoria Falls is located in southern Africa and physically provides a natural border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Each country has a national park surrounding the Falls and a tourist center town (Victoria Falls National Park and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Mosioa-Tunya National Park and Livingstone in Zambia).

Ilala Lodge Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Ilala Lodge - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Located just a 10-minute walk to the Falls in a beautiful setting, we stayed at the Ilala Lodge in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe (see photo). The elegant interior design with thatch roofs gives it a graceful old-world African grandeur and you can enjoy the spray from the Falls while having breakfast. The Cassia Restaurant located in the Ilala Lodge has delicious food. 

The Palms River Hotel Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
The Palms River Hotel

We also had a wonderful dinner at the The Palms Restaurant at the The Palm River Hotel - a beautiful new hotel located on the river about 2 miles from Victoria Falls (see photo). Both the Ilala Lodge and The Palm River Hotel are good places to stay with beautiful properties, nice rooms, very attentive staff, and will organize your desired activities during your stay at Victoria Falls.

Warthogs Victoria Falls Hotel Zimbabwe
Warthogs at Victoria Falls Hotel
Lovers of old-world charm should visit the Victoria Falls Hotel (see photo) - a good way is to enjoy their high tea (3-6PM) on the Stanley’s Terrace. The view of Victoria Falls Bridge and spray from the Falls is great here. Elephant’s Walk Shopping Mall is a nice place for upscale shopping for local African merchandise - it is interesting just to visit.

While visiting Victoria Falls, do enjoy the many things to do in this area including others not included in this post. HAVE FUN!

Click on these links to view other places we visited in Southern Africa...

Cape Town, South Africa

Garden Route, South Africa

Stellenbosch Cape Winelands Wine Region, South Africa

Port Elizabeth & Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa - A Safari Day Trip

Richards Bay and Hluhluve Game Reserve, South Africa - A Safari Day Trip

Durban and uShaka Marine World, South Africa 

Oudtshoorn & Cango Caves, South Africa

Hermanus, South Africa

Chobe National Park, Botswana - A Safari Day Trip

Walvis Bay, Namibia

 
Please enjoy 250+ wonderful places around the world, with award-winning photos, from our BLOG ARCHIVE on the right ---->  


Travel for half the cost for all levels of travel from budget to luxury and 100's of other unique travel tips! From a former Economic professor, experienced traveler (106 countries), award-winning travel photojournalist/blogger, featured speaker at large travel shows, host of the travel TV show Plan Your Escape® TV aired on the CW network, and travel columnist for the Huffington Post, our popular 5-star customer rated groundbreaking and comprehensive how-to world travel book Plan Your Escape, Secrets of Traveling the World for Less Than the Cost of Living at Home reveals secrets how you can travel and see more for half the cost for all trips from weekend getaways to longer vacations and trips, experience more adventure and romance, safely realize your travel dreams with comprehensive planning tools and checklists, travel the world for less than $100/day for a couple, and much more!
Buy this popular book on Amazon.com (also available as Ebook for $9.99), CLICK HERE