TripAdvisor TripIndex Room Service

Asia Travel is by far the most rewarding experience  – especially to places like south India, Indonesia, Sir-Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. China.

Once you get there, it is the cheapest place on the world to stay comfortably for a month with money spent on 10 Starbucks Venti Caffé Mocha Cappuccino per day. I am serious – you can live comfortably (good room, delicious food – breakfast, lunch and dinner), conveyance, and money to spare.

March 2014 release, amounts in British Pound Sterling. 1.7 US Dollars = 1 British Pound.


This report indicates

Europe as a whole dominates the most expensive list laying claim to six of the top ten. Helsinki in Finland and Oslo in Norway take first and second place respectively while Zurich, Stockholm and Paris are placed fourth, fifth and sixth. Seoul is the only non-European city to be named in the top five most expensive destinations.

Travelers looking to bag a bargain should head south to Africa where three of the continent’s destinations feature in the top five places offering the best value – Tunis in Tunisia, Cape Town in South Africa and Marrakesh in Morocco. In Europe, the least expensive city destination for room service is Budapest, where a full set of basket items will cost over a third of the price of the equivalent items’ cost in Helsinki.

London is often considered one of the world’s most expensive destinations, but when it comes to the common costs incurred once checked-in to a hotel, the capital actually provides better value than many rival European cities. This year, the capital city is ranked 13th place in the priciest list – making it a cheaper option than New York, Paris or Tokyo. On average, London is more than two times cheaper than the most expensive destination, Helsinki, for each TripIndex Room Service item. In London, a club sandwich is £11.90, bottle of water £0.42, peanuts are £4.67, a can of coke £2.85, mini bottle of vodka £5.82 and to dry clean a shirt is £6.00. All together the basket of items costs £31.66 in London

Jakarta best value for room service and room rates combined.

While Tunis is revealed as the number one destination for best value room service, when you consider the cost of room service and room rate combined, at £111.87, the North African destination drops down to eighteenth place in the league table. With a total combined cost of £71.02, Jakarta, Indonesia replaces Tunis as number one destination for value overall.

In the most expensive list, it seems that pricey room service and pricey hotel room rates go hand-in-hand as eight of the costliest destinations remain in the top 10. This time however, New York City replaces Helsinki as the most expensive with a total cost of £258.35 compared with Helsinki’s £173.25, taking it down to eighth place in the league table.

Happy Traveling

Traveler Profiles: Matthew Karsten of Expert Vagabond

I would like to introduce people who have inspired me travel more. There are many such people over the course of my life, and because of internet i can now introduce them to you all.

Meet Matthew Karsten of Expert Vagabond.

His philosophy/meta-frame of traveling in his own words

“Probably my most favorite quote of all time, “Adventure is worthwhile” can be traced back to the Greek or Ethiopian (no one knows for sure) storyteller Aesop, but it’s also attributed to Aristotle. Amelia Earhart used her own version: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.” On my recent 6 hour hike through the Virgin River’s freezing 40 degree water at Zion National Park, these wise words frequently entered my mind.”

Matthew completed three years of full time traveling this November 2013. He has been featured in.

He is funny guy. His story of how he recovered his lost Laptop is hilarious and insightful. He calls it operation ‘Gringo Revenge’, and it lasted more than three months. Please read it. It’s very entertaining and informative.

Few of the many lessons he picked up traveling are

  • Travel doesn’t have to be expensive.
  • Challenging your comfort zone is healthy.
  • Adventure is worthwhile.
  • Long-term wandering is possible at any age.
  • The world isn’t as dangerous as you think.

The following quote is his motto

“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” ~ Alan Keightley

He says that patience while traveling and not sweating the small stuff is number one thing that he learned to appreciate while traveling.

Just think about that: Time is currency for those who have full time jobs, isn’t it. A missed plane – everything goes haywire. Since we jam-packed so many things into our schedule and we don’t leave time for just strolling and ‘wasting’!

One thing after another, one activity follows another. This site to see since it is number 1 in trip advisory. this place to go in this city, since that is what my friends have done, and so on so forth. and the opposite of above quote by Alan Keightlely comes to pass: We go on living from what others have told or have recommended.

We never give ourselves the luxury of exploration. We continue to run and run in our vacations and then come back exhausted and ready to plan for the next.

We all have to decide. People like Matthew Kasrsten our just guide posts. But we have to experience it ourselves.

He has wonderful tips on staying cheap. From what i have read on many full time traveler blogs is that after air-tickets accommodations are the most expensive. So we can save a lot and travel more if we can stomach staying at hostels or home-stays.

Another issue that he takes to heart is travel insurance and the importance of it.

His gear guide is phenomenal.

Happy Journeying



Traveler Profiles: Amanda Williams of Dangerous Business

I would like to introduce people who have inspired me travel more. There are many such people over the course of my life, and because of internet i can now introduce them to you all.

Meet Amanda Williams

This is the quote she has as a template for her travel

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien

Cool isn’t it?

Since 2005, she has visited 20 countries on 4 continents, and is always on the lookout for her next big adventure, be it on the other side of the world, or just around the corner.

One of the main reasons that i am inspired by Amanda is what she says about traveling – Let me quote her – “I’m not a professional traveler. I do not make a living from this blog or the travel associated with it. I am (unfortunately) not location-independent.”

Her Motto is “Life is short, travel now”, “Getting lost during travel is sometimes good.”

Since she loves to travel solo also, I like this post for women travelers. It is a sweet post: Dear Dad: Please Don’t Worry (A Treatise on Solo Female Travel).

She goes on to say

We psyche ourselves out and buy into a lot of misconceptions about living a life full of travel. We begin to believe things like:

  • You must be rich to travel.
  • You must be single to travel.
  • You must be brave and outgoing to travel.
  • You must be free from responsibility to travel.

these are some of the tips that she gives

Here are some tips for how you, too, can fit travel into your ordinary life:

  • Start saving now. It’s never too early to start saving for a trip. Even just setting aside $20 per week can go a long way quickly.
  • Plan your dream vacation. Even if you won’t be able to take it right away, planning a vacation can keep you upbeat about traveling and give you something to look forward to. I start planning some of my big trips up to a year ahead of time.
  • Keep an eye on travel deals. Especially if you start planning and saving for a big trip early, you can keep an eye on things like airline and hotel deals. You never know when the perfect one will come along! Signing up for mailing lists from specific airlines, or from travel aggregators like TravelZoo, is a great idea, too, and can alert you to big savings opportunities.
  • Make the most of vacation time and holidays. We Americans get a raw deal in my opinion when it comes to vacation time. If your employer isn’t cool about letting you work overtime or giving you unpaid days off, you’ll have to get creative in order to make the most of the vacation time you have. You can stretch your 2 weeks much further if you plan travel around paid holidays, or if you can elect to work your holidays and save them up for later.
  • Don’t wait for someone to travel with. Especially if you’re working full-time and have friends and family members who are also working full-time, it might be difficult to coordinate a vacation. But that doesn’t mean you should forego travel. It just means you may need to consider adding “solo travel” to your vocabulary.
  • Pick up new hobbies. For me, starting a travel blog has opened many doors in terms of travel. I’ve made a lot of contacts, and even picked up some freelance gigs here and there that have helped feed my travel addiction (and my travel fund). But if starting a blog isn’t right for you, consider other hobbies that might allow you to get closer to your travel goals. Perhaps volunteering or joining a club could be an option for you.
  • Take advantage of all opportunities. Right along with picking up new hobbies, be sure to take advantage of any travel opportunities that those hobbies might afford you. For example, I traveled a lot during college because I joined the marching band. We went to places like Italy and China on performance tours at prices that a college student could afford.

And, at the end of the day…

  • Don’t make excuses. Any excuse you can make about why you can’t/don’t travel can be overcome. If you truly want to travel more without giving up your current lifestyle, the first step is setting aside the misconceptions and excuses and going after what you want in any way that you can.

Happy Journeying

award charts and reality

Award tickets are great. I can vouch for them. When you spend your daily expenses – phone bills, groceries, gas, restaurants, Internet/Cable etc. you accumulate points and with a 1:1 transfer to airlines like chase sapphire or hotels like Hyatt card, you can easily accumulate points.

If you want to say – travel to Guangzhou (China, near Macau) in September 2014 from Northeast cost (i just checked yesterday from IAD, a united HUB) it quoted me a whopping 4000+ USD via Beijing, but just 67000 Points + fees on United, but checking the travel matrix today i got a quote for 1167 usd including tax from China Eastern. Now converting the points to dollars i get 67000X.035 + 7% excise tax = 2520 USD!! Which is to say, buying tickets via dollars is good in this scenario instead of points ( Miles cost US $35 per 1,000 miles plus a 7.5% excise tax (same for delta) )

the unfortunate news is that delta started devaluing their miles

from flyer-talk i have gathered this  a) US-EU low 100k->125k b) US-Asia (both north and SE) low 120k->140k c) US-Australia
low 150k->160k d) US-South Africa low 140k->160k  e) US-South America low 100k->125k

For Continental USA and Caribbean it has not changed much.

Now we still have to wait and see American-US Airways merger would bring…

Happy Journeying

What about Round the world (RTW) travel?

This is an ambitious undertaking. With right tools one can circumnavigate the globe for the price of two international air tickets to Southeast Asia from USA.

Planning the trip is the most difficult part, partly the difficulty lies in this: Places to pick, time to travel.

There are so many places to pick – beaten path or something more adventurous, cities with all that they have to offer or nature/wildlife areas, villages or town where you can get out of the crowd and see the real country (away from the hype and glamor of the cities).

Of all the reasons are more – traveling to the major city in each stop over is a must – since it will save you a lot of money just by traveling on land, or boat or a separate local carrier once you are in the country.

Next comes the time commitment – RTW travel is best done at leisure; for that matter any travel to international destinations. I personally would love spending time and going about absorbing the culture, themes, and food without rushing/thinking about tomorrow’s destination.

The advantages of RTW tickets are many, one being – Changing travel dates/carriers/flights leading to re-booking/re-validation of any sector is free of charge.

So if you have time an itinerary for 2400 USD would take your through southeast Asia in about 50 days.

HYD (Hyderabad) – RGN (Rangoon) – BKK (Bangkok) – PNH (Phnom Penh) – KUL (Kuala Lumpur) – SZX (Shenzhen) – TPE (Taipei) – OSA (Osaka) – HYD (Hyderabad)

Starting and ending from locations in southeast Asia can save you hundreds of dollars.  The same fare now starting from USA is 3300 usd.

Avoid Singapore airlines (if travelling first class through points or otherwise) : exorbitant surcharges.

Traveling to Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore is best done with the local carriers from neighboring countries.

Star alliance has a tool for you to plan your trip (free of charge and no login required) – it will give you the price too

It is the most extensive – in terms of partners, and locations, and routes, of all.

For example Shenzhen airlines (close to Hong Kong) –

If you play around, say Feb 5th – 14th round trip to Osaka, Japan (1500 Miles) is around 253 dollars excluding tax (with one free checked baggage).

The same trip from Thailand Chiang Mai, Thailand to Osaka Japan costs you 1049 USD including taxes

So having time to play around and stay is a premium worth in gold.

For united airlines round the world – 180,000 Points are required for a saver award. – offers help and booking the itinerary and flights. They have many specials. AVOID the high season of December and January when booking from USA.

So what is the best course of action?

  • Start saving on your points (get a good travel credit card),
  • join an alliance partner (especially in your own HUB zone airline – say for example United has an hubzone in IAD (This allows united or any hub zone airline to maximize the loads, and aircrafts on their routes. As every route ends at a hub, they now have many aircraftsavailable to be used on any other route that originates at that hub. This allows airlines to have multiple flights between hub cities and can use larger aircraft…)).
  • Plan and Play around
  • Contact as many times as possible your airline – talk to them often…this will give you inside information on day to day, month to month changes and make you more confident when speaking with booking agents when you are ready to jump and purchase.
  • Nothing beats having more time at hand– if is available for you (teachers during summer vacations for example, or independent non-location based business owners, or translators) will give you an unfair advantage both in terms of price and local experience.

Happy Journeying


Things to consider in Credit Cards for Travel

Traveling with a Credit Card is more advantageous than traveling with Cash for one simple reason: Loss of Cash is immediate and permanent, where as unauthorized charges, loss of Card can be dealt with after the fact.

So what are the most important basic things that we look for in Credit Card?

1) Points that can be converted to air miles or hotel points.

2) No foreign Transaction fees.

I personally have a wide variety of cards based on my travel needs.

For domestic travel – i have my Hyatt visa signature card.

At present it has 0 USD annual fee and 73 USD per year after the first year.

2 Free nights when you sign up. this is very good deal for international travel. Say for instance you want to travel to Paris in December.  And you want to stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome a category 6 hotel of Hyatt. it will cost you 812 USD per night. You can stay two nights for free!

5000 points can easily get you a Orlando hotel (3-4 stars) hotel with Hyatt. I presently have around 40,000 points which can use it for 8 free nights at any Hyatt in the USA

One bonus night free every year (this will take care of the annual fee)

For international travel –  i just can’t say enough about this card – i think it is the best travel Credit card ever. It is the Visa Signature card from Chase – the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP)

With the Signature class from Visa – the benefits are huge (Roadside Dispatch Rely 24 hour toll-free referral dispatch for emergency roadside assistance services like towing, fuel delivery, emergency card replacement, lost luggage reimbursement etc.).  In addition to that CSP offers 1point to 1 point transfer with no transfer fees (

Transfer points to participating frequent travel programs with no transfer fees and at full 1:1 value – that means 1,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equal 1,000 partner miles/points. Travel programs include British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SKYPASS, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Amtrak Guest Rewards, Hyatt Gold Passport, Priority Club Rewards, Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards. )  THIS is extremely valuable. Just imagine – Air Cost is the most expensive item for international travel.

Now for the best part – Because this is holiday season – thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, festivus we are bound to spend. 40,000 bonus points with CSP if you spend 3000 USD in three months. Since my local HUB zone is United, and i plan on traveling to  south Asia (United Airlines south Asian countries : Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam). I can get a saver award for 65,000 points on United. That’s shaving off 800-900 dollars on my ticket. a 55-60% discount!!!

Happy Journeying