How to Score a Free Hotel From an Airline (or at Least a Free Tour)

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Whenever I am looking to book a ticket, one of the first websites I go to is Skyscanner. Often, this means that I will end up booking my ticket through a third party website. Which means I will sometimes have a long layover somewhere to help curb the costs. (I don’t know why this curbs costs, but whatever)

On our recent trip to Brussels, we had a 13-hour layover in Istanbul going there and a 23-hour layover coming back. That’s a looooooong time to be sitting in an airport when you don’t have lounge access. So once the ticket was confirmed, I began looking online to see if the airline or the airport offers a free hotel say.

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5 things you need to know before traveling to Tokyo.

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I’ve been living in Tokyo for a year now and it’s a beautiful and exciting place to visit. I’m often asked a lot of questions from people interested in visiting and I thought I’d put together a few things that I think are important to know before coming to visit.

Here they are…

There are no public trash cans. Or very few, rather. There are bins that collect bottles and cans near vending machines and sometimes outside of conbinis (convenience stores). But don’t bank on these being everywhere. It’s not uncommon to have bags of trash in your book bag because there is nowhere to put it. Sometimes it’s left for days because I forget it’s in there.

Remember: Suica or Pasmo. Tokyo hosts one of the most efficient and reliable mass transit systems in the world. And with 13 million residents, traffic can be insane and frustrating. Therefore it’s best to buy a Suica or Pasmo when you get here. Not only can you use it on the 158 number of trains and regional lines and 41 bus routes, you can also use it at convenience stores to buy food and beer and at some vending machines. You can even use them when you miss the last train and have to take a taxi home. (But I wouldn’t recommend this) It’s a convenient way to reach all corners of the city and cuts down on the hassle of buying tickets and guessing the fare.

Also to note: The trains trains will be crowded. People will squeeze in as much as possible. No way around it during certain times of day. It’s all part of the experience.

Do not take a taxi if you can avoid it. Simply put: Taxis in Tokyo are expensive. The flag rate is 730 yen for the first two kilometers and rapidly increases from there. It’s also important to note that rates increase between 11pm and 5am. This is important to remember if you happen to miss the last train home.

Trains and busses usually stop from midnight to 5am, so if you end up at a random bar in Rippongi and your hotel is in Omotesando, you might end up paying close to 100 bucks to get back to your hotel. Just avoid it if you can. Pay attention to the last train information or plan to make it an all-nighter. It’s Tokyo, so it’s pretty easy to do if you’re a rockstar.

Never leave tips. I know in a lot of parts of the world, tips are considered customary. However here in Japan, they can be interpreted as an insult. Something about pride and whatnot. Just remember, most of the things you pay for not only include the service charge, but also the taxes. Expect to get your change back when paying at a bar or restaurant and remember to take it with you. You will get chased down and they will insist you take it back. And speaking of restaurants…

No, the service is not bad. With restaurants in Japan, you have to flag them down to order. Someone will seat you, bring you water, and even might ask for your drink order. But when it’s time to order, you will need to flag them down with a polite sumimasen and someone will rush over to take your order.

It’s also important to know that they may not come back to check on you unless your plate is empty. Unlike in the States, where they come back every 5-10 minutes to see if everything is okay. I think it might be that they just want you to enjoy your meal without constant pestering and they figure if you wanted them, you will let them know. It took some time for me to get used to this as well. No worries.

Best time to go. For the most part, you can visit Tokyo any time of the year. My recommendation is to come during Sakura season (mid-late March through early April). This is the best time to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, participate in a hanami party, and eat all the wonderful food and drinks that are sakura themed and flavored. It’s my favorite time of year here and the weather is really amazing. The summers are horrid and humid and frankly, unbearable. The winters are mild, but makes for really bad sight-seeing if you’re looking for outdoor activities. I would absolutely avoid Tokyo during typhoon season, which is end of August until early October. If it gets really bad, everything closes to avoid damage and injury. Don’t let a typhoon, or even really bad humidity, ruin your vacation. Come during the spring or fall for the best weather.

Plan ahead and do you research. I would never suggest someone coming here and winging it. I can’t even really do weekend activities without some kind of plan. Between navigating the transportation to beating the crowds, you really need to know what you’re doing and where. And also search where things are. Tokyo has a lot of nooks and crannies to discover and although it’s fun getting lost in a new city, getting lost here is a whole nother beast. I would say, make room for impulsivity. You can definitely end up in a random bar in Shibuya and find yourself in a middle of a karaoke battle with locals or smack dab in the middle of a Brazilian festival in Asakusa. It happens. Embrace it, but do plan ahead just in case. You can lose a couple of days if you get lost in Shinjuku station. Seriously.

Tokyo is a vast land of tradition, fashion, food, and entertainment. You can find almost anything under the sun to do and experience while you are here, but it’s not one of those places you can just stumble through. Because of its deep roots in traditions, there are things you should know before coming, to avoid being a stereotypical gaijin or foreigner.

Respect the customs, enjoy the history, and interact with the people. Tokyo is an amazing place and I hope you enjoy your experience if you ever find yourself here.

(and yes, I know those were more than 5 things. I’m a rebel and I do what I want)

 

Don’t sleep on Groupon.

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**Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.**

 

 

Have you ever booked a random flight deal on an impulse and then found yourself wondering what do you do in that random town?

No? Me neither.

But if you have, I’m here to tell you that you have options to figure out how to entertain yourself in Randomtown, U.S.A. and not want to throw yourself out the basement window for all the boredom.

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So, let’s just say you find an amazing deal to…Las Vegas…(I know, like you would ever really need to know why to do in Las Vegas. Stay with me here)…You can head on over to Groupon Things To Do and see what is happening in that city for a discounted rate. You could be quickly on your way to a museum, an observation deck, or a walking tour around a shady street sampling food along that way that may or may not give you food poisoning. Hey, it’s all part of the thrill! (Yes, I know. There are a gazillion other things to do in Las Vegas than eating street food. It can also be Cleveland. Whatever.)

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Groupon Things To Do allows you some additional options to entertain yourself when you end up in a random, but not so random, city. It provides you more options that you might not have thought of and you can find more things to do at a discounted rate. Everybody wins!

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Y’all already know how much I love Groupon for travel ideas and amazing discounts on cities all over the world. But now we have a way to find things to do when we get there. Think of it as your city guide on a discount!

What ways have you saved with Groupon? Tell me in the comments!

Saving Money with Groupon Coupons

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

I love saving money when I travel. I’ve used Groupon for everything from saving money on my trips to Target or a mani-pedi, to learning how to trapeze and going skydiving. It has really helped me save money on my adventures both near and far. Actually, my first trip with the boy overseas was, in fact, a Groupon deal. We went to China for 10 days. We visited Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou and stayed at some very amazing hotels. We visited the Great Wall, Imperial Palace, the Beijing Zoo, and ate to our heart’s content with all our flights and transfers included for less than $2000 USD!

Now that I live abroad, I’m always trying to find ways to save money to increase my traveling and stretch my money here in the expensive city of Tokyo.

Although I’ve never really considered myself a coupon clipping kind of girl, I have come to LOVE Groupon Coupons. I’ve found so many deals to save money on gifts for family and friends during the holidays and special occasions.

Although there are several ways to use Groupon Coupons, here is how I use mine:

I search the city or region that my loved one resides and find deals on services such as 2 for 1 spa treatments and massages for my mom for Mother’s Day (shh, don’t tell my mom). I found a deal for 20% off roses to send to a friend for her birthday. I even found a deal for BabiesRUs and Sam’s Club to send baby gifts to an expecting friend.

For my traveling friends, you can find deals from Travelocity and Orbitz to help curb the cost of any traveling adventure. When I go home, I expect to look up Target and Footlocker to buy clothes and shoes for my ever-growing boy. Other traveling deals I’ve found were $72 off SeaWorld San Diego, $189 Complete Language Set from Rosetta Stone, and up to 60% off last minute travel deals from Priceline.

The possibilities are endless with Groupon Coupons, and who doesn’t love a good deal? Just type in the store you are looking for and it is possible there is a deal waiting for you. Seriously, check out the site and you will never shop the same way again. Who knows? You might be able to book that next trip with the money you saved!

Let me know how you like Groupon Coupons and how you saved money in the comments!