Author Archives: Shelli

About Shelli

Shelli Stein is a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! Besides contributing to Travel with Grant, you can find her at Joy in Movement.

Interview: Are Travel Agents Still Useful?

There’s been a bit of blogger buzz these past few weeks about whether or not, in this age of being able to book travel from a device in our pockets, travel agents are still useful. You might say, “Travel agents are so 80’s”, but I think you’d be selling yourself short. Because I have cousins who are longtime travel agents, and do a ton of travel as well, I decided to pose some questions to one of them. Some of the questions are similar to what other bloggers have been asking of travel agents, but some are different. And even if you’ve made up your mind about the usefulness of travel agents, do go to the end of this post where I’ll tell you about how my travel agent cousin saved me both money and time in New Zealand! So, are travel agents still useful? Let’s find out!

General Travel Trends

Shelli: Which destinations are people most asking about these days?

Corkie: Iceland & Japan are way up in requests.

It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s Grant in Iceland on an iceberg!

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9 Delicious Reasons Why You Should Visit Portugal

You know how it is when you return from a trip and you’ve had the most wonderful time. I keep asking people, “Have you visited Portugal, yet?” The answer I receive most often is “no.” I’m on a roll giving people delicious reasons to make their next vacation spot Portugal. You’d think I worked for the Portuguese Tourist Agency :) I found it EASY to appreciate Portuguese food and wine. And of course pastries, too! So let me see if my delicious reasons sway you.

1. Mom and Pop. If I only had two words to describe the food I enjoyed, I’d say SIMPLE and FRESH. Some people might call it comfort food. I was so surprised and delighted that I could get a delicious, home-cooked meal from any one of the “mom and pop” eateries throughout Lisbon. They were everywhere. Simple and inexpensive I believe as a result of their locally sourced seasonal meat, fish and produce.

2. Licor Beirão. Portugal is known for its wine, and I’d agree; trying some is a must. I flew to Portugal on TAP in business class and my experience with Portuguese liquor started on my flight. The flight attendant asked me if I wanted to try Licor Beirão, the “Liquor of Portugal”, from the central Beiras region. It is made from a secret 100-year old recipe that gives it a delicious sweet, herbal flavor. I always sample digestives when I travel, so why not? The crew gathered and we talked some about Licor Beirao, how to drink it, and that if they ever feel like they are coming down with a cold or flu, they take some Beirao. I decided to have mine over ice, and a little bit goes a long way. I rather enjoyed it! The one drink I didn’t get to try, which I heard will “knock your socks off” was aguardente bagaceira, or Bagaço as it’s commonly called. It’s Portugal’s version of grappa, made from leftover pomace. Pomace is the pulpy residue leftover after crushing fruit. The best Bagaço is said to come from the pomace of Vinho Verde grapes in the northern Minho region and is distilled on an open flame from small wine producers. This method is illegal, so the only way to find it is if you’re in a small, local restaurant where the owner generously pours you a shot from his “unmarked” bottle. Unfortunately, this treat didn’t come my way, but I’ll figure out a way to sample some next time I’m in Portugal! I did find out that you can try Macieira Centenário, which is a legal and respected brand of Bagaco! The other liquor that was popular is ginja. It’s a traditional cherry liquor from the town of Obídos served in a small cup. I like fruity liquors so this one is on the list for next time, as well.

Licor Beirão. Image source: http://www.licorbeirao.com/en/

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How Travel with Grant Makes Money

Sometimes it’s easy to read someone’s mind. When I wrote about my first year writing experience at Travel with Grant, I wrote about the questions people ask me about travel blogging. Sure, they want my thoughts on where they should travel to and specifics about how using points and miles work. But often I can read their minds and sense that the number one question they want to ask is, “Do you REALLY make money doing that?” It’s a valid question because even in today’s internet climate, most people still don’t understand how people make money online. You, our readers, may be wondering the same thing, so I thought, why not write about this? Why not write about monetization, affiliate links, and ad revenue?

Travel with Grant makes money in 4 ways:

  1. Commission from Amazon orders
  2. Display ads
  3. Affiliate links from businesses we use and recommend
  4. Credit card affiliate links through CreditCards.com

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What is the Best Transportation Option from Airport to City Center in these 85 Cities?

Are you an expert in knowing the best, cheapest, or safest way to get from an airport to the city center? I’m not, as proven by my totally crazy airport to city center experience in Buenos Aires. Here’s a great article that compares 85 cities around the world when it comes to getting to the city center by taxi, Uber, or renting a car. I’ve been to 42 of the cities on the list and I can see I made some good choices, and can do better next time. See what you think!

Image source: http://www.jfktaxiservice.com

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About BlaBlaCar (Ridesharing Service)

As travelers, we’re always looking for options for getting from one place to another. Especially in Europe, I noticed people using BlaBlaCar because it can be the cheapest and easiest option to get from one city to another. So what is BlaBlaCar, how do you use it, and is it any good? Maybe you already know that BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing community that has both an app and a website. Drivers publish their upcoming trips. For a fee, riders go along for the ride. BlaBlaCar started in France and is now available in 22 countries, mostly in Europe, but also in Brazil, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, India, and Mexico. I haven’t had a chance to use BlaBlaCar yet, BUT when I was recently in sLOVEnia, my cousin came from Italy to spend time with me and she’s used BlaBlaCar, so I asked her some questions about her experience. I hope you enjoy the interview!

Shelli: How many times have you used BlaBlaCar?

My cousin Juliana: I’ve used BlaBlaCar three times, and not too recently, so I don’t know how my experiences compare to what’s on offer now. Everything went exactly as it should have, so I have no horrible memories and nothing that sticks out as unpleasant or unfortunate.

S: Do you find that the website and app work well?

J: I’ve only used the website (blablacar.co.uk, blablacar.fr, and blablacar.it versions). It worked well. Continue reading