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Destination Savannah: Single Occupancy’s Proven Performer Awards

December 2, 2010

While I decompress from my six-day whirlwind tour of Savannah and prepare to compose a coherent blog post summarizing my visit to that breathtakingly beautiful city, I’d like to take a moment to commend some of the players who made my time in Savannah run so smoothly. So, without further ado, Single Occupancy’s Proven Performer Awards for my trip to Savannah:

  • Savannah Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – While I’m sure I’ll never get over the disappointment of the canceled Holly Days Wine Tasting due to bad weather (what’s a few raindrops when there’s wine to be tasted and good times to be had?), the staff does a bang-up job of promoting Savannah as a destination. Special thanks to Amy Brock who keeps the tweets at the @VisitSavannah Twitter feed hopping with things to do, places to go, and people to see. Some of my most memorable Savannah moments were gleaned from 140 characters. If you’re planning on visiting Savannah, follow the feed and watch your travel plans come to life with ideas and inspiration.
  • The Tea Room, Savannah –This warm and comfortable establishment nestled behind a fairly low-key storefront on Broughton Street felt a little bit like magic. Calming, civilizing, and just plain cozy, I practically teared up when it was time for me to leave. Highly recommended for your first (or next) stop in Savannah.
  • Groupon – Traveling to Savannah was my first experience using Groupons and I’m happy to say the experiment went swimmingly. Cutting my costs on a variety of expenses from meals to tours, Groupon helped keep my budget in check while granting me some pricier opportunities I might not have otherwise been able to afford.

Thanks to Groupon, I sampled some seriously delectable meals in Savannah, like braised veal cheeks at the swanky new Savannah restaurant Broughton & Bull.

  • Lands’ End Canvas Slub Cotton Scarf – At 24 inches wide and 72 inches long, this supple cotton scarf not only brightened up my décolletage, but it also (almost) worked as a blanket on the 15-hour train ride back home. Stylish and lightweight, yet substantial, comfy, and versatile, it kept me one step ahead of the game when Savannah’s weather kept me guessing (I’m resisting the urge to buy a few more!).
  • Skechers Organic Sport Oxfords—It was a last minute decision to refresh my footwear before the trip but I’m so glad I decided on these shoes. Athletic with feminine styling, plus traction for off-road adventures, these sporty and comfortable kicks kept me on my feet without making me look like I’d just stepped out of the gym.
  • AAA – Discount on my Amtrak ticket? Check. On my hotel room? Check. On the entry fee to the Telfair Museums? Check, check. Every year, I deliberate about whether I should renew my membership and every year my AAA card keeps giving me reasons to come back. The savings really do add up and enable me to keep on doing the thing I love most: travel.

My full Savannah recap is coming up next week. Stay tuned! Until then, feel free to share your own travel accolades in the comments. It’s great to hear about products that work wonderfully for travel and services that are doing it right. Spread the love!

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Destination Savannah: Happy Thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. and, after around three months of not-so-careful planning, yours truly is here in the Hostess City of the South.

Time to go out in search of some of that good ol’ Southern hospitality I’ve been hearing so much about. Time to draw in my first breath of Savannah air.

If you’d like to follow my solo Savannah adventure, I’ll be tweeting (selectively and infrequently, mind you) on my Twitter feed at @SingleOccuBlog.

So, to all of my U.S.-based readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

To all of the U.S. expats living (or traveling) abroad: Happy Thanksgiving!

To all my international readers who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving: Happy Thursday!

🙂

Weekend Intelligence: November 20-21, 2010

November 21, 2010

The beginning of the wild and wacky holiday season is here. Travel ramps up significantly here in the U.S. as families congregate on Thursday to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. As always, Weekend Intelligence is here to give you the rundown from the world of travel including helpful tips to get through the crazy travel week ahead.

  • What am I most thankful for this Thanksgiving? That I’m not flying for the holidays, particularly on Wednesday, November 24th which groups opposed to the TSA’s new screening procedures have designated as “National Opt Out Day.” Opt Out activists are encouraging travelers to opt out of being screened by the backscatter scanner and to submit themselves to new “enhanced” pat down in public to educate other passengers about what the physical search really entails. It may turn out to be a very interesting travel day. This holiday travel guide from the Los Angeles Times offers some advice to help your holiday travel go as smoothly as possible.
  • Don’t get busted while traveling abroad. This list courtesy of Budget Travel sums up some unusual laws you might not expect while in foreign lands. From what not to bring into Japan, to why your Finnish cabbie might prefer a silent ride, this compilation provides some great insights into local laws most travelers inevitably overlook.
  • Courtesy of Velvet Escape, some inspiring thoughts by seasoned travelers about lessons learned while traveling. My favorite?  “…humanity knows no limits when it comes to creating food, shelter, dance and drink, yet seems constrained by the snow globe when it comes to souvenirs.” Ha!

Happy travels and Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Destination Savannah: Happy Holly Days

November 17, 2010

It seemed like such a silly question to ask, I know, but I needed to be sure.

Dialing the number for the Savannah Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, I’ll admit I felt like a bit of a dunderhead but a polite, enthusiastic man answered the phone and put me right at ease. After a few exchanged pleasantries, I focused on the reason for my call. “Tell me,” I asked him, “does Savannah pretty much shut down for Thanksgiving?”

That was almost three months ago, when I was faced with the decision of once again either spending my Thanksgiving holiday alone in New Jersey eating Chinese takeout, or using the opportunity to venture off into the unknown.

“Oh, no,” he answered brightly. “We have a festival where we shut down the main drag and put in an ice skating rink and snow and everything.”

The last time I was at an ice skating rink was roughly thirteen years ago. I fell, landed on someone else’s skate blade, and had to be “escorted” off the ice by a pair of nice-looking men. It’s not exactly a great memory–one guy with his hands under your armpits while the other held your feet as they cleared the dead weight of your fear-paralyzed body from the ice.

But my ears perked up at the thought of ice skating—outdoors, no less—in Savannah, Georgia, the subtropical South.

I’m pretty sure the gentleman who answered the phone that day almost three months ago had no idea on how quickly he’d sold me on the idea of Thanksgiving in Savannah. And I’m finally one week away.

What’s got me really excited?

Enjoying a Southern-style Thanksgiving dinner.  Wandering among the eroded, patina’d headstones of centuries-old cemeteries. Waiting in line for hours just for a taste of the lunchtime repast at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. The Riverwalk. Blues clubs. Tybee Island. And meeting the locals (Savannahans? Savannahians? Savannahites?).

There are still a few things I need to do before I board that southbound train. Packing for Savannah’s warm days and cold nights. Deciding on one of the two hotels I’ve booked. Breaking in my new shoes (yes, I bought new walking shoes–that’s just how I roll!). Finishing up a few projects at work. Completing the first draft of my grad school term paper (eek!). Cleaning up my apartment. And when I’m done, it’s going to be crazy, non-stop fun and/or relaxation for six whole days. I can’t wait!

Associated Links

Weekend Intelligence: November 13-14, 2010

November 13, 2010

I love the feeling that ratchets up when I know that travel is around the corner. No travel on your horizon? Single Occupancy is here to help! Weekend Intelligence is always full of good ideas and inspiration to help you satisfy your wanderlust.

  • The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel on doing what he does best: traveling on a shoestring budget. This time he tackles doing away with the rental car and seeing the sights on two wheels. If you’re willing to strap on a bike helmet and some extra padding, it’s possible to do a large city like Los Angeles on $100 dollars a day.
  • If you’re like me—a whole lotta wanderlust with not a lot of cash—you’re always looking for the next great budget destination. Offer some hearty thanks to the folks over at LonelyPlanet.com for compiling this list of the “Top 10 Best Value Destinations for 2011.” Who knows? Maybe you’ll find inspiration for your next holiday.
  • The results are in for Travel+Leisure Magazine’s 2010 list of America’s Favorite Cities. Read how America’s most-loved metros stack up against each other in categories like food, nightlife, and culture. While I’m not a big advocate of “best of” lists and such, I found it an interesting and interactive read. (P.S. Savannah was ranked #3 for most attractive people. Watch out Southern boys—I’m coming for ya!)

Have a happy weekend!

Destination Savannah: Finding Deals in the Hostess City of the South

November 8, 2010

Editor’s Note:

Dear Readers – Single Occupancy is evolving. One of my goals for this blog was to be a resource for people who aren’t familiar with solo travel to realize that it’s not as difficult as it might appear. To help streamline blog content, posts formerly titled “Mission Mondays” will now be known as “Destination” posts and the title will contain more information about post content to make finding inspiration and planning solo travel a little easier.

Over the years, I’ve figured out different ways to keep costs down when I travel. Book airfares early on Wednesday morning. Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday. Stay in hostels (or campsites if necessary). Opt out of renting a car and use mass transit instead. Check with the local tourism agency or chamber of commerce to see if there are sightseeing passes that I can purchase. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

I thought I’d exhausted every cost-cutting measure in the book until a couple of weeks ago when a tweet flashed across my screen: Groupon is coming to Savannah.

Groupon recently launched in Savannah.

If you’re not familiar yet with Groupon, here’s a little more: through its website, Groupon harnesses the collective buying power of large groups of consumers who can buy coupons for deeply discounted goods and services. The site offers these “group coupons” across the United States as well as internationally, spawning a whole slew of copycat sites that promise to do one thing: save you money.

I’d been following the Groupon website for North Jersey (where I live) for a while, but the thought occurred to me: what about following Groupon in Savannah? Can it really save me money on things I want to see and do while I’m there? I decided to give it a try.

The first Groupon coupon didn’t attract my attention much: a facial at a local spa for $35.  Then there was one for ballroom dance lessons for $20 off the regular price. Not terribly interested in that one either. Discounts at Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House? Aw, shucks (pun intended)–too bad I’m allergic to shellfish. But one day last week I hit the jackpot—an architectural tour of Savannah for half its original price. As an architecture junkie, I was sold. A few days later, there was a $20 coupon for B&D Burgers for eight bucks. Why not?

With roughly three weeks left before I arrive in Savannah, I may yet come across some other enticing deals to keep costs low on my upcoming trip. As a virtual Groupon virgin, I have no idea what to expect but I’m hoping the discounts I’ve been afforded enrich my Savannah experience. Time will tell.

Now if only there were a coupon out there for deeply discounted accommodations, I’d be set. As it stands right now, I don’t have lodging for my trip yet, which I hope to remedy during the next week. If nothing solid materializes in the next week and a half, I may have to resort to couchsurfing. We’ll see what happens.

All I know is that I become more and more excited the more I learn about Savannah.

Associated Links:

  • Groupon.com – “Groupon negotiates huge discounts on popular local goods, services and cultural events. Then we offer the deals to thousands of subscribers in a free daily email. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy. So our subscribers get a great deal and the business gets a ton of new customers. Win-win.”

Weekend Intelligence: November 6-7, 2010

November 6, 2010

I can hardly believe it’s already November. The holiday season is approaching quickly and time seems to be whipping by at breakneck speed. Why not take a moment to relax and get caught up on some of this week’s best travel intelligence?

  • If you’re the kind of traveler who welcomes inspiration when choosing your next destination, look no further than Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities for 2011. Favorites like New York made the list but the other nine cities include some that are decidedly below the average traveler’s radar. Iquitos, anyone?
  • From Travel + Leisure magazine: 10 tips to save money on airfare. Favorite tip: consider purchasing one way tickets from airlines like Southwest and JetBlue if your plans don’t include a Saturday night stayover. Least favorite tip: look for connecting flights. Because who looks for connecting flights?
  • It often seems to me that many people are on their worst behavior while traveling. Seems I’m not the only one who thinks so.  The folks over at Frommers.com posed a great travel question this week: do locals hate travelers?
  • From the Single Occupancy Weekly: SpunkyGirl Pamela McNaughtan offers a fresh perspective on Bangkok and argues that most people don’t really make an effort to experience the local aspects of the city. Pamela shares her favorite things to see and do and shares her best tips for enjoying Thailand’s capital city.

Enjoy!