The Travel Blog That Crunches Numbers so You Don't Have to!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your blog.
My name is Katharine Filipovic and I am a finance student living in New York City. I love traveling the world and making memories with my mom and boyfriend. Blonde In The Air is a travel blog that crunches the numbers so you don’t have to! While it has packing guides and reviews, Blonde In The Air primarily focuses on “Cost Breakdown Guides”. Each guide is broken down into 5 categories: Accommodation + Transportation + Attractions + Food + Final Thoughts. A lot of other blogs might have vague ballpark estimates without the specific details, but Blonde In The Air prides itself in being the only travel blog that gives exact numbers, along with a total cost.
How did you get started with your blog, Blonde In The Air?
Many of my friends know me as someone who travels often and gets great deals. They ask me for advice on places they want to go, and I send them my Excel spreadsheets and itineraries. The documents would have all the costs and information associated with the trip (hotel, transportation, food, and activities). Instead of sending this information to only my friends, I had the idea to synthesize my data and share it with the rest of the world too.
I chose the name Blonde In The Air because I have blonde hair and I love flying, hence the “In The Air” part. While some people might despise dealing with airports and airplanes, I actually love it. I especially love the feeling of euphoria I get when the plane is either taking off or landing.
What is your favorite travel app and why?
For those of us who like hanging out at airport lounges, Lounge Buddy is incredibly useful. You can search the airport you are planning to visit or currently visiting, and Lounge Buddy will tell you everything you need to know. This includes listing all the lounges that are in each terminal, how to locate them, how to access them, and view guest pictures and reviews. There is a setting where you can input which credit cards you have and display the lounges where you are allowed complimentary or reduced-price visits.
How do you find good deals for traveling?
Finding good deals begins with looking at Expedia’s “Bundle and save” packages to see general prices, and then leads to changing dates around, clearing browser history/cookies, searching on different days of the week, and being creative.
Did you know a combination of one-way flights and train rides to multiple countries can turn out to be more affordable than a roundtrip ticket visiting only one country? If you are traveling to or within Europe, there are several budget airlines to use (Norwegian Air, Wizz Air, etc.). In the summer of 2018, I paid $175 for my flight from New York to Paris with Norwegian Air! I figured this all out when my boyfriend and I were planning to visit his dad in Poland. When we saw the roundtrip tickets (New York to Warsaw) start at $750, we thought that was a lot of money to be spent on just transporting ourselves. That’s when I did a ton of research and came up with a 35-day summer European trip. This past summer we were able to visit Paris, Prague, Vienna, Gdansk, and Warsaw for only $717.29 (4 one-way flights and 1 train ride).
What are your packing essentials?
I have a blog post and video where I highlight my 30 in-flight essentials.
I have a blog post and video where I detail all the things I packed in my carry-on suitcase for my 35-day trip to Europe.
What are some packing tips to pack lightly/efficiently?
If you are traveling a lot, packing is easier if you have a pre-packed toiletries bag with the main staple items (toothbrush, travel-sized toothpaste, sunscreen, Band-Aids, nail clippers, etc.) and then add the variables, like makeup, when it’s time for you to pack for your next trip. The same goes for your travel bag. Keeping items like your neck pillow, eye mask, and fuzzy socks inside the travel bag will make things easier because you know they are in the right place. Packing will be more like a grab-n-go situation, rather than packing from scratch.
How do you make time fly by on a long flight?
I’ve been on an 11-hour flight to Israel as well as a 15-hour flight to China. Long flights ranging in 6 to 9 hours no longer seem that long to me, so experiencing the flights to Israel and China has helped me. Usually, I pass the time by watching movies or sleeping.
How do you discover fun things to do in new places you travel to?
If you’re in the United States, using Groupon for booking activities not only helps you discover fun things, but it also has great deals. Don’t forget to activate your eBates while shopping on Groupon because you’ll usually get 6% cash back. Personally, I’ve booked a helicopter ride and ATV ride in Las Vegas, a Ferrari limo tour in Los Angeles, and so much more! I do suggest you create a rough itinerary of the major things you want to see in the city but leave room for spontaneity.
What is your next travel destination and what do you have planned so far?
It’s really cold in New York during the winter time, so I prefer to go to warmer climates. In January, I’ll be going on a 14-night “Western Caribbean” cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line with my boyfriend. The countries on the itinerary is Bahamas, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Belize and Mexico. I don’t know what exactly we will do yet at each port, but maybe we will go “Bamboo Rafting on the Martha Brae River” in Jamaica. In April, my mom and I are planning on going on vacation to Costa Rica. We’ll probably book it in February.
What has been your favorite travel destination and why?
Out of all the places I’ve been to this year, Prague (capital of Czech Republic) is my favorite destination. Not only are the prices relatively affordable for Americans, there were so many things to do and see! I traveled there with my boyfriend and we both love the cobbled streets, the unusual museums, and the architecture. Each time we walked around, we found new things to do. We allowed ourselves to “get lost” when we wanted to and then google mapped our way back to the hotel. Spending three nights in Prague is not enough! We definitely will visit again in the future.
Are there any travel hacks you have discovered, such as when is the best time to purchase flight tickets?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been mesmerized by the glamour of airport lounges but was too young to act on my curiosity. My family and I would happily sit with the masses next to our gate because we didn’t know any better. Only a few years ago I realized that you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on flying first or business class in order to get into the lounges. Visiting airport lounges before boarding flights has been a game changer in my life. Even though I’m flying economy class, I feel like a first-class flyer when visiting the lounges. My favorite amenities are the complimentary food and the atmosphere.
My boyfriend has the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and I am an authorized user. The annual fee is $450 a year and the authorized user annual fee is $75. Among many benefits of being Reserve card members, we each get our own Priority Pass Select card which allows us access to 1,200 lounges across the globe. If someone were to pay for a Priority Pass membership directly, the least expensive plan would be an annual fee of $99 plus $32 each time you visit a lounge and $32 each time you bring a guest. However, for us, we can go unlimited times without paying per visit and can bring guests for no extra charge. That’s why it makes more sense to be an authorized user and pay $75 a year to Chase, get the Reserve card’s benefits, as well as the Priority Pass Select card.
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