With the launch of the new Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program comes a slew of new or refreshed credit cards.  The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card is Chase’s personal Marriott Bonvoy card, and has a welcome offer of 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.

It replaces the old Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, which is no longer available to new applicants.  But it’s keeping the same great perks!

Depending on how you use your points, you could get $100s worth of free hotel stays in the US, Europe, or many other popular destinations, including luxury resorts or family-friendly hotels.

You’ll also earn a free night award valid at select Marriott hotels each account anniversary.  This perk alone makes the card worth keeping, and can more than cover the annual fee!

If you like staying at Marriott hotels, this is an excellent card to consider.

You can apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card here.

American Express
Use the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card’s Welcome Bonus for an Escape to the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, or 1,000s of Other Hotels Around the World!

Here’s our full review of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card!

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Is Worth $100s in Hotel Stays

Apply Here:   Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card


The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card comes with 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.  There’s a $95 annual fee, not waived for the first year.

You’ll also get:

  • Free night award (at participating hotels costing 35,000 Marriott points or less) every year after your account anniversary
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status (10% bonus points on paid stays, late checkout when available)
  • Gold Elite Status (25% bonus points on paid stays, lounge access / free breakfast, guaranteed late check-out, room upgrades when available) when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year
  • 15 elite night credits each calendar year
  • Points in your loyalty account never expire as long as you make a purchase with the card every 24 months

75,000 Marriott points is more than enough for a night at a fancy category 7 resort, like the iconic Royal Hawaiian Resort, Waikiki, where rates often exceed $500 per night.  If you prefer to stretch your points, you could redeem the bonus for 3 nights at a mid-level category 4 hotel, like the Aloft London Excel.

team member
Redeem Your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Welcome Bonus for a Stay at the Royal Hawaiian Resort on Waikiki Beach

Or you can squeeze up to 10 nights from the bonus at category 1 locations.  Everyone has a different travel style, so how you redeem your points is up to you.

The great thing about Marriott points is that you don’t have to redeem them for Marriott hotel stays.  You can also transfer them to 40+ airlines for award flights!

How to Earn Points With the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

With the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, you’ll earn:

  • 6 Marriott points per $1 spent at participating Marriott hotels
  • 2 Marriott points per $1 spent on all other purchases

Plus, you’ll earn a free night award at participating Marriott hotels (worth up to 35,000 points) each account anniversary, which can more than make up for the $95 annual fee.   So this is a good card to keep year after year if you can make the most of the anniversary night.

How to Use Points From the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

The most straightforward way to use Marriott points is for award nights at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, which include:

  • AC Hotels by Marriott
  • Aloft
  • Autograph Collection Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Delta
  • Design
  • Element
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
  • Gaylord Hotels
  • JW Marriott
  • Le Meridien
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Moxy Hotels
  • Protea Hotels
  • Renaissance Hotels
  • Residence Inn by Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  • Sheraton
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott
  • St. Regis
  • The Luxury Collection
  • TownePlace Suites by Marriott
  • Tribute
  • Westin
  • W

It’s easy to search for award nights online by entering your destination, travel dates, and number of guests.  Be sure to click “Use Points” to see available award nights and points rates for your stay.

The Chase 5
Search for Available Award Nights Directly on the Marriott Website to Redeem Your Points for Free Stays at Over 2 Dozen Marriott Brands

Some folks, like team member Jason, prefer transferring Marriott points to airline partners for award flights.  You can transfer Marriott points to most of the ~40 airline partners at a 3:1 ratio, and when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you’ll get a bonus 15,000 Marriott points added to your transfer.   So you’ll get 20,000 miles for airlines with a 3:1 transfer ratio, plus an additional 5,000 bonus miles (from the 15,000 Marriott point bonus).

Other Benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card comes with ongoing protections for travelers and shoppers that make the annual fee worth paying, including:

  • Lost baggage coverage – Up to $3,000 per person each trip
  • Purchase protection – Covers new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account
  • Trip delay reimbursement – If your trip is delayed for more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay, you could be reimbursed for up to $500 per ticket for reasonable expenses (meals, lodging, toiletries, medication, and other personal use items)
Airline Partners
Pay for Airfare With the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card to Get Coverage for Delayed or Lost Baggage

You’ll also get access to the Visa Signature Concierge Service for help with things like getting tickets to concerts or sporting events or restaurant reservations.

Is the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Worth the Annual Fee?

Absolutely!  On top of the substantial welcome bonus, you can get much more value from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card by making the most of the free night award at participating Marriott hotels (up to 35,000 points per night), which can more than offset the $95 annual fee expense.  For example, if you redeem the award at a hotel that would otherwise cost ~$200+, you’re coming out way ahead!

American Express
The SpringHill Suites by Marriott Paso Robles Atascadero in California Can Cost Over $300 per Night, but You Can Redeem an Anniversary Free Night Here Instead

Consider using your free night during peak season or popular events to get even more value.

Does the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card Have a Foreign Transaction Fee?


Who Is Eligible for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card?

The Chase 5/24 rule applies to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card, so if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (except certain business cards) in the past 24 months,  you won’t be approved for the card.

In addition, you’re not eligible for the card if you’re:

  • A current cardmember of the Marriott BonvoyTM Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus), or
  • A previous cardmember of the Marriott BonvoyTM Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy BoundlessTM credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus), who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months

And you’re not eligible for the bonus if you:

  • Are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott BonvoyTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express);
  • Are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
  • Applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy BusinessTM American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days

Customer Support for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card is issued by Chase.  Lots of us love Chase because they’re one of the better banks to deal with when it comes to sending a secure message.  And when you call, it’s easy to get a real person on the line.

Chase’s customer satisfaction ratings are consistently high.

Credit Cards Similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card

If you’re looking to earn more Marriott points, remember Marriott is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.  So you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.  This is a useful option if you need to top off your account to book another award night.

Pairing the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card with a Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning card can be a fantastic card strategy!

marriott hotels
Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Marriott If You Need to Top-Off Your Account for Stays at Hotels Like the Amsterdam Marriott

One strategy is to earn lots of flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.  Then, transfer points to Marriott and other travel partners when you’re ready to book an award.

Here are the Chase Ultimate Rewards points credit cards that allow you to transfer to travel partners:

Card   Sign-Up Bonus & Minimum Spending Requirements Our Review
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card InkBusinessPreferred 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account Read why this is the top card pick for small business owners
Chase Sapphire Preferred team member

50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account This is the #1 card for beginners
Chase Sapphire Reserve The Chase 5 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account Lots of folks love this premium credit card because of the ongoing perks!

Bottom Line

With the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card you’ll earn 75,000 Marriott points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  There’s a $95 annual fee, not waived for the first year.

You can easily use the welcome bonus to get $100s worth of free travel at terrific hotels – even pricey resorts.  Or stretch your points for more nights at lower-category brands – it’s up to you!

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card has a valuable ongoing perk, which can save you money every year.  You’ll get a free night certificate after each account anniversary to use at participating Marriott hotels costing 35,000 Marriott points or less, that can easily cover the card’s annual fee.

Plus, the card comes with excellent travel and shopping benefits, like lost luggage, trip delay, and purchase protection.

You can apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card here.

Airline Partners American Express marriott hotels

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Plantation Trails by Tata

The Cottabetta Bungalow, shown here, was once the home of the director of Tata Coffee, but is now a vacation home in Coorg, India. It’s one of the properties now bookable via the new brand Amã, from Taj Hotels. Plantation Trails by Tata

Skift Take: On March 1, Taj Hotels will start taking bookings for its official foray into homesharing with its new brand, Amã, with nine bungalows. It's further proof of the Skift Megatrend that in hospitality, "everything is converging."

— Sean O’Neill

Read the Complete Story On Skift

4 Nights on RCCL to Cuba

One of the hardest lessons to learn in travel hacking is knowing when to let go of a trip, particularly when it is ‘free’.

Recently, we took another gamble on Vegas.  For new readers (or those who didn’t keep up with this) when we ‘Vegas’ we don’t gamble in the same way that others do.  To the casual observer, gambling means taking some money, putting it in a slot machine or table game, and hoping for the best (regardless of card counting ability).

We approach the gamble very differently.  My upside is not connected to winning or losing money, but whether the event of gambling triggers enough Comp to come out ahead of either financial result.  If I lose $5000 but ‘win’ $50K in comp, I’ll take it.   For those who MS, compare this to the guarantee of paying ~$7 to buy and liquidate a gift card that earns you $25 vs paying ~$0 to Kiva but knowing that there will be an element of randomness to the fee you pay.

Our latest gamble didn’t pay off.  We were offered a free cruise on RCCL, but could get no further details.  It could be a 7 night on the biggest, sparkliest ship in a suite (spoiler alert, it wasn’t), or 2 nights cruise to nowhere on their oldest tug boat. We wouldn’t know until we went to the booth to pick up the certificate.  We rolled the dice.

Controlling the narrative

We stacked the odds in our favor by controlling the narrative of the trip. Rather than it being about going to Vegas to pick up the Certificate, it was about a nice vacation that incidentally involved us walking past this booth, and maybe hitting the Jackpot.  We used points for flights (outbound in First Class because we wanted to control the flow of the vacation) the room was comped, and we had several hundred in free money from MGM and Caesars to spend on food.

In the end, because we focused on spending the free money wisely, and willingly spent real money outside of those chains to experience things that mattered, the trip turned out really well. This offset the loss on the certificate.

Close, but no cigar

Our offer
Our offer from MGM for RCCL

We came close to picking a 4 or 5 night cruise that visited Cuba, as we haven’t been before. I even took the step of seeing if we could work around RCCL’s Partial Cruise rules that specifically cite Nassau as a hotspot port for cabotage:

If a passenger (as listed on a vessel passenger manifest) embarks in a U.S. port and the vessel calls in a nearby foreign port (such as Ensenada, Grand Cayman and Nassau) and then returns to the U.S., the person must disembark in the same U.S. port. A passenger who embarks and disembarks in two different U.S. ports (such as Los Angeles and San Diego) would result in the carrier (not the violator) being fined. The vessel must call in a distant foreign port before the U.S. embarkation and disembarkation ports can differ. The nearest distant foreign ports are in or off the coast of South America. If either the passenger’s embarkation port or disembarkation port is in a foreign country, then the provisions of this cabotage law do not apply. Nor do they apply in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The plan for this was to find an itinerary that touched base in Cuba first, to clear Cabotage, then disembark in Nassau to stay at Atlantis (also for free) before flying NAS>JFK non stop. It would be a good example of how we splice together travel these days:

  • JFK>FLL on ‘whoever is the cheapest in pts’
  • Feb 16th: Would need 1 night hotel pre cruise (to keep stress low)
  • Feb 17th embark 4 Night cruise, but exit in Nassau
  • Several nights at Atlantis, and home to JFK 

(the cabotage issue would be that ‘short hops’ outside of the US require you to re-enter the US at the same point you departed, so a nonstop to JFK from NAS might be an issue.. Cuba might address that, but Cuba also isn’t the best Country to be leaning on to help clear up US immigration concerns… oh, and incidentally I’m currently exploring Naturalization, so that would be a factor).

Letting go of free

It was almost a great trip. The cruise fare for two would be taxes and fees only, so around $230, but once you add in the 3rd guest, and the onboard gratuities, we would be around $800-900.  Also, the ship wasn’t that sparkly.  I might pay $800-900 to experience the Oasis Class, but for the older ships, I didn’t think it great value.  

I understand that to someone else, it would be great value, but the final piece for us was that we really want to see Cuba, so the alternative option of flying nonstop JFK>HAV and spending a few nights in Cuba seemed a lot more immersive. There was a lot of fluff and waste with the cruise, so despite it being a deal compared to paying full rate, it wasn’t a deal to us.

The decision increasingly includes the following:

If we’re going to a destination to see it, does the ‘free’ trip cover the bases, or is it only somewhat OK? Traveling even to somewhere close like Havana takes a fair amount of time (driving to/from airports+flights+whatnot) so it is important to us to visually walk through how the vacation would feel. Perhaps it would feel fine on a cruise in some cases, but in others, and when the price is already perhaps more than immersion, the ‘free’ option doesn’t fit.

Factors on why our thinking may differ from yours:

Demand/Load – we have other options.  The cruise gig is now totally out of hand where we could book at least 8 cruises in the next 6 months to basically anywhere in the world.  While it is hard to do, especially with a new line like RCCL, something has to give else we will just be on vacation permanently.  If we had no other cruise options, I think we’d likely go for this one, but at some point, we had to say no.

So.. we didn’t hit the jackpot in Vegas this time around, but we learned to say no to free. When doing so, we also agreed that we could risk losing Atlantis too, as it wasn’t a good time to travel right now.  The next challenge for us is whether we can say no to the gamble. IE, if we are offered a similarly obscure ‘free cruise’ if we go to Vegas, will we decline unless they give us the details, or will we roll the dice again?  

Here’s some posts on what I’ve been doing on the gambling stuff, so you don’t have to search for it.  For those following, our offers are now down to 3 nights in a room vs suite, and $50 in F&B, and I am now getting marketing from Circus Circus vs Aria Skysuites.  Our trip to Vegas to pick up this Voucher is written up here: Storytelling through food. We spend $0 ‘gambling’ because actual casino gambling, no matter how savvy you think you are, is throwing away money. 

mLife Gold Complimentary Cruises

mLife Math & the bet, the ROI, and the next step

Introduction to Manufactured Spend: at Sea Edition

Aria Sky Suites, a Bromance made in heaven

The post Learning when to let go of free appeared first on Saverocity Travel.

Caroline Eubanks standing in front of murals in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Posted: 2/18/2019 | February 18th, 2019

I love the South. Before I went traveling, I always had this perception that the southern states in the US were backward. They were filled with racists, yokels, and obese, gun-loving, Jesus freaks. It was a perception born out of a quarter-century of living in New England and consuming mass media and stereotypes about a people and place I really didn’t know anything about.

Then, at the start of my grand trip in 2006, I drove across the United States. As I made my way through the South, I fell in love with the area. I loved the food, the people, the scenery, the architecture. My perception of the South was wrong.

Sure, it has a lingering history of racism and is more conservative than I personally am, but no place is perfect — and no place is like the stereotypes you see. Driving through the South was the first instance in which I really confronted the stereotypes about people and places I grew up with.

After spending months exploring the South, I realized that the Southern states — which encompass a massive section of the country — are not as culturally and politically monolithic as they once were. Every state is different, each offering the attentive traveler an eclectic mix of incredible food, foot-stomping music, and heart-warming hospitality.

Over the years, I’ve grown to love the area the more I spend time there (hidden gem: Mississippi).

Today, I want to introduce you to Caroline Eubanks. She’s a friend and fellow travel writer whose work primarily focuses on the American South. Caroline has called the South home for her entire life, and in her new guidebook, This Is My South, she shatters all the stereotypes about the Southern United States while sharing her expert tips and suggestions to help you make the most of your next visit.

In this interview, we discuss all things Southern, why this book needed to be written, and why you shouldn’t overlook this region of the country!

Nomadic Matt: Tell everyone a bit about yourself! How did you get into what it is you do?
Caroline Eubanks: I’m Caroline Eubanks, a native of Atlanta, Georgia. I went to college in Charleston, South Carolina and it was there I really fell in love with the American South, especially driving back and forth from my hometown past small towns on country roads. I started working for a newspaper when I lived there and started reading travel blogs (including Matt’s!) so I was inspired to create my own. I leveraged guest posts into paid work and one job led to another. I’ve since been published by BBC Travel, Lonely Planet, Thrillist, Roads & Kingdoms, and Fodor’s. I also started my own blog, Caroline in the City, in 2009, and later This Is My South in 2012. This is basically the only job I’ve ever had and the only one I wanted!

Caroline Eubanks chasing waterfalls in Helen, Georgia

How did you start writing about the Southern USA?
I grew up taking road trips around the region with my family, whether that was to the Outer Banks or the Panhandle of Florida. After graduating from college, I went on a working holiday in Australia where I worked with a lot of people from all over the world. I would try to explain to them where I came from but most of the time they were only familiar with places like Miami and New York. And most travelers went to a few well-known destinations but nothing in between. So I started my website, This Is My South, to tell people about the lesser-known destinations that I love from my corner of the world. I also started focusing on the region in my freelance writing since the market wasn’t quite so saturated.

Why do you think the south gets such a bad wrap?
A lot of it comes from the news. Of course, bad things happen here, but it’s a large region so that’s bound to happen. It becomes polarizing with elections but there are lots of different opinions, not just the ones that are the loudest.

I also think people assume that the movies and television shows about it are accurate. Gone with the Wind and Deliverance are not accurate representations at all. These remain what people most associate the region with, but there are large cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville as well as the small towns. You wouldn’t assume every Australian is like Crocodile Dundee or that every person from New Jersey was Tony Soprano, right?

What about the stereotypes about the South?
When I lived in Australia, I went to an expat July 4 party and I was talking to a guy from Ohio. When I said I was from Georgia, he joked that he was surprised to see I had all my teeth. When my parents were traveling in New York, someone asked about their crops. I realized how little people know about this part of the world. I started thinking about these perceptions of the South from both Americans and the world as a whole.

I wouldn’t say that some of the stereotypes aren’t true. There are obviously political divides, but I think there’s a lot more to the South than what you read in the news. The people are overall welcoming and friendly. The region is home to some of the nation’s top universities like Duke and Emory. There are young people creating murals in their small towns (like Kristin!) to drive tourism as well as immigrants from everywhere to Korea to India to Syria bringing their cuisines to meld with traditional regional dishes. And I think there’s something just about everyone can come together on, especially in the South, like food.

Caroline Eubanks standing in front of a mural for Doc Watson in Wilkesboro, North Carolina

What are some of your favorite things about the south?
I always say the food, which is certainly one element. You’ll find both comfort food like fried chicken and collard greens and “healthy” food as well as the cuisines of dozens of cultures. For example, there’s a large Korean community near where I live in Atlanta so I can have authentic Korean barbecue before relaxing at a Korean spa. I love how food is a way that people show their affection.

I also love the general attitude and friendliness. People tend to know their neighbors and offer help when needed. And the music is unmatched by anywhere else in the country. Every genre can be found here. You don’t have to go to a stadium to see impressive artists since there’s usually someone playing at the local dive bar or coffee shop.

Why did you write this book?
This Is My South by Caroline Eubanks I wanted to show people the South that I know and love. I had thought about the idea of writing a guidebook but it actually came to life when I was contacted by a publisher after six years of running my website. They saw my work and wanted to create a guidebook in a similar format. Ever since I started writing, I’ve wanted to write a guidebook, so it was definitely a dream come true.

It was important to me that I have the flexibility to include the places I had fallen in love with in my travels, not just the popular ones. I have a section on the must-eat dishes from every state, quirky roadside attractions, unique accommodations like historic hotels and treehouses, and tours. I tried to emphasize responsible travel and small businesses, so you won’t find those double decker bus tours or your big chain hotels.

I also wanted to include elements that I find lacking in other books, namely the history and odd pieces of trivia. For example, I have sections on the title of “Kentucky Colonel” and the legal loopholes that allow for casinos on and near the Mississippi River.

What do you hope travelers will walk away knowing from your book?
That it’s more than one story. I hope that travelers will be inspired to visit some of the places they’ve heard about as well as ones not previously on their radar. I hope they’ll challenge some of their preconceived notions about the region and give it a chance. I hope they’ll come back for more since there’s no way to see it all at once. And, of course, I hope that travelers will visit the places I write about and tell others about them!

What makes the south special?
So many things. There is unmatched biodiversity including the barrier islands on the North Carolina coast to the swamps of Louisiana to the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The Appalachian Trail runs through much of the region, starting in Georgia at Springer Mountain. It’s a region where connecting with nature is a part of everyday life.

Caroline Eubanks on the Appalachian Trail Approach Trail

Food is also affordable and you can find it in unique places. Similar to the bodega eats in New York, the South sells surprisingly good food at gas stations, including fried chicken, Cajun meats, and Delta hot tamales. Dining is a major part of visiting the region as it’s home to many different styles of cuisine that have influenced American food. You can find “Southern food” in both award-winning restaurants and mom-and-pop casual spots, so there’s something for everyone.

The region is also important when it comes to history. It’s where European travelers first arrived in America, specifically South Carolina and Virginia, and where they were met with Native American tribes. Much of the Civil Rights Movement took place here like the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, and the Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro. A number of notable politicians, including presidents Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson, hailed from these states.

There’s also a lot to offer music lovers since nearly every type of American music has roots in the blues of Mississippi. Icons like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash were influenced by these musicians and infused their styles into their own music. In addition to rock and blues, the mountains of the South were where bluegrass and “old time” music started, eventually becoming modern country music. And, of course, Atlanta is known for its music industry, especially when it comes to hip hop and R&B. Artists like TLC, Usher, Goodie Mob, and Outkast rose to fame there.

Caroline Eubanks in Muscle Shoals, Alabama

What are some budget travel tips for the area?
The South is generally a fairly cheap place to travel. The main expenditures are transportation and accommodation. Flights into major airports like Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, and New Orleans will be cheaper than smaller ones. The same goes for car rentals. Once in the South, it is possible to get around without a car by taking Amtrak and Megabus, but by car is certainly the preferred method of travel.

Certain cities will be more expensive for accommodations, especially Charleston. But you can look for alternative options like small bed and breakfasts, campgrounds with cabins, hostels, and Airbnb rentals. Keep in mind that rentals are limited in cities like New Orleans because of how it affects the local housing market. New Orleans is also great because you can stay at a trendy boutique hotel for under $100 per night.

Meals are cheap at most places unless you’re visiting a fine dining restaurant. If you’re looking for a meal on the go, visit a grocery store to save money. Most have deli counters and prepared foods. Lunch is a good time of day to try the more expensive restaurants, especially those award-winners that can be tough to get a reservation at.

What are some of your favorite off the beaten path destinations?
You don’t have to go far from the well-known destinations like Charleston, New Orleans, and Nashville to see places not in most of the guidebooks. One of the places I always say is a favorite of mine is the Mississippi Delta, which is a number of towns that follow the river south of Memphis. This part of the country is highly important when it comes to music. It was here that artists like BB King and Robert Johnson found their sound and where the blues was developed. There are some funky accommodations like the Shack Up Inn, a collection of sharecropper cabins transformed into guest suites.

War Eagle Mill in Northwest Arkansas

I was also surprised by Northwest Arkansas. This region is known for mountain biking, with trails connecting the towns, but also has an incredible craft brewery scene. Crystal Bridges Museum of Art has one of the best collections in the nation, if not the world, focusing on American works like those by Andy Warhol and Frank Lloyd Wright. Eureka Springs is a funky mountain town that looks straight out of a postcard from the 1800s.

I’ve also found some off-the-beaten-path areas within well-known destinations. In my hometown of Atlanta, I always recommend that visitors check out Buford Highway, the city’s international dining corridor. When I lived in Charleston, I spent most of my time downtown, but on subsequent visits, I end up in the Park Circle area of North Charleston, an underrated part of the city. Just outside of Nashville is Franklin, a town with deep ties to the Civil War. It’s just off the Natchez Trace Parkway and hosts musicians nearly every night of the week at Puckett’s Grocery. They also host Pilgrimage, an annual music festival that has hosted the likes of Justin Timberlake and Jack White.

In every small town in between, there are quirky museums and landmarks you might miss if you limit your trip to the “big” destinations, like a museum devoted to ventriloquism in Kentucky and a memorial to the victims of the Trail of Tears in Alabama. You never know what you might find!


Caroline Eubanks is a travel writer and the author of This Is My South: The Essential Travel Guide to the Southern States. She writes about all things Southern at ThisisMySouth.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the largest inventory. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel! I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you too!

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