Simple Ways to Save Money

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**Blog updated on 9/20/17**

Attention Californians (and a few other states/cities)!! Ever since moving to San Diego, Scott and I signed up for OhmConnect. You make simple money for simply turning your lights off for a few hours — crazy and EASY. We use the time to sit outside, go to the gym, go to the grocery store..NAP! Since joining approximately 6 months ago, we have made $130 and are on a streak. You simply connect your electricity account with it and then you’re good from there. I’m planning on cashing it out during our next vacation 😉 Check it out!! Use my code through this link and get $10 just for joining and then $10 once you are fully enrolled with your electricity account! Happy Saving!!

**Blog updated on 7/20/17**

Hello again!

As many of you know, I recently took a 2 month hiatus from work to do some traveling and just kind of “live” in Japan. With an overwhelming amount of student loans plus the regular amount of bills to pay (yay adulthood), my ability to save and budget money needed to be top-notch to be able to do this. Luckily, I have always been pretty good at saving money my whole life, but finding these few extra little things has definitely helped me save a few extra bucks here and there!

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First off, GROCERIES! I love using coupons, but I find it hard sometimes to be able to readily access them whether it’s in the newspaper or I have to print it. I’m not exactly one to go out of my way just to get these, but if it’s convenient, I will definitely do it! What I have absolutely loved is two coupon apps that I have on my phone:

  • Ibotta: This one is my favorite and I think it works the best to be honest. You simply go through the app, find the store you are shopping at, and click each coupon you want to add. To me, the best part is that you can do this AFTER you are done shopping (at most places – I think Food Lion you have to do it before). But this way I’m not necessarily tempted to buy 3 things I won’t use. I can just get home, sit down, and scroll through what I bought! Sometimes you can save 25 cents, sometimes it’s 2 dollars! They even have challenges to win extra cash! You can do these with “teammates” and other people you know that have Ibotta. Finally, you can even earn percentages back on items you purchase through the app. You really can’t go wrong!! ANNNND if you click HERE to download it now, you will get an automatic 10 bucks added to your account for your first qualifying purchase!! You can literally buy bananas..and get 10 dollars.. crazy.
  • Checkout 51: This one doesn’t have quite as many options as Ibotta, but I still like to use it also! I definitely haven’t saved as much, but it’s cool because sometimes you get the same coupon for both apps, and it ends up basically being free! This one also has the option of entering into a sweepstakes every time you spend more than 60 dollars on your grocery bill! Which is pretty easy to do, unfortunately, haha.

The thing to remember about both of these is that you must reach $20 before you can transfer it over to Paypal, Venmo, or the giftcards of your choice! Just as a heads up 😉

The second big thing I use is Honey. It’s basically an app you can download to your browser that searches for coupon codes that have been used by other people. I’ve saved probably about 60 dollars so far using this with different coupon codes I had no idea even existed!! It literally does all of the work for you and it just pops up to let you know – heeyyy you can save money here, duhhhh! It’s pretty awesome! AND if no coupon codes work, you still have the option of getting some sort of % of cash back into your account, which you can later turn into an Amazon Gift Card 🙂 You can’t beat it!! You can download it HERE!

The third thing I use is Bing search engine which is connected to Microsoft Rewards. This has changed a little bit over the past year, but you still get to earn points by just searching the web! These points then add up to things you can buy on the Microsoft Rewards store such as movie rentals, subscriptions, or what I use it for — Skype credit (perfect for traveling)!! You can also redeem your points for donations to certain charities, it’s pretty awesome. 🙂

Besides the basic budgeting and not spending money on a ton of silly things, these are a few other ways I have been able to save a few bucks here and there!! I hope it helps some of you out whether you are budgeting for a house, a child, a wedding, travels, or just trying to pay off bills!

**UPDATES as of July 2017**

DScout: Something that was brought to my attention after I wrote this article was Dscout. It’s a mobile app for market research. In the 3-4 months I have been using it, I have probably spent a little over an hour recording things and I have been picked up for 3 surveys, which I have made about $50 each in! Of course, you have to be selected, but hey, being picked for 3 in 3-4 months isn’t half bad!

InboxDollars: If you read previously, I had tried Swagbucks. Maybe I just wasn’t patient enough, I’m not sure. But it was taking awhile and I was having little success. I’m not saying InboxDollars is going to be much different, but hey, I’m going to try it out. They send emails and have surveys as well as earning little bits of change through polls and search engines. You can check it out HERE. It’s definitely not a way to make a ton of money quick, but it’s something!

Something very similar to InboxDollars is Branded Surveys. They actually give you more money when you get denied surveys, so that’s pretty nice! And you only have to make $10 before cashing out!! Double win! (So far, I’m liking this one better than InboxDollars I think? But you can’t make money from watching TV on here…)

Booking.com: So since I have used booking.com multiple times, I am now able to “refer” you to receive $20 USD! Both you and I will receive this discount if you use my link to book. Then, after you book, you can invite others and receive more discounts!! See what I mean?! Click HERE if you’re planning on staying in a hotel anytime soon!! They have been a great service to Scott and I, we’ve actually booked through them a few times and they’ve been great!

If you’re really wanting to travel and want some “real life experience tips” – be sure to check out my Budget Travel blogs in Singapore and Malaysia 😉 AND/OR check out my page to see if there are any current deals of the week!

Until next time,

Jen 🙂

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Love, Pray, Eat… Or Something Like That: Bali

Ahh Bali, my final destination on this short journey! Well, except I did return to Japan after, but that’s another story. Bali was certainly the “pray” part of my trip.

My flight left Thailand around 10 PM, leaving me with a 5 hour layover in Singapore throughout the night. Upon arrival, I tried to find somewhere to charge my phone and ended up just closing my eyes and resting on a few chairs (like many others). Unfortunately, my phone wasn’t able to connect to their wifi in the airport, the kiosks couldn’t read my passport and I didn’t have any coverage to make a phone call like it said, I only had wifi capabilities. Luckily, they do have free internet computers located around the area, so I grabbed one of those to send out a few emails and messages to pass the time. As crazy as it was, I was on the computer and I turned around and saw a bunch of Singapore cops, guns and all, surrounding me! I was terrified, as you can imagine. They asked to see my passport, boarding pass, asked me a few questions and if I was traveling alone. I obviously cooperated and knew I didn’t do anything wrong (or at least I hoped not!) I’m not sure if it was just again, the timeframe that I was traveling (just after the inauguration 2017..) that put them on a higher alert. Or maybe because I was a blonde American female traveling alone? I’m not sure, but it was scary. Even the workers nearby said “That was scary” after they left. Ahh! But it’s okay, we all survived. I still enjoyed the airport, haha 🙂

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I finally arrived in Bali bright and early. Immigration went much quicker than in Thailand, that’s for sure. I stopped at an ATM to grab some cash. Of course, in the moment and in a rush to find my airport transfer, I didn’t fully understand how much money I was taking out and ended up taking out only about $100 USD, which I later realized (duh). I figured that probably wasn’t going to last me my whole week, so I had to make another ATM trip once I got to my place of stay.

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So while I was in Bali, I stayed at Serenity Eco Guesthouse. My stay included unlimited yoga for the week as well as a single backpackers room (there were a bunch of options, but this is what I chose). Being that it was eco-friendly, there were a few rules/suggestions such as: no toilet paper in the toilet (had to put it in the trash can), lights out when you leave, no sunscreen on before you get in the pool to decrease chemicals, recommended use of organic products, all raw/vegan food served at the restaurant. If you like to recycle and save the planet, I would definitely recommend a place like this. Otherwise, you may want to find a “fancier” hotel or resort! I loved all of the gardens and the atmosphere of the resort..so Bali! The pool wasn’t too bad either 😉

With my stay, I got free breakfast all week! The food was all so amazing and healthy, I loved it!! I drank straight from a coconut, had gluten free breads, nutella pancakes, vegan cheese spreads, rice porridge, fruit smoothies, I even snuck in a few pieces of chocolate here and there. Why not, ya know? This was all at the restaurant “Alkaline,” which was attached to the guesthouse I was at. They also bottled their own water that they had filtered and set at a certain pH level, it was pretty cool! The only food I didn’t like of the whole trip was here.. Gado Gado. You can find this many places, but for some reason I just couldn’t finish it. I think I just like stronger tasting foods. I would definitely still try it if I were you, we all have different taste buds!

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My first few days I mainly woke up and went right to the beach. I was staying in Canggu, which, upon booking, I didn’t realize that it was such a surfer’s beach! Pretty cool atmosphere though. There were a lot of people from all over the world who came to surf! The beach didn’t have that crystal blue water, but hey, I was at the beach in January..in Bali, who cares? I will have to say the one thing I didn’t enjoy about laying at the beach was constantly getting approached by the locals to buy bracelets, rings, massages, hair braids. I did buy a few bracelets, but that was only from one local, so the others wanted me to buy some too! I completely understand this is their way of life and how they make a living, and I respect that. It was a little difficult at times to completely relax on the beach, though. I tried to situate myself near others in hopes to not be approached. Let’s be honest, I’m not much of a jewelry girl anyways 😉

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I generally hung around the beach for a few hours, wearing sunscreen of course, and still getting sunburnt. Then I would head back for lunch and yoga! Somedays I went to the restaurant downstairs, but I found a few other cute restaurants that I would recommend here:

The Recovery Room: Amazing! I ate here twice and got their avocado coffee, an egg frittata avocado benedict (or something like that), a beautiful smoothie, and even a gourmet grilled cheese. The staff was super friendly, there are couches everywhere and it’s such a chill vibe, I loved it!!

Old Man’s: This is the “hip” spot at Canggu. There are tons of tourists here and it’s definitely a party atmosphere. I went one night for dinner because I was really craving a burger and a beer – something not organic, haha. It was delicious! They had an acoustic reggae band playing while I was there and there were not only younger folks but families as well. Plus I loved the lights that decorated the whole place, not to mention you’re right next to the ocean.

Eden Cafe: Okay so the day I tried this place, I had just walked to the post office from my place of stay which was about a 45 minute walk.. Except it turned into an hour+ because I had to stop in all of the cute shops! Needless to say, when I was heading back and found this place, it was the perfect place for me to cool off with a smoothie bowl..and let my sweat dry haha. It was so satisfying!! I also had some of their homemade lemonade, which was also good!

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Obviously while I was here, I did a bunch of different yoga classes. I actually had my first experience with Yin in Bali! And wow, let me tell you, it was amazing and crazy all at the same time. We were focusing on 4 different emotions throughout the class during each of the positions (that you hold for a few minutes, because that’s what you do in yin class). I am not kidding you, I cried! I couldn’t stop myself! We were told to think of different instances where we felt 1) safe 2) thankful 3) love and 4) happy. While I tried to think of other things, I could only think of my boyfriend (sappy, sorry). I won’t go on with the sap, but it was an amazing session, even if I was trying to hide my tears during it, haha.

On the other hand, I also did some aerial yoga and acro yoga!! Again, all of it was amazing and just being surrounded by others who loved yoga was so much fun! We were all definitely sweating after acro!

Besides the yoga and the beach, I felt that a trip to Bali would not be complete without a trip to Ubud, the “cultural center” of Bali. Those words could not have been more true. There was so much artwork and culture in Ubud, it was beautiful. I was able to see a Barong dance, see some beautiful wood carvings as well as watch jewelry being made. I booked a tour for the day which was basically my own personal taxi, costing around ~$50 total for the day, which included pick up around 9 AM and drop off around 6 PM. I ended up additionally having to pay for tickets and parking, so I might have gotten ripped off, but all in all, I still only paid about $70 for the day itself, plus my souvenirs. My tour guide was very kind and informative, even held out an umbrella for me when it was raining.

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One of our first stops of the day was the Barong Dance. The Barong dance is a tale of the triumph of good (Barong) over evil (Rangda). I learned from a woodcarver that the Barong is also symbolically said to be a “house protector.”

Our next stop was the holy water spring temple (Tirta Empul). This is a Hindu temple where people come from all over to cleanse themselves. It was packed with locals and people from all over. Just make sure to grab a sarong on the way in (I didn’t know!)

We stopped to eat lunch at a buffet where I could see Mt. Batur and the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy and drizzling that day, so it wasn’t perfectly clear. It was beautiful nonetheless, very peaceful. The only thing I didn’t completely enjoy was the buffet style food. Because of the tour I chose, this was my option. It was definitely overpriced and I tried to get my money’s worth, but I doubt I did. This part of the trip I wouldn’t exactly recommend, but for the view, it may be worth it!

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After lunch, we stopped at a Luwak coffee plantation. Luwak coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world. The Luwak (a small mammal) eats the ripe coffee cherry and then, after it travels through the digestive system, the beans are cleaned, roasted, and ground up to make coffee!

After this, we journeyed over to the Tegallalang rice terraces where I ended up trekking through in just my sandals and a dress. I was slightly unprepared, but I didn’t fall so it’s okay! There were a lot of cute restaurants and cafes here. If I had more time, I definitely would have stopped. The view was amazing regardless!

Our final stop of the day was at the Ubud Monkey Forest! This was awesome, and although we could only stay for a little, I got to feed some of the monkeys and see some of the cutest little monkey families. There were literally monkeys everywhere!! I’m not sure I can say monkey one more time in this paragraph, haha.

My last day in Bali was spent mainly laying next to the pool, soaking up some rays before I headed back to Japan. It was peaceful and relaxing. I had the whole day to pack as my flight didn’t leave until midnight and was an overnight flight back to Tokyo. I took Garuda Indonesia, which may have been my favorite airline so far. You can read about my flights here!

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Now, just to advise some of you on a few things I didn’t really discuss but you should be aware of..  Many of the locals throughout my stay would come up to me and ask me to buy bracelets, massages, rings, etc. At times, I would need to use a stern voice to ask them to leave, just to have another person come up to me. Sometimes it was even children just asking for money. On the taxi ride to the airport, there was actually a young child that came up to my window in the middle of the highway and held out her hand saying “please.” It was sad, and I’d love to help, but at the same time it was a little frustrating. I completely get why they were all doing it, I really do. It was just hard at times to remember it after being approached and hassled so many times. I wasn’t personally prepared for it, and knowing myself, I probably was a good target for them because I’m much more of a soft-y. But, I think it’s something people should be aware of!

Anywho, I hope you enjoyed reading about my travels!! If you haven’t read my other blogs on Japan and Thailand, be sure to check them out 🙂 And don’t forget to check out my other blogs on my trips to Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

-Jen

To Fly or Not to Fly?

Hi everyone!

**updated January 2018**

In an effort to assist with future flight recommendations for others as well as myself, I am working on creating an ongoing list of different airlines I have taken, when I flew with them, and how the flight went. I hope this helps in your travel endeavors!

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JetStar Japan-2018: Compared to my last time taking JetStar, this time we flew out of Terminal 3 in Narita (Tokyo). Terminal 3 is much smaller and looks a little rundown at first, but once you’re inside, it’s all good. I didn’t experience any issues during this flight. We actually had a row to ourselves so we could spread out. I would fly with them again. PS – probably had one of the best landings I’ve ever experienced.

AirAsia-2018: This was not my first time flying with AirAsia (see below) and I can’t say I ever really had any difficulties. Our first flight from MNL to PPS was fine, nothing out of the ordinary… but on the way back – yikes. Our flight was delayed from PPS about 12 hours until 7 AM. This meant that AirAsia had to provide a hotel room and such for everyone. After waiting in line for about 45 minutes to reach the front and get a letter for our next flight (that we would miss), we then stood in line for about an hour as everyone was taken in vans to a hotel nearby. Once we arrived at the hotel, there were people sitting and waiting everywhere, another very long line at a very small hotel. After looking at the line, we decided it wasn’t worth it to wait for the free room (if they had any, that is), so we took a trike (tricycle) to a local hotel (which we found using the mall’s wifi). We stayed there for the next 6 hours, hopped on the shuttle to the airport in the morning and went back through with our original boarding pass. Our flight was 4241 to MNL. We sat near the sign at the Gate (only one gate for AirAsia because it is a small airport) and waited. Right around our boarding time, the flight sign switched to 4247 to MNL. Scott mentioned to me that it changed – but of course I always think I’m right (ha) and I figured it was just changed because it was the morning now. We lined up, they checked our boarding passes and sent us out to board the plane. The next lady checked our passes and told us to head to the back door where we got on. The flight attendant then checked my boarding pass and sent me to my seat but stopped Scott. She then told us we were on the wrong flight and that our flight left the night before. While we tried to explain to her that the flight was delayed last night and moved to this morning, she told us she would call the grounds crew. We waited but noticed there was another AirAsia plane directly next to ours that began to board. Yep, there were 2 flights to MNL about 10 minutes apart from each other.. both boarding out of the same door.. We tried to tell the flight attendant that it was our flight but she kept refusing and stating that our flight leaves at night. Clearly, she has never experienced a delay before or even understood what happened during one. After anxiously waiting, the grounds crew came up and immediately pointed and told us to go to the plane next door because, as we thought, that was our flight instead. No, this was not one person’s fault. Yes, it was very hectic and stressful. I am now a bit concerned how we slipped through so many people reading our boarding passes AND how this flight attendant was uneducated on what happens if there is a flight delay. I may fly with AirAsia again pending, but I did lose a bit of confidence in them after this situation.

Cebu Pacific-2018: This was my first time flying with Cebu Pacific. They are a newer airline based out of the Philippines. I didn’t initially book through them (it was just because of a delayed flight and a missed connecting flight.. see above), but I am happy that I had the chance to fly with them! They had a trivia game during the flight for people to win some “Cebu pacific gear” and their menu was pretty awesome! They even had a “unicorn bagel” – which my husband and I had to try, duh. It seemed very modern, plus I loved their outfits. The only downfall, which was all through Manila, was the customer service. The lady at the counter wasn’t rude, but she wasn’t exactly fully paying attention to us during check in. Regardless, I think I would fly with them again.

Delta-2017: On my flight from Tokyo to Singapore in October of 2017, I had no issues with Delta. I even thought it was awesome that they started to allow free messaging from iMessage and Facebook Messenger on the flight! Without buying wifi and everything — it was awesome! I would definitely fly again.

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Delta-2017: The customer service with Delta, in my opinion, was better than my previous flights with American and United. Most of the flight attendants were also older, not that that makes much of a difference (I don’t think), just simple observation. The food was decent, nothing to complain about except on one flight we sat in the back and didn’t get a choice of food. That was just poor luck on our part, though. On one flight, there was an incident when a passenger passed out. All of the flight attendants were very calm and composed and handled the situation well. The one problem with Delta is that they don’t have as many alliances for frequent flier miles as compared to American and United. I would fly with Delta again, though.

United-2017 (round 2): The customer service seemed to be much better on this flight. I really had no complaints. There were no delays and everything seemed to run pretty smoothly!

All Nippon (ANA)- 2017: During my last flight back from Japan to the USA, I took this group. They are Japan-based, and overall, amazing. Everyone was so nice, great customer service. The best part about this was hands down..the FOOD! I had some sort of infused pancake with my breakfast. That alone sold me, but the rest of the food was great also. Everything was super organized and clean. I will definitely fly with them again!!

United- 2017: Comparing US airlines, I think the customer service I had with United was not quite as good as American, but again, that’s not saying a ton. I had delays on all of my United flights, so that was a bit of a bummer, but of course, you can’t necessarily control that. The food was okay, nothing spectacular. I would fly with them again, but if you’re looking for great customer service, I wouldn’t say they are at the top. The food was basic airline food.

Air China- 2017: They seemed to have a lot more restrictions on their flights than any other I had been on. We had to take our coins out of our purse to go through security, which was something I had never had to do at any other airport (was at Beijing) or with any other airline. We also had to go through security again at our gate just before boarding.. So I bought a fancy Starbucks tea and a bottle of water before the flight, after I passed through initial security, and then had to throw it away 😦 I was also not sure with what electronics could be used on the flight, so I didn’t use any because I was too nervous to mess up >_< BUT! The one great thing about this flight (from PEK to IAD) – it was non-stop, and I had a full row to myself. I think there ended up being 3 of us in the back that had a full row. So I was able to sleep more on this flight than any other!! I don’t completely remember the food being amazing or horrible, so that’s also good news I’d say 🙂

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AirAsia – 2017: This is an economy line that really impressed me. To be honest, I loved this one more than most of the ones below. They don’t serve meals unless you pre-order or pick from what’s left once you get on the plane, but that’s part of what makes it cheaper. I felt completely safe the entire time and both of the planes I took were incredibly clean. Plus the safety routine completed by the flight attendants was perfectly synchronized (which might not be a big deal to you, but it looked really professional). Ultimately, I would hands down fly with them again.

JetStar Asia – 2017: Also an economy line. Although the planes seemed a little more outdated than AirAsia, everyone was extremely friendly and you can tell they are also very safe. I mean I think they told us to fasten our seatbelts 5 or 6 times before take-off. I would also definitely fly with them again.

Garuda Indonesia – 2017: This is Indonesia’s main line. I actually had no idea I would get a meal when I booked this flight, but I did for a 6 hour flight (pleasant surprise). Not to mention, this meal was pretty darn good (I had a Japanese breakfast). What I loved about this airline is that everyone was so nice and quiet almost. They left you alone unless you really needed something. They smiled, I felt safe, they talked quietly and respectfully. I
really enjoyed everything about it, no complaints at all. I would definitely fly again with themGeckos Latest Offers

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American Airlines – 2016: Well, when I came back from Japan, not to my surprise, I encountered some flight attendants here that were a bit less than friendly. They were still friendly enough, but they are American (so am I, I get it). Everything definitely felt very safe and the plane was very modern and up to date, but again, just a little less friendly. Plus, the food looked like a microwaveable dinner compared to some of the other flights. I would fly with them again, but I would personally look into other companies first if possible.

Air Canada – 2016: Very clean and safe; however, very frantic. Once I got on the plane, I realized my seat was already taken by someone. I went back up and they very politely asked me to wait while they got me another seat. So they did. Then I went to that seat and someone was sitting there. So I went back. They, again, very politely, asked me to wait, which I did, also very politely. After about 10 minutes of standing and waiting, I watched the flight attendant move another man up to first class. He then escorted me to the economy class. Now, I’m young and I am totally capable of sitting in economy, and that is what I bought. But it just seemed a little silly to me that after waiting and walking around the plane like a deer in the headlights, maybe they should’ve just given me another seat? But it’s okay, I got a seat! Now from there, I liked it because they took individual orders for dinner before they brought it out, which was nice. Then, as dinner came around, they gave me the lady’s vegetarian meal next to me (totally fine, I’m not picky). Then they figured it out and switched them (luckily that lady spoke up!) Then they asked if I wanted chicken or beef. So I just responded chicken (now everyone else had gotten their meals). When they went back, they said they only had beef (again, totally fine because I’m not picky). It just all seemed a little unorganized and like communication was lacking a little bit. For me, it’s not a big deal, but for someone else, I think it might cause their anxiety to go up a little. After I got my meals, though, they were delicious! And they actually looked like meals instead of microwaveable dinners J I’m not sure I would fly with them again, just because I know I have other options. Again, totally safe and definitely polite, but the organization, teamwork, and communication was a little off for me.

Japan Airlines – 2016: Everyone on this airline was very polite, always smiling, and very helpful. The food was great also! Compared to Garuda Indonesia, they were equally as friendly, but I would say they were a little more “peppy” on this airline, which is definitely not a bad thing at all – just different! I felt very safe the entire time and the plane was very clean. I don’t have much else to say but I would definitely fly with them again!

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*I recognize I have only flown on these airlines once or twice and maybe this is not how each one is! But, this is just my experience. Take it with a grain of salt 😉

I hope this helps in planning your upcoming journey! I plan on adding to this as the years continue 🙂 Happy travels!! I’m so excited for you!!

-Jen

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