November 21, 2012
Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year, and according to AAA’s projections, there will be more than 43.6 million travelers this year. 90% of them will travel by automobile and the rest will fly, but either way, the organization predicts that spending will drop about 10% this year as travelers look for ways to save money. So during this holiday season, as so many people hit the road, there may be some lessons to learn from the original Thanksgiving travelers.
The Mayflower left Plymouth, England in September 1620 to arrive in North America a couple months later in November – just in time for a really harsh winter. The pilgrims who made this journey faced many difficulties along the way and their fledgling colony needed a lot of help to survive. While most of us won’t come up against these types of difficulties in our own travels, there are some important tips we can gather from their experience.
1. Prepare For the Unexpected
When the pilgrims left England the weather was in their favor and the entire first month on the ocean was relatively calm. The second month, however, was filled with strong winter gales that battered the ship and caused some structural damage to it. You never quite know what will happen on your trip – the weather could turn against you, the tourist attractions could be closed, people might get sick – so always have contingency plans and be prepared for even the most unlikely events.
2. Be Flexible
The Mayflower was originally headed to an area near the Hudson River in Virginia but was forced off course by the horrible weather. Even after arriving in the Cape Cod area they tried for several days to continue their journey to Virginia, but the winter weather forced them to return to the harbor where they finally anchored and set up their colony.
Some travelers are planners while others just pick a destination and go. There are benefits to both methods, but it may be more effective to take the best of both worlds. Plan your travels, but leave room for spontaneity. This way if something unexpected happens or you come across something better, you can make the changes and still do most of the activities in your original plan.
3. Don’t Let Setbacks Get You Down
At one point during the pilgrims’ trip, the weather and sailing got so bad that the captain wanted to turn around and go back to England. The only thing that stopped him was the realization that turning back would probably only make things worse. No matter how much we plan, obstacles will get in our way. Turning back should only ever be the last resort, though. Look for new options and alternatives to your original plan and have a little determination to make sure your trip happens.
4. Learn the Local Customs
All pilgrims are travelers, but not all travelers are pilgrims. By definition, a pilgrim is also seeking a way to increase knowledge as they journey. The pilgrims had to quickly learn the lay of the land, find the best places to plant corn, catch fish, and procure the other things they needed.
You can save yourself a lot of trouble by taking the time to learn more about your destination before you ever leave. Find out where the best places are to stay, what the local cultures are like, and how you can best respect them. When you do finally arrive, then, you should never expect anything and focus on learning everything.
5. Work Together
The pilgrims had an uphill battle to survive their first winter and half of the original company didn’t make it. The ones who did had to rely on each other and help from the locals. Having a unified goal can help when things get extremely difficult. So while it isn’t likely you’ll be fighting for survival on your next trip, things will feel a lot more difficult if your family or friends want to do things differently than you do. Listen to everyone’s ideas and delegate responsibilities so that everyone feels like they are part of the decision-making process and contributing to the success of the journey.
November 14, 2012
The Thanksgiving holiday is a special time of year to give thanks and spend time with family. Whether traveling to an adjacent state or across the United States to celebrate the holiday, here are a few vacation tips that you may find helpful for easier holiday traveling, especially while traveling for a vacation over Thanksgiving.
Planning ahead for Thanksgiving travel is a huge indicator in cost difference for your vacation. Early fall and the first two weeks of October are the best time to buy airline tickets because more seats are available (due to many people not yet booking flights) and rates are lower. The same goes for hotel, rental car, airport parking lot and attraction bookings.
Planning ahead also allows for price comparison and avoidance of peak holiday travel days. The peak days are the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving. Traveling on the actual holiday or celebrating a week after or before Thanksgiving allows for avoidance of crammed airports and roadways as well as fully booked hotels. Airlines also provide costs lowered by roughly 30% for travelers who travel the week before or after Thanksgiving. Avoid peak days to save in sanity and stress during your Thanksgiving travels.
During the Thanksgiving holiday traveling season we recommend using lesser known airports. In Chicago, many people travel through O’Hare but the Midway airport is less crowded and more convenient for many people, similarly using the Long Beach Airport for traveling to or from the Los Angeles or Anaheim areas saves on costs and time compared to the busier and better known LAX airport. These airports have smaller security lines, faster boarding, less delays and smaller costs compared to traveling through larger airports within the same areas.
Another plus of using lesser known airports is that there is less traffic in the routes to the airports and in the drop off lanes. If you are planning on driving yourself to the airport, we recommend making an early reservation for airport parking lots. During the Thanksgiving traveling season, many parking lots fill up fast and by reserving a spot early you can prevent costly fees and time looking for a place to park. If at all possible use public transportation or have a friend take you to the airport. This eliminates parking fees and stress about leaving your car for a long period of time in an unknown place.
Through traveling light, you can save time in airport security and save costs by not having to check baggage. Larger items that can be shipped, such as gifts, should be sent on ahead to prevent large unnecessary traveling items. If you must take gifts with you on your Thanksgiving travels, do not wrap them until you’ve arrived at your destination to prevent TSA problems. Also bear in mind the TSA regulations on containers with liquid, food and other items.
And as with any traveling, remember your ID and leave early for airports or long drives to prevent delays. When flying, print out your boarding pass at home so you may head straight to security when arriving at the airport. When driving, be sure to map out your drive and be aware of construction, high traffic and delay filled areas.
Along with knowing possible problem areas on your preferred driving route, it is important to avoid heavy traveling days. As discussed above, avoid traveling during the evening on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. These days are filled with holiday drivers and carry increased accident rates. These accident rates can also be increased by road conditions, so be sure to become aware of the road conditions along your driving route while preparing for all possibilities. Have snacks, drinks and emergency items within your car along with pillows, blankets, jumper cables, tire chains and other possible necessary car tools.
It is wise to carry emergency car items, but to also have your car checked before traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. This provides peace-of-mind for you as travel and ensures you will reach your destination safely.
By planning ahead and using common sense while traveling for the Thanksgiving holidays, you can save money and your sanity during this family oriented vacation season.
November 7, 2012
One of the best things about traveling is the opportunity to taste the destination’s culture through the wonderful world of food. Throughout the United States, there are a few cities and regions that are known for their spectacular food, moreover their soups. The northern states are known for their fantastic potato soups, and the South for their seafood gumbos. The East Coast boasts their clam chowder and the Southwest raves about their tortilla soups. And to the rainy Northwest, not unlike the East Coast, they have chowder as their staple soup. Within these regions there are few standout restaurants that serve the best regional soup and attract foodies from all over the country.
Embed our Soup Food Guide to Travel Infographic:
To the North
For those looking to experience the best potato soup you can find towards the north, Chicago is the place to go. Many of the northern states are known for having amazing potato soups but the Sweet Potato Soup found at Macku Sushi in Chicago is the soup to beat all others. Served at eight dollars a bowl, this soup has a sweet combination of lobster broth, black tiger shrimp, chives and pureed sweet potatoes.
In the South
The South is known for its wonderful and almost exotic tasting food and many travel to the South to experience the delights of gumbo. The best gumbo of the South can be found at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans at six dollars and seventy five cents a bowl. This Seafood Gumbo is a classic gumbo served with a wonderful blend of gulf shrimp, okra, crabmeat, and oysters.
On the East Coast
Clam Chowder is a common soup but along the East Coast, clam chowder is a way of life. Of course the best New England clam chowder is found in Boston at a restaurant called the Atlantic Fish Company. New Englanders and tourists travel for miles to taste the award winning New England Clam Chowder soup dished up in a bread bowl at seven dollars a serving.
The desert Southwest is home to Poco and Mom’s restaurant in Tucson Arizona and their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup. Served at five dollars and twenty five cents a bowl, this mouthwatering delight is topped with guacamole, sour cream and sweet southwest melted cheddar cheese. This soup is a local favorite and icon of southwest flavor.
In the Northwest
Much like the East Coast, the Northwest is known to serve chowder in all of their restaurants. Combating the rainy weather and cloudy skies, local Seattle natives partake in eating clam chowder from a restaurant called Pike Place Chowder. Pike’s chowder won the “Nation’s Best” at the Rhode Island Great Chowder Cook-off with their New England Clam Chowder served at seven dollars and forty five cents a bowl. A special bland of herbs and spices mixes with hearty pacific clams, bacon and cream creating this perfect Northwest soup.
No matter where you are in the United States, these five soups and the amazing cities they are from are worth traveling to. Taste the flavors of the Southwest, the Northwest, the North, the East Coast and the South in these amazing and savory soups.
September 25, 2012
Finding the right mix of accommodations, ticket packages and dining options can help you make the most of your trip to Disneyland no matter what your budget. Whether you want to get the most value on a small budget or you are looking for a complete, deluxe vacation, there are some simple tips you can follow to make sure your next trip is truly memorable.
One of the best ways to save money at Disneyland hotels is to travel to Anaheim during the off season (Jan, Feb, Oct, Nov, Dec Ð but not during any holidays in the month). And for those who really want some memorabilia to mark the occasion, Disneyland actually offers plenty of affordable souvenirs that fit any budget.
The big question is how much you can expect to spend on accommodations and dining while visiting the park. The average price for a night at one of the Disneyland Hotels could range anywhere from $250 to $515, and the average family can expect to pay between $150 and $360 on food.
The key to enjoying a Disneyland vacation and staying within your budget is to weigh your priorities and then mix and match your accommodations, dining costs, and ticket packages accordingly. Perhaps itÕs worth taking the value hotel so you can stay in the park a few more days. Or maybe you want to shorten your trip but really enjoy some of the best food in the park and the hotels. The choice is yours, and there are plenty of options for your next visit.
Embed our Disneyland Infographic:
September 13, 2012
Traveling can be a wonderful adventure to new countries, cultures and experiences; however one thing always seems to stand in the way of starting our next adventure. The cost of traveling can be expensive and while we wish we could travel, bills and other expenses tend to take priority. So how can we travel while seeing more of the world and spending less? There are five simple tasks that can be done to save money while fully embracing your destination and travel experience.
There are over 40 countries with commonly exchanged currencies, making exchange fees big money for companies looking to make an income off of travelers. If you are traveling to a place where you will need to exchange money, be weary of commissions and exchange fees. Most travelers exchange their money once they are in the airport of their intended destination, but airports tend to have the highest exchange fees and we’re sure there are better things you’ll want to spend your traveling budget on.
To avoid high fees, call your bank a few days before leaving for your trip and let them know you’d like to exchange currencies. Your bank will order in the currency and within a few days you will be able to exchange your cash with lower fees than you’d find anywhere else. Some banks even waive currency fees for their best customers, so be sure to ask if that is possible.
To save money and earn rewards, use a credit card for your more expensive purchases, such as accommodations. Cards with high international reward points and low transaction rates can be a safe and friendly way to save some money and earn points for future trips.
Many countries have excellent public transportation systems, and by researching ahead of time, you will be able save money and see your destination from the eyes of a local. Renting a car has daily costs and fees, not to mention the cost of gas. Taxis are also expensive and some drivers will “take the long way” to tally up your bill. So avoid all that by using public transit. However, a word of caution, watch out for pickpockets on the public transit systems and keep money in your front pockets.
Experience Lesser Known Attractions
By seeing the country’s most touristy attractions, you are getting overcharged. Try to limit your trip to one big attraction (think the Eiffel tower) and then visit the lesser known attractions. By seeking out attractions that are less touristy, you gain a deeper understanding of local culture and save money in the process.
Eating out can be a very expensive thing while traveling. By seeking out grocery stores, you can make quick meals for an inexpensive cost. If cooking while you travel isn’t your speed, talk to locals about good spots that have local specials and aren’t filled with tourists. Also think about children’s meals, they are less expensive, and tend to be healthier.
If you must eat out and do not want kid portions, eat more during the meals of breakfast and lunch. By doing so, you should be fuller for dinner which is the most expensive meal of the day. By eating less at dinner, you’ll shave off a few dollars.
Vacations are about getting away and exploring new places. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore, relax and enjoy your trip. Any money spent on a trip where you had an amazing experience and returned relaxed is well worth the money spent.
By following a these easy tips, travel expenses will decrease, allowing you to see more while spending less.
September 11, 2012
Who doesn’t love a steaming hot slice of tomatoey, cheesy, delicious pizza? Pizza was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, and since then Americans’ love affair with this dish has only grown with whole legions of fans devoted to geographically-specific pizza varieties.
Embed our Food Guide To Travel: The Best City Slices on your site::
New Haven-style pizza, or “apizza” as it’s known locally, is so good that Frank Sinatra used to send a driver from New York (which itself has no shortage of famous pizzerias) to this Connecticut city whenever he had a pizza craving. New Haven pizza is unlike any other pizza out there—it is brick-oven baked and comes topped with garlic, oregano, tomato sauce, and hard cheeses like pecorino romano (mozzarella is considered a topping—you have to ask for it you want it).
People are sharply divided as to whether Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (Pepe’s) or Sally’s Apizza (Sally’s) serves the best pie, so you’ll just have to try them both to find out for yourself. Be sure to check out the white clam pie—it’s a local favorite that’s made with fresh little neck clams and grated cheese.
A good case for the best place to get authentic Italian pizza anywhere can be made for Miami Beach. While this burg is better known for its party atmosphere, there are several great restaurants here that serve incredibly delicious Italian fare.
Piola on Alton Road serves up genuine thin-crust pizza like no other. Choose the toppings you want or go for a classic Neapolitan. While you’re there, order up a Sgroppino—an Italian cocktail and the house’s specialty drink. Spris is another favorite for thin-crust lovers with pizza that’s made in a wood-burning oven.
Old Forge, PA
This small town in Lackawanna County is the self-proclaimed Pizza Capital of the World. With a population of a little over 8000 people, Old Forge is home to at least 20 different pizza cafés (as they’re called locally), which makes it a serious contender for most pizza per capita.
The town is famous for a pizza style called “white” pizza that is essentially a rectangular, double-crust pizza that’s stuff with a blend of soft cheeses and topped with rosemary and olive oil. There are variants on this theme, of course—“red” pizza starts out with inch-thick dough and is topped with tomato sauce and a blend of American, Provolone, Monterrey Jack, and Scamorza cheeses.
You won’t find pizza in Trenton, but you will find “tomato pies.” What’s a tomato pie you ask? Most pizzas are made with crust first, then tomato sauce, then cheese, then toppings. In Trenton, they like to put their cheese directly on the crust, then toppings, and only then, the tomato sauce.
Two of the best places to go for tomato pie are two restaurants named De Lorenzo—one on Hudson Street and the other on Hamilton Avenue. Which is better? Again, there are strong opinions on either side of this pizza debate—De Lorenzo on Hamilton has crisper crust, while Hudson’s is thinner and smokier in flavor.
Seattle-ites may be better-known for their love of coffee, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put away a pizza when the occasion arises. In fact, foodies looking for A LOT of pizza, can find a little slice of heaven in this city. Local favorite Talarico’s offers up tasty pies for extremely hungry customers—their slices are 14 inches long (for those of you keeping track at home, that’s longer than most people’s forearms) and topped with delicious things like kalamata olives and goat cheese in addition to the standard fare.
If that’s not enough pizza for you, you can always take on the “28-inch” challenge where you and a friend must chow down on an entire 28-inch pie (find a great one at Seattle’s Ballroom Bar) in under an hour. It’s not an easy feat, to say the least.
Detroit pizza is rectangular and more Sicilian in nature than other pizza styles. Its crust is deep-dish thick and slightly chewy in texture. Like Trenton, many Detroit pizzerias like to put the sauce on top. Many of the best-known American pizza chains got their start in this part of Michigan, including Little Caesars and Domino’s.
For a taste of real Detroit pizza, go to Buddy’s Pizza (there are locations all around the city) to try their award-winning “square” pizza. The Green Lantern Lounge serves both deep and flat dish pizza with a variety of usual and unusual toppings.
New York City
How could we create a best-pizza-city list without including the most famous location to get pizza outside of Italy—New York City? NYC is home to a reported 3000 pizzerias, most of which serve up the city’s famous thin crust style favorite.
Lombardi’s Pizza is arguably the most famous—it was opened by an Italian immigrant in 1905, thus earning it the title “America’s First Pizzeria.” The fact that this place has been in business for more than 100 years should tell you something about the pizza—delicious. Be prepared to wait to get in, though, this New York favorite is always full.
The debate over whether New York City- or Chicago-style should hold top honors for most delicious pizza is still raging among pizza lovers, so it’s only natural that Chicago should earn a spot on this list. We’re not playing favorites, though. The Windy City’s deep-crust style pizza is seriously good eating.
If you’re traveling to Chicago for the pizza, check out Lou Malnati’s. It has more than 30 locations in and around the city, but for good reason—their Chicago Classic is the quintessential deep dish that everyone should try. The Art of Pizza on Ashland Avenue has a seriously good stuffed pizza and a wide variety of toppings and is worth a visit.
Where would you travel for the best pizza?
August 13, 2012
It may have taken its name from a city in Germany, but the hamburger evolved to its present state of glorious perfection in the United States. Today, you can find fantastic burger joints all across the nation, each with its own special recipe for making a mouth-watering, hamburg-elicious meal.
Embed our “Hamburger Food Guide To Travel” Infographic:
The first of a Hotels.com “Food Guide To Travel” series infographic.
You may think of Philly only as a place to go to get great cheesesteak, but this city also has more than its fair share of tasty places to chow down on outstanding burgers. If you want a classic cheeseburger done right, head down to Butcher & Singer Steakhouse on Walnut Street for the perfect combination of cheddar, onions and dry-aged beef. If youíre more of a gourmet burger fan, ìIron Chefî Jose Garcesí restaurant, Village Whiskey, has just the thing.
Alongside great barbeque, Houston has some of the best burgers in the United States. The Down House in Greater Heights serves up a little bit of hamburger perfection with its seared longhorn burgers topped with arugula, cheddar and vine ripe tomatoes. Local favorite Hubcap Grill will fill your empty stomach with triple patties and upwards of a full pound of ground beef.
San Diego, city of sun and surf, is also home to some amazing burgers. Ask the locals and youíll find that opinions are sharply divided about where to find the ìbestî burger in town, but theyíll likely tell you that you canít go wrong with some of these favorites:
The Linkery in North Park serves up large burgers topped with grilled onion, fried egg, bacon and pineapple. As an added bonus, you can feel good about eating there because the management goes out of their way to source their food from smaller farms. Hodadís in Ocean Beach is another canít-miss with amazingly tender beef and whatever-you-want on top.
Hungry right now? Get over to San Diego and make sure your hotel stay is cheap!
Indianapolis is a bustling city in the middle of Americaís Heartland, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that you can find a great burger joint or two (or twenty) here. Check out Boogie Burger in Broad Ripple Village for a throwback to the 70s and a burger any way you want itófrom classic to Maui style. At the Red Lion Grog House on Virginia Avenue you can find burgers topped with chili, mustard aioli, barbeque sauce, bleu cheese, red peppers or even peanut butter.
Up north in Seattle, you can find delicious burgers served along with an extra helping of creativity. If you are searching for a burger thatís out-of-the-ordinary, try the Lunchbox Laboratory in South Lake Union where youíll find a beefless duck/pork patty creation. If youíre a little more traditional, go for Jakís Grill to find a Nebraska beef burger so big and delicious, youíll need a steak knife to manage it properly.
Find Southern hospitality and a juicy, satisfying hamburger in this Georgia town. Locals swear by B&D Burger and its fresh Angus beef and home-baked buns topped with garden fresh veggies. If youíre feeling more quirky than classic, however, go to the popular Green Truck Pub to find a grass-fed third-pound beef patty accompanied by pimento cheese and bacon.
New York City
No where beats New York City for sheer number and variety of burger joints. Whatís more is that most of these restaurants serve delicious food. Take the famous Shake Shack, for example. Youíll find all-natural beef burgers cooked to medium perfection. In the West Village, the bohemian bar Corner Bistro will serve up the longtime favorite Bistro Burger with cheese and bacon for a mere $8.
Where is your favorite place to grab a burger?
August 7, 2012
No matter what season you visit New York, the city that never sleeps has something a little different to offer. In the Summer you’ll enjoy free events, concerts, baseball games and an exciting nightlife. Fall in New York offers visitors cooler temperatures, fall foliage, sporting events and fewer crowds. Winter in New York is a magical wonderland with an unmatched holiday cheer and Spring gives visitors a chance to enjoy the outdoors without dealing with the heat. Here’s a look at how to map out your New York vacation for any season:
Summertime and the living is easy in New York. With so many free activities and concerts it’s quite possible to visit New York City on a shoestring budget.
- Central Park Summerstage Concert Guide: This series features different music events, dance and spoken words performances throughout the summer. The park is an outdoor venue located at Rumsey Playfield. For more information visit: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/
- 2012 Bryans Park Movie Schedule: Bring your blankets and enjoy movies on a giant screen on Mondays from June- August. Films begin at sunset, between 8-9p.m. but you can claim your spot at early as 5 p.m. For more information, call: 212-512-5700.
- Beaches: Escape the heat of the city and head to a popular beach like Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach Park or Breezy Point Beach.
As temperatures drop and leaves start to change, Fall is one of the best times to visit New York City. Crowds leave and you have a good chance of finding a deal on a cheap hotel.
- San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy: This festival is worth planning a trip around. From Sept. 13-23, 2012 you’ll enjoy a little glimpse into Italian life in one of the most preserved parts of New York: Little Italy. Enjoy traditional Italian foods like tiramisu, gelato and sausage and peppers. For more information visit: www.sangennaro.org/
- NY Marathon: Even if you don’t compete in the marathon, the first Sunday in November is fun for both fans and participants.
- Pizza Tours: Fall is the best time to enjoy a delicious hot piece of New York pizza, or five. There are several Pizza tours around the city, including Scotts Pizza tour which goes to Brooklyn, Greenwich Village and even has a bus tour.
Winter in New York is a magical time to visit the top tourist spots in New York. Remember to bundle up because the wind and cold temperatures will get you.
- Ice Skate at Rockefeller Center: The Rockefeller center ice rink is in the middle of all the action and is a quintessential NYC winter experience. Adult admission is typically $10-19 and children are $7.50-12.50, not including skate rentals. An added bonus is that you’ll see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree from a whole new angle.
- Broadway Shows: Broadway plays or musicals like the Christmas Story will add to your New York experience.
- Times Square: Visiting Times Square to experience the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.
- Holiday Windows: Department stores like Lord & Taylor, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Ave., all put beautiful displays in their windows that aren’t to be missed. You can also go inside for some holiday shopping!
As the winter turns warm again, Spring time in New York brings a new energy and life to the city.
- Guided Tours: Some popular guided New York Tours include bike tours, food tours, walking tours and bus tours. You have a chance to learn interesting tid-bits about the city. For a list of fun tours visit: http://gonyc.about.com/od/toursbr/tp/best_nyc_walking_tours.htm
- Fleet Week: On May 23-30, visitors can see extensive military demonstrations and tour some of the visiting ships. Since 1984, New York City has held Fleet Week to honor the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
After you pick a season, mapping out the perfect New York City Vacation should be easy. Know that no matter what time of the year you go, there will always be something to do.
What’s your favorite season to visit New York?
July 31, 2012
Time to get out your shorts and flip flops and load up the van because summer is well underway. If you’re planning a summer vacation this year, you’re in good company—travel volume this season is expected to be at its highest in a decade. In other words, whatever else may be going on, there are still plenty of people who are determined to get away for a while and enjoy a little fun in the sun.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular summer travel destinations for this year. These warm weather hotspots offer a little something for everyone, from single travelers to large families:
Bermuda takes a traditional beach vacation and serves it up with a side order of international flair. You can spend a day soaking in the sun on Bermuda’s white sands (try Horseshoe Bay Beach) or take a snorkeling adventure (see a sunken ship!) in its crystal blue waters. If you get tired of swimming and sunning, you can explore some of Bermuda’s history by touring St. George’s Town, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While London always has more than its fair share of out-of-town visitors, this site of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games is bracing for a huge influx of international sports fans this July and August. Even if you don’t have tickets to one of the main events, visiting the British capital while it’s all decked out in Olympic glory should be fun. The city has planned a number of once-in-a-lifetime cultural festivals, concerts, and displays. In addition, if you get tired of the big city, you can always sneak off to spend a day or two in the English countryside. Not bad as vacations go.
3. Juneau, AK
While Juneau may not at first strike you as the perfect warm weather destination, this beautiful city located in southern Alaska has plenty to do to keep travelers entertained. This is a nature-lovers paradise—you can find hiking, fishing, boating, and even gold panning as well as more extreme sports like hand gliding and ice climbing. While you’re there, be sure to take a cruise around Glacier Bay National Park. The park is only accessible by boat or plane, but is well worth it, either as a day trip or an overnight camping adventure.
4. Wilmington, NC
Wilmington, NC, offers plenty of Southern charm combined with great beaches and family-friendly activities. Take a tour of the World War II battleship North Carolina, or stroll through Wilmington’s historic district for a view of colonial architecture. You should also check out Airlie Gardens, one of the most stunning displays of formal gardens and freshwater lakes anywhere.
5. Lake Tahoe
If you’re looking for some old-fashioned summer fun, you could do worse than plan a trip to Lake Tahoe. Here, you can participate in your favorite water sports to your heart’s content or learn to do something new, like parasailing. If that’s not enough to keep you occupied, you can also find golf courses, arcades, casinos, and plenty of hiking and biking trails to fill your time with.
Where are you traveling this summer?
Embed this image on your site:
The Story of the Seattle Space Needle in an Infographic by Hotels.com.
The Story of the Seattle Space Needle
One of the most striking architectural accomplishments in the western United States is the Space Needle in Seattle. Originally inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Edward E. Carlson first sketched out his version for the 1962 World’s Fair on a napkin. Of course, since it’s hard to get all the necessary details out of a napkin, an architect, John Graham, changed the original “tethered balloon” appearance to the flying saucer that has become so famous.
The Space Needle stands 605 feet tall and was built for just $4.5 million. In the year 2000, though, another $20 million was spent on revitalizing the tower. This included the pavilion level, the SpaceBase retail store, the SkyCity restaurant, and much more. The support for all this runs pretty deep, and the foundations go 30 feet down and 120 feet across. All together it weighs 5,850 tons, which is more than the above-ground portion of the Space Needle. This, however, is one of the reasons why the tower can stand up to a wind velocity of 200 MPH.
July 27, 2012
Most industries create products; the tourism industry creates experiences. And the world population is spending more every year, traveling to destinations both near and far to get those experiences. What’s more, the massive movements of people here and there generates a stunning amount of economic activity, which largely benefits the countries, cities and even small towns that travelers wander into.
Travel is a type of direct export. People coming into a country or city bring a lot of money with them, and spend a lot of money along the way. Even people just passing through spend money on fuel, food, lodging and other services. All of that money moving around generates primary and secondary economic effects in tourist destinations. Just to give this idea some perspective, the only industry bigger than world travel and tourism is education. Tourism is the largest service industry in the US, accounting for about $134 billion just in 2011.
Let’s focus on just one city: Washington, DC. The total spent in the District of Columbia was $6 billion, which is pretty staggering for a single city. Restaurants, hotels, retail, museums and entertainment venues all benefit from the influx of tourists. The real draw for tourists is all the historical sites and museums that make their homes in the US capitol. Arlington National Cemetery and the Smithsonian alone see millions of visitors a year. Then there’s the White House, the Capitol, the National Mall and a whole host of historic buildings, museums and monuments that history-hungry tourists flock to see every year.
Besides the federal government, tourism is the second-largest industry in DC. More than half of the city’s sales tax revenue comes from tourist spending. If city residents had to make up that revenue themselves, the tax bill would reach into the thousands for each household.
So, where are the tourists traveling to DC flocking in from? International visitors make up more than a quarter of tourist spending, but the remainder of visitors are domestic businesspeople and American tourists. Being both a center of government and business, Washington already benefits from an influx of travelers who spend on hotels, restaurants, transportation and other services. Add to that a growing number of foreign and domestic visitors, and you have an economic engine that drives development.
Tourism as a Jobs Engine
All of that spending translates into tens of thousands of jobs for District residents. And since the travel and tourism industry creates more jobs on average than other major industries, it’s a more efficient job creator per dollar spent. For instance, even though Japan’s tourism industry generates about 25% less to GDP than automotive manufacturing, it creates 80% more jobs. That’s because so much of the tourism service industry requires the services of drivers, housekeepers, tour guides, chefs and other jobs where one-on-one interaction with people is essential.
Tourism can be the driver of sustainable growth for cities, states and countries that have otherwise very few natural resources to exploit or industries to provide jobs. Washington, DC’s history alone makes it a viable destination for massive tourism and travel, even if it had very little other economic activity going on. And as long as local governments and businesses can work out ways to manage the influx of visitors sustainably, a beautiful natural landscape or historical location can become an economic resource in and of itself, leading to the formation of new domestic industries. If properly managed, an influx of tourism dollars can foster an economically diverse and vibrant economy.
But the key here is that a tourist-friendly environment needs to be maintained. If Washington didn’t have the infrastructure to manage the massive numbers of people who pour into the city each year, the bad experiences would pile up, and the number of visitors could drop. Likewise, a tropical location that pollutes its natural environment, which is its very draw for tourists, will soon find that it is a tourist destination no longer. Sustainable management of a city, state or countries tourism resources can make or break it as a tourist destination and even its economic viability.
July 10, 2012
Virginia was first declared the place for lovers back in 1969. The state motto: “Virginia is for Lovers” actually grew out of a marketing campaign to try and draw more people to the state. Originally, the advertising team intended to use a series of slogans, covering many unique aspects that might appeal to different types of tourists.
The idea was to launch a campaign that told the world that “Virginia is for History Lovers” to attract those interested in historically important sites, and then they would expand to “Virginia is for Beach Lovers” and highlight the gorgeous beaches open to the public. Theoretically, this kind of campaign could continue to grow, but it was still perceived as too limiting.
The answer was to discard the idea of a series and simply focus on one single concept: “Virginia is for Lovers.” Rather than targeting historians, beach goers, or anyone else with a specific interest, they decided to broaden their scope and really increase the number of people travelling to the state.
Embed this image on your site:
July 9, 2012
Heading to Sin City for the first time isn’t anything less than exciting. It’s one of those places that no matter how high your expectations are you won’t be disappointed. Before head straight to the neon lights, here are some tips to make sure you’re not spending more money than you have to and get the most out of your vacation:
Dress the Part
When it comes to any sort of dress code, let’s just say there is none in Vegas. In casinos you’ll find people that look like they are going to accept an award at the Grammy’s and people who look like they just got off a beach. Dance clubs have their own dress codes and guys won’t be allowed in if they are wearing sneakers or timberland boots.
For some, part of the fun of going out in Las Vegas is dressing up. Women will have to decide if they are “fashion over function.” Because you’ll be doing a lot of walking we recommend comfortable shoes during the day and wearing insoles in your going out shoes. Guys who are planning on going out should bring a nice dress shirt and slacks and girls can pack a cute dress or skirt.
Because Vegas is in the desert you can expect the temperature to reach 115 degrees in the summer. However, don’t be naive and think it’s hot year round. If you are visiting in the winter (Oct-Feb) you’ll need pants and a jacket. Casinos keep the air conditioning on full blast year-round, so bringing a sweater or cover-up is recommended.
If you are flying into Las Vegas, there’s no need to rent a car as there are many different modes of transportation to get you around the city. We recommend taking a taxi from the airport and having the taxi driver stop at a grocery store on the way to the hotel so you can stock up on snacks, breakfast food and beverages. Once you’re on the strip you’re pretty much stuck there and eating out 3 meals a day won’t be good for your waistline or wallet.
If you arrive before check-in, don’t waste your time in the hotel lobby. Drop your bags off with the bellman and start to explore the hotel and city.
Where to Stay
Planning in Las Vegas is almost an oxymoron. Some of the best times you’ll have is when you don’t have a plan at all. With that being said, having a general idea of what you want to do and knowing what hotel you’ll stay at is probably a good idea.
If saving money is a priority, consider staying off the strip in old town Las Vegas. Freemont Street has good cheap options that provide a more relaxed vibe, if that’s your thing. Not all Las Vegas hotels that are on the strip are going to be expensive either, especially if you plan ahead and don’t visit Vegas on weekends or holidays. An insider tip is to request a room near an elevator. After walking around all day and all night, the last thing you want to do is walk another mile to your room.
What to Do
The best thing about Last Vegas is that free attractions are built into the city: circus acts at Circus Circus, the Fountain show at the Bellagio, M&M World showcase, wild life gardens at the Flamingo and let’s not forget about people watching.
If you’re planning on going to a show, read reviews before you go.
The best part about Las Vegas is that there are an endless amount of things to do. As a first-timer there is no way you’ll see and do everything you plan. Know that if there is something you stumble upon that wasn’t on your initial to do list, check it out anyway. If you go with an open mind and a good attitude you’ll leave with stories and an adventure of a lifetime.
July 2, 2012
The summer tour season is getting into full swing, and it’s time for all the outdoor events, stadium concerts, and theater shows to blow our minds. When you’re favorite band comes to town, it’s a chance to get out and experience them live. But if you’re a “real” fan – a groupie-level fan – you don’t need to wait for them to come to you. Why not travel like a groupie and really make the most of this summer?
Seeing your favorite band perform live is fun and entertaining. Following your favorite band from city to city, though, is the kind of experience you’ll never forget. Of course, you don’t have to be a groupie to travel like a groupie. When the summer festivals get started, you can follow a multi-band tour from town to town and hear and see something different at every stop.
Making the Most of It
When people dream of following a tour around all summer, we usually picture the time spent at the festival, dancing at the club, or enjoying the atmosphere at a sold-out stadium. We don’t think about all the time spent waiting in line or trying to hunt down accommodations. (Sleeping in your car is only adventurous that first night. After that it just gets old… and probably a little fragrant.)
In another blog post, we’ve discussed some of the must-have items for Bonnaroo or other outdoor festivals, and based on that, there are a number of supplies you should consider to make the whole summer experience more comfortable for you and, well, for anyone who might be sharing your car.
- Protection from the elements – Festivals are great, but you’re going to be exposed to the elements for most of the day. Make sure you have gear for an overpowering sun or sudden burst or rain.
- Comfortable shoes – You will be standing around for a long time no matter how you look at it. Whether you’re walking from stage to stage, or waiting for the concert venue to open, plan on spending a lot of time on your feet.
- Drinking water – This is especially important at an outdoor even, when hydration is crucial, though most indoor venues won’t let you take stuff in. Still, you should have something in your car as you go from city to city.
- Full tank of gas – Keep your vehicle gassed up. You never know when you might find yourself stuck in immovable traffic between cities.
-Room for memorabilia – No groupie actually comes home with fewer things in the car than when they left. T-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia should fill your car when the summer season is finally over.
Everything Has a Price
The life of a groupie is not one of luxury. Between accommodations, travel/living expenses, and ticket prices, you’ll have to work hard to stretch your budget through the summer. Ticket prices may have the most immediate impact on the dedicated groupie (because you really can sleep in your car if it comes to it), so it’s important to be aware of what to expect as you travel.
Sizing up music venues can tell you a lot about what to expect in your search for great, affordable seats. In a larger venue there will be more tickets available, which means you’ll have a better chance of getting in and getting a reasonable price at a huge stadium. A smaller venue for a popular band, on the other hand, can end up costing a lot more – especially if you’re trying to get down close to the band. On top of that, if you’ve followed the artist to their home town, expect to pay even more for a half-decent seat.
Of course, there’s always a chance that you can find a great, last minute deal on your tickets, and even on your accommodations (when you really can’t stand the thought of bunking in your car again). If it’s one of those small venues, though, you may not want to wait too long. Tickets can sell extremely fast.
If you have the time and the budget, you can travel like a groupie from place to place, whether your pleasure takes you to Seattle, WA, Virginia Beach or even San Diego, CA experience something new everywhere you go and being part of the summer tour experience.
June 26, 2012
Since January the presidential hopefuls have been travelling across the country to participate in caucuses, primaries, fundraisers and more, and they will continue to do so until final culmination of it all in November when we choose a new President. Any time these candidates don’t spend at events, meetings, and other appearances is used to travel from one place to another and prepare for the next round of political activities. It’s the kind of life on the road that most of us will never experience, and simply tracking the candidates as they go from place to place can be a challenge.
Where are your candidates today? What do they have coming up next? A candidate may be holding a town hall meeting in Maryland one day and rushing to be in Wisconsin for a fundraiser the next. They could be enjoying a fancy dinner one night just to face down a hostile audience the next morning. If you want to be at any of these events, you’ll need to keep track of the candidate’s travel plans and set your own schedule accordingly.
Resources to Track the Candidates
If you intend to support and follow the moves of your candidates, you need to be proactive about it. The campaign trail is extremely demanding, and if you’re too slow you may miss your chance to see the candidates in person. This is especially true if you have to do some traveling yourself to make it to the event because there’s a good chance that the nearby hotels and other accommodations will already be booked.
There are a number of resources that allow you to follow the campaigns very closely, from the individual Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and websites to the news streams and political blogs that keep close tabs on all their movements. PBS even offers a detailed calendar that gives you a look at what each candidate is doing on any given day.
Wherever the candidates go, whether it’s just the primaries or the final countdown to election day, chances are that a lot of supporters and detractors are going to fill the area. If you’re trying to find a way to participate, you’re going to need to look ahead and give yourself plenty of time to make your own arrangements.
Where Are They Spending Their Time?
There are some candidate trackers online that allow you to see where the campaign trail has been and where it will go in the near future. Obviously, the number of visits and events has gone up in areas where caucuses or primaries were held, but beyond that there are also some trends that emerge as the campaign continues.
The New York area, by far, has seen the most visits by presidential hopefuls. A lot of this could be related to the TV shows that are recorded in the city since they are trying to get in front of the media as much as possible. At the same time, this is one of the most popular places to hold fundraising events, meetings and debates. As the election draws closer, though, there’s a good chance that we will see a bigger push toward the western states as the fight for California’s votes begins.
There have also been a number of appearances by all the candidates in places like Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, though a lot of these early events and activities were likely tied to the caucuses and primaries. The closer we get to November, the more we’re likely to see the focus change to the states that can swing the final results.
Tracking political candidates can be difficult because, despite their business schedules, they really can’t plan too far in advance. A lot of their movements will be based on where they have a lot of support and where they need to make an appearance to deal with specific issues. If you use all the available resources, though, you can see where your candidates have been and where they’re going to show up in time to make your own plans to show your support (or even your displeasure, if that’s the case).
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
June 11, 2012
While Atlanta is known for many things its ability to attract and facilitate the needs of high business travel volumes is a key defining factor.
Currently placed at the 7th most visited city in the U.S. for business travel and an increasingly higher rate of international travel coming in, Atlanta appears to be taking on a business hub personality. But much of this is not recent news. Atlanta has had a long standing reputation for housing the corporate head quarters of many large and well known corporations like Home Depot, Coca-Cola and UPS.
Book your business travel for Atlanta today.
Embed This Infographic: Copy and Paste the Code Below
Atlanta Business Travel by Hotels.com – An infographic by Hotels.com
June 5, 2012
Home to cowboys, cattle ranches, Fortune 500 companies, barbeque, and America’s football team (not to mention America’s cheerleaders), Dallas is a city that’s as American as they come. There’s a lot to do in and around this city, including some things you’d expect (care for a bow hunting lesson?) and some things you might not (like a free public art walk in the heart of the city).
All things considered, Dallas is a modern, active city with a vibrant population and the added benefit of being able to wear cowboy boots whenever you like. If you’re planning a trip to Dallas sometime soon, you’ll find that there’s something for everyone.
Visit our website for great buys in Dallas, Texas.
It’s not for nothing that Philadelphia gets the nickname the “Cradle of Liberty”—it was here that the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Constitution was ratified. It also served as the nation’s first capital while Washington, DC, was under construction. It’s not only the American government that was born here, however. Other important American institutions that have their roots in Philadelphia include the cheesesteak, the soft pretzel and Rocky Balboa.
When visiting Philly, be sure to check out must-sees like the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Elfreth’s Alley and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. You’ll also find plenty of great theatres, restaurants, museums, and bars in between the history lessons.
Visit our website for great deals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
More than 600,000 visitors come to Memphis every year to pay tribute to America’s only “King.” Elvis is not the city’s only famous musician resident, however. Pioneers in American musical genres as diverse as blues, rock & roll, gospel, crunk and country have called Memphis home, including Johnny Cash, B.B. King and Isaac Hayes.
Memphis still has a thriving music culture with plenty of festivals, outdoor concerts, and clubs. If you want to hear live, authentic blues music, eat great food, and drink plenty of draft beer, Beale Street in downtown is the place to be.
Visit our website for the latest specials in Memphis, Tennessee.
Many people don’t realize what an American gem the great city of Phoenix, Arizona is. Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the United States, and its blend of urban and outdoors makes it a perfect launching place for a myriad of truly American adventures. Whether you like shopping, sports, or hiking, you can find a little of everything in the city.
When visiting Phoenix, be sure to check out the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park to learn about some of the area’s very first residents. You should also make a stop at the Desert Botanical Garden to experience a little of Phoenix’s truly unique American landscape. After that, you can grab some courtside seats to see the Suns.
Check our website for deals in Phoenix, Arizona.
Known affectionately as “brew city,” Milwaukee is the home of several major American breweries, including MillerCoors. You can get an up-close-and-personal look at how some of your favorite beers are made by touring one (or all) of the breweries in the city. If that’s still not enough for you, be sure to check out one of the “booze cruises” that set sail on Lake Michigan.
Beer isn’t the only American food item that Milwaukee loves, however. It’s not for nothing that Wisconsinites are known as “cheeseheads”—for a cheese lover, walking into the Wisconsin Cheese Mart is like walking into heaven. Only in America.
In fact, Milwaukee is so quintessentially American that it was chosen as the setting of the classic television show, “Happy Days.” If you’re a fan, be sure to check out the Bronze Fonz statue located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk.
Visit our Milwaukee, Wisconsin page for the latest deals.
Which cities would make your list of the most American?
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
May 29, 2012
When it’s finally time to pack up and leave work behind for a while, there are a few options for extended stays in some of the most popular destinations. The most traditional choice is to find a great hotel somewhere that offers the amenities you want at a price you can afford, but there’s been a lot of talk about timeshares and how they compare to a hotel stay.
Which one is right for you and your family? There are a lot of factors that should be considered when you are looking for the perfect vacation spot, as well as benefits and drawbacks of each option. Most of us only have so many days each year that we can spend on vacation, and in order to make the most of the time away we need to look at these alternatives and choose the one that fits our needs and budget.
What Do Timeshares Offer?
The largest benefit to a timeshare, or at least the one you will likely hear about the most, is the long-term savings. While the initial outlay of cash may be high for many people, and there is an annual fee that must be paid, timeshare proponents often point out how quickly it will pay for itself compared to regular vacations at nice hotels.
In other words, if you spend a couple weeks at a nice hotel, you could spend a couple thousand dollars on your accommodations. On the other hand, once the timeshare is paid off, the only cost is the reoccurring maintenance fee, which means you can have an extended stay at a nice location for a price that works out to be a really low nightly rate.
Timeshares also offer a lot more space that the average hotel. Most timeshares have multiple bedrooms, complete kitchens, washers and dryers, and dishwashers (who wants to do dishes on vacation?). There’s often enough space to put the kids in one room and enjoy some quiet time in another. Most hotels, on the other hand, consist of a single bedroom and bathroom.
Since there are usually multiple locations where you can use your timeshare, you will normally have a few choices on your vacation destination, and there are even programs that let you trade timeshare days with others. However, it also has to be said that your vacations may be restricted to certain days of availability which may or may not coincide with the time you can take off of work. You also have to consider the possibility that there will be no open spots where you want to travel, but there might be a great hotel deal in New York. Do you take the deal anyway? Then you’re paying for the hotel plus your usual timeshare fees.
What about Hotel Stays?
If you don’t want to be restricted in your vacationing, a hotel may be the better choice. You will not have to limit your vacation to certain days or locations (and you certainly won’t have to do your own dishes). An extended stay at a hotel means you can take advantage of the cleaning and room service, and if you do your research it’s not that hard to find a good hotel discount to save even more money.
If you enjoy exploring new places on your vacation, or if you often plan vacations at the last minute to take advantage of a special deal or sudden impulse, you will need a little more freedom than the timeshare system offers. Also, if you can’t spare the time to take a vacation each year, you won’t have to think about those fees that you are paying for nothing.
Which is Right for You?
If you have a large family and you enjoy travelling to the same areas for extended periods of time, a timeshare is a great option. You will have a lot of the comforts of home, a little privacy, and plenty of room to spread out and really relax.
On the other hand, if you are not a regular traveler, or you like to try something new every year, the restrictions of a timeshare may not be suited to you. There are many destinations out there that offer a unique experience, and it can be hard to find a timeshare in the vicinity. Chances are you can find a nice hotel nearby, though. There are definite benefits to each of these options. Take the time to consider what you want to get out of your vacation time and make your decision accordingly.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
May 22, 2012
Planning the perfect bachelor party is a serious responsibility that traditionally falls to the Best Man, but there has been a recent trend toward alternative parties, with a lot of guys just going camping or fishing to celebrate the end of their bachelor status. If, however, you are of the type that has always looked forward to something a little more traditional, then you must always consider the 3 G’s of a proper bachelor party vacation: the Getaway, Gambling, and Girls.
Whatever else a bachelor party vacation is, it ought to be memorable. If you’re just surrounding yourself with the same locations, people, and activities, the weekend will pass and the experience will be utterly forgettable. If, on the other hand, you go someplace new, and try something completely different, you can really celebrate the inevitable change in marital status in style.
Of course, the getaway serves a couple other purposes as well. This is the chance for you to put some distance between yourself and the mundane aspects of everyday life. You may or may not have a lot of opportunities to do this in the future, so get away from it now and make the most of your time. Even if your bachelor party isn’t filled with the traditional debauchery and hazy memories, take the chance on something new.
Some of the most popular bachelor party cities include New Orleans, New York, Tijuana, Key West and, of course, Las Vegas. Choose your location carefully, and remember: the further away you are, the less likely rumors of your activities will make it back.
Whether you’re playing poker with your buddies or trying your luck on the blackjack tables at a casino, gambling in some form or another is a traditional part of many bachelor parties. If your vacation destination just happens to be filled with bright lights, deceptively good odds, and someone always nearby to keep the drinks reviled, well then so much the better.
One has to wonder, though, exactly how gambling became such a standard part of a bachelor party. What is about the chance to make a fortune or lose it all at the whims of fate that makes this such an appealing pastime? Perhaps it’s the implied metaphor…
This is, depending on your perspective, the best or the worst part of any bachelor party vacation. The girls are by far the most well-known tradition, and almost anyone will immediately associate the party with the inclusion of women in some capacity. Cities like Las Vegas and New Orleans make this easy, of course, which is why they are so often identified as the ideal bachelor party cities. Whether the party is going to involve going out to see exotic dancers or hiring someone to visit the room, this is the part that a lot of guys love and a lot of fiancés hate.
Just remember, despite what they say, what happens in Vegas does not, in fact, always stay in Vegas. No matter how many times you remind your buddies that there are no pictures allowed (you won’t have to dispose of the evidence if it doesn’t exist in the first place), someone, somehow, is going to bring record of your activities back home. You’re going to have to face your fiancé again sooner or later, so if you don’t want to deal with an ongoing series of suspicious looks, be very aware of boundaries and understand that if she takes a bachelorette party weekend, she may feel that turnaround is fair play.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
May 15, 2012
If your idea of a great vacation is stepping out on the green every morning to play 18 holes of golf, here are some cities that you may want to keep at the top of your go-to list.
1. Austin, TX
You may have known that Austin is a great place to visit, but you may not have known that Austin is a great golfing city. Getting a lot of bang for your golfing buck in Austin is easy; the city features a good number of public courses with low green fees, including two Tom Fazio designs and Falconhead Golf Club.
For hotel deals that make the golf course costs in Texas much easier to swallow go here.
2. San Diego, CA
The green fees here may be a little on the steep side, but San Diego has some of the best public access courses in the U. S. , not to mention a great climate no matter when you go. Check out the Torrey Pines South Course for golf that features a dramatic setting.
Plan your next golf trip to San Diego starting with the hotel here.
3. Orlando, FL
Orlando is home to a large number of professional golfers on the PGA Tour, so it makes sense that you would find some excellent courses in and around this city. Take a drive up to Orange County National Golf Course for a pure golf experience with no housing developments in view.
4. Portland, OR
Home to a number of excellent golf courses with reasonable greens fees, what makes Portland a truly great golf city is the weather. You can golf all year long with relatively mild temperatures and a beautiful, verdant backdrop complete with mountains, rivers, and the ocean.
5. Columbus, OH
Golfing great Jack Nicklaus was born in Columbus, but that’s not the only reason the city makes an appearance on this list. Columbus has more than 60 public courses with small green fees and a number of private courses that can be counted among the best in America. Try Cooks Creek or Donald Ross’s Granville Golf Club.
6. Phoenix, AZ
A city with a great golf vibe, Phoenix is a year-round golfing destination thanks to its always-sunny weather. Not only that, but it’s also home to some beautiful courses including Troon North Golf Club and We-Ko-Pa, which is located on an American Indian reservation in the middle of the desert.
7. St. Louis, MO
St. Louis is a golfer’s paradise, thanks to the number and quality of its public courses. Tom Fazio’s Missouri Bluffs is consistently ranked as one of the best courses in the area, while dairy-farm-turned-golf-course Pevely Farms is a challenging course designed by Arthur Hills.
For incredible deals in St. Louis click here.
Despite its cold winters, Chicago offers a great golfing experience. The city is home to a number of good public courses that used to be private. Try teeing off at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club or Pine Meadow Golf Club.
Its climate may not be conducive to playing golf all year round, but don’t let that stop you from booking a trip to Rochester. Your golfing dollars will go far with tiny green fees and meticulously designed golf courses, including Greystone Golf Club.
Birmingham is an often-underrated golfing city; in fact, Alabama is home to the largest golf course construction project ever attempted—the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, with 468 holes across 11 different sites. There are a number of beautiful public courses within easy driving distance of Birmingham, including the Trail’s flagship course, Ross Bridge.
Where’s your favorite golfing destination? What hidden gems would you recommend?
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
May 9, 2012
The club sandwich is one of the most common and classic lunch items served at hotels and restaurants all over the world. While these sandwiches have been around since the late 19th century, their actual invention is still subject to some debate. Of course, we don’t have to know where they come from to know they’re worth having.
The name, at least, is commonly believed to come from the popularity of the sandwich at clubs and resorts across the country. Most people believe that it was first created in 1894 at the famous Saratoga Club House in Saratoga New York, and the oldest published recipe showed up in 1903 in the Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book.
What’s In a Club?
Since its creation, though, it has continued to develop until it sometimes seems that everyone has their own ideas of what a real club sandwich should include, and there is a lot of variation from region to region. At the very least, to still qualify as a real club sandwich, it must include three pieces of toast, some mayo, and bacon. Everything else is artistic license, and you can find sandwiches filled with turkey, beef, chicken, special sauce, and much more. But as long as you’ve got the bacon, you probably won’t hear many complaints.
Of course, in places like New Orleans you might get something completely different. It’s actually quite difficult to find a classic club sandwich in the Big Easy, with restaurants and hotels serving the local favorite Po’ Boy. This is a type of sub sandwich that developed much the same way as a club – out of the ingredients immediately at hand. The Po’ Boy is served on a New Orleans French bread, and it can be fancy or simple, filled with fried chicken, oysters, crawfish or other local delicacies.
Embed This Infographic: Copy and Paste the Code Below
The Club Sandwich Index – An infographic by Hotels.com
The Club Sandwich Index
So you’re heading out on vacation and have found a great hotel deal, but what do you need to budget for your meals? Whether you’re ordering a club or a Po’ Boy, it’s safe to assume the price is going to be different from place to place. The Hotels.com Club Sandwich Index (CSI) was created to help travelers know what they can expect to pay when they venture out into the world. We wanted to make it easy to estimate your lunch budget while away from home.
The CSI average price was calculated by taking the real prices paid by guests for a club sandwich at 1,000 different hotels located in popular travel destinations around the world. By comparing the top ten destinations in the U.S. (according to our Hotel Price Index) we can see what travelers can expect to pay for a classic club sandwich. It probably won’t come as a big surprise that New York ranks as the most expensive sandwich, at $17, but what may be a little unexpected, though, is that the average price in San Diego is actually significantly less, coming in at $10. It is easy to assume that the average lunch prices in these two huge cities would be very similar, but according to the Index, you may not need such a large lunch budget when you visit California.
We may not be able to say for sure who created the club sandwich all those years ago, but we can say that it is a great lunch for travelers all over the world. Just be aware that the ingredients and the price may change from place to place, but as long as they have bacon, you’ll probably be okay.
May 1, 2012
Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that this East Coast vacation destination belongs in the history books. Whether you’re traveling to Boston for a weekend getaway or an extended family stay, there is plenty to see and do.
Embed This Infographic: Copy and Paste the Code Below
Breaking Down Boston Travel by Hotels.com – An infographic by Hotels.com
1. For the architecture
Boston is home to some of the most notable and distinctive architecture in North America. Visit Copley Square in the Back Bay neighborhood for an impressive view of Trinity Church, the Boston Public Library, and the John Hancock Tower. This isn’t the only neighborhood that features incredible architecture, however. Stoll along the cobblestone streets of Beacon Hill for a look at the Massachusetts State House, or head over to the Old North Church to see the famous wooden spire where Paul Revere received the “two by sea” signal that sent him on his midnight ride in 1775.
2. For the art
If you’re interested in art, Boston is your city. Containing more than 450,000 works of art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is one of the largest museums in the U.S. Some highlights of the collection include a number of French impressionist paintings including works by Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh, and a large selection of Egyptian artifacts. The Institute of Contemporary Art, located in the South Boston Seaport District, features exhibits by emerging artists as well as a space for contemporary performance art.
3. For the history
Boston has been the location of many of the most important happenings in the history of the United States. You can start your tour of Boston’s history with a walk along the 2.5 mile Freedom trail (start from the Boston Common) and continue on to visit sites like John Hancock’s home or the most picturesque street in America (Acorn Street).
4. For the shopping
5. For the ocean
Where else can you see a whale against the backdrop of a gorgeous city skyline? Situated on Boston Harbor, the city is a great launching point for a day of seaside exploration—in fact, the harbor is a great place to play all on its own, and the water is quite clean thanks to the Boston Harbor Cleanup Project. To get out of the city, head down to Long Wharf for a ferry ride to either Spectacle or Georges Island.
6. For the universities
As much as Boston is a hub of cultural and historical significance, it has also served as a home to some of the country’s most influential colleges and universities. Take a tour of some of these halls of higher learning with a visit to Harvard Square (home not only to Harvard University, but also more than 300 registered street performers) or the MIT museum (where you can see some of the most exciting innovations and ideas that will change the future).
7. For the sports
Major League Baseball’s oldest ballpark, Fenway Park, is home to the much-beloved Boston Red Sox. Despite its record-breaking sellout streak, tickets are often available on the day of the game. If you’re visiting during the winter months, you can the Boston Celtics play at TD Garden.
8. For the dining
Even if munching on baked beans doesn’t appeal to you, Boston is home to some excellent restaurants, including a wide variety of excellent seafood. Chow down on clam chowder or boiled lobster, or if sea creatures don’t suit your fancy, Boston has a number of multi-ethnic fare.
What are your favorite reasons for visiting Boston?
April 26, 2012
One of the most unique ways to visit historic Boston sites is to take your tour on both land and water. In Boston there are a couple companies that offer “Duck Tours,” and provide visitors a great way to see the city and hear a lot about its history from a very different vantage point. Both Boston Duck Tours and Super Duck Tours offer a tour of the city on their ducks, and they can each provide a fun and unique experience.
What Kind of Vehicle is a Duck?
A “Duck” was originally developed in World War II for specialized beach landings. There came a time in the war when the allies needed to land where docking structures had either been destroyed or simply never existed. The answer was an amphibious vehicle that was half-truck and half-boat. Now the allies didn’t actually need to land to drop off soldiers and supplies – they simply kept driving all the way up the beach.
These vehicles played a major role for the allied forces in Sicily, the Pacific Theater, and even on D-Day. They provided a tactical advantage in areas that were otherwise inaccessible to the arriving troops. As time went on, though, they were used less, and when the war was over they didn’t seem to have much use. At least not until some creative people started to realize they could be put to good use in other areas.
Boston Duck Tours has been operating since 1994, and in that time these Ducks have made their own mark on Boston history. Not only are they regularly seen driving past some of the most important historical sites in the city, but they have also been used as parade vehicles after some of the biggest wins for Boston Teams.
In 2002, Boston Duck Tours provided the Ducks for the New England Patriots after they won the Super Bowl, and since then they’ve been used in seven other parades for all the city’s major teams. Of course, these parades weren’t limited to the streets, and the Ducks took them out onto the Charles River as well. Then, in 2010, they were also used to help transport flood victims in Wayland, Massachusetts.
The Sites You’ll See
Both companies offer different tours that will take you to different areas of the city. You can be sure to see some of the bigger historical sites on them, though, like Bunker Hill, the USS Constitution, Arlington Street Church, Cheers, the Museum of Science, and much more.
The biggest difference between these Duck Tours and a traditional trip around Boston, though, is that you will simply drive out onto Charles River or into Boston Harbor and get a completely different view of the city. The tour guides will talk about some of the history along the waterfront and you’ll have an unrivaled view of Boston’s skyline.
Boston is steeped in history, and it’s hard to see it all in a single visit. These Duck Tours offer a completely different approach to the city, though, so you can see a lot of it while enjoying a very unique trip because when you first drive a truck right out onto the river, it will be an experience you won’t forget.
To book your next visit to Boston at discount rates be sure to use Hotels.com.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
April 24, 2012
Embed This Infographic: Copy and Paste the Code Below
New Orleans Two Top Travel Attractions. An infographic by Hotels.com
More than any other aspect New Orleans can be distinguished by its rich roots in Jazz music and original cuisine.
Even more interesting than the food and music themselves is just how much New Orleans truly does attract people from all around the world. One out of every 12 people in New Orleans is employed because of the high demand toursim brings to the table. Last year alone New Orleans welcomed 8.3 million visitors.
Start with Hotels.com to consider traveling to New Orleans for your next vacation.
April 19, 2012
Last year, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport handled more than 92 million passengers and nearly a million individual flights. More people and airplanes pass through this airport than any other airport in the world.
Some people may wonder why Hartsfield-Jackson is so busy. Atlanta, after all, beats out some tough competitors, including airports in Beijing, London, and Los Angeles by many millions of passengers every year.
There is not one answer to this question, but three: 1) Atlanta is home to several key airlines for both domestic and international travel, 2) Atlanta is perfectly situated to act as a hub for the eastern United States and a large number of global destinations, and 3) Atlanta is a fast-growing metropolitan area that attracts both business travelers and tourists from across the country and around the world.
Hub for Airlines
Delta Air Lines, one of the largest carriers in the United States, is headquartered in Atlanta, and Hartsfield-Jackson serves as its primary hub for both domestic and international travelers. Last year, about 60 percent of Delta’s passengers flew through Atlanta.
Another reason that so many flights go through Atlanta is because of the city’s easy distance to much of the rest of the United States. It serves as a gateway to many other destinations in both the North and Southeast.
Many of Delta’s international flights also originate or terminate in Atlanta, as it is one of the closest major urban areas to the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, Hartsfield-Jackson is hoping to attract even more international travelers when it opens its brand new, state-of-the-art, $1.4 billion international terminal in May 2012.
What to Do in Atlanta
The airport isn’t the only reason to visit Atlanta, however. This urban center is an attractive destination in its own right, and it attracts millions of visitors from every part of the globe every year. Here’s a look at some of the things you can do:
- World of Coca-Cola – Atlanta is home to the headquarters of Coca-Cola and the World of Coke attraction. Visitors can view international Coke memorabilia, see how Coke is bottled, and get a taste of soft drink flavors from all over the world.
- CNN – Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of brands like CNN, TBS, and the Cartoon Network, makes its home in Atlanta. Tourists can visit the CNN Center for an inside look at how news is made.
- Centennial Olympic Park – Located in the heart of the city, Centennial Olympic Park is a site for outdoor and community events. It also features the Fountain of Rings, a centerpiece for the park that hosts four daily “shows.”
- History – As an urban center in the Southeast, Atlanta has been the site of some of the most important events in U.S. history. Visitors can take in antebellum plantations, Civil War battlegrounds, and civil rights locations in and around the city.
- Business – Atlanta is an important hub for business. In addition to the above companies, The Home Depot, UPS, AT&T Mobility, and more make their home in Atlanta.
No matter the reason for visiting Atlanta, or how long the stay, visitors will find the city to be one that is both relaxed and welcoming.
What are your reasons for visiting Atlanta?
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
April 18, 2012
New Orleans is an amazingly popular destination, and while it has become famous for a wide range of adult-oriented activities, there are, in fact plenty of things to do for the whole family. This city has developed a truly unique culture from influences from all over the world. From the architecture and cuisine to the events and music, there are a lot of elements that make New Orleans so remarkable.
Embed This Infographic: Copy and Paste the Code Below
Breaking Down New Orleans Travel and Hotels by Hotels.com – An infographic by Hotels.com
1. New Orleans Music
Music has always been a major part of New Orleans culture. This is where jazz was born, and the music still permeates almost everything in the city. Whether it’s the loud, boisterous sounds of events and parades or the soft, smooth jazz in the small, atmospheric clubs, the music in this town is something special.
It is important to note, though, that while the music you hear on the famous Bourbon Street may be a good introduction to the music scene, most locals will probably tell you that’s not where you can get the most authentic experience. If you really want to hear something special, you can try some of the clubs and theaters away from the normal tourist areas. It may take a little extra work, but it will be well worth the effort.
2. The New Orleans Food
New Orleans cuisine is an experience not to be missed. The first thing you should try on arrival is the famous Creole food. The Creole culture and cuisine was already thriving in this area when Louisiana was purchased in 1803, and since then it has continued to grow and develop and add influences from around the world. In basic terms, Creole has a mixture of French, German, Spanish, and West African influences, but it is something you just have to try for yourself to really appreciate.
A lot of travelers also expect to try some Cajun food in the city, even though it is not, in fact, a New Orleans creation. However, with so many people looking for it, many places throughout the city have added some Cajun options. There’s something for everyone in New Orleans, whether it’s the fresh fish, oysters, and crawfish, or the wide varieties of gumbo. A traveler could spend the entire trip just sampling the unique dishes.
3. New Orleans Is Rich With History
The unique culture of New Orleans comes from the long history that began as far back as the late 1600s when French trappers and traders settled in the area. After it was purchased by the U.S. in 1803, many new people began moving into the city, but they tended to settle up river from the French section, with Canal Street becoming an unofficial dividing line.
This is what created the French Quarter – the oldest and most famous part of the city. This neighborhood actually went neglected until the early 20th century, when a lot of people started to realize the potential of the area and the jazz musicians started getting a lot of attention.
Of course, one of the most tragic parts of New Orleans history was Hurricane Katrina. This tragedy changed everything in the city, but the city has been determined to get back on its feet, and most travelers won’t notice any signs of what they experienced. However, there are some areas that are still recovering.
4. The New Orleans Events
Of course, no discussion of New Orleans would be complete without its world famous events. Mardi Gras more than doubles the population of the city every year, so travelers are advised to book their hotels far in advance. This is the time of year when parades, parties, and pageantry rule the streets, with revelers wearing their masks, costumes and beads as they enjoy the experience. It should also be noted, though, that while most people believe Mardi Gras is a strictly adults-only event, there are lots of family friendly activities scattered throughout the city, too.
While nothing can top Mardi Gras for sheer numbers and spectacle, Jazz Fest still brings in more than 500,000 visitors every year. This is held annually on the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May, and it is a chance for anyone to experience jazz, Cajun music, blues, folk, R&B, gospel, and much, much more. With thousands of musicians and lots of options for food and fun, this is a remarkable part of New Orleans culture that you won’t forget.
For information and deals on hotels in New Orleans click here.
April 17, 2012
These days, it’s not all that hard to find a vacation destination that caters to the entire family. Many resorts offer special family packages that include both kid- and adult-friendly accommodations and activities.
1. Oahu, Hawaii
Oahu is a great place to bring the entire family. Whether you’re a fan of snorkeling, swimming, boating, hiking, shopping, or just relaxing, there really is something for everyone on the island. Stay on the South Shore for some great discount hotel rates in Honolulu and some of the most famous beaches in the world, including Waikiki Beach and Hanauma Bay.
The North Shore offers a more relaxed atmosphere and some of the best surfing anywhere. While you’re on that side of the island, be sure to take your family to the Dole Plantation for a ride on the Pineapple Express and a chance to get lost in the world’s largest maze.
As America’s most famous national park, Yellowstone is fun for the entire family no matter what the season. Apart from the geysers, you can find history, geology, scenery, one-of-a-kind natural phenomena, wildlife, and plenty of outdoor adventure here. This is a great place to bring the kids to experience some of the excitement of nature.
If you’re not quite ready to give up on civilization completely, stay in nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for world-class resorts and spas. From here, you can find other attractions like aerial tram rides overlooking the Teton mountain range and white water rafting down the Snake River.
3. Cocoa Beach, Florida
Florida’s quintessential beach town is just an hour’s drive from the fun attractions in Orlando, and it’s a great place to take your family all on its own. Apart from days spent on the beach, you can visit the Kennedy Space Center, go deep sea fishing, or take a day cruise.
Cocoa Beach also offers several fun centers that the kids will enjoy that include miniature golf, go-karts, and game rooms. You can also experience a little “real” Florida and get up close and personal with some alligators at nearby Jungle Adventures Nature Park.
4. Washington, DC
Give your kids a lesson in both history and current events by traveling to Washington, DC. There are plenty of things to do here, including the kid-friendly Air and Space, Natural History, and American History Museums. Take a tour of the national monuments, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the National Zoo. One of the best things about Washington, DC, is that it can be done on a budget—nearly all of the attractions are free.
Outside of the city itself, you can find plenty of things to do—a number of Civil War battlefields are a short drive away, as is George Washington’s Mount Vernon mansion. If you want to take your kids on a vacation that is educational as well as fun, this is the place.
5. San Francisco
San Francisco makes a fun family destination thanks to its numerous kid-friendly museums and unique sights and sounds in the city. Hop on a cable car, visit the sea lions at Pier 39, and take drive across the Golden Gate Bridge for a quintessentially San Francisco experience.
Your kids will also appreciate a visit to Zeum (an interactive museum where kids can make their own music and videos), the Exploratorium (which features exhibits focused on science and art, including the famous Tactile Dome), and the California Academy of Sciences.
6. San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is the hub of the Caribbean and a great place to bring a family. Here you can find plenty of resorts, hotels, and attractions to please both yourselves and your kids.
San Juan offers a unique blend of old and new—accommodations and restaurants are clean and modern, but many areas of the city offer beautiful historical architecture and rugged landscapes. You can visit one of the largest underground cave networks in the world at Rio Camuy Cave Park or watch the ocean light up at night thanks to the thousands of bioluminescent organisms living near the water’s surface.
Where are your favorite spots to take your family? How do you make accommodations for traveling with your kids?
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
April 12, 2012
You don’t have to spend $200,000 on a two-night stay at a fancy hotel to feel like you can travel like a celebrity. We often see them in the media, trying to ignore the legions of paparazzi with a $6,000 carry-on bag draped over their shoulder. Luckily, we don’t need to have a few million dollars of disposable income or a private jet standing by to travel to some of the popular celebrity destination or to experience a vacation that goes beyond first class.
Celebrities seem to have no limits on their vacations, but unfortunately, the rest of us do. The good news is that it’s possible to work within those limits and still have a memorable, celebrity-like experience.
Treat Yourself, but Stay in the Budget
While most of us won’t be able to afford the kind of lavish hotel rooms and special treatment on the airlines that celebrities always manage, that doesn’t mean we can’t look for opportunities to upgrade where we can. Also, an occasional splurge on a nice meal at a famous restaurant probably won’t hurt, as long as you don’t let it stretch the budget too far.
There are also many ways that you can upgrade your experience without paying extra. Many airlines offer bonuses that allow you to upgrade to first class, and if you inform the hotel that you are there to celebrate a special occasion, they just might have something extra for you. Even if that’s not the case, be sure to ask the hotels about your options for a room in your price range. You don’t have to accept what they automatically give you. Find out if there is a room that looks out onto the beach or one that was recently refurbished before you accept that keycard.
Celebrities don’t just go to any old location. There are some very particular places that offer everything they’re looking for, whether it’s something wild and crazy or mysterious and secluded. Some of the most popular destinations include Maui, Ibiza, the Bahamas, and many other locations around Europe like London.
Of course, the celebrities always stay at the most exotic hotels that most of us believe are completely out of reach. A lot of these places, though, have some great hotel deals that might just fit into the budget.
We don’t often see many celebrities participating in tour groups that wander from one traditional tourist destination to another. When they go somewhere it’s usually to participate in a specific activity, and you can plan your trip the same way.
Most celebrities seem to spend their time either enjoying the activities that make a place famous (surfing in Hawaii, skiing in Park City, Utah, beach lounging in Miami, Florida) or shopping at area’s unique stores and tasting a lot of the local cuisine. All of these activities are wide open to anyone – it just takes a little forethought and planning to make sure you have time for it on your vacation.
Dress like You Mean It
It may be more comfortable to fly in your sweats, but if you really want to travel like a celebrity, you should look the part. Go all out. This is a vacation, after all. It’s a time when you can leave the “regular you” behind and escape the humdrum of the everyday. Treat every part of your vacation like it is all important, and even if there won’t be legions of paparazzi waiting to take your picture when you disembark, you can have a lot more fun if you dress like they should be.
Learning to travel like a celebrity isn’t all that difficult. It simply requires a little bit of extra planning and the willingness to look for ways to upgrade your experience without breaking the budget. Find the hotel deals, explore the local attractions, and don’t be afraid to try something new, and your entire experience will be one to remember.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
March 27, 2012
Orlando, Florida recently became the first U.S. market to break the 50-million annual visitor mark, and the city managed it in the face of a seemingly inescapable recession and the surprisingly deep slump in the travel industry. This isn’t to say Orlando didn’t suffer from the downed economy—because it did—but in recent years the number of people flocking back for leisure activities has been nothing short of incredible. Even New York can’t keep up with Orlando’s drawing power, so the question has to be asked: how did Orlando do it?
Tourism can provide a huge boost to a city, and Orlando relies on visitors coming to see the sights more heavily than most. The amount of revenue generated in this industry directly impacts almost everything else in the city, and this is why they dedicate so much time and effort toward making Orlando “the place to go.”
Embed this Infographic On Your Site
Or perhaps the better question is: why not Orlando? Between the sun, the fun, and the theme parks, there’s something for everyone. Beaches, sports, shopping, themed accommodations, fine dining, and an active nightlife round out the perfect vacation spot for families, couples, or spring-break travelers.
Is It All Because of a Mouse?
When you think of Orlando, do you immediately picture Walt Disney World? Then you’re not alone. Between Mickey, Goofy, and enough Princesses to make even the best genealogist wonder how that royal succession is supposed to work, this is where countless wonderful childhood memories are made.
The key for Orlando, though, was not letting a single theme have a monopoly on childhood memories (though, strangely, there are no Monopoly themes). While Disney World is still the most popular attraction, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, and the Universal Orlando Resort (which includes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), also continue to grow and attract new visitors every year.
The Key Is Growth
A mouse can only carry you so far. Soon you will want to see new things and the best attractions and accommodations one year seem like old news the next. The city of Orlando has never been content to leave things “as is” and is a big proponent of the “if you build it, they will come” philosophy of theme parks.
This year alone will see some large additions to most of the major parks in and around Orlando. SeaWorld is adding a 3D/360-degree theater experience for total immersion in the story.
Orlando Resort is constructing a new attraction based on the popular movie Despicable Me, and Magic Kingdom Fantasy Land will be doubling in addition to the new Princess Fairytale Hall and two other attractions.
These are not places that passively sit back and hope a few small improvements in the economy will lead to major increases in their bottom line. They are looking for new ways to attract new visitors, and they’re willing to take a risk and make an investment to see it happen.
Affordable and Accommodating
Despite all this growth, and the highly desirable nature of the area, Orlando has managed to keep its prices comparatively low. While New York is also one of the most traveled cities in the country, it is by far the most expensive place (according to Hotels.com® Hotel Price Index™) to visit. Orlando, on the other hand, doesn’t even rank in the top 20 most expensive. Whether you’re traveling as a large or small group, there’s a good chance you can fit it into your budget.
There are accommodations throughout the city for almost anyone, with more than 450 Orlando hotels offering a combined 115,200 guestrooms. And if that’s not your thing, you could always check into one of the 26,000 vacation home rentals or 20,000 vacation ownership units.
Orlando has become one of the most sought out cities for vacation because it has what it takes to make visitors feel right at home.
Visit our Orlando hotel deals page to start planning your vacation and for more on the attractions and offerings Orlando brings to the table we would also recommend visiting the Local Expert for deals and information.
March 22, 2012
Taking the time to plan out the details of a vacation can seem like a tiresome, mundane task, when all you really want to do is hit the road and escape the daily grind. Your smartphone, though, now has the ability to help you shorten this process so you can spend a lot less time on the planning stage and more time actually enjoying the trip.
After you choose your destination, the next step is deciding how you will get there and where you will stay. Is it close enough that you can make a road trip out of it, or will you need to book a flight? What about the hotel? Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than poor accommodations chosen because you just didn’t know what to expect. All you need, though, is a simple app to make the planning process as simple as possible.
Finding the Right Hotel
We all have different requirements and expectations for our accommodations on vacation. Some of us expect only the best, while others are looking for ways to save money. Sometimes it’s about a convenient location near the big city, or it may be about finding something that offers a little more solitude. The hotels.com app makes it easy to discover the hotels you want and offers a number of tools to make the planning and booking process a lot easier.
The hotels.com app was designed to provide an interactive, streamlined hotel booking experience, so you can spend more time enjoying your holiday and less time stressing about the details. Some of the features include:
- “Tonight’s Local Deals,” an exclusive feature that provides special daily deals to hotels.com mobile users
- The ability to find and book more than 140,000 hotels throughout 200 countries
- Access to more than 20,000 last minute deals
- Access to past, current and future reservations, even if you’re off line
- A quick and simple interface to view the hotel’s location
- Click to call features so you can contact a team of hotel experts if you need help
Whether you are planning your vacation well in advance, or searching for some last-minute hotel deals while you’re on a long road trip, your smartphone can give you access to some powerful tools to help you find the best accommodations that fit your budget. And when you’re ready to make your reservation, it’s just a couple clicks away.
Making the Most of Your Smartphone
There are a wide range of apps that can help you plan out the details of the trip, from the flight to the hotel to the local activities. Be sure you take advantage of all their features to make the most of your smartphone and your time away from the daily grind. The hotels.com and many other apps designed for the avid traveler let you see reviews from actual customers, so you will know exactly what you can expect from your planned accommodations.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
March 20, 2012
Master chefs, colorful food, seasonal menus, unsurpassed wine list, authentic cuisine, quality service, visually stunning preparations with views and a location to match. If you’re lucky, a restaurant will offer just one of these things. But in a competitive world of fine dining, a restaurant will fight to give you all of those things, in what winds up being an experience that will make your jaw drop, even while you’re eating.
Fine dining is more often than not, found in luxurious hotels. Although hotels and restaurants are completely different entities, they work together building creditability, reputation and an unmatched experience.
Las Vegas is easily the number 1 city for hotels that host exceptional restaurants. Las Vegas Boulevard is one of the only places you can stay and experience luxury hotels for cheap and have an ample selection of fine dining right outside of your hotel door. Close your eyes and pick any hotel on The Strip, you are almost guaranteed to find it also hosts an award winning restaurant.
The first notable Las Vegas restaurant is CUT in the Palazzo hotel and casino. Master chef Wolfgang Puck puts a contemporary twist on a classic steakhouse. Puck uses top quality beef including Prime, hormone-free, corn-fed sirloin from Nebraska; and a 35-day dry-aged beef from Illinois. To accompany your steak you can choose from a wide variety of homemade sauces and CUT’s famous Creamed Spinach with Fried Organic Egg and the Soft Polenta with Parmesan.
Another notable Las Vegas Restaurant is Guy Savoy, located in Caesars Palace. Guy Savoy is known best for French “Nouvelle Cuisine,” and visitors can enjoy the food as well as list of 2,100 (mostly French) wines, inside of an elegant seating area that will make you feel like a god in a temple.
The last distinguished Las Vegas restaurant is Michael Mina, located in the famous Bellagio Hotel which fits the sleek, classy, colorful theme of the high- rolling casino. Upon entering Michael Mina, guests walk through the Botanical glass gardens of the Bellagio Casino. The contemporary atmosphere specializes in seafood, vegetarian and seasonal dishes.
Trump International Hotel and Towers
The Trump Towers are known for hosting some of the finest restaurants across the world. In New York City, Jean- Georges, named after award-winning chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, mixes French, American and Indochinese ingredients, creating an artful, delicate dishes. Sixteen, which is located on the 16th floor of Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago has some of the most spectacular views of the Chicago, Lake Michigan, The Chicago River and the Wrigley Clock Tower. Views are seen out of 30- foot floor- to- ceiling windows.
St Regis Hotels
St Regis Hotels are also known for hosting a wide variety of fine dining establishments across the world. J&G Grill in Park City, Utah provides Jean- Gorges sophistication in a ski town setting. Slopeside views, a wood burning fireplace with an open kitchen provide a mountainous dining experience. The Saint Regis in Aspen, hosts a restaurant led by executive Chef Jason Adams. It features food from local and regional farms resulting in a fresh dining experience.
Staying on board with local produce is also a commitment the Laurel Court Restaurant at the Fairmount Hotel in San Francisco has made. Chef jW Foster only uses seasonal organic produce, free range poultry and eggs and purchases seafood from sustainable sources.
At La Prime at the Westin in Los Angeles you can enjoy panoramic views of downtown Los Angeles and an edgy menu that offers prime beef steaks, both wet and dry aged, lamb and fresh fish.
The Addison sits overlooking the Grand Del Mar Resort in San Diego. Chef William Bradley is a collector of vintage cook books and changes the menu seasonally and weekly, paying homage to in season produce and flavors.
The Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, California is located in a remote area and visitors can experience an endless view of the Mayacamas Range. You’ll be sure to have the most knowledgeable waiters who can provide wine recommendations and in the non- peak winter months you can find at this homey hotel.
Whether you are looking to enjoy a luxury hotel, fine dining or both there are numerous locations across the country that offers a refined experience.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
March 13, 2012
If you haven’t yet experienced our hub for an interactive experience beginning in one of three cities infamous for their tourist allure now is the time. Tied into Facebook to make your digital journey personal by a quick Facebook photo upload and up to three profile photos of friends to join in the remembrance of the disastrous night you just took part in.
TripYourFace.com is the customizable content experience from Hotels.com that allows you to put yourself and some friends into some… interesting situations. The experience begins by choosing one of three destinations – New York, Paris, or Las Vegas:
Once you have selected your city you’re brought to a check in counter and begin of your virtual hotel with up to three other friends.
Things really start to happen when you wake up the next day.
What Happens in New York…
Would probably stay in New York if it wasn’t so easy to share the experience on Facebook and Twitter. In this case, your journey begins when you select the New York hotel stay. You will be checked in by a very friendly and courteous person at the counter, where you can specify how many of your friends will be joining you. TripYourFace.com allows you to select up to three of your friends’ profile pictures from Facebook to accompany you for the evening.
The friendly and courteous counter person will then hand over the keycard and when you finally enter your room, everything still seems to be normal. But when you wake up on the following day, you may be a little surprised by the scene.
The entire room looks like it has been hit with a tornado – but a tornado that left money, bottles, and glasses all over the floor. One might start to wonder what’s up with the overturned bucket of chicken and power drill on the coffee table, but that would assume one was ignoring the man with a bag over his head and tied to a chair, an anxious and armed gangster gazing out the window, and a couple sets of extra legs sprawled on the floor that don’t seem willing or able to move anymore.
What did you do last night?!
With no apparent memory of what brought about this state of affairs, the only way you’re going to find out is through the video flashbacks that take you step-by-step through the night. This is where the technology used by TripYourFace makes things a little more interesting.
When you check in with your friends, you will be asked to upload your picture and the profile pictures of up to three others which will then be superimposed on the characters in the videos. The site offers a few tools that let you scale, rotate, and size the image, place the facial marker for tracking, and adjust the color to make sure it fits the general ambiance of the clip.
Now it’s time to find out what really happened. What exactly did you get involved with on your “innocent” trip to New York?
Anything Can Happen in New York
The flashback videos show the scenarios, clearly involving you and your friends, that led to the current state of the hotel room. Turns out you and your friends have taken the opportunity to get involved with some shady characters in New York. But what is life without a little excitement and danger?
Of course, an adventure like this only gets more fun when you can share it with others. Once you have gone through all the videos and reconstructed what went on the night before, you will be able to tag your friends that made an appearance in the video and let them preview it through Twitter and Facebook.
TripYourFace.com is a fun way to have the kind of trip with your friends that most of us will probably never see in real life (which may or may not be a very good thing). There are three different cities to experience beginning with New York. Start your TripYourFace.com experience by clicking on the image below:
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
March 1, 2012
Imagine you are at the end of a long drive and find yourself in an unknown city, wandering aimlessly in the vain search for a place to sleep for the night. The first hotel you find turns out to be booked solid, so you move on to the next one – which has some vacancies, but that, it turns out, is probably just because of the cockroaches in the rooms and the questionable quality of the cleaning staff.
We created the Hotels.com App to help travelers avoid problems like these and to make it as convenient as possible to book a stay at the best and most affordable hotels. The app is free, and you will immediately have access to our full database of more than 145,000 hotels worldwide. We understand that when you are travelling it’s about more than finding a place to stay – it’s about finding a place where you will feel comfortable and can actually enjoy your stay.
How It Works
Our mobile app works just like the website, giving travelers access to all the information they would normally have through their computers. It’s really easy to find and book your hotel in advance from the 145,000 in the database or take advantage of more than 20,000 last minute deals. With the mobile app, though, you can automatically search for the deals that are close to your current location and then filter the results by price, rating, and other criteria.
All the information and tools you need are right in the palm of your hand. You can immediately access a map to your hotel, and if you need extra help making use of the app, our dedicated team of hotel experts is just a click away. You can access all your past and present reservations, whether you are online or off, and all the eligible hotels you book through the app will count toward your Welcome Rewards account.
One of the most important features, though, is the ability to see all the reviews from real people who actually stayed at all these cheap hotels. They’ll be the first to tell you if the cockroaches have taken over or whether the cleaning staff left a lot to be desired.
We wanted to make it as easy as possible to find the hotels that fit your budget and your personal standards. So whether you are looking for hotels in Las Vegas to Orlando deals you can have a powerful resource with you all the time. It doesn’t matter if you have had a sudden change of plans and need a hotel at the last minute or you prefer to travel without a set itinerary, this app will let you focus on the things you actually want to do instead of wasting time searching for a place to stay.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
February 9, 2012
Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and luckily for those of you who like to put things off until the last possible moment, there’s still time to take plan an incredibly romantic getaway for you and your special someone. With that in mind, here’s a look at four of the most romantic places in the country to spend time with your Valentine this year.
Head down south this Valentine’s Day for a warm weather getaway in the middle of winter. The Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, located on a 5-acre private island that is only accessible by boat or seaplane, is one of Florida’s most secluded retreats.
Nestled amid the coconut trees, the hotel offers 30 ultra-private suites in 14 thatched-roof bungalows. Each comes with a romantic ocean view, louvered windows, beds draped in butterfly netting, bamboo accents, terra-cotta tile floors, and sisal rugs. When you’re not enjoying your nature-inspired room, you can feast on classic European dishes infused with Caribbean and Latin flavors at Little Palm’s Dining Room or improve your health and mental wellbeing at Spa Terre.
If your idea of a romantic holiday is embracing the winter weather rather than shunning it, set your sights on a Valentine’s Day ski weekend at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole. Home to some of the world’s best skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling , and dog sledding, Jackson Hole offers easy access to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, and the Four Seasons Resort is the perfect place to stay for some après-ski pampering.
If you’ve stayed with Four Seasons before, you know that the chain has a reputation for getting things right, and the Jackson Hole resort is no exception. The hotel has 124 rooms and 57 suites, so you can be sure to find a room that fits your style.
If you’re looking to whisk your beloved away to a hotel that offers old country charm mixed with 21st century comforts, look no further than the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts. Built in 1893, the Wheatleigh transports you back in time with its classically beautiful Italian architecture and 22 acre park surroundings overlooking the Berkshire Mountains and lake.
Stay in one of 19 individually-decorated suites, and enjoy amenities that include a private wine cellar, golf, horseback riding, and fitness center. The Wheatleigh is within walking distance to Tanglewood and close to other performing arts venues.
Located in the heart of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the Lowell delivers on sophistication and service. The Lowell was built in the 1920s as an upscale apartment hotel, and today it boasts a total of 49 suites and 23 deluxe rooms, each decorated to match a different theme, such as the Hollywood Suite or the Garden Suite. When booking, be sure to ask for one of the hotel’s 33 suites with wood burning fireplaces or 14 with private terraces.
As with other many of the finest New York City Hotels, part of the charm of staying at the Lowell is that the hotel truly feels like home (if your home were located in one of New York’s most fashionable neighborhoods and stuffed with creature comforts like full-sized BVLGARI amenities). Each room is designed to offer a truly personalized experience to guests with stocked bookshelves, in-room iPods (upon request), and a daily copy of the New York Times.
Some of the extra amenities that guests can enjoy include a nightly turndown service complete with complimentary Voss water, free daily shoeshine service and a fitness center. With all of that, you may not even make it to Madison Avenue, as you’ll be too busy enjoying what this truly romantic hotel has to offer. For additional great ideas on places to stay near Manhattan this Valentines’s Day read more from our travel advice.
No matter where you choose to spend this Valentine’s Day, make it memorable by planning something extravagant for your special someone. What is your favorite romantic hotel? Are you planning a Valentine’s Day stay?
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
February 7, 2012
The best road trips are the ones that involve a string of memorable events as you go from point A to point B. Experienced road trippers know that the best part of the trip has nothing to do with the destination – it’s all about the journey. So how do you make the most of your time on the road? Do you schedule every mile of the journey to make sure you’ve filled every moment of your vacation, or do you just pick a direction and start driving?
Choose Your Vehicle Wisely
A good road trip starts with a good vehicle. Most of us are limited to whatever is currently sitting in the garage, but there are definitely some vehicles that are better than others for a long journey. Those large SUVs are going to look extremely tempting – they’re roomy, they sit above most of the surrounding traffic, and they’re extremely comfortable. Of course, you will blow the major portion of your budget on fuel if you go this route.
The other end of the spectrum is the small, fuel-efficient cars that will carry you from one side of a state to another with minimal gas usage. Unfortunately, this can also lead to maximum discomfort after a few hours on the road.
It is possible to find a vehicle that walks the line between these two extremes – a vehicle that offers the interior space and reasonable gas mileage that will make a trip comfortable for you and your wallet. Of course, unless you’re planning on renting a vehicle specifically for the trip, you’re going to be limited to whatever you currently own. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you just need to be aware of the benefits and limitations of your vehicle.
Will you plan out every stop along the trip, or will you simply head west and then turn around after you spend half of your money? There are a lot of opportunities to find hotel rooms for cheap even if you don’t call ahead, but you will be taking a lot of chances. You may find yourself sleeping in your car as often as you do a nice New York Hotel. Of course, that just might be half the fun.
Open ended road trips may lead to spending a night in a questionable neighborhood, but it could also create the opportunity to see and experience a lot of things you would otherwise miss if you are determined to stick to a pre-planned schedule. Of course, these days there are a lot of ways for road trippers to be impulsive without risking a stay at a questionable accommodation. With a good travel app and a reliable GPS you can add some adventure to your road trip without the risk of spending a night in the car.
Consider the following as a potential road trip method: choose the city or locations where you want to end up, but don’t plan your stops along the way. You don’t even have to decide on more than a couple attractions that you expect to see as you go. When you reach any given town, though, rather than just stopping in at the nearest drive-through, use your travel apps or your GPS to find something completely different. Search for something a little more generalized, like “Thai food” or “pastries” and find out what each city has to offer in these areas. You may be surprised. On top of that, the GPS will soon have you travelling through parts of the city you would have never seen if you had planned out every step of the trip.
Lodging can pose a slightly different problem, though. You need to find something that fits the budget and seems clean and safe. It only takes a little last minute research, though, and you can still discover some great accommodations that other travelers have rated well.
Whether you enjoy travelling with to specific destinations with set schedules or you prefer the kind of road trip that is open to a lot of unforeseen possibilities, just make sure you have the best tools to make the most out of your time on the road.
This post written by Joselyn Seifer.
January 24, 2012
Keeping up with the technology curve can feel like a never-ending battle. It often seems like there is no way to ever get caught up. There is always something new, always something going on and always somewhere to be. The Internet is constantly growing, and most recently social media has caught everyone’s attention.
The good news is that all these new social networks and apps can seriously enhance your travels. The bad news is that with so many options out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. The following are some tips on how to manage your time and social media endeavors to make the most of your travels without getting distracted by all the activity in the social sphere.
1. Avoid filter failure
It is really easy to get bogged down by trying to follow too many things, which is why filters can be your best friend. Rather than following everything on Twitter, use an outside agent like HootSuite or TweetDeck to pare it down to the essentials. There’s simply too much information out there to take it all in. Whether you are on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, filters help you get the information you need and share your news with the right people.
One of the best filters to help plan your next travel experience are the hashtags on any Twitter application. As shown above there are quite a few hash tags to get your started:
- #FlipCamFriday - This is a fun event where anyone has the chance to win a free Flip camera as they participate.
- #TravelTrivia - As the name implies, this is a great source to find and contribute to daily trivia regarding travel.
- #TMOM – This is a hashtag for the very active Travel Mom Blogger Network.
- #SATW and #TBEX are specific to the Society of American Travel Writers and the Travel Blog Exchange.
- #TravelTuesday (also sometimes used as #TT) – Similar to #FollowFriday but specifically for the travel world, every Tuesday is “Travel Tuesday,” and anyone who shares travel-related information uses the hashtag on this day.
2. Plan ahead
If you are worried about keeping up your blog schedule, many blog platforms and social networking sites will let you create posts ahead of time. If your business relies on this kind of social media presence, it can be crucial for you to plan for your time away. This way, if you have to spend time looking for hotels in Las Vegas, you won’t fall behind schedule. If you have a plan, you can create some blog posts and pre-schedule them to go out on specific dates. The same applies to other social networking platforms. Make sure you are taking advantage of all the social tools that are available.
Have you ever wished there was just one magic button that you could push to simultaneously update every one of your social networks? When you’re travelling, a lot of people will want to see a lot of updates, and you could end up spending more time blogging and updating than actually enjoying your journey while you try to keep them all happy.
Chances are you will be publishing the same thing to multiple social media sites, so rather than logging into each one separately, update them all at once with sites like OnlyWire, HelloTxt or Ping.fm. If you do this, make sure you keep your work and personal updates separate – there have been quite a few examples of people who have lost their jobs over social media and an erroneous or discourteous tweet.
4. Restrain yourself
Don’t let yourself get carried away with social media while you are travelling. It’s just too easy to get sidetracked. Have a little self-discipline and, if you can, leave it behind. If you are travelling for enjoyment, realize that the social networks will still be there when you get back. If you are travelling for business, make sure you manage your time wisely. If you have to, set a timer and allow yourself small increments of time to take care of all your networking.
5. Know your purpose
You need a clear goal when using social media. If you do not know what you are trying to accomplish, then you are simply wasting time. Think of what you’re trying to gain, and then work toward that end. Discard the things that get in your way.
Even if you travel a lot, you can still effectively manage your time online. There’s a lot going on, but with the right tools, discipline and practice, these social media applications and networks can help enhance your travels rather than bog you down with countless updates and unwanted tweets.
January 12, 2012
2011 was full of uncertainty around travelling to Japan. With so many different reports coming out at different times, it was hard to know exactly when or if it was okay to visit the country in any kind of recreational capacity. For some people the question wasn’t even about safety. The question was: when is it right and appropriate to travel to a country that has suffered so much?
The triple disaster in northern Japan was the worst thing to happen to the country since World War II. It was so bad the media barely even noticed that a large volcano erupted on the southern side of the island just a couple days later. Immediately after the earthquake, the U.S. State Department issued an official warning and discouraged any unnecessary travel to the country. When news about the Fukushima nuclear plants started reaching the public, the agency also recommended that any U.S. citizens within a 50 mile radius of the plant either evacuate the area or if that wasn’t possible remain indoors as much as possible.
Eventually, of course, the State Department removed all these restrictions, but despite reassurances from the Japanese government and many businesses in the travel industry, travelers are still keeping their distance from Japan and the country is experiencing a huge drop-off in annual tourism.
On March 30, 2011, just 19 days after the disaster, the State Department eased the restrictions on travel to Japan. While the situation at Fukushima was still extremely serious, and aftershocks lasted for weeks, commercial flights had resumed to all the major airports except Sendai, and a lot of progress has been made to restore the infrastructure.
It didn’t take long for Tokyo public transportation to start working again, and, according to the State Department, 90% of the roads that were damaged by the quake or tsunami were quickly repaired or are at least made passable. Even the planned rolling power outages in Tokyo didn’t last very long, although the outages in the northeast areas still caused some water and food shortages.
At the time, the State Department still recommended that visitors deferred any travel to the Tokyo or Yokohama areas, while Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa regions were considered outside of the troubled area and safe to visit.
What Is The Current Situation?
In the months that followed the disaster, the world watched as the people of Japan pulled together to rebuild and try to recover something of their former lives. Despite the reports of recovery, though, foreign travelers are still staying away, and the number of visitors has dropped dramatically. The tourist industry is capable of generating significant returns for business as well as the government, and the country needs to these visitors to come back.
Japan has come a long way since the day of the triple disaster, but full recovery is still a long way off. However, the country itself is still, according to all reports, safe to visit and extremely welcoming to travellers.
January 10, 2012
Have you noticed how two people can go on the exact same trip and come away with completely different experiences? No matter where we go or what we do when we get there, our individual travel personalities will influence how we view the whole experience. Understanding our personalities, then, is a great way to make sure our travel plans meet our expectations.
Travel personalities are also important when you are cruising around the world with friends and family, or you expect to meet a lot of new people along the way. People often behave differently while they are travelling than they normally would, and if you can spot the signs of these personality types, you may find it easier to interact with them in different situations.
There are many different personality types, and a spectrum of people within each type, but by understanding some of the more common traits (and where you might fit into them), you may find it easier to plan the trips that are right for you.
- The Scheduler – These are the travelers that need to know exactly what is going to happen every moment of the trip. They understand that travel time is limited, and they don’t want to let any of it go to waste.
- The Worrier – There are countless things that can go wrong on a trip, and the Worrier will plan and re-plan for every possible contingency. Of course, they also understand that they have an impossible job, and can find it hard to relax.
- The Explorer – Travelers who wants to see new things and meet new people will have difficulties with guided tours and pre-set schedules. These are the people who want to see the things “normal tourists” never will.
- The Insider – No matter where you go, this personality seems to already know everything about the culture and the people. It’s hard to say where their insider information came from, but they are very quick to share it.
- The Souvenir Hunter – The only way for these travelers to prove they’ve been somewhere is to go home with the T-shirt – or the hat, or the collectable spoon, or that strange statue carved from something resembling rock.
- The Penny Pincher – Trips are expensive, and these travelers want see going over the budget akin to leaving the clearly-marked trail. In other words, you could cause a lot of erosion and might get attacked by wile animals.
- The Anti-Planner – Much like the Explorer, the Anti-Planner believes that schedules only ruin the experience. They want to fly by the seat of their pants, rely on last minute hotel deals, and let the world surprise them.
- The Exclusives – For some travelers, only the best will do. These are the personalities who only stay in the best hotels and dine in the finest restaurants, and they enjoy having a very controlled experience.
Of course, you can mix and match a lot of these personality types, and some people will vary between extreme or moderate displays of these characteristics, but understanding where you fit into these travel personalities will help you get more out of your trips.
December 20, 2011
It’s only natural that an aged man who travels for a living would have some very particular expectations from his accommodations. After a very long night of treating everyone else in the world (literally) to some great gifts (assuming they’re on the “good” list), even Santa needs to treat himself to a relaxing stay in quality lodgings, unburdened by the needs of thousands of short, pointy-eared toy makers and letters or emails from countless demanding children.
At the end of another long, hard year, the man could decide to stay almost anywhere, depending on his mood and immediate needs. When a person travels for work, preferences can change depending on the current circumstances and any last minute hotel deals. If Mr. Claus had his choice, though, he would likely go for one of the following:
The Ritz-Carlton in New York
When all you do is give, sometimes it’s nice to do something special for yourself. The Ritz-Carlton is the epitome of style, class, and elegance, and with its incredible service, this hotel would be just the place for the man in red to leave all his concerns behind. What could be better than unwinding at the Ritz-Carlton’s modern American bistro, gazing out the floor-to-ceiling windows and enjoying the park views, or topping off all those cookies and milk with a world-class desert created by celebrated pastry chefs?
Grand Oasis Caribbean Resort in Cancun
Even the jolliest of old elves can only take so much snow and ice in a year. When it’s time to get away from it all, it’s time to head south and soak in enough sun to keep warm the rest of the year. The Grand Oasis is in the Cancun Hotel Zone and offers the kind of all-inclusive vacation a hard-working magical courier deserves. With a spa, a marina, a health club, outdoor pool and waterslide, there’s plenty here for him to enjoy before heading back to the cold up north.
Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas
You don’t take a job at the North Pole unless you really love kids. Santa may want to relax at a nice hotel, but he may also want to have some fun that appeals to his own childlike personality. Among the many extravagant hotels in Las Vegas one you can count on to be loud, bright, and fun is Circus Circus. It’s a great place for families because there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, from the elevated indoor theme park to shows featuring trapeze artists and other aerialists. And don’t forget the discount hotel rates and famous Circus Buffet, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After a hard day’s work, a man needs his food.
ICEHOTEL in Sweden
You can take a person out of the North Pole, but you can’t take the North Pole out of the person. ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi is located near Kiruna airport in Sweden, and it’s the perfect place for a good northern boy looking for a home away from home. ICEHOTEL is the world’s largest hotel made of ice and snow, and it features two restaurants, a bar and lounge, and even a sauna. This is an unbelievably unique experience for anyone who doesn’t normally reside in ice-covered countries, but for the man himself, this might just provide the kind of comfort he expects.
Check out the Holiday Hotel Specials we have going on right now.
December 6, 2011
If you’re headed home or on a vacation for the holidays, it’s time to prepare. It’s no secret that the Christmas season is one of the busiest times of year for travel, but there are some things that you can do to make life a little easier on yourself. Whether you plan on flying or driving this December, take a look at these 10 tips for making your holiday travel a lot more enjoyable:
- Leave early and stay late. Avoid peak holiday travel dates by making arrangements to leave early and stay late. This year, both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Sunday, which means that the weekends leading up to these holidays are likely to be overcrowded both on the road and in the airport. In order to avoid the worst of the holiday rush, do your traveling a few days in advance or few days after the holiday weekend. You’ll not only save your sanity, but also your wallet, by taking advantage of discount hotel rates and airline deals.
- Give your immune system a boost. If there’s one thing more stressful than traveling over the holidays, it’s traveling while you’re sick during the holidays. Avoid this unpleasant situation by taking care of your health in the days leading up to the holidays. Eat right, exercise, and load up on vitamin C. Your body will thank you.
- Ship presents both ways. With costly checked bag fees and airport security being what they are, shipping gifts both to and from grandma’s house is a good idea to help keep your bags light and your stress low. If this isn’t an option, try to plan some time to finish up last minute holiday shopping at your destination rather than trying to bring it all with you.
- Bring plenty to do. Between airline overbooking and weather and highway delays, there is plenty that can go wrong during holiday travel. Plan for long wait times by loading up with music, books, movies and games—the more the better. If you are traveling with kids, be sure to bring whatever they need to stay entertained while traveling. It’s usually a good idea to bring something they haven’t seen before, like a new book of puzzles, that can hold their attention for a long period of time.
- Pack for security. Many passengers’ number one complaint for airline travel is going through security. Make this process a little easier by familiarizing yourself with the regulations for what can and cannot be brought through checkpoints and packing accordingly. The TSA has some new procedures in place this year, so make sure that you know what to expect.
- Stay in a hotel. Staying in a hotel rather than your parents’ basement with 15 other relatives can save you a lot of headaches and give you your own space just when you need it. You can get great last minute hotel deals on some ultra-luxurious rooms for the holidays.
- Call ahead and confirm. If you have reservations with an airline or hotel, call a few days in advance to check that everything is confirmed. On the day of your flight, check that your flight is on time before you even leave for the airport.
- Use your best negotiation skills. Even with all the best preparation and planning in the world, sometimes things go wrong while traveling. If something happens to you—your flight is delayed, your luggage lost, your hotel puts you in the wrong room—remain calm. As much as you may feel like letting the gate agent have a piece of your mind, this is usually not the best way to get what you want. Try negotiating instead—if you are bumped from a flight, for instance, be nice but insist on getting compensated for your trouble.
- Prepare for the worst. Have the numbers of friends, family, emergency contacts, airline and hotels programmed into your phone. Make a plan for what you will do if your flight is cancelled. Is there another way to get to where you are going? Have these backup plans on hand.
- Rely on your friends and family. Christmas is the perfect time of year for both giving and receiving. Holiday travel can be made much less stressful if you rely on the help of your family and friends to make things a little easier on yourself. Have a friend drop you off at the airport, for instance, instead of paying for long term parking.
Follow these tips for a well managed holiday that, if not stress-free, is at least stress-reduced. Happy holiday travels!
Check out the Holiday Hotel Specials we have going on right now.
New York is a happening place, where there is always something new to see or do. Even if you live in the Big Apple, you can’t possibly experience everything that the city has to offer. If you’re a tourist, you might feel overwhelmed by all the options, especially if you do not have a plan, so if you are visiting New York for a limited time, keep the following destinations in mind:
The Statue of Liberty
A beacon for freedom and democracy across the world, the Statue of Liberty is a staple New York attraction. While it is easily seen from a distance, it is best seen up close—so take a ferry and get passes to view the monument. Be prepared to wait in line unless you purchase tickets to climb to the crown or a type of fast pass that will let you bypass the lines. On the way to the Statue of Liberty, stop off at Ellis Island to learn more about historical immigration into New York.
The Empire State Building
You won’t find a better view in New York than the view from the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building. The tallest building in NYC, the Empire State Building delivers a panoramic view that is unmatched—especially if you go after dusk when the city lights take over the cityscape. Take a look through the magnifying viewer to see the details, and prepare to be amazed by the vastness that is New York City. Compare the various sizes of the New York hotels and see for yourself what all the fuss was about in Sleepless in Seattle.
If you’re travelling on a budget, then you should be sure to check out Central Park. The pride of Manhattan, Central Park offers 843 acres of walking trails, ponds and free entertainment. There’s something new every day, so while you won’t be able to plan what you see, you are sure to find something for the whole family.
In the entire United States there is not a bigger wildlife preserve than the Bronx Zoo. Home to over 4,500 animals on 265 acres of land, you will find authentic re-created habitats full of exotic animals. It will take you quite a bit of time to navigate the entire zoo, so plan your mealtimes accordingly.
You’ve seen it in the movies, but that is nothing like visiting Times Square for yourself. There are many Broadway shows, street vendors, booths, lighted advertisements and more to entertain at Times Square—but if you are driving, know that you will have to be aggressive to get anywhere. If you haven’t planned that far in advance, you can find a last minute hotel nearby that will make it easier for you to walk to Times Square instead.
If you’re travelling to New York, plan ample time to see everything that’s on your list. There’s always something for everyone, so if you are a sports fan, a culture junkie or an entertainment aficionado, you can find something in NYC to impress.
December 1, 2011
Break up your regular routine with a refreshing weekend getaway. A few days of relaxation could be just what you need to recharge your batteries, and you don’t even need to go far from home to enjoy a weekend vacation. Here are some ideas for making your next trip easy and stress-free.
Quick Getaway Options
The point of a quick weekend escape is to do it on a whim, with little or no planning. All-inclusive resorts and hotels are great for this because they often have ready-made packages that include your food, lodging and an array of activities. A local bed-and-breakfast can be perfect for weekend trips, too, and you can find them nearly anywhere.
Since you don’t want travel-time to eat up too much of your weekend, consider spots just outside of town or a short flight away. The shorter your travel-time, the more time you’ll have for activities or just unwinding.
Weekend Travel Tips
Book your flight and hotel together. You can often get significant hotel discounts when you book your hotel and airline tickets through a single company. Because these travel sites get a percentage of both sales, they’re likely to offer deals on such travel bundles.
Pack light for more freedom. Really, how much can you possibly need for a quick weekend trip? When you lug around a lot of baggage, your movement is limited, and you’re instantly marked as a tourist. You’ll miss a lot of opportunities that are available to off-the-beaten-path travelers with more freedom to explore. You need to stay mobile, so follow a couple of simple rules when packing for a weekend getaway:
- Stick to a single, 20-pound bag. Such small carry-ons don’t have to be checked, and you’ll be hailing a taxi while everyone else is milling about the baggage claim. (Check your airline for size and weight restrictions for carry-on bags.)
- Pack just a single change of clothes. Chances are that you can arrange to have your travel clothes cleaned upon arrival, and you can buy an extra shirt, pants or cheap shoes at your destination if you really need them.
- Always keep a travel toiletries bag packed. A small toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and other necessities will fit in a small travel bag that weighs less than a pound. (Check TSA requirements restricting fluids before you go.)
Check travel warnings for your destination. This can include weather warnings or State Department travel advisories. You’ll also want to know beforehand if the country you’re visiting has special visa requirements or travel restrictions for foreign visitors.
Pack the car beforehand. If you’re driving to your weekend getaway, get a head-start by packing your car the night before. That way, you can leave first thing in the morning, or straight from the office to beat weekend traffic going out of town.
Look up one or two good restaurants. Sampling the local fare is a big part of enjoying travel, and it’s easy to find reviews and recommendations from just about any travel destination. Look for something that’s not too far from your hotel. There’s a benefit to having two good restaurants on your list. If you like the first place you try, you’ve found a good spot to come back to. If not, you have a back up.
Ask locals for recommendations. You can ask the concierge at your hotel, but they’re not all equally knowledgeable. Local visitor centers are similarly a crap-shoot. But local people almost always have their favorite haunts, and they’ll usually be happy to steer you in the right direction if you don’t look like too green a tourist.
Pack your handheld GPS. You’re no longer at the mercy of vague maps and poor directions when you travel. If you can program a couple choice locations into your GPS beforehand, you’ll be less likely to get lost in an unfamiliar city, which means less time spent being lost as well. If you don’t have a GPS, it’s worth the effort to print detailed maps of the area surrounding your hotel.