Author Archives: fox

Finding the Best Flight Deals

unduhan-5In the last couple of years we’ve been enjoying some fairly low priced airfare, but taking a few minutes and putting in a little extra effort could potentially save you even more onyour next flight. With these few hacks, you can look forward to savings of up to hundreds of dollars

HOPPER

Using Hopper, the popular fare predictor app, should be your first step before searching for flights. Hopper’s prices are MUCH higher than almost every other app or website so I would never recommend actually buying your tickets here, but their calendar showing which days are the cheapest (and most expensive) to fly can be very helpful in planning your trip.

THE FLIGHT DEAL

The Flight Deal does not have an app, but if you’re willing to navigate their website you’ll find it’s definitely worth it. Flight Deal finds amazing ‘mistake’ airfare deals that often slip by unnoticed by airlines for a day or two, so you can find some great steals if you’re willing to pull the trigger on buying tickets immediately.

This is a great option if you don’t have a particular place you’re looking to go, given most of the departing airports and destinations – domestic and international – are pretty random. There are a few cons: there are almost always blackout dates, you generally have to buy more than two weeks in advance, and these deals only last 1-3 days; however, roundtrip flights for as low as $70 (taxes and fees included!) are hard to pass up!

KAYAK FLIGHT PREDICTOR

Although you should aim to book tickets 54 days before a flight when prices are at their lowest, listen to KAYAK’s ‘farecasting’ advice if it tells you to wait. Frequent flyers have experimented in the past and found that they were more likely to save money using the ‘wait’ or ‘buy’ feature, so double check the fare predictor before booking.

KAYAK also has an Explore feature that lets you limit your airfare budget and gives you destination options that are within your price range. It’s a fun visual tool that makes planning budget travel easy!

SKIPLAGGED

Another great option for those spontaneous travelers, Skiplagged only requires a departing airport and travel dates to give you an inexpensive getaway. This is the only travel app/website I’ve found that lets you choose “Anywhere” as your destination, so take advantage of three-day weekend and jet off somewhere unexpected!

The catch? Skiplagged uses “throwaway” tickets, where your destination is a layover en route to a cheaper airport, and you get off on this layover rather than continuing your flight. Because the final destination on your plane ticket is NOT where you will be staying, you cannot check bags.

The practice of using throwaway tickets is frowned upon by airlines, so only bring carry-on luggage and don’t let on that you ultimately will not be continuing the flight. If saving money is your ultimate goal, then take advantage of this loophole and bend the rules!

DISCOUNT AIRLINES

Most airline search and comparison sites don’t include discount airlines, so don’t forget to check their prices yourself. Southwest offers awesome prices on popular domestic flights, but don’t forget about Allegiant; they travel to and from many smaller airports (nonstop) for a fraction of the cost of standard economy-class flights. Keep in mind that many of the discount airlines have hidden fees, so read the fine print before booking!

If you’re traveling internationally, check to see which airlines use that country as their hub or which discount airlines fly there. Iceland’s WOW Air offers up some serious deals on international flights all over Europe, some with stopovers in Iceland – giving you to the opportunity to explore another country on your trip.

Tips to Travel Britain Cheap After Brexit

As the whole world is now well aware, Britain has voted to secede from the European Union and Europe has gone into a frenzy. Great Britain’s economy is tanking by the second, Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, and the value of the British pound has dropped $0.12 USD in value overnight – that’s lower than it’s been in over three decades.

This, of course, is terrible news for the Brits but wonderful news for tourists. Here’s how to take full advantage of Brexit and finally plan your dream vacay to the UK.

CHOOSE YOUR LOCALE

Contrary to popular belief, Great Britain consists not only of England, but Scotland and Wales as well. Between these destinations there’s a wide variety of places to go and things to see, so choose your country based on the type of trip you want to have. Are you craving the hustle and bustle of London, or a quieter stay along the picturesquePembrokeshire Coast in Wales? Does island hopping in the Scottish islands sound like a fun getaway? Do a little research, and go from there.

BOOK AIRFARE NOW

We’ve been enjoying low-cost airfare for a while now, but that may change just like the UK’s economy has. It seems the British are putting a halt to traveling to the U.S, so airlines (particularly British Airways) are scrambling to fill seats; by booking now, you may avoid steep price increases later on.

EXCHANGE YOUR CURRENCY

The value of the British pound sterling has plummeted, and it’s currently the lowest it’s been since 1985. Once you’ve planned your vacation, trade in those dollars for pounds before terms are settled between Britain and the EU and the Pound’s value stabilizes.

TRAVEL NOW, AVOID COMPLICATIONS LATER

It’s said that it could take several months for Britain to officially secede the EU, but when it does, traveling between countries may become more difficult. The “Open Skies” policy between the EU and United States has allowed airlines to fly and land anywhere with American and European Union territories – Brexit has caused no immediate change in this arrangement, but could possibly do so in the near future.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LOW ROAMING CHARGES

Roaming charges for tourists in the EU have been on the decline and are even predicted to be abolished next year, but with its newly struggling economy Britain is unlikely to implement such a luxury. By traveling now, you’ll be dodging these fees.

BE SAFE

Just a few weeks ago, the State Department issued a warning to U.S. citizens traveling to Europe due to the recent increase in international terrorism, and unfortunately Brexit will likely only add to the chaos. Thankfully, the Tour de France is the main reason of concern so travel destinations within Britain (with the exception of London) are not predicted to be particular targets. Be safe and have fun!

If you can’t plan a trip now, don’t worry! Britain may be the first to exit the EU, but there’s talk that other countries – including Sweden, Denmark, and even possibly the Netherlands – may move to make their exit in the next few months as well.

How for Summer Travel

To help prepare for your upcoming travels, Raid® has asked us to share our best tips for bug protection. They’ve recently launched a new product, the new Raid® Bed bug Detector & Trap, to expose evidence of bed bugs before an infestation occurs.

As frequent travelers, bed bugs are a huge concern for us. Whether we’re temporarily renting an apartment or staying at a hotel, it’s something we definitely think about. We’re happy to see the Raid® bug experts have provided consumers with tools that can help prevent a more costly bed bug infestation.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from bed bugs, mosquitoes, and ticks during your upcoming travels.

Unfortunately, not all insects live outside. Bed bugs can live in any climate and urban travel-hotspots are particularly susceptible to spreading them. Checking into a hotel with bed bugs can ruin a summer vacation; even hard-to-spot bed bug larvae can cause itching and welts, as bed bugs must bite their hosts at every stage of growth. Worse, it’s tough to perform thorough inspections on the go. According to a recent Raid® survey, most Millennial travelers know to check the mattress, but only 37% check the headboard!

To keep from being eaten and bringing home unwanted guests, use an early detection device from Raid®. The Bed Bug Detector & Trap can be placed anywhere bed bugs hide—under the mattress, behind the headboard, and in corners of the bed frame, to name a few.

The partially enclosed trap is designed to keep bed bugs trapped inside and the see-through window allows you to easily identify any trapped bugs. With the early detection, you can spend your vacation well-rested and bring home only enjoyable souvenirs!

For more information on the new Raid® Bed bug Detector & Trap, visit their website, ask them a question on Twitter, or check out their YouTube videos.

MOSQUITOES

Mosquitoes breed naturally from still water, so you should expect to find them pretty much everywhere. Lakes, ponds, even puddles that will stay long enough: all create the ideal environment for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes don’t just bite at dawn and dusk. To get the most out of all outdoor activities, be sure to apply DEET-based mosquito repellent across all exposed body parts.

Luckily, using mosquito repellent has long been a proven method of keeping yourself protected from mosquitoes, so make sure you pack a bottle. Hang bug netting around your sleeping area at night for extra protection.

TICKS

Ticks are an even more insidious bloodsucking pest than mosquitoes. Not only can they carry Lyme disease, they will burrow down into your skin and become hard to find. Even pulling them out can be difficult, as tugging with tweezers can leave their head behind!

To protect yourself, make sure to wear sleeves, light-colored socks and long pants while hiking, especially in long grass. Ticks will crawl upwards until they find exposed skin, so tuck pants into your socks or boots. Tick repellents can also help, but won’t remove the need for full-body tick checks—don’t forget your hair!

If you do find a tick, grab the tick firmly as close to where it is attached as possible and then gently pull until the tick releases. Watch the spot for a few days and, in case of rash or skin irritation, consult a doctor.

Tips to Pack on a Road Trip

Ready to take a road trip? This packing guide will help you prepare and double-check so you can hit the road with confidence.

BAGS

Use duffle bags for most of your luggage—it’s easier to stack and squeeze soft bags into any car arrangement that you need. If you’re stopping overnight, pack one bag with sleep essentials and next-day clothes so it’s compact and ready to go. You can use a soft, wheeled suitcase for this if you have a lot of people. Finally, each person can keep a small bag — like a tote or backpack  next to their own seats for easily-accessible snacks and activities.

  • We use this duffle bag on our road trips–it’s compact, has several pockets for easy organization, and it’s even slash-proof. This slightly larger duffle bag is great for longer trips or two people who like to keep it simple and share one bag.
  • This insulated tote bag doubles as an ice chest and it folds up nicely when not in use.
  • Daypacks are a must if you want to get out and hike during your journey. We usethis small daypack which has an internal padded sleeve for a 3L hydration bladder.

CLOTHING

Wear clothes that are loose and breathable, and that you’re comfortable being seen in at stops. Dark colors hide dirt, stains, and wrinkles better. Even for long trips, you only need two bottoms and a few tops, especially if you can do laundry at hotels or your destination.

  • A drawstring laundry bag works if you do need to store dirty garments.
  • This portable laundry system wash bag is perfect for doing laundry on the road!
  • Make sure to take weather into account—if it’s often rainy, keep some waterproof items — like travel umbrellas and backpack rain covers — in easy reach, and light layers if it might get cold. (In Norway, be prepared for anything–even snow in the summer!!)

SNACKS

It’s cheaper to bring snacks from home than buying them at a gas station, and you have healthier options. Freeze-dried fruit and veggies are nicely crunchy and lightweight, while nuts and seeds can satisfy you with salts and protein.

Mix your items together in ziplock bags to create your own trail mix if you want (add a handful of chocolate chips for something sweet), and keep personal portions on-hand with bulk bags in the trunk so you can refill at stops. Less individually-wrapped items cut down on trash, but if you have favorite snack bars, bring a few anyway.

  • Stock up on nature bars for a quick snack on the road or throw in your daypack for hiking.
  • Bulk bags of trail mix will save time with less trash to pick up, plus it’s better for the environment.
  • Wet wipes make for convenient cleanup. These wipes are even biodegradable!
  • If you have food items that you absolutely need to keep cool and you don’t want to deal with melting ice, this iceless cooler plugs into your cigarette lighter!
  • These stainless steel tupperware containers are awesome for road trips because they are completely leak proof — plus they are non toxic and eco friendly!

GAMES

Handheld devices are nice diversions, but it can also be fun to get everyone in the car in on a game. Consider bringing creative games like Mad Libs to keep things lively. Mad Libs prompts you to make up funny stories together, and they even have a road trip themed book. Plus, non-electronic games are great backup if your gadgets run out of juice.

MUSIC

A playlist with catchy, upbeat tunes that the whole car can sing to keeps things fun (and keeps you awake!), while a separate playlist for mellower songs gives your brain and body a breather. Just don’t pick anything too soft and repetitive so the driver doesn’t get sleepy.

NAVIGATION

Investing in a GPS unit will help you navigate in unfamiliar territory. Don’t count on Google Maps or Waze on your phone because you might not always have service. Get one that plugs into your cigarette lighter and make sure it works with your device beforehand. Some of these chargers even come with multiple USB ports if you’re bringing more electronics.

  • The Garmin Nuvi is affordable and has all the features you’ll need on a road trip including Smartphone Link, Bluetooth, and lifetime maps.
  • Since electronics can fail, though, bring some directions printed out ahead of time, and even get as “old-fashioned” as a thorough road map (this one is perfect for USA road trips).

SAFETY

Bring a first aid kit and an emergency road assistance kit–and have a portable charger on hand in case you need to make an emergency call on low batteries.

  • This emergency road assistance kit by AAA is only $25 and it comes with a compact storage bag with handles.
  • This portable charger doubles as a lantern and a portable charger for all of your devices that connect with a USB. We’ve been using this on all of our camping and road trip adventures and it’s held up extremely well!

Packing for a road trip doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Don’t forget to bookmark this checklist to make sure your next road adventure is a breeze.

Guide to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

Traveling is exciting, but for many travelers, the flying part of the journey can be brutal. With tiny seats and limited legroom, flying is no longer something I look forward to — instead, it’s something I know I have to endure in order to visit my next travel destination.

Audible asked us to share some of our best tips and tricks to make long-haul flights more comfortable, including incorporating the use of audiobooks to help pass the time.

ENTERTAINMENT

The trick to long-haul flights is finding a balance between packing light and bringing all the essential survival tools. You want to keep your mind occupied to attempt to forget about the fact that your seat barely reclines and you will have zero personal space for the next several hours. You can easily pack a Kindle or paperback book, but if you want to keep things light, I recommend downloading some audiobooks from Audible to your phone before you depart. Most of us always travel with our phones, so it’s a great way to save space and still be able to pass the time with a book.

With my busy schedule, it’s tough to find the time to read books, so flying is a great time to catch up on that ever-growing reading list. I’ve never been a fan of Kindles merely because I already feel like I spend too much time staring at a screen and a paperback book doesn’t always fit in my carry-on bag. Before I was introduced to Audible, I was often forced to choose between watching movies or reading the in-flight magazine.

Audiobooks have a way of drawing me in and it keeps me from constantly looking at the clock. Another benefit I find to audiobooks is that it allows me to drown out the noise of crying babies or chatty neighbors while enjoying my book — something I find tough to do with a paperback or Kindle. I suggest investing in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, which you can also use for movies and music.

For a limited time, you can receive a 30-day free trial of Audible. The best part is that once you download your books, there’s no internet required. You can choose from over 250,000 audiobooks including the best-selling novel, Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre is an autobiography by Charlotte Brontë that was originally published in 1847 and tells the story of a nineteenth-century penniless orphan who is trying to find her way in the world. It’s an incredibly inspiring story and one that you can easily get lost in and forget about the long flight ahead of you. Thandie Newton’s audio interpretation of this novel is engrossing. The story will leave you wanting more.

HEALTH & HYDRATION

Hydration is your friend on a long flight. With the exception of the occasional alcoholic beverage to help put you to sleep, it’s best to stick with water while you’re in the air. Plane air is dry like the desert and it’s extremely easy to get dehydrated. I always bring acollapsible water bottle and ask the flight attendants to fill it up. Keeping your nostrils hydrated with saline nasal spray is another trick I’ve learned after catching a few too many colds after long flights.

I always bring a vitamin pack with (Vitamin C, Zinc, and a daily vitamin) and take it before and after my flight to keep my immune system boosted. Don’t forget to pack plenty of moisturizer for the flight (I love Aquaphor’s travel size tubes and this all-natural lotion/lip balm travel pack) and try to moisturize your entire body before you get dressed so you’re not dealing with dry, itchy skin during your long flight.

SLEEP

Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but boarding the plane relatively rested is key. Don’t plan on using the flight as a way to catch up on your sleep (unless you are one of the lucky few who has no problem sleeping in an upright position).

For red-eye flights, consider a sleep aid like Melatonin. It’s one of the few sleep aids that won’t make you groggy if you don’t catch a full 8-hours of sleep on the plane — and let’s face it, sleeping that much on a flight is rare. Eye masks and neck pillows are a must on overnight flights as well. If a neck pillow feels like too much to carry, you can blow up an inflatable beach ball and place it on top of your tray table.

Try to get up and walk around every couple of hours to stretch your legs. This is where an aisle seat comes in handy. If you are in a window seat and you don’t want to bother your seat mates every couple of hours, do some neck and ankle stretches while sitting down.

If you have some long-haul flight tips to add, please mention them in the comments section and let us know which Audiobooks you would choose from Audible to help pass the time on your next flight. We’re always looking for book recommendations!

How to Travel Safety

With more young, inexperienced wanderlusters traveling now than ever before, general safety precautions are in order. Here’s how to stay safe on your travels:

GET TRAVEL INSURANCE

I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people get too caught up in their trip itinerary plans to think of travel insurance. If you don’t already have it, you most definitely need it; safeguard against lost luggage or canceled flights can save you big bucks in the long run and give you peace of mind.

KEEP ELECTRONICS TO A MINIMUM

For tech-savvy millennials it’s tempting to tote around every camera accessory possible, but in the case of electronics less is more. You don’t need your huge digital camera on every excursion, and who are you kidding – you won’t be working from your laptop in your free time.

Your phone can take awesome quality photos and send emails if need be. Lugging around bulky electronics not only slows you down but also makes you an obvious target for those looking to snatch them up. With the exception of your phone (obviously), keep your electronics locked up in your hotel room’s valuables safe – or better yet, don’t bring any on your trip to begin with!

KEEP YOUR HEAD UP

Walk like you know where you’re going; it’s widely known that your less likely to be approached if you are quick and alert. As an alternative to staring down at your phone’s Google maps while navigating around a new city, plug in an earbud and listen to the voice guide you! You’ll take in more sights and be more aware of your surroundings.

BE CAUTIOUS AT BARS

No one’s telling you NOT to go on Tinder dates when traveling, just be careful. Advertising that you’re in town on vacation makes you a bit more susceptible to being targeted than the next person. Watch your drink (that goes without saying), but watch your bartender make your drink too; not everyone is trustworthy.

DOWNLOAD SAFETY APPS

With solo travel trending right now, it’s likely that at some point you’ll end up wandering around an unfamiliar city alone. Family and friends can keep tabs on you even from a distance, thanks to some of the free apps on the market. Must-haves include:

  • Uber: Most 20- or 30- somethings already have Uber downloaded, but don’t forget that it spans beyond just your local barhopping scene! If public transportation intimidates or confuses you, don’t be afraid to call for an Uber during your travels.
  • bSafe: Although your friends or family members must download it as well, it is definitely worth it if traveling alone. If you are in a situation that feels unsafe, the app can give your friends your location, have them “follow” you as you walk to your destination, or send them an SOS if you are panicked. Although they may not be able to come to your rescue, they can notify police who can.
  • Drunk Mode: Another app that’s probably already downloaded on your phone, but (amazingly enough) can be put to use when sober. Turn it on before setting out on your day’s activities, and if you decide to separate from the group at some point to take your own detour it’s easy to find your friends’ location. Plus, it’s fun to look back and see where you went at the end of the day!

BE AWARE OF YOUR MONEY

Keep always keep small amounts of cash on hand, and keep copies of the fronts and backs of all of your credit cards (as well as passports or IDs). Also, don’t forget to notify your bank that you are traveling because they will freeze your cards at the most inconvenient times if you don’t.

DRESS INCONSPICUOUSLY

Try not to stand out; do some basic research as to what the locals generally wear. What may be standard summer clothing in the U.S. may be much too revealing in other countries and can even be considered inappropriate. Men and women alike, though, should try to be as inconspicuous as possible when in an unfamiliar place. Blend in! You’re less likely to be targeted by pickpockets and potentially dangerous predators. Which leads me to my next point…

DON’T LET PEOPLE DISTRACT YOU

Pickpocketing is a thing; it really happens, especially in tourist hotspots. The innocent-looking woman or child shoving a sign or paper in your face is often an attempt to catch you off guard and grab your wallet. Don’t be vulnerable – if anyone suddenly approaches you, be mindful that it may be a ploy to quickly divert your attention. Keep valuables secure on your body at all times!

BE HEALTH-CONSCIOUS

If you happen to get a few bug bites or a scratch while traveling – especially internationally – make sure to clean and treat them carefully and quickly! Neglect to care for even the most minimal of flesh wounds could lead to serious discomfort and health issues. Keep in mind that most travel and health insurers do not cover medical fees internationally; although your insurance may reimburse you in the future, be prepared to front the cost of any potential hospital bills.

KNOW YOUR COUNTRY’S EMBASSY INFORMATION

Your country’s embassy or consulate in foreign countries can be helpful in so many unexpected situations. Know their contact information and location! Or better yet, if you live in the U.S. you can sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – a free service provided by the government that keeps you updated on safety and security information, and can help you stay in contact with your family in case of emergency.

How to Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks

Utah’s National Parks feature some of the most stunning and surreal landscapes in the world. Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon have put Utah high up on many adventurers’ bucket lists and we’re no exception!

Earlier this month, Visit Utah invited me to try one of their Mighty 5 National Park itineraries. They’ve put together these in-depth itineraries to give travelers an easy way to plan their next Utah road trip. I chose their “Roughing it” itinerary which covers Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands and everything in between.

If you want to visit all five parks on your road trip, you can easily add Bryce Canyon and Zion to this itinerary. Here are my recommendations for planning the ultimate Mighty 5 road trip!

SALT LAKE CITY TO FISHLAKE & ZION

On your way to Zion from Salt Lake City airport, I highly recommend taking all or a portion of the 40-mile Fishlake loop. Towering aspen trees line much of this drive, which is quite a change of scenery from the national parks in this state. If you want to stay overnight here, you can camp along the lake, rent a cabin or stay in nearby Richfield (I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express here and it was very comfortable!).

Zion is just three hours away from Fishlake. This national park is the most visited out of the five parks, so make sure to head out early to explore for the day. Check out our Zion travel and hiking guide for must-do hikes and suggestions on where to stay.

ZION TO BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon is an easy 1.5 hour drive from Zion. You’ll probably want to spend a day here exploring this park. Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world and photographs really do not do this place justice!

There are numerous accommodation options near Bryce Canyon — in addition to camping — including Bryce Valley Lodging, the Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel, and Bryce Canyon Log Cabins.

BRYCE CANYON TO BOULDER MOUNTAIN, BURR TRAIL, & CAPITOL REEF

From Bryce Canyon you can head through Boulder Mountain on to Capitol Reef National Park — or take a detour along the Burr Trail scenic backway with stops at Singing Canyon and Lower Muley Twist Canyon.

I recommend staying overnight near Capitol Reef National Park. I stayed at the Capitol Reef Resort in a luxury teepee with a king size bed and flatscreen TV! They also offer luxury cabins and basic guest rooms. The town of Torrey has other accommodation options or, if you book in advance, you can camp at one of Capitol Reef National Park’s campgrounds.

Popular and easy hikes at Capitol Reef National Park include: Grand Wash, Cassidy Arch Trail, and Hickman Bridge.

CAPITOL REEF TO SAN RAFAEL SWELL

This portion of the road trip covers some of my favorite areas of Utah. After Hanksville, continue on UT 24 E for about 20 miles until you see Temple Mt Road on your left.

Follow signs for Goblin Valley State Park (which is also worth a stop if you have time!) and just before the visitor’s center, take a right onto Wild Horse Road. This will take you to Little Wild Horse Canyon, a perfect hike for those interested in a little slot canyon exploration. The hike is fairly well marked and usually reasonably busy. I hiked about 2 miles in before heading back, but you have the option to do the full 8-mile loop — just make sure to bring PLENTY of water!

Ding & Dang is another slot canyon hike just up the road from Little Wild Horse Canyon, which is a slightly more difficult hike and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. From here, I recommend heading to the Wedge Overlook and hiking one of the trails in the Little Grand Canyon.

SAN RAFAEL SWELL TO ARCHES & CANYONLANDS

Arches and Canyonlands are within about 30 minutes from each other, so both of these parks can be easily explored using Moab as your base. The brand new Aarchway Inn is only 2-miles away from the Arches National Park entrance. Staying here means you will be very close to Arches, which makes things really nice for sunrise and sunset exploration in the park, but you’ll need to drive a couple of minutes into downtown for meals (or order delivery!).

In town, there are plenty of options for accommodation; Comfort Suites Moab is right in town and gets excellent reviews. For food in Moab, I highly recommend the Village Market for huge sandwiches to take on your excursions, Bangkok House for Thai food and delivery, and MOYO for an enormous selection of frozen yogurt — perfect on a hot day.

Popular hikes in Arches National Park include: Windows, Double Arch, Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch and Balanced Rock. Canyonlands is a great park to explore by car, but if you want to get out to stretch your legs, try Mesa Arch, White Rim Overlook, and Grand View Point.

I will let you in on a little secret. You absolutely must visit Fisher Towers, which is about a 25-minute drive from downtown Moab. It’s a hidden gem and great for those travelers looking to get away from the crowds. The photo below shows the lookout from just above the parking lot.

FLYING INTO LAS VEGAS?

If Las Vegas is your preferred airport, it’s easy to experience this same itinerary from that location. However, I have found Salt Lake City to be a much easier airport to get in and out of — especially with the constant Las Vegas construction. Also, keep in mind: the drive from Moab to Las Vegas is almost 7 hours, versus the 3.5-hour drive to/from Salt Lake City.

PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR UTAH

Checklist-IconPhoto Equipment – Utah is a photographer’s dream destination — do not forget your camera! To find out what camera I used for all of the above photos, see my full Sony a7II review and visit our complete travel camera buying guide.

Checklist-IconClothing and Hiking Gear – Plan on bringing comfortable clothes for hiking. The weather can be fickle in some areas — even in the summer. I drove through rainstorms where the temperature dropped 30 degrees within minutes. For extra sun protection, I recommend a long-sleeve synthetic top that wicks away sweat.

Good hiking shoes and socks will make or break your trip. I wear these women’s hiking shoes and I cannot live without these smartwool hiking socks — which provide cushion and keep my feet dry.

Checklist-IconSunscreen – Bring plenty of sunblock or make sure to buy it when you arrive. I never leave home without this travel-size face lotion with SPF. Some of the locations mentioned above sit at almost 7,000 feet, so do not forget to apply sunscreen!

Checklist-IconDaypack for Hiking – I use this backpack on all of my hiking adventures. It has everything I need — including two large side pockets for water, an internal padded sleeve for a 3L hydration bladder, lots of internal and external compartments, and an attached rainfly.

Checklist-IconReusable Water Bottle – Refilling your water bottle not only saves money, but it’s so much better for the environment! We use this CamelBak water bottle at home, but if you want something more compact, this collapsible water bottle is perfect for travel days and hiking.

Checklist-IconNavigation – Don’t count on your phone for navigation because you will rarely have service. The Garmin Nuvi is affordable and has all the features you’ll need on a road trip including Smartphone Link, Bluetooth, and lifetime maps.

Affordable Island Getaways in the Caribbean Ideas

unduhan-4As we head into the month of April, we follow yet another turn of winter melting into spring. Whether you’re celebrating the return of the sun or just need a change of scenery, now is the perfect time to consider a Caribbean getaway. Now that the busy winter season is over, there are plenty of incredible spring, summer, and fall hotel deals to choose from.

Here are five of our favorite Caribbean destinations paired with five fun and affordableChoice Hotels® properties!

EAGLE’S BEACH, ARUBA

I’m in love with Aruba. I’ve been here four times and I’m already plotting my next trip back. From lounging on the beach to spending the day with flamingos, there’s something for everyone.

Aruba’s Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful stretches of white sand beach in the Caribbean, and Aruba’s widest. It’s a perfect place for windsurfing, swimming, and other aquatic sports, and also for viewing sea turtle hatching during parts of the year.La Cabana Beach Resort & Casino, an Ascend Hotel Collection® member, is located directly across from Eagle Beach, and boasts both an on-site casino and spa.

PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS

Famous for being home to the sprawling Atlantis resort including a water park, casino, aquarium, and one of the world’s most expensive hotel rooms (the Bridge Suite costs ~$25k per night!), Paradise Island is a Bahaman resort island in the best way. But you don’t actually have to spend $25k per night to enjoy it; the Comfort Suites® Paradise Island located nearby offers spacious rooms with included access to the Atlantis’ amenities.

GRAND CAYMAN, THE CAYMAN ISLANDS

Explore Grand Cayman and you’ll have access not only to beautiful beaches and activities, but a large number of natural and historical attractions. Scuba diving offers views of large coral reefs and shipwrecks, including the USS Kittiwake, an artificial reef that you can explore inside. The Comfort Suites® Seven Mile Beach puts you right on the waterfront and only a short distance from the Cayman Turtle Farm.

WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO

Make sure to bring your camera with you to Curacao! This Dutch Caribbean island offers both natural beauty and some amazing, colorful architecture—Willemstad’s harbor, with its colonial architecture, has been designated a UNESCO heritage site. TheAcoya Hotel Suites & Villas, an Ascend Hotel Collection® member, offer a number of private family rooms and villas within a short distance to several beaches, as well as the Seaquarium.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO

San Juan is a great vacation spot for those looking to get a mix of relaxation, history, and culture. Old San Juan has several self-guided tours of their colonial buildings to enjoy, including one of the famous El Callisto San Felipe del Morro citadel.

After exploring, stop by Casa Bacardi to enjoy a historic tour of the plant and complimentary rum tasting. San Juan is also home to a thriving culinary scene. I had a chance to explore some of the best restaurants in Old San Juan and Condado during a previous trip and was blown away by the food. The nearby Comfort Inn® San Juan is a great home base for exploring the city, and near both Condado Beach and the airport to boot.

The Caribbean is one of my favorite places to visit and you really can’t go wrong with any of these islands. So if you’re itching for some island fun, it’s absolutely feasible to plan an affordable Caribbean island getaway.

Tips to Maui on a Budget

If visiting Maui is your dream vacation, rest assured–you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a trip there. With these tips, you can stay within your budget even as you’re living it up on this fun, friendly island.

SAVE ON CAR RENTALS

It’s necessary to rent a car in Maui, but you don’t have to pay a fortune for it. Rent an economy car–not only is the rental fee cheaper, you’ll get better gas mileage, too. You can search for the best prices at rentalcars.com, and some American Express cards offer further discounts on rental insurance. Also, be sure to check with your auto insurance carrier at home to see if it covers rental cars.

TRAVEL IN THE OFF-SEASON

The off-season and shoulder seasons in Maui are April to May and September to October. Airfare and hotels tend to be cheaper. And for an added perk, it won’t be as crowded. For the best rates on hotels, we always check Booking.com first.

RENT A PLACE WITH A KITCHEN

Renting a condo or apartment through Airbnb is a great way to save money on your Maui vacation. Often the rental price itself is very affordable. Beyond that, having your own kitchen means that you can save money by cooking your own food. If you are new to Airbnb, sign up through our link to get up to $35 off of your first booking!

BUY ALCOHOL AT THE LOCAL MARKET

We always head to the local market on our first day of arrival to Maui. We like to buy any snacks we didn’t bring with us and, most importantly, buy a few six packs to have on hand at our hotel or apartment. We often travel with this insulated tote bag that doubles as an ice chest for the beach or other outdoor activities.

PACK SOME SNACKS

Since it’s an island and 90% of the food has to be imported, packaged food tends to be pretty expensive on Maui. We like to have snacks — like almonds and nature bars — on hand when traveling, so packing these items in our suitcase saves us a ton of money.

EAT AT FOOD TRUCKS

Food trucks are another great budget-friendly alternative. There’s such a variety that you don’t have to miss out on exotic local fare, and you’ll be getting fun, delicious meals for sometimes half the price of a restaurant. Here’s a list of the best food trucks on Mauiaccording to Yelp reviews.

GO DURING HAPPY HOUR

If you are going out to restaurants or buying drinks, take advantage of happy hour! Some restaurants keep happy hour going until late afternoon, so you can turn it into an early dinner and maybe even catch the sunset. Some food trucks have happy hour, too.

BRING YOUR OWN SNORKEL GEAR

Some hotels provide free snorkel equipment rentals, but if you check ahead, and yours doesn’t, bring your own! We found a travel set of flippers that don’t take up too much room in our luggage so we end up dodging rental fees entirely.

Our favorite place to snorkel is Black Rock in front of the Sheraton Maui, which also happens to be our favorite hotel to stay on the island!

EXPLORE THE OUTDOORS

Many of the hiking trails in Maui are completely free, and even the ones that charge fees are inexpensive. Part of the wonder of Maui is its lush and diverse environment, with tropical flowers, bamboo, and waterfall-fed diving pools.

A day at the beach is free, too, and you can avoid the temptation of spending money on cabanas and cocktails by hitting up one of the lesser-known spots. Sunning, swimming, and snorkeling in clear waters–priceless. Incidentally, humpback whales visit the southern shores of Maui from November to May, so even during the off-season you can spot them from the beach.

FIND FREE ENTERTAINMENT

There are many venues for live music and dancing that are completely free. Some well-known ones are Lahaina Cannery Mall, which has free hula shows and even ukulele lessons, and Kaanapali Beach’s bar district for stage performances.

PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR MAUI

Photo Equipment – I highly recommend bringing a GoPro for underwater photos (and a selfie stick!) and a nice camera for land activities. (See our complete travel camera buying guide here.)

Clothing – Sandals or flip flops (I love Rainbow sandals), a couple of swimsuits,sunglasses, and a sun hat are must-haves any time of year. I also highly recommend bringing water shoes.

Rash Guard – I always pack my long-sleeve rash guard on island trips. It protects you from the sun when snorkeling and provides a little warmth if the water is chilly.

Snorkel Equipment – You’ll save a ton of money by bringing your own and you won’t be stuck with old equipment. We brought this mask and these travel size fins.

Reusable Water Bottle – Refilling your water bottle not only saves money, but it’s so much better for the environment! We use this CamelBak water bottle at home, but if you want something more compact, this collapsible water bottle is perfect for travel days and hiking.

Visit in Europe This Summer

unduhan-6One of the most amazing things about traveling in Europe is how incredibly easy it is to get around. That’s why the “whirlwind European adventure” is still such a classic for summer travel. With so much to see and do, a summer trip through top European destinations is a new experience every time you go.

Contiki has recently announced their “Bag Tag” contest, allowing U.S. residents the chance to win a bunch of really cool prizes including a Sony Alpha a6000, iPad Mini 3, GoPro Hero4, and even a free European vacation! All you have to do is guess on social media which fun-packed travel bag is going on which of their amazing European tour packages to be entered to win.

(Note: The Contiki “Bag Tag” contest is only for U.S. residents – anyone outside of the US that clicks on the landing page will be sent to a “Bag Tag” quiz to find out which Contiki bag best identifies them.)

After just returning from a trip to the Mediterranean and as a lover of sun-kissed beaches, I personally love Bag #6. What do you think: is it Croatian Island Escape Plus, the Best of the Balkans, or Balkans Discovery?

Head over to Contiki’s “Bag Tag” contest page to check out all six bags and guess the destinations! And to get you ready for a little summer fun in Europe, here is our list of the 10 best places to escape the crowds in Europe this summer.

Kotor, Montenegro

Hidden in a ria canyon, this beautiful, secluded Mediterranian port is surrounded by history—literally! The Venetian fortifications are only part of its long history, written in the town’s unique blend of architecture. With its Medieval old town, WWII memorials, and Napoleonic gates, it’s a quiet town with a long history to explore.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

One of the 10 most well-preserved Medieval cities in the world, Dubrovnik is more well known for its perfect seaside charm. You’ll definitely want to spend your time outside on its many beaches, in its botanical gardens, and in the Arboretum Trsteno, the world’s oldest arboretum! Bonus for Game of Thrones fans: the town is one of the filming sites for Kings Landing.

St. Moritz, Switzerland

St. Moritz is a big winter destination in Switzerland, but it’s much less crowded in the summer. With an elevation of 1,856 meters, it boasts plenty of sunny days yet it never gets too hot. Outdoor lovers can enjoy the many hiking trails in the area and those looking for a relaxing getaway have plenty of spa resorts to choose from.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland’s capital is the perfect destination for travelers who are interested in wilderness adventuring but who want to be able to return to the comfort of civilization after a hard day’s hike. Day-trips let you explore the solitary beauty of Iceland’s landscape, and you can keep enjoying it after with a relaxing trip to any Reykjavik spa featuring one of its many hot springs!

Bergen, Norway

If you want to see the fjords of Norway, Bergen is the perfect gateway city. Not only does this charming town offer easy hiking access to a trove of nearby landmarks, it’s colorful houses and cozy charm also make it the perfect place to curl up with a good cup of steaming fish soup. After all, the town is well known for its fishing history!

Gothenburg, Sweden

The Gothenburg Archipelago is a collection of islands, some big and some only large enough for a single house! If you’re into island hopping, Gothenburg is definitely an ideal destination. In the city proper, you can spend an adrenaline-filled day at Liseberg amusement park, walk its many parks, and enjoy its famous music scene.

Tenby, Wales

Amazingly picturesque, this Welsh town is perfect for travelers looking to enjoy a quaint English seaside summer. Between trips to any of its several beaches, you can enjoy visiting some of its gorgeous art galleries and museums, like The Glass Gallery, which specializes in stained glasswork, or the Tenby Museum. Nearby Pembroke Castle looms over the town and was the birthplace of Henry VII.

Antwerp, Belgium

Antwerp is the place to go if you’re a fan of Renaissance art. From Reubens House to the Old Museum, there are plenty of museums, tours, and architectural masterpieces to help you get your aesthetic fill. Bike tours of the city are especially popular, as Antwerp is especially biker-friendly, and can be an enjoyable way to get your bearings if this is your first visit.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana (pronounced liu-bliana) is Slovenia’s capital city. Despite being a capital city, Ljubljana still holds a friendly small-town charm, with the benefit of modern amenities like free WiFi. The summer is filled with outdoor events like plays in the park and even an outdoor library, so take your time enjoying the sun and various street festivals.

Tallinn, Estonia

Like Ljubljana, Tallinn is a capital that nonetheless manages to retain a lot of quaint, historical charm. During the summer, its long coastline becomes a popular destination for beachgoers. Nearby Kadriorg Park extends behind the Kadriorg Park, offering beautiful botanical walks with rich history and architectural wonder.