Double your Annual Leave in 2020 with this Travel Hack

In the UK, the national minimum annual leave entitlement is 20 days + bank holidays which really isn’t all that given that we are renowned for being workaholics, usually getting the work-life balance totally wrong.

Last year, I wrote a travel hack post showing you how you could double your annual leave by being savvy with the dates you book off work. It was such a hit that I decided to do it again – this time a 2020 version.

Below I will show you which dates you need to book off and what you can do with those dates to make the most of your leave.

You may be surprised by how far you can get by just juggling a few dates around!

exotic beach with aqua water and white sand on a sunny day

Another option if you are planning an extended trip and happen to work shifts, is that you could offer to work all the bank holidays. You will then get 8 days of annual leave in lieu meaning you can get an extra 2 weeks off with only 2 days of your leave allowance.

No time to read it now? Or not ready to book your leave? No worries, Pin it for later!

double your annual leave pin 1

What you can expect from this article…

How to double your annual leave entitlement…

January Annual Leave

National Holiday: 1st January

Book these dates: 30-31st December + 2nd-3rd Jan

Annual leave trade-off: 9 days holiday with 4 days annual leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

picture of petra in jordan on a sunny day

April Annual Leave

National Holiday: 10th and 13th April

Book these dates: 6-9th + 14-17th April

Annual leave trade-off: 16 days holiday with 8 days leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

macchu pichu ruins on a sunny day

May Annual Leave

National Holiday: 8th and 25th May

Book these dates: 4th-7th May

Annual leave trade-off: 9 days holiday for 4 days leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

visovac tiny island from above in croatia

Book these dates: 26-29th May

Annual leave trade-off: 9 days holiday for 4 days leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

Or if you want a longer trip…

Book these dates: 4-7th + 11-22nd + 26th-29th May

Annual leave trade-off: 30 days holiday for 18 days leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

picture of 2 female lions under the tree in the african savannah

August/September Annual Leave

National Holiday: 31st August

Book these dates: 1-4th Sept

Annual leave trade-off: 9 days holiday for 4 days leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

picture of new york sky line

December Annual Leave

National Holiday: 25th and 28th December

Book these dates: 21-24th+ 29th-31st December

Annual leave trade-off: 16 days holiday with 7 days leave

Trips you could take with these specific dates

One of my favourite places in sri lanka - secret beach in mirissa
Secret Beach in Mirissa

Hopefully, you’ve gotten some inspiration for your 2020 adventures! What’s your travel plans for next year? Tell me in the comments. And don’t forget to pin this to your Pinterest boards so you can come back to it later!

​How to Ski Colorado on $200 Per Day (Or Less)

Believe it or not, it’s possible to ski Colorado’s famous powder for $200 per person per day or even less, including food and lodging.

Colorado’s slopes aren’t just for the upper crust. There are plenty of resorts across this Rocky Mountain playground that let you experience the bluebird powder days, diversity of runs and vertical drop that the region is known for – all without ponying up nearly as much cash.

Here we spill the tea on three Colorado resorts where you can ski, stay and eat for around $200 per person per day – you will eat better at some than others.

Consider the Gems Card

Depending on whether you are local or not and how much you plan to ski, one of the best deals for discounts is the Colorado Gems Card. The card costs $30 and works at 11 of the lesser-known ski resorts across the state (including the three listed here) providing either two for the price of one adult full-day lift ticket (must be used on the same day) or 30% off the price of a single adult full-day lift ticket. The card can be used at each of the resorts twice during the season and must be purchased before February 28, 2020.

Our favorite budget Colorado ski resorts

Monarch Mountain

Lift Ticket: $64 to $84
Accommodation: $50 to $75 per person
Leftover for Food: between $41 and $86

Just outside Salida, Colorado, Monarch Mountain is proudly independently owned and known for its abundance of natural snow and affordable lift tickets. Monarch allows you to purchase lift tickets online for 40% less than what you would pay at the ticket window.

Monarch’s ticket prices vary depending on the month and whether you are skiing a weekend or weekday, but for a weekday in January a 1-Day Adult Lift ticket is as low as $64 – compare this to Vail and Beaver Creek Resorts, which are the state’s most expensive at $209 for a single day. The most you’ll pay when purchasing online at Monarch is $84 per day. And if you have two people it may be cheaper to purchase the Gem Card and get the 2-for-1 special.

Monarch also offers free parking at its base and a variety of terrain to offer something for all levels of riders. There is just one base area, but there is enough diversity to ski for a few days without getting bored on a total of 66 trails with 1162ft of vertical drop.

For lodging, you’ll head to the town of Salida, just 30 minutes away. This atmospheric mountain town has a number of hotels with room rates averaging around $150 per night for a double with all taxes and fees, so $75 per person. If you book an Airbnb you can bring that cost down to around $50 per person on the cheaper end.

After lodging and lift tickets, you’ll have around $50 to $75 left per person to spend on food. Monarch has a number of restaurants on mountain and as long as you choose your entrees carefully you should be able to afford to eat lunch here and still stay within budget. For dinner, Salida has a number of affordable restaurants including Currents and Amicas Pizza.

Eldora Mountain Resort

Lift Ticket: $75 – $129 (with Gem Card from $64.50)
Accommodation: from $42
Remaining Food Budget: between $29 and $94

This is a resort where the $30 purchase of the Gem Card really counts. If you’re skiing as a duo, you’ll pay $80 per person for the first day (factoring in the cost of the card) and then just $64.50 for the second day.

Just 21 miles from Boulder and 47 miles from Denver, Eldora Mountain Resort is one of the most accessible ski resorts in the state — you can ride a city bus from Denver or Boulder to get here, which makes is super convenient and affordable from a transportation perspective. The mountain has 680 acres of skiable terrain for all levels including challenging runs on Corona Bowl and a great area for beginners. There are also two terrain parks to play in.

If you plan to ski four days, then buy the Eldora 4-Pass online for $299, which breaks down to just $75 per day. It doesn’t need to be used consecutively, so if you live in Colorado and want to just ski a day at a time it also makes sense. A single day adult lift ticket at the window costs $129.

For apres-ski, Boulder is a fun college town filled with restaurants and nightlife. It also has a number of affordable Airbnb options with rates as low as $42 per person per night in late January. As long as you have the Gem Card, this will leave you with nearly $100 a day to spend on food. You will be able to eat on mountain for lunch and also grab dinner a few drinks at a mid-range Boulder restaurant. Favorites include Rincón Argentino for Argentinian in a low-key setting and the Rayback Collective, a food truck park where you can cozy up to the outdoor fire pit.

Arapahoe Basin

Lift Ticket: around $53 to $77
Accommodation: from $75
Remaining Food Budget: $48 to $72

Just 68 miles west of Denver and right on the Continental Divide at an elevation of X, Arapahoe Basin Ski Area boasts the longest ski and ride season in Colorado and some seriously sizzling lift ticket deals when purchased online in advance. Depending on what day you plan to ski – mid-week is always cheaper – we saw ticket prices in January for as low as $53 for an adult full-day. On the higher side, an advance purchase lift ticket was $77. A-Basin is also part of the Gem program, so should you get stuck paying full price for a last minute lift ticket, you can still get the 2-for-1 deal here.

The resort is known for its rocky steeps and chutes including 468 acres of new lift-serviced intermediate and expert terrain at The Beavers, but it also has some wide open, rolling groomers that are perfect for beginners. A long time locals favorite – it’s nickname is “The Legend,” A-Basin has a fun vibe and food and drinks on the mountain are affordable for Summit County. The resort is also famous for its parking lot scene around The Beach – the part of the lot that backs up to the lower mountain chairlifts. Reminiscent of a football tailgating party, expect music, dogs, brews and full-on cookouts.

For lodging, prices are definitely a bit higher as you are in the heart of Summit County, which is home to mega resorts like Breckenridge and Keystone. There are a number of small towns that service all these resorts including Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne. Hotels start at about $125 per person per night, but Airbnbs can go for around $75 per person per night. All of these towns have fast casual or straight up fast food dining options as well as affordable restaurants and some good craft breweries that also serve food.

These Translation Apps Can Be A Personal Travel…

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we travel. Whether following directions, snapping pictures and taking videos, or just communicating, mobile phones have made everything simpler for the modern road trip. Thankfully, the newest digital features also include a slew of translation apps and services to help you better navigate foreign countries and cultures.

And though they won’t automatically upgrade your core skills or teach you to perfectly speak another language, they will allow you to easily converse and connect while abroad. Here’s what you need to know before setting off on your next international adventure.

Google Assistant Interpreter Mode

The Google Translate app has already proved to be a huge help in translating over 100 different languages using voice, image and handwriting. But the just-launched Interpreter Mode for smartphones is a real-time translation feature which can be accessed using any Google Assistant-enabled phone, either Android or iOS. Just use the greeting, “Hey, Google” to begin, then ask your Assistant to translate or help you speak across any of the includes 44 languages – almost instantly. You’ll then be able to see the translated conversation on your phone. Don’t want to speak your instructions out loud? You can choose to type or manually select the language. In addition, Google has added a similar feature in Google Maps to help you navigate, allowing your phone to translate names and addresses in the local language. Google Assistant comes installed on Android but Apple users can download it from the Apple Store.

Microsoft Translator

A great option for business, this mobile app can help you translate over 60 languages using either text or voice and can even translate more than one person at a time. Within the app, you can choose the type of translation you need, be it spoken, typed or image, or just tap on the People icon, which allows you to start or join a conversation by sharing a digital code via smartphone or even enter a group chat. Offline language packs also let you access basic translations when you’re not connected or find yourself off the beaten track. Available for iOS, Android and Windows 10.

iTranslate

This simple and popular app helps you converse in over 100 different languages. Speak into your phone and it will automatically translate your words into text of whichever language you choose. Need to translate a sign, menu or map? It’s as easy as snapping a photo. The app also instantly translates websites into over 40 languages, includes a dictionary with verb conjugations and even offers an extension for using your Apple Watch. Available for iOS, Android and as a Web App.

TripLingo

This well-rounded, not to mention fun, app not only includes a voice translator for conversations, but also comes with a built-in phrasebook to help you sound more like a local and less like a clueless tourist – incorporating over 2000 phrases representing four levels of slang, formal and more casual options. You’ll also have access to a suite of learning tools, like audio lessons, interactive flashcards and a quiz mode to get you in fighting (or conversing) shape. Travel tools are also helpful and include a direct line to emergency services, a tip calculator and an etiquette guide for improving your cultural manners. For an added charge, you can also instantly access live translators on standby. Available for iOS and Android.

Speak & Translate

This app comes with a price – you can purchase it by month or by year – but puts a premium on less common languages, like Icelandic and Zulu, using a sleek, seamless experience for translating conversations. Real-time voice recognition includes 117 languages for text translations and 54 languages for voice translations. Translation history can be synchronized and accessed across Apple platforms, and voice settings let you choose how fast or slow you want your translations read out loud, as well as a choice of male and female voices. Available on iOS.

SayHi

Simplicity is this apps raison d’etre, giving you access to a super simple, split-screen interface which allows you to speak or type the words and/or sentences you need translated in 90 languages. It also allows for regional dialects in certain languages and lets you share your translated conversations using text, email Facebook or Twitter. Voice settings let you adjust the speed of your translations in either male or female voices. Available on iOS and Android.

New York’s 7 Best Old-School Steakhouses

Come hungry and get cozy at these vintage meateries where it’s always prime time for steak.

Before most US cities could even build a steakhouse, the island of Manhattan was serving up some of the country’s most prime cuts. Their steaks were so good and service so sublime, several of those classic eateries remain in full swing today, serving up dry-aged perfection to discerning diners.

Then with the 20th century came a wave of steakhouses that mastered their own strips and styles, too. And while new beefy restaurants are always cropping up, there’s still a special, refined handful that have thrived over the decades, serving steaks that are simply a cut above the rest.

1. Delmonico’s

Deep in the Financial District is one of America’s great all-time restaurants. Delmonico’s opened its corner-lot doors in 1837, when Andrew Jackson was president and California was 14 years away from statehood. But for polished New Yorkers, the restaurant was an instant staple, becoming the first to use white tablecloths and printed menus. Today, diners can find themselves in the same timeless dining room where chandeliers and original artworks hang, and career servers cater to every wish.

Likewise, Delmonico’s menu remains classic, showcasing its divine Delmonico signature boneless rib-eye steak, prime New York strips, and on-the-bone beef dry aged up to 60 days. The menu reads like a culinary time capsule with dishes like brandied mushrooms and creamy Delmonico potatoes, with tempting modern specialties too. The restaurant also invented a few famous dishes – including baked Alaska, so be sure to leave room for dessert.

2. Smith & Wollensky

In terms of vintage restaurants, it may be one of the newer steakhouses. But Smith & Wollensky established its elite reputation as soon as it served the first prime rib back in 1977. Its iconic green-and-white building is parked on the corner of Third Avenue and East 49th Street in Midtown, where inside its wood-lined walls, diners choose from a succinct classic menu and seasonal specials.

The seafood is outstanding, but it’s the beef that built this cosmopolitan house. The classic, 26-ounce prime rib is the juicy go-to; though it’s rivaled by the Colorado rib steak and boneless or bone-in filet mignon, both seared to perfection. Sirloin, veal, lamb, and other steaks do indeed dazzle, just be sure to round out your meal with indulgent steakhouse sides like hash browns and creamed spinach.

3. Old Homestead Steakhouse

Since 1868, Chelsea has been able to enjoy flavors of cattle country at the Old Homestead, where a cow sculpture hangs over the entrance as if marking an Old West eatery. The family-run restaurant has been turning out USDA prime for more than a century and a half, claiming to be “the King of Beef” in a city populated by steak lovers. Within its clubby dining room, you’ll find a robust menu of seafood, burgers, and tempting sides ­– and more importantly, a selection of expertly prepared chops and dry-aged steaks that span Japanese Wagyu, filet mignon, porterhouse, New York sirloin, and the mouth-watering, 24-ounce Gotham rib steak on the bone.

4. Sparks Steak House

A stone’s throw from Grand Central Terminal is this legendary house of steak, where the old-school menu of chops, strips, and filets has endured since 1966. Spacious Sparks still draws a steady crowd, who pack in for memorable dining and suave service, plus a dose of NYC-mafia mystique. (A Gambino family mobster was shot outside the restaurant in 1985.) Above all, though, Sparks prepares an unrivaled, signature prime sirloin that’s considered one of the city’s best cuts.

5. Keens Steakhouse

For a mashup of timeless décor, service, and food, reserve your spot at Keens Steakhouse. Open since 1885, the Herald-Square restaurant is a throwback to the days of checking your pipe at the door – in this case, hand-carved, long-stemmed pipes that now line the ceiling. Though the mutton chop is the signature here, you’ll find a mighty assortment of seafood, serious prime steaks, plus the rarely seen, super-tender Chateaubriand-style steak for two.

6. Gallaghers Steakhouse

It began as a speakeasy, but today, Gallaghers is one of Manhattan’s top steakhouses, with its always-stocked meat fridge visible from the sidewalk on West 52nd Street. The restaurant has sated Times Square’s theatergoers since 1927, and these days has a modern look and 21st-century menu, thanks to a mid-2010s renovation. Still, the legend lives on with Gallaghers’s unique hickory coal–grilled steaks, including a 12-hour slow-roasted prime rib, which you can call in advance to order.

7. Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse

Don’t be fooled by the understated entrance of Frankie & Johnnie’s. Just up a flight of stairs is an elegant dining room that’s one of the Theater District’s oldest and best. When the joint opened back in 1926, it was a speakeasy that hosted luminaries and mafioso outlaws, from Frank Sinatra to Bugsy Siegal. These days, it’s a go-to wonderland of seafood, pasta, old-school dishes like chicken livers and scampi – and flawless steaks. Bring a friend to share the tomahawk rib eye for two, or porterhouse for two or for three. If you’re catching a show, the three-course theatre menu is a daily bargain (except Sundays).

7 Affordable Alternatives to Popular Destinations…

Beat the crowds and save some money this year by visiting altogether different (yet still amazing) cities.

Second-city travel refers to cities in a country that don’t come to mind when first planning a vacation. For example, when going to Thailand, tourists typically book a trip in Bangkok, instead of Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand. This trend has Americans dodging major cities for their smaller, alluring counterparts that offer lower price tags, fewer crowds (so long, traffic!) and a truly authentic experience.

Second cities are not necessarily the second most-populated city in a country – when speaking about the trend in the travel sense, it means any city that might not be the first choice for tourists. So what could be better than a more authentic experience at a more affordable price? Here are seven second-city destinations to consider.

1. Lille instead of Paris, France

Paris is a romantic city that foreigners swoon over and for good reason; however, France has countless cities that are more affordable and just as lovely. So skip the hustle and bustle of Paris and travel an hour north to the town of Lille, a cultural hub that sits on the crossroads of Paris, London and Brussels. Don’t worry, the croissants are just as good!

Lille has been named a World Design Capital for the year 2020 and is a mecca for not only design, but also a robust food scene, museums and art fairs galore and beautiful modern architecture. With more affordable prices, your hotel stay can get an upgrade to chic Parisian style at MAMA Shelter Lille – a new boutique hotel with a welcoming vibe and a quirky design made for comfort. Plus, just a few steps from the hotel are two major train stations, making it a convenient option for exploring too!

2. Lafayette instead of New Orleans, Louisiana

Less than three hours from New Orleans, Lafayette has been dubbed the “Austin” of Louisiana and the true heart of Cajun culture. Food is the heart of Louisiana and music is the soul – and there’s an abundance of both in this charming Cajun town. With fresh seafood, jambalaya, crawfish and gumbos, no wonder this town has been dubbed the “Happiest City in America.” Anthony Bourdain even visited once, enough said.

If you’re coming to party Cajun style, Lafayette has that too. Home to Grammy-winning Cajun musicians, an epic Mardi Gras celebration and famed music halls – you really can’t go wrong with this second city. Plus, lodging is inexpensive with hotels under $100. Now you’ll have more cash for all the mouth-watering restaurants. Bring on the po’boys!

3. Catskills instead of New York City, New York

New York City is one metropolis that everyone must visit at least once in a lifetime to experience the glorious city that never sleeps. But what about the rest of The Empire State? The Catskills are a three-hour drive from the Big Apple and offer a peek into the great countryside of New York.

Tucked away upstate lays the town of Windham, now a popular ski destination and all-year escape. This area offers a small-town vibe with inviting locals, every outdoor sport you can imagine, local cuisine and quaint hotels worthy of your next Instagram post. Check out the Eastwind Hotel – this cozy, chic hideaway has Lushna cabins (A-frame wooden structures) as well as a wood-barrel sauna and fire pit for après-ski delights.

4. Eilat instead of Tel Aviv, Israel

If the crowds in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are not appealing to you, consider the less-traveled city of Eilat as an exciting Israeli adventurer’s paradise. Located on the southern tip of the country, Eilat offers a sunny oasis on the Red Sea with stunning beaches and jaw-dropping coral reefs.

Whether you want to hike the desert mountains, relax beachside or snorkel in its remarkable Coral Reef Nature Reserve, this resort town has it all. Hikers can trek the Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve, which offers some of the most breathtaking views and spectacular desert routes in all of Israel. And now it’s easy to get to, in January 2019, Israel opened the Ramon International Airport, which is a 20-minute drive from the city.

5. Milwaukee instead of Chicago, Illinois

Situated two hours north of Chicago and located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, is a lively urban Midwest city filled with approachable and affordable arts, culture and culinary experiences. And if you’re into beer, this city is for you. Wisconsin is the third-largest producer of beer in the US and Milwaukee is home to Miller Brewing, now MillerCoors, which offers a number of brewery tours and tasting experiences for travelers.

Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward is a must-visit neighborhood that is considered the arts and fashion district – comparable to New York’s Brooklyn neighborhood, but without the crowds. Here you can find the Milwaukee Public Market, which features Wisconsin-made and must-try products like homemade chocolates and artisan cheeses. The Third Ward is also home to some of the best shopping and unique boutiques.

6. Ponce instead of San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is most commonly known as the hub for Puerto Rico’s vibrant culture, but, guess what? This extends beyond the metro area and throughout the entire island. Puerto Rico’s second-largest city is Ponce, known as “La Perla del Sur” (Pearl of the South) due to its location in the southern region of the island.

With towns that maintain remnants of colonial life under Spanish rule, beautiful historic buildings and cultural attractions, Ponce is overflowing with rich history and culture. Immerse yourself in Ponce’s art scene at the Ponce Museum of Art – boasting over 4,500 European works of art. Or if you’re an explorer, take a ferry boat ride to Isla Caja de Muertos off the coast of Ponce, where you go hiking or simply relax in the turquoise water.

7. Spokane instead of Seattle, Washington

Skip Seattle and head straight to Spokane. Located in eastern Washington, Spokane has everything Seattle has (except the Space Needle, of course), but on a smaller scale. Unlike its counterpart, Spokane is affordable and sunny. Plus, the city has a symphony, shopping, great theater, an exciting culinary scene – with 21 wineries and 40 craft breweries – that can rival Seattle and all the urban entertainment you could ask for.

In addition to city culture and urban delights, Spokane is an outdoor recreation dream with five ski resorts and two state parks located right in Spokane. With 17 direct flights and over a hundred daily flights, it’s actually easy to get to Spokane. So what are you waiting for?

The 6 Wildest New Year’s Eve Celebrations in the US

Finding the perfect place to celebrate New Year’s Eve is always a little stressful. Whether you’re looking to party hard, bring the kids or just chill out, there’s no doubt expectations run high.

To help settle your holiday anxieties, we’ve picked the best places to ring in 2020 around the country. So, make those reservations, mark your calendar, kick back and relax.

New Orleans, LA

Music! Food! Cocktails! Culture! Party it up in this happening southern city, where the weather is mild enough to celebrate al fresco, but there’s plenty to do inside.

Jackson Square is where the big action happens, with the Fleur De Lis drop at midnight, but you can make reservations at music venues like Tipitina’s and the House of Blues if you prefer to boogie down.

The Big Easy is also known for its over-the-top cuisine and favorites like Galatoire’s and Café Degas do stunning special menus.

Got kids? The Louisiana Children’s Museum does a New Year’s countdown at noon for those with early bedtimes and the Audobon Zoo does a family-centric celebration in the morning. Football fans get an extra-added bonus and you can nab a ticket to the New Year’s Day Allstate Sugar Bowl here.

New York, NY

If you can make it there, you really can make it anywhere, because New Year’s Eve in New York City is a wild ride. If you’re willing to brave the crowds, and the temperatures, you can join the festivities in Times Square, which starts at 6pm and culminates in the Waterford Crystal Ball dropping at midnight. This year, performers include Sting and Christina Aguilera.

Want to stay close but warm? Get your cocktail on, tiki-style, at The Pod Hotels 42’s The Polynesian.

Celebratory fireworks are also part of the NYC NYE and you can watch them explode in downtown Manhattan’s South Street Seaport or Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. For a high-end culinary tour de force, make reservations for the tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park or book a room at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge and nab two tickets to spectacular views of the skyline at Brooklyn Heights Social Club’s Classic NYE Celebration.

Las Vegas, NV

In a town where every night feels like New Year’s Eve, it may be hard to choose how you want to celebrate. Thankfully, the city makes it special by closing the entire strip down for traffic, so there really is dancing in the streets. And, come midnight, you’ll be treated to a stupendous fireworks display coordinated by the casinos.

If you’re looking for something with less than the approximately 300,000 guests on the strip, you can grab tickets for parties Like Nas New Year’s Eve at Tao or the family-friendly party at Hofbrauhaus, which starts at 3pm to celebrate alongside its original beer hall in Munich. If it’s music you’re after, there’s much to choose from, like Calvin Harris at Omnia, Drake at XS Nightclub, Lady Gaga at Park MGM and Maroon 5 at Mandalay Bay.

Savannah, GA

Dripping with as much southern charm as Spanish moss, pedestrian friendly Savannah is the perfect home base for NYE festivities. Spend the day exploring the 22 different squares, antebellum mansions and cobblestone streets in the Historic district, including Forrest Gump’s infamous bus stop in Chippewa Square. Then head to City Market, where you can grab some grub, walk the market and catch live music all night long. Next, wander down to the hopping River District for a countdown to the Up the Cup ball drop, which is a six-foot to-go cup ringing in 2020.

If you’re looking for something more elegant, you can make reservations at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort & Spa for dinner followed by a rocking dance party or keep closer to the festivities with a meal from the four-course tasting menu at Vic’s on the River. Midnight fireworks will explode over River Street as well, but you can also catch them at the city’s Tybee Island beach.

Honolulu, HA

Most people don’t need a reason to visit paradise, but if you’re heading to Honolulu for the holidays, there’s plenty of things to do if you can scrape yourself off the close to perfect beaches. The Party of the Year is in its 10th iteration and though the location and headliner hasn’t yet been announced, you can buy your tickets now.

Tiki’s Waikiki is also hosting a massive blowout Soiree Dinner & Party, with a four-course dinner, flowing cocktails, live bands, a DJ and of course, dancing. For a family-friendly option, check out Moana Surfrider’s around the world-themed celebration, with DJ Baby G, kid’s activities and an oceanfront seat for the massive fireworks show over Waikiki Beach. The Hilton Hawaiian Village will also have its own fireworks over the lagoon.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Hawaii without a luau, and you can enjoy all the local food and fun you and the kids can handle at the Halekulani and Rock a Hula.

Phoenix, AZ

Want to stay dry and warm this New Year’s? Phoenix is a fine bet. And in addition to having a number of all-inclusive hotels, like the spacious and family-friendly Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, located just east of the city limits, you can also grab a ticket for the Crescent New Year’s Eve 2020 Block party, which gives you access to four of the biggest parties in the downtown area.

If you’d rather stay in one place, check out the arts-and music-heavy Flannel Ball NYE Party and Art Show or book the accompanying Cloth & Flame five-course dinner, all happening at the Roosevelt Row Arts District. Or bring the whole family to the Medieval Times celebration and enjoy a two-hour tournament and a four-course feast as well as music, dancing and of course, admission to the Museum of Torture.

Avoid These 8 Etiquette Mistakes While Traveling…

 

Lpt1119 021Lpt1119 021

©Jonathan Stokes/Lonely Planet

Different cultures follow different rules and traditions. Here’s what not to do when you travel.

Exploring new places and cultures is part of the thrill of travel, but it’s important to keep in mind that, just like when you’re a guest in someone else’s home, when you’re overseas, you’re a guest in someone else’s homeland. The same rules may not apply.

We’ve put together this handy guide to help you navigate foreign etiquette. If you can be sure to avoid these faux pas, then you’ll certainly be welcomed back.

Read More “Avoid These 8 Etiquette Mistakes While Traveling…”

Seven Great Destinations for An Affordable Weekend…

Start your new year off right with these budget trips you can pack into a weekend.

The idea of planning a major European jaunt or an exotic island excursion can seem like an overwhelming feat. Long vacations can be extremely pleasurable, but they do come with large price tags and hours on end of planning. These points can easily discourage travelers from going anywhere (can you blame them?).

The reality is, anyone with a weekend to spare can visit a variety of great homegrown destinations that are ripe for exploring. These trips can usually be planned or spontaneous and don’t have to break the bank.

1. New York, New York

The Big Apple is always going to be a popular destination, whether you live near or far. This whirlwind city has something miraculous to see and do every second of the day and night, from Broadway shows and copious museums to a myriad of restaurants and parks to explore.

New York City is packed with things to do – so much you could fill several weekends. New York Hilton Hotels launched a “Weekend Like a Local” package. The 3-night package is ideal for short trips to New York City with travelers saving up to 50% off on Sunday nights, along with many other perks and discounts.

2. Newport, Rhode Island

When you live in New England, the hardest part about going on a weekend getaway is deciding on where to visit. There are so many destinations that are less than a tank of gas away. Newport, Rhode Island, coined the crown jewel of The Classic Coast is one spectacular option, known for its grand mansions along the famous Cliff Walk.

Just ninety minutes south of Boston and three hours north of New York City, Newport is a drivable destination for more than 30% of US residents – yet, it feels a world away. The year-round destination has an overflow of charm, culture, celebrated restaurants, bucolic trails, iconic mansion walks, a vibrant nightlife and lauded beaches. What are you waiting for?

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Located within a 90-minute flight of 50% of the US population and a six-hour or less drive from nine states, Pittsburgh is a very accessible city. Have I sold you on this destination yet?

The city has reinvented itself from its industrial past and is now the cultural heart of the region. The Warhol Museum, the largest single artist museum in North America, provides seven floors of pop art immersion for less than $20. Just want to hang? Take a tour at Wigle Whiskey distillery and enjoy a cocktail and spirit tasting for $20. Kimpton Hotel Monaco is in walking distance to these activities and has hotel rooms available starting at $149 a night.

4. Temecula, California

What if I told you that you could merge the best of Las Vegas and Napa in one affordable trip? Well, you can in Temecula, a burgeoning wine region in Southern California that is home to the largest casino on the west coast called Pechanga Resort Casino. To put it into perspective, the casino floor is even larger than the MGM Grand in Las Vegas!

The city is close to the San Diego and Ontario, California, airports, making plane travel a breeze. When you arrive, take your pick at any of the 50 wineries, visit the eclectic Old Town Temecula with restaurants, bars, boutiques or take your pick at outdoor activities such as hiking, hot air ballooning or mountain biking.

5. Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida

With 250 kinds of shells, 25 miles of bike paths and 15 mile of beaches, Sanibel and Captiva Islands sound like the perfect dreamy escape for a weekend getaway. And if that doesn’t sway you, the fact that it’s cheaper and closer to home than the Caribbean should do it.

Instead of crowded beaches and costly theme park tickets, the two unspoiled islands have an “old Florida” ambiance, with no stoplights, chain restaurants, or buildings higher than a palm tree. Nestled on the tip of Captiva, South Seas Island Resort is a haven for families and nature lovers, situated on 300 acres of protected wildlife with 2 miles of secluded beachfront. Now start hunting for those 250 varieties of shells!

6. Rapid City, South Dakota

With direct flights to Rapid City from major cities such as Dallas, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, this metropolis is becoming a weekend getaway destination for its exciting outdoor activities, dynamic art scene and unique culinary options.

Looking for a good view? Known for its famous rock formations, travelers can visit Black Hills for diverse rock climbing (or just hiking) opportunities. After your outdoor adventure, check out Art Alley, a passageway of free-form graffiti murals that intermingle with pop art, abstract and cultural works. End your day by pleasing the foodie in your group with a taste of authentic bison entrees such as bison meatloaf or short ribs.

7. Kalispell, Montana

Located in the heart of the Flathead Valley, Kalispell is a destination that is easy to get to and has a laid back vibe. For travelers who are dipping their toes back into traveling, a few key elements stand out: no traffic, small city size (23,000 people) and easily navigable.

Plus, it’s within minutes of some of Montana’s most incredible attractions, including Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park. The park is open year-round and the west entrance is a 35-minute drive from Kalispell. Visitors can also explore the quaint downtown area, which is filled with local boutiques, coffee shops, breweries, restaurants and more. It’s the perfect small town adventure for a weekend getaway!

How to Travel Internationally for $1000 A Week (Or…

If you don’t need luxury, it’s fairly easy to travel pretty much anywhere in comfort for $1000 per person or less a week, flights included!

I choose to travel economically in order to travel more. Fortunately, there are many ways to enjoy a budget trip without sacrificing comfort and enjoyment, even if you travel solo. The tips and tricks below assume that you’re traveling independently, and not with a tour group. Prices are in US dollars.

Finding cheap flights

When it comes to finding cheap flights, flexibility is key. Typically, tickets are cheaper mid-week (Tuesday to Thursday) and possibly Saturday. Holiday periods are very expensive, but if you fly on the holiday itself (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter) you will find much cheaper prices.

Start with a flight aggregator like Skyscanner, Kayak, or Momondo. Select ±3 days in the calendar for both departure and return dates to see results that span a week. Skyscanner allows you to see the lowest fares over an entire month. If you must select a specific date, choose a Tuesday or Wednesday to see how low prices get.

Often, you will find the best prices on flights that depart very early or late, have a long layover, or multiple connections. Decide what you are willing to put up with. I personally don’t mind red-eye flights. I may even select a flight with a long layover and turn it into a stopover. And of course, I always fly economy.

The pricier the flight, the longer your trip should be in order to amortize the cost over several weeks. Since far-away destinations are usually more costly to reach, this also gives you more time to recover from jetlag!

For example, from Canada I may consider flying to Mexico for a week, but usually allocate at least two weeks for Europe, three weeks for South America, and four weeks or more for Asia, Australia or Africa. This way, I manage to keep my weekly flight cost to $350 or less.

Booking accommodation

My accommodation strategy these days consists of renting a room or apartment through AirBnB, which often comes out cheaper than a hotel room. Using the filters to see only listings from “superhosts” ensures a good experience. Start searching two to three months in advance for the best selection.

Another site I use is Booking.com. Once registered, you get savings of 10% off various properties (called “genius deals”). In most cases, you can cancel for free up until a few days before your stay. And you don’t have to make payments in advance as with AirBnB.

I can usually find a good room or even an apartment for $45 a day or less, using the above websites. Two people traveling together can double this amount.

Read more: – Hotel vs. Airbnb: Which Is Best For Your Next Vacation?

Planning your meals

Renting an apartment or a room in someone’s house, instead of a hotel room, allows you to self-cater, greatly reducing your food costs. At a minimum, it’s easy to buy a few items at a nearby grocery store and prepare your own breakfast.

If spending time in a costly destination, eating either lunch or dinner at “home” will also help save money. Fortunately, expensive regions like Northern Europe and North America have grocery stores that provide decent prepared sandwiches, salads, and even meals that you can reheat in the microwave, if you’re not keen on cooking.

Of course, sampling the local cuisine is part of the fun of visiting a new destination. Having at least one meal out every day should still fit within the $1000/week budget. Local markets and small eateries offering set meals (usually lunch) are cheap options. Stay away from overpriced tourist restaurants near heavily trafficked areas, and instead use your guidebook to find something off the beaten path.

I try to limit my food expenses to $20-25 a day. This may not seem like much, but it’s easy to do in countries like Mexico, Thailand, or Serbia, even if you eat out for every meal. Iceland and Japan are more challenging of course.

Also remember that tipping at restaurants is mostly a North American custom. In much of the world, 5 to 10%, or just rounding up the check, is sufficient. In Japan, tipping is considered an insult!

Sightseeing economically

In order to save money, focus on free attractions. It’s surprising the number of things you can do for free (or almost free) in a given city: walking tours, markets, exhibits, wine tastings, beaches, music performances, churches and other public buildings.

Walking around parks and other green spaces is always free and a good way to relax. Most museums have a free day or evening, while some never charge admission. Check their website in advance.

Take along a good guidebook (I always use Lonely Planet), and search the web for “free things to do in [destination]”. Drop by the Tourist Office to find out about free walking tours and upcoming cultural events. While there, also look for discount coupons on restaurants and activities.

Choosing transportation at your destination

Avoid taxis as much as possible and learn to use public transit. Besides being more expensive than other options, cars posing as official taxis are sometimes unsafe at worst, or a ripoff at best. If you must use a taxi, look for a taxi counter at the airport and only take licensed cabs.

Many cities have good public transit, including trains or shuttle buses that go directly to the town center from the airport. Every country has buses or trains linking its main cities. In developing nations, even small towns and villages are served by buses as few people have cars. When safety is an issue with public transport, tourist shuttles usually exist.

Traveling slowly helps save on transportation costs, so consider staying in each location three or more days. If traveling with a few others, renting a car may be an option worth considering.

The budget

Here is how I would allocate a budget of $1000 a week:

  • $350 on flights ($50 a day)
  • $315 on accommodation ($45 a day) per person
  • $175 on food and drink ($25 a day)
  • $70 on sightseeing ($10 a day)
  • $70 on public transportation ($10 a day)
  • $20 on miscellaneous (souvenirs, gifts, etc.)

Marie-France Roy is a Canadian freelance writer based in Toronto, who has been exploring the world mostly solo over the last 27 years. She has traveled to 65 countries on every continent and is especially fond of sunny destinations with good coffee. Her blog bigtravelnut.com focuses on affordable solo travel for the 40+ crowd.

What Happens When Someone Dies on a Plane?

​It’s not particularly pleasant to think about, but sometimes passengers die on board an aircraft — although it’s very rare, so don’t preoccupy yourself unnecessarily with doom and gloom. Here’s what happens when a passenger passes away during a flight.

All airlines have their own procedures for what happens if and when somebody dies on their aircraft, but unsurprisingly they’re generally pretty reluctant to talk about them. Death is a bit of a taboo, after all, and in some cases the procedures can seem a little inelegant, so they’re kept under wraps.

Indeed, there are few government regulations for what airlines must do if someone dies on board: there’s no requirement to immediately divert, and airlines are given fairly wide scope to make sensible decisions. They’ll usually make them in conjunction with remote medical advice companies on the ground, any medical professionals on board, and the airline’s operations center, which will also assess the practicalities of the decision.

On a shorthaul flight, say a couple of hours or so, the aircraft will generally land swiftly, although this won’t always result in an immediate emergency diversion to another airport. Sometimes, it can make more sense for the plane to continue to its intended destination if it is carrying a particularly heavy load, because the maximum landing weights planes are certified for are usually quite a bit less than their maximum takeoff weight, which is usually accounted for by the fuel that’s used in flight.

On longhaul flights, however, things get a bit more complicated. There aren’t a huge number of places to divert to in the middle of the world’s oceans and it can be some time until a suitable diversion airport can be reached.

In addition, if the person is indeed dead, there aren’t a huge number of things that diverting to another country unexpectedly can do to help the deceased and any family traveling with them.

In practical terms, it may make more sense for the aircraft to continue to its intended destination — where the person who has died and their family will presumably hold visas and other necessary paperwork, where the airline will have staff, and where the family may well have friends and relations who can be of assistance — rather than to land in a third country in which the airline may not even operate.

As a rule, airlines will do their very best to be supportive and compassionate to families during this kind of incident, and assist with the repatriation of their loved one’s remains.

Very few people technically die on board

Officially, the crew aren’t (usually) trained medical doctors and so generally can’t declare somebody dead on board the aircraft. If a doctor is present among the passengers on board they can do so, although most often this is usually done on the ground after landing.

To the best of my knowledge, only one modern aircraft had a special locker in the event of a death onboard: that was the Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-500, which used to fly the world’s longest flights between Singapore and Newark. Since its retirement (and recent replacement), though, I’m not aware that any other aircraft has them installed.

Indeed, if someone dies, you may not even notice. In the event that a passenger dies peacefully in their sleep, the most dignified option may well be to simply cover them with a blanket and quietly reseat other passengers.

If the usual onboard announcement for doctors or other medical professionals for a passenger having an emergency is made, however, and the outcome isn’t a positive one, the dead person may be moved to the galley area or to a business class seat, especially in the event that these are the flatbed type, covered with a blanket, and secured with a seat belt. If there’s no business class, the crew will often try to move them to an empty row, although as we’ve all seen when we fly there are fewer and fewer empty rows out there these days.

Sometimes their destination will end up being the “crew rest” seats, which are the ones you may see on some aircraft with a little curtain around them to enable relief pilots and off-shift flight attendants to rest during the less busy cruise phase of the flight. The curtain provides some privacy for the deceased passenger, and with the row blocked off anyway it helps to provide a bit of dignity as well.

The authorities may quarantine the plane on arrival

Upon landing, the aircraft and its passengers may well be held in quarantine while the authorities do some initial medical checks to ensure that there are no public health issues that need to be addressed.

This will usually include checking that the passenger had not recently traveled to an area of particular concern (Western Africa during outbreaks of Ebola virus disease, for example). This can often be concerning if ground medical personnel board the aircraft in hazmat suits, but it is largely out of an abundance of caution.

Your onward travel or return home is unlikely to be delayed in these cases: the primary objective in this sort of effort is to ensure that other passengers are not showing symptoms of any illness, and to ensure that the authorities have detailed itineraries and contact information in the event of needing to follow up.

Unfortunately, this sort of procedure is increasingly having to be used when unvaccinated people fall ill from previously eliminated infectious diseases like measles or whooping cough, whether that’s on the flight or shortly afterwards during an infectious period.

Aviation journalist John Walton writes regularly on travel for Lonely Planet and a variety of aviation magazines. He welcomes questions and discussions from readers on Twitter (he’s @thatjohn) or via email to john@walton.travel.