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mar 26 2015

Eat Like a Local in Orlando

Sure, the fish & chips at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are delicious, but Orlando also offers an international variety of culinary delights.

(Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort)

Orlando is a pretty sweet place to be any time of year, but this spring is especially exciting. The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is in full bloom (as reported in 8 Incredibly Beautiful Places to See Spring Flowers), and the brand-new I-Drive 360, an entertainment center opening in early May that will be home to the 400-foot Orlando Eye observation wheel and the SeaLife Orlando aquarium.

mar 25 2015

Confessions of a Cruise Ship Captain

Norwegian Getaway
(Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line)

This article was written by Sherri Eisenberg and originally appeared on Fox News Travel.

What’s it really like to be at the helm of one of these mega cruise ships? We caught up with Captain Rune Myre, 17-year veteran of Norwegian Cruise Line and the captain of the Miami-based Norwegian Getaway.

mar 25 2015

So Cute! Baby Elephant Takes a Bath in Thailand—We Can't Stop Watching This Video!

You can play with baby elephants like this one at non-profit org ElephantStay.

(Simon Irwin/Lonely Planet)

At elephant-conservation organization ElephantStay in Ayutthaya, Thailand, a Danish visitor had an extremely interactive encounter with an adorable baby elephant named Double Trouble who loved being hosed off and taking a dunk (or five) in his miniature bathtub.

mar 24 2015

How to do Aspen on a Budget

ski resorts in Aspen, Colorado
(Lev Akhsanov/Dreamstime)

This article was written by Laurel Miller and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

Let's play a word association game. "Aspen." You're probably thinking, "I can't afford Prada/don't wear fur/wish I could afford to ski there."

Guess what? Aspen isn't just for couture-wearing socialites and Botox-happy celebs. Real people live here, and even broke folks like me enjoy the multitude of outdoor adventures this historic mining-turned-ski-town has to offer. Right now, as ski season winds down and spring break visitors arrive, is the best time for tight-budgeted snow sport enthusiasts to visit because there are killer deals to be had on everything from accommodations to dining. 

Lift tickets? Not so much, but there are package deals that provide hefty discounts. There are also plenty of free activities for skiers and riders, as well as those who prefer to spend their time off the slopes.

Related: Save Cash By Renting Your Ski Clothes

Here's how to do Aspen on the cheap, spring break style (minus the wet T-shirt contests and projectile vomiting... this is still Aspen, after all). And remember: No matter how minuscule your budget, the scenery is always gratis.

Sleeping

Unbeknownst to many, Aspen has two hostel-style lodges that offer dorms and single/double rooms with shared or private baths. My longtime fave is the St. Moritz Lodge, a few blocks from the town core. Low-season dorm beds start at $59, and you'll also find friendly staff, eclectic guests (expect everything from octogenarian Euro ski bums who have been visiting for decades to cash-savvy couples), free continental breakfasts and après-ski snacks, and clean, comfortable rooms. Best lodging deal in town, hands-down.

Mountain Chalet Aspen has been owned and operated by the same family since 1954. It's one of the last of its kind—a groovy original Swiss-style ski lodge—and while it's seen better days, it's got character. Accommodations range from basic dorms to the likes of the Chamonix Deluxe room, which boasts a king bed, private bath, and obligatory antlers on the walls. All rooms include breakfast, plus hot tub, sauna, and steam room access. Bonus: It's less than a five-minute walk to the gondola with your ski boots on. From $89.

If you've got the ducats for more style, the sweetest digs in town—with the best late-season deals—is the Limelight Hotel. Located a block from the slopes, this offbeat, 126-room property is also the local's fave for après-ski deals (hello, $10 wood-fired pizzas and $10 Colorado craft whiskey flights, and free live music). There's also the bomb, all-inclusive breakfast buffet, featuring house-made granola as well as a hot line. (Tip: Pad your pocket with a bagel with lox or cold cuts for later, but just remember, you didn't get that idea from me.) Rooms are airy, contemporary mountain-chic, many with fireplaces.

The Limelight is currently offering a Spring Escape package (subject to availability): Buy a minimum of two days and score 50 percent off lift tickets, rentals, and lodging, as well as 10 percent off lessons. (You must book seven days in advance of your arrival date; valid April 6-19.) This deal is good for all four of Aspen's ski areas: Snowmass, Highlands, Aspen Mountain, and Buttermilk.

Eating and drinking

Tourists and second homeowners throw down megabucks for fancy dinners; locals know where to get great eats for less than the cost of a tank of gas (or, say, two Big Mac Extra Value meals  at Aspen's token McDonald's). That said, come April 1, many fine-dining restaurants (check out spots like Ajax Tavern, Creperie du Village, and Rustique) offer killer deals; check with your concierge or scan the local paper for ads.

Annette's Mountain Bake Shop makes NYC-worthy bagels, Kouign-amann, and other goodness for breakfast and lunch. The sandwiches are insane; try the juicy, house-made roast beef, meatball, or caponata, or first-rate soups, salads, and off-menu delights like pissaladiere; cash only. You can also find tasty muffins at Peach's Corner Café, and I love the hangover-crushing breakfast sammie from Main Street Bakery (get it to go, or expect to wait for a table). A five-spot will get you a locally made croissant with house-made jam at So, the peaceful indoor café on the roof of the Aspen Art Museum. Skiers at Aspen Mountain should make their first run straight to Bonnie's for oatmeal pancakes or apple dumplings smothered in real whipped cream.

Those in the know hit Meat & Cheese Restaurant & Farm Shop for lunch or dinner. Owned by cheesemaker Wendy Mitchell of Basalt's award-winning Avalanche Cheese Co., it features affordable "boards" loaded with house-roasted local chicken, porchetta, and potatoes basted in their juices, with a side of dressed greens; you can also get cheese or charcuterie boards featuring daily selections from well-curated charcuterie cases. There are also creative sandwiches and outstanding "world farmhouse cuisine" that will satisfy whatever your jones (even if you haven't just hit up the dispensary around the corner... which is definitely not cheap). The Meatball Shack is more upscale than it sounds; for under $70 you can have cocktails, linen napkins, and two honkin' portions of tasty pasta or specials in a stylish setting.

Related: 8 Cheap and Cozy Ski Lodges

The Aspen Dollar Bar, a utilitarian basement space, is friendly, with lethal, well-priced drinks (this is whiskey country; hold off on the foofy orders), and well-executed bar food. Daily specials include chicken pot pie or pulled pork, but serious props to the tender prime rib sammie with house-made fries ($6). No visit to Aspen is complete without a stumble to New York Pizza—even when sober, the giant slices are delish and dirt-cheap, and it's open until 2 a.m.

Activities and events

Get a dose of culture at the new, free Aspen Art Museum, which has raised international controversy for its uber-contemporary design and unique exhibits. There are also lectures from writers in residence and visiting artists, and family programming. On the other end of the spectrum, the Aspen Historical Society offers affordable tours and events from pub crawls and retro-ski fashion shows to ski history outings.

Nordic activities: With the exception of Ashcroft, a nearby National Historic Register ghost town/designated Nordic area that's privately owned and thus fee-based, Aspen's 60-plus miles of Nordic trails are free. The Aspen Nordic Center is a convenient place to take a lesson, rent gear (skis or snowshoes), and take some laps, but this time of year, there's often not enough snow left for Nordic Center skiing. Instead, ski for free up Tiehack or Elk Camp at Snowmass, or to the Sundeck at the top of Aspen Mountain. It's a crazy-good workout, and the views are amazing.

Related: In Aspen Hunting is for the Rich and Blood-Thirsty

Ski programs and free on-mountain tours: Some hotels, like the Limelight, offer free, exclusive programs like Last Tracks to guests, but there are also organized events for the public (with valid lift ticket) that enable you to ski with local experts. First Tracks is insanely popular; register up to 24 hours in advance to hit the slopes for first run of the day with Aspen Skiing Co. employees. Aspen Mountain also offers free on-mountain ski tours by the naturalists at the Wapiti Wildlife Center (great for the kids).

mar 23 2015

Join Our Spring Travel Twitter Chat Monday, March 30th, at 1pm EST!

BT Chat
(Courtesy Jennifer O'Brien)

Mark your calendars: We're hosting our second #BT_Chat Monday, Mar. 30th, at 1 p.m. EST all about spring travel, and we want you to join us! We'll be co-hosting the chat with our friends at OffMetro, BootsnAll, and Lonely Planet USA. The best part: you'll have the chance to win a $100 gift card from Viator and a $50 gift card from Liftopia! Here are three easy steps for following along and chiming in with our #BT_Chat.

1. Get Your Tweet On

mar 20 2015

Contest Alert: Come To Our #BTInstameet Event Saturday & Enter To Win Cool Prizes!

BTinstameet on WWIM11
(Courtesy Jennifer O'Brien)

Calling all Instagramers: Join us Saturday, Mar. 21st, as we celebrate Worldwide Instameet Day! We'll be meeting at Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park at 4 p.m. for a #BTinstameet event brought to you by Budget Travel, NewYork.com, Photojojo, @instagramnyc, and One Girl Cookies. This is a great opportunity for everyone, whether you're new to Instagram or have been posting for years, so come on down and meet some truly amazing photographers and members of the Budget Travel staff!

mar 20 2015

Would You Pay $250 for a Professional Vacation Photographer?

Couple in Bali

A Flytographer duo guided this couple through a shoot in Bali, ensuring they followed local customs (no kissing in front of temples) and asking permission from rice farmers to pose in their fields.

(Vony and Bayu for Flytographer in Bali)

Forget the selfie stick. Brand-new photo service Flytographer has recruited professional photographers in more than 130 cities worldwide to take fanciful candid or posed photos of you on your dream trip. No more tilting your smartphone's camera just right, hoping to catch your face and most of the Eiffel Tower in the background. And don't even get us started on the social awkwardness that ensues when you ask a stranger to take your picture.

mar 19 2015

4 Reasons to Book Your Summer Travel NOW

Want to say ciao to Rome this summer? Demand is higher than ever and you should consider booking your trip now!

(Lonely Planet)

This article was written by Rick Seaney, an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, and originally appeared on Fox News Travel.

mar 19 2015

7 Most Amazing Under-the-Radar Road Trips in the U.S.

Beautiful Rockport, MA, is one of the stops on these exceptional lesser-known American road trips!

(Courtesy SusanHalay/myBudgetTravel)

This article was written by Jimmy Im and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

According to AAA, one in four Americans take a road trip every year, and with good reason. It's cost effective (especially with falling gas prices), enriching, and utterly nostalgic, and just plain fun. While plenty of iconic routes snake across our nation (like the Pacific Coast Highway and Route 66) we rounded up under-the-radar routes that should definitely be on your bucket list. They're just that amazing. So get your favorite driving playlists ready and check out these hidden-gem road-tripping adventures.

mar 19 2015

10 Cheap Eats You MUST Try In Berlin

German cuisine may not garner the recognition that French and Italian do, but a visit to Berlin will show you why this city is a magnet for up-to-date epicureans. You can feast on hearty Teutonic classics like and Schnitzel and Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), but Berlin really shines when it comes to casual, eclectic eats. The current food scene goes way beyond bratwurst yet doesn't eschew traditional flavors. Get ready for a mouth-watering adventure that's heavy on flavor and light on the wallet.

Doner Kebab (also known as Döner Kebap)

Best place to try it: All in One, Rosenthaler Str. 43

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