Budget Travel's Blog

The latest travel news, vacation tips & advice, travel apps, and more

dec 16 2014

How to do Florence on a Budget

Pointe Vecchia in Florence, Italy

Visit Ponte Vecchio, the city's famous medieval arched bridge, now home to an assortment of shops and restaurants, and a regular spot for free musical entertainment.

(Courtesy mcmillent/myBudgetTravel)

Florence is an Italian city best known for its art. Home to the Galleria degli Uffizi and the Galleria dell'Accademia (where Michelangelo's David masterpiece resides), visitors from around the world flock to see famous statues and paintings by Raphael, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci among others. The good news is you don't have to break the bank to get some world-class culture. You can view sculptures, paintings, and other works of art for less—or for free—if you know where to look.

dec 11 2014

Would You Pay $270 for a "Smart" Suitcase?

Bluesmart suitcases

Will it pack itself too?

(Courtesy Bluesmart)

Is the Bluesmart carry-on suitcase the luggage of the future? It certainly could be. 

Connect the polycarbonate carry-on to your smartphone, fire up the Bluesmart app, and watch in amazement as the suitcase locks itself at your command, measures its own weight when you pull up on the handle, tracks its own location, alerts you when it's too far away from you (pesky smart-suitcase thieves!), and charges two of your e-devices at a time via a built-in "super-powerful" replaceable battery. There's even a nifty outer pocket perfect for slipping your laptop out easily while going through airport security. The whole thing weighs in at a reasonable 8.5 pounds.

dec 11 2014

A Holiday Toast to Victorian London!

Ever visited London at Christmastime? Then you know that the spirit of Charles Dickens burns brightest during the dark December days that he immortalized in A Christmas Carol. You can't walk the narrow streets or drop into a cozy pub without being transported back to the 19th-century world of Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim. (If you're headed to the Big Smoke, take an easy, charming "Dickens of a tour" guided by my Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens post from a few years back!)

dec 10 2014

Where Does Santa Claus Go For His Post-Christmas Vacation?

(Pavel Chernobrivets/Dreamstime.com)

You're not gonna believe this, but I interviewed Santa Claus.

It happened like this: About a month ago I was thinking about how much I dislike traveling around the holidays. Call me Scrooge (who, btw, I did not interview—because he is a fictional character), but I just don't like crowds. If I have my way, I take my family somewhere nice after the holidays. I started thinking about who might be an expert on post-Christmas travel and it hit me: Who works harder at Christmastime—or deserves more of a break afterward—than St. Nick?

dec 09 2014

How YOU Can Take Prince William and Kate's Royal Tour of NYC

Empire State Building in New York City

Follow in Wills' footsteps and ride to the top of New York City's Empire State Building.

(Courtesy RSchatz/myBudgetTravel)

For first-time visitors to New York City, Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton sure packed in a huge amount of Big Apple highlights in record time. A whirlwind Sunday-through-Tuesday trip had the royals zooming from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, to the Financial District to the Upper East Side, then back to London via JFK Airport in Queens—all while remaining stately and dignified.

dec 04 2014

You MUST Try These Amazing Holiday Ice Cream Flavors from Portland

Bourbon Pecan Pie ice cream

Bourbon Pecan Pie ice cream from Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon.

(Courtesy Leela Cyd Ross)

Even as temperatures across the country start to drop, ice cream will always be in season, especially if we're talking about locally made, artisanal, and downright "mmm"-worthy small-batch pints. This month, Salt & Straw Ice Cream, based in Portland, Oregon, took inspiration from the state's winter harvest to concoct five zany new limited-time holiday flavors available now until December 30.

dec 04 2014

Holiday Fun from Hollywood to the Holy Land

Think your New Year's Eve party rocks? You haven't really rung in the New Year till you've sung "Auld Lang Syne" at Edinburgh's super-rowdie Hogmanay, a three-day festival that culminates with a jump in the icy River Forth!

(Robbie Shade/Wikimedia Commons)

My buddy Rick Crandall, host of KEZW's "Boomtown" radio show in Denver, asked me to share my favorite holiday festivals and events with his audience this week. His inspiring question led me to compile a short "2014 holiday bucket list" of sorts. I heartily recommend that you incorporate at least one of these unique traditions into your holiday plans!

nov 28 2014

Peruvian Paradise An Hour From Machu Picchu

EcoQuechua Lodge in Peru
(Courtesy EcoQuechua Lodge)

One of Peru's best kept secrets just keeps getting better and better. If you're looking for a trip that won't cost a fortune and takes you a bit off the beaten path, look no further than EcoQuechua Lodge, situated in Santa Teresa, Peru, not far from Machu Picchu.

nov 25 2014

Coolest Small Town Nominations End on TUESDAY!

Galena, Illinois, was one of our 2014 finalists for America's Coolest Small Town! You have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2, to get YOUR picture-perfect American town nominated.

(Dustin88/Dreamstime)

We are thrilled to see so many awesome towns toot their own horns during the online nominations for America's Coolest Small Town 2015! Congrats to Hillsborough and Washington, two towns in North Carolina that have done a truly magnificent job of rallying their supporters—and they sure have gotten our attention! But there's still time to get your town noticed—online nominations run until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2. Will your town join the ranks of Huron, Ohio; Delhi, New York; and Allegan, Michigan? Those burghs are some of the highest ranking in our nominations, and we have enjoyed getting to know a lot more about what makes them so, well, cool.

nov 24 2014

The Rich Flavors of Cambodian Cuisine

Typical Cambodian Breakfast
(Courtesy Andrew Kolasinski)

The waitress brought exactly what I ordered, but it still came as a surprise. Instead of a plate, my Fish Amok was served in a coconut shell. The classic Cambodian dish was presented made with freshly caught fish from the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodia's culinary traditions are made with the bounty of the land and water, with influences brought by successive invaders and visitors that have given variety to the Khmer approach to preparing food. The annual monsoon floods enrich the soil around the Mekong and Tonei Sap. The river system is one of the most diverse habitats on earth, and fishing has always been central to the Khmer economy.

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