10 of Our Favorite Girlfriend Getaways

By Laura Buckley
October 3, 2012

The other day the topic of girlfriend getaways came up here at Budget Travel and it turns out that many of us here on staff have something fun on the horizon!

Inspired by our upcoming girlfriend getaways, we decided to put together a slideshow of some of the destinations that we've either visited recently (or are planning on visiting).

From Sonoma wine country to New Hampshire, join us on our girlfriend getaway photo tour.

We hope our answers inspire you take a girlfriend getaway of your own or, if you already have one planned, tell us about it below.

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Tours led by the homeless

There are many ways to tour a city—bike tours, duck tours, Segway tours (though after Segway's CEO plunged off a cliff to his death riding a Segway, I'm no longer sure that would be my first choice), self-guided auditory tours, tours led by historical figures…the list goes on. The advent of the internet and the ubiquitous smart phone apps (yes, there's an app for that), brought us the virtual tour. Virtual tours, such as the Google Art Project and interactive maps, let you tour museums, cities, and even Disney World from the comfort of your home. While I enjoy traditional tours as much as the next person, I'm always looking for a new (and cheap) way to see a city; something that allows me to view an area with a completely fresh set of eyes. So when I read about the Sock Mob Events' "Unseen Tours" and their unconventional tour guides, I was immediately intrigued. The London-based tour company offers four walking tours of the city. What sets these tours apart from other London offerings? They are led by trained homeless guides. That's right, guides who don't just know the city, but have experienced it from a completely different perspective than your average Londoner. Born from The Sock Mob, a volunteer network that seeks to engage with the homeless community and overcome stigmas associated with homelessness, Unseen Tours offers guided tours to popular London sites such as the London Bridge, and Old Street. The tours aim to provide visitors with an "unseen" look at London. Guides provide both historical information about the areas, as well as personal insights about the city gleaned from years of living on the streets. Tours cost £5 or £8, depending on your circumstances, and the majority of the proceeds is given to the guides. You can book tours in advance, or show up spontaneously—just look for the cardboard sign with the words Unseen Tours on it (very fitting). What do you think? Is this something you'd like to see in your city? Who (or what), in your opinion, makes the best tour guide? — Madeline Grimes More From Budget Travel: Naples: Ex-cons Hired to Help Tourists Confessions of a Rome Tour Guide 7 Most Dangerous Travel Jobs A DIY Project Runway Tour


7 reasons to look on the bright side of air travel

It's easy to get caught up in the doom-and-gloom stories of rising fuel (and ticket) prices, corrupt TSA agents, and those pernicious baggage fees. But there is a silver lining—if you squint hard enough! Airports all over the country (and the world) are rolling out improvements to make the air travel experience more comfortable, convenient, and streamlined. Here, a timeline of seven noteworthy developments from the last few months. 1. OCTOBER 2010: Tokyo's Haneda airport debuted a fun-tastic international terminal, complete with a shopping area designed to look like a traditional Edo village, a café with its own planetarium, a soft-serve green tea ice cream vendor, napping lounges (not just for elites!), and free Wi-Fi throughout. Best of all, a new monorail and train connections provide access to downtown Tokyo in under 30 minutes. 2. NOVEMBER 2010: Delta installed 200-plus iPads at JFK gates for checking flight data, playing games, and ordering food delivery from airport restaurants. 3. DECEMBER 2010: Minneapolis-St. Paul International added touch-screen directories (or Digital Concierges) at either end of its Terminal 1, which display terminal maps, options for hotels and ground transportation, flight information, and menus for in-airport restaurants (along with the approximate walking times to reach them). 4. JANUARY 2011: A brand-new, massively expanded St. George Municipal Airport opened in Southern Utah, giving better access to the national parks in the lower half of the state. All the better to live out those 127 Hours-inspired itineraries! (Bonus: It's actually kind of pretty, with a two-story wall of windows and lots of curved-wood panels.) 5. JANUARY 2011: Top Chef Master Rick Bayless opened Tortas Frontera, an upscale Mexican sandwich shop in Terminal 1 of Chicago's O'Hare airport; Bayless has another O'Hare restaurant in the works, too. 6. ONGOING: Delta is in the process of adding electronics-charging stations (with both USB ports and 110-volt outlets) at 19 U.S. airports. Keep an eye out for them in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Memphis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York (JFK), Salt Lake City, Boston, Columbus, OH, Hartford, CT, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Nashville, Norfolk, VA, Omaha, NE, Pittsburgh, Portland, OR, Seattle and St. Louis. 7. COMING SOON: Minute Suites, the rent-by-the-hour nap rooms that debuted in 2009 at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, make their way to Philadelphia National Airport this spring. Have you noticed any upgrades in your own local airports—or any you've passed through? Post your report in the comments! See more from Budget Travel Top 10 Ski Deals This Season 10 Islands to See Before You Die 5 Surefire Ways to Offend the Locals


Readers' best cherry blossom photos

March brings an explosion of pink and white cherry blossoms around the globe. To celebrate this annual rite of spring, we've assembled your best shots, from the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (above) to a palace courtyard in Seoul. Look out for icons like the Eiffel Tower and Mount Fuji framed by blossoms, plus unexpected locales like the cherry-tree-lined Main Street in Brevard, N.C. See all 18 photos in our slide show. Inspired to see the blossoms in person? Here are strategies for avoiding the crowds at the popular National Cherry Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C. And check back soon for our roundup of the best festivals worldwide! RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS Winter | Coastlines | Funny Signs NOW IN SEARCH OF... We're collecting your photos of glaciers and gardens. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for a slide show of the best submissions.


Ireland: Travel to the Emerald Isle is affordable now

Traveling to Ireland is a dream that will pop into many American heads this month. On March 17, several U.S. cities celebrate the Emerald Isle's patron saint, St. Patrick, with parades and drinking. But parades won't be enough for some Americans, who would rather see Ireland itself. Top of mind is the capital, Dublin, one of our picks for top budget travel destinations in 2011. Lodging prices in Dublin are the lowest of any major city in Western Europe, and restaurants are similarly well priced. The government is about to kill its tax on air travel, making visits cheaper. To boost tourism, Irish officials are planning an event to be called either "The Gathering 2012" or "The Irish Homecoming" an effort to encourage people of Irish heritage worldwide to visit Ireland in 2012. We'll keep you posted as more details come out about the event. Ireland hopes to re-boot its economy, which has been particularly battered by the global financial crisis, by encouraging more people to visit. It hopes to capitalise on the interest in ancestral tourism brought about by the publication online of the 1901 and 1911 censuses, which made it easier for people of Irish descent to trace their ancestry. Working against Ireland is the rising value of the euro and the rising fuel prices that are hiking airfares. Online deals that combine flights and lodging while giving you maximum flexibility are one of the best ways to save because companies can offer discounts "hidden" in the total price of the trip without launching a price war with competitors. Case in point: Real Deal: Dublin, Air/4 Nights, From $399 In related news, yesterday Google Street View was updated (in Google Maps and Google Earth) to include views of some of Ireland's most gorgeous destinations, such as the Rock of Cashel, the fortress that was the capital of ancient chieftains. Those fresh views may inspire you to book a trip. Early spring is a lovely time to visit Ireland. Dublin is compact enough that you can see a lot of it quickly, especially if you follow our "Dublin on the Fly" tips. Be sure to read our Eat Like a Local cheat sheet, too. Go north for the wilder authentic Celtic side by visiting Ireland's County Donegal. Be sure to check out our picks for cool Irish castles. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Dublin: One of Our Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2011 The Real Castles of Ireland: Slide Show Which Ireland Is Right for You? Real Deal: Dublin, Air/4 Nights, From $399