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Awesome Winter Deals to Book NOW

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
January 27, 2022
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Courtesy Royal Caribbean International

As the shadows grow longer, the leaves fall and our thoughts turn to... winter vacation! Before the snow piles up and the Polar Vortex returns, there are some amazing deals to get you on the best ski slopes, the world's most beautiful islands, and a Caribbean cruise. But you've got to press the button on these deals soon.

Budget Travel's President Elaine Alimonti spoke about these amazing vacation deals on The Weather Channel's AMHQ with Sam Champion—click here to see the clip!

SKI THE ROCKIES!

The outstanding Vail family of resorts (including Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone, and more) is offering 30 percent off ski packages if you book BEFORE opening day (Breckenridge opening day is November 14, 2015).

With the 30 percent early-booking discount, package rates (lodging and skiing) start as low as $150/night.

These Colorado resorts offer not just world-class skiing, but also sleigh ride dinners, tubing, ice skating, charming ski villages with a fun après ski party scene, and the incredible beauty of the Rocky Mountains as your backdrop.

SAVE BIG ON A CARIBBEAN CRUISE!

Escape the winter cold by booking one of Royal Caribbean's mega-ship cruises to the Bahamas by October 11 and you'll get half-price on the second guest.

Royal Caribbean's prices are reasonable, with three- and four-night cruises in the $500-per-person range, so the "buy one get one" deal really brings your total travel expense down.

Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas ship is mind-blowing: first Starbucks at sea, a full production of Mamma Mia, a carousel, boardwalk, ziplining, and 25 restaurants onboard.

The Bahamas are one of Budget Travel’s favorite getaways: swim with dolphins and tropical fish, parasail over the islands, and shop Nassau’s legendary boutiques and shops.

SEE THE SOUTH PACIFIC!

$1,148 for a package deal from Air Tahiti Nui (a French airline) that includes round-trip airfare to Auckland, New Zealand with an INCREDIBLE three-night stopover and hotel stay in Tahiti. Must book by September 30.

Your stopover in Tahiti is at one of the island’s premiere resorts, where you’ll have access to a perfect white-sand beach, swimming pools, amazing food and cocktails.

Then… New Zealand! Budget Travel loves New Zealand for its diverse geography – you can explore mountains, beaches, cities, and visit the island’s traditional farmstays, legendary for their hospitality and delicious meals, including lamb, fresh cheese, and great local wines.

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Inspiration

Want to Fly to Europe for $69?

Whoa. Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA announced its intention to offer one-way tickets to Europe for $69, possibly as early as 2017. I know, this raises some questions: How can they offer fares this low? And why do we have to wait more than a year to nab one? The airline’s CEO, Bjorn Kjos, explained that Norwegian (one of Europe’s biggest budget carriers) hopes to offer flights to Edinburgh and Bergen, Norway, from small U.S. airports, such as Westchester County Airport in New York and Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, because those airports have much lower fees than popular transatlantic airports like JFK. What would a Norwegian flight to Europe be like? The airline has ordered 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets, powerful enough to cross the Atlantic but small enough to work in smaller international airports. It’s too soon to say how this plan will be accommodated by U.S. customs at regional airports that at present do not handle international traffic. It seems that budget carriers are grabbing lots of attention lately. Wow Air, based in Iceland, offered one-way fares from Boston to Paris for $99 earlier this year and sure got our attention. Norwegian already offers lower-than-average airfare from the U.S. to Europe, and its use of the smaller jets may make it an even bigger player in the transatlantic flight game. We’re looking forward to hearing more!

Inspiration

How to Do Grand Cayman Like a Local

This article was written by Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel. You’ve soaked up the sun on Seven Mile Beach; swum with the rays at Stingray City; and dived the island’s famous North Wall. So now you think know Grand Cayman. Think again. Beyond George Town’s duty-free shops and the swanky resorts of the Seven Mile strip, there’s a side of this 75-square-mile territory that islanders have been keeping to themselves. Until now. Here are eight fun and unexpected ways to experience Grand Cayman like a local, no snorkel gear required. Related: Hurricane-Proof Caribbean Vacations Flip out with the flip flop tree A flip-flop tree grows in Grand Cayman. And it has more than 2,600 followers on Facebook. Really. So peel yourself off that chaise and hop in a cab to see the (dead) casuarina tree along the South Sound coast road that’s embellished with hundreds of sandals, shoes, sneakers, and thongs nailed to its trunk. The ever-evolving installation was started back in 2008 by two residents who wanted to draw attention to the garbage discarded on the island’s shores by displaying stray sandals they found on the sand. Now islanders are memorializing their own flip-flops on the tree, and the footwear fiesta has reached heights of more than 15 feet and has begun migrating to a neighboring trunk. Bring your worn-out skimmers and add a shoe to the collection. Just remember to dispose of the other foot responsibly. See the stars—starfish that is Let the cruise-ship hordes head for Stingray City; Caymanians cruise instead to Starfish Point, on the northeast tip of the island, where, depending on the season and tide, scores of red cushion starfish sit in gin-clear, knee-deep water. They gather here to feed on micro-organisms found on the white-sand seabed, presenting the perfect opportunity for you to snap a photo with the sea stars. Just don’t lift them out of the water; they can’t breathe properly unless submerged. And don’t even think about taking one home as a souvenir—that’ll get you a $500,000 fine or 10 years in the slammer. Related: Cayman Islands to Build Cruise Port That Could Destroy the Environment Take the best foodie tour You’ll never go hungry on an island with more than 200 restaurants. But you might just go broke. Grand Cayman is one of the Caribbean’s priciest destinations (its currency is worth even more than the U.S. dollar) and dining out is no exception. But if you’re in town on a Wednesday night you can save as you savor by joining local foodies on the Flavour Tour at Camana Bay. For just $89 a person you’ll enjoy a tasty four-course progressive dinner (each course served at a different restaurant in the retail village) as well as pre- and post-dinner drinks at West Indies Wine Company. Four not-so-small plates plus six cocktails for less than 100 bucks? Sold. Relax on a gem of a beach Stroll the Seven Mile Beach strip on any given day and you’ll see conventioneers escaping air-conditioned conference rooms and well-oiled tourists basking in curtained cabanas. What you won’t see is hotel employees hanging out on their day off. That’s because they’re all soaking up the rays at Smith Cove, a petite beach that’s just 10 minutes’ drive away yet feels a world apart. This South Sound gem has absolutely no “scene,” so you can really relax. Restrooms and a few picnic tables are the only amenities, so bring your own beach chair, umbrella, and refreshments. Visit on a weekday and apart from a few locals, your only company will be a flock of vocal chickens pecking their way across the sugary sands. Shop like a local Sure, you can pick up a shot glass, T-shirt, or baseball cap as souvenir but wouldn’t you rather buy something lovingly handcrafted and unique to the islands? The only answer to that question is yes, and the only choice for one-stop local shopping is Pure Art Gallery & Gifts, a South Sound souvenir store that features Caymanian and Caribbean art and craft items. Must-buys include: straw hats and baskets woven from the dried fronds of the national tree, the Silver Thatch palm, and jewelry made from Caymanite, a semi-precious stone only found here. Explore underwater—at night Recreational diving got its start in the Cayman Islands, but you don’t have to be a diver or snorkeler to explore its fish- and coral-filled depths. Atlantis Submarines takes adventurers 100 feet below the surface, no breathing apparatus required, and Grand Cayman is the only Caribbean island where you can take a nighttime tour. During 45-minute dives you’ll witness all the ocean’s after-dark attractions, including silvery tarpon, which hunt for prey using the sub’s high-wattage lights. And with excursions timed for pre- and post-dinner hours, you won’t even have to miss a meal. Related: Crazy Cool Night Activities at Hotels Around the World Take a cooking class Maybe it’s raining. Maybe you’re sunburned. Or maybe you just love air-conditioning. Either way, here’s an indoor idea: Take a cooking class at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman’s culinary studio (launching this month), where resort chefs lead one- to two-hour classes that range from traditional island cuisine to macaron-making and tutorials on carving a cake in the shape of your favorite designer handbag. Kids from four to 12-years-old can get in on the foodie fun at Bon Vivant, a cookware showroom at Camana Bay, where little ones join hour-long cooking demos and leave with a recipe and their own culinary creations. Have a Funday Sunday On Sundays Caymanian boaters (and their friends) navigate north to Rum Point, the island’s quintessential Funday spot. There, the day is well spent anchored off the famous Wreck Bar & Grill. Take a dip in the warm waters; swim ashore for a Mudslide (the vodka-, Kahlua- and Bailey’s-laced Mudslide invented here back in the ‘70s); and get to know the locals as you stand in the shallows and chat over a frosty Caybrew beer (or three). See your hotel’s tour desk for boat rental info or hop one of Cayman Luxury Charters’ yachts. WATCH: Going Full Local in Puerto Rico

Inspiration

Act Now To Save Big On Your Next Ski Trip

Skiing and snowboarding have always been sports that reward those who plan ahead. The best deals on ski gear can always be found before the season starts, away from the mountains, and not at the base lodge during snow day. Not only that, fresh tracks are always found by those who wake up early enough to catch the first lift. When it comes to planning your next ski vacation, now is the best time to make your plans, before the first snow falls and the prices spike. By booking early and following a few tips, you can save hundreds of dollars on your next family trip to the mountains. Here's how to book an affordable family ski and snowboarding trip this season. Pick your destination well There are lots of big-named ski areas that you can visit when your goal is to impress your friends, but they don't necessarily offer the most affordable experience. I spoke with Steve Hurlbert from Winter Park Resort, who points out that visitors will find both food and lodging to be less expensive in Grand County Colorado, where the ski area is located, than they will in more expensive parts of the state such as Vail or Aspen. Winter Park Resort is also a shorter drive from Denver, and I've found it to be generally less crowded than most major Colorado resorts. Purchase ski tickets in advance Skiing is not an inexpensive sport and many of the larger resorts now charge more than $100 per day for lift tickets. Thankfully, many ski areas now sell discounted tickets, but only in the fall. These tickets range from season passes to 4-packs that lock you into discounted prices, but also restrict you to visiting a particular resort. For example, Winter Park sells a 4-pack for $199 and an adult season pass online for just $409 (it's even less for children and seniors), offering substantial savings for anyone skiing four days or more. Use the right credit card for award flights If you are thinking about redeeming frequent flier miles to fly your family to a small mountain airport for the holidays, you probably won't have much luck, as most airlines severely restrict award availability during peak travel times. On the other hand, other frequent flier programs don't impose such restrictions on award tickets. The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card from Chase, for example, offers points that can be redeemed for any flight. So you could even apply for a card now and still earn enough points by the end of the year to book an award trip this ski season. Southwest doesn't fly to small airports, but serves cities in the mountain west that are convenient for skiing such as Denver, Salt Lake City, and Reno/Tahoe. In addition, cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard offer miles that can be used as statement credits towards any travel expense. Use your credit card benefits to save on baggage fees Packing light is a great way to save money when you are visiting the beach, but it doesn't work too well when you are going skiing for a week in the winter. Instead, you can avoid paying a $50 fee per bag each way by having the right credit card. For example, the United MileagePlus Explorer card from Chase offers a free checked bag for the cardholder and a single companion, while the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard from Citi offers this benefit to the cardholder and up to four companions. And if you are skiing with a big family or group, the Delta Gold SkyMiles card from American Express offers cardholders a free checked bag for themselves as well as up to eight others traveling on the same reservation. This article was written by Jason Steele, Credit Card Expert at CompareCards.com.

Inspiration

Fall Festivals Worth Traveling To

Celebrating America’s best food, wine, beer, and music, amazing fall festivals are happening over the next few weeks. Here, a look at some of the best! NEW YORK CITY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL happens next weekend, October 15 through 18, with a wide variety of price points from downright indulgent to stylish steals. All proceeds benefitting Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry. Amazing demonstrations and food and wine tastings at NYC’s Piers 92 and 94, with celebs like Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, Mario Batali, and Emeril Lagasse hosting events.  You have never tasted anything like this concentration of culinary talent all in one place! It’s a foodie convention like no other! We’re especially excited about the “under $100” events, starting at just $20, which include panel discussions and hands-on classes on Italian cooking, making jam, wine-tasting, home-brewing beer, and cocktail mixology. ARKANSAS STATE FAIR Two-foot hot dogs! Bacon bombs (filled with peanut butter and chocolate)! Fried red velvet Oreos! Those are just some of the jaw-dropping culinary concoctions being served up at the Arkansas State Fair, which happens October 9 through 18 at the Arkansas State Fair Complex in the state capital, Little Rock. There will be rides, animals (including the Exotic Animal Petting Zoo), decadently delicious fried foods, a motorcycle stunt show, high diving, and musical performances by country music giants Montgomery Gentry, rock favorite Eddie Money, and the classic band Styx. And if you love Arkansas as much as we do, check out Budget Travel’s #LoveArkansas contest for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become our “Local Guide” to all things Arkansas!  CRESCENT CITY BLUES & BBQ FESTIVAL happens next weekend in New Orleans’s Lafayette Square Park, October 16 through 18, and it’s FREE! Hear New Orleans’s finest blues musicians, including The Funky Meters, Allen Toussaint, and Irma Thomas (the Soul Queen of New Orleans). New Orleans is America’s music capital, and this event brings the best of the city’s musicians together for one amazing weekend. BBQ will span a variety of regional styles, including 6-Hour St. Louis Spare Ribs, Jerk Chicken, the “Drunk Pig” – roast pork marinated in dark beer! – Chargrilled Oysters, and Smoked Salmon Sliders! WELLFLEET OYSTERFEST happens October 17 & 18 in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. If you’re a fan of shellfish like oysters and clams, this weekend event is a must, spotlighting local cuisine, arts, cooking demonstrations, educational programs, children’s activities, walking tours of the beautiful town, live music, crafts, and the legendary “Shuck-Off” competition! In addition, proceeds benefit the educational mission, college scholarship program, and community grant awards and initiatives of Wellfleet Shellfish Promotion and Tasting (SPAT), a nonprofit devoted to sustaining Wellfleet’s shellfishing and other aquaculture industries. MENDOCINO MUSHROOM, WINE & BEER FESTIVAL happens November 6 through 15 and one of the things we love about this unique festival is that is is COUNTYWIDE, with restaurants, hotels, and special events all over beautiful Mendocino County, California, for 10 days! Mushrooms flourish in Northern California in late October and early November, and Mendocino County is home to more than 3,000 types of mushrooms, including chanterelles, porcinis, morels, and the rare candy-cap mushroom (which tastes like maple syrup – they even make ice cream out of it!). The festival includes mushroom dinners, winemaker dinners, brewmaster dinners, horseback riding adventures, cycling, kayaking, and, of course, the backdrop of Mondocino County’s rugged coastline (with popular destinations like Fort Bragg, Mendocino, and Gualala), redwood forests, and welcoming little towns.

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