We LOVE How Kenyans Reacted To CNN's "Hotbed of Terror" Report
"President Barack Obama is not just heading to his father's homeland, but to a hotbed of terror."
This was the opening line of a CNN report published earlier this week, a story about how the president may be in danger if Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group behind recent attacks at Kenyan schools and shopping malls, happens to make a move while he's in town this week. After getting a lot of heat for that sentence and related headline, both were updated by CNN to stress that the threat of danger was a regional thing, not just in Kenya.
The story was met by a mix of stirring reactions by the people of Kenya on social media via the hashtag #SomeoneTellCNN: anger at these harsh words towards their beautiful country, declarations of double-standards and how the U.S. is much more dangerous than Kenya, and our favorite, hilarious GIFs and photos showing off beautiful city views of Nairobi, portraits of the people who live there smiling, and raunchy jokes about how Kenyan men are the only reason there are "hotbeds" in the country. One photo shows a majestic view of Mt. Kilimanjaro with a giraffe in front of it—the caption: "OMG! A Terrorist! Spotted in the #hotbedofterror."
Here at Budget Travel, we believe in always being prepared and recommend checking the U.S. Department of State website for the latest travel warnings and alerts before traveling to another country, any country, not just Kenya. That being said, we hope that crazy clickbait-style stories and sensationalized news reports won't stop you from taking the trip of a lifetime. Kenya is home to the beautiful natural landscapes, Mt. Kilimanjaro, thriving cities like Nairobi, and some of the kindest, warm-hearted people you'll ever meet. It's also the perfect place to take that affordable safari trip you've been dreaming of.
We want to hear from you: have you ever traveled to Kenya? Share your experiences with us below!
How Solo Travel Changed My Life (And How It Can Change Yours Too)
This article was written by Jessica Festa and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel. I never thought I would travel solo. It kind of just…happened. Growing up, my vacations consisted of Caribbean cruises and road trips spent searching for thrilling roller coasters and America’s best beaches. It wasn’t until I studied abroad in Sydney at the age of 20 that I got the itch to begin expanding my travel horizons. Inspired by Australia’s rich Thai cuisine culture, I decided I wanted to go to Thailand to try the real thing. I started saving immediately upon my return home to New York, planning to head to Southeast Asia the next summer. Right after Christmas I began asking friends and family if they would be interested in visiting Thailand with me that summer. Doing homestays, hiking through rice terraces, taking cooking classes, perusing night markets, and spending some time volunteering—who could resist such an adventure? Apparently, everyone I knew. When the time came to book my ticket, I was faced with a big decision: Travel solo or stay home and give up on an experience I had been looking forward to for months. I worried I would feel awkward or that I would be lonely. I worried I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone because of language barriers. I worried about finding accommodation and ordering food and getting ripped off. But most of all, I worried I would miss out on an enriching opportunity. A round-trip ticket to Bangkok, please. How many passengers? One! As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried. Solo travel has changed my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined or anticipated, and if you take the leap, it’ll change yours too. Here’s how: Your Self-Esteem Will Skyrocket Since my first solo travel experience in Thailand I’ve had many others: A summer through Europe, three months through South America, an adventurous journey exploring French Polynesia, some alone time in Morocco, and numerous solo trips around the United States. You see, every time I travel solo it’s like a self-esteem boost as I’m reminded of all that I am capable of. Traveling with others, you tend to rely on different people for different things. Maybe Joe handles the map because he’s good at navigation while Jenn smooths out any ordeals because she’s an excellent problem solver. When you’re traveling solo, you’re responsible for it all: Reading the map, navigating local transportation, communicating through language barriers to order food or a bus ticket, problem solving when you miss your train or your motorbike runs out of gas, getting un-lost in unfamiliar cities, and any travel mishap in between. And guess what? You’ll do it! You may not think you can handle all the tasks that come with solo travel, but you’ll surprise yourself. Because when you’re looking out for yourself and a challenge comes your way you’ll accomplish anything and everything. Related: Scared to Travel Solo? Try a River Cruise You Will Learn to Shine Before I began traveling solo I was much more reliant on other people. I was shy and would hide within the circle of my friends. After traveling solo as a female, however, I realized I could be a social superstar if I tried. I think I truly reached my full socializing potential when partaking in some solo female travel through Europe. The culture is extremely social in itself, with people mingling and sharing wine in public squares and the ability to make friends on every corner. Suddenly, people were coming up and starting conversations with me in money exchanges, train stations, parks, buses, piazzas, and hostels. As I assimilated more into the European culture and the friendliness of the backpacker circuit, I began initiating conversations myself. I would bring a bottle of wine to a park, offering to share with picnickers in exchange for some cheese and bread, or I would invite people from a walking tour out for drinks at night. I made a lot of great friends, many whom I still keep in touch with. Even more, I realized how easy it was to make friends once you came out of your shell, a skill that has helped me in work, friendship, and relationships. You Will Develop Independence While I’m thankful to have always had such helpful parents, being young and inexperienced in the world left me dependent on other people; however, one solo travel trip to Asia left me transformed. When you’re traveling solo, independence isn’t something you need to try to attain; it’s just something that happens naturally. There is nobody there to rely on for money, to watch your luggage when you go to the bathroom or show you the way when you get lost. It’s all up to you. And the more you figure these things out, the more independent you become. I can remember a time when my luggage was lost on a flight from Munich to Nice. It took me a week to get it back, and the airline made me travel 12 hours to pick it up, which made me almost miss my train, which made me almost get to my hostel too late to check-in. Yes it was a hassle, but I figured it out and solved the problem—all on my own. Related: The Unofficial Solo Female Traveler’s Manifesto Open-Mindedness Will Become Second Nature The best thing about traveling solo is that it forces you to interact with locals and not just talk to your travel buddies from home. When you visit a foreign place you must adapt to the local culture, figuring out how to order food, dress appropriately, and ride the local transport system. If you don’t know how to use a squat toilet in Thailand they’re not going to roll out the red carpet for you and bring you a flusher. You figure these things out as you go, and as you encounter new situations and cultural facets you’re able to engage, process, and react to them without influence from others. For example, when backpacking through South America I spent much time riding the bus. This is a cultural experience in itself, as you sit with locals for 20 hours at a time, meet local artisans, hear traditional musicians, sample typical foods and see what the farmers are selling. If I were traveling with a friend I may have had to deal with judgmental comments or persuasive opinions, or I might have been too consumed talking with my companion to actually notice the everyday nuances of culture going on around me. Solo female travel has allowed me to take culture in and interact with it without distractions, transforming me into a more worldly and open-minded individual. You Will Experience Pure Freedom Probably the greatest gift solo female travel has given my life is the experience of ultimate freedom. When you travel solo you decide where you’ll go, what you’ll do and when you’ll do it. There’s nobody trying to change your plans and there’s no need to compromise. You’re in complete control of your travel experience, and it feels good. As I’ve gotten used to traveling alone, I enjoy traveling without making plans. When I arrive to a place I discover it organically, asking for recommendations from locals and using CouchSurfing to meet new people. I change my plans daily based on how I’m feeling and who I meet. Life’s one big adventure full of experiences to be had, and there is nobody there to tell me I can’t. WATCH: Taste-Testing Greenland’s Finest Microbrew Beers You’ll Remember That It Isn’t Permanent I think what helped assuage my fears from the get-go was the realization that I really was in control of the trip planning, down to the fact that I could hop on a plane home if I really felt uncomfortable. Many people seem to forget that just because you make a decision to travel somewhere solo doesn’t mean it’s permanent. Once you arrive at your destination give yourself a few days to get used to being on your own and orienting yourself. If you genuinely feel terrified or miserable after giving it a fair chance, change your location or go home. When you’re traveling solo, it’s all up to you. My Most Important Lesson The most important thing solo female travel has taught me is that anything is possible. It’s opened the world for me and made it a smaller and larger place all at the same time. While it’s easier than ever to cross seas and explore new continents, there are so many experiences to be had and so many interesting people to meet. I’ve gone from blindly believing stereotypes and what I hear on the news to experiencing places and cultures firsthand, creating my own truths. And while I know there are bad people and dangerous places in the world, solo female travel has turned me into an optimist that believes there are many more safe places and people with kind hearts. Solo travel has taught me how much more worthwhile life can be when you live it to the fullest without regrets. Would you ever travel solo? If you already have, has the experience taught you any valuable lessons? Please share in the comments below. More from Jessie on a Journey: Exploring Sustainable Adventure In The Resort Destination Of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic My Most Ridiculous Bus Encounters Backpacking South America Quiz: What Type of Traveler Are You?
6 Vegas Getaways You Need Right Now
We're all familiar with that famous Las Vegas Strip skyline, but long before the Strip came to embody the city as a whole, the first hotel-casinos began rising from the Nevada desert two and a half miles north. Today, Downtown thoroughfare Fremont Street bustles with brand-new bars, restaurants, shops, venues, and hotels offering budget-friendly, intimate, and down-to-earth accommodations that sometimes outdo their Strip counterparts. Bonus: All six of the hip hot spots and historic mainstays below provide free parking, easy access to the North Premium Outlets mall, and a firsthand view of a side of the city that's making a comeback in a big way. The D How much: From $29 per night plus $20 resort fee, thed.com What it's like: Completed in fall 2012, a remodel of the former Irish-themed Fitzgerald casino retained the ground-floor pool, added Michigan-based eateries American Coney Island hot dogs and the upscale Andiamo Italian Steakhouse, and redecorated 34 hotel floors in sleek black and retro red, an update shared with recently expanded sister property the Golden Gate (from $9 plus $20 resort fee). On the ground level, bask in a lively, uninhibited vibe that includes LED lighting, dancing card dealers, and flair bartenders. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Check out the music, food, and arts programming at the outdoor Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, which opened in September. Downtown Grand How much: From $29 per night plus $11 resort fee, downtowngrand.com What it's like: Across Stewart Avenue from the popular Mob Museum, the year-old Ascend Collection boutique (formerly the Lady Luck Hotel & Casino) offers a well-stocked fitness center, a roomy and welcoming rooftop pool deck overlooking Third Street, and an upscale reimagining of defunct Arts District dive the Art Bar. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Dual room towers connect via skybridge, which also provides easy access to one full block of happy hour heaven: Richard Sandoval's The Commissary Latin Kitchen (select beers, margaritas, mojitos, and wines are $4 from 4 to 7 p.m. daily), Triple George Grill (3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, half-price appetizers including $8 bruschetta, $9 calamari, $11 crab cakes, and $13 seared ahi), and Pizza Rock ($3 drafts, well drinks, meatballs, and Italian fries, plus $5 calamari, garlic bread, and one-topping personal pizzas from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. to close nightly). El Cortez How much: From $17 per night plus $9 resort fee, elcortezhotelcasino.com What it's like: Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, the longest continuously operating hotel-casino in Las Vegas maintains a free airport return shuttle and six categories of rooms. Since 2009 the 64-unit, free-standing Cabana Suites sport classy black, white, and green decor, and fresh fruit in a high-tech fitness center. What to do when you're not playing the slots: It's all steps away from the brand-new Market grocery store and innovative Container Park, an open-air mall built from shipping containers and featuring a treehouse playground, live events, and a massive sculpture of a fire-shooting praying mantis. Golden Nugget How much: From $39 per night plus $20 resort fee, goldennugget.com What it's like: A waterslide, shark tank, and third-story infinity pool are but a few of the outdoor amenities; inside, a whopping 2,419 rooms, 10 restaurants, a two-suite fitness center, and an adjacent spa provide options for every taste and appetite. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Continuous upgrades since 2005 play on the gold (naturally) and rust theme and emphasize uncompromised sightlines, all the better for exploring the sprawling, always surprising Downtown landmark. Oasis at Gold Spike How much: From $39 per night plus $20 resort fee, oasisatgoldspike.com What it's like: Owned by business incubator the Downtown Project (originally founded by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh), the retro blue and orange boutique opened in September with a tiny fitness center, year-round pool, and fire pits. Sleek lighting, accent pieces, and art vary throughout each of the 44 unique rooms, which don't waste outlet space with phones and alarm clocks. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Instead of traditional Vegas gaming, an expansive patio and lawn area houses foursquare, hopscotch, cornhole, and oversized beer pong, plus the occasional DJ and live band. Rental bikes and vinyl library available at the front desk. The Plaza How much: From $29 per night plus $15 resort fee, plazahotelcasino.com What it's like: The Western anchor of Fremont Street boasts a rooftop swimming pool, roomy fitness center, and coupon book offering deals on gaming, two-for-one drinks, and even free tickets to resident comedian Louie Anderson's family-friendly show. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Dining highlights include Man v. Food favorite Hash House A Go Go, indoor/outdoor Beer Garden offering gourmet bratwursts plus side (fries, onion strings, or coleslaw) and a craft beer for under $8, $4 vegan and vegetarian options at Pop Up Pizza, and former three-term mayor Oscar Goodman's eponymous Oscar's, a gorgeous, glass-domed steakhouse where drinks and appetizers (normally $15 to $17) are half-off weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.
Going Beyond The Beach In Grenada
In the Caribbean, clear turquoise water and soft white sand are a dime a dozen. The sensory appeal of Grenada's magnificent beaches is undeniable, but savvy visitors venture beyond the sun, sand, and sea. This compact island pleases with a trifecta of adventure, activities, and nature. The best part: its manageable size makes it easy to cover a lot of ground in a short time frame. Nicknamed the Spice Island, locally grown nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon gently perfume the sea air. Island cooks utilize these aromatics in scrumptious ways, so prepare your palate for culinary magic. The tourist footprint is relatively light, so expect to be embraced by locals. Ripe for development, now is the time to explore Grenada's unspoiled flora and fauna. Here are 10 ways to go beyond the beach in Grenada. Explore Grand Etang National Park and Rainforest Preserve Nestled in the heart of Grenada's lush interior lies Grand Etang, an unblemished rainforest and wildlife sanctuary. A cobalt blue lake is its sparkling showpiece. Be on the lookout for exotic birds and playful Mona monkeys as you hike the winding trails. Try a guided tubing tour down the river Grenada Adventure Tours offers thrill-seekers tubing excursions down the Balthazar River. Spin, swirl, and slide as the current carries you along. The shady vegetation and cool water are just right on a steamy day, plus, you'll be outfitted with a life jacket, helmet, and professional guide the entire length of the trip. Check out the Belmont Estate Belmont Estate is a locavore's wonderland. Visitors to this 300-year-old plantation get a first-hand glimpse of how passionate Grenadians are about preserving their traditional agricultural practices. 400 acres of gardens and rolling hills produce a bounty of tropical fruits and organic vegetables. A herd of goats provide milk for the cheeses that are served in the open-air restaurant. Chocolate is produced on the estate, so you'll commune with Willy Wonka as you observe the bean-to-bar method. Go behind the scenes at a rum distillery River Antoine Rum Distillery is the oldest functioning water-propelled distillery in the entire Caribbean and the rum is made in much the same manner that it was 200 years ago. Watch the process and sample away. You may purchase the potent spirit in the shop, but note that much of it has such high alcohol content that it's considered too flammable to bring home on the plane. Visit a nutmeg factory It's not called the spice island for nothing. An assortment of fragrant spices flourish here, but none is more globally prized than nutmeg. At the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station, visitors join an informative tour, observing the various stages of the grading and classification process. Best of all, the tour only costs a buck. Don't forget fish Friday Each Friday night, the village of Gouyave is transformed into an open-air eatery that draws islanders and visitors alike to its famed Fish Friday where dozens of vendors cook just-caught seafood over open fires. Homegrown spices add gentle complexity to even ordinary dishes. Epicureans who crave the taste of the sea combined with authentic local color won't want to miss a single bite. Spend time exploring Market Square Everyone needs to eat to live, but Grenada appeals to those who live to eat. St. George is the bustling capital city and its market is a feast for the senses. They say that anything can grow in Grenada's rich volcanic soil and a stroll around the market confirms this. Papaya, mango, breadfruit, and leafy green callaloo are top produce picks. The assortment of spices is outstanding and the intoxicating smells may put your taste buds into overdrive. Go back in time at the island's historic Forts Grenada's complex history has seen its share of bloodshed and includes a U.S. military invasion in the 1980s. While it is extremely safe today, its strategic location means it is loaded with venerable military fortifications and visiting one of them is an essential element in understanding the island's past. Hilltop Fort Frederick commands a panoramic view while imposing Fort George is equally stately. Visit the world's first underwater sculpture park If the natural splendor of a coral reef isn't enough for you, grab your snorkel mask and head to Grenada's Underwater Sculpture Park. Sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor's artistic gem explores the relationship between art and the environment. This manmade wonder is located in fairly shallow waters, so even novices can sneak a peak. See wonderful waterfalls There are many spots to refresh under the cascade of cool water. Popular waterfalls include three-tiered Concord Falls and Annandale Falls, easy to reach via paved trail. Where to stay Sandals La Source is an all-inclusive resort located on stunning Pink Gin Beach. It's a two-minute ride from the airport, so you can be on the beach within minutes of clearing customs. Besides locally inspired cuisine and top-shelf alcohol, all non-motorized water sports are included in your rate—divers will appreciate this policy, as Grenada is every bit as breathtaking below the water as above it. Experts consider it one of the top wreck dive sites in the world with over 20 shipwrecks. Best times to visit Grenadians know how to party, or "lime" in local speak so try and plan your visit to coincide with one of the island's numerous festivals. The premier event is Carnival aka Spicemas, held each August. In the spring, Chocolate Fest pays homage to this country's favorite confection. If you're lucky enough to visit in winter, get better acquainted with this country's seafaring traditions during the Grenada Sailing Festival. This article was written by Allison Tibaldi, a native New Yorker who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto, and Los Angeles. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. When she's not traveling, she's scouring NYC for delectable eats. As a freelance travel writer, she focuses on family, culinary, and car-free travel. She's also a senior travel writer at offMetro.com.
#BTReads: 'A Passion for Paris'
If I had to visit Paris with a traveling companion other than my wife, my choice might very well be author David Downie. Reading Downie's A Passion for Paris: Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light (St. Martin's Press, 2015) is like strolling the city's boulevards with a funny, well-read, and wildly enthusiastic devotee. While many of us simply accept the notion that Paris is the world's most romantic city (guilty), Downie decided to ask "why?" His answer is a hybrid travel narrative, memoir, and history lesson that brings such notable Parisians as Baudelaire, Hugo, Balzac, and Sand into the dialogue as if they, too, are accompanying you. Speaking of strolling the boulevards of Paris... When you put the book down and are ready to dive into the real Paris, you may want to book one of Downie's custom walking tours at Parisparistours.com. Your turn: Tell us what you're reading now by tagging #BTReads on social media! Or let us know below in the comments.