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What's The One Thing You Can't Leave Home Without?

By Kaeli Conforti
September 3, 2015
packing a suitcase
<a href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/txberiu/1529330770/" target="_blank">Tiberiu Ana/Flickr</a>

We've got insider tips on the brain, one of the themes of our September/October digital edition of Budget Travel magazinenow available on BudgetTravel.com, on Google Play, for Nook and Kindle, and coming soon to the Apple App Store). To get into the spirit of things, we asked several of our staff members to share the one thing they can't leave home without. Here's what they said:

"A favorite novel tied to the place I'm visiting, so I can explore, say, Dickens's London or Joyce's Dublin. I know, nerd alert." —Robert Firpo-Cappiello, Executive Editor

"Black ballet flats. They're great slip-on, slip-off flight shoes; easy to walk around a city in; and dressy enough for dinner if I don't want to put on heels." —Jamie Beckman, Senior Editor

"A pretty scarf and a little notebook so I can jot down notes about what to see and do." —Kaeli Conforti, Digital Editor

"My pillow: a little slice of home in my hotel room." —Rosalie Tinelli, Marketing Associate

"My teddy bear, Curly! Each hotel's housekeeper arranges him differently." —Whitney Tressel, Photo Editor

"Earplugs. I'm a light sleeper, and you never know when you'll end up with a loud hotel room." —Chalkley Calderwood, Creative Director

"My sunglasses (polarized, preferably). I prepare to spend a lot of time outside." —Chad Harter, Lead Developer

"A good food magazine and headphones." —Michelle Craig, Director, Business Development

"A camera, to capture everything I see." —Elaine Alimonti, President, Publisher

"A great pair of walking shoes... and my husband!" —Maureen Kelley Stewart, Advertising Manager

"A wrap or pashmina—I always get cold on flights." —Cathy Allendorf, Director of Digital Media

"My Trusted Traveler/Global Entry ID. It makes a world of difference getting through customs!" —Jo Neese, Neese & Lee Media

Now it's your turn: We want to know, what's the one thing you can't leave home without? Share it below!

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Inspiration

Don't Miss These Last-Minute Labor Day Weekend Getaways!

It's not too late! You can still book the ultimate Labor Day weekend getaway. Budget Travel's Senior Editor, Jamie Beckman, talked about these three great last-minute options this week on AMHQ with Sam Champion on The Weather Channel. Here's where you should be heading this weekend. Miami Beach Beat the heat by chilling out at the pool (or beach) in Miami. Dance the day away on Sunday at The Shore Club's Reload pool party, where ladies pay $44 for unlimited mimosas and bellinis (men must pay $44 for the brunch plus an additional $20 for unlimited drinks). Take a 30-minute spin on Miami's Citi Bikes for $4 or use them to explore the city longer—one-hour passes are available for $6, two-hour passes for $10, four-hour passes for $18, and full day passes for $24. Looking for a calmer beach experience? Stake out the perfect spot on any of Miami Beach's seven miles of sand. The best part: it's free. Stay at The Congress Hotel South Beach, a classic South Beach Art Deco hotel with a rooftop pool, from $123 per night, or for glitz and glamour, check out SecretEscapes.com, where you can find flash sales on fancy properties like the trendy SLS South Beach from $149 per night. Henderson, Nevada Instead of heading to the ocean, escape to the lake near Las Vegas. The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort &amp; Spa has a fire pit, kayaking, coves to explore, and even a white-sand beach! With lots of family-friendly activities to choose from (life-size chess anyone?), movies you can watch from the pool, a complimentary shuttle to and from the Las Vegas strip, and rooms from $109 with daily breakfast, you're running out of excuses not to visit this weekend. Grand Bahama Island Don't wait, take that dream Bahamas vacation now! The Grand Lucayan resort just rolled out a terrific weeklong sale you won't want to miss: book your trip by Tuesday, Sept. 8th, for travel between now and Nov. 15th, and you'll pay just $90 per night (for a minimum two-night stay) and receive a $125 resort credit. Three pools, a private beach, and a beachside fish fry every Wednesday? Yes, please!

Inspiration

Great Getaways: Fiji

Bula! The islands of the South Pacific boast some of the world’s most perfect climates, with sunny days and cool breezes off the ocean essentially delivering an endless summer. The most popular destination in the South Pacific, Fiji draws more than 600,000 visitors each year. Maybe that's because this string of 333 islands combines a reasonable price tag with a wide array of sights, flavors, and experiences for every travel personality whether you're looking for a romantic honeymoon spot or your next family vacation. Psst! If romance is your priority, consider that Fiji's tourism board says there are 600 proposals there in a typical year—oh, and 600 of them end in a yes! Pick a beach, any beach If beaches are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Fiji, you're not alone. Don't miss a legendary sunset at Natadola Beach on Viti Levu, considered by locals to be the best spot on the island to bid the day adieu. If you're in the mood to party with your fellow travelers in style, check out Beachcomber Island, where you can dance the night away and stay on the island at the Beachcomber Island Resort (private rooms from $115 per night). Feel like unleashing your inner Brooke Shields? Head to the Blue Lagoon (same one from the 80's movie!) on Nacula Island to enjoy enough swaying palm trees, crystal blue waters, and coral reefs to make you want to stay forever. For family-friendly fun, you won't want to miss Treasure Island Resort's natural marine reserve, perfect for aspiring snorkelers of all ages (rates from $389 per night for an island bure). Feeling adventurous? Try one of these tours TerraTrek offers a number of guided self-drive dune buggy tours around the mountains and beaches at Pacific Harbour. Their Waterfall Tour is an epic 4-5 hour trip that includes a guided ride to the falls, lunch, and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor (from $160 per person). Up the ante by signing up for Terratrek's Combo Tour, a guided snorkel trip around Beqa Lagoon followed by a self-driven dune buggy ride through the highlands above Pacific Harbour (from $139 per person). Looking for something more low-key? Opt for a scenic tour, designed with photographers in mind, and spend an hour driving through the hillside enjoying the view (from $106 per person). For a beautiful break from the action, stop by the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, located on Wailoko Road about four miles north of Nadi Airport, home to one of the world's largest Asian orchid collections. Get to know local Fijian culture and heritage Fiji's people are known for being warm and welcoming, often going out of their way to make sure you're having a wonderful time visiting their country. Spend a full day exploring Nadi's Coral Coast with this guided trip by Fiji Eco Tours that includes complimentary pick-up and drop-off from your Nadi area hotel, a 30-minute trek along the Sigatoka Sand Dunes, a National Archaeological Heritage Site, the Nakabuta Pottery Village, Sigatoka Town, and Natadola Beach. Fiji Eco Tours also offers a full day tour of the Nalesutale Highlands, where you can learn about Fijian herbal medicines, visit Nalesutale Village, trek to a nearby waterfall, and enjoy a Fijian-style lunch before a therapeutic stop at a nearby mud pool (both tours are from $82 per adult, $41 per child ages 6-12).  Explore Fiji's underwater wonders Our favorite thing about Fiji: there's just as much natural beauty under the water as there is above it. In Taveuni, Rainbow Reef's Great White Wall of luminescent coral is a knockout for scuba divers, as the Somosomo (Fijian for "good water") Strait is home to one of the most diverse eco-systems on earth. Try a guided dive or snorkel trip from Taveuni Dive to one of 25 popular reef sites. Adrenaline junkies can try shark diving (gulp!) on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. from the Coralview Island Resort (from $100 per person through Dive Yasawa Lagoon), where you can swim among nine species of sharks native to the area. Tee off in paradise You may not think of the South Pacific as a golf destination, but with warm sun and cool breezes, Fiji supplies some of the world’s most beautiful courses, including four championship courses in Viti Levu—Denarau, Pacific Harbour, Suva, and Natadola, where the Fiji Golf International takes place this October. Stay at these BT-approved hotels &amp; resorts So where should you stay? How about these affordable island retreats: Crusoe's Retreat bills itself as "Fiji's best-kept secret" and lives up to its name with affordable beachfront bures from $87 per night. Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island is an everything-you-could-want property on the beach with rates starting at $235 per night. For a real treat, splurge for a few nights of swanky Fijian luxury at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fiji Sonaisali Island, re-opening in July 2016 with rates from $285 per night. Having a great time? Just stay longer! One of the things we love about a Fiji getaway is the option to extend your trip: Fiji Airways, awarded “Best Airline in the South Pacific” by Global Traveler for the past two years, flies nonstop from L.A. and Honolulu to Fiji, Australia (just 4 hours from Fiji), and New Zealand (ony 3 hours from Fiji!), not to mention other islands such as Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga, and Christmas Island. Translation? A Fiji vacation can include stops in a beautiful array of South Pacific destinations. Not only that, on Fiji Airways your South Pacific experience begin the minute you board the plane—you can even enjoy a taste of the islands before you get there thanks to traditional Fijian meals, regional wine and beer, and a signature drink onboard.

Inspiration

Ready for a Day With No Cars in Paris?

Ever walked the streets of one of your favorite cities and thought, “I wish the cars would just disappear”? While we have nothing against the auto industry or the awesome road trips and scenic drives we take in our cars, the staggering burden of traffic in, say, Los Angeles, London, and New York can sometimes make finding your bliss nearly impossible. Francophiles, rejoice! On September 27, Paris is holding “Une Journée Sans Voiture”—the first “Day Without Cars” in the city’s history. How much of the city are we talking about? How about: nine arrondissements, including the Left Bank, the area around the Eiffel Tower, Place de las Bastille, and many other iconic bucket-list spots. We’re predicting that the absence of auto traffic will inspire a photographic Big Bang, with cameras and smartphones capturing the City of Light like never before. Will you be there?

Inspiration

5 Things To Do In Seaside Park, NJ

Summer in New York City often means endless chatter about trips to the East End of Long Island and tooth-grinding preparation for an appearance in the Hamptons. But if your style is a bit more mid-century chill—when all a harried city-dweller needed was a tattered paperback, a low-slung beach chair and absolutely no one to impress—consider Seaside Park, NJ. Settled in 1874, this sleepy beach town along the Atlantic Ocean doesn't even fill one square mile on the map. And while it’s geographically close to Seaside Heights—made infamous by MTV’s “Jersey Shore” series—Seaside Park is worlds away from its fist-pumping frenzy. Stay in a roomy vacation rental—for less Since Seaside Park has yet to become a tourist trap, you won’t find any hotels on this slim barrier island town, only a few motels of debatable quality. Instead, opt for a private home rental by the weekend, week, or month. Find an oceanfront house or a quaint little bungalo with a view of Barnegat Bay. Check out area listings on HomeAway.com or Airbnb, or call local, in-the-know realtors like Arthur Rue or Appleby Realty. With a bit of fortitude and search savvy, you can find roomy two-bedroom rentals for four for as low as $50 per person per night. Feast on local favorites &amp; indulge on homemade ice cream There are no major chain grocery stores in town, but you can still stock up for your vacation without leaving the beach—FreshDirect delivers to Seaside Park through Labor Day while Stop &amp; Shop’s Peapod service delivers groceries year-round. Browse through fresh vegetables, fruits, and seafood at the Seaside Park Farmer’s Market along J Street &amp; Central Ave. next to the sparkling marina on Barnegat Bay, open twice a week through Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays and Fridays. The small White Oak Market has been open for 102 years and still stocks basic goods while operating a modest deli counter, good for stocking up for the perfect beach picnic. For a night out, the Bum Rogers Crabhouse on Central Ave. slings fresh piles of buttered garlic crabs, blue point oysters, and whole steamed lobsters among other seafood delights. Wednesday nights are “Beat the Clock,” with 50-cent drafts from 8pm-1:30am. (If your rental isn’t in walking distance, Uber is available.) One block from the beach is Surf Taco, where the grilled shrimp tacos outshine the eponymous surf tacos with plump, seasoned shrimp, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, white cilantro sauce, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Don’t miss the variety of flavorful salsas at their Almost Famous Salsa Bar. What’s a beach vacation without an ice cream shop? Seaside has two. Charlie's Homemade Ice Cream scoops up the classics—the cherry on top is a barbershop quartet that croons for customers on Thursdays, weather permitting. Up the street is The Sundae Times, where you’ll find malts and shakes along with homemade ice cream. It’s a perfect place to read the Sunday paper over an indulgent treat. But the sweetest pièce de résistance in Seaside is the Park Bakery, which has been churning out buttery morning treats since 1947. The line curls around the block before their doors open at 6:30 a.m. each day as locals and visitors in-the-know patiently wait for the famous crumb buns to emerge from the oven. Insider tip: Go for the powdered sugar topped buns vs. glazed. Trust me. Learn to surf, try yoga classes on the beach, or bike the boardwalk Once you’ve had your fill of crumb buns, it might be time to move around a bit. Basic but beautiful $10 yoga classes are held on the beach near the 7th Ave. entrance on Tuesdays at 6 p.m, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Sundays 7 p.m. Bring your own yoga mat or towel and hold that warrior pose while contemplating the blue horizon or the soft white clouds above. For higher-intensity activity, a new weekly $5 Zumba class is also offered on the beach Saturdays at 9 a.m. between M St. &amp; N St. The Hammer Surf School, located near the 4th Ave. beach entrance, offers three-hour group surfing lessons for $100 on the Atlantic for ages seven and up. A surfboard is provided and a beach pass is not required. Lesson times depend on the tide, so call first or check the online calendar before you go. The Shore and More General Store on 5th Ave. sells volleyballs, frisbees, boogie boards, and most importantly, reasonably-priced bike rentals (from $17 per day, from $40 per week). Their stock got a recent upgrade and the new bikes are perfect for a sunrise ride on the boardwalk. Feeling quirky? You and three friends can rent a turn-of-the-century style surrey, fringe and all for $30 per hour. Experience total beachside bliss Seaside Park’s beaches are clean and beautiful, and still a blissful secret. Since relatively few visitors flock along the two miles of shoreline, you’ll have plenty of room to spread out in the sun. Beach access badges cost $10 per day, $35 per week ($20 per week for seniors), and are free for children ages 11 and under. On select summer Tuesday evenings, a makeshift drive-in movie theater sets up on the Berkeley Harbor Marina lawn—the same spot as the farmer’s market. Literally drive in or walk, bike, or skip over for some Hollywood sparkly under the stars. Shop for the best bargains in Seaside Park B&amp;B Department Store opened in 1932 and is beloved for its bargain-filled weekend sidewalk sales. Inside the surprisingly large store are racks of Billabong, O’Neill, Havaianas, Hurley, and other beach-appropriate brands. You won’t want for thematic objects with slogans like, “A Day at the Beach is Better than 100 in Town” or “It’s a Flip-Flop Kind of Day.” Way in the back is a tiny candy counter, where you can purchase saltwater taffy or fresh fudge along with those new flip-flops. Sometimes it’s just that kind of day. A few doors down from B&amp;B, the Right Coast Surf Shop has, ironically, a decidedly left coast feel. They’ll fully outfit you for surf lessons and other water sports with wet suits, surfboards, wax, and anything else you need to ride the right coast waves in style. This article was written by Kerri Allen, an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, The Huffington Post Travel, Time Out New York, Gayot, and many more.

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