Join Our 3-Day Weekend Twitter Chat Monday, March 28, at 1pm EDT!

By The Budget Travel Editors
March 25, 2016

Mark your calendars: We're hosting our next #BT_Chat Monday, March 28, at 1 p.m. EDT all about 3-day weekends, and we want you to join us!

The chat is sponsored by Visit Ventura County Coast (@VisitVCCoast), and we'll be joined by co-hosts including @Contiki, @ViatorTravel, @TheOpenSuitcase, @LittleRoadsEuro, and other participants.

Here are three easy steps for following along and chiming in with our #BT_Chat.

1. Get Your Tweet On

Log in to your Twitter account (or create one here) shortly before the chat starts at 1 p.m.

2. Join the #BT_Chat

First, follow @BudgetTravel on Twitter. Then, in a separate tab or window, search for the hashtag #BT_Chat and click on "All" at the top of the page so you can see the questions and other people's answers as they come in. Depending on how chatty you are and how many people are responding to your answers, you may want to open a third tab or window to help keep track of notifications.

3. Chime In!

Feel free to re-tweet our questions out to your own followers so they can participate, too! The most important thing is to add #BT_Chat to your answers so the rest of us can see them. Take this as a fun, informal opportunity to chat with other people who care about travel as much as you do. Use the questions we ask as a jumping off point for conversation and to make new friends over the Twittersphere, and above all, have fun!

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Travel Tips

Is Europe Safe for Travelers?

In the wake of the July 14 terrorist attack in Nice, France, many are asking themselves: Is Europe safe for travelers? The answer is yes, with the logical caveat that the better informed you are, the more observant you are, and the more prepared you are, the safer your trip anywhere in the world will be. Am I biased in favor of travel? You bet I am: There’s simply no better way to understand the world, to bridge the differences among cultures, and to embrace our personal stake in this little blue planet of ours. The State Department reminds travelers to adopt the following practices when visiting Europe: • Exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. • Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. • Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events. • Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency. • Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions. • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency. • Register in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.


Jump on These Spring Cruise Deals

As the days get longer and the sun shines warmer, a lot of people start thinking about the sea. Well, there’s no better way to get up close and personal with the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Europe’s legendary rivers than hitting the water on one of these luxurious, but affordable, cruise ships. WORLD’S BIGGEST CRUISE SHIP FROM $607 Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas recently completed its first trials and is preparing for its debut in May, offering the chance to be one of the first to sail on the world’s biggest cruise ship. With a crew of more than 2,000, seven “neighborhoods" (including a tree-lined Central Park, boardwalk, promenade, and other distinct areas), and 20 dining options, Harmony of the Seas is the newest in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-class fleet. Thrill-seekers will enjoy the tallest cruise-ship slide, Ultimate Abyss, a kids area called Splashaway Bay, and my particular favorite, the Bionic Bar, where robots craft the cocktails (not kidding). And Royal Caribbean’s commitment to onboard technology can make your trip more convenient: Geraldine Ree, Senior Vice President of Sales at Expedia Cruise Centers, notes that “Royal Caribbean’s Royal IQ App lets you track your luggage to your stateroom.” Harmony of the Seas’s maiden voyage is in May, a short sail from Southampton, UK, to Cherbourg, France. Western Mediterranean cruises are planned for this summer and fall starting at $607, with Caribbean cruises planned for the fall and beyond. CARIBBEAN CRUISE FROM MIAMI FROM $549 The Norwegian Getaway sets sail from Miami for seven days exploring some of the Caribbean’s most alluring ports, including the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Caymans, and Cozumel, Mexico. And "Norwegian’s iConcierge App enables you to book shore excursions and make reservations at the ship’s specialty restaurants,” says Ree. You'll love the delicious Miami-inspired and Caribbean cuisine and great entertainment and nightlife aboard the Getaway. Book this deal from Dunhill Travel Deals starting at $549. BAJA MEXICO CRUISE FROM $344 The Carnival Imagination leaves Long Beach, California, for amazing Catalina Island, then on to such Baja Mexico highlights as Ensenada, Puerta Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas on a five-day cruise that’s perfect for shopping for authentic Mexican clothing and crafts, hitting the beach, and maybe even knocking back a little tequila. has a deal that starts at $344. DANUBE RIVER CRUISE FROM $999 “River cruising continues to gain momentum,” says Ree. “With only nine new ocean ships being added to waters in 2016, there will be 18 new river cruises to debut throughout the year. River cruises are especially popular with multigenerational cruisers. River cruise lines are designing family-focused sailings and family-friendly design elements on board, such as bigger cabins.” We especially love how these smaller ships make more stops in beautiful little cities and towns across Europe. On this Danube cruise you’ll spend eight days exploring gorgeous Vienna and the fairy-tale town of Melk in Austria; Bratislava in Slovakia; and amazing Budapest, Hungary. Book NOW at YMT Vacations and you can nab a deal at $999 per person. TIPS FOR CRUISE NEWBIES Ree also offers some advice for first-time cruisers: Try to jump into “onboard life” – cruise lines offer cool events ranging from educational port lectures to raucous Dancing with the Stars, Shipboard Idol, and talent shows that bring the house down. Sign up early for activities like cooking classes, fencing, or rope climbing; some sessions fill up fast. Take care of anything you need from the Pursers desk on the second-to-last day of the cruise; on the very last day, lineups start early and remain pretty long until you disembark. If you're flying to your embarcation port, buy your plane tickets early and splurge a little on nonstops. Throw in a swimsuit in the carry on! Who wants to wait for the luggage to be delivered when a pool or beach are available? Choose a ship and destination together as a family. This allows all of the family members to “buy in” and get involved, building the anticipation for every family member. Make reservations as far in advance as you can. Adjoining and “across the hall” cabins become more difficult to find the closer you get to departure. Fly in a day before the cruise to ensure that temperamental weather doesn't cause you to miss the boat.


Bueller... Bueller... Ferris Fest Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off'

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." —Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller's Day Off Talk about travel inspiration! That was the only reason '80s icon Ferris Bueller needed to devise the coolest staycation in movie history: ditching high school with pals one last time before graduation for an epic day in the city of Chicago, from cheering on the Cubs at Wrigley Field to having an existential moment at the Art Institute of Chicago. And now you have the best excuse ever to visit the Windy City from May 20–22: Ferris Fest: A 30th Anniversary Leisure Weekend, three days of fun celebrating the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off's 30th anniversary (tickets $10 and up, What can you expect? A series of events that'll have you following in the footsteps of Ferris, Sloane, and Cameron. These attractions are only the tip of the iceberg: • A live re-creation of the film’s “Twist and Shout” parade. • A replica of Ferris’s room by artists Sarah Keenlyside and Joe Clement that you can step inside. • A two-day, two-part bus tour of the filming locations, including Cameron’s house, Glenbrook North High School, the Art Institute of Chicago, Northbrook Water Tower, and Wrigley Field. • A screening of the movie at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater in Chicago suburb Lake Forest. Stars from the film will participate in a Q&A, and the superfans organizing the event have confirmed appearances from a few cast members, including Cindy Pickett and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris’s parents, and Jonathan Schmock, the French restaurant maitre d'. Who knows who else might show up? Ticket prices range from $10 for to see the parade and Ferris's room all the way to $300 for a full three-day package. Reserve yours ASAP, because they're going fast. The priciest package is already sold out, but the event organizer says tickets for individual days and attractions are still up for grabs, with "more to come soon." Keep an eye on for more info—or try your luck persuading someone in charge that you're Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago, and you need a ticket pronto.* One thing is sure: This is not the time to pull a Cameron and pretend you're sick so you can bail. And if you can’t get off work, in the spirit of Ferris Bueller, play hooky! *We don't actually suggest doing this.

WOW Air Names New Aircraft TF-GAY to Support LGBT Rights

Iceland’s low-cost transatlantic airline, WOW Air, is taking LGBT support to new heights—literally. They just announced that they named their newest aircraft TF-GAY, and the Airbus 330-300 will service the route from Reykjavík (KEF) to San Francisco (SFO)—a city known for its involvement in pushing for equal LGBT rights in the United States—when flights begin on June 9. “WOW air is an airline for the people, and one of our most important goals is to lower fares in order to enable everybody to travel the world and get to know different cultures,” WOW air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen has said. “We wholeheartedly support queer people’s fight for rights. Just as we support equal rights for everybody, no matter their gender, religion, ethnicity, or culture. When we announced we were going to start flying to San Francisco, one of our pilots approached me and suggested the TF-GAY registry. I immediately thought it was a great idea and matched our approach of using words relating to family members in the spirit of inclusiveness.” The non-traditional name isn’t anything new for the airline, as WOW Air has a thing for aircraft registrations. They view their fleet as their family, with TF-MOM, TF-DAD, TF-SIS, TF-BRO, TF-SON, and TF-KID rounding it out. “The name fits perfectly into this concept of ours to create a modern family out of our airplanes from the names we give them,” Mogensen has said. “WOW is basically MOM upside down, and everybody loves their mom! Since day one, we’ve emphasized joy and friendliness in our services because we want everybody to feel welcome in the WOW family. And we think TF-GAY fits right in with our modern family concept.”   The company will be launching a second California route this year, when flights to Los Angeles (LAX) begin on June 15. Both California flights from Reykjavík (KEF) are available for as little as $199 one way. That kind of affordability is one of the many reasons Iceland tops our Where to Go in 2016 list. Saving money on airfare and supporting LGBT rights? Now that’s a win-win.