New Travel Trend: Crowdfunding Your Dream Vacation

By Kaeli Conforti
December 14, 2012
A Honeyfund account
Courtesy Honeyfund

If your dream trip feels out of reach financially, crowdfunding websites let your friends, family, and even strangers help you pay for your vacation.
You can raise funds for any project on this site, but it's also a good way to put the word out that you need a little help with your vacation budget. Make your case or post a video to let people know what you plan to use the money for, then share the link to your page on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Your page will stay on the website for a set number of days allowing people around the world to contribute funds via credit card or PayPal. It is free to create an account, but Indiegogo does take a small percentage of your earnings. If you want to help someone you don't know take their trip, a recent search found more then 350 people looking for help. These included a group raising money for a friend's 60th birthday trip, people putting together vacation funds for a military veteran and his family following his return from deployment, and a ninth grader trying to raise money for her school band and choir to travel to Disneyland.
Instead of toasters and place settings, couples can register for hotel nights and even flights. It's free to set up a personalized page on outlining details of your trip with options for how friends and family can help. According to the site, about 62 percent of couples pay for their own honeymoon, and this is a way to have friends and family contribute. Plus, many of would rather have a trip to the Caribbean instead of a set of hand towels.  

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading

4 Restaurants Alain Ducasse Loves in New York

Even Alain Ducasse, the renowned French chef who runs 23 gourmet restaurants around the workd, loves a great deal. When he's in New York City, here are a few of his favorite places to eat—not a $$$$ in sight! Pommes Frites "This East Village hole-in-the-wall is my go-to whenever I crave something completely satisfying. The rustic Belgian-inspired operation has perfected the fried potato." 123 Second Ave.,, pommes frites from $4.50. Four & Twenty Blackbirds "This cozy bakery is owned and operated by the talented sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen. It's a delightful Brooklyn shop that's perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of their seasonal pie." 439 Third Ave., Brooklyn,, piece of salted caramel apple pie $5. Russ & Daughters "This New York institution started as a pushcart in 1908, and now it's a little kosher-style specialty shop on the Lower East Side. It's a must for travelers looking for some small bites to go, a bagel and cream cheese, or locally smoked fish." 179 E. Houston St.,, Fancy Delancey (smoked tuna with horseradish dill cream cheese and wasabi flying fish roe on a bagel) $8.75. The Farmers Markets "One of the reasons I love to come to New York at this time of year is for the incredible selection of fruits and vegetables at the outdoor markets. The multicolored squash are beautiful. Something that isn't found in France but is one of my favorites is the yellow spaghetti squash." Union Square Greenmarket, Union Square Park,, open Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat., 8 A.M.-6 P.M. Alain Ducasse's J'Aime New York: A Taste of New York in 150 Culinary Destinations (Hardie Grant Books) is in stores now.  


A Gourmet Meal for $20

There's no fancy silverware, no tablecloth, and no dress code. In fact, most diners, fresh from a hike, show up at this low-key lodge's dining room in flip-flops and shorts. Based on the setting, you might not guess that you're about to eat one of the most complex meals in all of Colombia, or, more importantly, that Chef Joseph Romero was sous chef at Spain's now-closed El Bulli, often called the world's best restaurant. But the real question on diners' minds, as they start their 10-course tasting menu with an appetizer like free-range hen salad with coconut biscuits and kefir is, "How can this all possibly cost $20?" After 25 years at upscale restaurants in his native Barcelona and elsewhere, Romero tired of typical fine dining—instead, he wanted to share with the world his so-called "gastronomic revolution." "Our scheme is to demystify 'luxury' and still create luxurious, local food at a reasonable price," he says. He traveled extensively before setting up camp at Dapa Hostel, a rustic ecolodge 30 minutes from Cali in the mountains of the Valle del Cauca. He found the area to be the ideal spot for his culinary coup—its natural diversity means a bounty of fresh ingredients, all sourced from farms and markets within a 50-mile radius. The result is a firsthand education in the region's distinct tropical fare. You'll find papaya in the béchamel sauce, or tropical fruit steamed with sage, thyme, and rosemary on a blackberry coulis for dessert. His trio of ceviches—based on the recipes of El Bulli chef Ferran Adrià and top Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio—come with a local twist, courtesy of his 23-year-old son and sous chef Mikhail: passion fruit vinaigrette and citrusy lulo fruit foam. You don't have to be a guest at the lodge to enjoy Romero's meals, but book early: Dinners are kept to 25 or under so Romero can interact with his guests, often sitting down to explain the dish's subtle flavors or local origins. After the delectable 10 courses—from French bean soup with an orange and purple basil sherbet "floating island" to yuca and corvina fish stew to potato and plantain waffles—it's pretty hard to believe that the check is so low. "Ferran Adrià says every product has the same gastronomical importance regardless of its market value," Romero says. "A potato and caviar don't have to be different in gastronomical value. If a potato has been grown properly and is well cooked, it can be as good as lobster." Dapa Hostel, Valle del Cauca,, for reservations call 011/57-318-349-9710 or email, 10-course tasting menu $20.


How Far Would You Go For An Upgrade?

Some people will do anything—or say anything—for a free upgrade. Israeli airline El Al recently released a silly promotional video mocking the extreme lengths people will sometimes go to in the hopes of snagging a free upgrade. The video features such extreme tactics as a man bribing an airline employee with a stamp card for a free frozen yogurt, a woman who tries to earn a seating upgrade because she is obviously very pregnant, only to drop a basketball from underneath her shirt (nice try!), and a man claiming to be entitled to a free upgrade because his name is John F. Kennedy, and clearly the airport was named after him.  El Al also asked their flight attendants to share the funniest things people have said to try to get a free upgrade. Unlike the scenarios in the video, real travelers actually attempted these (though it's not clear if they were successful): 1. "I just got divorced and the guy I'm sitting next to looks like my ex." 2. "Can you please upgrade my mother-in-law because she is driving me crazy!" 3. "Can you please upgrade me [to business class] so I can meet a rich husband?" The video advertises Economy Class Plus, where you can pay $150 more per person each way for more leg room, a foot rest, and reclining seats. The service is available on all flights to Israel from New York's JFK Airport and Newark and the airline plans to expand the program to flights from Los Angeles next year. You can also "like" the El Al Facebook page now through January 16, 2013, and enter to win a giveaway for two round-trip Economy Class Plus tickets from New York, Newark, or Los Angeles to Israel. We want to know—just how far would you be willing to go for a free upgrade? Have you ever told a ridiculous tall tale to get a better airline seat? Tell us about it and your story may be featured in an upcoming blog post on


Chicago Is "Second City" in Search

You probably weren't surprised to hear that the iPhone5 and Kim Kardashian made Yahoo's list of the most searched phrases of 2012. Yawn. But when Yahoo drilled down to determine the most searched city names of the year, its list did contain at least one unexpected result: Chicago came in second, right after perennial no. 1 Las Vegas and ahead of mega-destinations such as London, New York, and San Francisco. While Chicagoans may not always be fond of the nickname "Second City," in this ranking they've earned some bragging rights. In May, the city played host to the G8 and NATO summits, attracting thousands of visitors. And of course there's no discounting the fact that President and Mrs. Obama have lent a portion of their star power to their town—the president's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is now the city's mayor and an enthusiastic booster for local tourism. Ready to explore Chicago? It's about a four-hour flight from Los Angeles, with fares starting under $300; flights from New York are about two to three hours, with fares starting under $200; the city is also, of course, driving distance from Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. While you're there, don't miss these top attractions: The Art Institute of Chicago offers the third-largest visual arts collection in the U.S., including such iconic paintings as Georges Seurat's pointillist masterpiece A Sunday on La Grande Jatte and Edward Hopper's moody diner scene Nighthawks. 111 S. Michigan Ave.,, adults $18, children/students/seniors $12. Architectural landmarks are a hallmark of Chicago's downtown. The skyscraper was born here, and you can't miss the 110-story Willis Tower (commonly known by its original name, the Sears Tower) and the John Hancock Center. You should also consider a daytrip to Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio in nearby Oak Park. 951 Chicago Ave., Oak Park, IL,, studio and home tour $15 for adults, $12 for students and seniors; note that interior tours will be suspended for part of January and February for maintenance. Public parks in Chicago are breathtaking, and you can explore three of them via Frank Gehry's BP Pedestrian Bridge, which offers elevated views of the city's skyline as you stroll from Millennium Park (home to the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in winter and the five-acre Lurie Garden) to Grant Park (where President Obama delivered his historic victory speech on election night in 2008) to Daley Bicentennial Plaza. Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Ave.,, admission free.