Sick of snow? Lobby for summer!
Have you spent too much of your winter digging out your car or shoveling a path down the driveway? Does the sight of a snowdrift make you cringe? Are you fed up with single-digit temperatures and weekly snowstorms?
If so, it's time to vote for summer! We're not really sure who created this hilarious faux-political campaign video attacking winter (paid for by "spring and fall"), but we're all about escaping cold weather right now. Watch the video below and then keep scrolling for some great, warm-weather deals.
Political campaign for summer:
While we wait for warmer seasons, here are a few deals to get you through the last of the chilly months:
How about a cruise to the Bahamas? Norwegian Cruise Lines' Norwegian Jewel sails from frigid New York City, stopping in Port Canaveral, Fla., as well as Great Stirrup Cay and Nassau in the Bahamas. Imagine yourself relaxing onboard for seven nights starting at only $399 per person—plus government taxes and fees of $139. Keep in mind that all your meals, entertainment and port charges are included and you can book anytime.
Feeling a bit more adventurous? You could spend a long weekend in Turks & Caicos, starting at $560 for four nights at the Sands at Grace Bay. Instead of putting on two sweaters and a coat, break out that bathing suit and spend some time at one of their three swimming pools this winter.
For those of you who prefer domestic travel, there's always Hawaii. Pull out those flip flops and that cheesy Hawaiian shirt you've been hiding in the back of your closet and head to the island of Oahu for three nights at the Ocean Resort Hotel Waikiki. Airfare is included in this deal but you must travel between March 14 and April 22. Rates start at $440 per person with additional fees depending on which city you fly from.
So, how have you been coping this winter? If you could take a trip to a sunnier spot, where would you go?
Heading to New Zealand? What you should know
If you're gearing up for a trip to New Zealand, reports about a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the country's second largest city of Christchurch on Tuesday may have you concerned about whether now is the best time to go. Here are some facts to consider: Indeed, a state of national emergency has been declared in Christchurch and some 75 people are considered dead, according to news reports. However, the state of emergency does not have any direct impact on other areas of New Zealand, according to Tourism New Zealand. Considerable damage has been reported in Christchurch's central business district and in Lyttelton, a town just outside of Christchurch, according to the country's ministry of civil defense and emergency management. Not surprisingly, given the amount of destruction, Tourism New Zealand has advised against any non-essential travel to Christchurch over the next week, and has said that travelers with a trip planned to Christchurch in the coming days should check with their airline company and/or travel provider. As for the remainder of the country, all New Zealand airports, including Christchurch, are open and operating, and Tourism New Zealand stressed that the rest of the country is up and running. The organization did advise travelers to check with their airline regarding possible delays. Additionally, travelers with upcoming trips might have some protection if they purchased travel insurance. "In many of our programs if a travel delay exceeds 50% of the scheduled trip, it may allow policy holders to recover lost non-refundable and pre-paid trip expenses. Customers may also qualify for trip cancellation/interruption benefits if their travel supplier experienced a complete cessation of services for 24 or more consecutive hours due to a natural disaster, or their destination is uninhabitable because of a natural disaster," advised Daniel Durazo of Access America. He added that customers should call their travel insurance providers before canceling their trip to New Zealand to review their coverage. More from Budget Travel: Australia goes on sale, Oprah tries to help Riots in Egypt: How much can travel insurance help? 95% of Americans plan to travel more in 2011
The nation's top resorts and spas on sale during Wellness Week
Normally, fancy facials and spa days are reserved for birthdays or special occasions with mom. But now you can treat yourself during Wellness Week, March 21-27, when certain spa, fitness, and wellness centers are offering 50 percent off or flat-rate $50 deals. As part of a nationwide initiative to inspire people to be healthier and happier, SpaFinder's Wellness Week offers deals on everything from nutritional counseling and acupuncture to facials and massages. Deals sell out quickly, so be sure to register online at spafinder.com/wellnessweek by February 28 so you can book a week ahead of the general public. Participants in Wellness week include Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa Miami Beach in Miami, The Spa at Sedona Rouge Hotel in Sedona, Arizona, the Peninsula Spa by ESPA at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at the Plaza Hotel in New York, and The Spa at Four Seasons Houston in Houston. If you miss this Wellness Week, don't worry, another one is set for Sept. 19-25. See more from Budget Travel California's New Wine Trail 10 Scenic Airport Landings Secret Hotels of Paris
BT asks: Readers' best RV tips
Some information is simply meant to be passed on from person to person, rather than harvested from aimless internet searches—how to ride a bike, say, or tie a Double Windsor or assemble a perfect pie crust—and in my opinion, that list includes piloting an RV for the first time. With summer out there on the horizon (albeit still so far off, sadly!), I've been doing some serious RV dreaming. But having grown up in a family that never RV'ed (unless you count tossing a mattress in the back of my dad's cargo van for our annual 16-hour ski-season drive to Colorado, which I don't), I could use some first-person advice from real-world road-masters. What would you tell a first-timer about to embark on her inaugural RV vacation? I want to hear all your best road-tested tips—the easiest vehicles to operate, the best strategies for plotting a route, your favorite RV campgrounds, the ultimate packing list, smart money-saving tricks, your worst mistakes and your greatest discoveries. If you have a free minute, post your advice and expertise in the comments—I can't wait to read it (and put it to use)! See more from Budget Travel San Francisco: 3 Worthy Bike Rides Ask Trip Coach: Ski Vacations The Ultimate Packing Guide RV Rental Saving Tips
The threat of rising airfares
There's a theory that once the airfare surpasses the price of the land portion of a trip, travelers will opt out of said trip. Whether or not that's true, tour operators and vacation packagers are worried that increasing airfares, spurred by improving demand and surging fuel costs, will give travelers a sticker shock that will make them think twice about that vacation to Italy, Hawaii, or farther afield. One way to avoid that, they say, is for travelers to trade in the last-minute, price-shopping that may have worked at the height of the recession for a book-sooner-rather-than-later strategy. "We have a 'perfect storm' in 2011 of reduced capacity and much higher demand, and this is leading to airlines operating very profitably on those routes and they have all declared clearly that they will not be increasing capacity in 2011," said Paul Wiseman, president of escorted tour company Trafalgar Tours. In fact, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, airline capacity in available seat miles domestically and internationally will actually increase 4.5% this year after posting a 0.5% decrease for 2010. But as business travelers return to the road, tour operators are worried that leisure travelers who wait too long to book will be fighting for seats, at a price. And that certain high-priority destinations, like Europe, will be the first to go. Wiseman said that Trafalgar has been comparing air prices between October and now and that 2011 fares have already risen by at least 30% in some cases. He said that in October, British Airways round-trip flights between Los Angeles and Rome were around $1,100. "If you shop British Airways from Los Angeles to Rome out June 10 back June 20, it currently shops at $1920.87," cited Wiseman. A recent search on britishairways.com found the same flight for between June 10 and 20, for $1,675.87 (without an overnight layover, with an overnight layover it was a couple hundred lower). Regardless, even the lowest current price represents around a 50% increase over Wiseman's October example. Jack Richards, president and CEO of Pleasant Holidays, said the political unrest in Egypt and Libya hasn't helped either. "These are large oil producing countries and the political unrest makes the markets nervous and uncertain so the price of oil has been driving higher airfares," said Richards. Richards advised that if customers find a reasonable fare, they should book the flight as soon as possible to lock in the price and avoid higher airline-imposed fuel surcharges. To encourage vacationers to book earlier, several tour operators have air-inclusive specials in the market. Trafalgar started off 2011 with a Europe promotion that boasts $1,000 in savings per couple on air-inclusive packages with British Airways flights, or $800 in savings per couple on all other air-inclusive packages, good for bookings made through Feb. 28, 2011. Another tour operator, Globus, rung in the new year with an offer of 10% off per person on the land portion of a 2011 air-inclusive Europe vacation when booked and paid in full by March 1, 2011, for travel between May 1 and December 31, 2011. More from Budget Travel: Airlines hike fees for baggage 95% of Americans plan to travel more in 2011 http://blog.budgettravel.com/budgettravel/2011/02/earn_flight_reward_points_on_f.html