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Where Will You Go for Spring Break?
From this corner of the northeast, where we were pummeled with two back-to-back storms in less than a week, it’s hard to believe that winter's ever going to end. But as long as the airports are open, we have a way out—spring break is right around the corner, and it’s not too late to plan your escape. Where to go, though...that’s the question. To help you decide, booking site Kayak looked at six months’ worth of spring-break searches from this year and compared them to last year’s results to track destination trends and pricing, for a comprehensive guide to vacation inspiration. To tailor your search to your travel style, read on. 1. If you want to keep up with the in-crowd... Check out Kayak’s state-by-state breakdown, which lists the most frequently searched destinations across the country. As you’d expect, warm-weather locations like Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean are perennially popular, but there are a few surprises mixed in as well: Rhode Islanders and Alaskans alike are eyeing trips to Music City, while internationally, Americans from Alabama to Wisconsin are looking at far-flung locales like Tokyo. (And given that fares there have dropped 5% from last year’s rates, it’s not hard to see why.) 2. If you just want to relax on a beach… After a particularly rough hurricane season, Caribbean islands like St. Thomas and Turks & Caicos are bouncing back, but the airfares aren’t following suit: On average, flights are still less expensive than they were this time in 2017, and with interest waning year over year, there are plenty of deals to be had. Domestically, Hawaii is fast becoming one of the most popular spring break destinations, thanks to new airline routes connecting it to the mainland, and Florida is maintaining its appeal, boasting half of the top trending domestic destinations in Kayak’s roundup. And it’s not just the reliable stand-bys like Orlando, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale—this year, travelers are increasingly considering lesser-visited cities like Punta Gorda, Destin, and Valparaiso. 3. If you want something a little more high-brow… Europe has an enduring appeal, and this year’s top-ten list of trending international spring break destinations features a whopping six continental cities, and they’re mainly under-the-radar choices that offer cultural history with a dose of warmth weather, such as Santorini, Porto, Valencia, and Lyon. But the big-name cities are still drawing plenty of attention as well: Mississippi residents are most interested in Rome, Oregonians are intrigued by Amsterdam, and Missourians have Paris on the brain. 4. If all you really want is a great deal… Good news, bargain hunters: With prices dropping to desirable destinations around the world, you’re bound to find someplace that sounds appealing, whether you prefer to wring the last drop out of winter or get an early start on your tan. If you’re looking to stay cool, flights to Vancouver and Calgary are hovering around $300, on average, while fares to Reykjavik have dropped 7% since 2017. On the warm-weather tip, consider that island life: Flights to Turks and Caicos and St. Thomas are both down 14%, and you can get to the West Indies for up to 20% less than last year, with flights to Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico ringing in around $430 and $248, respectively. Closer to home, from Las Vegas to Key West and San Diego to Santa Fe, you’ll find median airfare for less than $500—and even as low as $250.
10 Stylish Steals in the Caribbean!
Admit it—you've had the Caribbean on your must-see list for years. What's stopping you? For starters, the very word may inspire you to keep one hand on your wallet. But the truth is there's never been a better time to take the plunge—both figuratively and literally—into those turquoise waters. Here, words of wisdom from your favorite experts—the editors of Budget Travel—about enjoying the white sand, world-class restaurants, and rich culture of the Caribbean without breaking the bank. Plus, for each destination, we share a Stylish Steal that will help you book a stay that feels luxe at a smart price. SEE THE ISLANDS! 1. BAHAMAS From northernmost Grand Bahama, with its three national parks, underwater caves, and urbane nightlife, to the bustling port of Nassau, home to gorgeous Cable Beach and historic Bay Street lined with shops and cafes, the Bahamas remain a favorite for savvy travelers (airfares fell 4 percent in 2012 and hotel prices fell 2.5 percent from 2011 to 2012). While in Nassau, you can hop a three-hour ferry to the beach of your dreams on Andros Island, join a deep-sea fishing trip for blue marlin, wahoo, billfish, and tuna, and get a taste of authentic Bahamas cuisine at Twin Brothers with its grilled seafood combo platters including conch, snapper, and grouper starting at $20.50. Stylish Steal: Wyndham Nassau Resort & Casino, on Cable Beach, is a good home base for exploring Nassau and New Providence Island. Three bars and four restaurants are onsite and the casino offers table games and slots (wyndhamnassauresort.com, from $112). 2. ARUBA Sure, the western side of this Dutch island is dominated by high-end hotels, casinos, and chic shopping. But venturing off the ritzy path, Aruba offers staggering natural beauty and outdoor activities. Take a jeep tour of cactus-studded Arikok National Park, go snorkeling, horseback riding, or get a bird's-eye view of it all on a skydive. Near the island's northwestern tip, Malmok Beach is a mecca for snorkelers and divers thanks to the sunken Antilla, a 400-foot German World War II freighter that is now a diverse mini-ecosystem that includes ruby sponges, colorful coral, and tropical fish. Take a detour from the wreck to swim in secluded Boca Catalina Bay. Stylish Steal: MVC Eagle Beach is a 19-room inn with ocean-view terraces, all-white bedding, and dark-wood furniture (mvceaglebeach.com, from $95). 3. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Punta Cana has been a popular beach destination for Europeans for years, but Americans are now getting in on this inexpensive paradise just a stone's throw (well, a two-hour flight) from Miami. Bavaro Beach is the area's busiest, but its white sand, clear water, and offshore coral reef make it worth a visit. Take day-trips to the country's historic capital, Santa Domingo, with its Spanish colonial architecture, and Indigenous Eyes Park, a private nature reserve and jungle park featuring waterfalls and lagoons for swimming. You can also try a surf lesson at Macao Beach, explore the Cordillera Septentrional Mountains, and soak up some history at Casa Ponce de Leon, a museum dedicated to the explorer. Stylish Steal: NH Punta Cana is a colorful and stylish resort on Bavaro Beach with plenty of modern perks like complimentary Wi-Fi and satellite TV (nh-hotels.com, from $130). 4. JAMAICA "Liming" in Jamaica means relaxing. And with miles of beaches, Rastafarian culture, and amazing food, this is the place to lime! Doctor's Cave Beach is the most popular beach in Montego Bay, a short walk from many hotels, and Seven Mile Beach is a few minutes' drive away. Jamaica's beaches offer not only the sun and fun you'd expect but also tasty jerk chicken and the national beer, Red Stripe. Montego Bay Marine Park is an underwater nature reserve with tropical fish and anemones; it's an ideal place to try snorkeling. Up for something more adventurous? Venture to 180-foot Dunn River Falls in the rain forest in nearby Ocho Rios. Stylish Steal: Casa Blanca Beach Hotel is a classic Jamaican hotel with old-world styling situated in the middle of Montego Bay's Hip Strip near Doctor's Cave Beach (Casa Blanca Beach Hotel, from $80). 5. PUERTO RICO One of the delights of visiting Puerto Rico is that you're still in the U.S. yet a world away at the same time. Old San Juan's narrow cobblestone streets and pastel houses—not to mention its salsa-driven nightlife—invite you to join the party. Stop in at Bodega Chic or Nono's for a drink, or join in a public sing-along in Plaza del Mercado, nicknamed "La Placita." For a great view of the Atlantic, head to El Morro, an old fort that's stood here since the 16th century. The most popular beaches in San Juan are in the Condado neighborhood on the eastern side of the city; get there early to grab a prime spot on the golden sand. Stylish Steal: Numero Uno Guesthouse is a darling 15-room inn right by the beach in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan (numero1guesthouse.com, from $149). 6. MEXICO Quick! What's the number one overseas destination for Americans? Venice? Paris? Guess again. It's Cancun, on Mexico's Caribbean coast. Here on this islet, 14 miles of beach and legendary nightlife draw hordes during Spring Break, but the real Cancun, with its Mayan roots, offers something much deeper than a party scene. The beach at Playa Tortugas is festive, with bungalow restaurants and bars under the palms; Playa Delfines, in contrast, is an escapist white-sand beach for aspiring surfers and those who crave some quiet. Don't miss a day-trip to the Riviera Maya with its beachfront ruins at Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba. If you insist on indulging in Cancun's nightlife, head to Coco Bongo, a 1,800-person temple to excess with dancing, nightly trapeze acts, and rock-star impersonators. Stylish Steal: The Royal Islander is a beachfront resort with humdrum décor but a great location (and a seaside pool) in the Zona Hotelera of Cancun (royalresorts.com, from $120). 7. U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS St. Croix is a bit of a curiosity in the Virgin Islands. It's bigger than St. Thomas and St. John put together, but draws the fewest visitors because of its remoteness and relatively undeveloped landscape. It also happens to be the easternmost point of the United States. That means that, without a passport, you can immerse yourself in a culture that blends Caribbean, Dutch, French, British, Spanish, and Danish influences all in a package less than 23 miles long and eight miles wide. With all the expected to-dos you associate with an island paradise (swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, fine dining, and golf), St. Croix also offers the old-world architecture of Christiansted, with homes dating back to the 18th century, and a "rain forest" near the western shore. (It's not technically a rain forest, but private land open to visitors, with a bounty of tropical flora and colorful hummingbirds, warblers, and other birds.) Stylish Steal: Hotel Caravelle is near Christiansted's historical sites and has a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, and spa onsite (hotelcaravelle.com, from $136). 8. BERMUDA Sitting all alone in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of North Carolina, Bermuda is a true outlier. It's not anywhere near the Caribbean Sea, and its food, architecture, and customs are far more British-colonial than tropical paradise. Still, the island (actually an atoll) has found an easy alliance with its neighbors to the south, sharing in tourism efforts and reaping the benefits of their counterbalanced seasons: The Caribbean booms in the winter, while peak season in Bermuda runs from spring through fall. Though Bermuda is always pricey—four of the five most expensive destinations in the Caribbean are here—visitors traveling off-season can find lower airfares, reduced golf fees, and hotels that may be more than 40 percent off summer rates. It's not quite sunbathing weather: December days average 70 degrees. Stylish Steal: The 200-year-old main house of the Greenbank Guesthouse & Cottages incorporates cedar beams that were used as ballast in transatlantic trading ships (greenbankbermuda.com, from $145). 9. CAYMAN ISLANDS The Caymans are practically synonymous with two wealthy pursuits: deep-sea diving and offshore banking. Dive 365, an initiative launched by the islands' Tourism Association, inspired by the notion that the Cayman's should provide a unique diving experience for each day of the year, is making at least one of those more accessible to regular folks. One of the most noteworthy dive projects is the decommissioned U.S. naval ship Kittiwake, a 251-foot submarine rescue vessel that now sits in 62 feet of water off Seven Mile Beach. Because the top is only about eight feet below the surface, the vessel is also accessible to snorkelers. Stylish Steal: Affordable hotels on Grand Cayman are rare, but one good pick is 130-room Sunshine Suites, just a stone's throw from the Ritz-Carlton; each room has a fully equipped kitchen (sunshinesuites.com, from $158). 10. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO Tobago is like Trinidad's backyard, a 116-square-mile haven just a 20-minute flight on Caribbean Airlines from its bigger, noisier sibling. Where Trinidad has restaurants, nightclubs, and 96 percent of the country's population, Tobago has empty beaches, calm bays, and spectacular brain-coral reefs. There are also almost three times the number of exotic bird species as there are hotels, and the birds have free rein in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, one of the oldest protected forests in the western hemisphere. Stylish Steal: When it comes to human nesting, it doesn't get more peaceful than the four-room Gloucester Place Guest House in Parlatuvier, on the island's north coast. Shaded by coconut palms and mango trees, the guesthouse even has its own natural waterfall and an infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean (gloucesterplace.com, from $100).
Dream Trips You Can Actually Afford
Machu Picchu, Peru I have to admit, this was the number one thing on my personal dream trip list, and I was finally able to do it in April of 2014 thanks to a super-affordable vacation package by G Adventures. The Machu Picchu Adventure 8-day tour starts in Lima, where you'll get a chance to soak up the food scene—try the lomo saltado, a delicious dish made of tender beef, veggies, rice, and french fries, or stick to ceviche—and take a walk by the Pacific after dinner. Then, you'll board a one-hour flight to Cusco and spend the next five days exploring the sites of the Sacred Valley, visiting ruins in Ollantaytambo, relaxing in the hot springs of Aguas Calientes, and of course, taking a bus ride up the mountain to view Machu Picchu at sunrise, definitely a memorable experience. You'll love hearing about the legends and stories of the Inca from native Quechua guides and locals along the way—all that stuff you've learned in school about the Conquistadors doesn't quite sink in until you see places where they demolished once-beautiful Inca temples and built gigantic churches on top of them. Plus, with G Adventures, you'll have a great mix of guided tours and free time to explore the cities of Cusco and Lima on your own, as well as exclusive access to a traditional Quechua women's weaving cooperative and restaurant, experiences with the locals that you'll never forget. Book It: Machu Picchu Adventure, G Adventures, from $1,399 per person, land only. Vietnam Home to beautiful beaches, vibrant cities, and a wealth of historical sites, Vietnam definitely deserves a spot on your dream trips list. World Spree offers an 11-day tour that includes airfare from San Francisco (or L.A., or New York City for an addtional charge), making this amazing county more accessible than ever. The trip also gives you time to explore Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi, and includes an overnight cruise around scenic Ha Long Bay. All transfers, ground transportation, and intra-Vietnam flights are also part of the package price, as are most meals, a comprehensive sightseeing itinerary, and the services of English-speaking guides throughout. Several optional tours are also available for a little extra, including a half-day trip to see the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels ($40 per person) and a half day historic tour of Hanoi's "Old Quarters," the "Hanoi Hilton," that ends with a traditional water puppet show ($50 per person), but you'll have a number of guided tours along the way that are included as well. Book it: 11-Day Amazing Vietnam, World Spree, from $1,899 per person including airfare from San Francisco. Hawaii Ah, a place that's probably on everybody's dream trip list. So much so that my parents' dream was to live on Oahu, a beautiful place they'd lived after they first got married, and where we lived from 1994-2001. I'm not going to lie, Hawaii is a pretty expensive place, but like everywhere else, there are ways to get around it. Check for flash sales and other discounts offered by Hawaiian Airlines, which just started flying non-stop from New York City in June of 2012, so no more excuses, east-coasters! Their website even offers bundled vacation packages combining several nights' accommodations with airfare and other island activities on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island. If you're a cruise-lover and can only spare a week of vacation time, you're in luck! Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a 7-day cruise onboard the Pride of America, taking you around the Hawaiian Islands with stops in Kahului, Maui; Hilo and Kona on the Big Island; and on Kauai before returning you to Honolulu, a great way to get a taste of the islands. Book it: Pride of America, Norwegian Cruise Lines, from $899 per person for a 7-day cruise. Always check NCL's Last Minute Cruise Deals page, you know, just in case. China The Great Wall is not as far away as you think, thanks to these great travel deals by companies like World Spree. For starters, there's the Timeless Beijing tour, giving your six nights in China's capital city and round-trip airfare from San Francisco or L.A. from—are you ready for this?—$988 per person! You'll also get three days of escorted tours—visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, the "Bird's Nest," home of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and enjoy a full-day trip to the Great Wall of China and Sacred Way of Ming Tombs, including entrance fees—and have two-and-a-half days to explore the area by yourself. World Spree also offers a 9-day tour of Beijing and Shanghai and a 12-day tour of Beijing, Xian, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Shanghai if you're looking to explore more of the country. Book it: Timeless Beijing, from $988 per person. A Tale of China's Two Great Cities, Beijing & Shanghai, from $1,129 per person. 12-day tour of The Middle Kingdom, from $1,719 per person. All tours are offered by World Spree and include international airfare from San Francisco or L.A. South Pacific As we've said in the past, yes, you CAN afford the South Pacific! We've often been surprised by how affordable the South Pacific can be, if you keep an open mind and are willing to travel during the shoulder season. Travelscene is offering a deal to the Cook Islands (book by Mar. 22, 2015) where you can fly from L.A. to Rarotonga on Air New Zealand, spend five nights at the Rarotonga Edgewater Resort, and enjoy complimentary breakfast and use of the hotel's snorkeling equipment. The best part: the package starts at $1,549 per person! Looking for an affordable trip to Tahiti? Another deal gives you round-trip airfare from L.A. on Air Tahiti Nui and five nights' accommodations at the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa, along with daily breakfast and round-trip ferry transfers between Tahiti and Moorea when you travel by May 31st. Book it: Cook Islands—Off The Grid, Travelscene, from $1,549 per person including airfare from L.A. when you book by Mar. 22, 2015. Travelscene's 6 Day Magical Moorea Getaway starts at $1,919 per person and must be booked by Apr. 30 for travel by May 31, 2015. Europe While the idea of visiting Europe might already make your wallet nervous, keep in mind that there are always ways to get around the big-ticket items like airfares, hotels, and activities—especially now that the euro is the lowest it's been in years. Check for airfares on sites like AirFastTickets.com or Hotwire.com for flash sales, or keep an eye out for seasonal sales by Irish airline Aer Lingus, a great budget-friendly option that I use every time I travel with my family to Europe—we even mentioned them on our list of Best Budget Airlines. If you're up for spending more money on what you do outside the room, versus spending heaps on a fancy hotel, opt for Generator Hostels, a revolutionary new style of affordable accommodations that's taking Europe by storm. You'll end up spending about half of what you'd expect to pay normally, stay in a great location not far from the city's main attractions, have access to hostel-only activities like movie nights and live music in the lounge, and have the opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world without ever leaving the lobby. The old way of thinking about hostels has changed—Generator's largest percentage of clients are a mix of families who rent out an entire dorm room and business travelers of all ages who yearn to mingle rather than stay cooped up in some fancy schmancy hotel. Buildings and rooms are stylish, and if you really want to avoid sharing a room with your new friends, single and double private accommodations (with your own washrooms) are always an option. Generator Hostels can now be found in London (I stayed there last year and will definitely keep these in mind for future European travels!), Dublin, Berlin, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and Venice—their latest property in Paris just opened in February. Of course, if you are between the ages of 18 and 35 and are looking for an exciting way to see the continent and make new friends from around the world, opt for a good old-fashioned bus tour by Contiki, a company that's been around since the 60s and is still full of young people traveling abroad for the first time whether they're from the U.S., Australia, or everywhere in between. The best part about Contiki: you'll get a ton of included guided tours, day-trips, and exclusive access to cool places (like a behind-the-scenes tour of a popular French Perfumery with special discounts in the gift shop!) as well as a mix of free time to go out and explore the city you're visiting. There are different levels of tours and accommodations depending on your budget and the kinds of places you want to stay in, and several meals like daily breakfasts and the occasional lunch or dinner are part of the deal. I took my first group tour with Contiki in 2013, spent 10 days getting to know London and Paris with really fun people from several different countries, and had so much fun, I came home and booked my next one from Amsterdam to Barcelona for the following summer! You tend to bond quickly with your travelmates on a bus tour—I've had several new friends from Australia and Canada visit me in New York since then and have kept in touch with many others post-trip thanks to social media. Book it: Visit Contiki's website to learn more about sales on travel packages to Europe and all over the world. I went on their London & Paris, Plus Paris Extension tour in Oct. 2013 (from $1,545 per person, land only), and their Amsterdam to Barcelona tour in May 2014 (from $2,299 per person, land only). Caribbean Cruise For a little affordable fun closer to home, opt for one of Norwegian Cruise Line's finest. The Norwegian Getawayset sail from Miami on a 7-day adventure to Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas. Don't miss brand new waterslides, Legally Blonde The Musical, and dinner-and-a-magic-show in The Illusionarium, among other family-friendly onboard activities. Adults will love the Svedka Ice Bar, onboard casino, and tons of entertainment ranging from nightclubs and live music to an improv dueling pianos bar. The Norwegian Breakaway sets sail from New York City on a 7-day trip to Bermuda and offers Broadway show Rock of Ages and other only-in-New York themed experiences, and, as on every Norwegian ship, a wide variety of restaurants to satisfy your every craving. Book it: Cruises onboard Norwegian Getaway start at $599 per person. Cruises onboard Norwegian Breakaway start at $599 per person. Great news for solo travelers: Norwegian's ships offer a special section full of studio-style staterooms that help to lower costs if you're traveling alone. African Safari Who says you can't afford to take a safari in Africa? You just have to know where to look. Keep an eye out for sales at tour companies like G Adventures, Intrepid Travel, and others that frequently run tours to Africa. SmarTours is having a sale right now on a 9-day trip to South Africa that includes airfare from New York City on South African Airways, four nights' accommodations in Cape Town, two nights' accommodations in Kruger National Park, the flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg, a guided tour of Cape Town, and a full-day open-vehicle guided safari in Kruger National Park. If a Kenya safari is more your style, Intrepid Travel offers an 8-day trip to Nairobi, Lake Nakuru, Lake Naivasha, Loita Hills, and gives you time at the Masai Mara National Reserve. Book it: SmarTours' sale for the Cape Town & Safari Express tour ends on Apr. 23rd, so if you want to take advantage of the sale price (from $1,899 per person including airfare from New York City), don't wait—prices go up to from $2,399 per person once the sale is over. The Kenya Wildlife Safari tour is available from Intrepid Travel, from $1,105 per person, land only. Cuba If you think the perfect trip to Cuba is an impossible dream, think again! The country is now more accessible to Americans than ever before. Thanks to companies like Friendly Planet Travel that offer people-to-people itineraries, there are several options at are available—while they might not be as budget-friendly we we'd hope, they do offer a ton of inclusions, and are among the most affordable trips to Cuba being offered right now that we've seen. If Havana's on your bucket list, check out the 6-day Discover Havana tour, which includes airfare from Miami to Havana via a U.S. Government-licensed charter service, one night at the Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel, and four nights in superior first class hotels in Cuba. Friendly Planet Travel also takes care of the paperwork, covers mandatory health insurance needed to visit the country, and offers an educational exchange program so you get the most out of your time in Cuba. You'll also have day-trips to Alamar, Cojimar, and Las Terrazas before heading back to Havana each night. For those wanting to spend more time in this once-forbidden Caribbean country, check out the 9-day Colors of Cuba tour, which includes similar features and gives you time in Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos. Book it: Friendly Planet's Discover Havana tour starts from $2,499 if you book by Apr. 7th; their Colors of Cuba tour is also available from $3,699 per person when you book by Apr. 7th. India Although technically India did earn a spot on Budget Travel's To Go Or Not To Go: 2014 list due to 2013's violent streak against women, things seem to be calming down now, and with strength in numbers, you'll be fine with a group if you go. SmarTours offers a great, affordable 8-day tour that includes international airfare from New York City on Air India and five nights in three different Indian cities: one night in Delhi, two nights in Agra, and two nights in Jaipur. The trip includes all transportation within the country, daily breakfast and a farewell group dinner, and an extensive sightseeing plan that includes guided trips to the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, the Red Fort in Delhi, the Memorial to Mahatma Gandhi, and an elephant ride to Amber Fort in Jaipur. Book it: You'll have to act quickly on this one as SmarTours is currently having a sale that prices this tour from $1,299 per person if you book by Apr. 23rd. After that point, the prices rise to $1,799 per person, so don't wait! World Spree also has a brand new Incredible India travel package that includes international airfare from New York City, L.A., San Francisco, or Vancouver; 9 nights' accommodations in five-star hotels; an extensive sightseeing program including entrance fees; all transfers and transportation within the country, and most meals, from $1,499 per person for a 12-day trip. Australia & New Zealand Who wouldn't want to visit the Land Down Under—I mean, come on, have you seen these photos? Keep an eye out for airline sales by Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Air New Zealand, for starters, or watch for travel packages that include airfare, like those offered by Down Under Answers and Travelscene, which is running a special now thru Mar. 31st, that includes round-trip flights between the U.S. and Australia, four nights in Melbourne; four nights in Sydney, flights between cities, and all taxes and fees, from $1,799 per person. Additional options are listed below. Book it: 11-Day Australia on Sale: Sydney & Melbourne, Travelscene, from $1,799 per person based on double occupancy. The same company also offers a similar 11-day trip to Sydney and Cairns from $1,999 per person, as well as an 11-day trip to Brisbane and Adelaide from $2,299 per person. All must be booked by Mar. 31st for travel between May 1 and Jun. 21, 2015.
The Ultimate Obsessive Foodie's Guide to the Caribbean
While dishes like conch fritters and coconut shrimp have come to represent the region on the world stage, these old stand-bys barely scratch the surface of the unique (and underrated) eats available here. In fact, there are nearly as many hyperlocal takes on Caribbean cooking as there are islands—and delicious fish—in the sea. Here, an island-by-island guide to the delicacies that have our mouths watering this cruise season. Dominican Republic Don’t expect light beach fare from this tropical destination. The Dominican take on Creole cooking, with influences from as far and wide as Africa, Spain, and the Middle East, is a remarkably hearty affair. For proof, look no further than the typical breakfast los tres golpes (or “the three strikes”), which includes fried cheese, fried salami, and fried eggs, plus a heaping scoop of mangú (mashed, boiled green plantains). And if you somehow have room for lunch, the iconic la bandera (“the flag”) is comprised of stewed meats, red beans, white rice, and fried green plantains. Just try going back to work without taking a nap first. BE SURE TO ORDER: Sancocho de siete carnes, a stick-to-your-ribs stew of seven meats, including sausage, chicken, beef, pork, and goat, plus an assortment of vegetables, such as corn on the cob, green plantains, yam, pumpkin, taro, and cassava. The finished product, which is thought to be an excellent hangover cure, is served with white rice and sliced avocados. WHERE TO TRY IT: Travesías, housed in a quaint baby-blue cottage with a sprawling bright-white porch (Avenida Abraham Lincoln 617, sancocho artesanal siete carnes $9). The Bahamas The Bahamas is comprised of more than 700 islands and coral reef cays, so it’s only natural that the cuisine here would have a particularly strong link to the sea. Most staple dishes offer well-spiced but simple preparations of locally caught seafood like grouper, conch, and spiny lobster. And at just 50 miles from the coast of Florida, the country also shares a culinary heritage with the American South. Take, for example, the popular johnnycake, an all-purpose bread that calls to mind the cornbread you’ll find beside most soul food meals. BE SURE TO ORDER: Cracked conch (pronounced “konk,” if you please) with peas ‘n’ rice. The mild white flesh of the iconic sea snail is pounded and then deep-fried into a cutlet and served with an extremely popular side dish of white rice cooked with pigeon peas, salt pork, thyme, and tomato paste. It’s just one of the many ways you’ll find conch on menus, including in chowders, fritters, simply grilled, or cured in a ceviche-like salad. WHERE TO TRY IT: Goldie’s Conch House, which has been an area institution for more than 25 years (Arawak Cay, cracked conch with rice $15). Aruba Dutch culture looms large in the ABC islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, which together with St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius, comprise the Kingdom of the Netherlands. You’ll see this link in the colorful gabled roofs in Oranjestad, Aruba, and Willemstad, Curaçao, and the annual celebration of Queen’s Day (expect lots of orange to celebrate the House of Orange-Nassau). But the Dutch connection is perhaps strongest on the islands’ menus, where you’ll find snacks like bitterballen (fried meaty croquettes) and frikandel (deep-fried sausage)—plus more exotic dishes from former Dutch colonies, such as Indonesian fried rice, or nasi goreng. BE SURE TO ORDER: Keshi yena, which is made by stuffing leftover gouda or edam rinds with meat (chicken, beef, shrimp, or fish), flavored with raisins, grated cheese, olives, and capers. The dish dates back to the Dutch colonial era, when slaves would gather scraps—such as the seemingly unusable cheese rinds—and come up with clever ways to prepare them as a means of survival. WHERE TO TRY IT: The Old Cunucu House, which occupies a traditional farmhouse that dates back more than 150 years (Palm Beach 150, keshi yena $11). Turks and Caicos Unlike lush, verdant neighbors like Jamaica and Cuba, the Turks and Caicos is made up of 40 islands and cays that are arid, sandy, and tiny—perfect for a beach getaway, sure, but not ideal for agriculture. Aside from a few exceptions, such as drought-resistant corn, sea grapes, tamarind, and sugar apples, the cuisine in these parts skews heavily toward the spoils of the surrounding seas, with menus featuring wahoo, grouper, snapper, tuna, and dolphin (the fish, not the mammal!). And it’s no coincidence that the flag of the Turks and Caicos prominently features both a conch and a spiny lobster: They’re two of the island’s tastiest and most prized delicacies (and exports). BE SURE TO ORDER: Spiny lobster, a clawless tropical variety that’s called crawfish by locals. Only legally available in-season from August through March, the prized crustacean is best served simply grilled. WHERE TO TRY IT: Coyaba Restaurant, where lobster is featured in a number of haute creations, like a bisque with sherry and aged rum and lobster thermidor in a dijon-sherry cream sauce (Caribbean Paradise Inn, Grace Bay, Providenciales). Jamaica It’s telling that two of the most popular flavorings in Jamaica are Scotch bonnet peppers and allspice: The cheerful-looking chiles can be almost 150 times hotter than jalapeños, while allspice (the dried berries of the pimento tree) is so aromatic that many home cooks assume that it’s actually a blend of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a word, Jamaican cooking is bold, with iconic dishes borrowed from its many immigrant groups: from Spanish Jews, vinegary escovitched fish; from Indians, curried goat; from the British, Cornish pasty–inspired patties; and from West Africans, the lychee-like fruit ackee, which is cooked alongside saltfish to make the island’s most iconic breakfast. BE SURE TO ORDER: Jerk chicken, which gets its fiery and complex flavors from fresh ginger, thyme, scallions, Scotch bonnet peppers, and allspice. In the authentic Jamaican version, the chicken is cooked over the aromatic smoke of burning pimento wood—a practice that dates back to the native Taínos. The jerk style was born when escaped slaves, or Maroons, retreated into the forest and taught the indigenous tribes their method of smoking meat over pits dug into the earth. WHERE TO TRY IT: The Boston Jerk Center in Boston Bay, widely considered the capital and birthplace of jerk (Boston Bay, Portland Parish). Barbados Perhaps the only cultural icon from Barbados more famous than Rihanna is the flying fish—a remarkable species that uses its wing-like fins to propel through the air at distances up to a whopping 1,300 feet. In fact, the island often gets called the Land of the Flying Fish. But it’s not the only species hauled in from the warm waters surrounding the island, which are teeming with game fish, such as marlin, tuna, shark, and mahi-mahi. While much of Bajan cuisine is influenced by rich Indian and African flavors, perhaps the best way to appreciate the sea’s bounty is also the simplest: The cutter is a humble sandwich of deep-fried fish on crusty Bajan salt bread, topped with lettuce, tomato, and pepper sauce. BE SURE TO ORDER: Flying fish and cou cou (made with cornmeal and okra), the national dish—which, not coincidentally, was once namechecked in a Rihanna song. Now often served with a tomato-based creole sauce, the cou cou was once a staple food for African slaves and is still a popular dish throughout the Caribbean. WHERE TO TRY IT: Brown Sugar, a restaurant set in an old home, filled with lush ferns and colorful murals (Aquatic Gap, St. Michaels, flying fish and cou cou $11.50). Trinidad and Tobago The culinary melting pot in this two-island nation skews decidedly East Indian, a holdover of the indentured Indian servants who streamed into the British Imperial colonies starting in the 1840s to provide plantation owners cheap labor in the post-abolition era. These days, more than 35 percent of the population can trace their roots to the Subcontinent—greater than any other ethnicity—which accounts for the intensely aromatic flavors found in dishes like curried goat and roti (flatbread-wrapped sandwiches). BE SURE TO ORDER: Doubles, an inexpensive street food made by filling light, chewy bara (fried flatbread, tinged yellow with turmeric) with channa (curried chickpeas), topped with cucumbers, pepper sauce, mango chutney, and tangy tamarind. Often eaten for breakfast and sold from humble carts, the local spin on the Punjabi chole bhature got its descriptive name when customers in the 1930s demanded that the sandwich’s creator double up on the deliciously crisp bara. WHERE TO TRY IT: Any of the unassuming food carts in the southern Trinidad town of Debe, which many consider to be the capital of doubles. Puerto Rico Perhaps no food better represents Puerto Rico than sofrito, a paste made by frying onions, garlic, green peppers, sweet ají dulce chiles, cilantro, and a local herb called culantro or recao in olive oil or lard. Much like this flavor-packed ingredient, which forms the backbone of many of the island’s most famous dishes, local cocina criolla (Creole cooking) was born by slowly melding together centuries of disparate culinary influences, including West African, Spanish, American, and indigenous Taíno. You can thank this last group for lechón asado (the island’s famed slow-roasted pork), not to mention the term “barbe-cue,” based on their word barabicu, or “sacred fire pit.” BE SURE TO ORDER: Mofongo, made by mashing green plantains with garlic and chicharrones (deep-fried pork rinds). Thought to be a Caribbean update on the doughy African staple fufu, the dish is traditionally prepared with a wooden mortar and pestle, or pilón, which traces its roots to the Taínos. The starchy base can then be eaten as a side or stuffed with a protein to become mofongo relleno, at which point it is often doused in a tomato-based salsa criolla. WHERE TO TRY IT: Café Puerto Rico, where the mofongo relleno can be ordered with a range of different bases (yuca or green or sweet plantains) and fillings, including crab, salt cod, grouper, or shrimp (208 Calle O’Donnell, mofongo relleno from $10).
Don't Miss These Summer Travel Sales!
Tour packages, hotels, cruises, and train travel are all on sale this summer. Here's what you need to know. HOTELS • Room rates start at just $99 a night this summer thanks to the Stay & Play Longer package, part of the Hilton Worldwide Caribbean Summer Sale happening now thru Aug. 31st. You'll get a fourth night free, a $100 resort credit per room per stay, and best of all, kids stay free. Participating hotels and resorts includeHilton Barbados Resort; British Colonial Hilton Nassau; Hilton Curaçao; Caribe Hilton, San Juan; Condado Lagoon Villas at Caribe Hilton; Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort; The Condado Plaza Hilton; Embassy Suites Dorado del Mar Beach Resort; Embassy Suites San Juan Hotel & Casino; El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel; El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort; Las Casitas Village, A Waldorf Astoria Resort; Hilton Santo Domingo; Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo; Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre; and Hilton Cartagena. • Marriott Hotels & Resorts want you to Celebrate Summer! Book your stay at one of 34 participating properties on the east coast, west coast, Hawaii, or in the central U.S. by Sept. 7th and enjoy room rates from $129 a night and up to $100 in resort credit per night that can be used towards dining, golf, spa services, and other on-property perks. Valid on stays thru Sept. 30th. • The Ka’anapali Beach Hotel in Maui is offering a special package this summer that gives you three nights' accommodations in a courtyard/pool view room, buffett breakfast for two at the hotel's Tiki Terrace Restaurant on the morning of your choice, daily rental car from Budget Rent A Car, and dinner for two at the Tiki Terrace Restaurant on the evening of your choice, from $757 per stay (based on single/double occupancy), a savings of 20 percent per person. Please refer to the Simply Simple package, valid now thru Jan. 4, 2016. • Planning to check out Orlando's legendary theme parks this summer? Save by staying at the Hilton Orlando, where family-friendly rooms start at $109 a night and give you access to special kid-friendly glow-in-the-dark games and other poolside activities now thru Labor Day. • You can save 65 percent on standard rates this summer at the Marigot Beach Club in St. Lucia. The Caramel Kiss Package starts at $99 a night and includes a spa treatment for two (caramel sugar scrub, chocolate facial, and caramel kiss pedicure), and daily breakfast. Valid from Aug. 1-31, 2015. • Don't miss the Experience El Yunque package from the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino that gives you 30 percent off overnight accommodations at the resort, a half-day guided excursion to nearby El Yunque National Forest for two, two bottles of water, snacks, and late checkout, from $279 a night. • The W Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona, is offering special rates from $179 a night, a savings of 73 percent off regular high season rates. You'll get overnight accommodations at this luxe hotel, a W Scottsdale tote bag, sunblock and sunglasses, and a pitcher of Vitamin W, the hotel's signature cocktail, to celebrate. Refer to promo code VITAMINW when booking this deal online or call 877/822-0000 to book by phone. • Get ready for great views and savings in Arizona this summer. Room rates at the newly renovated Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, located along the 7.5-mile Red Rock Scenic Byway, start at $168 a night. • Visitors to Greater Williamsburg, Virginia, can take advantage of several specials this summer. Offers include accommodations at the Best Western Historic Area with breakfast and two passes to Busch Gardens Williamsburg from $99.99 a night (available now thru Sept. 7th), and savings on stays of at least two nights at the Days Hotel Busch Gardens Area from $69.99 a night including complimentary daily breakfast (valid now thru Oct. 31st), among others. • Get to know Baltimore with the Best of Baltimore package by Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor. You'll get overnight accommodations, complimentary WiFi and daily breakfast, and a 'Baltimore's Best' goodie bag that includes local treats. The best part: 10 percent of the money earned from this package will be donated to the local food bank at St. Gregory's Church. Valid on stays now thru Sept. 6th. • You can save 20 percent when you stay at Generator's London and Paris Hostels now thru Aug. 31st. With rates starting at $86 for a private room for two, or from about $26 per person for a dorm-style bed, you'll be saving big and staying in the heart of the action. Whichever location you choose, you're in for a treat: Generator Hostels are designed to look more like boutique hotels and offer a variety of fun activities—from pub crawls to game and movie nights—to help you get to know your fellow travelers. TOUR COMPANIES • Intrepid Travel is offering a special 10 percent discount on all of their family-style tours when you book by July 31st (valid on travel thru July 31, 2016). Check the latest deals page often, and don't miss Intrepid Travel's last minute deals page for further discounts of up to 25 percent off last-minute getaways. • G Adventures has several specials this summer, including 15 percent off select trips to Colombia, the Galápagos Islands, Europe, India, Japan, the Middle East, Morocco, Peru, the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, East Africa, South Africa, Australia, South Korea, China, Costa Rica, and South American cruises when you book by July 31st. Check this page to see their current promotions. • Attention 18-35 year-olds: Contiki is offering 10 percent off European tours that are ten days or more when you book by July 8th—use promo code EUROPEMAGIC to save up to $554 per person (valid on travel thru Mar. 31, 2016). Keep an eye on their Last Minute Deals page if you're looking to have an unforgettable adventure for less. • JourneYou is offering a special package during the Buenos Aires Tango Festival, held this year from Aug. 12-25. The tour, happening Aug. 21-26, includes five nights' accommodations at the tango-themed Tanguero Hotel in the heart of the city, airport transfers, a guided city tour of Buenos Aires, guided wine tour and tasting, a night of milonga "a lo guapo," a tango show at Café de los Angelitos, daily breakfast, and one dinner, from $1,190 per person. CRUISES • You can save up to $479 per person thanks to this last-minute European cruise sale by MSC Cruises. Save $50 per person on interior rooms, $100 per person on ocean view rooms, $150 per person on balcony rooms, and $200 per person on Aurea Suites and MSC Yacht Club rooms. Book your cruise by July 31st and use promo code AIRCREDT. RAIL TRAVEL •Rail Europe is helping families save on train travel with some great deals on their rail passes. This year, up to two children ages 4-11 can travel for free with an adult on the Eurail Global, Eurail Select, Regional Eurail, and select single-country Eurail passes. Families traveling in Switzerland with children under 16, for example, can book a Swiss Travel Pass and save with the Swiss Family Card (kids ages 6-15 can travel free with a parent or guardian-the card itself is free, just request it when you book your pass). The German Rail Pass also offers free travel for up to two children between the ages of 6-11 with each paying adult. OTHER GREAT SPECIALS • You can save $250 instantly this summer when you book an air-inclusive vacation to Nassau Paradise Island in the Bahamas for at least four nights. Book your beach getaway by July 8th for travel by Dec. 18th. Blackout dates do apply between Nov. 22nd and 27th. Click the link above for more details.
Gorgeous Caribbean B&Bs from $69!
As winter arrives, we firmly believe that the Caribbean is always a good idea, and our friends at bedandbreakfast.com have come up with some “luxe for less” deals that we want to pass on right away: Westender Inn, Jamaica, is perched on the low-lying cliffs of the West End and starts at $69. You’ll want to relax in a hammock on your verandah or patio and savor authentic Jamaican cuisine (after your shuttle returns you from a fun day shopping in nearby Negril). Nab a table at Rick's Cafe on the Negril Cliffs for a scary/cool view of cliff divers. Gloucester Place, Tobago, starts at $70 and offers airy rooms that open onto a verandah with sweet views of the sea and fishing boats bearing the day’s catch (a.k.a. your dinner), plus an infinity pool that’ll make you feel as if you’re swimming to the horizon. Browse the small shops and outdoor market in nearby Scarborough and visit the historic 18th-century Fort St. George. B&B Sombré di Kabana, Curacao, just outside the colorful capital city of Willemstad, starts from $150 and offers a soothing garden setting with tropical birds, pool, and Jacuzzi. Feeling a little adventurous? Some first-rate nearby dive sites will let you explore beautiful undersea coral formations.
More Places to go
Raton ( rə-TONE) is a city and the county seat of Colfax County in northeastern New Mexico. The city is located just south of Raton Pass. The city is also located about 6.5 miles south of the New Mexico–Colorado border and 85 miles west of Texas.
Red River is a resort town in Taos County, New Mexico, located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The population was 477 at the 2010 census. Red River is located along the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, and is 36 miles (58 km) from Taos.
Taos Ski Valley
Taos Ski Valley is a village and alpine ski resort in the southwestern United States, located in Taos County, New Mexico. The population was 69 at the 2010 census. Until March 19, 2008, it was one of four ski resorts in America to prohibit snowboarding. The Kachina lift, constructed in 2014, serves one of the highest elevations of any triple chair in North America, to a peak of 12,481 feet (3,804 m) above sea level.The village was originally settled by a group of miners in the 1800s, but in 1955, Ernie and Rhoda Blake founded the area as a ski mountain. The village was incorporated in 1996. In 2013, Taos Ski Valley, Inc., was sold by the founding family to billionaire conservationist Louis Bacon. It has 110 trails with 24% beginner, 25% intermediate, and 51% advanced/expert. The Ernie Blake Snowsports School is one of the highest rated ski schools in North America.
Angel Fire is a village in Colfax County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 1,216 at the 2010 census. It is a popular ski resort destination, with over 500 acres (2.0 km2) of slopes. Angel Fire and nearby communities experience cold winter temperatures and mild temperatures in the summer. To the north, off U.S. Route 64, is Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park. Angel Fire is on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway.