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February 27, 2012

Six of the Best Budget-Friendly Locales Around the World

By BootsnAll

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Bolivian street vendor (PJFurlong06)
Bolivian street food vendor (PJFurlong06)

Let's face it, you can add destinations to your "I want to go to there" list until the cows come home, but if your budget doesn't allow for multiple trips per year or even short stays in expensive countries, you'd better re-focus your list-making or you'll never get out of the house. There are plenty of places in the world that are super cheap to visit, and they're not all in Central America or Southeast Asia.

Here are six places that are excellent destinations for budget travelers, in no particular order:

Much of South America is very budget-friendly, but Argentina isn't the super-cheap country it used to be, so head for nearby Bolivia instead. You'll need to put in some effort to spend more than $40 a day here, with accommodation, transportation, and food all being serious bargains. Even an organized tour of the country's famous salt flats is a steal at less than $200 per person for an all-inclusive 4-day trip. Note that hostels in La Paz aren't as cheap as elsewhere in Bolivia, but as soon as you get outside the city, you'll spend far less money.'s La Paz Travel Guide

India has long been a popular destination for budget travelers, and it hasn't lost that distinction even as more and more travelers "discover" it for themselves. The country is large and diverse enough that you can still find bargains if you skip the places that are more overrun by tourists—and even in some of those places the prices remain pretty low. Train travel is extremely cheap, nice accommodations can be had for $30 or less, and you'll eat well for around $10 a day (less if you go with street food).'s Top India Vacation Spots

Continue reading "Six of the Best Budget-Friendly Locales Around the World" »

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Related Topics: Budget Travel

November 28, 2011

I Heart NYC: A Big Apple Holiday for Every Kind of Traveler

Rockefeller Center of Christmas,NY(Top Photo Group,Thinkstock)
Rockefeller Center during Christmas, New York City (Top Photo Group/Thinkstock)

If one city in the continental U.S. represents everything the holidays stand for, New York City is that place. It has vibrant colors, soft white blankets of snow, beautifully decorated trees, ice skating rinks, and store window treatments that come straight from all of our childhood dreams. In our opinion, NYC is iconic and whimsical during the holidays, a place where even the most Grinchiest can find some sort of joy.

For The Dancer
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Say the word Rockettes and you automatically think of high kicks, glitz, and glam, which is why Radio City's Christmas Spectacular is a must-see over the holidays. The Rockettes dance and dazzle their way through The Twelve Days of Christmas Carol, the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, the Living Nativity, and more. Each 90-minute performance showcases 36 Rockettes (who are all between 5'6" and 5'10.5") and 1,300 costumes. Live animals such as donkeys, camels, and sheep are a part of the cast as well. Get your jazz hands ready!

For The Shopper
Holiday Window Displays
Many high-end stores on Fifth Avenue, such as Sak's, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, and others off 5th Ave, such as Barneys, Bloomingdale's, and Macy's have display designers working for months on the creations that they place in their store windows.  Long ago, Macy's started this tradition of creating magical tales of the holidays in their windows and the other stores have since followed. Children will be in awe of the displays and adults will appreciate the show of artist ability as well. Best of all, window shopping is free!

For The Arborist
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
A world-wide symbol of the season, the Rockefeller Christmas tree has been a tradition for over 75 years. This year it stands tall, bright, and beautiful; lit by 30,000 LED lights on five miles of wire and topped with a Swarovski crystal star. If trees are your thing, also hop around the city and check out the trees at Madison Square Park, Wall Street, South Street Seaport, Botanical Gardens, and a few of the museums like the MET.

Continue reading "I Heart NYC: A Big Apple Holiday for Every Kind of Traveler" »

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Christmas Vacation · Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · US Travel

June 29, 2011

Our Favorite Southern Freebies

By Kate Chandler

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Free music is abundant in the South (Kim Steele/Getty)

A certain southern belle (yours truly) was perusing her favorite southern magazine (Southern Living) when she came across a fabulous article on tons of free southern things to do (101 to be exact). Here are the highlights:

Taste the South
Fried-chicken lovers shouldn't miss the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum in Corbin, Kentucky. Yes, that's Sanders as in Colonel Sanders of KFC. Spice it up with a tour of the Tabasco plant on Avery Island, Louisiana. Cookies, bread, beer, and whisky round out the rest of the options on the foodie list.
Kentucky Travel Guide; Louisiana Travel Guide

Bask in Nature
Waterfalls abound in North Carolina (see Glen Falls and Bridal Veil Falls), Texas (see Gorman Falls), and Tennessee (see Grotto Falls). Kentucky's Red River Gorge and West Virginia's New River Gorge showcase the awesome power of water carving through rock. Stick around for some rafting and hiking.
North Carolina Travel Guide; Texas Travel Guide; Tennessee Travel Guide

Hear Some Tunes
Whether it's jazz at The Lounge in Kansas City, Missouri, or rhythmic beats pouring out of one of the endless clubs on Frenchman Street in New Orleans, free music is a sure thing in the South. Nashville and Memphis are also obvious must-sees for music-lovers.
Missouri Travel Guide

Get Wild
Manatees grace Florida's waters each winter, while Georgia's waters teem with alligators. Even many zoos are free, such as in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, Missouri.
Florida Travel Guide; Georgia Travel Guide; Washington, D.C. Travel Guide

See all of Southern Living's picks for 101 Free Things to Do in the South.

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Free Stuff

January 28, 2011

Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas: Sleep for Cheap!

FIELD OF DREAMS: Interior of Cowboys Stadium in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas (flygraphix/Flickr)

Sure, you can still pay through the nose to book your air-hotel package for Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on February 6, but here's a tip for saving a few greenbacks for Cowboy Stadium's Texas-sized Miller Lites and sausages on a stick: Pack your tent and sleeping bag and book a campsite at one of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area state parks. Nearby places like Cedar Hill State Park (16 miles to Cowboys Stadium) and Lake Tawakoni State Park (76 miles) are both still showing availability via the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's online reservations system. A campsite for two nights for two people over the Super Bowl weekend will only cost you up to $40 total, so a major discount on even the skuzziest motels in the area. Current projected weather forecast is predicting highs in the mid 50s for Super Bowl weekend, lows in the mid 30s—so chilly at night, but nothing a snug blanket and zero-degree bag can't handle! RV-driving Super Bowl fans can also pitch up at more affordable RV parks via, a site being offered through the Texas Association of Campground Owners. Now, good luck getting that ticket to the actual game!

Check out the list of Top Ten Football Stadiums around the United States for more inspiration about where to get your game-day tailgate on!

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures

July 26, 2010

Great City Parks & Playgrounds for Kids

Kids enjoying the fun at the Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park (ashleighb77/Flickr)

If there's one thing that parents learn quickly, it's the cardboard-box rule. As in, the packaging for a new toy can be as entertaining as the toy itself. I find that traveling with young kids follows a similar logic. You can do all the museums, monuments, churches, and castles in the world, but what kids really want is a place in which to run around like they do at home. So to aid in that quest, here are my recommendations for small-people spaces in big-city places—namely, adventuresome playgrounds that will stand in for that well-worn play area at your neighborhood school or park.

Meeting the ducks on Boston Common (rawheadrex/Flickr)

The Obvious Outdoor Icon: One of America's cherished outdoor spaces, 50-acre Boston Common has been used for everything from cattle grazing to public hangings. Beyond its Freedom Trail history, the Common includes a wading and ice-skating area at Frog Pond and the ever-popular Tadpole Playground nearby.

The Insider Pick: More than just a patch of trees and grass, Southwest Corridor Park stretches almost five miles from Back Bay to Forest Hills, connecting the neighborhoods of South End, Back Bay, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. Within its 52-acre bounds you'll find a string of seven playgrounds geared toward different ages and abilities. As a Boston friend notes, "You can do a playground crawl instead of a pub crawl."

Continue reading "Great City Parks & Playgrounds for Kids" »

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures

July 01, 2010

What do King Tut, July 4th, and the Mile High City have in common?

By Lacy Morris

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Denver(Visions of America,Joe Sohm,Getty)
Denver Skyline (VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Getty)

Planning a 4th of July vacation in the Mile High City? Check out the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel and The Westin Tabor Center, and the hotels' King Tut Package deal. Both hotels are conveniently located downtown near all of the city's hustle and bustle, and adjacent to several main highways and interstates headed west for a day in the Rockies. Guests who book this deal will receive a free overnight stay as well as two VIP tickets to the captivating King Tut Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibit showcases artifacts from 2,000 years of ancient Egyptian history, from around 2,600 B.C. to 660 B.C.

Attractions in and around the area:

16th Street Mall
This downtown pedestrian mall houses brand-name stores, local shops, a movie theater, bowling alley, and several bars. Located in the heart of downtown Denver, the open-air mall is a good starting point for your day, or night.

Continue reading "What do King Tut, July 4th, and the Mile High City have in common? " »

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · US Travel

December 07, 2009

The World's 10 Best Ethical Destinations

By Lacy Morris

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Baobab at Sunset - Nigel Dennis - SATourism 01301814
South African Baobab tree at sunset (Nigel Dennis)

Ethical Traveler has released its annual list of the “Developing World’s 10 Best Ethical Destinations.” Traveling ethically is a way of preserving the wonders of the world for future generations to enjoy—“mindful travel,” as they call it. Started by an annual study of the world’s developing nations and narrowed to three general categories—environmental protection, social welfare, and human rights—the list is developed by a team of ethically-inclined travel experts who are dedicated to harnessing the “political and economic clout of tourism to support human rights and the environment.” So when looking for a travel destination where the host country is concerned about preserving its natural surroundings, promoting safe and responsible tourism opportunities, and protecting local communities, why not consider the following for your next trip:

1.   Argentina
2.   Belize
3.   Chile
4.   Ghana
5.   Lithuania
6.   Namibia
7.   Poland
8.   Seychelles
9.   South Africa
10. Suriname

Have you traveled to any of the countries featured on Ethical Traveler's list? What were your impressions? Tell us in the comments section.

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Eco-Tourism · Top 10 Lists · Travel News

November 20, 2009

Hotel Spotlight: Saguaro Lake Ranch, Arizona

Saguaro-lake-ranch2 STILL LIFE: Saguaro Lake Ranch and Bulldog Cliffs, Arizona (Alistair Wearmouth)

Saguaro Lake Ranch sits in a tranquil spot just beneath the dam that holds back ten-mile-long Saguaro Lake in central Arizona. Downstream, the Salt River twists beneath the striking Bulldog Cliffs and Goldfield Mountains before flexing some mild Class I muscles on its passage toward the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. This guest ranch has been run by the same family, the Durands, for four generations, and it shows in the hospitality and homey touches in evidence throughout the riverside property. Guests sleep in simple but comfortable "ranchettes," first built to house the workers who constructed Saguaro Lake's Stewart Mountain Dam between 1928-30. These days, however, you can also count on free property-wide WiFi, hooked up by the current owner's grandkids (but happily no phones or televisions in the rooms). Daytime activities include hiking and horseback riding along the desert trails of Tonto National Forest, kayaking and tubing on the Salt River, or special programs such as art weekends and family reunions. Meals are shared buffet-style in a communal dining room, where you'll feast on homemade treats such as BBQ chicken, biscuits, and fresh-baked cookies. It doesn't get much more relaxing than this.

Saguaro Lake Ranch is located 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix, about an hour by car. Bed and breakfast rates start at $130 for two; the ranch's American Plan includes three meals, plus lodging, and starts at $150 per person, assuming double occupancy. Activities such as trail rides or kayak rentals cost extra. Visit for full details.

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures · Places to Stay

November 03, 2009

CouchSurfing in Cairo

Sunset at the pyramids in Cairo, Egypt (Photodisc/Getty)

Many people go to Cairo to see the pyramids, but getting almost as many visitors is the home of Tarek Taha, CouchSurfing's Cairo Ambassador. (CouchSurfing is a network of travelers creating cultural exchanges by staying with locals.) Tarek got into CouchSurfing in 2007 while road tripping across the U.S. Since returning home he has hosted more than 100 couch surfers (my husband and me now included). During our recent stay, I asked Tarek to tell me about his most memorable hosting experiences.

- 1. Proposal at the Pyramids: A couch surfer from California asked for my help to arrange a candlelit marriage proposal outside the pyramids after dark. We bought hundreds of candles to spell out "Marry Me Jane" in the sand, while my wife hired a horse to deliver the unsuspecting girlfriend. After it was over, it wasn't only Jane who had tears in her eyes, but also my wife, and the horse wrangler.

Continue reading "CouchSurfing in Cairo" »

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Budget Travel · Places to Stay

October 28, 2009

Getting Out There With Afar Magazine

Afar Traveling home from a conference in Québec last week, I picked up a copy of the premier edition of Afar, the newest travel magazine to grace an already crowded category on airport newsstands. An hour later after a thoroughly absorbing in-flight read, I can report that I was impressed. The magazine is "for readers who are curious about everything the planet and its people have to offer," according to founder and editorial director Greg Sullivan. In this day and age, when magazines seek to impress with the most luxurious travel experiences imaginable or cater to a budget-minded, close-to-home crowd, Afar bites off the essence of experiential travel with an honest, open, and upbeat appraisal of the world we explore. A bimonthly publication to start, each issue of Afar will be organized under the typical See, Connect, and Go sections; its first edition profiled everything from Japan's costume-play fetish to a local's guide to East London to the world's best treetop lodging. As someone who reads a pile of travel magazines each month for work, I'm happy to say that this is one travel magazine that will open your eyes, mind, and heart—not just your wallet!

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Asia Travel · Beach Vacation · Budget Travel · Caribbean Travel · Eco-Tourism · Exotic Escapes · Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel

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