Most people head to the sunshine state for a dose of its unrivalled surf and sand, the golf courses, and some of the world’s best theme parks and nature reserves, but Florida is also home to other great options like a variety of delicious culturally diverse foods. So if you’re looking to head down to Florida for a relaxing vacation, here are some of the top eats for you to pick from.

1. Cuban Sandwich

This delicious sandwich should be on the radar of anyone visiting southern Florida, and was originally made in cafés catering to early Cuban immigrants. It has become the signature sandwich of the city of Tampa and features Cuban bread, ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, and occasionally salami (as in Tampa).

The Cuban, arguably the most famous Florida food -- and one that every visitor to Florida must try

2. Rock Shrimp

Florida’s rock shrimp are a great starter or as a snack to enjoy while relaxing and having an afternoon drink. Pair them with a sweet dip, a traditional shrimp sauce, or for those looking for a bit of a kick, something spicy. Caught just off the Florida coast, they’re always fresh and tasty.

3. Conch Fritters

Made in the Florida Keys—nicknamed the Conch republic—these large shellfish can be baked with lemon slices and lemon juice, to produce a tender meat, not unlike ceviche. Another popular method is to chop and mix them with other meats and vegetables, then deep-fry them, which produces the crunchy and flavourful Florida style fritters.

Make sure to try conch fritters when in Florida

4. Swamp Cabbage

This traditional Floridian food has been around for centuries, dating back well before colonialism. Swamp cabbage is better known as the heart of palm and is extracted from the sabal palm trees that are native to Florida. The heart of palm can be stewed until tender in a rich tomato sauce, or with water (or broth), meat, and dripping, then served up hot ready to be enjoyed.

5. Key Lime Pie

Another dish out of the Florida Keys, Key West to be specific, this cool and refreshing pie is made from lime juice, egg yolk, and sweetened condensed milk, which is whipped, thickened, and served on a crisp crust to produce a dish that is both smooth and zesty. It’s the absolute perfect dessert for a hot Florida day.

Key Lime Pie, a famous florida food that you must try

6. Floribbean Cuisine

There are many types of dishes in Florida that have roots in the Caribbean islands, using ingredients like mangos, papayas, plantains, and coconuts. These include Jamaican jerk chicken, arroz con pollo, and different style barbecues such as Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Bahamian. If you see a Caribbean influenced restaurant in Florida, odds are you’re in for a treat.

So if you’re booking your flights in the USA to Florida, remember, there are plenty of fun things to do, just remember to leave a little time to discover the delicious culinary scene. Please feel free to add your Florida food suggestions in the comments below.

  Images by johnjoh istolethetv and ralphandjenny used under the Creative Commons License.

Medellin. The City of Eternal Spring. This business city turned tourist hub may never be able to shake away the memories of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin cartel, but that's okay. History builds character and the modern Medellin has become one of the safest (and most fun) cities in the world. Plus there are many more memorable things to see, do, eat and enjoy around the city nowadays -- like experiencing a colorful Christmas in Medellin.

Imagine wandering around a city illuminated by over 30 million Christmas lights, including over 800 kilometres of rope lights and tens of thousands of glowing figures and displays. Known as El Alumbrado ("the lighting") this unique tradition is truly one for the bucket list.

Christmas in Colombina is best celebrated in Medellin with El Alumbrado

A Colorful & Delicious Christmas in Medellin, Colombia

Although public lights displays in the city during the holiday season date back to the 1850's, it's really only been during the last 50 years that the modern light show has evolved. Beginning the first week of December and lasting until mid-January, the Christmas lights of Medellin have become such a big event that in recent years more than four million people from around the world come to Medellin to experience El Alumbrado. Nowadays there is a different theme every year -- and gets a little bit more grandiose every year. Past themes include "Colombia is Light" "Our Chistmas" and "Values Illuminate Christmas".

The entire event is focused around the lights over and along the Medellin River, which cuts right through the center of town. Colorful lights flow across the water and illuminate its surface. It truly is a magical sight to behold.

El Alumbrado in Medellin is the perfect way to spend an authentic Christmas in Colombia

According to numbers on last year's El Alumbrado, the Christmas lights are estimated to use 0.8 gigawatt-hours of total electric power over 45 days, which is equivalent to about 50 minutes of total power consumption in city of Medellín over the entire year. The entire event has been coordinated by the Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) since 1967, so we can expect even more extravagent lightings as they approach the 50th anniversary.

El Alumbrado in Medellin is the only way to spend Christmas in Colombia

A Feast for the Eyes and the Stomach

While the lights of Medellin may be the main highlight of the Christmas season, the food comes in a close second. Here are some of my favorite Colombian consumables that every visitor needs to try:

Buñuelos - Fried cheese balls. Unconvinced by that description, need I say more? These juicy treats are so delicious that you can find them year-round in many parts of Colombia. However they are much more common (and addictive) during the Christmas season.

Hojuelas - Because frying makes everything better, hojuelas are also a popular winter pastry. They come in many different forms, from elongated fried crisps to triangluar shapes that resemble samosas and even more elegant designs, such as flowers.

Natilla - This custard pudding comes in a seemingly never-ending variety of shapes, colors and varieties depending upon where you try it. Served cold it may look unappealing at first try it but trust me -- nothing with this much sugar in it can be bad.

Ready for Christmas in Medellin yet?

  This post was brought to you by the fine folks at Medellin Travel @medellin_travel

  flickr // Ivan Jota chilangoco Ivan Jota

Situated in between Fort Worth and Dallas, Arlington, Texas, is home to tons of sights and activities. Best known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys football team and a couple of major amusement parks, Arlington is a fun, touristy city. Many visitors overlook the city's best attractions, though. The next time you find yourself passing through Arlington, check out some of these unique and offbeat destinations

International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame

When people think of Arlington, the first thing that invariably pops into their heads is the sprawling Six Flags Over Texas amusement park. Travel just down the road from the rollercoasters and rides, and you'll find the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame. Located right next to the highway, this place isn't exactly off the beaten path, but it's definitely unique.

Welcome to the International Bowling Museum
photo via eagrick

Did you know that bowling was originally invented by the ancient Egyptians? Or how a bowling ball is made? You can learn lots of interesting things at the bowling museum, even if you're not a big fan of the sport. The museum is full of historical information, a bowlers' hall of fame, and interactive exhibits that offer a great way to kill an hour. There's even a miniature bowling alley at the end for you to get in a round or two before leaving.

If you're a bowler, then visiting this place is a must. The Bowling International Training & Research Center is also located on site, so you could run into a professional bowler during your visit.

World's First Billy Bass Adoption Center

Anyone who lived in the United States in the late 1990s remembers the commercials for the singing fish mounted on a plaque, the Big Mouth Billy Bass. The commercial had one of those annoying jingles that gets stuck in your head. Between the jingle and the sheer ridiculousness of a singing fish hanging on the wall, these things actually proved to be a brief hit before they found their permanent home tucked away in a closet.

The world's first and only Billy Bass adoption center is one of the unique and offbeat places keeping Arlington interesting

The Billy Bass Adoption Center is located within a popular Arlington restaurant known as the Flying Fish. This places serves excellent seafood with a Cajun twist, and it's worth visiting just for the food. The massive collection of novelty singing bass is an added bonus, though. Have one somewhere around your house? Bring it with you and make a donation!

Anish Kapoor's "Sky Mirror"

As the name implies, "Sky Mirror" is a 6-meter-wide stainless-steel dish that serves as a giant mirror. It's angled so that one side reflects down on the people standing in front of it, while the other side reflects up toward the sky. Anish Kapoor, the same artist who created Chicago's famous "Cloud Gate" reflective sculpture, also designed "Sky Mirror."

The Sky Mirror is one of the unique and offbeat places that makes Arlington interesting
photo via vincehuang

Originally unveiled in 2001 in Nottingham, England, "Sky Mirror" quickly became a popular sculpture. It's moved several times over the years and even spawned a couple of imitations. Since 2013, it has resided outside Arlington's AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

  Do you have any other unique and offbeat destinations to recommend in Arlington?

It seems everybody and their mother has a travel blog nowadays, but the question of how to successfully monetize your travel blog is more common than ever. Sure, because travel blogging is becoming more widely accepted as a legitimate career, but at the same time the influx of new travel bloggers has really made it much more competitive. It's harder to stand out, and even harder to make enough money off your blog to fund your travel lifestyle 100%.

This is how I did it.

Earlier this year I ended my life as a nomad after 2,700 days -- nearly 7-1/2 years -- when I got a condo in Thailand. When I first started traveling, travel blogging was still in its infancy. I was just blogging to blog. Then it became my career. And eventually it led me to a more lucrative career. But we all have to start somewhere.

Affiliate Links & Programs

There are an endless number of affiliate programs and platforms out there, however Amazon Associates is undoutedly the best of them all. Given that Amazon.com and all their international stores (like Amazon.in and Amazon.ca) are already well-known and well-used in countries around the world, people are already used to making online purchases via Amazon. So why not recommend the products you actually use to your readers?

Boxes from Amazon.com

Never endorse anything that you do not use or believe it. Everyone who knows me or reads my writing knows how much I love my a7Rii camera. Sony didn't pay me to say that. They didn't even give me a discount on my camera. But I love the thing, it is amazing, and when I mention this I include the Amazon link. Why not? It's an easy $130 commission each time someone buys one, simple as that.

Vary the price range but focus the products. Don't affiliate link everything. Stick with your niche but find items of vastly different prices within that category. You might see a higher sales conversion rate with lower-priced products, but high-priced products earn impressive commission rates, especially if you are able to more than a half dozen a month.

It's not just Amazon, either. There are platforms like Commission Junction which represents tens of thousands of brands from diverse industries around the world. Test a few out of the period of a few months and see which works best for you.

Up-Sell & Self-Promote

If you have a travel blog, then you are pretty much guaranteed to have an About page. Unfortunately one that people forget is a media/PR page. Something that says "work with me, this is what I can do, this is what I have done, and this is what I will do for you."

It doesn't matter how people found your travel blog, all that matters is why are they there. Obviously there will always be readers, but more and more you find brands, agencies and PR companies searching for blogs that fit a particular niche. Their needs can vary greatly so be sure to put whatever useful abilities you have.

For myself, I would "up-sell" different services over the years as my skills and areas of focus shifted. At first it was web design and freelancing writing. Then I added in photography and SEO services. Next came consultant work and video production. But that was just me. Your services could be anything. You could be a traveling tattoo artist or diving instructor or ESL teacher. Whatever your hobbies, skills or passions are, the only way to find interested clients around the world is to mention this stuff. Of course it helps if you don't just mention this on the "hire me" page but that these same passions form a recurring theme to your blog.

Never put any prices online. This should be a given. If a marketing company from Singapore or London approaches you, you are going to want to charge them more than say a marketing company in India or Vietnam. Your rates should be based on the value that the brand receives, not your expenses. Make sense?

I've turned countless readers into friends and some into clients. Even a couple readers into assistants. It doesn't matter how or why people found your blog so much as the relationship you form with them. So be honest. Just don't be afraid to promote yourself a lit bit either, if you know that you are no one special. (Just know where to stop because no one likes a braggart.)

Write eBooks

The only different between blogs and ebooks is that blogs are free because the content is more scattered. eBooks cost a little bit of money but will cover everything you want to know about a topic -- often times more.

Write a lot about Indonesia? Take your 10 best articles, update and fine-tune them, then put them all together and sell it as an Indonesia eBook.

Bali sunset
Sunset in Bali

Take a lot of stunning photos? Find a common theme, or several themes, and put together an eBook series with the photos, behind-the-scenes information on the photos (how/where it was captured, even technical details) and a few tips for someone wishing to photograph the same place, or mimick the photograph style at a new location.

The only limit is your imagination and creativity.

Create A Store

Nowadays there is no shortage of marketplace software and e-commerce platforms that allow you to create your own store online and begin selling things directly to your web site visitors. This is especially popular with professional photographers, as quality photos can be turned into anything from stationary to apparel or even sold as stock photographs.

Using platforms like Photoshelter or marketplaces like Etsy and Zazzle to create an additional revenue stream without having to do any extra work. Plus there are more new options available every day.

Honestly, monetizing your blog is not about making $1,000 week doing any one thing. It's about having a variety of different income streams so that if something ever stops working, you are still working. Some methods will earn you more than others. Some will work better with you or your brand's personal style and/or needs. And some might end up being a waste of your time. But if you never do any research and never test anything out for yourself, well then you will never learn.

For me travel blogging started as a hobby and then became a career. Now I find myself writing less and producing videos more. But I would never have gotten here without learning how to monetize my blog and fund my nomadic lifestyle.

"During summer when it's 24 hours of daylight, we drink to celebrate that. When it's winter and only a few hours of daylight, we drink just to get through it." Welcome to Iceland, a country with a complex and interesting relationship love of alcohol -- including several unique types of alcohol that are available nowhere else in the world. As such, no trip to Iceland is complete without visiting a few cities and regions that are famous for their local brews.

  Much like the United States, Iceland has a complex past with prohibition -- one that started earlier and lasted many, many decades longer. Enacted in 1915, the ban on alcohol was eventually loosened over the years on certain spirits, but unfortunately beer over 2.25% remained illegal until March 1st, 1989.

In order to have the most authentic Icelandic experience available, be sure to make a few new local friends over the following drinks:

Brennivín

Brennivín is unquestionably the national drink of Iceland. It is a purely Icelandic creation using potato mash and herbs native to this Nordic island nation to create an unsweetened schnapps. Sometimes called "Black Death" in reference to the original bottles, which featured a white skull on a black label, Brennivín is primarily served chilled in shot form. It is often accompanied with Icelandic hákarl (fermented shark), the national dish of Iceland. Although I am an adventurous eater, I much prefer my Brennivín sans-shark. Why? Well, as Anthony Bourdain so eloquently said, Hákarl is "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" that he has ever eaten anywhere in the world.

Would you like a little Hákarl with your Brennivín? Yes please!
Would you like a little Hákarl with your Brennivín?

Because Brennivín is unsweetened, outside of Iceland it is sometimes referred to as an "akvavit" instead of a schnapps. Regardless, it is surprisingly smooth, hits hard, and has no shortage of foreign fans despite the fact that Brennivín has never been exported internationally. At least not until 2014 when Egill Skallagrímsson, the countriest premiere Brennivín brand and also an award-winning beer brewery, began exporting Brennivín to the United States -- but no where else. Yet.

  While Brennivín can be found throughout the country, never is it in more abundance than during Þorrablót, the Icelandic mid-winter festival every January.

Fjallagrasa Moss Schnapps

There is an old saying that the worse something tastes, the better it is for you. That would appear to be a big selling point behind Fjallagrasa Moss Schnapps, which yes, is made with real Icelandic moss. There is even a tuft of the famous lichen lovingly included in each bottle produced. Icelandic moss is so important that it is protected by law and has been used medicinally for centuries to treat things such as cough, sore throat and upset stomach. (Of course if you drink too much Fjallagrasa, you are liable to end up with one of these afflictions, rather than curing it.)

Fjallagrasa Moss Schnapps, one of the unique types of alcohol only found in Iceland

The moss is hand-picked in the mountains of Iceland, ground up and mixed with a "specially prepared alcohol blend" which remains a trade secret of IceHerbs, the company that produces Fjallagrasa. It is then soaked for an extended period of time, allowing all of the biologically active components of the moss to dissolve. No other artificial colors or flavors are added.

Just like with Brennivín, as there is no sugar in Fjallagrasa Moss Schnapps, it is technically not a schnapps by international definition. Regardless, it is still consumed around the country for both healthly and recreational purposes.

Iceland has many unique types of alcohol not found anywhere else in the world

Reyka Vodka

Vodka may not be an Nordic creation (we owe Poland for that one) however Icelanders may have perfected it. Reyka Vodka is often referred to as the best vodka in the world by vodka connesiours. Using pure arctic water naturally filtered through a 4,000 year old lava field and then distilled in a top-of-the-line Carter-Head still -- one of only six that exist in the entire world, and the only one that is being used for vodka -- the result is so pure and delicious it goes down like water.

Reyka Vodka, arguably the best vodka in the world

With only one still Reyka is brewed in small batches of only 1,700 litres each, ensuring optimal quality every time. As an added bonus, the entire Reyka distillery is powered by volcanic geo-thermal energy, meaning that the world's best vodka is also the greenest. Everyone wins.

  Although this is Iceland's first distillery, public tours are unfortunately not available. But you can take a digital tour to see exclusive photos and learn more about the process that makes Reyka vodka so special here.

Opal

Opal is a popular licorice candy in Iceland and also the name of an equally popular vodka that also tastes like licorice. As my local buddy put it, "Once you outgrow the candy you switch to the drink." At 27% ABV Opal is not the strongest, but if you are a fan of Jägermeister straight then you will probably enjoy an Opal shot or three.

Opal is a unique type of vodka only found in Iceland

Bjórlíki

Up until 1989, the only type of beer that was legal in Iceland was the weak "near-beer" consisting of only 1-2% alcohol content. However because 40% ABV spirits such as Brennivin and vodka were legal, people would add them to their beer. Known as Bjórlíki, you will never find this for sale in any store or bar. However if you venture off the beaten path and explore the Icelandic countryside, you can taste this beauty for yourself.

Bjorliki, a weak Pilsner spiked with vodka, is a unique type of alcohol only found in Iceland

Björk & Birkir

Made from the sap of birch trees, Björk and Birkir are two relatively new Icelandic creations. Sure they might not have the history or significance of other drinks such as Brennivín and Bjórlíki, but c'mon now where else in the world can find liquor made from birch trees? Yeah, that's what I thought.

As the story goes, the two brothers behind Foss distillery traveled around Iceland sampling all the native flora until they decided that birch was the most delicious. So they planted what will one day become a sustainable birch forest and now gently "borrow" a little sap from the growing trees to make their spirits. Oh and in case you were wondering, the 27.5% ABV Björk is not named after the singer but rather the Icelandic word for "birch". It has an earthy, woody taste with a slightly sweeter finish than the 36% ABV Birkir, but both are intriguing. Either one would make a unique souvenir to take home the next time you travel Iceland.

  BONUS

Celebrate Bjórdagur, Iceland's "Beer Day"

  After nearly 75 years of prohibition, it's time to celebrate. Every March 1st is Iceland's "Beer Day" and it is best celebrated in the capital city of Reykjavik by doing a Rúntur -- the Icelandic word for "pub crawl".

During this time of year the sunset is after midnight and sunrise just before 3am, but because of the lingering glow that exists even after sunset, it never truly gets dark. As such, the "night" is perfect for bar-hopping and celebrating the holiday with some new Icelandic friends. Did I meantion that bars are open until 4am?

Want more unique things to do in Iceland?

The ultimate Iceland off the beaten path travel guide

  flickr // chrisgold considerable_vomit mmepassepartout borkazoid vannortwick

You can hardly find someone who does not like to travel. Some people get going whenever they have an opportunity; while others do intensive planning before embarking on their journey. The thrill of getting to know an unknown land, its people and its culture is amazing, so you should never leave an opportunity to explore an unexplored land.

If you are bitten by the wanderlust bug every now and then, then you must keep finding new motivations to visit new places and be prepared for new experiences. But traveling is incomplete without a suitable companion. So what would you do if you find no one accompany you? Fret not! Books make a great companion and can also keep you wanting for more. A good travel book can not only take you to a new place mentally but can also instill the desire to get out and get going to that very place.

So here is a list of five books that will keep your wanderlust alive forever:

1.   Into the Wild

  Jon Krakauer

Even though this is not a typical travel book, the story can become an inspiration for many. The main character of Into the Wild, young man named Chris McCandless abandons his life to become a vagabond and explore the American West. He also prepares to live amongst the wilds of Alaska, but destiny had something else in store for him. His journey took a strange turn and he perished alone in the wild at the back of an abandoned bus.

McCandless’ perspective of the society’s focus on wealth and materialistic happiness and disconnect from Mother Nature has shaken many people and it can have a deep impact on you as well. So if you want to experience a new perspective of the connection between man and wild, you ought to read this book. You never know, you might also plan a holiday to Alaska to experience the chills of McCandless’ journey!

2.   The Tao of Travel

  Paul Theroux

If you are looking for one book that has everything including travel advice, inspiration and the thrills of traveling, you cannot look beyond ‘The Tao of Travel’. In this book the author, Paul Theroux celebrates fifty years of wandering the globe and collecting pieces of writing from books that shaped him as reader and a traveler. Theroux is also credited for reviving the fortune of travel books in the mid 1970’s when the popularity of such books was almost dying.

The Tao of Travel is basically a compilation of the author’s favorite quotes, some of which are taken from his own books and some from other renowned travel authors. So, for a one-of-a-kind of experience, never forget to pack this book (along with a good map, as the author says in his book) when you are out on a tour on your own.

3.   The Alchemist

  Paulo Coelho

This is one the favorites among travelers; the story is about following your own dreams. A young shepherd boy from Spain travels to Egypt by following his heart. He goes with the flow and learns the meaning of life and learns to love as well. The Alchemist also includes several wonderful and inspirational quotes that will keep you on your toes.

Following your dreams is certainly the dream of every traveler and this is the reason why it has been one of the most read books among travelers in the recent history.

4.   The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World

  Matt Gross

Written by Matt Gross, who worked for the New York Times as the Frugal Traveler, this book talks about his misadventures and lessons from travel. The ‘Turk Who Loved Apples’ talks about the author's journey that started from post-college stint living in Vietnam and ended as a professional travel writer. This is a book that talks about how a human being learns to deal with life when things don't happen as they were planned. This book also talks about the weird foods consumed by the author during his travel and includes details about the breathtaking sights seen.

The ‘Turk Who Loved Apples’ is a well written travel that not only helps you avoid the mistakes that can turn your journey into a nightmare but also keeps you engaged while you travel.

5.   Travels With Charley

  John Steinbeck

Ever thought of traveling with your pet? If your answer is yes, then you must read the book ‘Travels With Charley’ by John Steinbeck. It depicts the journey of the author with his pet poodle named Charley around the United States. According to Steinbeck’s oldest son Thom Steinbeck, John wanted to see his country on a personal level for the last time before he died. John Steinbeck did not let his wanderlust die till the last moment; so if you consider yourself to be a wanderer by heart, this book is surely for you.

No doubt there are several other books that can keep you motivated to travel around the world, but as a traveler you must never give up a chance to read the books mentioned above. Every book has a different perspective towards life and the author take cues from their own journeys to give a new direction to the reader’s lives.

So if you want to keep yourself motivated and experience the thrills of exploring new places, you must pack a good map and a good book every time!

By means of a strange acculturation process while growing up, I'm more connected to the American culture than I am to the Portuguese. As a result, the United States is high on my list of countries to visit (and the list of offbeat attractions grows with it). I'm still in the romancing phase, but I'm already liking my odds in Arizona and in Pasadena. I have my eye on several attractions in these areas and more, and I'm interested in the best hotels in each area.

1. Experience Space, the Final Frontier

  Flagstaff, Arizona

I love a good alien story, especially if it mixes an “X-Files” vibe with some futuristic storytelling like H.G. Wells' “War of the Worlds”. However, you can visit some “other-worldly” attractions without leaving this planet. The Lowell Observatory and the Cinder Lake Crater Field are two offbeat must-sees in Flagstaff. I wonder if I can find an alien-themed hotel in Flagstaff? Or at least one with a mysterious alien story behind it.

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona via James Jones

2. The Most Famous Canyon in Arizona

  Page, Arizona

The Antelope Canyon is hardly a secret and it's very high on my list of beautiful sights. The most photographed rock formation in the American Southwest is one guided tour away when you visit Page. To continue exploring the scenery beyond the canyon, check with your hotel in Page for tour recommendations.

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona via Todd Petrie

3. A Bridge (Not) Over Troubled Waters

  Yuma, Arizona

Do you know the Talking Heads' song “Road to Nowhere”? Well, in Yuma, things go a little further with a “bridge to nowhere”. No, it's not a metaphor. The Gila River was diverted in 1968, and today the McPhaul bridge crosses (oddly) over sand and rocks. I have a series of postapocalyptic-themed photos for that bridge in mind, meaning the visit could be emotionally draining. Finding a hotel in Yuma for some well-deserved R&R would do the trick.

4. A London Bridge in Arizona?

  Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Did London Bridge really fall down like in the nursery rhyme? Technically, it was sinking due to structural problems, and in the late 1960's, the city sold the bridge to the highest bidder — a local entrepreneur in Lake Havasu City. Booking a romantic stay at a Lake Havasu City hotel and a stroll on the bridge shipped overseas, block by block, sounds like a great story to tell.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City via Ken Lund

5. Doc's House and Strange Sodas

  Pasadena, California

Hoverboards are not a real thing (yet) but Dr. Emmet Brown's house is. Fans of “Back to the Future” wouldn't the Gamble House be an offbeat must-see? This could (probably) only be topped by a Buffalo Wing soda. I'm not entirely sure I would handle the sugar rush at the Rocket Fizz, the place where these strange soda flavors come from. Tasting wouldn't be a problem; narrowing down the weirdest ones to taste would. How do you top this off? Perhaps with a stay at a Hollywoodesque hotel in Pasadena, where you can pretend to be a star with a quirky taste for strange sodas.

The Gamble House in Pasadena California
The Gamble House in Pasadena, California via Ken Lund

  Cover Photo by Ken Lund via flickr.
  This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign. It was originally published on Tripper by Sandra on June 29th.

There are many difficulties in regards to owning a business. In the current day and age, there are millions of other companies out there all trying to get the attention of the public. The best way for you to make a name for yourself is by making sure that you take advantage of what the age of the internet can do for your company. Social media is going to be your best asset when it comes to generating awareness about your business. When you know how to handle the various social media platforms out there, you will find it much easier to get in touch with your customers. Here are a few points to keep in mind when you are just beginning in the world of social media for your business.

Know the Medium

Social media is an encompassing term. There are tons of different websites that fall under this umbrella, and each one is going to have a very specific way of allowing you to post. Twitter is known for being a great way to connect with others all around the world, but you have to do it with 140 characters or less. There are, of course, ways around this such as shortening links with the right applications or posting several tweets in a row that follow one thought. Still, you will need to know how to use Twitter the right way to get people to pay attention to you. Facebook allows you to post more than 140 characters, and you can share pretty much anything that you would like. The downside of posting on Facebook is that people can easily hide your page, or a lack of proper promotion can keep your information from coming up on the correct feeds.

Instagram is an excellent platform to explore because you can get your message across simply by posting one image at a time. This allows you the chance to cultivate a look that is specific to your brand, making it easily recognizable to the public. Hamptoncreek, the tech food company behind the eggless product “Just Mayo,” is a great example of how to use Instagram to develop an individual style. The posts on this account are bursting with bold colors that aid in drumming up interest in the various products that the company offers. If you are going to use Instagram for your business, be sure to have a method to how you go about the process.

Interaction Satisfaction

One of the biggest reasons to utilize social media for your business is because it gives you a unique chance to interact with your consumers and the public in general. Be aware, though, that this will not always be the most constructive of conversation. When you open yourself up to the public, you get what the public has to say. If you have ever been on social media and looked at some of the comments that people leave on posts, you know that there can often be unjustified and harsh criticisms. The best way for you to handle this is to positively interact with those that have something to say. Do not ignore those who have something to say. Instead, choose the ones that you will interact with wisely.

When you are able to balance how you interact with fans on your social media accounts, you are easily able to cultivate the right image for your business. Consumers like knowing that companies listen to what they have to say. Prove that you are willing to respond to criticisms by actually doing so on social media. Be sure not to engage when something gets too crazy, but do not feel like you have to ignore these comments either. It is your social media and you can do with it what you wish.

Find Your Voice

When it comes to using social media to your advantage, there are a lot of different ways for you to go about the process. Be sure to find your own voice. When you infuse a bit of yourself into your attempts at connecting with others on the internet, you will find that you are able to handle everything that is thrown your way. Take your time, figure out what you want to post, and be sure to get out there and make it happen. Once you do, you will be ready for a whole new way of conducting business.

Ah, Spring Break. That annual week of respite from school, from work, from responsibilities. (Hey, we can dream, right?) The point is, Spring Break is for everyone– not just coeds.

But since the holiday is so widely marketed to college students, we wondered whether traditional party locations really dominated the Spring Break vacation market and how the rise in popularity of vacation rentals such as Airbnb affected hotel bookings.

To find out, Hipmunk analyzed the most-booked Spring Break destinations for airfare and hotels, which we defined for our purposes as beginning Friday, March 18, 2016, the week preceding Easter (although the dates can vary widely). To break it down further, we also looked the most popular destinations for Airbnb vacation rentals and compared that to the same week the year before to see how those numbers had changed.

Here's what we found:

Most popular spring break flight destinations in the USA

Perhaps unsurprisingly, major US destinations, popular year-round, dominated the list, with Orlando, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles claiming the top spots for most-booked flights. Yet simply looking at destinations where one must take a plane doesn't fully reveal the most popular Spring Break destinations, as many travelers choose to vacation in locations that are a drivable distance from where they reside.

To broaden our scope, we also looked at which destinations were garnering the most accommodation bookings for Spring Break 2016.

Most popular spring break destinations

Again, major US cities topped the rankings. But by only looking at flights and accommodations, we are still neglecting to highlight locations where vacationers are more inclined to look for rentals than hotels. To discover these destinations we looked first at the locations with the highest net number of Airbnb vacation rental bookings and then compared that number to the total number of overall accommodation bookings in that city for Spring Break to reveal what percentage of those bookings were Airbnbs.

Most popular spring break rental destinations

Again, cities such as Miami and Las Vegas return a large total number of Airbnb bookings for Spring Break, but smaller resort towns like Sarasota, FL and Palm Springs, CA, boast a much larger percentage of Airbnbs for their total bookings. Perhaps the one anomaly is Cancun, Mexico, where Airbnbs have claimed 40 percent of Hipmunk bookings for Spring Break 2016.

It seems that when it comes to Spring Break, Florida is the vacation rental king, claiming five of the 10 top spots!

Digging deeper, Airbnbs are continuing to increase in terms of their share of the accommodation market, as more and more travelers see vacation rentals as a viable alternative to hotels.

In 2015, Airbnbs made up 4.4 percent of all Hipmunk's Spring Break bookings; as of publication date, that number has risen to 9.5 percent.

Indeed, several of the cities that cracked the top 10 Airbnb destinations weren't on the list last year at all:

Most popular spring break destinations in 2015

L>ooking year-over-year, every city that made both this and last year's lists increased their proportion of Airbnb bookings, excepting for New York, which saw a decrease of three percent.

Of the cities that made this year's list (but not 2015's), Cancun saw its proportion of Airbnb rentals increase explosively, from just 9 percent in 2015; Sarasota's proportion was only 19 percent in 2015; Honolulu came in at 2 percent last year; Destin was 30 percent in 2015; and Palm Springs came in at 28 percent in 2015.

In the end, it seems that the Sunshine State is also the 2016 Spring Break Capital, claiming multiple spots in every Top 10 category: flights, hotels, and vacation rentals.

And if these destinations seem just a bit too tame or you want to escape the states, be sure to check out our Spring Break College Cheat Sheet or just shoot an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with all your burning Spring Break travel questions.

Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed its 2016 data for bookings that occurred starting the week of March 18, 2016 (Spring Break) for flight, hotel, and Airbnb bookings, in addition to data for the same week in 2015.

  This post was original published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 25th.

The very mention of Monaco evokes images of glamorous ladies in evening wear escorted by dashing gentlemen to the tables at one of the many casinos in this small country. Monaco is also known for its Formula One Grand Prix, besides being a popular tax haven for the rich and famous, as well as the rich and not so famous. Glitz, glamour, and the spectacular landscape are all reasons to add the country to your itinerary planner. Here are some not-to-be-missed destinations in this tiny nation that is part of the French Riviera.

Roll the Dice at Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House

Monte Carlo Casino and Opera House
Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco by Paul Wilkinson

A venue for special gala dinners, the Casino and Opera House also houses a marble paved atrium. What catches the eye, though, are the magnificent onyx columns that surround the atrium. With a 130-year-old history under its belt, this building was also the venue of two royal gala dinners. The casino is unique given its stained glass windows, allegorical paintings, bronze lamps, and spectacular decorations. The Casino has also been featured in quite a few notable Hollywood movies including the James Bond series and Ocean's Twelve.

Swim With the Fish at the Oceanographic Museum


Oceanographic Museum, Monaco by wami82

Perched on the Rock of Monaco, this museum of marine sciences is a stunning example of Baroque Revival architecture which by itself is sufficient to ensure it a place on your Monaco travel planner. The museum which towers over the cliff face makes for a picturesque setting. It took 11 years to construct this building which is now home to various several thousand sea creatures including sharks and turtles. The Oceanographic Institute devoted to the study of oceans and their inhabitants are also housed here.

Get a Taste of the Royal Life at Palais du Prince

Palais du Prince, Monaco
Palais du Prince, Monaco by healinglight

The building of the Palace dates back to the 13th century and has its origins as a fortress, but has since been turned into a luxurious palace. There is a gallery with 15th-century frescoes that will leave you awe-struck. The gilded décor of the ‘Blue Room’, the 17th century Palatine Chapel, and the Main Courtyard with its spectacular Carrara marble double staircase make it a ‘must-see’ addition to your Monaco trip planner. Don’t forget to check out the Changing of the Guards ceremony that takes place at about noon each day.

Commune with Nature at the Jardin Exotique de Monaco

Jardin exotique de Monaco
Jardin exotique de Monaco by Sylvain Leprovost

Situated on a steep cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Ocean, this garden is home to varied species of plants from Africa, Arabia, and Latin America. There are at least 7,000 types of succulents which thrive in the great climate the region enjoys. Stalagmites and stalactites are found in the Observatory cave situated on the premises. You can further enrich your knowledge of the pre-historic era and early civilisation with a visit to the Anthropology Museum situated within the property.

Hop on a Catamaran for a Spin around Monaco Harbour

Monaco Harbor
Catamaran rides, Monaco by Dennis Jarvis

The harbour at this princely state is always filled with moored luxury yachts from across the world. It is a great place for a stroll and you can find plenty of places to grab a bite to eat as you watch the spectacular yachts pull out or weigh anchor. Catamaran rides are available for a closer look at the coastline. If you are lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse of the rich and famous arriving to attend one of the many galas or races that take place in Monaco Harbour.

The small size of the country makes it easy to get around and see it all without having to travel too much. Don’t forget to take a close look at the narrow city streets where Formula One drivers race down in May each year!

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