Spring.

What a great time to embark on a vacation, taking a break from the maddening crowd and the stress of everyday life! If you too are bitten by the travel bug and experiencing severe wanderlust, it’s the time to pack your bags and head to the destination of your choice.

Here are some quick travel hacks for your spring break.

1. Learn more about your destination: Before you visit the chosen destination, don’t forget to do a thorough research about it. Google everything you can, including the local food, unexplored locales, embassies, weather, kids or senior-friendly services and so on and so forth. You can easily find most of the information from a number of travel-based write-ups

2. Invest in technology: When you are traveling long distance, you may have to end up spending most of your time in flights/trains or waiting for them. So, make it a point to invest in – a portable charger as you can run out of battery and charging ports anytime, a tablet or an eBook reader to kill time, USB drive to store important data and for emergencies etc.

3. Install travel-specific apps: Apps make lives easier and there is no doubt about the fact. There is an app for almost everything nowadays and this includes travel-specific apps. Install some of the best ones out there to make traveling a breeze:

  • WeatherPro – Get weather updates on the go.
  • FlightAware Flight Tracker – Never miss a flight again by tracking your flight.
  • XE Currency - Don’t rack your brain for converting currencies and use this instead!
  • TripAdvisor - Get hotel and restaurant information and reviews, including images and videos.
  • Bravolol – Forget phrasebooks. Bravolol teaches you phrases in multiple languages.
  • Vayable – Explore any city like a local.
These are just a handful of apps that you can use while traveling. There are many such apps, which will be equally helpful for you. Search them up on app stores and you’ll get multiple options.

4. Get documents scanned: Traveling comes with its share of fun and horror stories. The latter often involves the theft of wallets, passports, IDs etc. Protect yourself against the thefts and losses by scanning a copy of your important documents and keep a copy with you in a flash-drive. Additionally, mail yourself the scanned version of the documents for emergency purposes.



5. Protect your gadgets: Just like documents, losing smartphones, tablets are also quite common for travelers. It not only causes a lot of hassles, but also stresses them out to think that their personal data will fall into the wrong hands. Protect your gadgets by following the instructions given in this write-up. Also, you should take a backup of all your data in the cloud or other gadgets back home, before the journey. This way, at least you can recover all your data!

6. Buy insurance: Both general and health insurance are a must before you take your next spring vacation with or without your family. They come with a number of riders, which are equally beneficial. Go through the plans before deciding and zero-in on the one that serves your purpose the best way.

7. Take early flights: More often than not, early morning flights help you avoid turbulence and thunderstorms. You are more likely to catch a flight that departs on time this way. And as a bonus, you can catch a glimpse of the rising sun and the breathtaking view (in case you have a window seat).

8. Make your luggage identifiable: Want to spot your luggage fast and easily? Invest in colorful luggage instead of neutral colored ones. Alternatively, you can attach customized luggage tags and even keychains to your luggage and prevent it from getting swapped or lost. It will also help you spot it easily during baggage claims. Even if you forget doing all this, as a last-minute resort, you can tie a handkerchief, ribbon, hair tie or a scarf to the handle of your luggage.

9. Pack smart: The best way to enjoy your vacation is to travel light. For this, you need to pack smart. Here is how you can pack smart for your long travel in spring break:



  • Keep a list of all that you want to take handy. You can use this list to make sure that you remember to pack everything before leaving.
  • Take an additional foldable bag with you. This can be used to bring back souvenirs and other knick-knacks from the place you are visiting.
  • Organize jewelry in pill containers.
  • Carry a straightening iron to quickly fix a wrinkled collar or a scarf.
  • Store your chargers, cables and earphones in glass cases.
  • Pack the shoes in a shower cap and keep them at the bottom of the luggage.
  • Use dry-cleaning sheets and tissues to prevent wrinkling of the packed clothes.
  • Try rolling up the clothes instead of folding them to save space.
  • Pack mini-bottles of cosmetics and pack them in a Ziploc bag. Contact lens cases are excellent options for packing makeup.
  • Carry some extra Ziploc bags, tissue papers and clothes hangers with you as they can come in quite handy.
  • If you are unsure about the weather, carry a lightweight umbrella with you. It will save you from both sun and rain.
  • Take more shampoo with you. It will double up as a liquid detergent in case you want to do your own laundry.
  • Encountering zipper issues is quite normal during travel. Fix most of them by rubbing lip balm or petroleum jelly on the jammed zipper.
10. Eat local: Eat local the next time you travel to a place as the benefits are many. For instance, you’ll get a taste of the culture, you’ll get seasonally fresh produce, you’ll support the local economy and most importantly, you’ll save money! Let’s not forget the fact that this way, you’ll also end up with some adventure and memories of a lifetime while exploring local cuisines. You can also enquire about the local farmer’s market and buy seasonal fruits and vegetables if needed.

These are some travel hacks for your spring break. Do you have any more hacks to share with us? We are all ears!

Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/

The beauty of having a boat is the travel freedom it provides. Not just short cruises and day trips, but also longer, more exciting adventures. And while Sydney is a great place to call home, the Harbour is a bit busy. So the next time you feel like taking your boat our for a spin, head to one of these destinations:

Broken Bay-Hawkesbury

Over millennia the waters of the Hawkesbury River have carved out a deep, intricate and expansive collection of waterways. With so many small nooks and cranies to explore here there is no reason to ever visit the same exact spot twice. Feel the need to go ashore? No worries, there are plenty of small marinas and safe anchor points, as well as several National Parks to explore. For that reason no matter how often I cruise up to Hawkesbury, I am still never bored by it.

Port Stevens

Newcastle is for newbies. The real boating fun lies just north, at Port Stevens, one of the most boater-friendly regions on the entire coast. Ramps and moorings are everywhere, as are sights and activities (both water- and land-based). Islands and coves also abound here and are just begging to be explore. However the area's real claim to fame is Myall Lake and the Myall Lakes National Park, located further upriver. Definitely not one to miss out on.

Clarence River (aka Big River)

The beauty of the aptly-nicknamed Big River is that your fun doesn't stop a few kilometres upstream....it just keeps on going and going! Even 150km upstream there massive gorges, cliffs and underwater sinkholes. This region is home to some of the best produce and largest prawns in the country. Just make sure you have plenty of time to explore because after one glimpse, you'll be in no rush to return to the chaotic Harbour.

Illawarra

The attraction with Illawarra is not the rivers but the coastline and numerous bays. From Lake Illawarra on down to Jervis Bay (the boaters' jewel of the region) there are tons of water-based activities and sights to explore. Scattered throughout the region are a variety of small towns and villages for you to go ashore and rest a night (or three). Did I mention that since there is no more commercial net fishing here, this has become one of the best recreational fishing areas on the eastern coast of Australia.

Unfortunately, at some point you are going to have to return home to Sydney and return to a land-based lifestyle, at least briefly. Just don't forget to stow your boat properly -- and make sure to have a good custom boat covers to ensure that your baby stays in perfect shape for her next grand adventure. Happy boating!

Forget snakes on a plane. Worry about the germs. Research shows that air travelers are at a higher risk for infection than people going about their daily lives.

Just how are illnesses spread on a plane? It comes down to two main factors: Airborne germs that are easily inhaled by people sitting in close quarters, or contact with germ-riddled surfaces on the plane. These factors are exacerbated by the dry conditions typical of airplanes, because viruses prefer low-humidity environments.

The good news is that, for the most part, airplanes' air filtration systems function well enough that you're unlikely to contract more serious illnesses. Instead, your greatest risk is contracting the common cold or a classic case of the flu.

While that's all well and good, it may be little comfort to people who don't particularly want to have a cold or the flu while trying to enjoy their vacation. Luckily, it is possible to decrease your risk of infection from germs on a plane. Here's how to maximize the chances of disembarking the plane as healthy as you boarded it.

Don't travel if you're already sick

If you know that you're suffering from a contagious illness, do your immune system (and your fellow passengers) a favor and don't expose yourself to any more germs by boarding a plane. In particular, the CDC advises that people avoid plane travel if you're more than 36 weeks pregnant, have recently had surgery, have had a recent (serious) injury, or have a fever. In each of these cases, you'll be traveling with a compromised immune system, which increases your risk of catching a contagious infection. Some airlines may be lenient with rescheduling fees if you can prove that you're sick; contact the airline to discuss your options.

Germs suck. Here is how to avoid getting sick on airplanes.

Ask to switch seats

If you find yourself beside someone who's hacking or sniffling, it's okay (really!) to ask a flight attendant if it's possible to switch seats. Even moving just a few rows away can help protect you from a sick person's germs. If there are no other seats on the plane, donning a face mask might help.

Wipe down germy surfaces

Tray tables, armrests, and seat-back pockets are consistently found to be some of thegermiest parts of a plane. Minimize contact with these germs by using wet wipes to disinfect tray tables, armrests, and seat-back pockets and/or using hand sanitizer after touching any of these surfaces.

Wash your hands (a lot)

For the most part, your hands are your body's primary point of contact with germy surfaces. Those germs (including cold and flu viruses) can survive on your skin for hours. The simple fix? Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or (in a pinch) with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Keep air vents open.

Circulating air is key to preventing the spread of illness on a plane, so keep the air vent above you open. And don't worry—the air pumping through the vent is filtered and safe to breathe.

Bring your own blanket and pillow

A Wall Street Journal investigation found that airlines tend to wash their blankets and pillows only every 5 to 30 days. (Yes, you read that right.) This means that when you borrow a blanket from the airline, you're sharing a whole lot of germs. Avoid the issue entirely by bringing along your own travel blanket and pillow.

Close the toilet seat before you flush

The spray that accompanies flushing spreads germs throughout the airplane bathroom; closing the lid before you flush will help you avoid contact with these nasty microorganisms. The flusher itself is also a hotbed of germs, so put a paper towel in between your hand and the flusher whenever you flush. And of course, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after using the loo.

Popping pills sucks. Here is how to avoid getting sick on airplanes.

Stay hydrated

The high elevations and low humidity typical of airplane travel have a dehydrating effect, which can provoke headaches, stomach problems, cramps, and fatigue, and diminish your immune system's ability to fight off infections. The simple solution? Stay hydrated by regularly sipping water before, during, and after your flight. It's also a good idea to avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can contribute to dehydration.

There are a few caveats to this point, however. It's best to avoid drinking the tap water available on airplanes, because airplane tap water has consistently been found to contain levels of bacteria well above U.S. government limits. Opt for bottled water instead. For a similar reason, be sure to ask for drinks sans ice—since many planes refill their ice tanks at foreign airports, the water standards may not be up to par with what you're used to.

Moisturize your nasal membranes

Cabin air tends to dry out our nasal membranes, which are the immune system's main line of defense against incoming germs. Keep your immune system functioning at optimal capacity by using a nasal mist or saline nasal spray during the flight.

While all the immune-boosting strategies in the world can't guarantee your health with absolute certainty, practicing these behaviors on every flight will give you the best chance of making it through a plane ride with your immune system unscathed.

  This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind Blog on January 22nd, 2016.

Travelers that want to find a combination of beauty, history, hospitality, and sunshine need to consider visiting the South. The South has something for everyone. Whether you want a taste of bourbon in Kentucky or to relax by the water in Maryland, there is a southern city that matches your needs. Check out the 5 southern cities below that have something to offer its visitors.

Lexington, KY

Lexington is the “Horse Capital of the World” and is one of the most popular cities in Kentucky. One of the must-see’s in Lexington is the Kentucky Horse Park, where you can explore a 1,200 acre facility that features museums, art exhibits, and of course, a variety of horse breeds. If you like gambling, you can bet on horse races on grounds like the Keeneland Race Course. While a lot of the popular attractions involve horses, there are non-horse activities worth checking out if you visit Lexington. One of my favorites is taking a tasting tour at a local distillery. For instance, you can try a taste of Kentucky at one of the bourbon distilleries, like the Wild Turkey or Four Roses.

Lafayette, LA

If you are travelling through Louisiana, you need to stop by Cajun country and stay a few nights in Lafayette. Lafayette is a vibrant city that offers a nice combination of “country” with city-life. You can spend the day visiting Avery Island, where you can see the Tobasco factory, a bird sanctuary, and exotic animals in Jungle Gardens. After a busy day of exploring, go enjoy the local cuisine at one of the many Cajun and Creole restaurants. Want to enjoy the nightlife? Check out the bars and clubs on Jefferson Street. If you need to find a place to stay near the action, consider Studio 6 which is only a few blocks from the action.

Kissimmee, FL

The Sunshine State is a popular travel destination in the South. One of my favorite cities to visit is located in the heart of the state in Kissimmee, Florida. For budget travelers, you have to check out the $20 million dollar local park project, the Kissimmee Lakefront Park. You can rent pavilions, go boating, fishing, BBQ, hiking, and other low-cost outdoor activities. The real reason most people stay in Kissimmee is because of its close proximity to Walt Disney World. In fact, you can stay at an affordable Kissimmee hotel like the Vacation Village that is only about 10 minutes away from Disney World.

Norcross, GA

For travelers that enjoy getting off-the-beaten path, Norcross will be worth considering. It’s cleverly tagged “a place to imagine” because of its blend of art, music, cuisine, and history. Take a stroll down the historic downtown and stop into the Crossing Steak House for a cocktail. The real benefit to staying in Norcross is that you can find an affordable hotel and still be just a few minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Salisbury, MD

Salisbury is a fun city in southeastern Maryland that offers its visitors a variety of activities. If you want a quiet place to relax, the 11 acre park on Schumaker Pond is just the spot. Grab a nice book, blanket, and a few snacks, and you can decompress in the serenity of the park. Another local favorite is the Salisbury Zoo. Admission to the zoo is free and they provide guided tours. If you are looking for a versatile city to spend a few days while traveling through Maryland, you should consider staying in Salisbury.

  This post was originally published on TravelrMag on April 11th, 2016.
  Featured photo by Shawn Harquail via Flickr

The OC of the East Coast is Ocean City, Maryland, a popular year-round vacation destination for families or anyone who needs a break but doesn't have time to deal with long flights.

A Home on The Boardwalk

If you crave being in the heart of the action, look no further than Harrison Hall Hotel. Located right on the boardwalk, this hotel more resembles a classical style home than a hotel — not just in looks but also in feeling. From the minute you step inside, that homey sense of comfort and relaxation sets in. A quiet front porch with rocking chairs makes it perfect for relaxing the day away or gazing out upon the action of the boardwalk. Or step out the back for direct access to a private section of the OC beach. Anything else you could need, from shopping to dining or drinking, is located just a few minutes' walk away.

Go with a Classic

Known for its wide front porch and wooden rocking chairs, Plim Plaza is one of the most well-known of the boardwalk hotels. It is also one of the most affordable, making it perfect for the budget-conscious traveler. Rooms come standard with a refrigerator, cable television, and free HBO. A pool, three jacuzzis, and four different restaurants are all located on site. Of course, there is also the beach as well, not to mention a multitude of shopping and dining options just footsteps away. All this and an affordable price is exactly why Plim Plaza is a favorite of Ocean City visitors.

Go Big or Go Home

One of the largest boardwalk hotels is the massive Tidelands Caribbean Hotel. With multiple buildings and even a large rooftop pool, this relatively new hotel has quickly become quite popular. A variety of room layouts and suite options — all of which have kitchenettes, cable television, and Wi-Fi — make Tidelands a great choice for both families and groups of friends.

Scenes from the Ocean City Boardwalk
Photo by Lee Cannon via Flickr

From the Boardwalk to the Bay

The boardwalk is great by day, but if you don't want to be sleeping there at night too, check out the Sea Bay Hotel. Located right off the Coastal Highway near the Ocean City Expressway, this hotel has a slightly more laid back feel than those surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk. Two pools are on site, tennis courts are across the street, and the beach is just a one minute away. What more do you need?

Explore the North

Located farther up the island just a couple of miles from the Maryland-Delaware border is the massive Princess Royale Hotel & Conference Center. It occupies an entire beachfront block between 91st and 92nd streets and is the ideal destination for those who want it all. Beach access. Indoor heated pool. Video game arcade. Oceanfront restaurant and lounge. Spacious condominiums. Guests of the Princess Royale often find themselves spending all their time at the resort instead of out around town.

  Photo by small_realm via Flickr

Think one Southern city is like all the others? Think again. As these six towns demonstrate, stereotypes and generalizations can’t possibly account for all the distinct, quirky, and amazing towns that blanket the American South!

Asheville, North Carolina has some seriously quirky, offbeat charm

1. Home of the Locavore Aesthetic: Asheville, NC

Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains lies the town of Asheville, which has earned a reputation for itself as a hub of artsiness, outdoor adventure, and a strong local aesthetic. The city’s downtown is comprised almost exclusively of independent shops and eateries, and the town is filled with artists and musicians from all walks of life (which explains the city’s vibrant busking scene). The city is also a self-described “Foodtopia,” a rich food scene with a farm-fresh bent. And if spiritual exploration is your thing, you’ll be right at home in Asheville, which attracts many a mystical seeker. In short? If you want to expose yourself to unique sights, tastes, sounds, and people, get thee to Asheville.

2. Home of Eclectic Attractions: Birmingham, AL

An odd assortment of attractions has made Alabama’s largest city a popular destination for travelers of all backgrounds. The largest cast iron statue in the world—dubbed “Vulcan”—stands guard over the city, broadcasting to all who enter that Birmingham is just a little bit different. Whether you spend your time at the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, the McWane Science Center (which features exhibits on topics ranging from dinosaurs to space exploration), the Splash Adventure Water Park, the Barber Motorsports Museum (home to more than 1,200 motorcycles), or the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Birmingham offers something unique for every kind of traveler.

3. Home of Southern Outdoorsiness: Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s culture is distinct in that it combines refined, southern hospitality with rugged outdoorsiness. That’s thanks in no small part to the city’s location: The lively downtown sits near the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Locals and tourists alike take advantage of this prime location at popular outdoor destinations that range from the refined Anne Springs Close Greenway, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and Biltmore Estate to the more adventurous U.S. National Whitewater Center, which offers rafting tours of the area’s Catawba River. Combined, Charlotte’s zest for life and welcoming attitude have earned it a reputation as one of the friendliest cities in the South.

Columbia, South Carolina has some seriously quirky and offbeat charm
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Akhenaton06

4. Home of Epic Festivals: Columbia, SC

Columbia’s tagline is “famously hot,” and it’s easy to see why. The weather is warm (the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees in winter), the attractions are popular, and the college sports scene is hoppin’. The city serves as the capital of South Carolina and is home to the University of South Carolina, which makes for an interesting mix of college-town culture and commercial prowess. But what really sets the city apart is its exciting annual calendar of events, including January’s World Beer Festival, February’s Lake Carolina Oyster Roast, June’s Ribs & Renaissance extravaganza, July’s Lexington County Peach Festival, October’s South Carolina State Fair, and December’s Famously Hot New Year.

5. Home of Stately Art and History: Savannah, GA

Art and history collide in gorgeous Savannah, where the weather is fine, the architecture is Antebellum, and the trees are shrouded in Spanish moss. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time while strolling the streets of Savannah’s pre-Civil War district, and you’re likely to feel out of place virtually anywhere in the city if you aren’t wearing your Sunday best. Class and elegance infuse every aspect of Savannah—including its most popular tourist activities, such as the Savannah Arts Festival, the Savannah Tour of Homes, and the Savannah Film Festival. But don’t let all the stateliness fool you; in Savannah, Southern hospitality is alive and well.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has some seriously quirky offbeat charm

6. Home of All Things Retro: Tulsa, OK

Tulsa has been a cult favorite since the heyday of Route 66, which passes right through the city. Today, the town draws tourists who are interested in both what the city used to be and all that it now has to offer. From its iconic oilman statue to its neon signposts, old-fashioned pump stations, and art deco buildings, Tulsa has retro funk on lock. The city is also home to a thriving festival scene—most notably, Tulsa hosts one of the country’s largest Oktoberfest celebrations each fall.

From giant statues, to exciting festivals, to dynamic arts, music, and food scenes, these cities provide a whole new take on the meaning of Southern charm.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on January 18th.

The winter months of December through February — and sometimes through March — are notorious for flight delays due to bad weather. People risk delays during the holidays because they have long periods of mandated time-off and want to spend it with their families. But no one wants to request time off in February only to spend half of the vacation managing flight delays and bad weather.

But while February isn’t the best travel month for every destination, airlines offer some pretty sweet deals on flights during the year’s shortest month. With some trips discounted as much as 79%, travelers should take airlines up on their offers. We analyzed a year’s worth of Hipmunk flight and hotel pricing data, and the following February destinations are worth the bargain.

New York, NY

Whether covered in snow or sunshine, New York is New York — a magical amusement park for both kids and adults. There will never be a shortage of indoor and outdoor winter activities. With flights and a three-night hotel stay averaging $962 in February, the Big Apple offers a steal. Take a horse carriage ride through Central Park as you admire the snow-covered terrain and monuments that make the city so enchanting. Ice skating is available through March at parks including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and Rockefeller Center. If it gets too nippy, be entertained at a Broadway show as you stay warm.

Philadelphia, PA

With 67 National Historic Landmarks, Philly ranks third in the country for most landmarks, including the famous cracked Liberty Bell and the house of poet Edgar Allen Poe. But the city is also a modern metropolis with a striking skyline, impressive street art murals, and rich pop culture. Run up the long steps to the main entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and recreate the famous opening of the cult classic film “Rocky.” Philly has one of the oldest outdoor markets in the U.S. — Italian Market — and also boasts Terminal Market, a great indoor destination. Both sell everything needed to make delicious meals. An average flight and three-night hotel stay in February averaged $819, a savings of up to $80 compared with spring months.

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

San Francisco, CA

Much like San Francisco’s weather stays constant, so do flight and hotel prices, averaging more than a $1,000 most of the year for a flight and a three-night hotel stay. But in late spring, the average was $953, making it the ideal time to head west. SF offers a multitude of varied activities sure to entertain all personalities. Pier 39 alone offers shopping, restaurants, Aquarium of the Bay, and a two-story carousel. But the most endearing attraction is simply observing the quirky sea lions lounge by the pier. In 2015 Walkscore.com gave San Francisco a score of 83.9, making it the second most walkable city in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Walk or ride the cable cars to get around.

Dublin, Ireland

Flying to Europe from the U.S. in the summer will typically cost around $1,000 or more. But flights to certain European destinations are quite affordable in the coming months. Dublin is small and easy to walk around, ensuring travelers can see and do most of what the city has to offer in a single weekend. Admire the beautiful architecture of the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Walk east for nine minutes to reach St. Stephen’s Green and appreciate the park’s original Victorian layout. Trinity College Dublin, one of Dublin’s most prestigious universities, is only a six minute walk north of the park. The college’s Long Room is eye candy for book nerds.

For the beer and whiskey enthusiasts visit to the Guinness Storehouse brewery or the Jameson whiskey distillery.

Sunset over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Paris, France

Visiting Paris in the springtime is recommended, but it’s so much more affordable in February and March, with some flights ranging between $500 and $600 dollars. Much like New York, there is always plenty to see and do in Paris. Must do outdoor activities include riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting at least one historical Parisian cemetery. Keep out of the elements at one of Paris’ many museums, the Louvre Museum being one of the most famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Louvre Pyramid. For modern art lovers, visit the Pompidou Center or the Jeu de Paume.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 2nd.

Although Tennessee is decidedly in the South, it's far from the first destination you imagine when you think of late winter travel. Still, Tennessee is an incredible state to visit during January, February, and March—and not just because of lower rates on hotels. Whether you belt out "Jolene" as you fly along the tracks of a Dollywood rollercoaster, warm up with BBQ in Memphis, or look out onto the Appalachians from charming Chattanooga, Tennessee is calling your name this winter.

Dollywood Theme Park

Perhaps you'll fly along the tracks of a rollercoaster, perhaps you won't: In winter, many of Dollywood's rides are open only when the weather cooperates. With this being said, Dollywood is absolutely delightful in the winter, if only due to lighter crowds. Alternatively, relax at your hotel or resort in Pigeon Force, and enjoy spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains, which surround you.

Gatlingburg and the Smoky Mountains

Speaking of the Smoky Mountains, the city of Gatlinburg might be even more well-positioned to enjoy them than Pigeon Forge. When you stay in Gatlinburg, you not only lack the distraction of Dollywood (however delightful it may be), but you're also closer to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which occupies more than half a million of unadulterated mountain scenery, which looks particularly beautiful covered in snow.

Chattanooga and the Appalachian Foothills

With attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium, Creative Discovery Museum, a world-class zoo, the city of Chattanooga would be exciting, even if it didn't sit amid the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. It does, of course, which simply adds nature to the mix of amazing things to do in Chattanooga, in winter and summer alike. Enjoy the view from Lookout Mountain, walk the trail at Rock City, or cozy up to the waterfall inside a cave at Ruby Falls.

Knoxville

That Knoxville is quirky and even kitschy won't come as a surprise to you if you know anything about the city's history, namely that it hosted the World's Fair in 1982. Knoxville, however, is much more than the Sun Sphere, the ubiquitous symbol of this less-than-classic event—and even than its winter highs, which average in the upper 40s and low 50s Fahrenheit. Explore the Knoxville Museum of Art, walk along Gay Street, or get creeped out in the Old Gray Cemetery.

Memphis

Memphis is much more than blues and BBQ, but both of these happen to be at their best during the winter: Blues clubs like B.B. King's Blues Club insulate you from the wind; and barbecue joints such as Central BBQ add a little padding to your body for when you're out in the elements. Plus, rates on even the finest Memphis hotels are much lower than normal, which thereby saves more money for music and meat.

Then again, if there's one big truth about Tennessee, it's that it's much more diverse a destination than it gets credit for, no matter the time of year—these give destinations merely scratch the surface! Can you think of any other Tennessee destinations worth visiting in winter?

  Main image credit

  This article was posted on Leave Your Daily Hell by Robert Schrader.

There are few things more quintessentially American than the landscapes of the West and the emotions they evoke. Whether you come for the pink sunsets, the forlorn-looking cacti or the abandoned ghost towns, traveling in the western part of the U.S. will leaves its mark on you. No matter where in this picturesque region you travel, choose a hotel that matches the rusticness of the surrounding scenery.

Spanish Colonial Santa Fe

Santa Fe has a population of under 70,000, but it's so full of amazing attractions that there are almost as many reasons to visit as there are people from living there! Tour historical structures like Loretto Chapel or the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, or marvel at something more modern as you walk in the footsteps of Georgia O'Keefe. Many Santa Fe hotels are as scenic and picturesque as the city itself, from the El Rey Inn to the Eldorado Hotel & Spa.

Laughlin's Colorado River Chill

Laughlin is no Las Vegas, but there's still plenty of excitement to be had in this Nevada town—and yes, a couple casinos as well! The Davis Dam, for example, is a smaller answer to the Hoover Dam farther down the Colorado River, while theGrapevine Canyon Petroglyphs document a time long before modern gambling. Hotels in Laughlin tend to be as simple as the desert scenery that envelopes them, but because of this they're cheap, with rooms at Edgewater Hotel & Casino, for example, costing as little as $18 per night.

Bend: Oregon Starts Here

The Oregon town of Bend hasn't achieved the ubiquity of Portland or even Eugene, but there are few better spots in the state to start your trip. Discover the nearby Deschutes National Forest, hike to the top of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, or immerse yourself in the history of the High Desert Museum. Sleep in a spot as stunning as your surroundings, like the Sonoma Lounge or Pronghorn Resort.

Skiing is Just the Beginning in Aspen

Aspen has gained infamy as a ski hub for the celebrities, but in reality, you don't need to be savvy on the slopes in order to enjoy this Colorado town—you don't even need to be into the outdoors! Aspen has its fair share of culture, for example, such as the Wheeler Opera House and the Aspen Art Museum. Season shouldn't be a deciding factor for you either, as year-round hiking spots like Independence Pass and Maroon Bells prove. Hotels in Aspen aren't cheap, but the views they offer are priceless.

Central California Starts in Fresno

In spite of great attractions like Forestiere Underground Gardens and Chaffee Zoo, the city of Fresno pales in comparison to many of the sights around it, namely Yosemite National Park. The city makes a great hub for exploring that region, however, whether you head inland toward the Sierra Nevada or outward toward the coastal Highway 1 Discovery Route. Fresno is also a low-cost destination, with prices on hotels like Days Inn Fresno as low as $50 per night.

Then again, the American west is as limitless in destinations as the horizon line you see driving through it. Can you think of any other can't-miss places to visit in the Western U.S.?

  Article posted on Leave Your Daily Hell by Robert on February 10th.

The Carolinas are a fantastic destination to enjoy a historic hotel. Well known for their Southern hospitality and charm, historic hotels here exude luxury, and are fine examples of culture, architecture and art. They are always fabulously located near their city's main attractions, and in fact, some even qualify as the main attraction themselves.

Depending on the season and the time of year, you can often even finding a cheap hotel deal. The following are the most standout historic hotels in the Carolinas.

Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville

Hotels in Asheville offer travelers the chance to stay just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and if looking for an accommodation experience which combines luxury with a historic hotel, the Inn on Biltmore Estate is where you want to stay.

This 4 star upscale hotel sits on the historic estate and puts you within a 15 minute drive of the area's main attraction; Biltmore House. This is the largest privately owned home in America; a 250 room French Renaissance château built by George Vanderbilt in 1895. Guests of the hotel can enjoy an outdoor pool with views of the Mountains, enjoy a bite to eat in the Library Lounge, and enjoy the same level of personalized service the Vanderbilts would extend to their friends.

The Dunhill Hotel, Charlotte

The Dunhill hotel is a fantastic choice of accommodation in Charlotte; a boutique hotel with sophisticated accommodations steeped in history and surrounded by modern significance.

Guests are conveniently located close to museums, art galleries, nightlife, shopping and the CBD. The hotel opened in 1929 and is among the few National Trust Historic Hotels of America in North Carolina. It has been fully restored and is now a landmark in Charlotte's cultural district and arts community.

Marriott's Heritage Club, Hilton Head

In the historic district of Hilton Head Island, Marriott's Heritage Club is close to Baynard Plantation Ruins, Harbour Town Lighthouse and Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.

This property has an outdoor pool, a fitness center and spa tub, as well as complimentary internet access in public areas. Spacious two-bedroom villas are fully self-contained, and rooms open out onto beautiful patios. This accommodation is a perfect base for those looking to spend a relaxing vacation in Hilton Head.

Kings Courtyard Inn, Charleston

An enchanting blend of history and southern hospitality, culture and cuisine, architecture and art, Kings Courtyard Inn in Charleston embodies all the qualities of a truly remarkable historic hotel.

Decorated with original hardwood floors, antique furniture, oriental rugs, four-poster canopy bed, a fire and modern technology, guests enjoy modern creature comforts balanced with the quaint coziness of a historic inn.

Hampton Inn by Hilton Columbia Downtown Historic District

In the center of downtown Columbia, Hampton Inn by Hilton is a traditional hotel in a fabulous location, a mere 15-minute stroll from Bicentennial Park, and 1 miles drive from the University of South Carolina.

Classic rooms offer free WiFi and flat-screen TVs as well as desks and coffee makers. Suite upgrades offer extra living space, as well as pull-out sofas, microwaves and whirlpool tubs.

  This article was posted on Mapping Megan by Megan.

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