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.

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.

Kailua-Kona is the jewel of West Hawaii. This breathtaking tropical paradise is on the leeward side of the island and as such receives much less wind and rain. As a result, it's a great place for scuba diving or practicing your surfing skills before tackling the tougher waves on the eastern shore. But where to stay in Kailua-Kona? That depends on what you plan on doing while you're there.

Location is Everything

Want to be right in the center of Kailua-Kona and have everything you need mere footsteps away? Look no further than Uncle Billy's Kona Bay Hotel. Situated right in the center of the bay, Uncle Billy's offers both rooms with a view and ground-floor suites with direct access to Hale Halawai Park. The massive Kona Inn Shopping Village is located right across the street and can satisfy almost all your shopping needs. Beyond that, Uncle Billy's is surrounded by water-based sights and activities, ample restaurant and bar options, tons of shopping, and, of course, the best cultural events.

Stay Cliffside

The cliffs of Kona Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
The cliffs of Kona Bay. Photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr

Perched on the cliff edges 1 mile south of Kona Town lies Aston Royal Sea Cliff, one of the most beautiful properties in the area. With spacious suites that include a full kitchen with all the appliances and utensils, as well as a washer and dryer, this is the perfect choice for guests planning a longer stay, families, or other large groups. Two pools on site enable you to enjoy a salt-free swim while basking in the tropical sun and enjoying the magnificent view.

Bigger & Better

Bigger isn't always better, but in the case of Royal Kona Resort, nothing could be more accurate. This massive resort has been one of the area's premiere accommodation options since 1968 and now consists of three huge oceanfront buildings with nearly 450 rooms, sprawling grounds, multiple pools (including a kids' pool), tennis courts, and a fitness center. Located just a short 10-minute walk from the town center, Royal Kona Resort is close to the action but not too close.

Save a Few Dollars

Don't plan on spending much time in the hotel room? Then don't waste any more money than necessary when paying for lodging. Kona Seaside Hotel is one of the cheapest hotels in the Kailua-Kona area, and you won't have to sacrifice on service or cleanliness just to stay to budget. The hotel has a large pool and even owns the Splashers Grill next door, which means you can have delicious dishes and thirst-quenching drinks delivered poolside.

  Featured photo by Robert Linsdell via Flickr.

Japanese airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) recently rolled out a Boeing 787 airplane painted from tip to tail with the likeness of Star Wars’ R2-D2. The airplane will carry its first lucky passengers beginning Oct. 18 with a flight between Tokyo and Vancouver, Canada. The project is part of a five-year promotional deal between ANA and the Walt Disney Company.

This is hardly the first time an airline has made headlines for dolling up its planes. These designs are typically part of publicity partnerships or are created to promote special events or anniversaries. Check out some of the wackiest paint jobs in airline history, below.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 5.58.54 PM
Photo: Flickr user Mark Harkin

Hobbit Plane, Air New Zealand

First on the list is the world’s largest plane decal, which reportedly took more than 400 hours to complete before it was released into the air in 2012. The Lord of the Rings-themed plane didn’t stop at the paint job. Inside, a hobbit-themed safety video featured characters from Middle Earth, while the cabin crew adorned themselves with pointy ears for the plane’s first flight.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 5.59.00 PM
Photo: Flickr user Aero Icarus

San Francisco Plane, Swiss International Airlines

In 2010, Swiss International instated daily flights between Zurich and San Francisco. To celebrate the new route, the airline decorated a plane with just about every San Francisco stereotype around, from peace signs to flower power.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 5.59.25 PM
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Flickr user Cubbie_n_vegas

Salmon, Alaska Airlines

Get it? A Boeing 737 becomes a Boeing salmon-thirty-salmon in this 2005 fish-themed paint job. The inspiration for the artwork is a bit unclear: Some sources claim it was designed to celebrate Alaska’s seafood industry, while others believe it stemmed from a 1987 incident in which an Alaska Airlines plane was hit by a fish while taking off in Juneau (The fish was purportedly dropped by an eagle).

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 5.59.31 PM

Aboriginal Design, Qantas

A collaboration between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists, the design for this Boeing 737-800 was inspired by Uluru, aka Ayers Rock. The Australian World Heritage site is famous for its rich colors, which appear to change as the sun’s angle shifts throughout the day.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 5.59.37 PM
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Wizarding World Plane, Virgin Atlantic Airways

What a magical idea. In partnership with Virgin Holidays, Virgin Atlantic branded one of its 747 jets with the logo for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The paint job functioned as publicity for the Universal Orlando resort.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 5.58.39 PM
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Panda Jet, All Nippon Airways

To celebrate 20 years of flying between Japan and China, ANA unveiled its panda-themed jet in 2007. It reportedly took 350 people a total of 80 hours to plaster the image of the world’s cutest bear onto the jet.

Whether you’re flying to Tokyo, Vancouver, or anywhere in between, may the force (and sweet paint jobs) always be with you.

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

Airplane cabins aren’t always known for being roomy, comfy, or luxurious, but the newest crop of first class suites are stunning travelers with their size and opulence. New Yorkers who get by in tiny 100 square foot apartments and Londoners who would pay $145,000 for a shoe box next to Harrod’s may consider moving in when they see how gorgeous and extravagantly large the new cabins seem by comparison. Here’s a roundup of the best and biggest first class cabins that money (or airline miles) can buy.

First class flight on Etihad Airways
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Travelarz

Etihad Airways: The Residence

In December 2014, Etihad Airways introduced The Residence on its Airbus A380 planes. The three room suite is a whopping 125 square feet and can be occupied by up to two people traveling together. It includes a living room, a private bathroom, and a bedroom with a bed large enough to share. Etihad hasn’t skimped on the amenities either: It comes with a 32-inch television, a cabinet for chilled drinks, and Christian Lacroix pajamas. The leather on the seats is made by Poltrona Frau, which also makes leather seats for Ferrari and Maserati.

The suite also comes with exceptional service. It includes a luxury chauffeur for transportation to and from the airport, and a Savoy Academy-trained personal butler to meet you and the airport and anticipate your every need. The Residence is available on A380 planes between London and Abu Dhabi, and soon to New York and Sydney, Australia as well. A ticket in The Residence can cost about $20,000 one way. If you’ve always wondered what it would be like to travel like an oil magnate or a Russian oligarch, this is the way to go.

First class flight on a 747
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Altair78

Singapore Airlines: Suite Class

The Singapore Airlines Suites may only feature one room rather than three, but it’s certainly not much of a step down. Running about $18,000 each way, the Suites were introduced in 2007 and are available only on the Airbus A380. Flights are offered from Singapore to 14 destinations, including New York, London, and Hong Kong, so there’s plenty of opportunity to experience the best of Singapore Airlines.

The cabins are the work of luxury yacht designer Jean-Jacques Coste, and feature a 35-inch wide bed and a 78-inch long bed with cabin doors that can be shut completely. When your partner is in the adjacent cabin, the wall removes so that a double bed can be folded down for some in-flight pillow talk. Each Suite also features a 23-inch LCD screen, Bose headphones, a Ferragamo amenity kit, and Givenchy sleepwear. To complete the perfect in-flight experience, the Book the Cook service allows passengers to order their meals before the flight and choose between Michelin-starred chefs Georges Blanc and Carlo Cracco, among others.

Emirates Airways Business Class lounge
Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Altair78

Emirates Airlines: First Class Suites

At around $13,000 one way, the Emirates First Class suites are a bargain compared to the options above, and their most famous feature will seem like a dream come true: an in-flight shower. In a huge improvement on showering over a toilet in your London apartment, each Suites passenger gets 30 minutes in the spa suite with five minutes of hot water conveniently monitored by a light timer. There are two shower spas for the 14 privates suites on each Airbus A380 flight, and the bathrooms also features heated floors and designer towels and toiletries. Imagine being able to freshen up at the end of a long flight, enjoy a shave or a steam, and arrive at your final destination feeling impossibly calm and collected. Now that’s luxurious.

Of course, the cabins in First Class Suites are lovely as well. The seats, which are tablet-operated, fold down to 79-inch beds, and there’s an on-board bar where passengers can mingle with business class passengers over a drink. The cabins also have remote-controlled sliding doors and 23 inch LCD screens for entertainment. Emirates offers chauffeur service to and from the airports in over 70 cities, and flights on the A380 available to over 35 destinations. Maybe it’s time to let go of your lease and take to the skies for luxury and comfort next year.

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

Free wi-fi, a couple bottles of water, coffee, and gym access were once considered hotel luxuries, but they’re now just the baseline when it comes to travel perks. Hotel chains are packaging up unforgettable experiences for visitors, featuring some truly out-of-the-box amenities, activities, company, and memories.

While some can get pretty pricey, these amazing experiences are more often than not worth it. Take a look at some of the sweetest hotel perks travelers can get right now.

Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria in NYC

A Personal Concierge

Folks who stay at any of Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria properties — such as its flagship location in New York City, located just blocks from Rockefeller Center and Broadway — can have their trip planning taken care of. Waldorf offers a personal concierge to “guarantee your every request is met” before, during, and after each visitor’s stay. The concierge waits for arriving visitors in the lobby to show them straight to their rooms. They’re also available throughout the stay to answer questions and suggest enjoyable (and sometimes discounted) events in the area. And when it’s time to go, they will neatly pack the visitors’ suitcase and send them on their way.

Close-up of guitar strings at Hard Rock Cafe

Fender Guitars

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago offers is fair share of standard perks, as rooms include flat screen TVs, mini-bars, and coffee-makers. But this property also cranks things up a notch, in true Hard Rock fashion. Visitors get Coronado Guitar to a Baja 60s Telecaster. The chosen guitar is delivered right to the visitor’s room, along with a headphone amplifier and Nixon headphones.

Photograph taking a photo of you -- perfect lens view

Your Very Own Photographer

When it comes to exciting vacations, the generally accepted mantra these days seems to be “Pics or it didn’t happen.” This next hotel perk, offered at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, is a few steps above an artsy, filtered Instagram posts of the property’s luxurious outdoor pool or stunning city views. Visitors who choose the “California Getaway” package get to enjoy an hour-long photoshoot with a professional photographer in iconic locations like the Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Observatory or Rodeo Drive. Other perks in the package include laundry service, valet parking and unlimited in-room entertainment  but those won’t last a lifetime like photographs.

Best hotel perk ever? This Ferrari 458 Italia!

Super Cars

To call a Ferrari 458 Italia a hotel perk might just be the understatement of the year, but that’s what it is for visitors of the Arizona Bitmore in Pheonix. This Waldorf hotel used to be an invitation-only resort, but now anyone can book a room and enjoy the 39-acre property, plus its gardens, golf courses, pools and supercars. Select Waldorf locations offer “driving experiences” that let visitors drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other fancy sports cars around the stunning property.

This dalmation could be yours....but are you okay with renting a pet?

A Part-Time Pet

Pet-friendly accommodations are becoming increasingly common and luxurious at hotels across the country, but what about vacationers who don’t have a pet? Well, folks who stay at the Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah can borrow a puppy in what’s perhaps the most adorable hotel perk ever. The adventure spa provides access to unlimited exercise and wellness classes, including a “Pound Puppy Walk” during which visitors travel to the local shelter and enjoy a morning walk with a dog in need of a home. Other more standard perks at this remote haven include an extensive spa menu and flat-screen televisions, but a part-time puppy has to be the cherry on top.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmuk on February 12th.

Smack dab in the center of California's west coast lies Monterey, another of the state's amazing year-round destinations. The city was the capital of California back in the early 1800s when it was part of Mexico. Nowadays however Monterey is known for outdoor activities like golfing, sailing and biking, not to mention its many vineyards and fine dining options. With so many diverse reasons to visit the area attracts all types of visitors. As such, here are the best hotels for every kind of traveler:

For the Explorers

Eager to make the most of your time in Monterey and don't plan on spending much time at the hotel? Consider staying at El Castell Motel just off the 101. Not only is it affordable but all rooms are soundproof and come standard with blackout drapes, making it the perfect place to take that much-needed rest once your explorations are done, regardless of the time of day. The Monterey County Fairground is only steps away and the Monterey State Beach not much further than that.

For the Ocean Lovers

Situated between El Estero Lake and Monterey State Beach lies Monterey Bay Lodge, just 150 steps from the Pacific Ocean. Here is where convenience and affordability mix. Rooms here are decorated in modern minimalist theme and all furnished with a refrigerator, microwave and, of course, a TV with premium channels, including HBO. Luxury suites with a fireplace and spa are also available, as are family suites with video game entertainment systems to keep the children amused.

For the Peace and Quiet Lovers

With only 22 rooms, Merritt House Inn is in no danger of becoming a loud or crowded party house. Relaxation comes first here, as quickly becomes evident to guests thanks to the lush gardens, outdoor dining area, and spacious suites. In-room massages and a concierge service that goes above and beyond further add to the peaceful nature of this B&B. Merritt House Inn is even on the National Register of Historic Places.

For the Luxury Travelers

Located right in the heart of downtown Monterey, discerning travelers need look no further than Spanish-style Hotel Abrego. Exquisitely designed rooms come fully loaded with premium bedding featuring Italian linens, high-end toiletries, a gas fireplace and mini refrigerator. Other hotel amenities include terrace dining, an outdoor pool and hot tub, as well as an exercise studio to never miss a workout. The ocean is a half-mile away and Monterey's world-renowned aquarium just two miles.

For the Budget Travelers

California is one of the most expensive states in the United States so if you don't plan on spending much time in your hotel room, why get an expensive one? Save that money for all the stuff to do in and around Monterey! Carmel Hill Del Monte Pines offers clean, comfortable rooms with spacious bathrooms. Each room comes standard with a microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker, plus the entertainment that comes from premium TV channels and free in-room wi-fi. There are also barbecue grills and tennis courts on the grounds, allowing you to soak up that California sun without having to leave the hotel.

  Feature photo by mtch3l via Flickr

If you're a college student, you should know that traveling abroad is good for you. It's been shown to improve learning outcomes and may even be a predictor for better grades and higher incomes later in life. It also teaches valuable life and professional skills such as adaptability, independence, communication, and cross-cultural understanding.

The only downside? All those benefits come with a price tag. And if you're a college student, odds are good that you're not exactly rolling in the dough. The good news it that it's still possible to travel on a tight budget— you just have to know where to go. Here are 12 cheap, lesser-known, and wonderful destinations to get you started. No matter which locale you choose, expect to pay well under $50 a night for the privilege of staying there.

Parliament Palace in Bucharest, Romania

1. Bucharest, Romania

Gorgeous architecture, historical attractions, and European sophistication distinguish Bucharest as a must-see city. Don't miss the National Art Museum, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Parliament Palace, or Calea Victoriei, a popular street packed with traditional cafes, bars, and restaurants. Visit in the summer for the best rates and mild weather.

2. Chennai, India

Located on the Bay of Bengal, Chennai offers visitors beautiful scenery, historical attractions, and a rich cultural heritage. Because it's not a particularly well-known tourist destination, Chennai boasts budget-friendly accommodations year-round. Visit between November and February for great weather—highs are typically around 70 degrees. January is one of the most popular months because it features Chennai Pongal, a four-day celebration of the end of winter.

3. Ko Samui, Thailand

It’s a wonder this gorgeous island hasn't been overrun with tourists: Palm-covered beaches, stunning waterfalls, unique geological features, and a relaxed culture make for a perfect island getaway. The island is 88 square miles, so choose accommodations near the beach for easy waterfront access. Rates are very budget-friendly—you can rent a room or a whole home for around $29 a night. If you want to avoid monsoon season, plan to visit between March and May.

Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at night

4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia's capital offers something for every kind of traveler, from jaw-dropping architecture (hello, Petronas Twin Towers) to primo shopping, delicious food, relaxing gardens, distinct neighborhoods, and spiritual exploration in mosques and temples. The city is also close to other attractions such as the Batu Caves and Putrajaya, which is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset.

5. Lapu-Lapu, Philippines

Lapu-Lapu is home to some of the most significant historical sites in the Philippines, making it a great destination for history buffs and anthropology majors. The city is also packed with art, restaurants, nightlife, live entertainment, beachfront scenery, and other cultural attractions. You can enjoy it all on a shoestring budget: Wallet-friendly accommodations start at $16 per night.

6. Lima, Peru

Ancient Incan ruins, ocean views, and a bustling metropolitan culture—Lima is ideal for the traveler who wants to experience big-city energy in a gorgeous setting. The city's off-season runs from June to October, and this is when you'll find the best deals on accommodations. The Festival season begins in October and continues through November; expect large crowds and a variety of cultural attractions, including the biggest religious procession in Latin America.

Montego Bay, Jamaica, a travel destination that even students can afford

7. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Coral reefs, palm-covered beaches, and budget-friendly hotels—Montego Bay is the tropical destinations for travelers with limited funds. Visit from October to early December for the best rates, abundant sunshine, and warm temps. Take a tour of the old sugar plantation or the working coffee plantation, practice your swing on the gorgeous fairways, soak up the sun on the white sand beaches, or kick back and enjoy the views of the Catadupa Mountains.

8. Nha Trang, Vietnam

If you love the water, then get yourself to Nha Trang. Scuba diving and beautiful beaches await visitors to the city, which is located on Vietnam's south-central coast. While airfare will cost a pretty penny, you'll spend very little once you arrive—rates for budget-friendly hotels start as low as $8 per night, while luxury accommodations can be found for as little as $75 each night.

9. Quito, Ecuador

Located in the Andes Region of Ecuador, Quito is a nature lover's dream. It's also packed with colonial architecture, historical attractions, and a vibrant culture that you have to experience to fully appreciate. The city boasts a wide variety of budget hotels with rates starting as low as $20 a night. Before scheduling a trip, be aware that Quito's winter runs from June to September, while the popular summer months run from December to March.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, a travel destination that even students can afford

10. San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is an island paradise—think white beaches and tropical rainforests—any time of the year. The winter months (from December through April) promise the best weather, but you'll find cheaper rates from May through September. If you're visiting in June, don't miss the city's SoFo Culinary Week. If you're an American citizen, you won't need a passport to enter San Juan, and you can use U.S. dollars as currency. (That's because Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth.)

11. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Despite being the Dominican Republic's capital city, Santo Domingo has yet to attract large herds of tourists. And that's great news for the wallet-conscious traveler, because low-budget accommodations abound (even during spring break!). Enjoy your savings while soaking up rays on the city's beaches or tearing it up in one of the many salsa/merengue clubs.

12. Ubud, Indonesia

You may know Ubud from a little book called Eat, Pray, Love. Bali's gorgeousness is on full display here, as are pretty rice paddies, open-air markets, and mystical attractions. Visit between July and September for the best weather. (But do be prepared for larger crowds than you'll find during the city's rainy months.) Homestays are popular in Ubud, but you'll also find plenty of budget-friendly hotels both within and outside of the city's center.

And there you have it: Even if you're an impoverished college student, a wide variety of amazing cultural, natural, and historical destinations are within your reach. Save every dollar you can, and soon enough you'll have enough money to get there.

  This article was originally posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on February 14th.

Palm Springs is a modern oasis in the desert of Southern California, a beckoning jewel for all those look for a hip yet laid-back retreat from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The city is known for its breathtaking beauty, natural hot springs, stylish hotels, gorgeous golf courses, and amazing spas. Here is a look at some of the most affordable boutique hotels and resorts in Palm Springs.

Royal Sun Inn

Discreetly tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood in downtown Palm Springs, Royal Sun Inn is the ideal hotel close to the action but away from the loud, busy streets. Their comfortable rooms come standard with a flat screen TV, private balcony or patio, free Wi-Fi and free breakfast. It's also a great place to stay for families because of the large outdoor pool and barbecue pits. The best part, however, is the price. Royal Sun Inn is one of the least expensive hotels, given its many amenities, making it the perfect choice for budget conscious travelers.

Riviera Resort & Spa

When it comes to affordable luxury, look no further than Riviera Resort & Spa. With rooms starting at just over $100 a night that look like something costing three times as much, this resort is the way to live the life of a rock star without breaking the bank. The property has funky, stylish decor, spacious rooms with amazing views of Palm Springs' natural beauty, marble bathrooms, world-class spa, modern fitness center, and two beautiful pools. It's even pet-friendly! What more could you want?

Saguaro Palm Springs

Palm Springs, California
Photo by rheinitz via flickr

Colorful person? Then, Saguaro Palm Springs is the hotel for you! This rainbow-colored hotel is as vibrant on the inside as it seems on the outside. Colors combinations you've never imagined flow together in an impressive, stylish design that is a visual treat. Their gorgeous rooms come in a variety of combinations and offer either a mountain or a pool view, whichever you prefer. However, it is the property's two restaurants and Iron Chef Jose Garces that the hotel is most proud of. So if you want somewhere to stay that is a treat for all five senses, there is no better place to stay than Saguaro Palm Springs.

Caliente Tropics

Palm Springs ... or Polynesia? Why choose between the two when there's the unique fusion that is Caliente Tropics. Staying here is like stumbling into a lush tropical oasis at the edge of the desert. Sure, it may take you by surprise — but 5 minutes later you are calling it home and never want to leave. Guests can partake in less stereotypical Palm Springs activities such as shuffleboard, frisbee, or a backyard barbecue. All the other activities are still around, but for those who crave the laid back island lifestyle, this is the place.

Ivy Palm Resort & Spa

When location trumps all, stay at Ivy Palm Resort & Spa within walking distance of downtown. The property has a thick foliage cover that is a stark contrast to the boring desert themes that pervade most of the hotels in Palm Springs. Two pools, a spa, and fitness center allow guests to relax in this natural shade. The friendly staff will help coordinate all your around-town activities, and a free daily breakfast will give you the energy to start the day, so make sure to get out and have some fun!

  docentjoyce

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