The Best Travel Apps, Period

We noted which apps require pay, so if we don’t mention it, it’s free and available to iOS or Android users, unless otherwise noted.

Yes, there is an app for too many things to count, indeed, just about anything! And since we’ve been talking about travel, decided to dig around in a few easy applications to help you with sleeping over, flying, dining, navigating and safety. We noted which apps require pay, so if we don’t mention it, it’s free and available to iOS or Android users, unless otherwise noted.

Flying
• Dealray
It’s $9.99 per month that will help you find inexpensive flight deals, alerts you to big price decreases, sales and error fares. Sorry, this one is iOS, but no Android.

• Freebird
Once you record your flight on this site, they will alert you if the flight is delayed by four or more hours or canceled. You can also book a new flight on any airline; one-way fees start at $19.

• Skiplagged
This is a fun app that helps you find one-way tickets with a stopover. The fun starts at the stop over location because you aren’t returning to the plane for your original destination. This is an option usually less expensive than a non-stop flight.

Dining
• Grab
Who has these good ideas? This app looks at restaurant menus inside the airport, map them for you and in some cases, even helps you order in advance so you can grab and go on your race to the gate. Today, it lists over 170 restaurants at 17 US airports.

• HappyCow
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian and you enjoy travel you must download this app! It will find restaurants for you in over 10,000 world cities. London, New York City, and Moldova and they provide very brief menu descriptions as well as customer reviews. There is a cost of $3.99.

• Velocity
Velocity tells you where all the hot restaurants are located, and you can also pay your bill or share it with your dining partner. They are working on adding the most popular spots for an exciting nightlife in Gstaad and Verbier in Switzerland as well as Aspen, Colorado.

Hotels
• AsYouStay
This app helps ease some of the pressures of making sure you check in by 3 pm and out by noon. The app owners have partnered with over 50 properties in New York City and about a dozen more in South Beach, Miami. Coming soon, Chicago and San Francisco.

• Chatnbook
iOS is available today, and Android is still in testing, but this app lets you load your travel details and once you do the app will deliver properties which meet your specifications. If you tap on the right symbol (green thumbs up), your chosen hotel will contact you directly with their best rates.

• Dayuse.com
If you have an extended layover, this app helps you book a room for just a few hours so you can grab a hot shower, nap or just clean up a tad. Their 3,000 hotels usually offer as much as 75 percent off standard nightly rates.

• Hostelworld
The purpose of this a is to bring single travelers together in either boozy events, private rooms or having fun at communal activities.

• Oasis
Oasis offers a variety of luxury short term apartment rentals in about two dozen locations. Rio, Miami, and Milan to name a few and you will have 24/7 concierge service to help with tour bookings, restaurant and theater tickets.

• Roomer
Substantial discounts on hotel rooms from other travelers who have had to unexpectedly had to cancel their trips. You can expect discounts of about 30 to 80 percent. And if this has happened to you, sell your reservation here as well.

• TripHappy
And happy is what you’ll be when this app finishes dissecting 37 million pieces of data and spits out the best places and hoods for you to stay in during your travels. Then you can sort your results by rating or price.

Navigation
• Cool Cousin
We don’t know about you guys, but none of our cousins are very cool. LOL. But this application sure is cool! Collections of “off-the-beaten-path” recommendations from residents in 14 destinations. A mixologist in London and an artist in Paris are two fun examples. You can expect to see some trendy suggestions here!

• Sidekix
While it may not be the shortest route, this app will give you the best walking instructions that will meet your preferences and interests. It is currently prepared for us in over 100 prime cities, and more are being added every week.

Driving

• Rideways
By entering your trip destinations and times, you can schedule a “rideway,” which is owned by Priceline to book a taxi, train or bus in over 500 worldwide cities. It’s a more cost-effective way to travel.

• Turo
This app lets you rent automobiles from owners. You may have known it as RelayRides; it’s prior name. It’s available for both US and Canadian users. You can search for any desired vehicle and likely find it for a much lower rate than a rental agency. Europe has recently been added to their service area.

• Wingz
Book your travel methods here in over a dozen metropolitan US cities. You know in advance the cost, the name of your driver and if you have a favorite, you can request him or her. All drivers have been checked out via their DMV records.

Health and safety
• Binaural
Who knew there was an app to help us fight jet lag? This app uses binaural beats, which are sounds that many cultures have relied upon for hundreds of years to relax. These repeated “beats” can improve learning and focus, reduce anxiety and relax your mind.

• Geosure
For whatever area you are in, the app can report a personal safety score, environmental threats, health risks, political threats and information about thefts and assaults in the area via crowdsourcing. It is a location-sensitive app.

• My Panda
This app tells you the level of security via GPS. It was founded shortly after the Paris terror attacks in 2015. In some locations, it will also direct you to the nearest police station and a one click option to call them.

Small Towns for Big Vacations

Cheer for the Chatham Anglers baseball team at Veterans Field, then enjoy a Cape Codder on,Chatham Bars Inn’s porch.

The bright lights of big cities are great, but America’s smaller communities offer some of the most breathtaking scenery and richest cultural experiences in the country. Here are just a few of our favorite small town getaways across the nation. (Pictured is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango, Colorado).

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Located on the front doorstep of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is perfect for family getaways. Shop for everything from homemade taffy to moonshine along its picturesque main street, and take in 360-degree views from the Gatlinburg Space Needle that towers 40 stories above town. Zipline from the top of a mountain at the new Anakeesta theme park, and go from the mountain to the sea at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. In nearby Pigeon Forge, cool off at Dollywood Splash Country and Theme Park, and check out other attractions such as the Alcatraz East Crime Museum and the Titanic Museum Attraction.

Vernal, Utah

As the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, Utah proudly claims its title of Dinosaurland. Fly fish or raft the Green River, boat Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area, camp and cliff dive at Steinaker State Park and Red Fleet State Park, and horseback ride, fish, mountain bike or just relax at Red Canyon Lodge.

Taos, New Mexico

Taos in northern New Mexico is nestled high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and is home to Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO site that is among the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. Hike or ski at Ski Taos, shop for authentic Native American art on the historic town plaza, experience Taos’ famous art culture at its museums and savor New Mexico’s famous chile-based cuisine at any number of restaurants in town.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Settled by German immigrants in 1846, Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country has one of the best Oktoberfests in the nation. In the spring bluebonnets cover fields, and in the summer the area wineries and orchards attract visitors. Learn about Fredericksburg’s most famous son, Admiral Chester Nimitz, at the National Museum of the Pacific War, and about the United States’ 36th president at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, the “Western White House.” Take a cooking class at Fischer & Wieser’s Culinary Adventure Cooking School, enjoy a local beer downtown and pamper yourself at Fredericksburg Herb Farm’s spa after shopping Fredricksburg’s charming main street.

Chatham, Massachusetts

The seaside town of Chatham on the elbow of Cape Cod has public beaches perfect for playing and seashell collecting, as well as quiet inland freshwater ponds for kayaking and swimming. Its charming main street is lined with local shops and restaurants, and on Friday summer nights the Chatham Bandstand is hopping with live big band music. Cheer for the Chatham Anglers baseball team at Veterans Field, then enjoy a Cape Codder on Chatham Bars Inn’s porch.

Tallahassee, Florida

What Tallahassee, Florida, lacks in beaches it more than makes up for in Florida culture and adventure. Grab a plate of Ernestine Fryson’s famous fried catfish and hushpuppies while experiencing the best of the blues at the Bradfordville Blues Club, zip line through a cypress swamp at the 52-acre Tallahassee Museum, paddle one of Tallahassee’s five rivers and swim in one of the world’s largest freshwater springs at Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.

Durango, Colorado

Tucked in the southwest corner of Colorado, the Victorian mining town of Durango near Mesa Verde National Park is a family-friendly adventure-sports playground. Mountain and road biking, kayaking and rafting the Animas River, hiking the San Juan Mountains and skiing and snowboarding at nearby Purgatory Resort are a few favorite adrenalin-fueled pursuits here. At night, enjoy casual fine-dining and local brewpubs downtown, which is filled with local shops. Take the steam-powered Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Silverton, some 50 miles to the north through breathtaking mountain scenery, and enjoy any number of community events that take place in town throughout the year, including January’s Snowdown and May’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.

Cody, Wyoming

Named for Buffalo Bill Cody, Cody is steeped in Wild West history. Just 30 miles from the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, Cody celebrates the West with the century-old Buffalo Bill Center of the West that details Plains Indians cultures, the area’s natural history, Western firearms and art. At the Heart Mountain WWII Interpretive Center, learn about the Japanese-Americans who were interned here during the Second World War. Watch cowboys and cowgirls test their skills at Cody Stampede rodeo events, and camp under the starts at Buffalo Bill State Park.

Lodi, California

Perfect for couples, this small city 40 miles south of Sacramento plays a big role in California’s wine industry. Lodi has become a destination for wine lovers who are especially interested in production, and with more than 113,000 acres of vineyards that include Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi is called the Zinfandel Capital of the World. More than 85 wineries including Michael David, Berghold and Lucas call Lodi home and have tasting rooms. Lodi is also known for its olive production, some of which may be sampled at Olive Drop Olive Oil. Enjoy the grounds, rooms, restaurant and spa at Wine & Roses and stroll Lodi’s downtown that’s filled with local shops and tasting rooms. On Thursdays, May through August, downtown streets are closed for Lodi’s extensive farmers market.

Bentonville, Arkansas

Sam Walton opened his small 5&10 store on Bentonville’s town square in 1950, and today that storefront is the Walmart Museum that highlights the times and growth of one of world’s largest companies. Walton’s daughter, Alice, funded the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that opened in 2011, a free museum that features treasures such as Gilvert Stuart’s “George Washington” (the portrait that appears on the $1 bill) and Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” (pictured). Bentonville’s woods have become a mecca for mountain bikers, and art ranging from the contemporary found at 21C Museum Hotel to folk art at Terra Studios has made Bentonville a weekend destination for a wide range of visitors.

10 Tips for Staying Fit at an All-Inclusive Resort

You’re on vacation, after all. Here are some ways to feel good about keeping your fitness goals even when visiting an all-inclusive resort.

Relax. Really. You’re on vacation, after all. Here are some ways to feel good about keeping your fitness goals even when visiting an all-inclusive resort.

 

 

Approach the Buffet Wisely
Food is typically everywhere at all-inclusive resorts. It’s super hard to say no to an endless supply of calorie-heavy treats. But, you don’t have to deny yourself buffet bliss all vacation long. “You can have a couple days where you can say ‘I’m on vacation and I’m going to eat whatever I want to,'” says Atlanta-based personal trainer and nutrition coach Johnnie Perry. “But the other three days my diet is going to consist of healthy choices — protein, vegetables, fruits and nuts.” Perry suggests starting your day with a breakfast of protein and fats (like fresh fish). “You’ll have more energy and be able to enjoy what’s going on during the day.”

Take a Class
Until recently, I had been too shy to try one of those morning pool workouts — the ones where the most flexible member of the resort staff leads a group of vacationers in a routine of stretching and strength exercises under the stares of a lounging pool crowd. But then I took the plunge, literally, and found out that if I wasn’t actually closer to being able to touch the floor with my palms afterward, at least I jumpstarted my day with some early exercise. And I made some new friends.

Take Morning Walks
If you’re a runner, you know it can be hard to turn out a quick mile running through a bustling resort. Instead, kick the speed down a notch and enjoy a morning walk before breakfast. “Walking at a steady pace helps your body break into its fat stores,” says Perry. “Obviously, walking for five to 10 minutes won’t burn a ton of calories. However, if you build that up to three to six hours during the week of vacation, that’s a recipe for burning some excess fat without stress on the body.”

Bring the Gym With You
If your destination doesn’t offer a full gym, or one with equipment you’re not used to, then pack your own gym. A set of resistance bands is a good place to start. Watch this video for tips on how to pack a well-rounded travel fit kit.

Run on the Beach
Pavement pounders, use a week at the resort to take a break from running on hard surfaces. Running on the uneven beach can help train some of the stabilizer muscles in your feet, ankles and knees. Plus, running in the sand takes a little more effort than running on firm pavement, so you’ll burn more calories during your run.

Drink Water Along With Your Cocktails
Have a glass of water with every alcoholic drink. Alcohol dehydrates the body. When you dehydrate the body, it wants electrolytes, in the form of sodium, which leads to bad food choices like fries.

Ride a Bike
The resort’s stable of bikes might not be as well-maintained as yours at home. But, some resorts will offer guided tours that are safe (no cars whizzing by), and what could be better than seeing paradise by bike? And this article from Penn State University explains why biking is a great, low-impact exercise choice for the whole family.

Try a New Sport
If you get bored lying by the pool, run down the beach and take out a kayak or a paddle board for 30 minutes. Most all-inclusive beach resorts include watersport rentals with your stay. Resort staff would make sure weather and water conditions are safe, so this week at the resort is a good time to try something new. And most resorts will happily help you make reservations for guided, active excursions like snorkeling or kayaking off the resort property.

Use the Resort Gym
If your fitness routine includes working out at your local gym, you may walk a few circles around the resort’s fitness center trying to decide where to begin your workout. The resort’s equipment almost certainly will be different, and some equipment (like fitness bands, for example) may be completely missing. During your vacation, think about modifying your routine with bodyweight exercises to hold you over until you get back to your local fitness center. Perry suggests getting in a full-body workout every other day, with each workout lasting 35-45 minutes.

Make It a Rest Week
Yes, that’s right. Resting actually can help you build fitness. If you’re feeling stressed and a bit worn out from your early-morning workout routine, look at a week of vacation as an opportunity to give your body and mind time to recover. This article from Bicycling makes the case that taking a week off from your workout routine is helpful in the long run. “Your body is not going to forget,” says Perry. “It’s vacation. You’re supposed to enjoy yourself. One week off isn’t going to hurt you.”

Top 10 Most Beautiful Colleges in the United States

When picking a university one should go for a good mixture of setting and study. Consider the layout of the buildings and the aesthetic of the quad.

When picking a university one should go for a good mixture of setting and study. Consider the layout of the buildings and the aesthetic of the quad. Can yourself studying here for the next four years? Do you want to go somewhere with ornamented footpaths? Or architecture that will make your heart melt? It’s important to consider these things and to know where to find them so we’ve completed a list just of the 10 most beautiful colleges in the country.

10. Pepperdine University in California
You wouldn’t be alone if you confused this Malibu campus for indulgent resort on the coast. This specific campus was built in 1972 so students could catch a glimpse of the layered landscape that meets the Pacific Ocean on their way to class. Definitely a place to consider applying.

9. University of Hawaii at M?noa
What’s not to love about a college in Hawaii? Hawaii is easily one of the most beautiful states in the country so it should be no surprise that it is home to one of the most beautiful colleges as well. The statue university in M?noa stands out for it’s beachside campus and its views of nearby volcanoes (something you won’t see at any other college in the states).

8. University of Chicago in Illinois
There are many lovable colleges in the prairie state, but none stood out as much as the University of Chicago. In Hyde Park rests this architectural salute to the Gothic era. This stand out university even played home to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

7. Tulane University in Louisiana
This college offers a beautiful mix of palm trees and evergreens. At Tulane you will get an unwavering New Orleans vibe which makes it a college worth considering.

6. College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts
This university is in one of the smallest states in the United States but it is one of the most vied for. Massachusetts is home to some of the most beautiful colleges around like Harvard and Williams. But it’s the College of Holy Cross that stands out above the rest. This breathtaking campus is suspended on a hill overlooking Worcester and is known as one of the best landscaped schools in the country.

5. St. John’s Santa Fe in New Mexico
This Southwestern campus is a satellite campus of Maryland’s St John’s College. It resides near the base of Monte Luna and serves up students a mountain view that is unmatched.

4. Kenyon College in Ohio
Ohio is known for it’s small liberal arts schools. But Kenyon is known for being beautiful. Regal masonry populates the dorms and administration buildings next to a sprawling rural setting at this university.

3. Lewis & Clark in Oregon
This university is named for the famous explores that cross the country on foot, Lewis and Clark. It resides in a quaint Portland neighborhood that encases it with plunging hills and Douglas Firs.

2. Southern Methodist University in Texas
The splendid entrance of Southern Methodist University is lined with greenery and trees. It offers visitors a hint of what’s inside without giving away what lies ahead–fresh cut lawns, stone buildings, and Wes Anderson-like symmetry.

1. Colgate University in New York
There are so many universities in New York that it’s hard to decide which exemplifies the state the most. From the buzzing and urban Columbia University to the sprawling landscapes of Cornell, it offers a bit of everything. But Colgate offers a bit more than all the rest with it’s rustic look. The campus rests in the middle of untouched forests, hill, and lakes.

Most Haunted Places

Whether you’re a believer or not, America’s towns are filled with spooky stories passed down through time.

Whether you’re a believer or not, America’s towns are filled with spooky stories passed down through time. From haunted fortresses to grisly tales of suffering and death, we’ve pull together a list of some of the spookiest spots in the US.

Moundsville Penitentiary
During its more than 100 years in operation, the Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia was one of America’s most violent correctional facilities and the final stop for almost 1,000 criminals. The prisoners lived in cramped quarters, which led to riots. Many men were hanged or killed in the electric chair, while others were murdered by other prisoners. The prison closed in 1995, but according to some, the tortured spirits are still behind bars and in the bowels of the prison and may be seen or heard on a tour.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Once known as the Weston State Hospital, this asylum was home to thousands of people with mental illness, starting in 1864. Hundreds of people died here before the facility closed in 1994. The spirits that are said to haunt the site today date back to the Civil War era, when the asylum’s grounds served as a military post.

Paranormal tours of the facility feature 2-hour visits to the asylum’s 4 main hot spots. The more intense Ghost Hunt is an 8-hour, overnight paranormal adventure with experienced ghost-hunting guides.

Villisca Axe Murder House
On June 10, 1912, the old white frame house at 508 E Second St became a grisly crime scene. The heinous murder of Josiah B. Moore, his wife, their 4 children and 2 young girls who were overnight guests rocked the small town of Villisca, IA, and the murderer was never identified. Over the years, residents of the home reported visions of a man with an ax, children crying and unexplained paranormal activity.

In 1994, the home was restored to its original condition with no indoor plumbing or electricity. These touches add to the chilling ambience during a lamplight tour from April through November or an overnight experience available by reservation for groups.

Sammie Dean
Jerome, AZ, is a former copper-mining town with a paranormal reputation that dates back to the Wild West. The town is now home to just 400 residents (down from 15,000 in its heyday), but legend has it there are plenty more ghostly residents from the days of mining accidents and gunfights.

One well-known spirit is the working girl Sammie Dean, a prostitute who was strangled by a customer in the old Crib District. Her beautiful spirit roams the alleys looking for her killer, who was never found.

Cuban Club
Cuban Club, also known as Circulo Cubano de Tampa, can be found in Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood. In 1917, this spot was a popular hangout for Cuban immigrants who enjoyed the ballroom, outdoor band shell and cantina with a stage and dance floor.

Today, the compound, which is protected by the National Historic Register, hosts concerts and special events and is the setting for many ghost stories about spirits playing the piano and riding the elevators.

Fort Mifflin
Built in 1771, Fort Mifflin is the country’s only Revolutionary War battlefield that is still intact. There are 14 restored buildings on the grounds on the Delaware River and reportedly plenty of spirits from the past. Among the ghosts said to haunt the fort is a screaming woman whose cries are so loud that the Philadelphia police have been called to investigate, only to find no one there.

Other characters in the local ghost stories include a faceless man wandering around the fort, a tour guide dressed in revolutionary garb and numerous children and dogs.

Moon River Brewery
The Moon River Brewery brought its beloved beers to Savannah in 1999, but the building is one of the oldest in town, dating back to 1821. In its original incarnation, it was the City Hotel, a high-end hotel with a history of violence during the Civil War.

Men were killed in the hotel during heated skirmishes, including a Yankee who was beaten to death by locals in 1860. Some bar patrons today say they’ve seen bottles mysteriously fly through the air and have witnessed guests being pushed, touched and even slapped by unseen forces. One resident apparition, Toby, is said to skulk around the billiards room looking for the next great bar brawl.

The Sultan’s Palace
The house at 716 Dauphine St is a classic French Quarter beauty with classic wrought-iron balconies and a large courtyard. But in the 1800s, this residence was a house of horrors for the Sultan, a wealthy man with a depraved lifestyle, multiple wives and children, and a harem of women and young boys held against their will. Neighbors complained about the mysterious habits of this man who had a predilection for partying, opium and torture.

But the greatest mystery in the house was the Sultan’s demise, when he was buried alive in the courtyard after his family and harem were hacked to pieces in a bloodbath by an unknown perpetrator. Today, his angry spirit is thought to be responsible for the unusual noises, loud music and strong incense smells that waft from the home, as well as unwelcome advances on past female residents who swear the Sultan is still up to his old tricks of groping female visitors.

Calcasieu Courthouse
Toni Jo Henry has been the talk of the small town of Lake Charles since the 1940s, when she killed a man in cold blood. Just as notorious were her stunning good looks. The former prostitute charmed a gentleman in a pickup truck to give her a ride while she was walking the highway with a friend en route to spring her true love from a Texas prison. It took 3 trials for a jury to convict the wily Toni Jo, who had charmed the courtroom and jail staff and divided the town over her presumed guilt.

In 1942, this murderous beauty known as Tiger Girl was the first woman in the state to die in the electric chair. Her spirit lingers in the courthouse today, and workers there swear they feel her presence, hear her screams and even smell her burning hair. Many believe that she tinkers with office equipment, locks doors and meddles with everyday office life at the courthouse.

10 Tips for Your Next Group Trip

Wrangling up all of your crazy friends for a trip might sound like an impossible challenge, but we’re here to help.

Wrangling up all of your crazy friends for a trip might sound like an impossible challenge, but we’re here to help. We’ve put together 10 of our best ideas (and resources!) for a fun and unforgettable group trip for you and your squad.

 

Ship Your Luggage

This idea might sound crazy at first, but give us a minute. Imagine traveling with your besties on a dream vacay and not having to worry about your luggage at ALL. This means no schlepping your stuff around and no getting stuck at the luggage carousel. All you need to worry about is your neck pillow, your mags and your airplane snacks. Use a service like LugLess to send all of your bags (or skis, golf clubs, etc) ahead of time, and it will all be waiting for you as soon as you get to your destination.

Track It All

When you’re traveling with a big group there are so many details to track. Travefy can help you sort through every last one of ’em. Use the app to plan each day’s itinerary, ask the group questions, vote on decisions and chat with everyone in real time to work it all out. You can also easily import travel documents, share maps and collect money for any shared expenses for your group’s adventures.

Go Back to Summer Camp

If you’ve been missing your summer camp days, it might be time to recapture your youth at the Summer Camp Hotel in Martha’s Vineyard. There’s plenty of nostalgia like the hotel’s “canteen” where you can go for a snack or large ping-pong tables to keep everyone busy. But it’s also way cozier than the twin beds back in your old camp bunk. Best of all, you’ll be on Martha’s Vineyard with all your friends, so you can enjoy the beach as well as the best restaurants and activities on the island.

Take On a Unique (Airbnb) Experience

We’ve all heard of hotel alternative Airbnb, but you might not have heard about their newest creation: Experiences. In every city where Airbnb exists, hosts and non-hosts are able to put together unique, unexpected activities that your group can sign up for (and you don’t need to be staying in an Airbnb to enjoy them!). You can join in activities like rooftop silent disco yoga in Los Angeles, surf school in Bali, taxidermy class in London or glassblowing in Chicago. Wherever you and your friends are headed, search through the site and try to find some fun adventures to add to your itinerary.

Track Money

Splitwise is another must-have app if you plan on hitting the road with all of your group. The app allows you to keep a running tab of all the money you owe each other throughout the trip. If you spring for movie tickets on night one and buy everyone tacos on day three, Splitwise will keep track of it all. Each person can keep track of all of the expenses they need to be paid back for, and at the end of the trip, you can all easily pay each other without a stack of receipts and IOUs.

Let Disney Plan Your Trip

Disney might seem like an obvious choice if you’re going on a trip with kids. But believe it or not, it’s also a killer destination even if you’re just with adults. Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., is the bigger of the two U.S. parks and can offer days of fun beyond the Magic Kingdom. They also have Epcot (eat your way around the world!), Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. If you’re traveling with a group of 10 people or more, Disney Group Getaways can help you plan your whole trip from start to finish.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt

A fun activity that you and your friends could do almost anywhere is a group scavenger hunt. And while you might not be up for planning one yourselves, there’s an app you can use instead. Goose Chase can help you plan your entire scavenger hunt. It allows you to build your own game by giving your group a name, choosing different types of missions and tracking everyone’s progress in real time. Keep score and make sure to bring along some special prizes for your winning team once the hunt is over.

Get Dinner Reservations Anywhere

If you’re the most organized person in your group, step up to the plate and agree to handle all the restaurant reservations. Use OpenTable to check out restaurants in a ton of different cities, and plan the meals for everyone. The app allows you to make reservations, ask questions of the restaurant and look at menus and more.

Go on an Oprah Cruise


If you and your friends really want to live your best lives this year, maybe you should all go on one of Oprah’s themed cruises. Oprah has teamed up with Holland America to put together transformative trips. O Magazine editors join leaders from Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 for a few life-changing days at sea. The trip includes things like morning meditations, O’s Reading Room, Spiritual sessions and eating guidance.

Get a Little Matchy-Matchy

You can’t plan a group trip without finding a fun item you can get for everyone to remember the vacation. A T-shirt is always a great idea for the group, but you can get a lot more creative. If you’re going on a group tropical vacay, you can get matching beach hats for all of your girlfriends. If you’re going to a great shopping destination, why not get custom tote bags for you and your friends? Once you settle on a group gift, make sure to give yourself enough time before you leave to order one for everyone.

Best U.S. Resorts With Foodie Workshops

Sitting poolside or hitting the links isn’t for everyone. More and more resorts are expanding activity programs with amenities that cater to foodies.

Sitting poolside or hitting the links isn’t for everyone. More and more resorts are expanding activity programs with amenities that cater to foodies. Food is such a big part of travel and one of the best ways to learn about another region and its culinary gifts. So for the traveler who savors every bite, plans entire trips around a restaurant or just loves to try something new, these resorts are a must.

Sustainable Foodies
L.A.’s oceanfront Terranea Resort lives off the land and sea. The resort’s farm-to-table program, led by Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra, includes a sea salt conservatory that harvests salt from the Pacific Ocean. Guests can attend a salt workshop at the conservatory and learn about the salt-making process plus sample delicious cold-smoked and infused salts such as the resort’s signature citrus salt made with Meyer lemons grown on site. The tasting also includes a complimentary glass of ONEHOPE bubbly to wash it all down. Workshops are held the first Saturday of the month and reservations must be made in advance.

Farm to Table Foodies
Blackberry Farm is synonymous with chic, country living. They have a Farmstead tasting tour, hands-on farm activities, farm-to-table lunch demos, wine and whiskey tastings, cheese-making events and that’s just scratching the surface of food to-dos on property. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the ultra-luxe, Tennessee resort ups the food workshop ante with an immersive day-in-the-life chef experience.

Global Foodie
Vermont’s Essex Resort and Spa doesn’t have cooking classes; they have an entire cooking school. But don’t let that intimidate you. The Cook Academy classrooms are intimate and low-key, where beginners can learn and advanced cooks can hone. The school’s classes offer a tour of the world in cuisine, from workshops on Italian pasta to a taste of Australia to NOLA classics. And the course list wouldn’t be complete without a demo and tasting of Vermont maple syrup.

Gourmet Foodies
The Wynn Las Vegas isn’t just about gaming. The resort’s Master Class series features workshops led by master chefs, sommeliers, bakers and artisans. Topics range from sushi-making to the world of sparkling wine, making these courses a great option for honeymoons or just a romantic date night.

Forage Foodies
Foodie workshops aren’t typically described as an adventure but that’s what they are at the La Tourelle Resort and Spa. Firelight Camps, the resort’s glamping site, makes travelers work for their food by taking guests on a 70-acre foraging expedition. The adventure ends with a hands-on feast where Food Network star Emma Frisch shows guests how to incorporate found-ingredients.

Spice Foodies
Learn the art of tea blending at New York’s Inns of Aurora. Laura Coburn, the resort’s Director of Serenity (coolest title ever) leads customized tea sessions at the property’s wellness space, The Loft. Coburn teaches guests about the healing properties of spices and herbs plus provides a unique, tailored tea recipe for each guest.

World’s Best Secret Beaches

The world is full of hidden-beaches, but discovering them before the masses do can be challenging.

The world is full of hidden beaches, but discovering them before the masses do can be challenging. So shhh … we’re letting the cat out of bag on a few of our favorite global destinations for relatively untracked sand and surf.

 

 

Muriwai Beach, New Zealand 

For most tourists arriving in Auckland, Piha Beach is the logical destination for a first glimpse of New Zealand’s pristine North Island coastline.

Fraser Island, Australia 

Only about 200 miles north of built-up Brisbane lies this wild stretch of largely desolate sand. Fraser Island’s status as the largest sand island in the world automatically conjures dreams of mile upon mile of blissfully uninterrupted oceanfront.

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay 

Punta del Este may be Uruguay’s most famous beach resort, but the South-Beach-meets-South-America feel of the place hardly screams “off the beaten path.”

Phu Quoc Island, Vietnam 

Intrepid European and Australian backpackers fresh from the ferry rub elbows with international jet-setters who have just flown in from Ho Chi Minh City at this palm-fringed isle off the coast of southwestern Vietnam.

Isla Bastimentos, Panama 

Nine Caribbean islands off the east coast of Panama make up the archipelago called Bocas del Toro.

Top 10 Places to Stay for an Overnight Trip to Charleston, SC

Charleston, South Carolina is a beautiful city and has some famous lovely, traditional sights like Planters Inn, Mills House, and Belmond Charleston Place.

Charleston, South Carolina is a beautiful city and has some famous lovely, traditional sights like Planters Inn, Mills House, and Belmond Charleston Place. Lots of the area’s majestic historic homes are now converted and modernized B&Bs. And there are even several private rentals that are jewels for a short-term visit. Let’s review some of our suggestions for your next visit to the area.

10. The Inn at Middleton Place
Close enough to the city and far enough to feel like the country, you’ll be surrounded by towering pine and oak trees, and they will be your view through the big glass windows. Nearby Middleton Place, the oldest landscaped garden in America, offers camellias blooming in the winter, sheep, and swans. And in the Ashley River below, lazy alligators will be peeking out with curiosity. And if that doesn’t float your boat, you can enjoy biking, kayaking, and swimming. The day starts with a complimentary breakfast and ends with a wine reception, an inviting fire, and dinner at Middleton Place Restaurant.

9. John Rutledge House Inn
This home was built by a signer of the U.S. Constitution in 1763. Today it has 19 rooms, 12-foot ceilings, Italian fireplaces, canopy beds and the original wood flooring. Even though parts of our Constitution were drafted in the walls, the same walls now welcome you to beautiful ironwork, whirlpools, nightly chocolates, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses. You can also enjoy breakfast in the elegance of the ballroom or on the more private patio.

8. Planters Inn
Can you get an image of Tara or Twelve Oaks mansions in your head? Well, those southern images will come to life here at the entrance to the city’s historic market. Complete with impressive four poster beds, lofty ceilings, Italian marble bathrooms, the best linens, and period reproductions from Baker Furniture Company, you will be sleeping in a mini museum of 1844. This is also home to one of the best restaurants in town, the Peninsula Grill.

7. Renaissance Charleston Historic District
If you request an upper level suite, you will enjoy the splendid views from your balcony. And if that isn’t enough, the rooftop pool is another alternative. If you don’t get enough exercise spending money and shopping on King Street, find the onsite fitness center for a workout. Chef Robert Carter will serve you an excellent dinner at the Barony Tavern, hosted by the hotel and there is also tasty food, and live jazz minutes away.

6. The Governors House Inn
Previously owned by one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and a South Carolina governor, this 18th-century Georgian beauty is just breathtaking. Hidden behind a garden fence line, you can hit the veranda for a sit down in a wicker chair, where you will be between the lovely historic residential area and shopping, food and galleries. Hint: there is free sherry in a decanter atop a silver platter in the parlor. With soaring ceilings, overhead and hardwood floors at your feet, your room may even have a frilly canopy bed for an evening of romance.

5. The Restoration
Just opened in 2010, Southern charm meets urban edgy at The Restoration. Additional renovations were just completed in 2016 when they added a spa, library, rooftop terrace, bar, pool and incredible views of the harbor and historic downtown. But, not to worry, there is still original wood floors and walls of exposed brick for some old-world charm. The rooms have iPads, breakfasts are made to order just for you, and you will think you’re living in a super deluxe apartment rather than a hotel.

4. The Spectator Hotel
Spectate on this, friends, your very own personal butler who will cater to your every desire. Well, most desires anyway! LOL, a 1920s building with a gilded lift, mirrored ceilings and hand painted wallpaper just south of the city’s historic market area. The sunshine will bounce off the marble vanity and awaken you in your bed with a velvet headboard, and some rooms offer a private patio, how romantic is that? Other rooms offer views of the market, the French Quarter or St. Philip’s church steeple. And the end of a fabulous day will be waiting for you in the book-lined lounge, with your favorite beverage at the bar.

3. The Vendue
Picture this: an 18th-century warehouse, marble halls, original wood beams, historic Charleston brick, cutting edge art, daily gallery tours, dining in the drawing room amid painters painting or musicians making music and a dinner prepared by Chef Jon Cropf. What do you have? The Vendue. Come see us!

2. Wentworth Mansion
This mansion was originally constructed by a cotton baron and it exceeds the city’s zoning height limits because it existed well before the ordinance was adopted. So, what? You can enjoy the most spectacular views from the rooftop cupola, that’s what! Marble bathrooms, Tiffany stained glass windows, and bedrooms fit for royalty, a complimentary breakfast on the porch and an evening glass of sherry and hors d’oeuvres by the parlor fire are a few of the things you will fall in love with when you book a room here. Oh, did we mention the carriage house turned restaurant is one of the finest city venues? It is! We may never leave the grounds!

1. Zero George Street
This location is a number of historic buildings now joined by well-manicured landscaped courtyards, which is just a hint of the luxury remaining to be discovered. Chef Vinson Petrillo not only heads the staff and the fabulous food served here, but he also offers private or group cooking classes. Each night you can enjoy wine and cheese in the piazza and each morning a cup of coffee from the Nespresso in the comfort of your room.

Top Travel Apps for Your Next Trip

When you want to really experience a destination, use Airbnb to rent a home from someone who lives there.

Forget the fold-up maps that refuse to re-fold, and the printed currency “cheat sheets” for your pocket. There’s an app for almost everything when it comes to travel. Here’s a sampler of the best to download for your next trip.

Hipmunk
Not to be confused with the small, furry critters that dig in your yard, Hipmunk searches thousands of travel sites to locate the best prices on hotels and other rental properties, including Airbnb and Homeaway. It also finds the best deals on airline flights, Amtrak trains and charter flights. Want to hit the beach for the weekend, or spend a few days shopping in the Big Apple? Don’t go “nuts,” as Hipmunk likes to say, searching for a great rate. Hipmunk can find it for you, starting from your home city or other location.
Airbnb

When you want to really experience a destination, use Airbnb to rent a home from someone who lives there. This app connects you with hosts in over 191 countries and 34,000 cities, whether you’re traveling on business or for pleasure. Accommodations can range from an apartment to a villa, and there are even more than 1400 castles that will open their gates – er, doors – to guests. Want to make some extra money? You can list your own home on Airbnb and rent your space to visitors.
BringFido

Some travelers don’t leave home without a certain credit card. Others won’t budge without Spot. BringFido lets you “spot” pet-friendly destinations around the world, along with accomodations, attractions and restaurants that won’t make your pup sit and stay….outside. It also locates services like veterinary clinics, boarding kennels and training classes. A handy events calendar tracks dog shows, costume parades, festivals, agility competitions, “yappy” hours, dog washes and more. And “paws” to consider this: about 70% of the listed events benefit humane societies.

Hopper
Hopper, which is an accredited travel agency, was named the best travel app of 2015 by Apple, and it’s easy to see why. When you search for a trip, Hopper taps into historical data to see when flight prices are typically at their lowest. Then it will either recommend that you go ahead and book, or wait to see if the fare goes down. If you opt to wait, just tap the binoculars icon in the app, and Hopper will alert you as soon as the ticket price drops. Then you can “hop” right on it.

Hotel Tonight
Not sure where to stay when you’re traveling on the spur of the moment? Or are you worried that you’ll blow your budget on a hotel because you couldn’t book in advance? Hotel Tonight can help. This app partners with properties in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America and the Asia Pacific region to locate deals on rooms that hotels haven’t been able to book ahead of time. You can reserve a room for the current night, the next day or beyond. Look for room descriptions like “hip,” “basic,” “charming,” “luxe” or “solid” to get a feel for what to expect.

XE Currency
Whether you’re bargaining for a silk scarf at a market stall in Thailand or shopping for luxury teas in a London department store, you’ll have to convert your money to whatever the locals are using. XE Currency is a free app that tracks live exchange rates as well as historical data. For just $1.99, an ad-free “pro” version offers almost all the same features as the freebie, and lets you follow up to 20 currencies at once (the free version is capped at 10). XE Currency is available for Windows, BlackBerry, Firefox OS, Apple and Android devices.

CityMaps2Go

You don’t need an Internet connection to use the free, offline maps on CityMaps2Go, which relies on GPS to find street addresses and attractions. (If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll need to turn off your data roaming setting, or your phone will keep trying to connect to the Internet.) You can search for a restaurant, shop, hotel or other place by name, or simply browse by categories. This app, from Ulmon, also lets you book hotels, customize maps, and save and share your information with others. Need ideas on what to do and where to go? Explore destinations in-depth with the app’s curated or partner-provided content.

Periscope
Periscope, from Twitter, invites you to “see the world through someone else’s eyes” as you watch videos created by other users around the globe. You might see surfers catching the waves in California, observe a political protest unfolding in Cairo, or opt to make your own video of the sun setting at the Eiffel Tower. Followers can see videos in the app or on the Web and write comments or post hearts to show their approval. Show your video live or save it to replay up to 24 hours later; you can also choose whether to make it public or private.

Postagram
Send postcards from the road with Postagram, by Sincerely, Inc. This app lets your turn images from your iPhone, Instagram or Facebook accounts into printed cards. Mail them anywhere in the U.S. for $.99 or outside the U.S. for $1.99; if the card gets lost or damaged in the mail, or you’re just not happy with it, the developers say they’ll re-send it or refund your money. Personalize your cards with a message, if you like; they have space for up to 140 characters. Even if you don’t send the postcards to friends and family back home, they’re fun additions to a photo album or scrapbook of your travels.