Category: General

Iceland’s Summer Travel Guide

It’s not a tropical island, but visiting Iceland in the summer has its perks. From extended daylight hours and mild temperatures to ice caves and hot springs. Plus, it’s only a short nonstop flight from the east coast and Europeans can reach the island by ferry!

Reykjavik

Reykjavík, Iceland
Photo Courtesy of Lonely Planet

You will most likely fly into Reykjavik or visit at some point during your journey through Iceland. It’s the country’s capital and the largest, most popular city. While chain hotels are common, opt for staying in a smaller boutique hotel like the Alda Hotel. Stay in one of their rooms with a private balcony and views of the sea and city.

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon
Photo Courtesy of Guide to Iceland

Often considered the Disneyland of Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa created in 1976 by the overflow of water from the power plant next door. The steaming waters and silica mud are said to have healing properties that lure hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Communal bathing is an important Icelandic custom and while the Blue Lagoon is the most popular public pool, there are many others all over the country.

Lake Myvatn

Lake Myvatn
Photo Courtesy of Iceland Magazine

Located in northern Iceland, Lake Myvatn is a site to see. From desolate craters to bubbling mud pools and geothermal caves this area is full of adventure. You must travel through the highlands to get to Lake Myvatn, which is only accessible in the summer for a few short weeks. This is a great area for hiking and you won’t want to miss a dip in the Myvatn natural baths!

West Fjords

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
Photo Courtesy of Embark.org

Visit the West Fjords if only for the scenery. The stunning green landscape and dramatic cliff sides make this area the ideal spot for camping and hiking. Since it becomes quite popular in the summer, opt for a more remote experience and head to Hornstrandir Natural Reserve, at the edge of the Arctic Circle.

Top 5 Waterfront Destinations in Europe

Europe is filled with some beautiful cities, but during the summer months it can get hot and crowded. Try opting for some cooler spots and check out the many waterfront destinations. From famous piers and canals to hot springs and lakes, there is a waterfront spot in most major city!

Brighton Pier, Brighton

Brighton Pier
Photo Courtesy of Visit Brighton

Nicknamed “London-of-the-Sea,” Brighton Pier was once used to help promote seaside holidays. Now it’s one of the most popular piers and the biggest attraction in the southeast. Besides the stereotypical bumper cars and water rides, Brighton Pier’s main attraction is food, from fresh seafood to Brighton’s Rock or hard candy. Measuring 1,700 feet long, Brighton is best viewed at night, when live music and bright lights bring the pier to life.

Vltava River, Prague

Vltava River, Prague
Photo Courtesy of Discover Prague

Vltava River is Prague’s main waterway, but in recent years it has also become a waterfront destination. The local farmer’s market combined with a growing popularity in cycling, jogging and rollerblading, has caused more people to be drawn to this beautiful stretch of water. Visitors can easily spend a day or two by the river, watching Olympic level kayakers and rafting teams or taking the ferry line that crosses Vltava.

Plitvice Lake National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lake National Park
Photo Courtesy of UNESCO

Known as the oldest and largest national park in the nation, Plitvice Lake National Park is made up of a chain of 16 lakes. You won’t have any trouble finding a waterfront spot here. Waterfalls, rivers and streams as well as spruce and beech forests make up the parks 295 sq. km. Through the centuries, as regimes and borders have changed, respect was always paid to preserve the park and its surrounding ecosystem, which is why it remains just as beautiful today.

Eftalou Hot Springs, Lesbos

Eftalou Hot Springs
Photo Courtesy of Greek to Me

Located on the edge of the Aegean Sea, at the northern tip of Lesbos Island, is a waterfront destination you won’t want to miss. Eftalou Hot Springs features thermal waters that the Greeks have frequented for centuries for its therapeutic properties. Since Lesbos is a volcanic island it has many thermal springs, but Eftalou remains a favorite. Surrounded by a pebble beach with wind sculpted lava formations, it’s quite a sight to see.

Utrecht, Netherlands

Utrecht, Netherlands
Photo Courtesy of Holland.com

Canals are a defining feature of Amsterdam, so much so that there is a district named after them. About 35 miles from Netherland’s capital is a different kind of canal. In Utrecht, the canals have whares, which allow for boats to ride right up to the side of the canal and dock. In the medieval times this waterway system was used for transport of cargo. Today the whares are used as houses, restaurants and cafes. In the spring and summer months wharres become terraces for dinning and enjoying the waterfront.

Where to Travel in March

The days are growing longer and temperatures are warming up, in some places at least. March is the perfect time to take that much needed getaway, before spring breakers hit the beaches and summer crowds start to flock. The southeastern coast of China is quite literally blossoming this time of year and how could you say no to a tropical getaway in the Maldives.

Hangzhou, China

Photo Courtesy of Banyan Tree

The West Lake area of Hangzhou has been attracting poets, artists and explorers for hundred of years. It will surely attract you come March, when temperature’s rise and tourists have yet to arrive. The peach flower blossoms come to life this time of year, summoning many locals for a spring retreat. Stay at the relaxing Banyan Tree Hangzhou and dine at Wujie, a vegetarian restaurant that originated in Shanghais. Plus the local airport just recently started accepting private jet landings!

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Photo Courtesy of Travel + Leisure/John W Banagan

This Argentinean capital is known for its French architecture, Italian food and Spanish nightlife. Buenos Aires is a bustling metropolitan city and one of the best places to visit in March. The mild fall weather is ideal for roaming the city’s cobblestone streets. Buenos Aires is also one of the cheapest places to travel this month! Visit the Recoleta neighborhood where you will find one of the most beautiful cemeteries and stay at the Legado Mitico, where traditional design meets local history.

Maldives

Photo Courtesy of the Four Seasons

Known for its white sandy beaches and year around idyllic temperatures, the Maldives, a cluster of islands in the Indian Ocean, get extra amazing in March. The water is at its calmest, the sky is a radiant blue and the crowds are minimal. Whether you seek a romantic honeymoon or family-friendly getaway, there is something for everyone. Stay at Soneva Fushi, a family-friendly resort with tunnels, treasure maps and a pirate ship or opt for the Four Seasons with its 60 foot yacht used for private island hopping.

Andalusia, Spain

Photo Courtesy of Conde Nast Traveler/Fibru Photography

Located in the southern region of Spain, this area covers the historical and majestic cities of Seville and Granada. March is a beautiful time to visit Andalusia, as you can ski in the Sierra Nevada mountains and swim in the coastal waters, all in one day. The end of March is Holy Week, which is celebrated with big street parties in the major cities. Stay in the restored 17th century house of Casa del Poeta, located in the heart of Seville.

Top 5 Igloo Getaways Around the World

Before temperatures start to rise it’s time to take off on one last winter getaway. Make it one to remember and book a reservation in an igloo! Made entirely of ice and snow, igloo villages are popping up all over Europe, from small romantic igloos made for two, to an entire hotel made of ice!

Iglu Dorf, Germany

Photo Courtesy of Iglu-Dorf

The German company Igu Dorf owns seven igloo villages across the Alps and Pyrenees. Every winter they spend 3,000 hours crafting villages made entirely of ice and snow. Choose from a variety of igloos to stay in including the dormitory-style igloo, two-person igloo with in suite toilet, the hot igloo and the exclusive igloo suite with private Jacuzzi. Each igloo village includes a snow park, snow bars and saunas.

Igloo Village, Slovenia

Photo Courtesy of Slovenia

Located in the Julian Alps near the second largest ski resort in Slovenia, Igloo Village can accommodate up to 34 guests and includes beds crafted from blocks of ice covered with sheepskins and sleeping bags. There are two larger igloos that sleep up to eight people and two smaller igloos meant for couples. Igloo Village also includes an igloo restaurant, serving traditional Slovenian sausage, an igloo bar and sauna.

Igloo Village Bayerwald, Germany

Photo Courtesy of Bavaria

Nestled in the Bavarian Forest is a unique back-to-nature experience. Not only can you sleep in an igloo, but you also learn how to build your own. Your stay at Igloo Village Bayerwald includes an introduction with a master igloo builder, a warm evening meal and breakfast in the nearby guesthouse. Igloo Village Bayerwald is open from December through March, so book your stay in advance!

Blacksheep Igloo Village, France

Photo Courtesy of Black Sheep

Located 2,118 meters above sea level in La Plagne ski area is the Blacksheep Igloo Village. Enjoy views of Mont Blanc while nested in your two-person romance igloo or bring your family for a stay in a larger igloo. Each igloo comes with sleeping bags and faux fur blankets. If cold is not your thing, the village’s hot igloo is an option (see photo above)!

Sorrisniva, Norway

Photo Courtesy of Norske Perler

Each year is a new experience when you visit Sorrisniva. Every winter this 2,500 square foot ice hotel is rebuilt to feature 26 snow rooms, four decorated suites, an ice bar, an ice-shaped chapel and ice sculptures. This was the first ice hotel to be built in Norway and the second built in the world. All of the interior and exterior is made of snow and ice, even the glasses at the bar! Book a room while you still can, the hotel closes at the beginning of April.

 

Where to Travel in January

The holidays are over and most people are hunkering down for winter, which makes January the quietest month to travel. This could also be the best time to visit some of the most amazing spots around the world, from pristine beaches in Central America to powdery peaks in Canada.

Nicaragua

Photo Courtesy of Travel and Leisure

There is no better way to kick those winter blues than to get in some beach time. Some of the most pristine beaches in the world are on Nicaragua’s coastline and January is the best time to visit, with ideal temperatures and little rainfall. From tropical rain forests and surf-worthy beaches to hiking volcanoes and staying in eco-lodges, Nicaragua is a great spot for solo adventurers and families alike. For those learning to surf, check out San Juan del Sur and for those interested in hiking volcanoes, Ometepe Island has some of the best.

Whistler, British Columbia

Photo Courtesy of Whistler

This family-friendly ski town was ranked the number one resort in North America in 2015, and for a good reason. Whistler, located north of Vancouver, B.C., is home to Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Whether you prefer waist deep powder for boarding, the thrill of snowmobiling or cozy lodging, Whistler has it all. The après-ski scene is growing with a slew of great restaurants and a blossoming arts scene. For top-notch accommodations, stay at the Four Seasons Resort and take a snow mobile to a hut on the top of Blackcomb Mountain for fondue!

Burma

Photo Courtesy of Shwedagon Pagoda

If you are a history buff, who also happens to be craving sunshine and sand, you will love Burma. January is the best time to visit this Southeastern Asian nation, as there is little rain and lots of sunshine with little humidity. Also known as Myanmar, Burma is home to more than 100 ethnic groups and pagodas that house relics dating back to the 6th century. Spend your days venturing to temples that sit high in the Himalayas or visiting tropical islands with pristine beaches. You won’t want to miss seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites!

Bruges, Belgium

Photo Courtesy of Huffington Post UK/Margriet Faber
Photo Courtesy of Huffington Post UK/Margriet Faber

For a true wintertime experience, plan a trip to Bruges. This Belgian city is filled with gothic architecture that looks perfectly dreamy when cloaked with snow. Worried about cabin fever? There are plenty of indoor activities to keep you occupied, from taverns full of Belgian beer and antique shops to peruse, to guesthouses on the canal and candlelit restaurants. Don’t expect gourmet cuisine, the food in Bruges is simple, but delicious, whether you are snacking on friet fresh or devouring some Flemmish stew. There is said to be more bars in Bruges than nights of the year, so you will always have something to do.

2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Her

What do you buy for the jet-setting gal in your life? Anything that will make her travel time easier, trendier and more luxurious. From cozy cashmere sets and sultry skin care products to trendy travel gear, we have the best gifts for the traveler in her.

Herbivore Botanicals Mini Facial Oil Set

Photo Courtesy of Herbivore Botanicals

With winter weather and frequent flying comes dry skin. The Herbivore Botanicals Mini Facial Oil Set ($49) will become her best friend this season. Whether she is new to facial oils or a veteran, this kit is great for everyone. Included are three mini facial oils, the Lapis Oil, an anti-inflammatory used for balancing acne prone skin, the Phoenix Oil, a deep hydrating oil (aka in-flight life saver!), and the Orchid Oil, a glow enhancer for dull skin moments.

Le Kasha Cashmere Travel Set

Photo Courtesy of Le Kasha

Make her next flight a cozy one with the Le Kasha Cashmere Travel Set ($982). This French company was founded in 1918, crafting innovative fabric made with Kashmir goat hair. The Travel Set includes tube socks, a lightly padded eye mask and a large travel blanket, fixed with small discreet buttons so that it can be worn as a shawl or scarf.

Smythson Leather Travel Wallet

Photo Courtesy of Smythson

Keep her organized, whether she is on a business trip or travels for pleasure, with the Smythson leather travel wallet ($595). This British brand is known for its luxury leather accessories, and the travel wallet is no exception. The textured leather exterior gives it a chic feel and the interior will keep her organized with the array of tabbed compartments for her passport, boarding pass and documents.

Frasco Travel Mirror

Photo Courtesy of Net-A-Porter

If she is a frequent traveler, she knows that not all hotel mirrors are created equal. Give her the gift of consistency with the double-sided Frasco Travel Mirror ($150). Frasco Mirrors has been making mirrors for 5-star hotel suites across Europe, Asia and the Middle East for decades. Now you can take Frasco’s quality to go! The chrome-plated brass mirror will easily fit into her carry-on and comes with a velvet pouch to ensure it stays clean and unbreakable.

Corroon Weekender Bag

Photo Courtesy of Corroon

When she takes that spontaneous flight to Bali, she will need the Dolci+Limoni Weekender ($400), by Corroon. It’s the perfect travel accessory that will get her where she needs to go, in style. This lightweight, yet durable bag is made with a cotton canvas exterior that is stain and water repellent, with leather accents and brass hardware. The interior includes a detachable clutch with pockets, perfect for that day trip or evening beachside stroll.

Top 5 Airbnb Rentals

There are countless reasons why we love Airbnb. It’s a place for people to discover and book unique accommodations around the world. From romantic getaways to family-friendly destinations, and even work retreat spaces, Airbnb has it all. Since 2008, their listings have increased by the thousands, but there are some that stand out from the crowd.

Cubehouse – Rotterdam, Netherlands

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb

You might have a Rubik’s cube figured out, but try living in one. The Cubehouse ($151/night) is a two-bedroom house in Rotterdam, South Holland. It has three levels, with plenty of structural variation, a full kitchen and a wood-burning stove. Local restaurants and bars are within walking distance and a 50-minute train ride will take you straight into Amsterdam.

St. Pancras Clock Tower – London

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb

This historically beautiful building dates back to 1868 and was built by Sir George Gilbert Scott. Located in the clock tower above Saint Pancras International Station, this guest suite ($215/night) has two double bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a sitting area. The gothic architecture mixed with the modern interior will leave you breathless.

Dairsie Castle – Scotland, UK

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb

You will be staying in a castle. Enough said. The Dairsie Castle ($718/night) in historic Scotland sleeps 13 and includes a family bedroom, a dining hall, a gallery, an herb garden and an orchard. It has housed the Scottish parliament, military sieges, and monarch escapees. In 1992 it was purchased and restored, making it the perfect spot for a family reunion or an unbelievable wedding destination.

Seashell House – Isla Mujeros, Mexico

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb

The bright white exterior of this seashell shaped abode has beach and blue skies written all over it. Architect Eduardo Ocampo originally built the Seashell House ($299/night) for his artist brother. It has a private pool and two king-size beds and is located on the cliff side of a tiny island, in a quiet residential neighborhood. So if you are looking for a crowded, tourist destination, keep looking.

Modern Glass Tree House – Atlanta, Ga

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb

People who live in glass houses… haven’t seen the Modern Glass Tree House ($500/night). This forest retreat is built with a steel structure tucked into a group of hardwood trees and is only a few miles from downtown Atlanta. The two-story sprawling floor plan can sleep four to six guests and is also perfect for private events or meetings.

 

Family-Friendly Spring Break

Spring break often brings to mind bikinis, beach days, and way too much booze. With a couple wee ones in tow, the frat party days are over. But you can still enjoy spring break just the same, whether you are hiking with the family, playing with pandas at the zoo, or building sand castles on the beach.

San Diego, California

Photo Courtesy of San Diego Zoo

If sun is what you crave, San Diego will not disappoint. This family-friendly city has an endless number of activities for every age. Don’t leave without taking a day trip to the San Diego Zoo and celebrate its 100-year anniversary. Stay at Loews Coronado Bay Resort and take advantage of the Loews Loves Kids program, which provides special children’s menus and a variety of toys and games.

Moab, Utah

Photo Courtesy of Wild Nature Images

Explore the beautiful terrain of Moab and share the experience with your family. Embark on one of many hiking trails, such as the kid-friendly Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackway, which features tracks of a brontosaurus and four three-toed dinosaurs. After a fun-filled day, enjoy views of the Colorado River with a glass of wine in hand, made from the onsite winery, at Red Cliffs Lodge. Both children and adults will go home happy.

Captiva Island, Florida

Photo Courtesy of South Seas Island Resort

The tropical climate, white sandy beaches, and crystal blue waters will quickly put you on island time. Captiva Island, located on Florida’s gulf coast, resembles a Caribbean environment, without the crowds. Accommodations are limited, so opt for renting a family-friendly home on the island. There are a variety of outdoor activities such as biking, sailing and birding, but it’s also a great place to just relax with the ones you love.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Photo Courtesy of National Park Services

Its magnificent grandeur is enough to satisfy your winter woes. A trip to the Grand Canyon National Park is the perfect opportunity to get away from it all. Join the nonprofit Grand Canyon Field Institute on a hike to historic pueblos and rocks with marine fossils. End your day at El Tovar, a historic hotel located on the south rim. In April, kids can venture down the Colorado River with Hualapai Indian tour guides.

Bachelorette Party Destinations

With wedding season just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about bachelorette parties. Instead of the classic weekend in Sin City, whisk the bride-to-be away to a destination that is miles from matrimonial mayhem.

Antigua

antiqua-barbuda_6007_600x450
Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

This 14-by-11 mile secluded island nestled in the Caribbean is the perfect getaway for a week of sun, sand, and rum. Spend the days relaxing on Antigua’s white sandy beaches, taking dips in the turquoise waters, and sipping piña coladas. Retreat to your beach cabana at the Inn at English Harbor for an afternoon aromatherapy massage and in the evening, head to Papa Zouk Fish ‘n’ Rum for the best snapper and rum drinks.

Mumbai, India

Photo Courtesy of Conde Nast Traveller

The bustling city of Mumbai is just the right spot for a week of shopping, entertainment, and a girl’s night out. Treat your ladies to a stay at the Taj Mahal Palace, the most famous hotel in the city. Visit Bombay and Chor Bazaar for a day or two of shopping and take a break at one of the art deco cinemas for a movie featuring lavish costumes and ornate sets. The city continues to impress at night, with world-renowned chefs, hole-in-the wall bars, and swanky lounges.

Sicily, Italy

Photo Courtesy of The Thinking Traveller

This historical island in the Mediterranean Sea is filled with historical monuments and spicy, seafood-based cuisine. For the adventurous girl group, traveling to Sicily will be a trip of a lifetime. The luxurious Villa L’Olmo sleeps 24 and is surrounded by acres of lemon groves. Enjoy the outdoor heated pool, indulge in the fresh cuisine prepared by a private chef, and take in the view of the Ionian Sea from the terrace. Take a day trip to the capital city of Palermo to view ancient architecture or venture to the Aeolian Islands for a day of mud baths and snorkeling.

Celebrate Love

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Instead of reaching for heart-shaped chocolates, flowers, or diamonds, honor your loved ones with a memorable experience. Whether it’s a live performance, a cemetery tour or an undie run, there are a variety of festivities to choose from in major cities all over the nation.

San Francisco, California

Photo Courtesy of Gitane Restaurant

For a more traditional night of romance, mingle along Claude Lane to experience European-style ambiance and indulge in a variety of fare, including five-star French bistros, Spanish tapas, and sushi bars. A short walk from Claude Lane towards the bay you will find a different kind of celebration. The annual Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight at Justin Herman Plaza draws thousands of adventurous participants each year for a night of laughs, a flurry of feathers, and more.

Washington DC

Photo Courtesy of Cupid’s Undie Run

Start spreading some love early by participating in Cupid’s Undie Run. Wear your heart shape drawers and jog around the Capitol Building to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Give the gift of music and treat your date to an evening of classic love songs performed by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra at the National Museum of American History.

Atlanta, Georgia

Photo Courtesy of Oakland Cemetery

Learn about the lovers who came before us at the historical Oakland Cemetery’s Love Stories of Oakland Tours. Spend an afternoon among the gardens and gravestones listening to stories of those who rest in peace and their tales of lost love and devotion. If no ordinary flower will do, visit the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Valentine’s Day in the Garden, featuring the world’s largest orchid.

Portland, Oregon

portland mercury
Photo Courtesy of Portland Mercury

It’s not all about the mushy stuff. Laugh out loud, literally, at the live recording of advice columnist Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast, held at Revolution Hall. This city is keeping it weird with the event Worst Day of the Year Ride. Dress to impress in a themed costume and bike around town with friends and family.

New York City, New York

Photo Courtesy of Time Out New York

Your 4-story walk up isn’t necessarily a mood setter. Instead, head over to the Hayden Planetarium for an evening of champagne, live music, and an unforgettable view of the night sky. If show tunes are your jam, saunter over to 54 Below to watch real-life Broadway sweet hearts perform sections of the musical “I Do! I Do!”