Category Archives: Travel

Hipmunk Hotels: Economical Stays in Richmond, Harrisonburg, Arlington, Alexandria, and Reston

The post below was originally written by Mila Bozic and published on Sep 25, 2016.

Virginia is a unique area in many ways. The undeniable charisma of the Old Towns, wonderful waterfront sceneries, and culinary delis are something to look forward to. Once you feel the groovy spirit of Deep South cities like Richmond, Harrisonburg, Arlington, Alexandria, and Reston, you would never want to leave.

Hotels in Richmond, VA

If the “National Geographic” refers to Richmond as the place to travel for good food, you don’t have to think twice about your next stop. Choose one of the countless accommodation options, and discover why this eclectic city is among the best travel and leisure destinations. Among the hotels in Richmond, you can find bed and breakfasts in the historic district, such as The Museum District B&B on Grove Avenue, built in 1922, modest Airbnb accommodations, and momentous buildings with luxury embrace like The Jefferson, open since 1895. Experience this city by going places and taking part in activities that are popular with locals.

Image via Flickr by taberandrew

Hotels in Harrisonburg, VA

Harrisonburg, as a multicultural city with traditional hospitality and alluring natural surroundings, covers all. Thanks to the many hiking trails, all the treasures of this city, from art and culture to farms and vineyards, are easily accessible on foot or by bike. If any part of the city becomes your preference, comfortable lodging in Harrisonburg is at a nearby corner. The city offers various bed & breakfasts and inns, for those who prefer cozier, more personal accommodations or simply have a smaller budget. And on the other side, there are major national hotel brands, like Sleep Inn and Suites and the Best Western, with moderate prices of around $85 per night that are also available.

Image via Flickr by taberandrew

Hotels in Arlington, VA

If you choose to stay in Arlington, VA, while visiting Washington, D.C., you will benefit in many ways. Hotels in Arlington are located within 3 miles of downtown D.C. and just minutes away by bridge or metro.  All major national historic attractions and fun places are easily accessible from both locations. There are many convenient hotel offers in Arlington that you won’t find at the downtown hotels, with up to 20 percent discount on daily rates; just to mention a few with excellent reviews and reasonable prices, you can check out Holiday Inn Arlington at Ballston and Le Meridien Arlington.

Image via Flickr by m01229

Hotels in Alexandria, VA

From the time when Alexandria was part of Washington, D.C., the amazing Old Town Alexandria offers a preserved historic district. If you want to take a tour around the city and visit its historical landmarks, like George Washington Masonic Memorial or even hop over to the D.C. side, there are numerous public transportation outlets that are accessible and practical. The city has something for every travel purpose and budget. Choose from a wide selection of boutique or chain Alexandria hotels, such as Crowne Plaza Old Town Alexandria, from $77 per night, and Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, from $79 per night, or consider many historic century-old bed and breakfasts and other accommodations.

Image via Flickr by Ron Cogswell

Hotels in Reston, VA

The city of Reston is situated only 20 miles from the nation’s capital, and due to its closeness and good connection to many major roadways and rail systems, Maryland and other destinations in Virginia are effortlessly reachable. It’s possible to find hotels in Reston for under $100 a night, which makes playing golf in the off season in this area very affordable. Hotels like The Westin Reston Heights and The Sheraton Reston Hotel offer rates of approximately $110 a night. For business people, downtown accommodations with leisure facilities are the best option, such as Hyatt Regency Reston. Or, if you’d like to spend a night near the airport, Crown Plaza Dulles Airport has great deals all year round.

Image via Flickr by Payton Chung

This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign.

 

 

Carry On with Bravo TV’s Tour Group Host Brandon Presser

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 4, 2016 by .

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As a travel expert, TV host, and writer, Brandon Presser is no stranger to life on the go. Presser, who has visited more than 100 countries, has penned over 50 travel books, and is a regular contributor for such publications as Afar, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, and National Geographic Traveler. And while he may be well known in the travel industry, he’s about to experience a whole new level of recognition: Presser is the lead host of Bravo TV’s new travel-based reality show, “Tour Group“, which tags along as 11 travelers search for the ultimate vacation. (10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.)  We got Presser to stay in one place long enough to give us his best travel advice, his favorite places to go, and the items he can’t leave home without. 

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Hipmunk: So, tell us. What’s in your carry-on?

Brandon Presser: A dopp kit with some small essentials like eye drops, moisturizer, a travel toothbrush, Advil, and Ursa Major face towelettes; a small pouch with some lucky charms (a few pebbles I’ve collected from different beaches around the world–I’m a little superstitious!); a good book (that I never finish); an iPad fully loaded with some of my favorite movies; Bose headphones; and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

H: Carry on bag of choice? 

BP: If I’m hauling some serious carry-on luggage and want the flexibility of bringing more things home, I go for the Dakine Over Under bag, which can grow and shrink in size. For quick trips I’m obsessed with Fjallraven’s safari duffle.

H: How often do you travel?

BP: I’ll travel through roughly 15 countries a year, which has me on one or two large trips a month. Last year’s highlights included everything from Tahiti to Portugal, and leading 11 strangers on a world tour through Africa and Asia while making “Tour Group.”

H: First, business class or coach?

BP: Each travel project I work on has different travel parameters–sometimes I’m in coach, other times I’m in first. I can tell you that it’s super hard to do a long-haul flight at the back of the plane after being treated to the flat beds up front.

H: Ok, now that we’re warmed up, let’s play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?

BP: Tokyo is the best canvas for my work–whether it’s researching and writing articles and guidebooks or leading travelers through the incredible neighborhoods. The city is an endless well of oddities and curious fads. (Read Brendon’s articles on Tokyo’s oddities and fads here and here, respectively).

H: Favorite city for play? Why?

BP: Luckily, my work life and play life are closely intertwined. And Tokyo never stops inspiring me to get out there and explore with its thousands of cool restaurants, bars, shops and public spaces.

H: Favorite hotels?

BP: I’ve stayed in more than 2,500 hotels worldwide, so this is definitely a tricky one to answer. In the last 12 months some of my hotel highlights have included: Four Seasons Bora Bora, Twin Farms in Vermont, and Roch Castle in Wales.

H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?

BP: I’m really loving JetBlue’s newest aircrafts right now–the entertainment system is bigger and better than ever, the coach seats really aren’t bad, and there’s an endless supply of snacks. Portland’s PDX wins domestically for making a promise to its traveler to not price gauge on snacks and supplies. And Hong Kong wins internationally for Cathay Pacific’s awesome business class lounge with delicious food and state-of-the-art shower facilities.

H: Any travel tips before you take off?

BP: Change your place; change your luck.

Follow Brandon:

Website: brandonpresser.com

Twitter: @bpnomad

Instagram: brandpress

Hipmunk’s Guide to Landing the Lowest Summer Airfare

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on April 12, 2016 by .

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Gas prices are down, the temperature is heating up, and travelers are inevitably looking to take advantage of both this summer.

In fact, with all the sunny news about oil prices you may be itching to plan an escape of your own. But summer is three whole months long, airfare is usually priced at a premium, and there tends to be a lot of confusion for travelers around the optimal purchase date to obtain the best deal. Indeed, the most asked travel advice question posed to Hipmunk Navigators concerns the best time to purchase a ticket.

As of March 31, 2016, overall domestic summer airfare (flights departing and returning during June, July, or August), is down from a median price of $330 to $286.

Similarly, flights from the US to major European countries – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Austria and Ireland – follow the same trend: travelers this summer are paying about 15 percent less than last year, from a median price of $1331 to $1129.

And those savings seem to translate into a higher proportion of people planning longer getaways: In 2015, 46 percent of summer vacations that involved flights lasted four days or fewer, while just 33 percent lasted between seven and 10 days.

In 2016, however, 40 percent are four days or fewer, while 38 percent are between seven and 10 days, indicating a shift towards longer vacations.

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To ensure that the hardest decision you’ll have to make this summer season is which umbrella drink you’ll order, Hipmunk analyzed its historical booking data to find the best time to buy summer flights on a monthly and holiday basis. Further, you can find an an interactive guide to summer airfare that show the best times to book flights book flights from the top US cities to trending destinations for summer 2016, as well as Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 4th here.

Let’s dive in.

When to Buy: Summer Holiday

An analysis of Hipmunk’s historical data found that flights booked at least five to seven weeks in advance of major summer holidays—Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day—generally lock in better airfares.

Memorial Day: 5 weeks prior
The kick-off summer holiday weekend is also the second most popular travel time of the season and flight prices rise rapidly. The optimal time to buy according to historical data is five weeks prior to the holiday. (31 percent less than the week-of high.)

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Fourth of July: 6 weeks prior
The most popular time to travel during the summer season is the week leading up to the July 4th holiday. To avoid steep price hikes, it’s best to book six weeks prior. (21 percent less than the week-of high.)

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Labor Day: 7 weeks prior
The unofficial end of the summer also has the longest lead time. A safe bet is to purchase tickets towards the end of July when prices are their lowest—about seven weeks before the holiday weekend. However, if your plans are up in the air, you might be able to secure that same price up to three weeks in advance. (60 percent less than the week-of high.)

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When to Buy: Vacation Month

If your dates are more flexible and you’re trying to decide when to buy tickets to score the lowest prices for a particular month, our data showed that there were two times when travelers could optimize their purchasing power: two months before the beginning of summer or five to seven weeks prior to their departure month, with a vacation in August needing the least amount of lead time and a vacation in July the most.

June: Now, or mid-May

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July: Now, or the first week of June

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August: Next week, or the last week of July

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Now that you know the best times to buy for your summer vacation, it’s time to start planning. Try Hello Hipmunk, your free personal travel agent, to get flight and hotel recommendations straight to your inbox.

METHODOLOGY
Hipmunk analyzed its historical roundtrip airfare data from the top 30 US airports to determine the best times to purchase airfare.

To compare summer 2016 airfares and vacation lengths to those in summer 2015: Hipmunk calculated the median weekly round-trip flight prices for all flights booked during the first week of Jan 2015 through the last week of March 2015 for flights that departed and returned between Memorial Day and Labor Day, as well as the number of days of trip length for those flights, from the top 30 US airports (flight prices were included the week in which the flight departed). Hipmunk performed calculations with the same criteria for 2016 flights, and compared the results.

To find the best times to buy for lowest airfares: Hipmunk calculated the median weekly round-trip flight price from the top 30 US airports, for flights booked from the first week of April 2015 to the last week of August 2015 .

Hipmunk considered a flight for a holiday weekend one that departs up to three days prior to a holiday and returns up to two days after.

Great Budget Midwest Accommodation In Branson, Fort Wayne, Cleveland And More

The post below was originally published by Michael Hodson on goseewrite on June 28, 2016.

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The Midwest is a beautiful area of the country that has a wealth of different options for those who are looking for a destination for their next vacation. From the Ozark Mountains to the cosmopolitan cities, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, from outdoor pursuits to glamorous stage shows. If you are looking to travel on a budget, there are plenty of places that balance great attractions with affordable accommodation options, and here are a few suggestions for your next Midwest trip.

Branson

This lovely town in Missouri has a wealth of things to offer the visitor, with the riverboat cruises on the ‘Branson Belle’ having an old-time charm, while there are also great theaters for those who want to enjoy a show, and a series of excellent golf courses here too. In terms of good places to stay for those on a budget, check out these Branson hotels, with the Gazebo Inn being one affordable option that boasts an outdoor swimming pool.

Rosemont

Rosemont is a town found on the fringes of Chicago, that is often useful for those looking for accommodation near O’Hare Airport, but it is also the host to Chicago Comic Con and other popular conferences at its event center, while also having a museum with a huge collection of M I Hummel figurines. When it comes to finding budget accommodation in Rosemont, there are some options available, with the Best Western at O’Hare regularly having rooms available for under $100 per night.

Fort Wayne

Built at the junction of three rivers, this Indiana city has always been a meeting point both in terms of the early traders who brought their wares here, and, culturally, where the French, English and American cultures met. This is certainly reflected in the attractive local architecture. There are many budget options if you are staying in the Fort Wayne, with the Rodeway Inn and the Wayne Motel offering rooms from $50.

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Photo via FLIKR by Tu

Grand Forks

This lovely little city that lies in the north east of North Dakota is best known for its sporting teams, with the Ralph Englestad Arena being home to the Fighting Sioux hockey team of the University of North Dakota, which has been said is among the best sporting venues in the country. There are plenty of budget hotels in Grand Forks, with several offering rooms under $50 per night, including Grand Forks Inn & Suites and Americas Best Value Inn – Grand Forks.

Cleveland

Lying on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a vibrant and modern city that is famous for being passionate about sports and boasting several great sports teams, while also having some lovely museums and plenty of green parks too. As a larger city, the hotels can be a little more expensive, but Cleveland’s budget accommodation options can also include the Airbnb listings which can be searched at the same time through the Hipmunk Hotels website.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy an excellent vacation in the United States. Look up some of these destinations to find budget-friendly accommodations for the whole family.

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Hipmunk Hotels: Affordable luxury hotels in West Hollywood, Pismo Beach and Dana Point

The post below was originally published by Laura Lynch on Savoredjourneys.

This article is part of a series of posts I am writing for Hipmunk, called Destination Unknown — an exploration of lesser-known cities and towns around the world. Check out my other articles in this series.

If you’re seen popular towns like West Hollywood and Pismo Beach on television shows, you already know how swanky and luxurious these areas are. As a traveler, you have many options for affordable luxury hotels in the midst of some of the best shopping, dining, nightlife and beaches the west has to offer. You can’t go wrong with a stay at any of these affordable luxury hotels right in the heart of the action.

West Hollywood, California

Hollywood, California

Hollywood, California (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay)

Consider staying in West Hollywood for affordable luxury. It’s right in the heart of Los Angeles, with swanky bars, restaurants, and nightlife, right outside your door. This area is home to high-end shopping outlets and celebrity restaurants. You might even spot a celebrity, if you’re lucky. The Andaz West Hollywood Hotel is in the center of the action on Sunset Strip. It has a rooftop pool and is within walking distance of some of the hottest nightclubs on the strip.

Pismo Beach, California

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach (Photo: Laura Lynch/SavoredJourneys)

As far as beach locations go, you can’t do any better than the small, quaint town of Pismo Beach, located just a few minutes from the college town of San Luis Obispo. The pristine beach stretches for miles, which is perfect for a long stroll in the sand or a day of relaxing in the sun. You’ll also find incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, dramatic sunsets, and dozens of wine tasting rooms nearby. There are many beachfront hotels to choose from, and most come with incredible views.

Dana Point, California

Dana Point, California

Dana Point, California (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay)

Another great beachfront town is Dana Point, in southern California. Dana Point is a surfer and paddleboarder’s paradise, with over seven miles of coastline to enjoy and great weather year round. If you’re not out participating in water sports, hiking, or admiring the views, you can relax at one of Dana Point’s extraordinary hotels, like the St. Regis Monarch Beach or the Laguna Cliffs Marriott, both of which have a high standard of luxury.

Fullerton, California

Disneyland, California

Disneyland, California (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay)

When visiting Disneyland or one of Northern Orange County’s other amusement parks, Fullerton offers affordable luxury accommodations in a quiet and charming historic town. Three of the Disney hotels are in Fullerton – Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Paradise Pier, and Disney’s Grand California Hotel and Spa. All of these luxury options have a pool and give early access to the park.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico (Photo: CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay)

While California is a great location for affordable luxury stays, don’t underestimate other trendy places in the West, like Santa Fe. With a rich Native American history and evidence of early Spanish settlers still visible in the architecture, Santa Fe has a distinct appeal. There is a vibrant art and music scene, as well. Stay at the Hacienda & Spa at Hotel Santa Fe or La Fonda on the Plaza for an affordable luxury stay with many great amenities and a truly local feel.

 

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Hipmunk Hotels: Cheap Hotels in Ithaca, Gaithersburg, Dover and more

The post below was originally published by Lori on Travel.prwave on June 13, 2016.

The U.S. has many wonderful cities in the Northeast that should be visited at least once in a lifetime. They offer several entertainment options, as well as educational attractions. Here are five great places to discover, whether you travel for business purposes or you take a leisure trip: Ithaca, New Haven, Dover, Braintree, and Gaithersburg.

Ithaca, New York

Ithaca is one of those lesser-known destinations that are definitely worth (at least) one visit. You’ll find here a vibrant tourist trade, but make sure you don’t miss the Ithaca Waterfalls: 150 waterfalls within 10 square miles, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (a leader in the study and conservation of birds), and the wineries and breweries. For cheap accommodation in Ithaca, take into consideration The Ramada Ithaca Hotel and the Best Western University Inn. Meadow Court Inn and Rodeway Inn & Suites are also worth a look as the most affordable hotels in the area.

Ithaca, New York

Ithaca, New York

Photo by Sam Pelts via Trover.com

New Haven, Connecticut

Famous for being the hometown of the Yale University, New Haven is a lovely city in Connecticut that offers relaxation and educational attractions. You won’t want to miss the Knights of Columbus Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Peabody Museum of Natural History, walks in the Green, the East Rock Park, and the Lighthouse Point Park. As you can see, there are plenty of things to see and do here. Choose La Quinta Inn & Suites New Haven, Days Inn-New Haven, or Super 8 West Haven if you’re looking for cheap hotels in New Haven.

New Haven, Connecticut

New Haven, Connecticut

Photo by Courtney via Trover.com

Dover, Delaware

If you want to experience the best of Kent County, Delaware, add Dover to your travel list. The city features a multitude of attractions – museums, parks, beautiful mansions, festivals, etc. – and lures many tourists each year. The Red Roof Inn & Suites Dover, the Days Inn Dover Downtown, and Dover Downs Hotel & Casino are three cheap hotels in Dover.

Braintree, Massachusetts

As the birthplace of John Quincy Adams (the sixth President of the United States), William Rosenberg (founder of Dunkin’ Donuts), and of many other people – sport players, artists, and more – Braintree, Massachusetts has several attractions that will make your stay here pleasant. You can visit the Blue Hills Reservation, go to the South Shore Plaza, see General Sylvanus Thayer’s birthplace, admire the Monatiquot River, and more. For a stay that won’t break your bank, choose some affordable hotels in Braintree such as the Comfort Inn Boston-Rockland or theBest Western Rockland.

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Easily accessible by train, car, or plane, Gaithersburg, Maryland, is a place that offers various activities that are ideal for all types of travelers. The museum lovers will like the RIO Washingtonian Center and the Gaithersburg Community Museum, while those who want entertainment and fun activities can try the Gaithersburg Miniature Golf or the Bowl America Gaithersburg. Hilton Washington, DC North/Gaithersburg and the Hampton Inn & Suites Washington, DC North/Gaithersburg are all great options for affordable lodging in the area.

This article is part of the Hipmunk campaign

 

How to Visit Cuba on a Budget

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on April 12, 2016 by The Hipmunk.

Now that Cuba’s tourism industry is up and running, we’re doing everything we can to educate our readers about how to make the most of their Cuban vacations. From knowing which cities to visit to learning how the country has changed and prepping for your trip, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re ready to visit but worried about finances, we’ve still got your back. Simply implement the following strategies in order to enjoy a budget-friendly trip to Cuba.

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It helps to know Spanish.

Overwhelmingly, travelers to Cuba report that you’ll be more accepted if you speak Spanish—and that means you’re more likely to be offered lower prices and to haggle successfully. Even if you don’t have time to become fluent before your visit, learning a few key Spanish phrases will surely make the trip a little easier.

Don’t withdraw or exchange cash in Cuba.

Cuba currently uses two types of currency: the CUC, which is designated primarily for tourists, and the CUP (the peso national), which is civilians’ primary currency. (The government has announced plans to eliminate the dual currency system, but has yet to do so.) For the most part, tourists will be dealing in CUCs, but budget-friendly travelers may want to keep a few CUPs on hand (more on that later). In either case, it’s smart to exchange your money before arriving in Cuba—otherwise you’ll incur a 10% penalty to exchange dollars to CUCs. Similarly, avoid using credit cards whenever possible, as fees are quite steep.

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Plan for exit and entry.

You’ll be charged $25 CUC to enter Cuba, and another $25 CUC when you fly out of the airport. Go ahead and set aside $50 CUC before your trip so you aren’t caught by surprise on the way in or out of the country. While you’re at it, set aside another $20-$25 CUC for the taxi ride from the airport.

Take advantage of cheap eats.

Want to save money on food? Then seek out local establishments that operate on pesos (namely, street food vendors and peso restaurants). This can be a serious money saver—think the difference between paying $0.80 or $8.00 for a sandwich. If you’re staying in a casa particular (aka a private homestay), this is also a good place to eat cheaply—meals tend to be huge (meaning you can split one dish between two people) and less expensive than meals at touristy restaurants. Or hit up hotel buffets for a meal that will fill you up for around $8 CUC.

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Pack your own snacks and toiletries.

Basic toiletries and medical supplies—think sunscreen, Aspirin, and contact lens solution—are either very expensive or totally unavailable in Cuba, so don’t assume that you can pick up supplies once you’ve arrived. Instead, bring along any toiletries that you can’t go without. Same goes for your favorite snack foods.

Get mobile like a local.

Cuba has designated tourist buses, and (not surprisingly) they can  be a bit of a money trap. You’ll save on transportation by taking public buses, camiones (i.e open-backed trucks), or shared taxis. As an added bonus, local transportation tends to operate on a more flexible timetable than the tourist buses.

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Entertain thyself.

Cuba has a vibrant nightlife scene, and you can drink for change if you stick to local establishments. (A good rule of thumb: Avoid any club that charges an entrance fee.) If you’re not sure where to go, ask your casa hosts or local street vendors for suggestions. If the club scene isn’t your thing, you can still find cheap entertainment in the form of museums, which typically charge only $1-2 CUC for entry. Just be aware that many museums charge an additional fee for anyone who wants to take photos.

While Cuba may not be the cheapest destination around, there are plenty of deals to be had for the frugal traveler. Just remember: When in doubt, act like a local.

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Hipmunk Hotels: Offbeat Attractions in Flagstaff, Page, Yuma, and more

The post below was originally published by Sandra on Tripper on June 29, 2016.

Cover Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr.

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

1. Experience Space, the Final Frontier in Flagstaff (Arizona)

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

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Photo by James Jones via Flickr.

2. The Most Famous Canyon in Page (Arizona)

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

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Photo by Todd Petrie via Flickr.

3. A Bridge (Not) Over Troubled Waters in Yuma (Arizona)

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

4. London Bridge in Lake Havasu City (Arizona)

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

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Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr.

5. Doc’s House and Strange Sodas in Pasadena (California)

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

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Photo by Ken Lund via Flickr.

This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign.

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Airbnbs: Breakout Star of Spring Break 2016

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on February 25, 2016 by The Hipmunk.

spring_break_nutshell_ABy: Hipmunk Staff

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

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

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

Here’s what we found:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And if these destinations seem just a bit too tame or you want to escape the states, be sure to check out our Spring Break College Cheat Sheet or just shoot an email to Hello@Hipmunk.com with all your burning Spring Break travel questions.

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

 

Hipmunk Hotels: Top Hotels for Your Fall Midwest Road Trip in Champaign, Grand Rapids, and More

The post below was originally published on Live Learn Venture’s blog on June 16, 2016 by Natasha.

If you’re planning a fall road trip throughout the Midwest part of the United States, you’ll have a lot of things to consider during the planning process! One big choice is deciding what hotels you’ll choose to stay well-rested during your adventures. Luckily, there are many great Midwest hotel options to choose from. Keep reading to learn more about some of the top hotels in places like Champaign IL, Grand Rapids MI, Davenport IA, and more.

Champaign, Illinois

When spending time in Champaign, IL, you may be looking for a comfortable hotel with a bit more space, and the Homewood Suites by Hilton Champaign-Urbana is a great choice. This is a preferable option for those who are taking a road trip with their families. Suites are available in both studio and one-bedroom varieties, making it possible to have as much room as you need. Rates start at just $117, making it an affordable option for the entire family.

Natural Border

Champaign, IL: Image courtesy of Kevin Chang via Flickr.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

If you’re looking for an option that feels more like home while in Grand Rapids, the Staybridge Suites Grand Rapids-Kentwood is a good choice. Each room includes a full-functioning kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerator. Studios and suites are available in multiple bed options, which makes for a great option for families. Guests have free access to an airport shuttle and free daily breakfast. This hotel gives the comfort you need to feel at home after a long day on the road. Prices begin at $135 per night.

Davenport, Iowa

If you’re looking for a more affordable option and don’t want to sacrifice style or comfort, the Holiday Inn Rock Island may be a great fit for you as you make your way through Davenport, IA. Rates start at only $86, making it a cheaper option if you’re on a tight budget. There are 172 rooms, which are comfortable and have a modern style. Each room is spacious and includes a microwave and mini-fridge. Self-service laundry is available, and there’s an on-site restaurant, making this hotel even more convenient.

Branson, Missouri

If you’re looking for something truly unique in Branson, MO, The Branson House is a cozy bed and breakfast with unique rooms and a delicious breakfast. There are different sized rooms to choose from, each with its own charm. All guests can enjoy a daily breakfast. This bed and breakfast is nearby many shops, restaurants, and local attractions. Rates begin at $129 per night.

Vacation in Branson (67)

Branson, MO: Image courtesy of Louis via Flickr.

Schaumburg, Illinois

Are you headed to Schaumburg, IL? If your road trip includes business meetings, you may be looking for a more business and conference-friendly hotel. Wingate by Wyndham Schaumburg is a great option! This hotel includes a free printing and copying services in the 24-hour business center, conference rooms, and an on-site gym facility. This makes for a great place to stay if you need to rest between business meetings. Nightly rates start at $135, which includes a hot buffet breakfast.

As you can see, there are many great hotels in the Midwest. No matter where you choose to stay, you’re sure to have a fun time exploring these great cities. If you’re looking for a place to stay, Hipmunk hotels are a great resource to rely on.

Disclaimer: This is part of the Hipmunk Hotels campaign.

 

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