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Is it really possible to fly roundtrip from Chicago to Europe for under $500? Budget airlines say it is, but they also make us wonder: Is the price we’re being quoted the total cost? What sacrifices do we have to make to fly from LA to NYC for under $200? And just who are these budget airlines many of us have never heard of before? We asked CheapTickets Senior Communications Manager Mel Dohmen to answer some of our most burning budget airlines questions.
What are some of the most popular budget airlines?
Spirit Airlines is one of the biggest budget air carriers in the U.S. with bases in Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Orlando. Frontier Airlines out of Denver is also gaining notoriety for its no-frills model.
Internationally, Norwegian Air is one of the major players right now with incredibly affordable fares to Europe, Scandinavia and parts of Asia.
Dublin-based Ryanair is a name U.S. travelers to Europe will also recognize. They specialize in low-cost airfares and are known for flying in and out of smaller or secondary airports like London Stansted.
Frequent travelers to Mexico and Central America will also be familiar with Volaris for its budget fares to hotspots throughout the region.
In light of the recent turmoil with WOW air (as of March 2019, the airline is officially no more), it’s worth noting that sites like CheapTickets do continue to make budget carriers, along with hundreds of others, available to customers but we do monitor the financial health of partner carriers closely.
Are there any that you would particularly recommend?
Travelers can find amazing deals to many bucket list destinations around the globe, whether it’s a budget airline or not. While these carriers may be synonymous with value, I wouldn’t discount keeping your options open and staying flexible. It all just depends on where you want to go and when it fits your schedule.
What are some of the sacrifices travelers commonly make when flying budget airlines?
Budget travelers are often willing to make significant trade-offs to save money throughout their travel journey, and that is certainly no exception with budget airfare carriers. It’s important to know what you’re getting into when you purchase. Expect no frills and to be charged for everything. If you go in with those expectations, you should be fine.
Do you have any “hacks” for making budget flights more comfortable?
My biggest tip is to do your research so you aren’t surprised by what you will and won’t be expected to pay extra for, especially if you are flying international. Most budget carriers are very strict about luggage allowances, and baggage sizes and weights may be different than what U.S. travelers are accustomed to. So always check the guidelines and weigh your bag before getting to the airport. I had a coworker once check a piece of luggage that was a few pounds over the weight restriction and had to pay $160 for a two-hour flight!
Beyond that, there are some tried and true tricks travelers often recommend on these no-frills flights.
Bring your own entertainment. People are often surprised when budget airlines don’t offer in-flight entertainment. Pre-download TV shows on your phone through Netflix and wear your headphones onto the plane to save space in your carry on.
BYOB food and beverages, too. Bring a water bottle on board and pack light snacks in your pockets. I’ve even heard of travelers preparing a protein shake in their water bottle for an extra healthy snack.
Make your heaviest items your personal items. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane like a heavy winter coat, boots or warm layers. Most carriers also won’t weigh your personal item, so stash heavy things like shoes or toiletries in there if you can.
Bring empty tote bags. Save on suitcase space by stashing your bulky layers in an empty tote bag on the return trip home. Plus, they are handy for grocery shopping, storing road trip snacks, separating laundry and buying duty-free airport beer.
Are there certain types of trips where you would recommend flying a budget airline?
Budget carriers are great for solo travelers but often less so for couples or families. One way budget airlines make their money back is by charging you extra if you want to sit with others in your party. Thankfully, parents traveling in the U.S. with kids under 13 don’t have to worry about this since Congress passed legislation in 2016 that mandates airlines seat young kids with their parents or caregivers at no extra charge.
What considerations should travelers make when deciding whether or not to fly a budget airline?
Calculate costs for seating and baggage before you book to make sure you won’t actually be paying more. CheapTickets.com and other online travel sites like Orbitz or Expedia notify customers throughout the booking process about what is and isn’t included in a ticket. That’s important because while a roundtrip flight from Austin to Denver for less than $100 may sound like a good deal, if you end up paying for bags and seat assignments later you may not be saving all that much more money.
Some people may be concerned that budget airlines aren’t as safe. What is your response to this?
The price of a ticket has no correlation to customer safety. Budget airlines must follow the same FAA regulations and safety guidelines as any other carrier. For peace of mind, various organizations report on airline safety, so you can easily research a particular airline online.
In general, would you say it’s worth it to fly budget airlines?
Travelers should consider what trade-offs they are really willing to make on their next trip. Booking a no-frills airline is certainly one way to save, but vacationers can also stay on budget with low-cost lodging, activities, public transportation and much more.
Anything else travelers should know about flying budget?
Layovers help international budget carriers like Norwegian and Ryanair keep costs low, but that can come with drawbacks. Make sure you’ve booked enough time between connecting flights and have their customer service number ready in your phone. It’s always safer to ask and call someone than assume you’ll automatically be re-booked.
If you want to discover London at its most creative, irreverent and fun, head east. The most multicultural corner of the capital has kept its working-class feel despite the arrival of hipsters and ad agencies. The vast area east of Liverpool Street Station and north of the River Thames is constantly reinventing itself. East London’s food, drink and art scenes don’t just push the envelope, they rip it open and invite you to the party. Here are the coolest neighborhoods to check out on a jaunt to the East End.
Though it’s been trading as a market since 1682, Old Spitalfields Market has recently benefited from an extensive regeneration project. Big brands and boho boutiques share space with traders selling handmade crafts and food stalls seven days a week.
Opposite the market’s Commercial Street entrance, you can’t miss the imposing Christ Church. It was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, the apprentice of England’s most celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren. Next to the church, The Ten Bells pub is famously associated with Jack the Ripper. The iconic cockney hangout is an atmospheric place to grab a pint, and it contains many of its original Victorian features, such as its striking tiled walls. Those with a predilection for dark tourism—and seemingly unsolvable murders—should join a Jack the Ripper tour.
Feeling hungry? A branch of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite British restaurant, St. John, is mere steps away (easy staggering distance!) from The Ten Bells. Chef Fergus Henderson was at the forefront of the “nose to tail” cooking revolution, and his roasted bone marrow and parsley salad made Bourdain swoon. It has some surprisingly good fish and veggie options too.
North of Spitalfields, Dennis Severs’ House is a “still life drama” of a Georgian house. It’s a uniquely immersive experience rather than a museum. The house is set up as if the occupants have just left, with glasses half-full of wine, flickering candles, the clattering of horses’ hooves outside, and even a suspiciously realistic full chamber pot.
Hanbury Street, Brick Lane | Photo: Zahra Pettican
Brick Lane is the epicenter of East London’s street art scene. Sometimes known as “Banglatown” because of its thriving Bangladeshi community, it’s packed with curry houses. Arbor City Hotel is a modern, stylish crash pad within walking distance of all the area’s attractions and nightlife. Check out the art in Brick Lane’s side streets and courtyards like Seven Stars Yard, Fashion Street and Hanbury Street. As with any outdoor urban gallery, there’s always something new to discover. Some long-standing pieces include Roa’s stork, Invader’s space invaders and Ronzo’s Crunchy. The latter is on the grounds of the Old Truman Brewery next to Banksy’s pink car, which is protected by perspex. Other high-profile artists who’ve brought cheekiness, subversion and bucketloads of talent to these streets include Stik, BK Foxx, D*Face and Mr Cenz.
Once the largest brewery in the world, the Old Truman Brewery is now a sprawling complex of pop-up stores and food stalls. Rest assured, beer is still very much consumed at its bars. Brick Lane is the place for vintage shopping; Beyond Retro’s curated collection of recycled items is a local institution. On Sundays, Brick Lane turns into a large street market selling vintage and new fashion. Five minutes’ walk away, Petticoat Lane Market has been doing a brisk trade ever since immigrant Huguenot weavers moved in to escape persecution in France.
Street food in Brick Lane has been influenced by Jewish immigration. Beigel Bake supplies a steady stream of bagels with traditional fillings like salt beef to hungry customers 24/7. It’s the perfect pit stop to prepare you for quaffing craft beer with hipsters. For nightlife, try 93 Feet East and Exit Bar. Alternatively, Alcotraz Penitentiary is an unexpectedly fun and imaginative concept bar involving actors, prison cells, orange jumpsuits and contraband booze!
New Road Hotel, aerial view | Photo: Zahra Pettican
Whitechapel was once rife with slums and criminals. The shadowy figure of Jack the Ripper loomed large in the 1880s, and in the ’50s and ’60s, infamous gangsters the Kray twins ruled its streets. TheBlind Beggar pub on Whitechapel Road has been immortalized in numerous films and books after Ronnie Kray murdered a rival there.
These days, Whitechapel is a very respectable address and boasts one of the best art galleries in London. The Whitechapel Gallery is at the forefront of contemporary art, and past artists that have premiered their work here include Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo. Refuel at the gallery’s cafe or neighboring Exmouth Coffee Company and the halal-friendly Grounded Coffee Company. Nearby, the New Road Hotel is celebrating its first birthday this spring. Its industrial design pays homage to its origins as a textile factory and furniture has been sourced from local sellers making it fit right in with East London’s eclectic vibe.
Bethnal Green and Mile End
Ragged School Museum, Mile End | Photo Zahra Pettican
Further east, Bethnal Green and Mile End have some excellent free museums. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the V&A Museum of Childhood, which is potentially the world’s best toy box. It is home to a vast and well-organized collection of toys, games, dolls’ houses and costumes dating from the 16th century onward. The Ragged School Museum in Mile End is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays but provides a fascinating insight into how the East End’s most destitute kids could access free education in Victorian times. Stop off at The Coffee Room next to Mile End Park for a caffeine fix in cozy surroundings.
We should always pamper our moms, but Mother’s Day gives us an excuse to go all out. That’s not to say our budget agrees, though. If you want to make Mother’s Day really special this year, there are plenty of destinations that feel high-end, but are actually quite affordable.
Maybe you’ve considered taking your mom to New York City or Niagara Falls, but a great option just an hour from New York City is charming Nyack. This winsome small town offers free walking tours, art tours, group bicycling excursions, kayaking on the Hudson River, and visiting the home of artist Edward Hopper—along with a slew of new restaurants suited to all budgets. For Mother’s Day, the boutique Time Nyack will provide all guests with complimentary “Rose Petal” cocktails and fresh strawberries between 5-6:30pm. Housed in a historic former factory turned recording studio, the hotel melds art and history, with a strong dash of urban energy.
Photo: Derek Brown.
Vegas isn’t all about casinos and high-end attractions. It’s also very easy to do on the cheap, from budget-minded restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs (like Michael Symon’s Mabel’s BBQ at the newly-revamped Palms Casino Resort to free outdoor activities and lots of people watching. Whether it’s viewing the Mirage volcano as it erupts, visiting the conservatory at Bellagio (and checking out the fountains while you’re there) or taking a gondola ride at the Venetian, there’s tons of fun free or low-cost things to do that have nothing to do with gambling or nightclubs. Plus, Vegas is full of surprisingly affordable hotel stays, like the new Park MGM which includes mom-approved Italian food emporium Eataly.
If you’re looking for a culture-filled and relaxing—yet adventurous and tropical—Mother’s Day escape, check out the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. Its historic capital city, Willemstad—a UNESCO World Heritage site—has tons of great museums, monuments, restaurants and shopping. With its colorful pastel buildings, red tile roofs and iconic Handleskade backdrop, Willemstad feels like a slice of Europe in the Caribbean. Try a guided hike up Mount Christoffel, relax on cove-like beaches, or have a cocktail and a spa treatment. Papagayo Beach Hotel is a modern hotel with European flair mixed with a touch of Caribbean decor and perfectly suited to its prime location among the boutiques and restaurants of Jan Thiel Beach.
Scottsdale is a great destination to relax, restore and explore (and not spend a fortune). Start the day with red velvet pancakes and breakfast tacos at Herb Box before heading to the spa. Scottsdale has the largest number of spas per capita so there are plenty to choose from. Sip some wine from an extensive list at FnB before grabbing dessert at Super Chunk Sweets & Treats. For casual conversation, The Phoenician hosts afternoon tea while the Hyatt Regency has 10 separate swimming pools, ideal for lounging with a book. For some light adventure, book a hot air balloon ride for the two of you or visit the Desert Botanical Gardens at night for a special light exhibit.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach on Florida’s Space Coast is known for its gorgeous waters, beautiful sunset walks, and an exciting downtown featuring outdoor spaces, waterfront dining, shopping and live entertainment. Take a glass-bottomed kayak over bioluminescent lagoons or ride down the coast using Zagster bike share, or watch the birth of baby sea turtles at the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Brevard Zoo is home to more than 900 animals; you can feed a giraffe or go on a rhino encounter. The Brevard Zoo is the only US zoo to offer guided kayak tours around the animal exhibits. Snap a selfie on the 800-foot Cocoa Beach Pier—one of the most photographed spots in town and choose from an array of affordable luxury resorts, including Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort.
Sometimes, an international vacation is actually more affordable than a domestic one. With plane tickets cheaper than ever and budget airlines adding new routes by the day, it’s time to explore beyond America’s awe-inspiring—but often pricey and crowded—natural wonders and culture-packed cities. Many gorgeous, affordable options can be found south of the border, in Latin America. For example, did you know Mexico has its own Napa Valley equivalent a short drive south from San Diego, or that Lima, Peru has a food scene rivaling many major U.S. cities? To help get the travel inspiration flowing, we’ve rounded up 7 Latin American alternative to pricier U.S. destinations.
Rolling Hillsides blanketed with vineyards, world-class restaurants, and the Pacific Ocean just a stone’s throw away: While it may sound like we’re describing Napa Valley, we’re not. Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, a wine and foodie lover’s paradise just a 90-minute drive south of San Diego, is Baja’s relaxed wine country, featuring architecturally impressive wineries and charming boutique hotels galore. It’s hard not to fall in love with the scenery—and its prices, too. While tastings generally run around $10, the real value lies with the food. Acclaimed chefs like Javier Plascencia at Finca Altozana and David Castro at Fauna, serve mind-blowingly delicious local cuisines for half the price of equally delicious Napa restaurants. Start your day tasting smooth organic Tempranillo and Syrah at Finca La Carodilla then take a horseback ride through the vineyards at Adobe Guadalupe Winery.
Lima, Peru v. Chicago
Looking for a foodie weekend getaway? Chicago probably jumps to mind with its deep-dish pizza, fancy tasting-menu restaurants and upscale Mexican cuisine. But it can also come with a mile-long bill, especially when you wrap in the price of cocktails, a plane ticket and an expensive downtown hotel room. Instead, consider swapping Italian beef for lomo saltado (beef marinated in vinegar and soy sauce then sautéed with chilies and onions) in Peru’s capital. Lima’s dynamic cuisine has influences from around the globe including Europe and Asia (particularly China), so there’s no shortage of flavors. Head to Ámaz for avant-garde dishes driven by ingredients from the Amazon, or enjoy some of the best ceviche of your life by world-renowned Peruvian-Chinese chef Javier Wong at Chez Wong. Once you’ve had ceviche in Lima, you won’t be able to stop, so add restaurant Cala to your list; this foodie hot spot helped drive the Peruvian food craze in the U.S. In Peru, you’ll really only find inflated tourist pricing around Machu Picchu; just about everything else in this beautiful county is incredibly affordable.
Cartagena, Colombia v. Cape Cod
Colorful streets of Cartagena
If charming flower-draped sidewalks and amazing seafood are what you’re looking for, there’s no need to spend a fortune in the New England town of Cape Cod. Sure, the beaches are beautiful and the weather in summer is lovely, but the prices are high and the snootiness is palpable. Instead, grab your passport and head south to Cartagena where bougainvillea grows from colorful, colonial-style balconies, vendors dole out cheap, mouth-watering street food like arepas and fresh fruit juices, and the nightlife is legit. Here, you’ll enjoy a top-shelf rum punch for about $6 at Café Havana, then salsa the night away to live music until dawn. During the day, explore the charming Old City, take a tour of Convento de la Popa, or venture on boat to the Rosario Islands. For your last night, book a table at La Cevicheria for flavorful ceviche, then catch a killer sunset Cafe Del Mar atop the Old City walls. As the sun melts into the Caribbean horizon, we bet you’ll already be planning your next trip back.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina v. Niagara Falls
These two falls have something in common besides being magnificent displays of Mother Nature: They both lie on the border of two countries. Straddling Canada and the United States, Niagara Falls is an incredibly popular (and populated) destination. Think huge throngs of tourists with cameras and iPhones in hand. Consider, instead, Iguazu Falls in South America. Equally impressive in statue and scope, Iguazu straddles Brazil and Argentina and is generally less crowded, cheaper and more rugged than Niagara. On the Brazilian side, a nice hotel in the Foz do Iguaçu area runs around $50/night, and tickets tickets into the park cost around $50, including transportation once inside. From Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side, entry to the park is around $40. From either side, though, you’ll have a stunning view as billions of gallons of water rush over the side of lush, green cliffs in the middle of a jungle.
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia v. White Sands, NM
Salar de Uyuni
Visiting the largest gypsum dune field in the world will require planes, trains and automobiles. The 275 square miles of sandy desert in New Mexico is truly a stunning sight to behold, but no doubt getting there can cost an arm and a leg. El Peso, which isn’t the cheapest place to fly into and will almost certainly entail two plane flights, is the closet airport. Then, you’ll have to rent a car and make your way 1.5 hours north into New Mexico. Instead, opt for the more Instagrammable salt flats in Bolivia. Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat in the world, covering more than 4,000 square feet and the photo scenes you can create there are epic (seriously, Google “salt flats Bolivia” and you’ll see some wildly creative shots). If you go during the rainier winter season, you’ll be amazed by the stunning mirror effect given off by the flooded white ground. By summer, the water has dried and the ground has hardened and cracked, delivering equally scenic, salty views that stretch for miles. You can book 3-day/2-night tours from the town of Uyuni for less than $200 (including transportation and accommodation!), so then only thing you’ll need to worry about is getting that killer shot.
Havana, Cuba v. Miami
Havana ooh na na. Half of my heart is in Havana, ooh na na. Now that we’ve got that song stuck in your head, it’s time to talk logistics. Sure, you could go to Miami, the U.S. city with the largest population of Cubans outside of Cuba, get some pretty fantastic food and probably find some legit great music. But good luck not giving away the entire piggy bank on a flight, hotel and dining; Miami is a notoriously expensive city. Why spend all that dough when you can hop on a 50-minute plane to Havana for the real thing? Time really has stood still in Cuba, but the island nation has opened up tremendously to U.S. tourism in the last decade. Stroll around the charming streets of Havana checking out all the cool 1950s vintage cars as they whiz by. Then pop out to the suburbs to visit Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s home and museum. Hotel prices in Old Havana are very budget friendly, starting at $5.
Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile v. Yellowstone National Park
Torres Del Paine National Park
Sure, entry to Yellowstone National Park only costs about $25, but its remote location in Wyoming will certainly cost you a pretty penny travel-wise. Plus, most hotels in the are at least $200/night, and that’s after you plan flight and rental car. The park also sees more than 4 million annual visitors, so you won’t exactly have all that nature to yourself. Instead, consider a more exotic park like Torres Del Paine in Chile’s southern Patagonia region. The extraordinary Chilean national park has ice fields, jagged mountain formations, cerulean lakes and gigantic glaciers. Venture out on a hike, like the park’s famous W Circuit, and spot incredible wildlife, like Andean condors soaring above. Arguably South America’s most picturesque corner, Torres del Paine is one of Mother Nature’s greatest masterpieces.
Just a few months before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (aka Harry and Meghan) were set to receive their royal addition, the couple set off on a babymoon to Morocco. But for the rest of us, who may not have royal coffers, what are the options for an incredibly relaxing and fun—but affordable—babymoon? A few things to keep in mind when choosing a destination are the length of flight (shorter is better), finding a destination that’s all about relaxation (a pampering spa sounds nice) and maybe even a little romance (this could be your last trip together for a while).
Grownups can play in Cabo, because it’s incredibly romantic, serene and very picturesque. Mountains meet the ocean with a desert vibe, which means less humidity or worry of mosquitoes. There’s also incredible dining (lots of farm-to-table options), and it’s super low key—exactly what an expecting mama and papa want out of a babymoon. Le Blanc Spa Resort is a beautiful, all-inclusive adults-only hotel super close to Cabo’s arts district with many on-site restaurants, pools, a standard balcony or patio and much more.
San Diego, California
With 70 miles of beautiful beaches, an amazing food scene (check out Crack Shack, Kettner Exchange and Kindred) and year-round summer weather, San Diego is a great babymoon destination. At the Paradise Point Hotel in Mission Bay, expecting parents can stay in the 44-acre California bungalow-style property amidst gardens and lagoons. The hotel’s spa even has the the “Mommy to Be” massage witch aims to eliminate any discomfort from pregnancy. There is also a couple’s massage package to stir up some romance.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Vegas makes a great babymoon destination because it offers a little bit of everything. If you want a beachy getaway, there’s Mandalay Bay Beach, with its 2,700 tons of real sand, 1.6-million-gallon wave pool and a Lazy River. If you want a relaxing retreat, there’s plenty of spas around town that won’t break the bank. Park MGM even offers a Saturday yoga class (bookable through the spa) specializing in holistic healing of body and mind—free for Nevada residents; $20 for hotel guests. If you’re a mom-to-be who wants to escape through some exciting entertainment, Las Vegas is the place for that, too.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
With beautiful weather, affordable hotel rates and easy access from major US cities, Riviera Maya, Mexico is a pretty popular spot for babymoons. With options like all-inclusive services and amenities, expectant parents can have a worry-free getaway. For example, Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya offers beach access and three pools, but also low-key active fun, like a relaxing hike across one of the resort’s four nature trails or exploring a Mayan ruin on the resort’s grounds.
This destination is an easy drive from both Flagstaff (40 minutes) and Phoenix (2 hours). Babymooning couples will love Sedona for its beautiful red rocks, tranquil spas and plethora of outdoor activities for nature lovers. One of the best places to stay is Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa, an affordable boutique hotel that feels like an Andalusian oasis. The hotel grounds are so relaxing you may never want to leave but if you do, the property is walking distance to some of the best restaurants and shopping in town. The hotel’s spa offers a rejuvenating prenatal massage customized to mother’s needs.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs boasts nearly 50 natural hot spring mineral pools located in Hot Springs National Park, just a short one-hour drive from Little Rock. Once you’ve had a chance to relax, babymooners can explore the tranquil and beautiful Garvan Woodland Gardens which unfold along more than four miles of wooded shoreline. Stay at Best Court, which has in-room balconies, perfect for a romantic sunset cuddle.
Savannah has something for everyone. The entire Historic District is about 2 miles wide and very walkable (i.e. flat). Most landmarks are concentrated in one area, which is nice for pregnant women who aren’t able to walk long distances but still want to sight see, though trolleys and pedicabs are also readily available. Tybee Beach is nearby (15-20 minutes by car), and quieter, more secluded beaches are also in close proximity. But of course, Savannah is known for its incredible food, so come hungry! It’s also a famously haunted city, so don’t miss a ghost tour. Fairfield Inn & Suites Savannah Downtown/Historic Districtis a great affordable option with a prime location, outdoor pool and daily breakfast buffet included.
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
For those in the mood for a city getaway without spending a ton of money, Dallas-Fort Worth combines a metropolitan atmosphere with a dose of laid-back, cowboy spirit. Fort Worth boasts activities like discovering art in the Cultural District, viewing the twice-daily cattle drive—the only one of its kind in the world—in the Stockyards, and hanging at the world’s largest honky tonk at Billy Bob’s Texas. There is an eclectic mix of cuisines to satisfy any craving along Fort Worth’s Restaurant Row at Magnolia Ave, from BBQ at Heim BBQ and Japanese at Shinjuku Station to artisan ice cream at MELT. Most hotels in the city start at under $200/night, like the Omni Fort Worth. Meanwhile, downtown Dallas touts gorgeous hotels like The Joule and The Adolphus, with world-class spas that offer a wide range of prenatal body treatments, massage, and advanced skincare. The Adolphus was specifically chosen by Buckingham Palace to host The Queen and Prince Philip back in 1991, and the hotel still serves a fantastic afternoon tea today.
Palm Springs, California
With sun-kissed weather almost year-round, Palm Springs offers the perfect rejuvenating escape for parents-to-be. Expecting couples can visit the Palm Springs Art Museum or the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in nearby Indian Wells, soak in natural hot springs at the day spas in Desert Hot Springs, or visit Joshua Tree National Park for scenic views. Holiday House is quiet, charming and walkable to downtown (perfect for expectant mothers). A solid budget option is the Caliente Tropics Resort—we love its retro vibe.
Celebrate your babymoon in the artsy London neighborhood of Shoreditch. The Curtain Hotel & Members Club has beautiful suites with steam showers, as well as the London outpost of Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, an underground club named LP, a members-only private screening room, and a pop-up tattoo studio to kick off parenthood with a bang. Squeeze wellness into your babymoon with a treatment at the underground spa, take a spin on the in-room Peloton bike and eat healthy at LIDO, the Moroccan-inspired rooftop restaurant and pool.
Nashville is having a serious moment in the travel spotlight. Bachelorette parties are flocking here for rowdy nights at honkytonks along Broadway, families are checking out the sprawling Opry Land Hotel, and—as usual—wanna-be songbirds are moving in droves, hoping for a moment on stage at Tootsie’s. Whatever your reason for coming, Nashville is sure to delight with its all of its great live music, hip restaurants, public parks and more—all at a price point that won’t break the bank! Here are 20 things to do in Nashville for less than $20, listed in no particular order.
Head to Hattie B’s for her famous hot chicken. For well under $20, you can play chicken with your taste buds: Spice levels start at “Southern” which is little heat, and end at “Shut the cluck up” which is categorized at “burn notice.” And there are four other variations of piping hot chicken in between. Our suggestion: Maybe order a glass of milk on the side!
Catch a show at the Bluebird Café
Just about every big name singer-songwriter in Nashville, from Garth Brooks to Faith Hill, has performed on the dimly lit stage of the Bluebird Café. It’s not easy to score tickets to this iconic venue, but if you do, the cover charge usually runs just from $12-$20.
Tour the Hermitage
Located just east of Nashville, the Hermitage was once home to President Andrew Jackson. Explore this historic mansion and farmland to really get a sense of what life was like for the 7th President of the United States back in the early 1800s. General tour tickets will cost you exactly $20!
Picnic by the Parthenon
Not in Greece, though! Believe it or not, Nashville has its own full-scale replica of Athens’ Parthenon. Nashville’s version lies in the center of Centennial Park, just west of downtown. A sprawling green lawn surrounds the structure, and it’s a perfect place read a book or enjoy a picnic.
Walk the waterfront
The scenic Cumberland River snakes through the heart of Nashville. Start with a stroll along the grassy stretch of Riverfront Park, directly across from First Avenue, then make your way across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, for a great look back at the city skyline.
Hit the honkytonks
If you didn’t go to a honkytonk on Broadway, did you even really visit Nashville? The answer is no. Nashville’s main downtown drag is home to an iconic strip of live music bars known as honkytonks. Enter from the front (or from the back alley, shhh!) and enjoy a rowdy crowd dancing to up-and-coming performers. Venues like Legends and The Stage usually have a low (or even no) cover charge!
Stroll Vanderbilt’s scholarly grounds
Less than a mile from downtown lies the gorgeous grounds of Vanderbilt University. Walking around the campus, marked by red brick buildings and sprawling green lawns, you’ll quickly forget you’re in the middle of a city. The university has even been designated as an arboretum, with more than 6,000 different types of trees and shrubs on its grounds.
Brunch with the masses at Pancake Pantry
The line is always long, but the meal is most definitely worth it at Nashville’s most beloved brunch spot, Pancake Pantry. This diner-style breakfast joint is a favorite of everyone from country music stars to students on a budget. You can’t go wrong with the old fashioned buttermilk pancakes with house-made maple syrup and real whipped butter for $7.16.
Sip vino at a vineyard
For $14, you can taste eight different wines at Arrington Vineyards. Owned by Kix Brooks, of the famed country music duo Brooks and Dunn, the property sits perched on a hill with beautiful bucolic views. Bonus: You can also catch music here for free! Check their event calendar to see who’s playing.
Gaylord Opryland Resort
Visit the Gaylord Opryland Resort
Even if you’re not staying there, you could make a whole day out of experiencing the colossal Gaylord Opryland Resort. The mega-resort has nine acres of indoor gardens and waterfalls, shopping, restaurants, and even an indoor waterpark. During they holidays, they put on one of the best light displays in the country, but you’ll be blown away by the establishment any time of year. Don’t forget to catch a show next door at the Grand Ole Opry while you’re there!
Take a hike
In Nashville, you don’t have to head far to find yourself in the quiet hillsides of central Tennessee. Radnor Lake, less than 10 miles from downtown, is known for its beautiful trails and scenic lake views.
See a flick
Want some entertainment mixed with a little history? Watch a movie at Nashville’s oldest theater, Belcourt, for $10.50. Belcourt Theater has been open since 1925—back when they were showing silent films!
Get your art on
If you’re in town for the first Saturday of the month, hit up the First Saturday Art Crawl downtown. The event itself is free, and a lot of the participating galleries serve complimentary cocktails, as well!
Sip famous Tennessee Whiskey
Spend an afternoon at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, where adult tours are $11. Here, you’ll finally get to taste what Chris Stapleton’s been singing about—a little Tennessee Whiskey!
Join a studio audience
Did you watch American Idol? Then you’ll remember Kellie Pickler with her soft, twangy Southern voice. She and Ben Aaron now have a TV show called Pickler & Ben and are always looking for folks in town to fill their studio audience. It’s a fun taping, and it’s free!
Photo courtesy of Thompson Hotel
Have a rooftop cocktail
Head to the rooftop of one of Nashville’s coolest boutique hotels, the Thompson Hotel, for delicious drinks and unbeatable city skyline views. The bar serves great artisan cocktails and beer from a wide selection of Southern breweries.
Catch a Predator
Predator hockey, to be specific. Do you love the NHL but hate those sky-high ticket prices? You can go watch the Nashville Predators practice at Centennial Sportsplex, and it’s completely free and open to the public!
Boutique shop in Hillsborough Village
Spend a leisurely afternoon perusing the shops along 21st Avenue in Hillsborough Village. You’ll find everything from home goods to chic women’s apparel and accessories. For great clothing, pop into Posh, and for eclectic decor, don’t miss a visit to Hey Rooster General Store.
Feast on the finest BBQ
Tennessee pork shoulder, Texas beef brisket, and St. Louis-style ribs—you can nosh on it all at the legendary Jack’s Barbecue off Broadway in downtown Nashville. Just look for neon Jacks sign or let your nose draw you to the sweet, sweet smell of BBQ sauce. Most sandwiches are under $6 and most plates are under $12. Not bad pricing for some of the best eats in town!
Take the stage at Lonnie’s Western Room
After a long night of watching country music performers at the bars on Broadway, it’s your turn to be one. Take a quick walk to Printer’s Alley and pop into one of the greatest dive bars / karaoke joints of all time, Lonnie’s. Put your name and song-of-choice on the list and get ready to belt out Friends in Low Places or Man! I Feel Like a Woman in front of a whole audience like it’s your full time job.
The Caribbean makes for a dreamy winter escape, with its clear, blue waters, white sand and endless sunshine. But add in an abundance of high-end restaurants and luxury accommodations, and vacationing there might seem out of reach for many. Enter Negril, Jamaica. It’s one of the Caribbean’s most serene tropical destinations, offers some of the best values and some of the best experiences—whether you’re looking for an adventurous escape, a couples getaway or a family vacation.
Every local in Negril will tell you that Seven Mile Beach is the place to be, and it’s not hard to access either—especially since it stretches for approximately 7 miles! This pristine beach with panoramic ocean views is known for its powder soft sand and calm turquoise waters. Even though this is a beach where you can relax and do nothing at all for hours on end, if you’re traveling with family, you know the kids won’t have that and restlessness is imminent. Fortunately, along the stretch of Seven Mile Beach you will find plenty of water sport offerings including: Kayaking, Jetskiing, Banana Boating, Scuba Diving andmuch more.
Contrary to its name, Bloody Bay Beach is not some gore-filled coastline. While rumor has it that it the beach is named after a pirate battle from hundreds of years ago, it’s safe to say that the only battle you’ll likely encounter is trying to agree with your traveling companion the best place to position your lounge chairs! If Snorkeling is your passion, then you’ll be happy to know that Bloody Bay Beach has a wonderful Coral Reef for you to explore.
Kool Runnings Resort
For the value-minded adventurer
Just across the street from the luxurious Azul Beach Resort is a water park experience for the entire family, aptly named: Kool Runnings. This water park is the largest in Jamaica and it is loaded with a variety of aquatic offerings including: Kayaking, Rafting, Canoeing – as well as 7 adrenaline-filled watersides, including the Green Grotto which is a unique 3D virtual reality waterslide which provides them which you would liker to experience as you ride. In addition, Kool Runnings offers a human gyroscope experience as well as Go-Kart Racing and PaintBall.
YS Falls is a former sugarcane farm estate that’s about 45 minutes from Negril. Here you are able to swim in designated natural pools which are fed by either waterfalls or underground springs (the latter of which is ideal for children). You can also experience a scenic canopy ride which will take you from the top of the falls to the base camp.
A favorite for tourists visiting Negril is Rick’s Cafe. Even though this is a lively restaurant and bar, you’ll quickly find that people come here to take advantage of cliff diving – while also watching beginners and professionals cliff dive – and you are able to do so as much as you’d like, at no cost. FYI: The shortest cliff dive is 10 feet while the highest is 40f feet.
Caribbean-style jerk chicken served with rice
A culinary paradise
Jamaica is known for its cuisine which utilizes a wide variety of fresh ingredients to create bold flavors. This is especially true with restaurants in Negril. Some of the best gastronomic experiences can be found in independently-owned restaurants which are not housed within hotels.
If you enjoy BBQ’ed meats, then you’ll love the offering of 3 Dives Jerk Centre! This restaurant serves up some of the best tasting Jerk Chicken in Negril. The pricing of a meal here is very affordable (for instance: $9 for a 1/2 chicken meal with rice and veggies). As a bonus, if you visit here at dusk, you will experience one of the best sunsets in the world while having a meal at 3 Dives!
Facing the cliffs on Negril’s West End Road is a homely-looking building that’s red in color with a tin roof- but don’t judge a book by its cover, because this restaurant is an ABSOLUTE MUST when visiting Negril: Murphy’s West End. Owner/Chef Leniel Ennis’ establishment serves up some of the best Seafood meals – with generous portions – in Jamaica. Everything, including the Lobster Alfredo and the Curry Shrimp is a triumph! Murphy’s also serves up some of traditional Jamaican cuisine such as Rice & Peas so you can enjoy an unparalleled Jamaican dining experience – at a very affordable price (a full Lobster dinner for 2 typically costs: TBA???)
Azul Beach Resort
A Place to call home….away from home
The all-inclusive Azul Beach Resort by Karisma is a great value! This luxury family resort is ideal for those who just want to get away from it all and not deal with having to worry about how much your wallet has been drained for meals and drinks. Just imagine, you and your family can eat all you want – any time of the day – while enjoying the luxury offerings and water activities of the resort. And if you want to take advantage of a spa treatment, the pricing for those services are very attractive. Book your stay with Cheaptickets!
If you’re traveling as a couple and want to keep the romance front and center of your vacation, Couples Negril is ideal for you. The all-inclusive aspect of this property is designed to keep couples focused on their romance and not on their wallets. Enjoy fine dining, alcoholic drinks, activities and much more at this adults-only resort.
It’s officially March and that only means one thing: It’s college basketball season! For fans who want a courtside view as their teams march through the tournament this month, we gathered CheapTickets booking data on when and where to score the best deals. The top money-saving tip? If you want to watch your team win the whole thing, book… right now.
If you’re wondering how we came up with this list, we started by comparing CheapTickets flight and hotel booking data for host cities throughout the tournament to determine the cheapest time to book travel. Fans heading to Minneapolis, host of the final rounds this year including the championship game, will want to buy as early as March 7-16. Overall, our data for tourney travel shows the cheapest booking window is 21-30 days out.
Rooms are already starting to fill up, too. CheapTickets data shows that searches for hotels in the Twin Cities during the final rounds, April 6-8, are up 118%. Fans are also looking for lodging during game time in Des Moines (up 45%), Kansas City (up 35%), Louisville (up 125%) and Columbus (up 27%).
According to the data, fans holding out for a last-minute deal, especially in the later rounds, should look at Anaheim, California or Kansas City, Missouri for the biggest savings. Anyone rooting for a wild card team can rest easy and book hotels just one week out for deals during those third and fourth rounds towards the end of March.
CheapTickets reports that the cheapest place to watch any of the rounds is a city that’s not hosting this year but is the most popular place during tournament time: Las Vegas, Nevada. Average roundtrip ticket prices in March are around $330 or less and room nights average $125 and under. Hotel searches during tournament time are also up 132 percent compared with the same period last year.
Fans can also score big with savings to early round destinations that double as spring break spots. San Jose, California and Jacksonville, Florida are showing some of the most affordable fares for the first rounds, averaging around $400 or less. Columbia, South Carolina has some of the cheapest average room nights of any place during the tournament at just $113.
“Jacksonville is one of the cheapest overall tournament destinations for both flights and hotels this year. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a great spring break spot where travelers can catch some sun and fun outside the arena,” said McDonald.
Tickets to the Tournament
College basketball fans can save on travel and tickets to the NCAA tournament at CheapTickets.com. Ticket prices for the first two rounds on the site are averaging $134, that’s down 45% compared with last year. Tickets to the third round—when the field is narrowed down to just sixteen teams—are also 21% cheaper than last year’s prices at an average of $266 per ticket.
Fans can expect to pay the most for seats to the semifinals in Minneapolis on April 6. Tickets are averaging $383 on the site, up 17% from last year’s tournament, and tickets to the championship game also climbed 45% at an average of $365 per seat.
For a limited time, CheapTickets offers several ways for fans to save on travel throughout the tournament, including promo codes for 10% off tickets, $75 to $150 off flight and hotel packages, and 16% off hotels. Visit the CheapTickets Tourney page for full details.
After the snow has melted and the ski bums have all gone home for the season, a new kind of thrillseeker shows up in search of warm weather activities. They aren’t disappointed. Travel expert Jeanenne Tornatore shows us why adventure enthusiasts flock to Breckenridge, Colorado in spring, summer and fall and how you can join them—even if you aren’t exactly Evel Knievel.
With cold temperatures and record-setting snow plaguing much of the country this month, spring break is on just about everyone’s minds right now. But while it’s tempting to book a warm weather getaway ASAP, CheapTickets data shows that this year it pays to procrastinate.
We used CheapTickets booking data to compare seven different booking windows for spring break (March 1 – March 31, 2019) and found that travelers who wait and book just one week out could save 16% on hotels and 20% or more on packages, compared with the average price for the month.
“A lot of travelers have been trained to book trips within that 21- to 30-day timeframe for the biggest savings,” says Justine McDonald, travel expert at CheapTickets. “But this is the first spring break season where the data is proving it pays to wait and book last minute.”
We also used CheapTickets booking data to examine the best budget friendly destinations for spring break, sharing some of the cheapest places to travel throughout the month of March. Travelers who book spring break a little later this year can find hotels for $125 or less in hot spots like Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Austin and Jacksonville. Vacation packages to San Francisco, Charleston and Kyoto, Japan also topped the list at $1,500 or less.
“From bucket list destinations like Peru, Japan and Spain to great vacations closer to home in ski country or California—there’s something for every traveler at a price they can afford this year,” said McDonald.
Data shows that hotel deals abound in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
How to save
Travelers who take advantage of CheapTickets’ advice to book spring break hotels and packages a little later this year can save even more with a few last-minute promo codes. Save an extra 16% on select hotels booked March 4–31 with the code SPRINGBREAK, or take $75 off vacation packages (flight and hotel) with the code VACAY75. The package promo code is good for any destination, excluding Las Vegas.
The promo codes above can also be used on trips booked through the site’s new budget friendly search tool, Vacation Value Finder. Vacation goers start by entering their budget and the type of trip they want—hot or cold, romantic or family friendly, beach or city center, relaxing or active. The search tool then populates trip itineraries at that price point or less, based on their location and preferences.
“The tool is designed to help users find new destinations and trip ideas based on what they can actually afford—not just what they think they can afford,” said McDonald. “That benefits not just travelers, but smaller and mid-size cities, too, which offer great deals but may not be top of mind for people.”