MONEY Travel

How Not to Overspend on Vacation

overstuffed SUV trunk with vacation luggage sitting on pavement
Getty Images

You can still have fun without blowing your budget.

While many consumers say they design their vacation plans in such a way to save money, 60% of consumers said they exceed their summer travel budgets every year, according to a nationally representative survey conducted on behalf of Citi ThankYou Premier card. Nearly a third (30%) said they avoid holiday weekends when scheduling their vacations because of the high costs associated with them — only 11% said Memorial Day is the best time to arrange summer travel.

For those who plan to take a vacation this summer, most (74%) say they’re going to do so by car. On average, gas prices are about $1 per gallon cheaper this year than last year, according to AAA’s data on national fuel costs, though the average gasoline price has increased in the days leading up to Memorial Day. Still, gas prices this weekend will be at the lowest they’ve been in five years, and AAA projected Memorial Day weekend will see the highest travel volume for the holiday since 2005 — 88% of travelers (about 33 million people) will travel by car, the organization estimates.

If you’re out and about for the long weekend, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to save money, in addition to the low fuel costs. Many studies support the idea that vacation is good for workers’ well-being and mental health, but running into financial problems from a getaway might outweigh its positive impact. Here are some tips for having a rewarding trip, whether you’re out of town now or planning an escape later in the summer.

Make a Budget & Stick to It

With 60% of consumers saying they blow their vacation budgets, it’s clearly difficult to control spending when you’re out having fun. First of all, make a realistic budget for your excursion by planning ahead, researching costs at your destination and reminding yourself of the importance of spending within your means. If you let things get out of control, you may jeopardize other aspects of your finances, or you may end up going into debt, especially if you put your vacation expenses on a credit card — and if you’re carrying a high balance on your cards, it could have a negative impact on your credit score. Whatever your budgeting method is — keeping receipts, writing out transactions on a piece of paper, using a spreadsheet or tracking purchases in an app — stick with it when you’re out of town.

Look for Opportunities to Save

If you have a credit card that rewards certain spending categories or travel purchases, consider using it for your planned vacation expenses — just make sure you’re not spending for the sake of earning points, because that’s an easy way to let things get out of control.

There are many services that help you find discounts and coupons for travel, and if you have a smartphone, you can use an app to help you find deals using geolocation. Researching offers in advance certainly helps, but technology can also make it easy to find money-saving solutions in the moment.

Keep an Eye on Your Accounts

Here’s another area where technology is your friend. Chances are your bank has a mobile app you can use to keep track of your transactions, so if you didn’t bring a computer on your trip or don’t have a secure Internet connection, you can stay on top of your spending on the go. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to secure your phone and financial apps with passcodes, so in the event you lose your phone, no one else can access your sensitive information.

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MONEY Insurance

Am I Insured If I Take an Uber?

150529_EM_RidesharingInsurance
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A Lyft customer gets into a car in San Francisco, California.

Answer: It's complicated.

Drivers for ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are under increased attack from insurance companies. However, there is less publicity regarding ride-sharing passengers and their insurance coverage. Are they covered during ride-sharing, and if so, by whom? The answer is not always clear.

Both Lyft and Uber have $1 million of liability coverage along with $1 million of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, in case passengers in a ride-sharing vehicle are injured by another motorist with insufficient coverage. According to Lyft’s website, this coverage applies from the time the rider accepts a ride request until the time the ride is officially ended in the app (presumably, after the passenger has exited the vehicle).

It would seem that for most cases, the policy of the ride-sharing company will cover your costs — but it’s not obvious whether you will have to go through other insurance paths first. Theoretically, damages could be covered by the ride-sharing company’s liability if your driver was at fault, a third-party’s insurance company if they were at fault instead of the driver, or your own personal auto insurance company. Insurance is state-regulated, and as Lyft’s website notes, “…coverage may be modified to comply with local regulations and state laws.”

Both Uber and Lyft make it clear on their terms and conditions pages that passengers assume risk in using their services. Experts think the disclaimers alone are not likely to shield Uber and Lyft from liability when push comes to shove, especially if the ride-share driver is clearly at fault.

What happens if a third-party driver is involved or causes the accident? If fault is in question, it’s not obvious with whom a harmed passenger should be filing a claim. There’s no guarantee that third-party coverage is sufficient, or whether ride-sharing services can force you to go through the third party’s insurance if the fault is still in question.

The Insurance Information Institute published a recent ride-share Q&A sheet stating that passenger’s personal auto policies would probably not apply since they are not underwritten to take on that risk. Others in the insurance industry have stated that passengers may be covered by their own insurance policies up to their personal injury protection (PIP) limits depending on their state’s regulations. However, unless you somehow caused the accident as a passenger, your insurance should only be the claim of last resort.

Some clarity may be provided by an unfortunate test case near Sacramento, where 24-year old Lyft passenger Shane Holland was killed in November 2014 in an accident on Interstate 80. As of this writing, it isn’t clear how fault will be assigned and who will pay for the collective damages. PropertyCasualty360° reports that Lyft’s policy is expected to cover the accident regardless of fault.

There is another odd case from September 2014 working through the court system in San Francisco regarding an Uber driver that got into a heated argument with passengers and ended up attacking one of them with a claw hammer. Do the liabilities intended for car accidents cover attacks by a driver? That remains to be seen.

Ride-sharing rules on insurance coverage are still being hammered out on state and local levels, as are the legality and licensing requirements. Given their popularity, it seems like ride-sharing services are here to stay, and it’s important for you to check the current rules before using them. By the time you read this article, the rules where you live (or at your travel destination) may have changed.

Check with both sides of the argument — the ride-share company and the appropriate state insurance commission. Certainly, it’s an annoyance, but it may save you many thousands of dollars if you’re involved in a ride-sharing accident. Without local clarification, you could end up in legal and insurance limbo.

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MONEY Travel

10 Amazing Airport Amenities

Killing time at the airport doesn't have to be a drag.

Who likes being bored during layovers? Luckily, you don’t have to spend your time on uncomfortable gate seats or in mediocre restaurants — just check out this list of the 10 coolest airports amenities in the world!

As travel delays become more and more common, airports are amping up their amenities to entertain travelers on their long layovers. Need to catch up on your workout routine between flights? San Francisco’s free yoga studio or Zurich’s bike and inline-skates rental program allow that with ease. For those looking to spend their time imbibing, Nashville’s airport allows you to do that anywhere with its drinks-on-the-go program, while Munich’s airport features a beer garden and brewery tour. Although it’s hard to believe that loitering at an airport could actually be fun, Hopper found 10 airport amenities that may just change your mind.

 

  • 10. Rooftop pool at Changi Airport, Singapore

    The feeling is first class... Jet-setting travellers in Singapore's Changi Airport can take the easy way to the end of the terminal with these delightful slides. The airport also boasts a luxury powder room, movie theatre, children's play areas, rest areas and even a rooftop pool! Changi is the world's most awarded airport, garnering more than 370 accolades since it opened in 1981.
    Wenn Ltd.—Alamy Travelers to Singapore's Changi Airport can enjoy this rooftop pool.

    Have a couple of hours to relax? Unwind in Terminal 1 at Changi Airport’s Balinese-themed rooftop pool and Jacuzzi. Travelers staying at the Ambassador Transit Hotel can access the pool and Jacuzzi for free. Otherwise, entry fees cost about $13, but that includes a complimentary non-alcoholic drink in addition to access to the pool and shower facilities. The pool area operates from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, so you could stay all day. Don’t forget sunscreen!

  • 9. Drinks on the go at Nashville International Airport

    Thanks to getting an airport-wide beer-and-liquor license, Nashville International Airport made drinking and flying much easier for travelers last year. The airport introduced drinks on the go, allowing passengers to carry their beverages away from the bar and throughout the secure side of the terminal. Travelers can carry their drinks to participate in other amenities at the airport, including massage and manicure services, live music, local art exhibits, or free Wi-Fi at the gate.

  • 8. 30,000-gallon aquarium at Vancouver International Airport

    Vancouver international airport
    Don Mackinnon—Bloomberg via Getty Images Vancouver international airport

    Vancouver’s airport was designed to bring the city’s outdoor-enthusiast spirit inside to passengers. One example of this is the Vancouver Aquarium’s major exhibit in the airport’s domestic terminal. The exhibit includes a 30,000-gallon tank featuring 5,000 ocean creatures (wolf eels, starfish, sea urchins and 10 species of rockfish), as well as another tank dedicated to jellyfish. The aquarium area features plenty of seating for single travelers or families for admiring the animals as well as the greenery and nearby creek that also runs through the terminal.

  • 7. Sports equipment rentals at Zurich Airport

    Who said traveling meant you had to give up your workout routine? Zurich Airport in Switzerland wrapped up an extensive renovation in 2011 and continues ongoing reconstruction of Terminal 2. Part of the airport’s new amenities include sports equipment rentals such as bicycles, inline skates and adjustable Nordic walking poles. Equipment comes in a variety of sizes for men, women and children, includes helmets, and can be rented for anywhere between four and eight hours from the airport’s service center. There is a small fee for equipment but the green areas surrounding the airport are free to explore on foot!

  • 6. Yoga studio at San Francisco International Airport

    In this Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 photo, travelers Maria Poole, right, and Lindsey Shepard, practice yoga at San Francisco International Airport's new Yoga Room, in San Francisco. The quiet, dimly lit studio officially opened last week in a former storage room just past the security checkpoint at SFO's Terminal 2. Airport officials believe the 150-square-foot room with mirrored walls is the world's first airport yoga studio, said spokesman Mike McCarron.
    Paul Sakuma—AP Travelers practice yoga at San Francisco International Airport's Yoga Room.

    To accommodate the more than 40 million passengers traveling through San Francisco each year, San Francisco International Airport has created ways for travelers to relax. Yogis, for instance, will travel easier knowing that a 150-square-foot yoga room is now available in the airport’s Terminal 2. In addition to the 24-hour complimentary yoga room, passengers can also take advantage of the airport’s reflection room dedicated to meditation. Massage, facial, manicure and pedicure services are also available at XpresSpa.

  • 5. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

    A man looks at a 'relievo', a three-dimensional reproduction of the of Vincent van Gogh's The Sunflowers on December 12, 2013 in Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.
    AFP/Getty Images A man looks at a 'relievo', a three-dimensional reproduction of the of Vincent van Gogh's The Sunflowers on December 12, 2013 in Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.

    Art lovers will enjoy their layover at Amsterdam Schipol Airport in the Netherlands. The airport’s Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the world’s only museum to be annexed to an airport. Visitors get free entry into the museum to see paintings by Dutch artists such as Jan Steen and Ferdinand Bol. Rotating exhibits at the museum usually feature eight to 10 masterpiece paintings, depending on the exhibition theme. The museum is located in the Schiphol terminal and is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • 4. Beer garden at Munich International Airport

    Munich Airport Centre, Munich, Germany
    Alamy Munich Airport Centre, Munich, Germany

    Passengers hoping to taste delicious German beer won’t need to leave the airport. Munich International Airport’s Airbräu serves up samples of some of the country’s best brews. The traditional tavern also features a beer garden (open October to May) shaded by chestnut trees, as well as an onsite brewery and occasional live music and cabaret shows. Travelers can tour the brewery for a small fee and ask the brewmaster questions about the beer-brewing process. Airbräu is open daily from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.

  • 3. The cultural center at Incheon International Airport in Seoul

    Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, wants its visitors to get a taste of Korean culture. As such, it operates the Traditional Korean Cultural Experience Zone, offering visitors a chance to experience craftwork, clothing and music from Seoul. Travelers can make traditional crafts such as Hanji, traditional Korean paper, or Dancheong, multicolored paintwork on wooden buildings. Visitors can also try on traditional Korean clothes and accessories and pose for a photo before watching musical performances.

  • 2. Nine-hole golf course at Hong Kong International Airport

    Golf pros and beginners alike have the opportunity to practice their golf game at Hong Kong International Airport. SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course is an outdoor, nine-hole regulation golf course just outside the airport’s Terminal 2. The course offers equipment rental, and the staff will even store luggage for travelers with enough time to play some rounds. Nine Eagles’ signature hole, Island Green, is inspired by the famous 17th hole at the Tournament Players Club in Sawgrass, Florida. There are fees to play but it’s free to spectate (a great way to waste time on a layover!)

  • 1. Brachiosaurus dinosaur skeleton at Chicago O’Hare International Airport

    Moulded dinosaur skeleton in United Airlines Chicago OHare Airport terminal promoting airline partner the Chicago Field Museum
    Andrew Woodley—Alamy Moulded dinosaur skeleton in United Airlines Chicago OHare Airport terminal promoting airline partner the Chicago Field Museum

    Chicago O’Hare International Airport is one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world, which is why it can be easy to miss some of the airport’s amenities — until you get to Terminal 1. There, natural-history buffs will be impressed by the 72-foot-long Brachiosaurus skeleton on loan from Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. The dinosaur skeleton — one of the largest in the world — stands four stories high! Find it in Terminal 1’s Concourse B.

    This article originally appeared on Hopper.com. Hopper is a travel app that tracks and predicts airfare prices.

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TIME Travel

Disney Is Weighing Surge Pricing for Parks

U.S. Navy Blue Angels Soar Above Cinderella Castle At Walt Disney World Resort
Matt StroshaneHandout—Disney Parks/Getty Images In this handout photo provided by Disney Parks, in a special moment for Magic Kingdom guests, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, streaked across the skies above Cinderella Castle March 19, 2015 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The flyover featured the Blue Angels' six-jet F/A-18 Hornet Delta Formation making two dramatic passes above the Magic Kingdom, with Cinderella Castle as a focal point, en route to an air show in Florida.

The company sent out a survey asking questions about whether guests would pay more for peak days

Visitors to Disneyland and Disney World may find themselves paying more for entry to the parks on peak days during the summer, spring break and Christmas time.

Walt Disney Co. sent out surveys to annual pass holders asking questions that suggest it is considering this change, gauging how they would react to a tiered pricing system, the L.A. Times reports. In Anaheim, Calif.’s Disneyland, a day pass currently costs $99 for those aged 10 and up; under the hypothetical new system, that price would stay the same for off-peak days, but most other, regular days would cost $105, while peak days would cost $115. In Disney World, the Orlando Sentinel reports, the current rate of $105 for ages 10 and up for the Magic Kingdom might remain an option while the most expensive days might cost $125.

The company told both papers that it frequently polls its customers on a wide range of topics, giving little weight to this particular survey.

[L.A. Times]

MONEY Travel

9 Mistakes You’re Making When Booking a Flight

man on cell phone at airport booking flights
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Insider tips on getting the lowest airfare.

Wondering why you never manage to bag a flight for quite as cheap as the next guy? Pining for a summer getaway but really need to keep the cost down? Then this list of 9 mistakes that the average buyer makes when booking flights is sure to help.

1. You’re Only Checking One Airline

In the days of flight-aggregating websites and airfare-prediction apps, travelers no longer need limit themselves to the prices of just one carrier. So if you’ve always flown Airline X because you think they have the cheapest flights, check again! A new route may have opened up or an airline may have dropped its prices due to competition. Always comparison-shop before you hit that purchase button.

2. You’re an Impulse Buyer

It’s a very bad idea to rush into paying for your flight without exhausting all your options first. That means holding off the “buy” button until you’ve made sure there are no more competitive offers out there — from other airlines, to alternate airports, or to a different destination entirely. Oh, and if you do happen to find yourself regretting that impulsive buy moments after booking, then remember: Most major carriers in the United States allow you to cancel your booking within 24 hours of purchase — for free.

3. You’re Booking on the Wrong Day

Although it may seem a little odd and the savings may seem negligible, choosing the right day to book your flights can actually help reduce the cost of tickets. Hopper’s research has shown that buying on Thursdays (for domestic flights) and weekends (for international flights) offer the largest savings, on average. The data also revealed that it’s much more likely that passengers will be able to bag a bargain by buying on Thursdays for both domestic and international connections, because that’s when the vast majority of routes offer savings. (And that old adage about booking being cheapest on Tuesday? Not always true.)

4. You’re Not Checking Alternate Airports

When it comes to touching down in some of the world’s larger destinations, it’s likely that there will be more than one airport on offer. For example, New York boasts Newark, JFK and LaGuardia; London has Gatwick, Stansted and Heathrow, and Washington DC is served by Ronald Reagan National Airport, Dulles International and Baltimore-Washington International. So before booking, check all the available arrival points and include the cost of transfers into town in your final calculation.

5. You’re Not Being Flexible with Destinations

Perhaps you’re considering a trip to the bubbling baths and industrial beer halls of Budapest, Hungary, but can’t seem to find any bargain air connections into town. Well, a wise traveler would expand their range of choices and look at flights to Vienna, Munich, and Prague, too, all of which are just one manageable and affordable overland journey away from Budapest (especially when budget European airlines offer cheap connections!). It’s always worth checking out prices to alternative arrival points nearby — you never know, you may just discover some other place you love.

6. You’re Not Being Flexible with Dates

Hopper’s statistics have shown that there are some pretty hefty savings to be had on airfares by simply changing up the days of departure and return to suit the trends for particular routes. In general, Wednesdays are the best for travelers to depart, offering savings around $60 on international flights, while Sundays are the most expensive. For returns, Wednesdays are once again the best for international fliers, while Tuesdays come in as the cheapest overall for those on domestic flights. And these are just average savings — your own haul could be much higher.

7. You’re Not Including Taxes and Fees

It’s the same old story: shelling out for a “bargain” airfare because you forgot to add up all those additional fees, airport taxes, and the like. In recent years, the aviation industry has certainly become more transparent when it comes to these extra charges, but there’s still a whole load of potential costs for the would-be flier to consider, from checked- and carry-on baggage fees to fluctuating departure taxes.

8. You’re Booking Too Late

Generally speaking, the modern commercial airline industry does not reward spontaneity. In fact, with rapid and exponential growth in most airfares in the days leading up to take-off, it’s easy to see that — in most cases at at least — the early bird really does catch the worm. So, be prepared and plan your trips with ample time (at least 25 days in advance, according to Hopper research), and you should find your ticket prices are taking a turn for the more affordable.

9. You’re Booking Too Early

While many travelers think the earlier the better when it comes to bagging bargains in the air, the statistics actually speak to the contrary. Often, airlines will lower seat prices at a specific point before departure, all in the hope that the maximum amount of passengers will book for the maximum amount of money. The key is to buy just as carriers start to realign seat prices in accordance with demand (a process known as yield management). It’s a tricky thing but booking at the right moment can offer up potential savings to the tune of hundreds of dollars on some routes. Generally, waiting until 150 days out will save you the most money.

This article originally appeared on Hopper.com. Hopper is a travel app that tracks and predicts airfare prices.

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MONEY Airlines

The Best Airfare Deals Are Now in First Class

people toasting in first class
Getty Images

This may be the summer you can afford to sit up front.

The price of first-class airfare within the U.S. keeps getting cheaper—at least when compared with flying in coach. Data cited by the Wall Street Journal shows that in April 2015, the average first-class seat on a domestic flight cost $577 more than its coach counterpart. Back in April 2012, meanwhile, the cost difference between flying in first class versus coach was $805.

Before you begin marveling at what seems like the generosity of airlines with respect to first-class pricing, let’s look at what’s really happening here. First off, one reason the price premium flyers can expect to pay for first class has dropped is simply that coach airfare has gotten more expensive—rising more than 10% annually, and crossing the $500 mark for the average round trip last summer.

Secondly, by lowering first-class airfare prices and strategically dangling tempting upgrade fees in front of frequent fliers who already purchased coach seats, the airlines are able to derive more revenues out of the seats at the front of the plane that otherwise would have been empty or perhaps been given to elite frequent fliers as free upgrades. Using such strategies, the airlines have collectively increased the number of first-class tickets sold by 48% over the last three years.

Even if passengers are paying less for first class than they used to, the airlines are happy with this arrangement because it’s better than giving away upgrades. At the same time, this tactic runs the risk of irking the loyal frequent fliers who have grown accustomed to such upgrades.

In any event, the WSJ pointed to several examples of domestic flights in which the costs of first-class seats were only marginally more expensive (10% to 40%) than sitting in coach. “On many trips, the first-class price isn’t much more than coach, especially if you planned to pay for extra-legroom seats in coach anyway,” the article explains.

Delta in particular seems to have an abundance of special first-class airfare deals on the table this summer, including a “Pride Sale” with first-class fares from $113 each way to New York City, Seattle, and Minneapolis coinciding with major LGBT pride events in early summer. Another Delta promotion lists first-class seats from Alaska to Seattle starting at $184 each way on Tuesday and Saturday departures this summer. Flying in first class on such a route has been known to run $500 or more easily, one way.

MONEY Travel

Inexpensive Alternatives to Top Vacation Spots

Want the fun without the crowds and cost? Visit these substitutes for well-known vacation destinations.

MONEY Travel

9 Vacation Spots That Are Better (and Cheaper) Than the Places You Want to Go

These less-traveled locales offer many of the perks of the big-name hotspots with fewer tourists. Even better, because they're less popular, they're often more affordable.

  • La Paz, Mexico

    Design Pics Inc / Alamy On the water off Espiritu Santo Island.

    INSTEAD OF: Los Cabos

    WHY HERE? La Paz is located on the Sea of Cortez on the Baja Peninsula, and it has the same laid-back vibe as California’s West Coast beach cities. The landscape is spectacular, from the marine-mammal-rich waters to a desert worthy of an Ansel Adams photo. The culinary scene is growing too, with enough upscale restaurants to rival those in Los Cabos, 87 miles (and a $25 shuttle ride) away. One caveat: Go before mid-July. Even the locals flee the August heat.

    Average summer hotel rate: $117 vs. $257 in Los Cabos

  • La Paz, Mexico: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Aurora Photos / Alamy Fruit for sale on Tecelote Beach.

    STAY: A simple room at Hotel Perla, a 1940s landmark with bay views on the Malecón (boardwalk), goes for $75 a night. If you want amenities such as daily room service and an infinity pool, try the Costa Baja Resort & Spa (from $243), which runs 45%-off specials when you book more than 90 days in advance. Overall, the average double-occupancy hotel room in La Paz is $117, less than half what it costs in Los Cabos.

    DO: Sign up for a day dive with PADI diving center Cortez Club ($140). Nearby Los Islotes is known for its sea lion colony; you might even spot schools of hammerhead sharks at Marisla Seamount. If snorkeling is more your speed, bring your gear to the turquoise waters and sandy coves of Balandra, 15 minutes from downtown.

    La Paz offers an increasingly diverse menu of restaurants, from daring fusion to old-school Mexican street food, says editor Tomas Zyber of BajaInsider.com. Get a table for two at Las Tres Vírgenes, where dinner—wood-fire-grilled octopus and expertly prepared steaks—paired with wine costs under $100, Zyber notes. For cheap eats, line up with locals at Chino Tacos (dinner, $4 per person) on Antonio Navarro Street at the corner of Belisario Dominguez. Try the tacos al pastor (spit-grilled pork with cilantro, onions, and pineapple), carne asada, or spicy chorizo.

  • Dublin

    Mikel Bilbao/Firstlight The Temple Bar in the city's cultural corner.

    INSTEAD OF: London

    WHY HERE? Looking for some foreign culture but don’t want to brave a second language? There’s always London. But since it’s the most visited city in Europe, you’ll also find some of the continent’s most expensive hotels there (average cost: $268 a night). And then there’s Dublin. With its small-city feel and Irish charm, the capital is as easy to drink in as a smooth pint of Guinness. Best of all: The dollar is even stronger against the euro (up 23%) in the past year than it is vs. the pound (13%).

     

  • Dublin: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Firstlight The perfect Irish pairing: shellfish and Guiness.

    STAY: The hip new Dean Hotel (from $138), located downtown, is capped by a beautiful rooftop restaurant. If you don’t mind a 20-minute walk or a cab ride to the city center, opt for a private room ($80) at the Generato Dublin, a design-forward hostel housed in a former Irish folk-dancing hall, located across the River Liffey in Smithfield.

    DO: The Irish will tell you that their literary legacy is every bit as distinguished as the Brits’, and they’ve got the names (Yeats, Beckett, Wilde) to make a case. If you’re in Dublin on June 16, you’ll be lucky enough to see the entire city celebrate native son James Joyce, who set his classic novel Ulysses here on that day.

    You can celebrate a different kind of artistry in the Creative Quarter—South William, Drury, Wicklow, and Exchequer streets—home to many boutiques and a great place to find authentic keepsakes. “Try the Irish Design Shop for tea towels and porcelain birdhouses or, 10 minutes away, Jam Art Factory, where you’ll find prints, artwork, and pottery,” says Emily Westbrooks, author of Delightful Dublin.

    When you’ve worn yourself out, you can rest your feet and your shopping bags at the recently opened Woollen Mills Eating House, serving Roaring Bay mussels and Howth cod (lunch, $25). If you’re looking to splurge, Dublin also has five Michelin-starred restaurants. Jonathan Epstein, president of travel company Celebrated Experiences, suggests Chapter One, where chef Ross Lewis serves up rabbit with Parma ham and cured salmon with Atlantic crab. A four-course dinner is $75. A year ago you’d have paid $97 for the same feast.

     

  • Palm Springs

    Hal Bergman/Getty A classic vista.

    INSTEAD OF: Los Angeles

    WHY HERE? During the winter this city serves as Los Angeles’ playground, filled with weekenders taking advantage of the posh resorts and haute design scene. At this time of year you can have it almost to yourself. Summer in this desert oasis isn’t for everyone: The average June temperature is 87° F and highs can hit 110° (115° in August, when you really don’t want to visit). But there are plenty of ways to beat the heat, says Françoise Rhodes of TravelingwithFrancoise.com, whether it’s a morning hike through the nearby canyons or a lazy day by the pool.

    Summer hotel rate: $105 vs. $156 in Los Angeles

  • Palm Springs: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Lisa Corson/Gallerystock Cabazon Dinosaurs Park.

    STAY: At the Triada Palm Springs, a Spanish-hacienda-style property with a cabana-lined pool, rooms start at $109 a night, 48% less than in high season. The Avalon Hotel Palm Springs, fresh from a major renovation, is set amid palm-dotted courtyards, burbling fountains, and three swimming pools, and has a top-notch spa. Rooms start at $150; at the hotel’s sister property, Avalon Beverly Hills, they start at $279 for the same dates.

    DO: The Indian Canyons, known for their stunning rock formations, make for a great morning hike, says Katy Carrier, founder of Palm Springs Style magazine. For shopping, head to the Uptown Design District, where you’ll find furniture and home decor items. Bon Vivant is known for its vintage glassware, while Just Modern has a large selection of mid-century-inspired furnishings and artwork, Carrier says. Palm Springs has also established its own film scene. The main film festival is in January, but from June 16 to 22 is the International ShortFest, which showcases more than 300 short films from more than 50 countries. When you’re ready for dinner, try the lobster ravioli at the decades-old Johnny Costa’s Ristorante (dinner, $50), says Rhodes. If you’re hungry for some true California roadside kitsch, pack a picnic and head to Cabazon Dinosaurs, about 20 miles west of the city.

  • Naxos, Greece

    Age Fotostock/Alamy The Temple of Apollo arch on Palatia Islet.

    INSTEAD OF: Santorini or Mykonos

    WHY HERE? Naxos is anchored in the Aegean about halfway between Santorini and Mykonos, but it might as well be on another planet. The biggest of Greece’s Cycladic islands, Naxos is studded with lush mountains and valleys polka-dotted by white-washed homes, all surrounded by a ribbon of gorgeous beaches. It’s the kind of place that’s still rural enough to spot the occasional donkey trotting down a cobblestone street, not to mention acres of tiered vineyards and olive groves. Of course that means that just about every restaurant you find has a legitimate claim as a farm-to-table outpost.

    Cruise-ship dockings a year: 16 vs. 512 in Santorini

  • Naxos, Greece: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Kartouchken/Alamy A local pottery store in the town of Apiranthos.

    STAY: Accommodations start at $25 a night, topping out around $360, whereas Santorini’s prices start at $90 and skyrocket to over $1,000, on Expedia.com. Rooms at the Pension Sofi, a cheerful blue-and-white guesthouse draped in bougainvillea vines, cost only $39 per person (two-night minimum). The 30 spacious rooms at the four-star Lagos Mare Hotel, with a pool, bar, and sea views, are a steal at $120, says Mina Agnos, a Greek travel expert with Travelive.

    DO: The best way to explore Naxos is on foot. Agnos can set up a Naxian Apollo walking tour (from $38), which tracks the island’s history from ancient times to the present and includes town visits, archaeological sites, and a trip to the island’s collection of kouros statues, which date back to the 8th century B.C. Afterward, grab a waterfront table at Geomilo, which serves traditional Naxian dishes such as Kleftiko of Za, made with local lamb, and cod with a garlic puree (dinner, $20).

     

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

    Aaron Peterson/Alamy Kayaking under one of the park's famous arches.

    INSTEAD OF: Traverse City, Mich.

    WHY HERE? There are 407 national parks, and while it’s not the most celebrated, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks was the country’s first National Lakeshore. The park sits on 42 jaw-dropping miles of Lake Superior coastline that’s studded with eerie sand dunes, romantic waterfalls, and a stately lighthouse. But it’s the multicolored sandstone cliffs, which seem to change color with every flicker of sunshine, that are the main attraction. That and the price of admission: It’s free.

  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Terry Donnelly/Alamy The Au Sable Light Station is still in use.

    STAY: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is rugged territory; enjoy the park by roughing it. Pictured Rocks has three main camping grounds. Twelvemile Beach ($16), the most popular, features lake views through the trees. If you’d rather rest your head in a room with four walls, Munising, Mich., is about two miles away and features several family-owned properties. The Sunset Motel on the Bay (from $89) has free Wi-Fi and rooms with kitchenettes. In Traverse City hotels average over $150 a night.

    DO: Get your bearings on one of Pictured Rocks’ iconic hikes, suggests Susan Reece, the park’s chief of interpretation and education. On the Chapel Falls trek, you’ll weave through beech and maple trees en route to cascading waterfalls and Chapel Rock, which looks like an open-air temple (albeit one with a pine tree growing out of the roof). You can also follow the 1½-mile hike to the Au Sable Light Station, on the edge of a picnic-worthy beach. Keep an eye out for deer, beaver, and other critters. The best way to see the park’s dramatic coastline is from the water: On a three-hour tour with Pictured Rocks Cruises ($37), a local park ranger will explain the area’s geology and history as you pass stunning formations such as the Painted Coves and Lover’s Leap.

     

  • Hanoi

    Kaaarel/Getty One of the city's many ancient temples.

    INSTEAD OF: Bangkok

    WHY HERE? At a time when so many Southeast Asian capitals are banking on what’s new, Hanoi still embraces its rich history and communist roots. True, the bustling city has its share of skyscrapers and mopeds, but you’ll also find French-inspired architecture and food—bonjour, bánh mì baguettes!—in its large Old Quarter. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, making a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s stilt house or the National Museum of Vietnamese History especially timely.

    Annual tourists to Vietnam: 7.8 million vs. 16 million in Bangkok

  • Hanoi: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Jonathan Siegel/Getty Preparing CafÉ NÂu DA, traditional Vietnamese coffee.

    STAY: Rooms at the recently renovated 80-room Boss Legend Hotel start at $82. The five-star Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi (from $225), housed in a sumptuous 1901 French colonial–style building, has hosted Charlie Chaplin, Graham Greene, and “Hanoi Jane” herself—Jane Fonda.

    DO: Make the city’s Old Quarter, which dates back to the 11th century, your home base. At Q Cafe—or one of the hundreds of other coffee shops—you’ll find locals sitting on squat stools sipping café phe da, or Vietnamese iced coffee ($1) made with espresso and condensed milk. From there you can window-shop along the bustling city streets, where vendors sell anything from hardware supplies and birdcages to fine art. Stop in Ginkgo for graphic-printed T-shirts before slurping down a northern Vietnam staple, beef-based pho, at Tuyen Pho Cam ($3).

    When you’re ready to see a bit of the coastline, head to Ha Long Bay, three hours east of the city. Ha Long means “descending dragon,” and the 1,600 islets jutting out of the Gulf of Tonkin do look like the moss-covered spikes on a submerged water beast. Most hotels offer day or overnight excursions; Boss Legend’s day trip (from $45) includes lunch and kayaking.

  • Salt Lake City

    John Pulsipher/Firstlight Downtown, framed by the Wasatch Mountains.

    INSTEAD OF: Denver

    WHY HERE? Salt Lake isn’t just a jumping-off point for skiers. Those snowcapped Wasatch Mountains also frame an urban playground that’s become home to a lively art, restaurant, and cocktail scene.

    Daily rental car rates: from $28 vs. $45 in Denver

     

  • Salt Lake City: Where to Stay & What to Do

    150528_TRA_SLC_FlyFishing
    A. Barber Fly fishing near Salt Lake City, Utah.

    STAY: Downtown has the best hotel selection. The Inn on the Hill (from $150) features 12 unique rooms and serves a complimentary hot breakfast. The Marriott Courtyard doesn’t have the same boutique charm, but it was just renovated this year and rates start at $99. Hotels in Salt Lake are a bargain in general: $106 a night vs. $136 a night in Denver.

    DO: To sip your way through the city, head to the up-and-coming Sugar House neighborhood, full of early-1900s cottages and bungalows. The Sugar House Distillery, which makes small-batch vodkas and rums, offers free tours. Shades of Pale, a popular Utah Brewery, also opened a new facility three miles west in SoDo (South Downtown). If you’re looking to do some shopping, the Local Colors of Utah gallery is a co-op where you’ll find pottery, photography, jewelry, and paintings from area artists. When you’ve worked up an appetite, try the Fresco Italian Cafe (dinner, $35), where dishes such as seared polenta and sun-choke agnolotti are complemented by a spot-on Italian wine list, says Josh Rosenthal of TheSLCFoodie.com.

    There are also plenty of worthy day trips. New or expert anglers can sign up with Western Rivers Fly Fisher (from $315 for two), on the Provo River, about 50 miles to the southeast. The drive through the Wasatch Mountains alone is well worth it, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom. On Kayak.com cars rent for $28 a day in Salt Lake. In Denver, the average is $45 a day.

  • Cape Breton, Canada

    Alamy One of the residents of Highlands National Park.

    INSTEAD OF: New England

    WHY HERE? Cape Breton, a 4,000-square-mile island that juts out into the Atlantic about 650 miles northeast of Portland, Maine, is known for its untamed coastline, charming inns, and deeply rooted Celtic culture. The island receives about 365,000 visitors annually; Cape Cod alone squeezes in more than 4 million. Just crossing the Canadian border will fatten your wallet, as loons have dropped 14% in value against the U.S. dollar over the past year.

    Average hotel rate: $89 vs. $192 on Cape Cod

  • Cape Breton, Canada: Where to Stay & What to Do

    Barrett & MacKay/Corbis It's easy to see how the Bras d'Or (arms of gold) lake got its name.

    STAY: The waterfront town of Baddeck makes a great launching point for the surrounding countryside. Hospitality options include cottages—from $67 a night on NovaScotia.com—and cozy family-owned properties such as the Baddeck Heritage House (from $91), built in the 1860s.

    DO: Get out on the water. On half-day trips (from $55) with North River Kayak Tours, you’ll paddle alongside the giant sugar maples and peer up to scout for American bald eagle nests. If you’d prefer to stay on land, drive the cliff-hugging Cabot Trail, the 185-mile road that makes a loop around the island’s northwestern region and offers prime whale-watching pit stops. Want to get even closer to a great ocean mammal? Sign up for a snorkeling trip with Captain Zodiac (from $40) in Cheticamp, located on the island’s northwestern border, to bob alongside minke, pilot, and fin whales.

    For dinner, Angelo Spinazzola of North River Kayak suggests the Bitehouse, a 12-seat restaurant located in a converted farmhouse that serves seasonal dishes such as scallops with caramelized cauliflower and grilled zucchini with local cheese ($40).

    Average hotel rate: $89 vs. $192 on Cape Cod

  • Aruba

    Courtesy of boardwalk small hotel Aruba Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba.

    INSTEAD OF: Cayman Islands

    WHY HERE? While Aruba has long been on Caribbean travelers’ radars, its 66% hotel occupancy rate (in summer) is much lower than the rates for St. Lucia (84%) and the Caymans (76%). The island is also undergoing an impressive $1 billion investment in new hotels, public works, and an energy plan to be fossil fuel–free by 2020. Aruba is increasingly accessible too, with Houston recently becoming the 12th North American city to introduce a direct flight to the island.

    Average summer hotel cost: $197 vs. $257 in the Caymans

  • Aruba: What to See & What to Do

    Courtesy of Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba Boardwalk Small Hotel Aruba

    STAY: Aruba’s range of accommodations means you don’t need to break the bank to stay in a lovely place, though an ocean view might cost you. You could opt for the Tamarijn Aruba (all-inclusive from $450 for two; three- night minimum) on Divi Beach, a waterfront property that also has a spa and a golf course. Further inland, at the charming Boardwalk Aruba, located in a coconut grove, casita rates start at $195 a night, says Susan Campbell, a senior writer for Aruba Nights. Guests also have free access to Moomba club on Palm Beach, as well as free lounge chairs and snorkeling equipment.

    DO: In capital city Oranjestad, you can fuel up on empanadas stuffed with Gouda and ham at Mi Boca Dushi (lunch, $5) before renting bikes from Aruba Active Vacations ($25 per day). Cycle along the waterfront’s new 10-mile boardwalk or, if you’re looking for an empty stretch of sand, pedal to windswept Arashi Beach, close to the California Lighthouse.

    On the island’s south side, you can pair sunset views with the catch of the day at Zee Rover’s ($20), a fisherman’s hangout turned restaurant, suggests Matt Boland, the executive chef of Aruba’s Divi Resorts. Specialties include red snapper and wahoo served with plantains, pan bati (a cornmeal pancake), and hot sauce made with papaya and peppers.

TIME Education

3 Myths About the Gap Year

volunteer-building
Getty Images

A gap year is not a vacation

The term “gap year” traditionally applies to the year between high school graduation and college matriculation. For many students, the gap year is a time for adventure and personal exploration. While the gap year has long been an accepted tradition in other parts of the world, it is still growing in popularity in the United States. The reasons that a student might opt for a gap year are various: he or she might feel burned out after more than ten years of school, or he or she might desire a change of scenery and routine. Some students may simply feel uncertain about which direction to take after high school.

A well-structured gap year can inform your college and career path, and it can educate you in ways you might not have imagined. But the gap year you see on television is not always the gap year that you find in reality. Here are three gap year myths that stand in the way of honestly evaluating whether a gap year is right for you. Debunked, they may make your decision process much clearer:

1. A gap year is like a vacation

Your gap year is whatever you make of it. Certain students choose to work, while others complete internships. Some students volunteer, or they travel while pursuing a self-directed education. But each of these options involves effort. A gap year is not a week at the beach.

For instance, consider City Year, an AmeriCorps project that places individuals between the ages of 17 and 24 in high-needs communities across the United States. While you gain a stipend, real-world experience, health care, and access to scholarship money, you do so through completing long hours of challenging – and rewarding – work.

Internships and self-directed education also involve concentrated effort. Internships are like a work-learning hybrid, and they can be an excellent way to explore a potential career field. If you choose to participate in a gap year internship, be sure to do your research first. Look for internships that offer training in specific skills, as well as a reasonable number of hours per week. Beware of “internships” that are actually commission-based sales positions – or schemes that take advantage of your labor and savings.

Finally, websites like Coursera and Udacity offer free or low-cost education around which you can design a gap year. If you are undecided about what you would like to study in college, it makes a great deal of sense to explore various subjects before you begin to pay thousands of dollars a year in tuition. Self-directed education can also help you improve a weak academic portfolio. You can even develop marketable skills via programs like Codecademy. If possible, select those options that offer certificates of completion (or another way of tracking your progress) so you will have demonstrable proof of what you learned during your gap year.

2. A gap year can harm your admissions chances

The effect a gap year has on your college applications depends entirely on how you spend that year. A 12-month gap in your education and/or work history could be a significant warning sign for a prospective school, but if you instead participate in meaningful experiences, your gap year can serve as a significant admissions boon. A gap year can enable you to start college refreshed and eager, and for students with less impressive high school records, it can also be a chance to demonstrate your maturity and dedication to your personal growth.

Some schools, such as Princeton University, have even developed programs that allow admitted students to pursue a year of volunteer work before beginning their traditional college educations. In other words, prospective freshmen submit their applications in their senior year of high school, but they delay starting classes in order to complete a gap year project. Inquire with the admissions departments at your top-choice schools to determine if such a plan exists, or if they have advice for students who are interested in the gap year experience.

3. A gap year is expensive

Certain gap year programs require a significant monetary investment, but there are many opportunities for students who wish to spend less on this experience. For example, if you live at home and work part-time, you can participate in a volunteer project in your free hours. You can also further your education with the (mostly) free resources mentioned above. Delaying college for a year can seem like a daunting opportunity cost (as it also delays your entry into the workforce by a year), but a gap year can ultimately become an excellent long-term investment.

While deciding whether or not to pursue a gap year, work with your high school guidance counselor, as well as the admissions and financial aid departments at your top-choice colleges, to identify the best possible option for you and your goals.

Brian Witte is a professional SAT tutor with Varsity Tutors. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington and holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

MONEY skymall

SkyMall Is Back from the Dead

World's Largest Airport Operator AENA Start Trading On Madrid Stock Exchange
David Ramos—Getty Images Need a neck pillow? There may be an app for that.

You can still get that outdoor dinosaur skeleton you always wanted.

Looking for a wireless padlock or an intelligent toilet seat? Well, you’re in luck.

SkyMall, the original purveyor of weird and eccentric products you don’t need but secretly want, has returned.

The retailer’s parent company, Xhibit Corp., filed for bankruptcy in January. At the time, Xhibit’s acting CEO Scott Wiley’s CEO blamed the publication’s troubles on the rise of electronic devices on planes, resulting in fewer passengers browsing SkyMall’s catalogue. However, Wiley expressed hope that SkyMall could find a buyer who would keep it operational.

It appears Wiley’s prayers have been answered. In April, SkyMall was purchased by C&A Marketing, a New Jersey-based company. The company, which also owns Ritz Camera and Polaroid, snagged SkyMall at action in April for just under $2 million.

The Atlantic reports how SkyMall’s new owners have been using Twitter to revamp and build up hype for the ironically iconic—or is it now iconically ironic?—brand. Clearly, the new SkyMall wants you to know it’s in on the joke about what its website calls its “occasionally unusual” products:

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 12.04.47 PM

SkyMall’s new owners seem optimistic about the resurrection, telling NJBiz they plan to build mobile apps in addition to selling online. Classical Marcellus statue, anyone?

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