Travel Often? Make Sure Your Credit Card Has These 6 Features

While they aren’t as flashy as signup bonuses or travel credits, these features can drive down travel costs and offer protection in case of emergency.

Travel credit cards come in many forms and offer a variety of benefits. Some cards earn miles and points that can be redeemed for travel expenses, while others might be tied to specific hotel chains or airlines. The benefits and costs vary. Frequent travelers should choose a card that rewards the way they spend and the way they travel.

No matter what miles programs or travel perks you want, certain travel features can come in handy on any trip. While they aren’t as flashy as signup bonuses or travel credits, these features can drive down travel costs and offer protection in case of emergency. (You’ll need a solid credit score to qualify for a card with the best features. Check two of your scores on

Here are six features to look for when evaluating a travel credit card.

1. Free Foreign Transactions

If you tend to travel abroad, you could be paying more than necessary every time you swipe your credit card. Many credit cards issue a foreign transaction fee every time you pay, usually around 3% of the transaction amount. If you use a credit card for most purchases when you travel, this can add significantly to the cost of your trip.

When evaluating travel cards, make sure they offer free foreign transactions.

2. Trip Cancellation Insurance

No travel plans can be set in stone. Emergencies or last-minute complications can wreck your itinerary. In many cases, changing or canceling a trip could cause you to forfeit some of your expenses. With trip cancellation or delay insurance, credit card providers will reimburse you any nonrefundable costs you paid for with your credit card.

3. Car Rental Collision Coverage

If you frequently rent cars during your travels, you’re likely used to car rental agencies trying to sell additional collision insurance. But many travel credit cards extend collision insurance to any car rentals you charge to your card, giving you the freedom to decline additional coverage and save on those costs.

4. Lost Luggage Reimbursement

Not all travel cards offer lost luggage reimbursement, and policies may differ between credit card companies. The total amount of coverage can vary and each policy may have different requirements. In any case, lost luggage is a risk any time you entrust your bags to an airline, cruise ship or other transportation provider. With this feature, credit card providers reimburse you for any lost luggage (up to a certain monetary amount).

5. Baggage Delay Insurance

If your baggage is misplaced, lost or otherwise delayed, baggage delay insurance covers the cost of any urgent needs created by the delay. Necessities covered may include clothes, toiletries and other essential items.

6. Emergency Travel Assistance

Travel assistance and emergency services can help you make last minute travel arrangements or respond to an emergency during your trip. This could include travel reservations, quick access to medical or legal professionals and roadside assistance. Some credit card companies offer 24/7 emergency service for these urgent requests.

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The 50 Best Beaches in America

Here are some of our favorite beaches in America.

If you’re planning a beach getaway this year, you may still be wondering where you want to go and what destination will offer the most bang for your buck. Or sand for your dollars. Or just sand dollars.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 50 of our favorite destinations from all over the country. (Beaches in Arizona? You bet!) There are party beaches and remote beaches, white-sand and pebble beaches, great beaches for snorkeling and great beaches for ogling. Whatever your preference, chances are there’s a beach here for you.

Just remember, before planning any vacation, it’s a good idea to make sure it fits into your budget. There’s little worse than stressing over money the entire time you’re trying to relax and unwind. We have plenty of tips for budgeting for your next vacation, and also some comparisons of travel rewards credit cards that can help pay for your next holiday. (Pro tip: Rewards cards often require really solid credit, so check your credit scores for free on before applying.)

Now, without further ado, here are 50 of our favorite beach destinations in America and U.S. territories, broken down by East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast, freshwater and island beaches.

East Coast

With a plethora of urban and rural beaches, picking our favorite East Coast beaches was tough, but we narrowed it down to these eight.

1. Montauk, Long Island, New York

On the far end of Long Island’s South Fork sits the town of Montauk. Its numerous beaches, crystal-clear-albeit-cold waters and plenty of nearby restaurants and accommodations make it a favorite destination for New Yorkers, especially surfers. In fact, Montauk has made numerous lists as one of the best places to surf in America.

2. Fort Lauderdale Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 

This beautiful city beach is not only easy to get to (it’s right on the road), it’s relaxed and beautiful. It can get a bit crowded, but the people watching can be part of the enjoyment.

3. South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida

If laid-back isn’t quite your thing, South Beach is an endless party with endless Atlantic views. And once you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, there are trendy restaurants, shops and unique hotels to enjoy just across the street.

4. Hilton Head Island, South Carolina 

Hilton Head is a great family destination that can be very budget friendly. And don’t even get us started on the delicious low-country cuisine you’ll find here.

5. Coney Island, New York

More spectacle than beach experience, the boardwalk, pier and amusement park make for a uniquely interesting day trip if you’re visiting the New York area. The beach is typically very crowded with local New Yorkers wanting a break from the heat of the city, and the water isn’t particularly nice. In fact, it’s kind of gross. Still, if you want a memorable New York City beach experience, this is the place to do it.

6. Asbury Park, New Jersey

If you like a good boardwalk, look no farther than Asbury Park. A wide expanse of beach, plenty of people watching, shopping and eating options make this a favorite among locals and tourists.

7. The Cove, Cape May, New Jersey

Farther south on the Jersey Shore, Cape May is more quaint than Asbury Park and offers an abundance of outdoor activities like birdwatching, surfing, kayaking and more. It’s a great family-friendly option.

8. Ocean City Beach, Ocean City, Maryland

Another great spot if you love a good boardwalk, Ocean City has 10 miles of sand and plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained.

9. Race Point Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

As Patti Page once sang, “If you like sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there, you’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.” Situated at the very tip of the cape near Provincetown sits this lovely stretch of beach. It’s accessible by car and even bicycle, and don’t be surprised if you spot some seals or even whales in the chilly waters.

10. Ogunquit Beach, Ogunquit, Maine

Farther north, the waters get even colder, but this sandy beach is a beautiful place by the sea. In fact, that’s exactly what its name means in Algonquin, “beautiful place by the sea.” You’ll find charming villages, plenty of delicious fresh lobster and gentle rolling waves.

11. Hollywood Beach, Hollywood, Florida

Between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, you’ll find this lovely beach with a charming seawalk. It’s great for a romantic getaway and still offers plenty of nearby activities without all the hustle and bustle of, say, South Beach.

12. Virginia Beach, Virginia

A three-mile oceanfront boardwalk is one of this famed coastline’s signature draws, ideal for strolling, jogging, rollerblading and more and rife with people watching. South of the resort area, nature lovers will find Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park, while those simply looking for more seaside solace might give peaceful Sandbridge a look.

13. Cape Hatteras, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Most of the beaches on the OBX are just awesome, but Cape Hatteras is special. Its famous lighthouse makes for a nice break from the sun and sand, but one of our favorite things about this stretch of beach is that beach fires are still allowed, meaning you can have that clambake if you so desire, or you can just relax with friends and family while enjoying the warm glow.

14. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Home to Apache Pier, the East Coast’s longest wooden pier, and the SkyWheel, there’s a ton of fun to be had along this 60-mile stretch of oceanfront, not to mention plenty of world-class golf.

15. Folly Beach, South Carolina

This six-mile stretch of sand offers visitors a laid-back beach experience, which is probably why it’s a favorite among local surfers.

16. Ocracoke Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina

If you want to get away from it all, Ocracoke is a great place to do it. There’s been minimal development along this part of the OBX, so the remaining wetlands are home to plenty of wildlife, including birds and turtles. Of course, that doesn’t mean the beaches are empty, though they’re certainly less crowded than more urban East Coast beaches.

Freshwater Beaches

If you live in a landlocked part of the country and don’t want to spend a fortune to get some time at the beach, these picks are for you. Hello, day trip!

17. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Lake Michigan National Lakeshore, Michigan

One of our favorite freshwater beaches is at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. After all, it was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” on ABC’s Good Morning America back in 2011. Lake Michigan’s beautiful clear water makes a stroll on these pristine beaches really enjoyable. And when you’re finished sunning and splashing, there are dozens of other nearby activities to enjoy.

18. Bradford Beach, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

On the other side of Lake Michigan is Bradford Beach, a lovely local favorite considered the city’s most popular spot for swimming. There are also sand volleyball courts and plenty of food and beverage vendors to make sure you don’t go hungry.

19. Lake Powell, Utah/Arizona

In the Four Corners region, where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet at a single point, there are a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy. And just a two-hour drive from the spot where you can stand in all four states at the same time are some seriously beautiful beaches along Lake Powell’s shores. There’s even overnight camping allowed in some areas.

20. Huntington Beach, Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland rocks, and so does Huntington Beach, where locals have been enjoying the water and views for decades. This was also the first Ohio beach to receive the Blue Wave designation from the Clean Beaches Coalition.

21. Oak Street Beach, Chicago, Illinois

Chicago beaches can be crowded, especially on a gorgeous summer day, and Oak Street Beach is no exception. There are often volleyball tournaments taking place — both amateur and professional — but the people watching, cool breezes coming off of Lake Michigan and the striking Chicago skyline make it a favorite destination among locals and visitors alike.

22. North Beach, Racine, Wisconsin

Another Blue Wave-certified beach on the Great Lakes, this beach also gets a big thumbs up from Dr. Beach, a renowned beach expert whose picks are certainly noteworthy. North Beach’s 2,500 feet of shoreline offers plenty of room for summertime crowds to enjoy themselves without feeling cramped.

23. Park Point Beach, Duluth, Minnesota

Yes, we’re picking a beach in Minnesota. Why? Beautiful views, soft sand and bracing dips for those hot, humid days. There’s a park and a playground, which makes it a great destination for families.

24. Grand Haven State Park, Grand Haven, Michigan

Another beauty on the shore of Lake Michigan, Grand Haven offers camping, picnic areas, playgrounds and plenty of recreational activities.

25. Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pennsylvania

There are plenty of beaches to choose from here and each has its own attraction. Some are more sheltered and quiet, while others have concessions and volleyball courts. The choices alone make it a great family getaway.

Island Beaches

You’re going to have to fly or take a boat to get to these beaches, but you won’t need your passport.

26. Hulopoe Beach, Manele Bay, Lanai, Hawaii

Considered one of the most perfect beaches in the world, Hulopoe Beach, on Lanai, offers a designated marine preserve where the snorkeling and diving are considered among the finest in the Hawaiian Islands. There are also tidal pools filled with colorful marine life.

27. Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii

This somewhat isolated beach is described by beach expert Dr. Beach as a “beautiful, crescent-shaped, white-sand beach bounded by rocky anchors where good restaurants can be found.” Yes, please.

28. Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

Powdery sand, gentle breezes, palm trees and turquoise water make this beach the stuff of dreams. Plus it’s in a quiet residential area, so the crowds aren’t typically too bad.

29. Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands 

The island’s most photographed beach is also one of its prettiest, with over a quarter mile of powdery sand, clear water and short hiking trails.

30. Lindquist Beach, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Clear, shallow water, coconut groves and sea grape trees make Lindquist Beach feel dramatic despite its relative calm on the weekdays.

31. Boquerón Beach, Puerto Rico

Frommer’s says this beautiful stretch of sand brings to mind a “tropical Cape Cod.” Its white sand, palm trees and calm waters make it a wonderful destination for families looking to snorkel, swim or even fish. Boquerón Beach also is a state-run, public beach, which means there are picnic tables, barbecue pits, lifeguards, bathrooms with showers and lockers, plus a cafeteria and a shop for necessities like sunscreen.

32. Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

This two-mile-long beach in the shadow of Diamondhead is one of the most famous beaches in the world, with more than four million visitors each year. While it can get quite crowded, its breathtaking beauty is worth sharing with others.

33. Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii

Golden sands, clear blue waters and spottings of sea turtles and whales make this a favorite beach among Hawaii’s multitude of beautiful spots. In fact, TripAdvisor named it a top 25 beach in its annual Travelers’ Choice Awards for 2017.

West Coast Beaches

34. Zuma Beach, Malibu, California 

The water may be freezing — thanks northwesterly winds — but the juxtaposition of mountains and ocean are something you rarely see here in the States. Bring a jacket and headphones so you can vibe out to one of the prettiest beaches along the Pacific Coast Highway.

35. La Jolla Cove & Shores, La Jolla, California

There’s kayaking, snorkeling, diving, swimming and communing with La Jolla’s famous sea lions and seals. What’s not to love?

36. Venice Beach, Venice, California

Like Coney Island on the East Coast, Venice Beach is more about spectacle than it is actually taking in the sand and surf. Still, it’s a great experience if you’re in the greater Los Angeles area and want to get a little salty air.

37. Coronado Municipal Beach, Coronado, California

Situated in front of the famous Hotel Del Coronado, the beach is wide and the gentle waves are perfect for swimming. It’s also a beachcomber’s paradise, with plenty of shells and sand dollars to be found.

38. Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

If you’re seeking a beach with amazing sunsets, look no further. The natural beauty of the rugged coastline makes a wonderful setting for a romantic picnic or stroll, but the rip tides and chilly water make swimming less than enjoyable.

39. Rialto Beach, Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Best known for its rocky beaches and driftwood, Rialto Beach is a part of Olympic National Park, so you’re likely to spot plenty of wildlife as you walk the shore. There are whales, otters, and even bald eagles.

40. Cannon Beach, Cannon Beach, Oregon

If you want to hang out with puffins at the beach, Cannon Beach is the place to go. There’s a plethora of wildlife along this four-mile stretch of sand, but there’s still plenty of room for swimming, picnicking and just lazing about.

41. Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach, California

If you’re a fan of surfing, you probably already know this beach is nicknamed Surf City, U.S.A. Known for amazing breaks, it also has good swimming and boogie boarding. You’ll also find lifeguards, food and sundry vendors, restrooms and even volleyball courts.

Gulf Coast Beaches

Last, but certainly not least, are the Gulf Coast beaches. Now, if you live on the East or West Coast, you’re probably thinking, “Eww, a Gulf Coast beach? No way.” If that’s you, you might be interested to know that the No. 1 beach in America as chosen in TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards 2017 is …

42. Siesta Beach, Siesta Key, Florida

That’s right. This Gulf Coast beach was chosen as the No. 1 beach in the country. Siesta’s 99% quartz sand means your tootsies won’t burn even on the hottest days. Pair that with crystal-clear waters and warm, sunny days almost year-round, and you’ve got full-on beach bliss.

43. Gulf Islands National Seashore, Pensacola, Florida

The sand here just speaks to people. Literally. The sand is so powdery it often squeaks when you walk across it. Its beautiful waters and warm temperatures almost year-round make it a perennial favorite and a contender for most best-beaches lists.

44. Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel, Florida

If you love collecting shells and other treasures from the ocean, this could be the beach for you. It has some of the best shelling in the world. On top of that, there are no high-rise hotels and the sunsets are outstanding.

45. Henderson Beach State Park, Destin, Florida

White sand, gentle waves and turquoise waters with a lovely beach town make this a favorite for beachgoers. It’s darn near perfect.

46. Gulf State Park, Alabama

Not far from the Florida state line, this stretch of sugary white sand offers plenty of family-friendly activities to keep everyone entertained. The park offers air-conditioned restrooms, showers, a snack bar and and tables for eating.

47. South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre can get a little crazy during Spring Break, when droves of high school and college students descend on the pretty beaches here. In fact, it can be pretty crowded for most of the high season, and while you won’t get turquoise waters, there’s an abundance of birdlife, dolphins and sea turtles. There’s also plenty of fishing to be found if that’s your thing.

48. Matagorda Bay Nature Park, Matagorda Island, Texas

The water on Matagorda Island definitely seems bluer than a lot of water along the Texas coast, plus it’s not as crowded as a lot of the beaches. If you like a natural setting with plenty of birdlife, this is a relaxing spot to just chill with family and friends.

49. Clearwater Beach, Clearwater, Florida

As the name implies, the water here is crystal clear. The sand is also powdery soft and white, making this a very popular beach. If you don’t like crowds, there’s another alternative nearby …

50. St. Pete Beach, Clearwater, Florida

There are five miles of delicate sand and crystal-clear warm waters to enjoy on this beach situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast shore, so there’s a chance you won’t feel overly crowded even on busy days. You’ll find plenty of nearby activities as well, not to mention beautiful sunsets from the beach.

Trying to save up for the trip of a lifetime? Here are 50 things to stop wasting your money on now

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14 Inexpensive & Essential Items to Bring on Your Trip

These items should make your trip smoother and more comfortable without breaking your travel budget.

Packing for a trip can feel like playing Tetris, trying to squeeze irregular shapes into a carry-on so you can avoid luggage fees.

Just like some shapes are more useful (the ‘I’) than others (those stupid, blocky ‘S’ and ‘Z’ shapes), there are a few mission-critical items that will make your next trip smoother and more comfortable.

Luckily, many of these items are also affordable and won’t hamper your travel budget too much. Here are a few things to make sure to bring on your trip.

1. Luggage Tags

Luggage tags are easy to overlook, but they become very useful when disaster strikes and your luggage goes missing. A luggage tag can then fulfill its purpose of helping whomever finds your bag get it back to you. Some luggage tags can let you store your information in a QR code, but any tag with space for your contact information should suffice.

2. Flip Flops

The ultimate portable footwear for breezing through airport security, protecting your feet from a dingy bathroom or lounging around a hotel room, flip flops are also dirt-cheap. Old Navy sells flip flops for $5 or less a pair, as one example.

3. Detergent

If you’re truly committed to packing light, you’ll want to do some laundry during your trip. If you’re traveling through airport security, you’ll only be able to carry a bottle of 3.4 ounces or less, per Transportation Security Administration Rules. There are a few options, though, including Tide travel sink packets, which contain enough detergent for a sink full of laundry ($1.39 a packet at Bed, Bath & Beyond), and Travelon biodegradable laundry soap sheets (50 sheets for $6.90 from Jet.)

4. Clothesline

How to dry those wet clothes? A good travel clothesline has loops or suction cups to secure it at either end. It should also be made of braided rope so you can hook your clothes to it without clothespins. You can find travel clotheslines at REI for around $10.

5. Toiletry Bottles

As we mentioned before, TSA only allows you to take liquid containers up to 3.4 ounces through security. You can re-use travel-sized versions of your shampoo, soap or lotion (or reuse hotel product bottles), or you can buy some sturdy travel bottles. Samsonite sells a six-piece bottle set with spray, pump and pour tops for $10, while Walmart carries a four-pack of iGo travel bottles for $2.94.

6. Toiletry Bag

A toiletry bag is one of the more expensive items on this list — L.L Bean sells a small bag for $24.95, while Samsonite’s version is $22 at Macy’s — but it just makes sense to have something separating your toothbrush and other toiletries from your underwear. Some of them can even be hung over a shower rod, towel rack or door handle, making your morning routine while traveling that much easier. A separate bag will make your essentials easier to find on the go. A good toiletry bag should be slim, organized and durable.

7. Neck Pillow

Unless you’re flying first class, any long trip will require you to get your beauty rest while sitting almost upright in a cramped space. A neck pillow can provide some small comfort during this trying time. Bed Bath & Beyond carries a Memory Foam neck pillow for $15.99. For those truly committed to saving space in luggage, REI sells an inflatable pillow for $19.50.

8. Earplugs

Babies: Adorable right? Just wait until you’re on a long flight with a bundle of joy screaming directly into your ear the whole time. Secure yourself some peace with a solid pair of earplugs. Look for a pair that not only reduces the decibel level but also feels comfortable. Target sells Mack’s earplugs in a package of 50 for $9.99, though fancier earplugs are sold elsewhere.

9. Sleep Mask

On long trips you may have to try to get sleep while it’s still light out (or while your neighbor reads for hours on end). A good sleep mask can clear all those distractions, leaving nothing but rest-inducing darkness. Walmart sells sleep masks for as little as $3.99.

10. Plug Adapter Set

For some reason the rest of the world won’t submit to the American standard on electrical plugs. Until they come around to us being right, you’ll need a plug adapter to keep your electronics whirring on your international adventure. You can buy an individual adapter for your destination, but plug adapter sets or all-in-ones are affordable and you only have to buy one once. Walmart carries a Travel Smart plug adapter set for $9.99.

11. USB Battery Pack

If you’re using your phone regularly to navigate and look up fun things to do during your trip, you may end up needing more than one charge a day. In that case, be sure to carry a USB battery pack to keep your device powered on. Battery packs come in a variety of sizes and capacities depending on how much power and portability you need, and they usually go for $15 and up.

12. Travel Credit Card

Make sure you’re carrying the right plastic. A good travel credit card should reward you on your purchases but also not charge foreign transaction fees and provide travel protections like trip cancellation or interruption insurance and baggage delay insurance. Some cards will also get you free Wi-Fi on your plane or grant you access to swanky airport lounges.  We rounded up a few travel rewards card choices here.

The best cards also, however, require a good to excellent credit score. Before applying, it’s a good idea to check two of your scores for free on to see whether you can qualify.

13. Reusable Water Bottle

Why pay for something you can get for free? As we said before, the TSA won’t let you pass through security with a fully loaded water bottle, but once you’re cleared you can head to your nearest water fountain and fill up for free rather than paying out the nose for a plastic bottle. Reusable bottles can be ridiculously cheap; heck, you can just reuse one you’ve already drained, but a sturdier metal bottle may last longer.

14. Notebook

Maybe I’m a biased writer, but I find it’s helpful to have a place to jot down anything I need to remember, whether it’s directions, places I need to visit or stray observations about the place I’m visiting. Of course, you can use your phone, but I find I retain things better when I rely on good old pen and paper.

Note: It’s important to remember that prices for products and services frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms cited in this article may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with the company directly.

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How to Save Money Any Time You Visit an Airport

Airports can seem like overpriced traps, but there are a few ways to avoid wasting money while you're inside.

Airports are a little like baseball stadiums. You’re limited in what you can bring, you can’t easily get back out and all the stuff inside is way overpriced.

Just like you should prepare for a baseball game with sunscreen, your favorite jersey and a few handy insults for the jerk playing third, there are a few strategies for saving money when you’re at the airport.

1. Weigh Your Luggage

Bringing overweight luggage is costly. American Airlines charges $100 or more for luggage weighing more than 51 pounds. Low-cost airliner Southwest charges $75 for bags weighing 51 to 100 pounds.

Meanwhile, luggage scales go for around $15 or even less in some places. This is one of those cases where you can spend money to save if you’re carrying a heavy load on your trip.

2. Bring a Water Bottle

Just like at a baseball stadium, bottled water is way overpriced at the airport. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) won’t let you bring a filled water bottle through security, but you can bring an empty reusable bottle and fill it up at a drinking fountain once you’ve passed through.

It’s a good idea to have a reusable bottle when traveling to begin with because you can save money on water throughout your trip and keep a few plastic bottles out of the landfill.

3. Pack Snacks

A lot of airport food is overpriced mall slop, so chances are you can find something better and cheaper to bring with you. (Check the TSA website for specifics.) Pinterest has plenty of recipes for packable and delicious food. Another way to avoid paying for airport food is to eat before you leave home.

4. Bring Amusements

Waiting around is a huge part of air travel, so you need a way to pass the time. A book is a good start, as is a mobile device loaded with movies, music, podcasts and audio books. Streaming may not be an option, as many airports don’t offer free Wi-Fi, so download any media ahead of time. Make sure to bring a decent pair of earbuds, too. Plane headphones are not always free, and they are usually low-quality anyway.

5. Pack a Travel Credit Card

You can skip many of the above steps if you manage to get into an airport lounge, where, in most cases, you’ll also get complimentary access to Wi-Fi, snacks, beverages and showers. You’ll usually have to pay an annual membership of a few hundred dollars to access these lounges, but the right card can get you in as well. We compiled a list of credit cards to use at each of the busiest airports in America here.

Of course, travel cards that get you into airport lounges usually have high annual fees of their own, but their rewards may be worth your while depending on how much you travel. (You’ll also typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a premium travel card, so check your score before applying. You can see two of your scores free on

6. Avoid Airport Parking

Chances are it’s cheaper to arrange transportation from your home to the airport than it is to pay for airport parking, especially if your trip will be long. When you’re booking transportation, make sure to call a few companies for quotes and compare prices against your rideshare app of choice. Or even better, ask a friend to take you.

7. Don’t Go Shopping

The entire premise of this article is that the airport is an overpriced trap. No one would ever go there for regular shopping. Anything you need, whether it’s food, toiletries, medicine or souvenirs, can be purchased outside, likely at a far better price.

Don’t take these steps just to squander the savings on an impulse buy, no matter how nice the duty-free shop is. If you see something tempting, remember: As long as you packed everything you truly need, you don’t need to buy anything at the airport.

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On a Budget? You Can Still Visit Mexico for Cheap This Summer

Use these seven tips to maximize your savings while vacationing south of the border.

Travel site Hipmunk released two reports about Mexico recently that offer a host of insights. Not only is Mexico the site’s most popular international country for flights and hotels, it turns out it’s popular year-round. Bookings to the country are up 15% this summer over last year.

The increase comes despite regular headlines about violence. Mexico remains a go-to destination. Around 7 million Americans visit each year, said Steve Clarke, Hipmunk’s senior director of product.

“Mexico is a really big country, and these things happening in some areas of country are not happening in tourist locations or where Americans usually go,” said Daniel Peña, founder of LocalAdventures in Guadalajara. “If you go to Cancun or Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, you’re not going to have these problems.”

What’s more, reported Hipmunk, the average round trip airfare to Mexico this summer is down 8%, making now a budget-friendly time to visit. With that in mind, here are seven tips to maximize your savings while vacationing south of the border.

1. Venture Beyond the Hotel

“Everything in a hotel is going to be 20% to 30% more than if you step outside of hotel and seek the same thing,” said Peña. This rule of thumb applies to activities, souvenirs and more, he added.

2. Ask Locals for Recommendations

When hunting for the best margarita, it helps to speak with the locals about things to see and do.

“Spend five minutes or 10 minutes talking to locals, and they will tell how to get a better price on whatever you want to do and where to go,” said Peña. A hotel concierge often receives a commission for their recommendations, he added. Locals will likely provide an unbiased opinion.

3. Come in Late Summer or Early Fall

According to Hipmunk, the low season, late summer through early fall, presents the best chance to optimize savings. The average hotel price in August in Oaxaca, for example, drops to $67 per night. During the same month in Ensenada, average nightly room rates are $87, according to Hipmunk.

Come October, there are still deals to be had. In Alcapulco, the average nightly room rate drops to $79, the lowest all year. Similarly, in Tijuana, hotel room costs hit their lowest in October, with the average being $76.

Flights are cheaper during these times, the report said. For instance, the average cost of a flight to Puerto Vallarta hits its lowest in September, at $389.

However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the hurricane forecast, especially if you’re bound for a coastal community.

4. Check Airbnb & Vacation-Home Rentals

All-inclusive resorts have their perks, as do luxe hotels, but if your mission is to save pesos, don’t overlook vacation home rentals on Airbnb or other sites.

Even the smallest Mexican communities have Airbnb listings these days, said Randy Bonds, owner of “There’s a plethora of beautiful condos and homes available and property management in the (Yucatan) region is outstanding,” he said. “A lot of times you get better services than at a hotel. And the rentals are as cheap, if not cheaper than a hotel.”

5. Check Social Media for Deals

“Local businesses will contact local influencers and travel boards to spread the word about any deals they might be offering for the next week or so,” said Bonds. “So if you follow the local tourism boards on Instagram and Facebook, you will find local deals.”

6. Haggle for Bargains

It might not be customary to haggle over the purchase of a coffee cup in the U.S., but in Mexico, asking for a discount is standard.

“Every Mexican asks for discounts when they are buying something or receiving a service, so people shouldn’t feel bad doing this,” said Peña. Expect to get at least 10% off the sticker price, he said. That said, if you’re dining at a fine restaurant, leave your haggling skills at the door.

7. Pack a Travel Rewards Card 

Nothing sweetens a vacation like getting a kickback for your spending. With travel rewards cards, you’ll receive bonus points and other incentives for swiping as you normally would. That could translate to free checked bags on your airline of choice, hotel upgrades and plenty more. (See some travel rewards cards to consider here.)

Thinking of getting a new piece of a plastic? Be sure to check your credit before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores for free on

Image: Dirima

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50 Ways to Travel Without Overspending

Travel is expensive, but there are plenty of ways see the world without blowing your budget.

Travel is expensive enough without compounding it by wasting money or overspending.

There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your vacation budget doesn’t go to waste, though. In fact, here are 50.

1. Make a Vacation Budget

Research how much you’ll spend on travel, accommodations and activities, save that amount and stick to it.

2. Get Your Documents Ahead of Time

It costs an extra $60 or more to expedite a passport application, so be sure to get yours in at least eight weeks before departure.

3. Camp

Four walls and room service are great, but a tent, a sleeping bag and campground fees are likely much cheaper than the average hotel. Many National Parks have campgrounds.

4. Stay at a Hostel

Hostels provide accommodations at reasonable prices for those who don’t mind staying in a dorm-like setting. It’s not the Ritz, but it’s a place to sleep.

5. Use Airbnb

You may have luck beating local hotel rates at your destination if you look for people willing to rent out rooms or their entire home for a few days.

6. Stay With a Friend

Visiting a friend is a great pretext for traveling and, if they have a comfy couch or spare bedroom, a way to save on the price of a hotel room. Try not to be a slob though, and offer to buy your host a meal or two as a way of showing your thanks.

7. Travel in a Group

A group of friends can split the cost of accommodations and perhaps score group discounts on activities.

8. Rent Out Your Home

You can also rent out your own home to make some money while you’re traveling. But you should let potential guests know you won’t be around to deal with any problems that arise.

9. Avoid Peak Tourist Season

There’s a reason everyone travels during the summer: The kids are out of school and the weather is usually nice. But you may save by traveling during times when demand is lower. For example, Disneyland advises on its website that prices may be lower outside of its high season, which starts in May.

10. Use a Travel Rewards Card

The right card can earn you miles or hotel points for your purchases. Here are a few of our favorite travel rewards cards. (Rewards cards often require solid credit scores. To see if you qualify, check two of your scores free on

11. Don’t Pay Foreign Transaction Fees

Want to pay an extra 3% for the things you buy while abroad? No? Bring a credit card that doesn’t charge such fees, or use cash, which you can get if you…

12. Use an ATM

If you need cash abroad, an ATM should give you a better exchange rate than the kiosks in the airport. For added savings, find out from your bank if they or their partners have ATM locations that won’t charge a withdrawal fee.

13. Exchange Money Away From the Airport

If you don’t want to use an ATM, you still can find better rates from money-changers outside the airport.

14. Make a Packing List…

You know what’s a waste of money? Buying something you already own because you forgot it at home. Make a list and make sure you have everything you need.

15. … & Pack Light

You think your in-flight meal is expensive? Wait until you get slapped with an overweight baggage fee. Most airlines will let you bring a carry-on for free, so there’s extra incentive for careful packing.

16. Ship Souvenirs Home

You might think you’re stuck paying baggage fees if you’ve bought a ton of knick-knacks, but you can always ship them. Compare the price of shipping your souvenirs to paying an overweight or extra baggage fee. “It’s usually cheaper than the extra baggage fees to get your souvenirs home,” said Kelly Soderlund, content manager for Hipmunk, a travel deals website.

17. Be Flexible

If you’re willing to to make a stopover or land a longer distance away from your final destination, you may be able to get a cheaper flight.

18. Book in Advance

In general, airfares are at their lowest until a few weeks before departure, at which point they rise steadily. Some tickets will stay cheap if there’s low demand, but your best bet is to buy early. It’s also a good idea to sign up for a service that tracks flight costs to specific destinations and sends you alerts when prices drop.

19. Fly During Odd Hours

Flights that take off during the evening or the middle of the week tend to see lower demand than others, and can be cheaper to buy as a result.

20. Use a Low-Cost Airline

Airlines like Southwest, JetBlue and Spirit can offer cut-rate fares. Teresa Walsh, a marketing executive for, a startup in London, suggested passengers bring their own food and tablet or book, as in-flight meal and entertainment options may be limited.

21. Buy a Travel Package

You can sometimes save if you buy a vacation package including hotel and airfare from your favorite airline, a website like Travelocity, or even somewhere like Groupon or Costco.

22. Consider Cutting Out the Middleman

Booking sites make their money off commissions from accommodation providers. “Often if you contact the provider directly, you can negotiate a lower rate since you aren’t paying for a middleman,” said Nate Hake, a writer at travel website

23. Use Public Transit…

Public transit tends to be one of the cheapest ways to get around home and the same is true abroad. There is a risk you’ll literally get lost in translation, but it may be worth saving on cab fare.

24. …Or Rent a Bike

Many cities have bike-share programs or rental services for tourists, offering an affordable way to see your destination up-close.

25. …Or Walk

It’s always free to walk and staying on foot can allow you to see parts of a new city you may have missed on a bus or in a car.

26. Do Your Research

Buy a travel guide or search online, not only to find out which attractions to visit, but also which overpriced tourist traps to avoid.

27. Find Free Attractions

Many museums are free certain days of the week, and in many cities you can find free walking tours. There’s no beating that price.

28. Book Activities in Advance

Door prices for tourist are are often higher than if you buy tickets in advance, said Pete Bahrenburg, president of the Last Minute Travel website.

29. Rent a Car Away From the Airport

Just as you shouldn’t exchange money at an airport kiosk, you should also look elsewhere for a car rental. Rentals tend to be pricier at airports, where agencies have to pay extra fees. Those fees can get passed on to you when you rent, but could still be cheaper than taking a cab to and from another off-site location, so be sure to find out how much it will cost to get to another location.

30. Rent a Car With Your Credit Card

Many cards offer rental car collision coverage if you use them to pay for your booking. Plus certain cards will earn you rewards.

31. Work on a Farm

If you don’t mind doing some work while seeing a new place, sign up for a cultural exchange program like Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. You’ll be able to travel to a new place and get food and accommodation from a host in exchange for working on their farm.

32. Sign up for a Loyalty Program

Hotel and airline loyalty programs are often free to join and can let you rack up points for discounted flights or stays.

33. Sign up for Newsletters

Airlines and travel agencies will occasionally send out discounts with their email newsletters. It’s free to sign up and it could lead to a cheap trip. Check up on social media accounts too.

34. Bring Food…

Just like at home, eating out all the time can add up. Bring snacks with you, especially to the airport, where your options are basically limited to overpriced mall food.

35. …And Entertainment

In case in-flight entertainment isn’t free, pack a book, download a podcast or movie ahead of your flight to pass the time.

36. Don’t Eat at the Hotel

Aside from a complimentary breakfast, your hotel is probably not the cheapest food option in the area. Better to head to a neighborhood eatery, said Amanda Ponzar, chief marketing officer for Community Health Charities in Virginia.

37. Splurge on Lunch, Not Dinner

Kathy James, who writes travel blog Walkabout Wanderer, pointed out that lunch is generally cheaper than dinner at restaurants. “So make a sandwich from the supermarket or grab a snack for your evening meal and [splurge] at lunchtime,” she said.

38. Haggle

This might be outside of the comfort zone for some Americans used to fixed prices, but the sticker price isn’t final in many cultures. If you find yourself in a flea market or bazaar, it’s not a bad idea to see if sellers have any wiggle room on their prices.

39. Bring Your Own Water Bottle

“Do your research beforehand and if the water is safe to drink in the country you are going to then take a reusable water bottle with you and save both the environment and your wallet,” said Walsh.

40. Don’t Use Your Phone Abroad

Your mobile phone plan may not cover international usage (though it’s worth checking on whether flat-rate, temporary international plans are available). Either grab a pay-as-you-go SIM card or wait until you have Wi-Fi to access the internet, said James Cave, author of the Portugalist travel blog. “If you need to make a phone call, use Skype or do the old-fashioned thing and buy a phone card,” he said.

41. Stay Local

A vacation doesn’t require a pricey plane flight. Check your state’s tourism website to see what adventures you can have at or near home.

42. Buy the Cheapest Gas

Taking a road trip? Use an app like GasBuddy or Google Maps to find the cheapest gasoline prices.

43. Use a Gas Rewards Card

If you are filling up frequently, a gas rewards card can help you earn some of your spending back.

44. Make Sure Your Car Is Travel-Ready

Just as you should check with your doctor before deciding to train for a marathon, make sure your vehicle is tuned up for a road trip. “It’s better to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic instead of risking a roadside breakdown and having your trip completely derailed,” said Jessica Bisesto, senior editor for TravelPirates, a travel deals website.

45. Remember, Kids Under 2 May Fly Free

Anyone age 2 and under counts as a “lap child” and can usually be carried on an airline free of charge as long as they don’t take up a seat. Be sure to check your specific airline’s policy.

46. Leave Your Pet

Many airlines charge fees for bringing your pet and some countries might subject them to quarantine. The price of boarding your pet or having someone feed them while you’re gone might be worth avoiding the headache.

47. Consider Travel Insurance

Your existing medical insurance may not cover an international emergency. A travel insurance policy may help fill the gap. It can also help you avoid a total loss of your travel costs if a personal issue keeps you from traveling. Check your credit card’s terms and conditions too, since some travel cards include similar coverage.

48. Be Discrete

Tourists are often targets for scammers and pickpockets. So be low-key and polite, especially while abroad. Leave your American flag hat at home and try to use the local language.

49. Pay Your Bills Before You Go

The last thing you want to come home to is a late-payment notice. Take care of any payments that will come due while you’re away.

50. Keep Your Documents Safe

Make sure your passport and any other important documents are secure, whether they’re locked up in your luggage or in a hotel safe. Spare yourself the headache and cost of replacing them on short notice.

Don’t have enough socked away to take that dream vacation? No worries. We have 28 ways to save up for your next big adventure here

Image: monkeybusinessimages 

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9 Budget-Friendly Father’s Day Trips to Take With Dad

Break free from the rut of boring gifts and indulge in some bonding time.

Giving dad a vacation for Father’s Day may sound extravagant and costly, but a variety of budget-friendly offerings would be a far more memorable gift than another tie, golf set or steak dinner.

“The most obvious — but most essential — piece of advice is, of course, to pick something that hews closely to his interests,” said Kelsey Blodget, executive editor for, a hotel review website. If dad’s a foodie, consider taking him for a day trip or overnight stay at a city known for great restaurants. “Even if you spend a lot on an amazing meal, it will still be cheaper than a long vacation,” she said.

Smart budgeting and tools like travel rewards cards, which offer kickbacks like free checked bags and hotel upgrades for everyday spending, can also help curb your expenses. However, many gift givers find it hard to think outside the box.

“In general, travel is not gifted often for any occasion, because it ends up being so high dollar, as compared to other options,” said Clem Bason, CEO of, a hotel booking site, adding it’s usually done on special occasions like weddings. However, he sees people increasingly choosing experiences over material goods, which is probably what dad would prefer anyway.

To help you break free from the boring-gift rut, here are nine travel ideas to get some priceless bonding time with your dad.

1.The Bourbon Lover

If dad is a fan of top-notch bourbon, you may want to put the Kentucky Bourbon Trail on your radar. The trail showcases Kentucky’s world-famous distilleries, including Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve, taking participants through big cities, quaint country towns and and bourbon-themed hotels.

To fully experience the trail takes between two to three days, and spending a full weekend allows time for exploring some of the Bluegrass region’s other famous attractions, including the more than 400 horse farms and hundreds of locally owned restaurants serving Kentucky cuisine.

Accommodations are light on the wallet. For example, rooms at The Campbell House, in Lexington, start at around $140 per night.

2. The Speed Racer

Not only is Indianapolis the racing capital of the world, it’s considered an affordable destination. You and dad could spend Father’s Day weekend touring the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Among the exhibits is the first car to win the Indy 500. There are also track tours on days when the track’s not in use.

Keep the race car theme going at nearby Dallara IndyCar Factory, the U.S. headquarters for Italy’s Dallara Automobili. Exhibits showcase the technology, science and engineering involved in making an Indy car with interactive and hands-on displays. Visitors can sit in a car and experience a simulated drive. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children ages 5 through 12.

In terms of lodging, you won’t pay much. Rooms at Marriot’s Courtyard Indianapolis South, for example, start at $199 per night. (Carry a Marriot Rewards Premier credit card? Here are five more hotels to consider.)

3. The Space Enthusiast

Along Florida’s eastern shores, there’s a region known as the Space Coast. Attractions include the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex and its Shuttle Launch Experience, the American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame and Exploration Tower.

The priciest of the stops is the Kennedy Space Center. Tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for children. The American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame, which displays items donated by astronauts, space workers, NASA and company contractors, is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under. Admission for children ages 13 through 18 is $5.

Exploration Tower, meanwhile, is a seven-story structure with an indoor observation area facing Kennedy Space Center and an exhibit on air and space. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $3.75 for children.

Lodging along the Space Coast is reasonable. Rooms at budget chains like Days Inn Cocoa Beach Port Canaveral start at $100.

4. The History Buff

Philadelphia is a city synonymous with history, home to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. What’s more, the Museum of the American Revolution just opened, making it a great time to visit.

Tickets for the new museum, which offers a look at the nation’s founding era, including Revolutionary War memorabilia, letters, diaries and works of art, are $19 for adults and $12 for children ages 6 through 18.

While in town, you could also take advantage of Art Museum Area Restaurant Week, which runs June 11 through June 16 and June 18 through June 23.

For reasonable lodgings, try name-brand hotels like Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia Center City. Rooms can be found for $160 per night. (Be sure to check out these Hilton credit cards before you book.)

5. The Rock Star

Visiting Austin over Father’s Day offers live music and a memorable movie extravaganza. The Texas capital is home to the Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In, said Bason, of If checking out a movie at a drive-in isn’t cool enough, for all of Father’s Day weekend, the theater will screen the “Indiana Jones” series, ending with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which centers on Indiana and his father, of course. Tickets for the drive-in start at $8 per person.

For live music, top choices include The White Horse, a honky tonk featuring new country talent; Sahara Lounge, known for its eclectic mix of everything from blues to Brazilian music; and Elephant Room, a rare jazz venue in the city. Many of the spaces have free nights, but some charge a small cover.

For lodging, rates at boutique hotels like Casulo Hotel start at about $129 per night.

6. The Beach Bum

Quality time at the beach with Dad is always fun. In Miami, you can take the experience up a notch or two. Not only is the city cheaper come summer, you can also treat dad to a ride on one of the trendiest forms of transportation — a hoverboard. Two-hour rentals from South Beach Hoverboard Rentals start at $49. The hoverboards can be delivered to any local Miami hotel, residence or public park.

You can also check out speedboat adventure tours for that “Miami Vice” vibe. Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures offers tours starting at $38 for adults 12 and up and $24 for children under 11.

Affordable accommodations can be found at options like Lexington Hotel Miami Beach where rooms start at $100.

7. The Outdoorsman

Whitewater rafting in Maine is another chance to share bonding time without spending a fortune. The Kennebec River, famed for Benedict Arnold’s fateful trip to capture Quebec, offers an opportunity to paddle through a variety of serious whitewater rapids.

The Double Gorge Trip, with Magic Falls Rafting Company, in West Forks, Maine, is $129 per person on weekends and $99 weekdays.

If you’re too exhausted to drive home after the rafting workout, inexpensive lodging can be found at hotels like The Dead River Lodge, where king rooms are $79 per night.

8. The Sailor

If you’ve always wanted to go sailing with dad, a variety of windjammer cruises are available through the Maine Windjammer Association website. A few are offering special Father’s Day deals.

The Heritage, a 95-foot schooner, is promoting discounted rates on its June 15 through June 18 expedition, charging $492 for dads who are sailing with children on the three-day getaway. The Victory Chimes will sail from June 16 through June 19 and is offering dads a discounted ticket of $340 when accompanied by a child. The cruises leave from Rockland, Maine, and include meals. There will be time to help sail the boat or sit back and enjoy the scenery.

9. The Golf Pro

No self-respecting Father’s Day story can overlook golf, so here’s one last option to consider: You and Dad practicing your backswing by the picturesque Finger Lakes.

Located on top of a mountain and adjacent to Canandaigua Lake, in Canandaigua, New York, the Bristol Harbour Lodge & Golf Resort provides a great backdrop for some quality golfing time. The resort’s Golf & Stay Package includes two nights of accommodations, one round of golf, a complimentary golf cart and range balls for $265 per person. As an added incentive to visit, the Finger Lakes region is one of the country’s most up-and-coming wine destinations.

How to Save on Your Father’s Day Trip 

Before you hit the road with Dad, make sure you have a plan for your spending. Travel rewards cards are one way to save, as are hotel rewards cards, which offer perks such as free hotel nights and late check-in and check-out. Just remember to swipe wisely so you don’t lose your rewards to high interest or debt. The last thing you want to come home to is a huge credit card bill. Not sure where your credit stands? Find out before you apply. You can view two of your credit scores for free on

Image: iShootPhotosLLC

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6 Upscale Hotels With Stellar Service

Two seasoned travel experts to share their picks for hotels with great room service.

In the beginning, we book a hotel because it’s something we have to do. We obviously need a place to sleep, right? But we often forget the little things that make staying in a hotel worthwhile. Like a friendly smile. A great restaurant recommendation. The bellhop who’s all too willing to lug your heavy luggage upstairs. Not every place has this.

To ensure your stay is as memorable as the destination you visit, we tapped two seasoned travel experts to share their picks for hotels with great room service. Here are their suggestions.

1. Singata Lodge, Grumeti, Tanzania

One of the most authentic private-use camps you can find on the Serengeti, Singata’s staff is trained “exceptionally well,” said New York travel agent Lisa Lindblad, and follows the chain’s ethos that revenue goes toward protecting the land, which in turn supports their families. Such thinking “creates a remarkably happy and energetic front and back of the house,” she said.

2. Hotel Sacher, Vienna, Austria 

“I have taken many groups to this hotel, and the level of service, the speed of their response and how quickly they make arrangements we request has just always been top-notch,” said Nathalie Nagy, an agent with Protravel who lives part-time in Central Europe. “The concierge also has special connections,” she said. “We needed to get VIP guests into a private, members-only night club, and in minutes, they arranged it through their contacts.”

3. Hotel Kempinski Adlon, Berlin, Germany 

This family-run hotel goes above and beyond to accommodate guests, said Nagy. Years ago, when she didn’t have cash on hand to tip the bellman, she left an envelope later that day and never saw him again. “Two years later, I returned to the hotel and when I got out of the taxi, he picked up my luggage, looked at me and said, ‘Thank you, Mrs. Nagy, for leaving that tip during your last stay.'” She added, “I feel this with many of the staff at this hotel: ultra-personalized service and a high level of guest acknowledgement.”

4. Hotel Aria, Budapest, Hungary 

Every aspect of this hotel, from the front desk to the spa, is excellent, said Nagy. “I also love the unique music concierge, who helps guests with recommendations not only as a regular concierge but with the musical theme of the hotel.” Hundreds of options are available via complimentary iPads, and the music concierge is well versed in many genres. “It is a nice extra touch!”

5. Villa Feltrinelli, Gargnano, Italy  

A loyal staff and grand Venetian interiors put Villa Feltrinelli at the top of Lindblad’s list. “They are well trained, quiet, old school in their demeanor and knowledgeable about caring for guests,” she said of the staff. “They are like family retainers in any private house in Europe. Extraordinary.”

6. Amanemu, Ise-Shima, Japan

Renowned for its sumptuous take on the Japanese bathing tradition of onsen, Amanemu, near the holy Shinto site of Ise Grand Shrine, is an absolute gem. Like other upscale chains in Asia, Aman, which owns and operates Amenemu, is “able to tap into a labor pool that is culturally respectful, careful, kind, pleasant and professional … the result is superior to any other,” said Lindblad.

Save on Your Next Hotel Stay 

Before you book your lodgings, make sure you’ve made a plan for your spending. Travel rewards cards are one way to save, as they offer kickbacks for purchases on things like hotels, car rentals and airfare. Check out our roundup of the best travel rewards cards here.

Remember, before you apply for any credit card, you’ll want to know if you qualify. If you’re not sure about your credit standing, you can view two of your credit scores for free on

Image: Kajdi Szabolcs

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50 Places to Visit Before You Turn 50

Here are 50 places to visit before you hit the big milestone.

Many people put off traveling until they’re retired, thinking they’ll have more money saved up by then to afford it. But the truth is, traveling doesn’t necessarily get easier with age. Many places require physical endurance, from climbing the ancient steps of the Acropolis to hiking the rocky Inca city of Machu Picchu, in Peru.

“Our advice for any bucket-list traveler is to do the most difficult destination as early as possible,” said Matthew Ma, co-founder of the airfare deals site The Flight Deal. “We have seen older travelers have a harder time keeping up.”

None of us are getting any younger, so why put your dreams off? We’ve rounded up 50 destinations to inspire you to fill up your passport, none of which will break your budget or land you in debt. (You can check how your habits are affecting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Reviewing your scores won’t hurt them one bit and is a great way to manage your finances.)

Be sure to also check out our roundups for great airline miles cards and hotel rewards cards, which can help you put your spending to use. Just remember not to go overboard so you don’t lose your earnings to high interest or rack up unwanted debt. The last thing you want is to return home to an eye-popping credit card bill.

Now, read on for our top destinations to visit before you turn 50.

1. Alaska

The 49th state is the last frontier in North America. With fewer than 800,000 people living across the state’s more than 660,000 square miles, it’s one of the easiest places in the world to quite literally get away from it all. One option for visiting is by taking an Alaskan cruise, as you’ll get to see several places throughout the state. If that’s the route you take, make sure you read up on these 10 things to know before you book a cruise.

2. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires has it all, from splashy street art and graffiti to upscale white-tablecloth restaurants. If the sensual moves of the tango don’t get you, the buttery steak surely will. (Don Julio Parrilla serves some of the juiciest steaks we’ve had in our lives.)

3. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia

If you make it to Australia, it’s easy to spend all your time at the country’s pristine beaches, especially around Sydney or Brisbane. But if you’ve gone to the effort of taking that lengthy flight from the U.S., you might as well spend a couple of days venturing around the country’s hot, red center, where Uluru rises more than 1,000 feet out of the desert.

4. Napa Valley, California

Grab your fellow wine geek and head to the valley in the beginning of harvest season, when the cabernet, chardonay and pinot grapes are picked. A bike tour is a great way to take advantage of the area’s rolling scenery.

5. San Francisco

Come for the photos of Queen Anne houses (as seen in the “Full House” opening credits); stay for excellent espresso at Four Barrel Coffee and some of the best Chinese street food. Bringing coffee back home? Here’s why that’s a smart decision.

6. Montreal

The laid-back home of the late Leonard Cohen has design-forward shopping, cheesy poutine and some of the best bagels outside New York City. What more could you want? (Well, besides warmer weather.)

7. Toronto 

Montreal and Vancouver may get all the love, but Toronto is becoming a premier Canadian city in its own right. Hit the Junction, a former industrial area, for hip bars, live music and coffee shops. Then marvel at the reopened Queens Quay on Lake Ontario, in the Harbourfront neighborhood.

8. Guizhou, China 

As the province slowly opens to tourism, visitors will soon have a chance to stay in high-end hotels like the Guiyang Resort while taking advantage of itineraries that bring them closer to the country’s authentic hill tribes.

9. Viñales, Cuba 

Commercial flights from the U.S. have made Cuba more accessible, which is a good thing because this luxuriant valley offers so much to see. A Unesco World Heritage site dotted with pastel-colored bed and breakfasts, Viñales offers mogote climbing, a family-run botanical garden and tobacco farms where you can learn how some of the world’s finest cigars are made.

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

There’s a reason the country is frequently recognized for being the happiest on Earth. One look at its beautiful waterfront, a taste of its delicious pastries and an evening spent watching the fireworks in Tivoli, and you’ll want to call Denmark home, too.

11. Brno, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic’s second city serves up world-class cuisine that ranges from French and American to Japanese and Italian cooking. Coffeehouses like Cafe Mitte beckon guests from neighboring Prague and Vienna to wind down after a long night of partying.

12. Giza, Egypt

For nearly 4,000 years, the wondrous shape of the pyramids of Giza have fascinated travelers. As the last remaining wonder of the ancient world, the massive tombs are utterly awe-inspiring.

13. Athens, Greece

The economy is in crisis, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time here. Avant-garde performances, hip hotels and bustling cafés are just a few of the reasons to visit the mythic Greek capital.

14. Santorini, Greece

Part of the Cyclades island group, Santorini has everything you could want from the setting of Mamma Mia: whitewashed buildings, towering cliffs and crowded villages made for Instagram photos. (Just be sure not to post so much you give any identity thieves ideas.)

15. Berlin

The historic old city has been compared to New York in the ’80s, for all the right reasons. From trendsetting clubs to provocative art, Berlin is the capital of cool.

16. Honolulu

The Hawaiian capital is becoming a hotbed of culture, hosting its first Biennial, which will draw artists from across the Pacific Rim and feature its own talent, and opening artsy hotels like Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, which worked with local artists to conceive custom wallpaper and murals.

17. Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland’s capital may be tiny (its population numbers 120,000), but its nature is mighty — with erupting geysers, extinct volcanoes and geothermal pools to start. Visit between June and August, when temperatures surge to highs in the mid fifties.

18. Galway, Ireland 

The sleepy medieval city may not strike you as much at first. But after walking around the bustling Eyre Square, dropping into St. Nicholas’ Church and taking a relaxing cruise along the River Corrib, you’ll find it as charming as any city in Ireland.

19. Amalfi Coast, Italy 

Glittering seaside towns, world-class cuisine and fragile cultural landscapes — Amalfi’s 13 municipalities were named UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1997 — make this region a must for any aspiring jetsetter.

20. Costa Smeralda, Italy

The crystal-clear waters off the north-eastern coast of Sardinia will make you want to stay there forever. Explore the fantastic coves along the eastern coastline and hitch a ride to the top of Monte Mora, where you can spot the islands of Tavolara and Caprera.

21. Kanazawa, Japan

Thanks to a bullet-train extension that shortens the trip from Tokyo to just 2 and 1/2 hours, the elegant city is seeing an uptick in tourism. A visit to what Travel + Leisure describes as “the old wooden teahouses of the Higashi Chayagai district” and the contemporary art museum are tops on our list, along with a stop at Omi-cho Market for some of the world’s greatest sushi.

22. Kyoto, Japan

Once Japan’s imperial capital, Kyoto is one of the few places in the country that was spared from heavy bombing during World War II. As a result, visitors can enjoy traditional architecture and historic castles and palaces that simply don’t exist anywhere else.

23. The Maasai Mara, Kenya 

Dedicated to the conservation of African wildlife, the world-renowned Mara Conservancy is a sight to behold. Get a peek of resident lion prides, black rhinos, wildebeests and elephants; you can even go on a game drive in the Mara Triangle.

24. Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia

Make friends with the local wildlife — white-breasted kingfishers and humpback dolphins call this island home — then hike through the jungle, which is relatively untouched.

25. Valletta, Malta 

To ring in its 450th birthday last year, the old Mediterranean city gave itself a new gate, a restored open-air opera house and a new parliament building, all designed by Renzo Piano, one of the world’s most sought-after architects.

26. Assateague Island, Maryland & Virginia

Camp out on the beach in the company of the wild horses that call this island home. Assateague is an affordable way to spend a few days sprawled out on the sand and is a short drive away from Ocean City, Maryland.

27. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico 

There’s never a bad time to visit, and you can’t beat the currency conversion. El Arco, a natural arch rock formation that sits where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, is not to be missed.

28. Tulum, Mexico 

The stylish beach destination may have lost some of its bohemian allure, but foodies can still count on Tulum to deliver Grade-A bars, eclectic eats and cute coffee shops.

29. Marrakech, Morocco

Winding alleys teeming with handicrafts and exotic cuisine are just two of the reasons Marrakech should be on your to-do list. The majestic 14th-century Ali ben Youssef Quranic school, once the largest Islamic study center in North Africa, is worth the visit alone.

30. Kathmandu, Nepal 

Get high — really high — in the Himalayas, where the snow-shrouded treks are worth every hard moment.

31. Amsterdam

The city’s edges bristle with the creative energy of young artists, and locals and visitors alike enjoy the soothing view from Nieuw Amsterdam. Visit Amsterdam proper if you want, but we’d prefer to avoid the tourists and order oysters at Café Modern instead.

32. Waitomo Caves, New Zealand 

Carved by underground streams over thousands of years, these amazing caves are festooned with zillions of glow worms and some of the most spectacular rock formations you’ll ever see. Book a walking or boat tour to see it up close, and save up your energy for a guided horse trek above ground.

33. Pangalusian Island, Philippines

Take a sunset cruise or go for a night dive — anything you do on the water in this remote island in the Palawan archipelago is bound to be magical.

34. Lisbon, Portugal

Hipster hangouts, boutique hotels and breezy strolls along the Tejo River make the once-sleepy capital worth considering.

35. San Juan, Puerto Rico

On the undeveloped island of Vieque, you’ll find a mysterious bay that glows in the dark. Need we say more?

36. Moscow, Russia

Mother Russia is undergoing a food revolution, complete with inventive takes on Soviet food, folklore-infused dishes and frosty glasses of vodka. A late dinner at White Rabbit restaurant, where star chef Vladimir Mukhin made his name, is a must.

37. Glasgow, Scotland

The largest city in Scotland (and home to ’90s chamber-pop darlings Belle and Sebastian) feels suddenly chic thanks to a group young alums from the Glasgow School of Art who’ve peppered the city with stylish shops.

38. Pamplona, Spain

The capital of the Navarre region, in the northeast corner of Spain, inspired great affection in Ernest Hemingway, who visited Pamplona on nine occasions. Many of his favorite bars remain open, thanks to his novel “The Sun Also Rises,” which captured the spirit of one Spanish summer in the 1920s.

39. Trunk Bay, St. John 

Who cares if the beach is crowded? This little corner of paradise, in the United States Virgin Islands, is lovely enough to make a postcard look like it was Photoshopped.

40. The Ice Hotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden

Sleeping on reindeer pelts in a hotel designed entirely of ice isn’t for everyone, but if you’re among the adventurous, it’s an amazing experience. You might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if the atmospheric conditions are right. (Pro tip: Skip the dog sled from the airport to the hotel and just take a car.)

41. Ticino, Switzerland

Home to medieval castles, world-class art exhibits and an array of options for hiking, the Italian-speaking canton is la dolce vita with an Alpine backdrop. Leap from the Ponte dei Salti into the glittering waters below, then make like the locals and devour a block of lasagna.

42. Istanbul

A little bit of Asia, a little bit of Europe and a rich, complicated history make Istanbul a fascinating place to visit. The imposing Haghia Sophia is an obvious stop, as are the ferries shuttling up and down the Bosphorus. Just try not to eat too much baklava.

43. Ko Phra Thong, Thailand 

One of Thailand’s many attractions off the touristy beaten path, this largely deserted island features eco-friendly resorts and bungalows nestled in verdant gardens.

44. Udon Thani, Thailand 

The northeast Thailand city is an industrial hub, but the Red Lotus Sea, a shallow lake dotted with thousands of red lotus flowers, will take your breath away with its beauty. Schedule a small boat tour to view it up close.

45. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 

One of the most iconic places of worship, perhaps in the world, can be found here: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The final resting place of the man who conceived it, the first president of the UAE, the impressive mosque is one of the few in the region that is open to non-Muslims.

46. Park City, Utah

With the merger of Park City Mountain Resort and nearby Canyons Resort, ski buffs can get a pass good at both resorts and go wild on the slopes without paying extra. According to The New York Times, last summer Vail spent a whopping $50 million to seal the deal and pay for an eight-person gondola to connect the resorts.

47. Dalat, Vietnam

White-water rafting, mountain biking and golf are just a few of the outdoor activities that set Dalat apart.

48. Seattle

Come for local beer at every bar and some of the best coffee shops around — seriously, don’t even bother with Starbucks. Seattle has tourist attractions like Pike’s Place Market and the Space Needle, but if you’re wondering where the locals disappear to each weekend, head for the mountains, where you’ll find them hiking and climbing.

49. Washington, D.C.

With the recent opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, downtown D.C. is looking a lot more dynamic these days. A sprawling development called CityCenterDC adds to the appeal with apartments, condos, shops and restaurants, including Momofuku CCDC, the first U.S. location for the brand outside of New York.

50. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

After snapping a selfie with Old Faithful, see if you can spot any wild bears or bison. Be sure to visit the most photographed thermal feature of all, Grand Prismatic Spring.

Trying to save up for the trip of a lifetime? Here are 50 things to stop wasting your money on now

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19 Travel Hacks to Make Your Next Trip the Best Yet

Here's how to get the most out of your next getaway.

Going on vacation is amazing, but sometimes the process of getting to your destination can be less than enjoyable. Traffic jams, airport security, flight delays and other annoyances can not only put you in a foul mood, but can wreck your entire trip. Sadly, you can’t control some of these things, but there are plenty of ways to ensure you arrive at your destination relaxed, prepared and ready to enjoy your getaway.

Here are 19 things to consider when planning your next big trip.

1. Get Global Entry & TSA PreCheck

Your five-year, $100 Global Entry membership means expedited processing while going through U.S. Customs. It also gives you TSA PreCheck status that can speed you through security when traveling domestically without removing your shoes, laptops, liquids, belt and light jacket. Don’t think you fly enough to warrant the fee? You could consider an opportunity to …

2. Get a Travel Rewards Credit Card

Many travel rewards credit cards cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee for as long as you carry the card. On top of that, you can earn miles to help you earn free upgrades and free travel. Many of these cards also offer perks like travel insurance, rental car insurance and assistance for health care and other emergencies while traveling. You can check out some of our favorite travel rewards credit cards here.

3. Consider Travel Insurance

Of course, travel rewards cards often require excellent credit, so you may not qualify if your credit isn’t in good standing. (Find out where you stand with a free credit report snapshot on You can easily buy one of the perks these cards offer, though — travel insurance. If an illness, weather situation or other issue keeps you from your plans, travel insurance will make sure you don’t forfeit the cost of your plane tickets and possibly your accommodations.

4. Buy Your Ticket From the Airline

It’s tempting to buy your airline ticket from a discount website, but you can wind up at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to overbooked flights, rebooking without hefty fees and other issues. So if you think you’ll need to change your flight, or absolutely, positively must be at your destination at a specific time, buying from the airline may be worth it, even if it includes an added expense. Also consider signing up for your favorite airline’s miles program.

5. Buy Good Luggage

We’re not saying you need to spend a lot of money, but buying sturdy bags can ensure you don’t end up at your destination with your wheels having literally fallen off. Do your research and look for sales on well-reviewed bags. You may even want to splurge for a bag with a lifetime warranty on repairs. Use your travel rewards card for the purchase and you’ll earn miles toward your next trip.

6. Research Accommodations

There’s nothing worse than ending up at your hotel, hostel or home and it looks nothing at all like the photos you viewed online. Be sure to read the reviews and do lots of comparing to ensure you get a space that is in a good location for your personal tastes, is safe and is priced competitively.

7. Check Your Passport

If you’re traveling abroad, most countries require your passport to not be within 90 days of expiration while you’re in the country. Avoid being turned away at the airport and having to spend hundreds of dollars to expedite your passport renewal just so you don’t have to completely forfeit your trip. Also check the visa requirements for your destination (same goes for inoculations if needed). If you forget, the airline can typically handle it at the airport, but it’s better to square it away ahead of time to avoid potential delays.

8. Pack Snacks

Food at the airport is stupidly expensive and typically not good. Plan ahead and put together a solid meal for every 12 hours you’ll be traveling, especially if you’re not flying business or first class. Having a few of your favorite munchies can be the difference between arriving hangry or happy.

9. Carry a Water Bottle

The same goes for having adequate liquids. If you’ve ever been stuck in your seat for long periods without beverage service, you know the importance of having your own water or other hydrating beverage with you. Pack an empty water bottle at home and fill it when you’ve made it through security. It’s great to have with you on your trip as well, especially in hot climates.

10. Be Comfortable

We’re not giving you an excuse to look like a mess, but being comfortable, especially on long international flights, can make even the most cramped leg room more comfortable. Wear soft fabrics that don’t bind and try to layer so temperature fluctuations don’t leave you freezing or sweating. If your flight is super long, consider packing a comfy sleeping outfit you can change into on the plane.

11. Wear Slip-On Shoes

Slip-on-shoes are one step further on your road to comfort. Not only do they help you pass through security (if you didn’t get your TSA PreCheck), but you can easily kick off your shoes and get comfy on the plane.

12. Take Soothing Socks

Once you slip off those shoes, you’ll want something to make you feel cozy and cuddly. Some fluffy, cushy socks can do the trick. Try to find some with rubberized feet so you don’t have to change when you head to the restroom.

13. Pack a Refresh Kit

This has gotten me through many an international flight. If you’re not flying business or first class where they provide a comfort kit, packing a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb or hairbrush, change of underwear, a washcloth, moisturizer, lotion, lip balm and even a refreshing herbal mist can make all the difference in how you feel once you reach your destination.

14. Pack a Cozy Wrap or Sweater

Planes frequently get cold, so a sweater, light jacket, shawl or scarf can help, especially if the airline doesn’t offer blankets or runs out.

15. Know the Language

If you’re headed to a country where they speak a different language, try to know a few simple phrases so you aren’t constantly using the translation app on your phone.

16. Get an International Calling Plan …

Speaking of your phone, see if your carrier offers an international plan on a temporary basis. It can help you keep in touch without racking up a huge bill.

17. … Or a Temporary Phone

If not, there are plenty of places that offer simple and inexpensive phones with prepaid calling plans that will let you at least text and talk, if not check your email and play with your favorite apps.

18. Have Walking-Around Money

You may be planning to use your credit card exclusively while traveling, but it’s good to have money in your pocket, especially in foreign countries. Exchange your money at the airport or make a withdrawal at a local ATM. You may want to research if any local banks are affiliated with your bank back home, as they can often charge lower ATM transaction fees.

19. Make Note of Your Accommodation Details

Putting your local address into your phone can save you serious headaches, especially if you’ve been out having a bit too much fun and can’t remember. If you’re in a hotel, include the phone number so you can call for assistance if necessary.

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