Author: Patrick McCarthy

10 Affordable Beach Destinations That Won’t Break The Bank

10 Affordable Beach Destinations

With summer quickly approaching, its time to start thinking about the perfect beach vacation. But with so many options, where do you start? Well, the good news is that there are plenty of beach destinations that wont break the bank. Weve compiled a list of the top 10 most affordable beach destinations for vacation, so you can enjoy a summer getaway without spending a fortune.

1.) Cancun, Mexico

Cancun is a great destination for beach lovers on a budget. The city is known for its white sand beaches, crystalclear waters and vibrant nightlife. Plus, there are plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants to choose from.

2.) Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is a popular destination for beachgoers looking for a budgetfriendly vacation. This Caribbean paradise is known for its stunning beaches, lush rainforest and excellent snorkeling and diving.

3.) Goa, India

Located in Indias West Coast, Goa is a great destination for beach lovers on a budget. From its golden sandy beaches to its vibrant culture, there is something for everyone in Goa. Plus, the cost of living is very affordable.

4.) Sanibel Island, USA

Sanibel Island is a great option for those looking for an affordable beach vacation in the US. The island is known for its beautiful beaches and its abundance of wildlife, making it the perfect spot for a relaxing getaway.

5.) Negril, Jamaica

Negril is another great Caribbean destination for beach lovers on a budget. The city is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and excellent snorkeling and diving. Plus, there are plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants to choose from.

6.) Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Port Elizabeth is a great destination for beach lovers on a budget. The city is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and excellent snorkeling and diving. Plus, the cost of living is very affordable.

7.) Phuket, Thailand

Phuket is a great destination for beach lovers on a budget. The city is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and excellent snorkeling and diving. Plus, there are plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants to choose from.

8.) Cairns, Australia

Cairns is an ideal destination for beach lovers on a budget. The city is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and excellent snorkeling and diving. Plus, there are plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants to choose from.

9.) Ko Samui, Thailand

Ko Samui is a great destination for beach lovers on a budget. The city is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife and excellent snorkeling and diving. Plus, there are plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants to choose from.

10.) Malolo Island, Fiji

Malolo Island is a great destination for beach lovers on a budget. The island is known for its stunning beaches, peaceful atmosphere and excellent snorkeling and diving. Plus, there are plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants to choose from.


No matter what your budget is, there is a beach destination perfect for you. From the Caribbean to Asia and Australia, there are plenty of options for beach lovers on a budget. Our list of the top 10 most affordable beach destinations for vacation is the perfect place to start planning your summer getaway. So what are you waiting for? Start packing your bags and get ready for the beach vacation of a lifetime.

6 Australian Cities Worth Visiting (That Aren’t Sydney)

6 Australian Cities Worth Visiting

When most people think of Australia, they think of Sydney. While Sydney is not Australia’s capital city, it’s easily the country’s best-known, thanks to its iconic opera house, harbor, and famous Skywalk. It’s also Australia’s largest city. While there’s no denying that Sydney is a great city, it’s not the only one worth visiting in Australia. This country is home to many fantastic cities, each with its own unique character and attractions. Some of its more underrated vacation spots are more budget-friendly, less crowded, and just as exciting as Sydney.

Here are six Australian cities that are definitely worth a visit.

1. Melbourne

After Sydney, the title of Australia’s best-known city goes to Melbourne. The second most populous city in the country, Melbourne is a bustling metropolis with plenty to offer.

If you’re looking for a cosmopolitan city with world-class dining and shopping, Melbourne is the place for you. This city is also home to vibrant arts and live-music scenes and beautiful parks and gardens. Make sure to visit the Royal Botanic Gardens and the National Gallery of Victoria while you’re here.

2. Brisbane

Looking for some unusual attractions? Check out Brisbane, home to a koala sanctuary, multiple botanic gardens, a planetarium, and Mount Coot-tha.

Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and is known for its sunny weather and laid-back atmosphere. This city is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with plenty of parks and walking trails to explore. For culture, check out the Queensland Museum or take a ride on the CityCat ferry system.

3. Perth

Perth regularly ranks highly on lists of the world’s most livable cities, and it’s easy to see why: it’s affordable, sunny, and boasts 19 beaches!

Perth is the capital of Western Australia and is the perfect place to enjoy some sun and surf. The city has beautiful beaches, as well as scenic parks and gardens. Take a walk or ride a bike along the Swan River or visit Kings Park for amazing views of the city skyline.

4. Darwin

Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and is known for its tropical climate. This city has a relaxed vibe and is perfect for enjoying the outdoors. You can go swimming at one of the many beaches or take a day trip to see crocodiles in their natural habitat at Kakadu National Park.

5. Adelaide

Adelaide is the capital of South Australia and is known for its historic buildings and beautiful wine regions. The city center is filled with Victorian-era architecture, while just outside of town, you’ll find rolling hills and sprawling vineyards. Be sure to visit Haigh’s Chocolate Factory or one of the many hipster cafes while you’re here.

6. Gold Coast

One of Australia’s premier holiday destinations, Gold Coast is located in southeastern Queensland and is known for its coastline and beaches.

This city has something for everyone, from theme parks to rainforests to golf courses. Don’t miss out on a chance to see dolphins at SeaWorld or koalas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary while you’re here. What’s more, Gold Coast is close enough to Brisbane that you can take a day trip while still taking advantage of Gold Coast’s more affordable accommodation.


There are dozens of great Australian cities to explore, so don’t limit yourself to just Sydney. Whether you’re looking for world-class dining and shopping in Melbourne, laid-back beach vibes in Perth, or natural beauty in Darwin, there’s sure to be an Australian city that’s perfect for you.

Incredible Things to Do in Padua, Italy

Incredible Things to Do in Padua, Italy

If you are visiting the northeastern regions of Italy, the most popular choices are usually Venice or Verona. However, these are also two of the most expensive options. A great alternative when you want to explore this part of Italy is to visit Padua. Not only is this city a lot cheaper, but there is also a wide range of attractions for visitors without them needing to venture elsewhere.

Go to the Palazzo Zuckerman Museum

This vast museum has so much on display that you may need to visit several times to take in everything there is to see. The exhibits include items used by Italians in their everyday lives over several centuries.

See the Capella Degli Scrovegni

The Scrovegni Chapel was built in 1305. It is most famous for its fresco by Giotto and the Roman Amphitheater surrounding the structure. It is a busy attraction, and visitors have a set time slot to visit. Therefore, booking a visit to this attraction in advance is essential.

Stroll Around the Stalls at Prato Della Valle

Although Prato Della Valle is the town square, it has an oval-shaped design. It has a fountain in the center surrounded by statues. While it is a very visually appealing spot and a great place to sit for a rest, most people come here to visit the market. There are two sections to the market; one is a flea market, and the other sells fresh produce.

Take a Trip to St. Anthony’s Basilica

St. Anthony’s Basilica is one of the most prominent structures in Padua, and its towers and domes are a wonderful sight. The church is in the historical part of Padua and is worth visiting for its external architecture and internal décor. Some of the highlights of a visit are the paintings, relics, statues, and the tomb of St. Anthony.

See the Exhibits at Il Museo del Risorgimento

The museum is in a beautiful building, and its focus is the history of the Risorgimento. Many of the exhibits teach visitors about the history of Padua. Attached to the museum is Caffe Pedrocchi, which is a great place to enjoy a light lunch or eat a refreshing bowl of gelato.

Go to the Basilica of Santa Giustina

The Basilica of Santa Giustina is a typical example of an Italian church. One difference is that the church is also home to a small shop, which is unusual in that it sells only products made by monks.

Explore the Botanical Gardens

Orto Botanico, the botanical gardens, has been a key feature of Padua since 1545. Interestingly, Orto Botanico is the world’s oldest botanical garden on its original site, which is on the grounds of the University of Padua. It is an academic botanical garden with a vast and unusual collection of plant species. The gardens are beautifully landscaped, and there are greenhouses and water features. It’s a fantastic and interesting place to visit for all the family.

Pick Up Some Souvenirs at the Piazza Delle Erbe Market

It is worth devoting a day to retail therapy while you are in Padua, and the best place to do this is Piazza dell Erbe market. It is a great place to buy fresh, local produce and sample some of the local delicacies and traditional dishes. It is also an excellent place to pick up some souvenirs from your visit to Italy. The stalls sell almost everything, from leather goods to clothes. Small cafes, bistros, and restaurants surround the market, so you can sit to rest your feet and enjoy lunch.

Dine at the Pago Pago Pizzeria

People assume that all the best pizza is in Naples, but there are some fantastic places to eat pizza in Padua. Although each person has their own opinion about which pizzeria produces the best pizzas in the city, Pago Pago Pizzeria is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. This restaurant has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and makes some of the most delicious pizzas in the area.

Have Fun at Parco Padovaland

If you are visiting Padua with children or want to have a fun day out, one of the best options is Parco Padovaland. It is a large waterpark on the outskirts of Padua with various slides, water features, and pools. There is something to suit people of all ages at the park, which has an area devoted to younger children, slides, and pools for older children and adults, and areas for relaxing that will suit those who prefer a quieter and less adventurous day.


These are just a few ways to spend your time in Padua, as there are many other attractions in this beautiful location. Padua is an excellent choice of destination if you visit northeastern Italy and a cheaper alternative to Verona and Venice.

5 of London’s Best Hidden Gems for Tourists

5 of London's Best Hidden Gems for Tourists

London is a city with plenty of tourist destinations to offer visitors. From Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London to the London Eye, Big Ben, the Tate Modern, and more, London is a city jam-packed with well-known landmarks to see.

But for tourists who are looking for something a little bit different, London still has plenty to offer. Steer off the beaten track and check out five of London’s best hidden gems.

1.) The Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms

If you love British and military history, this one’s for you. The Churchill War Rooms are not usually on the list of must-see attractions for tourists visiting London — but for anybody interested in the Second World War, they are a real privilege to experience.

This attraction is located in the basement of the Cabinet Office and is home to the wartime headquarters of then Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It offers visitors a glimpse into what life was like during World War II.

2.) The London Transport Museum

The London Transport Museum

Do you think trains, buses, and the London Underground sound boring? Think again. The London Transport Museum offers hours of interesting exhibits tracking history from the 1800s onwards.

This museum is dedicated to the history of transport in London. It offers visitors an interactive experience, with exhibits such as a Victorian tube train and a replica of an old London street scene.

3.) The Royal Academy of Arts

The Royal Academy of Arts

Tourists visiting London often gravitate to the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, or the British Museum for their fix of art and culture. However, the Royal Academy of Arts is an underrated gem with a lot to offer art lovers.

This art gallery is home to a large collection of paintings, sculptures, and other works of art. It features both traditional and contemporary pieces from artists around the world.

4.) The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection

Another oft-forgotten museum for art and history lovers visiting London is the Wallace Collection, situated in the former townhouse of the Seymour family, Marquesses of Hertford. As expected from an aristocrat’s former home, the museum is a beautiful ode to opulence and style.

This museum is home to one of the largest collections of art in Europe, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Velázquez. It also houses decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.

5.) Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park

While Greenwich Park is a favorite of London’s locals, it is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the better-known Hyde Park and Regent’s Park. But Greenwich Park is not to be underestimated. As one of London’s largest single green spaces, it’s home to some beautiful views. Best of all, it’s completely free to enter.

This park offers visitors stunning views of the River Thames and central London. It also features gardens, a deer park, and several monuments and memorials.

London is full of hidden and underrated landmarks and locations well worth visiting. While the iconic landmarks have their own appeal, tourists will find that stepping away from the usual sights and checking out some of London’s lesser-known spots opens up a whole new way to experience England’s bustling capital city.

10 Underrated European Cities to Visit

10 Underrated European Cities to Visit

Planning your next European vacation? Why not head away from the beaten track and swap Paris, London, or Barcelona for something different?

Europe is home to many underrated cities – but just because these cities are not the most visited, doesn’t mean they aren’t still brimming with things to see, do, and try. From winter sports in Austria and beautiful medieval sights in France to good food and drink in Germany or Wales, these 10 underrated European cities are well worth a visit.

1.) Zadar, Croatia

Croatia is itself a very underrated country, so it comes as no surprise that its cities are often overlooked as well. While Zadar is often forgotten amongst Croatia’s better-known cities, it has plenty to offer vacationers.

Situated on Croatia’s beautiful Dalmatian Coast, Zadar’s Old Town combines Roman and Venetian ruins and architecture, and is perfect for a day trip to the nearby Paklenica National Park.

2.) Bergen, Norway

Bergen is often forgotten, but this UNESCO World Heritage city is well worth a look. Nestled between seven hillsides and seven fjords, Bergen is the perfect starting place for exploring Norway’s stunning southwestern coast.

Bergen is Norway’s second biggest city, but despite its size, it has a small-town charm, with pretty little wooden houses and a quirky look to its streets. Visit some of the town’s old medieval landmarks, try its famous fish market, or take a ride up to the summit of Mount Floyen from the city’s centre.

3.) Metz, France

This ancient French city is steeped in a fascinating and turbulent history, having changed hands between sovereignties countless times through the centuries.

Filled with beautiful green space and medieval architecture, Metz boasts France’s third-tallest cathedral, famed for its enormous gothic stained glass windows. Check out the historical Musée de la Cour d’Or or the Centre Pompidou-Metz’s display of contemporary art.

4.) Dusseldorf, Germany

Dusseldorf blends old-world beauty with contemporary cool. This bustling city, located on the Rhine, has plenty to offer, from fascinating museums to exciting nightlife to great food and drink.

The Altstadt (Old Town) is often called “the longest bar in the world” thanks to the sheer amount of cafes, clubs, and bars squeezed into it. While you’re there, make sure you sample some of the city’s famous beer.

10 Underrated European Cities to Visit

5.) Gdansk, Poland

The old port town of Gdansk is relatively unknown to vacationers, but it’s well worth a look. Sitting on the coast of the Baltic Sea, Gdansk boasts historic cathedrals, beautiful architecture, and enough little cafes and eateries to keep any tourist happy.

Check out the Royal Way, the city’s famous promenade street dedicated to Polish kings, and the gorgeous Neptune Fountain, a perfect spot for that holiday selfie.

6.) Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is not just the prettiest city in Slovenia – it’s in the running for the most beautiful city in all of Europe.

Slovenia’s picturesque little capital is reminiscent of Prague without the hefty price tag. With the Ljubljanica River winding through the city centre and its colorful baroque architecture, this smaller city is a perfect romantic destination for couples or a great spot for lovers of history and architecture.

7.) Brasov, Romania

Horror fans are sure to love Brasov. Located in the iconic Transylvania region, Brasov is next door to Bran Castle, on which Bram Stoker famously based Dracula’s castle.

But if you’re not a fan of scary things, Brasov still has plenty to offer. With distinct gothic and medieval architecture, Brasov’s colorful old town is home to the Casa Sfatului, a history museum that will keep you occupied for hours. More of an outdoors person? Ride the cable car, or try the hiking path, up to the top of Tampa Mountain, which overlooks the city.

8.) Cardiff, Wales

Visitors to the United Kingdom often set their sights on London or Edinburgh, but the capital of Wales is also worth a visit.

Cardiff is home to dozens of historic houses and castles, including the popular Cardiff Castle. It’s also a great city for art lovers, being home to one of the world’s largest impressionist art collections. And if you’re looking for great food, look no further – as a port city, Cardiff boasts some truly exceptional seafood restaurants.

9.) Nafplio, Greece

This under-the-radar seaside city is a gorgeous sight to behold, with castles, restaurants, and incredible views galore.

Try visiting the historic Theatre of Epidaurus, built in 340 BC. This impeccably preserved old site is best-known for its acoustics – try shouting something aloud while you’re there and see for yourself. Don’t forget to visit the farmers’ market, with its wine, fresh fruit, honey, and olives – delicious!

10.) Innsbruck, Austria

While Innsbruck may not be as well-known as Vienna, it has plenty to do. This pretty city is tucked away in the Alps, known worldwide for its ski resorts.

From the historic Ambras Castle and Imperial Palace to the Bergisel Ski Jump – which has featured in both the Olympic Games and World Championships – Innsbruck is nothing if not diverse. Check out the Alpine Zoo, crystal-studded Swarovski Kristallwelten, or the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum for something a little different.


It’s well worth getting away from the crowds of tourists and checking out one of these underrated 10 European cities. With something for every taste, these cities combine old-world beauty with contemporary nightlife and activities for a vacation that’s truly something different.

Eleven Travel Hacks You Need to Know About

Eleven Travel Hacks You Need to Know About

Going on vacation is exciting, but there’s a lot of planning that goes into a successful trip. If you’re looking to make your travels as peaceful, and budget friendly as possible, check out the eleven travel hacks below.

Make Some Space

No one likes to be stuck next to a stranger during their flight. You never know if they’ll be too chatty, rude, or simply not follow proper hygiene practices. You might think it’s an impossible inconvenience to avoid, but there is a trick that works a good amount of the time. If you’re traveling with a friend or significant other, book the aisle seat and the window seat, leaving the seat between the two of you open. Most travelers will avoid a seat right between two strangers. This hack gives you a little more breathing room on your flight and helps you avoid sliding past a stranger every time you need to use the restroom.

Inform Your Bank of Your Travels

If you plan to use your debit card on your vacation, it’s always a good idea to inform your bank where you’re going and when. Most debit cards have a fraud monitoring system that will likely flag your activity as fraudulent when you start spending large amounts of cash in an area outside your normal spending radius. A travel notice on your card will allow you to spend without fear that your card might be shut off in the middle of your vacation.

Save on Your Accommodation

Hotels might be glamorous, but they’re also expensive. Instead of spending hundreds a night on a nice hotel, why not stay in a hostel? After all, you’re not on vacation to spend time inside the hotel room; you’re there to see the sights. Most hostels are very safe (do some research before you go), and the beds are comfy. Not only will you save big on your trip by staying in one, but they’re also a great place to make some new friends along the way.

Bring Your Own Entertainment

Eleven Travel Hacks You Need to Know About

Long bus rides or flights don’t always provide you with top-quality entertainment (or they charge you an arm and a leg to view it), so it’s always a good idea to bring your own. While you can’t connect to the internet during your flight, you can watch pre-downloaded videos. While you’re preparing for your travels, don’t forget to download a few movies from Amazon Prime or Netflix to save you from boredom. Bookworms, make sure to download your audiobooks from Audible or take a couple paper books in your carry on bag.

Travel Solo

If you’ve been dreaming about traveling around the globe or simply visiting different states in the U.S, but you’re waiting for someone to join you, stop waiting. Solo travel can be a beautiful experience that helps you grow as a person, get to know yourself better, and make new friends along the way. Step out of your comfort zone, look fear in the eye, and take a chance on something beautiful. You should never put your life on hold simply because someone else won’t tag along.

Choose Your Flight Wisely

Eleven Travel Hacks You Need to Know About

There are certain days of the week you should always avoid when choosing your flights. Friday and Sunday airfare is always going to be more expensive. If you’re looking for the cheapest days to fly, you should purchase tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday takeoffs.

Save Money at Restaurants

When you’re traveling, it’s only normal to want to try out the local cuisine. Once you’ve chosen your desired destination, check out their website to see what happy hour specials they offer. Visiting the location during happy hour will save you a few bucks on drinks and allow you to try popular dishes at a discounted price.

Enjoy the Journey

While you should always have a plan when traveling (you should come up with a loose itinerary ahead of time), you should never plan out every moment of your trip. Your travel adventure is just that, an adventure. So, make sure you allow time for random roaming and exploring. Simply see where the wind takes you. A great habit to form when traveling is to ask the locals where they like to go. Doing this will help you find hidden gems that aren’t on the ‘top things to do in [your destination]’ lists.

Rise and Shine

If you don’t like large crowds and want a more tranquil experience when visiting popular tourist attractions, you should avoid sleeping in and get up early. Going during peak visiting hours to any popular tourist spot will guarantee a crowd looking for the same experience as you are.

Keep Your Clothes Smelling Fresh

You’ll likely come home with a few items of clothing that need to be washed. To avoid their smell contaminating the rest of your luggage, put those clothes in a bag/sack along with a fresh dryer sheet. The dryer sheet will keep everything smelling fresh and won’t take up extra space in your luggage.

Don’t Pay for Every Experience

While there are probably a few tourist attractions you’re absolutely set on seeing, you should also take advantage of the dozens of free experiences your travel destination offers. Check Google before you go to see if there are any outdoor concerts, fairs, or museums that are free to visit during your stay.

Traveling doesn’t have to cost a fortune, nor does it have to be a stressful experience. Follow the tips you found here today to help your travels flow smoothly as you enjoy the amazing experiences along the way.

5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe’s Most Popular Vacation Spots

So you want to take a trip to Europe, and you already have the perfect city in mind — but it just doesn’t fit into your budget.

Many of Europe’s most popular travel destinations are also its most expensive, with tourist demand pushing up prices. These cities are not only expensive to fly to and book a hotel in, but the cost of living is also high, leaving your eyes watering as you predict your vacation expenses.

European countries are some of the most popular vacation spots, with delicious cuisine, beautiful panoramas, and oodles of history and culture to explore. The good news is that you can still book your perfect European getaway without breaking the bank with these budget-friendly alternatives to some of Europe’s most popular travel destinations.

Instead of Paris, try Budapest

Budapest - 5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe's Most Popular Vacation Spots

Paris is the quintessential European vacation spot. The City of Lights is renowned for being a gorgeous romantic getaway, perfect for both weekend breaks and longer trips. If you love the sound of buying fresh bread from family-run patisseries, strolling down old cobbled streets, and checking out some of the world’s most celebrated art in the Louvre, you probably long to see Paris.

However, Paris is also one of the most expensive cities in Europe, costing almost $150 a night. A cup of coffee will set you back $5.03 in the French capital, while a meal with your loved one costs over $50. What’s a couple looking for romance on a budget to do?

Try Budapest, Hungary’s “Paris of the East.” As the capital of Hungary, Budapest certainly doesn’t lack for things to do, and its beautiful architecture will bring out your inner romantic.

Accommodation in Budapest can be as cheap as $5 if you’re willing to stay a little outside of downtown, and its popular cultural hotspots, such as the cathedral, castles, and thermal spas, have low admission fees.

Instead of Venice, try Treviso

Treviso - 5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe's Most Popular Vacation Spots

There’s no city as unique as Venice… or is there?

Venice is well-known for its beautiful canals and gondolas, making it a popular destination for couples, families, lovers of culture, and people who simply want a good background for their next selfie.

Venice is also one of Europe’s priciest cities, costing $151 a night. A meal for two costs an average of $95, while a ride on one of those famous gondolas will cost you $15. It’s certainly a beautiful city — but also a costly one.

If it’s relaxing boat trips down winding canals and gorgeous Venetian architecture you’re after, consider the little Italian village of Treviso instead. Just 40 minutes from Venice by train, Treviso is sometimes called “Little Venice” for its intricate canal network, and is enclosed inside medieval Venetian walls.

A night in Treviso should cost just $87 for two people, while a canal-side dinner for two will set you back $36. Treviso is a breathtakingly beautiful village, and if you fancy seeing Venice, after all, it’s less than an hour away.

Instead of Rome, try Civitavecchia

Civitavecchia - 5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe's Most Popular Vacation Spots

When it comes to sightseeing, you can’t go wrong with Rome. This ancient city boasts a bevy of incredible historical landmarks, including the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon, and the Sistine Chapel.

But Rome is not a city for those on tight budgets. A night in Rome costs $153 a night, while a meal for two is $53. As one of Europe’s most beloved tourist destinations, Rome has a lot to offer but will quickly eat away at your budget — particularly if you want to go sightseeing.

Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, allows easy access to the Eternal City while being a much more cost-effective place to stay. Civitavecchia is located just 90 minutes away from Rome itself, but it also has plenty to do. The enormous Forte Michelangelo, designed by Michelangelo himself, oversees the city, and tourists can also visit the former Roman bathhouses, the Terme Taurine.

As a major cruise port, Civitavecchia is also the starting and ending point for many cruises, making it the perfect beginning or finish for a longer city-hopping vacation.

Instead of London, try Manchester

Manchester - 5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe's Most Popular Vacation Spots

England’s busy capital boasts history, culture, and a wide variety of famous landmarks to see. However, London is not cheap, costing $151 per night to stay in. A cup of joe will set you back $3.80, while a meal for two costs approximately $68 on average.

Luckily, England boasts another culturally rich, metropolitan city just a few hours from London: Manchester, home of The Smiths, Oasis, and Joy Division. Sometimes called England’s second capital city, Manchester has its own rich cultural legacy and history to explore.

While you will need to take a train to London to see Buckingham Palace or the crown jewels, Manchester has plenty of sights of its own to see, including its own cathedral, Manchester Arena, the bustling Gay Village, and the Victoria Baths.

Instead of Amsterdam, try Utrecht

Utrecht - 5 Affordable Alternatives to Europe's Most Popular Vacation Spots

Amsterdam’s colorful bohemian vibes attract tourists from all over the world year-round. Vacationers flock to the capital of the Netherlands for its rich artistic heritage, beautiful tulip stands, canal cruises, and museums — as well as some of its more illicit activities.

But Amsterdam is also one of the most expensive cities to visit in Europe, costing $151 per night to stay in.

The vibrant Dutch city of Utrecht is a fine alternative to Amsterdam, boasting cosmopolitan energy with colorful medieval streets, a bustling flower market, and plenty of historic landmarks of its own. In short, Utrecht has everything Amsterdam has to offer — without the tourists.

Utrecht is close enough to Amsterdam that the capital is just a day trip away. In the meantime, you can stroll the Oudegracht (Old Canal), explore Utrecht’s many little coffee shops, and check out St. Martin’s Domkerk, the tallest tower in the Netherlands.


A trip to Europe does not have to be expensive if you plan accordingly. When you make the most of your budget and choose a more affordable vacation spot, you can take advantage of more opportunities and activities — as well as choose a nicer hotel to spend your nights in.

Visiting any of these budget-friendly alternatives is sure to deliver a holiday you’ll never forget, whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a relaxing weekend break, or an exciting vacation jam-packed with sightseeing and Kodak moments.

MLK’s Spirit Immortalized in Outdoor Recreation Parks Across U.S.

There are no limits to define Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy as we celebrate MLK Day of Service in the U.S. on Monday, Jan. 21. Among Dr. King’s many lasting visions more than 50 years after his death is to create solutions to social problems through a “beloved community.”

“Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth,” writes. “(He) popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning which has captured the imagination of people of goodwill all over the world.”

MLK’s spirit lives beyond merely the third Monday in January. All year long numerous recreation areas and hiking trails across the country are named in his honor with the express goal of bringing communities together through outdoor sports and activities.

While approximately 900 street names honor MLK across the U.S., here are a sampling of recreational areas for celebrating the outdoors and creating new adventures in the spirit of your local communities while visiting on Jan. 21:

MLK Drive Trail, Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Falls Bridge is the trail endpoint of a 4.3-mile stretch open for the likes of biking and inline skating.

Martin Luther King Jr. Trail, Iowa

A 2.3-mile trail in Polk County, Iowa, is located – naturally – just off MLK Jr. Parkway. The asphalt trail is a perfect choice for biking.

Martin Luther King Park Trail Loop, Oregon

Martin Luther King Park Trail Loop is a 3-mile loop trail located near Corvallis that features a river, plus year-round trails that spiderweb their way around the woods behind the park. Ideal for biking.

Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline, California

Next to the commercial bustle of Oakland International Airport is a 741-acre park leased from the Port of Oakland. Throughout the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline there are paved trails suitable for hiking, bicycling, running and jogging. Glimpses of the sunset reportedly are best caught at Arrowhead Marsh and Garretson Point.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Minnesota

The 18.5-acre Minneapolis complex has something for everyone: baseball, football and softball fields, in addition to basketball, tennis and volleyball courts.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Square Park, Missouri

Martin Luther King, Jr. Square Park was dedicated ten years to the day after Dr. King died and hosts the annual MLK Jr. Day Nature Walk; a 2.5-mile restorative walk along the banks of beautiful Brush Creek in the company of others and the stillness of nature.

Martin Luther King Equality Trail, Wyoming

Walking, hiking, biking and snowshoeing are only a few of the ways you can make use of an abundance of trails throughout Jackson, Wyoming. The trail system in Jackson features three distinct trails, the first and largest of which is Falling Waters Trail. Placed where Michigan Central Railroad once stood, the Falling Waters Trail is a 10.6-mile linear park connecting the Village of Concord to the City of Jackson and features a 3.4-mile stretch known as the Martin Luther King Equality Trail.

Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park, Maryland

Silver Spring is home to this 95-acre park and its three walking-path trails. Anglers can also drop their rods in a pond stocked with trout.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Florida

The serene Winter Park setting encompasses 23 acres of beautiful scenery, sports and recreation facilities, and an extra-large playground, and includes a jogging/walking trail around Lake Mensden.

MLK Racecourse, Texas

Lubbock offers an 11-mile beginner singletrack mountain bike course at an elevation of just over 3,100 feet. Watch which way you go, though. “If you can carry enough speed, there’s a steep, loose headwall straight ahead or a twisty, slight incline trail to the right. After a few sweeping turns, there is another junction,” writes. “The right is the easy way. The left drops through a rocky section and runs beside Canyon Lakes Drive for about 100 yards, turns right and climbs to another junction.”

Ice Fishing? Think Safety, Gear Before Dropping Your First Line

There’s the relaxing splendor of shoreline fishing – and, there’s also not. Some fishing conditions are anything but relaxing. (And we’re not talking about grabbing catfish directly with your hands as they do in southern U.S. waters; that’s for another time.)

Ice fishing has been around for as long as humans have forged for food during long, cold winter months, and all parts of the world – at least those that deal with frozen waters – have an ice fishing history, from Canada to Russia to South Korea. It’s gotten so big that competitive contests, like past Forest Lake VFW Fishapalooza events in Minnesota, boast payouts of $175,000.

Yes, even ice fishing has a glamorous side.

Like Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota, for which writer Diana Crandall makes a strong case as one of the world’s most enticing spots for frozen fishing. The self-proclaimed “Walleye Capital of the World” shares a border with Canada and contains the Northwest Angle, which is the northernmost point of the Lower 48 States.

“Lake of the Woods has the accommodations and resources to turn an ice-fishing trip into a full-blown vacation, complete with snowmobiling and cross country skiing for anyone who isn’t keen on staying on the ice all day,” Crandall wrote in 2018. “We don’t know why they wouldn’t, though — there are dozens of pre-heated fish houses, and if you opt for a sleeper fish house, there’s a chance you can glimpse the Northern Lights.”

Everyday anglers, however, have, er … bigger fish to fry, though, with an emphasis on gear and safety first.

When it comes to ice fishing, the priority, as with many extreme passions, is on safety, much more so than it’s summertime counterparts which can prioritize everything from floppy hat selection to best shoreline beer coolers, or pairing Dramamine with boat fishing.


Ice augers make it all possible, with an available variety from hand crank versions to electric or gas powered ones. Newer augers, explains, even attach directly to a cordless power drill for more ease and efficiency to carve out that perfect hole, usually at eight to 10 inches in diameter. (Don’t forget to invest in a skimmer to remove ice shrapnel as you drill.)

Where to drill? That’s especially where the safety comes in to play.

“Many fishers will go out with 2.5 inches of good ice for walking, but the recommended depth is 4 inches, 5-6 inches for sleds (Snow Machines, Snowmobiles),” New World Encyclopedia recommends. “Care must be taken, because sometimes ice will not form in areas with swift currents, leaving open areas which freezes with much thinner ice. Late-winter warm spells can destroy the texture of the ice, which, while still of the required thickness, will not adequately support weight. It is called ‘rotten ice’ or soft ice and is extremely dangerous.”


Once you drill through, before dropping that line into the abyss, the focus is still on safety. Fishers may carry a self-rescue device made of two spiked handles connected by a string to pull themselves out of the water should the unthinkable occur. Life-saving flotation assisting ice fishing bibs are also recommended among properly layered outerwear.

While obvious extras include waterproof boots with excellent traction, don’t forget to go with polarized eyewear to mitigate the frozen surface’s super bright glare.


On-ice tiny structures, or shanties, aren’t a must. But, hey, who are we kidding? Extra shelter to keep warm is almost as important as style!

Permanent shelters are made of wood or metal and usually have wheels for easy transport, but lower-maintenance options include collapsible tent-like structures for around $300. The sturdier options will usually be able to withstand heaters to keep the angler warm, but even with that be aware of shanty ventilation if carbon monoxide is a factor.

MORE FUN ON ICE: The professional ice climbing season is in full swing. Do you have what it takes to scale a vertical wall of frozen water?

Thrilling Darkness Awaits With Nighttime Skydiving

Adrenaline always seeks its next fix, and there’s one waiting when the sun goes down.

Nighttime skydiving is a real thing, and we’re not just talking about highly-trained night HALO jumps from Special Forces on missions. Recreational jumpers, too, have the skies and the stars to themselves should they feel brave enough.

In the pitch black, orientation is available through the moon and lights below – and that’s about it.

“I have about ten night jumps, and every one of them has been memorable – and scared the bejeezus out of me,” Kipp Chambers (@lloyddobbler), a skydiving instructor with 850-plus jumps, shared in an online discussion at “In free fall, provided you exit tightly, formations are easy and fun to build. But under canopy (after deploying your parachute) is when things get sketchy for me.”

A lit altimeter (preferably accompanied with an audible altimeter) is a must says the United States Parachute Association (USPA), which is 40,000-plus members strong, and further adds that skydivers performing night jumps often take flashlights to check that their canopies have properly deployed. Visibility is so key that the FAA requires skydivers jumping at night to be wearing a light visible for three miles in every direction.

That takes care of up in the air. Approaching the drop zone on the ground gets a little more complicated.

“Once (night jumpers) get close to the ground, this ambient light source is lost, because of the low angle of reflection,” the USPA says. “The lower they get, the darker the ground looks. At about 100 feet and below it may seem that they are landing in a black hole. Suddenly it becomes very dark, and the jumper hits the ground soon after.”

But there’s plenty of fun to be had as well.

Night jumpers outfit themselves with everything from LED lights to create spectacular dances in the sky to descending with fireworks over Las Vegas (the home, naturally, of skydive weddings). And as recently as Oct. 18, 2018, a new “sequential large formation” record for night jumps was recorded with an 18-way, four-formation performance high over Arizona.

Naturally, night jumps are memorable in their own way.

“It was my second night jump ever!” professional skydiver Katie Hawkins recalled when asked about her favorite jumps in a discussion with “The moon was full, and the skies were clear. The air was so silent that we spoke to each other in freefall. He told me to look at the moon with a smile on his face. I replied how beautiful it was. Then we took a moment to kiss one another before break-off.”

There are precautions to go over even before leaving the ground; the kind of considerations unique to night jumping as opposed to day. Jumpers will most likely be asked to sit in a dark room with no lights for a period of time to allow their eyes to adjust to the darkness, reports.

“If you learn nothing else about night jumping learn about the shadow effect,” the report adds. “In a lot of situations where the moon is at your back as you are landing, you will see a large black canopy rising up on a direct collision course with you. This is your shadow that you are flying into. Lots of jumpers have made avoidance turns only to pound themselves into the groundbreaking bones or killing themselves only to find out it was their shadow they were avoiding.”

When considering night jumps, would-be jumpers should take into account all careful precautions. The sport itself has a very safe track record. The USPA lists an average of 22.4 deaths out of 3.2 million annual jumps from its membership, which works out to 0.0075 fatalities per 1,000 jumps.

“Canopy collisions are perhaps the most dangerous reality of night jumps,” Chambers said. “When you’re flying your canopy in the sky with ten other people, scanning for a blinking light amongst thousands of blinking ground lights, it can be pretty scary. Luckily, the safety procedures and the relatively small number of night jumps made keep it safe.”