12 Health Tips for Your Next Vacation

Even though going on vacation is a chance to escape and get away from our day-to-day routines, you still want to look after yourself and be as healthy as you can when traveling. And while it’s true traveling has many health benefits, there are also a number of ways you can successfully go about making your next vacation an even healthier adventure. The following helpful health tips will help you better know how to stay healthy while traveling.

How to Exercise While Traveling

If you’re interested in exercising while traveling, know that it’s not necessary to stay at an expensive hotel that features a fancy gym to get your next workout in. Finding creative and interesting ways to stay active during your vacation will not only help you feel healthy, it’ll help you manage any travel anxiety you might be experiencing while away from home.

–Incorporate Activity into Your Trip

No matter what you have planned during your vacation, make sure to include occasional activities throughout your trip that make you get up and out and moving. These activities can take a variety of forms—the only thing that really matters is that they keep you active!

–Walk

Walking is one of the simplest ways of fitting in some exercise while on vacation. If you’re visiting a city that is new to you, exploring the city on foot can be one of the best methods for really getting to know the place. And even though it’s true that some cities are much more walkable than others, where possible walking can actually be the best, most affordable mode of transportation. Consider walking for short trips in Manhattan and other similar destinations.

–Get a Tourism City Pass

No matter where your travels take you, this much is true: the more you see and do, the more active you’re going to be! A significant number of sightseeing attractions like guided tours and art museums involve walking, standing, and moving around. Consider purchasing a tourism pass to help motivate you to go explore a bunch of different attractions.

–Stretch It Out

Staying loose, limber, and stretched out is a simple, easy method for ensuring you stay relaxed and healthy during your vacation. Better yet, it’s something you can do anywhere and anytime. Many stretches and yoga poses can be complete with ease in your hotel room, so consider starting your morning with a few stretches and ending your day with some breathing exercises that’ll help you decompress before going to sleep.

How to Eat Healthy on Vacation

Even if you find yourself surrounded by tempting treats or unable to cook your own meals, being on vacation doesn’t have to spell disaster for your diet. The following health tips include some great suggestions for how to eat healthy while traveling.

–Drink Water

Few things are as crucial when it comes to how to stay healthy while traveling as drinking enough water. Staying hydrated contains many health benefits that will help you be your best self while on vacation.

–Bring Snacks

One excellent method for how to eat healthy on vacation is to pack some healthy snacks to bring with you as you’re out and about each day. This way, when you find yourself getting hungry, you don’t have to just eat whatever you find nearby—random food that might not be healthy. Instead, you can rely on your own prepared snack to get you over your hunger.

–Prioritize Fruits and Vegetables

If you really want to eat healthy on vacation, try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you can throughout your trip. Not only will you feel fresher and more energized than you would if you eat nothing but local fast food, but relying on fruits and vegetables while traveling can be a fun way to see a city. For instance, Pike’s Place Market in Seattle is one of many tourist attractions where you can find wonderful local produce and artisan food products for sale.

–Don’t Deprive Yourself

Even as you’re doing your very best to eat healthy while on vacation, don’t forget: you’re on vacation! Make sure to try some local favorites and explore the cuisine of the place you’re visiting. You can treat yourself at least once each day without threatening to throw your diet out of whack.

How to Sleep Well on Vacation

It can be a challenge to sleep well on vacation. Different time zones, busy travel schedules, unfamiliar beds and pillows—all these things and more make maintaining healthy sleep habits difficult when traveling. Still, sleeping well while traveling can make all the difference.

–Be Consistent

Even as you spend your days exploring new things and having new adventures, don’t be daring when it comes to your bedtime: make sure to try and go to bed around the same time each night. This consistency will improve the quality of your sleep. While you’re at it, go ahead and try to simulate the same sorts of sleep circumstances you have at home as much as possible while you’re on the road.

–Avoid Naps

If you absolutely feel as though you need to rest, then take a nap. Otherwise, really try and avoid taking naps while traveling. Napping makes it more difficult to fall asleep at night, and frequently makes it harder to adjust to new time zones. If you must nap, make sure to do it in the afternoon, well in advance of your scheduled bedtime.

–Don’t Eat Late

The later at night you eat, the more difficult it can be to fall asleep in a timely manner. Even as your eating schedule may change or fluctuate while you’re traveling, try and make sure you don’t eat large meals late at night. Our bodies tend not to rest well when we’re digesting a lot of food.

–Pack Sleep Aids

When packing for your big vacation, don’t forget to bring along whatever sleep aids you want or need. If you’re going to be staying in unfamiliar settings—or perhaps your hotel is going to be located in a lively part of a busy city—you’ll definitely want to have ear plugs, eye masks, and any other items that you know will help you rest easy.

Traveling with Dogs: How to Bring Your Pooch on Your Next Vacation

Statistics show that something around 36% of all households in the United States are home to a dog. In many of these homes, the dog is more than just a pet—it’s a member of the family. As a result, traveling with dogs is becoming more and more common; in fact, about half of all pet owners report bringing along their beloved dogs when they go on vacation. While it’s certainly true there are no limits to the number of cities to consider for your next trip, if you want to make sure you’re not only planning a great trip but a great trip that includes your dog, you’ll need to consider a few additional key factors regarding how to travel with a dog. Here are several helpful tips for traveling with a dog.

Consider Your Dog’s Personality

One of the first things you should do about when considering how to travel with a dog is take some time to think about your dog’s personality. You’ll want to ask yourself questions like: What makes your dog nervous? Is it difficult for your dog to adapt to new environments? How well does your dog get along with strangers? Do unfamiliar dogs upset your dog? How much maintenance will your dog require each day while you’re traveling? These thought-exercises should be done with an eye toward determining what sorts of destinations would best suit your dog’s travel needs and helping you understand what types of preparations will be required to make a dog-inclusive trip work for your family.

Pick a Dog-Friendly Destination

Before you and your family go anywhere with your dog, you’ll need to know if your desired destination is suitable for dogs in the first place. Certain communities are very open to accommodating dogs and their owners, and you’ll have no difficulty getting a tourist citypass that’ll provide you with access to plenty of tourist attractions perfect for both you and your dog. Other places, though, may be less accepting of the presence of your dog, no matter how terrific you think he or she is. As a result, while you go about planning your trip, you’ll want to do some specific research into your destination’s local policies regarding dogs. You’ll need to learn about things like local leash laws, where dogs are and aren’t permitted, and the extent of any other pet regulations that might exist in the area.

Research Transport and Accommodations

Different companies tend to have different policies regarding dogs, and some companies are more dog-friendly than others. As you sit down and plan your vacation around traveling with dogs, make certain to check the company policy regarding pets for any airline, hotel, car-rental service, or other business you might be interested in using. If you’re serious about including your dog in your family’s getaway, make sure to take the time to do your homework and learn where your dog will and won’t be welcome ahead of time. The worst thing in the world would be to plan a trip, bring along your dog, and arrive somewhere along the journey only to discover that your pet is not permitted on the premises.

Visit the Vet

Of all the tips for traveling with a dog out there, one of the most overlooked suggestions tends to be have your dog visit the veterinarian before going on a big trip. It never hurts to get your pet checked before traveling—and this is particularly true if you’re planning to take your dog on a long, extended journey or if your dog has a history of health problems. You’ll also want to check your airline’s rules and regulations ahead of time, as certain airlines actually require your dog be in possession of an up-to-date bill of health as certified by a vet before being allowed to fly.

Prepare Your Dog

The experience of travel anxiety isn’t just limited to people; dogs can find traveling very stressful, too. Fortunately, there are several things you can do as a pet owner to prepare your dog to travel—many of which are particularly useful if you’re intending to travel via plane. These tips include such tactics as packing their favorite playthings or toys, making certain they’re familiar with their travel carrier (in advance of the trip), and stocking up on extra snacks and food (to have in hand in the event of unforeseen delays/problems).

Find Dog-Friendly Activities

If you’re committed to traveling with dogs, then throughout your vacation you’ll need to be willing to balance your needs and wants with the needs and wants of your dogs. This will likely mean picking an assortment of outings and events that are suitable for both you and your dog(s), as well as searching for attractions that are dog-friendly. In certain places, it’s possible to purchase a tourism card that lets you customize your experience by selecting only attractions that you can take your dog to. You’ll also want to plan to build into your trip a variety of activities that will not only benefit your dog, but help you stay active and healthy on your trip.

How to Conquer Travel Anxiety and Enjoy Vacations

What is Travel Anxiety?

Travel anxiety is a complicated issue, one that a tremendous number of travelers from all different backgrounds and experiences deal with routinely. It can afflict anyone faced with the prospect of an upcoming trip or in the midst of an actual journey, and can result in distressing feelings and worrying sensations. As has been pointed out by the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, “even if you have no prior history of anxiety, the stress of travel or a triggering event may cause you to suddenly develop symptoms related to anxiety.” Some travelers become anxious during the various stages of planning and preparation that go into getting ready for a trip, while others feel stressed during the experience of travel itself. In particular, scientific surveys and research studies have shown that a significant number of travelers become stressed at the prospect of plane take-offs and landings. Many people also experience anxiety when forced to deal with assorted airline problems such as flight delays and mishandled baggage. Even though traveling has the potential be a special time in your life—traveling even has many benefits for your health—the reality is that travel anxiety can prevent you from realizing those wonderful possibilities.

What Are the Symptoms of Travel Anxiety?

Common symptoms of travel or vacation anxiety include nervousness, restlessness, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, nausea, increased sweating, notable trembling, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. You’ll note that the symptoms listed above tend to share similarities with prominent symptoms of generalized anxiety; in these case, these symptoms increase in intensity when one thinks about travel or undertakes the act of travel itself.

Travel Anxiety Tips

As you contemplate how to get rid of anxiety regarding your upcoming travel, keep in mind that “one size doesn’t fit all.” Different anxiety tips work better or some people than others. However, here are a few suggestions for addressing your travel anxiety.

–Identify Your Stressors

A key first step in addressing your travel anxiety is to identify your stressors. What is it specifically about your upcoming trip that has you so worried? Maybe you’re concerned about forgetting important things at home, or you’re bothered by the prospect of having to fly—no matter the source of your stress, though, once you’ve identified it you can begin to devise creative ways to move beyond it. For example, if you’re freaking at the idea of leaving your beloved pet in a kennel, think about taking a vacation with your dog. The possibilities here are endless.

–Know What to Expect

The more knowledgeable you are ahead of time about the different aspects of your upcoming trip, the more you’ll know what to expect every step of the way. This will likely help you feel calmer in advance, as well as give you time to preemptively eliminate potential stressors from your itinerary. For instance, in order to minimize vacation anxiety, it’s crucial to consider different destinations for your trip. Some destinations might seem like fun at first, but upon closer inspection could come with a host of different anxiety triggers. As a result, you’ll want to weigh up the pros and cons of each possible choice. This level of advance preparation will require research, but it’ll be worth it.

–Give Yourself a Break

No matter how excited we are for an upcoming trip, it’s not uncommon once the trip’s underway to feel a lot of pressure—pressure to fill every single minute of every single day with an unforgettable outing, memorable experience, or visit to a so-called “can’t-miss” attraction. Still, it’s really important to carve out some down-time for yourself while traveling. Even on the best of vacations, not every single moment should consist of being “on the go.”

–Make Things Easier

Along those lines, one of the best anxiety tips is really simple but quite important: make sure to remember that your vacation is intended to be an enjoyable getaway—you’re supposed to be having fun! This means you need to do whatever it takes to ensure that the whole trip—from the planning stages to the actual experience itself—is rewarding and relaxing. One great way to achieve this trip bliss is by simplifying things. This can take many forms—maybe you spend a little more money to treat yourself, maybe you get a go card to streamline your attraction visits—but whatever you decide to do, go ahead and make things easier on yourself.

–Enjoy Your Trip

As you go about planning your trip, keep in mind there are many methods for how to get rid of anxiety. So get out there and do some more research—read around to discover what truly works best for you. Just try and remember throughout this whole process that ultimately travel is supposed to be an enriching experience. Sure, parts of it can be stressful and not everything is always going to go as smoothly as you’d like. Always keep in mind, though, that a great trip or vacation is worth it.

Vacation on a Budget: Tips to Save on Your Next Trip

With summer right around the corner, it’s only natural to start thinking about that upcoming family vacation—and how to save money for travel. Everyone loves a great vacation, but nobody loves how expensive travel can be. When you add up the price of airfare, lodging, and food, traveling can get really costly in a hurry. Fortunately, it is possible to take your whole family to popular travel spots without breaking the bank. All you need to do is plan ahead, budget wisely, and follow these helpful tips, and you’ll be on your way to a relaxing trip free from the stress of money concerns.

Before You Leave

One of the keys to planning a successful vacation on a budget is actually to try and save money before going on your vacation. If you’re on top of things right from the start of your trip-planning process, you can successfully cut back on expenses at every stage of the vacation. This way, you’ll be saving money even before departing on your trip!

–Choose Your Destination

When it comes to choosing a place to visit during your vacation, no two destinations are created equal. The fact is, whether you’re interested in taking a short road trip with the family or hoping to tour multiple countries in Europe, some trips are simply going to cost more to visit than others. Once you identify the type of vacation you want to take, then you can begin to research specific ways to save money that are relevant to your unique trip.

–Make a Budget

The foundation of successful travel on a budget is to establish your trip’s budget—and then hold yourself to that number. As soon as you have a firm budget in place, you’ll be able to set yourself a savings goal. Arguably, the very first budget details you should put in place are the costs of your travel and accommodations. If you research how much these components of your trip will cost at the beginning of your planning, you’ll have a much clearer idea of how much total money you’ll ultimately need to put together the trip you want to have.

–Plan Ahead

You might have heard the expression “if you fail to plan, you can plan to fail.” Nowhere is that classic phrase truer than when it comes to travel planning. The farther in advance you can plan your trip, the more likely you’ll be to put together a great vacation on a budget. You’ll also give yourself more time to locate discounted rates and special deals on your trip’s most expensive elements (like hotel reservations and airline tickets). Travel experts widely agree that the best way to save money on airfare is to book your tickets at least three weeks before your trip. By planning ahead and putting these details in place well in advance of your trip, you’ll be able to both save money and reduce any travel anxiety you may be experiencing.

–Get a City Tourism Card

If you know that your family wants to visit several of the most popular tourist attractions in the city you’re vacationing in, then a go card is a smart way to save money during your trip. These city passes are perfect for a vacation on a budget, as they offer savings on admission to various attractions, as well as often provide discounts to other local businesses. Sometimes they even allow you to skip long entry lines.

–Pack Lightly

These days airlines need no excuse to hit you extra fees or hidden charges, particularly when it comes to checked or overweight bags. One way to make sure you avoid these expenses is to pack lightly. There are many great suggestions out there for how to avoid overpacking, so take some to think about what you really need during your trip and prepare to save.

During Your Trip

Once your trip has started, you can still find ways to save. In fact, many travelers today are coming up with creative ways to save money at expensive destinations that help them not only stay within their budgets, but actually extend their trips.

–Avoid Eating Out

Few travel expenses add up like eating every meal out. Sure, it can be hard to avoid dining out while on vacation, but there are still ways to cut down on food expenses. Make sure to enjoy as many complimentary meals at your hotel as you can, and if there’s a grocery store located near where you’re staying, consider buying some small items there and putting together a meal from those supplies—it’ll likely be significantly cheaper than a restaurant.

–Reduce Transportation Costs

Sometimes it’s necessary to rent a car or take a cab while traveling. However, if you can eliminate or at least minimize these expenses, you’ll go a long way to increasing your savings. When possible, try take local public transportation or walk to nearby attractions.

–Wait to Buy Souvenirs

Everybody wants a fun souvenir of their vacation; just don’t just buy the first thing you see and like, though. Take the time to look at multiple stores and shops throughout the town you’re visiting—unless the item you’ve got your on is truly rare and unique, it’s quite likely you’ll find it somewhere else at a better price.

–Get Out of the Tourist Areas

When you first select your destination, you’re undoubtedly picking it for a reason—there’s quite likely to be a handful of really popular attractions there you and your family are dying to visit. By no means avoid these spots—just remember that the more popular an area or attraction is, the more expensive nearby amenities are probably going to be. If you seek out less-popular attractions or less-famous places, you’re likely to enjoy getting off the beaten path while also spending less money on food and lodging.

–Save or Splurge

No matter how thoroughly you plan out your trip, you’re still going to have that moment when things are going great and you’re faced with a choice of whether or not to splurge on that special treat. Trust yourself to understand the situation, and know if it’s the right time and place to go for it, or if it’s best to keep your money in your pocket.

–Conclusion

There’s no one magic way to know how to save money for travel. In addition to the numerous tips listed above, there are also always going to be outstanding means for saving money while traveling that are specific to your destination of choice. As a result, if you find yourself planning a trip to a place like, say, San Francisco, make sure to keep in mind that there are specific ways to save money in San Francisco that don’t necessarily apply to other places.

Why Buy a Go Chicago Card Instead of a Chicago CityPass?

The Go Chicago Card and the Chicago CityPASS are the top contenders in the attractions pass game in Chicago.  Both products have some pros and cons, and both are popular with visitors from around the world. Nonetheless, these products are quite different from one another, and in many cases, offer distinctly different benefits. When you take into account attributes like flexibility, availability of attractions, and maximum savings potential, the Go Chicago Card emerges as the clear winner.

We’ll begin with a few basic points of comparison and then switch to discussing concrete savings available with each product.

Included Attractions

Go Chicago Card

There are far too many to list them all here, but here’s a few selected attractions offered through the Go Chicago Card program:

Chicago CityPass

  • Shedd Aquarium
  • Skydeck Chicago
  • The Field Museum
  • Museum of Science and Industry OR 360 CHICAGO
  • Adler Planetarium OR The Art Institute of Chicago 

As you can see, the Go Chicago Card includes all of the same attractions as the Chicago CityPass, without the need for any exclusionary choices. This is an especially tricky situation with regards to the Adler Planetarium and The Art Institute of Chicago, which are both tremendously popular attractions.

How You Save

The Go Chicago Card can save you up to 55% on combined admission prices, and their website offers several examples of real customer itineraries and how much they saved on their trips. If you want to maximize your savings, there are multiple combinations of Chicago tourist attractions that will save you far more than you paid for the pass.

It’s clear that one of the best things about this pass is the flexibility and freedom – you can create personalized itineraries and still get your money’s worth out of this pass. According to real travelers, you can save over $300 per couple!

Chicago CityPass advertises that it can save you up to 52% on combined admission prices.  Given that there are only six options, they don’t offer any real customer savings examples on their site, just vague reviews. Plus, in order to maximize your savings, you have to visit all of the included attractions (which can be really hard to do in a weekend) and you have to choose the more expensive one for both of your either/or choices.

The most significant downside to this product is how limited you are in choosing the attractions you want to see. You only have a few possible itinerary combinations, and you’re forced to choose between attractions that you might want to see. The most you can possibly save is $206.90 per couple. While that’s still a significant amount, it doesn’t match up to what you save with the Go Chicago Card.

How Do I Use Them?

Both products serve as your admission tickets to each of the included attractions without the need for additional purchases.

The Chicago CityPass is a collection of paper tickets that can be shipped or picked up in person in Chicago. Attractions tear off the paper ticket when you visit, and you hold onto the booklet for future admission to the other attractions. The booklet is disposable once you’ve used all your tickets.

The Go Chicago Card has a wider variety of delivery and usage options. You can choose a physical card (the size and shape of a credit card – much more durable than a booklet, and it can be kept a souvenir later!) that can either be shipped or picked up in person in Chicago.

Or you can opt for instant delivery of their digital pass. It’s the exact same pass with all the same benefits, but it allows you to use your smartphone as your pass the same way you can with airline tickets. If you like the instant delivery option, but prefer not to use the pass digitally, just print out the pass and present the paper copy to attractions. A majority of customers prefer the digital option because of its speed and convenience.

What’s the Real Difference?

The most significant difference between the two products lies in your style of travel.

If you want the flexibility to see what you want and as much as you want without the pressure of either/or choices and pre-selected attractions, the Go Chicago Card is the best choice. You’ll get a wider selection of attractions to choose from, a greater variety in attraction combinations that can save you significant money, and more freedom in how you use the pass.

If you only want to see a very specific, restricted set of attractions, then the Chicago CityPass might be a good choice. However, you have a lot fewer options, which don’t even include some of the most significant historical sites in the city, any tours, or architecture related sites (something Chicago is famous for!). You also don’t have the option to see both the Adler Planetarium and the Art Institute of Chicago, both of which are incredibly popular attractions. Ultimately, this product just doesn’t offer the same flexibility, variety, and convenience that the Go Chicago Card does.

Extra Details

The Go Chicago Card also includes smaller attractions that really give you a feel for Chicago’s history and heritage, like the Chicago History Museum, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio.

Both products come with additional coupons for savings on dining, shopping, and/or other attractions.  Both products also come with area maps and essential details like directions and contact information.

The Go Chicago Card includes a free, full-color guidebook with your purchase. This includes need-to-know info on the local mass transit system (the CTA), interesting and useful details about local neighborhoods, and some relevant info on free points of interest and historical sites.

Both products offer additional benefits like “skip-the-line” privileges at certain attractions.

The Go Chicago Card also includes a number of sightseeing tours and cruises that simply aren’t available through CityPass, an option that gives you a real advantage when exploring Chicago and learning all about its diverse neighborhoods and cultures.

Last Thoughts

Trying to decide between a Go Chicago Card and Chicago CityPass? Sit down and make a list of what you want out of your vacation, what your budget is, what you want to see, and what your style of travel is. If you’re the kind of traveler that wants to make the most of your trip and maximize your savings, it seems evident that the Go Chicago Card is simply the better option.

How to get the most bang for your vacation buck in San Francisco

Traveling in San Francisco can be expensive…exceptionally expensive. In fact, WorldAtlas.com recently ranked the city No. 1 for most expensive places in the US to take a vacation. But you don’t have to let San Francisco’s high price reputation ruin your travel plans. There are plenty of smart ways to save when you’re aching for a little Northern California getaway.

Don’t Drive: Car rentals are pricy, gas is expensive and paying for parking will make a serious dent in your vacation budget. Simply opting out of driving can save you hundreds in a week’s vacation, plus you will avoid frustrating traffic jams and endless hunts for open parking spaces. Lucky for us, most of San Francisco is very walker friendly, and public transit is extremely reasonable. The BART will connect you to a few points in the city, but it’s best for transportation to and from the airports and in and out of the suburbs. Get acquainted with the Muni for hopping from point to point in the city. The SF CityPass gives visitors extremely valuable access to a 7-day Muni and Cable Car Passport.

Shop the markets: Like most cities, the highest priced restaurants are usually concentrated in the areas with the highest tourist traffic. While there are a number of cheap eats, like the cash-only Vietnamese hole in the wall Saigon Sandwich, the city also has a myriad of fresh farmers markets to choose from. Compile your own menu of fresh fruits, veggies, breads, cheeses and snacks for a fraction of what you could pay one of San Francisco’s finest chefs to put together for you. One blogger has compiled a very helpful list of all the markets in the city here.

Take a free walking tour: San Francisco City Guides offers free walking tours of nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco. Whether you’re looking to be educated on architecture, history, art or ghost stories, San Francisco City Guides has you covered. The tours are free, but donations are always appreciated. Group tours can be scheduled ahead of time for a small fee, and the Go San Francisco card can help with that too.

Visit museums on free days: Use your Go Card or San Francisco CityPass to walk through some of the city’s most prestigious museums. Stroll through the four-story rainforest or wander around the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences. Or stretch your art appreciation muscles at the de Young Museum. After you’ve used up your museum discounts, check out this calendar of free museum admission days. Hint: most of these freebies are offered up at the beginning of each month.

Stay away from hotels: Hotels in the Bay Area can easily run in the $250-$350 range with high-end hotels blowing those numbers out of the water. Prices can also spike around peak times of year or near special events. If you take advantage of San Francisco’s hospitality, you can stay for much less. Rent a great room or apartment on Airbnb for well under $100 a night- many of them have loads of great reviews. There is also a very active couch surfing community in San Francisco that will offer up a bed or room for free. If you’re not into staying on someone else’s couch, at least check out their groups that meet up for social events around the city. It’s a great way to get insider tips from locals. Finally, European style hostels are spread out around the city, offering up prime location for between $20 and $50 per night.

Enjoy the outdoors: San Francisco is chock full of parks, scenic vistas, and rocky beaches. Explore the Japanese Tea Garden or play disc golf at Golden Gate Park. Climb to the top of Twin Peaks for one of the best views in the city. Search for sea lions on the beach or poke around an old Victorian bathhouse. People living here have figured out that life is better when you go outside, you should too.

Find a free festival: People look for excuses to gather in San Francisco. There is almost always a reason to clear a street for a parade or start a dance party. Costumes are often involved, people sometimes get weird, but it’s always a good time. Find a festival that celebrates something you love, Earth Day perhaps, or street art. Or pick a festival based on what it offers, like live Bluegrass music or hundreds of food trucks. Once you’ve arrived there will be plenty to spend your dollars on, but people watching is always free!

Invest in a San Francisco City Pass or Go San Francisco Card:

Hands down, the best way to experience major savings on your trip to San Francisco is to invest upfront in a San Francisco City Pass or Go San Francisco Card. These cards give you discounted access to some of the city’s biggest attractions. The City Pass highlights seven of the city’s most popular sites, while the Go Pass adds attractions out in wine country, plus restaurant and shopping savings. Compare the two cards here to see which one is better tailored to your vacation itinerary.

Things are changing in Las Vegas, and it’s a great thing

The Las Vegas of five years ago looks a lot different than the Las Vegas of today, and that’s a great thing. The changes are putting Sin City back on the map for travelers looking for more in a destination than casinos and night clubs.

Las Vegas was hit hard by the 2008 recession, but instead of giving up and allowing the iconic American city to fall to ruin, Las Vegas is working to redefine itself. Now, it’s appealing to many different demographics in a new age of travel. Sure, there are still plenty of slot machines and buffets to choose from, but Las Vegas has seen plenty of positive changes over the last few years and there are still a lot to come.

Here’s a quick peek at how Las Vegas has been evolving and is becoming a great destination option even for those who are terrible at Black Jack.

The food scene is getting a makeover

Las Vegas’ food scene has a tendency to conjure up images of not so fresh seafood sitting under the warming lights of an all you can eat buffet, or celebrity chef-owned fine dining restaurants with prices out of reach for your typical traveler. The good news is, Las Vegas is generally on the cutting edge of new food trends, and in 2016 a lot of those trends are lending themselves to fantastic food coupled with unforgettable experiences. You can check out the Harry Potter themed coffee shop, or a “food incubator” shack helping rising chefs try out new food concepts. For more splurge-worthy experiences, order table-side cut veal parmesan at the new Carbone restaurant at Aria, tour the snack carts at Harvest in the Bellagio, or dine with champagne at the recently opened Mr. Chow in Caesars Palace. The extra-brave can fork over $150 for a three-hour dining experience that includes “live food” at Kame. No matter where you eat while you’re in Vegas, head chef Anthony Amoroso of Aria told Travel Pulse that fresh food is one of the biggest trends sweeping the city this year (that, and chicken sandwiches).

Adventure is heating up

Situated in the middle of the desert, Las Vegas has long been a hub for helicopter tours to the Grand Canyon and sight-seeing excursions to Hoover Dam. Speed demons have been racing high-end cars at Exotics Racing Las Vegas since 2009, SpeedVegas is opening up the city’s longest exotic car track this March, and the bravest daredevils can see what it’s like to be a fighter pilot with Sky Combat Ace. A few other attractions have been added to the Strip recently that won’t put such a dent in your vacation budget. The High Roller observation wheel, SlotZilla zip line over Fremont Street and Voodoo Zip Line between the Rio towers all opened in Vegas in 2014, calling adventure enthusiasts seeking a view of Las Vegas from high above. 

Vegas High Roller

Vegas High Roller

New construction is underway

After several construction projects came to a quick halt at the first signs of recession around 2008, Las Vegas is starting to see construction pick up again. The Killers are on the schedule to christen the brand new T-Mobile Arena on April 6, and two more resorts are underway on the Strip. Both resorts are Asian-themed, with PENTA Building Group’s Lucky Dragon on pace to open August this year, while Resorts World Las Vegas will hopefully be completed by 2018.

Not everything is about gambling

As you can see, Las Vegas is about a lot more than just gambling and fist pumping these days. It’s about experiencing innovative food and drinks. It’s about seeing the Strip from high in the sky, and venturing out to the surrounding scenic areas. It’s a place where people are testing out new business concepts and starting up companies. Las Vegas is still an entertainment Mecca, chock full of theaters and music venues. It’s still a destination for trying your hand at Texas Hold’em or hedging your bets on slots. But the Vegas that is out there in Nevada’s desert today has undergone a major facelift since the Vegas of five years ago, and tourists ought not miss the changes.

10 reasons Chicago should be on your summer vacation radar

Enduring long, bone chilling winters may be a fact of life for the people of Chicago. But also a fact of life is fully embracing the warm weather when it arrives. Spring and summer in Chicago means a city buzzing with outdoor festivals, boats dotting the lake and people swarming to the beaches. Restaurants throw their patio doors open and city parks transform into stunning green spaces.

When the cold goes away, Chicago knows how to come out and play.

Here are 10 reasons Chicago should be on your summer vacation radar this year.

Navy Pier comes to life

Chicago Navy Pier Swings at Dusk

Chicago Navy Pier Swings at Dusk

Navy Pier is a hotspot for activity all year long, but there’s something about summer that fills it with life. In 2016, the lakeside attraction will turn 100-years-old, giving Chicago something extra special to celebrate. The city is set to open a brand new 196-foot Ferris wheel, replacing the 147-foot ride that has been a Pier staple since 1995. Lake cruises that set sail from the Pier pick up this time of year and people flock to take part in all the outdoor seasonal activities that take over the area. If there were no other reasons to visit Chicago during the summer months, Navy Pier would be reason enough!

Bicycles become a viable (and enjoyable) form of transportation

Forget crowding onto public transit or fighting downtown traffic, spring and summer provide the perfect opportunity to explore Chicago by bicycle (or Segway!) Make a reservation on www.bikechicago.com and build your own adventure, or sign up for one of their group tours. This company is great at accommodating groups of all sizes and they’re kid friendly.

Zoo animals come out of hibernation

Chicago’s beautiful Brookfield and Lincoln Park Zoos keep their doors open year round, but many animals are just more apt to come out and play when the sun is shining! Each zoo has a ton to offer this spring and summer, including Lincoln Park’s Spring Break Camps and the launch of Brookfield’s Hamill Family Wild Encounters. Where else do you get the opportunity to interact up-close with red pandas and wallabies?

You can get schooled on architecture from a double decker boat

Dubbed the “Birthplace of the skyscraper,” Chicago has plenty of impressive architecture to ogle over. Instead of craning your neck from the sidewalks between buildings and wondering about the history behind each tower, Shoreline offers guided architecture tours via double decker riverboat. Catch the cruise at the right time and your tour just may end with watching fireworks over Navy Pier.

Parks are in bloom on the Gray Line tour

Gray Line gives visitors the opportunity to dig deeper into particular Chicago landmarks and neighborhoods, with about a half dozen tours to choose from. There’s even one tour that includes a personal pizza. Gray Line is happy to show tourists around the city all year long, but several of the points of interest just happen to be outdoor parks. To avoid missing out on all of the blooms and blossoms, take advantage of this opportunity during the warm weather months!

Theater goes outside

Professional stage productions head outdoors starting in the spring. Oak Park Festival Theatre and First Folio’s outdoor stage entertain audiences with acts from Shakespeare to modern productions. Breathe in fresh air while you take in a top-notch play from some of Chicago’s most renowned theatre companies. However, if you’re dying to catch a glimpse behind the scenes of the city’s “movie palace” built in 1921, then sign up for the Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour. This attraction may be indoors, but it’s worth seeing even if the weather is to die for.

Views from the 1,353-foot glass box get clearer

Step out into a glass box suspended 1,353 feet above Chicago. Located in the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, the Skydeck at Willis Tower touts views that can extend into four different states on a clear day. For competing views, head up to the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center and stand in the “TILT” windows that fold out in a 30-degree angle for another unique view from above Chicago’s skyline. Either way, chances of a crystal clear view are much better this time of year than under the frequent cloud cover that seems to constantly hover over the city throughout the winter.

Kids can go to Dino-Camp

The Field Museum of Natural History has been a place of scientific discovery for people of all ages for more than a century. Among a slew of other events and exhibitions that the museum hosts during the summer, one of the highlights is Dino Camp, a day camp that lets young kids put on their paleontologist caps and dig for dinosaur fossils. Older kids can try out the Summer Explore Studio, which this year fuses dinosaur survival tactics with video game development in a mash-up kids are sure to love.

Baseball is in full swing

Wrigley Field GameEnjoying a day out at the diamond in Chicago is one of the best ways to get a taste of real Chicago culture. Chicagoans have been rooting for their beloved Cubs since 1870, and Wrigley Field stands as the second oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. The White Sox have been swinging bats since 1901, and have also established a loyal fan base. Whether you choose to enjoy your hotdog from the stands at Wrigley or U.S. Cellular Field, indulging in America’s pastime in one of the country’s most die-hard baseball cities is truly an all-star experience.

You can try your hand at pirate life

“Chicago’s Official Tall Ship” sets sail out of Navy Pier starting in May every year. Marked by giant, billowing sails, the four-mast schooner offers educational tours, relaxing cruises, and even haunted trips out to sea. Learn a little bit about pirate life, maritime history and more from one of the “Windy’s” official guides, and actively participate in adjusting the sails or setting off one of the ship’s cannons.

Options abound for summer-time fun in and around Chicago. The city has a way of welcoming people of all ages, interests and backgrounds and delivering a one of a kind experience worth traveling for.

 

 

 

 

 

Why buy a Go Oahu Card instead of a iVenture Honolulu Card?

The Go Oahu Card and the iVenture Honolulu Card are two of the biggest multi-attraction passes in the Oahu tourism market. They both offer admission to the area’s best attractions at a discount, but they have important differences that you should consider when making your decision about which one to buy. Thinking about factors like included attractions, geographic breadth, and maximum savings, it’s clear that the Go Oahu Card comes out on top.

Included Attractions

GO_CARD_HIO-largeGo Oahu Card

Because the product offers admission to more than 30 attractions throughout all of Oahu, we can’t list them all here. Here are a few of their top attractions:

iVenture Honolulu Card

The iVenture Honolulu Card offers 16 attractions, all of which are located on the South Shore or in the immediate Honolulu vicinity.

  • Battleship Missouri
  • Iolani Palace
  • USS Bowfin Submarine
  • Hawaiian Style Rentals
  • Wet n’ Wild Hawaii
  • Bishop Museum
  • Honolulu Museum of Art
  • Hanauma Bay Snorkeling
  • Kualoa Ranch
  • Island Tours
  • Movie Sites Tour
  • Volcano Crater Tour
  • Honolulu City Tour
  • Catamaran Sail
  • Waikiki Trolley
  • Sea Life Park Hawaii

As is evident by these lists, there’s a lot of similarities in the attractions they offer, whether it’s the same museum or the essentially the same tour offered by a different company.

One thing that’s important to note about this comparison, however, is that the Go Oahu Card has a lot more to offer both in terms of available attractions in Honolulu (they have all the stuff the iVenture Honolulu Card does), but they also offer popular attractions elsewhere in Oahu. How many people realistically go to Oahu and stay only on the South Shore?

The Go Oahu Card also includes admission to one of the most popular attractions on the whole island that the iVenture Honolu Card simply leaves out – the Polynesian Cultural Center.

How You Save

The Go Oahu Card advertises that it can save you up to 55% on combined admission prices. Their website offers examples of real customer itineraries and how much they saved, with one family saving over $1,500 on admission with 5 day cards!

One of the best things about this product is the flexibility in planning your visit. You can explore Honolulu one day, head to the North Shore for some snorkeling and sunbathing the next, and then mix it up with a little trip to the center of the island.

There are also multiple combinations of attraction visits that can maximize your savings. With over 30 choices, you’re not restricted to a few of the most expensive attractions in order to get your money’s worth out of the pass.

The iVenture Honolulu Card advertises a savings of 50% (so not too different there), but they provide only sample itineraries that demonstrate potential savings. Their suggested itineraries with 5-day cards save only around $120 per adult based on their own calculations.

The real downside to this product is the limited selection of attractions. While they do offer a nice variety of options, you are a bit limited geographically with the one exception of Kualoa Ranch.

You also don’t have the option to visit attractions more than once (unlike the Go Oahu Card). If the kids really fell in love with Sea Life Park, for example, you simply can’t revisit favorite attractions.

How Do I Use Them?

Both products are smart cards (the size and shape of a credit card with an embedded computer chip) that serve as your admission ticket to the chosen attractions.

The iVenture Honolulu Card is purchased online and can be shipped or picked up in Honolulu with a voucher system (note: they don’t seem to ship everywhere in the US, so that may be a limiting factor for some of you). They offer one sales location in Honolulu.

The Go Oahu Card has a wider variety of options in how to get the pass. They do ship everywhere in the US and to many countries worldwide. You can buy the pass online, over the phone, or in Hawaii itself (also in places like Costco!).

Or you can choose instant delivery of the card – it’s the same exact product with the added convenience of being able to use it on your smartphone. Prefer a hard copy but like the instant part? Just print it out. It’s perfect for last-minute planners and many customers pick this option.

What’s the Real Difference?

The most important differences between these two products have to do with what style of travel you’re most interested in. If you want the flexibility and freedom to see what you want to see, the number of times you want to see it, then the Go Oahu Card is a great option.

If you’re only planning on staying in Honolulu and like the included attractions, then the iVenture Honolulu Card might be a good choice. However, in addition to the “no repeat attraction visits” limit, you’re also restricted to visiting attractions on consecutive days, meaning that there’s no flexibility to accommodate bad weather or the desire for a beach day.

Extra Details

The Go Oahu Card includes multiple North Shore attractions, providing you with a more comprehensive look at Oahu culture – in fact, some of the best beaches (with fewer tourists!) are found on the North Shore.

Both products come with guidebooks that contain area maps and essential details like directions and contact information.

The Go Oahu Card also includes admission to your choice of a premium bonus attraction, which includes exciting and authentic Hawaiian experiences like a real luau and a dolphin encounter at Sea Life Park.

Both products offer additional benefits like “skip-the-line” privileges at certain attractions.

The Go Oahu Card is purchased for a number of card days, but those days can be used over a 2-week period, so you’ve got plenty of wiggle room when it comes to weather or the need to take a break.

Last Thoughts

Trying to decide between a Go Oahu Card and the iVenture Honolulu Card? When taking into consideration product attributes like flexibility in attraction choice, the freedom to see what you want, when you want, and the ease of maximizing your savings, the Go Oahu Card is your best bet.

 

Why Buy a Go Boston Card Instead of a Boston CityPass?

Smart Destinations’ Go Boston Card and the Boston CityPass are the two biggest all-inclusive products in the Boston market. They both have their pros and cons, and both are popular with visitors. Yet despite often being part of the same conversation, these products offer very different benefits. In fact, when you consider attributes like included attractions, ease of use, maximum potential savings, and flexibility, the Go Boston Card is a clear winner.

Let’s start with a few comparative points, then get into specifics about savings.

Included Attractions

Go Boston Card

There are simply too many to list them all here, but here’s a brief selection of the top tourist attractions available through the Go Boston Card program:

Boston CityPass

  • New England Aquarium
  • Museum of Science
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Skywalk Observatory OR Harvard Museum of Natural History

As you can see, the Go Boston Card includes all of the same attractions as the Boston CityPass, without the need for any exclusionary choices. You can see as much as you can fit into your schedule!

How You Save

The Go Boston Card advertises that it can save you up to 55% on combined admission prices, and their website offers several examples of real customer itineraries and how they saved on their vacations. If you want to maximize your savings, there are tons of attraction combinations that will really add up the savings.

In fact, one of the best things about this pass is the flexibility – you create so many personalized itineraries and still get your money’s worth out of this pass. You can save over $300 per couple!

Boston CityPass advertises that it can save you up to 47% on combined admission prices. Because there are only five options, they don’t offer any real customer experience on their site. In order to maximize your savings, you have to visit all of the included attractions and be sure to choose the more expensive one for your either/or choice.

The real downside here is how limited you are in personal attraction choices. You only have two possible itinerary combinations, and that’s with only one variable. The most you can possibly save is $85.90 per couple.

How Do I Use Them?

Both products work in similar ways, in that they serve as your admission ticket to the included attractions. The Boston CityPassis a booklet of paper tickets that can be shipped or picked up in person in Boston. Attractions tear off the paper ticket when you visit, and you hold onto the booklet for future admission to the other attractions.

The Go Boston Card comes with a variety of options. You can choose a physical card (the size and shape of a credit card) that can either be shipped or picked up in person in Boston, or you can choose to receive instant delivery of their digital pass. It’s the same pass with all the same benefits, but you can use it on your smartphone for admission to all of the included attractions. If you like the instant part but not the digital part, just print out the pass and present the paper copy to attractions. Many customers prefer the digital option because of its speed and convenience.

What’s the Real Difference?

The big difference here is going to be in your style of travel. If you prefer a kind of “do it all, see it all” attitude, then the Go Boston Card is best for you. You’ll get more value the more you do, and the longer increments you buy the card for, the more you can save on combined admission prices. You also get one free bonus attraction for 3-, 5-, and 7-Day cards, featuring premium activities like a Whale Watch, Red Sox tickets, and the Boston Duck Tours. The most popular card is the 3-Day Go Boston Card.

If you only want to see a very specific, limited set of attractions, then the Boston CityPass might be a good choice. However, you have a lot fewer options, which don’t even include some of the most significant historical sites in the city. You’re also out of luck if you want to see both the Harvard Museum of Natural History and the Skywalk Observatory. There are no bonus attractions with CityPass. At the end of the day, this product just doesn’t offer the same flexibility, variety, and convenience that the Go Boston Card does.

Extra Details

The Go Boston Card also includes attractions in Cape Cod, Lexington, Concord, Salem, and more, so you’ll really get a feel for the whole Boston metro area and its rich historical heritage.

Both products come with additional coupons for savings on dining, shopping, and/or other attractions.  However CityPass only has discounts at a few of the museum shops as well as Macy’s. Go Boston Card gives you discounts at about 20 restaurants, shows and shops (including Macy’s).

Both products also come with basic details like directions and contact information. The Go Boston Card includes a free, full-color guidebook with your purchase. This includes information on the local mass transit system (the MBTA), details about local neighborhoods, and some facts about free points of interest and historical sites.

As mentioned above, the Go Boston Card offers your choice of 4 premium bonus attractions, including a Whale Watch, Red Sox Tickets, Gray Line Boston Tours, and the Boston Duck Tours.

Last Thoughts

Trying to decide between a Go Boston Card and Boston CityPass? Think about what you want out of a vacation, what your style of travel is, and what your budget is. Both products also have crucial differences in available attractions, the way the passes work, how much you save, and what’s included in your total experience. Ultimately, the Go Boston Card just seems like better value for your money.