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Budget Travel in Iceland This Winter

When a good friend of mine told me last month that she was considering spending this New Year’s Eve in Iceland, I nearly laughed her right out of the room. Iceland in the wintertime? You know that’s north, not south, right? Besides, Iceland has such a high standard of living. Who has the kind of cash to travel there now given the state of our economy?

Well, maybe more of us than you’d think. Iceland’s largest bank collapsed yesterday, the last of the island nation’s three major banks to tank in recent weeks. This flurry of financial problems is bad for Icelanders, but potentially good for U.S. visitors. Earlier this year, one U.S. dollar was worth around 70 Icelandic Krona; now it trades for 100 Krona or more. Which means this island nation might actually be a splendid winter destination for budget-minded U.S. travelers.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Ksu.

Mountain Musings: Rooting for the Underdog

In my September 12 blog entry, I extolled the virtues of Canada’s Banff National Park, a world-renowned mecca for mountain lovers, and my ultimate road trip destination. “Banff or Bust!” This was my party’s half-mocking, half-deadly serious mantra as we whizzed past Portland, Oregon and gave Vancouver the once-over in a record-breaking two and a half hours. We zoomed toward the Canadian Rockies as if they were our salvation.

To be frank, in several ways, they were. The park’s charmingly petite Lake Louise has crystal-clear turquoise waters–yes, they’re actually turquoise–that make you wonder if somebody somehow strapped Technicolor goggles on your peepers when you weren’t looking. Cradling the Banff valley are jutting peaks and ice-blue glaciers. Find an out-of-the-way trailhead, hike an hour or two, and you’ll end up feeling like you’re the only person on the planet.

Answering the Call of the Wild: The Canadian Rockies and Beyond

If you read my entry on Friday of last week, you probably know that I’m on the road right now, working my way up through the Pacific Northwest to the Canadian Rockies with my girlfriend and a friend. Today we’re in Seattle, looking forward to shopping on Capitol Hill and watching fellow SF musicians Von Iva rock out at the Tractor Tavern.

But despite today’s tryst with this hip urban hub, our trip is actually 90% nature-focused. Last night, we pitched our tent on the Oregon Coast, then roasted veggie hot dogs and watched the sun set between tree-topped bluffs.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Idler.

Road Trip Rules: What to Bring on a Car-Based Vacation

I’m not proud of it, but I’ve spent numerous vacations eating almost nothing but Del Taco bean and cheese burritos. I’ve also driven 14-hour shifts, been lost in freezing temperatures at 4am, and crashed at overpriced motels–only to wake up and find that I was just 10 miles from my destination.

In other words, I’ve been on my fair share of road trips, and I’ve got the scars to show it (emotional scars, I mean–you try living on refried beans for five days in strange places).

Surf’s Up: In-Flight Internet is on the Rise

On Wednesday, American Airlines expanded its availability of in-flight Internet services, essentially granting everyone with a laptop, BlackBerry, or other Wi-Fi-enabled device the ability to stay plugged in once they hit the skies. Services are available for $12.95 per flight on Boeing 767-200 airplanes connecting New York with Los Angeles and San Francisco with Miami.

American isn’t the first airline to offer such services. JetBlue has been connecting passengers for free on its BetaBlue aircraft since December 2007, as has Air France on its Airbus A318 jets. Other international airlines such as Qantas in Australia and Dubai’s Emirates airlines offer similar services. Domestically, Delta, Southwest, and other airlines also have in-flight Wi-Fi programs in the works.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member