January is the perfect month to escape the cold and snow for a long weekend in the sun. And with cheap flights, chic hotels, 80-degree temperatures and miles of white sand beaches, Miami, Florida is an ideal getaway. Travelocity Senior Editor, Courtney Scott, teamed up with travel host and expert, Sonia Gil in her hometown to hunt for the best cheap things to do in Miami. The total cost of their day? Only $13! Here is what they did:
1. 3rd Street Beach Yoga
Donation-based yoga every day at 7AM on the beach in the warm glow of a South Beach sunrise. Perfection.
Bring a towel or sarong to use. Mats don’t work very well on the sand. 3rd Street and Ocean Drive
2. Las Olas Cafe
A classic Miami spot with a hearty breakfast for only $3.99! The over-flowing plate includes eggs your way, bacon, home fries and bread! Throw in a couple extra bucks for their Cuban cortado coffee! 6th St. & Euclid Ave.
3. DecoBike Tour
For only $4 you can rent a DecoBike for 30 minutes, which is more than enough time to explore the 17-block South Beach stretch! Locations all over Miami
4. Beach Bumming
You can’t go to Miami without spending a day bumming it on the beach. Grab a book, a blanket, a bikini and enjoy a free day of fun! 14th Street and Ocean Drive
How to pack? What to pack? What to pack in? The packing dilemma continues to be a big one, and everyone has adopted their own method for packing success. For me, successful packing means never having to check luggage, whether you’re traveling for a weekend or a month. And if you’re traveling for a month, I challenge you to follow these easy steps to be able to fit everything you could possibly need (and nothing you don’t) exclusively in carry-on luggage.
Step 1 — Pre-Arrange Your Outfits to Maximize Mixing and Matching
Packing for 30 days does not mean you should pack 30 outfits. An ideal travel wardrobe is one that can be mixed and matched into a variety of outfits. At least a week before your trip, lay out all of your favorite clothing items and accessories,then start coordinating. Avoid playing the “What If” game when packing. What if I get invited to a fancy party? I’ll need a floor-length gown. What if I end up hiking Mt. Everest? I’ll need a winter parka. Weed out items that don’t coordinate, that are too bulky, and that just don’t make sense for your particular trip.
Step 2 — Use These Packing Lists as Guides
2 pairs of flats — they take up no room and are most comfortable
1 comfortable wedge shoe — easy day-to night shoe
1 dressy shoe — for night or fancier event
1 pair of sneakers or casual shoe – for working out or hiking
6 bottoms (pants, jeans, shorts)
2 skirts – not easily wrinkled
2 dresses – that can go day to night
12 versatile tops
2 long sleeve shirts
1 thin but warm sweater or pullover
15 pairs of underwear — hand wash mid-way through your trip
2 sets of pijamas
2 casual/cool shoes like Toms or Converse that can go day to night
1 pair of flip flops
1 dresssy shoe – for night or fancier event
1 pair of sneakers – for working out or hiking
8 bottoms (pants/jeans/shorts/bathing suit shorts)
6 button-down shirts
12 t-shirts — I love American Apparel
2 long sleeve cotton shirts
1 thin but warm sweater or pull-over
15 pairs of underwear – hand wash mid-way through your trip
5 pairs of socks
2 Belts (rolled)
Step 3 – Pick a carry-on that’s spacious and pliable
I have found that hard case carry-ons, while they are rugged and durable, don’t expand enough for me to fit everything that I need. I prefer a soft carry-on that has a little stretch. I own this Bric’s X-Bag 21” rolling duffle carry-on and I am happy with the spaciousness of the interior compartment and thankful that it has met all regulations for carry-on luggage, even on small shuttle flights.
Step 4 — Pack from the bottom of your body up
Think about packing your suitcase from your feet up. Shoes go on the bottom, then start building two stacks. Pants always go on the bottom, then sweaters, long-sleeve shirts, tank tops, then scarves.
Step 5 – Compress
Don’t forget to use your compression straps to tighten down each stack of clothes. They will not only keep items from shifting around, but they also create extra room around the edges and on top of your clothing stacks. Use that extra space to stuff scarves, bras, belts, bathing suits, socks etc.
Step 6 — Where to put the laptop?
Many carry-ons have a separate outside compartment especially for a laptop, which are ideal, but I can even fit my laptop on top of all my clothes inside the compartment. It easily slides in and out at security.
Step 7 — Invest in a large tote for your personal item
Don’t forget that you can bring a carry-on suitcase plus one personal item on any flight, so maximize the size of your personal item and go for an oversized tote bag. I picked up this Day Gweneth Bag in Copenhagen and love how flexible and open it is. It fits everything! In this tote should be all additional items for your month around the world like toiletries (all 3 oz. and under), medications, camera equipment, cosmetics/shaving kit, sunglasses, jewelry, wallet, passport,etc.
The Travelocity Roaming Gnome attended his second annual TBEX Travel Blogger Exchange conference in Toronto, Canada this weekend. As I watched him work the room it made me realize, travel bloggers can learn a lot from the Roaming Gnome. Here are my six travel blogging tips from spending three whole days at TBEX with the gnome, the myth, the legend. Read more
While all-inclusive hotels are not for every traveler, when it comes to convenience and great value, the pros far out-weigh the cons! And with many all-inclusive hoteliers pushing the limits of luxury and creativity, the appeal of these properties is wider than ever. Here are five perks of all-inclusive vacations.
1Less planning, more relaxing
Much of the stress that comes from a vacation is tied to the planning of it. Where should we go for dinner? Which activities will the whole family enjoy? Can we afford extra excursions? With an all-inclusive, much of the planning process is done for you, giving you the chance to relax and focus on making memories with your family or friends. For the ultimate in relaxation, try Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages & Spa. The all-inclusive rate includes all meals, anytime snacks, gourmet dining, brand drinks, airport transfers, fitness center, water sports, scuba diving, childcare, video game center, entertainment, and all taxes and gratuities.
2 Easy to budget with one bill
Vacation spending can really add up. A four-course meal here, a snorkeling excursion there. Before you know it your credit card has racked up thousands of dollars in charges and sometimes even international transaction fees. At an all-inclusive you can keep track of everything on one bill and stash your credit card away. Try the Now Amber Resort and Spa All Inclusive in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. Here guests enjoy Unlimited-Luxury service including full breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day, theme parties and entertainment, unlimited international and domestic premium brand alcoholic beverages, 24-hour room service, and live nightly entertainment. No restaurant reservations are required, no wristbands required and all taxes and gratuities are included.
3Ideal for families – Kids stay, play, eat free
Family-focused all-inclusive hotels are a dream for Mom and Dad. Many of them offer a full schedule of free activities for the kids, kid-friendly performances and menus. With the cost of airline tickets getting more expensive every year, families are being asked to pay more for vacations than ever so any budget break is a welcome one. Often kids even stay for free. A great option for families is the Iberostar Bavaro, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The property, accommodations and services are all geared towards families — Lucy’s Kids Club, separate kids swimming pool and water park, suite accommodations for whole family, breakfast/lunch/dinner included as well as all sporting activities.
Looking for a great bachelor or bachelorette destination? All-inclusives are easy to plan, easy to budget and there are many all-inclusives geared towards party-goers with great perks like top shelf alcohol, swim-up bars, nightclubs. The Hard Rock Hotel All-Inclusive Cancun is a good bachelor/bacheloretet pick! The all-inclusive package offers top shelf liquor, all meals, numerous bars, clubs, entertainment and a 24/7 party atmosphere. Perfect!
5All-inclusives are becoming more luxurious and creative than ever
Forward thinking hoteliers are re-inventing the all-inclusive experience with details that appeal to a traveler who might have previously avoided all-inclusives — Things like your own personal butler, extracurriculars like unlimited Scuba and exclusive private islands! The Secrets Wild Orchid All-Inclusive in Montego Bay, Jamaica has an “Unlimited Luxury” program with includes gourmet meals, luxury accommodations and unique activities like Euro bungee, cooking classes, dance classes, a batting cage and bike tours.
5 Book a your flight, hotel, car rental and activities together in a vacation package. As Joel mentions in the clip, these are not your grandmother’s pre-packaged vacations of yesteryear. No, these are dynamic: you pick the components that are priced right for you and that offer you the most value. Research conducted by Travelocity estimates that you can save up to $525 when booking together!
4 Book a Top Secret Hotel. This may not be an option if you’re the families Chief Travel Officer who has to have control of every detail months in advance because you don’t know the name of the hotel until you have booked. BUT for those of you a little more laid back about your hotel options and more concerned about budget, Top Secret Hotels can be a great way stay at a four star hotel while only paying three star prices.
3 Download Mobile Apps. Have you ever been on a trip and suddenly found yourself needing a hotel? Check your phone first! Many travel suppliers, including Travelocity, offer exclusive hotel deals – in some cases with savings as much as 30% – on their mobile apps. All you have to do is take a minute to download and the GPS takes it from there.
2Farewatcher email alerts. This is an oldie, but goodie. Are you thinking about a trip to Hawaii this summer and have a price in mind you want to pay but aren’t having any luck finding it? With services like Farewatcher, you tell us how much you want to pay and if/when that price comes available, we’ll send you an email alerting you to the deal.
1Don’t wait, don’t hesitate. At any point in your shopping, if you see a price that fits your budget, click “buy.” If you check back even just a few minutes later, that deal may be gone!