Win a £3,000 Plane Ticket from HostelBookers! Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 

Last year, 10,000 people entered to win a huge prize from HostelBookers in their annual travel survey.

One faithful fan won the grand prize — a RTW plane ticket.

This year, the stakes have risen.

The 2010 HostelBookers Travel Survey is filled with questions about your travel style — from travel planning to the types of destinations you prefer, as well as your number of travels per year and usual type of lodging.

And — yes, I’m getting there! — the prize, given to one of the respondents: a RTW plane ticket worth £3,000, plus £1,000 in spending money.

Seriously.

If I won, I would make sure I visit destinations that are both expensive to get to and expensive on the ground: Japan, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand, Botswana.

But even more importantly, I’d party in hostels throughout Europe.  Many of the hostels London has include a fun bar, as you’ve read on this site before!  But nothing could top the parties in hostels Amsterdam is famous for.  I’ve never been to Spain, and I love sangria, so the youth hostels Barcelona is home to would definitely warrant a visit from me.  Either way, I know I’d get a great deal from HostelBookers, who kindly sponsored this post today.

What about you?

TAKE THE SURVEY! What do you have to lose?

And if you win, please let me hide in your suitcase!  I’m excellent at fitting into carry-on luggage…

Wanderlusting for the Canary Islands Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

Image: marcp_dmoz

If you travel to the Canary Islands, good luck finding any Americans!  This paradise, just west of Africa, is most popular with European tourists.  But I bet that if more Americans knew how beautiful and exotic and relaxing the islands are, they would become fans as well.

As for Europeans, they’re well aware of the Canary Islands, and they’re one of Europe’s top holiday destinations.  Here are some of the most popular places in the Canary Islands:

Tenerife

Image: pasotraspaso

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, home to significant British and German expat populations. With affordable travel packages available across the board, Tenerife deals are easy to come by.  In fact, many Europeans find it cheaper to vacation in Tenerife than in their home country!

Tenerife is the most family-friendly of the Canaries, offering a wealth of activities like water parks, volcano tours and fishing exhibitions. The island’s biggest resort, Playa de las Americas, has been cleaned up since its days of unchecked excess and is now a thriving destination as well.

Gran Canaria

Image: aruitenberg

The most populous of the Canary Islands has much to offer, and you’ll find plenty of cheap holidays in Gran Canaria. Of course, the beach is the main attraction, so head to the beautiful three mile stretch of beach at the massive Playa del Ingles resort.  Surfers are fans of the waves, calling the island the Hawaii of the Atlantic.

The strangest attraction on Gran Canaria is unquestionably Sioux City, a mock Old West town built for a film in 1972.  Come on, would you miss the chance to witness a cowboy gunfight at high noon on an island off the coast of Africa?

Lanzarote

Image: Doblonaut

If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic and natural, Lanzarote holidays appeal to those prefer adventure, scenery and the great outdoors to the boozy, social scene of the other islands.  Lanzarote is home to the incredible Timanfaya National Park, a blasted landscape created by several volcanic eruptions on the island between 1730 and 1736.

Congratulations to the Canary Islands…they have officially earned a new place on my wanderlust list!

Image: marcp_dmoz

This post was sponsored by TravelSoon.

The Best of Cruises Friday, Sep 17 2010 

Image: Grufnik

For someone like me who has never been on a cruise, they hold quite a bit of curiosity!  Everyone raves about them, but why do cruisers keep returning again and again?

My mother recently returned from a cruise to the Bahamas, so I asked her about her favorite experiences.  Here’s what she had to say:

Unforgettable Service

Are you looking to be treated like royalty?  A cruise is the way to go.

“You walk into the dining room and see the most handsome bartender you’ve ever seen in your life.  And he’s personable, affable, cheerful, asks your name, and pours you a drink before you get to the food.”

And the service continues once you get your food, and it’s just as good as the bartender.  “The staff are there to please you and you know it, almost like it’s their pleasure to please you.”

Nightly Entertainment

“There was a big nightclub on one end of the ship and there were shows every night: singers, comedians, Cirque du Soleil-like acrobats.” And while there was entertainment for kids, there was always a point when they were told to leave and the show became adults-only.

Did she enjoy it more because she knew there were no kids there?

“Yes.  Once the comedian started getting bawdy, I think I laughed more because I knew there were no kids around to hear it!”

Learning to Gamble

If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you may have been too intimidated to gamble.  On a cruise, it’s so easy to learn how!

“The dealers were all so nice.  If there weren’t a lot of people around, they would teach you how to play.  I learned craps, poker, Blackjack.”

And if you have a swell night at the tables, you can celebrate: “They let you order a bottle of wine at the bar and have it sent to your room!”

It’s a Great Deal

Best of all, service like this can come to you at a very low price.  You can find plenty of discount cruises at places like DiscountCruises.com.  Getting service like this for such a low price – I challenge you to find a better deal in the world!

This post was sponsored by a third party.

Dream September Travel Escapes Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

Every now and then, I allow myself a delicious fantasy: I win the lottery and immediately go traveling in style, preferably bringing along a million of my friends!

Let’s say that I won 50 million dollars tomorrow.  Where would I go first?

Well, I’d want a destination with great weather in September.  That’s most important.  Next, I’d love to go luxury in an amazing hotel, something I rarely do.  And third, there has to be great nightlife!

So, where would I go?

Hvar image by Lena_Ni

It’s the tail end of the high season in Europe, so I’d visit a popular Mediterranean beach area: Santorini, Greece; Hvar, Croatia; or Ibiza, Spain.  The weather will still be glorious; the nightlife will still be hopping; the crowds will be GONE.  And that’s how I like it.

Vegas image by Evangeline

In Vegas – ALWAYS Vegas! – the pools are still open.  If I had the chance, I’d stay for at least a week – at the Wynn or the Encore.  God, I love those resorts.  Every day would be a new cabana at a new pool club: Tao Beach at the Venetian, Bare at the Mirage, Wet Republic at the MGM Grand, Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay!

Maui image by David Winnie

Hawaii has always been a pipe dream of mine – being an East Coaster, Hawaii is just somewhere we don’t go.  I think this is a trip best split into two parts – half the time relaxing on the beach in Maui or Lanai, and the other half in Waikiki, partying with military men!

Any of these trips need to be planned well, so I’d probably arrange my reservations through a travel agency online like Liberty Travel. Having a trip that runs smoothly would be important in planning my dream trip!

So, if you were planning a dream trip this month, where would you go?

This post was sponsored by a third party.