Packing Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know

packing, travel bag packing, packing tips

This post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on April 8, 2016 by TheHipmunk.

Gallivanting around Madrid or conducting business in San Francisco? Wherever you’re going—and whatever you’re planning to do there—you’ll need to pack a bag before you leave for the trip.

But even though packing is universal to travelers, packing well isn’t necessarily a skill that we all share. That’s where these packing hacks come in. Each of these smart tips comes recommended by master travelers and promises you an easier trip from start to finish.

travel bag, packing, packing tips, travel tips

Pack bubble wrap.

It might seem counterintuitive to fill up space in your suitcase with something you don’t actually need, but hear us out: Packing a few sheets of bubble wrap on the way to your destination means you can remove it and have extra space for carrying souvenirs on the way home. And if those souvenirs are breakable, then even better: Simply keep the bubble wrap and use it as protection.

Hide valuables in old toiletry bottles.

What respectable thief would ever reach for an old tube of Chapstick or a bottle of sunscreen? Before leaving for a trip, empty out a few old toiletry bottles and use them as storage containers for valuables such as keys, cash, and credit cards.

packing tips, travel bag, packing bag, travel tips

Prevent liquid spills.

Fly often enough, and eventually you’ll experience the misery that is a burst shampoo bottle in a suitcase full of clothes. Avoid the suffering by cutting out a square of plastic wrap and placing it underneath the lid on your liquid toiletry bottles. (Just screw the lids back on on top of the plastic wrap.) That way, even if the lid comes open, liquids won’t seep out. It’s also a good idea to further secure toiletries in a plastic bag.

Pack shoes wisely.

Shoes can be one of the most cumbersome items to pack, but a few hacks can make a big difference. Start by packing small items (think socks, underwear, bracelets, watches, etc.) into the shoes themselves in order to save valuable space and prevent these items from sliding around inside the suitcase. Then stick the soles into a shower cap so they don’t soil any of your clothes. Finally, be sure to pack shoes foot-to-toe at the bottom of your bag in order to save additional space and keep the suitcase balanced.

travel bags, packing tips, travel tips

Bring smaller bags.

Packing light is a valuable goal, but sometimes bringing along a few extra items is worth it for the convenience they’ll offer during your trip. Case in point: If you envision needing to carry around any large-ish items (e.g. a laptop) while you’re away, then remember to bring along a bag in which to carry them. That way you won’t be stuck lugging your suitcase around a foreign city when all you really need is a messenger bag.

Avoid tangled jewelry.

Save yourself a massive headache upon arriving at the hotel by packing jewelry so it doesn’t get tangled en route. Lay flat a piece of plastic cling wrap, carefully arrange your necklace(s) or earrings on top, and then cover it all up with another layer of cling wrap. Then slide the whole shebang in between clothes for extra protection.

Wrangle ear buds and power cords.

Anyone with a smartphone or an MP3 player knows what a hassle it can be to manage all the cords that keep our devices humming. Even more frustrating is having to tear through a bag searching for said cords (which inevitably seem to make their way to the bottom). Keep everything in one place—and tangle-free—by stashing small cords in a sunglass case. Wrap them up neatly, tuck them in the case, and assign the case to a spot near the top of your bag for maximum ease of use.

camera, travel photos, travel cameras

Take pictures.

Once you’ve packed everything into your suitcase, take a picture of both the inside and the outside of your bag. If (heaven forbid) your bag gets lost or stolen, this way you’ll be able to easily describe it to the appropriate authorities.

Whether you’re still finding your packing stride or you travel often enough that you could pack a carry-on in your sleep, these tips will help you maximize space and eliminate stress wherever you find yourself traveling next.

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Oh, Canada! Hipmunk’s Guide to The Great White North

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on March 3rd.

Canada travel, white north, canada, destinations in canada

By: Hipmunk Staff

From the famed ski slopes of Whistler to the roaring majesty of Niagara Falls, some the world’s greatest travel destinations are just north of the border, in Canada.

With an overload of Canada travel options, which of these destinations are most popular among travelers? Hipmunk analyzed its travel data from 2015 to find out.

The 25 cities below make up 80 percent of all hotel accommodations in Canada. We also included their average hotel and Airbnb booking prices, as well as average airfare (if flying from the US or within Canada) to each city. Note: all prices are in US dollars.

Here’s how they ranked:

canada travel, canada hotels ranking

most popular canadian cities, popular travel destinations canada

Straddling the border between New York and Canada, Niagara Falls takes the cake as the most popular Canadian city for tourists. The city’s world-famous waterfalls — which flow at a rate of six million cubic feet of water per minute — attract some 12 million visitors every year and commands 16 percent of all Canada city searches on Hipmunk. Just north of Niagara Falls, Toronto closely trails in second, garnering nearly 15 percent of total Canada hotel search volume.

Hotels

At an average of $194 per night, Whistler has the most expensive hotels of any Canadian tourist destination. Following closely are Mont-Tremblant ($177) and Banff ($172). Each of these destinations is known for its ski slopes in the winter and hiking in the summer.

It’s important to note that these hotel prices can vary tremendously depending on the season. As a general rule, most cities are more affordable during winter months (when it’s very cold) than in the summer months, when weather is more amenable. Below, we’ve broken down these hotel prices by season.

canada hotels prices, canada hotels

Ski resorts seem to be a notable exception to this rule. In Whistler, for example, hotels are nearly $100 more night during the winter than in the summer!

Search Whistler Hotels

Flights

Over course, if you’re planning to visit any of these locations, hotels won’t be your only cost: you’ll have to fly there as well. Typically, flights into most major airports in these regions range between $350 and $420.

In general, flights to Canada’s easternmost popular cities seem to be a bit more expensive than those on the western coast. Like hotel rates, flight prices are seasonal: in the warm summer months, flights cost slightly in the summer than they do in the winter.

Total

Now that we have laid out hotel and flight costs, let’s compile this into one handy total expense chart. For the purpose of this calculation, let’s assume the trip is for two people (two flights) who are sharing one hotel room for three nights.

most expensive canadian cities, upscale travel destinations canada

Whistler comes out on top again. With $194 per night average hotel rooms, and flights that average $372, Canada’s premier ski destination is not particularly cheap. It’s a wonderful city to visit year-round, and its prices reflect that.

Cities that experience more brutal winters (Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary) seem to be on the cheaper end (though this rule doesn’t hold 100 percent true).

When to Go

Last, just in case you’re interested in finding the best deal for any city on this list, we’ve broken down these prices by month. Let’s take a look at the median hotel price and median flight price into each of these cities throughout all of 2015. Are there any opportunities to save money by going during “almost” peak season?

Below, we’ve listed the price of the a flight plus three nights in a hotel room by month. We’ve highlighted some of the months that are almost at peak season where you can get an especially good deal.

when to go, canada travel destinations
*Not enough monthly data to determine Montcon or Windsor

And so travelers, now you have all the data you need to find a great deal on practicing your French skills in Montreal, hiking in Whistler, or carving fresh powder in Banff. Happy travels!

Methodology: Hipmunk analyzed its daily median booking prices for Canadian hotels, Airbnbs, and airfare (arriving to Canada from the US or within Canada) in 2015 to determine average prices.

The Best Apps for Productivity Across Time Zones

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This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on February 18th.

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For many folks, travel is a way to escape from the daily grind, relax, and gain some much-needed rejuvenation. But for the world’s more than 480 million business travelers, travel too often involves worrying about missed emails, dropped expense reports, or scheduling meetings or keeping a project on track from across different time zones.

It can be tough to get work done far away from the office, but that’s where each of these apps comes in. Every entry on this list meets a specific need of the modern business traveler. Taken together, they offer business travelers a maximum-productivity package that will help ensure you’re able to get work done pretty much anywhere.

Asana

Asana is perfect for anyone who needs to tackle collaborative projects with a remote team. It’s developed by one of the co-founders of Facebook, and it’s just as on-trend as the behemoth social media platform. The app lets you lay out the steps necessary to complete a project, assign each task to a collaborator, track the project’s progress, and communicate with other team members—all without being in the same room or worrying about scheduling a phone call across time zones.

CamCard

Perfect for trips on which you anticipate doing lots of networking, CamCard allows you to digitally store business cards and contact information for new prospects or collaborators. So there’ll be no more panicking when you get home and realize you lost that potential new client’s contact info en route.

Docusign

For the executive on the go: Docusign makes it easy to digitally execute contracts, manage transactions, and issue legally binding electronic signatures across mobile devices. The service prides itself on being usable from virtually anywhere in the world (it’s already in use in 43 languages and 188 countries), and it’s secure as it is functional.

dropbox, cloud storage, travel apps, apps for traveling

Dropbox

No matter where you are in the world, you can access all of your files from Dropbox. If you know you’ll need access to certain documents while traveling, simply upload them to the service ahead of your trip. Then you’ll be able to access them from any device, at any time. (It sure beats having to wait several hours until a coworker wakes up and can email you the documents you need.) You can also easily share files with simple links.

Expensify

Never worry about processing expense reports on the go again. Expensify allows users to quickly import card transactions, add cash expenses, record billable expenses, auto-categorize expenses, create custom invoices, ditch paper receipts, issue reimbursements, and more—and it will do it all while supporting more than 160 currencies and international taxes.

HipChat

For those times when you need to communicate with your team in real-time (but you’re in, say, Bangkok while the rest of your team is in NYC), turn to HipChat. The app offers a group chat service that’s available on desktops, tablets, or smartphones. The app will also deliver messages to your phone even when you’re signed off, so that you and your teammates will be able to reach each other at any time should a pressing issue arise.

Hipmunk

Sure, we’re shamelessly self-promoting. But it’s only because we think we’ve made the best travel app on the market. Hipmunk’s app eliminates wasted time in the planning stages of a trip by finding the best hotel and flight deals, providing free flight fare alerts, and offering instant booking. Business travelers can also use the app to coordinate group travel. Leave the trip planning to us so you can get back to work.

World Time Buddy

World Time Buddy is a world clock, time zone converter, and online meeting scheduler all in one convenient app. Need to plan a conference call with someone in San Francisco while you’re in Dublin? Skip the math and simply plug in what time zone you’re in, what time zone they’re in, and bada boom: The app will provide you with a selection of compatible meeting times. The app also tracks market hours.  

XE Currency

If your business travels take you to multiple countries in one go and you need to calculate currencies in a hurry, then XE Currency has you covered. The app allows users to view historical charts and current exchange rates and calculate prices from a mobile device. You can also create customized comparison charts for prices anywhere in the world.

The only downside to these apps? They’ll limit your excuses for not getting work done during your travels. Welcome to the great big mobile world!

12 Secret Travel Spots that Even College Students Can Afford

Bucharest, Romania, secret vacation spot

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on February 14th.

If you’re a college student, you should know that traveling abroad is good for you. It’s been shown to improve learning outcomes and may even be a predictor for better grades and higher incomes later in life. It also teaches valuable life and professional skills such as adaptability, independence, communication, and cross-cultural understanding.

The only downside? All those benefits come with a price tag. And if you’re a college student, odds are good that you’re not exactly rolling in the dough. The good news it that it’s still possible to travel on a tight budget— you just have to know where to go. Here are 12 cheap, lesser-known, and wonderful destinations to get you started. No matter which locale you choose, expect to pay well under $50 a night for the privilege of staying there.

bucharest, romania

1. Bucharest, Romania

Gorgeous architecture, historical attractions, and European sophistication distinguish Bucharest as a must-see city. Don’t miss the National Art Museum, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Parliament Palace, or Calea Victoriei, a popular street packed with traditional cafes, bars, and restaurants. Visit in the summer for the best rates and mild weather.

2. Chennai, India

Located on the Bay of Bengal, Chennai offers visitors beautiful scenery, historical attractions, and a rich cultural heritage. Because it’s not a particularly well-known tourist destination, Chennai boasts budget-friendly accommodations year-round. Visit between November and February for great weather—highs are typically around 70 degrees. January is one of the most popular months because it features Chennai Pongal, a four-day celebration of the end of winter.

3. Ko Samui, Thailand

It’s a wonder this gorgeous island hasn’t been overrun with tourists: Palm-covered beaches, stunning waterfalls, unique geological features, and a relaxed culture make for a perfect island getaway. The island is 88 square miles, so choose accommodations near the beach for easy waterfront access. Rates are very budget-friendly—you can rent a room or a whole home for around $29 a night. If you want to avoid monsoon season, plan to visit between March and May.

kuala lumpur, malaysia

4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia’s capital offers something for every kind of traveler, from jaw-dropping architecture (hello, Petronas Twin Towers) to primo shopping, delicious food, relaxing gardens, distinct neighborhoods, and spiritual exploration in mosques and temples. The city is also close to other attractions such as the Batu Caves and Putrajaya, which is one of the best places in the world to watch the sunset.

5. Lapu-Lapu, Philippines

Lapu-Lapu is home to some of the most significant historical sites in the Philippines, making it a great destination for history buffs and anthropology majors. The city is also packed with art, restaurants, nightlife, live entertainment, beachfront scenery, and other cultural attractions. You can enjoy it all on a shoestring budget: Wallet-friendly accommodations start at $16 per night.

6. Lima, Peru

Ancient Incan ruins, ocean views, and a bustling metropolitan culture—Lima is ideal for the traveler who wants to experience big-city energy in a gorgeous setting. The city’s off-season runs from June to October, and this is when you’ll find the best deals on accommodations. The Festival season begins in October and continues through November; expect large crowds and a variety of cultural attractions, including the biggest religious procession in Latin America.

Montego Bay, Jamaica

7. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Coral reefs, palm-covered beaches, and budget-friendly hotels—Montego Bay is thetropical destinations for travelers with limited funds. Visit from October to early December for the best rates, abundant sunshine, and warm temps. Take a tour of the old sugar plantation or the working coffee plantation, practice your swing on the gorgeous fairways, soak up the sun on the white sand beaches, or kick back and enjoy the views of the Catadupa Mountains.

8. Nha Trang, Vietnam

If you love the water, then get yourself to Nha Trang. Scuba diving and beautiful beaches await visitors to the city, which is located on Vietnam’s south-central coast. While airfare will cost a pretty penny, you’ll spend very little once you arrive—rates for budget-friendly hotels start as low as $8 per night, while luxury accommodations can be found for as little as $75 each night.

9. Quito, Ecuador

Located in the Andes Region of Ecuador, Quito is a nature lover’s dream. It’s also packed with colonial architecture, historical attractions, and a vibrant culture that you have to experience to fully appreciate. The city boasts a wide variety of budget hotels with rates starting as low as $20 a night. Before scheduling a trip, be aware that Quito’s winter runs from June to September, while the popular summer months run from December to March.

10. San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is an island paradise—think white beaches and tropical rainforests—any time of the year. The winter months (from December through April) promise the best weather, but you’ll find cheaper rates from May through September. If you’re visiting in June, don’t miss the city’s SoFo Culinary Week. If you’re an American citizen, you won’t need a passport to enter San Juan, and you can use U.S. dollars as currency. (That’s because Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth.)

San Juan, Puerto Rico

11. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Despite being the Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo has yet to attract large herds of tourists. And that’s great news for the wallet-conscious traveler, because low-budget accommodations abound (even during spring break!). Enjoy your savings while soaking up rays on the city’s beaches or tearing it up in one of the many salsa/merengue clubs.

12. Ubud, Indonesia

You may know Ubud from a little book called Eat, Pray, Love. Bali’s gorgeousness is on full display here, as are pretty rice paddies, open-air markets, and mystical attractions. Visit between July and September for the best weather. (But do be prepared for larger crowds than you’ll find during the city’s rainy months.) Homestays are popular in Ubud, but you’ll also find plenty of budget-friendly hotels both within and outside of the city’s center.

And there you have it: Even if you’re an impoverished college student, a wide variety of amazing cultural, natural, and historical destinations are within your reach. Save every dollar you can, and soon enough you’ll have enough money to get there.

The Price You’ll Pay for Love This Valentine’s Day

valentine's day, valentines day destination, romantic hotels, usa hotels

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on January 21st.

valentine's day, valentines day destination, romantic hotels, usa hotels

It’s a fact: on Valentine’s Day, romantic items are more expensive.

Flower shops sell roses for two to three times their usual price. Restaurants replace their normal menus with special prix-fixe (read: pricier) options. And of course, nice hotels boost the nightly rates on their rooms.

The typical hotel rate on Valentine’s Day is 25 percent more than it is on the same day just one week before — though some cities experience a much larger surge in demand than others. We decided to look at the average price Hipmunk travelers paid when booking a hotel room in the U.S. on Valentine’s Day last year (a Saturday), compared to the price on weekend prior.

So where exactly do hotel prices surge the most on Valentine’s Day? You may be surprised at what we found:

Valentines day hotel price

Far and away, Reno, Nevada is the most marked-up place to book a hotel on Feb. 14. Ironically, Reno is something of a mecca for those wishing to engage in “anti-Valentine’s Day” activities: the city offers a Vampire pub crawl (for “those who think V-Day sucks”), as well as a slew of discounted gambling and drinking options. Las Vegas, Nevada (62 percent increase) and Atlantic City, New Jersey (25 percent), both similar destinations, also make appearances on this list — though traditionally romantic cities like New York (70 percent) Miami (53 percent) and Honolulu (26 percent) are considerably inflated as well.

Feel bad that Valentine’s Day is coming up and you haven’t booked a hotel room yet for your special evening? Worry not: as it turns out, no one plans ahead when it comes to booking V-Day hotel rooms. According to search results for “Valentines Day” in our database, 69 percent of bookings are made last-minute, in early February.

Below, we’ve plotted out when people actually search for Valentine’s Day rooms. As you can see, pretty much everyone procrastinates on planning!

valentines day, hotel price, USA hotels

So which cities are the most popular in terms of hotel bookings? Since the vast majority waits to book, we took a look at Hipmunk’s historical data from 2015 to see what destinations were trending last year:

popular v-day destination destinations, USA cities

Now for the most important question: How much is a room on Valentine’s Day going to set you back?

For the typical U.S. city, the average price of a room on Valentine’s Day last year was $171. Using our data, we’ve parsed out the average prices of some of the most popular cities for bookings on that special day:

valentines day hotel, usa hotels

Lastly, we wondered which of the above cities were the most romantic destinations, in terms of boasting the most hotels listed under Hipmunk’s “romantic” filter, an internal ranking system which tags hotels as romantic based on such features as neighborhood, food scene, and amenities like pool, spa, balcony, and kitchenette.

Whether you’re looking for a $400 per night splurge in Key West, Florida, or a $95 getaway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we wish all you lovebirds out there the best of luck in planning your Valentine’s Day!

And one last friendly reminder: if you’re looking to book a hotel, you can use the “romantic” filter on the Hipmunk hotel search to find an extra special room for the occasion– or just email  Hello@Hipmunk.com with a Valentine’s Day hotel request and let us do the searching for you.

How to Beat Boredom and Anxiety While Traveling Solo

solo travel, traveling solo, solo travel tips

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s  Tailwind blog on September 21st.

traveling solo, solo travel

Traveling solo can elicit a mixed bag of emotions: Excitement, happiness, fear, boredom, stress… the whole gamut. Still, traveling alone is well worth it. Don’t let the fear of boredom or anxiety prevent you from reaping these benefits. Instead, follow our tips for coping with stress and getting the most out of your solo adventure.

Nix Anxiety

  • Create an itinerary. Detailed trip planning can create a sense of security. If nothing else, consider booking accommodations in advance—it’s a huge stress reliever to know there will be a roof over your head come nightfall. Also read up on how to pass through customs and the rules for duty-free shopping. Knowing the regulations for your destination(s) will help you arrive prepared.
  • Make new friends. Nothing beats loneliness like not being alone. It’s easy to meet new people on organized tours, in internet cafes, or through volunteer activities. Get a head start by connecting with fellow travelers on travel forums prior to the trip.
  • Designate an emergency contact. Keep their contact info handy at all times. Also be sure to let someone know your general whereabouts each day. The knowledge that someone is looking out for you can do a lot to ease anxiety.
  • Reach out to loved ones. Skype, write an email or postcard, or make a quick international call to a friend or family member. Hearing a familiar voice can be grounding and will help settle any nerves that arise during travel.
  • Bring a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of clothing, or a lucky pebble.
  • Practice self-care. Travel can disrupt normal routines (and that’s often a good thing). But don’t let self-care slip through the cracks. Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise, and seek out comfort if anxiety flares up. Taking good care of yourself will make it that much easier to cope with any stressors that arise during travel.

Beat Boredom

  • Make a list. Research the destination in advance to learn what kinds of exciting opportunities are available to tourists, from amazing hotel breakfasts to city-wide scavenger huntsOutline everything you want to see and accomplish during a trip, and focus on crossing off each of the items on the list. Staying busy is a sure-fire way to fend off boredom.
  • Ask questions. Take an interest in other people’s stories, whether you’re talking to an airplane seatmate, fellow travelers in a café, or locals at market. Conversation is a great way to gain exposure to new people and ideas, learn about a destination, and pass the time.
  • Invest in gadgets. It’s okay to take the easy way out sometimes. A book, a deck of cards, a Gameboy, or an iPad queued up with a favorite TV show are all simple ways to kick boredom to the curb. And of course, take advantage of in-flight entertainmentwhenever it’s available.
  • Plan for evenings. Nighttime can be hard on solo travelers because many sites are closed, other travelers have gone to bed, and there are fewer distractions. Expect that evenings may bring on boredom and plan accordingly. Consider going to theater or film events, get absorbed in a book, or take care of housekeeping like doing laundry or repacking a messy suitcase.
  • Assign a project. This great idea comes from The One Percent Club: Assign yourself a project for the trip, whether it’s keeping a travel journal, taking five high-quality photographs every day, reading a certain number of books, blogging, etc. Having a sense of purpose will keep you focused and keep boredom at bay.

The Silver Lining

Believe it or not, anxiety and boredom come with some real benefits. While traveling alone might be a bit stressful, focus on the fact that it allows an almost unheard-of amount of freedom. It affords the opportunity to rediscover what makes you tick—you get to decide what to do, where to go, and when to do any and everything. Similarly, research shows that a little boredom is actually a good thing: It can boost creativity, encourage daydreaming, and foster the growth of new goals.

Instead of viewing anxiety and boredom as negative states to be avoided at all costs, look for the positives. Keeping an open mind and practicing the strategies outlined above will ensure that any solo traveler can cope with boredom and anxiety in constructive ways. And just think of the stories you’ll be able to tell upon your return

The Four Best Day Trips For Fall Visitors To Seattle

Mt Rainier National Park, seattle, usa

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s  Tailwind blog on September 23rd.

seattle tour, fall tours in seattle, usa

For visitors to the Pacific Northwest this fall, there is no shortage of activities in Seattle, the region’s largest and fastest-growing city. Baseball fans can check out a Mariners game, foodies can stroll around Pike Place Market for hours, and brave souls unafraid of heights can take in the unparalleled view from the Space Needle. But travelers who find themselves with free time, and with access to a car, may want to consider the following four day trips, which highlight the lush beauty unique to the Emerald City and the surrounding area, particularly in the Autumn season.

whale watching, san juan island, seattle, usa

The San Juan Islands:

About a three-and-a-half-hour drive north, the San Juan Islands are a must-see destination for out-of-towners. The San Juan Islands are composed of 172 individual islands, but four (San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island) are served by ferries and feature activities for visitors. For wine aficionados, visiting San Juan Vineyards, located on the main San Juan Island, is well worth the drive – their well-regarded wines have won many awards. Those with fond memories of the film Free Willy should also be sure to go whale watching while exploring the islands, with the best time for viewing occurring from late May to October. All four islands have hotels and inns for those wishing to stay overnight, with the Earthbox Inn and Spa offering the perfect ambiance to relax.

North Cascades National Park, seattle, USA

North Cascades National Park:

Northwest of Seattle is the North Cascades National Park, which is about a four hour drive from the city. Many come here to camp, and the jagged peaks, engulfed by hundreds of glaciers nestled among cascading waters, ensure an unforgettable experience. No other U.S. park outside of Alaska contains as many glaciers, in addition to diverse wildlife: bald eagles, moose, bears, grey wolves, and more than 200 species of birds. If you’d prefer a day trip in the park as opposed to camping, try staying at the budget-friendly Red Roof Inn near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (Sea-Tac).

Olympic Peninsula, rainforest, seattle

Olympic Peninsula:

Three hours west of Seattle is the Olympic Peninsula, home to temperate rainforests and the Olympic Mountains. There is no shortage of activities with fishing, sailing, boating, and hiking being among the most popular. The Peninsula is also famous for its lush scenery featured in Hollywood blockbusters like the Twilight series. Those wishing to stay in and around the peninsula have a plethora of options, while nearby Olympia offers budget-friendly hotels like Red Lion Hotel or the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites.

Mount Rainier National Park, mt rainier, seattle

Mt. Rainier National Park:

For aspiring mountain climbers, the three hour drive south to Mt. Rainier National Park is a must. Mt. Rainier is an iconic part of Washington state’s landscape, standing at 14,000 feet above sea level. An active volcano, Mt. Rainier has the largest glaciers in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit, with experience in glacier travel and self-rescue required. About half of the 8,000-13,000 climb attempts per year are successful, so only the brave at heart should undertake the climb. Less experienced mountain climbers shouldn’t feel left out though, as the entire park is open for hiking, backcountry skiing, camping. Photographers should definitely pay a visit – you won’t see anything else like it in the U.S. Try staying in nearby Tacoma, at either the Hotel Murano or the Silver Cloud Inn, for affordable, modern luxury.