Articles Los Angeles

Travel to LA for NBA All-Star Weekend

Basketball fans have one more reason to visit Los Angeles this winter. This year, the city is hosting the NBA All-Star Weekend, a festival of basketball-related events, celebrity games and slam-dunk contests. Even if you aren’t a fan, it’s a weekend of sports, fun, and celebrities, and it’s a great excuse to plan a visit to sunny Los Angeles.

As always, airlines tend to raise prices to any destination hosting a special event, so you may find flights to Los Angeles cost more than they normally do during this time. But there are still some NBA All-Star Weekend travel deals out there that can help you bring down the cost of indulging in your favorite sports obsession.

Hotels close to the venues may still be available and those that are will be eager to offer incentives to fill rooms. Cheap hotels in LA that are farther away from the festivities may also be a good budget option, just be aware that the city is notorious for its traffic, so the savings may not be worth it once you factor in the extra time spent in the car.

If basketball just isn’t your passion, there’s still plenty of reason to visit LA. While the sports nut in your life is off watching the games, get out to sightsee in the city. Check out the Hollywood sign and Walk of Fame, shop on Rodeo Drive, visit Santa Monica, or just stake out all your favorite celebrities.

Photo by jondoeforty1

Articles Portugal

Add the Azores to Your Portugal Trip

The Azores are among the most undisturbed and isolated islands in Europe. Located nearly 1000 miles from the mainland of Portugal the islands are serviced with regular flights to Lisbon (and New York) and ferry services from Europe, yet they remain largely untouristed and uncommon island getaways.

With a subtropical climate, rolling vineyards, orchards and a stunningly beautiful and rugged coast, the nine major islands that make up the Azores are largely supported by farming and fishing. Because they remained so isolated for some long, the culture, dialect, cuisine and traditions of each island actually varies quite a bit, but the main language is Portuguese throughout.

The main activities in the Azores involve the beautiful nature of the islands and include biking, whale-watching, hiking, and sailing. You won’t find too many museums and monuments too keep you busy, nor will you find the throngs of tourists found on other European islands.

The Azores may be more expensive to get to thanks to their remote location, but once there, you’ll find them quite affordable. Cheap hotels are easy to come by, with average accommodations going for around $100 per night. Of course, you can also find more inexpensive lodging at family run pensions and bed and breakfasts throughout the islands. And finding inexpensive, fresh fish is never a problem.  With the low prices and lack of crowds, it’s only a matter of time before the secret is out about the beautiful islands of the Azores.

Photo by fortinbras


Four English Clubs in the Champions League Last Sixteen

The World Cup is over, and England’s massive population of sports fans move from obsession with the national football team to obsession with their favorite football clubs. The 2011 Champions League, the top tournament in club football, is back in February as it enters its Round of 16. Starting with over 70 clubs from around the continent, sixteen remain, and four of them, a full quarter, are from right here in England – three from London. Here’s a look at what each side faces in their upcoming matches:


North London’s Arsenal FC have perhaps the hardest task of any of the English clubs, taking on FC Barcelona in the Round of 16. Described by many as the greatest club side ever assembled, this Barcelona team includes World Cup winners Xavi and Andres Iniesta, as well as the best player in the world, Lionel Messi. Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal will have to call on all of their talents, and get a great performance from young Frenchman Samir Nasri, if they are going to proceed to the quarterfinals.

Arsenal Champions League Fixtures:
Arsenal vs. Barcelona in London: 16 February 2011
Barcelona vs. Arsenal in Barcelona: 8 March 2011

Reserve your seat with Arsenal tickets.


Another London side, Chelsea is no stranger to the Champions League knockouts, having been involved in every Round of 16 since the format changed to include this round in 2004. They have never won the tournament, but came agonizingly close in 2008 when they lost the final on penalties to Manchester United. They face a relatively soft opponent in FC Copenhagen, but at this level, no one is to be taken lightly.

Chelsea Champions League fixtures:
FC Copenhagen vs. Chelsea in Copenhagen: 22 February 2011
Chelsea vs. FC Copenhagen in London: 16 March 2011

Make sure you’re there to see them play with Chelsea tickets.

Manchester United

Manchester United have been champions of Europe three times, most recently in 2008, and are always hungry to add to the impressive trophy case at Old Trafford. This season, their attacking duo of Berbatov and Hernandez have fired them to an early lead in the domestic league, but the question is still open whether they have the squad to compete in the Champions League as well. They face off this round with France’s Olympique Marseille, a side looking to end a recent drought for French clubs in the later rounds of the competition.

Manchester United Champions League Fixtures:
Marseille vs. Manchester United: 23 February 2011 in Marseille
Manchester United vs. Marseille: 15 March 2011 in Manchester

Cheer on United at the Theater of Dreams with Manchester United tickets.

Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs are a new team in the mix for the Champions League, this being their first-ever entry into the Round of 16. But with a talented young squad and a budding superstar in Welshman Gareth Bale, they are anxious to prove that they belong among Europe’s elite. They beat reigning champions Internazionale Milan in the group stages, and now face off with the other team from that famous city, AC Milan. It should be one of the great matchups of the year.

Spurs Champions League Fixtures:
AC Milan vs. Tottenham: 15 February 2011 in Milan
Tottenham vs. AC Milan: 9 March 2011 in London

Scream “Come on You Spurs!” alongside the Tottenham faithful with your Tottenham Hotspur tickets.

Portugal travel guide

Support Portuguese Players in the Champions League

Portugal, like most of Europe, loves its football, and the world’s top club competition, the UEFA Champions League, is coming to its knockout rounds. Sixteen teams remain, and unfortunately none of them are Portuguese, with both Braga and Benfica missing out in the group stage. However, there are a number of Portuguese stars playing on foreign teams that still have a great chance to do something on club football’s biggest stage. Remaining Portuguese players include:

Vitorino Antunes (Defender – AS Roma)
Ricardo Costa (Defender – Valencia)
Miguel Monteiro (Defender – Valencia)
Ricardo Carvalho (Defender – Real Madrid)
Pepe (Defender – Real Madrid)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Forward – Real Madrid)
Nani (Midfielder – Manchester United)
Bebe (Forward – Manchester United)
Paulo Ferreira (Defender – Chelsea)
Henrique Hilario (Backup goalkeeper – Chelsea)

So if you’re looking for a team to support, based purely on number of Portuguese players, Real Madrid is your team with the combination of their two strong Portuguese defenders and of course Portugal’s captain, Cristiano Ronaldo. With Ronaldo scoring pretty much at will this season, it’s a good bet that he’ll take them to the later rounds of the tournament. If you’re looking for more of an underdog to support, Valencia has never won a Champions League, and has only reached the final twice, losing both. Hopefully, next season, Porto or Benfica can return to the late stages of the Champions League, which a Portuguese team hasn’t won since 2004.


Study Spanish in Guatemala

I’ve always loved to learn new languages. And over the years I’ve realized that speaking the language with the natives is an excellent way to learn more. But even better is to start studying a language in the country where it’s spoken. Traveling for this purpose can be quite expensive but language study on a budget is possible.

Want to learn Spanish? Sure, Spain and Mexico will pop in your head but cost-wise, Guatemala is cheaper than Mexico. Plus, the language spoken here is pure (by the book).

The country has a long and distinctive history of mixing Spanish and Mayan elements. It offers superb landscapes, a lot of historical sites and a laid-back culture.

Before you rush to look for airfare to Guatemala and book a room in one of the cheap hotels in Guatemala City , do take into account the cost of the language courses. It costs about $4 per hour (outside of Guatemala City and Antigua), while accommodation starts at about $20 per week.

So if you plan to take 20 hours per week in an intense, immersion program, and spend 12 weeks in Guatemala, you’ll have to pay $960. Also, you need to rack up about $240 for accommodation (excluding food). Therefore, with just $1200 you can stay in Guatemala for 3 months, learn Spanish and enjoy the country. Of course you need to add the cost of food, flights and extra expenses.

Hint: it’s sometimes cheaper to fly into Mexico City and then take a connection flight into Guatemala City.

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Alaska travel guide

Ski Vacations to Alyeska Resort

You might expect that with a long, cold winter and abundant snow, Alaska would be covered with snow resorts. But there are surprisingly few all-inclusive ski resorts in the state, and biggest by far is Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. Lying only about 30 miles outside of Anchorage, Alyeska is conveniently located and offers over 1,400 skiable acres of terrain, ranging from the simple to the extremely technical. Although the owners are adding more beginner slopes, there’s a pretty limited number of them now, so if you’re a first-time skier, you won’t have all that many choices. But if you’re comfortable on your skis, Alyeska is a great spot for a ski vacation.

Getting There
If you’re not a local, then you will want to start with a flight to Anchorage. From there, it’s a 30-mile drive down the Seward Highway to Girdwood.

What’s the best time to come?
The regular ski season at Alyeska runs from late November to late April. Keep in mind that unless you want to do a lot of night-skiing, December and January might not be the best months. To get the most out of your full-day pass, look at a trip later in the season, in early to mid March. For more information on daylight hours, see our article, How Long are the Days in Alaska?.

What else is there to do beside skiing?
Alyeska is much more than a ski mountain. It really is unusual in Alaska in being a full resort, with tour guides, a spa, a sushi restaurant, a museum and more. You won’t be bored, and with an increasing number of family activities, neither will the kids.

How much will it cost?
Alyeska is definitely a resort, and most services on the mountain have resort (read “high”) prices. But if you pick the right pass, you can get a lot of skiing in without breaking the bank. A day pass is $60 and lasts from 10:30am to 5:30pm, and is your best option if you’re only skiing one or two days. There is a half-day pass, but unless you’re a local, it’s unlikely that you will be skiing for less than a full day, and the half-day is only $10 less anyway. If you’re planning an extended ski trip, you might want to consider the Ten X Powder Pass, which gets you ten full days for $450 (25% off). There are other pass options up to and including a season pass, but if you’re traveling to Alyeska, the Ten X is the largest pass you’ll be likely to need.

Enter your travel dates into the form below to search for hotel rates in Girdwood. As always, especially with a seasonal destination, the earlier you book, the better your chances will be to get exactly what you’re looking for.

More information
Alyeska Snow Report


Spend Valentine’s Day in Paris

What better way to show your love than to spend Valentine’s Day in Paris ? France’s capital is considered the most romantic city in Europe (and probably in the world, as well). Walk hand in hand on the bank of the river Seine, kiss in the park and declare your love while watching the city from the Eiffel Tower.

Since Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, unless you’ve already planned your getaway, it’s time to do your research and book the vacation. Travel deals for Valentine’s Day can be found all over the internet (and in travel agencies) , so there are many choices.

First of all, look for one of the cheap flights within Europe ; many low-cost carriers offer special prices for this holiday, so make sure to get their newsletters and follow then on Twitter and Facebook. Typically, these sales don’t last for very long, so make sure to book a flight as soon as you find a good price.

When you look for accommodation, consider the things you want to do while in Paris. Rooms aren’t very cheap, but you can get away with a low budget if you don’t mind staying in private rooms in hostels or in budget hotels.

As for spending Valentine’s Day in Paris, there are plenty of romantic ways to do it, aside from the cliché dinner. Take photos on the river bank, walk hand in hand in parks or just soak up the atmosphere. It’s still winter in Europe, so you can plan a lovely evening at the ice rink (plus, you get to burn off the calories). Or, if you like chocolate, book a guided tour which features…sweet delights.

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Argentina Articles

Make Argentina Your Budget Destination

Though the rock-bottom prices of the early 2000’s have gone up considerably Argentina still regularly tops the lists of best cheap countries to visit, thanks to a very favorable dollar to peso exchange rate.  One US dollar will get your nearly four pesos, making the average price for a decent bottle of wine around $4 US and a heaping platter of tender, juicy beef will run you between ten and fifteen bucks.

It’s easy to be put off by the initial cost of traveling to Argentina. Flights to Buenos Aires are not cheap; expect to pay anywhere from $700-$1500 per person, depending on where in the US you’re coming from. But, the extra cost of flights is easily made up once you are on the group. Living large in Argentina on a small budget it quite easy. Cheap Buenos Aires hotels will only cost $25-30 per night for a double room, while slightly more upscale accommodations can be had for under $100. If you’re fine with a dorm bed in a hostel, you can even get by on under $15 per night.

Of course, Buenos Aires is one of the most expensive places in Argentina, seeing as it’s the largest and most cosmopolitan city in the country. In other areas, you can spend even less, though you’ll sacrifice some of the European flavor, low-cost luxury shopping and decadent nightlife present in the capital. For those who want to indulge in fine food, fantastic wine and luxurious accommodations and shopping, Buenos Aires is an ideal destination that allows you to indulge without the high price tag.

Photo by Johnny Shaw

travel guide

How to Find Cheap Flights to Europe

Europe is a very popular travel destination and finding cheap flights to Europe becomes a necessity for those who planning their vacations here. Many travelers head to England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Greece. While each country has major airports and the international flights can be found rather easily, most traffic from the United States comes into London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport.

An easy way to find cheap flights to Europe is to check out the flight deals. For example, the Virgin Atlantic flight deals can save you a lot of money when you manage to find a good deal. Plus, you can use the Virgin flight tracker and let your loved ones know the route and the status of your flight.

Make sure to use several websites to check for flights. Some don’t list the special deals and then you are left with checking each company’s website. Kayak, Expedia and Skyscanner offer a pretty good image of the available flights into Europe.

If you prefer to use a certain airline, consider getting a mileage credit card offered by them. You can get points and discounts, which will definitely pay out in the long run. Also, use the miles saved to get cheaper flights or upgrades.

A very easy way to save money on cheap flights to Europe is to travel during the low-season. Autumn and spring can be quite tricky weather-wise, but the airfare is low. You might end up stuck visiting museums or staying in doors in other places because the weather is lousy, but that’s not a waste of time.