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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Traveling in winter, whether heading home for the holidays or heading off to somewhere tropical, always seems like a fun idea until delayed flights, snowstorms, and overstuffed suitcases get involved. We start to regret booking a layover flight, wearing a parka to an overheated airport, and not getting the right rental car. If winter travel has you feeling like a blow-up holiday snowman in a blizzard, don’t panic. Here are 11 winter travel tips to keep mishaps and delays at bay, and keep your budget in check through it all. 

RELATED: 15 cheap flying hacks that will save you real money

Book direct flights

Interior of airplane with passengers on seats waiting to taik off. Horizontal composition. boring flight in economy class aircraft salon. economy class

Keep in mind, if your travel plans are interrupted by bad weather (or other natural events known in the industry as “acts of God”), airlines are not obligated to reimburse you or cover the cost of a hotel. That’s why booking direct flights is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you don’t get stranded at a layover airport. That way, if your departing flight does get canceled, you can just go back home and try again in the morning. 

Invest in travel insurance

Winter weather can be unpredictable, especially in places like the Midwest or Northeast. Travel insurance typically doesn’t cost much, but if there’s a winter storm causing cancellations and you can’t make your reservation, you’ll be reimbursed for the parts of your trip that you missed (just be sure to read the terms carefully). As for purchasing travel insurance, booking on sites like makes it easy: When you check out, you’ll be given the option to add it to your itinerary with just a few clicks.

Pack layers versus one big coat 

Red suitcase being packed with black and white shirt, camera

Going from a cold climate to a warm one? Don’t get stuck dragging that bulky parka around in a place where it’s not needed. Instead, wear multiple layers to keep warm en route; unlike the parka, light layers like T-shirts, long sleeved shirts, leggings, and just one or two sweaters will still be useful in your destination during cooler tropical nights.

Book the right car for the terrain

Golden, British Columbia, Canada

An economical car like a Prius is great for road trips. Unless you’re headed to the mountains or some other place with lots of snow and potential ice. Be sure to reserve a rental car that has all the right features like 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive that can handle the terrain. When you book on, you can use the “All-wheel drive/4X4” filter to narrow your search. You may also want to consider springing for an SUV, as the added height can help you navigate through heavy snow. 

Treat yourself to some cozy amenities

Harbor Light Inn, Marblehead, MA

When you dream of a winter getaway, you might think tropical paradise, or you might imagine yourself soaking in a hot tub after a long day of skiing. Regardless of what your perfect vision is, booking on a site like can help you find it. Just use the search bar to find cozy amenities like fireplaces, or use the hotel filters to discover accommodations with hot tubs, indoor pools, spas, and more.

Stay up to date on your flight’s status

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Terminal 4 in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Photo: Robert Couse-Baker – Flickr

Don’t you hate it when you go to check in, only to find your flight was canceled, right after you paid handsomely for that Uber ride to the airport? Stay on top of changes when you download the CheapTickets app. It’ll send you real-time flight alerts, plus information on gate changes and luggage carousel numbers. You might also want to consider following your airport and airline on social media. Most airports and airlines will post updates about closures and cancellations due to impending weather on their social channels first. 

If you’re driving, gear up your car for cold

Getting stuck on the side of the road stinks, but in winter, it can be downright dangerous. Be prepared by gearing up your car with a flashlight to see under the hood, a first aid kit, potable water, snacks, warm clothing and a thick blanket, a spare tire and jack, a basic tool kit, and emergency flairs. It also helps to leave a bag of kitty litter in your car. Why? Well, it’s not just for cats. When driving in snow or on iced-over roads, sprinkling a little kitty litter right in front and behind your tires will provide the traction needed to keep going. 

Avoid checked-bag fees

Checked bag on luggage carousel at an airport

The easiest way to avoid them is of course to pack light, so you can go carry-on only. But we know, it’s winter, so your bag might be loaded up with holiday gifts or chunky cold-weather clothing. If that’s the case, you could still skip baggage fees, thanks to airline loyalty programs, or airline credit cards. Just be advised that some cards have high interest rates and sizable annual fees.

Be flexible with booking dates

Everyone wants to fly out on Thursday or Friday and return on Monday for long weekend getaways. That’s why these days of the week tend to be more expensive for everything from flights and hotels to rental cars and activities. Same goes for the days right before and after major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That said, one way to save big bucks is to check flight calendars to see if there’s a lower priced flight on Tuesday or Wednesday, or some other day of the week close to when you’d like to leave. Comparing is easy when you book on, thanks to the site’s “Flexible dates” tool. Most travel websites will let you view a full calendar where you can see cheaper dates.

Consider driving versus flying

While flying will get you to your destination faster, it could also come with major delays due to bad weather. Even if your departure city enjoys a mild climate, your plane could experience weather delays if it’s coming from a storm-addled destination. A more reliable mode of travel would be to drive yourself, especially if you’re eight hours or less away. Driving is also often cheaper, especially if you plan on traveling around major holidays.

Wear your bulkiest items on your travel day

If you really must have the cable knit sweater that looks just like the one Chris Evans wore in Knives Out with you on vacation, then consider wearing it for the first time on your travel day. Same goes for your chunkiest pair of shoes or boots. Create room in  your suitcase by wearing larger items on the plane or in the car. 

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Events, Flights, Holidays, Seasonal, Tips & advice, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Megan duBois

Megan duBois

Megan is a Florida native with a love for all things Disney, travel, food and running. You can follow Megan on Twitter @megand513 and on Instagram @minglingwithmickey where she dishes out the most recent Disney news and tips for the perfect park day!
Megan duBois

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Summertime has arrived and there’s no better way to celebrate than getting behind the wheel for an exciting road trip. But why blow your budget on gas when you can go exploring just a short drive away. Not sure where to go or what to do? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are the five best one-tank road trips to take this summer within day’s reach of five metro areas.

RELATED: 6 great river tubing adventures you and your friends will love

From Denver: Colorado Springs

After filling your car’s gas tank, head first to Konjo in Denver for your own personal fuel. Their Ethiopian-style breakfast burritos are incredible. From here, hop on I-25 for a 77-mile drive south to Colorado Springs where a big day of adventure awaits. Climb, hike, or Segway and E-bike your way through the magical Garden of the Gods, a stunning playground of sandstone formations. If you notice a mountain looming off in the distance on your drive down, that’s Pikes Peak. The winding switchback drive and summit views are exhilarating. In downtown Colorado Springs, you’ll find the cultural heart of the city where you can enjoy public art, breweries, and locally owned restaurants.

Book a bunk room or the camp deck at downtown’s Kinship Landing.

From Seattle: Westport


Two hours west of Seattle, on the outer edge of Grays Harbor and next to the Pacific, sits the small fishing community of Westport. If you’re a surfer, the town boasts some of Washington’s best waves. BigFoot Surf offers lessons if you want to try it out. Learn about the community’s fishing history at the Westport Maritime Museum. Catch some rays at Westhaven State Park. Bennett’s Fish Shack across from the marina serves up award-winning seafood dishes when you get hungry. If you choose to reel in your dinner, go charter fishing with Westport Charters.

Book Westport Marina Cottages for stellar waterfront views.

From Chicago: Indiana Dunes

A mere hour drive down I-90 from Chicago will transport you to a world void of skyscrapers and city traffic. Indiana Dunes National Park offers an enchanting place of sand and solitude along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. Kayakers flock here in the summer, but the dunes aren’t a one-size-fits-all type of road trip. Thanks to its 50 miles of trails—many of them fairly rugged—hikers can explore diverse habitats like prairies, wetlands, beaches, forests, and the dunes. Two Dunes Walk Into A Sandbar is one of the park’s newest geocaching adventures. Picnics at Lake View Beach are an excellent way to relax. And if you’re not in a rush to get back to the city, set up camp for the weekend. Cook dinner over the fire or sneak into town for some seasonal farm-to-table grub.

Snooze in style at the affordable Brewery Lodge and Supper Club.

From San Francisco: Santa Cruz

Evening in Santa Cruz, California, one of the favorite tourist spots in Search Northern California.

Any time you get a chance to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, take it, especially the 1.5-hour drive to Santa Cruz. The views along HWY 1 are out of this world and Shark Fin Cove just begs to be photographed. Adventurers should head straight to Mount Hermon Adventures for zip-lining and aerial adventures high above the forest floor. Visitors who are curious about the Mystery Spot are welcomed to come to see for themselves. Meanwhile, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was recognized as the best seaside park in the world, so grab a fried Twinkie and ride the 1924 Giant Dipper wooden rollercoaster (though maybe not in that order). Need a day of just sun and sand? Cowell Beach is a short stroll from the boardwalk and right next to the Santa Cruz Wharf.

Find comfort at the budget-friendly Comfort Inn Beach/Boardwalk Area.

From Miami: Key West

You can drive the 165-mile Overseas Highway in about 3 hours if you don’t stop. But take your time, the scenery and quirky eateries like the No Name Pub or Robbie’s to feed the Tarpon are worth it. If you time your eventual arrival in Key West just right, you can sit back and relax aboard a sunset catamaran cruise. Sunset Sail Key West has one of the best for the price. Afterward, hang out at Mallory Square and Duval Street for some great nightlife. Even Hemingway spent quite a few fun nights on Duval. The next day, check out the town’s galleries and shops, paddle through mangroves, or go eco-friendly to spot dolphins. Before you leave town, just be sure to grab a quick selfie at the Southernmost Point marker and a slice or three of Kermit’s Key Lime pie. It’s the real deal.

Every room has its own private yard at the cheap and cheerful Seashell Motel & Key West Hostel.

Tagged: California, Chicago, Florida

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Every April, America observes National Park Week, a perfect time to gather your road trip crew and go explore our treasured landscapes, and it all kicks off with free entry to all National Parks on April 17. But why stop at one? Simply start connecting the dots, driving from one park to the next to experience each location’s unique splendor until you’ve crossed the entire country. We’re in bucket-list territory now.

Beginning in Miami, we’ve crafted a 2,800-mile journey that allows you to hit some of the best parks from coast to coast. Buy your National Parks Pass, fuel up the car, and let’s go! (Since it will also be National Volunteer Week, add extra meaning to the trek by lending a helping hand along the way!)

RELATED: 8 great state park alternatives to National Parks

Day 1

From Miami, make your first stop at Everglades National Park. This 1.5 million-acre wonderland is the country’s largest subtropical wilderness and home to manatees, alligators, and the Florida panther. Bike the Snake Bight Trail, go slough slogging, or kayak the many waterways. You might just spot a gator.

Feeling the heat? Book a sizzling hot Miami hotel here.

Day 2

Your route then heads north along I-75 through Tampa Bay, turning westward on I-10 toward Tallahassee and into Pensacola. Find white sand beaches and warm Gulf waters at Pensacola Beach, then visit Jerry’s Drive In, the rumored home of the original bacon cheeseburger. They serve ’em up for under $5. Keep going and laissez les bon temps rouler (French for let the good times roll) a few hours later in New Orleans. Tradition calls for stopping by Café du Monde for world-famous beignets and a caffeine-fueled pick me up.

Sleep easy in the Big Easy. Book a N’Awlins hotel here.

Day 3

As they say, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” This includes a drive through the state, so mind your fatigue. It’s 900 miles from NOLA to Big Bend National Park, but the long drive includes highlights like Big Beau the alligator in Beaumont, the kooky Beer-Can House in Houston, and puffy tacos at Ray’s Drive Inn in San Antonio. At Big Bend, explore 150 miles of trails or soak your road-weary body in a geothermal hot spring. Be sure to also camp and enjoy one of the best night skies in the country. You won’t be disappointed.

Take a hike, then take a nap. Book a hotel near the park here.

Day 4

The following day, stop by Prada Marfa along US Hwy 90 outside artsy Marfa. This quirky roadside art installation is an Instagram must. From here you have two options: Reconnect with your old friend I-10 and hug the U.S. Mexico border en route to El Paso, or depending on time, head north on U.S. Route 54 to check off another park via a visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The desert and dunes, rugged mountains, and steep canyon walls are spectacular. No matter what route you choose, you will eventually reach Las Cruces, New Mexico. Hit the town for an epic green chile food trail known as the “Walk of Flame.”

Ready to flame out? Sleep tight in Las Cruces right here.

Day 5

Rise, shine and visit White Sands National Park. Dunes Drive leads into the heart of the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. Sledding down one of the dunes is also popular. Hiking gets you away from the crowd and is the best way to truly experience this unique and otherworldly landscape. Afterward, head to Truth or Consequences, a town named after a game show and home to quirky eateries and healing waters like Riverbend Hot Springs.

Catching forty winks? Book your T or C room right here.

Day 6

It’s a relatively straight shot across the state’s stunning desert to Arizona from here. When you start seeing billboards teasing mystery and wonder at The Thing up ahead, plan to stop. The Conspiracy Wall alone linking alien involvement in everything from Stonehenge to JFK’s assassination will leave you with more questions than answers all the way to Tucson. Once here, visit Saguaro National Park, a park split into two sections by the city. Check out prehistoric Native American petroglyphs at Signal Hill Petroglyph Site on the park’s west side. The east’s Tanque Verde Ridge trail (a half-mile hike) offers amazing views at sunset. Sleep it all off at the cheap and chic Downtown Clifton Hotel.

Find more Tucson room options here.

Day 7

From Tucson, it’s California dreaming time. Plan your remaining days on the road at Mel’s Diner in Phoenix. This off-the-beaten-path, old-time diner where breakfast is king is a necessity. Then, head for Joshua Tree National Park. It’s just over 300 miles away and the last park before you reach the Pacific. Traditional-style crack, slab, and steep face climbers are all welcome. So are mountain bikers, nature photographers, hikers, horseback riders, and dark sky enthusiasts. With its rich cultural history, surreal geologic features, and enough outdoor fun to keep anyone busy, this true desert wilderness makes for the ideal ending to a memorable National Parks adventure.

Stop Cali dreaming and start sweet dreaming. Book a room here.

Tagged: California, Destinations, Florida, New Orleans

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

The 2020 slowdown in travel may have benefited the environment but that was likely one of the few upsides to an otherwise difficult year globally. But with 2021 now upon us, we’ll again have roads to drive, destinations to fly to (eventually) and the same insatiable thirst for travel that saw the industry account for 8% of total global emissions. Moving forward, every action we take today to reduce tomorrow’s carbon footprint will be essential. But “green” travel doesn’t mean having less fun or sacrificing creature comforts. All it requires is to be more eco-conscious, and here are some helpful ways to do that in 2021.

RELATED: 8 great state park alternatives to National Parks

Calculate your impact

Until zero-emissions travel becomes a reality, flights and road trips will in some way negatively impact the environment. So, calculating your vacation’s emissions and footprint is a good first step. You can determine the environmental cost with a carbon footprint calculator. Add it all together, then purchase carbon credits to lessen what can’t be reduced.

Pack like a minimalist

The more you pack, the heavier your bag. This contributes to the overall weight of the plane or car, ultimately impacting the amount of CO2 emitted. Lighten the load with a backpack or small suitcase, packing only what you need and choosing outfits you can mix and match. Stashing your eco-friendly toiletries in packing cubes saves space and means you can buy a few things upon arrival, need be.

ALSO: Are you a student? Make sure you get in on these student hotel discounts!

Fly smarter

In-flight emissions can be reduced in a number of ways. First, choose an airline that offers the option to offset air travel or visit My Climate where you can match climate protection projects with your flight’s carbon footprint. Then, book a direct flight in coach, opt for carry-on only, bring your own food and amenities, and lower the window shades to keep the plane cool.

Better road tripping

Driving can create some of the biggest environmental impacts. Maintaining your vehicle keeps it running smoothly and efficiently. Proper tire pressure alone can improve average gas mileage by 0.6% —up to 3% in some cases. If you’re renting, select the smallest, most fuel-efficient car that’ll fit your needs. If a hybrid is available, even better.


Choosing to walk, bike, or enjoy a cruise through town in a local pedicab when sightseeing is better for the planet. Remember to take a tote or daypack with you, too. It’s easier to carry your Hydro Flask or any souvenirs, clothes, and groceries you might pick up along the way. It also means no plastic bags, which are some of the biggest contributors to ocean pollution.

Eat locally

One of the great rewards of travel is sampling new flavors, and eating locally is a great way to support a community in an eco-friendly way. The USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory helps you plan visits to farmers’ markets, where you can pick up locally sourced sustainable foods. Also, dining at restaurants that offer homegrown menu items reduces food miles (emissions created during the journey from producer to consumer).

Stay green

Large hotels consume a lot of energy, but many are committed to power reduction and reducing their waste and water usage. And thanks to LEED certification, eco-travelers can feel better about an amenity-filled stay by booking certified locations. Aria Las Vegas has earned six LEED Gold certifications. Virgin Hotels Chicago is LEED Gold-certified with hotel-wide recycling. Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, NC, is the first hotel in America to be LEED Platinum-certified and focuses on buying more food from local farmers and food makers. Can’t find a LEED-ranked hotel in your desired destination? Slash your personal consumption by turning off the lights, heater, and AC when leaving the room, reuse the towels, keep your showers short, and leave the freebies—lotion, shampoo, conditioner—behind.

Leave no trace

Leave no trace” is a catchy phrase reminding us to protect the natural spaces we love. It means sticking to existing trails whenever possible, camping at established sites 200 feet from water sources, minimizing campfire impacts, and what you pack in is also what you pack out. Keep this mindset when you hit the beach or go snorkeling as well. Apply a reef-safe sunscreen that is free from any chemicals contributing to coral bleaching.

Take a trip that gives back

Giving back can be rewarding. It reminds us to appreciate travel and reconnects us to the people and the land. It’s as simple as booking a “voluntourism” vacation or even properly disposing of trash that you see on a street corner or in the park. Hawaii has even come up with its own program to inspire mindful, eco-friendly travel, encouraging visitors to leave the islands better than when they arrived. Malama (care for) Hawaii projects include beach cleanups, ocean reef preservation, and tree planting. You’ll even score a free extra night at participating hotels.

Tagged: Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

In recent years, Native American tourism has grown by leaps and bounds, meaning a visit to a reservation is no longer just a roll of the dice. Reservations and Native-run sites in Indian Country offer an extraordinary array of activities likely to wow most visitors.

Visiting Indian Country (the official term used by the American Indian Native Tourism Association to describe Native spaces within the United States) can provide an intimate impression of Native American life. Many reservations lead guided tours blending a healthy recipe of history and current events.

More surprisingly, though, various reservations offer unexpected experiences, ranging from downhill skiing to beer tasting to alligator wrestling. Although not all of the 320-plus reservations in the United States welcome visitors, those that do often defy stereotypes.

RELATED: Best vacations to recharge, reboot and recenter in 2021

Hit the slopes

There are two major ski resorts located on reservation land in the U.S. Ski Apache, in south central New Mexico, offers top Southwest slopes. Apres ski, schussers can hang out at the Mescalero Apache Tribe-run Inn of the Mountain Gods, do a little gambling at the casino, or spend more time outside dashing through the snow on a sleigh ride. Come springtime, the reservation’s playground expands, with options like ziplining, golf, horseback riding and fishing.

In northern Arizona, the White Mountain Apache Tribe runs a sportsperson’s paradise on the Fort Apache Reservation. Seasoned skiers can enjoy fresh powder covering challenging trails and runs. Once the weather warms up, the action moves to Hawley Lake, where you can fish or sail. The tribe runs Sunrise Park Resort, but there are also less expensive lodging options available in the area, including furnished cabins for rent within easy walking distance of Lake Hawley.

Take an alligator selfie

Given its location smack-dab in the middle of Tourism Central, it’s no wonder that Florida’s Miccosukee Indian Reservation offers tons of activities for visitors. There’s golfing and gambling and the gamut of live entertainment. But the southern Florida reservation may be best known for its alligator encounters. The Miccosukee learned early on how to capture the critters for food and for their prized skin. Today, the tribe’s relationship with alligators has changed, moving toward conservation and education. During “alligator wrestling” demonstrations, wranglers (often tribal members) showcase the power of these primordial creatures. Visitors are allowed to pet the gators, and pose for the ubiquitous selfie. To look for alligators in the wild, there are airboat rides through the Everglades, led by Miccosukee fishermen, froggers and hunters.

Go chase waterfalls

Located adjacent to Grand Canyon country in northern Arizona, the Havasupai Reservation houses two spectacular water cascades. Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls are only about two miles apart, but to get to them in the first place, you’ll have to take a strenuous 10-mile hike which requires a permit from the tribe. Supai is the capital of the reservation, but it’s accessible only by foot, pack animal or helicopter. So, before you take that hike to the falls, beef up energy levels with a burger served on a fry bread bun at the Supai Cafe.

Tip a canoe and grab an IPA, too

The Yurok Tribe of Klamath, California lives in the heart of Redwood Country. Almost half of the world’s old-growth coastal redwoods is located in these parts, so it makes sense that the tribe handcrafts traditional canoes made from felled trees. Cooler still, visitors can float down the Klamath River in said canoes. More unexpected, the Yuroks run one of few tribal-owned breweries in North America. Mad River Brewing Company is a state-of-the-art brewery with a tap room and restaurant (standard pub fare) attached.

Stay in a teepee

The Crow Indian Reservation is located in southern Montana, a land where the deer and the antelope and the buffalo play. Crow Agency, near the Bighorn Recreation Area, is the headquarters of the reservation. The tribe helps run overnight teepee camping experiences near the Little Big Horn River including a traditional dinner, language and dance lessons, and storytelling. Daytrippers can opt to saddle up for a horseback tour, led by native guides, to Little Big Horn Battlefield Monument.

Immerse yourself in a Painted Desert

Navajo Nation is the largest reservation in the country, spanning more than 27,000 square miles across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Throughout the reservation, vivid murals are painted on abandoned buildings and roadside stands as part of the Painted Desert Project, which encourages artists to embed themselves in local communities. The reservation also houses more than a dozen national monuments and plenty of water recreation areas, including the Navajoland shoreline of Lake Powell. For a truly authentic Navajo experience, stay in a hogan, a traditional eight-sided one-room house. Mind you, the accommodations are primitive–there is no electricity or running water, and bedding is either a mattress or a sheepskin lying on the dirt floor. There are also plenty of hotels, campgrounds and RV parks on or near the reservation.

Take a dip in a hot spring

The Wind River Reservation in southwestern Wyoming is home to both the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes. The tribes ceded the Thermopolis hot springs to the state of Wyoming in a treaty in 1896. However, thanks to a proviso established by the tribes, the public springs are accessible to the general public without charge. Four miles south of Thermopolis, back on reservation land, explore Wind River Canyon’s amazing scenery by car or raft.

Hop on a Hopi Arts Trail

Up in northeastern Arizona, the Hopi Arts Trail shines light on the tribe’s vibrant artistic traditions. The trail is a cooperative made up of Hopi-owned galleries, artists, and guides in villages across the Hopi reservation. Get introduced to artists working on basket weaving, Kachina Doll carving, pottery and silversmithing, the four most prominent art forms on the reservation, either through a guided or self-driving tour.

Make moccasins

Members of the Ojibwe Tribe of east central Minnesota are some of the country’s original crafters. Toss them some porcupine quills or a basket of beads and a masterpiece may result. The Mille Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post in Onamia, about an hour and a half north of the Twin Cities, offers classes in traditional Ojibwe arts, including beading and pottery. You can learn how to make a corn husk doll, a pair of earrings made from porcupine quills (just be careful), or some comfy moccasins. Many of the workshops are taught by tribal elders. After class, opt for a hike through Father Hennepin State Park or test your luck at Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

Tagged: Destinations

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

In many ways, road trips are one of the most easy-going, stress free ways to travel—no security lines, middle seats or even armrests to wrestle over. But even the most easygoing, veteran road tripper knows some pre-planning is in order. So, if you’re thinking about hitting the road, here’s a quick packing list to make your next road trip go from pretty nice to legendary.

RELATED: And don’t forgot to pack one of these stylish travel-themed masks

1. Versatile layers

You’ve heard it over and over. Pack layers. One minute you might be soaking in some sun, and the next a cold breeze picks up and you’re second-guessing that decision to wear a T-shirt and shorts. This is especially true in mountain and desert environments. But the good news is that it’s not too late to purchase some gear before packing for the road. The North Face Women’s Canyonlands Hoodie is designed for hiking and climbing, delivering warmth without the weight. Kari Traa Alelam Base Layer Pants are cozy and keep you warm and dry. Guys, check out Patagonia’s R1® Air Crew. They’re light, breathable and perfect for warmth and versatility. And don’t forget your gloves and rain jacket. You never know if it’ll rain or snow, especially if you pull over to explore higher altitude trails along the way.

2. Solar-powered light-speaker-charger

The MPOWERD Luci Explore will become the best travel companion during your road trip (no offense to your significant other). This lightweight, solar-powered and water-resistant device is your alarm clock, light, speaker and phone charger in one. Just pair your phone with it or use the MPOWERD app and you’re ready to go.

3. Earth-friendly, refillable propane tank

Propane bottles are often single-use products. Millions end up in landfills every year because most places won’t recycle them. So, for all of you car campers and van-lifers, you can keep it green this fall with the Ignik Gas Growler Deluxe. This easy to set up, 5-pound and refillable canister is cradled by an insulated case that keeps the tank warmer and therefore more efficient. It also connects to any propane appliance or stove, holds the equivalent of five bottles, and lasts five times longer. With this, you’ll be cooking camp dinners without polluting our world.

4. A portable coffeemaker

Grabbing coffee from a local shop comes with any good road trip, especially now that it’s pumpkin-spiced latte season. But what about those times you’re at camp or on the porch swing of a cozy rented cabin, cuddled together and waiting for the sun to peek up over the horizon? That’s where the Wacaco Minipresso GR comes in handy. Just boil some water and let this compact travel gadget brew up any variety of coffee bean or roast. If you’re driving and feel like a cup of tea while watching the colorful landscape roll by, the SUNSBELL Car Kettle Boiler will be your go-to. Simply plug it into your vehicle’s lighter outlet to boil some water and you’re good to go.

5. A car-sized air mattress

As the miles tick away and the hum of the tires on the road lull you into a comfy spell, chances are someone might get a little tired. So, if you’re the driver needing a break or just a sleepy passenger nodding off, take a nap in the backseat on the HAITRAL Portable Air Mattress. It fits most car models, comes with two pillows and when you wake up, you’ll be refreshed and ready to hit some trails or stroll the next town’s main drag.

6. A dual cellphone mount and charger

Keep your hands safely on the wheel during your journey with this cool device. The iOttie Dash and Windshield Mount supports all smartphone sizes, securely holding it in place and charging at the same time. Need to take it off when you stop? The one-touch release system allows you to do it with one finger. Be sure to also download those necessary apps before you leave: Waze for real-time traffic updates, Gasbuddy for cheap fuel, and SkyView Lite for those crisp nights staring up at the brilliant night sky.

Cheaptickets has not received compensation for these product endorsements.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Seasonal, Tips & advice, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Right before COVID-19 struck, the travel industry was the second-fastest growing sector in the world (after manufacturing) and contributed nearly $9 trillion to the global economy. That all changed this spring, however, as stay-at-home orders took effect and countless vacations were canceled around the world. But as the freeze on both domestic and even global travel begins to thaw, travel is making its way back—though it may not look the same as you remember it. As you’re looking forward to planning a trip this summer or fall, you can expect these six key experiences to be different.

RELATED: 10 amazing National Parks photos to inspire your next trip

Vacation rentals

If there’s one facet of travel that’s fared better than others, it’s this one. That’s probably because longer-stay vacation rentals, which you can book directly with CheaptTickets, host fewer visitors than hotel rooms on average, and there are fewer common spaces to share with other guests. Vacationers also have more control of the cleanliness of their accommodations, and you can expect heightened cleaning standards and more generous cancellation policies before booking your next stay. Although some regions are still closed to vacation rentals, there has been a surge in bookings this summer as people seek a safer escape from home.

Hotels and resorts

When lockdowns first began, many hotels reported fewer than 5% occupancy rates. Although those numbers have slowly risen, most hotels are still pulling out all the stops in terms of making guests feel safe and confident about their stays. How are they doing this? Free sack lunches have replaced breakfast buffets, pool deck chairs have been spaced out, and room cleanings and sanitations have been doubled, according to some reports. In fact, Marriott and Hilton, the world’s largest hoteliers, are now using ultraviolet lights and electrostatic sprayers during housekeeping to kill bacteria and viruses from guest rooms.

Theme parks

On a recent visit to Lagoon, a Utah theme park that was one of the first in the country to reopen, visitors experienced uber clean bathrooms, hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and a lot more park attendants than normal. That said, reservations, social distancing guidelines and face masks are required, so your visit won’t be like it was before. The upside is that park capacities are being seriously restricted now, which means you can do a lot more rides in less time than before.

National Parks

The good news is all are open again. The bad news: Many of the most popular areas are still closed, restricted or with limited access (i.e. pedestrian or biker access only). The Grand Canyon, for example, only recently opened the popular Canyon Rim Trail, after months of closure. Similarly, many visitor centers, museums and amenities remained closed around the nation. Nevertheless, many parks are reporting higher than normal crowds. Before visiting, be sure to visit the specific park website for the most up to date information.


Although airports and airplanes are no longer the ghost towns they were two months ago, they are nowhere near as crowded as they used to be. To keep customers safe, all major airlines require face masks to fly and now use high efficiency filters to keep cabin air as clean as a hospital. Some, like United, will start using electromagnetic foggers to disinfect planes arriving from abroad. That said, flight routes (especially direct ones) are less than half of what they used to be and schedules are subject to change at any given time as airlines continue to shift their fleets. What’s more, some states such as Hawaii and Maine still require 14-day hotel quarantining or proof of a negative COVID test before entering.

Road trips

If you want the most freedom and isolation, this is still your best bet. Along the way, you are sure to encounter much cleaner public restrooms and a lot of drive-thru dining options just like before (be sure to check local restrictions on indoor/outdoor dining, and pack a mask as many states require them to enter shops and eateries). In terms of booking hotels along the way, CheapTickets lets you read authentic user reviews that include reports on cleanliness and other factors. Also note that in some areas, landmarks and attractions may still be closed to the public, so check before adding a waypoint to your map.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, COVID-19, Flights, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and loyal dog.
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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

For the past few months, scrolling beautiful vacation pics from travels past has been a way to see the world without leaving home. Now as we’re gearing up to finally start traveling, we’re again looking to photography, this time to help guide our plans, and America’s National Parks with their unparalleled natural beauty are speaking volumes. If you’re looking to commune with nature in America’s wilds over the next few months, let these 10 photos from U.S. National Parks inspire you, and don’t forget to book great deals for your trip on CheapTickets!

RELATED: 12 great American roadside attractions

Angels Landing, Zion National Park: UT

If you’re afraid of heights, read no further. But if incredible 360-degree views of jagged towering spires and the canyons below sound worth a little calf pain, the Angels Landing day hike is definitely for you. (Not recommended for young kids.)

Artist’s Palette, Death Valley National Park: CA

Follow twisting Artist’s Drive past Badwater Basin to this multicolored hillside created from volcanic ash and minerals deposited millions of years ago. Time and the elements have turned them cool shades of green, pink and yellow, like a palette.

Clingman’s Dome, Smoky Mountains National Park: TN

It’s just a half-mile hike up to the top of Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. At the summit, about 6,643 feet above sea level, you’ll have access to the observation tower and, of course, views of mountain valleys and steep ridges below.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park: UT

A 2-3 hour hike takes you to this famous natural wonder set among giant domes of sandstone rock. Frame your photo of Delicate Arch perfectly from nearby Frame Arch, aka Twisted Donut Arch. Arrive around sunset for the most dramatic photos.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park: MT

Along this 50-mile road that crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass, you’ll marvel at deep valleys, glaciers, towering waterfalls and, depending on season, colorful wildflowers and all kinds of wildlife.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park: WY

Hard to believe the neon colors of the Grand Prismatic Hot Spring are the work of nature but they are, thanks to various species of microbes living in the progressively cooler water surrounding the spring.

Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon National Park: AZ

Pack your swimsuit—and a permit—for your hike to these stunning falls located on Havasupai tribal lands. Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, the waterfall  is famous for its gorgeous turquoise blue waters, perfect for a dip after a long hike.

Skull Rock, Joshua Tree National Park: CA

Next to its crooked namesake trees, Joshua Tree National Park’s most famous attraction is this massive granite rock that resembles a skull. It’s located right off the road but if you’re itching for a hike, opt for the 1.8-mile Skull Rock Nature Loop.

Wonder Lake, Denali National Park: AK

With the jagged peaks of Alaska Range in the background and cool, clear waters or Wonder Lake in the foreground, this is the essential Alaska postcard scene you’ve always dreamed of. It’s accessible by park bus. Be sure to watch for the park’s working sled dogs in winter. Tip: Bring bug spray to the lake in summer—mosquitos here are fierce!

Dry Tortugas National Park: FL

Dry Tortugas National Park almost 70 miles west of Key West is actually a cluster of islands that are only accessible by ferry, boat or seaplane. Activities at the park include exploring a 19th-century fort, camping, swimming and snorkeling crystal waters teeming with marine life.


Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Hawaii

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan

Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan

Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan

Latest posts by Monica Pedraja and Martina Sheehan (see all)

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

One of the best parts of any road trip is stopping along the way to see whatever quirky, cool roadside attractions await just off the highway. While most were created mid-century to attract traffic—and tourist dollars—into adjacent towns and businesses, America is now home to a whole range of roadside gems. Some of these landmarks have vintage charm (see the Mitchell Corn Palace), some claim to be the world’s largest something or other (see Swampy), some are true artistic wonders (Nevada’s Seven Magic Mountains), while some are just plain odd (the Cabazon Dinosaurs). But we love them all, and recommend you budget in some time on your next road trip to check out as many as you can. Your Insta will thank you!

RELATED: Great podcasts for every length of road trip

Cabazon Dinosaurs: Cabazon, CA

Cabazon Dinosaurs | Flickr CC: Sillars Class

If these two towering dinos off Interstate 10 outside Palm Springs look familiar, it might be from the 1985 film Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Knott’s Berry Farm theme park artist Claude Bell started building the dinos in 1968 to attract visitors to his adjacent restaurant, the Wheel Inn. Though the eatery shuttered in 2013, you can still visit the two steel-and-concrete dinos known as Dinny and Mr. Rex, though Dinny’s interior now serves as a creationist gift shop and museum.

Prada, Marfa: Marfa, TX

Prada Marfa | Flickr CC courtesy of Mobilus in Mobili

It’s hard to reach because it’s in the literal middle of nowhere, but it also hard to miss given that it’s surrounded by nothing but vast desert expanse. Nevertheless, this Prada store replica right off U.S. Highway 90 is every road tripper’s dream prize thanks to its exacting detail (yes, you will see shoes and handbags through the window), its photo-readiness and its proximity to artsy Marfa which, be forewarned, is still another 26 miles up the road!

World’s Largest Six-Pack: La Crosse, WI

World’s Largest Six Pack | Flickr CC courtesy of Ben Tesch

We don’t care what your tolerance level is, there’s no way you could polish off this many suds. We know this because this replica six-pack initially constructed at the G. Heileman Brewery in La Crosse in 1969, but sold to another beverage manufacturer 30 years later, is large enough to contain 7 million 12-ounce cans! Today the cans promote LaCrosse Lager, but still make for an excellent photo op and worthy detour for motorists trekking between Chicago and Minneapolis.

Christ of the Ozarks: Eureka Springs, AR

Christ of the Ozarks | Flickr CC courtesy of Balaji

Eureka Springs is one of our favorite small towns. Within city limits there are no traffic lights and no two streets intersect at a 90-degree angle. There’s also a hotel built into the side of a mountain (so that every floor is a ground floor), Thorncrown Chapel (made entirely of glass) and much more. But looming large over the entire area is this 20-meter statue of Christ constructed in 1966 as part of a religious campus that also includes the seasonal Great Passion Play.

Salvation Mountain: Niland, CA

Salvation Mountain | Flickr CC courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Located south of I-10 in Southern California near the Salton Sea, this monument to god’s love leans more folk art than roadside attraction, but it’s a must-see nonetheless. Inspired by god, Leonard Knight began creating the visionary mountain environment in 1984, but had to rebuild it completely of haybales and adobe after the first iteration collapsed. While the artist passed away in 2014, the site is still maintained by his friends and makes for an excellent stop on any Palm Springs or Joshua Tree road trip.

Lucy the Elephant: Margate, NJ

Lucy the Elephant, Atlantic City

Lucy the elephant | Flickr photo courtesy of Jim McIntosh

This is the only elephant that we’ll allow to be kept in activity. A Jersey Shore icon, this oversized pachyderm was built in 1881 in the nearby town of Margate (formerly South Atlantic City) and just a few miles south of the famed Boardwalk. Formerly both a private residence and restaurant, she is now a museum and local attraction. Climb the stairs for a panoramic view atop Lucy’s back.

Cadillac Ranch: Amarillo, TX

Cadillac Ranch | Flickr CC courtesy of Mobilus in Mobili

This row of ten mid-century Cadillacs half buried in the ground along the Mother Road is probably the mother of all modern American road side attractions. You’ll find Cadillac Ranch’s line of heavily spray painted vehicles along old Route 66 west of Amarillo, where a group of Bay Area art-hippies called The Ant Farm teamed up with eccentric local millionaire Stanley Marsh III to create the baffling—and highly Insta-worthy—art installation in 1974.

World’s Largest Picnic Basket: Newark, OH

Photo courtesy of Jason Heidemann

This roadside attraction in Newark, about 40 minutes outside of Columbus, will beg you to utter the phrase, “Nice basket!” Constructed in 1997, Ohio’s “Big Basket” is the onetime headquarters of the Longaberger Basket Company, which moved its last employees out of the building and into a nearby manufacturing plant in 2016. The building’s future is uncertain, but for now it remains a cool photo op (maybe a trick shot where it looks like you’re holding the basket?).

Seven Magic Mountains: Jean, NV

Seven Magic Mountains | Flickr CC courtesy of Thomas

These neon stacked boulders near I-15 just ten miles south of Las Vegas are by far one of the newest attractions on this list, having been created in 2016 by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. The seven painted towers, which create a beautiful contrast to their drab desert backdrop, were meant to be a temporary art installation, but they proved so popular that the exhibit was extended indefinitely. Make this your escape from the lights and action of the Strip on your next Vegas trip!

Blue Whale of Catoosa: Catoosa, OK

Photo courtesy of Jason Heidemann

Route 66  is a thrilling rush of a road trip from downtown Chicago to the Santa Monica Pier, but it gets slightly dull right around eastern Oklahoma, that is until you come upon this partially submerged beast constructed in the early ’70s as an anniversary gift from husband to wife. Now a bona fide attraction featuring a picnic area, it makes for a nice photo op en route to another Route 66 icon—Pops Arcadia, a soda ranch just outside Oklahoma City.

Mitchell Corn Palace: Mitchell, SD

Mitchell Corn Palace | Flickr CC courtesy of Scott Robinson

The many signs along Interstate 90 in South Dakota touting the “World’s Only Corn Palace” may have tempted you on road trips past, and if you haven’t indulged before, plan on indulging next time. First built in 1892, this kitschy but classic Midwest roadside attraction was built to show off the town of Mitchell’s agricultural offerings. While the Moorish Revival building isn’t actually built of corn, its exterior is adorned with impressive murals made of grains that are redesigned and reconstructed every year.

“Swampy” the World’s Largest Alligator: Christmas, FL

Swampy’s World’s Largest Alligator | Flickr CC courtesy of Jared

When it comes to roadside attractions, they’re often preceded by the phrase “world’s largest.” Well, Swampy the Alligator in Christmas, Florida, right along Highway 192, is no exception. The 200-foot-long attraction actually houses the offices, gift shop and ticket counter of Jungle Adventures Nature Animal Park, a gator farm attraction. If Swampy is your kind of thing and you happen to be in this part of Central Florida, you’re in luck—Highway 192 is also home to other quirky roadside attractions like Merlin the wizard, mermaids, giant golf balls and the self-proclaimed “world’s largest gift shop.”

Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Road trip radio can be like roulette. Either there’s nothing good on or, just as the first great song in a half hour comes on, you drop into a valley or get blocked by a bunch of trees and boom—nothing but static. To save you from that fate, we’ve compiled a list of great podcasts for every length that will keep you interested and alert, no matter how many miles you have left to go on your road trip.

RELATED: Vote up! What’s the best travel song ever?

Day trips (4 hours or less):

Overheard at National Geographic: Peter Gwin and Amy Brigg’s incredible stories about Pompeii, crystal caves 1,000 feet below the Earth’s surface or an island inhabited by zombie mice are sure to get you pumped for your day’s adventure.

The NPR Politics Podcast: Hosted by a variety of political reporters from one of the top news agencies in the US, NPR’s Politics Podcast is perfect for catching up on the news while getting context for why it matters. Shorter episodes make for easy listening on quick trips.

Ear Hustle: Ear Hustle is at times sobering, uplifting, funny and hopeful, but always fascinating. Hosts Earlonne Woods and Nigel Poor present an unflinchingly honest look inside San Quentin State Prison and at the lives of prisoners after release.

Weekend Getaways (4-10 hours):

Dirty John: An interior designer falls for a handsome doctor with a big smile and an exciting backstory. As his past and his secrets are uncovered, she’s pulled down a dark, twisted road with love, deceit and danger at every curve. “Dirty John” will have you riveted from start to finish and, with a total run time just under six hours, it’s the perfect length for a weekend road trip.

My Favorite Murder: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark add wit and humor to an otherwise grisly subject, as they discuss stories of murders, hometown crimes and harrowing survival. It’s a recipe sure to keep you alert and entertained on your next getaway.

Joe Exotic: Tiger King: If you, like us, spent your quarantine following the exploits of the colorful big cat handler, this one’s for you. Journalist Robert Moor’s fresh perspective on Joe Exotic, Carol Baskin and the outlandish cast of characters surrounding them will keep you on the edge of your seat while the miles roll by and the drama unfolds.

Long Hauls (10+ hours):

Ask Iliza Anything: Comedian Iliza Shlesinger will have you laughing through any long-haul trip as she answers listener questions about psycho exes, questionable fashion and how to keep the neighbors from stealing your cucumbers.

Zero Blog Thirty: With weird military news, stories of unbelievable combat heroism and bomb sniffing dolphins, Barstool’s military humor podcast is cross-country bingeable for everyone.

Shame on You: Canadian gay dudes Jordan and Brad offer a healthy dose of relationship reality in their “unapologetic guide to giving zero f*cks.” It’s an uplifting podcast that’ll keep you going, even if you have to drive across Kansas.


Tagged: Uncategorized

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Zach Cunning

Zach Cunning

Zach’s love of travel has led to him walking Roman roads along the Camino de Santiago, bartending throughout South America, surfing the Atlantic coast of Morocco and teaching backpackers everywhere the fine art of shaking up the perfect margarita. When he’s not traveling, Zach lives, works and studies in Chicago.