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Hotel Deals for SeaTac
Seatac Inn and Airport Parking
Apr 19 - Apr 19, 2019
per night from
$ 144
$ 72

Heading to Seattle? How about venturing out and hitting the open road while you’re there? We’ve designed a Washington State road trip that loops in the Olympic Peninsula’s best restaurants, attractions and natural wonders, so grab your hiking boots and get ready for the ultimate getaway!

RELATED: The ultimate music lover’s guide to Seattle

Day 1

Seattle | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, rent a car and hop on the Bainbridge Island car ferry to charming and forested Bainbridge Island. Make sure to walk around on deck so that you may enjoy the view of mighty Mount Rainier towering above the Seattle skyline as you cruise across the Puget Sound.

EAT Your well-deserved reward at the end of the ferry ride is Doc’s Marina Grill, offering American classics and 10 beers on tap. Sip a cold brew and munch on a hearty burger while relaxing on the deck and taking in the harbor view.

STAY Head to the quaint little community of Poulsbo (pronounced Paulsbo) and then get settled at no-fuss Guesthouse Poulsbo. The mountain-cut skyline and glimmering Liberty Bay offer an exquisite backdrop to an easygoing evening.

Day 2

Olympic National Park | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Wake up, it’s your National Park day! Drive to Olympic National Park by way of Port Angeles, your home base and the largest city in the county. From Port Angeles, head south on Hurricane Ridge Road to Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. From here, pick up a regional trail map and head out on a hike or two.

EAT After a day in the mountains, head back to Port Angeles and catch a hot meal at Downriggers on the Water and fill up on fresh seafood while enjoying the sea breeze and setting sun. Think Doc’s Marina Grill, but with even more beers on tap!

STAY To be close to all of the action without a crazy price tag, check out the Riveria Inn Motel.  Rooms are simple but clean, and the staff is super friendly! You’ll be walking the distance to restaurants downtown so you don’t have to worry about parking.

ALSO: Explore, earn, repeat—sign up for CheapCash to save big on your next Washington vacation!

Day 3

Rialto Beach | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Head to Washington’s west coast and check out the little town of La Push. This village is located on the mouth of the Quillayute River and parts of the town are technically still parts of Olympic National Park. For sunbathing and scenery, head north to Rialto Beach, or the aptly named First, Second, and Third Beaches. For an unforgettable fishing trip, book a tour with All Ways Fishing.

EAT Check out River’s Edge Restaurant located on the pier, featuring a spectacular seaside view. Alternatively, High Tide Seafood fish market across the street offers a few freshly cooked dishes for you to try. It’s mostly a direct-to-consumer market, but you can definitely find a few bites while you’re there.

STAY Sleep at Quileute Beach Resort. This property is unique in that it’s located on Quileute tribal land, and because of this, property owners ask that visitors respect the privacy of the area and to capture photos or video only for personal use. Quileute Beach Resort has a pool, three restaurants, a spa and more. Plus, it’s only 2 miles from Chance A La Mer State Park and 3 miles from Pacific Paradise Family Fun Center, making it an ideal stop for a family trip.

Day 4

Quinault Rain Forest | Photo by Caroline Lupini

Enjoy a mix of coastal and mountain drives as you take the 101 south from Forks to Aberdeen. Stop at Lake Quinault to stretch your legs on a wealth of trails such as Quinault Rain Forest and Lake Lane. When you get to Aberdeen, visit Kurt Cobain Memorial Park (also called Kurt Cobain Landing) as Aberdeen was the childhood home of the famous musician.

EAT For yet another easygoing atmosphere with great beers, check out The Tap Room. Expect typical bar eats and original craft brews, plus live music on some Saturdays. Try a variety of Washington brews and maybe even catch a few up-and-coming musical artists.

STAY Aberdeen is a larger town and has a wealth of regular chain hotels, so you have a number of options here. One of the higher rated hotels is the Best Western Plus Aberdeen, but there are a number of less expensive options, as well. 

Day 5

Olympia, Washington

On your way back to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, don’t miss a stop in Olympia. While this booming metropolis is the state capital, as well as a university town, it still features tranquil natural spaces. Stretch your legs in Interpretive Park before getting back into the car and heading to the airport.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Seasonal, seattle, Types of Travel

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You might not be able to follow your favorite band across the country anymore, but any music aficionado will appreciate a road trip that comes armed with its own soundtrack. Embark on a tour (sans roadies) of American music meccas Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans, stopping at destinations like legendary recording studios where seminal songs were tracked or historic concerts halls that embrace the traditions of bygone eras. Pack up your gear, queue up a playlist and experience blues, rock, jazz and more on this musical journey through the American South.

RELATED: The ultimate Texas best barbecue road trip


There’s no better place to start your road trip than in Music City itself. Begin your visit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can learn about the artists who turned this Tennessee town into a central hub of the American music industry. While you’re there, visit RCA Studio B and tour the recording studio used by Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Chet Atkins that helped foster the “Nashville Sound.” Create a hit of your own at Third Man Records (owned by former White Stripes frontman Jack White), where you can sit down in the shop’s Record Booth and cut a 6-inch phonograph disc. Cap off the day by taking in a show at the historic Ryman Auditorium, the church-like venue that was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry concert series and still hosts performances from contemporary country, bluegrass and Americana stars.

Sun Studio | Flickr CC: James Adamson


Move on from the capital of country to the birthplace of rock ‘n roll by heading south to Memphis. Start your visit with a tour of Sun Studio, the recording studio and record label that gave the world Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. Pay tribute to Presley by making a pilgrimage to Graceland, where the artist’s Memphis estate has been converted into a museum and entertainment complex, complete with its own hotel (The Guest House at Graceland). For a meal fit for the King, head to the Arcade Restaurant, a diner that Elvis once frequented—yes, there’s a peanut butter and banana sandwich on the menu.

ALSO: Loads of travel rewards will be music to your ears when you join Orbitz Rewards!

Delta Blues Museum | Flickr CC: Visit Mississippi


When legendary bluesman Robert Johnson sang about going down to the crossroads, there’s a good chance he was referring to the intersection of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Johnson was just one of the small town’s numerous notable residents—musicians Muddy Waters, Ike Turner, Sam Cooke and actor Morgan Freeman have also called Clarksdale home. The area’s most popular attraction is the Delta Blues Museum, which provides a crash course in the genre through exhibits devoted to musicians like John Lee Hooker and Son House. You’ll also find several historical markers that are part of the Mississippi Blues Trail, including one in front of the Riverside Hotel—a popular place for traveling blues musicians to crash. Once you’ve soaked up enough history, end the day at the Ground Zero Blues Club, an authentic juke joint that hosts live music Wednesday through Saturday.

Fame Recording Studio | Flickr CC: Ralph Daily

Muscle Shoals

The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin are just a few of the famous musicians who have stopped through this Alabama town to record at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. The studio recently opened its doors to the public after an extensive renovation, so you can stop by for a tour (first come, first served) seven days a week. Nearby, you’ll find FAME Studios, another local recording facility that attracted artists like Wilson Pickett, John Prine and Paul Simon. While you can’t take a tour of the building, you can drive by the parking lot where Duane Allman (of the Allman Brothers) once camped during his band’s recording sessions.

Preservation Hall | Flickr CC: Infrogmation of New Orleans

New Orleans

If you can avoid being distracted by the parades, Cajun cuisine and Bourbon Street antics, you’ll find the Big Easy bursting with musical destinations. Start at the New Orleans Jazz Museum (housed inside the Old U.S. Mint), where you’ll find a formidable collection of jazz memorabilia, including Louis Armstrong’s first cornet. Pick up some listening material for your journey home at Peaches Records, a family-owned shop that’s stocked with plenty of Louisiana jazz and hip-hop LPs, tapes and CDs. Venture into the French Quarter and finish the evening at the historic Preservation Hall, where at least three sets of traditional New Orleans Jazz are on the calendar every night.



Tagged: Destinations, Events, Music, New Orleans

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Hotel Deals for Studio City
El Royale Hotel Near Universal Studios Hollywood
Apr 19 - Apr 19, 2019
per night from
$ 380
$ 167.2

Visitors to California arrive in droves to gawk at celebrities, snap a selfie with Mickey, ride a cable car and so much more. But many come for one reason alone—to lie on the beach. The Golden State is blessed with 840 miles of vainglorious coastline, from sun-kissed beaches in the Southland to misty, moody seashores up north and the best way to see them all is a nose to tail trip in a convertible, a Jeep or a VW Bug. This dream road trip detours around a swath of the Central Coast (due to a winter bridge outage and recent mudslide in Big Sur), but we promise this coastal ride still fulfills every beachcomber’s fantasy.

RELATED: The coolest California beach towns you’ve never heard of

Ocean Beach, San Diego, beaches

Ocean Beach | Flickr photo by Brian Roberts

Ocean Beach: San Diego
Meet the crunchy cool sibling of San Diego beaches. Unlike flashier Mission and Pacific Beaches, funky OB sports a chill, throwback vibe. Folks love its gorgeous peer, cluster of chill bars, eateries and antique shops centered around Newport Avenue and applause worthy sunsets. It’s less rowdy than its nearby counterparts and also boasts close proximity to off-leash Dog Beach a short walk away.

Black's Beach, San Diego, California

Black’s Beach | Flickr photo by Tristan Ginger

Black’s Beach: LaJolla
Tucked underneath UCSD’s studious campus is large and sprawling Black’s, probably the most famous clothing optional beach in America. A trail beginning near the Torrey Pines Glider Port dumps visitors right into the heart of the beach which attracts upwards of a thousand visitors on summer weekends (gays favor the north end.) The water is heavenly in summer and the waves are surf ready, but wear sunscreen: The SoCal sun will smack your naked booty hard.

San Onofre State Beach, Orange County, surfing, beaches

San Onofre State Beach | Flickr photo by Roger Howard

San Onofre State Beach (Trestles): San Clemente
It may not call itself Surf City USA (that title belongs to Huntington Beach further up the Orange County coastline), but this collection of surf spots near picturesque San Clemente are perhaps the most famous in the entire state. Accessible via a 15-minute walk through a nature trail, this surfer’s paradise is famous for easy paddle outs and perfect peeling left and right handers. Spending the night? Park your vintage VW Bug at San Onofre State Beach Campground.

Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California

Venice Beach

Venice Beach: Los Angeles
Everything you’ve heard about L.A.’s most fabled beach community is true. Fun and funky boardwalk? Check. Street artists pedaling their wares? Check. Boozy cafes, muscle heads, bikini-clad babes? Check, check and check. No longer the scruffy nabe it was 20 years ago thanks to its impeccable canals, bumping beach scene and chic shops along Abbot-Kinney, a Venice visit is essential Los Angeles.

ALSO: Think you can afford a trip like this without first earning some CheapCash? Beach, please.

El Matador State Beach, California, beaches, Malibu

El Matador | Flickr photo by ™ Pacheco

El Matador: Malibu
A mythologized paradise that belongs as much to everyday beach bums as it is does to the rich and famous who live among its hilltops, long and lanky Malibu is first and foremost a sun-worshipper’s playground. Surfers catch a swell a the aptly named Surfider Beach, while families head for Zuma. Skip both in favor of rugged El Matador featuring large boulders, cool rock formations and sea caves. Wait for the magic hour to snap that dream selfie.

Butterfly Beach, Santa Barbara, beaches, sunset

Butterfly Beach | Photo by Compass + Twine

Butterfly Beach: Santa Barbara
Technically in nearby Montecito, pretty Butterfly Beach is famous locally for its sunrises and sunsets—meaning that it’s pretty much awesome morning, noon and (early) night. It also happens to be near the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort so prepare for some serious people watching. Afterward, make the short drive (or long walk) to a wine bar or al fresco eatery in Santa Barbara’s buzzy Funk Zone.

Cayucos, beaches, California

Cayucos Pier | Photo by Fred Moore

Cayucos State Beach
As millionaires and billionaires continue to snatch up every last piece of real estate on the California coast, the undiscovered beach town is quickly becoming an endangered species. Despite all this this, diminutive Central Coast gem Cayucos remains delightfully sleepy—a throwback to a vanishing California. The beach and pier are perfectly pleasant and the charming downtown sports a bit of an Old West vibe. Don’t miss fish tacos at Ruddell’s Smokehouse.

Santa Cruz Boardwalk, California, beaches

Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: Santa Cruz
Since Northern California weather doesn’t always cooperate, it’s nice to have a beach backup plan and in this case that plan includes funnel cakes, black light miniature golf and the largest wooden roller coaster on the West Coast—all against a stunning  mountain backdrop. A family-friendly destination for sure, but also a frenzied fun beach scene in California’s crunchiest coastal college town.

Baker Beach, San Francisco, California

Baker Beach | Photo courtesy of Mills Baker

Baker Beach: San Francisco
If your impression of San Francisco is that of an egalitarian love fest, the vibe at its favorite beach best exemplifies it. Although the water is chilly year round, mile-long Baker has something for everyone; families love the facilities, picnic tables and exploring the abandoned military installation, while singles favor the chill (and clothing-optional north end). The Golden Gate Bridge views are priceless.

Goat Rock Beach, Sonoma County, California, beaches

Goat Rock Beach | Flickr photo by Nick Quaranto

Goat Rock Beach: Sonoma County
Unless the weather Gods happen to be cooperating, this road trip ends on a chilly note, but that’s exactly why we like it. Instead of laying out, bundle up in a sweater with picnic basket and bottle (from a nearby winery) in hand and admire the gorgeous rock formations, lush surroundings, nearby mouth of the Russian River and fellow beachgoers—and by that we mean seals and sea otters.



Tagged: California

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While you’ll certainly find pulled pork, ribs and other types of barbecued meat around Texas, the Lone Star State’s barbecue is centered on tender slices of brisket and plump sausages, the contribution of German and Czech butchers. Destination-worthy barbecue is available across the state, in major cities like Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio, as well as smaller towns between them. It’s the perfect food for a road trip—order some brisket and sausages to share, balance them out with zippy pickles, raw onions and other accompaniments, then hop back in the car. By the time you reach your next destination, you’ll be hungry again.

RELATED: These are America’s most underrated food cities


Lockhart Smokehouse
Lockhart Smokehouse pays homage to the classic Lockhart barbecue joints, with Kreuz sausages, butcher paper and other hallmarks of the old-school spots. But Lockhart adds its own spin to classic dishes—sides include brisket deviled eggs and blue cheese slaw. Specials have ranged from leg of lamb to pit ham to barbecued salmon. It’s all in the spirit of classic barbecue, but with creative, delicious touches.

Pecan Lodge | Photo courtesy of @lafaveron

Pecan Lodge
Dallas’ Pecan Lodge made the leap from a farmers’ market stall to permanent location, and though the lines remain, the food is still worth the wait. Start with perfectly executed brisket and handmade jalapeño sausage, before moving onto Southern fried chicken or a “hot mess,” a sea salt-encrusted sweet potato with shredded seasoned brisket, chipotle cream, cheese and green onions.


Franklin Barbecue
The best-known Texas barbecue spot is Franklin, the lunch-only spot in downtown Austin that attracts hours-long lines. There’s no disputing that it’s a required stop on a comprehensive Texas barbecue crawl, so some tips for easing the wait: Go during the week, bring chairs, and designate one member of your team for breakfast taco and coffee runs. Don’t eat too much though—you’ll want to fill up on as much luscious brisket, snappy sausage and espresso barbecue sauce as possible.

La Barbecue | Photo courtesy of @manta_haig

La Barbecue
Food trucks are huge in Austin, and some of the city’s best barbecue comes from one. Head to La Barbecue and park yourself at a picnic table for tender, fatty brisket, plump, juicy sausages and a paper boat full of dill pickles. There’s usually a wait, but on weekends, La Barbecue eases the wait with free beer. You can also BYOB, and there’s a market just across the street that sells local canned beers.


Black’s Barbecue
Lockhart may be a small town, but it’s a major Texas barbecue center. One of the top spots is Black’s, which opened in 1932. Beyond the brisket, which has a terrific bark, the menu includes both pork and beef ribs, barbecue chicken and smoked pork chops, plus garlic and jalapeno-cheddar sausages. You’ll also find cheap local brews, red-and-white checked tablecloths on picnic tables and the kind of ambiance that makes you just want to hang out for a while.

Black’s Barbecue | Photo courtesy of @la_beretta

Kreuz Market
Another Lockhart institution, Kreuz Market serves great brisket, fat sausages and more unexpected items, like smoked boneless prime rib and jalapeño dry-cured sausage. Don’t worry though–this place isn’t fancy. The meat comes piled on butcher paper with a thick stack of white bread slices, sleeves of saltines, pickles and raw onions—everything you need for the ultimate Texas barbecue experience.

ALSO: CheapCash has got sauce! Earn instantly towards hotels when you book your flight.

San Antonio

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew
Located in the Pearl, the former Pearl Brewing Company, the Granary is a traditional barbecue spot for lunch, while dinner takes inspiration from barbecue and global flavors for its composed dishes. For lunch, build a plate with brisket, sausage and burnt-end baked beans, then go back for dinner to try smoked octopus with morcilla, Texas toast with barbecue butter and brisket ramen with barbecue shallots.

Two Brothers | Photo courtesy of @mcsessions

Two Bros. BBQ Market
If there’s a barbecue joint that encourages lingering, it’s Two Bros., which has a sprawling patio, a bocce ball court and live music on weekends. Of course, there’s also brisket, cherry-glazed baby back ribs, bacon-wrapped smoked stuffed jalapeños and chopped beef Frito pie. Order a few things and settle in for the afternoon.

Houston Area

Gatlin’s BBQ and Catering
The family-run spot’s motto is “Where love is the secret ingredient,” and whether it’s love or superior barbecue skills, it’s clear there’s something that sets the food at Gatlin’s apart. Get the Texas Two-Step, a platter of brisket and sausage (and opt for spicy or venison sausage to mix things up), and add some smoked corn, collard greens or cult-favorite spicy dirty rice to round out the meal.

Corkscrew | Photo courtesy of @stephen.fuller.austin

CorkScrew BBQ
Head outside the city to Spring, where CorkScrew BBQ serves some of the best Houston-area ‘cue. After years at a black and pink trailer with outdoor seating, they relocated to this brick-and-mortar spot. Lunch is your best bet, since they still sell out early, and go hungry—beyond barbecue staples, you’ll want to try the smoked turkey, giant pulled pork-topped potato and tacos stuffed with meat, cabbage and green chile ranch.


Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink, Texas

Amy Cavanaugh

Amy Cavanaugh

Amy is Senior Editor at Plate Magazine, where she covers chefs and bartenders across the country. Based in Chicago, she has also written for Time Out Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Serious Eats and Saveur.
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Before you trade in that student ID for a corporate badge, here are seven safe, affordable destinations where the dress code is nothing but casual. From hiking volcanoes to snorkeling with technicolor underwater life to kicking back with a cold beer, we’ll keep it easy on the wallet.

RELATED: 9 gorgeous hostels in Europe starting at $9

Reykjavik, Iceland

The post-graduation month of June is a great time to visit the land of fire and ice, where the temperature is pleasant and the days are long. Reykjavik is a hotspot for thrill-seeking Millennials with a long list of never-ending adventures like snowmobiling, glacier hiking and even descending into a volcano. Budget-conscious travelers will appreciate that it’s a small, walkable city, but hop-on/hop-off buses are another great way to get around. Reykjavik Excursions offers “bus passports” with routes all around and outside of the city, including the Ring Road, a scenic loop of the island.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s abundant natural landscape offers tons of free outdoor activities like hiking through the cloud forests and the coffee plantations of Monteverde—and you’ll probably even spot a few monkeys. If you want to experience the death-defying zipline through the forest, it will cost you a pretty penny, so save your money and take the local bus to Playa Tamarindo, where you can surf all day and party all night. The Tiquicia Lodge in capital city San Juan offers great budget accommodations with breakfast included. Plan to eat at sodas, local family-run restaurants that serve a hearty plate of Costa Rican cuisine for just a few bucks.

Phuket, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

After you’ve sprung for the big-ticket airfare, Thailand becomes an incredible bargain. Look to Phuket, a beach lover’s dream with more than 36 sandy beaches, where all you need is a comfy towel and snorkel. Tint at Phuket Town, a great budget hotel, offers free internet for uploading all those great photos and checking in on social media. Tasty street food vendors let you fill your belly on a dime. If you’re looking for an inexpensive day trip, take the ferry to Phi Phi Island or visit the marine national park at Phang Nga.

RELATED: 14 songs you’ll only know if you’re a backpacker.

Grindelwald switzerland

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Spend a week in picturesque Grindelwald in the Jungfrau Region, where the only gear you need are hiking shoes. While Switzerland overall can be pretty pricey, the Mountain Hostel won’t break your budget, and it’s the perfect jumping off spot for the region’s multitude of challenging hiking trails. Make sure to visit Gletscherschlucht, a glacial gorge with walking paths and waterfalls. You’ll need to purchase a Swiss Pass to explore the area via trains and cable cars. If you’re able to indulge a bit, add the world-famous Top of Europe Tour to your pass, a cogwheel train that takes you to the highest station in Europe that will leave you with views that last a lifetime.

Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

Great Barrier Reef
Put all those science credits to use and visit the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the world. You might be surprised to hear that snorkeling the reef is not only cheaper, but offers the same breathtaking experience as a more expensive scuba dive. Half Day Tours and Reef Trip both offer budget tours that will transport you to the best areas. Don’t worry if you blow your budget on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you can spend the rest of your trip taking advantage of the great free offerings in this part of Queensland. On the Esplanade right in the center of Cairns, there’s a picturesque lagoon that’s a great place to cool off and wile away the day listening to live music. Just a short drive away you’ll find Stoney Creek Falls, a free secret hideaway nestled within the rainforest with fresh water swimming holes, rock jumps and waterfalls. Because this is backpacker central, budget accommodations abound.

ALSO: Adulting 101: Booking your flight on CheapTickets and automatically earning CheapCash towards a hotel!

Yellowstone National Park | Flickr photo courtesy of Always Shooting

U.S. National Parks Tour
If airfare isn’t in your post-graduation budget, gas up your car, grab a backpack and head west. If you’re looking to rough it and experience the great outdoors, the Northern Rockies are the place to go. Plan to spend a couple of days in each park, starting at the local park ranger station where you can take advantage of free daily guided walks to get a lay of the land. Grand Teton National Park has more hiking trails than you can conquer and is dotted with lakes, canyons, and peaks. Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, offers a different kind of wild life than you saw in college—you’ll see everything from bears to buffalo. Stay at the historic, yet budget-friendly, Old Faithful Inn (book early), the largest log structure in the world, where you can actually watch Old Faithful erupt from the cafeteria. End this epic adventure at Glacier National Park and spend the night in an authentic tepee at the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Florida Keys, Overseas Highway

The Overseas Highway | Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau

The Florida Keys
Margaritaville awaits you along this 113-mile stretch of highway where you’ll see some of the most picturesque beaches, dotted with kitschy roadside attractions and old-school seafood shacks. Trade in your travel itinerary for flip-flops because the Keys give casual a whole new meaning. Plan to just drive and stop on a whim anywhere along the route and chances are you’ll find a roadside stand where you can snorkel, kayak or just enjoy a cold beer.

You might want to park and walk across the famous Seven Mile Bridge that connects the Middle Keys with the Lower Keys because the turquoise blue waters make the perfect backdrop for a selfie. Drop your gear at the Seashell Motel & Hostel in Key West and head for the beach to swim with sea turtles, nurse sharks, parrot fish, and spiny lobsters all along the shallow reefs. If you’re not burned out on history, visit Ernest Hemingway’s home from the 1920s and see the colony of six-toed cats.


Tagged: Florida, Top 10 list

Beth Graham

Beth Graham

Beth Graham

Latest posts by Beth Graham (see all)

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Rewards programs and memberships can seem like a scam, and plenty of them are. But some are actually pretty legit, and could prove beneficial, especially during trip planning, and it can pay to not let your eyes glaze over at the checkout line. Booking trips is a lot more fun when it’s not putting such a huge dent in your wallet. So next time the clerk is making a pitch for you to join her company’s rewards program, pay attention. It could save you some serious cash. Here’s a look at five rewards programs or memberships that could make your upcoming trip slightly less expensive.


Courtesy of Veggiefrog.

Courtesy of Veggiefrog.

REI membership — $20

Heading out for some adventure? Becoming an REI member will likely be beneficial for all your outdoorsy needs. It costs $20 to join, and it’s worth it, as members are held in high regard at this company. Each March, members get 10 percent back on almost all the purchases they made at REI that year. So if you plan on forking out $200 for equipment, the membership has paid for itself. Members also enjoy discounts on trips and excursions booked through REI, and in-store discounts, including bike and ski shop services. Some ski resorts also offer discounted lift tickets to REI members. REI has a great return policy in general, but being a member makes taking equipment back even easier. So if your hiking boots wore out a little too quickly or the hiking pants you bought didn’t fit like you thought they would, REI will take care of you.


Courtsy of Wetwebwork.

Courtsy of Wetwebwork.

Spotify Premium — $9.99

What’s a trip without some quality tunes? Spotify is available for free, but for your travels you’ll likely want to invest in Premium. It allows you to stream music without an internet connection, which is key when traveling to far-flung places. It’s $9.99 a month, and those intervals will make it easy to cancel if you want to just sign up for the service during your trip only. You can try it for free for 30 days, and students get a 50 percent discount.


Courtesy of Josué Goge.

Courtesy of Josué Goge.

Barnes & Noble membership — $25

If you’re beach bound and need a some good reads to take with you, a Barnes & Noble membership may be the way to go, especially if you aren’t the type of person that likes to wait for new best sellers to come out in paperback. It costs $25 a year to be a B&N member,and perks include 40 percent of hardcover best sellers, 10 percent off almost everything else (including treats at the cafe), and free shipping in under three days. Be careful though — the membership automatically renews each year, so remember to cancel if you only want in for 12 months.


Courtesy of Xlibber.

Courtesy of Xlibber.

Cheap Tickets rewards program (CheapCa$h) — Free

One of the best things about flight reward programs is that it costs you nothing more than you were already going to spend. Cheap Tickets’ reward program CheapCash gives you what they call CheapCash every time you book a flight. You can then turn around and use that CheapCash on hotel bookings. You have to use the CheapCash within 30 days, but there’s literally no downside to this one. Make sure to keep checking their website for special deals and promotions, which run often. PROMO CODE HERE?


CTIXblog CTA _ cheapcash

Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Flights, FREE!, Last minute travel, Tips & advice

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When it comes to traveling cheaply, no one can do it quite like your grandparents. Pack up the suitcase (they shared one), grab the map, Grandpa sticks a couple 20s in his back pocket and they’re off. As an ode to all the grandparents in our lives and the era of cheap travel they were raised in, we’re going to take a page out of their books and road trip right. We of course adjusted some of these tips for a younger audience, so let’s see if you inherited that gasoline in your veins.

Courtesy of Erica Yeater

Courtesy of Erica Yeater

Make PB&J sandwiches a staple—Eat them all day, every day. Pack a loaf of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly, and you’ve got most of your meals on this trip taken care of for less than $5. And with rest area picnic tables abounding, you should have no trouble finding somewhere to set up shop.


Courtesy of Sheila Scarborough.

Courtesy of Sheila Scarborough.

Don’t be afraid to use that senior discount—Most 55-year-olds awake one morning to find a packet from AARP in their mailbox, beckoning them to sign up and receive discounts out the wazoo. Those go a long way in keeping the price for hotels down on a road trip. Since most of us planning cheap road trips are probably closer to being seniors in college than senior citizens, try AAA or your student ID. Hotels often offer AAA members discounts, and students can usually get into exhibits and museums for less.


Make friends along the way—What? That’s the cheapest room you have? Where did you say you were from again? Oh Albuquerque! Well I had a cousin Margie that used to live in Albuquerque, right across the street from that cute little supermarket. No way, your uncle used to run the supermarket!?! Small world! You found a cheaper room for us, did you? Well you tell your uncle that Margie’s cousin from Ohio says hello.

If you are anything like most grandmas, you know someone everywhere. Play the name game and use those connections, and watch the results pile up in the form of dolla bills.



Courtesy of David Goehring.

Pack lots of snacks—And avoid those pesky, overpriced vending machines at rest areas. They’ll run ya dry.


Courtesy of David Brossard.

Courtesy of David Brossard.

Never buy bottled water—Bring your own jugs or better yet, horde some ice from the hotel ice machine and let it melt overnight. If that seems a little old-fashioned for you, just bring a reusable water bottle and fill it up as you go. It’s more eco-friendly that way, anyway.


 Courtesy of Dyxie.

Courtesy of Dyxie.

Keep plans loose—If the town you planned to stay in one night seems a little crowded, don’t be afraid to interrupt your itinerary. You’ll likely find a cheaper motel to stay in at the next exit.

roll-away-beds Ask about the rollaway—Grandparents traveling with a gaggle of grandchildren rely heavily on these portable beds. Stick a couple kids on a rollaway and you’ve saved yourself from having to buy an extra room for the night. The same rule applies if you are traveling with a big group of friends. You don’t have to pay for multiple rooms, and no one has to sleep on the floor.

Take it slow and take it in—The whole point of a trip is to see new things, so make sure to slow things down and take in the scenery. You’ll find the best (cheapest) little gems in the form of roadside attractions, so make sure you explore off the main highway.

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Have you got gasoline in your veins but dust bunnies in your wallet? Never fear, there are plenty of quirky (and free) roadside attractions to tickle your fancy and keep your road trip cheap. The low price of gas doesn’t hurt, either.

Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas.

This is art, allegedly.

Courtesy of Waxhawian.

Courtesy of Waxhawian.

Jolly Green Giant — Blue Earth, Minnesota.

Because a giant green statue will certainly encourage kids to eat their veggies.

Courtesy of Amy Meredith.

Courtesy of Amy Meredith.

World’s Largest Basket — Newark, Ohio

Really it’s the Longaberger Co. headquarters.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

The Corn Palace — Mitchell, South Dakota

The corn art changes yearly.

Courtesy of Kyle Van Horn.

Courtesy of Kyle Van Horn.

Lucy the Elephant — Margate City, New Jersey

This is actually a building too.

Courtesy of Jim, the Photographer.

Courtesy of Jim, the Photographer.

World’s Largest Cherry Pie — Charlevoix, Michigan

Pan. The actual pie was eaten long ago.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Spoonbridge and Cherry — Minneapolis, Minnesota

It appears you can walk over it.

Courtesy of Tim Wilson.

Courtesy of Tim Wilson.

Enchanted Highway — Regent, North Dakota

Not to be confused with the world’s largest pheasant statue, which is in South Dakota.

Courtesy of Joevare.

Courtesy of Joevare.

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They say corner bars, like Cheers, are happy places where everyone knows your name. The same can be said for classic diners. No fuss, no pretentiousness, nothing too fancy — just good ol’ American grub and a comfy vinyl booth to call your own. Bonus points if there’s a jukebox and a waitress named Flo. Ready to eat? Here are 7 great diners across the U.S., each with its own claim to fame.

For Route 66 Kicks: Polk-A-Dot Drive-In in Braidwood, IL
This stop on the Mother Road got its start in 1956, when the owners served lunch out of a school bus outfitted with a kitchen. Eventually it put down roots as this kitschy drive-in with tabletop jukeboxes and life-sized statues of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis outside.
Order: Cheeseburgers and shakes
222 N. Front St. (815-458-3377 or the Facebook page)

Steve Lagreca /

For Foodie Cred: Brent’s Drugs in Jackson, MI
Claim a soda fountain stool and soak up the nostalgia at what was once a neighborhood pharmacy. The chef’s table counter was the original 1946 pharmacy counter, but today the real sought-after seats are around the aqua-colored boomerang counter, where you can spoon up ice cream or eat dishes prepared by a bona fide chef (Karl Gorline from Parlor Market).
Order: The egg-and-olive sandwich and a cherry Coke.
655 Duling Ave. (601-366-3427 or the Facebook page)

Shawn Rossi /

For Hilltop Thrills: Skyline Restaurant in Portland, OR
Golden oldies jingle-jangle around you at this off-the-beaten-path classic. It’s worth the trek to the top of the West Hills to see just how much things haven’t changed since it opened in 1935. The paintings are faded, the stools a bit beaten — but the spirit is alive in the smiles of its waitstaff and the grill still fires up an amazing burger. Heads up: It’s cash only.
Order: Skyline Clam Chowder and a butterscotch sundae
1313 NW Skyline Blvd. (503-292-6727 or the Facebook page)

For Sweet History: St. Francis Fountain in San Francisco, CA
San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor was run by three generations of the same family from 1918 to 2000. After a brief closing, new owners gave it a modern, expanded kitchen and plenty of menu options (from spinach salad to pesto chicken sandwiches). True to its past as a confectionery, you can still find a deli case filled with old-fashioned candies for sale. Mission district hipsters abound.
Order: The Dream Shake, a Dreamsicle-like milkshake with milk, orange juice, vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet
2801 24th St. (415-826-4210 or


Orin Zebest /

 For Classic Sass: Ruth’s Diner in Salt Lake City, UT
The founder of Ruth’s was quite a character. She performed cabaret in Salt Lake City bars in the early 1900s, flipped burgers at a hamburger joint, and eventually opened this city treasure in the back of a trolley car before selling it to a local frat boy. She remained involved in the operation before passing in 1989. You can get a sense of Ruth from the photos of her on the diner’s walls, all painted a cheerful canary yellow. The menu is expansive and there are plenty of vegan options.
Order: A 3-egg omelet and OJ
4160 Emigration Canyon Rd. (801-582-5807 or


Aaron Gustafson /

For Killer Desserts: Moody’s Diner in Waldoboro, ME
Lauded by Gourmet and Saveur magazines for its walnut and whoopie pies, Moody’s is a no-frills diner that hasn’t gone unnoticed. Locals and tourists alike fill its rustic, woodsy dining room that’s just part of its greater whole on midcoast Maine. There are 18 cabins onsite for overnight stays, as well as a gift shop. So go ahead and shop, eat, sleep, repeat.
Order: Turkey and mashed potatoes. And pie … lots of pie.
1885 Atlantic Highway (207-832-7785 or


Stefan Krasowski /

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Kelly Aiglon

Kelly Aiglon

Kelly Aiglon

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