Paradise for Everyone

Written in cooperation with Hipmunk’s Boutique Hotels campaign. 

The Hawaiian Islands have long been considered paradise. After all, this is the place to enjoy lovely temperatures, stunning beaches, aquamarine water, and tropical drinks, all without a passport. Paradise often comes with a price tag, but Hipmunk offers a multitude of reasonably priced accommodation options, making paradise available for everyone.

Each Hawaiian island offers something different. From Oahu’s cityscape and amazing beaches to Kona’s black volcanic sand to Maui’s powder-white sand and world-class snorkeling, this exotic state offers something for everyone.

image via Flickr by jdnx

Paradise in the City

To make the most of paradise on a budget, check out the Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki. This budget-friendly hotel offers up kitchenettes, laundry services, and a poolside barbecue area, all while keeping your expenses in check. The property features a pool, a fitness center, spa services, a restaurant, and free breakfast, allowing you to save your entertainment dollars for sightseeing and nights out on the town.

Another affordable option is the Maile Sky Court Hotel. Located near all the preferred sights in Waikiki, this hotel has comfortable rooms with refrigerators, along with free Wi-Fi, a pool, a restaurant, and a fitness center. A short walk takes you to all the excitement in one of the most scenic cities in the world.

For guests who want a bit more of a splurge, the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki is an excellent choice. The rooms offer stunning city views, refrigerators, robes and slippers, and even in-room massage services for an extra charge. This hotel has free Wi-Fi, a pool and fitness area, and an on-site restaurant. It’s also well-known for its soothing spa treatments.

Search for Volcanoes

The island of Kona is unique in that it has an active volcano at its center. Rather than the soft, white sand of the other islands, Kona has black sand resulting from thousands of years of volcanic activity. To visit this amazing paradise for yourself, look into the Kona Seaside Hotel. One of the most affordable hotels on the island, it offers a pool and rooms overlooking the sea. Rooms are bright and comfortable, with refrigerators, microwaves, and flat-screen TVs. Enjoy the pool and fitness area and the free Wi-Fi and breakfast to stretch your vacation dollars even further.

image via Flickr by sodai gomi

Location Perfection

Location, location, location. For a holiday set next to a gorgeous tropical beach but still close to shopping and nightlife, the Maui Beach Hotel is a perfect choice in Kahului. Along with its standard rooms and oceanfront suites, the Maui Beach Hotel offers free Wi-Fi, mini fridges, free shuttles, a pool, and a fitness center. The hotel even allows pets, so your furry family members can join you in paradise. Enjoy a rooftop sundeck, on-site breakfast restaurant, and easy access to all that this lovely island has to offer.

Image via Flickr by gimpbully

Whichever Hawaiian island or hotel suits your needs, Hipmunk has the right accommodation choice for you!

Hipmunk Hotels: Find Comfort in Wheeling, Newport, Norfolk and More!

Written in cooperation with Hipmunk. Originally posted on August 10, 2016 by Jeannie of Nomadic Chick


It’s that time of year to travel and a staycation is a great way to save money, but still have a satisfying trip.

If you live in the northeastern part of the states, take a chance on some off-beaten places you might otherwise ignore.

They are less busy, have hidden gems, and are usually has something for every family member, children included.

Enjoy this guide to what to do and where to stay along the northeast:

SpringHill Suites in Wheeling, West Virgina

West Virginia is a state full of history and natural beauty. Take a stroll through Oglebay Park or get a picture view of the suspension bridge, built in 1849. The most comfortable hotel is SpringHill Suties because it really caters to your needs. With a full service snack bar, indoor pool, spa, and fitness center, it really is a perfect home away from home.

Ambassador Inn & Suites in Newport, Rhode Island

Picturesque Rhode Island evokes ocean views and a calmer life (with a dash of luxury thrown in). One of the most beautiful drives you will ever experience is along Ocean Drive. And if you want to fit in a slew of historical sites and buildings, consider taking a historic tour. For cozy accommodations, the Ambassador Inn & Suites will be perfect for you. Savor a free breakfast and use free WiFi to plan your day. After you return from sightseeing, take a dip in the outdoor pool and then sink into your king-sized bed.

The Melrose Georgetown Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia

Just located outside of D.C., Alexandria is a quaint destination with fascinating historic tones. Don’t miss the Christ Church, Carlyle House, and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Since you’re taking a walk down history, why not stay at the Melrose Georgetown Hotel. Right in the heart of everything you’d want to be near (including the JFK Center), enjoy fluffy duvets, brocade love seats, and all the amenities, like room service or the hotel restaurant.

Aloft Chesapeake in Norfolk, Virgina

Norfolk really has a lot of treats and shouldn’t be overlooked. The MacArthur Memorial is a must-see, along with Harbour Park. Those two are a great mix of nature and architecture. A terrific place to rest your head is atAloft Chesapeake, a charming hotel that’s loft inspired and pet friendly. Share a meal in the café and an exercise session in the fitness room together.

Hotel Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

A city with interesting history, you’ll enjoy what Bethlehem has to offer. Book a tour at the Burnside Plantation, to learn how a plantation operated. Another fun activity is to do a walking tour of the town and take in some sites at an easygoing pace. For that final touch of antique, stay at Hotel Bethlehem. Built in 1922, it’s a mix of colonial style with modern flair. Photograph the grand lobby with its Palladian windows as you make your way to two choices of restaurants. All the comforts are there!

I’m a regular writer for Hipmunk. Check out my other articles for them on this blog.

Photo courtesy of Nenna via Trover

How to Visit Cuba on a Budget

Written in cooperation with Hipmunk. Originally published on Apri 12, 2016 by The Hipmunk on the Tailwind Blog.

Editor’s note: As of Aug 31, 2016, direct flights from the US to Cuba are taking off for the first time since 1961.

Flights to Santa Clara, Cuba

Now that Cuba’s tourism industry is up and running, we’re doing everything we can to educate our readers about how to make the most of their Cuban vacations. From knowing which cities to visit to learning how the country has changed and prepping for your trip, we’ve got you covered.

If you’re ready to visit but worried about finances, we’ve still got your back. Simply implement the following strategies in order to enjoy a budget-friendly trip to Cuba.


It helps to know Spanish.

Overwhelmingly, travelers to Cuba report that you’ll be more accepted if you speak Spanish—and that means you’re more likely to be offered lower prices and to haggle successfully. Even if you don’t have time to become fluent before your visit, learning a few key Spanish phrases will surely make the trip a little easier.

Don’t withdraw or exchange cash in Cuba.

Cuba currently uses two types of currency: the CUC, which is designated primarily for tourists, and the CUP (the peso national), which is civilians’ primary currency. (The government has announced plans to eliminate the dual currency system, but has yet to do so.) For the most part, tourists will be dealing in CUCs, but budget-friendly travelers may want to keep a few CUPs on hand (more on that later). In either case, it’s smart to exchange your money before arriving in Cuba—otherwise you’ll incur a10% penalty to exchange dollars to CUCs. Similarly, avoid using credit cards whenever possible, as fees are quite steep.

Search Havana Hotels


Plan for exit and entry.

You’ll be charged $25 CUC to enter Cuba, and another $25 CUC when you fly out of the airport. Go ahead and set aside $50 CUC before your trip so you aren’t caught by surprise on the way in or out of the country. While you’re at it, set aside another $20-$25 CUC for the taxi ride from the airport.

Take advantage of cheap eats.

Want to save money on food? Then seek out local establishments that operate on pesos (namely, street food vendors and peso restaurants). This can be a serious money saver—think the difference between paying $0.80 or $8.00 for a sandwich. If you’re staying in a casa particular (aka a private homestay), this is also a good place to eat cheaply—meals tend to be huge (meaning you can split one dish between two people) and less expensive than meals at touristy restaurants. Or hit up hotel buffets for a meal that will fill you up for around $8 CUC.

Pack your own snacks and toiletries.

Basic toiletries and medical supplies—think sunscreen, Aspirin, and contact lens solution—are either very expensive or totally unavailable in Cuba, so don’t assume that you can pick up supplies once you’ve arrived. Instead, bring along any toiletries that you can’t go without. Same goes for your favorite snack foods.

Get mobile like a local.

Cuba has designated tourist buses, and (not surprisingly) they can  be a bit of a money trap. You’ll save on transportation by taking public buses, camiones (i.e open-backed trucks), or shared taxis. As an added bonus, local transportation tends to operate on a more flexible timetable than the tourist buses.


Entertain thyself.

Cuba has a vibrant nightlife scene, and you can drink for change if you stick to local establishments. (A good rule of thumb: Avoid any club that charges an entrance fee.) If you’re not sure where to go, ask your casa hosts or local street vendors for suggestions. If the club scene isn’t your thing, you can still find cheap entertainment in the form of museums, which typically charge only $1-2 CUC for entry. Just be aware that many museums charge an additional fee for anyone who wants to take photos.

While Cuba may not be the cheapest destination around, there are plenty of deals to be had for the frugal traveler. Just remember: When in doubt, act like a local.

Urban or Country, Seattle is for You

written in cooperation with Hipmunks Boutique Hotels Campaign.

Washington State is one of the prettiest areas of the US. Blessed with mountain ranges, dramatic coastlines, and amazing food and wine, this paradise will charm even the most traveled guests. Seattle, otherwise known as the Emerald City, shines over Puget Sound, offering big-city entertainment with Pacific Northwest charm. Further afield, Spokane and the Washington countryside offer up their own rewards.

Urban Charm

If you’re heading to the city to attend a game at the University of Washington, or simply looking to be near downtown, check out the Watertown Hotel- A Piece of Pineapple Hospitality. This chain of hotel prides itself on impeccable service (hence the Pineapple Hospitality moniker). All guest rooms include a fridge, microwave, and Tommy Bahama amenities to complete the feel of heading to the islands. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, and complimentary bikes, and pets are allowed, making it a family-friendly vacation.

image via Flickr by bgreenlee

Inn at the Market has long been considered one of THE places to stay for a splurge trip to Seattle. Located directly across the street from Pike Place Market, the Inn at the Market offers an ideal location, amazing views of the Sound, and shopping and dining options galore. Rooms are deluxe, featuring custom linens, designer toiletries, and luxurious robes, all coupled with beautiful bay and city views. There’s simply no better location in Seattle to be close to the action.

image via Flickr by tiffany 98101

Perhaps you seek lodging that is convenient to all that Seattle has to offer, but with a romantic country setting. If so, look no further than Cedarbrook Lodge. Although situated near the SeaTac airport, Cedarbrook oozes country charm–all while being close to downtown. Set in 18 acres of wetlands, the lodge offers free Wi-Fi and free parking, and even your furry friends can join you. Rooms feature down comforters and fine toiletries, and a fitness center and spa services are available.

image via Flickr by tiffany 98101

Searching for Views

One of the most popular areas in the entire Pacific Northwest is the Columbia Gorge. Stretching the full length of the border between Oregon and Washington, this scenic waterway has been a means of transport since the days of Lewis & Clark. The Skamania Lodge- Destination Hotels & Resorts is just that: a destination all on its own. The lovely rooms feature free Wi-Fi, daily newspapers, and comfortable accommodations, but the true draw of this property are the amenities. For the active traveler, there’s zip-lining, hiking, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and pools. For anyone looking for more leisurely pursuits, the lodge offers an extensive library, sauna, board games, and on-site spa services. In addition, there are three restaurants and golf at the property.

image via Flickr by ya_resendez

Heading East

On the East side of the state, Spokane offers a rich array of cultural and outdoor activities, all with small-city friendliness. The Doubletree Hotel by Hilton Spokane City Center offers  a prime location, while the comfortable rooms feature free Wi-Fi, premium cable, and coffee and tea service. Located at the Spokane riverfront, guests can enjoy virtually anything in the nearby neighborhoods or stay in and take advantage of the hotel pool, fitness center, and restaurants.

image via Flickr by mtigas

No matter what part of Washington attracts you, Hipmunk will help you find the best accommodations for all of your needs.


The Twin Cities and Beyond

Written in cooperation with Hipmunk’s Boutique Hotels Campaign.

The Twin Cities is known for being the center of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes, but also for its shopping. Whether you are headed for the various outdoor activities or looking to shop till you drop at the enormous Mall of America, Minnesota is for you!

Let’s Go Shopping

While people may head to Bloomington, Minnesota, for many reasons, one BIG reason is for shopping and entertainment at the Mall of the America. If that is your plan, one great hotel option is the La Quinta Inn & Suites Minneapolis-Bloomington West. Floor-to-ceiling windows accent the view, while the comfortable rooms feature contemporary furniture, and modern amenities abound. La Quinta is pet-friendly and offers free Wi-Fi, free parking, and a delicious complimentary breakfast daily. With an indoor pool, spa and sauna, you can rest your tired muscles after a long day at the mall.

image via Flickr by cliff1066TM

For those interested in spending their dollars on shopping and not accommodations, Northwood Inn & Suites offers comfortable rooms, right in the heart of the action. In-room refrigerators and microwaves stretch your dollar even further to enable you to enjoy the Sea Life aquarium or National Wildlife Refuge. With free parking, free internet, and a business center, the Northwood makes for an affordable getaway.

Living Large in the City

If luxurious surroundings in the heart of the city is on the agenda, look no further than Loews Minneapolis Hotel. This hotel’s chic, modern rooms feature in-room Keurig coffee makers, complimentary daily newspapers, and fully stocked mini-bars. Limestone bathrooms offer designer toiletries, and pets are even welcome! The hotel offers three on-site restaurants and a full spa, and concierge services complete the feeling of total luxury. In addition, the ideal location, right in the heart of the city, puts dining and entertainment right at your doorstep.

image via Flickr by m01229

A Day at the Lake

Perhaps shopping isn’t your thing or you had your shot at the Mall and want to hit the water. Look no further than the Holiday Inn & Suites Duluth. Set right in downtown Duluth, access to Lake Superior is a breeze. Lake Superior Zoo, Canal Park, and Glensheen Mansion are all in close proximity. The hotel offers free parking, free Wi-Fi, two pools, and an on-site restaurant if you are tired at the end of a long day of sightseeing. Guest rooms have comfortable beds and complimentary toiletries, all in a lovely setting.

image via Flickr by Helena Jacoba

Whether shopping, city nightlife, or the lake is calling you, Hipmunk offers the right hotel choice.

Tips for the Ultimate (and Drama-Free) EDM Vacation

Written in cooperation with the Hipmunk. Originally published on the Tailwind Blog on March 30, 2016, by The Hipmunk.

So you’ve decided to spend your precious vacation time at raves and EDM festivals. You are undoubtedly in for a blast of epic proportions. Still, it’ll be helpful to employ a few strategies in advance of your trip in order to ensure that things go smoothly—i.e. sans epic meltdowns, lost friends, or bodily discomfort. Whether you’re heading to Electric Daisy Carnival in Tokyo or Electric Zoo in NYC, here’s how to prep for the ultimate EDM vacation so that you can enjoy it drama-free.


1. Read up on the venue in advance.

Once you’ve purchased tickets to a festival or rave, check out the venue’s website to learn if any items are prohibited from the grounds as well as what amenities will be on offer. (For example, some festivals have started going “cashless”—meaning festival goers can load money onto a wristband and leave the credit cards at home.) While you’re at it, print out the show lineup and a map of the festival grounds so you canplan your route in advance.

2. Pack layers.

EDM festivals involve lots of dancing and require being on your feet all day. Do your body a favor and pack layers that are comfortable, breathable, and appropriate for the weather. Even if the day starts out warm, it’s a good idea to bring along a hoodie or light jacket in case the night turns cool. If you have room in your backpack or fanny pack, it’s also a good idea to bring an extra pair of socks in case yours get wet or dirty during the show. Perhaps most importantly? Remember to wear comfortable footwear.

3. Eat and drink well.

Dancing for hours under the beating sun—it’s a blast, but it’s also tough on your body. Give your body the best chance at feeling okay by the end of the night by eating a nutritious meal before raves, packing healthy snacks, and staying hydrated while you dance the night away.

4. Bring the right toiletries.

While you simply won’t be able to maintain everyday hygiene at a show or festival, you can approximate cleanliness with a few key toiletries. Consider packing baby wipesfor tackling grime on your neck, armpits, arms, and feet in addition to dry shampoo, sunblock (an absolute must for summer shows), and hand sanitizer for post-porta-potty cleanup.

If you’ll be camping at a festival, pay-per-use showers may be available—bring along flip flops, a bathing suit, and cash if you want to take advantage of these facilities. Also be sure to bring your standard toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, deodorant, etc. And don’t forget to pack a basic first aid kit—stashing one of these in your pack can save many a headache (literally) in the event of minor cuts and bruises.

5. Accessorize smartly.

A few items tossed into a backpack or fanny pack can make a huge difference in your rave-going experience:

  • Once night falls, a headlamp is tremendously useful if you drop something on the grass or need to review a festival map in the dark.
  • Sunglasses will help protect your eyes from summer rays or the flashing lights that are common during nighttime raves.
  • Ear plugs will help protect your hearing so you can enjoy EDM for years into the future.
  • Plastic trash bags can serve as a poncho, a seat, or protection for your belongings in the case of rain.
  • A waterproof phone case will help spare you from the devastation of ruining your phone
6. Make sure your phone has juice.

Before heading to a rave, make sure your phone is fully charged so you can take pictures and stay in touch with your group in case you get separated. It’s a good idea to put your phone on airplane mode while you’re at the show in order to conserve its battery. If the venue offers a charging station, then bring along your charger. You could also opt to bring an extra battery.


7. Secure your belongings.

Although it’s impossible to guarantee with 100% certainty that your stuff won’t get lost or stolen at a rave, a little vigilance can go a long way. Some festivals offer rental lockers, which can be a great idea if you’re willing to pony up the cash. If you want to keep your belongings with you, you can help secure your things by hiding valuables in unappealing packaging (such as a cleaned-out sunscreen bottle), keeping your items on your body at all times (i.e. dancing while wearing your backpack, fanny pack, or Camelbak), and making a pact with your friends to help look out for each other’s stuff.

8. Coordinate with your group.

Communicating in advance of a rave can do a lot to keep everyone in your friend group safe and in the loop. Before arriving:

  • Select a designated driver when applicable.
  • If you’re going to a festival where multiple artists will be performing, reach a consensus regarding which shows you’ll all see together and when you might split up.
  • Write your friends’ numbers down on a piece of paper and keep it with you at all times (in case your phone dies).
  • If you’re up for it, choose an identifier that can help you all spot each other in a large crowd—for example, you could all wear matching T-shirts or bring along a flag or a balloon tied to a pole so that people can find the group again when returning from food or bathroom runs.

Upon arriving at the venue:

  • Note where you all parked, where the bus station is, or where your taxi will pick you up (depending on your chosen mode of transportation). This is especially important for festivals that are held in remote areas where it’s easy to get lost.
  • Select a meet-up spot for the group so that if anyone gets separated, you all know where to find each other at the end of the night.

A little advance planning, packing some key toiletries and accessories, and coordinating with your group both ahead of time and at the rave will help ensure that your EDM vacation goes off without a hitch.



Written in cooperation with Hipmunk. Originally published on June 15, 2016 by Becky, at Project Domestication.

The Mustangs of Las Colinas by The Wonders of Back Roads via

The Mustangs of Las Colinas by The Wonders of Back Roads via

Make some late summer or early trip plans to explore Amarillo, McAllen or Irving, Texas or skip over the ocean to Puerto Rico for an adventurous time in Fajardo.

Amarillo, Texas
Start planning the perfect fall trip to Amarillo. This time of year brings much more mild temperatures in the Panhandle town. Driving on Route 66, horseback riding, and visiting the Texas Air and Space Museum are just a few activities to get you started in this exciting city. If you plan ahead far enough, you can score a great Airbnb location. But if that’s not your thing Amarillo has traditional luxury hotels and a smattering of cheap hotels. Fifth Season Inn has pretty good ratings and is consistently under $50 a night. Even the Marriott is under $100 per night.

McAllen, Texas
Unless you’re a big bird watcher, chances are you haven’t heard of McAllen, Texas. The most popular stop is Quinta Mazatlan, a bird and nature center located in an old historic mansion. You’ll find other family-friendly activities around town in their malls, golf courses, and more. The Best Western Garden Inn & Suites along with many other budget hotels run around $50 or $80 per night.

Irving, Texas
If visiting Cowboy stadium is on your list, consider staying at Irving instead of Dallas for a more affordable trip. Spend a day watching football and stay a while to explore Irving; don’t miss the plethora of outdoor activities along with the sites and landmarks like the Mustangs of Las Colinas. The Hotel Las Colinas is centrally located and has a pool to cool off. Plus, they’ve got a free cancellation policy, if needed.

Round Rock, Texas
It’s not hard to find a great hotel deal in Round Rock, Texas. Most good-to-great rated hotels will run you between $75 and $100/night. The Austin Marriott North ranks top of the list, boasting amenities like spas, pools, a business center, and child activities. When you’re out and about the city, experience Flix BrewHouse, America’s first cinema brewery, or take the kids to the Play for All park for a memorable day in the sun.

Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican beach vacations are often overshadowed by California, Hawaii, and Mexico for most Americans. But what most travelers don’t know is that visiting a city like Fajardo, on the Eastern side of the island, is completely affordable and luxurious. Visitors most memorable experiences are full of beauty and adventure: kayak along Bioluminescent Bay, explore Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve (day or night), or ride horseback on the beach. Airbnbs are a great option for large groups and families. But even the local Waldorf Astoria hotel is around $200/night.

Welcome to Project Domestication.

My name is Becky Olsen. I’m a Utah native and proud of it. Whether it’s scoping out a local bakery to try their signature item, attending a community event or joining the nearest CSA, I love to supp

The Insider’s Guide to Conquering Comic Con

Written in cooperation with Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog. Originally published by The Hipmunk on April 13,2016.

Another year, another multitude of Comic Cons to attend. Whether you’re hitting up the mother of all Cons in San Diego, cosplaying in NYC, or attending a smaller Comic Con in Grand Rapids or Amarillo, the following strategies will help ensure that you have a truly delightful time.


Buy tickets early.

Whenever possible, buy tickets online before the event. You’ll save money and avoid the heartbreak of arriving at Comic Con only to find out that the special event youneeded to see has already sold out.

Make a plan in advance.

There is so much to see at Comic Con, and it’s physically impossible to see it all. For this reason, it’s important to study the schedule and venue maps in advance so that you can plan out each day around your must-see events. If you want to see one of the major presentations (say, Game of Thrones in San Diego’s Hall H), keep in mind that you’ll need to budget in hours (and hours) of time for waiting in line. And because there are no guarantees that you’ll actually make it into the room you’re waiting in line to enter (especially because many venues don’t empty rooms after panels), it’s a good idea to have a backup plan (or several). One last tip: If you’re traveling with friends, remember to designate a meeting place before you split up for the day.

Bring cash.

Some vendors don’t accept credit cards, and ATM machines are few and far between. (And the ones that do exist are guaranteed to have insanely long lines). Spare yourself headaches and lost time by bringing plenty of cash with you to the venue.


Avoid parking (if possible).

It will come as no surprise that parking at Comic Con can be a major headache. In the rare cases that you do manage to find a spot near the venue, it’s likely it will cost you—some lots have been known to charge upwards of $50 per day. If at all possible, ditch the car and arrive at the venue via public transportation or on foot. If you must drive, be sure to arrive early in the day for the best chance at finding a spot.

Be social.

It’s a smart idea to download the venue’s app, which is an indispensable resource for navigating any Con. It can also be helpful to create a list on Twitter that includes the official Comic Con Twitter handle, any vendors that you want to see, and people whom you know will be present. Don’t underestimate how valuable real-time updates can be when you’ve been standing in line for three hours.

This tip also extends beyond the digital space. There are tons of great connections to be had at Comic Con, so don’t be shy about approaching people. Bonus: Chatting up fellow comics fans is a great way to pass the time while waiting in line. Which brings us to…


Prepare to wait.

We’ve mentioned that you’ll spend a lot of time waiting in line at Comic Con, right? We’re not kidding. Instead of hoping that it won’t happen to you, accept that it will—and then plan accordingly. Download podcasts to listen to, bring a book or journal, play games on your phone (just make sure it’s fully charged before Con), or simply settle in and enjoy the time to let your mind wander. Just remember to make sure you’re actually in the right line—sometimes lines bend and merge together, so check to be sure you aren’t wasting your time in the wrong place.

Practice self-care.

As always, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy yourself if you do what you can to avoid getting sick or burnt out. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, wash your hands often, and pack healthy snacks—healthy food can be hard to come by at Cons, especially when you’re stuck waiting in line. Having snacks on hand can provide the blood sugar boost you need to continue having a great time.


Ask permission.

A common phrase heard round Con is that “Cosplay is Not Consent.” What this means is that just because someone is cosplaying (or simply present at Comic Con), that does not give you the right to touch them, harass them, or photograph them without their permission. If you want a picture, just ask—most people are more than happy to indulge. Be polite, keep your hands to yourself, and remember that everyone there is a human just like you.

Consider cybersecurity.

Wi-Fi is often available in most convention centers, but you’re likely to find that it’s painfully slow (or completely jammed) because of the sheer number of people trying to log on. You may see free networks available, but be cautious—some of these may be malicious. It’s a good idea to always practice good cyber-security strategies (even if this means you have to hold off on uploading photos to social media until you get home).

Above all else, remember to enjoy yourself. Though the lines may be long and your plans may change, the sheer number of interesting people and panels to see means that you’ll have a great time at Comic Con simply by going with the flow.



Written in cooperation with Hipmunk. Originally published by Michael Hodson of GoSeeWrite.


The Midwest is a beautiful area of the country that has a wealth of different options for those who are looking for a destination for their next vacation. From the Ozark Mountains to the cosmopolitan cities, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, from outdoor pursuits to glamorous stage shows. If you are looking to travel on a budget, there are plenty of places that balance great attractions with affordable accommodation options, and here are a few suggestions for your next Midwest trip.


This lovely town in Missouri has a wealth of things to offer the visitor, with the riverboat cruises on the ‘Branson Belle’ having an old-time charm, while there are also great theaters for those who want to enjoy a show, and a series of excellent golf courses here too. In terms of good places to stay for those on a budget, check out these Branson hotels, with the Gazebo Inn being one affordable option that boasts an outdoor swimming pool.


Rosemont is a town found on the fringes of Chicago, that is often useful for those looking for accommodation near O’Hare Airport, but it is also the host to Chicago Comic Con and other popular conferences at its event center, while also having a museum with a huge collection of M I Hummel figurines. When it comes to finding budget accommodation in Rosemont, there are some options available, with the Best Western at O’Hare regularly having rooms available for under $100 per night.


Built at the junction of three rivers, this Indiana city has always been a meeting point both in terms of the early traders who brought their wares here, and, culturally, where the French, English and American cultures met. This is certainly reflected in the attractive local architecture. There are many budget options if you are staying in the Fort Wayne, with the Rodeway Inn and the Wayne Motel offering rooms from $50.


Photo via FLIKR by Tu


This lovely little city that lies in the north east of North Dakota is best known for its sporting teams, with the Ralph Englestad Arena being home to the Fighting Sioux hockey team of the University of North Dakota, which has been said is among the best sporting venues in the country. There are plenty of budget hotels in Grand Forks, with several offering rooms under $50 per night, including Grand Forks Inn & Suites and Americas Best Value Inn – Grand Forks.


Lying on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is a vibrant and modern city that is famous for being passionate about sports and boasting several great sports teams, while also having some lovely museums and plenty of green parks too. As a larger city, the hotels can be a little more expensive, but Cleveland’s budget accommodation options can also include the Airbnb listings which can be searched at the same time through the Hipmunk Hotels website.

You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy an excellent vacation in the United States. Look up some of these destinations to find budget-friendly accommodations for the whole family.



I’m an attorney that took off on my birthday in December of 2008 to circumnavigate the globe without ever getting on an airplane. After 16 months, 6 continents and 44 countries, I made it all the way back home. Right now, I am back on the road writing about it all.

Head to the Tropics, in Florida!

Written in cooperation with Hipmunks Boutique Hotels 2016 campaign.

When many people dream of their fantasy getaways, they dream of the tropics: turquoise blue water, powder sand beaches, and exotic cocktails. What makes southern Florida wonderful is that such a paradise exists right here in the United States. If beaches and bikinis are what fuels your vacation fantasies, you only need to head to Miami and the Keys!

image via Flickr by Photonoumi

Coconut Grove

Start your tour of the area in Coconut Grove, a community that boasts history to spare. Originally settled by the Bahamians, Coconut Grove has the honor of being the site of the first hotel in south Florida. To make your stay a home away from home, consider the Sonesta Cocounut Grove Miami. This hotel features basic amenities, such as large screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, marble bathrooms, and luxury linens, and adds more to your comfort with a kitchenette, making morning wake-ups a breeze. For those traveling on business, there’s a business center, and everyone will appreciate the pool and fitness center after a day of work or sightseeing.

image via Flickr by leoncillo sabino

For clients interested in Coconut Grove AND luxury, check out The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami. It doesn’t get much more luxurious than a room featuring balconies, iPod docking stations, high thread count linens, designer toiletries, and premium satellite channels. The property features a pool, fitness center, and spa where a massage or facial may be just the thing after a day of touring the area. There’s even a high-end restaurant, the Lazuli Lounge, on site for a romantic dinner.

image via Flickr by Tips for Travellers

Biscayne Bay

South Florida travel is all about the water. The Doubletree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay offers waterfront views of the gorgeous water of Biscayne Bay. Ideally located near the transportation hub of Miami, this condo hotel features all the comfort of home in one and two-bedroom units with kitchenette, all while placing guests in the center of the action to hit the water or explore the beauty of the region. Pillowtop mattresses, in-room coffee makers, and free Wi-Fi add to the enjoyment of the stay, while the lap pool overlooking the bay will soothe the soul at the end of the day. Numerous restaurants are within walking distance of the hotel, making it easy to try out all the local delicacies.


Miami is the hub of all things south Florida, from the water of Biscayne Bay to people watching on South Beach and the electric vibe of the Cuban culture and food. The Conrad Miami hotel is centrally located to all of this and more. The hotel offers guest rooms, studios, and one and two-bedroom condo units. Every room offers premium linens with pillow menus, designer bath accessories, and soft robes. If a day of sightseeing doesn’t wear you out, enjoy tennis at the courts next door or a workout in the fitness center before taking a dip in the pool. The hotel also features the Altrio restaurant and an on-site wine room.

image via Flickr by sumit_sachdeva

Whether it’s business or pleasure that takes you to south Florida, look to Hipmunk to provide the best in lodging options.