What Is A Gap Year? A gap year is a period of time in which students put off schooling for up to a year and focus on broadening their horizons through travel. A concept which originated in the United Kingdom during the 60s, a gap year is traditionally taken after graduating high school (and before beginning college), although gap years during and after college are becoming more popular.
Is a gap year a good idea? Though many parents cringe at the thought, there are both pros and cons for taking a year off to explore the world before “real life” begins.
Pros: Overall, the main benefit of taking a gap year is to learn something that can’t be taught in the classroom.Whether you spend your time teaching English to children in India, or take a few months to learn a new language in Sicily, the knowledge and understanding you’ll gain is invaluable, so much so that it may even help you get into that prestigious university or land your dream job.
Cons: The downside of taking a gap year occurs when it’s time to go back to school and/or work. For some, taking time off can mean never going back. This of course directly relates to each person’s individual ability to handle a gap year, but it’s certainly something to think about. Another potential issue is funding the trip, as you’ll want to ensure that traveling the world won’t put you in debt for the rest of your life.
If you’re looking for more information on this interesting topic, as well as tips to truly make it a valuable and life changing experience, a site we really like is: www.GlobalCitizenYear.org.
What do you think – is a gap year a good idea?
Spring and summer are peak road tripping seasons, and Discount Hotels is here to guide you through the process of planning and executing the perfect cross-country getaway. Thorough pre-trip planning is crucial for road tripping, as fighting the urge to be spontaneous can save you big bucks and even bigger headaches. Even though the initial idea behind road tripping is to just “wing it” and figure things out as you go, having a detailed plan for where you’ll stay, where you’ll stop for food, and where you’ll get gas can pay off in the end.
Where You’ll Stay
Road tripping is about the experience and the thrill of the open road, so there’s no need to spend a ton of cash on a hotel room, especially since you’ll simply be sleeping there for a few hours before moving on to the next city. Though you may feel like booking hotels in advance puts you on a strict schedule, think about it this way: most budget hotels only advertise their sales online and through travel booking engines, so securing a room when you arrive often means you’ll miss out on any deals. Even if that deal only saves you $10, think about how many hotels you’ll be staying at. That $10 savings can add up quickly.
Where You’ll Eat
Once again, advanced planning can really pay off when it comes to where and what you’ll eat. A great way to save some serious cash on your road trip is to sign up for daily deal emails from popular deal sites like LivingSocial a few weeks before your planned departure date in any of the cities that you know you’ll be passing through. You’re bound to encounter some sweet restaurant deals, some of which will cut your bill in half.
Where You’ll Fill Up
We don’t need to remind you how expensive gas can be. Chances are, filling up the tank will be a major expense on your road trip, so saving money here is especially important. Use a site like gasprices.mapquest.com, where you can enter in your location to view the lowest gas prices in the area, and directions for how to get there. Another option is downloading the Gas Buddy app for the cheapest gas prices while you’re on the go.
You look forward to spring break all year. You’ve worked hard to save up for the perfect vacation, and you’re ready to really let loose. We get that, and we believe that you deserve the trip of a lifetime. But we want to remind you of the dangers of letting a little too loose on your spring break vacation.
Have fun, by all means, but please, be careful! On all vacations, spring break especially, it can be quite tempting to drink more than you usually do. You’re relaxed and caught up in the party atmosphere, so you’re guard is down and you’re more likely to do something you’d never give a second thought to. This behavior is condoned in popular spring break destinations like Cancun or Miami, but we urge you to take it down just a notch or two, for safety’s sake. After all, we need you to return from your getaway in one piece, so you can tell us about all the fun you had!
You’ve heard these tips a thousand times before, but we feel it’s our duty to remind you of these simple tactics to avoid potential disasters on your upcoming getaway:
- Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Don’t let your drink out of your sight.
- At least try to remember your drinking limits
- Don’t wander off alone, or with someone you don’t know
- Have a meeting time and place in the event that you get separated from your group while out at night
- Especially if you’re out of the country, know who to contact for help if there’s an emergency. Click here for a list of US Embassies all over the world. Program their contact information into your phone.
You’ve heard all the stories of fun spring break getaways gone awry. Follow these simple tips to avoid everything but the best spring break vacation you’ve ever had.
The Discount Hotels Team
Spring has sprung! Well, not quite, but Sunday marks the first day of the new season, and temperatures all over the country are already beginning to look up. As the weather improves, a whole batch of top travel destinations that were simply deemed too cold for the past couple of months are now ripe for visitors. Check out our top three destinations for Spring 2011:
1. New York City
NYC is obviously an insanely popular tourist destination year-round, but it’s a million times more pleasant during the Spring. Exploring the Big Apple by foot is an activity in itself, so it’s easy to see how the temperature can make all the difference. Imagine strolling through Central Park (above), Times Square, or Chinatown in 20 degree weather. Now imagine it’s a beautifully mild 70 degrees. Ahh, that’s better.
This historically and culturally rich New England city is twice as fun to explore once the sun comes out. Places like the Public Garden or the outdoor kiosks of Faneuil Hall Marketplace are great options for the Spring, as well as many of Boston’s outdoor recreational activities such as golfing, sailing, kayaking, and whale watching. If the temperatures don’t drop too much in the evening, consider a luxury dinner cruise on the Boston Harbor (above).
3. Washington D.C.
There’s plenty to see and do in Washington D.C. throughout the year, but spring time is when this place really lights up. Similar to both New York and Boston, you’ll be walking around on-foot most of the time, so beautiful weather only makes your D.C. experience that much more pleasant. Just some of the things that you’ll definitely want to enjoy while the sun is out: the Lincoln Memorial, Embassy Row, and Rock Creek Park (above).
You’re kids have been begging for a trip to Disney World since they could speak, but as all parents know, the Disney experience does not come cheap. Most of the Official Walt Disney World Hotels are a bit pricey, so a centrally-located, family-friendly property for under $100 per night is nothing short of exciting, no?
TheOfficial Walt Disney World property that makes this possible is the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, Walt Disney World, a 3-star hotel located directly across the street from the Downtown Disney area. Kids love its close proximity to Universal Studios and Sea World, and adults love the on-site Director of Fun (an actual job at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort) whose only job is to keep your kids entertained day and night. What’s more, Wyndham Lake Buena Vista is the only property in the Downtown Disney Resort area that hosts the esteemed Dine with Disney Characters breakfast three times a week.
Sounds great, right? Well, it gets better. The Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, already regarded as one of the more affordable Disney properties, is attainable for as little as $88 per night with our 50% off sale (going on now). And by booking with us, you’ll pay just $8 per day for your resort fee (usually $15/day), and your little ones eat free. Just be sure your kids don’t stumble across this post – then you’ll really have no excuse for not booking them the Disney vacation they’ve always dreamed of.
U.S. business travel is expected to bounce back this year, and with that we give you the Top 3 Business Travel Hotel Chains:
1.Drury Inn & Suites The only downside about this impeccable chain is that it doesn’t have locations in some of the major business travel hubs like New York City, Washington D.C., or Los Angeles. The upside is the free breakfast (real breakfast, not muffins and coffee), free Wi-Fi, free long distance and local calls, a 24-hour business center, free in-room coffee…
Just a few of our favorite locations
2.Hilton Garden Inn If the in-room business amenities – free Wi-Fi, remote printing, an oversized desk, desk-level power and Ethernet outlets – aren’t enough, the 24-hour business center – complete with fax and photocopy machines, a PC, color printer, and plenty of paper clips, packing materials and other standard office supplies – should do the trick.
Just a few of our favorite locations
3. Embassy Suites Aside from featuring all the business amenities at the Hilton Garden Inn (Embassy is a Hilton property, too), this hotel chain runs a blog called Business Balance, with food, exercise, and even state-of-mind tips for business travelers worldwide.
Just a few of our favorite locations
Reason #1: Taking a cruise is like having a very expensive travel agent plan out every little detail of your trip – minus the “very expensive.” For those of you not familiar with taking cruises, you’ll be given an itinerary each morning, which lists the options for everything from dining to entertainment for that day. There’s no planning involved here (the headache-y part of travel for some people) whatsoever. Simply choose what you want to do, and show up at the specified time. This is especially beneficial for family travel, as you’ll never have to wonder how you’re going to keep the kids entertained.
Reason #2: Another major advantage of cruising is value. By purchasing everything together – accommodations, dining, and entertainment – you save money (vs. purchasing separately). What’s more, a cruise vacation is much less expensive than an all-inclusive resort vacation, which is based on the same structure of purchasing different components in a single package.
Reason #3: January through March is the time of year when the most cruises are booked (or what we in the travel industry like to call the Wave Season). And you know what this means – great deals! Speaking of which (shameless plug), how about a 14-night Transatlantic cruise from Miami to Barcelona on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas from $36 per night?!
Check out all of our sweet cruisin’ deals here.
Travel expert Arthur Frommer today blogged about the age-old travel question of scrimp or splurge. Arthur broke it down by different components of travel (cruises, meals, hotels, sightseeing/entertainment, & airfare), giving his take on whether it makes sense to opt for luxury or stick to the basics for each.
For Arthur, hotels fell under “Very Definitely Scrimp,” and his explanation brings up a valid point:
Too often, the difference between a deluxe hotel and a budget-priced one is the public area of the former having no relation whatever to the good night’s sleep you hope to enjoy in that hotel.
In other words, when you splurge on a hotel, your sleeping experience – the reason you’re at a hotel to begin with – is not necessarily any better than when you opt for a budget property.
Our stance on this is somewhat mixed, as we believe it depends on the situation. Sure, sometimes all you need is a good night’s sleep, and in those cases, the goal is to shell out as little money as possible. On the other hand, your hotel of choice plays a part in your overall vacation experience, in which case you’d want to go all out.
If you’re traveling for the purpose of attending an event (concert, sports, conference, etc.), dirt cheap is just fine. How much time are you really going to be spending in your room anyway?
On the other hand, if you’re visiting a place that’s known for extravagant accommodations, – New York City, Paris, etc. – living luxuriously for a few days only adds to the experience (think the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South vs. the Howard Johnson in Brooklyn).
The point is, many factors contribute to the ultimate decision of scrimp or splurge. Fortunately, the choice is all yours!
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