Archive for October, 2010


Spooky, Sexy Places to Spend Halloween

October 27, 2010
Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Lumos Maxima!

Ok, so I’m about to head to the airport so that I can get my Halloween geek on at the freaking Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. (Posts and photos to follow.)

For the rest of you though, there’s still time to convince your friends to hop in the car and road trip somewhere good for Halloween weekend, or to get a really early start in planning for next year. has a fun list of 13 Spooky, Scary, or Sexy Places to Celebrate Halloween that covers events from Salem, Massachusetts to Toronto to Limoges, France.

Have a look at what they recommend and let me know if you think they missed a spot.

Accio Butterbeer!



Take a Reading Week Trip to the Beach

October 26, 2010

Ok, you’ve got about 15 weeks until Reading Week in February. That gives you 15 weeks to save up, or talk someone else into sending you somewhere.

If you have a job, decide how much of your earnings you can save. $100 a week? That’s enough to get you way south for the winter, to a nice sunny beach on the Yucatan Peninsula.

Or can you save $50 a week and have your family match your savings? It can’t hurt to ask, and they might admire your dedication and ability to plan ahead.

At the very least, maybe you’ll get a new swimsuit for Christmas.

Check out some Reading Week deals from Travel CUTS.


Scare Up Some Christmas Fun in a Haunted Castle

October 21, 2010

Not everyone can get away with ditching their family for the holidays, but if you can, then how about spending Christmas partying in a castle?

Haggis Adventures offers budget tours of Scotland year round, but if  you go at Christmas you’ll get some extra special treats, including spending Christmas Eve and Christmas night in a haunted Highland castle surrounded by what I’m sure is a very creepy, but lovely, forest.

Haggis claims this experience is world famous, and who am I to doubt them? If you’re interested, check out their site, or talk to your local Travel CUTS student travel expert. They can hook you up with a student airfare and help you find great hostels if you want to add on a few nights in London or Cardiff. (I hear they have aliens there.)

If you go, tell me all about it. I’ll be home with the family, listening once again to the story of how Grandma once won a Sexy Legs contest during the War and took home a whole bag of groceries as her prize.



Run Away to Orlando or London with Harry Potter

October 19, 2010

Harry Potter theme parkI’m just about a week away from my trip to Orlando and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. My friend and I have costumes all picked out, because we’re massive geeks, and I can’t wait to get there.

A trip to Orlando may not be in your near future, but if your travels are going to take you through London there are a lot of ways to add a little magic to your next trip.

I would love to go stay at the Burrow myself, but since that’s not possible (yet – I would love to see someone open a Weasley hostel) let’s explore some other ways to get your Harry Potter travel fix.

You could book a Harry Potter tour around London and let someone else do the driving. Or, if you’d rather search out the places that have known magic yourself, put together your own Potteresque itinerary:

  • Visit London’s Kings Cross Station and get a picture of Platform 9 3/4. Yes, there’s a sign there for you. Also stop by Platform 4, where the filming was actually done.
  • The London Zoo is where we first see Harry talking to snakes. Please don’t try to let any of them out.
  • Walk through Leadenhall Market in London, which stood in for Diagon Alley. Ollivander won’t be there, but maybe you can buy a cloak.
  • The Millennium Bridge is torn apart by Death Eaters in the new film, but is perfectly sturdy in real life, so you can walk across it. (Check out this article about the special effects.)
  • Rick Steves has a list of other filming locations throughout England and Scotland.

And if all you’ve got going on is a staycation, throw on a robe and make some tasty wizarding treats for your friends. Have a Harry Potter movie marathon, force everyone to speak with a British accent, and pretend to be in a land far far away…


Have a Travelicious Halloween Party!

October 15, 2010

Scary Halloween snacks... in a can.

Hostelling International recently asked their Facebook friends for ideas on how to make a good Halloween costume when on the road.

There were some creative suggestions for using things you would likely have with you or things you could get for cheap, but it also got me thinking about another question:

How can you bring the road to you when you’re home for Halloween?

If you’re thinking of getting some friends together, how about a travel-themed Halloween party? Ask your guests to dress up as a country, a foreign celebrity, or, if you want to get really spooky, a famous dead person from another country. Albert Einscarecrow? Marco Poltergeist? Skeletor Dali? The options are endless.

Put together some international snacks and drinks, play Pin the Pumpkin on the World Map (I have no idea what the rules would be to that, but I know you can make up something good), put a foreign film on in the background for the atmosphere and make a game of figuring out who everyone is supposed to be.

Travel doesn’t just happen once a year when you get away from home, it’s something you can enjoy whenever you let your imagination run wild.


My Travel Fantasy: The Hotel Chocolat, St. Lucia

October 12, 2010

The Rabot Estate: Saint Lucia’s oldest cocoa estate

When I was in Boston last month I continued my travel tradition of seeking out the best local chocolate shops. Wherever I go in the world, I like to see what the locals are doing with my favorite food.

One new place I found was the Hotel Chocolat, which is not a hotel, but a shop – a wonderful store filled with gorgeous, tasty, quality chocolate goodies.

Once I got home I wanted to learn more about this place so I went to their website, and there I learned that there will be a real Hotel Chocolat opening at the end of the year in the West Indies.

The Hotel Chocolat offers spa services and other fancy activities, but it’s on a cocoa plantation, so you can also “Stroll the paths under the dappled light of the cocoa groves. Take part in the cocoa harvest. Let the sun-warmed beans on the drying trays trickle through your fingers. Take a guided Fruit Tasting Safari – as well as cocoa, the estate is home to guava, mango, banana, papaya, soursop, breadfruit and many more.”

Now, at $500 a night up, this is not a place I’m likely to visit anytime soon. It is, however, going at the top of my travel wish list. I think everyone should have a list of places they want to go and can realistically visit (Barcelona, Vegas, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), and then some places that might be less realistic.

Now, I could save up and spend two nights at this place, and it would be lovely, but as someone who has done a lot of budget travel I know that for the price of two nights in the lap of chocolate luxury, I could do two weeks in New Zealand, or a month in some parts of Asia. And the way my travel priorities are now, I’d rather travel longer than travel in style.

So I won’t be making a reservation just yet, but someday this kind of travel may be more within my reach, and I want to have my list ready (and my bags packed) for when that day comes.

Where would you go if money didn’t matter?


Now’s the Perfect Time to Try That

October 8, 2010

Your mom would look awesome in an orange life jacket.

Travel doesn’t have to come in big, month-long expeditions to the far reaches of the globe. Sometimes the thrill of travel can come in the shape of an afternoon doing something you’ve never done before, spending time with friends and learning something new about yourself.

And sometimes, adventure means taking your mom white water rafting.

The holidays are just a few paychecks away, and this year I think you should really surprise your family with something different. Maybe you can’t afford to take them to Italy for a week, but you can probably swing one of the day trips offered by Try That, a Canadian company that specializes in putting together unique experiences.

Has mom always wanted to drive a race car? Does dad dream of hang gliding? Does your little sister want to ride a horse or watch a whale? There are experiences for the adventurers in your life as well as those who would prefer to sip wine and watch butterflies.

Gift certificates are also available, so if you see something you like maybe you could hint that a Try That Freedom Voucher would make a gift.

Check out Try That now and get your holiday shopping done even before you finish your Halloween costume.