A Traveler’s Best Friend

If you travel often, you probably have the typical travel accessories covered. A neck pillow, some earplugs, or a money belt might make that list. But more than likely, there’s an overlooked and indispensable household item that probably hasn’t made it into your carry-on bag, duct tape. Like a TSA-friendly Swiss army knife, duct tape has evolved into a variety of sizes and colors. Miniature 2″ x 50″ rolls known as (“RediTape”) are small enough to fit in your pocket. Why bring duct tape on your next trip? Here are a few reasons:

  • Mark your luggage making it easy to recognize at baggage claim
  • Make an emergency repair to bags by taping over the tear from inside
  • Temporarily mend clothing or fix a shoe yb covering a hole from the inside
  • Remove lint from clothes
  • Protect any glass bottles you bring home as souvenirs by securing a folded strip of tape around the thickest part of the bottle
  • Seal opened food and beverage in checked baggage to precent spills
  • Deter theft by taping over luggage locks or sipper pulls of your bag
  • Make a label for just about anything with duct tape and a black marker
  • Baby proof your hotel room by covering outlets and securing drawers shut

Travel safe and ready with duct tape on your packing list.

 

Continue to check back for our favorite Travel Tips and don’t forget to book with Bonwi.

Top 10 Most Luxurious Hotels In The World

When comparing high-end hotels around the globe, there’s luxury and then there’s luxury. This week’s Travel Tip Tuesday explores the absolute pinnacle of hotel decadence. The top 10 hotels on our list offer impeccable service and accommodations that are second to none.

Burj Al Arab
Dubai, UAE

The Burj Al Arab has repeatedly been voted the world’s most luxurious hotel. It offers the finest and most comprehensive service, which includes an optional chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, helicopter trips from its iconic helipad, private beach access, terraces with pools and cabanas, as well as some of the world’s best dining venues.

 

Hotel President Wilson
Geneva, Switzerland

Hotel President Wilson is situated on the shore of Lemon Lake just steps from the most beautiful parks and the boutiques in the renowned Rue du Rhône. It offers wonderful panoramic views over Lake Geneva, the Alps, and Mont Blanc, as well as Michelin-starred cuisine from the famous Chef Michel Roth. The hotel is well-renowned as an international conference venue with 12 meeting rooms including an expansive ballroom that can accommodate up to 800 guests.

Waldorf Astoria
Orlando, Florida

Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers contemporary luxury nestled inside a 482-acre nature preserve. This hotel features stylish sophistication with countless amenities and personalized service. Guests will find no shortage of recreational activities for relaxation and entertainment. Enjoy an award-winning lazy river and world-class dining with 12 restaurants and lounges, including the famed Bull & Bear.

Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada

Situated on nearly 30 acres, the Palms Casino Resort is a boutique property with three distinct towers. Each offers unparalleled views of the fabulous Las Vegas Strip and the surrounding mountains. Recognized for its exceptional accommodations, high-energy night and day clubs, and world-renowned restaurants, the Palms is one of Las Vegas’ most sought-after resorts. It’s also the only hotel in the world with a suite that includes its own basketball court.

Rosewood CordeValle
San Martin, California

Surrounded by the picturesque countryside of San Martin, Rosewood CordeValle is the ideal sanctuary for recreation and relaxation. The property features a 260-acre, 18-hole championship golf course designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Jr, in addition to a full-service spa, a fitness center, tennis courts, hiking trails, and swimming pools.

Resort at Pedregal
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

From spacious guestrooms to four-bedroom Los Cabos suites, every room has an ocean view and a private terrace, providing unbelievable scenic views of an undisturbed landscape. Rooms feature refined design details that include curated reading material, premium amenities, plush bedding, a relaxing rainfall shower, and a private plunge pool.

Zarafa Camp
Selinda Reserve, Botswana

Zarafa Camp is renowned for its remarkable concentration of wildlife, predators in particular, and luxuriously-appointed tented accommodations. The boutique camp has only four campaign-style canvas suites offering travelers a unique experience of Africa. If you’re looking for indulgence, great game viewing, knowledgeable guides and service, this is the place.

Triple Creek Ranch
Darby, Montana

Triple Creek Ranch offers an all-inclusive vacation experience of rustic elegance, gourmet cuisine with an excellent wine list, and welcoming five-star service amidst a forested mountain retreat. Adult travelers enjoy a truly romantic setting with incomparable scenery, a wide variety of native wildlife, an almost endless menu of all-inclusive outdoor activities, and the option of adding on some of the finest off-ranch Western adventures in the United States.

Twin Farms
Barnard, Vermont

Nestled in a valley in northern Vermont’s Green Mountains, on 300 acres of rolling farmland, dense forest, gardens and ponds, Twin Farms is all-inclusive in the most exclusive sense. Guests enjoy gourmet cuisine, personalized menus, along with an endless supply of top-shelf liquor and fine wines (from a 26,000-bottle cellar). Available activities include hiking, biking, fly-fishing, canoeing, tennis, croquet, and come winter, ice skating, snow-shoeing, sledding and skiing on the resort’s private six-trail slope with all equipment provided.

Temple House
Chengdu, China

The Temple House Hotel is a stunning, luxury hotel in the heart of the vibrant city of Chengdu. The property is a distinctively different type of luxury hotel, where old-world grandeur and cutting-edge contemporary design seamlessly come together. Rooms are sleek and stylish with thoughtful design and generous amenities. The cafe, teahouse, two restaurants (Chinese and Western cuisine) and impressive heated swimming pool all carry the strong aesthetic of The Temple House.

Hear from our experts on all elements of travel as they share their personal experience and knowledge, which spans everything from fascinating must-see locations, to practical and informative suggestions. Let Bonwi.com help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet.

Why Convertible Reward Points Are Better Than Airline Miles

airlines don't deserve loyalty

airlines don't deserve loyalty

In case you haven’t noticed, the U.S. airlines don’t care much about you as a customer. Even the people who fly so much that they are at the top elite level status don’t always get upgraded, so even they are grumbling about the lousy service, the cramped seats, and the bare-bones amenities on the big 3 legacy airlines.

Plus the airlines are hitting you with every fee that they can legally get away with. You can no longer assume even international flights will get you a free checked bag unless you are on a superior foreign airline or on Southwest. They intentionally make it hard for you to figure this out too in the booking process, then hide the rules, ones almost guaranteed to result in a “gotcha fee.” On American Airlines, for example, a flight to Panama includes a bag, but one to Costa Rica does not.  For El Salvador it depends on the time of year. For Mexico and Colombia it depends on what city you’re landing in. No joke.

Having the airline’s credit card won’t get you out of the fees either. If you pull it out on an international flight with a bag fee, the airline agent will shake their head and say, “No, that’s only for domestic flight bag fees.” Why does the destination matter? Because you don’t matter, that’s why.

Airline Loyalty Doesn’t Pay

The only way to strike back at this system is to forget loyalty and either go for the best fare (Allegiant and Southwest will actually treat you better than American these days anyway) or to fly for free whenever possible.

It used to be rewarding to fly with a single airline and rack up frequent flyer miles. But now you don’t earn many miles from actually flying. Here’s what I earned on a recent flight all the way to Central America and back via Houston—for flying thousands of actual miles.

hotel miles versus airline miles

Notice that Houston to Tampa is 635 miles in one direction, but a paltry 235 “miles” the other direction. Driving 235 miles from Tampa would not even get me to Atlanta, but now the “miles” are based on airline revenue and fare class, not distance, a change that has drastically weakened how much you can earn for your loyalty. So now most airline miles come through credit card spending, not flying, because it’s a simpler penny per mile or more for spending, not a complicated formula that’s great for the airlines but terrible for the customer.

This is why you’re far better off collecting points and miles that can be used across multiple programs. Some credit cards allow you to do this, such as the Amex Membership Rewards program and the Chase Sapphire/Venture program. For the former you transfer the points in chunks whenever you want, topping off your airline miles account to get to a specific mileage level or transferring large enough amounts to get your whole ticket. For the Chase program, you simply use the points’ value to book any ticket, without going through the airlines.

Bonwi points work the same way as the Chase ones during redemption. If you have 30,000 Bonwi Rewards points, you purchase a $299 ticket and have a buck to spare. No blackout dates, no restrictions. You also don’t get dinged for taxes and fees like you would redeeming airline miles since that’s part of the ticket price. (I recently paid $77 for my “free” ticket to Belize on Delta and American Air once wanted nearly $300 in taxes and fees for an even less free ticket that stopped for a layover in London. Instead I flew Singapore Air through another airport instead with United miles and paid $49 in fees.)

Bonwi rewards points Chicago

Here’s the advantage though: it’s not simply a point per dollar or maybe two points you could get from Chase. You could conceivably spend $200 per night on a hotel but get more than 10,000 Bonwi Rewards points for a two-night stay. It’s not uncommon to see a payback of 15 to 30%.

If you really want to play this game right, pay for that hotel stay with a premium Chase card on top. Then you’re double-dipping without giving loyalty to an airline that doesn’t earn it. You won’t earn a paltry amount of airline miles that are hard to cash in, but a hefty amount of reward miles that have real value for redemption. Just one vacation can pay for another weekend away.

Vote with your wallet—instead of nostalgic airline loyalty—and reap bigger rewards for more travel with Bonwi Rewards!

Contributor Tim Leffel is author of one of the leading books on living abroad and is also author of Make Your Travel Dollars Worth a Fortune. See his regular rants on the Cheapest Destinations Blog

Five Fantastic Destination Spas In The Western United States

Finding complete relaxation sometimes requires escaping for a while to somewhere dedicated to making you feel new again. While hotels everywhere have spa programs, the western US is host to some of the nation’s top destination spas – resorts offering a full restorative experience including therapy, healthy cuisine, and wellness programs; often amid scenic views and perfect weather. We’ve selected this short list of destination spas in the western states based on their charm, amenities, quality, and the immersiveness of their programs.

Mii amo Spa At Enchantment Resort

Tucked away in the Coconino National Forest north of Phoenix, Arizona, Mii amo is a secluded destination spa perfect for finding your center. While Sedona’s red rock formations instill a sense of zen, Mii amo sits among them harmoniously, with an open and inviting architecture designed around its natural surroundings. The spa features massage techniques from around the globe and transformational activities including Native American inspired rituals and meditation. Hiking trails and a full calendar of fitness and wellness workshops keep your options rounded. Sessions are offered both outdoors and within Mii amo’s many scenic treatment rooms.

The Well Spa At Miramonte

Located in Southern California’s Palm Springs Desert community at the Miramonte Resort, The Well Spa is considered a favorite by locals and visitors alike. This charming Tuscan-inspired villa sits peacefully afoot the Santa Rosa Mountains, adorned with bougainvillea and cyprus , setting the perfect mood to unwind. The spa, covering 12,000 square feet (1.114 square meters), boasts three outdoor treatment spaces, saline pools, bench-water therapy, and a eucalyptus-infused steam room. Begin your spa experience by choosing a stone on which a word of intention is inscribed. This becomes a mantra for your journey to restoration. A few unique treatments offered by The Well Spa include their signature Sticks and Stones massage, a honey massage, a couples painting party using restorative muds.

Claremont Hotel Club & Spa

If you’d like to relax and visit the San Francisco Bay Area, think of the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa as your island in the city. This spa offers a robust menu of treatments and sweeping bay views within a lovingly restored resort dating back to 1915. Watch a sunset over San Francisco in the distance from open-bay windows during a eucalyptus bath therapy session. Customized hydrafacials, aromatherapy, and up to six styles of massage are among the spa therapy offerings. Unwind at your own pace while within minutes of an amazing food scene and northern California’s natural beauty. Feeling adventurous after relaxing? Work on your swing at the on-site tennis club, or take a day trip to San Francisco, coastal villages, or the nearby wine country.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

The coastal village of La Jolla, just minutes north of San Diego, California, is home to this luxury hotel and spa modeled as a charming spanish-colonial villa. Estancia sits on 10 acres of immaculately-curated gardens high on the cliffs above Torrey Pines state beach. It’s award-winning spa features a Sea Stone Massage, eucalyptus steam room, and a meditation garden with overstuffed pillows. Bringing someone special with you? An intimate couple’s bungalow featuring a private deck and outdoor soaking tub for two catches ocean breezes all day.

Spa By The Sea

On the island of Kauai, imagine a massage right on the beach, the sound of waves, and a scent of cocoa butter. Literally a spa by the sea, Hawaii’s Waipouli Beach Resort features beach massages, body treatments making use of volcanic ash (an antioxidant), and body wraps with noni fruit, used for centuries by traditional healers throughout the Pacific Islands. When you’re not enjoying the sun, sand, and natural beauty of Kauai, a Japanese Soaking Tub, Vichy Shower room, and Chiropractic suite offer additional ways to relax at this tropical-destination spa.

Feeling like it’s time to hit your reset button? We all deserve some time for ourselves now and then. Putting time on the calendar to decompress might be the best thing you do for yourself this year, and a destination spa out west waits to welcome you.

 

With Valentine’s Day tomorrow, a little last-minute booking for some rest and relaxation on Bonwi.com could be the perfect gift. And make sure you check back every Tuesday for our latest edition of Travel Tip Tuesday!

Six Best Cruise Lines for Winter

Hit the seas this winter to experience exotic locations around the world. In the past, traveling by ship was the main mode of transportation when covering long distances. Thousands of years of innovation have blessed us with luxury cruise ships that meet every expectation and satisfy every desire. Whatever your ideal voyage looks like, check out these six cruise lines to inspire a winter sailing of your choice.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line keeps it lively with its festive atmosphere and diverse entertainment options, with a large fleet of ships so there are many itineraries from which to choose with destinations including the Caribbean, Bahamas, Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. Carnival is known for being the cruise line for “every cruiser” that wants to have an ultra-fun escape without breaking the bank. Waterslides, sport courts, casinos, piano bars, stand-up comedy, and nightclubs make it the perfect experience for any age group. Carnival Cruise Line is highly suggested for people taking their first cruise.

Royal Caribbean International

Despite having “Caribbean” in its name, Royal Caribbean offers cruises to 269 destinations across 77 countries, on six continents. The cruise line’s fleet of ships is as diverse as its menu of destinations. Royal Caribbean offers large ships for entertainment and excitement, as well as smaller ships that are more intimate and relaxing. Their fleet offers a wide range of fun activities that include rock-climbing walls, zip lines, water slides, ice and inline skating, surf and skydiving simulators, plus many more.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line embodies a laid-back atmosphere that caters to the “freestyle cruising” approach. You won’t find any dress codes or fixed-dining times on their ships, but you will find plenty of on-board entertainment for the whole family. The “freestyle dining” system allows you to eat culturally-inspired cuisine on your own time. Norwegian’s 15-ship fleet sails around the world, with popular destinations that include Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and South America.

Holland American Line

Holland America cruise line is built on luxury and quality. Cooking and mixology workshops, photography classes, yoga and pilates classes, or relaxing in the spa are some of the enriching experiences on-board. Voyages last from one to 111 days, with global destinations like Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, Southeast Asia, Europe, South America, Antarctica, and more. Holland America prides itself on quality and comfort, so if you are someone seeking opulence, this is the cruise line for you.

Princess Cruises

From very modest beginnings in 1965 with one ship cruising to Mexico, Princess Cruises has now become one of the most premiere cruise lines in the world. Sail around the world to destinations that include Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, Europe, and the Caribbean. Whatever voyage you choose, Princess Cruises has created an experience on every boat filled with a refined atmosphere and personalized service.

Celebrity Cruises

Although Celebrity Cruises has a smaller fleet than its competitors, each of its ships feature beautiful upscale designs, innovative gourmet cuisine, and exceptional customer service. In short, if you are looking to get the most for you dollar, Celebrity Cruises is without question going to be one of the best options. The cruise line is currently in the process of constructing a one billion dollar ship to add to its existing extravagant fleet, so keep an eye out near the end of 2018 when rooms become available for its maiden voyage!

If you’re among those who are considering a first cruise, you won’t be disappointed with any one of these fantastic cruise lines. From luxury and relaxation, to excitement and energy, these massive ships offer something for every type of traveler – you can’t go wrong!

 

Ready to cruise away? Check out Bonwi.com for any accommodations before or after your departure. And stay tuned to our blog to hear from our experts on all elements of travel as they share their personal experience and knowledge, which spans everything from fascinating must-see locations, to practical and informative suggestions.

Top Winter Villages

Do you become active and engaged during winter months, or do you prefer to hibernate? Do you like to shop, be outdoors, or cuddle by a fire? The small-town lifestyle of American villages offer a way to relax and do whatever you like at a slower pace. After all, what is better than a getaway that leaves all the hustle and bustle behind? We’ve handpicked a few winter wonderlands that have something for everyone, so lean back as we take you through them.

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Vail offers world-class skiing in a town that encompasses all the charm of a European alpine village. This city lives up to its reputation as a top entertainment and shopping destination. The slopes at Vail offer a wide range of terrain from kid-friendly to expert. Skiers with children love Vail because kids can attend a thorough ski school as they indulge on the resort’s diverse terrain. At day’s end, sip hot cocoa while walking the village’s cobblestone streets, perusing its wide selection of restaurants.

Berkshires, Massachusetts

The Berkshires’ winter is what inspired the picturesque romantic white Christmas scenes we see around the holidays. New England is full of dreamy small towns with classic red barns, open roads, great food, and friendly people. Look anywhere for scenery that appears right out of a painting. Make sure to stop by the Blantyre Hotel to see the 110-foot decorated Christmas tree. You can rent rooms with a traditional fireplace and four-poster beds. Step outside into the sparkling snow and enjoy a sleigh ride.

Cannon Beach is located on the beautiful coast of northern Oregon. It’s a city that remains calm and quaint in spite of its relatively close proximity to its neighboring city of Portland. You can find arguably the best coffee in the United States around any corner. Cooler weather during winter months make prices favorable to visitors. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with a view, Cannon Beach should be at the top of your list. A stay at the Blue Gull Inn will have you situated right near the famous Haystack Rock.

This desert oasis takes on a new feel in the winter. There’s something magical about seeing Arizona’s fiery-red mountain tops dusted in sparkly snow. Winter is the best season to save on hotels and avoid crowds. Driving through the canyons, catching a hot-air balloon ride, or gazing at the unobstructed night sky are just a few of the many relaxing things to do here. Are you looking to get away for some peace and quiet? Sedona, Arizona is waiting for you.

Located at the foot of California’s Sierra Mountains, this popular ski village hosts visitors from around the world for some of the best winter sports west of the Rockies. Mammoth Mountain overlooks Lake Tahoe with a view of the surrounding Sierra peaks. Last year Mammoth Mountain had the longest ski season in California’s history, 270 days, getting 51 feet of snowfall at the basecamp. The skiing is great for all skill levels. There are three amazing lodges we recommend: Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, and Eagle Lodge. Each are luxurious and cater to your every desire. Be sure to grab an après-ski beer at one of the village’s handful of micro-breweries.

Visit Bonwi.com to start planning your winter retreat. You’ll be packing your mittens and sharing hot chocolate by the fireside soon enough!

Achieve Your Travel Dreams

Are there places you would love to visit? How long have you dreamt of doing so? With these tips, turn your travel dreams into reality.

No Excuses

Fill in the blank: I would like to travel more, but I cannot travel right now because _____. Write down your excuses and look at them. Acknowledge that when you make excuses, you are using your own power against yourself. Remember, many people with similar challenges are already traveling in spite of those challenges.

Pick Your Destination

Choose one specific place to travel to, such as a city or island. Pick your next destination based on where you most desire to visit next. Make the decision process no more difficult than choosing your next meal. There are many benefits to traveling the world and escaping your comfort zone. You’ll enjoy the adventure that comes with experiencing unique cultures, meeting different people, seeing new places, and creating lifelong memories.

Create Certainty

Place a pin in a paper map and do not move it until you have been there and back. You are going to this place, and you are going to start making it happen now. This is your reality. If you want to visit this place, nothing can stop you from getting there. Whatever challenges present themselves, you will overcome them. You cannot be stopped.

Obsess Over Your Destination

Use Google Maps to look up your destination. Study the layout of the land. Start thinking about what you will see and do while you are there. Know that soon you will be there seeing those places firsthand. Turn your favorite photo of the destination into a new wallpaper on your computer or mobile device. The reason this obsession process is important is that it gradually moves your goal from the realm of fantasy into the realm of reality.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned to Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

 

Check out Bonwi.com – the best travel deals so you can travel more often, everywhere your heart desires!

The 2017 List Of Best Natural Hot Springs In The United States

Hot springs have long been known to have therapeutic value thanks to the complex mineral compounds they contain and the tranquil landscapes that surround them. Natural thermal springs relax sore muscles, boost circulation, and soothe both mind and spirit. Below are our five favorite hot springs found throughout the United States.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park was nicknamed “The American Spa” in 1832 when President Andrew Jackson designated the Hot Springs as the first federal reservation. The actual park is closed to swimmers, though you can take a dip in the historic Bathhouse Row where the warm water is pumped into several hotels and spas. For a truly local experience, visit Deluca’s for a slice of pizza that mixes spring water with the dough, then wash it down with a pint of beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery which also sources water from the springs for its brews.

Homestead Crater, Utah

This unique hot spring is hidden within a beehive-shaped crater that was formed by nature over a span of approximately 10,000 years. The hole at the top of the dome lets in sunlight and fresh air while the mineral water in the interior remains heated at a constant range of 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit (32-35 degrees Celsius). Visitors can go swimming, scuba dive, snorkel, enjoy a therapeutic soak, or take a paddleboard yoga class.

Long before Steamboat Springs was known for its world class skiing and luxury resorts, the 150 geothermal hot springs that dot the landscape were highly sought after and revered among Native Americans and pioneers. The best time to take a dip in the 104°F (40°C) degree mineral baths is in the middle of winter while snowflakes gently gather all around you. Resort spas in the area offer a wide variety of relaxation and therapeutic massages.

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, California

The eastern side of Sierra Nevada is loaded with natural hot springs, with many hidden away and tricky to locate. Just south of a town called Mammoth Lakes is a vast maze of warm pools called Wild Willy’s Hot Springs. The springs here are free to use, ranging from 95-105°F (35-40°C), with striking views of the beautiful Sierra range.

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska

The Chena Hot Springs were discovered in 1905 by gold prospectors seeking to ease their sore, aching muscles brought on by malnutrition and grueling work. The springs are at the center of a 40-square-mile (103-square-kilometer) geothermal area that produces a steady stream of 165°F (74°C) water that must be cooled before anyone can soak in it. Chena Hot Springs is an amazing place to catch breathtaking, complimentary light shows from the Aurora Borealis.

All Said
There are numerous benefits associated with bathing in natural hot springs. You can treat muscle aches, joint pains, clear up skin ailments, detoxify the body, relax the mind, and do all of those things while enjoying the beautiful venue of the surrounding area. Take a trip to any of these relaxing and tranquil hot springs and your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.

Smart Phone Apps for Travelers

Smartphone and Tablet Apps can be useful before and while traveling. You can greatly extend your device’s usefulness by downloading additional tools, such as restaurant reviews, translators, and transportation apps. These apps are available on most Apple, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry platforms.

Preparation

These apps will help you prepare for your trip before heading out. Packpoint is an app that automatically generates a checklist for you around weather forecasts, particular activities, and general necessities to help you pack. XE Currency is one of the most robust currency converter apps available. It is constantly updated to offer live exchange rates for “every world currency and precious metals”.

Getting Around

You’ve arrived at your destination, but how do you get around? The following apps will help. Uber is the global leader of ride-sharing apps that allows you to request a car directly after choosing from an assortment of differing vehicle rates and fare quotes. Google Maps is one of the best navigation apps around. Citymapper is one of the best tools to find and utilize public transportation.

Local Knowledge

These apps suggest the best-rated places to eat or visit. TripAdvisor allows you to quickly find millions of reviews, opinions, videos, and photos pertaining to just about anything related to your trip. Yelp has become the official Yellow Pages of restaurants and bars. It’s an excellent resource for when you’re looking to hit some of the best spots in the country you’re visiting.

Translation

These apps help you to translate on the go or brush up on your language skills. Google Translate provides translations for more than 103 different languages. Either type something in a foreign language, or have someone speak clearly into your microphone for an immediate translation. Duolingo is a well-designed language learning app. Just like a computer game, the app guides you through levels that help you learn the basics, or keep yourself fresh on the grammar and vocabulary of a foreign language.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned to Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

 

Ready to get out and explore? Check out Bonwi.com and start planning!

Top Family-Friendly Resorts

Planning that family vacation? Looking for a resort that is both relaxing and kid-friendly? Check out some of our top picks of resorts that makes time off with the kids as good as it gets.

Beaches Resort Villages & Spa
Turks & Caicos Islands
This family favorite (voted a T+L World’s Best Hotel for Families) has a Scratch DJ Academy, a 45,000-square-foot water park, a surfing simulator, and 12 miles of white-sand beach.
Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa
St. Lucia
St. Lucia’s largest water park, with slides, waterfalls, and a lazy river. The resort hosts a kids’ club, family karaoke, zip lining, tree house, mini rock wall, and movie nights.
Tyler Place Family Resort
Vermont
The property hosts up to 70 families weekly, but what sets it apart is that there are nine age-specific camps designed for infants and kids up to 15 years old.
Ski Portillo
Chile
Amenities include: seven days of lift tickets, four meals a day, fitness center, pool, yoga classes, a kids’ game room, climbing wall and movies. Free childcare is available for kids ages 4-7.
Paradisus La Perla
Mexico
Milk & cookies at turndown, mini-bathrobes, a kid-friendly mini-bar, and complimentary walkie-talkie or local cell phone are just some of the thoughtful touches you can expect.
Skytop Lodge
Pennsylvania
You can zip line through the Tree Top Adventure Course, play laser tag or paintball, set off on a GPS-guided nature hike, or, in the winter, go dogsledding with the resort’s own team of huskies.

 

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned to Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel. And don’t forget to start planning your kid-friendly vacation with Bonwi.com.

Traveling with Children like a Pro

Pulling off a great family vacation requires a lot of planning, patience and effort. You’ll get better at all this, the more you travel. Here are the top tips for having a great time while traveling with children.

Give Them a Camera

Giving a child their own (robust, child-friendly) camera encourages them to observe their surroundings and focus on what interests them. You might be surprised at the results from their knee-high view.

Digital Toy Box

Thanks to child-friendly apps, there’s no need to cram a toy box into your hand luggage when travelling by plane. By all means take a book and a magic scribbler, but the most compact form of entertainment is a device loaded with apps and games.

Invest in a Child Locator

Children aren’t fans of reins, backpacks with a leash. Keep tabs on them anywhere with a child locator. The child wears a small “electronic device” (strapped to a belt or shoe) and you keep the transmitter. If you lose your child, set off the alarm and follow the sound to find them.

Book Ahead

Trying to retain the spontaneity of travel before having children doesn’t pay off. If you arrive at your destination to find you can’t get a room and have to hit the road again with tired, hungry children melting down in the backseat.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Stay tuned to Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

Looking for a deal so you can spend more on the kids? Check out Bonwi.com!

Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

There’s nothing better than giving gifts that people will really use, especially for friends and family who frequently travel. With the holidays fast approaching, this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday focuses on gift ideas that make travel easier and more enjoyable for those in your life.

Travel Books

Before visiting a new destination, most travelers love to read up on where they are headed. Travel books are full of information about local highlights, directions/ways on how to reach them, and what to expect upon arrival. You might also consider including a day pass or membership to a local museum alongside the travel book/guide.

Travel Clothing

One pro travel tip is to be prepared for anything, and clothing is no exception. Whether the person receiving your gift will be roaming the streets of London or the trails of Machu Picchu, brands like L.L. Bean and REI design travel-focused clothing with features such as hidden/extra pockets, wrinkle-free fabrics, and easy layering. Consider gifting a lightweight and wind-resistant jacket, fashion forward all-terrain footwear, or a comfortable pair of jeans that can handle the wear and tear of being on the road.

Dry Bag

You’d be surprised how handy a dry bag can be while traveling; particularly for the travelers in your life who enjoy kayaking trips, hiking, or any kind of adventure travel. A dry bag keeps clothing, food, electronics, or anything else sealed airtight. It’s an inexpensive gift that can prove invaluable during a sudden thunderstorm.

Travel Towels

Not all towels are made equal. A quick-dry travel towel is essential for most backpackers and hostel goers because they’re easily repacked without dampening the rest of your belongings. Full-sized travel towels take up much less room than regular towels because of their micro-fiber design.

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are essentially small bags that are packed separately before anything is added to your suitcase. They also help keep everything organized and protect belongings from water damage, spilled shampoo or toothpaste, etc. They can be purchased individually or as a set and are an ideal way to keep any suitcase neat and tidy. Clothes and other travel items can be grouped together to make unpacking and repacking a breeze.

Portable Games & Journal

Small games can offer a little entertainment for a long plane, train, or bus trip. Not only will they help pass the time, they can also give you a reason to get to know the passengers sitting nearby if you invite them to join. A journal is also a great gift idea, as it allows travelers a means to pass the time and keep record of their new experiences made along the way.

While you’ve got many gifting options this coming holiday season, just remember that a travel gift will go far, and remind them of you when they’re away.

 

Stay tuned for the latest edition of Travel Tip TuesdayHear from our experts on all elements of travel as they share their personal experience and knowledge, which spans everything from fascinating must-see locations, to practical and informative suggestions.  Ready to explore? Let Bonwi help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet.

Best Time to Book December Travel

When is the best time to book December travel? It’s a simple question, but the answer depends on a few things, namely your plans, your flexibility, and the type of travel you’re taking. Because December is a busy travel month, finding the best rates requires a strategy. With that in mind, we’ve crunched historical travel data for December so as to provide you with better insight on how best to book travel in the coming months.

Flights Vs. Hotels

The first thing to consider is the difference between airfare savings and hotel savings. Airlines have become increasingly adept over the years at ensuring that every possible seat on the plane is filled before takeoff. Hotels, on the other hand, have far more flexibility in their booking availability, leaving ample opportunity for last minute deals.

The Best Time To Book December Flights

Some travelers are still under the impression that the earlier you book a flight, the better rates you’ll get. We found that 20% of travelers in 2016 booked their December flights at least 70 days before their departure date. On average, these passengers paid 70% more than those who purchased their tickets during the optimal booking window. It’s worth noting that longer-haul flights tend to get booked earlier and that this plays a part in higher prices, since the best deals are rarely found when booking more than 70 days in advance.

We also know that booking flights last-minute can be costly. Despite this, nearly 10% of travelers waited until just 10 days before booking their flight, and we found that travelers who booked flights within a week of their departure date paid nearly 50% more than those who booked during the optimal booking window. So what is the optimal booking window? Travelers booking flights from 60 to 70 days prior to departure saw the lowest ticket prices.

The Best Time to Book Hotels in December

On the contrary, we found that it pays to wait when it comes to hotels. Last December, the lowest hotel rates came to those travelers who booked from 1 to 25 days before their check-in date. Those looking for rooms over New Year’s Eve, saw rooms become substantially cheaper over the last few days leading up to the holiday – as much as 40% less than the average price 30 days out from check-in. Booking hotels last-minute can pay off, but just remember:

  • Exceptionally popular destinations, like Manhattan over New Year’s Eve, may book-up quite early. By comparison, a beach cottage on California’s Central Coast could likely offer a fantastic last-minute deal.
  • The number of travelers booking last minute hotel rooms (1 and 2 days out) skyrockets, meaning you some of the better options may sell out quickly. Keep an eye on availability.
  • Being flexible on the type of hotel and its location can go a long way. A mid-range hotel may offer a great rate, buy a luxury hotel may offer something even deeper. See what your budget affords you across different classes of hotels.

So What’s Your Best Strategy?

Road-Trip: Pump the breaks on booking early, unless visiting an exceptionally popular destination where hotel options will be limited. Watch rates dip as your desired check-in date approaches, then strike when it feels right.

Just A Flight: Confirm your travel plans now, you’re in the optimal booking window of 60-70 days prior to departure.

Flight + Hotel: Decide how much flexibility you have within your itinerary. Book your flight now. Monitor hotel prices and availability as your trip approaches. If you’re taking an extended trip over the last week of the year, consider booking a room in advance for the first half, then making a second reservation mid trip in order to save the most money.

 

Whether booking December travel or any time of year travel, check out Bonwi.com for your next getaway. And don’t forget to continue to check out our blog every Tuesday for more Travel Tips. Let Bonwi make sure your next adventure is the best one yet!

Four Amazing Ideas for the Upcoming Festivities

Each year on the fourth Thursday in November, Americans traditionally gather for a day of festivities that typically revolves around feasting, football and family. No matter how or when your traditions first started though, there is nothing in the rulebook that prevents you from making some adjustments, or even starting traditions completely anew. In this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday, we have included some ideas to help inspire you to spice up the festivities soon to come.

Mother Nature’s Artwork

Viewing the changing leaves during autumn is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to experience America’s natural beauty. The crisp air and bright colors inspire travelers to embrace the outdoors. Cooler weather makes it the perfect time to go for a hike or embark on a road trip to admire the stunning fall foliage. As temperatures drop and days grow shorter, nature seemingly transforms into a masterpiece of color all around us. There is no shortage of beautiful fall scenery to be explored across the United States, and you don’t have to travel far to take part in the phenomenon. From New England to the Pacific Northwest, deciduous trees put on their dazzling display for everyone to enjoy.

Celebrating In The Big City

While big cities typically feature skyscrapers and paved roads in place of trees shedding their leaves, their abundance of restaurants, parades and seasonal activities more than make up for the lack of autumn colors. In fact, big cities can be awesome places to partake in festivals. There is nothing quite like the spectacle and extravagance of a parade marching through downtown streets. We highly recommend traveling to New York City this year to attend the Macy’s Day Parade. It is an amazingly entertaining event, and vastly different in person than on television. It’s guaranteed to be an experience you’ll never forget.

Wine Country and Orchards

During the fall harvest season, some of the best places to visit are wine-country regions from California to Virginia. It’s easy to combine leaf-peeping with stops at farmers’ markets and apple orchards, not to mention seasonal treats such as cider, donuts, and pumpkin pie. For families, autumn’s corn mazes, hayrides, and roster of kid-friendly festivals are added incentives to keep traveling after school is back in session.

Resort Getaway

Several hotels and resorts around the United States make the upcoming festivities completely streamlined and easy, allowing you more time to sit back and enjoy each day alongside your family. Doesn’t it seem more appealing to cozy up in a luxurious hotel and have the hard work done for you, rather than stress for hours in the kitchen preparing a seemingly endless feast? All you have to do is eat, sleep, and relax. Family-oriented resorts offer fun activities during the coming months such as building gingerbread houses, creating and decorating wreaths, or turning butter, marshmallows, and popcorn into delicious treats!

 

Stay tuned for the latest edition of Travel Tip Tuesday where you hear from our experts on all elements of travel as they share their personal experience and knowledge, which spans everything from fascinating must-see locations, to practical and informative suggestions. Let Bonwi help ensure that your next getaway is the best one yet.

Travel Tips to Simplify Your Thanksgiving Travels

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of traveling during the Thanksgiving season, you know the roads and airports are always jammed. Here are expert tips and tricks for making one of the busiest travel holidays of the year easier than ever. You can thank us later!

Be Mindful and Thoughtful

Can holiday travel feel stressful? Does it help to take out your frustration on fellow passengers and travelers? It doesn’t have to be this way. Frame your journey as an exciting adventure. Everyone traveling has a similar goal to celebrate Thanksgiving with loved ones. Practice slowing your breathing if long lines or traffic are causing you stress.

Travel Light

Everyone flying will be packing carry-ons to accommodate their journey. Overhead compartments will fill up quickly. Try to pack everything into a backpack that will fit under the seat in front of you. If you have gifts or bulky items, consider shipping them to your final destination ahead of time.

Travel at Odd Times

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, closely followed by the Sunday after the big day. Fly to your destination a few days early and fly back on Friday when the masses are out shopping the best deals of the year. Drive through the night to avoid traffic.

Stay Connected

Smartphone users can take advantage of apps that provide updates on airline statuses, road traffic, weather, and current news. Social media is a great resource to be the first place to hear about anything that might go wrong with your flight. Airlines can also be more responsive to public pleas of assistance on social media.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Read more of our Travel Tip Tuesdays for more in-depth information about the best way to travel. After picking up a few tips, start planning your Thanksgiving travel with Bonwi.com.

Exploring the Seven Seas

Whether you are a beginner or just need a refresher, this week’s Travel Tip Tuesday explores what elements to consider for your next trip below the surface.

Gear Up Sensibly

Do your homework, watch for sales, and then when the time is right, make your move to save money.

Buy Don’t Rent: This may seem counter-intuitive, but when you’re looking at the big picture it’s less costly to buy scuba gear and/or snorkeling equipment than it is to rent. This becomes more apparent the longer you own your items, which can be a very long time given proper care. Though it may make sense initially to rent your gear until you’ve determined what sizes and brands best suit your needs, owning will reduce the expense of future dives to little more than air tank refills and cleaning supplies.

Consider a One-Brand Package Deal: Find three or four big items that strike your fancy, all from the same manufacturer, and buy them together as a package deal. Doing so will afford you more room to negotiate down the sticker price(s).

Ask For Free Air: When making a major gear purchase, it’s a good idea to request a little extra from the vendor (e.g. Five free tank refills as part of the sale). Such requests are often granted, particularly by established dive stores.

Shop Around For Used And Generic Items: Dry boxes, general-purpose bags, first-aid kits, tools — anything you need that’s not unique to diving may likely be found for less money at big box stores.

Keep Top Of Mind…

Always thoroughly check your equipment before every dive. Take care of your gear, and it will take care of you. Wash and soak each item in fresh water after every saltwater dive, and allow them to dry thoroughly out of the sun to maximize their lifespan. With regular inspections you can detect and fix small tears and loose fasteners before they turn into costly problems. Warning signs of faulty equipment include air leaks, broken buckles, strange smelling/tasting air, and a jumping needle on your air gauge when you take a breath out of your regulator. Store your gear someplace dry that is out of the sun.

While you’re under the surface, it’s easy to be mesmerized by what exists below you. Don’t forget to look upward into the blue every once in a while. Much of the time that is where the larger sea creatures or schools of fish will be located. Enjoy exploring the countless sights there are to see, and bring with you a waterproof camera to record all the fascinating things that are indeed unlike anything on Earth.

Pick Your Perfect Venue

Do you prefer wrecks, sea life, caverns, drift dives, underwater scenery – some of each? Give thought to what sounds best and determine your diving location based off of what you’re after. Do you want to be somewhere that’s ideal for beginners? Somewhere that’s known for its photographic brilliance? There are endless diving locations available to meet your every preference. Below are a few of our favorites for you to consider:

Barracuda Point – Malaysia

Schools of circling sharks and barracuda congregate beside massive walls of coral in Malaysia’s Barracuda Point.

Great Barrier Reef – Australia

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is home to manta rays, octopi, turtles, bull sharks, clouds of fish, and the most spectacular coral found anywhere.

Cayman Islands – Caribbean

Amazingly deep drop-offs, fascinating shipwrecks, and some of the coolest coral in the Caribbean can be found underwater in the Cayman Islands.

Sharm El Sheikh – Egypt

A British vessel, the Thistlegorm, sank in 1941 and its cargo of war supplies is now a coral-covered home to numerous forms of sea life here in Egypt.

Great Blue Hole – Belize

More than 300 feet across and 412 feet deep, the Great Blue Hole in Belize is outlined by coral reef and inhabited by sharks.

 

Ready for some underwater fun? Plan your next adventure with Bonwi.com!

Tips on Saving During Your European Getaway


Looking for budget friendly tips for your next European getaway? Below are our top cost-effective tips to consider during your European travels.

Traveling by foot or on public transportation will help you appreciate the beauty found within cities, and will save on expenses as well. Use public transport in place of taxis, and buy 24-hour, 3-day or even weekly public transport passes, which work out cheaper than single tickets.

Take advantage of “Welcome Cards”, such as those found in Berlin, Germany, which includes free public transportation and many discounts to sights, tours, restaurants, museums and more.

Use ATMs rather than travelers checks. You’ll get your cash cheaper and faster. While ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with transaction fees. Minimize these fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Store the cash safely in your money belt.

Buying your maps in Europe will cost a fraction of domestic prices, plus you’re likely to find a wider selection.

Take advantage of leisurely ferry trips along coastlines, tandem-bicycles, or even horse-drawn carriage rides. Such means of transportation are not only means of saving money, but also perfect opportunities for relaxation and stress-free personal time to reconnect.

Trimming your budget certainly doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your trip, and in many cases doing so will result in a far more intimate, rewarding, and unforgettable getaway.

Tips on Eating in Europe

While in Europe, food is enjoyed as much as art, language, and traditions. From sampling local hidden gems to experiencing farmer’s markets, here are some tips eating in Europe while on your travels.

Do Your Research

Scout out authentic eateries to experience the true local cuisine. Go online and spend some time writing down a list of restaurants that represent the cultural local dishes you are looking for. Most of the time authentic restaurants are not located on the touristy main streets.

Tipping is Optional

Not tipping the usual 15%-20% is okay. Don’t worry, you’re not being rude. The prevailing culture in Europe is to not leave excessive tips. You can leave a few euros if you feel inclined.

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are a good way to find high quality food at a reasonable price and an exciting cultural experience. Farmers’ markets can be found somewhere in any city just about every day of the week.

Drink in Public

Europe has fairly lax laws about drinking in public. This means it is perfectly acceptable to enjoy a beer or bottle of wine in a park or other outdoor spaces.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Read more Travel Tips for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

Tips on How to Avoid Lines and Crowds

If you want to save precious time during your travels, you’ll need to steer clear of those crowds. Here is our advice to avoid wasting hours of your day standing in lines.

Brave the Weather

If the weather forecast doesn’t look great, it pays off to brave it. Bad weather tends to deter or shorten sightseer’s visits. A rainy day on a Saturday will most likely delay most people’s visit by one day. If it starts to rain, don’t run to the exit, stay while others leave.

Get in Early or Leave Last

Attractions are less crowded when 1.) People have not arrived yet or 2.) People have already left for the day. The time after the doors open and before closing are vital times to avoid crowds and lines. Do not feel rushed to leave until they ask you to, you won’t be locked in for the night.

Avoid High Traffic Hours

Every attraction will inform you of their operating hours. Take a look at the scheduled opening hours to get an idea of how crowded it might be. If the attraction is open later, they are expecting it to be busier on that day, and if the attraction is open less hours on a certain day, the attendance will be less.

Buy Tickets Ahead of Time

Look online to check if the attraction you are visiting offers online tickets. Most venues let visitors skip the line if they’ve reserved online. If you don’t purchase ahead of time and there is a long line at the ticket counter, still check on your smartphone for tickets.

By using these tips as a guideline, you can better organize and prepare for your trip. Check out our Travel Tip section for more in-depth information about the best way to travel.

How to Hit the Savings Jackpot in Las Vegas

Las Vegas hotels at night

An experienced gambler can tell you how to avoid getting fleeced at the Las Vegas casino tables, but there are also ways the cards are stacked against you as a visitor spending vacation money. Whether you’re betting or not, you have to play the Vegas visitor game correctly to keep the odds in your favor. Here are some of the best ways to shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off your tab.

Avoid the Weekends

You may think a weekend trip to Las Vegas is a good idea, but so does everyone else. The city is driving distance to Los Angeles and a short direct flight from many other markets. That means huge crowds converge on Friday nights and leave on Sunday. Bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, birthdays, guys/gals weekends away, and on it goes. If there’s a reason to celebrate, this is a natural destination for the occasion.

That means prices double or triple most weekends. If you can come on a Sunday instead or leave on a Friday, you can still find unbelievably low rates in these massive hotels. Just remember to factor in the extra “resort fee” that gets you what’s normally included in the rates elsewhere: this hated practice is a common one at area hotels.

Avoid Major Convention Periods

The USA’s biggest convention city can absorb a lot of visitors at once: MGM Grand Hotel alone has more than 5,000 rooms. When a massive conference is in town though, even the biggest properties can fill up and rates rise accordingly. If the Society of Medical Diagnostic Sonography is town (1,700 attendees), no big deal. But when the Consumer Electronics Show brings in 165,000 people, you probably want to change your plans. See this Vegas convention calendar for details.

Widen Your Hotel Horizons

downtown Las Vegas hotelSure, it’s fun to be at a famous hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and you can find some legendary choices there, but there are literally more than 100 places to choose from. Prices in the prestige hotels are inflated for nearly everything, so browse around to find the best value. You may want to spend at least part of your time downtown. There you’ll find a revitalized area that’s walkable, filled with fun bars, restaurants, and the Container Park. Hotels such as the Golden Nugget, Plaza Hotel, and California Hotel have poured millions into renovations and their pool complexes in recent years.

Watch for Promotional Deals

The days when Vegas was a bargain-hunters paradise started fading when the corporations started gobbling up all the hotels and casinos. There are still plenty of great values around though if you keep your eye out for coupon books, loyalty sign-up bonuses, and off-peak buffets. Casinos still want to get you in the door and any restaurant that’s not full regularly will do what they can to pull in the crowds. If you’re flexible with your plans, you can score free bets and great meals at a discount. (And hey, it’s okay to just hang out by a beautiful pool all day.)

Las Vegas swimming pool

Use Public Transportation, Uber, and Lyft

Las Vegas taxi drivers have seen it all, but unless you want to pay for a good story there are better ways to get around the city. The overtaxed (and quick route-challenged) drivers aren’t usually the best option anymore to get from A to B. A bus runs from downtown through the strip, a monorail is a block off the strip, and the usual rideshare services are always on the move.

Get the best rates on Las Vegas hotels and get the most points back by booking with Bonwi.