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Ever dream of living free at sea? Now you can get a taste of this unique, if not quirky, lifestyle by renting one for your next vacation. These floating lodgings afford guests privacy paired with an offbeat—and often awe-inspiring—vantage point for exploration. Houseboat options range from yachts and sailboats to retrofitted tugboats and barges to customized floating suites.

Even if you don’t harbor a deep-seeded desire to play “captain” for your entire vacation, why not be adventurous for a night or two? Here are seven houseboats around the world, all bookable on Orbitz, that will inspire a brag-worthy, maritime adventure.

RELATED: 7 incredible tentalows you can book now

Photo courtesy of Marvel Cruise Alleppey Houseboats

1. Kerala, India: Marvel Cruise Alleppey Houseboats

Float along the emerald backwaters of Kerala, in southern India, on a luxury kettuvallam. This translates to “boat with knots” as the entire boat is held together with coir knots joining together planks of wood; no nails are used in the construction. This Old World mode of travel is now a popular way for travelers to experience the peaceful waters of Alleppey, also known as the “Venice of the East.” Marvel Cruise Alleppey Houseboats offers 16 renovated kettuvallam options that rival many 4-star hotels, with air-conditioning, premium bedding and bespoke service throughout your stay.

Photo courtesy of Authentic Houseboats Amsterdam

2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Authentic Houseboats Amsterdam

Amsterdam is known for its colorful canals and bike culture. Combine both by booking a houseboat south of the downtown action via Authentic Houseboats Amsterdam and renting a bike that’ll zip you to popular sites. You’ll feel like a Dutch local. The houseboat features four rooms that sleep up to six people, as well as a kitchenette, shower, a flat-panel TV with cable and free WiFi.

Photo courtesy of Catari Luxury Yacht

3. Los Cabos, Mexico: Catarí Luxury Yacht

With iconic sights such as Land’s End and The Arch nearby, this yacht provides a luxurious on-the-water home in Los Cabos. The houseboat has four air-conditioned guestrooms and a rooftop terrace where guests can enjoy the cooked-to-order breakfast included with their stay. Keep an eye out for playful whales and dolphins from your perch, and use the free WiFi onboard to make friends on social media insanely jealous of your whereabouts.

Photo courtesy of Hollywood Apartments and Barges

4. Liverpool, England: Hollywood Apartments & Barges

Brag to friends about your own version of a “magical mystery tour” by staying on a renovated barge in the city center of Liverpool, birthplace of The Beatles. Hollywood Apartments & Barges is adjacent to A Beatles Story, the world’s largest permanent museum devoted to the legendary band, as well as a short walk to other sites and tours that honor the Fab Four. After a “hard day’s night,” return to your purple barge that sleeps up to six, with its two bedrooms and en suite bathroom. The boat also comes with a Hollywood legacy: It was originally built for use by Jack Nicholson’s character in the “Batman” film. Hence its purple decor and name, The Joker.

RELATED: We’re all a “boat” saving you money. Sign up for Orbitz Rewards now!

Photo courtesy of Copenhagen Houseboat

5. Copenhagen, Denmark: Copenhagen Houseboat

Smack in the middle of Copenhagen‘s city center you’ll find this renovated ferry, which for 45 years journeyed as a passenger vessel around the German-Danish border. With four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace and a full kitchen, it accommodates up to seven people—ideal for traveling groups. The Copenhagen Houseboat is super stylish following its 2014 overhaul, evoking the clean and modern aesthetic famous in Scandinavian design.

Photo courtesy of MS Cutty Jean

6. Sliema, Malta: MS Cutty Jean

Wake up to a sunrise over the sea, while on the sea, in Malta. This island chain in the Mediterranean, between Sicily and the North African Coast, is home to fortresses, temples and the MS Cutty Jean. This four-room boat holds decades of maritime history, made from time-tested wood and updated in 2014 to include the latest modern conveniences and technology.

Photo courtesy of

7. Eilat, Israel: Red Sea Yachts

Sail the Red Sea, home to world-class SCUBA diving and crimson-colored mountain views, aboard a luxury yacht or sailboat from Red Sea Yacht. The houseboats include four air-conditioned bedrooms, living rooms and dining areas, and a 24-hour staff and crew to assist from check-in to check-out.

TIP: Orbitz offers a variety of unique and offbeat accommodations. To book, just go to Orbitz.com After you select your destination and travel dates, check out the “Filter Properties By” column to the left of the resulting hotel selections. You can sort by “Property Type” and “Vacation Rentals” to uncover cool options such as villas, houseboats, tentalows, castles and more.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Beach Vacation, Europe Vacation, International vacation

Erica Bray

Erica Bray

Erica is a practical free spirit who loves travel, yoga and ice cream. A Northwestern University-trained journalist with more than 15 years of experience straddling digital and broadcast media, Erica can be found doing handstands everywhere she travels -- even risking arrest in some cases. Learn about her at www.erica.media.
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Live out a fairytale fantasy on your next vacation by booking a room in a castle. Yes, you read that right: Castles aren’t just places to admire by day. The most discerning of travelers can spend a night (or two or three …) in a select few sprinkled around the globe. Many have been renovated to include modern conveniences, without sacrificing Old World ambience, which makes for an unforgettable (and highly Instagrammable) experience.

RELATED: Check out these 7 incredible tentalows you can book now

Here are eight castles bookable on Orbitz that will make you feel like a king or queen, complete with something that its former royal owners didn’t have: WiFi access so that you can brag about your stay in real-time.

Photo courtesy of Appleby Castle

Photo courtesy of Appleby Castle

Appleby Castle, England

With a rich history dating back some 900 years, this English castle was once the residence of Lady Anne Clifford, a beloved patron of the arts in the 17th century. Situated near England’s Lake District, a setting renowned for inspiring legends such as Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, Appleby Castle today inspires guests from around the world who stay in its seven luxurious guest rooms or three onsite cottages. All rooms are decorated in period detail, so that you, too, can imagine yourself in the shoes of Lady Anne. Optional activities include fishing, bird of prey demonstrations, golfing, shooting, hot air ballooning—and ghost tours that recount tales of spirits said to live on the property.

Photo courtesy of Castello di Mugnana

Photo courtesy of Castello di Mugnana

Castello di Mugnana, Italy

The location of this seven-room castle is a wine lover’s dream: in Chianti, nestled in Tuscany’s rolling countryside between Florence and Siena. Castello di Mugnana‘s origins date back before 1,000 AD, with its Medieval architecture well-preserved to keep it on the “Albo d’Onore” (Roll of Honor) of Historical Residences of Tuscany. The castle is famous for its centuries-long production of wine and olive oil. Slip away from the hustle and bustle of nearby cities, relaxing by the castle’s pool or meandering its garden.

Photo courtesy of Castle Levan

Photo courtesy of Castle Levan

Castle Levan B&B, Scotland

Exclusivity is a key perk at this luxury castle near Glasgow: It boasts just two guest rooms. You’ll feel like you own the place as you’re transported back to the 15th century (one where flat-screen TVs are included in each suite). With epic views of the water and Scottish mountains, the Castle Levan boasts a commanding stone arch entrance, a spiral staircase leading to the rooms, arrow slit windows, parapet walkways, turrets and a legendary castle ghost (the “White Lady”).

Photo courtesy of Stone Hall Castle

Photo courtesy of Stone Hall Castle

Stone Hall Castle, Canada

This Medieval-style castle is like something out of the movie “Braveheart,” only it’s in Canada. Located in Regina, Saskatchewan, Stone Hall Castle is a restored estate with origins dating back to the early 20th century. Wildly popular in the region for its tours, it boasts four guest rooms for those who want an exclusive overnight experience. The castle, including its accommodations, is immaculately decorated with 16th-, 17th- and 18-century museum-quality furniture, tapestries, wrought-iron chandeliers, woodwork and oil paintings. No detail is spared. Each guest room includes a kitchen, period-inspired sitting area and balcony (perfect for practicing that regal wave).

ALSO: A regal stay calls for regal rewards—make sure you earn the most back on your travel when you join Orbitz Rewards!

Photo courtesy of Castelo de Itaipava

Photo courtesy of Castelo de Itaipava

Castelo de Itaipava – Eventos & Hotel, Brazil

Even South America has its castles! Castelo de Itaipava – Eventos & Hotel is a 24-room, Medieval-style castle near Rio de Janeiro. It’s the first (and only) of its kind in Latin America. The castle was originally constructed in 1920, but it transports guests to a time centuries earlier. Plush accommodations are complemented with countless crystal chandeliers, mirrors, armor, swords and other decorative objects that will make you feel like royalty.

Photo courtesy of Kildrummy Park and Castle Hotel

Photo courtesy of Kildrummy Park Castle Hotel

Kildrummy Park Castle Hotel, Scotland

If you’re absolutely obsessed with castles, this is one place to put on your bucket list. Located in the Scottish Highlands, the Kildrummy Park Castle Hotel is nestled amidst some of the country’s most spectacular scenery, in a region renowned for its “Castle Trail,” a collection of 300 castles, stately homes and ruins. In fact, this luxurious, 16-room castle hotel is next door to the original Kildrummy Castle ruins, which date back to the 13th century. It’s also an ideal springboard to the famed “Whisky Trail,” home to more than half of Scotland’s malt whisky distilleries. Drink up, and sleep in the lap of luxury—not a bad combination.

Photo courtesy of Wilton Castle

Photo courtesy of Wilton Castle

Wilton Castle, Ireland

Enjoy a “Downton Abbey” experience in Ireland. In the heart of County Wexford, Wilton Castle has remained a fixture in this quiet countryside since the 13th century. (Although the legacy of the castle hasn’t always been so quiet, given the pistol duels, fires and civil war its walls have witnessed over the centuries.) It features four luxurious suites with kitchens and working fireplaces. It’s an ideal setting in which to relax for a few nights while touring Ireland, indulging in long walks in the open parkland and wooded countryside surrounding the castle, or soaking in your suite’s antique, clawfoot tub.

TIP: Orbitz offers a variety of unique and offbeat accommodations. After you select your destination and travel dates on Orbitz.com, check out the “Filter Properties By” column to the left of the resulting hotel selections. You can sort by “Property Type” and “Vacation Rentals” to uncover cool options such as villas, houseboats, tentalows, castles and more.

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Cool new hotels, Destinations, Europe Vacation, Hotels, Luxury, Romantic getaways

Erica Bray

Erica Bray

Erica is a practical free spirit who loves travel, yoga and ice cream. A Northwestern University-trained journalist with more than 15 years of experience straddling digital and broadcast media, Erica can be found doing handstands everywhere she travels -- even risking arrest in some cases. Learn about her at www.erica.media.
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Where should you travel in 2017? Perhaps the answer is written in the stars! We asked noted astrologist Janusz Donatowicz to examine the coming year and craft a vacation destination for every sign of the zodiac based on what they’re up to in 2017.

RELATED: 17 amazing places to travel in 2017

horoscope

2017 horoscope

Aries
You like to get a head start on things, but both the constellations and numerology mean it might be a hard year for you. Wellness could help you energize and a feeling tells me a private getaway with someone who seems slightly out of reach, but who you’d like to be nearer could work around Valentine’s Day.

Destination: Flores, Indonesia
Forget about Bali. If you’re looking for the same breathtaking beauty, emphasis on wellness and perfect weather but without the rampant tourism, this island is for you. Not only will its colorful crater lakes, placid beaches and friendly locals inspire you, it’s also a low-key romantic getaway.


Taurus

The Taurus loves indulging herself and her senses. How about a culinary adventure? But stay away from learning and business and planning and connect with someone close. A camping trip might connect you to the earth’s energy again and give you the piece of mind to frolic for awhile.

Destination: Tahoe, California
A glamping trip—something that combines the rejuvenating effects of the great outdoors with a little style—is in order so we say get yourself to Tahoe where you can hike, kayak, ski and sunbathe without foregoing the creature comforts of great shopping, lodging and foodie outings.

Gemini
A lot of good trines and sextiles because of other planets in Sagittarius, Libra, Aries and Gemini is creating a high energy nudging you toward finally going on that big vacation that you’ve been holding off. It requires a lot of planning, but hyper-mental Gemini you can easily handle it.

Destination: Madagascar
We can think of few trips that require more planning, but with immense payoffs than the immense island nation of Madagascar. Sure, it’s a headache getting there, but we know you’re up for it and the rewards include rainforests, rare animal species, ancient trees, charming Antananarivo and more.

Cancer
Healing waters and relaxation help halt signs of waging and worrying which Cancers do too much of year round. Mars in Cancer is making it less good for a domestic vacation. Go somewhere far away to forget your worries for a while.

Destination: Budapest, Hungary
Cancer, you may not know this, but the healing powers of Hungary’s capital city are calling you. Not only is this Eastern European gem rich in culture, history and trendy hot spots, but the City of Spas is also known for its rejuvenating waters including the famous neo-Baroque Széchenyi Baths.

Leo
While Venus is still in Leo, but Mercury is not in retrograde, go on vacation, say around September. Try a land where people are still at your beck and call or something naturally glamorous and old fashioned where you shine like the French Riviera in the casino houses.

Destination: St. Barts, Caribbean
It’s time to gas up the chopper and take it on a tropical ride to the glamour capital of the Caribbean. You’ll find all your jet set desires rewarded in this dreamy, Caribbean playground for the rich and famous including perfectly posh hotels, yachts in every harbor and eye candy (of the nature kind) galore.

Virgo
Sensitive Virgo, by mid-June you’ll begin to feel the planets start moving again and it’ll be the best time for you to let go a little, which is so hard for you. How about an educational, “fun” trip? You always like to know better; here’s your chance to express it. Mercury in Gemini should be a help in this case.

Destination: Churchill, Canada
Educational vacation indeed! The polar bear capital of the world is beckoning you to partake in an unforgettable “safari” that will have you up close and personal with these incredible creatures and real opportunity to discover how they think and live and encroaching dangers to their habitat.

Libra
With Jupiter in retrograde in your sign the first half of the year, why not try a cruise to find the balance in your life? In August, Venus is in Cancer which makes a trip by sea auspicious. Meanwhile, Uranus being in Pisces may make an unexpected meeting with somebody like-minded more probable.

Destination: Mediterranean cruise
Wave goodbye (get it?!) to all your troubles and set sail on a multi-country Mediterranean cruise that will take you to all kinds of romantic ports of call including Dubrovnik, Croatia; Ibiza Spain; Corfu, Greece and Sardinia, Italy to name a few. At Orbitz.com, pick and choose from endless options.

Scorpio
In early October, Venus and Mars are both in your ruling sign, making intensity all the more intense. Do something where you’ll have to rely on your primitive wits and get in to scrapes that would deter the less resilient. Fulfill your death wish, Scorpio!

Destination: Queenstown, New Zealand
Kiwi country boasts the kind of eye-popping scenery that makes the perfect Instagram photo a cinch, but what if you snapped those pics from 30,000 feet? Queenstown is considered the country’s adventure capital and it is here you can skydive, bungee jump, go challenge rafting and so much more.

Sagittarius
Aargh! Jupiter retrograde and Saturn in your sign all year! That puts a damper on your ever-expansive mood. Shake it off and shake it up. There must be other rebel-rousers out there who like to philosophize all night and pour banter over everything. If on there were a place like that…

Destination: Berlin, Germany
Live out your excessiveness in the real city that never sleeps. Berlin is still pocket sized and friendly enough to let you rub shoulders with people of all cultures who amass in the German capital. Different cultures and different languages, this is the life. Did somebody say something about politics?

Capricorn
Over-worked but under appreciated Capricorn can seldom win the award as the “funnest” zodiac sign. However, in order lies beauty: Saturn, your ruling planet is in Sagittarius all year. What may seem laborious for some is nothing to you. Visit another country that has a history based on austere beauty, principal and being understated.

Destination: England
Take relief in this country’s mild green hills and purple skies and inspiration in the ornateness and detail with which no other country can compare and leave feeling refreshed and confirmed that the old way is sometimes simply the best way. Live royally in a country that shares the same star sign as you.

Aquarius
Here is a star sign that likes to be unconventional and around funny groups of like-minded people. When mercury goes into Aquarius, nearing the placement of your sun, while Jupiter is in Libra, learn more about orthodox cultures you always rebel against.

Destination: Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
Always a lover of the quirky and eclectic, get yourself to Mexico’s sunny southern tip where in a single day you can steep yourself in mystical Mayan culture, swim with whale sharks in Isla Holbox and practice yoga in Tulum, but still end the day with a shot and a margarita and Señor Frogs.

Pisces
The year starts off with Venus in Pisces and Saturn in Sagittarius. How about a trip, preferably a romantic one, where you don’t speak the language? Uranus in Pisces makes an unexpected or mysterious meeting a likelihood and Mars in Cancer makes love and sex more available for a dreamer like you.

Destination: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Pisces we’re sending you to the birthplace of the tango—the steamiest of all dance forms! Although Spanish is the official language, After idling around colorful Boca, shopping the open-air markets in San Telmo and drinking and dining in Palermo, you’ll discover the true language of Buenos Aires is love!

Orbitz, app, iPhone, travel, deals

Tagged: Beach Vacation, California Vacation, Caribbean Vacation, Europe Vacation, International vacation, Mexico Vacation

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.
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Are you waking up to 2017 with a massive headache? Well, you aren’t alone. January 1st is National Hangover Day! People searching “hangover cures” is at its all-time high every January 1, and possibly how you found this article. Another shocking statistic, a Fox News study has found that people who drink will spend two years of their lives being hungover…Well, we are here to help you with that stubborn hangover.

We’ve asked 7 travel writers from around the world how people from their home countries cure a hangover. So in case the USA hangover cure doesn’t work, maybe try out what they do in Mexico or Poland. Although every country does it a little bit differently, the common themes are salt, grease, tomato juice, and of course a little hair of the dog. Here is how the rest of the world stops their heads from pounding on January 1.

RELATED: 5 New Year’s Day state park hikes to start 2017 off on the right foot

hangover-cures-from-around-the-world-gettingstamped

A little hair of the dog will fix “yee” right up! | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Ireland

“We all know that the majority of Irish people like to have a drink (or 12!) on occasion so it makes sense that ‘the hair of the dog’ is without a doubt the most popular hangover cure in the country. The phrase refers to alcohol that is consumed with the aim of minimizing the effects of a hangover. Yes, that means we drink more alcohol when we’re hungover! So the next time you’re in Ireland and you’re asked do you want to go for ‘the hair of the dog’ after a night of partying, you’ll know that it’s an invitation to hit the pub again!” – Carlo & Florence, NextStopWhoKnows.com  

Bloody Caesar Photo by www.ThePlanetD.com

The Bloody Caesar, the drink that tastes better than it sounds | Photo by www.ThePlanetD.com

Canada

“It’s no secret Canadians love our beer. I think it’s all that cold weather we have to endure each year. When hangover strikes, we turn to our other national drink, the Bloody Caesar. But for hangovers, we go with the Virgin Caesar. No vodka included. Although some people swear by the hair of the dog, I prefer to go with the vitamins. A Bloody Caesar is different from a Bloody Mary because we use clamato juice instead of tomato juice. What is clamato juice you ask? It’s a mix of clam juice and tomato juice. It sounds disgusting, but it’s delicious and Canadians love it. Oddly enough, it hasn’t caught on with the rest of the world.

Mix in a few drops of Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, a little salt and pepper with some celery salt around the rim of the glass and you will burn the hangover away. You get everything you need to cure a hangover. Vitamins B and C in the Clamato juice, some sustenance with the celery (you can even add tomatoes and shrimp too!) the spices help calm your stomach and you are instantly hydrated. It works every time!” Dave & Deb, ThePlanetD.com

RELATED: 11 Photos that will make you wish you were Canadian

Grab a gatsby snadwich to stop the pounding in your head in South Africa - Photo by HelenOnline - wiki commons

Grab a Gatsby sandwich to stop the pounding in your head in South Africa | Photo by HelenOnline – wiki commons

South Africa

“South Africa is, unquestionably, one of the most diverse countries of all, we have beautiful citizens of all shapes, sizes and colors within our borders and to show just how diverse we are, we are a nation of eleven official languages! As a result, we don’t just have one standard hangover cure. Here are a few that represent our various cultures.

A favorite among city clubbers is cream soda, aka the “Green Ambulance” after a heavy night out. Why this works is beyond me. More sugary stuff? It makes no sense at all, but thousands swear by it. Adding fried chicken pumps up the grease factor.

RELATED: 3 perfect days In Cape Town

Then there’s “Amasi” which means sour milk in Xhosa and Zulu. Amasi is just that, milk fermented to the point where it has a cottage cheese type texture and while this may have many of you reaching for the toilet bowl, it actually has some real healing properties. It re-hydrates, it’s rapidly digested and contains loads of nourishing probiotics. Who knew?!

If you’ve been fortunate enough to visit Cape Town, and haven’t enjoyed a Steak Gatsby, I’m here to burst your bubble, you haven’t really been to Cape Town. Book a ticket back immediately and give us a call. It’s basically a gigantic roll filled with greasy hot chips, steak, salad, and sauce and it’s the best thing you’ve never eaten. One roll easily feeds four humans and the pure enjoyment of it cancels your hangover.”  Vaughan McShane, thetravelmanuel.com

hangover-cures-from-around-the-world-wikipedia-2

Large quantities of food seem to squash a hangover in the United Kingdom | Flickr photo by Chris R

United Kingdom 

“Being from England, we have quite a few cures for a hangover… the age old ‘hair of the dog’ involves drinking a very small amount of alcohol with breakfast so that you stay kind of vaguely drunk rather than hungover, it doesn’t always work. The English breakfast consisting of eggs, beans, sausages, bacon, hash browns, tomatoes, mushrooms and black pudding was of course invented purely to help hungover Brits face another day and the vast absorption power of this truly massive meal certainly helps me out when I feel truly terrible after a hard night’s partying. My favorite hangover cure is to simply get hold of a bottle of Coca-Cola and to dump a tablespoon of salt in it; this effectively creates a re-hydration drink which will banish even the most stubborn of hangovers on Boxing Day!” Will Hatton, theBrokeBackpacker.com

hangover-cures-from-around-the-world-flickr

If you’re really desperate to be rid of your hangover, do as the Polish do | Flickr photo by Karolina Lubryczynska

Poland

“As weird as it may sound, in Poland people tend to drink pickle juice when hungover. It’s supposed to replenish and recharge the body with salty electrolytes. It’s something you can get easily as Poles eat a lot of sauerkraut, so the leftover juice from the jars is sold at every corner store. I must warn you, it doesn’t taste very good, but I guess when you’re hungover nothing really does, so you might as well give it a go!” – Anna Lysakowska, annaeverywhere.com

ALSO: Searching for the cure for expensive travel? Try signing up for Orbitz Rewards!

hangover-cures-from-around-the-world-flickr-2

Mexicans swear by this concoction of calm juice, beer, and Tabasco| Flickr photo by esimpraim

Mexico

“One of the most famous (or should we say infamous?) cures for the hangover (aka “cruda”) in Mexico is the Michelada, a beer based cocktail (yes, cerveza!). To prepare a hangover Michelada you need a beer, lime juice, salt, clamato (tomato juice) and hot sauce. Micheladas are so popular in Mexico they even sell pre-made mix cups in stores where you just add beer. If you can’t get yourself to Mexico you can order Michelada mix cups online to give this hangover cure a try. Enjoy and get rid of that headache!” –Raphael Alexander Zoren, journeywonders.com 

RELATED: 3 perfect days in Playa del Carmen

hangover-cures-from-around-the-world-flickr-3

The Bloody Mary, it’s how America fixes a night full of bad decisions | Flickr photo by Edson Hong

USA

“After a big night out we head straight for the Bloody Mary’s, but in the USA they aren’t just a plain ole Bloody Mary. We have Bloody Mary bars that just specialize in them, there are Bloody Mary buffets where you make your own, bottomless Bloody Mary bars, and often a Bloody Mary isn’t just a drink it’s an entire meal. It not uncommon to have beef sticks, cheese cubes, an assortment of veggies, burger, and even chicken wings. If you find yourself in Las Vegas one of the best places for a bloody is at Buddy V’s inside the Palazzo hotel. Every Sunday from 10:30am-2:30pm they do a $16.95 unlimited bloody bar. Your hangover will be cured and the next day I try and stick to the sober things to do in Vegas.” – Hannah & Adam, GettingStamped.com

RELATED: 7 reasons why Milwaukee is cooler than you think

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Tagged: Fun Stuff, International vacation, Travel Tips

Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers
Hannah & Adam are travel writers & photographers who have called the road home since 2013. Their passion for adventurous travel has brought them to 60 countries and counting. They blog about their adventures on their travel blog GettingStamped.com.
Hannah & Adam | Getting Stamped Bloggers

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A common phrase is that the world is getting smaller, but for the queer community it’s only getting bigger. That’s because LGBT rights are only expanding around the world and destinations that were off limits only 10 years ago are now opening their arms to our community. Sure there are parts of the world where history sometimes takes a step backwards, but 2017 will no doubt shape up to be a big travel year for gays and lesbians. Pack your bags (and plenty of sunscreen), here’s where you should travel right now.

RELATED: 26 LGBT vacations you must take before you die

Todos Santos

Todos Santos | Flickr photos by J Kehoe

Todos Santos, Mexico

Out hotelier Liz Lambert has a magic touch. Her Hotel San Jose in Austin is hipster ground zero and since opening that crash pad more than a decade ago her company Bunkhouse Group has taken over management of the classic Austin Motel and also owns properties in Marfa, Texas and San Antonio. Her next project will be new digs in Todos Santos, a coastal town in Baja California. Although one lesbian-owned hotel does not a queer mecca make, Lambert is no doubt betting that Todos Santos—an artist’s haven that’s laid-back, beautiful and chock full of galleries—is just waiting to be “discovered” by dreamers, drifters and creative types of all sexual orientations. Look out Tulum, the next great Mexican resort town is on its way. Please don’t tell anyone.

Palm Springs, desert, midcentury, Coachella, California, SoCal

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs, CA

A perennial gay favorite, sleepy Palm Springs had long been resting on its laurels as a sun-drenched haven for retirees, golfers and the gay community. But a funny thing has recently happened to this desert city—its become cool again. It got a boost when Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival planted roots not far away and since that time all of young Hollywood is rushing to hipster resorts like the Avalon Hotel and Bungalows, the Ace Hotel and Swim Club and the nearby Saguaro. Food options have likewise improved (check out the Rooster and the Pig, Birba and Workshop + Kitchen and Bar among others). For queer visitors this means a ton of new options on top of what’s already great about the city including its two dozen gay, clothing optional resorts and annual bashes like the Dinah and the White Party. Even the nightlife has gotten a little better over the past ten years.

Montevideo, gay, LGBT, Uruguay

Montevideo | Photo courtesy of Jimmy Baikovic

Montevideo, Uruguay

If this South American city isn’t yet on your gaydar, you haven’t been doing your homework. Think stunning Art Deco and neoclassical architecture + a fierce love of the arts plus + beach side bliss + a thriving queer scene and it all adds up to same-sex heaven. As for its LGBT outreach, Uruguay is a South American leader in human rights. Homosexuality has been legal here since 1934 and it conferred full marriage equality as of 2013. Last year it hosted the Global LGBTI Human Rights Conference and both Montevideo and nearby Punta del Este host annual Pride events. Also, the beach and bar scenes are loud and swinging. Oh, and the city is a 2-hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires which means you can combine gaycations and get two superb destinations for the price of one plane ticket. Done!

punta-cana

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

There’s a fixed hostility toward LGBT rights in many Caribbean nations that’s been tough to shake loose and even as recently as 2010 the D.R. amended its constitution to prohibit same-sex couples from marriage. Yet Punta Cana remains an island (so to speak) unto itself. This honeymooner’s paradise, famed for its beaches, outdoor activities and all-inclusive resorts, maintains a welcoming and laid-back attitude toward same-sex couples that’s as breezy as its gentle, tropical winds. So why go now? Recently opened Mares, an all-welcoming gay bar and cocktail lounge signals a planting of the rainbow flag. Plus, numerous resorts like the Hard Rock Hotel and adults only Secrets Royal Beach and Breathless Punta Cana (which will host hundreds of queer women in October 2017 via an Olivia Travel resort experience) welcome queer travelers with open arms.

colorado

Colorado in autumn

Colorado

Wait a minute, you mean not every gaycation has to revolve around a swimming pool and a circuit party? Colorado is a fantastic destination for queers of every stripe and boasts a nationwide historic first: In 1975, Clela Rorex of Boulder County became the first county clerk in the nation to hand out marriage licenses. These days high times abound everywhere in live-and-let-live Colorado including gay ski weeks in premier winter towns like Aspen and Telluride, a lively bar and nightlife scene in once-sleepy Denver and low-key good times inside Boulder’s liberal bubble. But we love that Colorado also provides great escapes from big city living including four national parks, eight national monuments, nine national forests and 42 state parks. In fact, half the state belongs to public lands and the opportunities for the perfect gaycation are limitless. Did we mention there’s a lot of sunshine?

Taiwan, gay, travel, LGBT

Taiwan | Flicker photo courtesy of Sese_87

Taiwan

A rumble is happening off the coast of mainland China as the independent island nation of Taiwan begins a fierce debate over same-sex marriage. While feelings over the issue are almost evenly split, the country is nevertheless considered a bastion of LGBT tolerance in East Asia and it laws and attitudes toward the queer community are among the regions most progressive. If the marriage bill passes, it would make Taiwan the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex unions, but regardless the capital city of Taipei is a gay-friendly mecca boasting the biggest annual Pride celebration in Asia and a nightlife scene that includes a dozen queer bars and numerous saunas. Beyond queer life there are enchanting night markets, ancient temples, luxury hotels and the super tall skyscraper Taipei 101. And who knows, in 2017, any one of these attractions may just become a place where couples exchange wedding vows.

Florianópolis, Brazil | Flickr photo by Francisco Anzola

Florianópolis, Brazil | Flickr photo by Francisco Anzola

Florianópolis, Brazil

Brazil is big. So much so in fact that most of its citizens would forgive their North American counterparts for not being able to name its cities beyond Rio de Janeiro and maybe São Paulo. Perhaps that’s why Floripa (for short), the sunny and artsy island capital of Santa Catarina has been off-radar for so long. Yet it’s somewhat of a gay mecca boasting not only a thriving nightlife, amazing beaches and several restaurants helmed by gay women, but also South America’s first lesbian (but gay male and trans welcoming) surf camp which opened in 2015 under the name Gay Surf Brazil and is offered by lesbian-owned Brazil Ecojourneys. Additionally, there’s a bumping Carnival and Pride Week. No wonder Floripa is considered the Provincetown of South America.

Brighton Pride

Brighton Pride | Flickr photo by Andy Walker

Brighton, England

How many cities with a population of 150,000 can say they’ll be hosting their fifth annual Trans Pride weekend in 2017? We’re not talking an offshoot of Brighton Pride, but rather a full-fledged weekend boasting a talent competition, film night, picnic, after parties, art installations, a march and more. Coastal Brighton can make just such a claim. A seaside city that has long held the distinction of having the highest concentration of same-sex couples in Britain, queer-friendly Brighton and nearby Hove are bursting with gay-owned businesses and bars especially around Kemptown, although the boho vibe is everywhere. With the pound dropping to historic lows against the U.S. dollar, the time to visit is now. Bonus: London is only a half hour away via train.

Orlando, gay, LGBT, Pulse, Pride

Orlando Pride | Flickr photo by Grow by Love

Orlando, Fl

In the early hours of June 12, 2016 a status update appeared on the Facebook page of Orlando-based Pulse Nightclub that read, “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running.” The message was in response to a lone gunman who shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. It was the worst mass shooting in American history and happened in a city that is famously known for being a vacation paradise. It also brought out the best in people as both gay and straight communities rushed to donate blood to the victims, offer monetary support to the families and man crisis hotlines. But for queer visitors the city is still a mecca for good times including its promise of endless sunshine, a happening downtown and its ubiquitous theme parks which of course includes Gay Days at Disney World which attracts more than 150,000 LGBT visitors annually.  The city deserves our love and the time to offer it is now.

Gay Pride Madrid

Gay Pride Madrid | Flickr photo by Antonio Tajuelo

Madrid, Spain

Spain is the Europe of our dreams. Between elegant Barcelona, heady Ibiza, gay happening Gran Canaria, a gay cruise ship in every port city and a nonstop calendar of annual queer events like Bear Week in Sitges and Ella International Lesbian Festival in Mallorca, it may in fact be the overall queerest country on the continent. Yet in 2017 all eyes will be fixed on Madrid. The madcap capital and home to filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is also a city of endless siestas, a tapas restaurant on every corner and a backroom in every bar. In May it will host Mr. Gay World 2017 and in late June it will host World Pride Madrid 2017 which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the city’s first Pride March. Come summer 2017, the city may just be the gayest place on planet earth.

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Tagged: Beach Vacation, California Vacation, Caribbean Vacation, Europe Vacation, International vacation, LGBT travel, Orlando vacation

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.
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Millau Viaduct

France’s Viaduc de Millau is the tallest bridge in the world. Photo: iStockphoto

We may not have jet packs yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have other amazing ways to travel. These engineering marvels take you over, under and up to make previously inaccessible areas easy to traverse. These manmade wonders aren’t just ingenious—they’re also convenient.

The Viaduc de Millau Bridge in France looks like something out of a futuristic film and is regarded as one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time. The cable-stayed bridge is the tallest in the world, reaching a height of 1,125 feet. The Viaduc took 17 years to build and stretches for a mile and a half over the picturesque Tarn River Valley near the town of Millau. Every May they shut down vehicle traffic for the Eiffage Millau Viaduct Race, an excellent chance to see the structure of the bridge up close and feel what it’s like to run more than a thousand feet above the ground.

The Channel Tunnel, also affectionately known as the “Chunnel,” is a 31-mile rail tunnel running underneath the waters of the English Channel. At its deepest point, this direct link between England and France is 250 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The idea for a tunnel between the shores of the two countries had been circulating for more than a hundred years when construction finally began in 1988. Today it takes a mere half hour to cross the channel via train.

The Bailong Elevator in Zhangjiajie, China is the world’s tallest outdoor elevator. Built into the sheer face of a huge cliff, the Bailong’s glass cars take visitors up 1,070 feet in a little more than a minute. The area surrounding the elevator is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and those that take the ride can look out over lush forests and beautiful quartz peaks when they reach the observation deck at the end of their quick but steep journey.

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Tagged: International vacation

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith is a writer, traveler and lover of cities currently living in Austin, Texas. Follow her on Twitter at @shameonseamus.
Jamie Smith

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