We all know the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas”. But for some of us, maybe home is too ordinary, too expected, too ‘everyday’. Why not go out and adventure during the holidays? Why not experience a winter holiday trip that truly enhances your yuletide nostalgia? Maybe it’s time to step away from the usual routine and check out some exceptional places to get you in the spirit in ways you never imagined.
Join the locals as they celebrate the legend of Sinterklaas. Starting around mid-November, Sinterklaas traditionally arrives on by boat in the Netherlands. The world’s largest Saint Nicholas parade in the world celebrates his arrival. He comes bearing gifts such as pieten and pepernoten (small, spiced biscuits) for the thousands of spectators who welcome his arrival. He then rides through the streets on his white horse, Amerigo. The Christmas Palace is a unique emporium of festive goodies and is among countless Christmas Markets that are located all over Amsterdam that start bustling around November. Although much of the gift-giving between families is done by December 5 and 6, celebrations continue through New Year’s Eve with champagne and fireworks. You’ll get you’re fill of all the Christmas delight you can handle along with an equal serving of Dutch charm, should you visit here for the holidays.
Lapland, Finland (ice hotel, Santa Claus Village, and Santa Park)
“Walking in a Winter Wonderland” will be on your mind the entire trip in Lapland, Finland. Located near the Arctic Circle, “The Official Hometown of Santa Claus” is a prime spot to celebrate the holidays. Enjoy the world-famous Santa Claus Village, go for a dog sled ride, and even see live reindeer! Bring the family to enjoy the magic as they gaze upon the real Santa! But this vacation isn’t just for the kiddies. With the ICEHOTEL offering Snow Rooms and Art Suites, you’ll be surrounded by stunning ice sculptures and subtle lighting - how romantic. The hotel is rebuilt every year, ensuring a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all who visit. How often can you look up at the night’s sky and see the Northern Lights from the comfort of your own little “igloo”? Whether you come with family, or as newlywed lovers, this is an enchanting place that will give you some life-long memories.
New York, USA
It’s no surprise that the city of New York is on this list. With iconic places like Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park, there’s no question that New York in December is world famous. The tree lighting ceremony in Rockefeller center is a momentous event, and even the locals will stare in awe among the thousands of tourists at the world’s most recognized Christmas tree. Ice-skating, rides in horse-drawn carriages, and window shopping at elaborate store displays are just a few of the activities that New York is well-known for this time of year. If you’re lucky enough to attend during a year that sees snow during this season, you will truly be immersed in a winter wonderland. For those who love to see the sights and do some serious shopping, this is the place for you.
Filled with traditions, history and delicacies, Provence is a wonderful place to discover the South of France and the holiday season. Like a fairytale or a well-crafted holiday postcard, the villages here light-up the night’s sky with their twinkling lights, music and warming scents. Christmas in Provence lasts about 2 months, starting on December 4, and ending on February 2. Here you will see lights and decorations boasting beautiful colors of white and gold. Enjoy specialty food items from Christmas markets such as: Gingerbread, calissons (French candy) truffles (mushrooms or the chocolate varieties) and mulled wine. There are also decorations and crafts available such as: santons (hand-painted nativity figurines) and Christmas baubles (ornaments). A family tradition in Provence is the 13 desserts, which are set out on Christmas Eve and remain on the table for 3 days. After a lean meal, families enjoy a main attraction of Thirteen Desserts, each representing a religious symbol. If you’re looking for rich tradition, special time with family and a more deeply religious meaning of Christmas, this is the place to go.
Whether you decide to travel somewhere new or decide to enjoy a “staycation”, we want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and we hope you’re able to spend it in a truly unforgettable way.
Many of us have thought that Thanksgiving was purely an American holiday, revolving around the 3 “F’s”: Food, Family, and Football. But on the contrary, there are many Autumn festivals around the world that have celebrated a day of giving thanks and for the harvest before the coming winter season.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, and has been since 1941. Although, it has been an annual holiday in the states since 1863. Based around an iconic roasted turkey, pumpkin pie, and other common sides. This is a day to celebrate family and feasting. Once many have reached their “fill-line” they sit down to a popular Parade on tv or the Football game. Others still, might skip this holiday altogether to sit outside of their favorite shops and wait for “Black Friday”- the biggest US shopping day of the year.
Still in North America, and still called “Thanksgiving” is Canada’s celebration also based around giving thanks and the close of the harvest season. Many of the traditional food-stuffs are the same, as Americans who came to settle in Canada brought much of the traditions with them. Perhaps not as well-known as the US holiday, Thanksgiving is still a popular secular holiday occurring on the second Monday in October. It is thought that this early date of celebration is due to the earlier onset of winter for our “Neighbors of the North”.
Germany:Known as Emtedankfest, and celebrated in early October is the German version of Thanksgiving. Much like North America, it too includes a large feast and parades. The other well-known celebration going on around the same time is the ever-popular Oktoberfest.
Kinro Kansha no Hi is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated on November 23. This holiday was adopted during the time of World War II, with American occupation in the country. There are more ancient roots to this holiday from the celebration of hard work called Niiname-sai, which dates back as far as 600 BC. It’s a commemoration of labor and giving thanks to one another. The main crop of this harvest celebration is rice.
Thanksgiving is celebrated on the first Thursday of November in this West African country. Liberians have several holidays in common with the US. This holiday is a celebration to give thanks for being granted to live as free men in Liberia. The common foods eaten during family gatherings on this day are roasted chicken, green bean casserole and mashed cassavas.
Thanksgiving in this Australian external territory is celebrated on the last Wednesday of November. Brought to the island by visiting American whaling ships, Thanksgiving has been celebrated on Norfolk Island since at least the time of the Second World War. Traditional far like pumpkin pie is served, as well as foods like cold pork and chicken and banana.
There are always good reasons to be thankful. No matter where you are, or where you may be traveling during this time of the year. We wish you well, and hope you get a great meal to share with good friends and family.
It’s November, you’re thinking about the end of the year and all you have left to do before 2014 approaches. There are deals to close and things you’d like to have counted on that 2013 tax sheet. There is still a Business trip or two you have to take before you get that long-awaited, Christmas vacation. Fall can be a great time to travel and often one of the cheapest times to fly. But the window is rather small, so you have to get your tickets booked during the peak time, or you might pay the ultimate price. Not only cost, but crowds will begin to build as we approach the holidays. But not to worry, we’ve got the scoop on when to fly and what to do if you’re stuck doing your business travel during the “busy travel season”.
If you love Halloween as much as we do, then you’ll be curious to know some of the best places around the world that really know how to celebrate this spooky holiday! A day that was traditionally a celebration of those who have passed on to the more modern festival of costumes and candy, Halloween can be ghoulish fun. Here we have a list of the places we deemed “the best” for all out Festive Fun!
New York, New York
Only those flaunting costumes are welcome to join in this enormous parade down 6th Avenue. The Village Halloween Parade boasts more than 50,000 paraders along 50 bands from around the world, dancers, giant puppets, artists, drag queens and more! This event is also televised on local stations from those who want to enjoy from the comfort of their own home.
This popular dungeon has scared many a visitor since 1976. The London Dungeon is for those who truly want to get Spooked! The Dungeon is filled with theatrics, special effects, amazing scenery and fun rides. What’s truly awesome about this attraction is that its shows are based on true London legends and historical events. An experience for almost all ages, this is a unique way to get fully immersed in Halloween and History!
The “City of Culture” hosts a Carnival that packs the streets of Derry with Ghosts and Wizards, magic shows, films, live music and even fireworks over the River Foyle. The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival is a wonderful festival that has days of events including Wacky Workshops, a Halloween Market, Halloween Ball, Catwalk Capers (where you design and model your spookiest costume), and more. There is a week-long of fun to be had between October 26th and November 3rd.
Another week-long celebration is held in the heart of Toronto’s Queer Village. Halloweek runs from October 24th through October 31st. Bringing together gays and heteros alike, this festival is an all-out block party where those who participate can choose to “see or be seen”. There’s Pumpkin Carving Contests and Ghoulish dining tours held by the participating local restaurants. So let your inner drag queen out and join in the festivities. Don’t forget your camera!
The US really does seem to be the biggest bunch of Halloween Bashes. So, we’re bringing attention to the West Coast. If you’re looking to be fully immersed in your own, live Horror Film then this is the attraction for you. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights brings to life the terrifying characters from popular Horror films. Not an event for the kiddos, this place gets truly scream-worthy. The rides are all still in full swing at this theme park, with the addition of Zombies and other creatures that will definitely have you jumping out of your skin.
So, grab your best costume, your camera and your sense of Fun! Happing Haunting!
Southeast Asia is a shopping haven, relatively inexpensive, has great food, beautiful sights and is mostly a safe place to visit. So, what are you waiting for? A plane ticket is probably your biggest expense to get to this side of the planet. If you book with Alpha Flight Guru, you should have plenty of money left over to spend on the things you want to see and do. So now, what’s left? Your hotel booking. Even Southeast Asia is a large place to cover and generalize into one group. For non-boring blog purposes, let’s just focus on one location. Thailand. You’re going there soon, right? Well, you should be, especially after you learn what to look for when booking a hotel. Then you will be completely out of excuses to not go.
First off, there are Types of hotels: Guest Houses, Hostels, Thai Hotels, Tourist Hotels, Boutique Hotels, and Business and Luxury Hotels. I’m going to break them all down, so you will know what they all mean and what you can expect from each one.
Guest Houses: Surprisingly, these are the cheapest option at around 100 – 200 baht/night, which is about the equivalent of $5, seriously. The fancier ones near the beach will get you around 300-400 baht/night, or about 10 bucks. The trick of these places is to always check out the room first before agreeing to a price, and try to get that price in writing when you can, just so there’s no funny business later. Things you’ll want to look for in these places are going to be a hot shower, euro toilet, tv, fridge, or even room service. If you are somewhere like Chiang Mai, they might even have refrigerators. If you’re staying for more than a few days, you can even opt for a discount… but with prices that cheap, why argue?
Hostels: While these can be a popular option in places around Europe, they are pretty much non-existent here. So, I wouldn’t really waste your time trying to track one down.
Thai Hotels: These are like your standard two star options. Try to find ones that have hot showers, air-conditioning, and not much else. These are very simple places. Be happy if they are clean with nice workers and expect amenities to be pretty basic.
Tourist Hotels: These are a bit of an upgrade and will be more typical to a three star option. But, beware, the quality can vary greatly from place to place so do your research! Especially since the price of these places are going to be more in the 1000 baht range, or $40/night. You can expect to see things like a swimming pool, room service, and even a color tv… hello 1950s!
Boutique Hotels: These places can be very nice, but there are often a limited number of rooms… I’m talking around maybe 10 rooms per establishment, so plan ahead. These places are more like your four star option, but can also vary greatly, so don’t assume anything or you might be sorely disappointed. A night’s stay in a place like this can go for around 2000 baht, or about $65/night
Business & Luxury Hotels: Hey, Big Spender! Welcome to the top. These places are going to be the best you can find, some of which are considered the best in the world. These places offer every modern amenity. You can even expect things like a wonderful Thai massage right in the comfort of your beautiful room. These five-star-plus places are going to come in at about 4000 baht and up, or $125+ per night.
Like I said before, if you booked your ticket through AFG and saved your cash on the flight over, you might be more than willing to get to some of the best hotels in the world for a considerably amazing cost. So…. Can we help you pack?!
Travelling can be a pain! But there are perks you can have access to, if you have the right know-how, card, ticket, etc… Airport lounges are a great thing to have access to whether you have a long layover or just need a quick getaway from the terminal chaos. Whether you are travelling for Business or pleasure, it’s always nice to know you can have special perks! So, here we are again with a helpful post for the savvy traveler.
Have a First or Business Class Airline ticket
This should be a given. You paid a premium price for that seat, and you better take advantage of all that comes with it! Having that ticket will automatically grant you access to the lounges (at least in the US). Outside of the US, there may be separate First Class and Business Class lounges, but you should still have access to one or the other solely based on the premium ticket you hold.
Travel Frequently, and Reap the Rewards!
If you are a business traveler and have a lot of built-up miles, you can often buy an annual membership with Frequent Flyer miles. Be aware that with an annual membership you may be limited to specific airline lounges. If you find that you are often using the same carrier this strategy should work out just fine for you.
Look for Independent Programs
There are programs available that offer different levels of membership. Depending on the level you select to purchase, you can get access to over 600 lounges worldwide! If you are an international jet-setter you will find this to be a handy solution for only about $300/year.
Possess the Right Credit Cards
If you own an American Airlines AAdvantage World Elite Master Card, Delta SkyMiles Reserve AMEX, United MileagePlus Club Visa, Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus, etc… You can get a lounge club even without a Premium Class ticket or membership. If you can qualify for one of these cards, there are also other varying benefits beyond lounges that really make them worthwhile.
If you’re not a global jetsetter or frequent business flyer and you just want to enjoy some perks on your travels you can always splurge on a day pass. A day pass will usually cost anywhere from $29 to $50 depending on the lounge. If you know you have a long layover, this can be a great option and cheaper than a hotel room.
It Never Hurts to Ask
If you just want to try your luck and see if someone will let you in, you can always ask. Say you happen to be near a lounge and want to check it out, why not ask someone going inside to let you in as their guest. There might be a small fee involved with that and you can offer to pay. It’s always worth a shot, right?
No matter how you happen to get in, it is worth having access to an airport lounge. You’ll enjoy space, comfort, quiet, Wi-Fi, complimentary snacks and drinks, reading material, sometimes even showers or beds. If you want another way to help fight off Jet-Lag as discussed in our last blog, here is one more to add to the list! To check out full lists of available lounges, get on your smartphone and download a lounge directory App!
Just like diet advice, everyone seems to have the “right” opinion for the “best” thing a traveler can do to avoid jet lag. While there may be no magical cure any single right answer to this question, there are ways to be proactive in the battle of changing time zones. Many of which might all just depend on you… different things work for different people. But these options were our favorite for the most-proven solutions.
Give H20 a Go!
We know this is pretty obvious, but still essential! It’s important to know that the humidity in an airplane is really low. You’re losing water through your skin just while you sit there.(*side note* if you sit in business or first class, not only will you get more opportunities for drink service, but also more space to get up and move around—like to the bathroom)… So drink up! We know this means more trips to the toilet, but that’s also a good thing! Hydration along with better circulation will help you to feel better when you land at your destination.
And we’re not talking about getting crazy off the doll-sized bottles of alcohol… Stay away from those…. HYDRATION is key, remember?! We’re talking about looseness of the clothing-kind. You can be casual and still look good in transit to your destination. Really, just stay away from things like skinny jeans, tight shoes, and unforgiving fabrics. Think cotton, slip-on shoes, etc. Better circulation and being comfortable will help you to be more relaxed and possibly catch some Zzz’s on the plane. *Which brings us back to the previous side note: if you sit in business or first class you’ll have more room to stretch out, and possibly even lie flat! How could you not feel rested and fresh with options like that!?
Fly by Night!
Take this literally! Depending on the difference in time zones or how long your flight is, taking a night flight can sometimes be a good option. If you have the space to stretch out and get some decent sleep while traveling, take it! Traveling is already a tiring affair, so if you can sleep while on your journey don’t miss out on the opportunity.
Don’t take this literally! You won’t be going anywhere but jail if you do… What we do mean is exposure to light and dark at the appropriate times will help your body and your internal clock to become adjusted to any time zone. You can even begin doing this days before your trip to help “trick” your body to adjust to the time zone of where ever you are going. Sleeping masks or dark sunglasses can help you to avoid the sun when necessary. Going outside or day lamps can get you more sunlight when needed. Gradually adjusting your sleep/wake cycle days before your trip will aide in the whole jet lag mess altogether because you will already be adjusted to the time difference before you even depart for your destination.
Yes, There's an APP for That
Are you surprised? People think of Everything, don’t they?! Check out the JetlagRooster App for your smartphone to get a personalized plan to get you prepared for your trip and take all the necessary steps to reduce jet lag as much as possible. And better yet? It’s Free! No excuses there.
With these few steps in mind, it is possible to be proactive in the battle against jet lag. Whether you want to be productive or just enjoy the surroundings of your destination, jet lag is a time-killer for many travelers. You just paid a lot of money for your flight/accommodations/entertainment/ etc… you don’t want to miss out on anything because of sleepiness, lack of appetite, irritability and so on. So plan ahead and you should be just fine.
We wish you a well-rested demeanor and a pleasant journey!
Your privacy is of paramount importance to us. In fact, we know that you care how information about you is used and shared, and we appreciate your trust that we will do so carefully and sensibly. We do not provide your personal information (such as your name, email, phone number, address, or credit card information) to other companies, except as required to transact business on your behalf: with the airlines to book your flights and purchase tickets, or with credit card companies to redeem your miles or points.
We collect information from you when you register on our site, subscribe to our newsletter or fill out a form.
When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your: name, e-mail address or phone number. You may, however, visit our site anonymously.
Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways:
Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.
We implement a vari ety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you enter, submit, or access your personal information.
Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information.
We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.
Occasionally, at our discretion, we may include or offer third party products or services on our website. These third party sites have separate and independent privacy policies. We therefore have no responsibility or liability for the content and activities of these linked sites. Nonetheless, we seek to protect the integrity of our site and welcome any feedback about these sites.
Because we value your privacy we have taken the necessary precautions to be in compliance with the California Online Privacy Protection Act. We therefore will not distribute your personal information to outside parties without your consent.
We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.
This policy was last modified on 7/05/2010
How do WE have the lowest prices on international flights?
How do YOU get the lowest prices on international flights?
Our flight gurus will use your information to find the best prices and options for your travel needs.
Our flight guru will contact you with your best travel options and explain how we can save you money.