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When it comes down to it, the travel industry breaks down into two types of tourists: "Travelers" and vacationers.
Some people are explorers, and others are pool-side dwellers (and many of us are somewhere in between). Some are comfortable with new horizons and feel enriched by the new experiences, and some only have a week’s worth of time off per year and want to know what they’re going to get for their money; they don’t want any surprises.
While we’ve always understood the appeal of both sides of the coin, a recent rise in what tourism boards refer to as "people-to-people" programs are helping even the most bashful of tourists dig into the local culture. These programs combine the concepts of traveling and vacationing, providing you with an organized, safe way to connect with the local communities.
Volunteer Travel / Pack For A Purpose / Charity Travel / Voluntourism / Hotels / Cancun Travel / → All Tags
If you're planning a trip abroad and want to help the community you're visiting without making a binding commitment, Pack for a Purpose has some pointers.
According to the organization's website, sacrificing a small amount of space in your luggage can have a big impact on the communities you visit. For example: with only five pounds' space you can transport 400 pencils, a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and 500 band-aids, or 5 deflated soccer balls and an inflation device.
Weather / Cancun Travel / Travel Alerts / Hurricanes / Mexico Travel / Riviera Maya Travel / → All Tags
Update 10/27: Good news! Hurricane Rina should be downgraded to a Tropical Storm and will likely only make it as far as Cuba. Nonetheless, the projected path continues to change. Follow updates here.
Just in case you don't instinctively flip to the Weather Channel during TV commercial breaks, we should tell you that this weekend is probably not the best time to be vacationing in Cancun, the rest of the Riviera Maya, and even in the Florida Keys as Hurricane Rina bears down on the vacation destinations.
As a result of the impending arrival of 80-40mph winds and potentially damaging Category 2 hurricane, cruise ships in the area have shifted their routes and airlines are offering rebooking for those traveling into the storm. An example is JetBlue, who have the alert clearly stated at the top of their website, and the full rebooking details here.
The worst of the storm is due to land on Cozumel and Cancun tomorrow, while it'll take until the weekend to dampen the Florida Keys* (see update above). Thankfully it's only a Category 2 (for now), so tourists already enjoying the sun and who don't mind weather disruptions, shouldn't be worried for their lives. The real threat is to those still planning on travel during the storm days, as they'll likely just end up sleeping on airport floors.
[Photo: Weather Channel]
One of our favorite things about staying on Mexico's Riviera Maya is that it's not just about dips in the Caribbean and margaritas by the pool. Clearly, those things rule, but what's even more awesome is that if you get a rainy day, there are plenty of activities to try.
We've found solace in a stroll down Playa del Carmen's Avenida 5 and in the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Cobá. But the best rainy day we've spent in the Yucatan took place undergroundexploring the subterranean rivers of Rio Secreto.
Remember those geology lessons from way back? All that talk about calcium forming stalactites and stalagmites? Here, you get a bit of that education but it turns out, learning is way more fun when you're wearing a wetsuit and a helmet with a headlight. Also, we don't remember ever getting to swim in caves at school.
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If you're a cruise-ship day-tripper or an eco-lovin' beach bum traveling in Mexico's Riviera Maya, you're no doubt familiar with Tulum.
The oceanfront site of the Mayan ruins make it one of the most visited historical sites in all of Mexico. But, there is a nearby alternative that's just as beautiful and a whole lot less crowded: the ruins at Cobá, about 30 miles inland from Tulum.
If you have a day to spare and can visit both cities like we did, go for it. You'll get to see a range of Mayan structures, including temples, ball courts, and pyramids, and experience two completely different settings. But if you have to choose between the two (each is a good half-day excursion if you're staying near Playa del Carmen, more if you're coming from Cancun), here are our pros and cons of each spot:
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If you want to take a break from the usual barbecue ritual for Father's Day, treat dad to a quickie getaway. There are still several last-minute deals that will make dad happy and make you look like the best child he ever had.
Check out these three last-minute trips for dad.
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We managed to avoid the apocalypse this weekend and we can't think of a better way to celebrate life—at least until the Mayan end-of-days prophecy of 2012—than to spend it frolicking on a tropical beach somewhere. Thankfully, there are a number of Memorial Day deals available so that you can get away this weekend for a doomsday-free vacay.
Here are our top three last-minute Memorial Day weekend getaways.
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When it comes to holiday weekends, it's hard to think past almost-here Memorial Day. But if you plan on getting out of town for the Fourth of July, the time is now to start planning your trip. There are a number of patriotic packages ready for the picking.
Check out some July Fourth deals after the jump.
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It's been a solid two months since Virgin America announced they'd be heading south for the winterto Cancun and Cabo San Lucas from LAX and SFObut until now we didn't know when exactly. Today, the low-cost airline announces that non-stop flights between San Francisco (SFO) and San Jose del Cabo International Airport (SJD) begin December 16, 2010; between Los Angeles (LAX) and Cancun (CUN) on January 19, 2011; and finally, between SFO and CUN on January 20, 2011. Looks like VX-loving LA folk will be stuck in Cali over Christmas, but SFO can at least head to Los Cabos.
To celebrate that they've finally got some dates for their first south-of-the-border routes, Virgin America is having a 3-day fare sale on their site HERE. Fares for the new Mexico routes start at $129 each way, but the sale includes coast-to-coast options for $109 each way and some smaller west coast hops from $39 each way. But wait...there's more!
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At this very moment, Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, is announcing the next two destinations for the low-cost airline Virgin America and they are as we expected: Cabo San Lucas and Cancun, from both San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The announcement comes at the start of a huge party at SFO to mark Virgin America's first route over the border into Canada, to Toronto to be more specific. The party is where we're at right now, and while we're trying not to invade the personal space of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, we can't help but be excited for the future south of the border flights. We're just waiting for someone to start chanting "VX to MEX!"
Smells like Carlos & Charlies? Cancun-based cosmetics retailer Ultrafemme is putting out a new line of high-end "Cancun perfumes," designed explicitly to make the workaday woman smell like a girl living it up in Cancun. There's an argument to be made that this is a curious branding decision, given that Cancun was put on this earth to make Key West look classy. Nevertheless, they've got five distinct scents that they're selling in stores throughout the Mexican Caribbean and Los Cabos.
If you can't get down to Cancun, but still want that fresh overcrowded resort tourist trap scent, they've set up a retailer so you can purchase the scents online. All fragrances come in specially-shaped 1.7oz bottles, and each of the five is its own unique treasure.
Think a trip to Cancun is just about getting drunk and returning home with nothing more than a hangover and a sunburn? This might be true for few, but we recommend you think again. Hands Up Holidays' Yucatan Explorer Package gives travelers two weeks to explore Mexico, do a little eco-sightseeing and get a taste of volunteering.
Hands Up Holidays provide an opportunity to help people in need around the world without having to sleep on the floor or share a bathroom with dozens of college kids. Instead, all of their trips include upmarket, often luxurious accommodations. They also provide a balance between helping out and being able to enjoy a relaxing getaway.