Shermanstravel Blog

Arts & Culture

Han River and Floating Islands

Lane Nieset

South Korea’s capital has come a long way since the Korean War. These days, Seoul mixes its storied history of temples, palaces, and empire, with more modern day delights from a nonstop nightlife to a thriving shopping scene. And while prices can teeter on the expensive side, there are plenty of ways to soak up the culture — and incredible Korean cuisine — while traveling on a budget. Here’s how:

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Shenandoah National Park Road Trip

Flickr/David Fulmer

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs between Virginia and North Carolina, is one of the country’s most scenic drives. The 105-mile road was built by the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps under President Franklin D. Roosevelt — taking more than 52 years to complete and encompassing over 11,000 square miles of land. We suggest spending at least a few days driving the parkway, stopping in the small towns along the way to soak up the Appalachian Mountains’ art, culture, and music. Here are nine highlights to consider for your itinerary.

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unique souvenirs - best museum gift shops

Clockwise from left: Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Anthropology, Museum of Modern Art, Musical Instrument Museum, Dali Museum, Musical Instrument Museum

Most vacations aren’t complete without a little shopping, whether for yourself or for friends and family back home, right?

A survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association revealed 63 percent of travelers said their vacation wasn’t complete without including some shopping. For a one-stop shop experience, whether you’re looking for a gift for a loved one or a memento of your trip, museum gift shops hold the key. There you’ll find handcrafted, high-quality souvenirs, in a wide range of prices. We’ve gathered some suggestions from a few great museums. (Some items you can even order online without leaving home, but what fun is that?)

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top cruise trends 2015 - hong kong - facebook-princess cruises

facebook.com/PrincessCruises

Here at ShermansTravel, cruise expert Donna Tunney has been sharing the inside track on trends and updates to help readers plan the perfect vacation at sea. With the start of the new year, we thought it’d be a great time to pick her brains on excellent cruise trends that she’s loving right now. Here are some of her favorites:

1. More deals, better prices.
We all love a good deal, and happily we’re seeing more and more chances to save money on a cruise. It used to be that the cruise lines waited until “wave season” — typically the first quarter of a new year — to roll out discounts and perks aimed at jumpstarting advance bookings. But now we’re seeing many more discounted cruises and lots of free amenities being offered throughout the year, especially on Caribbean and Europe voyages. For examples from the past year, Princess Cruises launched a suite and balcony cabin sale in July, while Royal Caribbean held two of its signature Wow sales in late summer and early fall. In October, MSC Cruises offered weeklong Caribbean voyages for an eye-popping $299 per person. One note: These deals always have a short booking window, so be ready to put down your deposit when a great discount, an onboard credit, or other valuable offer comes along.

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Highclere Castle1

Highclere Castle

What Downton Abbey fan wouldn’t want to stay with the wealthy Crawley family for a night or two? For Valentine’s Day this year, that wish is coming true for lucky guests who will (finally!) be able to sleep over at the Highclere Castle estate made famous in the PBS show.

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03_Second_Floor

Museum of Innocence

For culture hounds who like the nostalgic, the romantic, and the unexpected, check out the beguiling Museum of Innocence. In the midst of the twisty streets of Istanbul’s Çukurcuma neighborhood — in between antique shops, cafes, and crumbling wooden buildings – it’s just won the title of the 2014 European Museum of the Year. It’s no ordinary museum, despite the focus on everyday Istanbul life between the 1950s and the 1990s.

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The holiday rush is over. The gifts are given. The resolutions are made. Now it’s time to take a break — or at least plan one. Here’s a list of some travel destinations that we’re excited about in 2015. We think the following places embody the best that the world has to offer — expansive beaches, small-town charm, under-the-radar restaurant scenes, and much more. The best part? These destinations were chosen because they offer travelers something special at a price that won’t destroy their bank accounts. Here at ShermansTravel, we firmly believe that Europe doesn’t always have to be expensive, that the South Pacific can be considered a “budget” vacation, and that America’s cities are teeming with culture at an amazing price. Here’s where our budget-conscious selves are looking for value in 2015. We hope that these surprise and inspire you…

Portugal CREDIT Flickr Natalia

Flickr/Natalia

Algarve, Portugal
Considering its cost of living is roughly 30 percent lower than all of Western Europe, it’s no surprise that Portugal is a very budget-friendly destination. But why Algarve in particular? We love its off-beat feel — while Portugese locals flock here in June and July, it’s virtually unknown to most American travelers — and lodging along this beautiful beach is extremely affordable. Hotel and apartment rentals go for less than $100 per night in peak season or even under $50 in low season. Come and you’ll be rewarded with blue-green vistas and craggy rocks that form stunning cave-like structures. Beyond the breathtaking sea views, cafes serving fresh seafood line the streets, castles fill the historic town, and plenty of hiking can be had in-land. It helps, too, that the town, just a short train ride from Lisbon, is small enough that you don’t need a car to get around.
[Read more about Portugal here]

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Downtown Phoenix - Alan Stark

Flickr/Alan Stark

Phoenix has always been a popular winter destination, but this year it will be even more so as it hosts Super Bowl XLIX and the 2015 Pro Bowl. While you’ll probably need a small fortune to attend either event, Phoenix is one of the most affordable large cities in the nation. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck in Phoenix, whenever you go.

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Brugge

Wikipedia.com

Bruges might just be the prettiest city in Belgium, if not all of Europe. It has architecture that’s perfectly preserved from the 13th century, and the city boasts a collection of canals that could make Venice blush. Of course, beauty comes at a price. You’ll find chocolate shops advertising 20-euro boxes of bonbons and lace shops selling small pieces for 100 euros a pop. And let’s not discuss the beer we found for 24 euros. While it’s definitely difficult to visit Bruges on a budget, it’s not impossible. You just need to know where to go, and what to look for. Here’s how to do it:

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5 ©2014 – Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL

©2014 – Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL

Before the rest of the world catches on, discover these five American cities that are gaining traction in the areas of fine arts, fine food, and fine beverages.

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620 - raffles istanbul - room

Raffles Istanbul

Yes, lodging in Istanbul is incredibly inexpensive in the winter, with plenty of hotels offering rates under $100. But if you’re willing to make a small splurge in low season, you’ll enjoy luxury that’s leaps ahead of what your dollars will get you elsewhere.

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620 - British Museum - Kaitlin Larese

Kaitlin Larese

Even with the dollar gaining strength, visiting London can still be expensive for Americans. But this capital city is no less an easy and memorable trip. While we certainly recommend popular paid attractions like the London Eye and London Aquarium for first-timers, there are also plenty of free things to do for hours so that a trip here won’t cost a fortune. With multi-generational travel on the rise and London being a popular extended vacation — perfect for those school breaks — here’s an affordable guide to the city for all ages.

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Katie1

Matt Harrington

TV host and cookbook author Katie Lee loves to travel: St. Bart’s for surfing, shopping markets in India, and browsing bazaars in Morroco. One place she hasn’t been? Machu Picchu. Before she makes it to Peru, though, she’ll host a lot of out of town guests in her home (something she loves to do). In our one-on-one interview, Katie talks to us about her carry-on items, traveling routines, and her favorite place to visit abroad (hint: it’s in Africa)!

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The Evelyn, A Triumph Hotel_ Executive Suite

The Evelyn, A Triumph Hotel

From refined Midtown luxury to chic downtown style, Triumph Hotels — which debuted just in February 2014 — is a collection of six boutique Manhattan hotels, with one more joining by the end of the year. Currently,  The Iroquois New York, Hotel Chandler, Hotel Belleclaire, The Cosmopolitan, The Evelyn, and The Washington Jefferson each offer a distinct take on the city experience, with its own history, architecture and design, services, and notable locations. Here, six more reasons to stay at one of these affordable luxurious hotels in New York City.

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Go Turkey

Istanbul might be snowy during the winter, but visiting in low season means more discounts, fewer crowds, and time for (warm) pleasures like historic museums and contemporary art galleries. While it’s not too cold to shop your way through Istanbul’s famous street markets during the day, it’s easy to relax in cafés like the renown Mado Café when the sun sets, snuggling up to traditional drinks like Turkish tea, Turkish coffee, and sahlep — a sweet, milky, and cinnamon-y beverage. Here’s a guide:

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