Don't listen to TLC, DEFINITELY go chasing waterfalls!

And the best place to do it is definitely Iceland. Most people are dying to see the Northern Lights which, to be completely honest, I've never seen myself. However, I HATE being freezing cold and those two things pretty much go hand in hand. So instead, I went to Iceland for all of the other amazing natural beauty the country has to offer! Here are our top recommendations for a weekend visit!

First up, waterfalls, pretty much everywhere you turn. Svartifoss (or black waterfall) was by far my favorite but they all are breathtaking. WARNING: Iceland will RUIN you for all other waterfalls.

Must See Waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Gullfoss, and Kirkjufellsfoss.

Other Must Do Things in Iceland:

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1) Westmann Islands was one of the TOP things we did on our trip. However, be sure and check that the ferry is running when you're visiting because it doesn't run all year. 

2) If you're dying to see a puffin, then we recommend you HOLD one. Lots of people don't ever see one on their visit but our little secret gift to you is to visit the library on the island, there is an injured one that can't return to the wild and he's so hilarious and cute!

You can also learn all about them on an island tour and learn how the island people swing from the side of cliffs to gather their eggs! 

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3) Jökulsárlón Lagoon is a GREAT place to stop on a road trip for photos and to have a cup of hot chocolate. However, we would recommend skipping the boat tour in the water around the glaciers. Getting to eat REALLY old ice was about the highlight of the tour.

 

 

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4) IF you visit in the winter, we highly recommend not missing the Ice Caves/Glacier Hike. The window is rather short, from November to March and you absolutely HAVE to go with a guide. Vatnajökull is one of the most famous ones but there are plenty to see. Reach out to us for the best guides and travel companies or for help booking a tour!

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5) Scuba Dive between two continents! Although we don't necessarily suggest the snorkel, the scuba diving in Silfra is a unique experience to dive a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet and drift apart about 2cm per year. Gotta go now while you have the chance! Be advised you do have to wear a dry suit and it IS freezing. The price you pay for a once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

 

 

 

For more info on the best places to stay, hotels, or tours, reach out to Lundy@legittrips.com

Bubbles are ALL the rage

For obvious reasons, I follow just about every travel company on Facebook. With the accessibility of travel these days, it seems that the options for our bucket list are rapidly expanding and especially in the form of bubbles. When are we going?!

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1) Northern Ireland. If Ireland wasn't beautiful enough, now you can sleep outside without being bothered by actual nature. Finn Lough is an incredible lakeside resort with luxurious accommodation in their Forest Domes. All bubbles come with ensuite bathrooms, coffee machines, transparent walls, and unbelievable views. Price range - $275-$500 euros per night

2) Iceland. There’s no better way to experience the Northern Lights in Iceland than by staying at Buubble, aka The 5 Million Star Hotel. About 1.5 – 2 hours from Reykjavik, the hotel offers a variety of bubbles, all equipped with comfy beds and heaters. Our only complaint about this aurora borealis dream is that you HAVE to book a tour along with the hotel. They don't allow the option to just go there, stay the night, and stare at the stars. Price range is $500-$600 per person per night.

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3) South of France. Luxury meets outdoor living at ATTRAP’RÊVES, a unique bubble hotel tucked away in the countryside of Marseille. There are three different locations in the South of France that are all unique. This location invites you to sleep beneath the stars in inflatable plastic bubbles created by French designer Pierre-Stephane Dumas and furnished with king-sized beds. Price range is $109-$150 euro per night.

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4. Spain. In the Northeastern UNESCO region of Spain, Aire de Bardenas hotel has tastefully decorated bubble rooms with endless views of the Bardenas Reales Natural Park. The hotel rooms are all connected by bubble tunnels and come with bathrooms, electricity, Wi-Fi, and a minibar.

 

Reach out to Lundy@legittrips.com for more info or to book one of these amazing bubbles!

2017 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Flight Deals

Skip the mall and book a trip instead. The past few years, airlines have been getting in on the Friday frenzy and we've been able to book awesome trips and flights for great prices during Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend. This year should be no different. Here are the best deals we found below.

Coming to Iceland with Legit Trips?! Check out Icelandic Wow Air, the ultra-budget transatlantic airline, they're unloading another batch of $99 fares to London, Amsterdam, Dublin, and Reykjavik as part of a "Purple Friday" sale, available now through December 13.

Not to be outdone in the low-cost carrier competition, Norwegian has launched its own Black Friday sale that continues through the end of Cyber Monday with one-way tickets to Barcelona (BCN) from New York/Newark (EWR) for just $139.90, Los Angeles (LAX) to Paris (CDG) for only $149.90 one-way and Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to London/Gatwick (LGW) at just $159.90 one-way, among many others. Many of these deals do not require a round-trip purchase, though if you do book a return, you’ll find the price on the way back to be significantly higher. So it could be a good chance to use points or miles for the return trip to get the best deal.

How about our group trip to Vietnam or Thailand?! Singapore Airlines Flight Deals - Reduced round-trip airfare for travel to Asia from Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York City (JFK) and San Francisco (SFO). Book by November 27, and travel from January 15 - June 30, 2018.

Delta Air Lines Flight Deals - Visit the Azores archipelago in Portugal for a hefty discount from cities across the U.S. Book by November 28 and travel May 24-September 3, 2018.

Qatar, one of the best airlines in the world, has a "Thank You" sale on routes all over the world. There are some especially good fares on offer, like economy round-trips from Washington, D.C. to Bali for $680 and Houston to Beirut for $675.

Alaska Airlines is promising Black Friday deals and if the past years are any indication, the fares will be consistent with their frequent sales: decent, reliable, not that flashy—like the airline itself.

TAP Portugal Flight Deals - Double the savings on all flights to Europe with Miles&GO. Available from November 24th - 27th. Book Now!

Hawaiian Flight Deals - Enjoy reduced fares on flights to the Hawaiian islands. Sample round-trip fares include San Jose to Maui from $357; San Francisco to Maui from $377; and Los Angeles to Kauai from $457. Book by November 26, 2017, and travel from January 10 - March 7, 2018.

Traveling within the USA? United Airlines has special domestic fares

Galapagos

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I think every living, breathing human as once had the Galapagos on their bucketlist, if they don't still. I always thought it would be a cool place to go but I didn't know enough about it to be actively pursuing a visit. Luckily, a good friend of mine was booking a trip and convinced me to come along. 

Leaving out company names, it was my first time to purchase a group trip that was not a Legit Trip. I thought it would be the perfect experience to see what it's like on the other side, as a customer. Well, long story short, I learned a lot, and realized we're doing a REALLY good job on our trips compared to some other companies. 

More importantly, the Galapagos were incredible. Sea lions were like puppies, covering every inch of the shoreline. Their babies are particularly adorable, always playing with each other or splashing around in the water. Everywhere you turned in the water, there was a turtle, almost as big as I am, just swimming near you or most likely scarfing down some underwater plants. Then there were sharks. All of my life I've had an irrational fear of sharks yet somehow, when they were swimming below me IN REAL LIFE, I had the urge to swim down to see them better! Hammerheads just cruising below us that would swim away from us as we got closer. Turns out, they wanted nothing to do with us. I could go on and on, the sea life was overwhelming. 

If you love the ocean, turtles, sharks, or pretty much anything that lives in water, the Galapagos are for you. We've cultivated the best possible trip for April, cutting out the things we felt weren't worth your time and adding extra days in the best places. Also, we've optimized the days and accommodations to provide the best value for the lowest price we could find! There are a few spots left, join us in April! https://www.legittrips.com/bookyourtrip/2018galapagos

MUST DOs:
Kicker Rock
Darwin Center
Tortuga Beach
Highlands Center
 

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Flight Hacks

Having trouble finding the flight you want?! We've can help! Here are our favorite flight websites/email subscriptions/companies to follow!

1) Google Flights: You can put in your departure airport and type in the country you want to go to, or even the continent. It will show you a list of the best possible countries or cities to fly in to for the cheapest price. ALSO you can see alternative dates to see what dates are cheaper and click TRACK. Then it emails you every time the flight decreases or increases. We use this for EVERY trip and are happy to help you track a flight if you need!

2) Exit Fares. I prefer ExitFares Austin but you should obviously subscribe to whatever city you live in or near. They have a facebook page now too that posts top deals as they have them. I see $300 RT to Asia ALL of the time and have to practice a lot of self control.

3) Scott's Cheap Flights. It's a paid email subscription. I have a friend who forwards it to me for free but I think it's less than $20 a year. DEFINITELY worth it. Subscribe.

4) Travel Pirates: If you're flexible, they have CRAZY deals all of the time. You have to just book it RIGHT then. I've seen flights RT to Paris from Texas for $200. It's insane.

5) Hopper: the phone app. You put in where you want to go and when, it alerts you when it thinks is the best time to buy or if you should keep waiting.

For the love of Cuba

This past week I was fortunate enough to spend an amazing week in Cuba. There is so much going on in the country and there is so much confusion over how and IF you can visit. Well, I'm here to tell you to run, not walk, to your nearest travel agent (ME!) and get your trip booked. 

view from my room at Malecon 663

view from my room at Malecon 663

Although Cuba has received some tourists from Europe and Canada, the numbers are low, especially now. When you're walking around the streets, you see a few tourists here and there but nothing like everywhere else in the world. It's hard to explain how much of an effect Cuba had on me. I learned so much about the government, the way of life for the Cuban people, the struggles and the surprisingly good free healthcare and education. I was impressed to learn that Cuba has a HIGHER literacy rate than the USA. 

However, despite their hardships or repression, everyone I met was absolutely charming. I'd say that at least half of my experience was made by spending time with so many different Cubans learning about art, music, their culture and history, and just laughing, ALL the time. By the end of the week, I felt like I had a new group of best friends. They're such welcoming, happy people, with smiles and good attitudes every single day. THIS is something we can all learn from. I find that Americans who tend to have way more than they realize, are always complaining about something or focusing on the wrong thing. The Cuban people reminded me that it's a great day just to be alive. EVERY DAY!

I could go on and on about the ocean, the mountains, the kilometers of untouched green farmland, beauty at every turn. Go see for yourself and come back being thankful for the fact that you can drink water from your sink, access free wifi just about anywhere in your city, buy milk or red meat whenever you want, and own a private home or business. All things that are not freedoms for the Cuban people but things we don't even take the time to blink at.

Today I am grateful. Every time I think about my new friends, I'll remember to smile more, laugh more, and be thankful. Hugs to Alian, Aymee, Yuniel, and Osmany!

Here's more info on the newest CUBA TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS

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Vienna

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 Cities like this in Europe are my favorite. I love all of the history and the fact that they've kept so many of the old buildings in tact. We didn't do a ton of research leading up to this trip so it was really fun to be surprised at every turn.

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Our absolute favorite surprise was Prater. We thought we were just searching for this old time ferris wheel that has the best views of Vienna. Fortunately, we decided to adventure on the tram and found ourselves in this incredible sports park/carnival/water park/green space. We were in AWE. It turned out to be Wurstelprater, the oldest amusement park in the WORLD. It's open 24 hours day, 7 days a week and is FREE of charge for entry. Prater also includes a sports stadium as well as a large public park and several restaurants. We could've gotten lost in there for days and not seen anything else in Vienna and been perfectly happy. It was so peaceful compared to the more touristy spots we'd been visiting.

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My second favorite thing in Vienna was Naschmarkt. Sadly, it's only open on Saturdays from 7am until 6pm but it's incredible! It ranges from fresh meat, cheeses, and fruits to garage sale type items like clothes and antiques as well as souvenirs. Nashmarkt is a great place to eat breakfast or lunch, grab some fresh produce, or go home with some cool vintage jewelry. The market was alive with locals and tourists alike, some drinking wine at 10am and others tasting every type of candy that was available. It is also located in the middle of some beautifully painted buildings so the entire experience is extremely photo-worthy.

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Other top recommendations include:
Schonbrunn Palace ** The FREE gardens are the BEST part. Walk to the very top for an awesome view of Vienna

The Danube: A day trip to Bratislava via the Twin City Liner, walk along the river bank to admire all of the graffiti, OR Strandbar Hermann (if it's sunny, this is a super fun BEACH bar on the river!) There are also lots of 2-3 hour river cruises available as well.

Hundertwasser Village

Hundertwasser Village

KunstHausWien
Hundertwasser Village
Coffee at Alt Wien
St. Stephen's Cathedral
ANY Rooftop: Cafe Bar Bloom, Rooftop restaurant of Sofitel Vienna, Sky Bar Roof Terrace
Eat: Griechenbeisl, Albertina Passage, Cafe Central
Drink: Bockshorn Irish Pub (the smallest and oldest pub in Vienna), Loos American Bar, Kleinod

Prague

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When in ANY city in Europe, I highly recommend bike tours, ice cream everyday, and afternoon naps. Obviously drinking at local watering holes and eating the regional cuisine are a no brainer as well.

The best thing about a bike tour is that if you do it on the first or second day you arrive, then you've got a tiny glimpse of everything in the city. They are often fast and you normally don't get to stop for pictures everywhere you'd like but then you can go back the next day and spend more time at the things you liked most. In Prague, I took a tour with Praha Bikes. I was SUPER surprised that our tour guide was a 21 year old guy from Austin, Texas. I proceeded to make all kinds of fun of him and undermine his credibility to be giving us a tour of Prague but alas, it was pretty good. 

My favorite touristy spots were Old Town Square and the John Lennon Wall. I stayed in Old Town so I walked around there everyday and it's just quintessential Europe. Super busy, lots of street performers, beautiful buildings, and again, ICE CREAM. It has officially become one of my favorite cities in Europe.

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The John Lennon Wall is the only place in Prague where graffiti is legal. Because of that, the art changes daily. In addition, there is a street performer playing live Beatles songs in front of the wall. I could've stayed there for hours. 

I also recommend spending some time near the bridges and water. Either taking a cruise or just enjoying a coffee. The Charles Bridge is definitely impressive. 

However, my favorite part of Prague was definitely the cocktail bars. Originally we set out on a speakeasy bar crawl but it turns out that speakeasies, where the door is hidden or there is a password, is far more popular in the states than anywhere else. Fortunately though, we happened upon three really great cocktail bars in the process. Anonymous Bar and Black Angels Bar are both in Old Town, they had completely different vibes but both unique with delicious drinks. Hemingway Bar is a little more on the outskirts of Old Town but the staff were so much fun and the drinks were extra playful. I could've stayed there for days. 

All in all, the sun doesn't set until almost 10pm in the summer so needless to say there is SO much to do and also SO much daylight. Walk around and enjoy!

Mountains and Beach, what more could you want!

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After a whirlwind tour of South Africa, I can say with certainty that Cape Town is one of the most uniquely beautiful places I've ever been. The entire peninsula is one big group of mountains that are all surrounded by gorgeous beaches. Who doesn't love to sit on the beach and look at a view of the mountains? I can't thing of another place on Earth besides Queenstown, NZ that has as many hiking opportunities as they do water.

The one thing I can say that I WASN'T prepared for was the lack of partying/safety at night solo. I'm happy to stay in as much as the next person but exploring nightlife is one of my favorite things to do in a city. I love meeting new people and trying new cocktails and fun bars. My advice: take a friend or stay in a hostel that hosts activities. I highly recommend Yours Truly hostel, they have two bars on site that are both really fun. For a quieter option, I loved The B.I.G. hostel. They host group outings daily and have a ton of great, more local recommendations. Favorite places included El Burro, Up Yours, and Kloof St House (best cocktail bar)

Another surprise on this trip for me was that hop on/hop off busses, albeit super hideous and touristy, are an incredible way to get around a place. Multiple locals that I met suggested it so I gave it a go and ended up loving it. I highly recommend it if you're going to CT. You can see everything you need to see for less than $20, do the two day option and see the city at your own pace.

Cape Town is also really affordable. Ubers are the safest transport option and are between $1 and $5 almost always. Uber to/from the airport was $10 each way. 

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Highlights:
- Cape Tour - 100% book this one: www.luckyandlost.co.za/1-day-essential-tour Super fun, young couple who owns and runs it. Definitely the best local experience with some homemade cape malay food.
-Kirstenbosch botanical gardens: I normally ALWAYS skip botanical gardens but this place is absolutely incredible.
- Spier Wine Farm: If you have a lot of time, stay at the farm and enjoy all of the amenities. If you don't, I recommend Wine Flies tours company.
- Safari: There are a few one-two day trips from Cape Town but I recommend going to Kruger National Park. If you're not into safaris, still go for at least a day trip! Kruger National Park is still awesome without safari!
- Shopping: Biscuit Mill is only open on Saturdays, Green Market is all African touristy items and each vendor has pretty much the same thing, V&A Waterfront is pricey but has a variety of items from trinkets to fancy art pieces.
-Learn something about Nelson Mandela: I went to Robben Island which was super interesting but it does take 4 hours because of the ferry and lines. There are lots of other options in South Africa to learn more about his legendary life. Take the time.
 

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Rolling Solo

For the past few years, I've been traveling solo as much as possible. As a woman, I think it's a rite of passage and something everyone should do at least once. However sometimes, it's just circumstantial because no one else can afford to take time off. 

My first big solo trip was to Australia when I was 21. Long story short, the girl I was then was not prepared to take on the world by herself. Ten years later, I started traveling on small trips here and there, staying in my own rooms, taking my own flights, until I got really use to the idea of not having to care what anyone else wants to do. Today, I'm not necessarily sure that was such a good thing. 

I think traveling alone is life changing. My solo trip to Thailand was one of the most terrifying experiences in the best way. Language and food barriers being the biggest factors. However, I think people are more likely to approach you/speak to you if you're solo. I met so many amazing friends that I still have to this day! You go out of your way to be extra friendly and open to new ideas and experiences and the rewards are endless. There are SO many great things about traveling alone.

However, sometimes there are averse effects. People who don't travel easily may seem more annoying. They ask a lot of questions, they take forever to get ready, or they are a little culturally unaware. Trust me, I get it. But there's something about South Africa that has changed me. I want to be better. I want to share my experiences so that my friends can have the opportunity to grow and travel. It's the main reason we started Legit Trips.

So I leave you with this for the end of my first post back in the blog world. If you find yourself being annoyed with your fellow travelers, remember these three things.

  1. Be patient. You weren't always as awesome as you are now and someone was likely very patient with you several times in order for you to learn and gain experience and be a better traveler.
  2. Everyone is a consequence of their own experiences. Remember that not everyone has had the life you have. For that, consider yourself fortunate if you've traveled a lot more than your friends. 
  3. Pura Vida. No Pasa Nada. You're on VACATION! Remember to enjoy it because if you're letting other people ruin your time, the only person to blame is you.

"Life is about creating & living experiences that are worth sharing." - Steve Jobs. 

So go out there and travel alone but don't let it ruin you! Other people are still awesome and fun to be around so don't miss your chance to experience them too!

Love,
Lundy