The Best Non-Beach Spring Break Getaways

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 16, 2016.

The words “spring break” may conjure images of swimsuited coeds frolicking on the beach, but a truly enjoyable spring break is hardly one size fits all. Everybody has their own preferences, and some folks simply prefer urban, landlocked, or mountainous settings to sandy ones. If you fall into the former category, then don’t let your friends pressure you into yet another sticky spring break on the edge of the ocean. Instead, book a trip to any of these stellar non-beach spring break getaways.


Austin, TX

Texas’ capitol has earned itself a reputation as the hipster capital of the country—and for good reason. The unparalleled music scene, thriving foodie culture, and laid-back vibes make this city a must-visit for any college student. The wildly popular SXSW festival is held every year in March, so expect hotel rates to rise during the month—but if you make it to the festival, your money will be well spent. The weather is nice and temperate in the spring, so don’t forget to take advantage of the many outdoor recreational opportunities both in and just outside of the city.

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Asheville, NC

If wild parties aren’t your thing, then head to laid-back Asheville for a spring break that won’t disappoint. Located between the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers gorgeous 360-degree views and easy access to outdoor adventures. The city is also home to thriving arts and foodie scenes, interesting museums, and an abundance of live music—you’re unlikely to find more buskers per capita in any other city. Be sure not to miss the historical Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned house in the U.S. The grounds also feature a winery, garden tours, and the upscale Antler Hill Village, which offers shopping, dining, and live entertainment.

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Las Vegas, NV

For those who are comfortable with flashing lights and large crowds, Las Vegas is the place to be. From world-renowned casinos to one-of-a-kind performances, raucous pool parties, expansive buffets, and an anything-goes nightlife scene, Las Vegas brings the party at all hours of the day and night. Don’t miss the downtown Fremont Street Experience, which includes a pedestrian mall, concert venues, and various wild attractions such as the SlotZilla Zip Line, which lets adventurous spring breakers fly over the street at a height of more than 70 feet.

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Memphis, TN

If you’ve never been to the birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll, it’s high time you paid it a visit. Whether you’re interested in music or southern heritage, you’ll get a (fun) education anywhere you turn. Head to Sun Studio, where the first ever Rock ‘N Roll record was made, or visit the Center for Southern Folklore or the Pink Palace Museum to learn about southern art, culture, history, and music. And of course, be sure to visitGraceland Museum, home to none other than the one and only Elvis Presley. When you’ve had your fill of educational tours, head to Beale Street (the official “Home of the Blues”) to enjoy great food, live performances, or the jovial nightlife.

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New Orleans, LA

With Mardi Gras over and the summer humidity still months away, spring break is the perfect time to explore New Orleans at a leisurely pace. Thanks to the city’s fusion of Cajun, Creole, French, Native American, and Spanish cultures, awesome architecture, art galleries, food, museums, music, and live performances are a stone’s throw away in any direction. Head to Bourbon Street if you’re looking to party, visit the historic French Quarter to experience a taste of the past, or stroll Frenchman Street to hear some of the best blues, jazz, and rockabilly around.

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San Antonio, TX

What Austin’s cool cousin lacks in beachside access, it makes up for in great weather, artsy shops, award-winning food, interesting museums, gorgeous architecture, and awesome outdoor activities. By day, stroll along the pedestrian Riverwalk, hike to the top of Enchanted Rock, or tour the historic missions, which were recently designated aWorld Heritage Site. At night, take a ghost tour of the city before hitting up the area nightlife or retiring to one of the city’s many budget-friendly hotels.

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Press Play on These 4 Great Travel Podcasts

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 22, 2016.

The appeal of travel is that you get to, well, go somewhere. That’s why a travel podcast might sound a little counterintuitive at first. Most people would rather go to Peru (for example) than hear someone else talk about it. And if that’s not an immediate option, browsing photographs may seem superior to spoken word.

And yet podcasts have exploded in popularity precisely because the spoken word is so powerful, and because a lack of visual commitment makes them perfect for filling time stuck in traffic, walking the dog, or cleaning the kitchen. Plus, travel podcasts specifically can clue you in on new destinations, while also offering travel tips, language lessons, and much more.

If you’re in the market for some new podcasts to add to the queue, try one of these; it just might just inspire your next vacation.


1. The Indie Travel Podcast:

For the last decade, New Zealanders Craig and Linda Martin have been “professionally homeless,” meaning they travel full-time. The couple chronicles their travels on the Indie Travel podcast. According to a recent anniversary episode, Craig and Linda describe “Indie Travel” as the desire to experience a destination as opposed to just seeing it — generally by engaging with the local environment, businesses and people.

In most episodes, the couple hones in on a specific destination and talks about their experience — whether that means navigating the United Kingdom, living in Mexico, or visiting Ukraine. The couple also sometimes shares more practical advice and interviews other travelers. With over 300 episodes already broadcast, new listeners have plenty of backlog to enjoy on top of the usual two to three new podcasts coming out each month.

2. Travel with Rick Steves:

A good number of top travel podcasts are created by a couple or group of friends who quit their full-time jobs to travel the world. They are (understandably) eager to share tips and best practices to that end — which is great! But many of us aren’t in a position to necessarily rearrange our lives around travel; we simply want to get away or spice up some standard trips. That’s why the “Travel with Rick Steves” podcast remains a staple.

Episodes don’t spend time on his life story or on motivational quotes about breaking away from your routine. Instead, the episodes showcase places and cultures, while also featuring renowned guests from activist and author Gloria Steinem to British actress Joanna Lumley. And while Steves’ voice may sound a bit monotone when you first tune in, it’s actually quite soothing as you get used to it, making for perfect background listening.


3. Conde Naste Traveller Travelogue:

Another established, well-executed podcast that features a nice range of voices is the Conde Naste Traveller Travelogue. Conde Naste is one of the world’s leading media companies, while its Traveller Magazine boasts beautiful photography and seemingly endless travel suggestions. The podcast, as you might guess, is essentially the magazine a new form.

Launched last fall, the weekly episodes are conversational, yet keep things a bit more journalistic. So far, topics have included how to travel with kids, information on new TSA rules and how to survive holiday travel, in addition to destination-specific highlights from Australia to Miami. Oh, and each episode kicks off by sharing the “Cocktail of the Week.” Get a buzz on, then book a trip!

4. Survival Phrases:

Ever find yourself in a new country without the ability to even ask for basic directions? That’s where the “Survival Phrases” podcast comes in. It can help travelers prepare (or perhaps cram last minute) for travel to a country in which people speak a different language. There are podcasts series available for 27 total languages, from Spanish to Chinese to Dutch. In teaching important travel phrases, the podcast attempts to offer listeners “cultural insight you will not find in a textbook,” including frequently used modern phrases.

If you have travel coming up, pick a podcast, scroll through the archives and find an episodes that focuses on your destination. You’ll be sure to find some great suggestions and stories, while other episodes may also provide the perfect place to visit for vacations that follow.

Dodging Trains by Sunniva Dee – Book Blitz

“Beautiful can never love ugly.” That hurt my heart. This is one is going to be emotional. – Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Dodging Trains
Sunniva Dee
Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

I was twelve when a stranger at a train station taught me the meaning of ugly. He forced himself on me and threatened to kill my family if I told.

I stayed silent and the ugliness grew.

Now, that word rolls in film clips through my mind. All I’ve done since my best friend, Keyon Arias, left town is cement how ugly I am. Ugly on the inside—deep down to my core. On the outside… I am a Vixen. I flash men a smile and make them moan out pleasure I control.

Not them. Never them.

After five years of being away, my beautiful boy has come back to town for his father’s masquerade ball. He’s different. Hard muscle supersedes the skin and bone of his once boyish frame. One thing hasn’t changed though: the murderous look in his eyes when he slaughters his opponents. In the ring, I see the bullied boy, all grown up, dominating in ways he couldn’t in high school.

He’s the mayor’s son. The rising MMA fighter. The beautiful one.

I’m not the Paislee Cain of before, not the sweet girl he once knew, the one who chased away his bullies. I’m the town slut. The dirty girl whose shame will never fade no matter how many men I use. He’d disown what I’ve become.

Because beautiful can never love ugly.

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I’ve been on a one-track rail to landing Paislee in my bed since she got off the plane. Not that it’s been planned, but I convinced her that Pizza Pazza in Tampa is better than Mamma Lucia’s in Calceth. I told her about Simon during dinner, one thing led to another, and here I am unlocking the door to my duplex and letting her enter first.

She hasn’t commented on how we took my car from her hotel, how she’s basically dependent on me and my whims. But hey, I’m fucked too; it wasn’t my choice to have someone fill my head, and I didn’t ask that person to come to Florida.

We haven’t talked about tomorrow’s schedule, but I’m going to the rich dude’s house with her. He could be a total freak for all I know, so she’s not facing him alone.

“Oooh,” she whispers through a reverent puff of air like she’s never seen a cat before. Simon’s playing it up too, slinking around the corner with all the grace in the universe, stroking the doorjamb with a hip before he meanders over to us. “He’s soooo beautiful.”

“He’s just a regular old black street cat,” I say, but by the wink she shoots me, she doesn’t buy it. She read me back when too. “’Kay, fine: Simon’s awesome. Straight up the best pelt ever.”

“Pelt? You ass,” she giggles as she pets him from the top of his head and down the length of his body to his tail. Simon lifts it, happy. Any minute now, he’ll crank the volume on his purr-machine.

“Wow, he purrs loud.”

And there. For a cat, he’s being unexpectedly predictable.

“He loves the ladies,” I say, which makes her giggle more. I love to make her giggle. When she stands up again, I pull her in with one arm, fingers splayed across her spine. Firm breasts press against me, and I groan a little.

She puffs another laugh, all Simon’s fault. He’s gotten to the part of the agenda where he’s going to cramp my style. His purrs reach us from the floor, and he’s scissoring in and out between both of our legs.

“Never mind him. Look at me,” I whisper. Let my thumb and forefinger slide over her chin. The amusement recedes from her eyes when she sees that I mean business. I’m hardening. She yelps. Then she laughs out loud.

“Simon, quit it!” I say, exasperated, and bend to unhook his claws from the fabric over her knees. “I’m sorry. You see how it is now, right?

Simon’s the ass in this house. I should sell him to the highest bidder. Fifty cents flat will do. Come to think of it—I’ve got fifty cents in my pocket,” I say, kissing her down the corridor. “I could pay someone to take him. ‘Perfectly good cat with a year’s worth of free cat food.’”

Obviously, I’m digging my own grave here. There’s no hot lovemaking when your girl’s laughing so hard she’s about to pee herself.

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Author Bio:

Between studies, teaching, and advising, Sunniva has spent her entire adult life in a college environment. Most of her novels are new adult romance geared toward smart, passionate readers with a love for eclectic language and engaging their brain as well as their heart while reading.

Born in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the author spent her early twenties making the world her playground. Southern Europe: Spain, Italy, Greece–Argentina: Buenos Aires, in particular. The United States finally kept her interest, and after half a decade in Los Angeles, she now lounges in the beautiful city of Savannah.

Sometimes, Sunniva writes with a paranormal twist (Shattering Halos, Stargazer, and Cat Love). At other times, it’s contemporary (Pandora Wild Child, Leon’s Way, Adrenaline Crush, Walking Heartbreak, and Dodging Trains, coming in late March 2016).

This author is the happiest when her characters let their emotions run off with them, shaping her stories in ways she never foresaw. She loves bad-boys and good-boys run amok, and like in real life, her goal is to keep the reader on her toes until the end of each story.

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Marrying a stranger – that’s a great hook. – Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Maybe Yes
Ella Miles
(Maybe, #1)
Publication date: March 18th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

Her future is already set, all she has to do is marry a complete stranger.

Kinsley Felton has everything. Money, a loving family, and a modeling career. She graduates from Yale in just days, but unlike a typical college student she doesn’t have to spend hours looking for a job when she graduates. Kinsley will inherit the multi-billion dollar gaming and hospitality company her great-grandfather started. The only problem is she has to do everything her family asks for in order to get that money. That includes marrying a man of her family’s choosing. That’s not a problem since Kinsley has been following her family’s orders all her life. Until a phone call from her grandfather changes everything.

Will she marry the man her family chooses or will she decide her own future?

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**FREE on March 24 & 25 only!**


I just don’t know what I want.

I think of everything I’ve been told I want—money, clothes, a modeling career, an acting career, and an intelligent husband who will run the company in order to give me even more money. But not one of those things has ever made me happy. I try to think about things that have made me happy—my family and Scarlett. But that leaves me with fewer answers.

I know what I don’t want.

I don’t want a modeling career.

I don’t want an acting career.

I don’t want to marry a complete stranger.

I try to think of my happiest memory with my dad. It was on my eighteenth birthday. It coincided with my high school graduation. He took me to a casino in California, one I could legally gamble at. He taught me how to play blackjack and how to count cards. We won—a lot. It wasn’t the winning that made it fun. It was learning something from my father. It was the confidence he displayed in me when he gave me high amounts of money to place a bet that I would win because I was capable. It was one of the only times I felt he was proud of me for something other than my looks.

The line I will never forget my father saying to me is, “No one would ever suspect you of counting cards. You’re too pretty.”

It was that day that I learned that my beauty was a weapon that could be used to my advantage. I just have never learned how to harness it.

I head to my room to grab my shoes and purse to head to a casino, to find a happy memory…because, tomorrow, I’ll meet the man I’m going to marry. Tomorrow, I’ll have to face the fact that I don’t get to decide my own future, but I don’t have to today. I still have a chance to make today better. I was wrong. Today isn’t the worst day of my life. Tomorrow probably will be, so I’m going to make the most of my last night of freedom.


Author Bio:

Ella Miles writes sexy romance with strong females that could kick your butt if you piss them off, which they often do to the men that fall for them. She’s currently living her own happily ever after near the Rocky Mountains with her high school sweetheart husband. Her heart is also taken by her goofy two year old black lab that is scared of everything, including her own shadow. Ella is the author of the Aligned series. Get a free book by visiting her website. Or by stalking her on Twitter or Facebook.

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Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife by Julia Kent – Book Blitz

I love the shopping series. So much fun. – Sydney Aaliyah Michelle

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife
Julia Kent
(Shopping for a Billionaire #8)
Publication date: March 23rd 2016
Genres: Comedy, New Adult, Romance

Who needs a SWAT team to escape from their own wedding? Me.

My Momzilla turned us into hostages at our own ceremony, so Declan and I are getting married the good old-fashioned way, just like everybody else.

By calling in his private security team, stealing away before the ceremony by helicopter, connecting to his corporate jet and heading for Las Vegas.

The Boston wedding of the year is about to become a trashy Elvis drive-thru ceremony.

Until the best man spills the beans and Mom, Dad, my sisters, his brothers, my maid of honor, my friend Josh, and even my cat, Chuckles, all come along for the ride.

I can’t win, can I?

Oh. Yeah. I already did.

Love conquers all.

Even my crazy family.

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife is the 8th book in the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Shopping for a Billionaire series. After Declan convinces Shannon to escape from their own wedding minutes before the ceremony begins, the madcap adventures are just getting started. When the mother of the bride pries their location out of the tortured best man, the whole crazy crew follows the bride and groom to Las Vegas in this romantic comedy from Julia Kent.

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We are at a private airport I’ve never seen before. The sky is that glorious shade of blue that seems to deepen as you look up, with a smattering of clouds that draw the eye to them. It’s a perfect, idyllic July day in Massachusetts.

A great day for an outdoor wedding.

Declan and the helicopter pilot, whose name I never caught, exchange a few words in Russian before I rib my soon-to-be husband and whisper, “Would you please speak in English?”



He just stares at me with that intimidatingly blank face.

“That doesn’t work, you know,” I tell him with a pointed sneer. Or, at least, I try to sneer. I’m not so good at the sneering thing. That’s more Jessica Coffin’s area of expertise.

He doesn’t twitch a muscle. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want me to know what he and the pilot are talking about. Fine. Fine!

But this alpha-male dominant crap – you know, the stuff I fell in love with him for – is getting on my nerves.

“Declan, please,” I concede.

No change.

The exasperated hiss that comes out of me makes my body flush with fury. “It’s our wedding day. I am supposed to be kissing you at the altar right now while the minister pronounces us husband and wife. Instead, I listened to you and went along with this crazy scheme to run off to Las Vegas and leave everyone – everyone! — behind.”

Side note: I know that’s not true. The decision to ditch my mother was mutual. But right now, I have zero leverage, and he’s giving me that granite look like he’s an Easter Island statue, so I have to find some kind of vulnerability in him.

I’m saving sex for the nuclear option.


Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge, and new adult books that push contemporary boundaries. From billionaires to BBWs to rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every book she writes, but unlike Trevor from Random Acts of Crazy, she has never kissed a chicken.

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