Affordable Luxury

The Best Socks for Travel
(and the time between trips)

Travelers spend big money on upgraded airline tickets and medium money on upgraded luggage. Yet, for only a few extra dollars (or pounds or euros or yen or somoni) an upgraded experience can be had on an arguably more significant piece of travel gear: socks.

Travel (save for the armchair variety) tends to involve a lot of standing and walking and being outside. And a surprising percentage of one’s physical comfort starts with one’s feet.

For the previous few months Spot Cool Stuff has been trying out different socks; some were provided to us and others we purchased ourselves. The central take-away from this sock testing frenzy: Don’t purchase generic socks, or at least not exclusively. There’s an impressive variety of socks on the market, produced by several dozen small- and medium-sized manufacturers. Spending a bit more on their socks is worth it, especially for travel.

As for specific sock suggestions, here’s a review of some of our favorites:

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Indoor Caravan Camping

When you visit Berlin will you stay in an artsy boutique hotel? In a low cost hostel? In a trailer park?

The wonderfully cool thing about The Hüttenpalast is that the accommodations are all three of those—at once!

At Spot Cool Stuff we’ve reviewed more than our share of unusual hotels. But rarely have we found one that offers such an unconventional experience with such a relatively high level of comfort at such a relatively low price.

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Cappadocia’s Cave Hotels

Cappadocia is one of the coolest, and most fascinating, travel destinations in Turkey. Up until two million years ago the region was literally a sea of lava over 150 meters (500 feet) deep. After the volcanoes that surround Cappadocia stopped erupting that sea of lava turned to rock—relatively soft rock that’s easily eroded and dug into. As a result the region is today rife with otherworldly rock formations, underground cities . . . and cave hotels.

There are maybe two dozen cave hotels in the greater Cappadocia region. A review of some of our favorites for budget travelers and for luxury-seekers.

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Monkey See, Monkey Spa

The monkeys wash themselves, kick back with their arms resting on the hot spring’s rim, and generally carry on like humans would

So, a man and a monkey are in a hot tub . . .

That’s usually the start of some bad joke. Unless you are in the Japanese village of Jigokudani.

It is there, outside of Nagano in the Japanese Alps, where travelers can stay at the Korakukan Inn, a wonderful little Japanese-style hostel. The inn has a rotemburo (outdoor hot springs) that is for guests only. Though, apparently, no one has informed the local primate population of this policy. Stay at the Korakukan, go for an early morning bath in the winter months, and you may well be sharing the tub with a monkey.

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Mexico’s Unusual Pipe Resort

”Luxurious” and “drainage pipe” are words rarely used in the same sentence

At the Dasparkhotel in Austria you can spend the night in a drainage pipe. But why settle for a drainage pipe hotel when you can stay in an entire drainage pipe resort? That’s what you’ll find at the Tubohotel in Tepoztlan, Mexico.

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3 Cool & Affordable Places To Stay In Vancouver

For a world-class city that gets more than its share of backpack and flashpack travelers, Vancouver has a surprising dearth of interesting budget accommodations. Yeah, there’s the big party-oriented youth hostel, but there’s nothing especially remarkable about it save for an excellent central location. Choice Hotels has seven properties in the greater Vancouver area that provide good value but all are rather blah.

So what’s a cool seeking but money pinching traveler to do? After some sleuthing Spot Cool Stuff managed to find three lodgings that were both high in character and low in price.

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Crystal Cruises Offer Standby Fares

Time was, you used to be able to get ultra-cheap air fares if you flew standby. You’d buy a special standby ticket and show up at the airport. If there were room on the plane you’d get on; if there wasn’t you didn’t. The idea being that an airline would rather get a little bit of money for a seat than fly with it empty and get none at all.

Though some airlines still sell full-fare standby tickets, the days of them being deeply discounted are no more, sadly.

Happily, the standby concept might be taking hold in another travel industry: cruises. Luxury operator Crystal Cruises is now offering deals to those willing to be a bit spontaneous with their vacation.

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The World’s Best Hostels 2011 (Part II)

This is the second of our two-part look at the world’s best hostels, budget hotels and inexpensive guest houses as chosen by the users of the Hostelbookers website. Scroll down or click on the region you are interested in:

Part I Part II
Africa Europe
Asia Oceania
Canada South America
Caribbean/Mexico United States

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