If You Don't See the Northern Lights on This Cruise, Your Next Trip is Free

iStock
iStock

Even if you wait for the best time of year and scope out the perfect spot, seeing the Northern Lights in person is never a guarantee. The visibility of the aurora borealis on any given night depends on multiple factors that are tough to predict. But one cruise line is confident they can take you to the light show—so confident that they’re promising a second trip on them if you miss the Lights the first time, Travel + Leisure reports.

The Astronomy Voyage from Hurtigruten Cruises leaves Norway between October and March, traveling from Bergen to the Arctic town of Kirkenes and back. During the 12-day tour, passengers are treated to views of Norwegian landscapes and wildlife and, if all goes according to plan, the Northern Lights in all their glory. In its first 10 years, the voyage has never gone all 12 days without at least one clear look at the aurora borealis, but if year 11 marks a break in that pattern, customers have no reason to worry. Hurtigruten promises to send them on a free six- or seven-day cruise next year to give them another shot at the experience.

“We know that no trip to the Arctic Circle is quite complete without experiencing this highlight (pun intended!) at least once on your journey,” the website reads, “so your Hurtigruten experience will be one with zero regrets.”

When passengers aren’t sky-gazing on the deck, they can sit in on presentations from the ship's own onboard astronomer or visit the Tromsø Planetarium (the northernmost planetarium in the world) during one of the ship’s many stops. Admission to the planetarium is included in the roughly $1,970 ticket price, along with meals and access to an English-speaking tour guide. The aurora borealis guarantee is also included in the fare, but considering that the current season is projected to be one of the best for viewing the Northern Lights until 2025, it’s likely that no one will need to redeem it.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Visit Any National Park for Free on September 28—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of September—which always seems especially busy, even if you’re not a student anymore—you might be ready for a small break from the hustle and bustle. On Saturday, September 28, you can bask in the tranquility of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll, but there is an added incentive to volunteer: You’ll get a one-day park pass that you can use for free park entry on a different day. Opportunities for volunteering include trail restoration, invasive plant removal, park cleanups, and more; you can see the details and filter by park, state, and/or type of event here.

If you’re not sure how you should celebrate National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service has created a handy flowchart to help you choose the best course of action for you—which might be as simple as sharing your favorite outdoor activity on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

National public lands day celebration flowchart
National Park Service

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

For those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 28, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veteran’s Day on November 11.

And, if you’re wishing a free-admission day existed for museums, you’re in luck—more than 1500 museums will be free to visit on Museum Day, which happens to be this Saturday.

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