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5 Quick, Inexpensive Destinations to View the Northern Lights

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The Aurora Borealis tops most travelers’ bucket lists, but this gem of the north is actually much easier to access than one may think. With direct flights to a variety of major Northern Lights hubs, it’s relatively quick—and in some cases even affordable—to see this glowing phenomenon.

1. REYKJAVIK, ICELAND

With its cheap flights and dramatic, remote landscapes, Iceland attracts Aurora chasers from all over the world. On a clear, perfect night, travelers can see the lights in capital city Reykjavik. But, with a quick drive or tour outside the city—and maybe a stay in Iceland’s Bubble Hotel—the odds for an Aurora sighting are even greater.

How to get there: Direct flights from New York City (JFK), New Jersey (EWR), and Boston (BOS) are quick—just five to six hours—and can be found for as low as $300 to $400.

2. ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

Alaska is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, particularly in the less illuminated areas outside of town. Spots like Alyeska Resort, Sheep Mountain Lodge, and Izaak Walton State Park are popular for Northern Lights hunters, but drive anywhere outside the city on a clear and active Aurora night, and the sky will put on quite the show.

How to get there: Direct flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Anchorage can drop below $500, and while flights from New York City (LGA) may be time consuming—between 10 and 16 hours—they can be found for $500 - $600.

3. ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND

The UK isn’t known for clear skies—a necessity for Northern Lights viewing—but in those rare moments the clouds do part, Northern Scotland sure puts on a stunning Aurora display. The Isle of Skye, which has seven hours of daylight during winter, leaves adequate time for daytime explorations, followed by extra hours to catch those lights.

How to get there: Fly direct from New York City (JFK) to Inverness for $700 (and 14 hours of travel), then make an 80-mile, potentially snowy drive up to the Isle of Skye. For those not renting a car, the Isle of Skye is accessible from Inverness via train and bus connection.

4. EDMONTON, CANADA

While Edmonton, Alberta is best known for its enormous West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America, it’s also an incredible—and easily accessible—place to view those Northern Lights. For those who prefer to plan their Aurora viewing to perfection, the popular AuroraWatch platform monitors geomagnetic activity around Edmonton, and will even send alerts and email notifications when the skies are set to glow.

How to get there: Flights from New York City (JFK) to Edmonton are available for under $500 and take about eight hours. From Los Angeles, flight prices drop to an impressive $300 to $400, and can take as little as three hours direct.

5. HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, CANADA

From November through March, the skies of Happy Valley-Goose Bay in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador illuminate with vibrant hues from the Aurora Borealis. While Happy Valley-Goose Bay is Labrador’s largest community, it remains a quiet, charming town with little-to-no light pollution and, consequentially, some impressive Aurora viewing opportunities. In fact, the Northern Lights are so prevalent here, the community’s stores and even a dog sled company are named after this natural phenomenon.

How to get there: From Chicago or New York City, flights start around $400 or $650, respectively, but take caution—these low prices come with a lengthy time commitment of two stops and a total of nine to 12 hours.

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The Best (and Worst) States for Summer Road Trips
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As we shared recently, the great American road trip is making a comeback, but some parts of the country are more suitable for hitting the open road than others. If you're interested in taking a road trip this summer but are stuck on figuring out the destination, WalletHub has got you covered: The financial advisory website analyzed factors like road conditions, gas prices, and concentration of activities to give you this map of the best states to explore by car.

Wyoming—home to the iconic road trip destination Yellowstone National Park—ranked No. 1 overall with a total score of 58.75 out of 100. It's followed by North Carolina in the No. 2 slot, Minnesota at No. 3, and Texas at No. 4. Coming in the last four slots are the three smallest states in America—Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut—and Hawaii, a state that's obviously difficult to reach by car.

But you shouldn't only look at the overall score if you're planning a road trip route: Some states that did poorly in one category excelled in others. California for example, came in 12th place overall, and ranked first when it came to activities and 41st in cost. So if you have an unlimited budget and want to fit as many fun stops into your vacation as possible, taking a trip up the West Coast may be the way to go. On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi is a good place to travel if you're conscious of spending, ranking second in costs, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the quality of your trip, coming in 38th place for safety and 44th for activities.

Choosing the stops for your summer road trip is just the first step of the planning process. Once you have that covered, don't forget to pack these essentials.

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Netherlands Officials Want to Pay Residents to Bike to Work
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Thinking about relocating to the Netherlands? You might also want to bring a bike. Government officials are looking to compensate residents for helping solve their traffic congestion problem and they want businesses to pay residents to bike to work, as The Independent reports.

Owing to automobile logjams on roadways that keep drivers stuck in their cars and cost the economy billions of euros annually, Dutch deputy infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven recently told media that she's endorsing a program that would pay employees 19 cents for every kilometer (0.6 miles) they bike to work.

That doesn't sound like very much, but perhaps citizens who need to trek several miles each way would appreciate the cumulative boost in their weekly paychecks. For employers, the benefit would be a healthier workforce that might take fewer sick days and reduce parking needs.

Veldhoven says she also plans on designing a program that would assist employers in supplying workers with bicycles. The goal is to have 200,000 people opting for manual transportation over cars. If the program proceeds, it might find a receptive population. The Netherlands is already home to 22.5 million bikes, more than the 17.1 million people living there. In Amsterdam, a quarter of residents bike to work.

There's no timeline for implementing the pay-to-bike plan, but early trial studies indicate that the expense might not have to be a long-term prospect. Study subjects continued to bike to work even after the financial rewards stopped.

[h/t The Independent]

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