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Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

This week’s shot captures New Year’s fireworks over Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, Italy.

rome fireworks new year italy


Photos: 11 Best Italy Experiences

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

See Our Favorite Rome Hotels

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

This week’s shot captures a Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany.

frankfurt christmas market germany


Photos: 12 Best Germany Experiences

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

See Which Airport Has a Christmas Market

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

This week’s shot captures sunset over Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro from a viewpoint in Amboseli, Kenya.

kilimanjaro amboseli kenya savanna sunset


How to Plan an African Safari

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

Kenya Trip Reviews by Real Travelers

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

lipault foldable carry-onOur final giveaway is a Lipault 22-Inch Two-Wheeled Foldable Carry-On, a lightweight bag that can be compressed into a four-inch-wide plastic case for easy storage.

Here’s what we had to say about the bag in The Quest for the Perfect Carry-On: “I expected a thinner, floppier material (a la LeSportsac bags or ultra-light camping equipment), but it’s actually pretty sturdy. I carried it onboard one way, and could easily lift and carry the bag, while simultaneously pushing a stroller and carrying a backpack. I checked it on the way back, and it came back to me with no scuffs or tears. And it truly does squeeze down into a compact storage case that would fit easily under a bed, in a closet or in the corner of a cruise ship cabin.”

The carry-on retails for $189 at the Lipault website.

Want to win this gently used purple carry-on? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the bag. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Isabel Menendez. Congratulations!

Did you miss any of our previous giveaways? Catch up here: 12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Here’s something fun to kick off your weekend. It’s a travel-themed picture puzzle. You just have to tie the photos together to make words. For example, a photo of an eye, combined with a photo of a full glass of water would be eye + full = Eiffel. Get it? (For another example, check out last week’s puzzle.)

This week’s puzzle is two words and represents the name of a country.

Once you think you know the answer, post it below. You have until Monday, December 16, at 11:59 p.m. ET to post your response. We’ll keep all comments private until then. On Tuesday morning we’ll choose one winner at random to receive an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Note: Although all are welcome to play, we can only ship prizes to the Continental U.S.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Jill, who correctly guessed that the pictogram spelled “Dominican Republic.” Jill has won an IndependentTraveler.com travel mug. Congratulations! Stay tuned for further opportunities to win.


– written and created by Sarah Schlichter and Dori Saltzman

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

surfeasyToday’s giveaway is a SurfEasy Private Browser, which plugs into your computer’s USB port to give you online privacy while you browse on the road. We recommend SurfEasy in 10 Unexpected Holiday Travel Gifts:

“SurfEasy plugs easily into PC’s and Macs, and enables you to browse the Internet through an encrypted channel so you don’t have to worry about the security of your data in public Wi-Fi hotspots. SurfEasy also shields your IP address from the Web sites you visit to make it harder for them to track you online.” (Learn more about how to protect yourself from identity theft while traveling.)

The SurfEasy Private Browser can be purchased for $69.99 at SurfEasy.com.

Want to win this prize? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the prize. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Richard Pepin. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

cabeau evolution pillowToday’s giveaway is a Cabeau Evolution Pillow, which we reviewed in Travel Pillow Challenge: The Quest for Good Airplane Sleep. Here’s what we had to say about it:

“The Evolution Pillow is an enhanced version of the standard, plush (non-inflatable) neck pillow. It’s made of memory foam and has raised side supports to cradle your neck — or you can wear the pillow backwards to support your chin. It even has a pocket for your MP3 player. …

“It was actually really comfortable. I used this one while dozing on an early-morning flight, and I did appreciate the extra head support, the soft material and the absence of the inflatable-pillow plastic smell.”

Want to win this gently used Cabeau Evolution Pillow? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the pillow. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Joy Whitney. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Suffering from the Monday doldrums? For everyone out there facing the beginning of another work week, here’s a little jolt of wanderlust to brighten up your morning. Each Monday, we offer a photo of a spectacular place to spark ideas for your future travels.

This week’s shot captures colorful hammocks for sale at a market in Mexico.

hammocks market mexico


Traveling During Mexico’s Independence Day

Send us your best travel shot! E-mail your most beautiful or captivating travel photo to feedback@independenttraveler.com. (Please put Monday Inspiration in the subject line.)

The Best 9 Cities to See Cool Public Art

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

san francisco bag magnetsToday’s giveaway is a trio of San Francisco-themed products: a San Francisco canvas tote bag, a set of four Golden Gate Bridge crystal magnets, and a set of playing cards featuring rules and regulations from the Alcatraz prison. (Example: “You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege.”)

Want to win these goodies? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the package. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Lesly Christensen. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter

Welcome to IndependentTraveler.com’s 12 Days of Travel Giveaways! Every day between December 2 and December 13, we’ll feature a different travel product for our readers to win. You may enter to win as many items as you wish (but only once per item).

pronto plusToday’s featured product is a travel-size container of Pronto Plus, a pesticide spray designed to kill bed bugs, dust mites and other pests. Travelers who are worried about bed bugs in a hotel room can spray the box spring, mattress and other spots prone to critters (just be sure to air the room out for a few hours before sleeping). The product can also be used in your own house if you’re unlucky enough to bring the pests home with you after a trip. Read the instructions carefully before using.

You can purchase a three-pack of the travel-size Pronto Plus for $12.99 at Amazon.com.

Want to win the Pronto Plus? Leave a comment below by 11:59 p.m. ET on December 15, 2013. We’ll pick one person at random to win the product. This giveaway is open only to residents of the Lower 48 United States and the District of Columbia. To read the full contest rules, click here.

Editor’s Note: This contest has ended. The winner is Kelly Malleck. Congratulations!

Stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

12 Days of Travel Giveaways: Full List

– written by Sarah Schlichter