Travel News Archives

Travel News From Around The World

August 25, 2011

World's 12 worst tourist traps

We've all experienced tourst traps. Those heavily advertised attractions that turn out to be bland misrepresentations of the places we're supposed to be seeing. Expensive time eaters that leave us with lighter wallets and a taste of burnt coffee in our mouths. So which are the world's worst tourist traps? For starters, in no particular order, try the devil's dozen below. Then add your "favorite" tourist traps in the comments section.

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August 23, 2011

Virgin Atlantic Airways offers 'weep warnings' on in-flight movies

If you've ever hid tears while watching an in-flight movie you wouldn't have been caught dead sitting through at home, then you'll appreciate Virgin Atlantic Airways' new amenity. An illustrated 'weep warning' will flash on screen at the beginning of films that may be especially moving. The first films to get the emotional alerts will be 'Water for Elephants' with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson and 'Just Go With It' starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. In a news release, the airline said the warnings will signal to passengers that they may want 'to have tissues at the ready and to press the call button for a shoulder to cry on.'

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August 22, 2011

First Americans in Cuba under easier travel rules

HAVANA - The first group of Americans to tour Cuba under new, more liberal U.S. travel regulations have been greeted by hugs, handshakes and a welcoming Cuban government, according to a trip organizer. The 30 travelers are pioneers in a new era of "people-to-people" exchanges the Obama administration approved in January to "enhance the free flow of information" to Cubans and over the objections of those who favor a continued hard-line against the communist government. About 30 to 35 travel groups are believed to have obtained licenses so far under the new regulations, which reinstate rules put in place by President Bill Clinton in 1999, but revoked by his successor, President George W. Bush in 2003.

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August 8, 2011

Obama signs bill ending partial FAA shutdown

President Barack Obama signed legislation Friday temporarily restoring full funding to the Federal Aviation Administration, breaking a political impasse and allowing roughly 4,000 furloughed federal employees to return to work. The measure also promises to restore tens of thousands of jobs in the construction industry and elsewhere tied to airport improvement projects put on hold as a result of the funding shortfall. The bill took less than one minute to pass a nearly empty Senate chamber Friday morning. It was cleared with a legislative maneuver known as "unanimous consent," which allows as few as two senators to approve a bill so long as no objections are filed. Most members of Congress are currently away from Washington on their summer recess. The president hailed the agreement, noting that it removed "the uncertainty hanging over the jobs of thousands of hardworking FAA employees."

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August 25, 2011

The world's teeniest, tiniest hotel rooms

Need space? Then you might want to think twice before bedding down in any of these cubbyholes. But still, while the world's tiniest hotel rooms average just 74 square feet - about half the size of Eva Longoria Parker's walk-in closet - they are in turns quirky, cute, cool and even luxurious. Plus, they can save you wads of cash while simultaneously ensuring that you're snug as a bug in a rug. 'What's not to like?' said Reneta McCarthy, a senior lecturer at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. 'It's something small, efficient and from a sustainability standpoint, just makes more sense.'

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August 23, 2011

Airline passengers get new protections

Flying may get just a little less frustrating and a bit more transparent starting Tuesday, when new federal airline passenger protection rules go into effect. "It's huge," said Kate Hanni, founder of FlyersRights.org, who has fought for the changes for years. "If you're flying on (Tuesday), you're 400% better off than you were before." The Association of Passenger Rights also applauded the rules, calling them long overdue. "If you talk to most air travelers ... traveling on the airlines is about as popular as the U.S. Congress right now," said Brandon Macsata, a spokesman for the group. Here is what you need to know about the Department of Transportation's new protections:

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August 22, 2011

10 annoying habits of travelers (not me, of course)

Let's all agree that the airlines often behave like monsters that need to be tamed, even caged. (See The real reason fliers hate the airlines.) Okay, done. But who of us would deny that, as often as not, it's our fellow travelers who are the true ogres of the travel experience? Following are some of the most egregious (and common) offenses of our fellow travelers. We've gone over many of these before, but I couldn't resist listing them out in one place. (We've seen worse as well, no doubt.) 10. Carry-on baggage offenses These come in all stripes: too many bags, oversized bags, refusal to put bags in the overhead bins, showdowns when attendants insist you check them, etc. etc. ad nauseam world without end. Old news, I know, but it's not like anyone ever learns. 9a. Chattiness I've met some interesting folks on planes; in fact, I find most people interesting in some way or another. Just not three-and-a-half-hours-nonstop interesting.

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August 10, 2011

5 ways to beat the post-travel blues

What's wrong with you? You've just had a fabulous holiday and you should be feeling all serene and enriched, right? Instead you're sluggish, cranky, maybe even a little weepy, and everything seems washed-out and no-account. Looks like you've got a case of the post-travel blues. Don't panic! Experienced travelers learn to recognize the symptoms and apply the remedies. Here are a few of our favorite ways to get out of the post-travel doldrums.

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August 3, 2011

Boston airport expands behavior detection program

Air travelers departing from Boston Logan International Airport may experience something new during the screening process: a "casual conversation" with security at the checkpoint. On the job training began Tuesday for officers in the TSA's expanded behavior detection program -- a pilot initiative that will be in place in the airport's Terminal A for 60 days. Logan is the only airport with the pilot program. As they talk with passengers, the officers will try to spot potentially high-risk travelers by looking for suspicious behavior and facial expressions of tension, fear or deception. "The majority of passengers will experience a casual conversation with a behavior detection officer after they provide their boarding pass and ID," said TSA spokesman Greg Soule. "A small portion of passengers may get selected for an extended conversation and if the behaviors are still being exhibited, they may receive additional screening. In some cases, they may be referred to law enforcement."

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August 25, 2011

America's 10 Dirtiest Hotels

Dirt-caked bathtubs, molding refrigerators and mystery stains are just a few of the horrors travelers say they've found at the Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. In the past year, disgruntled and disturbed guests have called the hotel everything from "cockroach heaven" to a "filthy, disgusting dump" and have plastered the Internet with sordid photographic evidence to prove it. That's bad news for the Grand Resort Hotel since generally the number one reason guests don't return to a hotel is because of cleanliness issues, says Howard Adler, director of Purdue University's Center for the Study of Lodging Operations.

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August 24, 2011

More travelers skip a Labor Day getaway

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The lousy economy has put a damper on travel plans for this Labor Day weekend, according to a report released Wednesday. Motorist group AAA expects a total of 31.5 million Americans to travel at least 50 miles away from home between September 1 and September 5. That's down 2.4% from last year, when 32.3 million Americans traveled for Labor Day. "AAA is projecting a decrease in the number of Labor Day travelers as some Americans react to recent economic uncertainty and increasing air fares," said Glen MacDonell, director of travel services. The gloomy outlook for the economy is weighing on consumer confidence according to the report, which was produced in cooperation with IHS Global Insight. In particular, it says consumers' discretionary income has not risen enough to keep up with rising travel costs. Despite the anticipated decline in overall travel, the number of Americans traveling by car over Labor Day weekend is expected to edge up 0.5% to 27.3 million.

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August 23, 2011

7 global cities where the U.S. dollar goes far

Many Americans are working long hours to offset smaller work forces, stagnant incomes and other such trials and tribulations of our economic malaise. Needless to say, we could all use a vacation. But the same weak economy that has worked us to exhaustion has also decreased the value of the American dollar so much so that a getaway seems virtually unfeasible. Though the U.S. dollar has seen a slight recovery of late from previous all-time lows, it's still losing to many other major currencies, including the Canadian dollar, the Australian dollar, the Chinese yuan, the Mexican peso, the British pound and the euro. Hard-earned and hard-to-come by American dollars would be squandered on sky-high exchange rates in many desirable destinations. So what's an R&R-deprived American to do? Help is here, in the form of seven unique and exciting destinations where the U.S. dollar travels as far as you do.

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August 22, 2011

Grading the Airlines On Timeliness, Baggage and Complaints

Do you have a pet snake? If so, you may have some idea what it's like when the airlines lose your bag. I'll explain - once class is underway. Yes, today we grade the airlines for on-time flights, lost luggage (or as the airlines so amusingly put it, "mishandled" baggage) and complaints about airline service. You may be surprised; in some categories, the airlines are showing significant improvement, yes, even when it comes to lost bags. But I'll show you the numbers so you can see for yourself. First things first: which carrier gets you where you need to go on-time?

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August 8, 2011

What to be leery of at your hotel

Home is where the heart is, but your hotel is a place where you should definitely use your head - and, perhaps, a black light. The purpose of this piece is not to strike fear into the hearts of happy-go-lucky vacationers. But every hotel guest should be armed with a degree of awareness of his or her surroundings. Hotel hazards, from falling windows to sky-high hidden fees, lurk beyond the lobby. And a bit of prevention can stop something calamitous from ruining your trip. Below are five things you shouldn't do at your hotel.

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August 3, 2011

Top 10 Tallest Structures in the World

Known for being overstated and decadent in a number of ways, Dubai outdid itself in January 2010, when it officially opened the Burj Dubai, a 2,717-ft. (828 m) tower that is the tallest man-made structure in the world. But the glory of the title was mired in a tough reality: just a few weeks prior, Dubai's biggest state-owned development company said it was unable to pay its debts. So it came as little surprise that the Burj Dubai was soon renamed the Burj Khalifa, after Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, who presented Dubai with $10 billion to help pay off its debts. Despite the obvious irony of the Burj Khalifa representing wealth where there was a decided lack, people still flocked to visit the tower. But even though Dubai is still dealing with its economic issues, the emirate can boast having the tallest occupied floor in the world, the world's highest restaurant, the world's highest fireworks display and an elevator with the longest travel distance in the world.

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August 2, 2011

Airport guide: Surviving LAX

For many travelers, just hearing three simple letters together can cause fits of anger and anxiety. Those letters? LAX. Los Angeles International Airport is a mess of bad traffic, decaying terminals and an inconvenient gate layout. But for me, LAX is home. It definitely helps to know your way around, so I'm sharing my tips with you. I was born in Southern California and live here now, so LAX has been my home airport for decades. (Now I choose Long Beach when I can, but LAX is still the place to go for world travel.) I spent my childhood running from terminal to terminal, collecting timetables, and I even did a stint as a Travelers Aid volunteer at the airport in high school. That strong smell of jet fuel still puts a smile on my face. Part of what I like is what other people hate: The airport hasn't changed in nearly 30 years. The last big project that changed the passenger experience at LAX was in the 1980s. Since that time, it's become a favorite traveler whipping boy for being a difficult place to fly.

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August 1, 2011

America's wacky fair foods

Cotton candy, corn dogs and candied apples once ruled the midway at the local fair, but visitors now want food that's exotic - as long as it's on a stick, or more importantly, fried. From health-defying anomalies like fried dough injected with Pepsi to squirm-inducing chocolate-dipped scorpions, the new sideshow is food. In 2005, the president of the State Fair of Texas, Errol Mckoy, asked the question, 'How do we become even more famous for food?' His answer: Create buzz around new, never-before-seen items each year. McKoy founded The Big Tex Choice Awards to encourage the invention of over-the-top foods that have since included fried butter, chicken-fried bacon and fried beer. The competition quickly gained popularity among fairgoers, and vendors now covet the Big Tex trophy - which resembles an Oscar with a cowboy bobble head glued to the top.

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August 3, 2011

Boston airport expands behavior detection program

Air travelers departing from Boston Logan International Airport may experience something new during the screening process: a "casual conversation" with security at the checkpoint. On the job training began Tuesday for officers in the TSA's expanded behavior detection program -- a pilot initiative that will be in place in the airport's Terminal A for 60 days. Logan is the only airport with the pilot program. As they talk with passengers, the officers will try to spot potentially high-risk travelers by looking for suspicious behavior and facial expressions of tension, fear or deception. "The majority of passengers will experience a casual conversation with a behavior detection officer after they provide their boarding pass and ID," said TSA spokesman Greg Soule. "A small portion of passengers may get selected for an extended conversation and if the behaviors are still being exhibited, they may receive additional screening. In some cases, they may be referred to law enforcement."

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August 2, 2011

Adventure your way across Alaska

Alaska's vast expanse of wilderness and natural beauty is captivating to its residents and visitors alike. Whether you're new to this fascinating state or a native Alaskan, it takes time to explore all the Land of the Midnight Sun has to offer. "I feel even if we do a lot of homework online, it won't be enough to have a good vacation in Alaska," iReporter Uday Ellala said. Don't let this wide-open landscape intimidate you. Traveling to Alaska is well worth the planning. "Alaska is an amazing, enchanted place," iReporter Joan Splinter said. "The scenery is unbelievably beautiful, and the people are warm and welcoming." iReporters, both tourists and locals, shared their favorite experiences and tips for navigating your way across the state.

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August 1, 2011

Hilton guest sues over newspaper he thought was free

A guest at a Hilton hotel in Santa Rosa who was upset that he was billed 75 cents for a newspaper he assumed was free has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the hotel chain, saying he was deceived by a scheme that also hurts the environment. Rodney Harmon, 55, of Sacramento said he visited the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport on March 28 and saw a copy of USA Today outside his door. "He did not request a newspaper and assumed it had been placed there by hotel staff," said the suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Harmon didn't realize until later that a 75-cent charge for the paper had been added to his bill.

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August 3, 2011

Aeromexico launches the first transcontinental flight to use biofuel

Aeromexico, Boeing, and the Mexican Government proudly announce their participation in a historic achievement in global aviation: the first transcontinental flight, powered by a General Electric engine, in a commercial airplane powered by bio-combustible fuel. The Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) along with the Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA), in coordination with Aeromexico and the aircraft manufacturer Boeing, launch this unprecedented flight today; which will fly over 250 passengers from Mexico City to Madrid. The flight will use a blend of 70 percent traditional fuel and 30 percent biofuel, which will be provided by ASA. This is composed of a mixture of petroleum-derived jet fuel and oil obtained from Jatropha Curcas oilseed plant, which is grown in several regions of the world including Mexico.

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August 2, 2011

Worst beaches for shark attacks

If the ocean is a shark's vast marine buffet, then humans are the Brussels sprouts - we're far from the favorite. But that's no consolation to a swimmer like Kori Robertson, who was attacked in early 2011 while wading in the ocean off the coast of Texas. A 12-foot shark took a bite of her thigh then quickly spat her out. Sharing the world's waterways with sharks means that occasionally we bump into one another - and the encounter doesn't always end well for us humans. But don't let that keep you from the water: shark attacks are very rare. Still, some beaches - for various reasons - attract more sharks than others.

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August 1, 2011

Budget targets travelers with car ad deals

ATLANTA - When Nia Lewis was looking for a car to drive to Florida to visit her in-laws, she went to the Atlanta Budget Rent a Car website as she normally does. But she stumbled upon something unusual. There, on the site's home page, was a big discount. The catch? The car is a moving ad. With the price of gasoline approaching $4 a gallon and the economy still in bad shape, Budget is hoping more deal-hungry vacationers want to rent cheaper vehicles - as long as they don't mind driving a billboard. Lewis read the fine print on the website, searched the company the ads were promoting and filled out a questionnaire that asked what types of areas she might be visiting.

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July 27, 2011

Bizarre signs spotted around the world

Usually, signs are there to help. Whether warning us of danger, or simply guiding us to our journey's end, the best signs send a clear and simple message. But sometimes, they do just the opposite. From questionable translations to unintentional innuendos. Here are a selection of some of the wonderfully weird, misleading and downright hilarious signs spotted by iReporters around the world.

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July 26, 2011

Mexican Gangsters issue booklets for proper conduct

An organized crime group calling itself the Knights Templar is distributing booklets saying it is fighting a war against poverty, tyranny and injustice, publicly appealing to hearts and minds in a part of Mexico where the government claims it has largely taken down the major drug traffickers. Federal police said they seized copies of the cartel's "code of conduct" booklet during an arrest of cartel members in the western state of Michoacan last week, but refused to release its contents Tuesday, saying they didn't want fan the flames of the quasi-religious movement. But a copy of the 22-page "The Code of the Knights Templar of Michoacan," illustrated with knights on horseback bearing lances and crosses, was obtained by The Associated Press this week. It says the group "will begin a challenging ideological battle to defend the values of a society based on ethics." The Knights Templar have been blamed for murders, extortion, drug trafficking and attacks on police. Analysts say the propaganda is part of an effort to transform a drug cartel into a social movement, along the lines of what right-wing paramilitary groups did in Colombia in the 1990s against leftist rebels - a fight in which both sides used the drug trade to finance their causes.

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July 25, 2011

It's easier to rent a car when you're under 20

Whereas drivers under age 25 are used to paying extra to rent cars, those under age 21 often can't rent at all. But it's getting easier for 20-year-olds to rent just like the grownups. Fox Rent A Car, a discount operation with locations at 13 major U.S. airports (including LAX, Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle), just announced that drivers as young as age 20 can now rent any vehicle in its fleet, including SUVs, convertibles, Jeeps, and sports cars. This is significant because 20-year-old travelers often find themselves out of luck when trying to rent cars. Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Thrifty are among the agencies that almost always require drivers to be at least 21 to rent. We say "almost always" because there are a few exceptions, including on-duty military personnel, who are usually allowed to rent at age 18, and a few states (New York and Michigan, specifically) where local law mandates that rental agencies rent to drivers as young as 18. In nearly all cases, drivers under the age of 25 are subject to special young driver surcharges, which can add as much as $52 per day to the rental rate. When allowed to rent, drivers ages 18, 19, or 20 are typically charged a much higher surcharge than drivers in the 21- to 24-year range. Those in the former age category may pay a daily surcharge of $40 or $50, compared to $20 or $25 for their older (but still young) counterparts.

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July 29, 2011

Airbnb revisits policies after vacation rental trashed

Looking for an inexpensive place to stay in San Francisco? Forget about EJ's place. Until last month, an apartment belonging to a woman identified only as EJ was one of the more than 100,000 listings on Airbnb.com, an online rental agency that pairs up travelers who need a place to stay with people who have a place to rent. Renters list their available spaces for free, and the company takes a 3 percent cut from bookings. Through Airbnb, a user named Dj Pattrson rented the apartment for a week - and trashed the place. EJ described the mess on her blog. 'With an entire week living in my apartment, Dj and friends had more than enough time to search through literally everything inside, to rifle through every document, every photo, every drawer, every storage container and every piece of clothing I own, essentially turning my world inside out, and leaving a disgusting mess behind.'

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July 28, 2011

JetBlue offers new unlimited flight package

JetBlue introduced several new three-month, unlimited flight plans Thursday in an attempt to snare more higher-paying business travelers. BluePass is available only for departure from Boston Logan International Airport or Long Beach Airport for travel between Aug. 22 and Nov. 22. The offer is a more focused version of its All-You-Can-Jet plan, announced in 2009. That plan, where travelers could go anywhere JetBlue flew, sold out within days, as did the second incarnation in 2010. JetBlue didn't offer the pass this year. All-You-Can-Jet was used to pump up travel volumes during September and October, typically one of the slowest times of the year for airlines.

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July 27, 2011

Beat the heat with dive-in movies

When it comes to cooling down after a sweltering summer day, some travelers like to take in a movie; others would rather take a dip. Who says you have to choose? This summer, plenty of hotels are offering poolside movies that invite guests to dive in and enjoy the show. "For generations, watching a movie together has been a traditional family activity," said Arica Haro, recreation director for the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla. "But attending a dive-in movie turns the everyday into something unusual and exciting." Ready to take the plunge? Depending on where your travels take you this summer, here are four places where the aquatic and cinematic come together:

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July 26, 2011

cancer survivor has new run-in with TSA

Thomas Sawyer, a 62-year-old bladder cancer survivor who made headlines last November after a pat-down left him covered in his own urine, has filed a new complaint with the Transportation Security Administration. Sawyer, who wears a urostomy bag that collects his urine through an opening in his abdomen, said he was traveling through Detroit Metro Airport on July 14 on his way to Orlando when he was singled out for a pat-down. 'Before I could even get (out) the words, 'I want this done privately,' the TSO agent began patting me down in public,' said Sawyer. 'I said 'Whoa! I have a medical condition.' He said, 'I know,' and continued the pat-down.'

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July 25, 2011

10 trips to soothe your soul

This annual pilgrimage takes place every summer -- depending on the political situation -- high in the mountains of Kashmir. Thousands of devotees walk to the Amarnath Cave to see the Shiva-lingam, a miraculous phallic-shaped manifestation of the Hindu God Lord Shiva (formed by an ice stalagmite). As legend has it, Shiva came here to share the secret of eternity with his bride Parvati. The trek is a challenge -- mostly vertical, up mountain slopes, and at an altitude of around 4,000 meters. But while the going can be tough, the camaraderie and kindness you'll experience en route are manna for the soul.

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July 29, 2011

The skinny on peer-to-peer car rentals

Michael Monroe lives near Boston, so he doesn't need to own a car. But there are times when four wheels trump the T: to take his parents to lunch, make an IKEA run, or just get out of town. Renting can be a pricey time-drain, so when he heard about RelayRides (relayrides.com, from $5/hour), a new car-sharing website, he tried it. "I've got a Honda Fit .1 miles from my house," says Monroe, 35, who has used the service 15 times. It's easy on his wallet, too: about $7 an hour, gas and insurance included. Until recently, peer-to-peer rentals (where you rent from an ordinary person, rather than from a company) have existed mostly for lodging; in 2008, airbnb.com began pairing travelers with home owners looking to rent space.

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July 28, 2011

Police: Pilot beaten in fracas with passengers

An American Airlines pilot was beaten Wednesday night as he tried to escort two belligerent brothers, Jonathan and Luis Baez, off a flight from Miami to San Francisco. According to the arrest report obtained by NBC News, the altercation began when the flight was taxiing on the runway and a flight attendant noticed that Jonathan Baez was asleep and not wearing a seat belt. The attendant attempted to wake him up, but he was unresponsive and appeared to be intoxicated or medicated. The pilot was alerted of the situation and turned the plane around, heading back to the gate. Baez finally awoke and was told that he would not be permitted to continue on the overnight flight given his condition.

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July 27, 2011

Avoid getting dinged for rental car damages

Q: My wife and I recently rented a minivan from Enterprise. Before signing the contract, an Enterprise representative and I looked around the vehicle for damage. We noticed some damage on the bumper in the rear of the vehicle and noted it on the contract. I took good care of the minivan and we never parked in an area where the cars were close. I took extra special care of the rental and even vacuumed it before returning it. When we returned the minivan, a young Enterprise employee inspected the interior and exterior. He noticed a light scratch on the rear bumper and asked the assistant manager - the same person who inspected the car when we picked it up - to take a look as well before documenting what he saw. The damage was so minor that the assistant manager had to kneel down to get a closer look. Even if I had noticed this minor scratch during our initial inspection, I probably would not have pointed it out.

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July 26, 2011

Secrets to avoiding flight delays

You're all packed and ready to go, but when you get to the airport, you find that your airplane isn't: Your flight is delayed. That's not how you want to start your trip (or end it, for that matter), but there are ways to lessen the chance that you'll be stuck on the ground for long. The fact that airlines are considered to have perform well if "only" a fifth of their flights are delayed shows just how complicated this industry is. With weather, mechanical issues, airspace congestion and even things like crew scheduling getting in the way, running on time 80% of the time is good. The key is figuring out how you can make sure you're on those 80% of flights. Although there's never a way to guarantee you'll be on time -- mechanical issues can strike anywhere -- there are ways to lessen your chances of being delayed.

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July 25, 2011

France wants you to stop hating them

The French government recognizes that if it is going to get American tourists to stay longer and spend more money when visiting, the country needs to rebrand itself as a more welcoming nation. "People often talk about France as an arrogant nation," said France's Secretary of State for Tourism, Frederic Lefebvre, who was in New York earlier this month to unveil a new tourism marketing strategy. "We would like to make a strong effort to improve the sense of welcoming in France," said Lefebvre. Consequently, the French government and Atout France, the country's destination marketing agency, have launched a new tourism marketing campaign called "Rendez-vous en France," complete with a new logo and a new approach to tourism. The new logo incorporates an image of Marianne, the national emblem of France, along with the phrase "Rendez-vous en France." The logo also includes the new French tourism website, Rendezvousenfrance.com. The logo will be seen on the badges of employees involved in the tourism industry in France, Lefebrve explained. For example, it will be on the badges of people posted at the airport to welcome and provide assistance to tourists when they arrive in France.

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June 17, 2011

Flyers Must Be Quick on Their Feet for Flash Airfare Sales

Planning a summer trip? JetBlue has another "flash" sale ending tonight at 11:59 PM PST, with advertised fares as low as $32 from Burbank to Las Vegas and $49 from Boston to New York City's JFK Airport. In this summer of ultra-high airfares, sales -- if you can find any -- tend to last as little as a day. And you'll have to deal with restrictions including limited seats and travel days to snag a deal. "It behooves people to be ready," said Rick Seaney, CEO of FareCompare.com. The JetBlue deal is a good one because the flights are applicable for summertime travel, July 6 to August 31.

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June 16, 2011

An insider's guide to Havana, Cuba

What is your favorite neighborhood? Why? It's a touristy area but one that's really well kept is old Havana so when I haven't been for a while I get in a nice early morning or late afternoon stroll, get a cup of coffee, listen to the bands who play Buena Vista Social Club-style music, which is probably a bit touristy for Cubans but it's really nice. Where is the best place to people-watch? By far the best place is the Malecon, the sea wall. Think of it as Cuba's free bar. Every night, especially at weekends, hundreds of Cubans go down there, often with a bottle of rum, to sit on the wall. People promenade; others strum music. It's crowded and rowdy in some areas and quieter and more romantic in other spots, so depending on your mood you can pick a place that suits.

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June 15, 2011

4 packing problems and how to avoid them

Have you ever paid an excess baggage fee, left your passport at home or cleaned up a messy shampoo spill in your suitcase? If you've encountered any of these packing crises, chances are your suitcase-stuffing strategy could use a little work. To help your trip preparation go more smoothly, we've pinpointed the warning signs of four common packing problems and identified a few easy, effective solutions for each.

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June 14, 2011

Viva vintage Las Vegas

Sinatra' Vegas. Elvis's Vegas. Long before Britney Spears notoriously married her high school sweetheart at 5 in the morning, and long before George Clooney and Brad Pitt strutted through the Bellagio in "Ocean's Eleven." The era when Bugsy Siegel - not Steve Wynn - ran the show at the most fabulous hotels in town. When nattily-dressed mobsters held court among supper clubs and casinos, and showgirls sunbathed poolside just off the Strip in a neighborhood nicknamed "Naked City."

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June 13, 2011

Delay rule bumps up flight cancellations

It's been more than a year since the so-called tarmac delay rule went into effect, promising hefty fines for flights that sit on the ground away from the gate for more than three hours. The Department of Transportation is proclaiming the rule an unqualified success, as it has every month since it started. It's true that long ground delays have disappeared, but there has been collateral damage. Canceled flights have gone up significantly, despite the DOT's claims to the contrary. There were only 20 ground delays of three hours or more between May 2010 and April 2011, compared to 693 in the prior year, according to the DOT. That's absolutely true, and there was no question that long ground delays would disappear with the threat of fines of up to $27,500 per passenger in place. What the department doesn't make clear, however, is the very significant impact on cancellations.

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June 17, 2011

Saggy pants lead to passenger's arrest

A passenger's refusal to pull up his saggy pants led to his arrest Wednesday aboard a US Airways flight at San Francisco International Airport, according to police. The passenger, Deshon Marman, was charged with trespassing, battery and interfering with the duties of a police officer following an incident that started at the gate, when agents asked Marman to pull up his pants to cover his underwear, said San Francisco Police Sergeant Michael Rodriguez.

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June 16, 2011

Travel Etiquette: Pregnant in the Exit Row and More

A few years ago, I had to do a decent amount of business travel while I was pregnant. On one flight, I chose an exit-row seat -- I wanted the extra legroom. I knew I'd be asked to assist the crew in the event of an emergency, and I would have been perfectly capable of doing so. Well, when I boarded, I was about to put my carry-on bag in the overhead when someone asked if he could put it up for me. I said OK, thanked him, and sat down. A flight attendant came over and said that if I couldn't put my own bag in the overhead, I shouldn't sit in the exit row. I tried to argue that I could easily lift the bag -- that I had just accepted help when someone offered -- but she wouldn't listen. She reseated me in a middle seat in the back of the plane. I still don't think that's fair and wonder if I should have complained. If I had had any doubts of my fitness to sit in the exit row, I wouldn't have chosen the seat. What do you think?

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June 15, 2011

The Six Sins of Airfare Shopping

The number one thing would-be travelers can do that'll kill them in the wallet this year? Procrastinate. And we're all guilty of this; as that famed philosopher Anonymous once said, "If it weren't for the last minute, I wouldn't get anything done." Nobody seems completely sure why we put off important and not-so-important tasks; we just might be wired that way, but my guess is that the "fun factor" is key. I mean, what would you rather do, perform a necessary but mildly tedious chore like searching for airfare or going to the multiplex to see if it's true that Hangover II really isn't as funny as the original? By the way, I'll show you how searching for airfare need not be a chore in the least, in #4.

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June 14, 2011

Bikini-Clad Pole Dancers Advertise Spirit Airlines Sale

Spirit Airlines took to the streets of Los Angeles over the weekend, promoting a sale on flights to Las Vegas with bikini-clad pole dancers inside a glass truck. According to The Australian, the nubile promoters writhed underneath the words "Take me home for $9" and behind signs saying "I'll go both ways for $18." Spirit is no stranger to controversy. In fact, they seem to be drinking buddies. Last week's Anthony Weiner themed sale followed sales based on Charlie Sheen's public breakdown, Tiger Woods' infidelity and the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that left much of the Gulf Coast in economic ruin.

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June 13, 2011

Gas prices headed downward, survey finds

The average per-gallon gas price in the United States has dropped nearly 17 cents in the past three weeks, and likely will continue to drop further, according to a survey published Sunday. The Lundberg Survey found the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline as of Friday was $3.74. Prices so far this year peaked on May 6, when the price hit $4 per gallon nationwide -- just 11 cents shy of the all-time record set in July 2008. On May 20, the last survey conducted, the price was $3.90. That means there has been a drop of nearly 26 cents per gallon over the past five weeks.

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June 17, 2011

Airline turns away girl with Down syndrome

Alice Saunders, 12, had planned to fly from London's Gatwick Airport to Glasgow, Scotland, to visit her aunt, the Daily Mail reports. Her mother, Heather Saunders, 49, called the airline to book a ticket and told the agent that her daughter has Down syndrome but is very independent and that she wanted her to travel as an unaccompanied minor. Sauders said she was told by the customer service agent that "we don't take children with Down syndrome." When Saunders asked why, the agent responded: "Because we've had problems in the past." Alice lives with her parents and three siblings in Littlehampton, West Sussex, and attends a mainstream school, reads at grade level and regularly travels with her church group. Her mother told the newspaper that "I was very cross after speaking with British Airways.

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June 16, 2011

2-seat rule might keep you healthy on your next trip

A new study of influenza and air travel shows that passengers seated in the two rows either in front of or behind someone with the flu are at greatly increased risk of getting the flu themselves - almost half as likely to become infected as the people who are seated next to the sick passenger. Australian researchers found a "splash zone" of sorts - within two seats, in any direction, of an infected passenger - while studying flu infections that spread aboard two large airliners that entered the country during the swine flu pandemic in May 2009. There was an increased risk of 3.6 percent for passengers sitting within two rows of someone with flu-like symptoms, the researchers said. That jumped to 7.7 percent for those within two seats on either side of the infected passenger.

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June 15, 2011

Embarrassing tourists: the most clichéd vacation photos

Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel's consumer correspondent (not pictured above), argues that taking a camera on holiday compromises the experience of sightseeing. A safari in Kenya, he says, was spoiled by "incessant clicks and motorised whirrs". At the Taj Mahal, most of the other tourists "experienced the site through a viewfinder" and "expected those of us who were not to be continually on our guard to make sure that we weren't getting in the way of their picture". Recently, the travel writer Paul Theroux came into the Telegraph's offices for a webchat with readers. When asked about photography he replied: "I never bring a camera - because taking pictures, I've found, makes me less observant and interferes with my memory."

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June 14, 2011

4,000 Air Canada workers go on strike

Following weeks of negotiations, 3,800 Air Canada customer service and sales employees went on strike early Tuesday morning. The sticking point was pensions, said Jerry Dias of the Canadian Auto Workers, the strikers' union. Air Canada "refused to remove major concessionary demands on the existing pension plan," the union said in a statement. The union had previously set a deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Monday to reach an agreement. Air Canada emphasized that previously scheduled flights would continue as planned.

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June 13, 2011

12 most beautiful lakes in the world

(Budget Travel) -- Some of the world's most beautiful lakes can be seen from boats, cable cars or castles. These 12 lakes go to all the right extremes -- highest, deepest, clearest -- and showcase nature at its most spectacular. Soak up the views from a boat, a cable car, a trailhead or a castle tower.

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June 10, 2011

Airport checkpoint of the future?

Billing it as a way to end the one-size-fits-all approach to airport security, the International Air Transport Association on Tuesday unveiled a mock-up of what it called the "Checkpoint of the Future." Instead of a single screening procedure applied to all fliers, the group envisions that passengers would be divided into risk categories based on the information available about them. They would then be directed to one of three lanes: "Known Traveler," "Normal" and "Enhanced Security." The first -- and quickest -- lane would only be available to fliers who have registered and undergone background checks with their governments.

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June 9, 2011

Battling to keep Venice afloat

It is widely regarded as one of the wonders of the world, attracting millions of tourists a year, but the city of Venice faces ongoing problems that threaten its ability to stay above water. The city's flooding issues are well known: Each year water surges through its famous streets wreaking havoc on historic buildings, often damaging priceless art. But Venice also faces the problem of a dwindling population and an increasing influx of tourists

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June 8, 2011

America's best beach hotels

In a corner of Palm Beach, Fla., the soft white sand is flanked by hundreds of chaise lounges, dozens of luxury cabanas and five large pools. It's the setting of The Breakers, an iconic, recently renovated hotel where travelers have found pure oceanfront bliss for decades. Ahh - the beach. Relaxing there on a hot summer's day is an antidote like no other - especially when you choose the right beach hotel as your home base. We asked Travel +Leisure readers to vote on their favorite hotels for our annual World's Best Awards Survey, and came away with beachfront winners like The Breakers. So if your summer travel plans call for a stay at the shore, we've got a hotel for you.

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June 7, 2011

Bin space and the airline boarding debacle

(CNN) -- People like to complain about all aspects of the flying experience today, but there's a particular part of it that seems to draw anger from just about everyone: boarding. It may be surprising, but airlines put a lot of thought into this process, and American and United have both recently made changes to try and tweak their systems. The reaction to the changes? United saw so much anger that the airline has already reversed a part of its move.

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June 6, 2011

The best U.S. cities for summer fun and relaxation

A lot of people like Chicago, but some only love it one season of the year. I've had a lot of clients in Chicago, says Miami public relations exec Julie Fogel, 'and I dread going there in the brutally cold fall or winter months.' But summer? 'It's my favorite place to visit,' she says. 'The weather, the people, the ambience - it's absolutely phenomenal. The city comes alive.'

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June 10, 2011

Titanic II Sinks Off England, Iceberg Not To Blame

The captain of the Titanic II barely managed to escape as the presciently named 16-foot cabin cruiser sank into the sea off Dorset, England on Sunday. The vessel, which Mark Wilkinson bought secondhand for roughly $1,600, sprung a leak shortly after beginning its maiden voyage and sank rapidly, leaving him clinging to its bow rail. Fortunately for Mr. Wilkinson, the West Bay harbormaster was at hand to throw him a life preserver. Unfortunately for Mr. Wilkinson, a tourist was on hand to take unflattering pictures.

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June 9, 2011

Glamping: the cure for the common camping trip

Sitting by her tent at the Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Mont., earlier this week, Ashley MontBlanc took in a view that stretched from the adjacent Blackfoot River to the peaks of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The fact that her campsite came with a butler and camp chef didn't hurt, either. 'I've done quite a bit of camping in my time,' said the New York-based public relations executive, -but here, they really kick it up a notch.- Experiences like MontBlanc's are increasingly common these days as more resorts offer upscale alternatives to traditional camping. It's called 'glamping,' short for glamorous camping, and it's striking a chord with travelers who want to experience nature without forgoing their creature comforts.

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June 8, 2011

Polish Contortionists Steal From Travelers' Luggage

Here's a new one: A Polish contortionist and his accomplice were arrested in Spain on Friday for stealing valuable items from travelers' checked luggage after gaining entry to the cargo of an airport transit bus by hiding himself in a small suitcase. Krzysztof Grzegorz and Jouoastaw K were arrested after a bus company employee noticed a man struggling to retrieve his heavy luggage from the Girona Airport to Barcelona bus. When officers checked the case, they noticed it was warm and opened it only to discover a very sweaty 5'8" thief holding a laptop and a GPS device that didn't belong to him.

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June 7, 2011

Chilean volcano grounds flights, coats ski slopes

An erupting Chilean volcano sent a towering plume of ash across South America on Monday, forcing thousands from their homes, grounding airline flights in southern Argentina and coating ski resorts with a gritty layer of dust instead of snow. Booming explosions echoed across the Andes as toxic gases belched up from a three-mile-long (five-kilometer long) fissure in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex - a ridge between two craters just west of the Chilean-Argentine border that began erupting Saturday.

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June 6, 2011

'Anti-tourists' heed call of danger to visit world's badlands

Some Americans crave the road less traveled, opting for edgy bites of foreign culture, snubbing even one-star comfort. And then there are the 'anti-tourists' like Jordan Harbinger. 'I've always been attracted to the forbidden,' said Harbinger, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur who will vacation this August in North Korea. According to a State Department travel warning, 'U.S. citizens crossing into North Korea without proper documentation, even accidentally, have been subject to arrest and long-term detention.'

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June 10, 2011

Future Hotels Offer Lure of Virtual Sex

According to a report sponsored by the budget hotel chain Travelodge, future hotels will offer technology allowing their clients to make remote digital love to their spouse or partner. The "Future of Sleep" study, authored by self-proclaimed futurologist Ian Pearson, also hypothesizes that in 2030 "video, audio, smells and tactile experiences produced using our bed or bed linen will play a key role in helping to make our dreams feel real." Obviously Pearson sees pay-per-view as a thing of the past.

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June 9, 2011

Where to escape the daily grind of the modern world

Leave your iPod behind. Updating your Facebook status can wait. And don't even think about checking your work e-mail. Unplug and shake off the shackles of the daily grind by escaping to these 10 refreshingly retro destinations that have successfully resisted the forward march of time. No batteries required!

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June 8, 2011

India to Women in Bikinis: 'Leave'

Officials at the Mahalasa Narany Temple in Goa India have issued an ultimatum: Tourists have to put on some damn clothes or stay out. The president of the temple took to the press this week, complaining about scantily clad foreign women. The temple standoff sounds like another example of inconsiderate foreigners, but that tired tableau doesn't exactly apply because Goa has been aggressively marketing itself internationally as India's tropical getaway rather than as a cultural destination. Many of the advertisements for the Arabian Sea beach mecca would be more or less interchangeable with advertisements for Hawaii.

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June 7, 2011

Keith Whelan, 'Naked Adventurer,' Rescued At Sea

Well this isn't something that is written everyday: Keith Whelan, aka "The Naked Adventurer," was rescued at sea while en route in his attempt to become the first Irishman to row solo across the Indian Ocean. But oh wait, there's more. He's naked. In his birthday suit. In the buff. On a boat in the Ocean heading from Mauritius to Australia.

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June 6, 2011

10 travel woes - and how to deal with them

From earthquakes and tsunamis devastating Japan to marauding pirates swarming luxury cruise ships, wary travelers need just skim the day's headlines to conclude that an unforeseen travel disaster can strike at any place, at any time. Our top 10 travel emergency tips outline travel catastrophe scenarios of all stripes, offering precautionary advice, as well as insight on how to effectively manage such crises should they actually arise.

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June 3, 2011

15 macabre crime-inspired tours

Fight the law, and the law will win (probably - unless you're a celebrity sportsman). But gawp at others who tried to fight the law and you not only receive an education, you get on the fast track to a glorious sense of righteousness. From murderous walking trails through Victorian London to mob tours in Chicago, here are 15 excursions through the world's cities hot on the heels of their most famous criminals.

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June 2, 2011

Vacation tips on how to truly unplug

In the United States, we don't vacation often. And thanks to our ever-growing cadre of mobile gadgets, some experts fear that we don't vacation very well, either. Smartphones, laptops, tablet computers and other devices make it easier than ever to stay plugged in all the time. That's not exactly news. But there's a growing awareness, and concern, that the same items designed to keep us engaged and entertained around the clock can also make it harder for us to ever actually relax. Sure, we're on vacation at the shore, or a peaceful lakeside cabin in the woods. But it can't hurt to whip out the laptop and check work e-mail real quickly, right? You know, just in case something big happened back at the office.

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June 1, 2011

Passenger slaps flight attendant

A Massachusetts court official has declined to charge a New York man accused of slapping a male flight attendant on a JetBlue flight from Florida. State police say 48-year-old Bryan Garnett of Utica was arrested at Boston's Logan International Airport when the flight from West Palm Beach landed Tuesday. Garnett says he instinctively pushed the flight attendant's hand away when the steward tried to adjust his seat while he slept.

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May 26, 2011

All aboard! Amtrak sees surge in ridership

With gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon and this summer shaping up to be the most expensive ever for air travel, some vacationers may be turning to another method of transportation: train travel. Amtrak has seen 18 consecutive months of ridership growth and is on track to set a new annual record. The passenger rail company reported 2.7 million passengers last month, a 9.9 percent increase over April 2010. 'Gas prices are probably one of the main reasons why train travel continues to go up,' said Amtrak spokesman Clifford Cole. 'That plus the fact that people just like the hassle-free way of traveling by train.'

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May 25, 2011

World's Grossest Foods: Flying Maggot Cheese, Anyone?

Usually, traveling comes with the added bonus of trying delicious new cuisines. But, sometimes, that just isn't the case. In some ports of call, locals like to spice up their dishes with maggots, insect eggs, blood or deadly chemicals. But, hey, to each his own, right? There is no shortage of gross food out there. But, here is a list of 10 cringe-worthy edibles to watch out for on the road. Have you encountered any gross foods in your travels? Leave any nastiness in the comments below, your fellow travelers will thank you.

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May 24, 2011

Why you should visit a new Destination

Time flies when you're having fun on holiday, right? Well, maybe it shouldn't. That's not to say your vacation should drag in a dull, five-hour bio-documentary type way. Just that "going local" in a new place -- the more "exotic" the better -- is literally more memorable, and feels longer, than a seventh straight visit to Uncle Todd's lake house. My gut experience tells me that, but science backs up the notion too. David Eagleman, a neuroscience professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has written that our perception of time quickens with age, because adults tend to have "compressed" memories. But, Eagleman agrees, travel to "novel places" is an equalizer. "It essentially puts you -- neurally -- in the same position as when you were a child," he told me by e-mail.

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May 23, 2011

Why is America the 'no-vacation nation'?

Let's be blunt: If you like to take lots of vacation, the United States is not the place to work. Besides a handful of national holidays, the typical American worker bee gets two or three precious weeks off out of a whole year to relax and see the world -- much less than what people in many other countries receive. And even that amount of vacation often comes with strings attached. Some U.S. companies don't like employees taking off more than one week at a time. Others expect them to be on call or check their e-mail even when they're lounging on the beach or taking a hike in the mountains. "I really would like to take a real, decent vacation and travel somewhere, but it's almost impossible to take a long vacation and to be out of contact," said Don Brock, a software engineer who lives in suburban Washington. "I dream of taking a cruise or a trip Europe, but I can't imagine getting away for so long."

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June 3, 2011

The Top 10 Beaches of 2011: The Best Places to Spend Your Summer


This is the 21st year of the Best Beaches list, put together by Stephen Leatherman, director of Florida International University's Laboratory for Coastal Research in Miami, who is also called Dr. Beach.

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June 2, 2011

New York hotels to give 'panic buttons' to maids

Two luxury hotels in Manhattan will provide maids with portable emergency communications devices -- equipped with "panic buttons" -- in the wake of a pair of high-profile sexual assault cases in New York, according to a hotel union spokesman. The Pierre and the Sofitel hotels will hand out the devices, modeled after medical alert buttons for the elderly, allowing housekeeping staff to quickly alert hotel security, said John Turchiano, a spokesman for New York's Hotel & Motel Trades Council.

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June 1, 2011

Plane lands after fistfight between passengers

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown says Flight 990 bound for Accra, Ghana, returned to Dulles in Chantilly, Virginia, just after midnight Sunday after a fistfight in the cabin. The two fighter jets were dispatched from Andrews Air Force Base after the pilot reported the disturbance, said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander William Lewis, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. They shadowed the airline flight all the way back to Dulles, where it landed safely, Lewis said. "They were just following typical procedures when you have disturbances," Lewis said. "It's pretty commonplace whenever there's an airspace violation," he said.

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May 26, 2011

8 Bizarre Body Parts On Display Around The World

The tradition of putting body parts on display is almost as old as religion itself. Reliquaries containing the hands, feet, teeth, and other parts of holy people have been touted around the globe for thousands of years. But 20th-century cultural icons and ancient historical figures? Yeah, those get around too. While some are proudly on display, many are decidedly better hidden. But with careful planning and a discerning eye, there are some pretty incredible body parts to be seen out there. You just have to know where to look. Text and photos courtesy of our friends at Nile Guide.

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May 25, 2011

Smart Spending: Squeeze more out of short trips

Americans got used to staycations during the recession, but as the economy begins to recover many are now ready to graduate to the short-stay getaway for relaxation and adventure without the financial drain of a longer vacation. Here are some tips for short trips that are both fun and frugal. LOCATION, LOCATION: Nearby or easy-access destinations are most likely to offer clear ways to reduce expenses. Consider metropolitan areas like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, where you can get around at very low cost because you can walk or take public transportation to most activities.

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May 24, 2011

Why your brain needs Vacations

Mary Kole loves her job, but she's been feeling like she's lost the line between "work" and "not work." A literary agent for children's books in Brooklyn, New York, Kole works from home and checks in with clients electronically around the clock -- sometimes writers will even call her in the middle of the night with an idea. Stepping outside isn't exactly relaxing either. "In New York, it's just subway, office, people, talking, yelling, honking, all the time," she said. Kole finally tore herself away from business calls and conferences to take a vacation, one that didn't take place in her home office. At the beginning of May, she went to Portland, Oregon, by herself and spent five days holed up in a rented house rereading some of her favorite books, cooking and listening to rain.

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June 3, 2011

Licking your chops at the world's best BBQ restaurants

Barbecue for breakfast? Why not? Whatever the time of day, someone, somewhere is firing up a grill to barbecue something. After all, few words have the power to make mouths water and stir passions as barbecue. And nowhere does that passion show more than in the world's best barbecue restaurants. The term barbecue may have originated with the Taino Indian barbacoa (a raised wooden grill grate) on the island now shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Today, food grilled or smoked over a live fire is enjoyed on six continents (seven, if you include subzero grilling sessions in Antarctica).

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June 2, 2011

Thailand seeks to ban tourists' Buddha tattoos

Thailand's Culture Ministry says foreign tourists should be barred from getting Buddhist tattoos while visiting because the practice is culturally insensitive. Culture Minister Niphit Intharasombat said in a statement that his ministry has been receiving complaints from residents that tattoo parlors are etching sacred images of Buddha and other religious images onto the skin of non-Buddhist visitors across the country. "Foreigners see these tattoos as a fashion," Niphit said in the statement posted on his ministry's website Thursday. "They do not think of respecting religion, or they may not be aware" that it can be offensive. Read More...

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June 1, 2011

Chinese cuisine: anyone for sweet and sour puppy?

Wherever you go in China, "Chinglish" - the transliteration of the Chinese languages into English - is a reliable if cheap source of amusement. And it's on restaurant menus that it tends to reach the apogee of absurdity. "Radish sauce secret system", anyone? "Crispy kingbee"? (For more examples of these mangled translations, see our Sign Language pages). But in Cloud 9 restaurant, in the tourist town of Yangshuo, the menus were written in English that was not open to misunderstanding. Dishes included "local style braised bamboo rat" and "garlic flavour braised dog meat in clay pot". "Right, that's it," I said.

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May 26, 2011

Taking a trip for Memorial Day? Try one of these 10 spots

Even though summer doesn't officially start until a month or so after the Memorial Day weekend, most of us treat this three-day holiday as if it does mark the onset of the season. Of course, it helps that it's often the first warm long weekend in months, which means barbecues in the back yard, al fresco concerts, picnics in the park, hitting the links - you name it, so long as it's outdoors! Our top 10 Memorial Day getaways won't require extensive travel - or, an extensive budget, for that matter - but will definitely help you have a most memorable weekend.

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May 25, 2011

Top-notch rooftop restaurants around the globe

You step out of the elevator on the 27th floor, and it hits you: a dazzling view of Chicago's Loop, Lake Michigan and Millennium Park. You've arrived at the Roof at the Wit just in time to snag a table with a built-in fire pit and watch the sun dip slowly behind the city's architectural landmarks. It's going to be one memorable dinner.

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May 24, 2011

80 things we wish we knew before we started Traveling

Hindsight is 20/20, right? Well, foresight can be near to it when you have the expertise of some seriously savvy travelers at your fingertips. Like the Matador team. If you're starting out on your first trip, this is for you. Hell, even if it's your 20th trip, this is for you too. I know I learned a lot putting it together.

On preparing for your trip

1. Print your entire itinerary and flight tickets/confirmations. Store these with your passports. You can't always rely on Internet access or electricity to pull this info off your phone or laptop.

2. Keep a copy of your passport and never have all of your forms of identification or access to cash (ATM/credit cards) in the same bag. If that one gets lost or stolen, you are SOL.

3. Check in with friends and family from time to time, especially when traveling alone. It's a good idea for someone to always know where your next movements are, just in case.

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May 23, 2011

After nearing all-time high, gas prices on the decline

After nearing the all-time record, gas prices in the United States are sliding downward, with another drop possible in the next few days, according to a survey published Sunday. The Lundberg Survey found the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline nationwide was $3.91 as of Friday, publisher Trilby Lundberg said. The price represents a drop of just over 9 cents from May 6, when prices hit the $4 mark. The all-time high for U.S. gas prices was $4.11 on July 11, 2008, she said. The drop "comes from the crude oil price slump earlier this month," Lundberg said, "and it looks like there's perhaps another dime drop at the pump in the next few days."

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May 19, 2011

Man Tries To Board Train With Pony

BBC It's practically something out of a western movie: A man in Wales tried to board a train with a pony. The man, traveling from Wrexham to Holyhead in Wales, approached a clerk at the station and asked for two tickets on the 7:02 train after he was refused entry on the train by a rail worker, Australia's Daily Telegraph reports. The clerk would not sell him tickets, but he tried to get on the train regardless. He got into an argument with a rail worker, saying "I know the law" when told he was could not bring a horse on the train.

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May 18, 2011

Find your groove: Summer music festivals near you

Summer is our favorite time to get outside, soak up the sun and take in some tunes at the same time. Fortunately, it's also high time for music festivals across North America. To help you get a jump start on your rock 'n' roll planning, we've identified the best performances across the U.S. and Canada with an eye toward those events where tickets are still available. The season's hottest concerts sell out fast, so if something catches your eye you'll want to book tickets sooner rather than later.

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May 17, 2011

Poll: 6 in 10 Americans say vacation is important

Six in 10 Americans say that going somewhere on vacation this year is important, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll. However, most Americans -- 71 percent -- predict they will have to spend more on transportation in order to get there. This compares with 39 percent of Americans who said they would spend more on transportation in May 2010, when the average price of gas in the U.S. was about $2.80 per gallon.

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May 12, 2011

Southwest tells woman, mother they are 'too fat to fly'

Kenlie Tiggeman is impressive, to say the least. She's a budding gardener at her mother's home in Galliano, a political strategist working in New York City, a blogger, and in the last two years - she's lost 120 pounds. But unfortunately, some people only look skin deep. "It doesn't matter how far I have come. I have a long way to go, but no one sees that. All they see is my exterior - someone who is fat," explained Tiggeman. She said that's what happened during a layover in Dallas on Easter Sunday, when she and her mother were singled out by a Southwest employee for their weight. "I asked him what the weight restrictions were and he said that he didn't know, just that we were too heavy to fly. Too fat to fly," said Tiggeman.

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May 11, 2011

Site names top destinations for single men

Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Miami top a list of 29 cities that attract single men on the go. The cities on the list, compiled by the editors of AskMen.com, were considered for factors from the cost of a pint of beer and a cab ride to culture, weather and food. Various aspects of the social scene also proved a dominant factor. From scouting out sports to nightlife, today's single men are looking for an all-encompassing adventure, editors said. Not surprisingly, women are a factor as well. The rest of the top 10 (out of 29) included New York City, London, Seoul, Paris, Melbourne, Bangkok and Las Vegas. Las Vegas and Bangkok have both been the setting for popular guy films "The Hangover" and due out at the end of May, "The Hangover 2."

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May 10, 2011

10 natural wonders to see before they disappear

You've heard the grim timelines: if warming continues, the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached by 2030; glaciers in the Swiss Alps, on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and in Glacier National Park will disappear in under 40 years; and Arctic ice melt will leave the North Pole bare and polar bears extinct. The immediacy of these timelines prompts flocks of curious eco-tourists to travel to environmentally fragile areas. Tourism is both bane and boon: it can add strain to already distressed areas, but it can also provide income, which in turn can help preserve these wonders. We spotlight 10 areas under threat -- some lesser known than others -- that can still be visited responsibly. In some cases the price tag may be higher than your average vacation, but consider it an investment in Mother Earth.

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May 9, 2011

America's coolest city parks

Sure, New York's Central Park has a lot to offer, but when it comes to cool, the park just can't compete with the thrill of swinging yourself off a 23-foot-high trapeze platform on Governors Island. Adding to the island's cool factor is an expanding lineup of art installations, food-truck festivals, and rock concerts on a sandy beach - all this with skyline views. Cities well beyond New York are investing in parks, either opening new ones or getting creative with traditional favorites like Denver's City Park, where the Electric Prismatic Fountain puts on cutting-edge light shows. A 2010 study by the Trust for Public Land found that the most populated cities in the country spent about $5.8 billion on parks and recreation in 2008, up by a third since 2004.

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May 19, 2011

What to know when traveling with your pet

Summer vacation is no longer just for two-legged travelers. Room service menus for Fido, massages for over-stressed terriers and tabbies, cushy beds for canines: many hotels have been ratcheting up the pet amenities. Best Western has even hired Cesar Millan of National Geographic Channel's 'Dog Whisperer' to be the chain's pet travel expert. The problem is getting your pet to the destination. In recent years, transporting pets on commercial flights has grown more complicated - and more expensive. All major carriers have significantly raised the fees they charge for bringing pets onboard, matching, or in some cases, surpassing, the $100 surcharge each way they typically charge for children flying alone. Fees vary depending on whether the pet flies under your seat, or as checked baggage or cargo, which involve extra handling. American, Delta, United and Continental charge $125 each way for pets in the cabin. United charges the most for pets traveling as checked baggage: $250 each way or $500 round trip.

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May 18, 2011

Travel icons: See them or skip them?

By ICONS, I'm talking about your big hitters: Istanbul's Aya Sofya, Sydney's Opera House, the Grand Canyon and other magnificent attractions that, no matter how many times you've seen them depicted on TV or on souvenir tea towels, will still leave you whimpering in their awesome presence. These ICONS are iconic for a reason. They're either the pinnacle of human achievement for their age (Pyramids, Angkor Wat), Mother Nature's most majestic works of art (Mt. Fuji, Uluru) or combinations of both (Cappadocia, Cape Town). They're iconic because they're incredible and unforgettable and unique. Stuff the crowds and expense; these things demand to be seen. You don't need to actually visit some icons - simply seeing them is enough. The Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer and Statue of Liberty are all best viewed from a distance, lording it over their respective cities (which are also icons in themselves), and don't need to be climbed. And if the queues are too much, you are permitted to skip some icons; it leaves plenty of time for visiting others. Icons are visited to improve the human experience, not merely to be ticked off for bragging rights.

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May 17, 2011

From SPAM to Barbed Wire: Seven of the Weirdest Museums in America

Imagine: A whole museum dedicated to SPAM in all its canned, hammy goodness. Well, imagine no longer ������������€�����������“ this place exists, as do a number of museums dedicated to oddities like funeral history, medical specimens, barbed wire and more. Better yet, they can all be found somewhere in the United States. So, if the idea of missing out on jewelry made of hair is too much to bear, check out some of the weirdest museums in America. Of course, the wackiness doesn't stop there. Share your favorite crazy museums in the comments below.

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May 12, 2011

Airline defends decision to deny seat to cancer patient

Korean Air is defending its decision to deny a seat to a woman with stage 4 breast cancer, saying it was concerned about Crystal Kim's health for the long flight. Consumer advocate Kate Hanni, however, called it 'a callous disregard for this woman's right to travel.'

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May 11, 2011

7 Cancer patient denied seat on flight

Crystal Kim had approval from two doctors and a note clearing her to fly over the weekend, according to KING5-TV, NBC News' local affiliate in Seattle. The carrier thought Kim might not be up for the long flight, Korean Air spokesperson Penny Pfaelzer said. Pfaelzer said the carrier arranged a hotel for the Kims while it attempted to get proper authorization. She said other passengers would be "traumatized" if a passenger were to die in flight, and called the situation unfortunate.

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May 10, 2011

7 Safest U.S. Airlines, But Who's Counting?

It's easy enough to name the nation's seven safest airlines. It's hard, however, to say what good these lists are if your goal, as a traveler, is to avoid dying. Consider the case of the passengers on the Southwest flight earlier this month who heard a loud bang and looked up to see daylight coming through the ceiling of their Boeing 737. If, before belting-in, they had consulted the latest safety rankings, they'd have seen that Southwest's record is exemplary. On an incidents-per-flight basis, Southwest ranks as the safest of the major U.S. carriers and second-safest overall, coming in just behind much smaller, top-ranked AirTran Airways. (Southwest is in the process of acquiring AirTran.)

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May 9, 2011

Gas Prices Reach Highest Springtime Level Ever

Crude oil prices fluctuated Monday, following President Obama's announcement that U.S. Navy SEALs had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Prices first fell, then rose, then fell again, landing at a four-day low: $113 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The U.S. Department of Energy reported late Monday that gasoline prices at the pump averaged $3.96 a gallon nationwide, up a little over 8 cents from a week ago. The price hit $4 a gallon or higher in 12 states plus the District of Columbia. AAA and other market watchers said they expect $4 to become the norm nationwide by the end of this week.

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May 19, 2011

Confessions of a... New York street-food vendor

I've worked in a lot of restaurants -- and trust me, these carts are a heck of a lot cleaner. The customers can see and smell our whole operation. If our chicken and veggies don't smell fresh, we can't hide that and the people walking past aren't going to stop and buy. Plus, our carts are so tiny, they're simple to keep clean. We just suds them up and hose them down every night. In restaurants, customers usually can't see how clean the kitchens are, and most of the time, they probably wouldn't want to.

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May 18, 2011

9 tips for insanely busy travelers

Many frequent and hardcore travelers are extremely busy people. One type of traveler crams business and pleasure trips into single junkets. Another type corrals an entire family through an itinerary that would kill a hardy donkey, let alone an exhausted working parent. Another type micromanages their trip down to the minute such that they're setting alarms at all times of day to keep themselves on schedule. And then there are those who are so busy they can barely find enough time to take their vacations, much less do all the nuts-and-bolts tasks of planning those vacations.

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May 17, 2011

10 reasons you know it's time to go traveling

Feel like you need escape? Read these 10 reasons and see if it's time to hit the road. So you finally did it. You moved back home. You gave up on your dreams of being a lifetime traveler in exchange for a pension, a steady paycheck and a stable home environment. Good for you. The only problem is, we both know it may not stick. You can feel it already, can't you? Not exactly a sense of loss, but rather, some part of you is being slowly diluted, your true self fading from a lack of stimulation. Escape. Get out while you still can. Hit the road, and be grateful you pushed yourself. How do you know when it's time to go traveling? 10. Recycled Coffee Starts Tasting Good You've become so complacent with your 9-to-5 cubicle job that that caffeinated mixture of grounds and office sweat is actually making your mouth water. You're spending too much time staring at an LCD screen. Water cooler talk is fascinating to you. GET OUT NOW, while you can still remember what sunlight feels like.

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May 12, 2011

6 common solo travel questions -- answered

The freedom to go precisely where you want, when you want and how you want -- behold, the power of one! Budget Travel's Trip Coach answers 6 of the most common solo travel questions: I'm planning to take a trip by myself. Are there any destinations that are especially appealing for solo travelers? First off, you're not alone. Solo travelers account for 11 percent of all American vacationers. No destination is strictly off-limits to solo travelers, but some places are easier (and more appealing) to navigate than others.

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May 11, 2011

The best new hotels of 2011

Forget check-in counters. When you arrive at the wrought-iron gate of the Shangri-La Paris, a historic mansion near the Seine, a staffer will greet you by name before escorting you through the marble-clad, chandelier-lit lobby. In no time, you'll be sipping jasmine-scented tea and admiring the Eiffel Tower view. This latest creation from Shangri-La opened in December 2010 and stood out among the hundreds of hotels we tested for our annual It List, a compendium of the world's most noteworthy new hotels. As we do every year, T+L editors and writers logged thousands of miles in search of the next best new hotels for you to lay your head.

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May 10, 2011

Airport Disaster Readiness Drill

Drill for disaster. It's a federal requirement for all airports to prepare for deadly situations. This weekend, BWI-Thurgood Marshall conducted a large-scale simulation. Gigi Barnett reports it took several agencies and dozens of volunteers. There was a crippled aircraft on a BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport runway. Surrounding it were dozens of wounded passengers and crew, at least 125. First responders from several agencies came to their aid. 'The plane was on final takeoff and an engine blew. The plane basically caught fire,' said BWI Executive Director Paul Wiedefeld. The wreck is a simulation, but BWI officials say if it becomes reality, preparation is key.

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May 9, 2011

Cheers to America's best cocktail bars

Stop me if you've heard this one. Guy walks into a bar. Asks the bartender for a Manhattan with extra bitters. The bartender says, 'you want orange bitters, lavender honey bitters, 19th-century Boker's bitters, Mexican chocolate bitters or plain old Angostura bitters?' Well, OK, maybe it's not much of a joke. But it points up two things: we're in a golden age of cocktails. And to order a drink is to navigate a minefield. This is both good and bad, of course. The good: bartenders are making some amazing drinks these days. A whole new crop of handcrafted spirits are expanding the palette they paint with, and many craft bartenders are making their own syrups, infusions and bitters, all of which add an unexpected depth and complexity to familiar drinks. To order a Repeal cocktail made with vanilla cardamom bitters at Green Russell in Denver is to step through a door you didn't know existed.

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April 8, 2011

Buy Now or Wait for Olympic Bargains?

According to a recent report from Europe, advance booking demand for hotels during the London Olympic Games is down by 80 percent, but hotels are still keeping rooms off the market. That report raises the classic dilemma of would-be Olympic Games visitors next summer, July 27-August 12, and it leaves at least one reader in a quandary: "If I want to take in the Games, should I buy now or wait for a bargain price?" Sadly, that's a problem I can highlight but not yet solve. As my colleague Christine Sarkis recently blogged, the ticket sale process has started through CoSport, the official reseller for Games tickets to residents of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and a bunch of European countries. The "ticket request phase" runs through April 22, and "hospitality package sales" started on March 15. So far, CoSport isn't showing any prices, but it is accepting registrations and requests.

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April 6, 2011

Boeing Knew of 737 Crack Problem

In a conference call with reporters, Boeing officials acknowledged that they knew of problems with the lap joints that bind together the fuselage of the plane, but they didn't expect it to be an issue until the 737 jets had been through many more takeoff and landing cycles than the plane that got into trouble Friday. "Our plan was to recommend inspections at 60,000 cycles. Obviously, none are close to that at this point in time," said Paul Richter, the chief project engineer for Boeing's 737 classic. "It is regrettable that we had to accelerate our plans based on an event of this nature." The 15-year-old Southwest Airlines jet, which tore open along its lap joint last Friday, had 39,000 takeoff and landing cycles. Boeing's 737 classics were manufactured from 1984 until 2000. In 1993, Boeing redesigned its 737 due to problems with the lap-joint design, but the problem Southwest jet was manufactured after that redesign.

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April 5, 2011

Why No One Was Sucked Out of the Southwest Jet

A five-square-foot hole opened in the roof of a Southwest Airlines jet as it was cruising at 36,000 feet on Friday afternoon. Passengers reported hearing an explosive noise and feeling "air being sucked out" of the cabin, but the pilot was able to land the plane safely and there were no major injuries. Why wasn't anyone blown through the hole? Seat belts and safe distance. As the Explainer described six years ago, the phenomenon of explosive decompression is very real: People and objects can indeed be forced out of an airliner at cruising altitude when a large hole opens in its fuselage. This results from the substantial pressure difference between the external atmosphere at high altitudes and the air inside a pressurized cabin: When the cabin is breached, air rushes outward all at once. While such an event can involve thousands of pounds of force, it's focused in the area immediately surrounding the hole. A passenger seated just a few rows from a five-square-foot hole could probably hold himself down without a seat belt. Anyone who was wearing his seat belt would be very unlikely to sail through the gap, regardless of location. (That is, assuming their seats remain bolted to the floor.) The few people who have slipped through holes not big enough to bring down a commercial aircraft - and there are a handful of famous examples - were located right next to the breach and weren't wearing a seat belt low and tight across the hips.

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April 4, 2011

Southwest to cancel about 100 flights as inspections continue

Southwest Airlines expects to cancel about 100 flights from its Monday schedule as investigators continue inspecting its fleet, the airline said. The Texas-based airline grounded 79 planes for inspection after a hole opened on top of a Boeing 737 mid-flight Friday. It canceled approximately 600 flights to accommodate the inspections: 300 on Saturday and 300 flights on Sunday. So far, investigators have found indications of cracks in three other aircraft, the National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday. Of the planes inspected, 19 had returned to service by Sunday afternoon, the airline said.

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April 1, 2011

How I afford two-month vacations

Not so long ago, I took a winter trip to Rio de Janeiro during Carnival season. Instead of staying near a fashionable beach like Ipanema or a storied tourist district like Copacabana, I got a room in an inexpensive guesthouse in the slightly seedy Catete neighborhood. Instead of eating at fancy restaurants, I got food for a fraction of the cost from street kiosks and juice bars. I took day-trips to quieter beaches north and south of the city and attended joyously raucous soccer games at Maracanã Stadium. I stayed in Rio and environs for nearly two months -- an unheard of amount of time for most Americans. But in choosing to live cheaply and forgo the trappings of luxury -- in keeping my expenses lower than the daily living costs of most U.S. cities -- I was able to enrich my journey with life's most valuable commodity: time.

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March 31, 2011

Top 10 Celebrity Beaches

Summer is here and it's time to hit the beach. But don't just go to any beach, travel to one where you have a good shot of spotting a celebrity. The folks at Cheapflights.com put together a list of 10 glamorous shorelines attract the world's A-list stars. Maldives: The beaches here are set around a series of ancient coral reefs that expanded along the sides of prehistoric volcanoes, which make for astounding snorkeling and diving in the warm water lagoons. Celebs who love this spot are Beyoncé and Jay-Z ,Kate Moss, Eva Longoria, Jude Law and Penelope Cruz.

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March 30, 2011

An everyman's guide to Los Angeles

"Laid back" is not the way I'd describe Los Angeles. Although it is true that your typical L.A. resident probably functions at a more relaxed pace than a Wall Street trader during a selloff, I think many Southern Californians are high-energy. They just focus all that adrenaline differently. In L.A., a lot of people put plenty of effort into their social life, whether it's taking off for a great entertainment event or someone's outdoor soiree, screaming for the Dodgers, Lakers, Trojans or Bruins, making an event of a great meal, or trekking to the beach, hiking or some other form of exercise. I describe the vibe as "work hard and play hard, too." Let's establish that if you are looking for ultra-expensive, nose-in-the-air, glitterati experiences in Los Angeles, I am a lousy source. But if you want a working man's guide, here goes:

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March 28, 2011

Don't let turbulence freak you out

The first thing to remember with turbulence is that it's almost never as bad as you think. In severe turbulence, it might seem like you dropped 100 feet, but it was probably not even 10. Consider driving fast down a dirt road. If you tried to hold on to a cup of water on that ride, you'd be just fine except for the thorough soaking you'd get about two seconds in. On the other hand, if you're in an airplane that hits turbulence, your water usually won't even splash outside of the cup. Unfortunately, we don't have the ability to see that next bump in the sky just yet. For control freaks like me and countless others, that's an anxiety-producing experience. But there are some important things to know about turbulence that should help calm your nerves.

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April 6, 2011

Should customers have to pay an unmarried driver fee?

Q: A couple of weeks ago, my family and I took a trip to Hilton Head Island. We booked a rental car with Enterprise and the fine print in the contract said there would be an additional charge of $5 a day for "each additional authorized driver other than a spouse or domestic partner." I checked this language specifically, because my partner and I are partners, not spouses. We live in Canada (though we're U.S. citizens) and are "common-law spouses" (a domestic partnership category) under Canadian law. When we arrived to pick up the car at the Savannah, Ga., airport, we were told we had to pay the extra fee because we were not married. Unfortunately, I didn't have the document with the above language printed out, so I had to choose between signing the paperwork at the counter and finding a car from another agency. Naturally, I chose to sign the paperwork; I had already waited in line for nearly half an hour, and I would almost certainly have had to pay a substantially higher rate as a last-minute walk-up at another agency.

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April 5, 2011

Futuristic aircraft seat unveiled

A prototype of the ' (Not for Wimps)' concept seat is currently on display at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The design features a large arc made from lightweight materials, including composite Kevlar and carbon fibre, that rises from the top of a -bucket- seat, extends above the passenger, and holds a state-of-the-art monitor. The gaming station would also work as a 'docking station', allowing passengers to use their own devices. The seat was created by the British manufacturers Contour Aerospace Ltd and Factorydesign and is expected to appeal to young technophiles. 'NFW is designed to appeal to customers who would rather spend their time on long-haul flights locked in a gaming or viewing experience rather than dropping off to sleep,' said Adam White, director of Factorydesign.

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