Travel


How to get off the grid in Japan's booming tourism industry

Japan is in the middle of a travel boom. Political instability across much of the world has given it the appeal of a safe haven, and before the 2020 Olympics, the country has been rolling out the red carpet for visitors.  Among the new perks are two luxury sleeper trains: the Twilight Express Mizukaze, which offers a circular tour around the Sanyo and Sanin areas of western Japan, and the Train...

Carnival Horizon to mix beer and barbecue in a big way

Carnival Cruise Line likes cooking up beer on board its new ships.  Carnival Vista boasted the first on-board microbrewery for North America and the soon-to-arrive sister ship Carnival Horizon will serve up the brews too, but this time with barbecue.   The line recently debuted the four planned microbrews that will be served in a new barbecue dining venue from Food Network star Guy...

Carving out luggage room for comfort items

It's tough to argue with packing the least amount possible while traveling. Having less luggage to sling around on trains, planes and subways always makes the experience much more pleasant. After several years of living on the road full time however, my motivation for making personal comfort items part of my travel equation has increased significantly. From multiple meltdowns over the lack of a fuzzy...

How to make sure you travel with medication legally

Travelers often pack medications when they go abroad, but some popular prescription and over-the-counter ones Americans use for things like pain relief, better sleep, allergies and even the common cold are illegal in some countries.  The United Arab Emirates and Japan, for example, are among the most restrictive nations, but many ban or restrict importing narcotics, sedatives, amphetamines and...
Fun beyond the slopes

Fun beyond the slopes

Little compares with the rush of downhill skiing, but for travelers seeking something different this season, hotels and tour providers offer plenty of other ways to experience the winter scenery.  An eight-day Winter Tatra adventure with Intrepid Travel features snowshoeing in Poland’s Tatra Mountains, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that extends into neighboring Slovakia. A kulig...

Travel deals: Discounted lodging at 18 ski resorts and a houseboat rental special

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   --Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina in Florida is offering a free fifth night plus a resort credit. The Escape to Paradise package costs about $1,200 for five nights, including taxes; the free night is worth about $300. Guests also receive a $100 resort credit per stay. Book by March 31; travel by Dec. 22. Info: 855-366-8045...

U.S. travel industry unites to fight decline in foreign tourism

As more international travelers decide to skip America, 10 business associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Restaurant Association have created a travel industry group aimed at reversing the growing unpopularity of the U.S. as a vacation destination.  Historically, America had only to sit back and let foreign tourists and their money roll in. Over the past few years...

Nine things you might not know about Colorado skiing

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Snow sports in Colorado have quite the storied past — skiing has been around the Rockies for longer than you might think, and it’s served several surprising purposes that have absolutely nothing to do with outdoor recreation. Here are a few of our favorite Colorado ski facts.  1. Skiing didn’t start as a weekend getaway.   Originally...
Exploring the archaeological wonders of Jordan

Exploring the archaeological wonders of Jordan

In Jordan’s extraordinary rose-red “Lost City” of Petra, I have just huffed up 700 zigzagging stone-carved steps to the ancient mountaintop High Place of Sacrifice with its sacred altar and goat blood drain. And now, along a dirt trail, I rest in a rug-draped souvenir stall while an octogenarian Bedouin woman — who is traditionally clad in a long embroidered madraga dress and...
Gourmet getaway to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula refreshes mind, body, spirit

Gourmet getaway to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula refreshes mind, body, spirit

The art of wellness and the wonderment of art are integrated into the architecture and aspirations, cuisine and culture at the Grand Velas Los Cabos, an award-winning beachfront resort located on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. It is an all-inclusive gourmet getaway for mind, body and spirit with all elements designed to coddle and comfort. The pampering commences the very moment guests arrive: Etched...

What Obama’s photographer learned about travel

During his eight years as the chief official White House photographer for President Barack Obama, Pete Souza, the former director of the White House Photo Office, traveled to all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Those trips added up to more than 1,300 flights on Air Force One and nearly 1.5 million miles.  “My job was to basically tag along with the president and visually capture the...

Embrace the Bold North in Minneapolis for Super Bowl

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis is the northernmost city to host a Super Bowl. Tourism officials are making the most of that as they prepare to welcome visitors to the "Bold North." Many activities surrounding Super Bowl will take advantage of Minnesota's wintry weather, including outdoor concerts, ice sculptures and opportunities for winter sports.  Super Bowl events will be held...

You're going where? Greenville, South Carolina

I've never fallen in love with a place as quickly as I did with Greenville. This was a surprise, because I arrived in South Carolina with low expectations. In the late '80s and early '90s, I spent most childhood school vacations and several weeks each summer visiting grandparents who lived elsewhere in the Palmetto State. On many trips there, we would take time to explore a new area recommended to...

American won’t let you pay with cash at Miami’s airport anymore. Here’s how it’ll work

MIAMI — If you’re traveling on American Airlines from Miami International Airport, leave the cash at home.  The leading airline is moving to a cashless model at MIA, meaning that any transactions for additional fees, such as checked bags or overweight bags, will have to be made with credit or debit cards. The change is effective on Thursday.   The airline already has transitioned...

More places to go in 2018

From Bourbon Street to the South Pacific pull of Fiji, destinations abound for the tourist with a strong case of wanderlust. — An indigenous tourism boom.   Australia’s remote Top End — the Northern Territory’s northernmost hunk — is experiencing an uptick of tourism to its aboriginal communities, the world’s oldest civilizations, according to 2017 DNA...
Tasmania's Three Capes trail is spectacular, but it's not cheap

Tasmania's Three Capes trail is spectacular, but it's not cheap

Hilly, forested and wet Tasmania is regarded by many Australians as their most picturesque state, a kind of Vermont of the Southern Hemisphere. It is also the most economically depressed, which is one of the reasons the Tasmanian government has upended a great walking tradition - that natural beauty owned by the state should be open to all, at minimal cost, in the spirit of democracy.  Less than...

Family travel: Getting your fill with an EAT vacation

One of the hottest trends in travel is EAT vacations. We’re not talking about tours with celebrity chefs. Rather, families are looking for trips that provide memorable Experiences, real Adventure and Transformative moments.  Here are five ideas that may fit the bill.   1. Discover Palau   Located in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, Palau, an archipelago of more...

Talk Travel: Ideal stops on an Atlanta to Memphis roadtrip

The Washington Post's Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: I am taking road trip from Atlanta to Memphis, Tennessee and back by way of the Delta and Birmingham over winter break. Any favorite spots in the deep south for these Yankees to visit?   A: For Birmingham, here are some of my favorite places...

You snap pix of national parks on vacation. Jarob Ortiz takes them for a living.

Jarob Ortiz stood on a rocky mound and waited. He watched the sky for a break in the clouds and the ground for shadowy patterns. Then, a shazam! of light burst through, illuminating the campfire circle.  "Oh my God, it just got really bright for a second," he said at Camp Greentop in Catoctin Mountain Park in north-central Maryland. "Excuse me for a second."   Ortiz...
Following in the footsteps of fictional character Doc Ford

Following in the footsteps of fictional character Doc Ford

Darkness has descended over the southwest Florida swamps as I ease my rental car into the parking lot of Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island. Grabbing my bag, I head for the marina to meet up with Captain Jack La Plante, whose boat will be my ride over to Cabbage Key. As we skim across Pine Island Sound on a moonless night, I let my imagination run wild and think how easy it would be to dispose of a body...

Ritz Carlton, a luxury Saudi prison, takes Feb. 14 bookings

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Ritz Carlton in Saudi Arabia's capital may be reopening its doors in time for Valentine's Day, after serving for several months as a prison for the country's elite caught up in what the government has described as a crackdown on corruption.  The Ritz Carlton's website on Monday showed bookings available beginning Feb. 14.   An unidentified...

US travel industry launches plan to reverse tourism decline

NEW YORK (AP) — Travel industry representatives sounded an alarm Tuesday over declines in international tourism to the U.S. and announced plans to reverse the trend.  Organizers of the new Visit U.S. Coalition portrayed the decline as long-term, going back to 2015, and said they would work with the Trump administration to reverse the decline.   In a conference call Tuesday, coalition...

How to plan your family's first international vacation

It is exponentially easier to plan a trip with kids to somewhere you've been before than it is to plot an adventure someplace new. I was forced to acknowledge this last spring as I struggled to map out my family's itinerary for a three-week, three-country European vacation. Plan a skiing, camping and hiking trip in the American West, where I was born and now live? No problem. But picking a handful...
Shake up your cruise routine with these adventurous options

Shake up your cruise routine with these adventurous options

Cruisers who are tired of the Caribbean and Mediterranean and want to spice up their next water-based vacation should check out new offerings for 2018 from AdventureSmith Explorations. Destinations include Tasmania, Patagonia and remote areas of Indonesia. Or, to get really off the grid, there’s a 17-day journey into the high Arctic to explore the Northwest Passage. The 132-passenger Ocean Adventurer...
Places to go in 2018

Places to go in 2018

From Bourbon Street to the South Pacific pull of Fiji, destinations abound for the tourist with a strong case of wanderlust.  — A one-of-a-kind U.S. city turns 300.   There is no city in the world like New Orleans. Influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and indigenous peoples have made it the ultimate melting pot. And that diversity expresses itself in a...

These airplane ‘seats’ are the closest thing to your bed at home

Airlines make a big deal about the comfort their lie-flat seats provide to business and first-class customers. It’s unusual today to find an airline that doesn’t offer 180-degree recline, fully flat seats in their business and first-class cabins on long-haul flights. Even so, let’s face it: sleeping well on a plane, even sleeping fully horizontal, is a challenge. The cabin air is...

Start planning your 2018 vacation now: Here are the best times to book flights

Congratulations, you survived another year of holiday travel. However, before you settle into your leather sectional and refuse to lift your "Complete Purchase" finger for another 316 days, you might want to rethink your non-strategy strategy.  "This is a great time of the year to start planning a trip," said Patrick Surry, chief data scientist at Hopper, the online booking...
Fodor’s No List 2018 includes Missouri in top 10 places to avoid

Fodor’s No List 2018 includes Missouri in top 10 places to avoid

It seems reasonable to discourage travel to Myanmar because of human rights abuses there. Or the Galapagos Islands because of their ecological fragility.  But why would one of the most respected travel promotion and guidebook companies tell people to stay away from the state of Missouri?   That’s what Fodor’s is doing with its No List 2018, which lists Missouri as one of...

Travel deals: Free airfare on European river cruises and 10 percent off packages to Africa

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   - Book by Feb. 2 and save up to $400 on select trips with EF Go Ahead Tours. For example, the Highlights of Eastern Europe tour departing March 26 starts at $1,769 per person double, a $400 savings. The trip includes 13 nights' lodging in Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw and Krakow, Poland; 18 meals; six tours; motorcoach transport...

If you can only eat three meals in Aspen, Colorado, make sure they're here

Fitting for a town with multiple Type-A personalities - a refuge of the elite, a proving ground for mountain athletes and a center for arts and culture - Aspen serves up a diverse buffet of high-quality dining. It wasn't always so: After a spectacular mining boom and bust (1880-1930), the Colorado community grew around skiing, creativity and partying, along the way earning a hedonistic rap as a town...

American Airlines’ new lounge for elite fliers at LAX includes a Bloody Mary bar

To compete for the travel dollars of big-spending fliers, American Airlines recently unveiled two ways to pamper its most elite fliers.  The Fort Worth-based carrier, the world’s largest, opened a new lounge at Los Angeles International Airport last month that includes all the luxuries of a buffet restaurant and bar, plus a counter where fliers can make Bloody Mary drinks with crispy strips...

The next airline IT outage could happen at any time - are you prepared?

For Gojko Adzic, it's not a question of if, but when, the next airline IT outage will happen.  He should know. As the author of "Humans vs Computers," a book about ordinary people caught between wrong assumptions and computer bugs, he's had a front-row seat to several recent technological meltdowns. And as a London-based software expert, he also understands how fragile and error-prone...
Southern states join to promote civil rights tourism

Southern states join to promote civil rights tourism

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Southern states that once fought to maintain racial segregation are now banding together to promote civil rights tourism at sites including the building where the Confederacy was born and the motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died.  Fourteen states stretching from Kansas to Delaware, including all of the Deep South, are joining to promote the U.S. Civil Rights...

What should you put on your personal travel bucket list?

Question: I recently retired. My wife and I have traveled throughout Europe but want to visit more far-flung destinations now that we have time and are still healthy. Cost is not a primary concern. I’m more interested in nature than my wife; comfort is definitely a criteria. What are your top suggestions?  — Doug H., Miami   Answer: What suits you and your wife best may...

Raising the bar in competition

After years of planning and construction, the Winter Olympics and the World Cup are generally regarded as the marquee sporting events of 2018. But there is an abundance of events throughout the year for sports enthusiasts around the globe, from the British-centric Commonwealth Games to the rough-and-tumble Rugby World Cup Sevens to the refined World Equestrian Games.  — Super Bowl LII will...

Venezuela's economy is collapsing; violence is rampant. Its solution: woo tourists.

TODASANA, Venezuela - With its oil industry floundering, Venezuela is searching for a new engine of growth for an economy in free fall. The embattled socialist government thinks it has an answer - a future built not only on drilling and roughnecks, but beach umbrellas and piña coladas.  "Tourism is the oil that never runs out," Marleny Contreras, the nation's tourism minister...

Hotels with fresh ideas, from Shanghai to Denali

Innovative design and other features that channel the destination unify the following coming and just-opened hotels, which are among the most promising debuts of the new year.  China   Amanyangyun, Shanghai   When a new reservoir threatened their destruction, an entire camphor forest and 50 Ming and Qing dynasty-era houses were moved 400 miles from the Jiangxi province to...

Airline employee orders passengers to delete videos of a dispute or risk arrest

Passengers left stranded at Boston's Logan International Airport after last week's winter storm say an airline employee ordered them to stop filming near the carrier's gate counter and delete videos from their phones. The employee threatened to call police and have them arrested if they failed to comply.  At least one passenger on the Toronto-bound Porter Airlines flight scheduled to leave Friday...
Florida B&Bs struggle, cry foul as unregulated home-sharing options soar

Florida B&Bs struggle, cry foul as unregulated home-sharing options soar

MOUNT DORA, Fla. — Gwendolyn Smith, co-owner of the Grandview Bed & Breakfast, sees unfair competition for customers growing, putting some B&Bs in peril.  “There are over 200 unlicensed (vacation) rentals here,” she said, citing Mount Dora listings on home-sharing web platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.   “Bed-and-breakfast owners like us are struggling...
Tips for riding powder at Utah’s famed resorts

Tips for riding powder at Utah’s famed resorts

If you’ve ever wanted to ski or snowboard on powder, now is the time to visit Utah’s legendary Wasatch Front resorts — Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. Storms are finally coming in.  It’s been a lean time until now, with only one storm back in October and practically no snowfall since then. Connie Marshall, public relations director at Alta, explains why. &ldquo...
Las Vegas hotels bet on technology to attract, dazzle guests

Las Vegas hotels bet on technology to attract, dazzle guests

LAS VEGAS (AP) — In the hypercompetitive world of Las Vegas tourism, the staples of hotel-room technology — a phone on a nightstand and a flat-screen TV — aren't cutting it anymore.  Guests at some Sin City casino-hotels can get towels, food and toiletries delivered to their rooms with just a text. They can also use tablets to control room features like lights and temperature...

Allowing music to guide you

Where will the sounds of music take travelers in 2018? The destination may depend on your favorite song, but whether that means jazz, Afropunk, rock or another rhythm entirely, there’s definitely a place to go.  — For blues fans, the Tremblant International Blues Festival (July 6 to 15), in the village of Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, is celebrating its 25th anniversary in a big way. The...

From politics to Picasso

Travelers seeking inspiration for 2018 trips may want to consider art exhibitions and cultural festivals.  — At the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, notable exhibitions include “Women House” (March 9 to May 28), which explores the role of women in U.S. culture through photography, video, sculptures and large-scale installations, and “Heavy Metal &mdash...

State Department updates travel advisories so they're understandable

WASHINGTON - The State Department on Wednesday unveiled four tiered categories to warn travelers of potential dangers overseas, using common-sense language ranging from "Exercise normal precaution" to "Do not travel."  The new rankings replace the vague and often confusing system of issuing "travel alerts" for short-term dangers posed by events like health epidemics...
What Washington, DC, looks like, from the middle school perspective

What Washington, DC, looks like, from the middle school perspective

WASHINGTON - Ask middle schoolers to show you their city through the lens of a camera and here's what you'll get: a colorful mosaic of images featuring their favorite people, places and things, from flowers to friends, street scenes to sneakers, and trees to trains. The photographs make up an exhibition that is the end result of a special citywide photography lesson called "Everyday DC."...
A banner year for history fans

A banner year for history fans

It’s a big year for civic tricentennials, artistic anniversaries, wilderness salutes and one baseball birthday party where the fans will get the presents.  — In 1718, French explorer Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville found a bit of high ground 100 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River and founded New Orleans where today Jackson Square sits. The city will celebrate...
Michelin star boosts chef at outdoor Thai kitchen to stardom

Michelin star boosts chef at outdoor Thai kitchen to stardom

BANGKOK (AP) — After spending more than three decades cooking in an unassuming outdoor kitchen, a wok-wielding, goggles-wearing Thai chef has been propelled to international culinary stardom by having her restaurant awarded a Michelin star.  Supinya Jansuta, better known as "Jay Fai," is among 17 Bangkok-based chefs whose venues received the coveted honor from Michelin in a guidebook...

Family travel: Tips for car rentals

Choosing a rental car (or not) can be an important part of the family vacation planning process. Here are five ideas to consider:  1. Explore the options. Sure, you may be comfortable renting from the same name brand agencies. But if you are looking to save or get the best deal on a great car, be open to the options. Before you book, think through the specific transportation needs of your trip...
In Cuba, but a world apart

In Cuba, but a world apart

There’s nothing like a total absence of safety measures to add a little excitement to a historical site. Within an hour of landing on La Isla de la Juventud, the Isle of Youth, I was clamoring through an underground tunnel in the Presidio Modelo, or Model Prison, Cuba’s most dreaded pre-revolutionary prison, using my iPhone as a torch and trying not to slip on wooden planks and rubble...
Airlines teaching staff to de-escalate passenger conflicts, but it’s really customer service

Airlines teaching staff to de-escalate passenger conflicts, but it’s really customer service

Passenger meltdowns are nothing new to the airlines.  But the sometimes ugly situations between ticket-holders and airline workers — incidents that frequently go viral — are prompting air carriers to teach employees how to handle problems before they get out of hand.   American Airlines is requiring nearly 68,000 employees to take classes on how to “de-escalate&rdquo...
Finding Prince Shotoku's light in Horyuji tour

Finding Prince Shotoku's light in Horyuji tour

Horyuji temple in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan, holds organized hikes twice a year in which participants walk the "Taishimichi" - routes with historical ties to Prince Shotoku (574-622), a tireless promoter of Buddhism during the Asuka period.  Each of the two events - held on Feb. 22, the anniversary of Shotoku's death, and Nov. 22 - takes participants along a different route of...
Travel dilemmas: What you must know for 2018

Travel dilemmas: What you must know for 2018

Whoever said “The more things change, the more they stay the same” was not a traveler, based on what you’ll see in 2018. Here are 18 things on the horizon.  1. Your new (maybe) driver’s license   Beginning Jan. 22, Californians can apply for a driver’s license that will be compliant when airplane-boarding ID rules change Oct. 1, 2020.   If you...

Harbin, China, shines a light on the beauty of winter

If you live in northeastern China, you expect long, cold winters. The residents of Harbin don't just tolerate the cold, however; they embrace it. The city of 10 million is home to the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, which claims to be the largest ice festival in the world. Even with temperatures typically close to zero, crowds of people head to city parks to see giant ice sculptures...
If you can only eat three meals in Tampa, make sure they're here

If you can only eat three meals in Tampa, make sure they're here

Many out-of-towners think Tampa, Florida, is mostly about Cuban food. Fair enough. It is home of the famed Cuban sandwich. (Sorry, Miami, local historians have unearthed documents that reveal the sandwich's true birthplace as the cigar factories of the city's Ybor City neighborhood a century ago.) But as someone who has called Tampa home for nearly three decades, I've seen this town's food scene -...

Angry tweets, viral videos are teaching airlines to observe social media, and respond

As everyone learned when a passenger was forcibly removed from a United Express flight, social media and the ubiquity of mobile phone cameras have shifted the ground rules for airline customer service. The best and worst corporate interactions speed across the Internet, with potentially dire results for corporate targets of public anger.  For air carriers in particular, "the world changed"...
Carnival Triumph gets rare failing grade in sanitation inspection

Carnival Triumph gets rare failing grade in sanitation inspection

Flies in the food preparation areas. Milk, cheese, eggs and yogurt kept in too-hot temperatures. Soiled and clogged machinery.  These were some of the conditions uncovered by two inspectors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during a routine November inspection of the Carnival Triumph.   More than two dozen violations aboard the 2,754-passenger vessel led the CDC to...
What Whitney Cummings can’t travel without

What Whitney Cummings can’t travel without

The comedian Whitney Cummings is used to being on the road, starting back when she regularly visited 80 cities a year to perform stand-up comedy. Her book “I’m Fine … and Other Lies” was published in October. The film “The Female Brain,” which she wrote and directed, will be released on Feb. 9.  Cummings has mastered the art of travel, from maintaining her...
A streetcar ride away from the madding crowd

A streetcar ride away from the madding crowd

Henry Howard Hotel, 2041 Prytania St., New Orleans; 504-313-1577; henryhowardhotel.com.   Rates   From $209   Basics   While most visitors to New Orleans want to be in the heart of the city’s dynamic French Quarter, there’s no denying that its boisterous vibe doesn’t appeal to all travelers. Fortunately, there’s a more relaxing option...
Winter tours in London

Winter tours in London

Winter may not be London’s peak tourist season, but travelers with plans to head to the city this season can look forward to new tours that are far from run of the mill. Whether it’s your first time in London or you’re a repeat visitor, the tours here are meant to unearth perspectives that both surprise and entertain.  London is known for being a child-friendly town, so why...

Fifteen years in the making, how downtown L.A. finally arrived

"When I was growing up, I would tell people to get out of Downtown L.A. by 6 or 7 p.m.-it wasn't safe," my Uber driver told me as we wrapped around the Hollywood Freeway before making a turn onto West Fourth Street. I looked at my watch. It was about 7 p.m., and I was heading into the once-verboten neighborhood-now the city's nexus for great restaurants and hip hotels.  The emergence...
Can cruise lines ensure shore excursions they offer are safe?

Can cruise lines ensure shore excursions they offer are safe?

How safe are shore excursions for cruise line passengers? That’s a question that resurfaces after highly publicized accidents such as December’s fatal bus crash in eastern Mexico that killed passengers of two ships owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises. Eleven foreign tourists and a Mexican tour guide died. Cruise lines say they work as hard as they can to investigate companies that provide...

Is trip insurance really worth it?

Question: I’m booking a Europe trip with my family. The tour operator is pushing me to buy a travel insurance policy. Do I really need this? If we can’t go, won’t they just reschedule us on another trip? — Katie, Santa Monica, Calif. Answer: Sorry Katie, but without that travel insurance, if something goes awry in your life you’re out of luck. First there’s the...
Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s paradise island getaway for millennial travelers

Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s paradise island getaway for millennial travelers

Azure-hued water. Soft, white-sand beaches. Palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze. Deliciously fresh seafood. For most Westerners who’ve never been to the island of Phu Quoc, these aren’t exactly images we would typically equate with Vietnam. But the rapidly developing resort island in the Gulf of Thailand offers all that and more at a price point that even perpetually underemployed and...

Stalking an elusive YouTube star: The adorkable red panda

Giant pandas are cute, sure, but not half as cute as their petite cousins, the red pandas. A favorite in zoos worldwide, the round-faced, button-eyed creatures caper around in trees or nap with their fluffy tails wrapped around them like white-striped sleeping bags. Adorably anthropomorphic, red pandas can even walk on their hind legs with the shaky gait of a toddler. That's according to my favorite...
A Nashville restaurant that tastes as good as it looks

A Nashville restaurant that tastes as good as it looks

Henrietta Red, a restaurant in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee, that opened in February, has many of the telltale trappings of Instagram clickbait. While there’s no millennial pink, the black sandwich board and expanse of marble at the bar, coupled with the wishbone chairs and tile-framed wood-burning oven in the dining room, fit a certain envy-inducing aesthetic. But unlike...
Is January the best time to buy a cruise?

Is January the best time to buy a cruise?

You may think of January as the start of 2018, but for the cruise industry, the early months are Wave Season. That’s when most lines, homeports and industry groups pull out their big marketing campaigns, urging travelers to book early for the season ahead. Promotions promise “the best deals of the year.” But is that really true?  The answer is “maybe.”  ...

How to score a free car rental — with an interesting catch

How about a free trip to Florida?  There’s a catch.   You have to drive.   But you get a free car and a free tank of gas!   There’s another catch.   You have three days to get there. And then give up the car. And getting back home is up to you.   That’s the idea behind Transfercar, which unites volunteer drivers wanting a (mostly)...

On Alcatraz, the island's erstwhile prison gardens are in full flower

Alcatraz, the forlorn island in San Francisco Bay, is known for the hard-bitten men whose names are among the legends of the Rock.  The Birdman. Machine Gun Kelly. Capone.   But on a misty October morning, I boarded an Alcatraz Ferry in search of other colorful residents of the windswept fortress. "Mrs. Langtry." "Dorothy Perkins." "Caroline Jane." ...
When it costs double to let your 12-year-old fly alone

When it costs double to let your 12-year-old fly alone

This is a tale of two flights and one 12-year-old who wanted to fly on her own between New York City and Chicago a few weeks after her birthday.  Both flights were around $300. On American, she would have to fly as an unaccompanied minor and pay an additional $150 each way. Next year, too, and the year after that, until she turned 15.   On Southwest, however, she would not be required...
Discovering the magic of Edinburgh, Scotland

Discovering the magic of Edinburgh, Scotland

The doors of the Airlink 100 bus from Edinburgh airport hissed open at what we thought was the stop nearest to our hotel. The desk clerk I'd emailed said the stop was directly in front of the hotel, which was supposed to be close to the city center. As the bus pulled away, we did not appear to be either opposite the hotel or near the center of anything, except a row of low-rise brown stone structures...
Making the most of a trip to wine country

Making the most of a trip to wine country

Wine-producing regions like Tuscany and Napa Valley already make for enjoyable vacation destinations, but with a little planning, you can get even more from your trip.  Lynda Turley, an adviser at Alpine Travel of Saratoga in California, specializes in wine-focused trips. “The areas of the world where winery hopping is a big attraction tend to be incredibly picturesque, and you don&rsquo...

US customs agents are searching more cellphones - including those belonging to Americans

U.S. customs agents conducted 60 percent more searches of travelers' cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices during the government's 2017 fiscal year, according to statistics released Friday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  The agency said it searched 30,200 devices, but the inspections affected 0.007 percent of the 397 million travelers - American citizens as well as foreign...
Travel goods for today: Safe travels

Travel goods for today: Safe travels

The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate travel accessories that fall in the category of enhancing personal safety while on the road. From nightlights that illuminate your space to a cross-body purse with RFID-blocking protection to a device that makes stream water potable, these travel goods increase the sense of well-being for mind, body — and credit cards.  The Nightlight...

2017, when bread stopped being a bad word

At the fine dining temple L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, where the 16-course tasting menu goes for $425, an unlikely product is coveted by high rollers: bread. "All the billionaires who come to play request bread for their private jets on the way home," says Robuchon, who has amassed 31 Michelin stars over his career for dishes that go far beyond the bakery.  In the fall...
Drought forces Cape Town visitors to pitch in

Drought forces Cape Town visitors to pitch in

Thanks to its famous coastline and peninsular setting, tourists in Cape Town expect that they will be surrounded by water — and lots of it. But as visitors have descended this month for the peak summer tourist season, they have been greeted at the airport with signs beseeching them to “Slow the flow: Save H20” and “Don’t waste a drop!” among others.  Cape Town...

Travel deals: Southwest fare sale and up to 50 percent off Bermuda hotels

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   - Save 45 percent on stays of least three nights at Azul Beach Resort Sensatori Jamaica by Karisma, on Negril's Seven Mile Beach. Nightly rates start at $303 per person and include a la carte dining, premium alcoholic beverages, full-service concierge, 24-hour room service and taxes. Regular rates are from $549. Book by Jan...
Searching for moose in Colorado’s ‘Land of Hidden Treasures’

Searching for moose in Colorado’s ‘Land of Hidden Treasures’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The tracks give us hope.  “Oh, yeah,” says Jessica Weathers, bending to examine the unmistakable prints in the snow. “That’s moose.”   So we follow the ranger into the woods. The sun is making its late-morning rise over the mountains, and Gazette photographer Christian Murdock and I post-hole our way through the pines, eyes...

Don’t wait for the royal wedding to visit Windsor

You don’t need an invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding May 19 to enjoy the ancient castle where they plan to marry or to attend services at the Gothic chapel where they will say their vows.  The wedding is to take place in Windsor, west of London, about 40 minutes to an hour by train. You can figure out what works best for your schedule, including whether you want...
Let's go to the museum

Let's go to the museum

The clam waters of the Kurihama coast near the Perry Memorial Hall in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, offer little clue that the area was once the scene of a turbulent episode in Japanese history.  It was on this coastline that U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry (1794-1858), commander in chief of the United States' East India Squadron, first made landfall in Japan in 1853. His arrival spelled the...
In certifiably happy Norway, a cranky traveler finds some bliss (within reason)

In certifiably happy Norway, a cranky traveler finds some bliss (within reason)

The big white mountain goats lazed on a path of an alpine park last August overlooking Bergen, Norway’s second-largest city, where a crowded funicular had taken us to the top.  “Tourists,” muttered Ira, my husband, as he and my college pal Steven forged ahead down a mountain trail of wildflowers and towering spruces. The lovely hike in this world-heritage city that I had always...
The art to see, and food to eat, in New Orleans right now

The art to see, and food to eat, in New Orleans right now

On the ferry across the Mississippi to the Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans, the abstract painter Odili Donald Odita has installed a colorful flag with a wavy pattern. It's one of 18 flags planted around the city, in 16 places that have historical significance for black struggles. (Algiers was the parish where African slaves were held before being sold.)  "The city itself is the artwork...
Bed, board and beyond: Hotels venture into entertainment

Bed, board and beyond: Hotels venture into entertainment

Based on a wave of new hotel amenities, ranging from bowling alleys to theaters, the future of hospitality looks a lot like the past when hotels were social hubs. Competitive forces and a basic business drive to boost revenue are producing a new class of hotels with entertainment features that go beyond the celebrity chef-run restaurant in the lobby.  Set to open in 2018, the Ramble Hotel in...

Planning ahead for vacation is key

According to advocacy group Project: Time Off, more than half of American workers leave unused vacation days on their company’s boardroom table. Meanwhile, the research shows that by planning ahead, more families will actually take much-need vacations and thus reap a multitude of personal and professional benefits. Here are five ideas to consider: 1. Make planning a priority. Whether you begin...
In Costa Rica, nature comes first

In Costa Rica, nature comes first

TURRIALBA, Costa Rica — It was 6:01 a.m. when we heard them barking, an insistent “huh-huh-huh-huh” floating through the rain forest canopy and over Pacuare Lodge. “Howler monkeys,” said Steve, squinting at his watch. Then a toucan weighed in, two long, raspy “screeches” close to our deck, in the Rio Pacuare Forest Reserve, in eastern Costa Rica’s Barbilla...
Oaxaca, city of delights

Oaxaca, city of delights

When friends visiting Mexico for the first time ask me where to begin, I tell them: Go to Oaxaca, one of the most scenically beautiful, historically interesting and simply enjoyable cities south of the border. Go now. It’s never seemed more important than it does at this moment, to enjoy, to admire and to learn about our nation’s near neighbor to the south.  I can’t think of...

New study ranks healthy airline food options. (Hint: Bring your own.)

Airplane food tends to be more of a punchline than a pleasure. And yet, at 35,000 feet, even a forlorn-looking tray can serve as both entertainment and sustenance for a captive audience. With that in mind, Charles Platkin, PhD, director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College, sought to uncover just how healthy or unhealthy airplane food is, and the results are published in the Annual...
In Japan, photo studios offer a portal into the past

In Japan, photo studios offer a portal into the past

TOKYO - Studios where visitors can have themselves photographed in costumes of samurai warriors or high-ranking courtesans are becoming increasingly popular.  At Samurai Armor Photo Studio in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, seven sets of yoroi kabuto (samurai armor and helmets) are prepared. The outfits were manually reproduced by highly skilled craftsmen based on ones that were used by samurai commanders...
Exploring the land of the midnight sun

Exploring the land of the midnight sun

SHETLAND ISLES, Scotland — The ponies, shaggy and barrel-bellied, came up right to the car window. They seemed to be welcoming us but were probably expecting a treat. They were Shetland ponies, which made sense: We were in the Shetland Isles, on the largest island of the archipelago, the third destination on a Viking ocean cruise that took us from London to Norway, with plenty of midnight sun...

Hyatt's new cancellation policy requires more advance notice

Are you to prone to changing your overnight accommodations on the fly? Will you cancel a hotel reservation if you suddenly find a lower rate or a swankier rooftop pool? If this describes you, then you might need to curb your impetuous behavior, because spontaneity is becoming an expensive habit.  Hyatt will no longer allow last-minute cancellations without a penalty (typically the cost of the...
A chef’s impressive comeback

A chef’s impressive comeback

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate was riding high in the Los Angeles dining scene. His last few years, though, have been rocky and mysterious. Zarate, 43, started out strong with the wildly popular Mo-Chica, originally a stall inside Mercado La Paloma, before getting its own space downtown. He expanded with Paiche in Marina del Ray and Picca near Beverly Hills, and he was...
New mountain coaster will leave you smiling

New mountain coaster will leave you smiling

BOISE, Idaho — There’s a new way to speed down the mountain at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area — and you don’t need a lesson, gear or athleticism. The Glade Runner mountain coaster is a 4,330-foot track that will pull you 800 vertical feet up the mountain from Simplot Lodge toward Pioneer Lodge, then send you on a joyride of twists, turns, dips and 360s on more than a...
Mountain views and s’mores on the deck

Mountain views and s’mores on the deck

Check In  Scribner’s Catskill Lodge   13 Scribner Hollow Road, Hunter, New York; 518-628-5130; scribnerslodge.com.   Rates   Rooms from $145; suites from $400.   Basics   It was only a matter of time. As city folk continue to flock north to the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains, the urban cool of Manhattan — and, more notably, Brooklyn...
Track lemurs in Madagascar, celebrate Orthodox Easter in Greece

Track lemurs in Madagascar, celebrate Orthodox Easter in Greece

Leapin’ lemurs! If you want to see these cute and unusual primates, Madagascar is the place to go. The island nation is home to more than 100 varieties of lemur, and Natural Habitat Adventures offers a 13-day/12-night tour that promises lemurs galore in this biologically diverse destination. Four national parks and a private nature reserve are on the itinerary, and the lemur population ranges...
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