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September 2010

September 30, 2010

River Road through Myanmar

By Guest Blogger

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Pagoda in Myanmar (PhotoDisc)

"I love you. I love you very much. I will never forget you," said Daw May Lwin Zin, head mistress of the village school of Kindat, Burma (or "Myanmar" as it is now known). Before we parted, she showered me with gifts of limes, pomelos, and green jade earrings. We strolled arm in arm down the main, muddy thoroughfare of Kindat, as the esteemed headmistress proudly announced to curious on-lookers in their houses on stilts that I was the representative of the Road to Mandalay who had just presented the school with much-needed school supplies.

"We ask ahead of time what is needed; we do not give money," said crew member Terry KyawNyunt, who had managed the school fund for eight years. "For example, we bought a multi-media system for a school in Bagan with money donated by the passengers and crew."

Our Road to Mandalay river cruiser visited many remote villages along the Ayeyarwady River, immortalized by Rudyard Kipling in his poem Mandalay, when he described Burma as "quite unlike any land you know about." What was once Southeast Asia's most secretive and mysterious country is now slowly opening up to the outside world to reveal a rich and glorious cultural heritage, breathtaking natural beauty, and people who have an endearing genuine charm.

Continue reading "River Road through Myanmar" »

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · Myanmar Travel

September 29, 2010

Photo of the Day: Paradise Valley, Montana

By awayblog

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Paradise Valley, Park County, Montana(Gordon Wiltsie,Nat Geo,Getty)
Paradise Valley, Montana (Gordon Wiltsie)

Following the Yellowstone River in Montana is an expanse of earth bestowed “Paradise Valley”—perhaps it’s the majestic mountain ranges that set apart the east and the west or the natural hot springs that bubble up from underground, or maybe it’s the green wildflower meadows—either way, it's befittingly named. Autumn is the season that locals live for—mountain sides dance with the brilliant hue of golden cottonwoods, ranch gardens supply entire meals, and anglers are met with a plentiful catch in the area’s pristine waters.

Click here to see more travel photos or to sign up for our free "Your Daily Escape," a newsletter featuring unique destinations complete with travel tips, articles, and some of the most stunning travel photos meant for your computer desktop. An escape delivered straight to your inbox.   

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Related Topics: Travel Photography

September 28, 2010

Southwest Airlines will buy AirTran. So?

By Kate Chandler

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We normally don't cover "travel industry" news here, but I'm a big fan of Southwest and get strangely excited when they start offering service to new cities. Who knows? I may need to fly direct to Louisville one day.

This week the airline announced it will buy AirTran, another popular low-cost carrier. The acquisition will open some key domestic cities, in particular Atlanta, to loyal Southwest customers. But what's most exciting is the promise of a few new international destinations, something Southwest hasn't ventured into before. AirTran has service to Cancun, Mexico; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Aruba. Check out the rest of the new offerings on the route maps.

Maybe I won't need to go to Louisville after all. You can find me in Punta Cana instead.

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Related Topics: Air Travel · Travel News

September 27, 2010

Springtime in New Zealand

By Guest Blogger

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White Island,New Zealand(Wikipedia,James Shook)
White Island, New Zealand (James Shook/Wikipedia)

While those in the northern hemisphere are preparing for autumn in October, in New Zealand it's mid-spring, the perfect season for exploration. The country is composed of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island. Keep the two main islands in mind when planning your holiday, as the North Island is a bit more subtropical than the temperate South Island.

North Island
You'll find plenty of ways to spend your New Zealand dollars on the North Island. It is home to New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, and the capital city of Wellington. Although this island is actually smaller than the South, it is more highly populated. But that doesn't mean you can't find places to escape, as both the amazing White Island and Rotorua are located here. The White Island is an active volcano of great scientific importance. You can visit it by boat, but be prepared; it is thought to be like walking on the moon once you arrive. Despite being an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 years old, you will still hear the rumbling and roaring of the volcano. This is because White Island is on an alert level rating of 1, indicating that she is active, steaming, and spewing ash. Rotorua is just as stunning but in an entirely different way, as it is a hotspot of geothermal activity found only minutes from the city center. At Kuirau Park you'll find this geothermal activity in the form of bubbling mud holes, steam vents, and warm foot pools. It's best to stay on the paths, as the ground can be quite unpredictable.

Continue reading "Springtime in New Zealand" »

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Related Topics: New Zealand Travel · Travel Tips

September 24, 2010

National Public Lands Day: Free Access to National Parks, Saturday, September 25

By awayblog

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Reflection of Hallett Peak in Bierstadt Lake,Rocky Mt Nat Park,CO(Willard Clay,Photogs Choice,Getty) 
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (Willard Clay)

Never has there been a better time to visit a national park than this Saturday, September 25, when the National Park Service will waive park entrance fees. To commemorate National Public Lands Day, more than 100 parks that usually charge fees are opening their gates to celebrate the great outdoors. Many parks are also running special offers on services and recreation within their park boundaries.

To further support national parks and to help preserve them for future generations, the America's Great Outdoors Campaign is encouraging people to send a comment to the White House outlining what they would like to see on President Obama's conservation agenda. The members of the cabinet will present their recommendations to the President on November 15, so actions must be done quickly. Find more details here.

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Related Topics: National Parks · US Travel

September 23, 2010

Madrid: Bargains, Bartering and Keeping the Budget

By Guest Blogger

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So you want to hang out in one of the coolest cities in Europe, but happen to be a bit strapped for cash? No problem. Madrid is relatively affordable compared to places such as Paris and London, and it's possible to have a great trip there without spending more than a few euros. Here are some tips for exploring Madrid on the cheap.

Madrid is packed full of cheap hotels and hostels right in the city, meaning that you don't have to stay out in the sticks in order to get a good deal. There are dozens lining Gran Vía alone, some with rooms from as little as 15 euros a night. Recommendations include the United World Hostel on the corner of Gran Vía and Plaza de España, the Duermo on Calle de San Bernardo, and the Eden Paraíso Neptuno, just off Sol. These are just examples: if you do your homework comparing prices you're bound to find an excellent bargain.

Continue reading "Madrid: Bargains, Bartering and Keeping the Budget" »

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Related Topics: European Travel

September 22, 2010

Romancing the World: Book Club Giveaway Winners Announced

By Lacy Morris

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Adventure vacations wouldn't be around without the dreamers who think them up. Just like the lost girls themselves, our readers wrote in telling us what exactly they would do if they could pack up and hit the road for a year abroad. We got everything from riding horses in every country, writing a cookbook, and skiing the Andes. Narrowing had to be done, and two winners emerged. Congrats to Elizabeth from Texas and Janet from Pennsylvania for noodling up two itineraries worthy of a daydreamers wasted hour. To reward their wondering minds, we are sending them a copy of this month's travel book club selection, The Lost Girls. Their responses follow:

"As an almost 71-year-old retired school teacher, I would travel to some of the places that I have read and taught about in my 33 years of teaching high school. I'd start in New England with the Salem witch trials; go to the South of To Kill a Mockingbird, on to CA of the Gold Rush. From there to Michener's Hawaii; the Tahiti of The Bounty; Australia of The Thorn Birds; China of The Good Earth; the Holy Land of the Bible; Russia of Nicholas and Alexandra; England of Shakespeare; Ireland of Oscar Wilde; the South Pole of March of the Penguins. If time permitted, I'd end my journey by touring the U.S. by motor home with the love of my life and my dog."

-Janet, Pennsylvania

"I have a fascination with the stories of the lost island of Atlantis, and I would spend my year following the myths and theories to try to find it. I would follow the myths and folklore, just like Heinrich Schliemann did to find the remains of Troy and prove its existence. I'd begin in Greece, where Plato lived. Then follow his account to Egypt. From there, I would go to Mexico or South America, following another theory linking the ancient Egyptians to the Mayans."

-Elizabeth, Texas

Keep an eye out for our next book selection announcement on October 1 for another chance to win your own free copy.    

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Related Topics: Book Club

September 21, 2010

Life on the Lazy E-L

By Lacy Morris

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(Lazy E-L Ranch)

As a child I spent many (most likely annoying) hours rebelling against the family-oriented travel trail—i.e., Branson, the Dixie Stampede, Yellowstone. Should I have just been grateful that my parents valued travel and went out of their way to show their children the world? Probably. But as we set out on the family vacay, my sister and I quickly claimed our spot in the camper (the kind that mount in the bed of your pick-up truck) rather than in the truck with our fun-determined parents. As the two switched off to ease their road-weary eyes, they would frequently radio back on our travel walkie-talkies to point out sights. I would awake from my slumber just enough to mumble out a sarcastic "10-4, we see it, big buddy" then go on about my resting.

Now as a bright and chirpy 26-year-old, I pull up at the Lazy E-L Ranch in Roscoe, Montana. Population: 106. Due to prior feelings toward the family-friendly outings, I was not expecting this to wind up being the highlight of my trip. I stepped out of the cramped mud-splattered Suburban into the fresh Montana air. Jael Kampfe, the ranch's fearless leader, strolled with the swagger of a venerated cowgirl and greeted me with the kind of smile that is extravagantly kind, yet genuinely heartfelt. We started the day with a tour of the ranch. I pulled my rain jacket over my head, cinched the drawstring, and tiptoed behind her to avoid the mud puddles that were attempting to wreak havoc on my boots. Next was a trail ride, then the ranch guests were to get "washed up" and eat a community meal in the cookhouse. Dressed in a head-to-toe bright yellow slicker, I climbed aboard my trusty equine friend and swallowed back fears of a buck, or worse yet, the realization that at some point my horse may develop a sudden urge to triumphantly gallop. Meer seconds after departing the safety of the hitching post, the rain stopped and a breathtaking evening sky peeked out for the duration of our ride. Weaving horseback through the wide open rolling hills of the Montana countryside was truly serene. I learned to trust my horse, and it learned to tolerate me, and together we leisurely took on the exquisitely green grounds of the Lazy E-L.

Continue reading "Life on the Lazy E-L " »

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Trip Ideas · US Travel

September 17, 2010

Go Green With Our Guide to the World's Top 20 Eco-Lodges

By awayblog

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SITTING PRETTY: Aurum Lodge, on the shore of Lake Abraham in Alberta (Aurum Lodge)

We've just made the choice of traveling green simpler! Check out our new guide to the world's top 20 eco-lodges, where we cut through the greenwashing and highlight those places that practice what they preach: think lodges built from locally harvested materials, solar- and wind-powered electrical setups, and a focus on sustainable, community-driven tourism and development. Absolutely, we've got the life-list jungle lodge in Ecuador plus that drop-off-the-radar wilderness lodge in Alaska, but let's not forget the humble two-room Midwestern inn that's 100 percent off the grid or that community of yurts that melds with its rugged Big Sur environs. Rest assured that whatever dream destination to which you decide to travel, these 20 picks will let you sleep easy with a clear eco-conscience. No greenwashing required.

For more expert recommendations to over 300 of the best spots to bed down around the globe, check out's comprehensive guide to the world's Best Resorts & Lodges, from the top family resorts to best all-inclusives to dream safari lodges.

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism · Outdoor Adventures · Places to Stay

September 16, 2010

A New Kind of Massage

(Glow Images,Getty)
(Glow Images)

How good do you feel after getting a massage? Well, what if I told you there is a growing trend in the massage industry that is leaving customers feeling twice as good?

I recently spent some time in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It was there that I first learned about blind massages. In Asia there is a large population of people with seeing disabilities, including more than eight million in China alone. Because of their disability, finding work is challenging. Many find themselves living on the streets and earning a living through panhandling. But thanks to an initiative started by the Association for the Blind, specialty schools now train the seeing-impaired in massage therapy. The perfect occupation for someone not used to relying on vision. In fact, only blind and visually impaired people can become licensed masseurs in South Korea (because they feel it is the only occupation for people with this handicap, and who otherwise would have little alternative to guarantee earnings). The training is intense, and students must successfully graduate before getting hired. Understandably, the sensation of touch for a blind person is extremely acute and gives blind masseurs an added dimension to their massage skills. The blind massage trend is catching on, and various spas across the United States are now offering similar services. Talk about a happy ending.

Lisa Costantini is a writer/editor currently traveling the world with her husband working on a project about sport and culture. More information can be found on their website at Lisa will be blogging from the road for us as she and her husband travel through Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe over the next several months.

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · Travel Trends

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