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June 2012

June 27, 2012

Green Travel on the Rise

By Guest Blogger

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Beynac-et-Cazenac, France, canoing among castles-146054237(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)
Canoeing among castles near Beynac-et-Cazenac, France (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

These days, just about everyone is aware of the impact humankind is having on our fragile environment. As such, we've seen a global shift toward more "green" living, from homes to businesses and, now, to travel. More people are taking a more sustainable approach to their vacation plans. In fact, according to TripAdvisor, of the 700 U.S. travelers they surveyed, 71 percent said they will make a conscious effort to select eco-friendly travel options over the coming year.

Why Green Travel?
It's no secret that Earth is overpopulated. Our natural resources are continuously being exhausted by overconsumption and deforestation, while pollution is disrupting our delicate eco-system. By choosing travel alternatives that offer a more eco-friendly approach, you can reduce your carbon footprint and preserve the fragile environment that is being seriously threatened. Best of all, you can do so without sacrificing the quality of your travel experience.

Green Travel Options
There are a number of simple ways travelers can choose more sustainable options when they travel. For instance, they can choose to stay at hotels that provide guests with the opportunity to participate in more eco-friendly activities such as towel and linen reuse, recycling programs, and water-efficient low-flow toilets and showerheads. Guests can take it a step further by committing to turning the lights off in their rooms when leaving the hotel and adjusting the thermostat to reduce waste.

Continue reading "Green Travel on the Rise " »

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Related Topics: Eco-Tourism

June 25, 2012

Rise to the Top: The World's Coolest Staircases

By Lacy Morris

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Bramante's Staircase, Vatican Museum,Rome, Italy-200366505-001(Karl Weatherly,Digital Vision,Thinkstock)
Bramante's Staircase, Vatican Museum, Vatican City, Italy (Karl Weatherly/Digital Vision/Thinkstock)

The internet is abuzz about how to stay in shape while traveling. There are how-to's, what-not's, and green everything. But the real trick is to visit one of the world's coolest set of stairs, and to skip the elevator. These winding steps lead to a hilltop house of prayer and a queen's sleeping quarters, and sometimes to nowhere. But it's the journey, not the destination, when it comes to these four winding, worldly locales.

Tiger and Turtle, Magic Mountain
Duisburg, Germany
Sitting on a hill in Angerpark in Duisburg, Germany, the 147-foot structure resembles a twisting rollercoaster at your favorite amusement park. But instead of seatbelts and high speeds, this ride is done on foot. The massive staircase was imagined by German artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, with 249 stairs, all of which are illuminated by an LED system when the sun goes down. The structure is open to the public free of charge, and all portions are free reign except the upside-down loop, for what we hope are obvious reasons.

Bramante's Staircase, Vatican Museum
Vatican City, Rome, Italy
Perhaps one of the most photographed staircases in the world, this swirling structure was designed in 1932 by Giuseppe Momo to transport you from the Vatican's ground level up to its museums. Though the building houses more than nine miles of famed art, the stairs are most certainly the highlight for many tourists. They're actually two different cases, one leading up, the other leading down, twisting together to form a double helix, closely resembling a DNA strand, which at the time of creative inception was yet to be discovered.

Continue reading "Rise to the Top: The World's Coolest Staircases" »

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June 20, 2012

What to Drink in Puerto Rico

As the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and countless Captain Morgan commercials testify, rum is the drink of the Caribbean. But if you’re like me—cursed in college by a night of ill-advised overindulgence—rum is palatable only when disguised in a mixed drink like a piña colada or a dark and stormy. Until, that is, I went to Puerto Rico.

It was late evening, and after wandering the cobblestone streets of San Juan for a few hours, I searched out a bar stool at El Batey, a dive near the famed El Convento Hotel. Medalla Light, the local beer, is surprising flavorful… but I needed a bit more punch to cut through my aching feet (those scenic cobblestones can take its toll), so I ordered my standby: Jameson’s on the rocks.

“Why don’t you try the local rum,” said the bartender, a brusk young woman with a mop of brown curls made wild by the island humidity. She wore a New York Knicks jersey, and carried herself as if she hailed from the edgier part of the Lower East Side; her suggestion was more a command than a question.

I said sure, figuring I’d muscle through what I predicted to be the sickly-sweet, oh-so-uninspired rum on the rocks placed before me.

Continue reading "What to Drink in Puerto Rico" »

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Travel Raves

June 13, 2012

Introducing the May Photo Contest Winner: Machu Picchu

By awayblog

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During the month of May, asked our readers to submit their inspirational photos of iconic destinations around the world, and in exchange we'd gift the best with a $100 Visa gift card. Kelli Dinnison submitted her winning photo of Machu Picchu and said, "The Inca Trail hike was well worth the destination picture!" and we quite agree. These pre-Columbian 15th-century ruins were discovered in 1911, but no one knows why this city was built or abandoned. Machu Picchu is definitely a life-list destination, and whether you hike the Inca Trail like Kelli or take the train from Aguas Calientas, you are guaranteed a moment of awe when you reach the overlook.

31867_machu-picchu_Inca Trail hike_Kelli Dinnison

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June 12, 2012

Traveling Internationally? Consider a Business-Class Seat.

First class-dv2073080(Digital Vision,Thinkstock)
(Digital Vision/Thinkstock)

International travel comes with all the excitement and grandeur that makes you proud to be a traveler—the anticipation of new cultures, new food, and new sights. But being stuffed into a coach seat for 17 hours on a long-haul flight can make even the most passionate travelers long for their own beds, not to mention put a crimp in your back, neck, and sleep cycle during the first days of your trip.

For long-haul flights in the summer, travelers with a little extra cash in the budget should consider upgrading to a business-class seat. Though the internet is littered with fly-first-class-for-cheaper-than-coach-type articles, most of the advice found there is bunk. Plain and simple, business class seats cost more, sometimes three- to ten-times more than their economy-class counterparts. But in summer, business travel lags while coach cabins overflow with tourists. "Our research shows that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summer are the best times to fly business class," says Matthew Bennett of, a newsletter aimed at those seeking upgrades. "Why is that? Business travelers are at home." In better economic times, business seats saw nary a discount,but now even the major airlines are offering discounts to fill the airplane's front section.

Continue reading "Traveling Internationally? Consider a Business-Class Seat." »

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Related Topics: Travel Tips

June 05, 2012

Four Ways to Handle Loneliness as a Solo Traveler

By BootsnAll

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Tourist with digital camera by Big Ben, London, England-86529310(Getty, Thinkstock, BananaStock)

Even if you have a really outgoing personality, you might balk at the idea of planning an around-the-world trip by yourself. You may know the perks of solo travel—there's no need to compromise on your wish list if you're calling all the shots, good last-minute seats at events are much easier to find when you're the only buying one—but what happens if you get lonely?

Loneliness and homesickness (not the same thing, but often related) are common feelings among long-term travelers who go it alone—but neither one is enough reason not to go. Not only that, the biggest misconception about solo travel is that you'll be alone—you're much more likely to need to seek out solitude now and then.

Continue reading "Four Ways to Handle Loneliness as a Solo Traveler " »

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June 01, 2012

Interview with National Parks Photo Contest Winner, Hernan Mojarro

31494_yellowstone2-1_yellowstone lake
Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park (Hernan Mojarro)

Throughout the month of April, we asked readers of and to submit their most inspirational national park photos. They responded with hundreds of amazing photos that made us want to pack our backpack and head out to catch a glimpse of these beautiful scenes.

Our first place winner was Hernan Mojarro with his amazing photo of Yellowstone Lake (above). So after seeing this photo, we decided to do a mini-interview with Hernan to learn a little more about the man behind the camera.

Away: Where you are from?
Hernan: Born, raised, and live in Los Angeles, California

Away: Favorite place you have been?
Hernan: Yellowstone National Park has been my favorite visit so far--the close encounters with wildlife, the size of Yellowstone, and the different terrain throughout the park make it feel like you are visiting many parks in one trip.

Continue reading "Interview with National Parks Photo Contest Winner, Hernan Mojarro" »

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Related Topics: Travel Photography

Four Reasons Why I Hate Walt Disney World

Walt-disney-world-orlandoI recently took my family to Orlando's Walt Disney World, our first visit to the "House of the Mouse." For my two kids, this was certainly one of their trips of a lifetime, and they're itching to go back for more. The whole place is an incredibly impressive experience, and the Disney memory-making machine is certainly a well-oiled success. In 2010, almost 17 million people visited the Magic Kingdom alone; the company's worldwide parks and resorts generated a mammoth $11 billion in revenues in 2011. Big numbers aside, though, there were some areas where I left feeling a little disappointed. Here's why.

Food Fit for a Princess? Hardly.
I wasn't expecting gourmet food and knew that everything would be theme-park prices, but the food we had at both the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios was a huge letdown. We even tried dinner at the Animal Kingdom Lodge's more upscale Kidani restaurant and left feeling that even its more exotic menu was dumbed-down for mass consumption. Given the huge demand and global clientele, I think Disney's missing a trick in introducing bolder, more imaginative flavors to its theme-park fare. Yell at me all you like about tasting the food at Epcot, but why can't this be a resort-wide focus? Perhaps then I might feel less aggrieved at parting with $40 for lunch for a family of four.

See a photo gallery of scenes from around Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park

Continue reading "Four Reasons Why I Hate Walt Disney World" »

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Related Topics: Disney Vacation · Family Vacation · Travel Rants

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