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October 29, 2012

Our Favorite Travel Signage from the Wide (and Wacky) World of Travel


We know we're lucky here at Away Blog Central to live and breathe travel, but let's face it, it's not all play and no work around here. However, today we were in need of a little mental vacation, so we let our mouse do some walking to find a handful of travel signs around the world that interest, amuse, and inspire us. We'll let the pictures do the talking (along with a bit of editorializing).

Bermuda_Andrew-Currie
Beautiful beach in Bermuda... but shouldn't someone tell that guy what it says on the sign? (Andrew Currie/Flickr)

China_Asiatic-League
Ah, the venerable curio shop. Besides, what's wrong with a bit of antiquity looting to drum up some tourist dollars? (Asiatic League/Flickr)

Continue reading "Our Favorite Travel Signage from the Wide (and Wacky) World of Travel" »

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Related Topics: From Around the Web · Travel Photography

July 13, 2012

More Travelers Have Guilt about Leaving Their Pet than Their Kid



By Kate Chandler
07/13/2012

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Yorkie-in-suitcase_blog
(iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

According to a summer travel survey conducted by Orbitz (our parent company), 33 percent of travelers feel guilty about leaving behind their pet, compared with 30 percent who feel guilty about leaving their children behind. With kids out of school for the summer, it's probably no surprise that parents responded this way! And for those who feel guilty about leaving their pets behind.. come on, have you seen the doggie day-spa options out there? They are arguably much nicer than any daycare for a child.

Other insights from the summer travel survey include:
*77 percent of Americans have some kind of summer travel planned.
*And they plan to spend more this year than they did last year. More than half of respondents said they will spend at least $1,500 on their vacation this year (compared to 39 percent who spent that much last year).
*More people plan to travel by car than by air. This isn't too surprising, given that gas prices are down from where they were this time last year (though we've seen the national average price creep up in the last week or so).
*81 percent of those surveyed plan to travel domestically. Looks like even though the economy is stabalizing a bit, no one's ready to break out the big travel guns just yet.

It's a good thing people are planning to spend more money this year, because it's going to be more expensive to travel. Hotel rates in Orbitz's top ten markets are up 12 percent, and airfare is up slightly (from 1 to 3 percent, depending on which source you use). But there are still some affordable spots out there: Las Vegas and Denver hotel rooms go for less that $100 per night, and there are rooms to be had in Orlando, Los Angeles, and Seattle for less than $150 per night.    

As for me, I'm staying put this summer, with my pets and my kid. We'll hit the road in the fall, when high temperatures relent, airport lines shorten, and kitty day-spas slash their rates.

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Related Topics: From Around the Web · Travel News · Travel Trends · US Travel

May 25, 2012

Get Rewared for Telling Your Best Fish Tale


Fish-post

Avid fishermen (and those who love—or tolerate—them) know the story of the one that got away is part of the experience. And with fly-fishing, which these days mostly embraces a catch-and-release philosophy, all you have to show at the end of the day is your wide smile. But if you’ve been inspired to capture some visual proof to back up those tall tales, here’s your chance to immortalize that perfect catch. 

Scotland’s Speyburn Single Malt Whisky recently announced their search for the “Perfect Catch.”  Upload a photo of your favorite fish, pair it with a 100-word story about the catch, and you could win a professionally framed artist rendering of your photo and a $500 Orvis gift card. Better yet, for every photo submitted, Speyburn will donate a dollar to American Rivers, the leading organization to restore and protect the country’s rivers and streams. In other words, not only do you get to brag about your epic fish prowess, but your (well-intended) vanity also gives back to the rivers that offer you so much joy.

As for the whisky itself? It’s distilled in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands, a landscape tailor-made for fishing—as well as paddling, hiking, camping, and mountain biking. The caramel-colored, medium-bodied whisky drinks smooth and easy, and is best enjoyed with only a few drops of water to open up the hints of green apple and vanilla spice. We find it's also best enjoyed after a day spent on your favorite river.

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Free Stuff · From Around the Web

September 07, 2011

Learn to Mountain Bike in Park City’s Deer Valley Resort


Park-City
Mountain biking on Park City's Mid-Mountain Trail (Nathan Borchelt)

The cliché "just like riding a bike" holds true…unless you’re talking about the first time you go mountain biking. This ain’t like hopping on the Huffy of your youth. Not only are the bikes themselves considerably more complex (front and rear shocks, 29-inch wheels, disc brakes etc.), but the act of cycling on single-track introduces a whole host of new challenges for the newbie. Some adjustments (not hitting just the left brake, keeping your pedals parallel to the ground to avoid hitting rocks and roots) may become self-evident after ten minutes in the saddle. But bracing for some serious riding through mud, dirt, sand, root, and rocks can still leave your arms quivering.

And that’s why we love what Park City’s Deer Valley Mountain Resort has initiated: Throughout the summer (and for the weekend after Labor Day), you can enroll in the Mountain Bike School, where experienced instructors help you get your balance on the new downhill bikes, teach you basic technical skills, and then guide you on several of the mountain’s bike terrain. The trails themselves are accessible via three chairlifts, with routes that range in difficulty from beginner to expert-only, with such fun (and frantic) features as banked turns, sinewy switchbacks, and gentle rollers through groves of aspen and pines. The more experienced cyclist, meanwhile, can pick up a few tips that’ll drastically improve one’s riding ability.

But don’t take our word for it: Here’s a great blog entry by Amy Kersey of Park City Tourism about her first time on a mountain bike this summer.

And, to further whet your appetite, we also bring you our new photo gallery of the active side of Park City.

Private two-hour lessons run $55, while three-hour adult classes cost $48 (children eight to 12 get a three-hour class for $38). Lift ticket and bike rentals not included.

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Related Topics: Cycling · From Around the Web · Outdoor Adventures

August 04, 2011

GORP Launches New Outdoor Gear Blog


GEARZILLA
Our partner GORP.com—guide to all things outdoors—just launched GEARZILLA, a fantastic new gear blog. They're running profiles of five new outdoors and travel products a week, each thoroughly vetted by a cadre of in-the-know gear testers, writers, and editors. PLUS: They're holding a contest each month. Just submit a review of your own favorite piece of gear, and the best one every 30 days will win free stuff like Patagonia's Torrentshell Jacket. They've also got great tips on how to navigate the confusing world of outdoors gear (from how to buy a tent to explaining what this whole soft shell revolution is really about), a huge cache of packing guides, and loads more.

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Related Topics: Free Stuff · From Around the Web · Travel Gear

July 14, 2011

Courtyard Marriott Bids Adieu to the Waffle Iron


Marriot
The new look of Courtyard Marriott's breakfast space (courtesy Courtyard Marriott)

Travelers staying at Courtyard Marriott are getting a healthy (and delicious) kick in the pants when it comes to the breakfast buffet. The old standards found in hotels and motels across the country (stale cereal, carb-loaded muffins, and yes, the ubiquitous waffle maker) are giving way to egg white sandwiches with havarti cheese and heart-healthy apple-cranberry oatmeal. The move is part of Courtyard's Bistro concept, which aims to give weary business travelers an excuse to stay in when on the road.

The project, being rolled out to Courtyard's 700+ hotels through 2012, brings comfortable, modern accents to once staid hotel lobbies. "Media pods" (small booths where groups of two to four can have a multimedia meeting) and communal tables allow solo travelers to chit-chat with others while checking email or having a glass of wine.

Courtyard-salad But the big change is the food menu. Open for breakfast, lunch, and light entrees, "The Bistro" has a menu crafted by chefs at the test kitchen in Marriott's D.C. headquarters, combining seasonal dishes with tried and true favorites. We recently got a sneak peak at the menu items, and though there were hits and misses, the food was a significant step above your typical chain hotel fare. A falafel sandwich surprised and impressed this reviewer, both for the fact that it was light and tasty and that Courtyard, whom I know from my days on the road to healthcare marketing conferences, would risk such niche item. The roast beef sandwich sources bread from California's well-known LaBrea bread company, and the Asian noodle salad would have made a perfect fill for that state of hunger that only six hours of airline travel can bring.

Now only if they could work on airline food.

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · From Around the Web · Places to Stay · Travel Deals

May 16, 2011

The Great Gear Scavenger Hunt: The Final Days


Lovers of all things gear-related, please take note: you’ve got two weeks left to follow the clues that lead to a Sylvan Sport Go trailer filled with gear. Find it first, and it's yours. We're talking about more than $15,000 in products from Sylvan Sport, Yakima, SPOT, Kelty, Niner Bikes, Emotion Kayaks, Grand Trunk, Black Diamond, and Keen. The nation-wide treasure hunt started on April 4, and for the last eight weeks video clues and geo-coordinates have been posted on www.findthego.com, leading participants closer to the final location of the goods. So far, six clues have been revealed—which narrows things down from almost all of North America to…well, we won’t offer our guess. You’ve got till May 26 to get in on the action.

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Related Topics: Free Stuff · From Around the Web · Travel Gear

January 13, 2011

The Big Airport Uproar: TSA-Proof Undies, Invasive Scans & Extreme Fees



By Lacy Morris
01/13/2011

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Airport security(Photodisc,Digital Vision,Getty)
WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER: Passengers wait their turn at airport security (Photodisc)

Security pat-downs (GateRape), full-body scans (Nude-o-Scopes), and fees for, well, everything was the going trend for globetrotting travelers in 2010. No one or nothing was spared. "In the unlikely event of loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. To start the flow of oxygen, simply insert your credit card," one joked. But with the economy slowly rebounding and airline prices unlikely to see much of an increase, 2011 is looking to be a healthier year for travel. People are finally planning that vacation that had been postponed due to the economic downturn. But a consumer travel survey suggests otherwise. In fact, it shows that only 30 percent of Americans plan to travel more in 2011, close to the same figure saying that they will travel less. Though there are no figures to show why, one can only speculate that the public backlash over the Transportation Security Administration's screening procedures has a little to do with it.

Continue reading "The Big Airport Uproar: TSA-Proof Undies, Invasive Scans & Extreme Fees" »

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Related Topics: Air Travel · From Around the Web

November 15, 2010

Orbitz.com Unveils Free Travel Apps for iPhone and Android



By awayblog
11/15/2010

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Orbitz-mobile-app

Orbitz.com, an online travel agency (OTA) and Away.com's parent company, has just released a pair of free travel apps for iPhone and Android. To date, it's the first native application for iPhone and Android phones that allows customers to shop and book a comprehensive selection of air, car rental, and hotel options. Other cool features include offline access to your Orbitz.com "My Trips" portfolio, flight-status alerts, and real-time airport updates. You can also browse the app for available hotels near your current location automatically. Download it now and bring the power of mobile travel booking right to your fingertips, whether you're planning six months in advance or need the best-priced hotel near you now after that freak snowstorm shuts things down. Oh, and did we mention it's free?

Download the Orbitz app for iPhone
Download the Orbitz app for Android

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Related Topics: Free Stuff · From Around the Web · Travel News · Travel Tips

October 29, 2010

Climb Mt. Everest in 3G



By Lacy Morris
10/29/2010

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Nepal_Everest - Christopher Herwig - digital vision 1347002
Plugged in Mt. Everest, Nepal (Christopher Herwig)

Coffee shops, your backyard, and Mt. Everest—now all dialed into the world wide web. Ncell, a Nepali telecom company, has installed a 3G network at the base camp of the 29,000-foot behemoth of a mountain. Previously having to depend on satellite phones to stay in touch and report problems, hikers will now be able to surf, send photos and videos, email, and make phone calls home. The once most isolated place on earth is now dialed into the world of technology, with service possibly even reaching the summit.

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Related Topics: From Around the Web · Nepal Travel
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