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December 28, 2011

Anthony Bourdain Shares His Top Five Travel Tips


ANTHONY BOURDAIN- NO RESERVATIONS COLLECTION 6-PARTSeasoned traveler and punk rock celeb chef Anthony Bourdain  (host of the Travel Channel's No Reservations) presents his top five travel tips to avoid travel nightmares and make the most out of your time on the road.

Eat like a local.  Wherever you are, eat what the locals are good at or famous for, and eat where those locals like to eat it. Do not rely on your concierge for dining tips. He’s in the business of making tourists happy. You want the places that make locals happy. Seek out places crowded with locals. Avoid places where others of your kind are present.

Show appreciation.  People everywhere like it when you are appreciative of their food. I cannot stress enough how important your initial reactions to offerings of local specialties are to any possible relationships you might make abroad. Smile and try to look happy, even if you don’t like it. If you do like it, let them know through word or gesture of appreciation.

Visit local markets.  Get up early and check out the central food market. It’s a fast way into a culture, where you’ll see the basics of the cuisine.  You’ll often find local prepared foods at stands or stalls serving markets’ workers.

Travel prepared.  Be prepared to be stuck in an airport for indeterminate periods of time.  Load your mobile device with as many games, songs, apps, and e-books as possible to keep busy during long waits. Also, make sure to pack a battery charger to power up.

Continue reading "Anthony Bourdain Shares His Top Five Travel Tips" »

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Travel Tips

October 27, 2011

Five Travel Essentials for the Frequent Flyer


Woman closing overloaded suitcase on bed(Jupiterimages,Getty Images,Thinkstock)
(Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Thinkstock )

When you've spent the last year circling the globe you tend to become proficient on how to make your time on the road a tad bit easier. Unfortunately, since there is no real secret to maneuvering the dreaded airport security, I'll leave you with five travel essentials that will at least make the rest of a travel-lovers experience a little less painful.

5. Lap protector
I won't get into the irony of calling a computer you shouldn't put on your lap a laptop, but anyone who has ever spent a lot of time with their personal computer resting on their lower body has experienced the 21st century version of a leg warmer. It turns out the direct contact is bad for your computer (because it doesn't allow the machine to breath), but it can also leave behind burn marks. An easy (and cheap) solution is a lap protector that provides a barrier between you and the scalding surface. Belkin's Laptop CoolStrip is not only affordable, but also compact enough to travel with. Now every time you want to check your email you don't have to check to make sure you're wearing pants.

4. Luggage scale
You know the saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me? Well, that's how I feel about paying excess baggage fees. The problem is I also have a problem with over-packing. But thanks to digital luggage scales (like this one from Balanzza), I can stop filling my carry-on bag with my heavy electronic chargers and bulky travel guides in the hopes of getting that scale to drop a few pounds. With this nifty device you simply hook the gadget to your bag, lift, and the weight is displayed right there in black and white. Now you can save yourself the public humiliation at the airport so long as you can remember to weigh your bag ahead of time.

3. Zippered pillowcase
I didn't think you could find so many uses for a zippered pillowcase until I started counting all the ways I put it to use on my trip. 1.) Not only was the zippered pillowcase perfect for covering a hostel pillow that might have more questionable spots than a McDonalds playground, but I also used it to store my valuables (passport, money, etc.) under my head while I slept on planes, trains, and buses. It's easier to catch zzz's knowing that if anyone did go through your bag, all they might get away with is your favorite sweater. 2.) An ideal fix for anyone with allergies. Since I am allergic to feather down this cotton cover gave my skin a layer of protection from anything unknown that might cause me to break out. 3.) Use it to protect fragile items in your luggage that might otherwise get broken or banged up. 4.) If you find that your checked bag is slightly overweight (an "I told you so" is coming if you didn't listen to Tip #4), the zippered pillowcase can substitute for a quick carry-on bag. Next time remember to put it in your suitcase already filled with the heavy items and you'll eliminate the embarrassment of flashing everyone your skivvies while you bend over your suitcase moving personal items from one bag to another.

Continue reading "Five Travel Essentials for the Frequent Flyer" »

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Related Topics: Travel Gear · Travel Tips

August 18, 2011

Las Vegas Bachelor Party Options


Las-vegas-strip 
(courtesy Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Bureau)

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and when it comes to bachelor parties, most of it probably should. But there are plenty of options in Las Vegas for bachelor parties that won't burn a hole in your wallet (or your sense of self-worth). 

I recently attended an old friend's marital send-off in Sin City and, at first, was totally against it. I wanted to go whitewater rafting in West Virginia instead, spending some days out on the river doing man-things like chopping wood and heckling day-trippers from Philadelphia. But popular favor among the other attendees wound us up at Planet Hollywood, and I was shocked to come back with a few stories I could share in pleasant company. Here are some ideas for fun-yet-innocuous things to do in Vegas. After all, you'll need something to tell the fiancé when you get back, right? 

Away.com's Las Vegas Travel Guide

1. A Guy's Gotta Eat
For all its reputation as a desert outpost, many of the world's best chefs have joints in Las Vegas, and nothing makes a bachelor feel more like a VIP than strolling into a fine restaurant, sitting in the corner booth, and ordering his fill of steak. We hit up Craftsteak at the MGM Grand, run by New York celebrity-chef Tom Colicchio. It wasn't cheap (we each got the $115 "we pay, you fill the table with steak and vegetables" prix fixe), but there was more meat on the table than... well, it was a lot of meat. 

2. Shoot Guns
With so much desert around, I guess it makes sense that Vegas would be home to several firing ranges, where you can fire off M-60s, AKs, and Desert Eagles, as well as pose for funny pictures with heavy artillery that your future mother-in-law will use against you someday. We woke up too late to make this happen, and opted to hang out at the pool at Planet Hollywood instead, which is another good, low-key option. You're in Vegas; you're allowed to bail. 

Continue reading "Las Vegas Bachelor Party Options" »

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Related Topics: Travel Tips · Trip Ideas · US Travel

July 20, 2011

Tips for Traveling Stress-Free



By Erika Lloyd
07/20/2011

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Southwest_Airlines_Approaching_Lindbergh_Field-(Wikipedia_Allan_Ferguson)
(Allan Ferguson/Wikipedia)

Most of us have faced stressful situations while traveling—from dealing with delayed or canceled flights to jet lag, traffic, or sitting in a cramped seat for hours. Whether you're exploring a far-off destination for the first time, or just getting some new scenery on a business trip, travel is exciting and fun, but it also has the potential to wreak havoc on our emotional and physical wellbeing. A recent article on PureMatters.com looks at the causes of travel stress and offers some insightful tips on how to make your next journey more enjoyable. Here are the highlights:

A healthy mindset
It’s easy to get agitated when the person in front of you at security thinks they can convince the TSA agent to let them through with their family-size containers of shower gel, perfume, and duty-free rum. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is an expected part of travel. Arrive at the airport early and free yourself of expectations that everything will be on schedule.

Nonstop flights
They may empty the wallet a bit more, but nonstop flights will alleviate a lot of the stress surrounding travel. Decreasing your chances of a delayed or cancelled flight is worth the extra cost. Also try to avoid peak travel hours: 7:00-9:00 a.m. and 4:00-7:00 p.m.

Avoid jet lag
Help your body overcome jet lag by trying to adapt to the sleeping schedule of your travel destination as soon as possible. Natural sleep aids will help you sleep at night and don’t have the side effects of pharmaceuticals. Try a supplement like Rest Easy or Melatonin that will help your body adjust to the new sleeping schedule.

Stay physically healthy
A cold, flu, or even allergies can put a huge damper on your travel plans. Pack a pocket-size container of sanitizer and wash your hands often. Don’t forget your regular allergy meds, and try taking a multivitamin or a natural supplement that will strengthen your immune system, such as Echinacea or Olive Leaf Extract.

Read more helpful tips about how to avoid travel stress at PureMatters.com.

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Related Topics: Air Travel · Travel Tips · US Travel

March 31, 2011

Altitude Sickness 101: Signs, Prevention, and Urban Legends



By Guest Blogger
03/31/2011

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Altitude sickness(diloz,flickr)
A photographer climbs the 12,389-foot Mt. Fuji near Tokyo, Japan (diloz\Flickr)

Soroche, acute mountain sickness, altitude sickness—whatever you call it, it does not discriminate. The fact is, the higher you go above sea level, the thinner the oxygen in your blood becomes. By 10,000 feet, oxygen levels have gone from roughly 98 percent saturation to 89 percent. This catches many travelers off-guard; young, old, man, woman, fit, or not—anyone is potentially at risk. The good news is that the majority of those who experience altitude sickness find it relatively mild and limiting—NOT debilitating. And symptoms usually decline as altitude acclimatization occurs. All in all, don’t be afraid, be smart. Coming prepared and recognizing the signs are the best ways to combat altitude sickness.

Signs of altitude sickness include dizziness, headache, nausea/vomiting, trembling, clumsiness, poor sleep, lack of appetite, or overall feeling of exhaustion or lethargy. Imagine a bad hangover—not so fun. Many travelers coming off of a long flight tend to waive these symptoms off as jet lag, maybe one too many bags of airplane peanuts, or too much caffeine. It’s hard to predict who will fall victim to altitude sickness and who will not. A general rule of thumb: If you’ve experienced it before, you’re likely to experience it again. It is much easier to prevent than to treat altitude sickness. Here are a few helpful tips to do just that.

Allow yourself time to acclimatize
Spend some time adjusting to your new environment, and take it easy the first few days at a higher altitude. This is the perfect excuse to take in some sites, take a leisurely stroll, or check out a few local markets and cuisine. Eating a lot of carbohydrates, such as breads, cereals, and pasta, can also help prevent altitude sickness.

Stay hydrated
Drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty. Because there is less oxygen in the atmosphere, you and your lungs will naturally work harder to get what you need. Combine that with exertion and sweating from trekking and you’ve potentially created the perfect recipe for dehydration. Start drinking water before you get on the plane and keep plenty on hand throughout your travels. It’s a good idea to limit alcohol intake the first day or so at a higher elevation as well.

Continue reading "Altitude Sickness 101: Signs, Prevention, and Urban Legends" »

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March 18, 2011

Final Four Travel Plans


TX, Houston_TX skyline with Memorial Park in foreground_73068373 (VisionsofAmerica-Joe Sohm_Digital Vision_Getty)
Houston plays host to this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament (Joe Sohm)

Chances are, you're too busy hiding the NCAA Tournament video stream behind an Excel spreadsheet right now to read this, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little sleepy from staying out to watch the UConn-Bucknell game last night at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. But if your team is making a run deep into the tournament, here are a few places you might hope they wind up:

5. Tuscon, Arizona
Site of the first and second rounds (or, sorry NCAA, second and third rounds thanks to the miserably confusing "First Four" play-in games), Tucson is a great destination for early spring. Dry desert air and Spanish colonial architecture make you almost forget this is one of the West's greatest college towns and home to the Arizona Wildcats, a five-seed in the West bracket.

Tuscon Travel Guide

4. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Really? This host of early-round games gets its reputation from oil-derrick roots (and indeed, you'll find the 76-foot-tall "Golden Driller" statue in the town's fairgrounds), but spring brings rose blooms and cool temperatures to Tornado Alley. And the burgeoning area along East 15th Street is awash in new restaurants and boutique shops, including the trendy Rope Tulsa.

Tulsa Travel Guide

3. Anaheim, California
Home of the West bracket finals, families will find plenty to do in Orange County, from Disneyland to Lego Land to a land filled with great beaches and nearby mountains close enough to squeeze in a hike before the games start.

Anaheim Travel Guide

2. Newark, New Jersey
Ok, laugh. Make your Jersey Shore jokes or snide comments about crime rates. They're all somewhat valid in New York's largest suburb. But what's lost is that Newark has some legitimate attractions and fine hotels, including a superb art museum and a history rooted deeply in sports. It's the perfect place to catch the East bracket semi-final game and see if your team can make the Final Four. (And an easy train ride from New York if that's more your style.)

Newark Travel Guide

1. Houston, Texas
Of course, everyone wants to be in the final. And Houston, with its fascinating shipping port, resurgent arts scene, and excellent shopping and dining, is a mighty good host for the championship games. Of course, I think I might hold out until next year, when the finals will come to New Orleans and may even overlap with Jazz Fest. I'll just have to hope my Huskies can make the trip.

Houston Travel Guide

See Away.com's Top Ten College Towns.

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Related Topics: California Travel · New Jersey Travel · Travel News · Travel Rants · Travel Tips · Trip Ideas · US Travel

March 07, 2011

Your Travel Primer for the 2012 London Olympic Games


London-olympics-2012
February was a busy month for the planners of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, with the release of the final competition schedule and a flurry of press images showing construction progress on the Olympic Stadium, athletes' village, and other venues around the 500-acre Olympic Park in east London. March promises to be no less action-packed, with tickets to the 300-plus Summer Olympics' events (across 26 sports) being released worldwide on March 15 (distribution will be made via lottery). Residents of the United Kingdom and designated European countries can apply for tickets at the official London 2012 website. Residents from all other countries should apply for tickets through their local National Olympic Committee, National Paralympic Committee, or an authorized ticket reseller. U.S. and Canadian residents can apply for tickets from CoSport, the group appointed by the London Organising Committee to distribute tickets in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and the United States.

Away.com's London Travel Guide

Continue reading "Your Travel Primer for the 2012 London Olympic Games" »

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Related Topics: European Travel · Places to Stay · Travel News · Travel Tips

February 08, 2011

Chicago-to-Yellowstone National Park Family Road-Trip Advice: Announcing Our Next Travel Q&A Flight-Voucher Winner!



By awayblog
02/08/2011

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Sylvan-lake-black-hills-sd
PERFECT PIT STOP: Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills region of South Dakota (Stefano Salvetti/Photodisc/Getty)

"We are planning an extended family road trip in June from Chicago IL to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 6 children ages 11-2yrs. What is the most scenic route and how do we plan for it?"

Away.com reader Sue M. of Springfield, IL, stepped up to the plate and offered her own detailed insights to the above query from one of our readers. And to thank her for her efforts, Sue is the winner of a free Delta Airlines flight voucher ($1,000-plus value!), the third of four that we’re awarding this year for the best reader-submitted advice on the Away.com Travel Q&A. Here is Sue’s answer :

"This is a great trip! I would take a route north and go through South Dakota and make a stop at Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills. Custer State Park is a must see! Don't miss Sylvan Lake and the Needles. Lots of easy hikes with great payoff! You only add about 75 miles by going the Northern Route and it is well worth it, because the southern route through Iowa and Nebraska offers little for sightseeing. Then you can go on through Yellowstone and down into Jackson Hole. Rapid City is about 13 hours from Chicago, so if you leave early you can do that in one day, and then it's an easy 7 1/2 hours onto Yellowstone. The kids will love Yellowstone and June is a great time to beat the crowds that come in July and August. The earlier in June that you are able to go, the fewer people and the more animals you will see! Jackson's Hole is only 2 hours south of Yellowstone and you will drive right through the Grand Tetons by going this way!"

For your chance to win our next airfare giveaway, share your best travel advice with your fellow travelers today! For more information about this giveaway, check out our contest-detail page here.

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Related Topics: Away.com News · Family Vacation · Road Trips · Travel Tips

February 07, 2011

From Pizza to Pasta: Get Cooking in Rome


Pizza
(Kendra Bailey Morris)

It goes without saying that Italy is all about the food. Whether you're downing a big bowl of wild mushroom risotto with a glass of Sanviogese or diving into a pile of fried zeppoles drizzled in chocolate sauce, you can bet your bolognese you're going to eat really, really well in Italy, especially in the Lazio region, including the city of Rome.

Roman cooking, like much of Italy's cuisine in general, is based on simple preparation procedures using the freshest of local ingredients. Spaghetti is tossed with bacon, eggs, and parmesan to make a classic carbonara while bucatini is simply accented with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and pecorino for "cacio e pepe" (a very simple cheese-and-pepper spaghetti dish). Fresh vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini are rolled in seasoned breadcrumbs and fried for frittis, and of course, wood-fired pizzas are topped with everything, from hand-pulled buffalo mozzarella to earthy porcini mushrooms.

Continue reading "From Pizza to Pasta: Get Cooking in Rome" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · European Travel · Food and Drink · Travel Tips · Trip Ideas

November 23, 2010

Get Ready for Your European Grand Tour at NYC's Idlewild Books


Idlewild-books-interior

Planning a trip to Europe next year? See out the dark days of winter and your travel yearnings with a ten-week language class in French, Italian, or Spanish at Manhattan's Idlewild Books. Instead of packing would-be Don Quixotes into some airless seminar hall, the 75-minute classes take place on the store's high-ceilinged, book-flanked mezzanine level. Idlewild, an independent bookseller located in artsy Union Square near West Chelsea and Greenwich Village, is revered for its impressive collection of travel guides and world literature, organized by country. Teachers are all native speakers, and the approach is firmly fixed on giving students practical, on-the-go language skills for their travels. Register by November 30 and get 25 percent off winter 2011 classes.

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Related Topics: Book Club · European Travel · Travel Tips
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