Selfie Sticks / Theme Parks / Disneyland / Disney World / Photography Gear / Travel Gear / Bans / → All Tags
Last week, just before the kickoff to Disneyland's Diamond Celebration for its 60th Anniversary, the theme park officially threw down the gauntlet against controversial selfie sticks by banning the gadgets from use on rides. And indeed, here's what we saw as we climbed up the steps to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster yesterday.
(We applaud Disney's smackdown because that means scenarios like this one will no longer happen.)
Around the world, equal rights for gays and lesbians continue to be won every day. (In fact, over the weekend Ireland became the latest country to legalize same-sex marriage — and the first to do so by popular vote.) But LGBT travelers must still make special considerations when traveling internationally. Even if they’re not visiting one of those countries where homosexuality is still punishable by, you know, prison or death, gay tourists are often acutely aware of the potential for discrimination on vacation. No one deserves to have the sweet kiss of a romantic sunset selfie interrupted by jeering passerby — or worse.
So welcome the latest travel series that aims to ensure fun and inclusive outings for the gay community: TropOut, a “sophisticated” entry that just announced its inaugural week-long travel experience in Bang Tao Beach, Thailand in April 2016. Over 1,000 participants are expected to join the outing (pun intended) in southern Phuket, staying at the five-star Angsana Laguna Phuket while enjoying an itinerary that includes DJ parties at nearby Nikki Beach, walking tours and cave explorations, bay cruises, cooking classes and muscle-melting spa treatments. Head here to check out the packages and special add-ons, which start at $1,295 per person for six nights (April 3-9).
Visas / Zimbabwe / Zambia / Victoria Falls / → All Tags
Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is shared between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Each side offers a different perspective on the mile-wide, 354 foot-tall falls, so you'll want to check out both during your visit. Good news: Doing so is now a lot easier. The two countries have launched a dual visa to help boost tourism.
Officially known as the "Double Entry Visa," it allows travelers to enter both countries, meaning they can walk across the footbridge at Victoria Falls. It can be purchased on arrival in either country and costs American travelers $50. You can find all the details here.
Eurovision / Europe Travel / Austria Travel / Vienne Travel / Sweden Travel / Music Travel / → All Tags
While Americans were celebrating our Armed Forces over Memorial Day weekend, across the pond all of Europe was abuzz with the annual song contest Eurovision. Celebrating its 60th year, the competition showcases some of the best in songwriting and performing from each European country. (Think of it as the Olympics of music.) As is tradition, the preceding year's winning country plays host to the live concert, which drives a large number of music tourists to one city. This year that host city was Vienna, thanks to last year's win by Conchita Wurst.
This year was also a special one because the contest saw a new country competing. No, a new European country wasn't created minutes before the deadline for entries — rather, Australia traveled halfway around the world to show Europe its talent. You see, the Aussies are pretty big fans of the show and this year they were invited to compete. Alas, they came in 5th place — so we won't be watching Eurovision live from Sydney Opera House in 2016.
So which country took home the win? Where will all of Europe's music masterminds be headed in 2016?
Airport News / Airports / Coffee Travel / Airport Restaurants / Military Travel / Free Stuff / → All Tags
Memorial Day might be over, but we should still make a point to stop and remember — and thank — our brave military men and women. And thanks to the folks behind Hudson Group, American airports are places where uniformed service members will continue to find some tokens of gratitude.
According to USA Today, Hudson-operated airport retailers will offer free small coffees to American and Canadian military members through July Fourth. The weeks-long giveaway applies to more than 50 cafes, shops, and kiosks in terminals and concourses across the country, including spots like Dunkin’ Donuts, Aeromart and Euro Café, among others.
In travel, getting where you're going is just one part of the process. The other important question is: Where to stay? Our bro HotelChatter does a bang-up job of covering the latest news and trends in hotels and resorts. Out in Vegas, VegasChatter is keeping us informed on what's going down in Sin City.
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Are you the type of television masochist who watches those reality shows about house-hunting couples who review multiple palatial estates you could never dream of affording? If so, and you also love to travel (which, by virtue of being on this website, we’ll bet you do) — fire up your DVR, baby. “Vacation Chasers” is going to be your new addiction-slash-source of passport envy.
Premiering Friday, June 5 at 9 PM ET on the HLN network, “Vacation Chasers” focuses on two friends and travel experts — Rachel and Andrea — who compete to create the ultimate, fully customized luxury vacation for a client. In each half-hour episode they’ll “mine their clients’ social media profiles” to understand likes and dislikes, then devise some exciting and elaborate itineraries to pitch them, according to a press release announcing the show’s launch. The client chooses the vacation, the winning travel guru scores some bragging points, and viewers get to fill up a glass of wine and hop on Expedia to satisfy some suddenly-sky high wanderlust. (Remember: Spontaneous flight bookings pair best with an oaky Merlot.)
If you're worried that you waited too long to book a volunteer vacation for this summer, worry not. There's actually no better time than the present. India-based, internationally-recognized outfit Volunteering Solutions is giving $100 off all summer programs booked by May 31, which includes trips to Delhi, India, Thailand, Ghana and Tanzania.
It's the freaking weekend and the chances are good that you will be dining out sometime in the next three days. Or if you're leaving for a vacation, you may be looking for the best places to eat wherever you're going. But first, there are some things to know about where to eat, what to eat and how to get a reservation there. We've got a Back of House insider dishing tips on what you REALLY need to know when dining out. Got a question? Mail it to us!
In this edition of Back of House, we’re helping you discover better ways to dine out with a group this weekend. But we're not talking about a family of six; we're talking about those groups of six or more who are comprised mostly of people who don't share DNA, bank accounts or transportation. The bachelorette parties of the world. The big farewell gatherings for a friend who is moving. The casual get-togethers with co-workers. You know, all those groups who can easily put a restaurant's staff through hell. Please, keep these three tips in your back pocket. Hopefully they'll enhance your dining experience — and your server's too.
FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYONE ELSE, QUARANTINE YOURSELVES!
We get it. You're planning a fun evening with a group and everyone wants to try a great new restaurant. Often times, the food isn't your only draw: the atmosphere, entertainment, and proximity to other experiences are all elements that might influence your choice of dining destination. But the most important feature you should be looking for is a private dining room (PDR), or at the very least, a group-friendly space that feels a bit separate from the center of the dining room.
To keep it brief: groups get loud. Really loud. Even if a restaurant is already packed with people and commotion, one large group is all it takes to cut through the other noise, creating a uniquely obnoxious cacophony that manages to disrupt the night of everyone else. You know you've been on the other side of this phenomenon; you've seen those groups that are so rowdy (intentionally or unintentionally) that they make you want to order the crustiest possible bruschetta so you can chuck it, slice by hearty slice, at their faces. Don’t be the group that deserves to get bruschetta all over you.
Call in advance, give the staff a heads-up that you’re coming with a large group, and request to sit in the PDR or let them place you in the most appropriate area. Sometimes reserving a PDR can come with extra costs or a spend minimum. If that’s not okay with you, see if there’s another secluded spot where they can seat you, or look into another dining establishment that might better suit your group’s needs.
Snack Travel / Duty-Free Shopping / Canada Travel / YYZ / Airports / Shopping Travel / Food Travel / → All Tags
International travel isn't just about seeing foreign lands and experiencing other cultures. It's also about sampling the very best snacks and candies that another country has to offer. (Everyone speaks the international language of "sweet tooth.") Duty-free airport shops are among the best places to score cool confections with flavors you'll want on your taste buds as soon as you've unpacked. In fact, our recent trip to Canada yielded some yummy treats worth bringing home for friends — with some extras saved for yourself, of course.
While at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, we were scanning the maple syrup-stocked shelves when we came across a series of boxes that were beautifully decorated with various Canadian landscapes and nature photographs. Aptly named Tastefully Canadian, this brand of treats incorporates tastes that reflect the world's fourth largest country from coast to coast — and yes, it definitely sneaks in some maple flavors here and there.
Here are a few specific boxed treats that we'd recommend stocking up on before you catch your flight home. With them in your suitcase — and later in your mouth — you'll be sure to leave with sweet memories of your time in Canada.
WiFi / Tech Travel / Spain Travel / Airports / Airport News / → All Tags
Good news, if you're looking to save some digital dollars — or is that, electronic euros? — during your next trip to Spain. Soon you won't be paying anything at all to access airport Wi-Fi.
According to an article over at Salon, Spain's airport authority is about to flip the switch on for free Wi-Fi. By the end of 2015, they'll grant the magic of free and unlimited Wi-Fi at 46 airports across the country.
Spa Travel / Spas / Bath Travel / Britain Travel / UK Travel / Architecture Travel / Architecture / London Day Trips / London Travel / Historical Travel / → All Tags
We’re open to a debate about this, but we think most people trek to Bath to see the (admittedly impressive) Roman Baths. But if you’re one who prefers to take the waters instead of merely see the waters, Thermae Bath Spa might be for you.
The Spa is actually not one big building but a combination of five restored buildings and one new build that uses the façade of a listed townhouse clad in Bath stone. This main building – the newbie – is the New Royal Bath and it is all glass and LED lighting, full of curves and cubes that complement the architecture of the original buildings. This is the spot where you’ll primarily check in, change, soak and sweat. There’s also a laid-back café here.
New Royal Bath Minerva Pool
After you’ve changed and psyched yourself up to be seen in public roaming around in a bathing suit, you have a decision to face: Do you head first to the Minerva Pool – a large temperate-temperature swimming pool with whirlpools and a lazy river feature; the four kitted-out Aroma Steam Rooms in varying degrees of degrees and with a huge fiber-optic-lit rainfall shower that mists and then storms; or the open-air Rooftop Pool (pictured at page top) that looks out over Bath whether it’s day or dusk? Tough call.