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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: Austin, the Lone Star State's Capital of Cool

April 15, 2014 at 10:15 AM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

In case you didn’t hear, today’s the day you'll need to finalize your tax return and, if all goes according to plan, your refund should be arriving by check or direct deposit within the next few weeks. At last update, the friendly folks at the IRS report that the average refund this year is just shy of $3,000, so we say it’s time to take that money and head out of town.

Affordability is key during tax season, so today we're featuring a domestic destination, to Texas' capital of cool—Austin. Now’s the time to visit before the sweltering summer weather rolls in, and with an average April temperature of nearly 80 degrees, you can enjoy the sun without the humidity of the tropics.

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Air India Receives $200 Million to Finance Three Brand-New Dreamliners

Where: India
April 15, 2014 at 10:05 AM | by | Comment (1)

Another round of funding and investment is underway in India, and the amount of money that's being thrown around is no joke. The national carrier announced that it has been loaned $200 million by the country's bank, Bank of India, to purchase three brand-new Dreamliner airplanes.

That's not all. Air India expects to raise an additional $500 million from bridge loans and has received a $288 million tax credit to cover the cost of fuel, simulators, and spare parts. If it all comes through as planned, as many as six new Dreamliners could be in the airline's future.

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This Banana Vending Machine Proves That Not Everything in Australia is Trying to Kill You

Where: Australia
April 15, 2014 at 9:15 AM | by | Comment (1)

Who says vending machine food needs to be full of salt, high in fat or generally unhealthy? Definitely not the brains behind this little gem we found while walking through a shopping center in Brisbane. Forget the Chex Mix or even granola bars, as this machine went straight for the super-healthy stuff with bananas.

This little bit of genius, called the Banana Bar, offers up small bunches of the sweet tropical fruit for just a few dollars. A bunch of three go for $3, and a bunch for sharing scores a little discount at $4 for five bananas. That's already cheaper and more convenient than the basket of single bananas Starbucks keeps next to their registers, for impulse healthy breakfast buys. And if you're not too familiar with how these prices compare to a grocery store, the mark-up isn't terrible at just about $.50 per piece; it's all about convenience and eating-on-the-run.

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Boston's All Set to Blanket the City with 'Wicked Free WiFi'

April 15, 2014 at 8:38 AM | by | Comments (0)

Checking out a city is always a little easier with the help of WiFi access, least of all to double-check direction in Google Maps. Thankfully Boston agrees, and it has started to flip the switch on city-wide connectivity. City officials have named the network "Wicked Free WiFi".

Up first is the Grove Hall neighborhood, encompassing about one and a half square miles and home to roughly 30,000 residents. This neighborhood was chosen as number one to provide decent speeds to those who might not necessarily be able to afford paying the premium for broadband at home, as city officials clearly recognize a resident's right to social media usage.

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Where to Go with Your Tax Refund: 'Off the Grid' at Brazil's Juma Amazon Lodge

Where: Manaus, Brazil
April 14, 2014 at 6:18 PM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

The best recommendation we can make for you in 2014 is to go "off the grid." Venture to a place without 3G/4G data, without a WiFi network, and perhaps even without TVs for what some would call "digital detox," but what we now simply call "necessary."

To be specific, we've been off the grid three times already in 2014: in Borneo's rainforest, in Tasmania's Southwest National Park, and at Juma Amazon Lodge in Brazil's verdant stretch of the Amazon.

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US Airways Tweets NSFW Photo: What Actually Happened

April 14, 2014 at 5:57 PM | by | Comments (0)

Which of these words doesn't belong? TWITTER BOEING 777 US AIRWAYS PORN MH370

Actually, if you'd been on Twitter earlier today and spotted a very NSFW mis-tweet reply from US Airways' @usairways account, then you'd know that, unfortunately, all of the above terms are now entwined in one of the most egregious social media slip-ups of all time.

Here's what happened:

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Urban Wine Trails Are Cool, But There’s No Substitute for Wine Country

April 14, 2014 at 5:48 PM | by | Comments (0)

In celebration of the most needed happy hour of the week, this column, called “Monday, Five Thirty,” takes a look at all things booze from around the world. Last week, it was a potent after-dinner drink made of "gum drops." This week, we head to California wine country.

If the hand-holding haven of Lotusland is Santa Barbara's best kept secret, then its proximity to the Santa Ynez wine country is a close second. From downtown, a scenic drive up Highway 154 will take you up "into the valley," past Lake Cachuma and through the towns of Solvang, Los Olivos, and Buellton. Northern California gets most of the attention when it comes to wine on a national level, yet the Santa Ynez Valley was put on the map when it was featured in the book turned movie, Sideways.

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Five Celebrities Who Never Miss Attending Coachella

April 14, 2014 at 3:01 PM | by | Comments (0)

It's no secret that celebrities love Coachella, but some celebs are more passionate about it than others.

Here's a look at 5 stars who never miss the annual music fest:

· Not even probation has stopped Lindsay Lohan from attending Coachella in the past, and this year was no different. Even though LiLo is fresh out of rehab she was spotted partying until 3:30 AM Saturday morning.

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Got $100? Then You've Got Access to the Captain's Seat of an Emirates A380

April 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM | by | Comments (0)

The massive Dubai Mall may seem like it has everything—there's an ice rink, aquarium, waterfall, gold souk, luxury hotel, and the title of "world's largest mall (by total area)"—but up until recently it's been lacking the one interactive exhibit it needed the most: a flight simulator.

Of course, this being Dubai and all, it can't be just any flight sim; the rig is that of an Emirates Airbus A380 cockpit, complete with flight instructor. Seeing as how Emirates is currently the world's largest operator of A380s, such a superjumbo flight sim only adds to the Mall's UAE cultural attractions and obsession with the superlative.

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Snapshots from Santa Barbara, America's Own Riviera

April 14, 2014 at 12:38 PM | by | Comments (0)

They don't call it the "American Riviera" for nothing. Santa Barbara's beauty is everything but subtle, which really makes our job easy. It's a total point-and-shoot kind of town, each corner revealing another wonderful vantage point that delightfully combines the ocean, mountains, and the mission-style architecture and colors.

The aerial views you see below were taken from the tower on top of the Courthouse, which is free to access and a good place to get a full bird's eye view. The others are from the beaches along Cabrillo Boulevard, the final sunrise coming from our hotel room at the soon-to-be Hotel Milo.

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Video Interlude: Nothing is Sweeter Than These Two Old Ladies on Their First Flight

April 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM | by | Comments (0)

Vodafone recently began a brilliant campaign to showcase communication technology as it relates to improved quality of life. One video has members of a refugee camp making the first call home, while another details the creation of the first "color-conducted" orchestra concert. Without a doubt, however, their masterpiece is "An & Ria's #First Flight," a 9-minute short film following two elderly women as they embark on what is not only their first flight, but their first experience abroad.

Head to 4:00 for the beginning of their airport experience, where they marvel at airplanes ready to take off for exotic destinations. Remember—neither of these women (aged 78) have been more than a drive or train away from their homes for their entire life, vacationing near so as to avoid air travel.

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Your Next International Flight from Chicago's O'Hare Airport Might Not Suck

April 14, 2014 at 10:52 AM | by | Comments (0)

If your travels have brought you through Chicago O'Hare's International Terminal, then you may have noticed that it's hardly the nicest place to spend some pre-flight time. Alas, that was then and this is now, because as of last week, passengers are now being welcomed into a totally refreshed Terminal 5, featuring Chicago hometown brands and international boutiques.

The project totaled $26 million and two years of overhauling, but the terminal now boasts a wider variety of airside activities. Chicago restaurant masters, Lettuce Entertain You, have opened several of their mainstay eateries (Big Bowl, Wow Bao, Urban Olive, Hub51 and R.J. Grunts) and, if you need a pick-me-up, there's Intelligentsia Coffee for delicious brews and Wicker Park deli, The Goddess and Grocer for nibbles. No drama if you've got your heart set on Frontera Grill's tortas, since Rick Bayless has this terminal covered as well.

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