Tag: 2008 Travel Awards

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2008: So Over

December 31, 2008 at 12:30 PM | by | ()

Looking back, it's hard to imagine that our trip to Sundance kicked off 2008; it feels like years ago that we were stuck in Park City traffic with Charles Ogilvie. But despite losing a travel inspiration, a scrappy new airline and any hope of keeping our shoes on at the airport, we're plunging forward into 2009.

See, now that we've handed out all The Jauntys for this year, there are new stories to break, new scams to report, new destinations to "discover," new airlines to obsess over and, 12 months from now, there will be new award winners to congratulate. So take a minute, if you must, and reminisce about the year gone by. Us? We're already planning our next trip.

Related Stories:
· 2008's Best Domestic Airline: Virgin America [Jaunted]
· 2008's Worst Domestic Airline: American [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Travel Newcomer: BoltBus [Jaunted]
· 2008's Most Missed Industry Casualty: Skybus [Jaunted]
· 2008's Travel Media Story of the Year: Airline Fees [Jaunted]
· 2008's Worst Travel Media Moment: The Gridskipper Gutting [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Jaunted Field Trip: Uruguay [Jaunted]
· 2008's Celebrity Traveler of the Year: Rihanna [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Airport Photo Shoot: The Gossip Girl Cast at LAX [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Map Mashup: The Jellyfish Invasion [Jaunted]
· 2008's Destination of the Year: China [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Villain: Eder Rojas [Jaunted]
· 2008's Worst Travel Experience: Live Tweeting a Disaster [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Travel Movie: "In Bruges" [Jaunted]
· 2008's Best Jaunted Embed: Tim Patterson in Cambodia [Jaunted]

[Photo of Sydney, where it's already 2009: Charles Haynes]

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2008's Best Jaunted Embed Is...

Where: Cambodia
December 31, 2008 at 12:00 PM | by | ()

Travel embeds are Jaunted's superheroes: Boldly going where no tour bus has gone before, they come back with unforgettable stories of the adventures you can have by setting down the guidebook and picking up your pack. We salute all our embeds, but particularly Tim Patterson, whose series on his trip to Cambodia was an invaluable addition to our pages in '08.

Patterson's series, as outlined in his first post, was not only about getting off the beaten path but about seeing Cambodia uncoupled from its history and measuring it on its own merits, from local transit to tourist traps.

From describing the seaside town of Kep as "a steamy bath of crab meat and rose petals" to tantalizing us with the offer of orangutan boxing in Koh Kong, his eye for detail made us feel like we were really there. In 2009, maybe we will be!

Related Stories:
· Embedded Travel Guide Cambodia: Angkor What? [Jaunted]
· Embedded Travel Guide Cambodia: Kep Is For Romance [Jaunted]
· Embedded Travel Guide Cambodia: How to Travel Like a Local [Jaunted]

[Photo from Patterson's report on the Phnom Tamao Zoo]

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2008's Best Travel Movie Is...

Where: Bruges, Belgium
December 31, 2008 at 11:30 AM | by | ()

If you're like us, you see travel everywhere, so of course 2008 was a marquee year for travel movies. (Let's face it, for us, everything is a travel movie! We almost went to Passaic, New Jersey because "Be Kind Rewind" told us to.) Whether you preferred Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn strung out at the ticket counter as their dream holiday vacation gets canceled in "Four Christmases," a Hawaiian vacation via "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," flying below the radar with Bond in "Quantum of Solace" or the magnificent cross-country train sequence starring the orphans of "Slumdog Millionaire," nearly every trip we saw depicted on film made us say, "Yeah, we've been there."

Well, we haven't actually been hired guns of this type, but our favorite movie trip had to have been the one undertaken by Ray and Ken, two killers sent on a mission in Martin McDonagh's "In Bruges." The exact business of the men (played by Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) isn't clear right away, so they fall into arguing about what to do with their off hours. Ken is a guidebook slave, while Ray would much rather take a detour from the obligitory historic sites to see what the locals are up to.

Get some sleep or get a pint? Obey your scary-sounding boss's instructions or cut loose and face the consequences? It's only later that the ramifications of the pair's decisions truly become clear. The thrilling conclusion of this flick made us simultaneously want to visit Bruges and never set foot in Belgium. Ever. If you missed it in theaters, check out "In Bruges" on DVD with your (adult) relatives. It's proof that no one returns from a trip unchanged.

Related Stories:
· Belgium Travel Guide [Jaunted]
· Movie Set Travel: Quantum of Solace [Jaunted]
· A Boxing Day Vow: Next Christmas, a Luxury Hotel in Bruges [HC]

[Photo: cinemapolis.org]

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2008's Worst Travel Experience Is...

December 31, 2008 at 11:00 AM | by | ()

Used to be all you had to do during a plane crash was hope to live. Now you have to update your social networks with news live from the scene of the accident--and field requests for more info from the likes of Rick Sanchez. Because victims would obviously rather be slamming vodka tonics than punching 140-character messages into phones, live tweeting a disaster is the worst travel experience of 2008.

The sentiment extends, too, to the earthquake that was announced on Facebook, photos of the terrorist rampage in Mumbai posted to Flickr and the other plane crash that was documented on Twitter. It's not the wealth of first-hand information that rubs us wrong--we quite like that--it's the way our gizmos have us shackled to home. If the point of travel is to go somewhere new for fresh experiences and a change of perspective, let's resolve in 2009 to live in the moment with our new-found friends in far-away lands instead of digitally seeking comfort in the familiar of back home. Now excuse us as we cross-post this to Twitter.

Related Stories:
· The Future Will Be Microblogged [Jaunted]

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2008's Best Villain Is...

December 31, 2008 at 10:30 AM | by | ()

Whether it was because more people acted like idiots or we just heard about more people acting like idiots, 2008 was the year of the bad seatmate. And while there are plenty of candidates among those ranks from which to draw the year's best villain, one trouble-maker went even further.

Former flight attendant Eder Rojas is accused of setting fire to an airplane while in flight, and rather than show up in court to answer charges, he's apparently fled--to Mexico?--in a move that makes him even less sympathetic than we imagined possible. Flight attendants are supposed to be keeping passengers safe not dooming them to a fiery death by sparking paper towels in a regional jet lav!

Rojas is, like all criminal defendants, innocent until proven guilty, so maybe next year we'll be issuing an apology, noting that his only crime was awful camel capping on his MySpace page. Until we hear otherwise, though, he stands as the best villain of '08.

Related Stories:
· Fugitive Former Flight Attendant Updates MySpace Status *Again* [Jaunted]
· Flight Attendant Disappears from Halfway House, Skips Court Appearance [Jaunted]
· Eder Rojas May Update Myspace Status Soon [Jaunted]

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2008's Destination Of The Year Is...

Where: China
December 31, 2008 at 10:00 AM | by | ()

For hosting the Olympics, for capturing the world's attention, for inventive restaurants and for rebuilding quickly the Destination of the Year is China.

You may not be able to access the whole internet there and the environment is a distant concern compared to economic and infrastructure growth, but at least one white rapper from Atlanta says you're not really living if you're not visiting Chengdu.

Related Stories:
· Segway Travel: China Clearly Prepared to Handle the Olympics [Jaunted]
· Mount Everest Officially Over [Jaunted]
· Beijing's T3 Is Ready for the Games [Jaunted]
· Happily Welcoming Our New Chinese Aviation Overlords [Jaunted]

[Photo: Sprol]

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2008's Best Map Mashup Is...

December 31, 2008 at 9:30 AM | by | ()

It's been a while since we so enjoyed rooting for the bad guys. While the 2008 International Plague of Jellyfish ultimately never delivered, we'll always have our Jellyfish Invasion Map as a souvenir of those heady summer days when we stared the beach-pocalypse in the face.

A spin off of our Killer Beach reports, the Jellyfish Invasion affected supermodels, surfers and adorable children alike. Lucky for us, it looks like 2009 will be even worse for jelly attacks worldwide. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Related Stories:
· Bar Refaeli Braves Killer Jellyfish in France [Jaunted]
· Man-Made Plague of Jellyfish to Terrorize Beaches for Years to Come [Jaunted]
· Kate Hudson Flees Killer Australian Jellyfish for NYC Clubs [Jaunted]

[Photo of jellies in the Monterey Aquarium: chuck12600]

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2008's Best Airport Photo Shoot Is...

December 31, 2008 at 9:05 AM | by | ()

They may have arrived officially on the small screen in 2007, but 2008 was the year we became officially obsessed with the hot young cast of "Gossip Girl." We followed them around the city, spied on them over the summer and, two weeks ago, bid farewell to a supporting character.

But as overexposed as they are, the "Gossip" girls and guys (yes, even slutty Ed) have managed to hold on to a little mystique, which is what makes this snap of Lively, Crawford and Badgley our favorite Airport Photo Shoot of 2008.

The earnest dishevelment of the players makes us believe that, unlike your Paris Hiltons or Lindsay Lohans, these cast members still aren't used to having their pictures taken in public. None of your Speidi-style cheesy composition, just a bunch of fresh-faced kids getting their own carry-ons out of the trunk. (Not to mention that whenever they travel together, they perpetuate the myth that making the show is as fun as watching it.)

"Gossip Girl" returns January 5, 2009. We can't wait.

Related Stories:
· Spotted: S., N. and D. at LAX [Jaunted]
· Season One Finale: Lily and Bart's Wedding/ The Return Of The Sweater Vest [Jaunted]
· The Last Episode Of 2008: I'll Hold Back Your Hair [Jaunted]

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2008's Worst Travel Media Moment Is...

December 30, 2008 at 3:30 PM | by | ()

As many travel publications revamped their web offerings--and a certain couple of sites were acquired by a media conglomerate--one travel media titan fell off the RSS readers of many of its fans, if the enormous commenter backlash is to be believed.

The Gridskipper gutting took pretty much everyone by surprise. When we first reported on it, we didn't editorialize, seeing as how we didn't know the inner workings of the competition for whom we have nothing but respect. But what we are sure of is that in the wake of the site's relaunch, we managed to pick up some great travel blog talent in Victor Ozols while alums Neal Ungerleider and Hunter Walker also wrote us some great stories.

At least G'skip was spared a smackdown from Arthur Frommer.

Related Stories:
· Refereeing the Travel Media: Gridskipper Not Keeping Too Many Fans [Jaunted]
· Jaunted Makes Arthur Frommer Burn His Guidebook [Jaunted]
· Three Is a Trend: Travel Media Pro-am [Jaunted]
· Peter Greenberg Loved Thomas Kohnstamm's Book [Jaunted]
· Travel Media coverage [Jaunted]

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2008's Travel Media Story Of The Year Is...

December 30, 2008 at 3:00 PM | by | ()

If there's one thing travel media is good at, it's being righteous. So when airlines piled on fees this year, just about every blog, magazine and newspaper travel section piled on the criticism, with stories about how awful the fees are, how to avoid them and why we pay them. Even editorial cartoonists cracked tired jokes about how much extra we're forking over to fly.

But one hold out when it comes to airline fees isn't waiting for the travel media to write up-beat stories. Southwest Airlines, perhaps the industry expert at PR, has launched a multimedia campaign to remind everyone that it still doesn't charge for stuff. Too bad they had to pull this hilarious print ad in favor of something more saintly.

Related Stories:
· United Decides Not to Charge for Airplane Food [Jaunted]
· No Fee Travel: Southwest Advertising Overwhelming Airports [Jaunted]
· Vlogging Superstar Falls Victim To Baggage Scale Crouch Of Shame [Jaunted]

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2008's Most Missed Industry Casualty Is...

December 30, 2008 at 2:30 PM | by | ()

We won't rehash the old cliche about making money in the airline biz, but 2008's most spectacular flame out was surely a sign of things to come: After taking home the 2007 Jaunty for Best Travel Newcomer--and even writing us a letter of thanks for the honor!--the ultra-ambitious, ultra-low cost Skybus folded in April, a little more than a month shy of its first birthday.

Meant to mimic the success of European LCCs, Skybus had the aggressive on-board sales, in-your-face advertising and out-of-the-way airports that have made Ryanair, EasyJet and legions of imitators successful. But a home base in Columbus, ever-rising fuel prices, poor public relations--particularly during a Christmas '07 storm--and the general difficulty of starting an airline from scratch killed the carrier before many had a chance to try it.

But spirit of the bygone airline still lurks. Beyond the Skybus Flickr pool, there's the potential new airline from LCC champion John Weikle and a new gig for former Skybus COO Ken Gile at Flydubai, a low-cost airline set to take off in 2009.

Related Stories:
· Skybus Shuts Down [Jaunted]
· Nobody Wants Skybus [Jaunted]
· The Diff: Taking Notes from Gary Kelly [Jaunted]

[Photo: msmail]

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2008's Best Travel Newcomer Is...

December 30, 2008 at 2:00 PM | by | ()

For years the East Coast has had more cheap buses than it knows what to do with, from Fung Wah to Megabus. But until 2008, hardly anyone was willing to take low-budget rides between Boston, New York and DC, fearing accidents, boarding chaos or the sort of horror that can only befall the perennial punch line that is Greyhound.

But 2008's Best Travel Newcomer, BoltBus, made taking a coach classy, with clean seats and bathrooms, on-board WiFi with the power plugs to match and ingenious branding to lure an iPod generation. (That gas was over $4 a gallon this summer helped BB's triumph, too.)

At a time when you can't even check a bag for free, it's a thrill that a bus company will ferry us from NYC to Philly for less than the price of a beer.

Related Stories:
· First Person Bus Reviews: BoltBus [Jaunted]
· Fare Wars: Buses Battle for Your Stripper Money [Jaunted]
· BoltBus Doing DC to NYC for a Buck [Jaunted]

[Photo: ursonate]