What Travel Guides Got Wrong About These Vacation Destinations

Travel guides got pretty creative this year with their must-visit recommendation lists, resulting in Queens, New York, landing at the top spot in Lonely Planet’s Best in the U.S. in 2015 list. But are unexpected choices like Queens and Cleveland really in the best interest of travelers, or are they meant to grab headlines for being a surprising pick? HuffPost Live’s Nancy Redd spoke with a panel of travel experts on Wednesday about the merits of such recommendations and why they most likely won’t make for the vacation of your dreams.

Catch the full HuffPost Live conversation about top travel destinations for 2015 here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/31/what-travel-guides-get-wrong_n_6401374.html

Tragedy, air rage, eerie coincidences: 51 biggest travel stories of 2014


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A co-author of e-book “Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona” was gored in the thigh while running with the bulls in Pamplona. (File photo)

Jordan Axani booked a “fairly wicked” trip (New York, Paris, Prague, Bangkok) with girlfriend Elizabeth Gallagher, broke up, then found another Elizabeth Gallagher online to use her ticket.

In March, the UK-based International Medical Travel Journal staged the first annual Medical Travel Awards in Dubai.

Provenance hotels in the United States offered guests an in-house pet psychologist. The bacon-and-cheese treatment is popular.

Views are superb from Queens, New York, which Lonely Planet named the number one place to visit in its list of top 10 U.S. destinations for 2015.

Camera-toting daredevils climbed skyscrapers in Shanghai and Hong Kong (pictured) to snap selfies alarming heights. In the U.S., tourists took to snapping selfies with wild bears.

The results of a Spirit Airlines survey filled out by almost 30,000 people? It’s not just Spirit, fliers hate other airlines, too!

Eight cars at Kentucky’s National Corvette Museum were wrecked when a monster sinkhole in the earth swallowed them in April.

British Airways unveiled “The Seven Hour Train Journey to Oslo,” perhaps the most boring inflight movie ever. With no commentary, it depicts every coma-inducing detail of a slow-speed train journey to the Norwegian capital.

Italy’s cash-strapped counts and countesses threw open the doors of their centuries-old palaces to tourists, wearing picturesque hats while guiding them through grand estates.

Australian chef Johnny Di Francesco (pictured) took home top honors at the World Pizza Championship in Italy.

“Don’t ask superstitious people from Hong Kong to sleep in a four-poster bed” and avoid “exchanging a smile or making eye contact with anyone from France you don’t know” were among a list of dos and don’ts prepared for the tourist industry by VisitBritain. See? No Chinese here.

Twice in a week, British Airways flew passengers to Grenada in the Caribbean instead of Granada, Spain, as booked.

The Australian government said its overseas consulates would no longer assist with petty requests from travelers. Recent calls for help included taking care of pets and fixing traffic tickets.

A pilot’s prosthetic arm detached while he was landing a turboprop plane with 47 passengers at an airport in Northern Ireland. He brought in the craft one-handed.

To honor her late father’s unfulfilled dream of world travel, Jinna Yang took a life-sized cutout of him on a trip across Europe.

When a couple described a hotel in England as a “filthy, dirty rotten stinking hovel” on a review site, a fine of $156 was added to their credit card bill.

In a tourism marketing stunt, residents of Zhengzhou, one of China’s most polluted cities, lined up to breathe fresh air packed in from Laojun Mountain.

Throughout the year, outbreaks of novovirus and other maladies hit cruise ships, affected hundreds of passengers on multiple sailings.

To highlight the issue of food waste, Frenchman Baptiste Dubanchet cycled from Paris to Warsaw eating food only found in trash cans.

According to Boston.com, a naked man fell through the ceiling of a woman’s restroom in Boston’s Logan International Airport.

From U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Skytrax, it seemed no one had a kind word for U.S. airports. The Economist declared them “awful,” beset by “soggy pizza, surly security staff and endless queues.”

According to an aerospace engineering professor in Malaysia, the near-vertical passenger seat, or “standing cabin,” may be the next big cost-cutting move in aviation.

On cue came news that Airbus filed a patent application for saddle seats on which passengers perch rather than recline. Airbus said the patent doesn’t mean it’ll be saddling up its aircraft.

A woman rented her California condo to two men through Airbnb. After their rental term ended, the pair refused to leave, citing state laws protecting their rights as legal tenants.

Videos of a scuffle between locals and Chinese tourists over a toddler peeing on a Hong Kong street went viral, stirring online antipathy between Hong Kongers and mainlanders. The fiasco acquired the epithet “Bladdergate” on social media.

A 14-year-old Dutch girl tweeted a terror threat to American Airlines that catapulted her into social media infamy. She turned herself in to police and was charged with “posting a false or alarming announcement.”

In January, a Southwest Airlines jet landed at Taney County airport instead of Branson airport in Missouri. The airports are about seven miles apart.

After five hours at altitudes of 38,000 feet, without oxygen and in subzero temperatures, a 16-year-old runaway popped out of the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight from California at Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii.

Near-misses between aircraft included incidents in the U.S., UK and Spain. In December, the wingtip of a Southwest Airlines plane clipped an American Airlines plane awaiting a gate at New York’s LaGuardia International Airport.

Passengers departing from Simon Bolivar International Airport of Maiquetia in Caracas, had to pay a levy of 127 bolivars ($18) for a new air conditioning unit. The “breathing tax” was heavily criticized in Venezuela.

Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine after the U.S. FCC found it blocked Wi-Fi networks at a conference in Tennessee. At the same time, Marriott was charging exhibitors up to $1,000 to access the hotel’s wireless network.

Peru’s Ministry of Culture denounced the regular spectacle of nude visitors at Machu Picchu as “disrespectful” and “unfortunate events that threaten cultural heritage.”

Authorities in Rome slapped a €20,000 fine on a Russian tourist caught carving his name into the Colosseum.

When a man on a United Airlines flight refused to remove his Knee Defender, which blocks seats from reclining, the woman in front of him threw water in his face. The plane was diverted to Chicago, where both passengers were removed. (File photo)

After three attempts to stow away on planes, a 62-year-old woman slipped past a checkpoint in California without a ticket and boarded a flight bound for Los Angeles. She was later arrested.

When minus-50 C temps froze their aircraft’s landing gear, passengers left their seats to give the plane a push at Igarka Airport in Siberia. Dressed in heavy coats and thick gloves, each took a wing and began shoving the aircraft into position.

A woman brought an “emotional support pig” aboard a US Airways flight bound for Washington, D.C. After the beast defecated in the aisle, both woman and pig left the plane before takeoff.

December saw five separate incidents of Chinese air passengers misbehaving, including a woman throwing hot water at a flight attendant and a mini-brawl touched off by a crying baby.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration had seized 2,000 firearms from carry-on luggage as of December 1. Even with a month to go, that was more than the TSA has confiscated in any other full year.

A Korean Air exec ordered a plane to return to the gate and a flight attendant removed because she was served nuts in a bag instead of on a plate in first class. She subsequently resigned.

With tens of thousands returning home on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the line for security screening at Chicago Midway International Airport was measured at 1.2 miles long. (File photo)

In Sochi, Russia, for the Winter Olympics, sportswriters reported on hotels with “water that looked like cloudy urine,” soiled bed sheets and lack of hot water. CNN producer Harry Reekie (pictured) tweeted: “This is the one hotel room Sochi2014 have given us so far.”

An April avalanche on Mount Everest claimed the lives of 12 Sherpa guides. The single deadliest accident on Everest led to an exodus of Sherpa from the mountain, effectively canceling the 2014 climbing season.

On December 28, a fire broke out on a ferry traveling from Greece to Italy. At least 10 people died, and as many as 427 were saved in dramatic fashion in choppy seas.

In July, a number of airlines suspended flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for at least 24 hours after a rocket fired from Gaza struck about a mile from its runways.

The October explosion of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo during a test flight killed one pilot, injured another and shook the private space industry by contributing to questions about its near-term viability.

Ebola fears in October seemed to culminate in a battle of words between American nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned home from Ebola-ravaged West Africa only to be ordered into quarantine in New Jersey, and the state’s Governor Chris Christie. (File photo)

On December 28, Air Asia Flight QZ8501 went missing over the Java Sea carrying 162 passengers and crew. As the year drew to a close, bodies and debris from the plane had been found near its last known location and search and recovery efforts continued.

On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 298 people was downed by a missile in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine. The U.S. and Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of downing the plane. The separatists denied responsibility.

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 carrying 239 people disappeared over the sea shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. The aircraft has yet to be found.

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(CNN) — This time last year, in the wake of Edward Snowden’s infamous Moscow layover and the grounding of Boeing’s newly introduced Dreamliner fleet, we made a case for 2013 being the most unusual year in the history of commercial travel.

That was before midair fights broke out over something called the Knee Defender and the state of Sochi hotel rooms became a matter of international concern.

On top of those somewhat absurd stories, 2014 has also been marked by tragedy, from the still-missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that disappeared under mysterious circumstances in March to Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine to Air Asia Flight QZ8501, which crashed into the sea as the year drew to a tumultuous end.

From a year that’s been everything from unpredictable to bizarre to catastrophic, these have been the biggest and most memorable travel stories.

51. The bull wishes to respectfully disagree

In July, Bill Hillmann, a Chicago man who’d recently co-authored the e-book “Fiesta, How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona,” was gored in the right thigh while running with the bulls in Pamplona.

“It’s been a hell of a sh**ty fiesta so far,” Hillmann reportedly said after surgery from his hospital bed.

50. First time “You remind me of my ex-girlfriend” ever worked

In November, Toronto resident Jordan Axani, 28, went online to search for a woman with the same name as his ex-girlfriend.

Axani posted on Reddit that he’d booked a “fairly wicked” trip (New York, Milan, Paris, Prague, Bangkok, New Delhi) when he and girlfriend Elizabeth Gallagher were still together.

“Anyone familiar with the archaic system that is modern air travel will know that a name change on a ticket is damn near impossible,” he wrote on the site.

After being contacted by many women, Axani settled on Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, as his new travel partner.

He said she stood out for her volunteer work at a homeless shelter.

49. “If you insist on looking like that, we’re not going.”

In March, the UK-based International Medical Travel Journal staged the first annual Medical Travel Awards in Dubai, recognizing top facilities offering treatment to visitors.

Jordan was named Destination of the Year.

48. The bacon-and-cheese therapy is particularly effective at lifting their spirits

Select Provenance hotels in the United States offered guests’ dogs acupuncture and Reiki treatments, as well as an in-house pet psychologist to help them better connect with their owners.

The service is reportedly available at Hotel deLuxe and Hotel Lucia (Portland, Oregon, of course), Hotel Murano (Tacoma, Washington), Hotel Max (Seattle) and Hotel Preston (Nashville, Tennessee).

47. Vacationers from Manhattan to Miami to Maui can’t believe how stupid they are

Proving once again they just can’t not be different, Lonely Planet picked Queens, New York, as the number one place to visit in its list of top 10 U.S. destinations for 2015.

Oakland, California, and Duluth, Minnesota, also made the list.

46. By the way, kids, 20 years ago it was called a self-timer

Whether filming or photographing themselves at dizzying heights atop skyscrapers in Shanghai and Hong Kong, or just chilling with bears at national parks in the United States, self-loving, snap-happy travelers around the world turned 2014 into the year of the dangerous selfie.

45. Can you feel the hate tonight?

Regularly slammed for charging fees for almost everything except oxygen, low-cost Florida-based Spirit Airlines launched an air travel State of Hate survey to assess the loathing their customers feel about travel as a whole.

The satisfying results of the survey filled out by almost 30,000 people?

It’s not just Spirit, fliers hate other airlines, too!

44. Thank God there was no damage over at the Buick Le Sabre Museum

Eight vehicles at Bowling Green, Kentucky’s National Corvette Museum were wrecked when a monster sinkhole in the earth swallowed them in April.

43. “Paint drying” and “grass growing” can’t believe they were passed over

British Airways unveiled “The Seven Hour Train Journey to Oslo,” perhaps the most boring inflight movie ever.

With no commentary to liven up the droll roll, the tedious epic depicts every coma-inducing detail of a slow-speed train journey to the Norwegian capital.

The airline said the film appeals to people who enjoy “wallpaper” viewing experiences.

42. An even bigger blow to national dignity was just around the corner

Saying money from visitors helps them preserve their homes and heritage, many of Italy’s cash-strapped counts and countesses threw open the doors of their centuries-old palaces to tourists, guiding them through grand halls and explaining the exquisite frescoes of such cultural pillars as 18th-century Venetian painter Giambattista Crosato.

The counts weren’t only willing to wear funny hats for the amusement of their visitors, they helped arrange travel bookings around the Venetian countryside.

41. Told you!

An Australian chef took home top honors at the World Pizza Championship in Italy.

40. And never accuse the British of making sweeping generalizations based on nationality

“Don’t ask superstitious people from Hong Kong to sleep in a historic property or a four-poster bed” and avoid “exchanging a smile or making eye contact with anyone from France you don’t know” were among a list of peculiar dos and don’ts prepared for the tourist industry in January by VisitBritain.

39. “You say Grenada, I say Granada. Wait, wha?”

An U.S. dentist named Edward Gamson said he was suing British Airways for being flown to Grenada in the Caribbean, instead of Granada, Spain, the destination he said he’d booked.

Gamson claimed the airline refused to reimburse his first-class tickets and didn’t reroute he and his partner to Granada from Grenada.

The same mix-up had occurred with a different passenger just a week earlier. Really.

38. “What part of ‘G’day mate’ don’t you understand?”

Saying its tourists need to become more self-reliant, the Australian government announced its overseas consulates would no longer assist with petty requests from its country’s travelers.

Recent calls for help from flustered Aussies abroad fielded by consulates have included requests to store luggage, take care of pets, book hotels and find local pubs showing the rugby league State of Origin game.

37. It’s not like there was a co-pilot sitting right next to him. Oh, wait …

Britain’s Air Accident Investigation Branch reported that a pilot’s prosthetic arm became detached as he performed a “flare manoeuver,” in which the nose of the plane is raised, in dark and windy conditions while bringing a Flybe airline turboprop plane with 47 passengers into Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland.

“As he made the flare manoeuvre … his prosthetic limb became detached from the yoke clamp, depriving him of control of the aircraft,” the report said.

“He made a rapid assessment of the situation and considered alerting the co-pilot, before deciding the best option was to continue one-handed.”

36. We didn’t go through this much Kleenex during the last Nicolas Sparks movie

When Jay Kwon Yang died from stomach cancer in Virginia in 2012, he left a dream unfulfilled: world travel.

When his 25-year-old daughter, Jinna Yang, couldn’t grow past the grief of losing her father, she decided to take him on the trip of his dreams.

Traveling with a portable, life-sized cutout of her father, Yang trekked across Europe and posed for pictures together in front of famous landmarks, from Skogafoss Waterfall in Iceland to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“I took the time to appreciate the little things,” says Yang. “In every city I went, I took time to sit and soak in sights.”

35. If they’d just stopped at “moldering flea trap” the fine would’ve been assessed in stale crumpets

When a couple left scathing comments on a travel review website describing a hotel in northern England where they’d stayed as a “filthy, dirty rotten stinking hovel,” they found an extra £100 ($156) added to their credit card bill.

The Broadway Hotel in the seaside resort of Blackpool reportedly told them its policy was to charge guests who posted negative reviews of their property.

The hotel later changed its policy.

34. Somehow, it’s not the same without the subtle bite of toxic particulate matter

Residents of Zhengzhou, one of China’s most polluted cities, lined up for a chance to breathe fresh mountain air from 2,000 cans and 40 sealed bags packed in from nearby Laojun Mountain.

Sponsored by Laojun Mountain Natural Reserve Development Co., the March series of events was part travel marketing stunt, part public awareness campaign for China’s air pollution crisis.

33. “We’re confused. Our grandkids told us ‘going viral’ was a good thing.”

The floating petri dish season got off to a robust start when Royal Caribbean’s ill-fated Explorer of the Seas set a record (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) after nearly 700 crew and passengers fell ill on a January Caribbean cruise.

The Caribbean Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, cut short its own seven-day January Caribbean itinerary, saying that 178 passengers and 11 crew members aboard had been stricken with norovirus.

In April, 105 passengers and crew aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas were affected primarily with vomiting and diarrhea. During the ship’s cruise the prior week, 117 passengers and crew were struck with illness.

In the same month, 152 passengers and crew were sickened on Princess Cruise’s Crown Princess during a week-long cruise.

In November, a norovirus outbreak aboard the same ship infected 158 passengers and 14 crew members during a sailing from Los Angeles to Tahiti.

32. After the norovirus cruises, it didn’t sound like such a bad idea

Frenchman Baptiste Dubanchet bicycled from Paris to Warsaw eating food only found in trash cans.

The 26-year-old dumpster diver embarked on his mission to highlight the issue of food waste.

31. At least he managed to sustain something

At Boston’s Logan Airport, a naked man reportedly fell through the ceiling of a woman’s restroom.

According to Boston.com, the 26-year-old sustained “numerous cuts to his head and body.”

30. Oh, get over yourselves, the pizza’s not that bad

The self-esteem of airports in the United States took a pounding.

In February, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said New York’s frequently lambasted LaGuardia Airport “feels like it’s in some third world country.”

In March, the UK-based Skytrax consultancy released its annual list of the world’s top 100 airports. The highest ranking any U.S. airport managed to muster was No. 27, achieved by the relatively small Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The venerable Economist eventually joined the dogpile, declaring U.S. airports “awful,” beset by “soggy pizza, surly security staff and endless queues.”

29. You just know someone’s gonna patent this idea

According to a published report by Fairuz Romli, an aerospace engineering professor at the Universiti Putra Malaysia, the vertical passenger seat — or “standing cabin” — may be the next big cost-cutting move in aviation.

“I stumbled across the idea when I was looking (into) ways to reduce the flight ticket price,” Romli to CNN.

28. Told you!

Airbus filed a patent application for narrow rows of folding saddle seats with low backrests on which passengers perch rather than recline.

An Airbus spokesperson told CNN that the patent didn’t necessarily mean it’d be saddling up its aircraft anytime soon.

27. “You don’t know squat.” “Actually, we do.”

When Cory Tschogl agreed to let two men stay in her Southern California condo through Airbnb, she expected them to leave after 44 days.

Upon the July end of their rental agreement, however, the ad hoc squatters refused to vacate the condo, claiming a legal right to stay.

In California, renters who occupy a property for more than 30 consecutive days are considered full-time tenants with rights to occupancy protected under state law.

The case, which attracted national media attention, came to a bizarre end when the men seemingly sneaked out of the condo unnoticed sometime in mid-August.

26. Baby, c’mon, don’t do us like that

A dispute between locals and Chinese mainland tourists over a toddler who reportedly answered the call of nature on a Hong Kong street escalated into a minor scuffle.

Videos of the clash went viral, stirring online uproar in both Hong Kong and the mainland.

Angry Chinese netizens called for a boycott of Hong Kong, while others urged parents to let their children pee in public en masse in response to the outcry.

The whole fiasco eventually became known across social media as “Bladdergate.”

25. If only social media contracts came with social contracts

In April, a 14-year-old Dutch girl tweeted a terror threat to American Airlines that catapulted her into social media fame.

A Twitter user calling herself Sarah with the handle @QueenDemetriax_ tweeted “@AmericanAir hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye.”

American Airlines responded from its official Twitter account saying “@QueenDemetriax_ Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”

Moments later, in a series of tweets, the girl pleaded with the airline, writing “I’m just a girl” and claiming the threat was a joke made by her friend.

The teen turned herself in to police after authorities launched an investigation, and was charged with “posting a false or alarming announcement.”

24. This is why you should always check first before dropping in on the neighbors

In January, a Southwest Airlines jet with 124 passengers touched down at a small airport in Taney County, Missouri, about seven miles from where it was supposed to land at Branson Airport.

23. If he really wanted to impress us, he’d have demanded his mileage points

In April, a 16-year-old runaway popped out of the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight from California to the amazement of the ground crew at Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii.

Officials said the boy rode in a tiny, cramped compartment for almost five hours, at altitudes that reached 38,000 feet, without oxygen and in subzero temperatures.

22. What we have here is a failure to communicate. Again.

A series of near-misses between aircraft included a jetliner pilot in March reporting a near collision with a drone over Florida; two planes nearly colliding in April at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport; a Boeing 767 belonging to Russian airline UTair pulling up from its landing approach as an Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus A340 taxied across its path at Barcelona Airport in July; and a December report by British safety officials that at an altitude of 700 feet, a drone helicopter came within 20 feet of hitting a commercial jetliner as it landed at London Heathrow Airport.

Finally, in December, contact came when the wingtip of a Southwest Airlines 737 clipped an American Airlines 737 awaiting a gate at New York’s LaGuardia International Airport.

“There was this bump. I look out the window and I actually see the tip of the plane (wing) falling off,” said passenger Stormie Alsruhe. “I saw it kind of dangle and it just fell. And I thought, ‘OK great, we’re not taking off now.’”

21. What we could use now is a good toilet tax

Passengers departing from Simon Bolivar International Airport of Maiquetia in Caracas, Venezuela, had to pony up a levy of 127 bolivars ($18) to pay for a new air conditioning unit, according to a statement on the airport’s website.

The “breathing tax,” which went into force on July 1, generated bemusement in Venezuela, with many taking to Twitter to criticize the measure.

“While the stench of the toilets asphyxiates me … they have started to charge 127 bolivars for breathing the ozone,” tweeted Vero (@VeronicaTorresA).

20. All that being true, the voucher for the free cocktail in the lobby bar was appreciated

Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission found the company blocked consumer Wi-Fi networks during an event at a hotel and conference center in Nashville.

At the same time, Marriott was charging exhibitors and others as much as $1,000 per device to access the hotel’s wireless network, according to the FCC.

19. The bare butts were bad, but the didgeridoo-yoga sessions are what really pushed authorities over the top

In March, four American tourists were detained for getting naked and posing for photos at Machu Picchu, in Peru.

The same week, two Canadians and two Australians were detained for stripping down for pictures at the 15th-century Inca citadel.

Peru’s Ministry of Culture denounced the regular spectacle of nude visitors at Machu Picchu as “disrespectful” and “unfortunate events that threaten cultural heritage.”

Cusco’s regional director of culture vowed park guards at Machu Picchu would crackdown on naked tourism.

18. It was either that or get naked at Machu Picchu

Authorities in Rome slapped a 20,000 euro ($24,800) fine on a 42-year-old Russian tourist caught carving his name into the Colosseum, the Roman amphitheater in the center of the city.

17. We sided with the pilot

On a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver, two 48-year-old passengers fought over a Knee Defender device that blocks seats from reclining.

When a female passenger was unable to recline her seat, a flight attendant told the man seated behind her to remove the Knee Defender.

When he declined, the female passenger threw water in his face.

The pilot diverted the flight to Chicago, where both passengers were removed from the plane but not arrested.

16. Meanwhile, we can’t even get a pair of fingernail clippers past security

After three separate attempts to stow away on airplanes, 62-year-old Marilyn Jean Hartman slipped past a checkpoint at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California without a ticket and boarded a Southwest Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles International Airport.

Hartman was arrested in Los Angeles, later pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of stowing away and was sentenced to two years probation.

15. Upon discovering their seatback pockets were empty, they split into groups to design, edit and publish their own inflight magazine

When temperatures of minus 50 C caused their aircraft’s landing gear to ice up, passengers left their seats to give their frozen Tupolev Tu-134 airplane a push at snowbound Igarka Airport in Siberia.

According to the Komsomolskaya Pravda website, there were cries of “Let’s go!” as two rows of passengers, dressed in heavy coats and thick gloves, each took a wing and began shoving the aircraft into position.

“We all want to get home,” one of the burly volunteers was quoted as saying.

14. Wait a minute, this doesn’t mean we have to let babies off so easily

At Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, an “emotional support pig” brought onboard a US Airways flight bound for Washington, D.C., by a female passenger defecated in the aisle.

When the owner tied the estimated 70- to 80-pound beast to an armrest and tried to clean up after him, he began to howl.

The woman and pig left the plane before takeoff.

“She was talking to it like a person, saying it was being a jerk,” a horrified passenger later said. “I have no problems with babies, but this pig was letting out a howl.”

13. All that without the assistance of a Knee Defender? Not bad

A two-week period in December saw five separate incidents of Chinese tourists misbehaving on planes.

One couple, after throwing a series of tantrums, threw hot water at a flight attendant.

Emergency exits were opened in two separate incidents for different reasons.

A mini-brawl was touched off by a crying baby and reclining seats.

Rather than take the economy-class seat he’d paid for, a man named Xia plopped himself in first-class, refused to leave and “took his shoes and socks off and aired his feet off on the seat in front of him, emitting a noxious odor that inflamed every nostril in the cabin” and “during ascent and landing brushed off protestations from cabin crew and made full use of the kitchen and toilet,” according to China-based THAT’S media group.

12. This is why you don’t pack at the last minute

As of December 1, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration had seized a record 2,000 firearms from carry-on luggage. Even with a month to go, that was more than the TSA has ever seized in any other full year of its existence.

11. In fairness, you’ve never really tasted a nut until you’ve plucked one off those exquisite KAL first-class nut plates

Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-ah found herself at the center of a media storm after she ordered a plane at New York’s JFK airport return to the gate and a flight attendant be removed because she was served nuts in a bag instead of on a plate in first class.

On December 9, the 40-year-old exec resigned her posts with the airline, said the company chairman, who is also her father.

On New Year’s Eve she was back in the news when Korean authorities detained her.

A spokesman for the Seoul Western District Prosecutor’s Office said an arrest warrant had been approved because “the necessity was recognized because of the graveness of the case and there was an attempt to systematically cover up the charges since the beginning of the incident.”

Officials gave no other details, other than saying the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

10. “Oh, sorry. We thought you said mile-long club!”

With tens of thousands of people attempting to return home on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the line for security screening at Chicago Midway International Airport was so long that reporter Denise Whitaker of CNN affiliate KOMO measured it: 1.2 miles.

9. On the other hand, it doesn’t keep your mind off the whole tap-water-that-looks-like-cloudy-urine thing

Descending on Sochi, Russia, to cover the Winter Olympics, sportswriters from around the world immediately turned into TripAdvisor critics, tweeting about substandard lodgings, including dispatches on “water that looked like cloudy urine,” soiled bed sheets, missing light bulbs, lack of heat and hot water and menacing packs of stray dogs.

CNN’s Amanda Davies tweeted out about the “hotel chaos,” and the American Journalism Review recapped the entire ordeal faced by put-upon journos.

Tapping into the sunny disposition for which his countrymen are renowned around the globe, Canada’s National Post columnist Bruce Arthur wrote “most journalists are laughing when they can, and as Bonnie D. Ford of ESPN.com put it, at least it keeps your mind off the whole potential terrorism thing.”

8. Tumultuous season on Mount Everest

After a 2013 brawl between European climbers and Sherpas on Mount Everest, Nepalese authorities announced plans in 2014 to station security officers at the base of the world’s highest peak to keep order among climbing groups.

Things got much worse in April, when an avalanche on the mountain claimed the lives of 12 Sherpa guides and injured others.

The single deadliest accident on Everest led to an exodus of Sherpa from the mountain, effectively canceling the 2014 climbing season.

7. Fire breaks out aboard ferry in Adriatic Sea

More than 400 passengers were traveling on the Norman Atlantic between the Greece and Italy when a fire began, apparently in the ferry’s parking bay.

At least 10 people died, according to the Italian coast guard. After suffering for hours from cold and suffocating smoke aboard the stranded vessel, as many as 427 were saved in dramatic fashion in choppy seas.

6. Israel-Gaza conflict stops flights

In July, a number of the world’s leading airlines suspended flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for at least 24 hours after a rocket fired from Gaza struck about a mile from its runways.

The Israel Airport Authority said companies made the decisions on their own, and it urged them to reconsider, saying the airport was safe.

“There is no reason that American carriers should stop flying to Israel and thus give a prize to terror,” it said.

5. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo explodes in midair

In October, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo exploded over the Mojave Desert in California during a test flight just moments after liftoff, killing one pilot and injuring another.

Virgin Galactic has planned for years to sell trips in which SpaceShipTwo transports passengers about 62 miles above Earth — the beginning of outer space.

October also saw the catastrophic explosion of an unmanned rocket operated by Orbital Sciences that was carrying a Cygnus cargo spacecraft loaded with more than 5,000 pounds of equipment for the International Space Station.

Together, the disasters raised questions about the near-term viability of the private space travel industry.

4. Ebola concerns grip travelers around the world

Ebola fears that dominated headlines in October included the story of a man who, having reportedly joked that he had the deadly disease, was escorted off a plane by four officials in blue plastic hazmat suits after it landed in the Dominican Republic.

Events seemed to culminate in a battle of words between American nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned home from Ebola-ravaged West Africa only to be ordered into quarantine in New Jersey, and state Governor Chris Christie, who Hickox blamed for the quarantine, telling CNN that her “basic human rights had been violated.”

Hickox was eventually transported to her home in Maine by a private carrier, “not via mass transit or commercial aircraft,” according to a statement from Christie’s office.

3-1. Separate disasters befall Malaysia-based airlines

It was an eerie and tragic year for major commercial air carriers based in Malaysia.

On March 8, at 12:41 a.m., Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport in good weather en route to Beijing.

Carrying 239 people — 227 passengers and 12 crew members, representing 13 nationalities — the Boeing 777-200ER was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m.

About 45 minutes after takeoff, air traffic controllers outside Kuala Lumpur said they lost contact with the plane over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam. This is when the aircraft’s transponder was either turned off or stopped working.

Radar tracking showed MH370′s last known location over the tiny island of Pulau Perak in the Strait of Malacca, hundreds of miles from the flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, flying in the opposite direction from its scheduled destination and on the opposite side of the Malay Peninsula from its scheduled route.

Despite intense search efforts, the aircraft has yet to be found, making its whereabouts and the events that led to its disappearance one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history.

Scant months later, on July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed by a missile in a rebel-controlled part of eastern Ukraine.

The Boeing 777 carrying 298 people fell from the sky near the town of Torez in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine.

On the way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, the plane was flying at about 10,000 meters (nearly 33,000 feet) when it broke apart in the air after it was hit by a burst of “high-energy objects,” according to Dutch aviation investigators.

The United States and Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists operating in the region of downing the plane with a missile.

The separatists, who denied responsibility for bringing down the plane, took control of the crash site for weeks, combing through the wreckage and hindering access to investigators.

The third major calamity to befall a Malaysia-based airline occurred on December 28, when AirAsia Flight QZ8501 flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore disappeared in inclement weather over the Java Sea, between the islands of Belitung and Borneo.

As the year drew to a close, bodies and debris from the plane had been found near its last known location and search efforts continued for the Airbus A320-200 that carried 155 passengers and 7 crew members.

Experts acknowledged the strange circumstances that saw Flight QZ8501 drop off radar in the same region of the world as Malaysia Flight 370.

“It’s eerie, it’s unusual or just kind of spooky that this would happen in this area, but we don’t know the facts yet,” said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, in the days after the aircraft was lost.

This story compiled from reports filed by CNN producers, writers and contributors, and, in parts, with a respectful nod to Esquire magazine’s much-missed Dubious Achievement Awards.

Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/31/travel/year-in-travel-2014/

Where to Go Now: 3 Top Travel Destinations for 2015

Travel is back, and in a big way: according to a recent report by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the tourism agency of the United Nations, international tourism hit a new record in 2014, with over 1.1 billion travelers traversing the globe. And while conventional wisdom says the world is getting smaller, the list of potential destinations for passionate travelers continues to grow. While a quick Google Google search reveals the list of recommendations is seemingly endless, here are the three top places on my 2015 travel wish list. While the selection process was relatively unscientific, there are a host of compelling reasons to visit them in the year ahead, not the least of which is that they remain largely undiscovered…but not for long.

Montenegro is fast emerging as one of the most picturesque and luxurious destinations in Europe.

Montenegro: Long overshadowed by Croatia, its captivating neighbor to the west, Montenegro is poised to become a world-class luxury travel destination thanks to its idyllic, 180-mile-plus coastline and rugged interior dotted with river canyons, glacial lakes and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the singularly spectacular Durmitor National Park. Already home to the stunning Aman Sveti Stefan resort, which hosted the wedding of Novak Djokovic in July, the Balkan country is luring other top-tier operators, including the esteemed OneOnly chain, which will open its first European propert in Kumbor on Tivat Bay in 2016. Meanwhile, on the UNESCO-protected Bay of Kotor, Porto Montenegro, whose chief investor is Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk, is vying for the title of Europe’s leading marina, with berths up to 180 meters to accommodate superyachts; tax and duty-free fuel at 45% discount versus countries within the EU is another incentive sure to lure uber-wealthy mariners.

Namibia’s conservation initiatives have made it a model for the African continent. (Photo: Namibia tourism)

 

Namibia: Celebrating its 25th anniversary as an independent nation this year, Namibia is arguably the jewel of Africa, and an example to the continent—and the world—of the power of sustainable development. It was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution; the government has reinforced conservation efforts by giving its communities the opportunity and rights to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. Today, over 43% of Namibia’s surface area is under conservation management, and the program has facilitated a remarkable recovery of wildlife: Namibia now boasts the largest population of black rhinos and cheetahs in the world and is the only country with an expanding population of free-roaming lions, leading some to call Namibia’s conservation efforts the greatest African wildlife recovery story ever told. The country is also home to the largest sand dune in the world, Soussusvlei, and Fish River Canyon, the largest canyon in Africa.

The old town of Vilnius in Lithuania is one of the largest and most dazzling in Eastern Europe.

Lithuania: This former Soviet Republic, located east of Sweden and Denmark, will become a card-carrying member of the Eurozone starting January 1, 2015—which means traveling there is about to become a whole lot easier (think lots of ATMs, easier electronic payments, and a familiar currency). It’s also home to three UNECO World Heritage sites, including the old town of capital city Vilnius, a Baroque masterpiece and one of the largest old towns in Central and Eastern Europe; and the Curonian Spit, a 60-mile peninsula of spectacular beaches stretching south into Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave. Once heavily forested, it’s now the pride of the country and backed by Europe’s largest moving sand dune.

 

 

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexandrakirkman/2014/12/31/where-to-go-now-3-top-travel-destinations-for-2015/

Travel industry site Skift tries print

Skift, the travel-industry site, is the latest digital media operation to launch a print magazine, which comes out Jan. 13.

“I do think that print still has a value used strategically with a … digital-only company,” said Skift chief executive Rafat Ali, who founded the website for travel industry professionals in 2012. POLITICO, Capital New York, Pitchfork and PandoDaily are other examples of digital media outlets with insider readerships that now publish print magazines to complement their websites.

Skift magazine builds on the site’s annual travel trend forecast, which is published as a PDF and is “by far the most popular thing we do every year,” Ali said. “We sort of took the next logical step and said we should create something even more permanent than that, which is a print magazine that sort of encapsulates what we’re trying to do in terms of making a definite document in trends in travel.”

For now, Ali views the print product—which will be mailed to a calculated list of recipients and distributed at a launch event on Jan. 13—as a marketing tool to attract potential advertisers, clients and readers, rather than a new ad revenue stream. (Skift, which was founded with venture-capital funding, earns revenue through the sale of trend reports, branded content, and conference tickets.)

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But “advertisers still love print magazines, and they love seeing themselves in [them],” Ali said.

The first issue of Skift magazine is sponsored by the airline Virgin Atlantic, the travel sector tech company Amadeus and Expedia’s corporate travel division, Egencia. It features 15 travel trends for 2015.

Ali, a fan of such indie magazines as the U.K.-based global luxury lifestyle title Monocle and its Middle Eastern counterpart, Brownbook, hopes to increase Skift’s frequency and hire an in-house graphic designer to oversee the next issue.

Skift.com has an average of a million unique visitors a month, according to Ali; most of the site’s traffic comes through its email newsletters.

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Article source: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/media/2014/12/8559341/travel-industry-site-skift-tries-print

Gulliver’s most read stories of 2014

IT HAS been an interesting year here on the Gulliver blog. We have covered everything from the tragedies of the two Malaysian Airlines disasters, to the diary of a correspondent’s cat, who was forced to follow his master from London to São Paulo. But which have been the stories that most captured readers’ imaginations? Listed below are the ten most-read stories on this blog from the past 12 months. 

1. Kissing business acquaintances: X, XXX or XXXXX?
A map showing how many times French people in different regions typically kiss one another when they greet highlights why, in a business setting, it is best to stick to a firm handshake

2. Boeing’s 747: The end?
The iconic jumbo isn’t dead yet. But it is not so crazy to say that it is headed for retirement.

3. Flying first class: The rarefied air at the front
Lufthansa’s decision to install humidifiers in its first-class cabins ensures that the people at the front of the plane even enjoy better air than the rest

4. Amtrak: The map that shows the real problem
Why does Amtrak require so much taxpayer money to survive?

5. US Airways handles a mistake with grace: Self-congratulations all around
An exemplary tale of how to deal with a social-media cock-up

6. Underwhelming tourist attractions: Is that it?
Stonehenge, the Little Mermaid and the Pyramids at Giza: a few of the nominations for most disappointing must-sees

7. Legroom on aeroplanes: A modest proposal for the equitable treatment of the taller passenger
Lengthy passengers should be given a free extra seat

8. Airport lounges: Ticket to nowhere
One man goes a bit too far in his quest to use Lufthansa’s airport lounges

9. Tourists’ reputation abroad: I know your type
Gulliver is forced to climb down when the mother of a young man, whose picture we used to illustrate this story on British louts abroad, rang to complain

10. A hook-up app for travellers: Make it a Tripr to remember
A new travel app is designed to help take the solitude out of lonely road trips

Article source: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2014/12/gullivers-most-read-stories-2014

19 events worth traveling for in 2015


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Elvis’ pink Cadillac — which inspired many a song lyric — can be seen at Graceland in Tennessee, during January celebrations to honor what would have been the King’s 80th birthday.

Combine speed skating with an obstacle course and you get Crashed Ice. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the event series kicks off in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in January.

The FIS Alpine Ski World Championships return to the United States for the first time since 1999, taking over Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado, in February.

Historic Macau, with its blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures, hosts some of the most colorful Lunar New Year celebrations on earth.

A historical enactment of Napoleon’s 1815 landing will be held in Golfe-Juan, France, February 28-March 1.

Acts come from all over Africa to perform at Morocco’s annual Gnaoua World Music Festival, held in 2015 in May.

Foreign tourists take part in water battles during Thailand’s Songkran Festival at Khao San Road in Bangkok (pictured). Chiang Mai has a reputation for the wildest Songkran festivities.

Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau Bun Festival in May is perhaps the world’s only celebration that stems from a killer plague.

The three Queens of cruising — the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria — will arrive in Liverpool in May to mark the 175th anniversary of the Cunard Cruise Line.

An estimated 20 million travelers from around the world are expected to converge on Milan between May and October for Expo Milano 2015.

In 2015, the best place to take a closer look at Jeff Koons’ work will be at the UK’s beautiful Norwich Castle, Norfolk, which is hosting an exhibition of the American’s work from May to September.

Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence in 2015. National Day celebrations, held on August 9, will be spectacular.

The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima (pictured) and Nagasaki. Memorial events will be held in both cities on August 6 and 9.

Brazilian municipality Porto Nacional will host the first World Indigenous Games in 2015. More than 2,000 athletes from indigenous groups in 30-plus countries will take part.

Puppeteers from around the world will head for Charleville, in northern France, to take part in the annual World Puppet Festival in September.

Had enough of Munich? Cannstatter Wasen (Stuttgart Beer Festival) takes place from late September to October and offers carnival rides and live music, as well as lots of beer.

One of 2015′s biggest sporting events, the Rugby World Cup will hold three of its most important matches in Newcastle, UK.

In 2015, Formula 1 returns to Mexico for the first time since 1992. The big race will take place on the Day of the Dead (November 1) in Mexico City.

Edinburgh, Scotland’s Hogmanay event is one of the largest New Year’s Eve parties on the planet, with nearly 100,000 people coming to watch five tons of fireworks.

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(CNN) — Still haven’t filled your 2015 travel calendar?

Whether you’re a lover of the arts, a sports fan or just looking for a fantastic party, here are 19 global events worth hitting the road for next year.

Elvis’s 80th birthday celebrations

Dates: January 7-10

Where: Graceland, Tennessee

Big Elvis Presley fan?

There’s no better time to head to Graceland to celebrate would have been the King’s 80th birthday.

Events include a private tour of Graceland, an Elvis Presley Day proclamation by Memphis County officials and birthday cake.

Fans can sign up for Elvis-themed city tours and attend at a live concert at the Memphis Cannon Center for the Performing Arts.

“A very special event will be an auction of third party-owned Elvis artifacts,” says Kevin Kern, director of communications at Graceland.

Graceland.com has more information.

Red Bull Crashed Ice

Dates: January 22-24

Where: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Combine speed skating with an obstacle course and you get Crashed Ice, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2015.

The race sees some of the world’s top downhill skaters negotiate a frozen course littered with obstacles, while hitting speeds of up to 60 mph.

The Minnesota event will be the first in a series of eight taking place in 2015.

“The sight of extreme athletes careering down an ice track outside Saint Paul’s iconic cathedral is an awe-inspiring spectacle — and one great big party,” says Terry Mattson, president of Visit Saint Paul tourism.

Redbullcrashedice.com has more info.

FIS Alpine Ski World Championships

Dates: February 2-15

Where: Vail, Colorado

In 2015 the FIS Alpine Ski World Championships return to the United States for the first time since 1999, taking over Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado.

In addition to world-class skiers on the slopes, highlights of this biennial event include a high-altitude gig by DJ Decimo on February 14.

The Vail Winter Beer Camp (basically an enormous outdoor beer garden) will welcome sports fans for the duration.

“The ski races are going to be great entertainment but there are so many other things to do,” says Mikaela Shiffrin, a racer for the US Ski Team.

“Aspen is already a great ski destination, and to have two weeks of amazing events provides even more reason to visit.”

More info at Vailbeavercreek2015.com.

Lunar New Year

Dates: February 19-21

Where: Macau

Sure, you could head to any given Chinatown in the world to enjoy Lunar New Year festivities.

But historic Macau is where you’ll find some of the most colorful celebrations on earth — and enjoy fabulous Portuguese cuisine while you’re at it.

A-Ma Temple, one of the city’s oldest, hosts some of Macau’s best Lunar New Year’s eve events.

The lions are more energetic, the dragon dances more lively and the firecrackers just seem louder than at other celebrations.

Naturally, the crowds are bigger, too.

Bicentennial of Napoleon’s landing

Dates: February 28-March 1

Where: Golfe-Juan, France

On March 1, 1815, Napoleon landed in Golfe-Juan (now a seaside resort on France’s Cote d’Azur), having just escaped from exile in Elba.

It was from here that he set out on a journey — known as “Route Napoleon” — that would see him return to power a few weeks later when he cruised into Tuileries Palace in Paris and made it his home.

A historical enactment will be held in Golfe-Juan to mark the occasion, but if you miss the main event you can visit later in the year to cycle, walk or drive the Route Napoleon.

“It was the road Napoleon took north to Paris via Grenoble for his big comeback,” says Eric Dore, managing director of the Cote d’Azur tourist board.

“It’s historically unique and easy to navigate, and those who attempt it will get superb vistas over the surrounding countryside of glorious Provence and the Riviera.”

More info at Vallauris-golfe-juan.fr.

Gnaoua World Music Festival

Dates: May 14-17

Where: Essaouira, Morocco

African music festivals are seriously underrated, and the Gnaoua World Music Festival in Essaouira is one of the best.

Held in Morocco’s windsurfing capital, the event offers an irresistible combination of jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop and contemporary world music.

The festival has been taking place since the late 1990s and acts come from all over Africa to perform.

If you live in Europe, getting to Essouria is easier than ever thanks to the recent additions of new flights by various budget airlines.

Full event lineup is available on the official festival website, Festival-gnaoua.net.

Songkran -- Thai New Year

Dates: April 13-15

Where: All over Thailand

Thailand’s massively popular Songkran Festival — held in celebration of the new solar year — is basically one nationwide water fight.

But it didn’t start out that way.

Originally, families and friends celebrated Songkran by visiting temples and pouring water on each other’s hands and Buddha statues as a blessing, to start the year filled with good luck.

Though these traditions continue, over the years people started to engage in water fights in the streets — a welcome form of relief given that April is the hottest month of the year.

Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, has a reputation for holding the wildest Songkran festivities.

Though Thailand’s New Year celebrations are the most well known, attracting tourists from around the region, Songkran is also celebrated in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.

Cheung Chau Bun Festival

Dates: May 22-26

Where: Hong Kong

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) a plague killed thousands of people on Cheung Chau, an island south of Hong Kong.

Islanders built an altar, performed Taoist rituals and burned effigies in an effort to drive off the evil spirits they believed were to blame — their efforts are remembered with the annual Cheung Chau Bun Festival.

It’s named after the most popular event, which sees locals scramble up a bamboo tower and collect as many “lucky buns” as possible.

“The Bun Scrambling competition is the only one in the world,” points out Mr. Yung Chi-ming, chairman of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival Committee.

“Afterward, buns are given out as a gesture of peace and happiness.”

Discoverhongkong.com has more info.

Cunard’s 175th anniversary

Dates: May 24-26

Where: Liverpool, UK

Today’s cruise ships might have robot bartenders and water parks, but in 2015 visitors to Liverpool will be far more interested in a trio of slightly more historic vessels.

The three Queens of cruising — the Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria — will arrive in Liverpool in May to mark the 175th anniversary of the Cunard Cruise Line.

“Two of Liverpool’s proudest assets are its waterfront and its culture, and Cunard’s 175th anniversary is the perfect time to see them,” says Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool.

“The meeting of the three Queens will be a one-off event, and they’ll get a reception like no other when they arrive.”

MORE: 14 amazing cruises setting sail in 2015

Expo Milano 2015

Dates: May 1-October 31

Where: Milan, Italy

Milan will host the Universal Exposition for the second time in 2015 (it first hosted the event in 1906).

The theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” and there’s been a huge amount of urban regeneration going on in preparation for the expo, much of which has been overseen by Italian architect Massimiliano Fuksas.

Must-sees are expected to be the Future Food District, where visitors can find out how food will be produced, distributed, prepared and consumed in the future, and the Arts and Foods exhibition, which takes a look at everything from food packaging design to the aesthetics of kitchen utensils.

Full event info at Expo2015.org.

Jeff Koons Exhibition

Dates: May 9-September 6

Where: Norwich Castle, Norfolk, UK

Jeff Koons might be an American artist — famous for his quirky reproductions of everyday objects — but in 2015 the best opportunity to take a closer look at his work comes at an exhibition in the UK’s beautiful Norwich Castle.

“This will be the biggest Jeff Koons exhibition in Britain for a decade and an unmissable opportunity for visitors to see the work of such an important, influential and fun artist,” says William Galinsky, artistic director of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

“It’s the only chance to see his work in the UK in 2015.”

Singapore’s Golden Jubilee celebrations

When: August 9

Where: Singapore

Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence in 2015, with events being held throughout the year.

But the best time to visit is on August 9 for National Day, as this year’s celebrations are expected to be bigger and better than ever.

There will be fireworks, parades, shows, youth rallies and the opening of a new walkway from the Civic District to Marina Bay.

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Memorial

When: August 6 and 9

Where: Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan to learn more about its World War II history, now’s the time to go.

The year 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Memorial events will be held in both cities on August 6 and 9, while a number of special arts projects will be held throughout the year.

MORE: Hiroshima atomic bomb attraction more popular than ever

World Indigenous Games

When: September 18-25

Where: Porto Nacional, Brazil

Though the 2016 Olympics in Rio are hogging the spotlight, Brazil is hosting a smaller but arguably much cooler event in 2015 — the first World Indigenous Games in Porto Nacional.

More than 2,000 athletes from indigenous groups from more than 30 countries will be traveling to the municipality of Porto Nacional to take part in a wide range of disciplines, including archery, javelin, tug-of-war, canoeing, log racing, wrestling, football, xikunahati (headball), swimming and other athletics.

Though the games have taken place for more than 10 years, this will be the first time the event is open to athletes from outside Brazil.

More info at the official games website, www.i-games2015.com.

World Puppet Festival

When: September 18-27

Where: Charleville, France

Charleville is regarded as a major international center of puppetry and has one of the world’s top marionette schools.

At this annual event, 150 professional troupes from as far afield as Burma, Mali and Jordan put on up to 50 shows a day.

“The event is a huge celebration and of great importance to locals, because the region has such a long tradition with puppets and marionettes — or les petits comediens, as we like to call them,” says local restaurant owner Guy Barbara.

“The excitement builds before the grand parade, and then there are 10 days of fun on the pavements and sidewalks of Charleville. There really is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world!”

More info at Festival-marionnette.com.

Cannstatter Wasen (Stuttgart Beer Festival)

When: September 25-October 11

Where: Stuttgart, Germany

Munich’s Oktoberfest hogs the limelight when it comes to beer festivals, but the Cannstatter Wasen (Stuttgart Beer Festival) is becoming a worthy rival.

The event lasts for two weeks and first took place in 1818.

It’s the world’s second largest beer festival.

In addition to numerous beer tents, there’s a huge Ferris wheel, carnival rides, live music and

plenty of sugared almonds — a Stuttgart specialty — to soak up the alcohol.

Rugby World Cup 2015

When: October 3, 9 and 10

Where: Newcastle, UK

Another one for sports fans.

One of 2015′s biggest sporting events, the Rugby World Cup will hold three of its most important matches in Newcastle.

“The Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event in the world and it will be the largest sporting event in England next year,” says Eric Fry, a member of the American team who also plays for Newcastle’s local rugby union team.

“Some of the best teams in the world will be playing at St. James’ Park, including New Zealand — the current world champions.”

Mexican Grand Prix

When: November 1

Where: Mexico City

In 2015, Formula 1 will return to Mexico for the first time since 1992.

The big racing event will take place on Mexico’s Day of the Dead, when family and friends gather to pray for friends and family members who have died.

The course is incredibly historic.

The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit was named after two racing driver brothers, Ricardo and Pedro Rodriguez, and has also hosted several NASCAR events.

Tickets available at Tickets.formula1.com.

MORE: Formula One: Mexico GP given green light for 2015 season

Hogmanay celebrations

When: December 31

Where: Edinburgh, Scotland

There’s no better way to finish the year than with a visit to one of the largest New Year’s Eve parties on the planet.

Almost 100,000 people will attend the annual Hogmanay event, which is manned by 1,000 volunteers.

It begins with a torchlight procession involving more than 25,000 locals, led by Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Vikings, with their pipes and drums, and culminates atop Calton Hill, when more than five tons of fireworks will blast into the sky.

On New Year’s Eve, as many as 100,000 people will take to the streets to sing “Auld Lang Syne” — apparently the biggest and loudest rendition of the song in the world — and party.

Live footage from the celebration is beamed to more than one billion people in 150 countries.

More info at Edinburghshogmanay.com.

Article source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/31/travel/top-2015-events/

2015 Travel Resolutions You Can Actually DO

2015. A Clean slate.

Every year we make resolutions. Every year most of us break them.

Travelers are a different breed, however; we usually follow through. Even when we have more will than wallet, we figure out a way to wherever it is we really want to go.

In fact, for serious travelers, travel-related New Year resolutions are even kind of fun to think about because travelers have dream destinations and bucket lists to consider.

So, thinking in that vein, I polled a gaggle of great travel buddies last week, and assembled the following Travel Resolutions that would make us all better travelers in 2015:

● We resolve to take any and all vacation time allotted to us…and steal whatever extra days off we can.
● We resolve to walk more.
● We resolve to be in the moment and love where we are…not where else we could go or be.
● We resolve to take better pictures.
● We resolve to not read or write any more travel top 10 (or 15 or 11 or 9 or 8 or 7 or 3) lists.
● We resolve to consciously unplug for longer and longer stretches when we travel this year.
● We resolve to say yes instead of maybe and allow for serendipity.
● We resolve to challenge ourselves more when we travel.
● We resolve to buy quality travel gear and take less of it.
● We resolve to learn something new in each new place we go: how to speak the language, how to cook a meal, about their history, about a new religion, etc…
● We resolve to see our home environments in the context of an out of timer and experience our own environment in a fresh way.
● We resolve to get out of our comfort zone on a daily basis: try exotic foods, say yes to an unknown adventure, take local public transportation over a taxi, sing in front of people, and organize a peer-to-peer dinner party, etc…
● We resolve to turn strangers in strange lands into our friends.
● We will be more patient this year.
● We resolve to go someplace new in 2015, instead of returning to the old tried and true go-to vacation destinations we normally visit. We will spread our wings, expand our horizons to new experiences, sights, cultures and unique cuisines.
● We resolve to put our money where our mouths are (and beliefs too!) in 2015, and not patronize travel services that, well, patronize us. “No” and, “That’s not right,” are mighty powerful words that many in the travel business need to hear — a lot more often!
● We resolve to take authentic, challenging and participatory adventures; less like the reality show, The Amazing Race, and more like the real-life event The Global Scavenger Hunt.
● We resolve to not let technology get in the way of us meeting fellow travelers and indigenous people when traveling (some of us will actually resolve to completely unplug when we travel in 2015).
● We resolve to start speaking up for our vacation and travel rights: 1. Our right to have and take annual time off work (America needs a vacation mandate), and 2. Our rights as traveling consumers (a.k.a. a real Passenger Bill of Rights).
● We resolve to leave our expectations packed, hidden and deep in the back of a closet at home alone, and travel fearlessly without preconceived ideas or prospects. To be free and open to the great serendipity of travel.
● We resolve to integrate travel into our lives more, as we have with a good diet, exercising regularly and sleeping right. Travel is good for us in so many ways, be it physically, mentally and spiritually.
● We resolve to never again bring up the over-intellectualizing, self-aggrandizing, ego-gratifying vapid distinction between so-called travelers and tourists. Anyone who travels is both — tourist and traveler — no matter what they think.
● We resolve to not flaunt our travel exploits and long-winded adventure stories to others — nor to shamelessly show off our travel selfies.

BTW: The best tried and true methods for keeping your resolutions are twofold: plan ahead and stick to it.

Happy Trails in 2015!

Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-d-chalmers/2015-travel-resolutions-y_b_6396794.html

Airport travel tips: What’s allowed and what’s not

Security officials have a simple request for the 1.5 million people traveling through Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport this holiday season.

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Leave your machetes at home.

Store them with your guns and knives, because all of those things have been nabbed at security.

The airport organized an event Tuesday to reiterate travel restrictions, particularly regarding carry-on luggage.

FLL Airport expects more than 1.5 million holiday travelers

Sari Koshetz, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, showed a table of potential weapons confiscated from travelers in the past year: several grenades, a 15-pound kettlebell, golf clubs, a mallet, power tools and BB guns.

Anything that can be used to bludgeon or stab someone should be left out of carry-ons, TSA, airport and Broward sheriff’s officials.

If you need your gun or machete on your trip, pack it in your checked luggage, they advised. Even then, firearms must be unloaded, in a locked, hard-sided case, and must be declared to the airline.

So far this year, TSA officers have stopped 48 guns from making it past security at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Most were loaded.

Not following the rules can lead to civil penalties of up to $11,000 from the TSA, plus criminal penalties from the sheriff’s office.

TSA, airport and sheriff’s officials gave these tips about carry-on bags:

• Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less per container.

Contents must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bags.

One of those bags is permitted per passenger

The bag should be taken out of your carryon and placed into a screening bin.

Larger liquids such as medications, baby formula/food and breast milk are allowed in “reasonable quantities” exceeding 3 ounces and don’t have to be in zip-top bags.

If you’re not sure about an item, put it in a checked bag.

For more information about what is and isn’t allowed, go to tsa.gov.

mvalverde@sunsentinel.com, 954-356-4526, Twitter @MiriamValverde

Copyright © 2014, Sun Sentinel

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/tourism/fl-airport-travel-tips-20141230-story.html

Why Don’t Americans Need A Visa To Travel To Europe?

Every year, millions of Americans grab a passport, hop on a plane, and fly to Europe. But they would have to think twice and do a lot more legwork if they needed a visa on each trip.

Fortunately for tourists and tour operators, Americans avoid the hassle of applying for visas to every country they wish to visit in Europe. The reason? The United States has reciprocal agreements in place that permit Americans to travel to Europe (and certain other countries) without a visa in exchange for the citizens of those other nations enjoying the same rights.

In the United States, it is called the Visa Waiver Program and it now includes 38 countries. If the Visa Waiver Program did not exist and every Western European tourist needed to apply for a visa to visit the United States, then every American would need to apply for a visa to visit France, Germany and other members of the European Union. That type of barrier to travel would impede business and tourism – and cost jobs.

Tourism is a form of trade and economists agree free trade is one of the most important economic policies any nation can practice. About 1.3 million Americans owe their jobs to international travelers, since “each overseas visitor spends on average $4,500 per visit, at American hotels, shops, restaurants and other domestic businesses,” according to a White House report on increasing tourism.

A great deal of private enterprise is predicated on easy travel between countries. If an American travels to the United Kingdom, he or she can buy the London Pass, which entitles the purchaser to visit the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and other sites without additional cost.

In France, the Paris Big Bus Tour allows tourists to hop on and off at 9 sites around the city, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre Museum, and provides prerecorded audio tours in English and many other languages.

Meanwhile, in the United States the expectation of foreign tourism figures into hiring plans in places as diverse as Orlando, Florida and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The international success of the show Breaking Bad has drawn domestic and foreign tourists to Albuquerque to take the ABQ Trolley Bad tour and to visit other sites in the city. On the ABQ Trolley tour, fans see the houses “lived in” by key characters, such as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White, and stop by the restaurant used for the fast food chain Pollos Hermanos.

To make the Visa Waiver Program effective U.S. officials need to work with allies on stolen passports and other issues that could present security threats. Foreign travelers must submit personal information prior to travel through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization run by the Department of Homeland Security.

Article source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stuartanderson/2014/12/30/why-dont-americans-need-a-visa-to-travel-to-europe/

Travel firms sue creator of cheap airfare site

The website seeks out routes that involve a stopover in a big city

United Airlines and travel firm Orbitz have launched legal action against a site that seeks out cheap “hidden city” airfares.

The site finds cheap fares by looking for flights that have a stopover at the city someone wants to travel to.

The two firms allege the site is engaged in “unfair competition” and seeks to recoup lost revenue.

The developer behind the site said he was doing nothing wrong by exposing the “inefficiencies” in airline ticketing.

The legal action has been filed in Illinois.

No luggage

The Skiplagged website works by looking for longer flights that include a stop in a big city en route to another destination. One example might be flying from New York to Lake Tahoe that has a stopover in San Francisco.

If someone wanted to travel to San Francisco they might spend less on the fare by booking the stopover flight and not travelling to Tahoe than they would simply booking a flight to San Francisco from New York. In some cases, the site suggests, travellers can save 40% or more on ticket fares.

The trick only works with one-way flights. Travellers cannot check in any luggage as that would then travel on to the flight’s final destination.

Twenty-two-year-old developer Aktarer Zaman, who created the site, told CNNMoney that he had made no profit from Skiplagged. He declined to comment specifically on the case to CNN.

Mr Zaman has launched a fundraising campaign to gather cash to fight the legal battle against United and Orbitz. So far he has raised $10,538 (£6,776) of the $15,000 needed.

In its legal filing, United and Orbitz said the site was “intentionally and maliciously” interfering with the travel firms’ business and was making it breach its contracts with its partners.

The documents added that “logistical and public safety concerns” meant using “hidden city” tickets was prohibited and, as a result, using Skiplagged broke these rules.

The two firms are seeking damages of at least $75,000 in revenue they claim they have lost as a result of Skiplagged operating.

Article source: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30634144