Travel News: BYO Crockpot; Cocktail Conference; 1-Year Tour

SKIING IN MICHIGAN: BYO CROCKPOT

Lots of skiers pack sandwiches and snacks to fuel a day on the slopes. But at one Michigan ski resort, skiers can now bring their own crockpots and let their meal cook indoors while they enjoy the day outdoors.

Pete Meyer, spokesman for Caberfae Peaks, says the lodge’s entire lower level is dedicated to “those packing their own lunches and for those bringing crockpots.”

Caberfae is located about 45 minutes from Traverse City.

Other winter destinations and activities in Michigan include Mount Bohemia, which has among the longest runs, highest vertical and deepest snow in the Midwest, averaging 273 inches a year; ice-climbing at frozen waterfalls; winter surfing for those brave enough to face the Great Lakes in winter, with swells up to 27 feet on Lake Superior or Lake Michigan; and snowmobiling on 6,500 miles of trails and across 11,000 frozen inland lakes.

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COCKTAIL CONFERENCE IN SAN ANTONIO

Aficionados of cocktail culture may want to head to San Antonio, Texas, in January for an entire conference devoted to cocktails.

The fifth annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference, a four-day festival that benefits five children’s charities, is attended by consumers as well as industry professionals.

It’s set for Jan. 14-17, bringing mixologists, chefs and consumers together for tastings, seminars, concerts, parties and other events around the city. Sample events include sessions on “The Business of the Bar,” ”Herbal Remedies” and “Flavors of Mexico.”

The conference was founded by Mark Bohanan, chef and owner of Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood restaurant in San Antonio, and the late Sasha Petraske, a New Yorker who helped revive cocktail culture. This year’s conference will be dedicated to Petraske, who died at age 42 last August.

Details at http://www.sanantoniococktailsconference.com .

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A 365-DAY TOUR TO 34 COUNTRIES FOR $75,000

For $75,000, you can spend an entire year traveling and visit 34 countries on five different continents.

Intrepid Travel is offering the trip starting in Bangkok on Feb. 3, ending one year later in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The itinerary also includes Antarctica, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam, the United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The price covers 204 breakfasts, 139 lunches and 140 dinners. Modes of transportation will include Jeep, camel, rickshaw, bus, train, plane, ship and taxi. Accommodations will range from camps in the bush and desert to hostels, hotels, cruise ships, bungalows and overnight sleeper trains.

Destinations and excursions include the pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and an African safari.

Details at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/365-day-adventure . Travelers who can’t spend the year traveling may also book individual portions of the trip.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/wireStory/travel-news-byo-crockpot-cocktail-conference-year-tour-35488782

Your Ten Worst Holiday Travel Stories

Some context: I’m Brazilian, but from 2007 – 2011 I lived in Boston where I went to university. As you may know, Christmas in Brazil is during the summer. We don’t have snow, or cold or anything like that here. Obviously, that is not the case in Boston. So traveling home at the end of fall semester was a chance to escape the cold and the snow and the short days, and get back home to family, friends, and heat.

There are many ways to fly to São Paulo from Boston, but the most popular ones are through New York, Miami or Atlanta. There is no direct flight.

In December 2007, I had the misfortune to have my flight delayed by heavy snow in Boston, making me stay stranded there for 2 extra days, getting home on December 23. I really hoped it wouldn’t happen to me again in 2008, and I took some precautionary measures like booking the BOSNY flight several hours earlier than the NYCBrazil flight. This was so that in case my flight got cancelled again, I could maybe take the train to NY and board my plane to Brazil, anyway.

Another important thing: in 2008, most people (including me) had “dumb” phones.

When the day came, I checked the weather forecast. Boston had had a little snow, but nothing too serious. Planes were flying out of Logan normally. I took a cab to the airport at around 2 PM and when I got there I managed to check in and the lady assured me assured my plane would be on time and all of that. Relaxed, I sat down, and waited for the time to leave. I could see the plane outside, so I thought that was that and I would be home on time.

Little did I know.

When the time came to board, nothing happened. Then, the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, your plane is ready but the flight crew that is supposed to man it is stranded in North Carolina. They will be delayed for about 2 hours.”

Fuck.

Fine. That was within my time frame, still, but having checked in and all that, my plans to take the train if necessary were shot. I would have to board that plane.

The crew was actually delayed for a lot over two hours. By the time they did arrive, I was completely panicking. My connection window just became something like 40 minutes. The lady at the counter assured me that I would make it, but even if I didn’t, she already scheduled me on the next flight out of NY – which was on the next day.

So I boarded the plane, pissed off, and off we went to NY. It’s supposed to be a 30 minute journey, but the time spent taxiing and waiting for clearance on the ground makes it closer to an hour. Not good.

When we landed at JFK, the TV screen on the plane went on. The flight attendant said that if our connection showed on the screen, it was still possible to make the plane. Mine was up there. It left from terminal E. We arrived at terminal A, pretty much on the opposite end of a croissant shaped major airport with no skytrain.

By now it was around 11:50 PM and my flight was scheduled to leave at 00:10. I never ran so quickly in my life, managed to make it to the gate, only to see the door closed and literally see the plane backing out and leaving. Some movie shit. I was so angry I didn’t even know what to say or do, but I learned that it’s best to be nice to the people who work for the airplane companies, and so I calmly showed the lady my scheduled ticket for the next day, and asked her if it looked OK and if I could just come back tomorrow. “I don’t know,” she said. “You’d better check at the check-in counter outside security.” So off I went.

I got there at 1:00 AM, approximately. That’s when I saw it – a long line of very pissed off people speaking (and gesturing) mostly in Italian.

What had happened there was that American Airlines had kept these people inside a plane, on the ground for 6 hours, with no food, before telling them that the plane was broken because of the weather and they would not be able to fly to Rome that night. This did NOT make a plane full of Italian people happy, and they were very eager to demonstrate this to the agents at the counter. One at a time. All I wanted to know was if I was truly on the flight the next day, but by the time all of them were done with their oscar-worthy demonstrations of indignation it was circa 3:00.

I finally got to the counter and received good news: yes, I was on the flight on the next day. The bad news, though, was what was making people even more pissed off: Apparently I’d have to go pick up my luggage since it was ticketed straight to São Paulo, but my flight left without me my bags. They were holding it downstairs, so down I went, where I found half of that same group of passengers who were instructed to do the same.

I had no idea where I would stay – no way would it be one of those shitty cots provided by JFK. I didn’t have proper internet access and my shitty phone barely sent SMS messages. Fortunately, I met a nice English man while in line waiting to pick up my bags. He knew of a hostel in Manhattan. I got to the counter at around 4:00 AM, where the man told me that not only did I NOT have to pick up my bags, I actually COULDN’T pick them up, because they were already ticketed to São Paulo. By this point I was just so beyond angry that I just started laughing at everything.

Anyway, the English guy I shared one of those sketchy black cabs (no yellow ones at 4 AM) to Manhattan, and we arrived at the hostel. This was around 5 A.M. I checked in, and the lady gave me keys and told me check-out was at 10 A.M, a statement that made me laugh much harder than she was probably expecting. I would certainly be paying extra to sleep in. Finally I got to the room, and just laid down knowing at least I’d fly home the next day.

“EVERYBODY OUT, NOW!”

That’s what I woke up to about three hours later. I remember opening my eyes and seeing a fireman, in full uniform, wielding an axe. “Out now! The building’s on fire!”

NO. FUCKING. WAY.

It was true. Something happened with the boiler and it blew up and there was a fire starting and they decided the best thing was to evacuate the whole building. I had enough time to quickly get dressed, grab my backpack and my phone, and walk outside where it was freezing cold. No one was allowed back in. Even worse, as I was trying to dial home to let my parents know about all that had happened after I missed my flight, some kids who were still drunk from the night before knocked my phone into the NYC slush and basically killed it. Nice.

Well, I didn’t even bother to check out. In the end I got a room at a Radisson hotel, for the day, where I couldn’t sleep because I was so afraid of missing my flight again while taking a nap. I got a new phone and some clothes for the day, too. Finally, at night, I did actually get on the plane, where my seat entertainment system didn’t work but I was so tired I just slept through the whole flight, anyway.

So, that one sucked pretty bad, and I learned that flights coming back from Miami were way less prone to snow issues. Never happened again.

Article source: http://jalopnik.com/your-ten-worst-holiday-travel-stories-1745193098

Cyber Monday travel deals: Up to 90 percent off hotel rooms

(NEW YORK) —  There’s a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, including the travel deals being unveiled on Cyber Monday.

So once you’ve made you’re way through the leftovers and purchased your Black Friday electronics, start planning your next getaway. But be ready to book early on Monday: several of the deals — including one awesome hotel in the Dominican Republic — will go fast.

Some good news on airfare: Flight tracker site Hopper predicts a plethora of airfare sales starting Monday and continuing through the week before the Christmas holiday. Last year, fare sale activity was quiet during Thanksgiving and Black Friday but then more than doubled for the three weeks beginning with Cyber Monday.

Hotel Commonwealth in Boston, Massachusetts

In honor of Hotel Commonwealth’s 96 additional guest rooms that will be unveiled in December, the urban luxe hotel in Boston is offering an exclusive $96 Cyber Monday deal for 96 minutes only. From 11:30 a.m. ET (a nod to the Cyber Monday date, 11/30) until 1:06 p.m. ET, Cyber Monday shoppers can book rooms for just $96 (a 60 percent savings). Travel window is for 96 days after the new wing debuts (Dec. 15-March 19). Book online by visiting www.hotelcommonwealth.com and entering the offer code 96New, or by calling 866-784-4000.

Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is offering 50 percent off all rooms when booked on Cyber Monday. Available for purchase all day, the rooms can be redeemed for arrival on any day in January 2016, with a minimum of four nights stay. To book email reservations@springcreekranch.com or call 1-800-443-6139.

Tortuga Bay at Puntacana Resort Club

Starting at 10 a.m ET, Tortuga Bay at Puntacana Resort Club in the Dominican Republic will offer the first 10 callers a rate of $100 per night for a junior suite during the first week of September 2016, as well as a 10 percent discount on food beverage and spa offerings. This rate is 90 percent lower than the current standard rate. The rate is valid for three nights; additional nights will cost $300 per night. Travel dates are Friday, Aug. 26 to Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016 –- some restrictions apply.

SLS South Beach, Miami, Florida

The trendy hotel on South Beach is offering 50 percent off its rooms on Cyber Monday. The deal runs through Dec. 4 and there are no blackout dates. The discount applies to rooms booked between Dec. 6, 2015 through Oct. 14, 2016. A two-night minimum stay is required. Use promo code THANKS.

Grand Lucayan, Bahamas

Book a room from Nov 27. to Dec. 4 and get rates as low as $99 per night for travel through Sept. 1, 2016 at this four-star resort. Plus, kids under 12 eat for free. Minimum three-night stay is required.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Article source: http://wtop.com/travel/2015/11/cyber-monday-travel-deals-up-to-90-percent-off-hotel-rooms/

Recordbreaking weekend for Holiday travel

LANSING, MI (WLNS)- After the Thanksgiving turkey, many people return to their families and friends.

AAA experts have named this Thanksgiving holiday, one of the most traveled holiday weeks in history.

According to AAA this Thanksgiving marks the busiest travel weekend in the past eight years.

Experts say more than 1 million people traveled an average of about 50 miles to see family and friends for the thanksgiving holiday. That’s up one percent from last year, according to AAA.

On a national level more than 42 million American’s placed their foot on the gas this holiday weekend, and 3.6 million took to the skies.

Of those numbers, in Michigan 1.35 million traveled by car, and more than one hundred thousand traveled by plane.

“Over 1.5 million people were traveling over 50 miles from their home. The majority of those folks are traveling by automobile” Susan Hilts Public affairs director of AAA Michigan said.

And while, driving has remained to be the popular trend, I spoke with some travelers at Capitol Region International Airport who prefer to fly. He and his daughter join the crowd of holiday travelers.

“Yup we off to New York, we got to get back to school tomorrow unfortunately” Matt Debnar said as his eight year old daughter Sofia held his leg.

Matt Debnar and his daughter Sofia tell six news they enjoyed their Thanksgiving in Michigan.

“I helped grandma make a very delicious pie” Sofia Debnar  explained.

But as the holidays come to an end, Kathy Debnar explains that it’s always hard to say goodbye.

“Oh every time it’s tough and it never gets easy but we look forward to the hellos that are around the corner” Kathy Debnar said while wiping the tears from her face.

This year marks the 7th consecutive year of growth for thanksgiving travelers, and officials hope this trend continues.

Article source: http://wlns.com/2015/11/29/record-breaking-weekend-for-holiday-travel/

Incredible shrinking choices in online travel booking

Several weeks ago, the giant online travel agency Expedia bought HomeAway.com for $3.9 billion. It was another step in the death march of truly independent online travel sites.

Suddenly, Expedia owned 115,000 vacation rental listings and the sites Homeaway.com, VRBO.com, vacationrentals.com and BedandBreakfast.com.

Expedia also recently vacuumed up longtime rivals Orbitz and Travelocity. (Yes, it’s true.) It owns Hotwire, Hotels.com, the booking site Trivago.com and its own giant site, Expedia.com.

Its only arch-rival? Priceline, which owns the valuable brands Priceline, Kayak and Booking.com.

I hate to tell you, but the notion that consumers have a host of competing online travel choices is mostly an illusion. The question is, how does it affect you?

Expedia owns longtime rivals Orbitz and Travelocity as well as Homeaway.com, VRBO.com, vacationrentals.com, BedandBreakfast.com, Hotwire, Hotels.com and Trivago.com.

NO DIFFERENCE IN DEALS

Nearly every year I do an informal comparison of various hotel rates, using different booking sites to find best prices. It used to be that you could find a price difference of $20 or more, depending on which sites you consulted. Sites would throw in perks to make their offer more attractive than others. No more. Last year I found a miniscule $2 variation in rates among the big booking sites. This year? Zero.

For instance, a search for a night at the Westin in Kansas City, Missouri, in early December finds that Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline and Booking.com all show a best price of $188 (non-refundable), the same as the Westin.com’s own site. Search Yahoo Travel, which uses Hipmunk as its search engine, and you find that Hipmunk shows results only from Expedia-owned websites — all exactly $188. Search TripAdvisor, and you get the same price because most TripAdvisor results are from Expedia and Booking.com.

It’s like being caught in a loop.

A list of the 10 biggest travel sites as of Nov. 1 illustrates the issue: Priceline and Expedia own 8 of the 10.

Last year I found a miniscule $2 variation in rates among the big booking sites. This year? Zero. Ellen Creager

What’s the point of looking at all of these sites if they give identical results? There isn’t one. Consolidation may be good business, but from the perspective of the average traveler, it stinks.

COMPARE, THEN BOOK DIRECTLY

So here is your strategy. Do not waste hours trying to compare flight, hotel or car prices online. Start with the hotel, airline or car rental firm sites themselves and check prices. Then search on Kayak, which at least shows results from both Priceline and Expedia. If you see no difference in prices or availability, book directly with the vendor.

If you are looking for a vacation package or cruise, it is possible that one big site like Expedia, Orbitz or Priceline may offer a discount or deal better than a rival if you book all the travel arrangements together. Do your homework. But I would also check with a real travel agent to compare. If something goes haywire while you’re on an expensive trip, it’s good to have a real person to talk to back home.

Do search the lodging site AirBnB.com, which is still independent — for now, anyway.

And look for even more consolidation in the travel world in 2016. Hotel chains may swallow each other. websites may be sold. Analysts even predict that it is possible that Expedia will put itself on the market to be gulped down by an even bigger player, God only knows who.

Maybe at some point every travel brand and website in entire the world will be owned by one single guy sitting in a beige office in New Jersey.

Until then, let your fingers do the searching for the increasingly rare true deals.

Article source: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/travel/article46658030.html

This Map Shows Just How Long Travel Took 100 Years Ago

You might have battled queues, delays and cancellations while you travelled over the holiday weekend, but be grateful you’re travelling in 2015 when travel time is measured in hours—rather than in days, the metric used in this 1914 map.

Intelligent Life magazine has unearthed this wonderful isochronic map, which shows how long it would take—in days—to travel to locations around the world. First published by John G. Bartholomew in “An Atlas of Economic Geography”, you can see a larger version by clicking the magnifying glass in the upper left of the image. The map shows that you could travel as far west as the Azores and as far east as the Russian city of Perm within five days from London. Bump the limit up to ten days, and you travel from London to Winnipeg. If, err, you wanted to.

But what’s most interesting is the difference in time it takes to cross entire continents: the maps shows that you can scoot from London to the depths of Siberia in under ten days, for instance, and as soon as you hit the east coast of the U.S. you can travel a respectable distance, too. The first of those observations is a clear giveaway as to why that’s the case, in the shape of Trans-Siberian Railway. By 1914, the railways were well-established in Europe and the U.S., too, making travel far more swift than it had been in the past.

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Less so Africa and South America, though, where any travel inland from the coast took weeks. Now, flights mean that travel durations of more than two or three days are, mercifully, rare.

[Intelligent Life]

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Article source: http://gizmodo.com/this-map-shows-just-how-long-travel-took-100-years-ago-1745216429

Travel tips for upcoming holiday season

Article source: http://www.wtsp.com/story/news/2015/11/29/travel-tips-for-upcoming-holiday-season/76539204/

Thousands return home from holiday travel

A busy day turned into a busy evening at Orlando International Airport as thousands made their way home.

On Sunday alone, airport officials expected about 110,000 people to make their way through the gates and overall about 1.3 million passengers will travel into and out of OIA over the 13 days leading up to and after Thanksgiving. 

“I’m exhausted, I need a nap,” says Alison Nemesek.

Nemesek, her husband Dan, her 7-year-old son Jackson and her 3-year-old daughter, Ava, have been up since 3:30 a.m. Sunday. 

“We don’t normally fly during the holidays, so wasn’t sure what to expect,” Nemesek said.

After driving an hour to catch a flight out of Memphis, what they weren’t expecting is that their bags might not make it. 

“The line was so long they didn’t guarantee they would get here,” Nemesek said.

“We really forgot that this was like the busiest traveling week of the year,” adds her husband, Dan.

So busy, even the entertainment had an early start. 

Band members say airport officials asked them to play two hours earlier than normal. 

“Because they expect a whole bunch more people to be here so they asked us to come in a little early,” said Clyde Jones with Pop-n-Steel.

For passengers like Isabel O’Connell, she had no choice but to get to the airport hours ahead of her own flight to make sure her sister made her flight.

“Sometimes you just have to deal with the crowds,” she said.

Other passengers arrived early on purpose. 

“I had one bad experience a few years ago leaving after Thanksgiving and it was like the line was all the way out the door, so I didn’t want that to happen again,” says Thomas Seland.

According to AAA, 42 million Americans made a road trip. Experts say more people are traveling this year thanks to a better economy and lower gas prices.

Article source: http://www.mynews13.com/content/news/cfnews13/news/article.html/content/news/articles/cfn/2015/11/29/orlando_airport_holi.html