Archive for October, 2013

Courtesy of Thinkstock

Good luck on trying to find last-minute deals for any holiday travel this year. Pauline Frommer, editorial director of Frommer’s Guidebooks, says, “This is probably going to be the highest-priced holiday fares we’ve seen in the last decade.”

The average ticket cost for the US and Caribbean is already up 9.4% over last Thanksgiving. Prices for Christmas week are up more than 7% to an average of $337.

What’s the reason behind the airfare hike this year? Travel experts blame it on mergers and consolidated airlines over the past couple years, which has forced some carriers to cut back on flights to many cities. This is the first time that planes are flying at 85% load factor — essentially full — since 1945. And today, more people are competing for fewer seats.

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Targoviste CastleTonight is the night! It’s time for the Ghost Adventures 2-hour Halloween special, when the guys head to Transylvania to track down the real historical figure behind Dracula. Watch at 9|8c as they lockdown in Vlad the Impaler’s castle, the castle where he was imprisoned, and a supernatural forest that is known for being home to glowing orbs of light.

Then, at 11|10c, be sure to visit the Fan Lair for a live Google Hangout with the guys, where they’ll be answering your burning questions and reminiscing about their 5 years of Ghost Adventures.

Get in the Halloween mood with a tour of Transylvania’s castles. Or maybe you’d rather plan your next trip inspired by these Vampire Vacations or the Top 10 Vampire Destinations.

But before you watch the biggest episode of Ghost Adventures yet, learn more about our Haunted Destination of the Week: Targosviste Castle, the seat of Vlad Dracula’s throne and one of tonight’s lockdown locations.

The creepiness doesn’t have to end on Halloween — keep the spooky going all year long with our haunted travel hub!

The “Day of the Dead,” or Dia de los Muertos in Spanish, is often compared to Halloween due to its celebration the day trick-or-treaters hit the streets. But it has a much different purpose. The occasion is a national holiday on Nov. 1 and 2 in Mexico and centers on the gathering of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is held in connection with the Catholic All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

If it seems to you like the holiday often goes uncelebrated in the United States, you might just not be in the right place. Below are 5 “Day of the Dead” events that honor those who have died. Find a complete list of the nation’s events here.

1. Dia de Los Muertos in Los Angeles, CA 
When: Nov. 2 from noon to midnight
The celebration is held at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and is the largest of its kind in California. The festival features an altar-decorating competition as well as live music and costume contests for the best Calaca (skull or skeleton) costume.

2. Bare Hands Dia de Los Muertos, Numero Once Festival in Birmingham, AL 
When: Nov. 2 from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Bring a small altar or memento of remembrance and dress up in bones for this energetic cultural celebration. The festival attracts thousands of visitors and is sponsored by Bare Hands, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for community involvement and promotes cultural dialogue.

3. All Souls Procession in Tucson, AZ 
When: Nov. 3 at 4 p.m.
The All Souls Procession brings more than 35,000 people together to the streets of downtown Tucson for a 2-mile-long walk that culminates with the burning of a large urn filled with hopes and offerings from the public for those who have passed. The procession is organized by non-profit arts collective Many Mouths One Stomach.

4. Dia de Los Muertos Street Festival in Corpus Christi, Texas
When: Nov. 1 and 2
This festival brings a large art exhibition, artist workshops, and entire day-long dancing and concert events to celebrate the “Day of the Dead.” The event promotes cultural tourism by drawing artists, musicians and vendors to the area each year.

5. Dia de Los Muertos 2013 in Albuquerque, New Mexico 
When: Nov. 1 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This annual celebration is held at San Jose de Armijo Cemetery and features sugar skull painting, costumes and music organized by the Atrisco Heritage Foundation. The foundation works through the event to promote and preserve the ancestral and cultural heritage of Albuquerque.

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Photo by Getty

Much like the hit show Breaking Bad caused an influx of visitors to Albuquerque, NM, this year, the newest take on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that premiered on Fox last month, is leading flocks of curious visitors to vacation to the tiny New York town of the same name.

Sleepy Hollow village administrators have noticed a significant increase in the number of visitors wandering around Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and the Headless Horseman Bridge with several tours of the area selling out as early as September – something that just doesn’t happen.

Sleepy Hollow, which was just picked up for a second season, is loosely based on the 1820 legend, but with a modern twist: Protagonist Ichabod Crane has been resurrected centuries after his death to save the town of Sleepy Hollow, and of course the world, from forces of evil.

The village, located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, is home to “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” author Washington Irving’s gravesite and served as inspiration for the made-up town where Irving’s story of the legendary “headless horseman” took place.

The town of Sleep Hollow is embracing its new-found fame and record website traffic, creating a spooky commercial encouraging visitors to trek to the area featuring ghosts, ghouls and the headless horseman himself shopping for groceries and going about normal everyday activities.

And the attention might only gain more steam. Rumors from the show’s production company are that the cast itself will visit the town and are looking for possible storylines from the iconic area to bring to prime time television.

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Diplo, Prince George, the Red Sox and even Frankenstein make an appearance in this week in photos. See what some of our favorite blogs, including Buzzfeed and Nomadic Matt, have in store in this week in travel.

Do you have plans on where you’re going to hide during the zombie apocalypse? A viral post on Buzzfeed featured a town in Australia that is so far away from civilization that outer space is, in fact, the closest destination. You might want a buddy for companionship if you find yourself traveling to Western Australia anytime soon.

Two Boy Scout leaders were removed from their positions after a trip to Utah went awry last week. During a visit to Goblin Valley State Park, the leaders pushed over an ancient rock formation that is about 170 million years old and posted a video of their actions on Facebook. The leaders said that the rock formation was loose and they feared it was “dangerous” to the safety of the scouts. Park authorities are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.

Are you a “travel hacker?” Nomadic Matt says you should look into it. Travel hacking is a term used to describe those savvy frequent fliers who strategically use their “miles” to get free flights. While it may sound complicated and not worth the hassle, he says that’s not an excuse and that with a few tips you can be racking up free transportation in no time.

If you think that the person you shared a taxi with was a little rude or wild and crazy…you haven’t seen anything yet. VICE has “exposed” some of the unbelievable behavior that takes place in taxis these days. After watching this video, you’re going to want to give a cab driver a hug.

A year after Hurricane Sandy: The Jersey Shore is open for business. (All Photos: Jersey Shore)

The Jersey Shore is open and ready for business. A year after Hurricane Sandy, the 270 miles of shoreline along New Jersey’s coast have seen a resurgence in visitors. This past summer, most of the Jersey Shore’s shops and restaurants were open to travelers. In Monmouth County alone, which saw the brunt of Sandy’s wrath alongside neighboring Ocean County, nearly all the waterfront restaurants have reopened, with new ribbon cuttings almost weekly, attended by the likes of New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

“We have to celebrate that we’ve come this far,” says Bob Hilton, executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. A big reason for the Shore’s revitalization has been the arrival of 40,000 new travelers, from places like Virginia, New York, Ohio, Philadelphia and as far north as Canada, who’ve come out of a mixture of curiosity, support and travel discounts. Travelers are finding that, despite the number of displaced families and business that have yet to resettle in the area, the majority of the Shore’s tourism attractions are back up and running. In fact, some areas, such as Atlantic City, saw minimal damage and were open the day after Sandy’s touchdown.

So as news reports on Sandy’s 1-year anniversary saturate your newsfeed, we’ve sifted through the hysteria and the hype — here’s what travelers can really find in visiting the Jersey Shore’s 4 counties:

Monmouth County
Home to 27 miles of oceanfront beaches, and 26 miles of bayfront beaches, Monmouth County encompasses Jersey Shore’s northernmost tip. Visit Monmouth’s 3 working lighthouses, including the oldest one in the US, Sandy Hook Lighthouse; enjoy a round of golf at 8 courses; and horse racing at Monmouth Park Racetrack. Popular restaurants in Highlands, NJ, include Bahrs Landing and Inlet Café (both on the waterfront), as well as Windansea, Chilangos and Havana Tropical Café. Plus stroll the revitalized Spring Lake, Belmar and Asbury Park boardwalks.

Ribbon-cutting: One of the many businesses in Monmouth County reopening.

Ocean County
Despite a dip in its beach rental market, and the recent Seaside boardwalk fire, Ocean County has been coming back strong thanks to a packed festival season — October sees about 60 events happening throughout Ocean County, including, for the Halloween-minded, Fright Fest at Great Adventure and Haunted Seaport, as well as lively parades such as Toms River Halloween Parade — the biggest Halloween parade in the country, on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Cape May
On the Jersey Shore’s southernmost tip, Cape May was largely unaffected by Sandy. Attractions include the Physick Estate, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, and come Christmastime, the decoration of local bed-and-breakfasts, like the Queen Victoria, with different holiday themes. For New Year’s, the boardwalk will see 70 different entertainment venues, spread over 2 days, with plenty of fireworks and a New Year’s Day plunge into the Atlantic.

Jersey Shore’s boardwalks: This past summer, most shops and restaurants reopened to travelers.

Atlantic City
Everything is open in Atlantic City – it’s been that way since the day after Sandy hit shore. Among the highlights is the new Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex, which opened this past summer, as well as new stores in The Pier Shops at Caesars including Bare Feet Boutique, Shoe Be Do, Cellairis, BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar, Auntie Ann’s and Cinnabon. Plus, you’ll find Empire Burger takeout on the Boardwalk, operated by Phillip’s Seafood. In addition, 5 new dining outlets opened at Tropicana’s Marketplace (on the boardwalk side). In Tropicana’s The Quarter, Broadway Burger Bar also opened.

New addition: Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex opened this past summer.

What’s your favorite Jersey Shore attraction? Tell us in the comments box below.

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Visit the aristocrat of beaches, Cape May, New Jersey.

Discover the birthplace of Miss America, Historic Atlantic City.

Take a tour of the Jersey Shore’s Communities.

Haunted houses, costume parties, and trick-or-treating are often seen as the “traditional” Halloween events that many Americans participate in each year. But one of the increasingly popular attractions taking over fall includes a stroll through real creepy crawlies, bats and “unnatural mysteries” at one of the nation’s zoos.

Coined as a “boo at the zoo,” the events attract people of all ages and offer a twist to the standard neighborhood trick-or-treating. As you prepare to make your Halloween plans, take a look at these 5 popular October zoo events:

1. Oakland Zoo  (Oct. 26 and 27)
Children get a free ride on the “spooky boo train” as well as access to exclusive trick-or-treating among the animals at this zoo-wide event at the Oakland Zoo in California. The event is included with admission and offers participants a chance to make treats for the zoo’s animals and explore monster myths through educational stations.

2. Smithsonian National Zoo (Oct. 25, 26 and 27)
Collect candy while visiting the animals and Halloween decorations at the Nation’s historic zoo in DC. While it’s not exactly cheap (tickets are $30 for non-members), the event sells out and benefits the Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ) foundation.

3. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Oct. 25, 26, 27 and 31)
Watch hippos play with pumpkins, rhinos explore ghosts and birds fly above your head at the Cheyenne Mountain “Boo at the Zoo” event. The “creatures” of the zoo are “let out” at this annual event as zoo keepers put on multiple educational Halloween-themed shows.

4. Bronx Zoo (Now through Nov. 3)
Encounter a dinosaur safari and creepy craft workshops at the Bronx Zoo’s annual Halloween bash. Visit the “winged icons” of Halloween, including bats, owls and vultures, before embarking on a trip back in time through a dinosaur safari during the annual New York tradition.

5. Tampa’s Lowry Park (Oct. 24 through 27)
The Halloween zoo event at Tampa’s Lowry Park is so frightening that there are “skull ratings” for the attractions. Features include “Pharoh’s Tomb of Revenge” where artifacts come alive and the scariest ranked attraction of all, “Tangled Terror,” which features a “failed experiment” with carnivorous plants.

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Ironman World Championships 2013 in Kona, Hawaii. Photography by Tony Svensson

Ironman “Kona Inspired” athlete Kelly Miyahara has learned through both extraordinary triumphs and devastating tragedy that anything is possible. Kelly felt like “the luckiest girl in the world” when, in 2005, she was given her dream job: Jeopardy! Clue Crew member, allowing her to travel the world for a living.

After the tragic loss of her fellow Ironman teammate and friend, Marisela (Mari) Echeverria, Kelly set out to prove, once again, that anything is possible. This past month, she competed in honor of Mari in the Ironman Word Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

We caught up with Kelly recently and found out what makes her such an inspiring athlete.

“Kona Inspired” Kelly Miyahara crosses the Ironman finish line. Marco Garcia – AP for IRONMAN

Traveling Type: What made you decide you wanted to compete in Ironman?

Kelly Miyahara: The Ironman World Championship is a very special event.  Think, the Super Bowl or World Cup of triathlons. It’s where the world’s best triathletes compete. Normally, the way to earn a slot there is to qualify by winning your age group at a “qualifying” Ironman event, win a lottery slot, or be invited as a special guest. My very special journey was as a Kona Inspired Contest Winner. I was 1 of 7 slot winners in an international contest that asked entrants to share inspiring stories following the Ironman mantra, “Anything is possible.”

 

What does it mean to be a “Kona Inspired” in Ironman?

Kona Inspired entrants submitted 90-second videos telling their stories fitting the mantra, “Anything is Possible.”  My story is heartbreaking, yet it fits the mantra perfectly. On the very day of the Ironman World Championship last year, October 13, 2012, my friend and teammate, Marisela Echeverria, was struck and killed by a bus on the California coast while training for her first Ironman. We had shared the last 2 years of our lives as part of TEAM in Training (LA’s IronTEAM) while training and fundraising for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The night before our big day at Ironman Canada in 2012, Mari received a devastating phone call. Her father had passed away. Needless to say, she left to be with her family and didn’t race her first Ironman with the team. Not giving up, Mari got back out there a few weeks later after securing a charity slot into Ironman Arizona in November. Just 4 weeks before the race was when tragedy struck again. The unthinkable happened, and it was with Mari’s loss that I learned that anything really is possible.

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Courtesy of Getty Images

Not long after Paul Revere warned Boston that the British were coming, Lewis and Clark left St. Louis on their mission of discovery to the uncharted west.

Now the whole country is poised to watch a World Series that not only matches Red Sox bats against Cardinal arms but also beans vs. bratwurst, chowder vs. beer, and Old Ironsides vs. The Arch.

Boston, Beyond Fenway Park
Although Philadelphia might argue, Boston has good reason to call itself “the cradle of liberty.” The Freedom Trail, a well-marked pedestrian pathway, passes sites so old that visitors almost expect to hear John Adams condemning taxation without representation.

One of those sites, Faneuil Hall, has attracted 20 million curious visitors – about 10 times more than the annual attendance at Fenway Park, the century-old ballpark where the Sox start the World Series Wednesday. READ MORE

Photography by Gstaad Palace Hotel

You won’t need a crown to feel like a princess at Gstaad Palace, the go-to getaway for royals and celebrities in the Swiss Alp.

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