Kwin Mosby

Kwin is Managing Producer of TravelChannel.com. His multimedia career has included working as a TV news reporter/producer and publications editor. What inspires Kwin to travel? It’s relaxing beach locations, vibrant urban epicenters and awe-inspiring outdoor destinations like Glacier and Joshua Tree National Parks, Barcelona, Miami, Paris, New York City and Brazil. Kwin’s travel mantra is simple: talk to the locals to fully experience the true flavor and culture of any new destination.

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Courtesy of Siemens AG, Munich/Berlin

Starting Tuesday, Oct. 8, Londoners will get a first glimpse at the future of the Tube in London. The lnspiro — a full-size model of a futuristic train created by Siemens, the company behind the idea — will be on display at The Crystal exhibition center in Royal Victoria Dock to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.

The world’s first underground railway opened in 1863 between Paddington, in central London, and Farringdon, just north of the city, using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives. Today, the Underground is a public rapid transit system serving 270 stations, including a large part of Greater London and parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex counties.

Siemens sees the Inspiro as the Tube’s future. And it’s probably no coincidence that the news of this futuristic prototype comes at a time when the government just awarded funding to the Transport for London to improve the tube service across the capital.

So in a nutshell, here’s quick rundown of the new train’s perks:

  • 30% more space on the train by adding dividing doors between carriages
  • 30% more energy efficient than current models
  • Full air-conditioning across all of its spacious carriages
  • 20% brighter with use of LED lights

Courtesy of Siemens AG, Munich/Berlin

The train can be operated without a driver, which may ruffle feathers at the trade unions if London were to use them in the future. And no word yet on whether the city will make a bid to use the prototype across London. So until then, locals will have to deal with overcrowded trains.

Courtesy of iStock

Travelers flying the friendly skies may be able to use their mobile devices a little longer when taking off and landing. Later this week, the Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel is expected to relax restrictions on in-flight device use as early as next year.

What does this mean for passengers? The new guidelines would ease restrictions on tablets, e-books and previously downloaded podcasts and movies. Phone calls, texts, email and passengers using their own Wi-Fi will still be banned.

Without asking for formal device testing, the FAA will ask airlines to certify their planes can handle any potential interference. The main purpose of the new guidelines will be to create a single policy that covers all airlines. So pretty soon you may not have to be so quick to turn off all your electronic devices come takeoff.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

Beating out Istanbul and Madrid, Tokyo has been tapped by the International Olympic Committee to be the host city for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The race was really between the Istanbul and Tokyo — Madrid had been eliminated in a first-round ballot. The final tally wasn’t even close; Tokyo easily won by 24 votes.

In case you didn’t know, the last time Tokyo was host city for the Summer Olympics was in 1964. The city has now gained the unique distinction of becoming the first Asian city to host the games twice. City officials are already taking proactive steps to revitalize the city’s waterfront, where the Olympic Village will be situated, but there are several reasons why Tokyo is already a great tourist destination. We love the Japanese and Tokyo’s amazing attractions, including Mori Arts Centre, Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, Tsukiji Fish Market and Imperial Palace East Gardens.

But let’s not forget Brazil. With the 2020 Summer Olympics still a ways off, many sports fans are focused on Brazil as the hot destination for the next few years. Not only will Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Summer Olympics, but it will also be one of 12 cities to host soccer matches for the FIFA World Cup 2014. If you’re a soccer fan, don’t delay! FIFA is already accepting applications for World Cup tickets. Score big and make plans to visit Brazil’s World Cup cities.

 

Photo Courtesy of Embratur/Brazilian Tourism Board

The wait is over for soccer fans! Tickets to the FIFA World Cup 2014 are now on sale. Fans will be able to request tickets based on a random selection draw, from Aug. 20 through Oct. 10, and on a first-come, first-served basis from Nov. 5 through Nov. 28.

Fans are currently able to buy tickets based on the date and the venue of the match, or to follow their favorite team. Twelve cities in Brazil will host the best international soccer teams as they battle it out to become the FIFA World Cup 2014 champions. Host cities will include Fortaleza, Salvador, Manaus, Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre.

In addition to hosting the World Cup matches, Rio de Janeiro will also host the 2016 Summer Olympics, making it a hot tourist destination over the next few years.

For now, it’s all about the World Cup. For more information on tickets and pricing, visit the FIFA website and or download the official guide to tickets.

Take a tour of the 12 Brazilian cities that will host the soccer matches for the FIFA World Cup 2014. See our slideshow and explore each city’s amazing culture and tourist attractions.

Photo Courtesy of Elon Musk

Planes, trains and automobiles may be a thing of the past if US entrepreneur Elon Musk has his way. The billionaire has unveiled plans for a HyperLoop transportation system that will transport passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under a half hour, compared with the nearly 6-hour drive that commuters now face on a good traffic day.

Elon Musk, founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors Inc., says the solar-powered system would shoot 28 passengers in an enclosed capsule through a low-pressure steel tube at 8oo miles per hour. According to the 57-page design plan, the project would cost less than $6 billion and transport 7.4 million people each way every year. The tube would be built along I-5 interstate highway, the busiest traffic corridor on the West Coast.

Although an innovative plan, HyperLoop still has a few huge hurdles to clear before it becomes a reality, including receiving the California state government’s approval for the project.  In addition to Cali’s stamp of approval, private companies would have to step in and build the HyperLoop because Musk will be too busy running electric car company Tesla and rocket manufacturer SpaceX. Any takers?

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

After 68 years, locals in Hiroshima, Japan, lit lanterns to remember the lives lost during the 1945 bombing of the city. Aside from this reflective, solemn event, this week had its share of fun events, including the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta in England, the Medellin Flower Festival in Colombia, and the Stiletto Run in Spain. Take a look at the other events and destinations that we highlighted in this week in photos.

Check out more travel buzz on our radar this week:

US Evacuation and Travel Alerts: The Chicago Tribune reported that the US has ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff from its consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, warning US citizens not to travel to the country. Last Friday, the US issued a worldwide travel alert for US citizens traveling abroad due to an unspecified al Qaeda threat. Nearly 20 embassies in North Africa and the Middle East have closed until Aug. 31.

JetBlue Reveals New First Class Seats: Known for shuttling vacationers from Northeast cities to the warmth of Florida and the Caribbean, JetBlue will take strides to attract business travelers. Sources at Jaunted report that starting next year, the airline will offer 16 lie-flat seats on flights between New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s the first time the carrier will have a second class of service.

Running of the Bulls in the US: Yep, you read that right. Promoters Brad Scudder and Rob Dickens have arranged bull runs in 10 cities around the US for people who can’t afford to take the trip to Pamplona, Spain. Already 20,000 Americans have put down $35 for an adrenaline rush that comes with running in front of a group of angry bulls that can reach speeds of 35 mph. According to Yahoo Travel, the first US bull run is scheduled to kick off on Aug. 24 at a drag-racing strip south of Richmond, VA.

“Love Boat” Sails to Final Destination: Turkey will be the new home to the iconic MS Pacific also known as “The Love Boat.” According to Gadling, the 42-year-old ship was purchased for 2.5 million euro by a Turkish ship recycling company, where it will be stripped for metal and parts.

Breaking Bad Fuels Albuquerque Tourism Boom: Even after the popular TV show has ended, fans may still be able to pick up bags of “Breaking Bad Candy” — blue-tinged crystals made of rock candy — at the Candy Lady shop in Albuquerque, NM. Not only has the show helped to create new revenue streams for local businesses, but according to Skift, the long-term tourism growth will be dependent on the city’s support in attracting future film projects.


Photography by Jason Leppert

Love cruises and Dancing With the Stars? Now you can combine the 2 into one great cruise experience.

Holland America Line has partnered with Dancing with the Stars, the popular TV show that has made ratings magic with its signature pairing of professional dancers and celebrities, to create Dancing with the Stars: At Sea. The result is a set of theme cruises featuring select dancers and stars onboard and a fleet-wide dancing competition.

The aim is to promote cross-generational appeal among cruise-goers.

“Of course with anything we do, we hope to attract new guests, whether new to cruising or new to Holland America,” says Erik Elvejord, director of public relations at the cruise line. “Our primary considerations in selecting new partners are finding those that meet the desires and tastes of our guests and that can be delivered successfully onboard.”

So far that vision is paying off. Multigenerational fans — grandparents and grandchildren alike — have packed the house for the dance classes, fashion shows, photo-ops, signings and performances.

Photography by Jason Leppert

“I think what they love so much about it is that they get to be a part of it,” says Carson Kressley, one of the show’s stars. Another contestant and Olympian, Shawn Johnson, adds, “It’s very intimate. We walk around the cruise all week and get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner with all these people.”

If all this sounds like a cruise experience you’d love to have, you now have a chance to hop aboard – and dance away the nights — for free: Holland America is sponsoring a chance to win a free cruise trip on all sailings departing through November 2013.

Here’s how it works: Across the Holland America’s 15 ships, participating passengers will accumulate points with the single-highest scorer per ship winning passage on the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Onboard, a final dance-off will commence to see who will be rewarded a special version of the Mirror Ball Trophy as seen on the show. Only 2 theme cruises remain for now, but the partnership is expected to renew. So make sure you jump into the competition!

- Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based writer, photographer and videographer who publishes his own cruise travel website,PopularCruising.com.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Travelers visiting Washington, DC, will notice something different about the city’s skyline. Although it’s closed for repairs, the Washington Monument is now lighting up the night sky. The National Park Service has installed 488 lamps on the scaffold surrounding the monument.

The rehabilitation is part of a welcome change. On Aug. 23, 2011, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the 555-foot-tall monument, cracking and chipping stones near the top and shaking the mortar loose. The lights are expected to stay on until the popular tourist attraction reopens in spring 2014.

The Big Apple more your style? If you’re heading to NYC, there’s exciting news for tourists who want to check out Lady Liberty. Yep, after being hit by Superstorm Sandy last fall, the Statue of Liberty has once again opened to the public after a special ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 4th.

You may recall that the National Park Service closed Liberty Island following Hurricane Sandy; however, the Statue of Liberty’s crown reopened after a year of renovations. Last October’s storm flooded and damaged New York Harbor docks and Liberty Island’s walkways, buildings and electrical systems, but the 126-year-old iron statue made it through the storm unscathed.

Looking for more sightseeing recommendations for these cities? Check out our list of Washington DC Attractions and Top 10 Attractions in NYC.

Most seasoned travelers have probably heard of (and dreamt about) the amazing train ride through the Tijuca Rainforest to see the 125-foot Christ the Redeemer statue high atop Corcovado Mountain. And who hasn’t heard the gossip about the Brazilians’ buff beach bodies and the droves of scantily-clad women who sunbathe on the world-famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches.

Well now, you can get your chance to see Rio de Janeiro – free of charge! Enter to win a trip for 2 to the Marvelous City and see why it’s such a hot vacation destination. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that tourists are flocking to the tropical city not only for its beaches, but also because it will host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

See Rio for yourself! Explore this Brazilian city and its secret treasures like Leblon, Rio’s most affluent neighborhood with a beautiful beach that’s known for being much quieter than Ipanema or Copacabana. See Rio from above and go hang-gliding off Sugarloaf Mountain, or just lay low and spend the day on Paqueta Island, where it’s not uncommon to see a horse-drawn carriage.

There’s something for everyone in this Brazilian city, so take the first step and enter to win a free trip — your next adventure awaits you in Rio de Janeiro!

Photography by Getty Images

Before you book your next flight, here’s a word of warning: You may not want to fly on Spirit Airlines. The carrier received the lowest overall scores of any company that Consumer Reports has ever rated.

Today, Consumer Reports released its results from a readers’ survey that ranks the best and worst airlines.

So why didn’t Spirit Airlines make the cut? Industry analysts say that although the no-frills airline charges less than other carriers, customers still take a hit in their pockets by paying other additional fees, including $10 to $19 to book a flight, $3 for a soda or M&Ms, and $35 to $100 per carry-on bag. Readers also claimed that the airline has some of the “tightest” seating space in the industry.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Virgin America topped the list for the first time, receiving some of the highest customer satisfaction scores that any airline has received in years.  According to the survey, flyers said they like the comfy, leather seat cushions in the airline’s economy class. Readers also gave the airline’s in-flight entertainment high marks.

Other carriers that fared well included Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines for check-in and cabin staff. American, United and US Airways received the lowest ratings possible for cabin cleanliness, seating comfort and onboard entertainment.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 16,000 readers — who flew a combined 31,732 domestic flights — in February. Readers were asked to rate their satisfaction with the airlines’ check-in ease, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, seating comfort, baggage handling and in-flight entertainment.

Here’s a quick look at the airlines and their overall score, based on a 0 to 100 scale:

1.   Virgin America, 89
2.   Southwest Airlines, 85
3.   JetBlue Airways, 85
4.   Hawaiian Airlines, 82
5.   Alaska Airlines, 81
6.   Frontier Airlines, 78
7.   Delta Air Lines, 71
8.   US Airways, 66
9.   American Airlines, 66
10. United Airlines, 63
11. Spirit Airlines, 50

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