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AAA predicts that 93.3 million Americans will hit the road during the holidays, making this Christmas travel season the busiest it’s been in 6 years. More people are taking road trips this year because finding a reasonably-priced airplane ticket is like finding a needle in a haystack.
A record 84.4 million people will drive at least 50 miles between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1, according to the reputable travel agency. That’s 90.5% of holiday travelers, up from 89.3% just 6 years ago. So what does that mean to you? Expect plenty of traffic jams, crowded rest stops and bumper-to-bumper lines near highway tolls.
Need tips for dealing with this inevitable headache? Pack a couple travel-size games and snacks to keep the kids preoccupied. We recommend checking out some helpful family travel tips from Mommy Points blogger, Summer Hull, before you head out the door. Our travel expert offers up advice on everything from flying with a baby for the first time to finding hotels with health food options.
One thing travelers aren’t too concerned about is gas prices, which have dropped 50 cents since September, according to AAA. The average price at the pump will range from $3.20 and $3.40 a gallon by New Year’s Day, but that’s still not enough of a reason to thwart travelers’ plans to drive.
Although more people will be on the road, the airports will be just as busy. We recommend heading to the airport earlier than you normally would to avoid long TSA security lines — especially on the weekend before Christmas, the day after Christmas and on Jan. 2. AAA’s economist John Heimlich expects 86% of the airplane seats to be filled with paying passengers, up from 85% last year.
Hundreds of flights have been canceled or delayed due to a major storm system making its way across the Midwest and headed for the East Coast of the US. Meteorologists predict that another storm on the West Coast may throw a wrench in travel plans next week; so before you head out the door, check out our weather forecast tool — powered by WeatherTrends360 — to find out if these 2 storms will affect your Christmas travel plans.
And if you’re headed to a big city, download The Layover app or peruse our airport guides to find out how you can kill some time during a lengthy layover.
Photography by Getty Images
Brazil lost one of its geniuses this week. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer passed away on Wednesday, but he left behind a legacy of work that tourists and locals will admire forever. The 104-year-old architect was known for his modernist design style and he collaborated with other architects to design memorable works of art such as the United Nations building in NYC.
In 1959, Niemeyer was tasked with designing Brasilia from the ground up when it was chosen as Brazil’s new capital. He was the chief architect responsible for many public buildings — breathing life into a city once steeped in its colonial and baroque past.
Today, his architecture can be found all around the world, including Place du Colonel Fabien in Paris, the Cathedral of Brasilia, Mondadori Publishing Company’s headquarters in Milan and the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro.
Niemeyer’s curvaceous style has inspired young architects to dream, and tourists may feel inspired after visiting the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Center in Asturias, Spain, or the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (NovoMuseu) in Curitiba, Brazil.
By Troy Petenbrink
Photography by Troy Petenbrink
With the recent release of HBO’s The Girl and the current success of Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson, there has been renewed interest in one of the world’s most well-known (and somewhat creepy) movie directors.
Alfred Hitchcock fans — new and old — will be happy to know that many of the settings from his movies are still around and accessible.
I actually imagined myself as Melanie Daniels (played back in the day by Tippi Hedren) during a recent visit to Potter School House near the California coastal town of Bodega Bay. (Luckily, unlike Tippi, I was not attacked by a flock of crazed crows.) The school and the town featured prominently in The Birds. The school is now privately owned and closed to the public but is perfect for pictures. READ MORE
Skyfall — the 23rd movie about the debonair British spy James Bond — is expected to see an explosive weekend at the box office. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new 007 flick could rake in as much as $75 million during its opening weekend, after already making $320 million overseas in just 2 weeks.
Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
No matter how much money the movie makes, we’re more envious about James Bond’s travels to all the picturesque destinations featured in the film. In reprising his role as the hot spy, actor Daniel Craig traveled to various locations — including Istanbul, Shanghai, London and Glen Etive, Highland, Scotland — to film the new Bond movie. READ MORE
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably already know that the Eastern Seaboard of the US is still reeling from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, now downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. Powerful wind gusts, up to 80 mph, have left more than 7 million people without power. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of evacuees have been rushed to emergency shelters; to help with disaster relief, consider a donation to the American Red Cross.
And unfortunately travelers haven’t been able to escape Sandy’s stormy grip. Airports in NYC and Philadelphia remain closed, and more than 13,000 flights were cancelled at airports in some states near the Great Lakes, where heavy snow is expected. And according to The New York Times, flooding in some areas has forced subways from Boston to Washington, DC, to shut down.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve put together a few helpful tips just in case you’re stranded or you need to reschedule your travel plans. Cut through the clutter and get your travels back on track with our hurricane safety tips — what travelers should do before, during and after stormy weather strikes.
Looking for more travel tips and warm weather getaways?
Having to prepare for a hurricane, endure losing your luggage or drive through a snow storm are just a few examples of potential emergencies that may throw a proverbial wrench in your travel plans. Luckily, Travel Channel’s new web series, Travel 911, is here to offer precautionary advice to travelers. Our travel expert, Rob Pralgo, offers suggestions on how to handle many of the travel emergencies that we hope you never have to experience, including what to do if you have a painful jellyfish sting, how to choose the best sun screen and how to avoid a shark attack.
In addition to practical advice, Travel 911’s camping webisode has helpful tips on what you should pack on your next camping trip, and what you should do if you have a face-to-face encounter with a bear. It’s advice that’s relevant in light of a recent string of bear attacks.
In Fairbanks, AK, a bear dragged 21-year-old Julia Strafford 20 feet before letting her go, according to the Seattle Times. She survived, but 49-year-old Richard White wasn’t as lucky. The photographer was mauled and killed by a grizzly bear in Denali National Park, according to Fox News.
We hope this web series will help travelers plan ahead and take better precautions when traveling. Oh, and what about preparing for Hurricane Isaac? READ MORE
Photography by NBC Universal
The women on the infamous Real Housewives franchises are always traveling. Last season, the cast of Bravo TV’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta took a grand safari trip in Africa. Here at Travel Channel, we like to focus on the cool cultural experiences that come with traveling — but where there are housewives, there’s always drama. READ MORE
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Before the mass exodus from London’s Olympic Park, the Spice Girls, The Who, One Direction, Pet Shop Boys, George Michael — and other notable British singers and musicians — graced the stage in Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 closing ceremonies.
And just in case you didn’t know, Team USA will take home the most medals. US Olympic athletes won a total of 104 medals: 46 gold, 29 silver and 29 bronze. Team GB came in 3rd after China, winning a total of 65 Olympic medals.
During the closing ceremonies, spectators got a taste of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. But before you start making your travel plans to Rio, we suggest you think about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for February 7 – 23, 2014.
If cold weather isn’t your cup of tea, then relive the magic of the past 2 weeks and visit Britain’s Olympic venues, including Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon. Take a tour of Britain’s most amazing spots with 2012 gold medalist and Olympic swimmer Rebecca Soni, Olympic Soccer champion Heather Mitts and other world-renowned athletes.
Travel with gymnast Nastia Liukin to Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and Westminster Abbey. Explore Scotland’s great outdoors with Track and Field champions Bryan Clay and Jeremy Campbell.
Visit Essex, Glasgow, Greenwich, Coventry, Manchester and Wales. Discover why US Olympic athletes enjoy visiting Britain as they show you some of their favorite spots in our London 2012 web series.
Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer travel. It also marked the launch of a new gay travel website that caters to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) travelers … and their straight friends, too. OutEscapes.com — founded by Travel Channel’s guest blogger, Jimmy Im, and his business partner, Todd Murray — provides travelers with bookable travel and event packages at top travel destinations and properties around the world.
According to the staff at Out Escapes, the new website is the first travel, flash-sales website geared specifically to the LGBT community — an industry estimated at $65 billion in revenue a year. The new site touts having a skilled team of LGBT travel experts and industry insiders that will curate the website with their own experiences. So now travelers can get real, qualitative information about a specific destination of interest — for free!
by Troy Petenbrink
Orlando, the home of Mickey Mouse and sunshine, is the No. 1 tourist destination in the US. It attracts over 50 million annual visitors — and it’s gearing up for more. As Orlando approaches its summer season, it is launching many new and exciting upgrades to its amusement park attractions.
At SeaWorld Orlando, Orca has some new friends, with the introduction of TurtleTrek, a mix of uber-technology and naturalistic habitats. On the tech side, visitors can experience a 3-D/360-degree film in a cool dome theater that uses dozens of projectors to immerse the audience in an underwater journey of a sea turtle’s life. Real rescued sea turtles, along with thousands of fish and manatees, can also be seen as are part of 2 new habitats — one saltwater and one freshwater.
Fans of roller coasters might enjoy The Rattlesnake at Forever Florida EcoSafaris’ expanded EcoPark. The roller coaster-style zipline launches from a 65-foot-high platform before whipping around a 1,000-foot course and reaching speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.