Kathleen Rellihan

Kathleen Rellihan is a digital producer, writer and editor for TravelChannel.com. A Washington, DC, resident, Kathleen's love for adventure travel has inspired her to sleep in an ice hotel in Quebec, search for the northern lights in Iceland, learn to surf in Costa Rica and give elephants a bath in Thailand. Kathleen’s next adventure is volunteering as an English teacher in Haiti. Follow Kathleen on Twitter @k_rellihan

Posts by Kathleen Rellihan

With temperatures dropping, don’t let winter doldrums set in. Bundle up and embrace the cold (albeit the bone-chilling, artic-blasting cold of recent days) with some of our favorite things to do in winter.

1. Sleep in an ice hotel.

If you aren’t afraid of a little cold or a bed made out of ice, spend an unforgettable night in an ice hotel. Chill out in a luxury igloo full of hard-carved ice sculptures and cozy fur hides to keep you warm at night.

2. Toast with a decadent drink.

The ideal cure for a winter chill? A cocktail to warm you up. Toast to shorter days with these 10 cold-weather cocktails, from a traditional hot toddy to an innovative dry-ice-infused concoction.

3. Take an icy plunge.
What better way to plunge into 2014 than with an icy dip! There are still New Year dips taking place throughout January, or head to Finland where ice swimming is a popular custom all winter long.

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“Travel more.” It’s certainly at the top of our resolutions for the new year (and every year, for that matter).  Here are 7 more resolutions to make the most out of your travels in 2014.

Slow down your travel. 
Savor the fleeting moments when you’re not at your desk buried under work or stuck in rush-hour traffic. Revel in the experience, whether that means lingering at a 4-hour meal or a tossing out the museum list for a long walk with no target destination. It’s easy to pack your schedule on a trip, afraid that you’ll miss something, but you won’t be able to fully appreciate a different culture unless you take the time to experience its nuisances.

Don’t let a “dangerous” label deter you. 
Of course, we aren’t advising traipsing around a war-torn country without taking any precautions, but rather suggesting that there are places that are inherently dangerous— whether they’re crime-ridden or full of wild and hungry animals – that shouldn’t be avoided because of fear alone.  Be safe, but don’t cross off visiting some of the world’s best places  — like Brazil, Nicaragua, and Colombia — altogether just because their reputation is a little dicey.

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Where is everyone dreaming of getting hitched and starting their happily-ever-after? Today Google released their year-in-review Zeitgeist list for 2013, which included the top searched destination wedding locations and honeymoon destinations for 2013.

It’s clear from Google’s data that couples are definitely dreaming of beach “I do’s,” in places such as Jamaica, Bahamas and Bermuda. While Hawaii has always been a desired destination wedding, we like seeing that the less-developed Kauai island is getting more love in 2013. We do wonder though, how many brides and grooms book these destination weddings or are they just dreaming of them?

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Dreaming of a tropical getaway, but don’t know where to go? Want to bask on beautiful beaches, but don’t want to cross several times zones to get there? Puerto Rico, just a quick 2-½ hour flight from Miami, is as close as it gets to an island paradise.  Temperatures year-round hover between a perfect 75 to 85 degrees.  If that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 more reasons to visit Puerto Rico.

1.    No Passport Required

Forgot to renew your passport? Don’t worry; you can still take a trip to Puerto Rico. While this exotic isle may seem like a world away with its rich Spanish culture and exotic beaches, it’s still part of the US making it a no-passport-required vacation. One less thing to (forget to) pack.

2.    Glow-in-the-Dark Sea Creatures

Don’t let the name Mosquito Bay scare you – it is not the world’s most mosquito-infested bay. Also known as Bioluminescent Bay, this lagoon in Vieques is home to tiny glowing creatures that light up the bay at night in trails of blue phosphorescence. Rent a kayak on a moonless night for the best viewing of this amazing glow-in-the-dark phenomenon.

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Getty Images

Ready for the busiest travel day of the year?  Ready or not, it’s inevitable that the day before Thanksgiving will include record-long lines at the airport and headache-inducing traffic. We checked in with Foursquare to get their insights on Thanksgiving travel patterns. Looking at more than 4.5 billion check-ins from last year, Foursquare determined the busiest airports, busiest rest stops and even the busiest restaurants (see full list below for busiest hours). Hint: You’ll definitely want to avoid Atlanta’s airport, ATL, at 6pm the day before Thanksgiving!

Bad news? It’s not likely this year will be any less busy for travel. Good news? There are heaping amounts of comfort food waiting for you on the other side.

Some interesting overall Thanksgiving check-in trends to note:

Turkey Pickin’
A 48% increase in farm check-ins suggests people are heading out to pick their own turkey. Get your gobble on at these turkey farms.

Small Town Pride
Travelers returning to small towns are much more likely to check-in and show off their hometown pride than those from the big cities. The most popular hometown destination in the nation for Thanksgiving? Detroit (based on largest percentage increase of check-ins).

Pit Stops
There is a 53% increase in rest stop check-ins during travel season. Nothing like a bit of caffeine and sugar to fuel a long drive.

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Photography by John Moore/Getty Images

Think the only way to avoid an airport meltdown during the holidays is to stay home? Fear not, it is possible to snag a cheap flight during the holidays, breeze through long airport lines, keep the kids happy during the entire flight, and not lose your cool (or dignity) in security.

We asked an air travel expert, Mark Drusch, Chief Supplier Relations Officer for CheapOair.com, to reveal his secrets for flying through the airport during the holidays. With over 20 years of experience in executive airline roles, Drusch shared with us his forecast for the holiday travel season, how to glide through security lines, and what he never gets on a plane without.

So before you take off this holiday season, take in Drusch’s expert travel advice:
Traveling Type: What’s your forecast for this holiday travel season? What trends are you seeing?
Mark Drusch:  Higher traffic than last year, however the peak days (Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday and Monday after) may be marginally less full because the other days around the holiday are seeing very strong traffic. But planes will still be very full. We see an increase in customers celebrating their Thanksgiving in vacation spots, particularly the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica.

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With Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment in the The Hunger Games trilogy coming out this month in theatres, Hunger Games tourism is … well, catching fire again.  From tree hotels to bubble dome rooms, Booking.com shared with us the most Hunger Games-inspired hotels around the world. Whether you are a super fan or just have a taste for truly one-of-a-kind places to stay, you won’t believe these 5 spectacular hotels.

May the odds (of getting a room in these super hot hotels) be ever in your favor!

Treehotel

Treehotel – Harads, Sweden
While you might not need to hide from your fellow Hunger Games rivals, an escape to Treehotel, the world’s largest treehouse hotel, still will be a welcome reprieve.  Spending a night perched in the trees in Sweden’s Harads forest, you’ll feel on top of the world.  The tree rooms are all uniquely designed and suspended 13 to 19 feet above ground. We bet you’ll sleep better in the trees here than Katniss Everdeen ever did. After all, there are no distractions like flying arrows and tracker jackers impeding quality shut-eye.

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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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Wildlife adventurer Jessica Pociask curls up with a Harp Seal pup on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

With her passion for wildlife adventures, from jungle trekking in Uganda to see mountain gorillas or curling up with lemurs in Madagascar, Jessica Pociask is our type of traveler.

As the owner of WANT Expeditions — Wildlife and Nature Travel, a conservation-oriented, expedition-style adventure travel company — Jessica leads tours to see the most amazing natural phenomena on Earth.  Jessica has been to over 70 countries, leading expeditions all over the world, and has visited all 7 continents. She has studied climate change in Antarctica, and she was one of 50 women chosen from the US and Mexico for the Women’s Leadership and International Sustainable Development award by the National Wildlife Federation.

Jessica “photo bombs” a giant tortoise in the Galapagos.

A biologist by trade, Jessica recently spoke on a panel with distinguished conservationists and biologists regarding the impact of tourism on conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival.

And where is Jessica currently? Oh, just leading a tour in Ecuador to see the first new carnivore species found in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years — the olinguito.

Traveling Type: How did you get your start leading wildlife and nature tours?

Jessica Pociask: It’s a long, convoluted story that probably started when I made my first insect collection somewhere around the age of 7. Over the next 20 years, fueled by stories in my grandfather’s collection of National Geographic magazines, I was inspired with the idea of being an explorer and adventurer. I took my first trip abroad when I was 16, and I once traveled with an orchestra through Europe. From there on, I was smitten with traveling, so I began working for various conservation organizations and outdoor outfitters and started traveling abroad independently. READ MORE

iStock

When we announced our Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips for 2013, we wanted to hear from our fans. We asked you what we missed on our list and for you to tell us your favorite fall foliage road trip. It was a landslide – The Great Smoky Mountains won out! Behind the Smoky Mountains, fans picked the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Virginia and North Carolina, as another popular spot for a leaf-peeping drive.

Unfortunately, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed due to the government shutdown, but you can’t let that stop you. Hop in your car and take in the scenery as you drive around Gatlinburg, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the scenic Smokies. Now is the perfect time — fall colors peak here in mid-October.

Gatlinburg offers more than just a spectacular autumn show. See what else there is to do in this boot-stomping town … other than ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the foliage, of course.

 

You May Also Like:
Travel’s Best Fall Foliage Road Trips
Great Smoky Mountains Road Trip
Things to Do in Gatlinburg

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