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

Every dream wedding needs a dream honeymoon to follow. After the Big Day has come and gone, where will you start your happily-ever-after? Every couple’s idea of a perfect honeymoon is different — some dream of lounging on a private stretch of sand, some dream of exploring a foreign city hand-in-hand. From a secluded island getaway to a romantic city escape, here are some unforgettable honeymoon spots.

Your Own Private Paradise in the Maldives

Start your happily-ever-after basking in the beauty of this romantic archipelago with crystal-clear water and pristine white beaches. You’ll find that many of the tiny islands have been converted into luxury resorts with private overwater bungalows. For a honeymoon that includes equal parts paradise and pampering, stay at Komandoo Maldives Island Resort.  In this adults-only resort, you’ll be in a world of your own with the ocean on your doorstep. For perhaps the most romantic meal of your life, enjoy a candlelit dinner on the beach with just your and your new hubbie or wife. Watch the sunset while you dine on a meal chef-tailored just for you.

Say Aloha to Romance in Hawaii

Hawaii has always been a popular honeymoon destination … and for good reason. It may still be in the US, but with its beautiful beaches, active volcanoes and lush rainforests, it seems a world away. And with 8 major islands, there’s something for every type of couple — from the beach bums to the adventurers.  For the couples who want to enjoy secluded beaches and adventure activities, Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort offers it all.  The only resort on Oahu’s famed North Shore, Turtle Bay offers a secluded location far from Waikiki’s crowds with breathtaking ocean views and 5 miles of pristine beaches. There’s no shortage of outdoor adventures on this 880-acre paradise: Go horseback riding, snorkeling, standup paddle boarding or hiking. Plus, the North Shore is one of the best surf spots in the world — so perhaps you can learn to hang 10 as a couple on the islands where surfing was invented.

Old World Charm Meets Modern Luxury in Portugal

Portugal has recently topped the list as a popular honeymoon destination.  Brimming with Old World charm and traditions, Portugal is the perfect European escape for newlyweds who crave culture.  You can’t spend your entire honeymoon sightseeing — most couples want to relax after the wedding is over. For a mix of modern luxury and historic charm, honeymoon at the The Yeatman hotel, a luxurious wine-spa hotel located on the banks of the River Douro in Porto. After a day of port wine tasting (this is where port comes from, after all) and taking in the classic architecture of one of the oldest European cities, you can relax in hotel’s infinity pool, in-suite Jacuzzi or on your private terrace.  With a glass of world-class port wine, of course.

For more inspiration for planning your dream honeymoon, check out our picks for the Top Honeymoon Hotspots and 2013’s Most Romantic Honeymoon Destinations.

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Where do the sexiest people live? Who better to ask than Travel Channel’s very own globe-trotting travel writers and bloggers? We sought out these world travelers for their picks of the destinations with the sexiest people … sexy because of their sense of style, love of life, dancing moves or incredibly fit bods. The responses had a definitive trend: Seems as if many of the most bodacious beings hail from Latin America.

We knew Brazil would be a likely contender. Travel writer and host Ernest White II, aka Fly Brother, who called Sao Paulo, Brazil, home for over 6 years,  praises this “multihued hottie factory.” “Without a doubt,” says White, “the sexiest people in the world can be found in that renowned epicenter of bulbous backsides, Brazil. The über-toned beach bodies and striking coal-to-cream complexion scheme speak to Brazil’s virtually endless coastline and its centuries-old history of intermixing and immigration.”

Of course, Italy wasn’t a surprise pick, either. This people in this Mediterranean haven practically exude “sexy” in nearly everything that they do,  says travel writer Valerie Conners, who’s enjoyed several stretches of living, working and traveling across Italy. “Whether they’re — against all odds — making red-linen pants look seductive, casually sipping an espresso while perusing La Repubblica newspaper or being freakishly dexterous by simultaneously chattering on a cell phone, smoking a cigarette and eating a gelato while wearing a micro-mini skirt and careening through Rome’s streets on a Vespa (yup, it’s happened) — I gotta hand it to them, Italianos are dead sexy,” she says.

Scandinavia is known for its awe-inspiring natural beauty, and that includes its people. Travel writer Terry Ward, who divides her time between Florida and Nassau, Bahamas, swoons over Swedes: “Slim, tall and impeccably dressed, the people of Stockholm are more diverse than the blond-haired, blue-eyed stereotype would lead you to believe … and while Swedes aren’t exactly the outgoing-with-strangers types, they do love to practice their English with native speakers — use it to your advantage to make friends.”

Who else made the list? See the rest of our Sexiest People picks here.

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This weekend Thailand celebrated its New Year, know as Songkran, with the world’s biggest water fight. Songkran is an annual Buddhist holiday that traditionally calls for Thais to visit elders and temples on the first day of the year. The days leading up to the New Year are less serious and filled with epic water battles across the country. For the 3 days leading up to the New Year, there isn’t a dry spot in Thailand, as the “Land of Smiles” fills its water guns and buckets and takes to the streets for the celebratory dousing of passersby. This festival is based on a renewal and cleansing tradition stemming from the water blessing in temples for the New Year. Each year this all-out water fight only gets bigger — and wetter– in Thailand.

Last year, I unintentionally planned a vacation to Thailand during Songkran. As a tourist, I didn’t know what to expect. I prepared myself with a waterproof camera case, a poncho (that proved useless) and the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mindset — I bought a water gun in a Thai market for protection. As most tourists who find themselves in Thailand during Songkran can probably attest, I felt lucky to be here to witness something so unique and at the heart of the country’s culture: a veritable national party.

Thailand, a country already so well-known for its hospitality, welcomes droves of tourists during Songkran to join in its annual water fight. So take it as a compliment if you get soaked with a water gun here. It means they like you.

During the 3 days of Songkran, I was lucky enough to see 3 different cities celebrate it.  The first day of Songkran, I was in Pai, a small mountain town in the north of Thailand. Pai has become a favorite among expats and tourists looking for a nature reprieve from Thailand’s congested bigger cities. The small town of Pai is centered around one main street and everyone in the town seemed to be on it during Songkan — either in a truck filled with young mischievous water-throwers with trashcan-size buckets full of water or lined up on the streets for a prime spot to watch the action. And as I would learn repeatedly throughout Songkan, the ultimate target for drenching during the festival is always the tourist. My introduction to Songkran in Pai began when I was ambushed by a group of young monks armed with super soakers (see photo).

Photography by Stephanie Price

Next stop on the Songrkan tour was Chiang Mai, my absolute favorite city in Thailand, less touristy and globalized than Bangkok, but still with plenty to see, do and taste. As our bus from Pai pulled up to the gates of Chiang Mai, I quickly realized that Pai was just a trickle of water fights compared with this city’s all-out water war. There was no shortage of water in Chiang Mai either, as the fuel for this 3-day water fight here mostly comes from the river that runs through the city. By the second city, my travel companions and I had amped up our ammunition; water guns just weren’t as effective — or as fun — as entire buckets filled with water.

 

Photography by Stephanie Price

Our last stop on the Songran tour was Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city. This was also the last night of the celebrations before people throughout the country would flock to temples for a more serious (and drier) day with family — but not before one last big splash. So we found ourselves in the epicenter of the country’s water festival, on the biggest night, in Thailand’s biggest city. Think New Year’s Eve in Times Square, but instead of noisemakers, everyone’s armed with water guns. Our hotel was smack dab in the middle of the action on Khao San Road, a 0.5-mile-long strip full of bars, restaurants, hotels, stores and heaps of tourists mostly of the young budget-traveler type.

As I learned firsthand, staying dry as you walk through Khao San Road is the least of your problems during Songkran. I could barely walk through this street because it was so crowded with Songkran revelers. While Thais are generally known to be laid-back people  – often, you can even escape the water splashing if you just shake your head or hand — we found no such luck here. No matter how much we pleaded, we couldn’t escape getting soaked in Bangkok. The water battle on Khao San Road was unlike anything I could have imagined. Few would ever take a camera out here to document the craziness for risk of it getting ruined. Luckily, neither did I.

On the early morning of the New Year, after a final night of water mayhem, we were due to fly home. We woke up and breathed a sigh of relief that finally the crowds on Khao San Road had gone home and we could skip the bathing suit under our clothes and poncho for the trip to the airport. So we packed into a tuk-tuk (Thailand’s rickshaw) with all of our luggage (cabs were nowhere to be found on this national holiday) and headed to the airport. But to our utter surprise, we received one final drenching at a stoplight from a truck that still had a bucket of water in the back from the night before.

Soaked and carrying our wet bags, we arrived at the airport laughing, knowing there was no better way to leave Thailand than with one big splash.

 

Courtesy of LEGOLand Hotel

Think you can make an impressive LEGO home? Try building a hotel made of LEGOs. Now that the Ice Hotel has melted, take a spring fling with the family to America’s first LEGOLAND Hotel that just opened this month. Located right at the main entrance of LEGOLAND California Resort, guests can stay and play a LEGO’s throw away from the park’s attractions designed for the young and the young at heart.

Now, we should mention that the entire hotel isn’t made of LEGOs (this is earthquake-plagued California, after all), but the iconic plastic-building block is imaginatively integrated throughout this kiddie hotel heaven. Children and parents alike will be wowed by this novel hotel: approximately 3,422 LEGO models have been built throughout the hotel out of more than 3 million LEGO bricks (don’t worry, parents, you won’t have to clean up any of this). Everything comes to life here with 7 large-scale LEGO models that are animated, like a bubble-blowing LEGO dragon taking a bath on the patio that speaks to children passing by.

Guests can choose between 3 themed-rooms modeled after the most popular LEGOLAND areas: Pirate, Kingdom and Adventure. There’s plenty of room for the entire family, with 2 separate sleeping areas — a queen-size bed for grown-ups, and a separate area for up to 3 little ones, complete with a bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed and their very own TV. And each room has LEGO blocks ready for you to build your own architectural wonders.

Designed with imagination in every detail, the hotel’s fun features include secret whoopee cushions, disco-themed elevators, treasure trails and exploding toy boxes.  Dining is even kid-focused at LEGOLAND Hotel. Bricks Family Restaurant serves a breakfast and dinner buffet with a station specifically designed for kids at a height they can reach, while the Skyline Café features a LEGO city skyline with 35 kid-pleasing scenes.

With a fun place to rest and exclusive early-morning access to select rides and attractions at the park, families will be on a 24-hour fun-filled ride. While this is the only LEGOLAND where you can spend a night, there are LEGOLAND theme parks all over the world — from Florida to Germany to Malaysia. And while the parks will amaze any age, they are designed specifically for children 2 to 12.

 

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photo courtesy of Viceroy Riviera Maya

Sparky could use a Spring Fling, too. Now that the weather is warming up, it’s the perfect time to take your BFF on the road. Need some inspiration? Here are pet-friendly vacation ideas that will put a spring in your pet’s step.

For the ultimate petcation, treat your pet to a luxury retreat at the chic Viceroy Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen. The resort’s PetVacay program offers pets the same pampered indulgence that their owners enjoy. At arrival, your pet will receive a Mayan blessing by a real shaman from the local village to release any worries he brought with him on the trip over (and a doggie treat will help ease those travel woes, too).  The hotel also provides your pet with his own personal “palapa” so he can lounge in shady comfort during his stay. This thatched-roof doggie home is also conveniently portable so he can travel in style with you throughout the resort, from poolside to bar-side. Plus, the resort’s chefs will prepare your canine companion will his favorite foods. Sounds like doggie heaven, right?

You don’t have to leave the country to enjoy pet-friendly beach bliss. Pack your pooch and head to Doris Day’s iconic 1928 Cypress Inn, “just a bone’s toss” from California’s leash-free Carmel Beach. This retro Hollywood inn caters to canines along with 22 other Carmel-by-the-Sea hotels, making this one pet-loving beach town.

Cypress Inn was one of California’s first hotels to welcome pets in the mid-1980s, well before the pet-friendly hotel trend took off. Since then it has opened its doors to all creatures, including parrots and even pot-bellied pigs. April marks the debut of the inn’s new Culinary Canine Menu, served daily during Yappy Hour. While you mingle with fellow animal lovers, your 4-legged friend can indulge in Muttloaf, Chowhound Chicken and, yes, even Muttinis.

Looking for a cityscape for you and your pet? Dallas’ Hotel Palomar takes pet-friendly to a new level. It’s not all about the dogs here: the hotel accepts any number of pets, without size or weight restrictions, and at no extra charge. So, yes, that means you can bring your pet monkey or pet ferret. Some of their fetching amenities include pet sitting, grooming and walking. If you’re looking for a quieter travel companion, Hotel Palomar shares the (guppy) love by offering a complimentary goldfish to keep you company during your stay. And you don’t have to worry about feeding the fish – the staff will take care of that!

 

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Nok Air/Facebook

Does sex sell more airline seats? Back in the ’60s, when the Golden Age of Flying ruled supreme, airline stewardesses wore super-high minis, pillbox hats and low-cut tops. Fast-forward to today, and airlines are trying to bring sexy back to flying, this time around with attempts that are much more in-your-face than the golden age of flying ever displayed – and, no surprise, the move is causing plenty of controversy for “sexy-ing up” flight attendants.

The most recent example is Thai carrier Nok Airlines, which has created a 2013 calendar with scantily-clad Maxim models posing as flight attendants. The airline’s CEO, Patee Sarasin, tells CNN, “The airline business has always been seen as sexy globally.” The calendar, he adds, has been a warmly received by appreciative customers.

Nok Airlines isn’t the only carrier to go the sexy calendar route. Ryanair’s cabin crew calendar showcases models in bikinis, and lest you have second thoughts about buying it, you can confidently defend your purchase by knowing that proceeds do go to the Polish TVN Foundation charity.

What do flight attendants think? We asked Heather Poole, a 15-year flight attendant and author of Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet her thoughts about marketing flight attendants as sex symbols.

She wasn’t too impressed.

“Cheap airfare is the only thing that sells tickets today,” says Poole. “That and — oh! — on-time departures and good safety records. If passengers really cared about what their flight attendants looked like, Hooters Air would still be in business. They only lasted for 3 years!”

Poole adds: “The only airlines that seem to flaunt sexy flight attendants are the ones looking to sell calendars or get “likes” on their Facebook page. There’s a reason they’re selling sex over a quality airline. Business must not be quite as hot as the crew.“

Plus, what about women fliers? asks Poole. Sexting up campaigns aren’t likely to win over this huge travel demographic.

“Do most female fliers really care how sexy flight attendants are? I don’t think so. It’s like some airlines are only directing their marketing at male passengers. Last time I checked there were women not just sitting on the plane, but occupying business and first-class seats, serious hardcore frequent fliers! They’re also flying the plane. To which I say, God Bless America! I’m so thankful I work for a US carrier. “

So what do you think? Do the marketing attempts to present flight attendants as sex symbols make flying more attractive to you? Or should airlines focus their efforts elsewhere?

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Where’s the best place to practice yoga? Paradise. More specifically, Wanderlust O’ahu, the one-of-a kind festival that features yoga, music, surfing and plenty of Hawaiian culture on the fabled North Shore. Typically a summer festival that’s held in mountain resort areas, Wanderlust kicked off its 2013 season by leaving the mainland for its first-ever beach location in the Aloha state.

photo by Mike Bernard

When I attended my first Wanderlust at Whistler last August, I was immediately hooked on the unique vibe of this festival that combines world-class yogis, outdoor adventure, organic wining and dining and dancing under the stars to crowd-pleasing bands.

But Wanderlust at a more intimate setting on one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches? Mindful-living magic.

Away from the crowds of Waikiki, Wanderlust O’ahu was held at Turtle Bay Resort, an 880-acre paradise that sits on the northernmost tip of the North Shore with 5 miles of remote beachfront. Yogis down-dogged by the crystal blue ocean (or on the ocean if they attempted stand-up paddleboard yoga) with palm trees swaying and 15-foot waves breaking nearby. Hawaiian surf legends Gerry Lopez and Rochelle Ballard taught yoga classes and shared their surf-yoga connection during evening speakeasies. Wanderlust-ers got a taste of Hawaiian culture with surf, ukulele and hula lessons. And every day in paradise was topped off with dancing under the stars – with musical acts like Michael Franti and Friends and ALO.

photo by Ali Kaukas

While every moment at Wanderlust O’ahu felt perfect, my favorite moment had to be the spontaneous “trance dance” party led by yoga goddess Shiva Rea and Wanderlust musical mainstay Michael Franti. Picture over a thousand people jumping and dancing to the infectious beats of Michael Franti under the Hawaiian sunshine (in comfy yoga pants, of course).  Pure happiness.

See Michael Franti lead the dance party in the festival highlights video. Check out images of Wanderlust O’ahu in our slideshow. And get more highlights of the festival in my Postcard From Wanderlust O’ahu.

photo by Kathleen Rellihan

Don’t worry,  there are still many chances to experience Wanderlust this year. It’s just gearing up for its 2013 summer season, with all the mainland events tickets on sale now: Wanderlust Vermont, Jun 20-23; Wanderlust Colorado, July 3-7; Wanderlust California, July 18-21; and Wanderlust Whistler, August 1-4. Don’t miss out on advanced pricing, which ends March 26. Ticket prices will go up, so now is the time to book your Wanderlust adventure. And the earlier you book, the more likely you’ll get into the popular classes, which fill up quickly.

Where will your wanderlust take you this year? I have a feeling mine will take me back to another Wanderlust festival.

How is the rest of the world celebrating Valentine’s Day? While we might think of Valentine’s Day as an American holiday, it’s celebrated (or protested) around the world with the same vigor as it is here. And in some places, it’s celebrated with a twist.

Japan’s Twisted Tradition

Men have it easy on Valentine’s Day in Japan – it’s the women who are expected to give chocolates on this day. And the chocolate giving is not limited to just significant others. “Obligation chocolate” is given to coworkers, friends and family in Japan. But the object of the ladies’ affection gets a more expensive or elaborate chocolate-themed gift. One of the latest trends is for Japanese ladies to give a chocolate mold of their face to their beau.  Don’t worry, the men get their turn to reciprocate the love on March 15, White Day.

Love Locks Banned

From China to Venice, you’ll the see the tradition of love locks adorning bridges, especially around this time of year. All around the world, couples show their adoration by linking a padlock with their lover’s name on it to a bridge. How sweet, right? But the sentiment isn’t always shared by the authorities of these romantic places, who have starting fining and even banning love locks from their cities. Authorities in Rome have banned love locks from the Ponte Milvio, a famous bridge on the Tiber River. And we thought all Italians were romantics.

Valentine’s Day Under Attack

And, no, we’re not referring to bitter singletons attacking Valentine’s Day. While Valentine’s Day is openly celebrated in some Muslim countries like the United Arab Emirates, in others it is met with heavy resistance. Conservatives in Pakistan are demanding a boycott of Valentine’s Day, saying it’s a Western holiday that’s spreading vulgarity around the country. Similarly, in Indonesia, government officials are urging young people to skip this day as well, saying it’s an “excuse for couples to have forbidden sex.” But romantics in these countries are still finding ways to show their love on this day, with what else, but heart-shaped balloons and flowers.

 

Need your own ideas on how to celebrate? Check out all our Valentine’s Day ideas.

Photography by John Talbot, flickr

New England is bracing for a blizzard of potentially historic and crippling proportions Friday into Saturday, according to the latest weather reports. At this time, it looks like coastal New England will feel the brunt of it, with a possible 2 feet of snow.

Of course, a storm of this magnitude will present serious problems for travelers. Already more than 1,100 flights have been canceled, according to FlightAware.com, and that number is likely to grow as the storm hits. Check out our tips on flight cancellations and driving in hazardous road conditions.

While Nemo is a serious winter storm, we can’t help but wonder about the name … after all, most of us think of the cute little Disney fish, not a devasting blizzard. So what’s the deal? Turns out, the Weather Channel has started naming winter storms in the 2012-2013 season and reports its strict criteria when it comes to naming a winter storm — snowfall amount, wind, temperature, time of impact, etc. In this case, the weather folks were thinking of Nemo — as in a Greek boy’s name meaning “from the valley.” Nemo also means “nobody” in Latin.

It’s not likely Nemo will be nobody, though. NYC alone may see 38 inches of snow. With a storm of this scale, perhaps the other winter storm names Magnus, Zeus or Rocky would have been more fitting (definitely not Yogi).

It’s been 3 years since the Snowmageddon blizzard buried the mid-Atlantic states. Will Nemo be one of the worst US blizzards in the country’s history?

One thing’s certain: If you’re an in an area that will be fighting Nemo,  please stay home. We suggest keeping warm with a café mocha or winter cocktail and dreaming about the epic ski conditions that just may follow.

VisitScotland

How do you get a pony in a sweater? CNN asks this question we’re all thinking after Scotland’s “ponies in sweaters” marketing campaign hit the web last week.

The owner of these pony sensations, Joe Tonkinson, explained to CNN, “It was just a case of putting one foot in, put the other foot in … and button it up.” Who would have thought it was that simple? Tonkinson went to say that the ponies were extremely calm during the sweater outfitting.  Apparently, these ponies don’t mind the model life.

In this brilliant marketing move, Visit Scotland combined 2 of its biggest exports – Shetland wool sweaters and Shetland ponies — to promote its Year of Natural Scotland.

And, these pony ambassadors, Fivla and Vitamin, certainly have brought new interest to Scotland. Who could resist short-legged shaggy ponies in winter woolies?

With its castles, countryside, haunted places, the whisky trail and now, shaggy Shetlands in sweaters, Scotland is piquing our interest.

What about you – any plans to see Scotland this year?

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