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This Saturday, outdoor lovers have a chance to give back to some of the United States’ treasured nature reserves for National Public Lands Day. It’s the largest single-day volunteer effort in the country, and over 170,000 volunteers are expected to help plant trees, remove trash, restore habitats and beautify their public gardens, beaches and parks. This day is set aside annually to promote the importance of protecting our environment and conserving nature.  If you love hands-on activities and don’t mind getting a little messy, this is a great way to connect with nature and help our environment.

And to celebrate, the National Park Service is waiving the entry fees to all national parks, so If you don’t plan on volunteering this weekend, be sure to get outdoors and take advantage of this great opportunity to explore some of America’s treasures.

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Check out this week’s picks from our favorite travel bloggers’ posts; from gambling to Mayan expeditions to pirate graveyards, you’ll be inspired to go on your own travel adventure!

From casinos to British pub food, Unbrave Girl tells us 5 things she loved about visiting Macu, “the Vegas of Asia” with a Portuguese influence.

Avoid that tempting glass of wine when you fly! Canada’s Adventure Couple offers tips for combatting the dreaded jet lag.

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Did you roll out of bed at 3 a.m. to patiently wait in line with fellow Mac fans under the soft white-light glow of the Apple logo, counting down the minutes until the doors to your local Apple store opened? Our photo editor did — we’re not judging!

Photograph by Getty Images

In celebration of the much-anticipated iPhone 5, we wanted to share some exciting news for all you diehard iPhone owners and Travel Channel fans. Just in time for your shiny new gadget, our web development team has rolled out an iPhone-optimized version of Travelchannel.com. READ MORE

In case you’re wondering why everyone in your office keeps calling you “matey” and commenting on your “booty,” don’t call HR. It’s just Talk Like a Pirate Day!

In fact, it’s the 10th anniversary of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Ever since author Dave Barry mentioned the idea in his nationally-read newspaper column, the holiday has ransacked the country. Even Facebook lets you set your language preference to pirate (“friends” turn into “scallywags” and “like” turns into “arr!”). You can do that anytime, though — not just on the holiday.

To celebrate the day, learn about the real pirates of the Caribbean and how you can turn your next Caribbean vacation into a pirate journey.

You can also check out photos of the Caribbean hot spots once frequented by real pirates, including Edward Teach (Blackbeard), Calico Jack Rackham, Roberto Confresi and Jon Boysie Singh.

Or, see the rest of the World’s Wackiest Holidays, so you can find more opportunities to take a day off — we won’t tell your boss.

Little girls’ dreams are about to come true this January when the Royal Caribbean cruise line starts setting sail with Barbie. Children ages 4-11 will be able to hit the high seas with the world’s most popular doll on a dream cruise complete with all sorts of Barbie-esque activities,  such as a “tiaras and teacup” party in a decorated stateroom that is sure to be covered in the doll’s signature pink. Girls will get the chance to walk in a fashion show, take mermaid dance lessons, design their own doll outfit and more. And in case that wasn’t enough, guests will also receive gifts including dolls, blankets, toothbrushes and bags, so you can leave in true Barbie style. Booking starts this fall, with dates continuing through March 2013.

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Samantha Brown Expecting Twins

Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown is about to embark on her biggest adventure yet: motherhood! Samantha, who’s been our girl-meets-world host for the last 12 years on Great Weekends, Passport to Europe, Samantha Brown’s Asia and more, announced to her fans yesterday via Facebook that she and her husband, Kevin O’Leary are expecting … twins! “We have waited such awhile for the love of a child, but our path faced strong headwind. Our troubles have past and now, at long last … Our joy doubled, we’re expecting twins!!!!” READ MORE

Photo courtesy of Apple

 

As we all eagerly await the release of the iPhone 5, it’s hard not to daydream about the different ways you could use your shiny new toy. Obviously, at Travel Channel, we like to daydream about how this shiny new toy will help us travel lighter, easier and better.

Of course, all iPhones, new and old, make the life of a jetsetter that much better. But whether you’re booking a big trip or wanderlusting in your cubicle, here are a few apps that will make it a little easier to realize your globetrotting dreams:

Want to travel like Tony? The Layover app gives you Anthony Bourdain’s do’s and don’ts in cities from San Francisco to Singapore. Build your own Bourdain-inspired itinerary, including all of Tony’s must-try restaurants.

With the WT360 app, check the weather for anywhere in the world up to a year in advance. Along with current weather information, detailed global 15-day forecasts with animated maps and hour-by-hour 7-day forecasts — there’s no way your next trip can get rained out! And with 80% accuracy, rest assured that the app is worth checking before you make any travel plans.

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Photography by Lisa Singh

They fought back.

Visitors to the Flight 93 National Memorial may not know exactly what happened in this stretch of rural Pennsylvania on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, but they know this much: The passengers and crew of United 93 fought back that day.

That single act, marked with violent clarity by an impact crater left in the crash’s wake, has drawn 350,000 visitors to the memorial site near Shanksville, PA, over the past year alone — a total of 1.8 million visitors since September 2001.

Visitors from all walks of life come here: leather-clad bikers, Amish from the surrounding countryside, retirees from the Midwest, families with small children. Once a year, a woman from Japan visits to remember her 20-year-old son Toshiya Kuge — one of 40 individuals who perished onboard United 93 that morning at 10:03 a.m., when the Boeing 757 careened from the sky and came crashing to the earth, having flipped on its belly, at 563 miles per hour. READ MORE

In the neighborhood for the US Open?

The US Open attracts thousands of tennis fans to NYC every year. This year, the tournament started on Aug. 27, but the competition continues through Sept. 9, giving spectators a chance to see their favorite pros in action, including Serena Williams and Andy Murray, both recently back from the Olympics.

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Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell at the DNC

Photograph by Oliver Cox

Think you need a VIP ticket to enjoy Charlotte during DNC week? Not really. In democratic style, travelers can see and be seen in the company of major politicos and media celebrities, all in town for the week. You just need to know where to go. Check out these prime spots in uptown Charlotte during DNC week. READ MORE

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