ALL POSTS IN [Trends]

Miss America

Check out our slideshow of Atlantic City, NJ, through the years.

Here she comes … Miss America … Tonight’s pageant was memorable for more reasons than one. After 6 years in Las Vegas, the pageant returned to Atlantic City, NJ, where it all began. The Miss America competition has a steep history in Atlantic City, where it was created in 1921 by businessmen attempting to extend tourist season past Labor Day.

Now in its 87th year, the competition awards its winners scholarships worth upwards of $50,000. It wasn’t always so glamourous, though. When Margaret Gorman of Washington, DC, was named the first-ever Miss America she walked away with … a 3-foot golden mermaid trophy.

So who took home the crown? Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was named Miss America 2014. Not only is she the second consecutive Miss New York to win, but also she’s the first Miss America of Indian descent.

Perhaps, in a ploy to stay relevant, this year’s contestants fielded questions from judges about Syria, and yes, Miley Cyrus. It also had Miss Kansas as an early fan favorite — the 22-year-old contestant is a sergeant in the Army and the first to openly reveal her tattoos during the swimsuit competition.

The next time you fly a regional carrier — and chances are good you will given that half of US domestic flights are operated by regionals — chew on this stat: A first-year regional airline pilot makes $18,000 to $20,000 before taxes.

Yes, that’s right: When it comes to regional airlines (these are the connection subcontractors who fly on behalf of the major airline carriers), the pilot manning your flight, as it climbs tens of thousands of feet into the air, earns about as much as someone flipping burgers at McDonald’s.

Ready for more? A fourth and fifth-year regional pilot makes $25,000 to $28,000, also before taxes. Now swallow this: The best of the regional pilots are quickly being snatched up by the major carriers, such as Delta and United, as they begin hiring new pilots for the first time in several years.

That spells one very big issue for travelers: a looming pilot shortage ahead.

Start Road Trippin’?

“The seriousness of the possible pilot shortage cannot be underestimated,” says Henry Harteveldt, a San Francisco-based travel industry analyst. “The pilot shortage won’t happen tomorrow, but it will happen sooner than many realize.”

How soon? Some say it’s already started.

Beyond the major domestic carriers, the competition for pilot talent is coming from abroad, too, as this plush offer from a Shanghai-based carrier shows.

“Foreign carriers are already paying huge premiums to US/FAA-certified pilots, further drying up the domestic pilot pool,” says Bob Mann, an airline industry analyst in Port Washington, NY. “Absent recognition of the problem, the pilot market will only become tighter, and airline service more unreliable,” says Mann.

Others are more optimistic. “One way or another, I figure carriers will figure out a way to find the pilots they need long before there’s a reliability issue,” says Patrick Smith, the airline pilot-turned-blogger of AskThePilot.com and author of the new book, Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel.

Rising costs, though, may be harder to ignore.

“A lack of pilots means fewer flights — smaller cities will be disproportionately affected,” says industry analyst Harteveldt. “Fewer pilots also means fewer flights, period — flying may become less convenient and more expensive, since the supply of seats may decline.” (And for us at the Travel Channel, that’s about as good a reason as any to start thinking of more Road Trip ideas.)

Cockpit Confidential

How did we get here?

Blame the graying of America (including its pilots), as well as a shortage of younger pilots being recruited from military ranks, which are facing their own dwindling numbers. Then there’s the lousy pay.

“An aspiring aviator has to ask: ‘Is it worth sinking $50,000 or more into one’s primary training?’” says Patrick Smith of AskThePilot.com.

Factor in the FAA’s new requirements, says Smith, which call for new pilots to log a minimum 1,500 flight hours before training with an airline.

“The time it will take to build the requisite number of flight hours to apply for a job, plus, the cost of a college education, only to spend years toiling at poverty-level wages, with at best a marginal shot at moving on to a major [carrier],” says Smith, spell, in his mind, one very big conclusion: This isn’t exactly a safe career path.

Fewer Pilots, Where Now?

No one’s faulting the FAA’s new ruling.

“Airlines can’t compromise on training; it’s essential that we maintain our high standards of safety,” says analyst Harteveldt.

But adjustments on the part of carriers will need to be made, adds Mann. “The new 1,500-hour requirement … will require significant upward adjustments to starting salaries, and generally, to regional pilot compensation.”

More compensation may spell higher ticket prices. But that may be the price consumers pay to ensure greater pilot numbers in the regional ranks.

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. put the finishing touches on a speech in his hotel room before walking across the National Mall to deliver those words before a crowd of more than 250,000 people. On Wednesday, President Obama will be among the leaders gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that late August day in 1963, when Dr. King shared his vision of equality for all Americans.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, events have been unfolding across Washington, DC, over the past week. Slated for Wednesday, Aug. 28, a “Let Freedom Ring” Commemoration and Call to Action will take place at the Lincoln Memorial, with featured speakers including President Obama joined by former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Get the full list of events at MLKDream50.com. Due to the large crowds anticipated for the event, stay current on DC Metro details.

When you make your way to the Lincoln Memorial, think about its own dedication: Hard to imagine now, but when the Lincoln Memorial was completed in 1922, the dedication ceremony called for African Americans in attendance to sit in a segregated section. It wasn’t until 1939, when an African-American contralto, Marian Anderson, sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, after having been turned down at nearby Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution, that the memorial came to symbolize much more than the reunification of North and South. Then in 1963, Dr. King sealed its new standing as a place to come to reflect on the meaning of equality and freedom for all Americans.

Nearby, see the memorial that stands in dedication to Dr. King himself. More than 20 years in the making, the memorial’s construction effort was led by Dr. King’s fraternity brothers at Boston University. Located on the western rim of the Tidal Basin, Dr. King stands resolutely, arms crossed, looking out to the Jefferson Memorial just beyond — a symbolic statement since one man wrote the words “All men are created equal,” while the other fought to make sure those words were realized for all.

The MLK Memorial itself is based on a line from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” While there, make sure to take a good look at the walls on either side of the sculpture. As you read the various quotations from Dr. King’s speeches etched on those walls, see if you can figure out the 2 most commonly used words. Chances are we still need to make good on them.

American-US Airways merger

Grounded: American-US Airways merger (Photo: Getty)

Lower competition and increased ticket costs. That’s the charge being leveled by antitrust officials about the proposed US Airways-American Airlines merger. On Tuesday, the Justice Department, 6 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia filed the suit in DC.

“By challenging this merger, the Department of Justice is saying that the American people deserve better,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “This transaction would result in consumers paying the price — in higher airfares, higher fees and fewer choices.”

The lawsuit puts on hold what would have become the world’s largest commercial air carrier — and the DOJ action surprised the bejesus out of the airline industry.

“We Will Fight Them”
“We and our counterparts at US Airways have been working with the DOJ staff for months to ensure that they had an informed view of the merger,” says American CEO Tom Horton, in a memo yesterday to employees. “We have maintained that the merger is complementary (only 12 overlapping routes), that it provides significant customer benefits and that it enhances competition in the airline industry.”

US Airways chairman Doug Parker was even more direct. “We are extremely disappointed in this action and believe the DOJ is wrong in its assessment … we will fight them.”

Costs to You
Whatever the outcome of DOJ’s suit, the larger issue remains: The current business model for domestic airlines is seeing the industry bleed red ink. Increasing jet fuel costs and the investment needed to modernize an aging fleet are the big industry expenses that won’t go away anytime soon. (Learn how to save big on airfare.)

Whether this merger goes through or not, we may all expect to see higher ticket costs in the years to come. Stay tuned.

Greece

Some may be jealous of their clothes, their fame, their money, but here at Travel Channel, we’re jealous of the Kardashian family’s epic family vacations. Maybe we’ll never be able to keep up with their globetrotting ways … but that isn’t going to stop us from gushing over their photos of luxurious white stucco villas overlooking the glistening Aegean Sea. As expected, the Kardashian-Jenner clan’s April Grecian getaway was about as over-the-top as their reality show — think: private villas, fish pedicures, and cruising the islands on a yacht worthy of the gods. Curious as to what they did, where they stayed … and how much it cost? We’ve got all the details.

Kardashians Yacht in Greece

Yachting
When in the Greek Islands, rent a 162-foot yacht. At least that’s what America’s favorite love-to-hate-them reality family did. You’ll need $195,000 per week, though. The 7-bedroom O’ceanos Yacht features a large Jacuzzi and multiple bars and spacious dining areas — overall, O’ceanos is the perfect backdrop for taking bikini-clad “selfies” for your various social media outlets. Like it so much you could live there? It’s your lucky day! For a mere $22,238,449, the yacht could be yours!

Mykonos
Kris, Bruce, Kendall, Kylie, Brody, Brandon, Leah, Kourtney, Khloe, Kim, Scott, Mason and baby Penelope took over the 3 drop-dead gorgeous villas that make up the Mykonos Retreat, located in the quiet southwestern tip of the island known as Aleomandra. The white stucco villas are built into the hillside with stunning views of the Aegean Sea and feature expansive stone terraces, infinity pools and crisp white décor. With amenities like a private chef and “superior travel assistance” including arranging “private planes, yachts, speed boats, helicopters and luxury cars” — you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to ever leave this private Grecian enclave. Unless, like Khloe, you’d rather go horseback-riding on Mykonos’ Fokos beach. So, what’ll your stay at the Mykonos Retreat cost you? Each villa ranges from approximately $15,000-25,000 per week, depending on the time of year.

Kardashians in GreeceSantorini
After their jaunt in Mykonos, the Kardashians headed to nearby Santorini, another island in the Cyclades. They stayed at one of the Volcano View Hotel’s private villas, perched high on a cliff, overlooking the Santorini caldera and the sparkling-blue Aegean Sea.  With film crews in tow, the family enjoyed a traditional Greek feast, complete with plate-smashing, “Opa!”-shouting and Zeimpekiko-dancing. While in Santorini, little sister Kendall and Kourtney’s baby-daddy Scott experienced a fish pedicure, and Kourtney toured (and shopped, of course) in the picturesque town of Oia — known for having one of the most breathtaking sunsets in Europe.

Oh, and there was plenty of drama, of course, but we’ll leave that to the gossip blogs!

You May Also Like:
Kardashians in the Dominican Republic 
Post-Divorce Getaway: A Kardashian-Style Anti-Honeymoon

Photos by: Thinkstock, Thinkstock, Kylinejenner/Instagram

Photo: Castle Park

We love amusement parks as much as the next person. But sometimes a good day of fun can go horribly wrong, as we learned with last Friday’s tragic event at Six Flags Over Texas. This isn’t the time to turn alarmist — but it is time to brush up on amusement park safety tips, say industry experts.

First, keep things in perspective. A whole lot of people, well into the millions, take amusement park rides every year nationwide. And the number of serious injuries is minimal.

Chances of Injury Are Small

“Regardless of where we are on the spectrum, there’s always more we can do [in terms of amusement park safety],” says Dr. Gary Smith, who directs the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

It’s true, says Smith, there’s a global issue ahead to face — mainly, the current patchwork of oversight on amusement park safety, with differing standards by state and localities, and no umbrella government agency to oversee it all. Still, adds Smith, “The chances of a serious injury are small and that’s something parents can take comfort in.”

Know Before You Go

Already, states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania — home to a large number of amusement parks — have issued reminders to adventure seekers on how to enjoy rides responsibly. (Late June was Amusement Park Ride Safety Week in Pennsylvania, in fact.)

Check out tips from Pennsylvania authorities on amusement park ride safety here, and from the Ohio Department of Agriculture here. The main takeaway: Stay informed. Know before you go, it’s the best way for you and your family to have fun.
 
Top Ride Safety Tips

Ken Martin, an independent inspector and amusement park safety consultant with KRM Consulting in Richmond, VA, offers a great roundup of ride safety tips for parents. Also keep in mind the following:

    • Pay attention to the sizing device located by many rides and attractions — it’s put there for your safety. “Yes, trying to sit in one of these seats to see if you fit the ride may be a little embarrassing,” says Martin, “however, a little embarrassment may be better than the alternative.”
    • Do you take any medication? Consult your physician before you think of trying a ride, says Martin. “Pay attention to ride rules and patron warnings,” he says. “Should you take medication for medical conditions, it’s best to consult your physician before riding any amusement ride or attraction – as a precaution you want to make sure you have [medical information] on your person or have someone in your party who knows your medical history.”
    • Take note of your surroundings. “If you see behavior or something you don’t like, bring it to someone’s attention with the amusement park,” says Martin. “All employees should be wearing a uniform and a name tag. They are there to help and serve you.”
    • Avoid heavy foods or sugary beverages as much as possible. “Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water,” says Martin. “Also, lines to some attractions can be very long. Take a restroom break before you get in line.”
    • Trust your gut. As a parent, don’t just go by minimum height and age requirements — ask yourself if your child is developmentally ready for a ride, says Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Finally, be sure the ride fits you and your child. “Restraint systems should fit as close to your body as possible, but not tight enough to hurt,” says Martin. “Then sit back and enjoy the thrill — remember we are taking you to the edge and bringing you back safety, if all the rules are followed.”

You May Also Like:

Check out Travel Channel’s Travel 911 web series.

Travel Channel’s picks for the most extreme water rides.

Get our guide to US amusement parks.

Chincoteague Pony Swim

Photo: Getty Images

Come early and bring your patience. That’s the word on the 88th annual Chincoteague Pony Swim. Every July, on the last Wednesday of the month, the small island of Chincoteague sees its population of 3,500 people swell to more than 40,000, as visitors from all over the country — and as far away as Canada and Europe — flock to the island off Virginia’s coast, to witness an event of epic pony proportions: more than 120 wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel, between Chincoteague and Assateague islands.

The actual swim takes all of 5 to 10 minutes. And it’s worth every minute of waiting to see the oldest continuous wild pony roundup east of the Colorado River.

“This is an event of historical proportions,” says Denise Bowden, spokesperson for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, which owns the ponies, often called the Chincoteague herd, on the Virginia side of Assateague Island.

Historical … or historic … one thing’s clear: This is the biggest event on Chincoteague Island’s annual calendar.

Chincoteague Island’s fire department has held the event nearly every year since 1924, culminating in the Salt Water Cowboys — about 145 cowboys from Virginia and neighboring states including Maryland and North Carolina — rounding up the feral fellas and females for a parade down Main Street, to the carnival grounds, where an auction of the ponies takes place Thursday morning. (Some ponies are bought under “buy back” terms; the bidder donates the money to the fire department and allows the pony to be released back onto Assateague Island.)

Now the patience part: Chincoteague Island will be packed. And while the pony swim will be held sometime between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., crowds will start gathering well in advance. “Come early,” says Bowden. It’s not uncommon, she adds, for visitors to gather at the heart of the action — the Pony Swim Lane and Memorial Park — as early as 5 or 6 a.m.

The long wait time — plus the actual event’s start time, dependent on inclement weather conditions — spells greater exposure to the elements — lots of sun, maybe rain. “Make yourself as comfortable as possible,” says Bowden. Bring your sunscreen, hat and umbrella. Plus, a pair of old tennis shoes (no flip-flops or high-heels) — you’ll need them while standing in the marshy, muddy field. But the pay-off will be something to behold: Just beyond a fence, a herd of wild ponies — only 20 to 30 feet away.

For parking, Bowden advises heading to Chincoteague High School’s parking lot: A shuttle on the grounds takes visitors to the Pony Swim Lane. Find shuttle information here.

You May Also Like:

All skill levels can enjoy horseback riding trips.

Enjoy America’s best national park beaches.

Caribbean-bound? Explore the island of Vieques by horseback.

Can you hear that sigh from around the world? HE is finally here! That’s right — the royal baby is a boy!

All over London, people are toasting and cheering in celebration of the new lil’ monarch’s arrival!  The baby boy was born at 4:24 p.m., weighing in at  8 pounds, 6 ounces. The child will be third in line to the throne, behind his father, Prince William, and his grandfather, Prince Charles.

What will the royal baby’s name be? We’ll have to wait and see, but we do know that the newest member of the royal family will carry an impressive title: His Royal Highness, Prince of Cambridge.

Welcome to the world, little prince!

Check out photos of the world celebrating the royal baby’s arrival:

Reuters: A notice formally announcing the birth of a son to Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is placed in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Reuters: Members of the public celebrate the announcement of the birth of a baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge outside St Mary’s Hospital in London, England.

Reuters: Employees hang a sign celebrating the news that Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a son, in the window of the British themed restaurant Tea & Sympathy in New York.

 

Reuters: Nikki Warren pours champagne to celebrate the announcement of the royal baby at Ye Olde King’s Head English pub’s gift shop in Santa Monica, CA.

Reuters: The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fire a 41 Gun Royal Salute to mark the birth of the royal baby, in Green Park in central London.

Reuters: The Peace Tower on Parliament Hill is lit blue to celebrate the birth of a baby boy to Britain’s Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in Ottawa.

Reuters: A congratulatory sign for the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge, celebrating the birth of their son is seen outside the ‘Cottage Inn’ pub in the Duchess of Cambridge’s hometown of Bucklebury, England.

Reuters: A member of the public arrives to deliver a gift outside St Mary’s Hospital following the announcement of the birth of a baby boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

More for the Royal-Obsessed:

Royal Spotting

Royal Couple Tour: Trace Will & Kate’s Steps

Why We Love the Brits

 

The Bachelorette in Antigua

“It’s absolutely breathtaking…”

“Like, this place is gorgeous…”

“This is built for love…”

“Everything about it really sets the tone for romance…”

Or heartbreak? Hot-tub makeout sessions? A proposal? We’ve heard this all before. It’s the 9th season of the Bachelorette, and they have the formula down pat: 25 potential suitors + beautiful backdrops = recipe for true love, or at least guilty-pleasure TV. Desiree didn’t have quite the globetrotting season that Emily Maynard did, but she still swept away her bachelors on some pretty amazing vacations.

Atlantic City, NJ: Early in the season, the bachelors checked into the penthouse suite at REVEL in Atlantic City, where they enjoyed AC’s finest saltwater taffy, the Steel Pier amusement park and, of course, beachfront sunsets with Desiree.

Munich, Germany: First stop abroad was Munich. Think: sausage, lederhosen and sledding down the highest point in Germany. The crew spent a night in igloos, but the rest of their stay was at the 5-star Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten.

Barcelona, Spain: In Barcelona, Desiree’s entourage checked into the top floor of the beautiful Melia hotel. The guys even got a chance to try to score on Desiree when they took the field at the RCD Espanyol for a game of futbol.

Madeira, Portugal: On the beautiful island of Madeira, they made themselves at home at the Quinta de Lorde resort. What’s more romantic than taking a toboggan ride down a narrow street and kissing on “Cloud Nine”?

And if you want the Bachelorette treatment (while avoiding the casting couch) enter ABC’s sweepstakes for a romantic trip for 2 to Antigua, the Caribbean escape where the final episodes will take place. This winner will receive a 7-day of all-inclusive accommodations and luxury spa treatments at Galley Bay, St. James Club, or the Verandah.

(Don’t ask us why the final rose ceremony isn’t rumored to take place at St. Anne’s Point. But who are we to complain about Antigua?)

For more vacation highlights, check out “As Featured on The Bachelorette.”

US Open of Surfing (Photo: Getty Images)

The countdown begins to the largest surfing event on the planet. On Saturday, July 20, the US Open of Surfing kicks off in the morning, with rounds 1 and 2 of the Junior Men’s championship. If you’re one of the thousands of surfing fans en route to the event or are already stretching out on the sands of Huntington Beach, check out highlights of the 9-day surfing competition, which runs through July 28.

In all, this year’s event is slated to see more than 20 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) surfers compete against the best new surfing talent from around the globe at Huntington Beach Pier. Beyond surf, skateboarding is also in store. This year’s event sees the debut of the Van Doren Invitational, an invite-only skateboarding event set to attract pro and amateur riders.

Another big draw will be music. Billed as one of America’s largest free concert stages of the summer, this year’s musical lineup includes indie rocker Modest Mouse, the dance-punk band The Faint and alternative pop artist Twin Shadow.

Can’t make it to the Vans US Open of Surfing? Check out the live webcast.

And if you’re looking for more places to ride out the heat wave, check out the world’s best surf destinations. Plus, explore the world’s best stand-up paddleboarding spots, extreme beach adventures and some pretty cool extreme adventure sports – all sure to provide great summer memories.

Latest Pins on Pinterest

  • Dillard, GA

  • Placencia, Belize

  • Top 5 Last-Minute Getaways For Under $200

  • Sandy, Oregon