ALL POSTS IN [Trends]

Trip of a Lifetime Venice Canal

Wish you were here? Yeah, we thought so. Turn your fantasy into a reality by entering to win a $100,000 trip (with 3 of your favorite people!) to the Adriatic.

First, check out the full list of possible prizes – including a shopping spree in Venice, a hot air balloon ride over the city’s famous canals, and palatial accommodations at Hotel Vestibul Palace. Then, design a custom trip or pick from one of our hosts’ hand-picked itineraries. But hurry – voting ends at the stroke of midnight on Sunday, March 24. You can enter once everyday, so you’ve got 3 chances left! Vote now!

Cherry Blossoms

Finally! The first day of spring is here, and the growing sunshine and warmer weather are bound to inspire travel ideas in you. If those plans include a trip to Washington, DC, for the 101st annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, though, you may have to adjust your calendar ever so slightly: The National Park Service reports that the peak bloom time for the blossoms has been recalculated — it’s now April 3-6. (An earlier projection had called for March 26-30; the reason for the date push-back is the recent cold snap that hit the nation’s capital). To make sure you do not miss the peak bloom, the National Park Service has set up a live web cam of the Tidal Basin.

Along with cherry blossoms, be sure to check out DC’s other top attractions:

Don’t want to wait that long to see cherry blossoms in bloom? Then head on over the Japan! What’s late here is early there — in fact, this year cherry blossoms in Japan have peaked at their earliest time ever: CNN reports that the Japan Meteorological Agency announced the beginning of cherry blossom, or “sakura,” season over the past weekend.

For more cherry blossom travel ideas, check out our recent roundup of cherry blossom festivals across America — and fun fact: The Garden State actually has more cherry blossoms than Washington, DC! So you may want to add New Jersey’s Branch Brook Park to your cherry blossom viewing list!

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.

With all eyes focused on Vatican City (and a certain seagull) for most of the day, it’s hard not to be a little curious about the world’s smallest independent state, tucked inside the cultural hub of Rome and packed with history and intrigue.

Today’s election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires as Pope Francis I ushers in not only a new era in the Catholic Church but also renewed interest in travel to the always-intriguing Vatican City. This walled enclave — its own sovereign city-state since 1929 — is home to some of the world’s most famous artwork, from the Sistine Chapel to Michelangelo’s Pieta. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the sheer splendor of Vatican City, but with so much history to take in, where can travelers begin a sightseeing journey?

Skip the lines, and check out these agencies that partner with the Vatican Museum to offer numerous tours.

Presto Tours: Vatican Tours
Another officially recognized partner of the Vatican Museums, this tour company will lead you on a journey through Vatican City. The best part? The sightseeing group is small — 16 guests or fewer are allowed on a tour.

Italy With Us
Daily tours, offered in English, begin at 8 a.m. Each tour covers the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and, when possible, Nicholas V chapel. Bring a friend or significant other — you’ll need a minimum of 2 people to book a tour.

Vatican Museums: Guided Tours
Take a 2-hour guided tour of the Vatican museums and Sistine Chapel — but keep in mind the dress code: No sleeveless blouses, no miniskirts, no shorts and no hats allowed.

Vatican Guided Tour
Among the intriguing tours offered by this company is a journey through the Vatican’s catacombs. Also tour the Vatican Grottoes below the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica where many popes were laid to rest.

Fun fact: Vatican City is 1 of 3 independent city-states in the world — the other 2 are Monaco and Singapore.

You May Also Like:

Get Anthony Bourdain’s Rome travel trips.

Take a virtual tour of Vatican City.

Discover Rome’s Top 10 attractions.

By Lisa Singh and Amanda DiGiondomenico

Photography by Getty Images

The 72nd annual Daytona Bike Week kicks off today. This granddaddy of all things motorcycles, billed as the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Event,” will see roughly 500,000 leather-clad bikers and babes descend on Daytona Beach, FL, over the next 10 days. If the open road is in your blood, you’ll want to join the crowds in Daytona over the coming week — here are some of the must-see events to check out.

Daytona Supercross by Honda: Saturday, March 9
The Toughest Course on the Circuit!
Will Chad Reed or Davi Millsaps unseat last year’s winner, James Stewart? Daytona International Speedway has been home to the longest continuous Supercross event in America since 1971. Every year, during Bike Week, a supercross track is constructed between the pit road and tri-oval section of the speedway track. Steep jumps and obstacles await riders as they tackle a terrain that historically has used more sand than dirt. Since 2008, racing champion Ricky Carmichael has designed the track configurations, and he returns this year as designer in what is the circuit’s most challenging event. A perk for fans: The starting gate will remain on pit road, offering a great view of the first turn.

Daytona 200: Saturday, March 16
Will Elena Myers Win Again?
History may be made at Daytona 200, the 200-mile motorcycle race held at Daytona International Speedway. Last year, 19-year-old Daytona champion Elena Myers, of Mountain View, CA, became the first woman to win a professional event at Daytona International Speedway after winning in the second round of an AMA Pro Racing spring road race. This year, Myers is eying another historic win in Daytona 200 as she rides for sponsor Sturgess Cycle Triumph.

Ormond Beach: Music Happenings
From a CCR Tribute Band to an 11-Year-Old Rocker
One of the epicenters of Bike Week action is of course, Daytona Beach’s northern neighbor, Ormond Beach. You’ll find plenty of hard, white sand, some stretches of which bikers can drive on. But the real draw here will be venues such as Iron Horse Saloon, where country band Confederate Railroad will sing their popular anthem “Trashy Women” (no comment). Fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival can check out a CCR tribute band at the Broken Spoke Saloon; plus, head to Beaver Bar where an 11-year-old rock singer, Brooks Paul, from North Carolina will rip it up with vicious renditions of AC/DC, Gus N’ Roses and more hard rock hits. Check out this great roundup of other Ormond Beach Bike Week highlights.


Main Street, Second Avenue and More
As we speak, hundreds of bikers are rumbling through Main Street in Daytona, FL – check out the Main Street attractions. For a quieter slice of Bike Week, head to Second Avenue, the historic African-American business district that established itself out of necessity – back in 1949, Daytona Bike Week was segregated, forcing African-American motorcycle enthusiasts to find this more hospitable stretch of town to socialize and park their bikes. (Learn the story of Daytona’s Second Avenue.)

For more on Daytona Bike Week (including this Hooters Bikini Contest … we had to mention it), check out the Official Bike Week website.

Plus, check out this Info Source for Bike Week 2013.


You May Also Like:

SPF? What SPF? See bad boy bikers enjoy the sun.

Girls go coleslaw-wrestling at Daytona!

Our favorite moments from Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Pics from America’s best motorcycle rallies.

 

Photography by Getty Images

Small Swiss Army knives, yes. Box cutters, still no.

Do the TSA’s new rules make perfect sense? Or are they total nonsense?

That’s the big question of the hour. In a move praised by some (Swiss Army knife enthusiasts) and derided by others (9/11 families), the Transportation Safety Agency announced this week that pocketknives will now be permitted on planes, effective Monday, April 25. TSA Administrator John Pistole outlined the new rules on Tuesday, stating that passengers will now be able to carry blades less than 2.36 inches long.

(Great visuals of TSA’s list of approved/banned carry-ons can be found here and here.)

When it comes to knives, why 2.36 inches — why not 2.5 … or 3? That question, among others, led the new TSA rules to win a vote of “confidence” from New Yorker funnyman Andy Borowitz, courtesy of his “National Arbitrariness Association”: “We love that the list appears to have been put together with no organizing principle or logical system. It combines the virtues of making no sense and being impossible to remember. Knives, bats, golf clubs, billiard cues — it’s like they made this list using refrigerator-poetry magnets.”

Not so fast, says TSA. On the contrary, the new rules to permit these items as carry-ons “was made as part of TSA’s overall risk-based security approach and aligns TSA with international standards.” Plus, in light of locked cockpit doors and with pilots now instructed to stay behind those doors if trouble arises, it’s unlikely, the argument goes, that someone will successfully hijack a plane with a small Swiss Army knife … or lacrosse sticks … or hockey sticks … or golf clubs (limit 2) — provided they’re under 24 inches in length.

Are the new TSA rules too much, too soon after 9/11? Some victims’ families think so: “What’s the difference between a pocketknife and a box cutter, for crying out loud?” asks David Beamer, whose son Todd was among the passengers who led the Flight 93 revolt. ‘’I cannot see the upside to this.”

(Sidenote: Box-cutters are still banned, because as TSA’s Pistole puts it: “… there’s just too much emotion associated with particularly the box cutters, so those will not be allowed.”)

Is there an upside to TSA’s new rules? If there is one, it may be as simple as convenience, especially for passengers avoiding the hassle of their pricey merchandise having to be turned in before they board. The TSA confiscates thousands of pocketknives each year, as well as expensive items like golf clubs, and gives them to states to sell off as surplus property.

What do you think – is this latest move a good thing? Or not?

If you travel, you’ve got an opinion, so leave your comments below.

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.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Each February, the City of Saints is decked out in green, purple and yellow, wild parades roll through town, and countless strands of colorful beads dangle from trees, power lines, balconies … and attractive women. If you’re lucky enough to be in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, Travel Channel’s got you covered.

Mardi Gras

The Big Easy is one big party during Mardi Gras. Check out photos from past celebrations, and get tips from locals on how to navigate the boisterous crowds.

The French Quarter

Work your way down NOLA’s infamous Bourbon Street and admire the flashing neon signs urging you to slurp down a daiquiri, a “grenade,” or a “huge-ass beer” – all served in to-go cups, of course. The Quarter is Mardi Gras mecca, but if you can’t make it there for the year’s most debaucherous day, visit in spirit with a (virtual) stroll through the city.

The Music Scene

Sure, Bourbon Street is a must-visit. But there is much more to the Crescent City than the cluster of bachelor-party-filled bars that line the city’s most lively (and touristy) street. Locals flock to nearby Frenchmen Street, where you can take your pick from a number of great live music clubs. For more, check out our article on New Orleans’ Coolest Live Music Venues, and be sure to check out who’s playing at Tipitinas and the Maple Leaf during your visit.

NOLA Food

Sip chicory coffee and give in to your craving for those world-famous beignets doused in powdered sugar … but certainly don’t stop there! You’d be remiss if you didn’t have at least one awesome po’ boy, a cup of gumbo, a plate of Willie Mae’s fried chicken and a bite of King Cake! To stir up your appetite, get a Taste of New Orleans and or browse restaurant suggestions from our editors in our New Orleans Travel Guide.

Voodoo Magic

What’s New Orleans without a little dose of Voodoo? On your Weekend Trip to New Orleans, take a Cemetery Voodoo Tour through St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 and leave an offering at the grave of Marie Laveau – NOLA’s “Voodoo Queen.” She’s rumored to have powers even in death, so you’d better not get on her bad side.

The Garden District

Get a glimpse of some of the best-preserved Southern mansions in the US as you explore the Garden District. You may even recognize some residents – Sandra Bullock, Peyton Manning and Nicolas Cage all have homes here. Plus, keep an eye out for the house where The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was filmed. For more suggestions for things to do, be sure to check out our New Orleans Travel Guide.

Layover App

By Mommy Points

With the 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony set for February 7, 2014, the Games in Sochi, Russia, are now officially less than a year away.  If you want to be at the Opening Ceremony, or one of the other 15 types of winter events that will take place during the 2014 Games, then mark this Monday, February 11, 2013, in bold letters on your calendar.

The public sale for remaining individual event tickets begins promptly at noon eastern on Monday.  This will be a first come, first serve sale, so in order to have the best shot at getting what you are after, don’t be late getting online on Monday.  Event tickets start at $22 USD and go up into the hundreds of dollars for more popular events like ice skating and men’s hockey finals.  If you are interested in a ticket + hotel package deal, some of those are already available now.

The official website to purchase Olympic tickets and packages depends on your country of residence, but those residing in countries such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Australia must use CoSport.com.  If you plan to participate in the ticket sale, I recommend registering for an account with CoSport now to avoid any potential delays on Monday.  Also, keep in mind that only Visa cards are accepted for official Olympic ticket sales.

Good luck!

And get a glimpse of future Games in our The Olympics: A Look Ahead slideshow!

Summer Hull is the founder of MommyPoints.coma site dedicated to helping a community of readers discover how to travel the world at a greatly reduced cost, primarily by taking advantage of current travel promotions and maximizing travel rewards programs.

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.

Latest Pins on Pinterest

  • Dillard, GA

  • Placencia, Belize

  • Top 5 Last-Minute Getaways For Under $200

  • Sandy, Oregon