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Travelers flying the friendly skies may be able to use their mobile devices a little longer when taking off and landing. Later this week, the Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel is expected to relax restrictions on in-flight device use as early as next year.

What does this mean for passengers? The new guidelines would ease restrictions on tablets, e-books and previously downloaded podcasts and movies. Phone calls, texts, email and passengers using their own Wi-Fi will still be banned.

Without asking for formal device testing, the FAA will ask airlines to certify their planes can handle any potential interference. The main purpose of the new guidelines will be to create a single policy that covers all airlines. So pretty soon you may not have to be so quick to turn off all your electronic devices come takeoff.

 

Baseball legend Ted Williams greets visitors at the Hitters Hall of Fame. (Photo by Darren Garnick)

First-time visitors to Tropicana Field might be surprised to see a Ted Williams Museum across from the concession stands. After all, why would a legendary Boston Red Sox star be celebrated in the home of the Tampa Bay Rays? Doesn’t this museum belong at Fenway Park?

It turns out that Williams, aka “The Splendid Splinter,” spent much of his retirement years in Citrus County, FL, and helped raise funds for a baseball diamond-shaped museum that opened there in 1994. Poor attendance — the rural county is far off the tourist radar — forced the museum to relocate in 2006. The Rays offered to house the 10,000-square-foot facility when it was clear that the Red Sox didn’t have the space.

The quality and rarity of the baseball memorabilia at the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame is on par with the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Williams’ childhood baseball bat and glove are here, as are his fishing tackle box (he’s also in the Fishing Hall of Fame) and artifacts from his service in World War II and the Korean War. Yet, there’s also plenty to see for the fans of the other 29 Major League Baseball teams.

The Hitters Hall of Fame honors the greatest offensive players in history, including both current and retired players. “Kids want to see the stars of today,” explains executive director Dave McCarthy. “Once they get pumped up about players they can relate to, there’s a window for them to get excited about the history.”

The 2013 Hitters Hall of Fame inductees were Darrell Evans, Lou Piniella, Ryne Sandberg, Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar, Jr. and Sandy Alomar Sr. (Photo by Darren Garnick)

When you first walk into the museum, which is only open during Rays home games, appearances can be deceiving. The first floor is a small group of display cases and a painting gallery by artist-in-residence Justyn Farano, whom on most days visitors can watch in action. But at the back of the room, a staircase leads to an exhibit area 10 times as large.

“A lot of visitors tell us that they enjoy us even more than Cooperstown,” says McCarthy. “I don’t think we have a more impressive collection, but I think people love seeing this stuff in a ballpark setting. For every wine and cheese guy out there, there are 100 beer and hot dog guys — we’re a museum that caters to the beer and hot dog guy.”

Another difference from Cooperstown: This Hall of Fame honors all-time hit leader Pete Rose, who was banned from the MLB for gambling on Cincinnati Reds games while he was the manager. McCarthy says he’s been flooded with compliments for including Rose.

“Most fans feel that he should be forgiven. The crime doesn’t fit the punishment. He didn’t throw games. He bet on his own team to win,” he says. “The steroids era is another story — we’re steering away from that whole mess for now.”

Tropicana Field’s “Touch-A-Ray” Tank looks like it is spilling over the centerfield wall, but that is an illusion. The rays’ swimming area is confined to the observation deck. (Photo by Darren Garnick)

Outside the gates of the Ted Williams Museum, there’s a bevy of family-friendly activities. Kids can pose for their own Topps baseball cards for $5 each and there’s a coloring wall where they are challenged to draw Raymond, the blue furry mascot of the Rays.

There’s also a giant fish tank in the centerfield stands, teeming with real rays of varying sizes. Staff from Tampa’s Florida Aquarium instruct fans how to safely touch and feed the animals without disturbing them. Lines are usually long, so be sure to show up early.

With the Tampa Bay Rays currently fighting for one of the Wild Card berths in the playoffs, the Hitters Hall of Fame could potentially be open for business deep into October. Regardless of how the Rays do, fans planning the ultimate baseball road trip should mark February 1 on their calendars. That’s when the new inductees are officially honored.

In addition to the ceremonies for the Class of 2014, which has yet to be announced, the Ted Williams Museum hosts a fundraising dinner on the Tropicana baseball diamond and invites fans to participate in photo and autograph sessions with up to 2 dozen retired and current stars. So far, confirmed guests include Cy Young Award winner David Price, Grant Balfour, Tony Oliva, Denny McClain, Ron LeFlore, Darrell Evans and Oscar Gamble.

“Players tell me that they’ve never had dinner on a Major League Baseball field before,” McCarthy smiles. “It’s a night when they become little kids again.”

For more information on the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame, visit TedWilliamsMuseum.com.

By Darren Garnick

 

Sun Catcher

Here she comes … Miss America … and Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and the Dalai Lama — all in this week in photos. There are more familiar faces in our weekly travel news roundup, so let’s get to it.

Gadling has the scoop on how you can spend your next vacation with your favorite celebrities, including Britney Spears, Jackie Chen and Daniel Craig.

 The Daily Traveler got a first look at Jet Blue’s premium lie-flat “suite” seats — and provided pictures as proof.

We’ve already established Nomadic Matt is our type of traveler. This week, he brings us this gem about a 70-year-old couple who bucked tradition and traveled the world.

Our friends at Fathom Away got to play Cinderella for a night in Venice at the Aman Canal Grande Venice.

Last, but not least, Wired brings us the curious case of the 103-year-old car phone.

Photo by Marco Secchi/Getty Images

Last January, the Costa Concordia cruise liner sank off the Italian island of Giglio, leaving 32 people dead and several unanswered questions. This week, an $800-million massive salvage effort by a 500-person crew — the largest of its kind — righted the 114,000-ton vessel. Three things we’ve wondered in the year since the tragedy took place.

Who was responsible for capsizing the cruise liner? The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, still faces multiple manslaughter and causing a shipwreck charges and is due back in court on September 23. Lying low since his house arrest was lifted, Schettino claims he’s been made a convenient scapegoat for the tragedy, according to The Guardian. Five employees of the Costa Cruise company have already been convicted of multiple manslaughter and negligence charges.

What happened to the 2 lost victims? So far authorities have found no sign of cruise waiter Russel Rebello and passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi’s remains. Rebello was last seen helping passengers off the ship. Trecarichi was celebrating her 50th birthday with her 17-year-old daughter, who survived.

What’s still inside the wrecked ship? Divers worried a “toxic stew” of rotting food, spilled oil, paint thinners, insecticides and liters of carbon dioxide would be leaked if something had gone wrong and broken the ship apart, CNN reports. Costa Cruises still hopes to return passengers’ possessions found amongst the abandoned tableware, shoes and mattresses.

This was only the first step in removing and scrapping the 952-foot ship, and soon, all eyes will turn to Schettino’s trial. For now, we’ll leave you with time-lapse footage of the Costa Concordia being righted. The 19-hour, Monday-into-Tuesday operation has been condensed into roughly 30 seconds by BBC.

Photo of Milestone Hotel in London by Oyster.com

Photo of Milestone Hotel in London by Oyster.com

Twice a year, designers, models, photographers, bloggers, DJs, and so on, crisscross the globe in search of the next big thing. The most anticipated shows being in the 4 fashion capitals of the world: New York, London, Milan and Paris. Here at Travel Channel, we’re always searching for the best places to stay — may we present the most stylish hotels in each city.

New York: September 5 – 12, 2013
The Ace Hotel is known as every other tech startup’s “office” in NYC, but during Fashion Week its unconventional vintage- and industrial-inspired design draws hipsters and fashionistas alike.

London: September 13 – 17, 2013
The Mileston Hotel is a picturesque, boutique hotel in Kensington has been voted one of the best in London. It boasts a 24-hour butler service and elegantly designed rooms that range from period to contemporary decor. For the fashion set, may we suggest lounging in a black-and-white space featuring Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.

Milan: September 18 – 23, 2013
For inspiration off the runway, look no further than Maison Moschino Milan, a 65-room hotel inspired a 1840s Neoclassical railway station inspired by the famed Italian designer. Our writer noted, “Just like the brand’s whimsical, haute-couture designs, the hotel is all about fairy tales and fanciful fantasy.” Expect puffy, cloud-like light fixtures, lit-up gowns and an overall Alice and Wonderland effect.

Paris: September 24 – October 2, 2013
Located on the prestigious Avenue Montaigne is the famous Hotel Plaza Athenee, brimming with Parisian style and Art Deco décor. Stylish guests will appreciate majestic views of the Eiffel Tower (from the Eiffel Suites) and close proximity to the Dior Institute as well as high-end shopping.

Check out the rest of our stylish hotel picks for every budget.

Inspired by Maison Moschino Milan? See more designer-inspired hotels.

Sun Catcher

“Sun Catcher” by Heather Buttelmann

Well folks, that’s a wrap. As we bring our first photo contest to a close, we’re overwhelmed with the amazing travel photos you’ve shared with us (all 5,582 of them) — so thank you!

Our final grand prize winner goes to “Sun Catcher” by Heather Buttelmann. Congrats on winning a $500 Choice Hotels voucher to use at any location!

Heather says, “My daughter was trying to net fish in a tide pool. She lost her balance on the slippery surface and Voila! I got the shot!”

See the other finalists from this week below, and remember, even though the contest is now closed you can still check out all of the impressive 2013 Photo Contest submissions.

“Tuscan Paradise” by Sybil

“Mingling With the Natives” by Danielle

“The Harbor”

“Beautiful Bryce” by Casper

 

 

Our Editors' Summer Vacations

See how some of the Travel Channel editors spent their summer vacations. Then, show us how you spent yours! Our 2013 Summer Photo Contest ends today. Upload your best vacation photos now for your last chance to win a $500 Choice Hotels voucher to use at any location.

Above:

“There’s no better way to celebrate summer than going out into nature, exploring a new climbing destination, Coll’s Cove, in southwest Pennsylvania and meeting new friends that gave us a tour of the boulders. – Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager

Our Editors' Summer Vacations

Top Row, Left to Right:

“This was the view from our boat every morning in Greece  — I just wish it lasted longer than a week!”– Sara Gilliam, Interactive Producer

“Mud, barbed wire, trenches, mud and more mud — all this may not exactly sound like a good summer vacation, but when I joined thousands of hardcore fitness lovers with a clear eye for fashion (yep, everything from Harry Potter capes to bath robes!) and headed to a wide-open field near Pittsburgh, my summer fun really began. Thanks to 10 to 12 miles of obstacle courses (and good friends, old and new, to help me over walls), this summer experience left me on a very big high that could rival any vacation — the 10,000 volts of electricity certainly helped, too!” — Lisa Singh, Interactive Producer

“I stumbled upon my first ghost crab in the Outer Banks.  Nothing says summer like beaches and crabs!” — Kathleen Calaro, Ad Sales Coordinator

Bottom Row, Left to Right:

“On a recent getaway to Charleston, I escaped the city limits in search of the 400-year-old oak tree Angel Oak on Johns Island, just outside the city. I had heard this oak tree was shocking in size, but seeing it up close took my breath away — it towers over 66 feet high with a wide-spreading canopy 28 feet all around. After days of sightseeing on historic cobblestone streets, seeing this natural wonder was the perfect way to end to my trip.” — Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer

“After driving down the mountain through a torrential downpour, we were treated to a huge rainbow stretching over Denver.” — Josh Levin, Online Production Manager

“This summer, I had my first foray into pet travel. A LOT of toys and treats, one tiny puppy, an airline-approved carrier, and we were off! The ultimate lifesaver? A puppy-sized dose of Benadryl. Don’t judge, it was my vet’s suggestion. It was all worth it when we arrived on the island of Nantucket, 30 miles off the coast of Massachusetts  – I think it’s safe to say that Pearl the frenchie loved the strolls through town and expansive, unspoiled beaches as much as I did.” — Allee Sangiolo, Interactive Producer

This Week in Photos

It may be the last week of summer, but things didn’t slow down in This Week in Photos from the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington to the twerk seen ’round the world at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. While Miley successfully stole the spotlight in Brooklyn, here are some of the travel headlines that got our attention this week.

Gadling has a roundup of strange laws that can get you locked up abroad, which is entertaining and useful. At least now you know where it’s illegal to feed pigeons or chew gum on public transit.

Skift.com reports that we’re headed toward a regional pilot shortage — and why it may actually benefit business travelers.

CNTraveler brings us the wackiest travel accessories this week. Portable infrared sauna anyone? Hey, it’s only $400!

There’s a new restaurant critic on the block and it’s none other than rapper-turned-Yelp-reviewer Wale. DCist has some of his best reviews while on tour, including this gem about Mr. Chow’s in Beverly Hills, CA: “Pretty sure the Chicken Satay is made with crack.”

We’ll leave you with the most inspiring video we’ve seen this week. Watch Buzzfeed’s “Facts That Will Make You Want to Travel.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

A Europe Round-a-Bout

“A Europe Round-a-Bout” by Shem702

Another week, another winner. This week we were totally blown away by Shem702′s submission, “A Europe Round-a-Bout.”

He explains that it’s just “a small little lighthouse, shining out over the Edinburgh coast line. A beautiful sunset for a beautiful night.” We couldn’t agree more!

We were also inspired by he and his wife’s story. After saving for 2 years, they are determined to hit 17 countries before they leave Europe this summer. Best of luck Shem702, and congrats on winning a $500 Choice Hotels voucher to use at any location!

See the other finalists from this week below, and remember we have 2 grand prizes left! Upload your best vacation photos now for a chance to win.

“Lincoln Memorial at Night”

“Seeing Our Roots in Switzerland”

“Mr. Turtle” by Jewell

“Celebrating the Sunrise” by dpk

For more information — or to size up the competition — check out our 2013 photo contest.

Ah, the great outdoors. There’s nothing quite like a vacation to hike Half Dome in Yosemite National Park or check out Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. And with millions of Americans visiting the parks this summer, there has never been a better time to show your support.

Now comes the exciting part: From now until Sunday, when you give to the National Park Foundation, Travel Channel will match your donation $1 for $1 up to $30,000.

NPF can do twice as much with your gift to:

  • Restore 250 miles of trails and waterways
  • Work with teachers in all 50 states to embrace national parks as classrooms
  • Preserve and protect America’s treasured places through grants

What are you waiting for? Donate now to double your impact for NPF!

Now that that’s covered, we have one more challenge for you. How much do you really know about America’s national parks? Take our quiz below and find out!

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