Samantha Brown talks to a Voice of America reporter at the Newseum during a White House Travel Bloggers Summit event sponsored by Turkish Airlines. (Photo Courtesy of Turkish Airlines)

The US Department of State has kicked off an initiative to encourage high school and college students to study abroad. And it wants you to join the conversation by sharing your thoughts — via Twitter — about why study abroad is important, using #StudyAbroadBecause.

The live Twitter conversation comes on the heels of the announcement by Evan Ryan, the assistant secretary of State for educational and cultural affairs, that a new US Study Abroad Office will launch in January. The exciting news was announced at the first White House Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship in Washington, DC, on Tuesday.
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WHOA Travel founders Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton on Mount Kilimanjaro. All photos courtesy of WHOA

No one climbs Mount Kilimanjaro alone, and no one knows that better than the founders of WHOA Travel. Women High on Adventure creators Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton are travel-loving friends who met while climbing Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak, in February 2013. Tackling one of the world’s toughest summits together was so life-altering, they knew they wanted to share the experience with others. So upon returning to New York, they quit their jobs and started an adventure travel company with a mission to motivate women to step out of their comfort zones … and onto the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.

In the spirit of empowering women, WHOA Travel led a group of 28 women from 9 countries to the roof of Africa on International Women’s Day earlier this year. Not only did all 28 women make it to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, but they even danced their way to the summit. Led by the mountain’s first local female guide, the group raised more than $10,000 to support women’s educational programs in Kenya and Tanzania. Now, Allison and Danielle are gearing up to lead another group of women to the summit on International Women’s Day in 2015.

We caught up with daring adventuresses between climbing mountains to find out what other WHOA-inspiring trips they’re leading, how their high-altitude dance-party tradition began, and the surprising item they never head back to Mount Kilimanjaro without (hint: it’s not a power bar).

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Photo courtesy of Marika Kelderman

Travel Channel’s director of marketing and partnerships, Marika Kelderman, shares her experiences from being on location for the filming of Trip Flip’s The Hobbit special in New Zealand.

What brought you to New Zealand?

I went to New Zealand to film a special 1-hour episode of Trip Flip with host Bert Kreischer. The episode is built around The Hobbit and is set to air just before the third and final Hobbit movie, The Battle of the Five Armies, premieres in the US. We surprised 2 Hobbit super-fans with a trip. New Zealand is the real-life Middle-earth of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. READ MORE


The holiday season is in full swing, whether you’re looking for last-minute travel tips or destination inspiration our weekly travel blog roundup has you covered.

Explore London in a novel way by tasting your way around the city. A Luxury Travel Blog highlights 6 delicious tours that are perfect for the cold winter months.

The holiday season is the busiest time to travel, so take advantage of Triphackr’s helpful tips to save cash on last-minute plans.

Adventure Journal shares adventures and photos from Gunther Holtorf, who traveled 550,000 miles over 26 years in his 1988 Mercedes Benz G-Wagen named “Otto.”

Have you ever thought about getting a tattoo? How about one that’s engraved by hand using a long metal spike or sharpened bamboo? Read about Expert Vagabond’s experience getting a traditional Sak Yant tattoo from a famous Buddhist monk in Thailand.

Check out these small treasures from around the globe, courtesy of Fathom.

Think you have what it takes to be the next Travel Channel Star? You’ve got until April 15, 2015, to submit a video to prove it! But before you whip out your smartphone to shoot your own video, consider these tips. You’ll thank us later, when you’re the host of a brand-new series for our digital platforms.

1.    If you’re using a smartphone, shoot it horizontally.

Yes, you typically text and Snapchat — and do whatever else you do — while holding your phone upright. But we’re begging you: For this one thing, just turn it sideways! We have yet to see an online video player or a television set that’s shaped like an upright iPhone.
Also, try your best to hold it still — no one wants to feel as though they’re on an amusement park ride while listening to you talk about your trip to Bangkok.

2.    Don’t add any music.

Don’t get us wrong, we love music! (P.S. Follow us on Spotify!) But not for this. If you add music, we won’t be able to use your video anywhere because of a little thing called music rights. So please, leave Beyoncé out of this. READ MORE

Photo Courtesy of The Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll

It’s beginning to look a lot like, well, Christmas for one, but also that time of year when visions of Downton Abbey‘s new season premiere dance through eager viewers’ heads. Now, fans of the holidays and the show can combine their passions in Lake Placid, NY, at the Holiday Gala Inspired by Downton Abbey on Dec. 13, which culminates with a viewing of the Season 5 premiere — 3 weeks before its PBS broadcast Jan 4.
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Iceland

While we all crave to be home for the holidays, sometimes the turkey, stuffing and personal questions from your relatives are all it takes to reignite your wanderlust. This week’s travel blog roundup is here to help.

Unsurprisingly, Iceland is becoming a hot spot for US visitors, but according to Skift, so are more offbeat European countries, such as Romania, Lithuania and Croatia.

Whether you endured bumper-to-bumper traffic or a delayed flight, bad weather can put a damper on holiday travel. The team at Fathom reminds us of the bright spot to bad weather with these beautiful photos.

JohnnyJet shares 31 reasons to stay at Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu, HI — as if you needed more than 1.

For more travel-writing escapism, enjoy Nowhere’s beautiful essay “3 Wishes in Armenia.”

A photographer caught the sunset in every time zone in a single day. Thanks to Doubletakes for digging this video up.

man standing on a rock in a national park

Are you sitting at home, daydreaming about how much you want to be the next Travel Channel Star? If you have questions about the video submission process, voting and how we’re ultimately going to choose a winner, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered some frequently asked questions that should provide the answers to those and more!

What are your criteria for finding the next Travel Channel Star?

The next Travel Channel Star should have personality, a unique point of view and a distinct passion and excitement for travel.

How long do I have to submit my video?
Contestants can upload their videos to TravelChannelStar.com now through April 15, 2015. There will also be an open casting call in Los Angeles in February (details to come). See our Travel Channel Star guidelines for more information on what we’re looking for in your video, as well as technical requirements. READ MORE

Barbara Helgason/Hemera/Thinkstock

The biggest travel day of the year just got a bit more stressful, thanks to the winter nor’easter in the forecast. It’s inevitable that the day before Thanksgiving will include record-long lines at the airport and headache-inducing traffic — and now, add likely hazardous roads and delayed flights.

Take a deep breath and keep these tips in mind to avoid a holiday travel meltdown.

Take advantage of an airline weather waiver.
With winter weather in the forecast for Wednesday, big airlines such as American Airlines, Delta and United are waiving change fees and relaxing their rebooking rules, even allowing fare differences to be waived. Look carefully at the rules; most include the note that rescheduled travel has to start by Friday.

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Photo Courtesy of Clint Johnston

We appreciate world travelers who fly for free and never pay full price. That’s why we decided to talk to Clint Johnston, author of The Art of Travel Hacking and blogger for his website, Triphackr.com. Clint enjoys sharing tips and money-saving advice after traveling to more than 60 countries. In addition to writing for TravelChannel.com, Clint has had work appear on the Huffington Post and in Wired.

It’s clear when talking to Clint that he is a savvy, immersive traveler who enjoys unusual experiences such as kite-surfing in Brazil, meeting a Haitian voodoo priest and witnessing everyday life in Palestine firsthand. Clint doesn’t travel to add another fresh stamp to his passport; he relishes the priceless culture experiences and off-the-beaten-path excursions that really define travel.

You’ll be surprised to find out what sparked Clint’s love for travel, what’s next on his bucket list, what travel gear he never leaves home without, and what advice he has for first-time travelers.
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