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How To Visit Scandinavia On A Budget In 2020

An aerial view of the harbour at the Aker Brygge neighbourhood in Oslo.

It’s true that Scandinavia is one of the most expensive regions in the world to visit. But the real truth is that it’s only expensive if you mimic behaviors from ‘home’ such as staying in hotels, driving everywhere, visiting theme parks and eating out every night. The great thing about visiting Northern Europe is that none of that is necessary. In fact, doing so will limit your experience.

So while Scandinavia will never be a budget travel destination, there are ways to save money while still enjoying the best, authentic experiences.

Embrace slow travel

The concept of slow travel encourages travelers to slacken their pace, re-consider motivations and embrace a “less is more” instead of a “fast is better” ethos. Travel photographer Lola Akinmade Åkerström runs the website Slow Travel Stockholm and says there is a “frustratingly frequent habit of speeding through all the best known landmarks of a city in 24 or 48 hours.”

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Given the high prices, that habit is very tempting in Scandinavian cities. Yet with their compact nature, walkable streets, multiple green spaces and plenty of apartments with kitchens to rent on AirBnB, Scandinavian cities are also well-suited for slow travel.

It may seem counter-intuitive to stay for longer when on a budget, but cheaper accommodation, much lower cooking costs and the ability to spend longer enjoying the same attractions can all keep the final bill down.

Embrace the outdoors lifestyle

Speaking of slow travel, nature is the theme park of Scandinavia and wild camping is one of the biggest joys of visiting the region. Not only do you get to explore the spectacular scenery with just wildlife for company, it doesn’t cost you a thing. It’s all possible thanks to allemannsretten, which is the freedom to roam law that preserves the right for anyone to access so much of the countryside. The rules differ slightly, but Norway, Denmark and Sweden all have similar regulations in place.

For a more comfortable yet still budget-friendly option, consider staying at one of the region’s many camping grounds. A tent is the cheapest option, but most campsites rent out cabins, which vary in quality from basic shelter to mountain lodge style luxury. They usually sleep at least four and always offer better value than a hotel. Most also come with at least a basic kitchenette so you can cook your own meals, saving yet even more cash.

Skip Norway

It breaks my heart a little to write this given that I’ve lived in Norway for more than eight years. The country’s natural landscape is simply stunning and there’s so many opportunities to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Yet there’s no denying that it’s much easier to rack up a big bill in Norway than it is in Sweden or Denmark.

If you’re not willing to embrace slow travel or the outdoors lifestyle, or if your idea of Scandinavia is cutting-edge design and urban chic, Sweden or Denmark could be better choices for you.

Plan ahead

If you want to travel quickly around the region and/or you prefer to stay in hotels, all is not lost. It’s still possible to slash the total bill simply by booking and paying in advance. This applies especially to domestic flights and trains, for which prices can be up to half by booking a specific departure at least a week in advance.

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If you’re confident you won’t change your plans, savings can be made with some hotel chains by paying upfront. For example, the popular Radisson Blu chain typically offers a 10-15% reduction in room rates when you pay in advance, although the bookings are non-refundable.

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I was born in the U.K. but moved to Norway in 2011 and haven’t looked back. I run a website and podcast for fellow expats, authored the Moon Norway travel guidebook, help Norwegian companies with their English, and spend my free time touring the country to discover more about the people and places of this unique corner of the world. I write for Forbes with an outsider’s inside perspective on Norway & Scandinavia.

Source: How To Visit Scandinavia On A Budget In 2020

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Travel Trends To Watch For 2020

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The travel industry continues to see massive changes as the Internet of Things continues to morph the world into its virtual, app-based mold. Along with technology, the issue of global warming is another major factor in change with travelers increasingly paying attention to carbon footprints and factors like single-use plastics when they book their vacations. Another factor in travel trends continues to be the emphasis on marketing to millennials with hotels creating entire brands to seize the almighty millennial dollar.

Top travel trends to watch in 2020 include:

The Rise of the Hotel Sub-Brand

Large hotel brands like Marriott, Hilton, Accor, and Hyatt are increasingly turning to the sub-brand as a way to reach new segments of loyalty and as a method of distinguishing the many properties they acquire.

The trend was spearheaded with the birth of Hyatt’s Andaz when it debuted in 2007 as the Andaz London Liverpool Station.

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One of the fastest growing brands is Marriott’s “Moxy” brand, designed for millennial “fun-hunters and to a more mature guest who is still young-at-heart” according to branding literature. The first Moxy opened in Milan in 2014 and there are currently 50 properties around the world with more than a hundred planned in the pipeline.

Millennial lures include free drinks on check-in, whimsical room decor, lots of meet and mingle space in the public areas and grab-and-go dining options. The PR machine around the Moxy is also whirring with celebrity events like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit launch event being held in the NY Moxy in 2018.

Your Phone Is Your Key…And Everything Else

Hotels are increasingly offering key-less options for travelers. Your phone operates as your hotel key and in some tech-forward properties it can do things in the room like turn lights on and off and raise and lower temperature. Hilton is one chain that offers an app through their Honors program allowing guests the option of bypassing those little pieces of plastic that get lost in your bag.

Bathtubs Are Disappearing

Your next hotel room may not have a bathtub. You might have to book a room in a vintage property or a five-star hotel to get yourself a good soak. Hotels are increasingly doing away with bathtubs in all but their most palatial rooms. The reason? Modern travelers don’t want them, say designers. They are also time consuming to clean and use more water resources.

Get A Cookie Or A Meal Or a Non-Reclining Seat But Forget About Leg Room

In 2017 Delta announced the restoration of free meals in economy class on some national flights. At the same time, they also said that increased leg room wasn’t going to be part of the new deal. As airlines look for ways to placate passengers wedged into increasingly smaller seats, expect more offers like cookies or in flight meals. Some airlines have also tried to stop the seat recline battle when passengers try to settle in tiny spaces by preventing the seats from reclining at all. Allegiant and Ryan have such seats and British Airways has ordered new aircraft with seats with a “gentle” recline that doesn’t end up in your fellow passengers’ lap.

Get Ready To Pay Extra for Carry-On

As airlines continue to look for ways to increase revenue, they continue to eye the sacrosanct carry-on bag allowance as the next pay-for-play jackpot. Carry on bags cause passenger disruptions when people wedge too-big-bags into too-small spaces and take over fellow passengers’ overheads. Starting with no-carry-on budget fare options, the possibility that all airlines will soon charge for any carry on bag is fast approaching. Enjoy the overhead while you can.

The “Experiential” Boom is Waning

While hotels and destinations have been riding on the “experiential” travel trend, offering in-house cooking classes with local chefs and tastings at local restaurants with native chefs, among other “experiences” this trend seems to be exhausting hoteliers who are now hoping that guests will use options like online concierge services to figure out how to “live like a local” on their own.

Millennials Are Being Lured Out to Sea

Image - WP TravelSite FeatureThe travel industry has figured out that it better youth-en up their demographic fast. Cruise lines like Celebrity Edge are increasingly being marketed to younger travelers. Perhaps the biggest happening in this arena is the 2020 debut of “The Scarlet Lady,” the first ship in the new Virgin Voyages line. The first of four ships planned for the Millennial-baiting cruise line heralds a new chapter in cruising, designed to ensure the survival of the industry after the Baby Boomers have gone.

Swings. Everywhere.

Designed expressly for people to get the Grammable moment of their dreams, these swing destinations (where all you do is sit on a swing and get your picture taken) are popping up all around the world but primary in Bali.

Look for this trend to fade as soon as the Grammers find another visual metaphor for living the life of their dreams and everyone else’s.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’ve been to over 80 countries in all the continents of the world, starting my solo travels at age 13 as a student in Spain. Books, movies, paintings spark me to travel. I’ve crossed Wadi Rumm on a camel in the steps of Lawrence of Arabia. I’ve toured the Paris sewers under the old Opera House searching for the real Phantom of the Opera. Luxury is a subjective word but I love and report on creature comforts: memorable food and wine moments that blend seamlessly with the journey. I also believe that bringing your whole self and all your experience and emotion to the trip makes for better travel journalism (and better travels). I’m not afraid to push myself to explore the human experience from a very different point of view than my own. Follow my journeys on www.extremeluxurygetaways.com, on Twitter at @gretchenkelly and on Instagram at ExtremeLuxuryGetaways.

Source: Travel Trends To Watch For 2020

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The Real Reason Airlines Charge Checked Bag Fees & It’s Not What You Think

Vox thinks airlines should charge for baggage by weight rather than by the piece because of fuel costs. Much of the world actually does set baggage limits and charges by weight. So if weight makes more sense to economize on cost and attach revenue to cost drivers, why doesn’t the US follow suit?

Megan McArdle finds some problems with this approach.

I think it would be helpful here to really understand why airlines are charging bag fees. Sure, there’s unbundling. But it’s not just about unbundling and charging customers more. A key driver in domestic checked baggage fees is tax arbitrage. Airlines want to get a portion of the transportation cost out from under the base airfare so that it is not subject to the government’s 7.5% excise tax on tickets.

At some level it doesn’t matter what pricing mechanism is used, as long as there is one.

That’s because the 7.5% federal excise tax on domestic tickets applies to airfare and not to ancillary services. So as long as airlines are able to unbundle, they get a portion of the transportation cost out from under that tax.

There’s an argument to be made that – contrary to conventional wisdom – charging bag fees is actually a wash for airlines except for this tax savings. I am not persuaded that it’s quite a wash, but the net revenue from bag fees is certainly not what airlines say that it is.

Let’s take an example of United which reports generating about $700 million a year in checked baggage fees.

  • That pushes more bags to the gate. Gate checked bags add a few minutes to the boarding process (passengers try to find overhead space, then wind up going back to the front of the aircraft to gate check, plus 1-2 minutes to move gate-checked bags to the belly of the plane).
  • Extra bags in overhead bins add a minute or two to deplaning.
  • Elite frequent flyers (frequently with aisle seats) board first to ensure they get bin space. Boarding aisle seats first slows down boarding — those passengers get up to let middle and window seat passengers into their row and then have to sit back down while the rest of passengers are held up getting to their rows.

Even if bag fees add just a few minutes to boarding each aircraft, that’s a huge loss to the airlines. From Southwest:

It would cost us approximately 8 to 10 airplanes of flying per day if we were to add just a couple of minutes of block time to each flight in our schedule.

Remember that airlines are trying to optimize schedules for connecting flights, they don’t just push each flight later in the day. Customers want certain times, their competitors fly certain times, there’s a scheduling inefficiency that derives from small delays. And United has twice as many planes as Southwest so the effect is even bigger.

With some very reasonable assumptions about average fare and load factor, 16 to 20 aircraft mean about $700 million worth of revenue per year, which happens to be what’s being brought in from bag fees.

It’s not really a wash, but there’s a real economic loss that trades off with charging checked bag fees.

It’s an admittedly stylized example, things aren’t actually this simple. But it’s certainly illustrative that the bulk of the value to the airline from bag fees come from savings on domestic ticket taxes… tax arbitrage not passengers.

Shifting $700 million out of ticket revenue and into ancillary revenue saves over $50 million in taxes.

Incidentally, international tickets – which do not have this 7.5% excise tax – for the most part still include a free checked bag.

Source: The Real Reason Airlines Charge Checked Bag Fees.. And It’s Not What You Think. – View from the Wing

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Airline baggage fees are up, but here are ways to save the next time you travel.

10 Hotels Serving An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

There’s nowhere quite like home for the holidays, but all the stress that comes with preparing the perfect festive meal for your crew can leave you feeling more frazzled than thankful. This November, let the pros at these luxurious lodgings do the cooking, so you can focus on spending time with those closest to you.

From ice skating and turkey trots to multicourse meals and bountiful buffets, these Forbes Travel Guide-approved hotels are serving up all the fixings to make your Thanksgiving one to remember.

Pendry San Diego

Feast for a cause during the second annual ChefsGiving charity dinner at this sleek San Diego hotel. On November 14, 12 local toques (including Lionfish executive chef Jojo Ruiz and Top Chef Mexico alum Claudette Zepeda) will team up to prepare a family-style dinner of gourmet holiday fare (braised turkey legs, twice-baked Japanese sweet potatoes, roasted sunchoke and burrata gratin) that you can feel good about — $30 from each ticket will be donated to the San Diego Food Bank.

If you can’t snag a seat to the charitable gathering, you can still enjoy seasonal treats on November 28 with Provisional’s three-course Thanksgiving menu.

Today In: Lifestyle

Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

Savor Turkey Day with a side of sunshine when you spend the holiday at this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Beverly Hills hideaway. On November 28, dig into a French-accented feast of roasted turkey roulade and caramelized pear and pecan stuffing at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended bistro Avec Nous.

After polishing off a pumpkin tart, visit the Lobby Lounge & Bar for seasonal sips (cider for kids, cognac cocktails for grownups) and, maybe, a star sighting or two. And with the SoCal hotel’s Family Festivity offer, you’ll sleep soundly knowing that you not only saved 50 percent off a second room for the tots, but scored pint-sized robes and gratis breakfast in the morning, too.

Park Hyatt Chicago

While this posh Michigan Avenue property may make for an ideal home base for some Black Friday shopping, its culinary display the night before at NoMI Kitchen should not be overlooked. Book a spot for the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant’s popular Turkey Day buffet to indulge in an array of chef’s stations featuring everything from sushi and antipasti to classics like truffle- and sage-brined turkey with cranberry-cornbread stuffing.

And don’t miss a trip to the decadent dessert bar. Treats like cranberry-jam- and gingerbread-cream-stuffed choux puffs and pumpkin pie with whipped white chocolate Chantilly ganache will provide a sweet ending to the day.

Viejas Resort & Casino

Get into the spirit of the season with a visit to Southern California’s largest outdoor ice skating rink at this Four-Star resort just outside San Diego. Lace up your skates and glide across the rink beneath twinkling lights that will put you in a festive mood.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, refuel with The Buffet at Viejas’ Thanksgiving Day menu . The carving station will serve up autumnal specialties like smoked turkey breast with port wine demi-glace, and bourbon honey ham with currant sauce alongside all the trimmings.

If you’re craving a more romantic holiday, be sure to check in at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Willows Hotel & Spa at Viejas, an all-suite, adults-only oasis just steps from the action.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Rather than just one day of celebration, make a weekend of it when you spend Thanksgiving at this Five-Star Southern charmer just outside of Charleston. Kick off the holiday with a turkey trot on the beach, followed by a turkey hunt, family sand sculpting competition and fall festival complete with live music and pumpkin bowling.

When it comes time for dinner, you’ll find an array of scrumptious-sounding feasts, from football and a festive atmosphere at The Players’ Pub to a fall-inspired, multi-course menu in The Ocean Room.

On November 29, the Christmas season gets into full swing with the property’s annual tree lighting ceremony, a holiday bazaar workshop where you can make your own gifts and a hot-cocoa-accompanied showing of The Polar Express.

The Garden City Hotel

Add a little romance to your Thanksgiving festivities when you book the Fall Celebrations package at this grand Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Long Island favorite.

Soak in the stunning fall foliage (and give thanks for some time alone together) from the comfort of your plush room while enjoying epicurean extras like apple confections, locally crafted hard cider and a $50 credit you can apply toward seasonal fare at Red Salt Room by David Burke.

If you still have room after all those goodies, pull up a seat for the property’s Thanksgiving Grand Brunch Buffet. Also curated by chef Burke, the elaborate spread features everything from turkey and sides to breakfast staples (an omelet station, vanilla French toast) and Mediterranean mezze (hummus, grilled haloumi cheese).

Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection

Skiers hit the Thanksgiving jackpot this year as Aspen Mountain opens for the season on November 28. Be one of the first to cruise the slopes and work up an appetite for a holiday feast at this historic Four-Star hotel.

From 2 to 8 p.m., restaurant Prospect will present a bountiful buffet of fall favorites (butternut squash bisque, citrus-herb-roasted turkey with cranberry sauce) and succulent seafood (an oyster- and shrimp-packed raw bar) to help you round out your alpine holiday.

Archer Hotel Austin

For a Thanksgiving feast with Southwestern flair, head to this trendy Forbes Travel Guide Recommended boutique hotel, where Second Bar + Kitchen (the second outpost from the popular local restaurant) will cook up a mouthwatering spread. Nibble on chipotle-corn muffins with honey-lime butter while piling your plate with maple-mustard-glazed Niman Ranch ham and roasted sweet potatoes with bourbon apples.

Get a head-start on your holiday shopping (and work off those tasty indulgences) by browsing the array of high-end stores in the nearby Domain Northside retail district. Be sure to snap a selfie or two with the neighborhood’s unique decorations — Cowboy Santa and the 10-foot-tall Willie Nelson nutcracker offer a quirky taste of Austin.

Belmond Charleston Place

Always a go-to for special occasions in the Holy City, this regal Four-Star retreat’s Charleston Grill is pulling out all the stops in late November with a three-course meal fit for a debutante.

Snag a table in the elegant Four-Star restaurant’s wood-paneled dining room to savor festive French-inspired plates like foie gras with rosemary, braised rabbit with potato dumplings and crab cakes. Of course, traditional herb-roasted turkey with all the fixings is also available for Thanksgiving purists.

End your evening on a sweet note with a pumpkin pie pot de crème, served with a comforting apple turnover and cinnamon whipped cream.

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

For an unforgettable holiday, check into this recently refreshed Five-Star classic where unbeatable views of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade come standard.

Book the Specialty Suites promotion to not only receive ultra-plush accommodations facing the parade route, but also a slew of celebratory extras like in-suite brunch, a one-hour session with a personal photographer and a $250 credit at Four-Star La Prairie at The Ritz-Carlton Spa.

Cap off your indulgent stay with a three-course Thanksgiving dinner at the posh property’s newly opened Contour restaurant. Fall-tinged dishes like New Bedford scallops with apple cider glaze and sweet potato gnocchi with hazelnut cream sauce add a modern twist to the menu. —Sarah Chanin

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958. Since then, its team of incognito inspectors have checked into thousands of hotels, dined at just as many restaurants, and experienced scores of spa treatments to bring you information on the very best places to stay, eat and relax around the world. Throughout ForbesTravelGuide.com, you’ll find Star-Rated and recommended hotels, restaurants and spas, as well as information on destinations and activities, created by Forbes Travel Guide’s team of professional editors, correspondents, expert and inspectors.

Source: 10 Hotels Serving An Unforgettable Thanksgiving

 

What You Need To Know About Flying With The Upcoming REAL ID Deadline

You may have seen “REAL ID” in the news or at the airport. But what is it? What do you need to know about it? Do you need one? How will it impact your travel? All these questions are important to ask so that you can be prepared and avoid any travel delays or problems.

What Is REAL ID?

REAL ID is the result of an act passed by Congress in 2005. Congress was attempting to cut down on domestic terrorism threats following 9/11. They decided that across-the-board, minimum security standards needed to be put in place for issuing driver’s licenses and other ID cards that normally are overseen by the state and used for air travel.

Getting a REAL ID requires more paperwork than you might need for a traditional license in the past. Additionally, REAL IDs are made using advanced technology that makes them more difficult to fake.

Of course, rolling a country-wide change to identification out across all states takes some time, which is why, 14 years after the act was passed, it’s still not totally solidified. However, by Oct. 1, 2020, every state must be in compliance with the act. That means starting Oct. 1, 2020, you’ll need a REAL ID in order to fly domestically.

Today In: Lifestyle

I Have A New Driver’s License — Do I Need Another One?

Maybe not. If you have a driver’s license with a black or gold star, a black or gold circle with an outline of the star in the center, or a bear in the upper right corner of the card, then you have a REAL ID. To know where you stand, the best bet is to check with your state government.

If your new license says “Not for Federal Identification” or “Federal Limits Apply,” then that means it is not a REAL ID. You won’t be able to use it for flying domestically starting next October.

To make matters even more confusing, some states are issuing driver’s licenses that are a form of REAL ID, in that they’re not normal driver’s licenses, but you can’t use them for air travel. This is called an Enhanced Driver’s License.

Note that you can only use them for getting into the Caribbean, Canada or Mexico via land or sea (so a good option for someone taking a cruise, maybe). You cannot use them for air travel. States issuing Enhanced Driver’s Licenses include Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington State.

Also, did you physically get your new license at a DMV office and did you present the clerk with your birth certificate, passport, social security card and/or other forms of identification proof? If not, you probably didn’t get a REAL ID.

Bottom line — if you’re not 100 percent sure that you have a REAL ID, it’s best to check. States aren’t giving out the REAL ID licenses automatically, so you have to actively choose to get one. Check out the Department of Homeland Security’s page for more information.

I Have A Passport. Do I Still Need A REAL ID?

Nope. If you have a passport or another form of TSA-approved identification, then you can still fly domestically using that. You also don’t need a REAL ID if you’re flying and you’re under 18 years of age.

If, though, you don’t have a passport or the equivalent, you’re going to need to get that REAL ID in order to fly domestically.

What Can I Expect When Flying Next Year?

If you are aware of the REAL ID requirements and you have yourself covered ahead of any flights taking place after Oct. 1, 2020, then you’re in the clear. However, that doesn’t mean that flying shortly after the REAL ID deadline will be easy.

The U.S. Travel Association released a statement regarding a survey conducted that said three out of four of all Americans are totally unprepared for the REAL ID deadline. Furthermore, millions of people could be prevented from boarding their planes shortly after the deadline falls.

Currently, 72 percent of Americans either don’t have a REAL ID or are unsure whether or not they have a REAL ID. Plus, 57 percent said they didn’t even know about the deadline. The U.S. Travel Association also said that, if REAL ID standards are fully enforced starting Oct. 1, 2020, as many as 78,500 air travelers could be turned away at TSA that day.

Not only would this cost the U.S. economy $40.3 million in lost travel-related spending, but it means a lot of frustrations at the airport and likely longer lines at TSA for those who do have their REAL ID.

In order to minimize the impact of travelers not being prepared for next year’s deadline, the U.S. Travel Association recommends that Congress amends its REAL ID Act to allow for mobile REAL ID applications, making it easier for travelers to get their REAL ID without going to the DMV. It also asks for it to allow for other forms of travel identification, such as enrollment in a program like TSA PreCheck, to stand in for a REAL ID.

I’m a value maximizer always on the hunt for the next great deal. I specialize in rewards travel and travel products. I’ve earned and redeemed millions of rewards points over the last few years. I’ve created multiple consumer guides that inform readers about rewards redemption, travel maximizing and consumer value opportunities. Since starting my own rewards travel blog in 2011, my work has been featured on HuffingtonPost.com, TechCrunch.com, Hyatt.com, Yahoo Finance, and Inc.com.

Source: What You Need To Know About Flying With The Upcoming REAL ID Deadline

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By October of 2020, travelers won’t be able to board a flight without a REAL ID or alternative identification. At airports across the U.S., TSA officers are reminding customers. Kris Van Cleave reports. Subscribe to the “CBS Evening News” Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/1S7Dhik Watch Full Episodes of the “CBS Evening News” HERE: http://cbsn.ws/23XekKA Watch the latest installment of “On the Road,” only on the “CBS Evening News,” HERE: http://cbsn.ws/23XwqMH Follow “CBS Evening News” on Instagram: http://bit.ly/1T8icTO Like “CBS Evening News” on Facebook HERE: http://on.fb.me/1KxYobb Follow the “CBS Evening News” on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1O3dTTe Follow the “CBS Evening News” on Google+ HERE: http://bit.ly/1Qs0aam Get your news on the go! Download CBS News mobile apps HERE: http://cbsn.ws/1Xb1WC8 Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B — The “CBS Evening News” premiered as a half-hour broadcast on Sept. 2, 1963. Check local listings for CBS Evening News broadcast times.

 

WP Travel Site V1 Developer License The Perfect Solution to Having A 100% Self Updating Travel Site

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Source: WP TravelSite V1 Early Access — WP Haven

8 Travel Hacks That You’ll Actually Use on Your Next Trip

These days, the internet is chock-full of travel “hacks” that promise to help you book, pack, and fly for a fraction of the effort and expense.

Reading through some of these lists, however, can trigger an eyebrow raise from the savvy traveler. You may find yourself thinking, “There’s no way that really works.” Chances are, there’s merit to that gut feeling—many so-called hacks rarely play out as portrayed on Pinterest.

In an attempt to cut through the noise and offer advice you’ll actually use, below are a few time-tested travel tips gleaned from more than two years of full-time traveling (and more 10-plus-hour flights than I care to reflect upon).

1. Talk to strangers—and get creative.

Whether you’re talking to a local bartender, a tour guide, or a fellow traveler, there’s no more trite question than, “What’s your favorite [restaurant, city, etc.]?” Come up with at least two go-to questions that are a bit more inventive.

Getting more specific with these queries can lead to the discovery of true hidden gems. Try asking, “Where’s the best place for people-watching in this city?” or “What’s been your most memorable meal in the past six months?” instead of leaning on clichés, and you’ll be rewarded with equally thoughtful responses.

RELATED: How to *Actually* Sleep on a Plane

2. A dedicated pouch for cords is a necessity.

One downside of technology: an abundance of accessories. If you’ve ever spent 20 minutes digging through your carry-on for a portable charger, earbuds, or USB cord, you know how frustrating (and elusive) these items can be. A little pouch that’s specifically dedicated to these cords—and kept easily accessible in your carry-on—will save you serious headaches.

Pro tip: Some airlines give out little goodie bags with earplugs, an eye mask, and socks to every passenger. These baggies make perfect travel tech-cessory pouches. (I’ve been using one I picked up from Qatar Airways for the past year; it’s the perfect size.)

3. There’s an optimal number of alcoholic drinks to have while flying.

Downing four glasses of wine to relax sounds like a great idea during a three-hour layover or before a red-eye flight, but think twice before drinking half a bottle of Cab. Being on a plane causes dehydration and naturally messes with your circadian rhythm, and alcohol exacerbates both these things.

Too much booze can disrupt everything from your sleep cycle to your neighbor (who won’t be thrilled when you have to get up from the middle seat to use the lavatory six times). If you want a drink to take the edge off, that’s fine—but stick to one, one-and-a-half max. You’ll thank yourself later for having a little restraint.

RELATED: This Brilliant Trick Will Keep You Calm the Next Time You Hit Turbulence

4. Carry pens.

Sometime after smartphones became prolific, the practice of carrying pens fell into sharp decline. Nobody wants to be the plane neighbor who has to ask the surrounding three rows to borrow a pen to fill out a customs form (or a particularly tantalizing crossword puzzle in an airline magazine).

This one is an easy fix: You probably have an entire drawer filled with pens somewhere in your house. Grab a couple, toss them into your carry-on, and leave them in there as permanent fixtures.

5. Keychains are amazingly useful.

Especially if you frequently stay in apartment-style rooms or Airbnbs, it’s a good idea to carry a keychain so that you don’t lose the keys to your home away from home.

Here are a few of my favorites: surprisingly stylish Gorilla Tape; a sleek corkscrew wine opener (this one will fly with TSA); a tiny, powerful flashlight; and a simple carabiner. These gadgets take up very little space in luggage and come in shockingly handy in a pinch.

RELATED: Take These Steps to Make Sure You Don’t Lose Your Luggage

6. You can use a hotel room kettle to steam your clothes.

Wrinkles are the bane of a frequent traveler’s existence, and unfortunately nobody has yet invented a truly effective wrinkle spray. In addition to using a hair straightener or steam from a hot shower as a quick fix for wrinkled clothes, using a portable kettle as a steamer when you’re boiling drinking water or making tea takes resourcefulness to the next level. (If you’ve got extra room in a suitcase, these travel-sized steamers are a more conventional option.)

7. Make it a practice to take in 20 seconds of tech-free silence every day.

In a world in which little white earbuds have practically become appendages to our bodies (and in which we’re constantly glued to Google Maps), technology can be as much of a distraction as it is a valuable travel aid. And while friends or family can certainly add to travel experiences, being engaged in constant conversation with your travel companions means you may miss out on important solo moments that will later come to define your time in a new city or country.

So, watch a sunset in silence without trying (and, let’s be honest, failing) to capture it on a smartphone; look up from Google and actually take in the street you’re walking down. Find a way to remind yourself to take 10 or 20 seconds of each travel day to truly soak in it all in. (Downloading the 1 Second Everyday app is a fun way to develop this habit.)

8. Stop stressing about “hacking” travel.

Sometimes travel hacks are quirky shortcuts, and sometimes they’re fabulous failures. Regardless, focusing too hard on having a seamless travel experience misses the point. Sometimes, the best travel memories come out of sheer happenstance—or even in the aftermath of a mishap. Learning to roll with the punches is one of the most valuable lessons that travel can teach, so channel your inner spontaneity and embrace the unfamiliar.

This article originally appeared on Travel and Leisure. For more stories like this, visit travelandleisure.com.

By TRAVELANDLEISURE.COM/Stephanie Walden

Source: 8 Travel Hacks That You’ll Actually Use on Your Next Trip

11 Ways To Spend A Perfect Weekend On The Italian Riviera

While Portofino and Cinque Terre are the best-known spots on the Italian Riviera today, Rapallo is a destination that can provide all you want for a perfect weekend (or longer) getaway. As one of Italy’s first modern seaside resorts, a place the beau monde flocked to in the early 20th century, it has glamour and history, along with incredible seascapes. Rapallo’s prime location makes it easy to visit most anywhere on the Riviera di Levante, the halcyon strip of coast that runs from Genoa to Portovenere.

Here are 11 ways to have a perfect (preferably extended) weekend here.

1.See the Riviera from on high. The views from the beautiful Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montallegro, a shrine dating from the 16th century 600 meters above the town, are among the most extraordinary in a region filled with exceptional vistas. Take the cable car from Piazza Solari for the seven-minute ride to this dreamy perch. Occasionally the service is available at night, when you’ll be able to see the coast at its glittery best.

2. Sail the exquisite Gulf of Tigullio, the beautiful coastal area that stretches from Portofino to Sestri Levante, or to Cinque Terre. Rapallo is well situated to get you to some of the Riviera’s best-known destinations without having to deal with departures from crowded harbors. Portofino is about a half-hour’s sail away, ideal for a sunset excursion; for a wonderful day outing, cruise to the Cinque Terre. (You can choose from a variety of boating companies in the area, for example, Portofino Taxi Boat, run for several generations by the Viacava family, offers a number of area tours. For a trip to the Cinque Terre, Luxury Charter Portofino could either pick you up near the Villa Porticciolo in town, or send a car to take you to Santa Margherita Ligure for departure there. If you’re staying at the Excelsior Palace Hotel, the concierge will arrange boating excursions. See below.) Should you not be traveling by sea, note that train connections are easy and fast—only three minutes to go from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure; nine minutes to Camogli; and between 35 minutes to an hour to Monterosso al Mare (the closest Cinque Terre village). The fastest trains to Vernazza run between 36 and 56 minutes.

3. Pamper yourself in sumptuous style. One of the Riviera’s grand retreats, the Excelsior Palace Hotel will pamper you with its refined blending of modern and old-world luxury. At this property you’ll feel as if you’ve been invited into the (very large) home of a Genovese aristocrat—there are period paintings and decorative objects, silk-covered furnishings and antiques, along with plush modern bedrooms and bathrooms. Spectacular views from seaside rooms and dining areas are sure to keep you in a permanent swoon. The Excelsior is not only a palatial site, but a historic one, where the Rapallo Conference was held by the Allied nations after Germany’s defeat in the first World War. Prominent names have been coming here for decades—the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, King Hussein of Jordan, Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway were all guests; in more recent times, George Clooney and Bruce Springsteen as well.

Start your day with the lavish breakfast buffet (with prosecco if you’d like) served in the Lord Byron restaurant overlooking the sea (there’s a spacious outdoor terrace too). In summer the Lord Byron also serves dinner, with a menu offering dishes like an asparagus flan appetizer with zabaione; risotto with roasted lobster and peas; and fresh grilled fish. (The seaside Eden Roc restaurant is the hotel’s summer lunch spot; in winter the Lord Byron serves lunch.) You can work off calories at the sleek modern spa and fitness area, which has an indoor pool to use in cool-weather months. The Excelsior offers another special amenity—a private dock at the beach club where you can depart on boating excursions (booked in advance) to such destinations as Portofino, Cinque Terre and Portovenere.

A stay at the hotel can run less than at other five-star properties along the French and Italian Rivieras, where room rates in summer are often well over €1000 a night. This year doubles with sea views and a balcony in peak season range from €770 to €965; the rate for a non-sea-view room, double occupancy, during the second half of August and September is €386.

4. Enjoy a posh beach scene. Although Rapallo has limited beach areas, there are lidos in town where you can while away the day. But if you want to experience Riviera beach style in a way that reminds you of a Slim Aarons photograph, go to the Excelsior Palace’s Beach Club. (You can pay a fee to use it if you’re not staying at the hotel.) Two striking infinity pools and their lounge areas overlook that gorgeous Riviera coastline and beach terraces on the levels below provide access to the vividly colored sea. You probably won’t want to budge from this spot all day (or ever), unless you decide to swim to the floats (materassini prendisole) positioned offshore, so it’s good there’s both a snack bar and the chic Eden Roc restaurant close at hand.

5. Golf at a historic club. Il Circolo Golf e Tennis Rapallo, dating from the early 1930s, has hosted everyone from screen legend Rita Hayworth to Bill Gates. The 18-hole (par 70) course can be played year-round thanks to the Gulf of Tigullio’s balmy climate. (Contact the club for booking information.) As the club’s name indicates, tennis is available here—there are four clay and two synthetic-grass courts. The club is about two kilometers from the Rapallo train station.

6. Learn how to cook Ligurian dishes. At the Vecchia Rapallo, a noted restaurant with a prime location in the historic center, there are classes to help you master the art of making such Ligurian specialties as pesto, lasagne with pesto, and stuffed vegetables the way the pros and locals do. After lessons are complete, you get to enjoy your culinary efforts at lunch. If you want to savor a range of Ligurian flavors, come back for dinner and try one of the restaurant’s tasting menus. On the Menù Contadino, for example, there’s pear ravioli served with cheese; on the Menù Marinaio the octopus salad with pistachios, tomatoes, oranges and olives, is followed by sea-bream ravioli in scampi sauce.

7. Indulge your sweet tooth at one of Italy’s iconic pastry shops. Since the 19th century the Caffé Pasticceria Canepa 1862 has been tempting Riviera residents and visitors with irresistible pastries and cakes. Try their signature cubeletti, quince jam-filled treats that have been produced here for more than 150 years. There are many other sweets to savor including pandolce, the Genoa fruit bread/cake; colomba, the Easter specialty; solluccheri cookies and sugar-flecked airy brioches. This atmospheric shop, owned today by Giovanni Garbarini and pastry chef Andrea Zino, can ship their delicious products anywhere.

8.Explore lesser-known nearby spots like San Michele di Pagana. Relax at this beautiful seaside hamlet between Rapallo and Santa Margarita Ligure, which has a small harbor, several coves (Pomaro, Trelo and Prelo) and beach areas. Despite its small size this haven has a major piece of art, The Crucifixion by Anthony Van Dyck, in the church of San Michele Arcangelo.

9. Head to Zoagli, another under-the-radar retreat, and the neighboring towns of Chiavari and Lavagna. Zoagli, a favored spot of wealthy Genovese for centuries, was long known for its production of fine velvets, coveted by Europe’s elites. Stroll the lovely seaside promenade, then head to Seterie di Zoagli Cordani, where beautiful silk velvets and silks have been made since 1849, and Tessitura Artigiana Giuseppe Gaggioli, for exquisite hand-woven velvets and damasks, along with fine silks. When in Chiavari, a bustling sea town, stroll the medieval quarter and the various arcades, and if you’re in the area the second weekend of the month, check out its well-known antiques and flea market. In Lavagna, you’ll find a long (4 kilometer) beach, along with six medieval sestieri, or districts.

10. You can even visit castles. A series of waterside castles in Liguria serves as reminder that for centuries many Riviera coastal villages lived under threat of invasions from the sea. Rapallo’s 16th-century castle, built after a fearsome raid by Turkish pirates when locals were captured and made slaves, sits on the Lungomare and is one of the town’s famous markers. The space is often used for exhibitions. (Reconstruction work from last fall’s storm is expected to be completed shortly.) In nearby Portofino visit Castello Brown, perched high on the promontory and dating from the 1400s. You can also stop by the Castello di Dragonara in Camogli and take in the remarkable sea views from its exterior. There are number of other castles to see as you work your way down the Riviera di Levante coast to Portovenere.

11. If you’re doing a three- or four-day weekend, find time to head north to Genoa, a fascinating city with great art, where you’ll find palazzi housing masterpieces by Caravaggio, Rubens, Dürer and Veronese; a large historic center; fascinating shops; and the cool Porto Antico, the old port, which was revitalized by the Genoa-born superstar architect Renzo Piano.

I have worked for Italian publications in the US and Italy, including Harper’s Bazaar, Mondadori’s Linea Italiana and RAI’s Moda. For Clarkson Potter/Crown I produced and authored two books on design, ‘Italian Style’ and ‘Italian Country.’ In addition to living in Milan and going to school in Pisa, I have produced and written features from many countries in Europe and throughout Italy. For American publications I have been editor-in-chief of the Forbes Special Interest Publications group and Gotham Magazine. My focus is on travel in Italy and Western Europe

Source: 11 Ways To Spend A Perfect Weekend On The Italian Riviera

Austrian Airlines The Quality Reliability of All Travel Experience

General

Austrian Airlines is Austria’s largest carrier and operates a global route network of approximately 130 destinations, being particularly dense in Central and Eastern Europe with 35 destinations.

Thanks to its favourable geographical location at the heart of Europe, the company’s hub at Vienna International Airport is the ideal gateway between East and West. Austrian Airlines is part of the Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest airline group, and a member of the Star Alliance, the first global alliance of international airlines.

Austria established the world’s first regular international air connection on 1 April 1918, when it opened its route between Vienna and Kiev. Initially, this served only to transport post. In July 1918, the line from Vienna to Budapest was also opened.

On 14 May 1923, the first aircraft to be operated by ÖLAG (Österreichische Luftverkehrs AG) flew from Vienna to Munich. ÖLAG soon expanded to become the fourth-largest airline in Europe. Following the occupation of Austria in 1938, ÖLAG was forced to cease operations.

When Austria regained sovereignty over its airspace in 1955 with the signature of the State Treaty, two separate carriers were founded, Air Austria and Austrian Airways. Neither of the two began operating flights at this stage. On 4 April 1957, the two companies finally merged to form a single airline, Austrian Airlines.

On 30 September 1957, Austrian Airlines AG was founded, and the new company began to operate scheduled services on 31 March 1958.

Uniform_1958-69

The fleet development announced in January 2019 is taking shape now: Austrian Airlines has now secured six additional A320 aircraft. The first of these jets is scheduled for delivery in August. Within the next few days, it will already receive the red-white-red Austrian color scheme in Jacksonville/USA. A total of ten additional jets are to replace the 18 Dash 8-400 turboprop aircraft by 2021. Austrian will thus increase its Airbus fleet from 36 to 46 aircraft. As of June 30, 2019, the entire Austrian Airlines fleet consisted of 82 aircraft.

“These six additional A320s should also be understood as a strong signal towards low cost competition. We are defending our market position and are determined to fight for our customers”, Austrian Airlines CCO Andreas Otto explains the strategic fleet development.

Four A320 aircraft from Avianca Brasil, two from Juneyao

Four of the six additional A320 jets are leased from Aviation Capital and previously flew at Avianca Brasil. In part, these aircraft are already being subject to the necessary delivery check. The first A320 plane is expected to be transferred to Austrian Airlines in the middle of August. Additional planes will be supplied at the end of August as well as in September and October. Following the necessary modifications and adaptations, the first aircraft should be put into operation on Austrian Airline’s behalf in December of this year. Austrian Airlines will take possession of two other Airbus jets purchased from CDB Aviation, which are currently operated by Star Alliance Connecting Partner Juneyao.

Quality, reliability and creation of a positive travel experience for our customers are the core competencies of the Austrian Airlines Group. Thus we aim at inspiring our passengers. In this regard Central Procurement plays an essential role: We are searching for suppliers and partners, who support us in satisfying our customers’ needs. However, this gets surpassed by a continuous cost optimization process, quality improvement and especially by innovation through which we enthuse and amaze our customers.

Source: https://www.austrianairlines.ag

7 Spots To Experience The Joy Of Missing Out

Get A Taste Of Bedouin Life

Get A Taste Of Bedouin Life

Four Seasons Hotel Amman

Gorgeous photos and shareable moments are the hallmark of any modern vacation, but when is the last time you actually took a trip just for yourself?

Instead of trying to keep up with wanderlust-inducing Instagram feeds, opt for a more laid-back approach to your next getaway. Treat yourself to a digital detox at these Forbes Travel Guide-approved stays that excel in JOMO (the joy of missing out), the antithesis to FOMO (fear of missing out).

Four Seasons Hotel Amman

You won’t find Wi-Fi in the heart of Wadi Rum, the rose-hued desert four hours south of this spectacular stay in Jordan’s capital.

Head for the dunes for an overnight excursion to Bedouin Lifestyle Camp — a tented complex run by the region’s traditionally nomadic inhabitants — where you can hike through the otherworldly rock formations that surround the sands.

After sundown, gather around the fire for a family-style meal of roasted lamb. Be sure to gaze up at the stars — the celestial bodies shine bright without Amman’s light pollution.

The Westin Palace, Madrid

The Westin Palace, Madrid

Westin Hotels and Resorts

Across the map, Westin properties put self-care first with a host of health-focused offerings to keep you on top of your game during your travels — without the constant stimulation of digital devices.

At hotels like Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Westin Chosun Seoul, look out for rest-enhancing amenities, such as bedside Sleep Well Lavender Balm or the superfood-packed Sleep Well Menu for late-night room service.

More active pursuits can be found at stays like The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, where you can trade in your phone for the day in exchange for bike rentals, kayak tours or spa time, or Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Westin Palace, Madrid where you can follow the property’s running map for a 2.5-mile route around some of the city’s most popular sights.

In the spirit of dolce far niente (“the sweet art of doing nothing”), this Five-Star Venetian gem recently debuted an early morning experience you need to see to believe.

Scala Del Bovolo Sunrise begins with a shuttle ride to St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll stroll through the deserted city streets before climbing the spiral staircase of the 15th-century Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.

After conquering the 80-step ascent, you’ll be rewarded with sunrise views over Venice and a continental breakfast. Trust us when we say you’ll want to leave your phone behind — pictures won’t do these vistas justice.

Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection

Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection

Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection

A cliffside locale and VIP-approved amenities (past guests have included Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston) are just a few of the reasons to unplug and soak in all that this Five-Star stunner has to offer.

Ditch your device for a bit of romance with the Cabo San Lucas property’s Sueños Spa Experience. Enjoy a steamy spin in the Five-Star spa’s grotto, where you and your partner will find a sauna-like cave and warm pools to luxuriate in.

An alfresco couple’s massage illuminated by starlight followed by post-indulgence finger foods and bubbles complete the enviable experience. You will want to keep the details of this romantic rendezvous all to yourselves.

Six Senses Spa

Six Senses Spa

The Alpina Gstaad

Find your center among the scenic Swiss Alps with the Tibetan Healing Retreat offer from this Five-Star gem.

Available June 9 through September 22, the rejuvenating four-night escape begins with a personal consultation, pulse reading and questionnaire that will determine the course of your customized experience.

High stress levels? The spa’s Tibetan medicine amchi-naturopath practitioner might recommend a 60-minute singing bowl session. Need a pick-me-up? You’ll likely enjoy a 75-minute Ku Nye Massage.

No matter your treatments, you’ll be sure to enjoy gratis daily breakfast made especially memorable with a side of those breathtaking mountain views.

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Perched in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended retreat is a JOMO paradise. If the Poipu Beach property’s saltwater pool, white sands and fire-pit-dotted grounds aren’t enough to convince you to unplug, its Kauai Wanderlust offer might just do the trick.

Customize your perfect day with your choice of indulgent Hawaiian dinner for two, an oceanside couple’s massage or an adventurous afternoon (surf lessons and a private luau), before retiring on your room’s cozy lanai — a scenic spot to watch the sun set.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Need a break from L.A.’s constant buzz? Head about an hour south to this rustic-chic Orange County retreat to recharge your batteries.

You’ll want to leave the devices at home at this tranquil spot. Tucked between two canyons on 87 verdant acres, the SoCal resort may as well be a world away from the bustle of Hollywood.

Home to Laguna Beach’s only golf course, the sprawling property begs for you to do absolutely nothing, whether by the gorgeous central pool, at nature-inspired Sycamore Spa or around the fire pit roasting s’mores after nightfall.—Sarah Chanin

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958.

Source: 7 Spots To Experience The Joy Of Missing Out

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