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What Customers Need to Know Before Booking with Airbnb

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Apartment and house sharing services like Airbnb are only becoming more popular. T+L's Sarah Spagnolo shares what travelers need to know about the site.

A Boogaloo Road Trip Playlist

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Ever heard of Latin Boogaloo? I'm crazy about this spicy fusion music genre from the 1960s; it's having a moment again. The Boogaloo Assassins, LA's hottest crossover band, is playing in New York City at Nublu on August 1 during Fania Records 50th anniversary celebration. Drop by or download this road trip playlist they've created exclusively for T+L. Vamos!

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CheapTickets Loyalty Program: $75 Back on Any Flight

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The OTA wars rage on. Last week, CheapTickets.com launched a loyalty program so worthwhile, we had to do a double take. The proposition: sign up for free at checkout, and you’ll automatically get money back on each booking—the rewards are paid out in the form of credits that can be applied to your next transaction. What you get: $50 back on any flight you book on the website, $75 for any flight booked on mobile, $25 for any hotel booked online, and $50 for hotel bookings on mobile. Unlike almost every other OTA, CheapTickets puts the emphasis on unbundled bookings—the only non-eligible purchases are package deals. And there’s no minimum spend, either, so a $150 ticket from New York to Nantucket would remain eligible for a $75 kickback if booked on mobile. This makes CheapTickets the second OTA to incentivize in-app bookings—Orbitz similarly offers roughly twice the rewards points for bookings made by smartphone.

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Hilton Rolls Out Mobile Room Selection

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Hilton is taking a page out of the airline handbook. This week, the hotel giant announced a plan to open room selection for members of the brand’s HHonors loyalty program—for the first time ever, this would allow guests to review floor plans of open rooms and pick their favorite before check-in. Roll-out is expected for over 650,000 rooms at 4,000 hotels across the Hilton portfolio—including its Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands—by the end of the year, with limited availability piloting by the end of the summer.

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Want to Eat in a New York Chef’s Home? EatWith’s New Series Makes it Happen.

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We first wrote about EatWith—a website that connects locals with amateur and trained cooks for private, home-cooked meals—last year, when we identified “eating with a local” as one of the most important travel trends of 2014. While the company continues to champion its original vision, last month it launched a chef series in New York, inviting guests into the homes of professionals.

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Priceline.com Introduces FunRides, For (Guaranteed) Luxe Car Rentals

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A few weeks back, we got word that Priceline.com was bringing high-end car rentals to the masses via a new program called FunRides, in partnership with a variety of big name rental companies (Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Sixt among them). With a summer trip to Florida already in the works, we took the program on a test drive.

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The Verdict on Amazon's Fire Phone

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The Amazon Fire phone is officially on shelves—and we’ve taken it for a test drive. The verdict? It’s unquestionably a first-generation product with room for improvement, but it succeeds at bringing something new to the table for travelers.

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4 Easy Breezy Beachfront Hotels

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Four hotels that put the beach within reach.

Ambergris Cay, Belize: All 26 candy-hued, thatched-roof casitas at Matachica Resort & Spa sit right on the sand, with hammocks in matching colors. Book a Sea-View Cabana room—the Caribbean is just 125 feet from your door, with Belize’s famous barrier reef just a two-minute dive-boat trip beyond. $$

San Diego: The new 78-suite Pier South Resort has balconies with sweeping views of the Pacific and California’s southernmost beach. Our two favorite ways to chill out here? Surfing lessons and a Green Flash (jalapeño-infused tequila, pineapple juice, and Midori) by the waterside fire pit. $$

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Say Hello to the Bio-Dome Airport

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First impressions of a new country are inevitably colored by the airport you arrive in -- landing in JFK feels hugely different from, say, Denver International. Which is why Singapore's Changi Airport, one of the busiest in the world, has decided to raise the bar with a $1.5 billion facility expansion. 

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo courtesy of Safdie Architects.

August Vacation Deals

Buenos Aires: 42% off Tango on the Terrace

Hub Porteño package includes:

• 3 nights in a suite in Hub Porteñoa Belle Époque gem with insider access to the city’s arts and culture scene.
• A private tango lesson on the hotel’s outdoor terrace
• Daily breakfast
• A bottle of wine upon arrival; non-alcoholic drinks and snacks from the mini-bar
• Cocktails on the terrace

Cost $736 ($245 per night)

Book now for travel through September 30.

For more information or to book, please visit Hub Porteño with booking code TYL; additional room categories available.

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New York City Supper Club Transports Diners To London

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The English supper club troupe Shuttlecock Inc.—known for Mile High, a series of surrealist experiences that transport diners using elaborate sets and intricate menus—will soon cross the pond. The first stateside performance, Destination: London, in New York’s Lower East Side, will be a bawdy air travel-themed comedy paired with Bath chaps, pigeon, clotted cream ice cream, and that subversive, Monty Python charm.

New York City; Sept. 24 – Oct. 4, 2014; shuttlecock-inc.com.

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Sarah Spagnolo is special correspondent & new media editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Shuttlecock Inc.


Four Unexpected Places To Stay Cool This Summer Video

Watch this video for four unexpected summer activities that keep you out of the summer heat.

1. Summer Camp for Adults

At Wisconsin’s Camp Wandawega, about 90 minutes from Chicago, “campers,” or adult travelers, can take dips in the cool, shallow lake between breezy naps on a hammock.  Another favorite spot for grown ups is Camp Grounded, north of San Francisco in the shade of towering Redwoods, where there’s rock climbing and sign-alongs—and no cell phones allowed.

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Improve Your Dating Life While You Travel

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If dating at ground level has proved difficult, perhaps it’s time to set your relationship sights a bit higher. About 30,000 feet higher.

Like your mother, airlines and social entrepreneurs have taken an interest in your love life.  But thanks to social media, a handful of tech tools, and a high-security environment with few exits, they may actually be able to help you.  

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T+L's Social Summer

What's better than summer? Together with @foodandwine and a few other sister brands, we want to see how you're enjoying the season. Whether it's from this summer or your favorite throwback, share photos on Instagram and include the hashtag #howisummer for a chance to be featured on T+L’s Instagram.

See full social media terms.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Check it Out: Google Street Art Gallery

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Google Cultural Institute has added a street art travel treasure hunt to its online gallery of cultural projects that already includes art museums, world wonders, and historic monuments. 

Street Arttraverses the globe from Sasketchawan to Buenos Aires, Stockholm, Sydney and Mongolia, cataloging more than 5000 murals and projects that visitors can step right up to.

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The Newest Great Thrill Ride Of The Summer Is Here

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This summer has seen plenty of new thrill rides (watch our Top 6 New Roller Coaster Rides video), and the openings continue. Last week New Jersey’s Six Flags Great Adventure unleashed the Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom, a three-towered attraction for up to eight adrenaline junkies who are hoisted 415 feet into the sky, hover for a handful of seconds to take in the panoramic views, and then drop at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour. The entire ride takes less than a minute, but luckily, the euphoria endures.

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World's Best Awards Twitter Chat on Tuesday, July 29

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What are the best hotels, destinations, and travel companies in the world? We're discussing topics from the #TLWorldsBest Awards in our Twitter chat on Tuesday, July 29th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Join along to ask the experts for tips and advice!

The Hosts:

T+L's Hotels and Food Editor, Jennifer Flowers, @JennFlowers

T+L's Special Correspondent and New Media Editor, Sarah Spagnolo, @SarahSpagnolo

The Panelists:

Trip Advisor, @TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor's Travel Advocate, Wendy Perrin, @WendyPerrin

SATW & NATJA Travel Photographer of the Year, Gary Arndt, @EverywhereTrip

Fortune Magazine, @FortuneMagazine

Gadling, @Gadling

Stacy Small, @EliteTravelGal

Tiffany Dowd, @LuxeTiffany

Matt Long, @LandLopers

Melanie Nayer, @chic_travel

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter before the chat starts at 2pm ET and be sure to follow @TravlandLeisure.

2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.

3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.

4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own! 

All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

The Plaza Hotel Introduces "Plaza-opoly"

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New York's legendary Plaza Hotel has always inspired grand story-telling. There was the little girl named Eloise who lived on the "tippy-top floor" of the hotel. Then the great Jay Gatsby checked in to battle it out with Tom Buchanan. And years later, came the big bad movie Home Alone 2, which was filmed at the property in the 90s. 

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Books About Town Brings Literary-Themed Benches to London

26julysat-london-book-benchesjpgThis summer, grab a seat next to Paddington Bear, Mary Poppins, or Peter Pan as the classic British characters are commemorated in bench form around London.

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Artsy Postcard: The Hamptons

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When the city heads to the beach, the art—and Artsy—follow.

Art happenings are hot in the Hamptons this July and August, from gallery openings to art fairs, benefit auctions, and museum exhibitions. Team members at Artsy, the art collecting and education resource, share their must-see shows on the East End and some of their favorite summer memories so far.

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Palazzo Parigi's New Duomo Suite

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The opulent Palazzo Parigi is taking luxury accommodation in Milan to new heights. The luxury hotel recently debuted its Duomo Suite, which offers residential-style lodging in an elegant space overlooking the city and the Duomo of Milan (of course!). The room features a terrace and multiple balconies, a high-tech kitchen, and the option for one's own private butler. 

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Beauty Road Test: Kiehls' Travel-Tested Solutions Set

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Every traveler wants to step off a plane looking fresh, but let's face it: even an hour in the air can leave skin dehydrated, oily, and lackluster. I know I always feel the need to dash to the nearest restroom for touch-ups before meeting family or friends in baggage claim. Luckily, Kiehl's wants to relieve us of in-flight beauty stress with their new set of travel essentials, which includes a "First Class" Purifying Hand Treatment, In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist, Eucalyptus Lip Relief, and Midnight Recovery Concentrate.

T+L Editorial Intern Helen Zook shares her take.

The Product: Kiehl's Travel Tested Solutions Set, $49. Available now exclusively at Neiman Marcus.

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Ritz-Carlton Launches Photo-Sharing Social Network for Guests

201407-hd-ritz-carlton-your-memoriesjpgLooks like Ritz-Carlton is already making a run for the 2015 SMITTY Awards. The brand just launched “Your Memories,” an image-based social network where guests can share their favorite vacation moments, and future travelers can preview the hotel experience.

The constantly updating, tiled photo stream showcases snapshots and video shared by guests on Twitter and Instagram with the #RCMemories hashtag. Users can also submit photos for display directly through the website.

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Travel + Leisure Celebrates Charleston with Bow Ties in NYC

201407-hd-bow-tie-day-groupjpgIn honor of Charleston, voted by readers as number one US city in the 2014 World's Best Awards, T+L gave out bow ties from South Carolina's Cordial Churchman.

Charleston's chic, classic style is just one of the many reasons readers rank it so highly. Known for its food scene, historic architecture, and good old Southern Charm,the city has nabbed top spot in the US two years in a row. Last year, it ranked seventh in the world overall, jumping to second place this year—and beating international heavyweights such as Rome, Siem Reap, Istanbul, and Mexico City in the process. Only Kyoto scored higher with readers this year.

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FAA and Europe Ease Flight Restrictions to Israel

Sort of good news for Israel: the FAA has lifted its 36-hour ban on flights into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport and the European Aviation Safety Agency, which had previously issued a recommendation for carriers to avoid the area, is now only cautioning national aviation authorities to “base their decisions [on whether to allow carriers to fly there]…on thorough risk assessments.”

All the major U.S. carriers have cancelled today's scheduled arrivals into Tel Aviv, though their arrivals for tomorrow are still set to depart. Lufthansa, however, is suspending flights through today and tomorrow—a prohibition that applies to Lufthansa, Germanwings, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, and Brussels Airlines. The carrier issued the following statement: “Lufthansa acknowledges the considerable efforts made by Israel to provide the best possible protection for Ben Gurion Airport with the ‘Iron Dome’ shield. As soon as this protection can be verifiably guaranteed, we will resume flight operations.”

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Hyatt's House Rules

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Hyatt realized that social is a behavior but questioned how to make it part of their business. The answer? Hyatt is going to provide the materials that will inspire action both online and off, in the hopes that social media will give their offline initaitives legs.

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Connecting to Local Culture: ILTM Asia

The term "authenticity" is one we've heard again and again (tired of it yet?), though it remains on the tongue of industry insiders thanks to an influx of travelers who continue to seek out local experiences around the globe. At the recent travel conference ILTM Asia, in Shanghai, which brings together travel agents, hoteliers, and the media, T+L's Sarah Spagnolo once again dug into the trend of connecting travelers with local culture. Watch the video for a couple examples of new programs.

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This is What a $50 Million Ferrari Train Looks Like

201407-hd-thrillist-ferrari-trainjpgThere are sexy houseboatspalatial RVs, and luxe, moveable cabins – but a mansion on rails? Well, that's a thing now in Japan.

Always on the cutting edge of everything, the Land of the Rising Sun is now spearheading the train of the future. A modern spin on old-school travel, the JR East Cruise Train is set to launch in 2017, and, as can only be expected of the work from a designer who dreamt up Ferraris, Porsches and Maseratis, the train is decadent, exclusive, and expensive.

It’ll also cost around $50 million to build.

SEE MORE ON THRILLIST

Take Travel + Leisure's Summer Travel Trivia Quiz

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

Play along with as Kathie Lee and Mark Orwoll as they quiz the Today Show audience on the world's most popular tourist attractions.

Questions: 

1.) What city is home to the world’s tallest Ferris Wheel?

A) Orlando

B) New York City

C) Las Vegas

D) London

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TransAsia Flight Crashes; 51 Passengers Feared Dead

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It’s been a terrible week in aviation. This morning, reports confirm that at least 51 passengers are feared dead following an accident on regional Taiwanese TransAsia flight GE222, from Kaohsiung to Magong. The short, 35-minute flight was stymied by extreme weather on its course and crashed after a failed attempt to land; the wreckage has been found near the village of Xicun, where the plane is said to have gone up in flames. 54 passengers, including four children, were on board, along with four crew members—all of whom are currently thought to have suffered injuries or fatalities from the crash.

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