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Contest Watch: Ireland + Student Specials

201003-a-sceptre-5jpgParents and kids alike will appreciate this roundup of spring contests. Now if only they could agree on appropriate clothes to pack. 

Sceptre Tours “Luxurious Ireland Vacation Giveaway”

Win a 6-night 3-city Irish vacation with airfare and rental car  (Mercedes 200 E series) from Sceptre Tours. Enter here to be eligible. Careful, the contest  automatically signs you for to receive the Sceptre newsletter but for 2-nights each  at Adare ManorAshford Castle, and the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, we think it’s worth it.

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Forget the Staycation, Plan a WEIGHcation

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That’s right, make your next vacation a nauseatingly good time with a tour of competitive-eating sites. As documented on Man vs. Food, the weekly show on Travel Channel, there are tons of food challenges to earn participants fame, free food, and the booby prize: major heartburn.

In case you’d like to do a national tour of eat-this-ungodly-amount-of-food-in-this-very-short-amount-of-time offers, Coupon Sherpa,  a site devoted to coupon codes and promotions, compiled this list of free-food challenges.

Here are some of our top picks:

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Child-Free Dining: The (Blissfully) Silent Trend

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Call me a grinch, a misanthrope, a DINK (dual-income-no-kids), or the anti-cute-police, but I hate (hate a thousand times over) ill-behaved children/infants/screaming banshees in upscale restaurants.

Upon doing some research, it turns out I’m not alone. Not only are there message boards, websites, even petitions to promote child-free dining, it turns out there’s an international social club devoted to the baby-free lifestyle.

I’m not a card carrying NoKidding member yet, but for now I plan on asking restaurants what their child policy is before attending.

Here, a few pre-screened restaurants that refuse to break out the coloring books and crayons:

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Can an iPhone Replace a Caddy?

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Yeah yeah, “there’s an app for that,” but is there really an application to replace a person?

It seems so thanks to a bevy of iPhone apps aimed to help golfers both at their home courses and while traveling. (Bad news for teenagers loafing around the country clubs and even worse news for expensive SkyCaddies and rangefinders.)

The Wind Meter application uses the iPhone’s microphone to determine winds up to 28 mph— sure beats holding a wet finger to the breeze. Everyone, it seems, is getting on board, from surfers to hunters, which may explain why the Wind Meter has remained in the top 10 weather apps for the past 6 months. And at just 99 cents, the program is much more affordable than hiring a caddy.

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Contest Watch: Is it Spring Break Yet?

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Seems like everyone’s midwinter morale is down. What better way to usher in spring (maybe prematurely) than with the promise of free getaways ? Here, a compilation of this month’s contests, enter now—the hot toddy can wait.

Frommer’s “Cover Photo Contest”
In honor of the reputable guide series' new full-color editions (launched in September 2009), Frommer’s is giving away $5,000 and the opportunity to have a photo featured on the cover of one of their forthcoming guidebooks.

From now through March 31st, contestants  can visit www.frommers.com/go/photocontest to enter and upload their best travel photos. A panel of travel  and photography experts will judge the entries. Four runners-up will receive guide books and Lug travel accessories worth $300. The winner is responsible for all taxes associated with prizes.

Netherlands Board of Tourism “Just Be in Holland” Contest
As part of a new Holland marketing campaign, the Netherlands Board of Tourism unveiled a fulled wrapped subway train (the shuttle from Times Square to Grand Central Station) in New York City and a cool contest to boot.

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World’s Sexiest Golf Resorts?

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Where’s the best place to practice your hole-in-one double entendres? Golf travel website, The A Position released a list of the World’s Sexiest Golf Resorts.

What makes for a particularly sexy golf resort? Warm weather, spa treatments, dark corners for stolen…putting practice? The site’s press release goes so far as to suggest “provocative golf course mounding” as a qualifying factor. That’s odd, usually I get frustrated when caught between moguls. But maybe that's the point...

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Trend Alert: Bacon Cocktails

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Sure sure, bacon is as ubiquitous a guilty pleasure as the Twilight saga, but with more bars serving pork by the glass, this trend might have some highbrow staying power. Here are just a few spots where you can sip some smoky goodness:

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Contest Watch: Beat the Winter Blahs

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Have the short cold days got you down? These sizzling contests may just sweep you away.

201001-small-yapta-01jpgYapta’s “9 Months of Paradise by Marriott Sweepstakes”
Since June, Yapta has been giving away a trip a month. There’s one more month left and February’s prize is a 5-night, 6-day hotel stay at the Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas. To enter, use Yapta.com's flight tracker to monitor the price of a flight; each flight counts as an entry into the drawing (maximum 25 per person). The drawing is Februay 28th, so go ahead and track spring break plans—it might end up being free! Other prizes include Bose headphones and Starbucks cards—both certain to help with the winter crankies.

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Security Gripe? There’s an App for That

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After a flurry of security breaches and a healthy public outcry over the holidays, travelers with iPhones can give the Transportation Security Administration a piece of their minds. The tech company On the Spot Systems, Inc. announced a new iPhone application that allows flyers to rate airport security screening via a TSA survey.

Originally created to capture reviews for restaurants, hotels, and services,  Survey on the Spot’s first phone application rolled out in November 2009. Now is shaping up to be the perfect time for the feedback interface to include airport security in its fold.

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L.A.’s Four Seasons Gets a Facelift

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The Four Seasons Hotel, Los Angeles at Beverly Hills is almost finished with its $33 million renovation project.

As of now, the updates for the Ballroom, Windows Lounge, Cabana Restaurant, and pool are completed with room refurbishments wrapping up soon. A new restaurant, Culina, Modern Italian will debut in early March.

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