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New Crowd-Sourced Exhibition Explores Boston's Love Affair with Impressionism

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The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston today is opening a new exhibition, “Boston Loves Impressionism,” showcasing 30 masterpieces carefully curated by…the public.

To choose the artworks for display, the MFA held an online contest that saw a staggering 41,497 votes cast over three weeks in January. And with one of the world’s largest Impressionist collections at their disposal, voters had quite the challenge. Who were the winners?

Among the top 30 scorers are perennial favorites by Cassatt, Cézanne, and Pisarro, with first-place going to Van Gogh’s Houses at Auvers. Water Lilies from Monet and Degas’s charming Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer—the only sculpture in the running—round out the top three.

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Ski Deals and Beach Plans for Presidents' Day Weekend

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It's official: Every state in the continental US—minus Florida—has snowfall. And with a long weekend coming up, it's the perfect opportunity to head to the hills for some skiing. Sites like Liftopia, Snow.com, and GetSkiTickets.com are offering last minute deals all over the country. Our favorite savings? Liftopia's $14 ski pass for New Hampshire's Ragged Mountain tomorrow—that's a 79% discount. They're selling out fast though, so act fast!

Tired of the snow? Here are some tips to book a last-minute beach vacation.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. 

Photo credit: Cultura Creative/ YAY Media AS

LGBT Travel Tips on Where to Go and Why to Travel

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Choosing where to go for your next vacation can be a tricky—though rewarding—process. Beach or mountain? Luxe or affordable? But as last week’s Why We Travel post detailed, a slew of the world’s top destinations outlaw homosexuality, leaving LGBT travelers with a more basic question of where they can (and should) and cannot (and should not) venture.

How to choose? Here are a few pointers:

Safety first: Upwards of 70 countries worldwide criminalize homosexuality. And public perception of gay individuals can be abysmal even in places without draconian sodomy laws on the books. Russia, for example, has seen a spike in hate crimes recently despite its relatively mild anti-gay laws. The takeaway from the first Why We Travel post on Sochi’s Olympics applies anywhere physical violence is a real possibility: LGBT travelers, especially same-sex couples, should exercise discretion.

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San Francisco's New United Terminal Gets an Artsy Upgrade

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United is celebrating the reopening of its Terminal 3 East at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with an online sweepstakes for two free tickets. All voters need to do is choose their favorite feature at the $138 million renovation of T3E, helmed by design firms Hansel Phelps, Gensler, and KPA.

Here, six aspects of the new space T+L loves most:

  1. You can stay connected: Over 375 power outlets dispersed at work stations, make it easier than ever to keep your gadgets up and running—to better enjoy SFO's free WiFi.

  2. Or you can disconnect: Yoga studios let visitors find their zen before that longhaul to Hong Kong.

  3. You'll actually want to visit the bathroom: With private dressing rooms and comfortable nursing areas, it's no wonder SFO is touting these as “5-star restrooms.”

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LGBT Rights Around the World: What You Should Know

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My recent Why We Travel post discussed the potential risks of traveling to the Sochi Olympics in the wake of Russia's new anti-gay law. But the Duma is far from the only legislative body on earth enacting prohibitive policies against LGBT individuals.

The list of countries with draconian laws includes many of the expected players: Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria call for the death penalty as punishment for homosexual activity. In Bangladesh and Guyana, life imprisonment awaits transgressors. Yet these countries are not exactly top destinations for most Americans. So however they may feel about the laws, US travelers are unlikely to base their vacation plans off of them. A travel boycott by Americans to the Solomon Islands, where homosexuals face up to fourteen years in jail, is unlikely to hold much sway.

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Bitcoin Digital Currency Now Accepted By PointsHound and Las Vegas Casinos

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The bitcoin continues to establish itself in the travel industry, with online booking site PointsHound and two Las Vegas casinos joining the growing list of companies utilizing the cryptocurrency this week.

PointsHound, a website which helps travelers book vacations and earn points for their various loyalty programs, will now let users earn their rewards in bitcoins. For example, rather than boosting their AAdvantage points by 3,400 miles, PointsHound users can opt for 0.1093 bitcoins instead when purchasing a night at over 150,000 hotels worldwide. (Those numbers come from booking a $1,124, one-night stay at the T+L World's Best Award winner Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora.)

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2013 Safest Year on Record for Flying Since 1945

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The numbers are in, and 2013 was one of the safest years on record to board a passenger plane. According to Dutch research group Aviation Safety Network, the year's 29 airline “accidents” led to 265 deaths, well below 2012's 475 casualties and nowhere near the ten-year high of 1,074 fatalities in 2005.

Data shows a sharp decline in both casualties and incidents since the late 1990's, while the 1960's and 70's repeatedly saw over 80 accidents and upwards of 2,000 fatalities a year. So even though this month's Southwest debacle may keep some Americans afraid of flying, the reality is that there hasn't been a safer time to take to the skies since the 1940's. See the full charts here.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: Stan Fellerman / Alamy

The Olympics, Russia's Anti-Gay Law, and Why We Travel: A New Series

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Even as excitement grows for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, news over the games has been dominated by controversy. Just last week the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert to Russia. Much of the fuss over the past few months—and one of the six “risks” outlined by the travel alert—pertains to Article 6.21, a country-wide anti-gay law in place since June.

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Norman Foster Proposes Massive Elevated Bike Network in London

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Check out this futuristic eye candy. Design firm Foster + Partners has proposed a 137-mile network of elevated bicycle lanes over commuter rail lines in London.

Dubbed the SkyCycle, it could accomodate up to 12,000 cyclists per hour, making getting into and around the city a breeze.

When will we be able to go for a spin on the SkyCycle? London's mayor supported the idea when he met with the SkyCycle team back in 2012, so there's hope that the city will take Foster's plans seriously. Yet with funding still murky, we're looking at a decade or two at least before it opens. In the meantime, we can dare to dream that other cities will follow suit.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: Foster + Partners

How Many Economy Seats Are in a Business Class Seat?

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Here's a head scratcher: What do you get when you take away one business class seat? Three economy seats, of course!

The math comes from an announcement that Delta Air Lines is drastically reducing business-class seating from its aircraft. On an unspecified number of B777 planes, 23 economy seats will squeeze into space formerly taken up by only seven premier seats. On B767s, Delta will scrap twelve seats from the business class cabin.

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