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Last-Minute Labor Day Travel Advice

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Getting excited for one last hurrah this Labor Day? You’re not alone. Far from it, in fact.

According to travel club AAA, 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend. That’s up 4.2 percent from last year, and is the highest number since 2008, when a staggering 45.1 million took a vacation.

An “increasingly positive economic output and optimism in the housing market” are the main factors of this year’s higher numbers, says AAA president and CEO Robert Darbelnet. With home prices improving across much of the country, “more families are feeling comfortable about traveling.”

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Confessions of a Nature Guide

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A Montana-based backcountry tour leader spills the dirt.

“In Yellowstone, I was asked: ‘Where do they keep the animals at night?’” And in the Grand Tetons: “‘What is that white stuff up there?’ Um, snow.”

People think we’re babysitters. One couple asked me if their child could sleep in the group van, so they could have some privacy!”

“There’s always a braggart. If we’re looking at a bear, someone will inevitably say, ‘I once saw an elephant in Africa.’ Sigh.”

Photo by © JLImages / Alamy

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending August 23, 2013

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Scoot Airlines, a low-cost spinoff of Singapore Air, has joined Malaysia's Air Asia X in offering child-free zones on its flights. The new ScootinSilence seats, which cost as little as $15 more, offer travelers a few more inches of legroom and the promise of no seatmates under the the age of 12. The jury's still out on whether U.S. domestic carriers would find a market for such seats. Marketwatch has the story. (Amy Farley)

The ever-helpful George Hobica of Airfare Watchdog has assembled a list of the airports providing Wi-Fi service, outlining both the network names and costs. We'll be sure to consult it before heading on our next flight. (Nikki Ekstein)

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Must-Reads for the Week Ending August 16, 2013

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Pandas are ALWAYS news. Here, Circa News reports on the birth of a rare giant panda in Vienna's Schönbrunn Zoo. (Adrien Glover)

Also from Circa News, scientists in western Nevada have discovered petroglyphs from as many as 14,800 years ago, making them the oldest rock out found in North America. (A.G.)

In tech travel news, Sky News reveals that New Zealand aviation authorities have given jetpack developers a flying permit, allowing the company to run test flights. (A.G)

The Boston Globe's Christopher Muther meets with the general manager of Forum, the restaurant at the epicenter of Boston's Marathon Bombings that is reopening today four months after the attacks. (Peter Schlesinger)

This week's Economist investigates how doping scandals are affecting travel trends at the Baseball Hall of Fame. (P.S)

Want to visit Sicily but can't foot the bill yet? Beverage company San Pelligrino let Facebook users this week control robots for three-minute virtual tours. But hurry, the experiences ends on Saturday!  (P.S.)

Scott Mayerwitz from the Associated Press shares his view on the American-US Airways merger, finding that Department of Justice's suit is too little too late for consumers. (Amy Farley)


Photo credit: iStockphoto

The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending August 9, 2013

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Don’t you hate it when this happens? An American man accidentally snapped a finger off a 600-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary at a museum in Florence. Oh yeah, and he’s a surgeon. [Daily Mail] (Amy Farley)

A new skyscraper in Spain's resort town Benidorm is almost finished, except they forgot to build an elevator…Jamie Condliffe from Gimodo shares the bizarre story. (Peter Schlesinger)

"Bucharest not Budapest" is the Romanian capital's new tourism campaign, highlighting that the city, dubbed the Paris of the East, should not be compared to similarly-named Hungarian capital. Feargus O'Sullivan from The Atlantic Cities reports. (P.S.)

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The Doctor Recommends: Must-Reads for the Week Ending August 2, 2013

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According to Yahoo!, Borders bookstores, which went bankrupt in the U.S. in 2011, are now re-opening in Singapore. [Maria Pedone]

Two world records were broken at the annual Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons festival in eastern France, with over 400 balloons hitting the skies, via AP. [M.P.]

No knock-knock jokes for this Nantucket bar: a five-foot long shark was found in front of the door at Sea Dog Brew Pub, via Huffington Post. [M.P.]

In an attempt to contain rowdy foreigners, the Greek island of Crete is considering setting up designated tourist zones to keep its citizens safe, according to CNN. [Jennifer Flowers]

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Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're Near the Colosseum in Rome

We asked true travel pros what to do near the Colosseum in Rome. Want to share your advice? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

“Order the salmon tagliolini at the Hotel Forum (25-30 Via Tor de’ Conti. $$$).” —@hithapalepu

“Have an aperitif in the top-floor restaurant at Hotel Palazzo Manfredi at sunset, looking over the ruins of ancient passageways.” —Katherine Pisana, via Facebook

“The Basilica of San Clemente (Via di San Giovanni in Laterano) is more than a church—it’s a fascinating voyage below ground and back in time.” —@walksofitaly

“Home goods store Logical Space Design (27 Via dei Santi Quattro) is filled with must-buy pieces.” —@brett_hughes

“Pay two euros to the silent order of nuns at Monastero dei Santi Quattro Coronati (20 Via dei Santi Quattro) to see 13th-century frescoes in the Chapel of St. Sylvester.” —@understandrome

TODAY Show Video: Hotel Stays for Pets

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

Going on vacation? Don’t leave Buddy home. It’s just another dog day at these pet-friendly hotels.

Pets-Only Hotels

There are a growing number of amazing hotels just for your pet—no people, please!

Paradise for Paws

There are three locations for this dog and cat resort—two in Chicago and one in Dallas/Ft. Worth—each near airports. Accommodations include large dog suites, as well as a gated community of bungalows for cats (select bungalows have window perches and fish aquariums). Dogs can exercise in the indoor grass area and splash in a bone-shaped pool. For cats, there’s an Adventure Jungle for climbing custom-made cat trees. Dog suites from $49/night; Cat bungalows from $27/night.

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Paris Restaurants Short List

Paris Restaurants: Chez Georges

Christian Boyens, general manager of the Ritz Paris—currently undergoing renovations—reveals his short list for where to eat in the City of Light.

First Arr.-Verjus ($$$$): French farm food, great setting. Kinugawa ($$$): Japanese bento boxes for lunch.

Second Arr.-Chez Georges (pictured; 1 Rue du Mail; $$$): well-preserved classic, market-fresh specials. Le Mesturet ($$): real Parisian bistro, good price-to-quality ratio. Le Petit Vendôme ($$): hole-in-the-wall for lunch; get the escalope de veau with mushrooms.

Third Arr.-Derrière ($$$): young, eclectic scene, great patio, table tennis, rotisserie ham. Chez Janou ($$$): French bistro, get the duck and the chocolate mousse; fish soup only so-so.

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Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're Near the InterContinental Hong Kong


View InterContinental Hong Kong in a larger map

We asked true travel pros what to do near the InterContinental Hong Kong. Want to share your advice? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.

Hit the rooftop pool at the InterContinental Hong Kong ($$$), in Kowloon.

“My favorite shopping is at Harbour City (3-27 Canton Rd.)—there are about 1,000 stores!” —@travelingperly

“Go to Oyster & Wine Bar for a great view of the skyline and Victoria Harbour.” —@pavel_tsm

“The Star Ferry is a must, but be sure to watch the nightly light show from the Kowloon side.” —Michele Palmer, via Facebook

“Don’t miss dim sum at Lin Heung Tea House (160 Wellington St.; 852/2544-4556).” —Cindy Lin, via Facebook

“Start your day with a delicious gourmet breakfast at the Andre Fu–designed Upper House hotel.” —Andi Perullo de Ledesma, via Facebook

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