Sometimes you need a vacation from planning your vacation. Take the stress out of trip-planning with these seven essential resources that will save you time and money.
AIRFARES + FLIGHTS GetGoing If your plans are flexible, take advantage of the website GetGoing, which promises to save travelers up to 40 percent. Choose two destinations in the same region of the world (for example, Vienna and Geneva, or Costa Rica and Panama) and enter your travel dates. Then provide your billing information to complete your reservation. The Get Going team randomly selects one of your two options.
Pintrips The idea of pinning something on the web began with Pinterest. Now, Pintrips brings that kind of functionality to online airfare searches. You can pin fare results you like and collect them in a personal folder on the Pintrips site. It makes it easy to compare your flight options and share them with others.
SeatGuru Enter an airline and flight number and SeatGuru calls up a detailed airplane plan, indicating seats that are desirable (emergency exits, those with extra legroom, etc.), average, and simply bad (reduced legroom or recline). It also has reviews of different airline services, as well as quick-scan icons for such in-flight amenities as food, entertainment, in-seat power ports, and Wi-Fi.
HOTELS Hipmunk You can filter hotel searches by price, quality, and distance, as well as "Ecstasy," a rating based on a mix of price, amenities, and reviews. Hipmunk also offers a series of heat maps that show you which hotels are closest to food, shopping, and nightlife.
Guestmob Guestmob lets travelers choose between collections of similar hotels in one city-all with names and picture galleries—at the same price. Pick a collection and you're guaranteed a spot in one of its hotels at the advertised rate (up to 50 percent off).
TRAVEL SERVICES WordLens Aim your phone's camera over a written phrase for an instant translation courtesy of WordLens—no costly data connection is needed. The service is available in English, French, Italian, and Spanish.
GlobeTipping With tipping guidelines for more than 200 countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia, GlobeTipping is the most comprehensive of the global tip calculators. It can factor in tips by percentage and divide the overall bill by number of diners.
ABC News's Genevieve Shaw Brown gets the scoop on a new program called Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP, for short), that brings therapy dogs to LAX to help ease the nerves of wary travelers. (Nikki Ekstein)
Want a discount at your favorite restaurant? Put away your phone! CNN Money's Erin Kim reports on phone-free dining. (N.E.)
Jay-Z's "Open Letter" says all it takes to go to Cuba is an OK from the President, but CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg isn't about to let you believe it. Over on his blog, he sets the record straight for those who aren't buddies with the First Family (or prefer to do things legally). (Nikki Ekstein)
If you're reading this, chances are you're a fan of Travel + Leisure and our sibling publications, Food & Wine and Departures. Now, all three publications are teaming up with Celebrity Cruises to turn passengers into expert travelers.
American Express Publishing and Celebrity Cruises are proud to announce a collaboration that will provide Celebrity's guests with insider facts, travel tips, and amazing finds from around the world thanks to Celebrity's Global Insiders, a group of experts in everything from food to fashion.
Meet Celebrity's Global Insiders:
° Kate Betts, an award-winning magazine editor and the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style. Betts is a contributing editor at Travel + Leisure and Time and was previously the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, and the fashion news director of Vogue. ° Julia Dimon, a journalist, TV correspondent for Outside Today, and nationally syndicated columnist. Dimon has been featured as a travel expert on ABC, NBC, MSNBC and in The New York Times, among other publications. ° Jack Ezon, president of Ovation Vacations, a company specializing in luxury travel experiences. He appears on the Travel + Leisure A-List and is one of the most influential travel advisors in the U.S. ° Marc Murphy, executive chef and owner of Benchmarc Restaurants, Landmarc and Ditch Plains, as well as Benchmarc Events by Marc Murphy. Murphy also is a judge on Food Network’s top-rated show, Chopped. ° Alisa Ng, founder and CEO of L-atitude.com, a curated online marketplace for travel and fashion enthusiasts. Ng launched the site in 2010, and it has since become an e-commerce partner for Travel + Leisure, and was included in “Best of the Web” features in InStyle, Departures and Town & Country. ° Adam Sachs, a freewheeling travel, food and lifestyle writer. Sachs is a contributing editor for Travel + Leisure and Bon Appetit, and also writes for GQ, Details, and T, among other publications.
T+L's editors will also be creating destination guides packed with details and information about Celebrity's worldwide destinations. The destination guides will cover 150 of Celebrity Cruises’ ports of call and include insider tips, local hidden gems, and “must see” experiences at each destination. Celebrity will feature the content on its web site, in brochures, and onboard.
We all know airport food isn't what it used to be—and that's a good thing. CNN's Beth Kaufman takes things a step further by ranking the best bites at terminals across the country, from FLL to LAX. (Nikki Ekstein)
Calling all futurists! Each year, the Crystal Cabin Awards highlight the best ideas for in-flight innovation. You might not see any of them at 35,000 feet just yet, but Skift picks out the most viable (and interesting) finalists before the winners are announced next week. (N.E.)
Opened in 2008, Parrot Key Resort is one of Key West’s newest properties. Each of the spacious waterfront rooms has a patio, porch, or balcony. There are four pools, tropical gardens, and if you like watersports, you can kayak, paddleboard, and Jet Ski during your stay. The resort is near Mallory Square and other attractions of Old Town. Doubles from $179/night in May (versus from $239/night in April).
Originally built for one of Brewster’s wealthiest residents, this seaside property has 337 guestrooms. Families can also choose to stay in stand-alone villas on the waterfront or around the Jack Nicklaus golf course. The resort has two year-round indoor pools, three outdoor pools, tennis courts, and access to the Cape Cod Bike Trail. Head to the town of Chatham for shopping or drive 40 minutes to Provincetown at the tip of the Cape. Although May temperatures not quite warm enough for a dip in the ocean, you can enjoy walks on the quiet beach and build sandcastles. Doubles from $119/night at The Villages, and from $175/night at The Mansion in May (versus from $250/night in July).
The airy, pastel gingerbread cottages of this inn are in a tropical garden of a former sugar plantation. Full tea service is served on the Great House veranda every day at 4 p.m.—a nod to the isle’s British heritage. Try the inn’s rum punch; they have their own 350-year-old recipe that’s a closely guarded secret. Doubles from $150/night starting April 15 (versus from $255 in high season).
At the bottom of Aspen Mountain, Sky Hotel has 90 guest rooms that were recently renovated. The lobby is a cozy gathering place, with log-beam ceilings, high-back upholstered chairs, and a complimentary wine hour from 5 to 6 p.m. every evening. The property has more than one building and some rooms open to the outdoors. Doubles from $129/night in May (versus from $299/night in June/July and from $450/night in winter ski season).
Pacific Northwest: Rosario Resort, Orcas Island, WA
Orcas Island is an ideal Northwest escape for those who love nature, outdoor activities, and cultural attractions. Rosario Resort surrounds guests with the beauty of the San Juan Islands, offering views of East Sound and Cascade Bay. The Bayside Rooms are a short walk from the Moran Mansion and Rosario Marina and feature sliding-glass doors that open onto a patio or balcony with dramatic island views. Activities include kayaking and whale watching on Puget Sound, visiting the local Farmer’s Market, and touring artisans’ studios. Doubles from $119/night April through June (versus from $149/night in July/August).
Strange things are afoot in the travel world today. It seems like our inboxes have been flooded by announcements of weird and wonderful innovations. Here's a selection of the most interesting news of the day (that would be April 1, by the way).
Ever the publicity hound, Richard Branson announced that his engineering team has secretly developed the world's first glass-bottom airplane. (Picture above) The plane's underbelly will be completely see-through, allowing travelers the "opportunity to look down on the beautiful scenery of Great Britain as they fly." But rest assured: Cabin crew will be trained to calm the nerves of vertigo-prone fliers. (Amy Farley)
A Norwegian economist is in the spotlight after proposing that airlines charge passengers according to their weight, a move that he claims “may provide significant benefits to airlines, passengers and society at large." CNN's James Durston has the scoop. (A.F.)
The most terrifying hotel-based horror movie of all time now has a documentary dedicated to its most obsessive fans. Rodney Ascher's Room 237, which presents various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, is out in limited release and is being hotlydebated. Back in July 2010, The Atlantic's James Parker checked into The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado to experience the place that inspired Stephen King's novel. (M.H.)