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The Best Travel Jacket Ever?

That’s me and Pepper, just back from a stroll about the grounds of Chateau Orwoll. I’m wearing the Quantum Jacket from ScotteVest, or SeV, which I wish I had had with me a month ago during a two-week multi-country trip, because it’s the best travel jacket I’ve ever worn. The main reason it’s so great? Storage.

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When Flying is the Greener Choice

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If you’re traveling more than 1,000 miles, hopping on a carbon-squandering jet is actually the greenest choice for lone travelers or couples. (Well, honestly, bus travel is a more conscientious choice, but traveling by bus for 1,000 miles sounds like the plot of the most boring yet frightening horror movie ever.) Air travel even beats out trains for this distance, though the carbon equation shifts for trips shorter than 500 miles, when train trumps plane travel.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which bills itself as “the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world,” knows you’re not going to give up travel and they don’t think you should.

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It's About Time—Ban on HIV-positive Travelers Lifted

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Today is World’s AIDS Day—a perfect time to celebrate the fact that the United States soon joins most of the world in allowing those with HIV/AIDS to travel freely to this country.

In late October, President Obama lifted the 22 year-old ban on travelers with HIV/AIDS (only about a dozen countries have such restrictions, including Iraq and Libya) and the repeal will go into effect January 4, 2010.

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Give Back: Four Seasons Launches Holiday Charity "Bedkit" Program

Beginning today through December 10, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will be teaming up with Sleeping Children Around the World, a charity that donates "bedkits" to children in more than 33 countries around the world. For each gift card sold during this time period, the hotel chain will donate the cost of one bedkit to the organization.

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London's Claridge's Hotel Unveils Galliano Xmas Tree Today

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I'm dreaming of a Dior Christmas. Provocative designer John Galliano's holiday on ice now rises next to the grand staircase at Claridge's, a frozen confection enlivened by a lurking snow leopard, dragonflies and parrots. So whenever I holly go lightly through this glittering Art Deco lobby on Brook Street in London's Mayfair district for the next month, my season will be brightened by this Arctic orchid tree from Dior's outré elf.

Shane Mitchell is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Claridge's

World's Largest Cruise Ship Sets Sail

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If one person’s “wow” is another person’s ludicrous, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas will have some people loving it and others scratching their heads.

The world’s largest ship—which previewed on a two-day cruise to nowhere for press and agents from Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 20—is certainly lively and action-packed, big, brash and different—a mass-market resort-like experience with a whole bunch of cruise industry firsts.

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Russian Train Blast Leaves Reporter Uneasy

The news of Friday's deadly bombing of a Moscow-to-St. Petersburg train hit me hard. At least 26 people are dead and 95 injured, and the figures continue to climb. As I reported in my recent blog post, I had traveled that same train route exactly three weeks earlier to the day.

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I took this picture with my Blackberry just before boarding train 024A, the Yunost or "Youth Express." The Yunost leaves Leningradsky Station at 12:30 p.m., just in time for the rudimentary lunch that is wrapped in plastic and placed on your seat before boarding. The targeted train, the Nevsky Express, follows the same route as the Yunost, leaving at 6:30 p.m. and arriving at 11 p.m., a far shorter journey than the Yunost's unimpressive travel time of 7 hours and 40 minutes. There's not much to see out the windows on the Nevsky at this time of year because it's pitch black by then, which must have made the terrorist blast all the more harrowing.

The Nevsky Express is somewhat more luxurious than the Yunost, but anyone who has traveled in Russia knows that luxury is a word with a loose definition in that part of the world. Both trains have only simple seating, no sleeping berths. Both serve the same bland sandwiches and chips. People on the Yunost as well as the Nevsky doze against the bundles of heavy coats ballooning from hooks by the windows. Both trains pass the same broad stretches of farmland edged by pine forest. Both edge past the same obscure sleepy villages and towns—Spirovo, Vyshny Volochek, and Uglovko, where the bombing took place.

On the Yunost I sat next to a soldier on leave. My conductor limped, and his hat was too big for his head. The car attendant, who sat in a private cabin near the samovar, looked at me suspiciously whenever I refilled my teacup. Two very pretty young women a few rows ahead of me giggled almost the entire trip. I don't know anything about the people who died on the Nevsky Express on Friday, but they can't have been much different from those on my train. Eager to visit family. Excited about touring the Hermitage Museum. Heading home on leave. Simply living their lives. Until they lost theirs.

Avoiding the Long Line at St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum

Maybe it's a holdover from Communist days, when Soviet citizens patiently queued up to buy meat, vegetables, and other necessities of life from poorly stocked groceries, but lines seem to be part of Russian culture. The trick is knowing how to avoid them—and I recently learned how to avoid one of the most infamous: the line for tickets to St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum. I’ve heard horror stories of people waiting in the ticket line for two or three hours during peak summer times, but even when I visited, on an Icy November day, the line was hundreds of people long by the time the museum opened its doors. But I was able to go straight in because I had already purchased my ticket, more than a week in advance, from the museum’s official website.

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The Fix: New Stumptown Coffee Shop At NYC's Ace Hotel

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Today’s cool, crisp, finally-fall weather had me in the mood to walk to our offices in Midtown from my downtown home.  As I trotted down Broadway, passing 29th street, I realized I had not yet been by to see the new Ace Hotel, and more precisely, its buzzed-about in-house Stumptown Coffee shop.

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Green Living Project Goes Domestic: A Visit to Primo Restaurant in Maine

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This past August, I traveled as a writer and social networker with Green Living Project, a non-profit organization that films sustainable programs across the world for inspirational and educational purposes. In GLP's two-year history, the organization has documented over thirty diverse projects in ten countries across Latin America and Africa. I joined Green Living Project’s first domestic trip in the land of plump lobsters, historical small-town reminiscing, and tongue-staining summer blueberries in Maine.

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Bing Travel to Pay Thanksgiving Baggage Fees for 1,000 Passengers

Planning on braving the airport tomorrow? Sure, the day before Thanksgiving is hands down the busiest travel day of the year and yes, there's not a shadow of a doubt that your airport will be more calamitous than usual. But Bing Travel just may be able to help make your holiday travels a little bit more bearable.

Bing Travel Fareologists will be staked out at the Boston and Seattle airports tomorrow. Travelers with questions can get expert advice on how to travel during this über stressful time of the year. To boot, 1,000 travelers will be randomly selected to be reimbursed for their baggage fees (up to $15).

For more information about tomorrow's giveaway, visit www.bing.com/travel or follow them on Twitter: @Fareologist.

Joshua Pramis is an online associate editor for Travel + Leisure.

Learning The Hard Way: What To Do If You Lose Your Passport

After arriving Monterosso, Italy, last month for a daylong hike through the five seaside villages of Cinque Terre, one of my friends had that sinking realization: left behind on one of the three trains we’d taken to get there was her wallet. With all her money, credit cards, and, worst of all, her passport inside.

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New Nest for Lovebirds: St. Regis in Kaua’i

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When I stepped into the shower on my first morning at the new St. Regis Princeville Resort on Kaua’i, it was virtually impossible not to hum “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair.” Only a sheet of plate glass separated me from the turquoise arc of Hanalei Bay, a key location for the movie South Pacific (1958).

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Child Kicking Your Airplane Seatback? pardonMOI To The Rescue

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For those of us who long for the golden days of airplane travel—when boarding a plane was inherently luxurious in its exoticism, travelers dressed for the occasion and, most importantly, checked their bad manners at the cockpit door—but aren’t necessarily interested in censuring modern decorum-challenged travelers too forwardly, pardonMOI to the rescue.

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Ames Hotel Debuts in Boston

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Ben Franklin once said that “visits should be short, like a winter’s day.” A few blocks from his birthplace, Boston’s new Ames hotel is doing its best to prove him wrong.

Occupying the Romanesque former headquarters of the Ames farm-tool company, the 113-room downtown property (which officially opened last night) is the very chic result of a collaboration between David Rockwell and the Morgans Hotel Group—the New York-based founding fathers, so to speak, of the boutique hotel.

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Cynthia Rowley To Design Uniforms for United Airlines

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Who doesn’t know Cynthia Rowley?! If you don’t have one of her flirty dresses, then you may have sunglasses that bear her name or you may be eating off of one of her dinner plates. And don’t forget her fragrance and recent collaboration with Avon to create a line of cosmetics.

Coming in 2011 Cynthia will join the likes of Kate Spade, Richard Tyler, and Christian LaCroix among others who have given airlines a bit of a fashion tune up. United Airlines has asked Cynthia to design uniforms for all service employees; everyone from pilots, flight attendants, and customer service representatives, to ramp service and maintenance employees. “We have chosen Cynthia for her keen sense of style and her commitment to involve employees throughout the design process” says United Airlines.

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Cupcake Cars: The Future of Travel?

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Cancel any upcoming flight you have. Renege on that pending cruise you booked. Thinking about taking a scenic train ride? Well stop. Why? Because I have found a new mode of transportation that is sure to blow you out of the water and change the face of travel as the world knows it. What is it you ask? Cupcakes.

Yes, you read that right. Cupcakes.

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The FAA's Computers Are On The Fritz. Should I Worry?

Flights in several major hubs across the nation were heavily delayed early this morning by a glitch in an Federal Aviation Administration computer system that helps manage air traffic. The snafu resulted in no accidents, but it raises an obvious question: could future such problems put passengers in danger?

The short answer, according to FAA spokesman Hank Price, is no. “Radar coverage and communication with aircraft were never affected,” he told me. “So it’s not a safety problem at all.”

What happened was that the system that automatically generates flight plans crashed, forcing FAA personnel to input the data manually, and thereby slowing down the whole system. Flight plans are electronic documents that tell air traffic controllers where each aircraft is going, when, and by what route, and are required for all commercial flights. If an airliner’s crew can’t be issued a flight plan, it simply has to sit on the ground.

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Happily Ever After: Get the Disney Wedding Experience from Start to Finish

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I recently became engaged and while doing some non-work-related research on the matter, I stumbled upon something unusual/sweet/kind of cringe-worthy: Disney Wedding Rings.

Couture designer Kirstie Kelly unveiled her “Kirstie Kelly for Disney by Mouawad” collection of engagement rings for the 2009 Bridal Week in New York City. The six rings are inspired by six Disney princesses from a princess-cut Sleeping Beauty ($5,460) to the three-stone Belle design ($4,650).

But wait! There’s more!

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Cool (Creepy) Find: Abandoned Catskills Hotel

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Earlier this year, a friend stumbled upon a set of photos of the derelict Overlook Mountain House outside of Woodstock in New York's Catskill Mountains. When TravelandLeisure.com published the World's Eeriest Abandoned Places last month, I was reminded of my desire to explore these ruins. So on a recent weekend getaway to the nearby town of Saugerties, a short two-hour drive north of New York City, I insisted we find the abandoned hotel, which in its prime hosted such esteemed guests as President Ulysses S. Grant, as described in a New York Times article from 1873.

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Q&A: T+L Checks In With Vegas Expert Howard Lefkowitz

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Though down almost a million visitors from last year, Las Vegas is gearing up for next month’s debut of MGM Mirage’s CityCenter, an $11 billion, 68-acre megaplex that seals the city’s reputation for over-the-top innovation. T+L checks in with Vegas expert Howard Lefkowitz, CEO of booking site Vegas.com, on America’s top vacation destination.

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Top Tips for Driving With Your Pet

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Every Thanksgiving I pile my dog Max into my Toyota Land Cruiser and head south to visit my family.  The truth is I would never go without him—he’s my child, of course—and since my parents are crazy pet people too, they welcome both of us with open arms. 

Having traveled so much with Max over the years, I’ve learned that there are some very important ‘rules of the road’ that everyone should be aware of when traveling with your dog. While taking your furry friend along for the ride can be tons of fun, it can also present some real dangers—to both of you.

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NYC Arts News: Renovations Galore, Discount Tickets, New Opera Season

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and the country’s most significant cultural complex is getting a makeover. In February, the center unveiled the thoroughly renovated Alice Tully Hall, one of the city’s premier spaces for chamber music. Next month's opening of the Atrium at Lincoln Center offers a first: a visitor center with a box office at which it will be possible to purchase same-day tickets, some at 50 percent discount, to performances presented by Lincoln Center and its resident companies (think TKTS for Lincoln Center, but better—the attractive indoor space has a ‘wichcraft café, free Wi-Fi, and an info desk, among other amenities).

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Carnival Debuts "Dream" Ship

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With its red-and-gold Vegas-goes-regal ambience, Carnival's newest ship, "Dream," debuted last week. While Carnival ships are getting more refined in design, it's clear the Carnival crowd still likes to party. (On the inaugural two-night outing from New York, a group of young guys danced through several bars in their bathrobes, and late-night revelers paraded outside my cabin door at 4 a.m.) When Carnival says “Fun Ship,” they mean it.

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The Radio City Christmas Spectacular—On Tour

Full disclosure: I used to be a Radio City Rockette. And even though I retired a decade ago, this time of year always brings back memories of the start up of rehearsals and the build of excitement as kicking season approaches. I still like to check in on the ladies, just seven blocks up from our offices, and each year I am amazed that I was ever a part of that giant, glittery, moving entity that I always think of as a hyper-size, surreal, living version of a Hammacher Schlemmer music box.

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Cool T+L Outtakes - Shanghai Edition

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Hello, hello!  I'm at a place called Vertigo!  I stumbled on these outtakes the other day from a shoot we did at the Park Hyatt in Shanghai. Gorgeous shots. Our man in China, Andrew Rowat, had this to say about his shots taken from the observation deck at the top:

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The Pour: Charleston's (Serious) Cocktail Culture

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Every city, it seems, has its own follow-up question, that line that comes after “How are you?” when meeting someone for the first time. In New York City, it’s “What do you do?”; in Austin, it’s “Who are you listening to?”; in D.C., it’s “Who are you voting for?”; and after only one day of visiting my sister in Charleston, that South Carolina city’s question rang out as loud and as clear as the hourly bells on Church Street: “Welcome to Charleston! Grab a seat! Now…what will you have to drink?”

The answer, alas, does not roll off the tongue as easily as the question, and as my sister quickly discovered, locals need to be prepared—with shaker in hand—for almost any answer.

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"Housewives" Love Kodak's New Online Gallery

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A couple weeks ago I attended a reception celebrating the relaunch of the new Kodak Gallery, the film company's online service that allows members to store, organize, and print photos. Now, let me first say that my interest in attending this event was piqued by my fascination with reality television. (I know, I know...) See, the host of the event was none other than Jill Zarin, one of the Real Housewives of New York City stars.

Pitter patter went my heart. And then I watched as others from the New York City cast showed up. Then my heart stopped. I'm not even going to go into details when I saw that Bravo was there filming for an upcoming episode.

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No Escape From Work Emails: 47 Airports Get Free Holiday WiFi

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Everyone has a Thanksgiving travel horror story, don’t they? Heading “over the river and through the woods” takes longer and involves more encounters with the surly and stressed hoi polloi than it did when we traveled by sleigh with lap blankets.

Google has granted travelers a respite from watching people freak out in airports during our holiday layovers en route to grandmother’s house. The benevolent search-master is footing the bill for free WiFi in 47 U.S. airports around the country between now and January 15.

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Miami’s Sexiest New Chillout Spot


Yes, Philippe Starck may be one of the most overexposed hotel designers in the world. But just when you think, “If I’ve seen one room by Philippe Starck, I’ve seen them all,” you step into a space like the Spa at Icon Brickell.

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Something about Starck’s designs just seems to make sense in Miami. And this glamorous new spa, the flagship for Viceroy Resorts, is particularly successful, with water as its central theme.

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