When by-the-hour car-sharing services such as Zipcar and Hertz on Demand arrived on the scene, they upended the traditional model for short-term rentals. Now it’s their turn to be upended. Taking a page from bike-sharing programs, the latest car-sharing services offer by-the-minute rentals. The most traveler-friendly of the half-dozen or so services that have recently emerged is Car2go($35 one-time membership fee), which rents smart cars in five U.S. cities (Austin; San Diego; Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; and Miami), and 15 more across the globe (Toronto, Berlin, and Amsterdam, among others).
Touring wine country with a hired driver was hot, but now it just means you can't control your drinking. Today, real oenophiles rent classic cars and self-drive their vineyard peregrinations. Wine industry veteran Ramiro Marquesini's new Slowkar in the Argentine winemaking capital of Mendoza rents lovingly restored Citroën 3CVs from the 1970s and 1980s. In Italy's Tuscan wine country, the father-son duo of Danilo and Federico Dini's five-year-old Chianti Classic Car outfits wine lovers with 1970s AlfaRomeos and Fiats for their tasting room tours. Both provide guides for the map-disabled.
Last Saturday, the Olympic Torch relay set off in Great Britain and began a 70-day journey through the United Kingdom that will end on July 27 at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. The countdown has begun.
Set on making it across the pond this summer? It’s not too late—but you must act now! To inspire you procrastinators to begin booking, we present our last-minute get-to-London guide.
The good news: flights to the city’s hub airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, London City) are still available. Right now, a search of round-trip fares from major U.S. cities range from $1,100 to $1,500. Departing from Chicago, you’ll fork over about $1,200 for a round-trip economy ticket on Virgin Atlantic Airways (a seat in the carrier’s newly revamped Upper Class cabin will cost you $2,800).
These fares are steep—and getting steeper—but they aren’t higher than this time last year. “I don’t think airlines are price gauging,” says George Hobica, founder of AirfareWatchdog.com, a site that monitors ticket prices. “It’s still the summer season and we’re seeing reasonable fares for this time of year.”
Staying on top of your many mileage, hotel, and rental-car programs is one of the biggest headaches for frequent travelers. Ditto figuring out whether or not you’ve accumulated enough points to book a first-class ticket for your next big getaway. But luckily, online mileage trackers have stepped in to help, letting travelers input their various member ID’s and passwords to conveniently consolidate all of their programs in one place. Besides displaying your latest balances, these services also notify you of all upcoming expiration dates, which is essential for keeping (and amassing more!) points.
Each site has its own edge: MileBlaster is particularly good at tracking your miles and alerting you whenever your points are about to expire, while AwardWallet smartly provides users with a convenient wallet-size card listing all of their loyalty numbers. We like TripIt’s iPhone- and iPad-optimized apps, which let you quickly access your details on the fly.
With the holiday weekend just a few days away, Travel + Leisure's digital projects editor, Sarah Spagnolo, headed to NBC's Studio One to try to stump the Today show audience with Labor Day trivia.
Question: Which city was the first to celebrate Labor Day? Here's your hint: The city celebrated on a Tuesday, believe it or not. The date: September 5, 1882. Check out the clip for the answer to this Labor Day question, plus other fun facts.
Should you decline the rental-car insurance? Why is the prepaid gas option almost always a bad idea. And why should you take a picture of your rental car before you drive off and when you return it (no, not for your vacation scrapbook)? T+L International Editor Mark Orwoll sat down with anchor Russ Mitchell on the CBS Early Show to talk about unexpected charges that can hit an uninformed consumer at the rental-car counter. For more on rental-car rip-offs, read the full story based on Mark's October 2010 Smart Traveler column.
The holy month of Ramadan, which involves fasting from sunrise to sunset for 30 days, began on Monday. While this may sound grueling, most Muslims have created their own cultural ways to celebrate. But a pair of New Yorkers have managed to come up with one of the most quintessentally American ways yet: a road trip, of course!
15,000 miles, 70 classic Southern restaurants, and one 1959 Cadillac. Sounds like the perfect summer road trip to me. Last summer, Lt. Commander Morgan Murphy, a former Southern Living travel editor, was lucky enough to do just that, visiting his favorite restaurants and uncovering 150 recipes from their menus. The result, Southern Living Off the Eaten Path, is one part travel guide and one part cookbook, perfect for planning your next Southern road trip or for when you can’t travel farther than your kitchen. After scouring the recipes, I recently baked the Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie recipe from the Ham Shoppe in Valle Crucis, NC. It is the perfect combination of sweet and tart and would make an awesome picnic dessert. For the recipe, click through!
Last year on a road trip through the South I spotted this peacock colored beauty in a museum. Can you guess where this is? Bonus points if you can guess who this gold-rimmed Cadillac belonged to!
Log in and leave your guesses below and check back here on Tuesday for the answer.
UPDATE 7/05/11: Nobody guessed on the blog, but some people who put their answers on our Facebook page got the city right, at least. This car belonged to musician Isaac Hayes and can be found at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis.
Lyndsey Matthews is an online editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.