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July 4th Travel Tips

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The 4th of July Travel Forecast

People are feeling good. Job numbers are up today; consumer confidence is rebounding. That means more people spending on travel. AAA Travel projects that 41 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend. That's a 1.9 percent increase from last year. The majority are hitting the road, with more 34.8 million driving. But if you’re flying, the goods news is that you probably paid five percent less for your ticket than last year, according to AAA.

Some advice for drivers: A lot of people start heading out right about now so expect heavier traffic from about 6pm tonight through tomorrow.

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Daily Transporter: Spain

parade drummers

Spaniards celebrate the week preceding Easter with regionally distinctive processions and fiestas. These solemn drummers in Madrid can’t shake a stick at the Tamborada in Albacete province where up to 20,000 drummers play constantly for several days leading up to Easter Sunday.

See Spain in Europe’s Most Beautiful Villages

Editor’s Picks: Spain
See Spain in Best Hotels in Spain
and World’s Coolest Surf Towns
and Most Beautiful Travel Photos of 2013

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Underwater Easter

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Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace has come up with a new twist on the traditional Easter egg hunt. Guests at the over-the-top hotel will snorkel through the recently opened underwater sculpture garden to find hidden treasures.

More Spring Travel Ideas

Editor’s Picks: Abu Dhabi
See Abu Dhabi in World's Coolest Futuristic Buildings
and Buildings Shaped Like Animals
and World's Scariest Roller Coasters

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo of the Grand Mosque courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Wake Up with Al: Weekend Getaways for St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day

On this morning’s Wake Up With Al, Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo highlights four cities with standout Irish celebrations. See the Weather Channel clip here.

Boston
Take in the parade in South Boston, but stay in buzz-worthy Cambridge, at the Charles Hotel, close to the delicious Craigie on Main restaurant (a T+L favorite). Beantown’s parade takes place on Sunday this year. Price: from $259 a night. Book now: charleshotel.com

Chicago
The Chicago River will be transformed into a sea of Kelly green on Saturday at 10 a.m., followed by a weekend filled with festivities. The new Hotel Lincoln, an eclectic hotel in Lincoln Park, is within walking distance of four Irish Bars. Price: from $239 a night.  Book now: jdvhotels.com

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Celebrate Chinese New Year With These 5 Hotel Deals Around the World

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Today, millions of people around the world are celebrating the Year of the Wooden Horse with elaborate ceremonies, ancient rituals, and extensive traditional feasts (think tea eggs, sticky rice cakes, and whole Peking ducks).

Roosevelt Park kicked off the festivities in New York this morning with a riotous firecracker demonstration to close out the Year of the Snake, and the Annual Lunar New Year Parade and Festival will swell the streets of Chinatown on February 2.

Nothing compares to the fanfare in China, where the next two weeks are guaranteed to be bursting with dances, demonstrations, and the color red.

But no matter where you are in your travels, you can welcome this year of adventure and energy in a festive fashion. Book a room at one of these luxury hotels for an over-the-top Chinese New Year.

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Hyatt Wishes Followers a Happy #HyattHoliday on Instagram

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Does your mantle, bookshelf, or fridge look a little heavy from all of the holiday cards? This year, Hyatt took a social approach and was one of the first brands to take advantage of Instagram’s new direct messaging feature, by sharing a personal and spirited surprise with their most engaged followers.

The photo revealed Hyatt’s social media team, to let followers see the people behind the brand that they’re engaging with every day. That’s right, it’s not just robots!

Many fans have responded with personal messaging about their 2014 travel plans as well as about their recent stays at Hyatt hotels. For more, visit Hyatt on Instagram.

Gabrielle Blitz is associate social media editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Hyatt Hotels

Merry Christmas from America's Sweetest Hotels for the Holidays

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Aside from more affectionate holiday themes like peace and joy, Christmas to me means one thing: sweets. Whether it’s fresh-baked fruitcake, intricately iced gingerbread cookies, or chocolate squares straight out of an Advent calendar, Santa’s not the only one indulging this season. But hotels are pushing the candy-coated envelope when it comes to desserts this holiday. A festive take over at the Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Las Vegas (above) includes an eight-foot-tall reindeer coated in chocolate and a life-size candy house, while an elevator lined in gingerbread bricks at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower shuttles guests to and from the property's Michelin-starred restaurant Sixteen. Read on for more of America’s Best Hotels for Christmas.

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Hyatt Place & YouTube Star Sonia Gil Name the Perfect Holiday Gifts for Travelers

Need a gift for a traveler in your life? Or better yet, want to give someone a little inspiration on what to get YOU this season?
 
Globetrotter and YouTube Vlogger, Sonia Gil of “Sonia’s Travels” shares the perfect small gifts for the holidays (think stocking stuffers, Secret Santa, and holiday grab-bag!) on Hyatt Place's new Seamless Travel Series, which is designed to arm travelers with tips to ensure that their travel experience is just right.
 
From packing cubes to gear ties (I need these), and tips on what to do if you forget your charger, her video includes great gifts for travelers.
 
For more on Sonia's expert tips and Hyatt's Seamless Travel Series, visit Hyatt on Facebook.

Gabrielle Blitz is associate social media editor at Travel + Leisure.

Americans Let Paid Vacation Days Go To Waste

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With the holidays right around the corner, many Americans are cashing in precious vacation days. And while it may seem that offices across the nation are empty, many employees are still hard at work. With only 14 paid days off, on average, it may surprise you to learn that Americans generally let four of those go to waste every year.

This year, Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation Survey revealed that even though Americans get, and use, less paid vacation time than any other country—they didn’t feel nearly as deprived as others.

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Sneak Peek: Breckenridge’s New Peak 6

It’s not every day that a ski resort massively expands out its skiable acres. Maybe it opens a new lift or on-mountain restaurant, but for a resort to increase its footprint by 20% is an enormous undertaking. Yet that’s exactly what Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort is doing with its new mountain, called Peak 6, which opens on Christmas Day. And since I was out in Colorado, I stopped by Breck for a pre-opening look.

First off, the stats: Peak 6 brings 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain (skewing intermediate but pretty evenly split between intermediate and expert trails), three new bowls, eight new cut trails, and two new chairlifts. In all, it’s one of the biggest ski-area terrain expansions in North America in the past decade. And it’s on top of Breck’s existing five peaks, 2,900 acres, four terrain parks, a 22-foot superpipe, 11 bowls, and the highest chairlift in North America.

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