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KAYAK Expands Abroad & Releases Holiday Travel Guide

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KAYAK recently announced that it will be expanding its travel search site to eight new markets in the coming weeks. Having already launched in Australia and the Netherlands, the Priceline-owned company also plans to set up in Belgium, Ireland, Mexico, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Singapore.

Back in the US, KAYAK continues to help us find great deals on airfare and hotels—especially useful as the holiday season sneaks up. The site released their Holiday When to Book & Travel Guide, which breaks down travel tips by each holiday—and warns against waiting to book. According to KAYAK's guide, which is based on millions of queries conducted on the site last year, the cheapest flights can be found between September and mid-October. After mid-October, airfare prices skyrocket 17% for Thanksgiving, 51% for Christmas, and 25% for New Year’s Eve. These numbers hold true for domestic flights—unfortunately, international fares saw no low period during the season.

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Holiday Travel Talk with QVC & T+L Editors

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Join T+L and our Senior Editor, Jacqueline Gifford, for a Holiday Travel Facebook Chat with QVC’s Lisa Roberston tonight, October 18, from 10-11pm ET on Lisa’s Facebook page.

Find out how to avoid flight delays, where the best hotels and destinations are for affordable, all-inclusive, or seasonal travel, how to pack and squeeze in that extra pair of shoes, tips on getting last-minute hotels deals, and more. Lisa will be ready to answer any holiday shopping or gifting questions that you may have as well.

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Sleep Like a Celebrity at the Hotel Bel-Air

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When you're staying at The Beverly Hills Hotel or Hotel Bel-Air, there's no need to pack your pajamas.

The hotels are celebrating their 10-year collaboration with BedHead Pajamas, the go-to sleepwear source for the Hollywood set, including fans such as Jennifer Aniston, Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey, and Cher.

To commemorate their decade-long partnership together, the three brands are offering limited edition holiday pajama sets for adults and children, online and at the hotels, while supplies last. 

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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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Where to Celebrate July 4th, From Cape Cod to San Diego

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While we all love to travel, there’s no denying the perks to living in the land of red, white, and blue. From Texas barbecue to New Orleans jazz music, America’s melting pot continues to stir up some of the tastiest and liveliest traditions around. So when it comes to our nation’s biggest bash—the Fourth of July—celebrate by seeing all America has to offer while getting your dose of hot dogs, fireworks, and flag t-shirts.

The U.S. keeps its title as the Land of the Free thanks to these no-cost attractions, from Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Museums to the 2,000-pound Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Of course, if you’re more interested in making history than looking at it, any of these wacky state fair contests could prove you to have the stinkiest sneakers or most decorative hay bale in the country.

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Jose Garces Pays Tribute to Mothers with International Bloody Mary Menu

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Bloody Marys have been a brunch staple since 1921, when Fernand Petiot began serving them up at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

As families across the country prepare to toast mom this Sunday, Iron Chef Jose Garces has created an internationally inspired Bloody Mary menu for Renaissance Hotels, each recipe evoking the flavor and style of a global hot spot. A few not to miss: Dat Eye Opener, a blend of green tomato juice, creole seasonings, and garnish of pickled okra inspired by the Big Easy; Hong Kong’s Bloody Pearl, mixed with black vinegar, Chinese hot sauce, and ground caraway seeds; or San Jaun’s Puerto Maria, a zesty combo of Spanish onions, green bell peppers, cilantro, plantain, and ají dulce (sweet peppers). Other destinations-inspired riffs include New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, and Tuscany.

The entire menu is available at participating Renaissance Hotels throughout May. So bring your mom and raise a glass for all that she does—if she’s anything like mine, god knows she deserves it!

Nate StoreyNate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @StoreysTL.

Photo ccourtesy of Renaissance Hotels/ Jose Garces

V-Day Suites Come Dressed in 27,000 Flowers

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How many flowers does it take to say I love you? Renaissance Hotels thinks 27,000 should do the trick. That’s the number of multicolored blossoms bedecking the $15,000-a-night Valentine’s Day suites, which are available for the remainder of February at any of their worldwide properties. Upon booking, almost every inch of a room's interior becomes awash in a mélange of brightly-hued petals, from the bed to the walls to the nightstand.

If you can’t stomach parting with enough cash to buy a new car for a one-night stay, Renaissance is offering romance packages for the big weekend at a more palatable rate ($299.) Breakfast, cocktails, and candles are included, along with a designer floral arrangement. A conventional bouquet of roses will just have to suffice. 

Nate Storey is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Renaissance Hotels

New Year's Eve in Times Square: The App

Times Square New Year's app

In this digital age, it seems that we’re constantly hearing someone say “there’s an app for that.” Well, if you’ve always wanted to be in New York’s Times Square for New Year’s Eve, but never wanted to deal with the crowds, T+L can help…There’s an app for that!

The 2013 Times Square Ball App offers the chance to have your face flash on the big screens of Times Square during its iconic December 31st celebrations. Submit your New Year’s Eve photos to the app, and whichever images receive the most “likes” will appear on the Toshiba Vision sign - located at the center of attention underneath the famous crystal ball.

On top of the photo contest, the app also lets you stream a commercial-free webcast of the Times Square festivities on your phone or tablet. Hosted by TV and radio personality Allison Hagendorf (host of "The Next" on the CW), the show will cover all of the musical acts, celebrity appearances, and of course, the midnight countdown and Ball Drop.

To download the free app, available on Android and Apple mobile devices, visit timessquareball.net.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Toshiba

Holiday Travel: Overhyped or Underrated?

Holiday Travel

Overhyped:

• New Year’s Eve in Times Square with a million of your closest friends

• Jokes about fruitcake

• Hotel lobbies playing Mariah Carey’s Christmas record

• Holiday staycations

• Flight attendants wearing reindeer antlers

• Buying presents on Black Friday

Just Right: Saving a slice of pie for the trip home

Underrated:

• Shipping presents ahead

• Pilots who dress up like Santa

• Flying on Thanksgiving or Christmas day

• Hotel lobbies playing SiriusXM’s “Bing Crosby Christmas Radio”

• Panettone, the thinking person’s fruitcake

• New Year’s Eve in Samoa (you’ll be first!)

Photo © Rob Corbett / Alamy

Making Doomsday Plans? Think Turkey, France

Sirince, Turkey

Looking for a relaxing place to spend the holidays?

Two spots in Europe may offer some respite from this year's holiday stress—if, that is, your major concern this season is the possibility of the ancient Mayanprophesied Doomsday on Dec. 21, 2012.

Indeed, while the rest of us are out vainly shopping for Furbies and iPads, other travelers are making long-term plans. UK travel search site Skyscanner recently announced that searches for one-way tickets to Turkey, for travel on the days leading up to Dec. 21, have spiked by nearly a third, while similar searches to the South of France have gone up by 41 percent.

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