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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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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Hotels For The Holidays + Colorado

Book now on Vacationist, and you can stay in some of your favorite hotels and resorts for up to 40% off.

Sale ends in 3 days!

Riviera Palm Springs

Riviera Palm Springs - up to 35% off
Palm Springs, California
HOLIDAY DATES AVAILABLE A $70 million renovation of this former Rat Pack playground restored the razzle-dazzle of this historic 1959 property. Golfers love its proximity to the area's championship links; sun worshippers love the poolside scene.

Red Mountain Resort - up to 40% off
Saint George, Utah
HOLIDAY DATES AVAILABLE Framed by southwestern Utah's red-rock cliffs, just 15 minutes north of St. George, this 130-room resort and holistic health spa provides access to one of the Southwest's most memorable landscapes: an area called the Grand Circle, where Snow Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon parks converge.

Sale ends in 5 days!

Hotel Madeline in Telluride

Hotel Madeline Telluride - up to 46% off
Telluride, Colorado
Outdoors-loving travelers return again and again to the Hotel Madeline in Telluride, an independent property with Pratesi linens, in-room fireplaces, and an unbeatable location within walking distance from winter ski slopes.

Sonnenalp Resort of Vail
- up to 35% off
Vail, Colorado
Head to Sonnenalp for a dose of Bavarian chic nestled in the Rocky Mountains. There you'll find a full-service spa, three award-winning restaurants—even a piano bar and lounge.

Vacationist.com is brought to you by Travel + Leisure and LuxuryLink.com.

From top: Photos courtesy of Riviera Palm Springs; Hotel Madelline Telluride.

Trip Doctor: New Data Shows Some—Not All—Holiday Fares Rising

Holiday Travel: Hong Kong airport

If you felt that booking holiday airfare was especially taxing to your wallet this year, it’s possible you weren’t imagining it. According to new data by Travelocity, fares were indeed higher this year than last—by a full 9% for domestic flights and 6% for international tickets on average. But there’s a silver lining: the most popular routes are becoming more affordable, as flights connecting major airports—like New York’s JFK and Chicago’s O’Hare—are proving to be cheaper than last year’s average, even during the holiday rush.

And if you’re still undecided about where to spend Christmas, consider this: the greatest savings come by booking a flight that leaves on the 23rd or 24th and returns later in the same week.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team.

Photo by istockphoto

Trip Doctor: Thanksgiving Travel Advice

holiday travel

The busiest travel days of the year are upon us. Aviation trade group Airlines 4 America, forecasts some 24 million people will fly during the Thanksgiving holidays, with planes reaching 90 percent capacity on the busiest days: today, Sunday, and Monday. Here, eight strategies for getting through the terminal without losing your patience—or your mind.

Load up Your Phone: Check your flight status and get instant updates on any delays with the FlightTrack and the FlightAware Flight Tracker apps; stay on top of weather patterns (and potential problems) with the Weather Channel app; and use iFly, Kayak, and PointInside to navigate the airport like a pro.

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Thanksgiving Travel Expectations and Values

201211-b-hotel-chandlerjpg

With nearly 24 million travelers on the road and in the skies this Thanksgiving weekend, Travel + Leisure gives you the lowdown on the busiest travel days, how much that flight will cost you, and where you can find hotel values this holiday season. 

What to Expect:

A TripAdvisor® Thanksgiving travel survey projects that 35 percent of travelers are planning to travel this Thanksgiving, up from 34 percent who did so last year. Thirty eight percent of those traveling for Thanksgiving are planning to fly, while 58 percent will drive.

Related: Top Holiday Travel Strategies

U.S. airlines expect the number of passengers traveling from Friday, November 16 through Tuesday, November 27 to increase by 150,000 people, slightly higher than last year (but below peak years of 2006-2007), according to Airlines for America. The busiest travel days are expected to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving (2.4 million), the Wednesday before (2.3 million), and Monday November 26 (2.3 million), according to Airlines for America, with planes close to 90 percent full on those dates.

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TODAY Show Video: 5 Spooky Halloween Trips

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Captain Fairfield Inn, Kennebunkport, ME

This classic 9-room inn a block from the Kennebunk River is hosting a pumpkin carving contest this Halloween. Pick up a pumpkin at nearby Patten’s Berry Farm and take it to the pumpkin carving station. The pumpkins will be displayed on Halloween night, when a panel of judges will select the winner. The prize is a free night’s stay to be used anytime between October 2012 and the end of April 2013. Doubles from $159/night. www.captainfairfield.com

Related: World’s Most Mysterious Buildings

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

The inspiration for Steven King’s The Shining, this hotel has an on-staff paranormal investigator who will take you on a five-hour ghost hunt—if you’re brave enough. There is a range of other ghost and history tours available, and the hotel puts on a Murder Mystery Dinner on Friday, October 26, and a Shining Ball on Saturday, October 27 ($89 per person). Doubles from $169/night. www.stanleyhotel.com

Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando, FL

Book this package for a 3-night stay at Loews Royal Pacific Resort (on-site at Universal Studios Orlando), a 2-day ticket to both Universal Orlando theme parks, early park admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and one night admission to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, where you can experience mazes and haunted houses featuring “The Walking Dead: Dead Inside” based on AMC’s series and “Welcome to Silent Hill” based on the video games and film franchise. From $609/adult ($203/night per adult). www.loewshotels.com and www.halloweenhorrornights.com

Virginia Hotel, Cape May, NJ

A restored 1879 landmark building just a half a block from the beach, the Virginia Hotel has cottages as well as rooms in the main house. Its Creepy Cape May package includes continental breakfast, two drinks at the on-site Ebbit Room, special Fat Witch treats, and a Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour through the town’s Victorian streets with a guide who will relate the paranormal findings of ghost writer Craig McManus along the way. Doubles from $140/night. www.virginiahotel.com

The Orlando on Third, Los Angeles

A recently renovated 95-guestroom boutique hotel near Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, The Orlando offers a “Holly-ween” package. It provides Bloody Brunch for two at the on-site restaurant, The Churchill, a personal fitting at costume store Trashy Lingerie, two tickets to the “Dia De Los Muertos Festival” at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on October 27 for anyone who books for Halloween night, and late-night transportation to and from the West Hollywood Halloween Festival. From $289/night. www.theorlando.com


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TODAY Show Video: Labor Day Travel Deals

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Still looking to get away this weekend? You don’t have to spend a fortune to book a last-minute getaway. These five deals, from a luxury resort in the Pacific Northwest to a dude ranch in the Southwest, will let you enjoy your last bit of summer.

Pronghorn, an Auberge Resort, OR

Set in the high plains of central Oregon, Pronghorn is the latest addition to Auberge Resort’s luxurious properties. Its two award-winning golf courses and access to some of the country’s best hiking, biking, fishing, and rafting makes it an incredible all-season destination and a top choice for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Deal: Pronghorn Adventures Package
The package includes three nights in a Junior Suite, complimentary transportation to/from the airport, and a choice of any two outdoor adventures (for two people), including golf on the award-winning Nicklaus Course, rafting on the Deschutes River, a microbrew and craft beer tour, a guided half-day mountain biking tour, a spelunking lava cave tour, a Brews & Views canoe tour, or standup paddleboarding on the Deschutes River. Doubles from $199 per night.

Last chance: Vote in T+L's America's Favorite Cities survey

Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, CA

This newly re-imagined 444-room resort’s new offerings include stylish new guest rooms, the signature bluEmber restaurant, the R Bar lounge, and Splashtopia, an exciting water playground complete with water slides, lazy river, and a sandy beach. The resort also features a 20,000-square-foot spa, a 27-hole Ted Robinson–designed golf course, a 25-court Peter Burwash International tennis center, and four pools.

The Deal: The Family Summer Getaway
Good through September 3, the package includes accommodations, a Summer Passport with more than $500 in extra value, two Splashtopia inner tubes (which you can keep), a $50 breakfast credit to bluEmber or Palms Café, and a $28 daily resort charge. An added Labor Day perk includes the all-new “Picnic & Movie on the Fairway” program, with dinners for four from the Palms Café and a golf cart rental to catch a movie on the green, drive-in style. Rates from $179 per night.

Viceroy Palm Springs, Palm Springs, CA

Designed as an ode to Palm Springs in its Golden Age, when celebrities like Humphrey Bogart visited, this Hollywood Regency-style hotel underwent a full renovation in 2003. The 67 guest rooms are decorated in black, white, and yellow, and include Italian designer linens and bath products by Aromatherapy Associates. There are varied services available at Estrella Spa and three outdoor heated pools. As a fun perk, the hotel provides bicycles with attached mobile phones that connect directly to the concierge.

The Deal: The Twilight Romance Package
In addition to accommodations, this romantic package includes a 30-minute spa service for couples under the stars in a private al fresco spa cabana between 9 p.m. and midnight and a complimentary bottle of Moet Ice, followed by breakfast for two. Doubles from $200 per night.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, AZ

This is a great family getaway before the kids go back to school. The surrounding Sonoran Desert landscape, strewn with saguaro and prickly pear cacti, is a world away from your typical Rocky Mountain ranch, but horseback riding reigns equally supreme. Other activities include guided mountain bike and hiking tours, nature walks, fishing lessons, and cookouts under the stars. Children ages 4–12 can enjoy horse grooming, riding lessons, and arts and crafts.

The Deal: All-Inclusive Stays
Over Labor Day weekend, get 30 percent off regular all-inclusive rates, which include accommodations, three daily meals, and free access to the entire list of ranch activities listed above, including the kids program. Resort rates from $175 per person, per night.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, SC

Located on a beautiful barrier island just a few miles from historic Charleston, these 500 vacation villas share the same amenities as the Sanctuary Hotel. During the day, take part in a variety of activities including kayaking, nature tours, and bicycling. At night, enjoy the outstanding dining options.

The Deal: Labor Day Weekend Beach and Breakfast Package
From August 28 to September 3, book this deal and get daily breakfast for two and a one-bedroom deluxe villa, just a short walk from the beach with full kitchen and screened-in porch. Doubles from $175 per night (two-night minimum), plus tax and resort fee.

More from Travel + Leisure:
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Best Hotels in Thailand
See more travel deals from Travel + Leisure

TODAY Show Video: Father's Day Getaways on Sale

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Stumped about what to get dad for Father’s Day? Why not treat him to one of these sports- or food-themed getaways.

Hyatt Regency New Orleans
If your dad is the family chef, opt for the John Besh Package at this recently reopened hotel within walking distance of the French Quarter. The deal includes nightly accommodations, an autographed copy of Besh’s new cookbook My Family Table, a $50 gift card for Borgne, Besh’s coastal Louisiana seafood restaurant at the hotel, and breakfast buffet for two at 8 Block Kitchen & Bar. Doubles from $189.

Related: America’s Best Affordable City Hotels

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Child-Free Flying? Canadian Airline Pulls April Fool's Prank

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

TODAY Show  |  Feeling exhausted at just the thought of flying with children? Canadian airline WestJet proposed a humorous alternative in this April Fool's commercial. Instead of worrying about tantrums that might get you thrown off the plane, WestJet jokingly offered child-free cabins.


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The Power of Dessert: Christmas in Prague

201112-b-panettonejpg
“It’s like our version of fruitcake,” said my Roman friend Enrico during my first Christmas in the Eternal City in 2002 as he sliced a piece of panettone onto a plate. As soon as he uttered the words “fruit” and “cake” in dangerous succession of each other, I lost my appetite, thinking of the “delicacy” Americans have relegated to a holiday culinary punch line.

I like to think of myself as open minded, especially when on the road. I’ve lived in Prague, Paris, and Rome, and have gluttonously celebrated holidays in each place. And while I didn’t end up eating the spongy, candied-fruit-studded dessert that night, I eventually learned that one person’s panettone is not just another person’s fruitcake. Enrico’s sweet of choice is what Pistachio baklava is to a Greek or amaranth-laced dulce de alegria (which means “sweets of joy”) is to a Mexican or a cardamom-scented cannoli-like krumkake is to a Norwegian. Holiday desserts—whether at home or abroad—are more than just the last course of a big meal.

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