Today, T-Mobile announced a groundbreaking international roaming plan that squarely puts the carrier in the running for most travel friendly—a prize we’ve historically handed over to either Verizon or AT&T. What’s the fuss all about? All members of the carrier’s Simple Choice plans will automatically receive unlimited data and texting in more than 100 countries around the globe—and phone calls will be charged at a flat rate of 20 cents per minute from any of those countries. Another plus: there won’t be any activation or monthly fees for the service. Said CEO John Legere at T-Mobile’s launch event this morning, “Today’s phones are designed to work around the world, but we’re forced to pay insanely inflated international connectivity fees to actually use them. You can’t leave the country without coming home to bill shock. So we’re making the world your network—at no extra cost.” That’s logic we can all get behind.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Thanks to dramatic transformations, these five world-class museums are casting a whole new light on their collections.
Amsterdam: After a 10-year renovation, a grand atrium now greets visitors to the Rijksmuseum (pictured). More than 8,000 objects, including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals, have been rearranged as a historical survey. —Raul Barreneche
Honolulu: The extraordinary story of how Pacific Islanders developed their diverse cultures is told—with canoes, costumes, musical instruments, and more—in the renovated Pacific Hall, debuting this month at the Bishop Museum. —Peter Webster
New York City: Housed in a pavilion built for the 1939 World’s Fair, the Queens Museum reopens in November at twice its original size. One of the first shows, “The People’s UN,” nods to the building’s former role as host to the General Assembly.—Peter Webster
Mexico City: The Museo Jumex, displaying artists both Mexican (Gabriel Orozco; Carlos Amorales) and global (Olafur Eliasson; Tacita Dean), expands into David Chipperfield’s sawtooth-roofed building in November. —Raul Barreneche
Cleveland: Come December, the Cleveland Museum of Art will unveil the last of three wings by Rafael Viñoly, showing works that range from Chinese bronzes to Impressionist paintings. —Peter Webster
onefinestay—which is kind of like airbnb.com’s wealthy Auntie Mame—offers posh private apartments for short-term rentals. If you're a well-heeled traveler interested in privacy and space without sacrificing the services of a hotel, they've got the digs for you. Fine linens, fluffy towels, discreet maid service, and even a iPhone fully loaded with local recommendations will make you feel right at home, or even better, during your stay.
Until recently, onefinestay limited its offerings to homes in London and NYC (some of which, we’re told, belong to celebs, so check the family photos for familiar faces), but has now extended its boundaries to include Paris and Los Angeles. So if you’re planning a trip to those cities, peruse some of their swank—and sometimes surprisingly affordable— possibilities for accommodations.
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Image of Cliveden Place apartment, courtesy of onefinestay.com
While international tourists are shaking their collective fists at the closed gates of National Parks, another faction within the travel industry is grappling with the ugly effects of the government shutdown: witches, warlocks and their looky-loo friends in Salem, Mass.
After all, October is usually an extra-magical time of year for the hometown of the infamous 1692 witch trials. The month-long “Haunted Happenings,” which includes a psychic fair and witchcraft expo, conjures up about $30 million in revenue for the town, according to a recent AP article.
But here's the fly, or frog, in the ointment: Salem’s visitors center—the nerve center for the event—is run by the currently defunct National Park Service.
They are the stuff of Norse and Greek legends, but now Spain has its own claim on the mythology of sea monsters.
Last week, a giant squid washed up on La Arena beach in Cantabria, according to a report on the web site LiveScience. How giant, you ask? Try 30-feet-long giant.
Beachcombers were perhaps too taken aback to start making “Release the Kraken!” jokes right off the bat. Weighing in at about 400 pounds, the (expired) critter appears to be a specimen of Architeuthis dux, considered to be the largest invertebrate on Earth. These squid also have the biggest eyes—sometimes as large as a human head. (Try not to think about that next time you wade into the ocean.)
Move over penguins, there’s a new bird in Steel Town.
Currently floating down the Allegheny River is a 40-foot-tall (and 30-foot-wide) inflatable yellow duck. An art installation that simply goes by “The Rubber Duck,” created by Dutch artist, Florentijn Hofman.
Since its launch in 2007, the giant duck has swum the shores of Amsterdam, Belgium, Osaka, Sydney, São Paulo and most recently, Hong Kong.
The international sensation has debuted stateside as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts. The festival is a four-week long series of dance, music, theater, performance and visual arts, presented by international artists making their U.S. debuts.
The one gadget I can no longer travel without? My e-reader. But now that I’ve seen the new generation of Kindle Paperwhites, I’m thinking it might be time to upgrade what I’m putting in my carry-on. Here, the three things I’m digging most about Amazon’s latest release.
Page Flip: The only thing I miss about the paper book experience is the ability to flip back to earlier chapters. The new Paperwhite lets you pull up a slider that lets you scan through any novel—improving on their previous X-Ray feature that simply found previous mentions of common characters or concepts.
Integration with Goodreads:This isn’t out just yet, but soon, Kindle users will get to share book recommendations with friends on this innovative social media network.
Will “The 50th”—as organizers call Dallas’ upcoming observance of the JFK assassination, 50 years ago this November—be a somber remembrance of a dark day in American history, or another chapter in the city’s long wrestling match with conspiracy theorists?
On paper, the scheduled ceremony has plenty of dignity: according to recent reports, the Dallas Symphony will perform on the morning of the 22nd at Dealey Plaza, where Kennedy was shot, followed by readings from the president’s speeches (by Presidential biographer David McCullough), a military flyover and a performance by the U.S. Naval Academy’s Glee Club. Area museums, such as the Sixth Floor Museum (in Dealey Plaza) and the Dallas Museum of Art, will be doing thoughtful exhibits.
Delta Air Lines, fed up with long lines its passengers face when arriving at Customs in New York City's JFK airport, is footing the bill to install automated passport machines.
Lines at the airport are the worst in the country, averaging over 90 minutes during peak hours, and nearing five hours on some occasions. Automated machines can shed 40 percent off of waiting times to clear customs, and at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport—the only U.S. airport to already have such machines—interview times with Customs officers have been halved to 30 seconds.
Delta views the new automated machines as a step in the right direction, says spokesperson Leslie Scott. She hopes the airline's contribution—whose price is undisclosed—will spur increased staffing, especially at peak times for international arrivals.
The feeding frenzy known as the New York City Wine & Food Festival is just days away. You name a culinary superstar, and chances are good he or she will be there: Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Alex Atala, April Bloomfield—the list goes on. (Even Whoopi Goldberg is making an appearance at a chicken-themed evening.)
While many of the big-ticket items are already sold out—including Martha Stewart’s cake-decorating class and a dinner with Eleven Madison Park’s Daniel Humm and Will Guidara—there are still plenty of ways to get a taste of what the fifth anniversary event has to offer.