We’re noticing a funny trend around here. From GetGoing, the site that surprises you with one of two affordable vacation choices, to mystery vacation deals at numerous airlines and travel agencies, all fingers point to the rise of the Destination Agnostic: A traveler who cares not where she goes, so long as she goes somewhere without breaking a budget.
Into this trend falls NowCation, a site that offers "getaway deals" at rock-bottom prices—if you’re willing to leave the dates and destination up to the computer. Just plug in your departure city and the program gets to work, instantly suggesting where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. This morning, deals from New York’s JFK included ten nights in New Orleans (hotel and air included) for $802 and San Juan, Puerto Rico for four nights for $467 (also inclusive of hotel and air). Package deals like these offer the best value, but those who prefer to choose their own accommodations can purchase airfare alone.
The deals don’t always make sense—we’ve seen suggestions for vacations whose departure date was in the past, or for 2-day stints in Europe where you’d barely get settled in before checking out. But that’s what happens when you let an algorithm—not a human—tell you where to go.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo courtesy of Nowcation
This week brought more bad news for Carnival Cruises when Triumph, the cruise ship that found itself stranded off the coast of Mexico following an electrical fire in February, broke loose from a dock in Mobile, Alabama yesterday. Adrift for a few hours, the boat has now been secured.
According to NBC News' Tracy Connor, the Coast Guard is currently looking for one shipyard employee who disappeared following the boat's dislodgment. Another worker was rescued from the water after falling in.
As you may recall, Carnival president Gerry Cahill said the company would be looking into its entire fleet following the Triumph incident.
Matt Haber is an editor at travelandleisure.com.
Photo by Paul Brown / Alamy
Have you been hoarding those frequent-flier miles waiting for just the right occasion to use them? How about putting them to a good cause by gifting them to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. The organization is commemorating World Wish Day, April 29th, with a campaign to raise dollars and airline miles for childrens' wishes involving travel. They've even launched a YouTube video explaining the program.
Each year, the foundation grants nearly 14,000 wishes—almost 75 percent of which require air travel. That means that Make-A-Wish uses 2.5 billion airline miles annually at a cost of nearly $40 million.
To continue its mission and help 10,000 children see the ocean, pet a kangaroo, or do anything else they can dream of, the organization is calling on supporters to donate some of those frequent-flier miles they've been racking up. As David Williams, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America explains, "donating airline miles or dollars will allow us to continue creating thousands of lasting moments for children." More on World Wish Day can be found at the Make-A-Wish Foundation's official site.
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by © Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Corbis
We wouldn't blame your assuming that Samoa Air's recent announcement that it will be weighing customers and charging them based on their weight is a belated April Fools' Day stunt, but apparently, it's real.
Reports have been popping up everywhere since the announcement, and the tiny airline's official website confirms the new policy with a statement that reads: "We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh. You are the master of your Air'fair', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees, or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple."
Is it so simple? Not everyone is pleased with this idea. The Guardian's Ally Fogg wrote that the new policy "panders to a particularly unpleasant trend in modern culture that legitimises and even celebrates fat-shaming and body fascism. At its most crude this is manifest in straightforward cruelty and discrimination."
Chris Langton, head of Samoa Air, defended the idea—and suggested it may be the start of an industry-wide trend—in an Australian radio interview quoted by the BBC: "People generally are bigger, wider and taller than they were 50 years ago… The industry will start looking at this."
Photo by iStockphoto
Good news for those of you who travel light: British Airways is extending its "hand baggage only fares" to 32 routes (up from an initial five) out of London’s Gatwick Airport.
What does that mean? Travelers flying the carrier from Gatwick to any of the airline’s short haul destinations, including Barcelona, Marrakesh, and Venice, now automatically pay between $14 and $23 less per ticket if they choose to fly with carry-on luggage only.
And if you’ve never been one to fly without a massive rolling suitcase, fear not. As Peter Simpson, director of Gatwick for British Airways explains, "those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now."
Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo by iStockphoto
Q: Can you recommend a hotel in the Italian countryside that is authentic (and affordable)?
A: Your best option for experiencing local food and culture in a hidden corner of Italy is an agriturismo, a family-run inn on a working farm. Below, where to find them.
The Draw: Medieval towns, hills covered in olive groves, and more than 100 miles of Adriatic coastline define this area of central Italy.
The Experience: Eight miles south of Urbino, the Savini family’s 185-acre Locanda della Valle Nuova ($) has six modern guest rooms and three apartments and arranges horseback riding, visits to artisanal producers, truffle hunting, and traditional dinners of porchetta and fried olives.
The Draw: Tuscany’s northern neighbor, Emilia-Romagna is the home of prosciutto and Parmesan.
The Experience: The late-1300’s Antica Corte Pallavicina ($) is a favorite retreat of noted Italian chefs, including Massimo Bottura. Set along the Po River, the property has six rustic-chic rooms, each named after an aristocrat who once stayed there. Breakfasts include hand-squeezed blood-orange juice and farm-fresh eggs; don’t miss dinner at the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant, where chef Massimo Spigaroli serves his house-cured culatello.
Strange things are afoot in the travel world today. It seems like our inboxes have been flooded by announcements of weird and wonderful innovations. Here's a selection of the most interesting news of the day (that would be April 1, by the way).
Ever the publicity hound, Richard Branson announced that his engineering team has secretly developed the world's first glass-bottom airplane. (Picture above) The plane's underbelly will be completely see-through, allowing travelers the "opportunity to look down on the beautiful scenery of Great Britain as they fly." But rest assured: Cabin crew will be trained to calm the nerves of vertigo-prone fliers. (Amy Farley)
See if your hotel concierge can get you in. If not, you’ll have to use your wiles. At pint-size hot spots such as Atera or Blanca, your chances are slim. But established favorites, such as Daniel or Maialino, have more tables—and more cancellations. Call at or after 3 p.m., when the hosts finish reconfirming the evening’s reservations. There just might be a spot. OpenTable is also a great resource. It may not get you in to your first choice, but it will show you nearby restaurants that do have availability. If all else fails, walk in. Casual arrivals may find seats at the bar—and if you dress the part, some maître d’s will reward a bold, spontaneous request with a table.
Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at email@example.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.
Photo by Tetra Images / Alamy
The Department of Transportation delivered a sobering assessment of the safety record of recently shuttered Fung Wah Bus company, known for ferrying people cheaply between Boston and New York. Transportation Nation's Alex Goldmark reports. (Amy Farley)
Where’s Europe's dirty money? Gadling's Anna Brones reports that Oxford researchers tested currencies across the continent and found that the Danish krone has the highest bacteria count of them all. Hey, Denmark: Ever heard of money laundering? (A.F.)
A Norwegian economist is in the spotlight after proposing that airlines charge passengers according to their weight, a move that he claims “may provide significant benefits to airlines, passengers and society at large." CNN's James Durston has the scoop. (A.F.)
Cheeeeeeese! Slate presents a collection of vintage tourist shots by photographer Roger Minick, bringing back all sorts of memories of childhood family vacations. (Matt Haber)
Another slideshow, this time a beautiful side-by-side comparison of present-day Paris with photos from the turn of the century. (M.H.)
What happens to a man stuck in the 'It's a Small World' ride for 30 minutes? (M.H.)
Do not try this: Russian tourists illegally scaled the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Gawker's Max Read presents their admittedly pretty awesome (but so wrong!) photos. (M.H.)
The most terrifying hotel-based horror movie of all time now has a documentary dedicated to its most obsessive fans. Rodney Ascher's Room 237, which presents various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, is out in limited release and is being hotly debated. Back in July 2010, The Atlantic's James Parker checked into The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado to experience the place that inspired Stephen King's novel. (M.H.)
A Los Angeles restaurant has gotten some attention for tweeting about its no-show guests. (Peter Schlesinger)
A list of international airlines that'll keep WiFi junkies happy, via The Points Guy.(Jennifer Flowers)
How stunning is this new airport terminal that just opened in Amman, Jordan? Plus, it's super green. Inhabitat's Charley Cameron shows us the Queen Alia Airport. (Nikki Ekstein)
Google maps steps it up again, with live transit updates in NYC, Washington DC, and Salt Lake City. TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff has the scoop (hat tip to Skift's Samantha Shankman). (N.E.)
Now that spring has sprung, we’re daydreaming about Portugal’s spectacular southern Algarve region, filled with whitewashed towns and miles of sun-soaked coastline—and with a price tag like this one, it’s all within reach. Find more gems by checking out our full list of agents and Standout Properties in the March issue’s Global Guide to Villa Rentals.
THE COUNTRYSIDE HIDEAWAY
Casa Abelha, Algarve, Portugal
$140 per night, per room
The Details: This four-bedroom retreat is the perfect base for exploring the region’s sandy beaches and postcard-perfect villages. Start your mornings on the sun-dappled terrace with a decadent breakfast spread made with produce from the local market; cool off in the afternoons with a dip in the pool, which overlooks rolling green hills.
The Agent: Abercrombie & Kent Villas; akvillas.com.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Photo courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent Villas