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.”
Last summer I took a road trip to “secret” Amish country—a little-known stretch of farms on route 772, east of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But how did I get away from the touristy version of Ye-Ancient-Country and experience the reality of America’s oldest locavore movement? We followed insider tips from the horse (-and-buggy)’s mouth: Joel Cliff, of the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau: “The stretch of Rt. 772 that runs Southeast from Route 23 at Leola in the North to Route 340 at Intercourse in the South is chock full of authentic ‘finds’ without being a main tourist corridor.” Cliff was right. At the first roadside stand we pulled into, a twenty-something (barefoot!) couple sold us their homemade cheeses, mint tea, and the best cantaloupe I’ve ever tasted, all as their sweet-natured dogs lazed nearby in the sun. We asked what was down the side road that ran by their house, and the man answered: “Well, everything,” as if his whole world could be found along that gravel path. For two people from New York City, it was very nearly heaven.
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter @ThePluckyOne.
Look over on the highway to find a dog with his tongue hanging out of the window, ears flopping through the wind, and it’s hard to fight a smile. There’s something classic about a pup braving the open road.
But of course, safety comes first, and all those “Buckle Up” signs apply to Fido as well. For this week’s pet travel tip, we reached out to our Instagram follower Tiffany Tosh (@tiffxtosh). Sure enough, she confirmed that her Chihuahua, Louie (pictured), “is so happy go-lucky with traveling, but I always keep safety first and keep him buckled up in his car seat!”
Stuck in the daily grind? Counteract those weekday blues with Travel + Leisure’s full guide to beautiful views. From the iconic skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan to a cliffside pool in Cap d’Antibes, France, we’re highlighting the best spots to stop and stare around the globe. Immerse yourself in Bora Bora’s turquoise waters from a few thousand feet up; get inspired by the 14,692-foot snow covered peak of Switzerland’s Matterhorn.
Volcano House reopened in 2013 following a $7 million renovation that preserved the character of the original 1941 design. The rooms have beautiful views: some overlook Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, while others face native Hawaiian rainforest of ohia lehua and koa trees. This 323,400-acrenationalpark is also great for wildlife spotting; more than 90 percent of the plants and animals here are found nowhere else on earth. Cabins from $55/night.
My dream vacation this summer? A road trip across the US Griswold-style, but in place of an overstuffed station wagon, I'd be behind the wheel of a tricked-out RV with Miles and Sebastian napping in the back as my husband attends to our dinner. So I was pretty excited to discover Airstream to Go, a new travel rental company with a small fleet of super stylish trailers (think aluminum-clad interiors; leather couches; plush beds). The best part: experienced trip planners are at the ready to help design your ideal itinerary, whether it's a journey along the Pacific Coast or a Southwestern adventure. And there's no fear of being stranded in the middle of the desert—Airstream to Go promises roadside assistance in case of flat tires or cranky kids.
Clara O. Sedlak is a mother of two and special projects editor at Travel + Leisure.
Need inspiration for a summer road trip? Look no further than The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue, by T+L contributor Daniel Vaughn. The new release is jam-packed with over 200 pit stops throughout the Lone Star State—as well as a guide to the different style of Texas ‘cue and the stories behind the pitmasters. To execute this true labor of love, Vaughn clocked an estimated 10,000 miles—but with chapters devoted to individual regions, it offers plenty of smaller itineraries that’ll ramp up your appetite. Need extra persuasion? See the Austin-based, BBQ-obsessed trip that Vaughn created for T+L right here.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Three ways to get your New England fix, whether you have a few hours or a whole day.
The Sanctuary: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Dodging the hum of the city is a pleasure at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum(pictured), a 1902 Venetian-style palazzo with a glass-and-steel addition by Renzo Piano. The 2,500-strong collection includes masterworks by Titian, Michelangelo, and Matisse, but the real showstopper is the transportive inner courtyard, with its classical statues and abundance of summery bellflowers and hydrangeas. Stop in on a Sunday afternoon, when you can catch a chamber music concert in the museum’s new Calderwood Hall.
Jay-Z's "Open Letter" says all it takes to go to Cuba is an OK from the President, but CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg isn't about to let you believe it. Over on his blog, he sets the record straight for those who aren't buddies with the First Family (or prefer to do things legally). (Nikki Ekstein)