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New Drink May Cure Hangovers (and Jetlag)

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That zany four-pack Phil, Stu, Alan, Doug and their fifth wheel Mr. Chow are back with another mind-blowing bender—this time in Thailand—as The Hangover Part II hits silver screens today across the U.S. While no one may ever match the debauchery of their first go-around in Las Vegas, on a smaller level (I’ve never commandeered a cop car or abducted Mike Tyson’s tiger) I can relate to this buffoonish bunch.


Once on a 14-hour, cross-continental schlep from Salt Lake City to Brisbane, Australia, things got a bit foggy. When I peeled my eyelids open in the morning, I was met by a nausea only achievable when quaffing strong cocktails 3,000-feet above ground. On another trip, I found myself leaning against a pillar at the Acropolis in the sweltering European heat after indulging in copious amounts of Ouzo on the last leg of a connecting flight to Athens the previous night. Not even a Greek deity could have curbed that queasiness.


The plight of the red-eye flier is common. Who can resist settling in for a pre-trip potation? Luckily for travelers everywhere, the choice between in-flight inebriation and next-day functionality may be over.

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New App Delivers 1-Night Hotel Deals for Stranded Travelers

Sam Shank

Innovator Sam Shank

Who He Is: “I got bitten by the travel bug late in life,” serial entrepreneur Sam Shank says. He’s certainly making up for lost time. In the past decade, Shank founded the hotel site travelpost.com, and dealbase.com, which compiles online travel discounts. His latest venture, Hotel Tonight, comes to the aid of stranded travelers.

His Big Idea: While on a business trip to Seattle last year, Shank’s plans changed at the last minute and he needed to stay an extra night, so he tried to book something on his phone—a surprisingly difficult process. The result? The free Hotel Tonight app (iPhone/iPad), which instantly delivers three one-night hotel deals per city in different categories and lets you book one in just seconds. The app is available for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., with Las Vegas on the way.

Photo courtesy of Sam Shank

Delta, SkyTeam Announce Deep Capacity Cuts

USA Today |  The busy summer travel season is not even upon us yet and Delta Air Lines and its major SkyTeam partners—Air France, KLM and Alitalia—announced trans-Atlantic capacity cuts today for this fall.

Capacity will decline by 7% to 9% over the same time period in 2010, according to these airlines, which operate with antitrust immunity in the trans-Atlantic market, allowing them to legally coordinate schedules and collude on prices.

The airlines say that the capacity cuts are due to "fluctuations in seasonal demand," but it is also likely that the airline industry is bracing for a decline in international travel after the usually busy summer vacation season due to the inflated price of oil, which has been hovering in the $100 per barrel range for some time.

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The Latest Language-Teaching Travel Apps

language app

Thanks to the rise of social networking, smartphones, and faster Internet speeds, it’s never been easier to immerse yourself in a new language without even leaving home.

The best-known method is Rosetta Stone, the interactive, total-immersion-style program that uses intuitive flash-card-like video games to teach students in the same way a child might learn a language. In other words: no boring grammar lectures or lessons. The service’s Totale Version 4 program ($249; rosettastone.com) offers interactive, voice-recognition-enabled lessons in any of 24 languages on CD, online, or via an app for iPhone, as well as through live online sessions with a native speaker. For the more scholarly minded, Livemocha’s Active classes ($99–$399 per year; livemocha.com) for French, Italian, Spanish, and German deliver a mix of text-based grammar and usage lessons and repeat-after-me-style exercises that use voice recognition to test pronunciation. Learners also interact with teachers and native speakers online, both in live video sessions and via e-mail and recorded voice messages.

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in Milan


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Read the first part of guest blogger-photographer Elizabeth Lippman’s special series about departing from the fashion flock here.

After flying into the new airport in Milan, I hop on the Malpensa Express into the city, as guided by my super-helpful host from AirBnB.com, Fabrizio, who sent me emails with PDFs of maps, directions, his cell number, email addresses, etc.

But my cabbie drops me off with all my camera equipment (I am in town to shoot the fashion shows) on a street corner nowhere near where I’m going. Two panicked phone calls and another 12 Euro cab ride later, I find Fabrizio waiting for me nervously in Piazza 24 Maggio.

I get a tour of the apartment where I'll be living WITH Fabrizio and his wife, Asia, for the next four days. Only I, the lone American, seem to find this arrangement incredibly weird and awkward. All my other accommodations on this trip have required borrowing someone's personal space, but not actually sharing it. Here I will be sharing an apartment, and a bathroom, with this married couple.

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DOT Enacts Sweeping New Air-Passenger Protections

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

It has been 12 years since the air-passenger rights movement first got off the ground, but now it's positively soaring, thanks to a new set of consumer protections announced today by the Department of Transportation. Among other things, provisions in the new rule would close a loophole that exempted international flights from the tarmac delay limits enacted last year; require airlines to prominently list all fees a passenger might face on a flight; increase maximum compensation paid to involuntarily bumped passengers from a range of $400-$800 to $650-$1,300; allow passengers to cancel or change a reservation within 24 hours with no penalty (if the reservation is made at least a week before departure); and force airlines to refund baggage fees when they lose a customer's luggage. Most of the provisions will go into effect 120 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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New App Helps NYC Drivers Find Parking

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New York City drivers (and visitors to the Big Apple) flustered with the elaborate maze of parking regulations, shifting street-sweeping schedules, and frivolous no-parking hours can rejoice. A new app for iPhone and iPad untangles Gotham’s parking knot by illuminating the city’s rules and regulations with a tap of a finger. Building on previous parking apps, ParkPal ($3, Apple) delivers an easy-to-operate and accurate—the information comes from the New York City Department of Transportation database—interface with parking ordinances from all five boroughs.

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A Fashion Photog Goes Rogue in London

201104-b-fashion-1jpgI am backstage at the Michael Van Der Ham fashion show in London, in an ancient-looking building on the Thames. In the midst of the crush of models, dressers, other photographers and frantic hair and makeup teams, I am trying to get a great "beauty" photo for my client, a top fashion magazine. A makeup artist I know from New York, hands buried in a hunk of hair extensions, asks, "Are you going to Milan, too? Where are you staying?" So I tell her the truth—in an apartment with a Milanese couple.

"Oh, how do you know them?"

I don't. I found them on the Internet.

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Will the French Veil Ban Hurt Tourism?

BBC News - Passport Blog |   Starting 11 April, it will be illegal in France for any woman, citizen or tourist, to wear a full-faced veil.

That means no niqab in the Louvre, no niqab while shopping in the Marais, no niqab while walking the Champs-Élysées. Although the French law has gotten the most notice, Belgium was actually the first country to enact a ban last April. There are rumbles of similar laws in Italy, but other European countries have largely shot down similar attempts.

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Lessons from Japan: Earthquake Survival 101

Events are moving quickly in Japan as engineers at a nuclear plant in Fukushima are trying to bring three stricken reactors under control. Tokyo is 170 miles south from Fukushima, and though prevailing winds are sweeping most of the radiation to the Pacific Ocean, residents say a feeling of anxiety pervades the capital. Aftershocks wake them up at night. Lines are long at supermarkets, where staples such as milk and rice are selling out quickly. “The streets are eerily quiet compared to the usual hustle and bustle of this massive city,” says Rachael White, an American teacher and blogger based in Tokyo. White and others, however, note that people remain calm—a reflection of Japanese fortitude.

As a traveler, the most you can do in the event of a nuclear meltdown is get as far away as possible or head for the basement. But there are steps you can take to increase your chances of survival in an earthquake and/or a tsunami. Japan is located in the world’s most seismically active regions—the Pacific Ring of Fire, which includes the West Coast. About 90 percent of earthquakes happen here, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And Tokyo is still bracing for the Big One that experts say is long overdue. (Friday’s massive quake occurred along the northeastern fault line, rather than the southwest fault line that affects Tokyo more directly. It last ruptured in 1854.) The second most active region stretches from the Mediterranean into northern India.

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