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“Dronies” Take Flight on New Zealand Slopes

Sick of the selfie? Tourism New Zealand’s new take on the trend may peak your interest. Enter the “dronie,” a video taken by a high-flying, remote control-operated drone. Through August, the company will hit the slopes with its own miniature aircraft to shoot 8-second HD clips of visitors to several South Island ski areas. The drone-toting representatives email the videos to participants, free of charge.

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CheapTickets Loyalty Program: $75 Back on Any Flight

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The OTA wars rage on. Last week, CheapTickets.com launched a loyalty program so worthwhile, we had to do a double take. The proposition: sign up for free at checkout, and you’ll automatically get money back on each booking—the rewards are paid out in the form of credits that can be applied to your next transaction. What you get: $50 back on any flight you book on the website, $75 for any flight booked on mobile, $25 for any hotel booked online, and $50 for hotel bookings on mobile. Unlike almost every other OTA, CheapTickets puts the emphasis on unbundled bookings—the only non-eligible purchases are package deals. And there’s no minimum spend, either, so a $150 ticket from New York to Nantucket would remain eligible for a $75 kickback if booked on mobile. This makes CheapTickets the second OTA to incentivize in-app bookings—Orbitz similarly offers roughly twice the rewards points for bookings made by smartphone.

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Hilton Rolls Out Mobile Room Selection

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Hilton is taking a page out of the airline handbook. This week, the hotel giant announced a plan to open room selection for members of the brand’s HHonors loyalty program—for the first time ever, this would allow guests to review floor plans of open rooms and pick their favorite before check-in. Roll-out is expected for over 650,000 rooms at 4,000 hotels across the Hilton portfolio—including its Waldorf Astoria and Conrad brands—by the end of the year, with limited availability piloting by the end of the summer.

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Check it Out: Google Street Art Gallery

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Google Cultural Institute has added a street art travel treasure hunt to its online gallery of cultural projects that already includes art museums, world wonders, and historic monuments. 

Street Arttraverses the globe from Sasketchawan to Buenos Aires, Stockholm, Sydney and Mongolia, cataloging more than 5000 murals and projects that visitors can step right up to.

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Six New Phone Accessories to Up Your Instagram Game

Upgrade Your Phone

With a couple of key accessories (shown here with the iPhone 5S), you can turn your camera into a bona fide powerhouse.

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The Best New Cameras for Travel

Travel Cameras

Whether you’re in the market for a user-friendly point-and-shoot or an expert-level DSLR, T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan has the model for you.

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How to Rent Camera Lenses Before Your Next Trip

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A new travel tech discovery we are digging? Borrowlenses.com. The site, which is owned by Shutterfly, offers cameras, lenses, and a broad range of photography accessories for week-long rentals. The idea solves an age-old travelers’ dilemma without the typically-requisite financial commitment—if we had a nickel for every time a T+L editor has canvassed the office for pro-grade photo gear before heading off on a safari or transatlantic adventure, we’d be made.  Here, lenses that retail for well over a thousand bucks can be rented for as little as $20. For instance, a $1,395 Carl Zeiss wide angle lens (great for landscapes) runs $65 for a week, while a $6,749 Nikon 200-400mm f/4G lens (for sports and wildlife shots) costs $271 to rent. Travel packages bundle a few essentials and a tripod for $131, and most camera brands are supported. Time to sharpen those photo skills.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of BorrowLenses

30 Minutes of Free Wi-Fi for New York City Travelers

A new agreement between The Port Authority of New York and wireless provider Boingo means that travelers passing through JFK, LaGuardia and Newark—along with Stewart International Airport in upstate Newburgh, New York—will soon be able to access 30 minutes of free Wi-Fi.

Read between the lines: New York City is finally making strides to update its notoriously low-tech offerings.

Robot Parks Cars for Travelers at German Airport

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Leave it to the efficient Germans: Düsseldorf Airport now uses a robot to park cars, rather than have travelers search for a spot on their own.

Ray, as the new robot is called, picks up vehicles from six drop-off "transfer boxes" near the terminal before leaving the cars in one of 249 parking spots available through the program—the first of its kind in the world.

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British Airways Tests ‘Happiness Blanket’ to Measure In-Flight Relaxation

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British Airways knows the importance of a “good flight’s sleep,” which is why they began testing its ‘Happiness Blanket’ on passengers last week. Volunteers on board the BA189 Dreamliner service from Heathrow to New York were among the first to try out the hi-tech throw woven with neurosensors and fiber optics to monitor a user’s relaxation patterns.

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