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AirBnB Introduces Last-Minute Booking

Airbnb

AirBnB is taking a page out of the HotelTonight handbook today, opening their network of apartment rentals to the last-minute market. But unlike every other booking tool for spontaneous travelers, this one’s not focused on markdowns. Says an AirBnB spokesperson, the new feature responds to a “lifestyle shift” among travelers, who are more willing than ever to plan getaways on the fly. But it’s also thanks to an increasing number of AirBnB listings featuring “instant booking,” a one-click checkout system that requires no back-and-forth messaging between the traveler and host (the company says they’re up to 90,000 such listings, from just 30,000 last year).

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Severe Weather Across the US: Be Ready With These Smart Weather Apps

Nor'easter

UPDATE: Whether you live in the Deep South, the Midwest or along the East Coast, you're likely to experience severly stormy weather today. According to CNN, 75 million Americans, or a third of the country, are under threat of severe weather, which may include tornadoes, high winds and hail; the Deep South has been the hardest hit, with a powerful spring storm system overtaking Mississippi and Alabama. The risk of severe weather is expected to continue through Wednesday, and may affect Americans living between the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast, and through the Midwest and the East Coast.

This one falls in the “Are you kidding?” category: Just as East Coasters from New Jersey to Massachusetts are coming back online and picking up the pieces after the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, a nor’easter is threatening to wallop the same area this Wednesday or Thursday. Named for the direction the storm travels, this type of weather typically has many of the same characteristics as a hurricane—fierce winds, heavy rains or snow, and—brace yourselves (again) coastal residents—tidal flooding.

While this new storm is not expected to be pack the same intensity as Sandy, it is worth watching—especially in the Carolinas. Whether you live in its projected path, are planning a trip East, or just want to have smart weather forecasts in your pocket, there are five Webby Award-winning apps that should be on your Doppler radar:

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Le Fooding Releases an English App

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Given the rate of their output, if Le Fooding, the indispensable French restaurant guide, has been taking long French-style vacations, well, they’re obviously burning the midnight oil during the rest of the year. Since launching in 2000 as an insert, the annual publication has rolled out traveling food festivals and star chef pop-ups, which have steadily picked up steam, especially in the past three years. 

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New Discovery App Superb Takes the E-Dating Model Into Tourism

Superb app

Dating apps like Tinder are meant to be fun, addictive, and packed with discovery—so why hasn’t anyone adapted the model for social purposes outside the love nest? That’s what the developers of Superb wondered before launching their new app, officially available for iOS this week (Android's on the way). The app uses the same swipe motions as Tinder—swipe right to save something for future reference, swipe left to discard it, and keep swiping as information automatically populates your screen—but for places and things rather than people. Set it to your hometown—or any city you’re visiting—and input your categorical preferences (Arts & Culture; Food & Drink; Shops) to get a practically never-ending stream of ideas. Save the ones you like to a bucket list, scrap the ones that don’t pique your interest, and keep going (it really is hard to stop) until your itinerary takes full form.

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 Superb

Hotel Tonight Introduces Look Ahead for "Planned Spontaneity"

HotelTonight

Weary of the unpredictability that comes with a last-minute vacation booking? You’re not alone. But HotelTonight, the always pioneering app for travel procrastinators, is coming to the rescue with a new feature called Look Ahead, intended to facilitate so-called “planned spontaneity.”

Debuting in a handful of the app’s major cities—New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and half a dozen others, with many more rolling out soon—the feature will offer a seven-day estimate of inventory and prices in a particular market, using a proprietary algorithm that factors in local events, weather, and historical data from HotelTonight and other booking engines.

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E-Book Subscription Service Scribd Announces Partnership with Lonely Planet

Scribd

Scribd is like Netflix for books: a monthly fee of $8.99 gets you unlimited access to more than 300,000 e-books from 900 publishers, the largest of which is Harper Collins. Today, the company is launching a new travel category through a partnership with Lonely Planet—which means for less than the cost of one title, you can browse hundreds of guidebooks. (The category also includes non-fiction titles, such as 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.)

Scribd is especially useful for travelers: not only is it compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, and any web browser, but you can also download books to read off line—ideal when on the road without Internet access. (And you can keep any books you download indefinitely, as long as you remain a member.)

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InstaMeet Around the World

Instagram is able to bring people together in an instantaneous and unique way—now, it’s even happening in person, with what’s being called “InstaMeets."

In late February, 12 Instagrammers from Malayasia and Indonesia, met for a four-day #InstaMeetJiran on East Java’s active volcano, Mount Bromo.

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Find Local Events Wherever You Travel With Eventseeker App

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If you’re searching for an activity more interesting than the average tourist attraction while traveling, skip the guidebook and log onto eventseeker. The event recommendation engine—available to all Android users as of last week—uses your social profile and music applications to create a hyper-local, personalized list of suggested activities. It even shows you which friends may be attending. 

Since it launched last year, eventseeker has been steadily expanding its global reach. Aside from its ubiquity across all smartphone platforms and social networks, the app now has a presence in more than 2,000 cities worldwide. Partnerships with 150 ticketing agencies have provided access to an unprecedented database of events, ranging from nearby festivals to rock concerts or educational programs.

The next time you're touring a new town, or simply looking to expand your neighborhood knowledge of affairs, let eventseeker do the searching for you. 

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of Eventseeker 

International Texting Free for All

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Great news for travelers: international texting is soon to be a bygone worry. Yesterday, Facebook has announced a $19 billion purchase of free text service What’s App, not long after Viber, its main competitor, was bought out by Japan’s Amazon-esque Rakuten. Why do we care? The proliferation of free global texting apps is making huge waves—as evidenced by What’s App’s soaring price tag—and phone carriers are responding. First out of the gate was T-Mobile, with their free global data plan. Now AT&T and Verizon are stepping up to the plate: the former announced price cuts to its wireless plans earlier this month, while Verizon just launched their More Everything plans late last week, with unlimited messaging to any mobile number in the world.

Also in the world of global communications news? A promising announcement coming out of the EU, where roaming charges will be made illegal come July. For those heading across the pond, it’s a pretty exciting change—all you’ll need is one SIM card for continent-wide service. Here’s to telecom companies finally getting things right.

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: Folio Images / Alamy

Avoid the Flu During Travel With These Crowd-Sourced Tips

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Flu season is at its peak, and with the polar weather showing no signs of taking a mild turn, people across North America are feelings its effects.

Just take a look at the Flu Near You map, which showed a spike in flu-activity for the week ending of January 14. The multicolored dots represent the more than 50,000 participants reporting flu-symptoms or illness, allowing the site to generate a crowd-sourced chart of the disease.

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