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Lonesome Rich Guy Seeks Hot Travel Companion?

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Hey, beautiful people, does the world owe you a free ride based on your good looks? Hooray, there’s a new website for you.

Or maybe you’re tired of being a lonely rich guy. Maybe you feel like the beautiful people of the world owe YOU a favor. Good news, you can use that same website.

MissTravel.com, a travel dating social network, will facilitate matches between its two types of members: the “attractive” members and the “generous” members. (Are you squirming yet?) How this differs from a high-flying escort service, except for the admonition “Escorts Are Not Allowed,” is unclear.

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Money-Saving Hotel Booking Sites

Money-Saving Hotel Booking Sites

Priceline’s Name Your Own Price bidding system was once the most novel way to find a discounted hotel room online, but a slew of innovative new booking websites and apps make it easier than ever to prevent buyer’s remorse. The seven-month-old website BackBid turns the Name Your Own Price approach on its head: instead of guests bidding on hotel rooms, hotels bid on guests. After you submit your existing hotel reservation and travel preferences to BackBid, the site invites hotels in the same area to make you offers for less expensive rooms or upgraded ones at the same price. (A five-star hotel was recently offered in place of a three-star property in Washington, D.C.) As long as you have a refundable reservation, you can cancel and book the new room.

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Twitter-Based Maps, Cake, a Gherkin, and More Travel News

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- Batter up? Los Angeles’ Cake Museum threatened by budget cuts.
L.A. Times 

- Dangerous looking French sundial casts pretty cool shadow four times a year.
NASA 

- Eye-popping, gorgeous, 20-gigapixel navigable view of London’s skyline.  The details are so crisp that you can zoom in to check out footwear choices on the opposite bank of the Thames. 
Life in Megapixels 

- Mapping your summer drive? NOAA published 56 years worth of weather data and this awesome guy created a map of tornado tracks.
IDV User Experience 

- The same genius, John Nelson, also mapped NYC-based Twitter feeds that contain the words “love” and “hate” to create what he calls Constellations of Love and Hate, pictured above. Not surprisingly, LaGuardia Airport is a nexus of negativity.
IDV User Experience  

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Image courtesy of John Nelson and IDV Solutions. 

Tech Thursday: Three New Technologies to Make Travel Easier

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I love to travel. Obviously. I wouldn’t work here if I didn’t. And I love when I hear about advances in technology that can help make traveling easier. So you can imagine how excited I was when I saw our friends over at sister mag Executive Travel reported three new improvements that are underway that’ll help speed things up while you get to your destination, so you have more time to enjoy that beachside mojito.

The first will help you speed through the baggage check a little faster. How? By printing out your baggage tag at home, while you’re checking into your flight online. The technology was created by Unisys Corporation, and is currently being tested at Billund Airport in Denmark. When passengers show up at the airport, they simply drop their bags off at a special counter and head on over to security.

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How to Plan a Trip on a Whim—and Save

Maroma Resort

When it comes to trip-planning, I tend to get serious: My husband E. would tell you that I sometimes spend too much time on pre-trip research and packing deliberations, but recently, I tried a different approach: I used a travel auction site to book a trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya 12 days out and left the planning to chance. While E. and I briefly entertained Istanbul and Rome, one of our favorite cities, we quickly agreed that what we really needed was four or five days of sleeping, eating, reading, a little walking, a lot of unplugging, and a beach—without our three kids.

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Free Restaurant Recs on the Go from Google+ Local and Zagat

Google+ Local

Don't you hate it when you get to a new city and have no idea where to find a great restaurant? More often than not, unfortunately, a lack of knowledge leads to mediocre meals and a poor understanding of local cuisine. Google is out to fix that.

Google has added a new feature to their Google+ social network: Local. Like its competitor, Yelp, Google+ Local will show you recommended businesses, museums, and even—yes—restaurants that are nearby.

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Think Before You Stow! Spirit’s Carry-On Fee Spotlights Airline Charges

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You may have heard the news: Spirit Airlines, one of the first carriers to implement a carry-on fee, will charge up to $100 per bag starting November 6. 

That’s up from $45, the current carry-on cost for customers who wait and pay at the departure gate. Even if you plan ahead, you’ll still have to fork over a fee: the carry-on price at the airport kiosk will increase to $50 from $40. (Spirit considers carry-ons to be luggage stored in the overhead bin—passengers will still be entitled to a free personal item that can fit under the seat.)

What can you do to avoid a carry-on crisis the next time you travel?

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Gusta: New Food Site for Finding Secret Restaurants

Gusta's Chris Collins

Innovator Chris Collins

Backstory: Frustrated by the difficult time he was having finding unique dining experiences such as underground dinner clubs, the 26-year-old former Airbnb developer began to look for a way to make them easier to hunt down. The result? A website that does just that.

His Big Idea: Collins collaborated with now partner Carly Chamberlain, 24, and together they applied a more technological word-of-mouth model to help people navigate secret tables worldwide. They came up with gusta.com, a site that lets travelers find, reserve, and even prepay for pop-up culinary happenings thrown by local chefs around the globe—everything from a beer tasting in Brooklyn to a brunch club in Buenos Aires. “We offer people a chance to discover cities and meet locals, through the lens of food,” Collins says.

Photo courtesy of Gusta.com

ZocDoc: Cyrus Massoumi's Doctor-Locating App

Cyrus Massoumi

ZocDoc lets you enter a zip code to instantly find local medical professionals who take your insurance—plus you can view their immediate availability in the event of an emergency. You can also read user reviews and book appointments online, 24/7. So far, 15 U.S. cities are on board, with plans to roll out across the nation over the next 12–18 months.

Photo courtesy of ZocDoc

Top European Vacation Rental Sites

Europe vacation rentals

Heading to London for the Olympic Games this summer but can’t find a hotel room? No problem. Renting a room, apartment, or entire house has never been easier, thanks to the abundance of vacation-rental sites.

One of the biggest players on the Continent is HomeAway; more than 50 percent of its 300,000-property inventory is in Europe—with a sizable selection both in the countryside and in urban areas. It’s getting competition these days from Airbnb, which started in 2008 as something of a domestic couch-surfing site, but now lists increasingly polished residences across the globe. Today a full 75 percent of its bookings are international, with Paris, London, Milan, Barcelona, and Amsterdam being the most popular cities. What’s more, you can now link up Airbnb with your Facebook profile to view properties listed by friends and friends of friends—taking some of the mystery (and anxiety) out of peer-to-peer rentals.

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