This week, Google announced the next generation of Chromebook—a glossy white beauty with top-of-the-line hardware—and we’re impressed. It’s slim (under 18 mm), lightweight (at 2.3 pounds), and travel-proof, with a magnesium alloy frame that’ll withstand bumps and dings, a slick widescreen that’s great for movie watching, and speakers that port up through the keyboard for ultra-clear, fuzz-free sound.
We’ve heard countless horror stories about the process of getting an Indian visa (lost passports! slow service!), so imagine the relief when we heard that the country will soon be rolling out Visa on Arrival service for citizens of 40 countries—the United States included. As part of the new legislation, travelers will now be able to access an online application system for visas or simply secure their documents the moment their plane touches ground on Indian soil. And the service won’t just be available in Mumbai—airports such as Delhi, Chennai, and Hyderabad also have the program in the works.
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: iStockphoto
Just last week, we wrote about saving big on ski passes by purchasing them early from Liftopia and Epic Pass. Now, Epic Pass has announced a new competition—fittingly dubbed the Epic Race.
The first ten people to ski all 26 resorts included in the Epic Pass will win a pass for life. That means free lift-tickets to some of the world's top ski destinations: U.S. mountains include Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge. In the French, Swiss, and Austrian Alps, passholders can enjoy the slopes at mountains such as Courchevel, Verbier, and Stuben.
Registration for the Epic Race starts November 1. Learn more here.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Question from Alison Frank, Washington, D.C.
A: The boom in short-term apartment rentals, fueled by companies such as Airbnb, FlipKey, and HomeAway, has made rooms everywhere from Paris to Portland available online. That’s great for travelers looking for affordable hotel alternatives. But the rapid growth of this aspect of the new “sharing economy” has outpaced the law in certain cities—leaving some hosts (if not their guests) in decidedly murky legal terrain.
The one gadget I can no longer travel without? My e-reader. But now that I’ve seen the new generation of Kindle Paperwhites, I’m thinking it might be time to upgrade what I’m putting in my carry-on. Here, the three things I’m digging most about Amazon’s latest release.
Page Flip: The only thing I miss about the paper book experience is the ability to flip back to earlier chapters. The new Paperwhite lets you pull up a slider that lets you scan through any novel—improving on their previous X-Ray feature that simply found previous mentions of common characters or concepts.
Integration with Goodreads:This isn’t out just yet, but soon, Kindle users will get to share book recommendations with friends on this innovative social media network.
Delta Air Lines, fed up with long lines its passengers face when arriving at Customs in New York City's JFK airport, is footing the bill to install automated passport machines.
Lines at the airport are the worst in the country, averaging over 90 minutes during peak hours, and nearing five hours on some occasions. Automated machines can shed 40 percent off of waiting times to clear customs, and at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport—the only U.S. airport to already have such machines—interview times with Customs officers have been halved to 30 seconds.
Delta views the new automated machines as a step in the right direction, says spokesperson Leslie Scott. She hopes the airline's contribution—whose price is undisclosed—will spur increased staffing, especially at peak times for international arrivals.
After watching the federal government grind to an ignominious halt last night over the budget impasse, you could be forgiven for wanting to get out of town—as in, leave the country—for a while.
Fortunately, although national parks and monuments are now closed and thousands of FAA aviation safety inspectors have been furloughed (shudder), U.S. passport offices remain open and processing applications. If you’re traveling within the next two weeks and need to get a rush passport, you can still schedule an appointment at your nearest passport agency. Just call ahead to make sure that office isn’t located in a federal building. If it is, you may be out of luck.
Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.
Photo credit: Blue Jean Images / Alamy
Q: Are there any souvenirs that I can’t bring home with me? —Sarah Neff, Austin, Tex.
A: Everyone loves a good souvenir, but be mindful when shopping overseas—there are certain items that you simply cannot bring back with you because of U.S. import restrictions, or that you should avoid buying due to environmental and safety concerns. Here, a look at the souvenir-shopper’s blacklist.
The United States has import restrictions that protect the cultural property of countries whose art and antiquities have traditionally been vulnerable to theft and illegal trafficking. The Department of State has agreements with 16 nations, including Cambodia (covering Khmer archaeological materials: ceramics, stone, and metal articles) and Peru (restricting certain textiles, sculptures, wood, and metal articles from both the pre-Columbian and colonial periods). The U.S. has similar agreements to prohibit the trade of culturally significant items from China, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, and Mali, among other countries. (See eca.state.gov for more details.) Be aware that countries without U.S. import agreements may have their own export protections in place. Look into local permissions and permits for any relic or antiquity you plan to carry back to the States.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in a new culture, homestays are a great option; a well-connected outfitter can help you find the right fit. Here, five ideas to get you started.
The Details: In the rural Andean community of Luquina Chico, on Lake Titicaca, Aracari coordinates with 13 local families to provide lodgings in private houses. Guest rooms are basic but have an authentic, Andean feel, as well as lake views.
Don’t Miss: Dining with your hosts on regional dishes such as trout or quinoa soup, observing farmers planting a potato crop, or learning to catch carachi, a small fish native to Lake Titicaca. Three days from $567 per person, all-inclusive.
Considering a visit to New York but turned off by the sky-high hotel prices? Try browsing The Suitest, a suite-focused hotel search engine whose new Price Predictor advises on the probable fluctuation of room rates in any major destination. Much like Bing’s airfare search, the tool also provides insight as to whether rates are likely to climb, decline, or sell out entirely in the next week. It’s all calculated with an algorithm that riffs off Wall Street hedge funds, which use the similar models to analyze mortgage-backed securities (topics not nearly as exciting as planning your vacation). Ignore the “Deal Grades,” or snapshots of a quote’s relative value—they seem largely arbitrary—and focus instead on our two favorite features: “fair value assessments” that compare your quote to the hotel's “usual price” and a six-month calendar showing the average rate each night in the city of your choosing.
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Photo courtesy of TheSuitest.com