While flying cars are still a figment of our travel dreams, renting airplanes is now a reality. OpenAirplane, a Zipcar-style rental service for small airplanes, launched last Monday at airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Jose, Kissimmee and Detroit. To reserve a plane, all you need is an internet browser or their mobile app…oh, and your pilot license.
While just the service’s name can give you vertigo (I prefer my airplanes closed), members are required to take a standardized flight exam once a year before taking off, twice as often as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Pilots are also required to return the airplane to its home base.
With six aircraft rental companies and flight schools on board (and more in the works), it might just be time to swap your wheels for some wings.
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Photo courtesy of Tradewind Aviation
When my husband and I welcomed our first pup into our lives just over a year ago, little did we know how it might change our travelling style. After frantically trying to coordinate back-up dogsitters from across the pond in Scotland on my first international trip post-adopting, I couldn’t help worry about my big bear of a cuddle buddy for the rest of the trip. Hence the marathon of road trips that followed (luckily, she’s good in the car). Clearly, I’m not alone, though. According to a study released this week by DogVacay.com, “pet owners aren’t fully enjoying the benefits of what should be a relaxing travel experience because they are worrying about their pets.”
A new survey on what men worry about while on vacation reveals that, when it comes to traveling, we all (surprise!) just want to look good on the beach. Genevieve Shaw Brown from ABC reports. (Peter Schlesinger)
The ever-helpful website Nerd Wallet shows which banks are the best and worst when it comes to travel fees. (P.S.)
New York's JFK terminal has been deemed 'endangered' and in need of restoration by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, via Circa. (Adrien Glover)
This short and sweet blog post highlights a neighborhood in Mendoza, Argentina with streets named entirely after wines—who wouldn't want to live at 54 Malbec Lane? (P.S.)
Three cheers for the Clinton Foundation, which is pledging to boost tourism in Northern Haiti by raising awareness for the country's turn-of-the-century monuments, historic sites, and culture. Travel Weekly reports. (Nikki Ekstein)
More evidence is fueling the theory that Amelia Earhart's missing plane has been found in the South Pacific, as we first noted a few weeks ago. Gadling reports. (N.E.)
Learn how to survive this summer's music festivals (i.e. this weekend's Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas) with travel blogger Kristin Luna's post about Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee. (Maria Pedone)
Beach reads are essential on summer vacation—grab a book from this list by the Philly Post. (M.P.)
Photo credit: iStockphoto
Did you miss the Pride events this month in Boston, Providence, and D.C.? Those cities already had their big celebrations, but there’s still time to attend the festivals in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and elsewhere.
One Pride event you may not have considered is Minnesota’s Twin Cities Pride. This under-the-gaydar destination has a lot to celebrate since last year’s paradegoers marched down Hennepin Avenue. In November, voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and the state legislature legalized equal marriage in May, with the law going into effect August 1. No wonder T+L readers voted the Twin Cities one of America’s top cities for Gay Travel.
Blending in with the locals. For most travelers, that’s the goal. We know that pulling out a guidebook never helps. But what about sporting funky headgear?
That’s what I was trying to figure out as I did a test drive yesterday of Google Glass at the company’s New York offices. Lens-less glasses with wraparound arms and a tiny screen above your right eye: Glass isn’t obstructive (that’s the whole point, after all), but it’s also not unobtrusive. And as my Google handler—who has worn hers in public—told me, you have to be prepared for some stares.
So do the benefits outweigh those stares?
The rumors turned out to be true: today, Facebook announced that Instagram would gain video sharing capabilities after two years devoted strictly to photos, meaning your travel videos can now be broadcast at the push of a button. We can’t say we’re surprised: Vine and Cinemagr.am, the leading apps for short, looping videos, have been the talk of the town—and Facebook’s not one to fall behind on social sharing trends. The new app is now available on Android and iOS, with 13 cool filters that borrow from the app’s photo-driven aesthetic. Record right in the app, and take up to 15 seconds of video at a time—more than double the average clip on rival services, while maintaining low upload times. Then, choose a cover frame to set the tone for your super-short-film, use the same hashtags you would for normal pics, and you’re all set. The key distinguishing points? Videos won’t loop—and with a little bit more time to share, they’ll have a different look and feel from other services (which we’ll continue to use enthusiastically). And thanks to a nifty feature called Cinema, videos will be automatically stabilized. Says CEO Kevin Systrom, “It’s the Instagram you know and love—but it moves.”
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
What’s the easiest way to get the most out of your next hotel room? Extend your stay by arriving early and checking out late. Fortunately, hotels are making it easier for you to hold onto that room key as long as possible.
If you’re angling for an early arrival, some properties will let you pay for the privilege. For $30, you can check in as early as 9 a.m. at Aria and the Bellagio, in Las Vegas. Guests at the Peninsula Beverly Hills get their room whenever they like and stay as late as they please—even if it’s more than 24 hours later—just by calling in advance. Similarly, Starwood’s most loyal guests (those who log 75 nights a year) can check in at any time and keep the room for a full 24 hours. Top-tier members of the GHA Discovery Program (which includes Omni Hotels and Kempinski Hotels) are rewarded with a 9 a.m. check-in when available. Even if you don’t have elite status, it never hurts to ask. Phone ahead with a polite request and you may be accommodated.
With summer vacation upon us, it seems students aren't the only ones getting their final grades. A slew of reports and studies recently came out—including ones from Harris Interactive, J.D. Power & Associates, Consumer Reports, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)—surveying a total of over 67,000 Americans on their latest opinions North American air travel. Here are some of the highlights:
Even though Consumer Reports concludes "There isn't much good news for passengers," recent findings by J.D. Power & Associates suggest that the passengers themselves disagree. The marketing information firm surveyed nearly 12,000 individuals and measured customer satisfaction on a 1000 point scale based on airline performance in 7 categories: cost & fees; in-flight services; boarding/deplaning/baggage; flight crew; aircraft; check-in; and reservation. The results? Overall passenger satisfaction is up 14 points to 695, a score not seen since 2006, before the age of a-la-carte baggage fees.
Since we’ve been talking a good bit about hiking around here lately, here’s the one accessory you should plan to pick up before your next adventure. Known more for their tech-friendly messenger bags than for their outdoor gear, Timbuk2 has just launched a new collection of urban-inspired camping backpacks, which are rugged enough to survive your toughest mountain climbs but designed to convert into a rolling suitcase for less elemental pursuits. The Aviator Travel Pack (from $179) is smartly designed with carbon ballistic nylon for durability, padded straps and a hip belt that stow away when not needed, and a water-resistant rain shedding pack cover that tucks into its own dedicated pocket. But what really does it for me are cleverly placed compartments that store (and protect) a 17” laptop, important-to-reach items like your phone and wallet, and separate spill-protecting toiletry panels. If only we could custom-order them in pretty colors and patters, like Timbuk2’s flagship messenger line.
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 Timbuk2
We’re all for seeing Africa’s amazing flora and fauna from the comfort of a vehicle, but have you ever considered stepping out of the jeep and into the wild? As someone always looking for a way to turn up that adventure dial, I know I have. In our May issue’s Trekking, Walking, and Hiking Guide, we call out veteran outfitter Robin Pope Safaris in Zambia, which happens to be the home of the walking safari, for its standout mobile camping trek through a remote part of South Luangwa National Park. Spend your days tracking lions or observing buffalo along the Mupamadzi River bank, and evenings at a roving camp with walk-in tents and Mara campfires. robinpopesafaris.net; eight days from $4,388.
Jennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
Photo credit: Monika Hoefler and Jens Schwarz