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Trip Doctor: What’s the Best Place to Exchange Currency?

currency

Find out if your bank has an affiliate abroad: it will offer the best exchange rates and may waive ATM fees for withdrawals. Stay away from airport and hotel exchange counters, which typically have poor rates and high commission fees. Keep tabs on the current exchange rate, so you’ll know whether you are getting your money’s worth.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

 

Photo by iStockphoto

Trip Doctor: How to Deal with Hotel Bill Shock

Do...

Heed the warnings. If the hotel informed you of resort fees and the like, you share some of the blame.

Play up your loyalty. Point out that you are a member of the hotel’s program, or a repeat customer.

Don’t...

Accept responsibility for fees buried in fine print. They should be clearly presented to guests.

Be afraid to stand your ground. If the front desk can’t help, ask for the general manager or guest services director.

Amy FarleyHave a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Trip Doctor: The Best and Worst International Airlines

FlightStats

(Click to view a larger version)

Comparing international airlines is much more apples and oranges than it seems: Without a central governing agency to collect the data, there’s hardly a way to put carriers head to head. Enter FlightStats, which crunches the numbers each year for their Airline and Airport On-Time Performance Service Awards, and whose 2012 winners were announced today.

Not only does FlightStats determine which airlines are most punctual (arriving to the gate within 15 minutes of scheduled times), but they also look at cancellation numbers, alliance-wide statistics, and more. Plus, they've sliced the data exclusively for us by stacking up all the international data in two handy graphics—a useful tool if you're considering loyalty with a new carier. Take a look at some of the winners here.

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Trip Doctor: Carry-On Luggage Recommendation

Victorinox carry-on luggage

Q: My carry-on is beat, and it’s time for a new one. What do you recommend? —Jonathan Curley, Seattle, Wash.

A: In the new world order of carry-ons, lightness is key. Victorinox’s 22-inch model ($299) is hard-sided yet weighs only six pounds. It also has maximum maneuverability thanks to its eight wheels. (If you are used to two, scooting around the airport with this many is truly life-changing.)

Packing is rarely easy—we’re here to help. Send your questions to tripdoctor@aexp.com.

Photo courtesy of Victorinox

Trip Doctor: U.S. Issues Warning for Travel to Peru

Machu Picchu

The U.S. Embassy in Lima has issued an official security message for American citizens warning about travel to the Cusco area of Peru, including Machu Picchu. The message, issued Thursday, says that the embassy received information that a criminal organization may be planning to kidnap American tourists in the Cusco and Machu Picchu area. The report adds, “possible targets and methods are not known and the threat is credible at least through the end of February 2013.”

The embassy is currently prohibiting personnel from visiting the area on personal travel, and is restricting official visits. Though the embassy urges non-consular U.S. citizens to “maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security” if traveling to the region, at this point the threat has not been elevated to an official Department of State travel alert or warning. (The embassy says it “remains confident of the Peruvian government’s efforts to ensure the safety of all tourists in the region.”) That, however, could change in the coming days.

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Trip Doctor: Carnival Triumph Updates: More Photos and Stories from Aboard

Carnival Triumph

The disabled Carnival Triumph limped into port in Mobile, Alabama late Thursday night four days after a fire stranded it off the coast of Mexico and left it with limited power, air conditioning, and functioning toilets. Conditions aboard the ship had deteriorated, and its decidedly untriumphant return to the States was watched closely by the media. Here’s what’s being said:

CNN delivers an iReport compiling tweets and photos from Triumph passengers. Among them: shots of people sleeping in hallways and a tweet from a passenger thanking the ship’s crew for taking care of the ship.

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Tech Thursday: Foursquare Launches Best of Lists

romantic cities

According to Foursquare, your feelings about Valentine’s Day may be totally dependent on where you live. As part of a new series of “Best of” lists, the social media company has crunched its data to find America’s most—and least—romantic cities, based on the number of check-ins to date-friendly spots. The results may not surprise you. Topping the list for most romantic is San Francisco, with its postcard-ready bay views and artisan patisseries, followed by New Orleans and New York City. But survey says: if you live in Trenton, NJ, or Akron, OH, don’t count on dazzling your date with a night on the town. For those living in America’s least romantic cities, we recommend homemade sweets and champagne cocktails.

Valentines or Galentines, we’re digging the new Foursquare feature—and with over 30 “Best of” lists for different US cities, it’s our new destination guide on the go. Browse the lists online before you fly, and save any hotspots to your profile: They’ll be waiting for you as soon as your plane touches down.

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

Carnival Triumph Update

Carnival Cruises

After a brief delay caused by a broken tow line, a trio of tugs is again hauling the disabled Carnival Triumph toward in Mobile, Alabama. It should arrive later this evening.
Triumph departed Thursday with 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew. It was scheduled to return to port early Monday after a weekend stop in Cozumel, but fire broke out Sunday morning in the engine room. The cause of the blaze, which was put out by automatic systems, is still not known.

The ship lost propulsion and had to rely on emergency generator power, leaving passengers with a limited number of working bathrooms and no air conditioning. Guests have reported long lines for food and said they were forced to use bags as toilets. 

Sailings aboard the ship have been cancelled through April 13, the cruise line said. Current passengers will receive a full refund, plus $500 and a discount on a future voyage.

For updates, see stories from The Miami Herald, where Travel + Leisure cruise editor Jane Wooldridge, the Miami Herald's Business editor, oversees cruise news coverage.

Jane WoolridgeJane Wooldridge is the cruise editor at Travel + Leisure.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruises

The American Airlines-US Airways Merger—What You Need to Know

American Airlines and US Airways

American Airlines and US Airways announced this morning a planned merger that will create the world’s largest airline. Worth $11 billion, the combined airline will have more than 1,500 aircraft and will operate more than 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations. Though the government still needs to review the merger plans, aviation analysts don’t foresee any major objections and predict it could be approved in just a few months. After that, it’s going to take some time before the carriers can begin joint operations; they must first undertake the herculean task of integrating staff, technology, and hardware. In the meantime, here’s what you can expect from the new airline:

What’s the name of the airline?
The merged carrier will take the American Airlines name, and its stylized new logo and airplane livery. It will also operate out of the American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. We also expect that flight attendants for the newly-merged carrier will eventually be wearing American’s recently commissioned uniforms designed by KAUFMANFRANCO, which are scheduled to start rolling out in 2014.

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Trip Doctor: Best GPS Apps for Travel

best GPS apps

Looking to get from A to B with nothing but your smartphone? GPS apps are steadily increasing in functionality and accuracy—giving even Google a run for its money.

Best for City Driving: Google Maps
The all-around app to beat, Google is particularly good in urban environments. It allows you to toggle between maps, street views, and 3-D cityscapes, and provides an extraordinarily complete picture of your surroundings. It takes you from car to foot to public transportation seamlessly, and (for Android users) it even has indoor maps of stores, hotels, and other buildings. Points of interest and area businesses are well marked and up-to-date. Free; Android and iOS.

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