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Norman Foster Proposes Massive Elevated Bike Network in London

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Check out this futuristic eye candy. Design firm Foster + Partners has proposed a 137-mile network of elevated bicycle lanes over commuter rail lines in London.

Dubbed the SkyCycle, it could accomodate up to 12,000 cyclists per hour, making getting into and around the city a breeze.

When will we be able to go for a spin on the SkyCycle? London's mayor supported the idea when he met with the SkyCycle team back in 2012, so there's hope that the city will take Foster's plans seriously. Yet with funding still murky, we're looking at a decade or two at least before it opens. In the meantime, we can dare to dream that other cities will follow suit.

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: Foster + Partners

How to Find Affordable Ski Lodging

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Ski resorts are full of vacation properties, many of which are available for rent at cut-rate prices. Another bonus: having a built-in kitchen helps save money on meals. Rent-by-owner sites VRBO and HomeAway have more than 95,000 ski properties between them, including residences that are attached to major resorts. Airbnb, which has a growing number of ski listings, is particularly good when it comes to smaller or more offbeat properties. Both HomeAway and Airbnb have helpful mapping functions that allow you to see if a place you’re considering is slopeside—or a long walk (in ski boots) from the mountain. If you really want to save, though, look for properties that are outside major resort areas, such as Frisco, Colorado, which is 30 minutes from Vail.

If you do plan on booking a room at a hotel, ask what sort of lift-ticket-and-lodging offers it has available. (Most give discounts if you bundle this way.) You’ll also find hundreds of ski-and-save packages on Ski.com, which works with top lodges in more than 100 resorts worldwide.

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

Photo courtesy of Airbnb.com

How to Find Affordable Lift Tickets

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With day-of lift passes well over the $100 mark for many resorts (they’re now as high as $130 at Colorado’s Vail and Beaver Creek), buying a ticket at the window is simply a fool’s game. The good news is that many mountains are experimenting with dynamic pricing online, enticing skiers with advance-purchase deals (to lock in an early commitment) and even last-minute sales when it looks like a slow weekend is ahead.

Begin by looking for multiday passes on a resort’s own website, which can yield up to 40 percent off window prices. To comparison-shop with specific dates in mind, try the site Liftopia, which collects and sells tens of thousands of deals from more than 250 resorts worldwide. Some things to keep in mind: Book as early as possible. Preseason sales are generally the best. And stay flexible with your dates. Lift tickets are usually lower midweek and during quieter times: before Christmas; following major holiday weekends; and before and after the Spring Break rush, which takes place the last three weeks of March. Liftopia also offers sales on traditionally slow days: Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday.

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Is it Impolite Not to Tip a Bellman if I Don't Have Change?

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A: Overseas, tipping is by and large not expected at every interaction. So if you don’t have the right change, you won’t break your bellman’s heart. That said, handing out a few American dollars is also acceptable; it’s a nice gesture of thanks and—in some parts of the world—U.S. dollars are as welcome as local currency. If you have no change and your bellman did a top-notch job, it’s worth seeking him or her out at the end of your stay to deliver a tip.

In the United States, where porters often make less than minimum wage, tips are expected to supplement salaries. So don’t be shy about asking a bellman to break a larger bill. “These people are working for cash, so they have cash on hand,” says one bellman at a New York City hotel. Otherwise, get your porter’s name and leave a tip with the concierge before you check out.

Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites. 

Photo by HBSS/Corbis

Sharks in Australia Are Now Showing Up On Twitter

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Sharks in Western Australia will now be making their way from the sea to your social news feed. Over 300 great whites, whaler sharks, and tiger sharks have been tagged with acoustic transmitters by government researchers, says NPR, which monitor exactly where the animals are swimming.

Once any of the 338 sharks come within a half-mile of the beach, its tag automatically sends out a tweet from the Surf Life Saving Western Australia (@SLSWA) Twitter account. Included in the alert is the shark’s size, breed, and approximate location—really giving away any attack plans for poor Jaws. While this is a truly innovative way to protect the area’s surfers and sunbathers, not every shark out there is tagged. Just because you don’t see it on Twitter, doesn’t mean a great white isn’t lurking close to shore. Our advice? Look both ways (and below) before diving in.

Maria PedoneMaria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Photo credit: Macduff Everton/Corbis

How To Prepare For Winter Storm Hercules

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With a name like Hercules, the snow storm set to bear down on the Northeastern U.S. tonight and tomorrow is sure to cause some heavy damage. Inches of predicted snow fall are in the double-digits for cities from New York to Washington, D.C. (up to 18 inches), while the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for Long Island and parts of lower New England. Major highways like I-87 and I-84 will close from midnight until 5 a.m. Friday. Take these tips from T+L to prepare for the first blizzard of 2014:

Be aware of flight delays by signing up for text and email alerts from FlightStats as well as your airline.

Bring adapters and chargers with you to the airport to keep all of your gadgets and mobile devices running (entertainment for your toddler means sanity for you). Travel-friendly board games and packable snacks are also smart for kids.

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Three Words on How To Travel Better

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We asked a team of experts in a recent Twitter Chat for their travel rules of the road, which we’ve been revealing in a series of blog posts. We asked our panel to reveal how they travel better in only three words.

Designer, Chris Benz (@cmbenz) must be a T+L-type traveler because he lives by the words: “Carry, On, Only.”

T+L’s Travel News Editor, Jennifer Flowers (@JennFlowers), is traveling the world and trying food that she encounters in new cultures, so naturally, Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, and Tums are necessities in her suitcase.

T+L’s Director of Editorial Product Development, Peter Frank (@pfrank1), makes sure Ambien is available for long-flights (assuming there wasn’t a flight delay and he met the T+L team at the bar first!).

Follow @travlandleisure on Twitter and #TL_Chat for more expert tips.

Gabrielle Blitz is the Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure

 

Best Apps and Websites to Travel Better

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How do you travel better? We asked a team of experts in a recent Twitter Chat for their rules of the road, which we're revealing in a series of blog posts. We started off the chat by asking our panel for the apps and websites that help them travel more efficiently. Our T+L Lifestyle Editor, Shane Mitchell (@shanegoesforth), loves Google Translate to help her ask for necessities—like WiFi, of course. 

Our Editorial Assistant, Nikki Ekstein (@nikkiekstein) includes Spotify Premium among her must-have travel essentials. A-List Agent, Joel Zack of Heritage Tours Private Travel (@HeritageTours), has clearly learned a lesson from high roaming charges and uses WhatsApp for texting. Smart agent!

Follow @travlandleisure on Twitter and #TL_Chat for more expert tips!

Gabrielle Blitz is the Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure

Facebook 's Top 25 Most Checked-In Places for 2013

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Facebook just released its 2013 Trends report, and the big winner is Disney.

The map of most checked-into destinations for 25 countries shows that the theme park empire holds the number one spot in an impressive four countries: Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, and Tokyo Disneyland.

The California park's ranking increased a slot since 2012, overtaking Times Square to become the most checked-in locale in the US.

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Instagram Releases The Most Photographed Places Around the World

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Instagram has released their latest list of the most-Instagrammed locations for 2013. In our October issue, we mentioned the top nine around the world, with Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport beating out spots like Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA, and Times Square in New York City for the #1 spot. Since then, the busy Thai airport has plummeted to #9, with another Bangkok location, the Siam Paragon shopping mall (pictured), taking its place. Other additions to the list include the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, Disney World in Florida, and New York’s Central Park. Which of these top ten spots can you check off?

1. Siam Paragon shopping mall, Bangkok, Thailand

2. Times Square, New York

3. Disneyland, California

4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas

5. Disney World Florida

6. Staples Center, Los Angeles

7. Central Park, New York

8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles

9. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok, Thailand

10. The High Line, New York

Check out the best Instagram photos of the year from our T+L community here.

Maria PedoneMaria Pedone is on the digital team at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @mariapedestrian.

Photo courtesy of @2grace02

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