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Holiday and Airport Travel Tips Straight From Our Experts

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Where are you going for the holidays? We recently asked a panel of travel experts in an Airport and Holiday Travel Twitter Chat, and the answers ranged the gamut.

The Weather Channel is having a “Staycation #HomeForTheHolidays.” T+L International Editor, Mark Orwoll, has a similar plan—he said, “Turns out everyone’s coming to MY house this year. Now I guess I have to invite all of you too, to avoid hurt feelings.” What’s for dinner, Mark? We’re not about to turn down that invitation!

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T+L Twitter Chat on Warm Winter Getaways This Wednesday, November 20th

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In need of some sun and sand this holiday? We're discussing the best beach retreats, last-minute winter getaways, and tips on getting affordable airfare and hotel deals during the holidays this Wednesday, November 20th from 2-3pm EDT.

Ask our panel of experts for their advice on the best warm winter getaways!

The Host:

Jacqueline Gifford, Senior Editor, @jacquigiff

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Holiday Travel Talk with QVC & T+L Editors

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Join T+L and our Senior Editor, Jacqueline Gifford, for a Holiday Travel Facebook Chat with QVC’s Lisa Roberston tonight, October 18, from 10-11pm ET on Lisa’s Facebook page.

Find out how to avoid flight delays, where the best hotels and destinations are for affordable, all-inclusive, or seasonal travel, how to pack and squeeze in that extra pair of shoes, tips on getting last-minute hotels deals, and more. Lisa will be ready to answer any holiday shopping or gifting questions that you may have as well.

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Family Friday: Sarasota Beckons

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Two decades ago a little girl stood on a hot tennis court grumpily swatting at yellow balls, her parents' dreams of a professional tennis career dashed. She counted the minutes until she could get back to the beach with her sisters...

With that sunny stretch of sand still in my mind, I decided to give Sarasota, on the Florida Gulf Coast, another shot with my own family. It was the middle of February and we were desperate for a long weekend of much-needed sun. What we got was a record-breaking freeze. Thankfully, Sarasota has a lot more than beautiful beaches (and there are plenty). Here's what we discovered:

° An amazing aquarium. The Mote Marine Laboratory offers sea turtles, dolphins, and an adorable manatee named Hugh, that my son Miles thought looked like my dad.

° Florida's largest bird sanctuary. The Save Our Birds Wild Bird Learning Center is home to hundreds of injured owls, pelicans, and other seabirds, teaching the kids that animals get boo-boos, too.

° Some damn good restaurants. Yes, we spent a lot of time eating, and I wasn't going to let a little cold ruin my dream of lounging on a terrace with a cocktail. There's Mar Vista, hidden at the end of Long Boat Key (order the fried calamari); the Italian Salute for dinner; the Peruvian Selva Grill, with tangy Pisco Sours; the diner-like Blue Dolphin Cafe for blueberry pancakes; and my sons' favorite, the waterfront, no-frills Old Salty Dog, where all the seafood is fried--and then fried again.

° Beautiful Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. We spent an entire afternoon wandering around these 14 acres, which are filled with bamboo and banyan groves, orchids and bromeliads, and a mangrove forest. The best part: the indoor Kids' Corner, an interactive space with plant-themed books, puzzles, activities and crafts.

There's more: The renowned Ringling Art Museum, a downtown with great galleries, and of course, lots of good ice cream parlors (a must-stop for every afternoon).

As for where to stay, the Long Boat Key Club is right on the beach and ideal for families: 2 and 3 bedroom suites with everything you need—dining table, kitchen, a super-friendly staff, and a flat screen TV for movie nights if you decide to stay in.

Crowdsourcing: What to Do When You're in Vail, Colorado

We asked true travel pros what to do near Vail, Colorado. Want to share your expertise? Join our community on Facebook at facebook.com/travelandleisure and at Twitter @TravlandLeisure.


View Vail, Colorado in a larger map

“Don’t miss dinner at Larkspur. Tuesday’s happy hour menu is the best.” —Jennifer Lesseraux Collins, via Facebook

“Après-ski, I go to the Ore House (232 Bridge St.)—two tacos and a beer for six dollars!” —@ryleeks

“The new Sebastian hotel is cozy yet chic, and its Frost bar has an awesome scotch selection.” —Alex Schack, via Facebook

“We always stop in at the Golden Bear Vail (183 Gore Creek Dr.) for one-of-a-kind jewelry, bags, and scarves.” —Michael Cartwright, via Facebook

“Check out Phil Long’s classic rock set at the Red Lion—he plays weekend nights at nine.” —Scott Kling, via Facebook

Après-ski? Après Vous: 5 Great Après-ski Traditions on the East Coast

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Last month I reported on great après-ski traditions at resorts out West. Don't worry, East Coasters, here are four top-notch resorts closer to home, each with an après-ski scene to rival anything in the Rockies.

 
In the Adirondack region of New York, Whiteface Lodge's signature après-ski drink is the Campfire, a soothing blend of bourbon, local apple cider, scotch, and sage. Where better to enjoy a liquid Campfire than by an actual campfire? The Lodge agrees, and has built two large lean-tos around a fire pit. Cushy seating, blankets, and mountain views allow guests to relax under the stars while still enjoying the comforts of resort life. And a direct phone line to the hotel concierge means that a Campfire by the campfire need never be far away.

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Family Friday: Affordable Ski Deals

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Is there anything better than spending $500 dollars a day to be clocked in the face by a miniature ski boot? Ah, yes, I'm talking about the joys of a family ski trip. (My back is still killing me from last month's adventure with my sons.) But truth be told, the physical suffering is well worth the ear-to-ear grins. What really gets me is how much I have to shell out for the pleasure. So last weekend, I decided to do some digging for deals. I'm not talking about the "Ski 7 days and get a free hot chocolate" variety. I was in search of some real money savers—and I found them. My three favorites, below:

• It turns out that if you stay at one of Keystone Colorado's mountain resorts, your kid can ski/board for free for the entire season, with no blackout dates. There's no fine print here. Trust me. I triple checked. Even better, you don't have to stay in some hole-in-the-wall condo 20 miles from the slopes. The accommodations are pretty luxe.

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Guess Where? Winter

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Can you guess where this snowy lake scene was taken? Log in and leave your guesses below. Check back on Monday for the answer!

UPDATE 1/28/13: Correct! This is Crater Lake in Oregon.

Lyndsey Matthews is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of the T+L Photo Contest

TODAY Show Video: 5 Great Winter Getaways

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Whether you want to ski or swim, we have some fun and affordable ideas for your getaway this season.

Caribbean Beach: Martinique
Stay: Plein Soleil
Located 25 minutes from the airport, this chic collection of airy villas faces Thalemont Bay; the pool overlooks the inlet, too. The pretty, soft-white bedrooms here have linen-draped chaise lounges and Koi fish live in the ponds on the terrace. Dine at the open-air restaurant for spicy crab farci and local fruits marinated in mint. American Airlines offers connecting service through San Juan, Puerto Rico from many U.S. gateways. Doubles from $219/night.

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6 Great Après-Ski Traditions Around North America

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After an invigorating day on the slopes, who doesn’t love a good après-ski drink or bite? Each of these hotels takes the tradition to a whole new level, with fun activities and tasty tipples.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has a “marshmologist” on hand every evening leading the Art of the S’more program. The whole family learns how to roast the perfect marshmallow, and adults can enjoy the delicious S’moretini. On the other side of Lake Tahoe, newcomer Basecamp (pictured) offers its guests plenty of beer pairing options, including beer and beef stew, as well as the extremely popular beer and croute au fromage (a hearty Swiss dish of melted cheese over toast). Yes please.

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