BEST WAYS TO SURVIVE LONG-HAUL FLIGHTS

HOW TO COPE WITH LONG FLIGHTS

Hearing a recent discussion concerning the world’s longest flights made me remember my first true long-haul flight to Sydney, Australia, for the 2000 Summer Olympics. About six hours into the 15-hour flight, I was feeling strong and confident. I clearly remember thinking, “Six hours down, nine to go. No sweat, I got this.”

Four long, boring hours later, it was a different story; you could have poured me into a bucket. “Five hours to go? I don’t got this.”

However, not all long-haul flights have to be miserable; on one direct flight from Tokyo to New York City, I was nearing the end of a book I was enjoying immensely, and remember distinctly thinking, “No, no, just a little more time!” when the pilot told us over the in-flight PA that we had started our final descent.

Below are 10 long flight tips for preventing boredom, dehydration, deep-vein thrombosis, sleep deprivation, and more—so you can confidently say “I got this” the next time you are imprisoned in a metal tube for an entire waking day of your life.

UPGRADE
When traveling long-haul, you have no better friend on the planet than your frequent flyer miles. On the Tokyo – Newark flight I was disappointed to see come to an end, I enlisted the help of my travel agent to find flights on which I could burn up all of my miles to upgrade my entire trip. It meant catching puddle jumpers to my final destination in Japan (Gifu), but a couple of short extra flights were a small price to pay for 27 hours of first-class legroom, fully reclining chairs, edible meals, entertainment, and breathing space.

Don’t have miles to burn? Consider bidding on an upgrade. Instead of giving empty front-cabin seats to elite frequent flyers, more and more airlines are selling upgrades to travellers on regular economy tickets.

PLUSGRADE

The current market leader in upgrade bidding systems. First, you buy an economy class ticket as you normally do. The airline notifies you, either at the time of purchase or by email or text, that your flight is open for a bid on an upgrade. You log onto your airline’s website and enter the amount you’re willing to pay for an upgrade, along with your credit card details. A few days before the flight, the airline notifies you whether or not it accepted your bid. If it did, it gives you a confirmed reservation and charges your credit card for the price of your bid. If not, you pay nothing more but remain in the cattle car.

Airline agents sometimes offer ad-hoc upgrades at check-in or even at the departure gate. On a trip from Los Angeles to London two years ago, a gate agent was selling upgrades to premium economy for $400. Even if no agent is actively touting upgrades, you can sometimes get a reasonably good deal by asking, “How much would it cost up upgrade?” at the check-in counter or departure gate. On an intercontinental trip you can expect to pay at least several hundred dollars.

ESCAPE

You will want to have a rock-solid plan for frittering away several hours of your flight, and I don’t mean working; staring at spreadsheets and writing proposals may burn up hours, but it does not make them vanish. You want these hours to disappear almost without a trace. Think headphones and Hollywood blockbusters. Getting a lot of work done is fine—rarely do you have 15 consecutive hours without phone calls or texts to disrupt you, so I encourage bringing some work—but work will fail you when you get to the brutal middle hours of this ordeal. Headphones and Hollywood; don’t stray from this.

Fun things to do on a long flight include watching every movie, playing the games on your seatback TV, binging on your favourite shows, or listening to music or podcasts (download them onto your phone in advance).

DON’T CARRY ON TOO MANY ITEMS

While checked baggage fees are inspiring travellers to carry on more and more stuff, on a long-haul flight this could burn you; anything that is under the seat in front of you just means less legroom and a more cramped living space for 15 or 16 hours. Don’t bring so much on that you compete for your own sleeping space.

BRING THE GO TO GEAR

In general, I am not a gear guy. I can’t be bothered to lug around neck pillows, sleep masks, earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones, etc.—except on a long-haul flight. As I noted above, your total carry-on haul should be limited, but you may want to consider some of these in-flight essentials. Your body and brain will thank you for every small comfort you can provide, and the inconvenience of packing and carrying these around is dwarfed by the misery of 15 hours in flight with crying children, pilot announcements, engine noise, and a major crick in your neck. Gear up.

Unless you’re walking off the plane right into a business meeting, a long-haul flight is not the time to prioritise fashion over comfort. You’ll want breathable, loose-fitting clothes that let you move freely, shoes you can easily slip off, and an extra layer (such as a hoodie or pashmina) in case the plane is chilly. For more advice, see 7 Things You Should Always Wear on a Plane.

Another tip: Don’t wear contacts for the duration of a long-haul flight; instead, wear glasses.
(Wearing contacts for 14 hours straight is unsafe, according to my ophthalmologist.)

SECURE YOUR THINGS

A long-haul flight gives unscrupulous travellers plenty of time to size up the location of your wallet, wait until you fall asleep, and make a move on your luggage. Secure your valuables deep inside your bags where it would take a TSA X-ray machine to find them. Consider keeping items like your passport, credit cards, and cash in a money belt under your clothes.

SLEEP AID

If you are planning to use sleep aids (including “natural” methods such as melatonin, over-the-counter sleeping pills such as Unisom, or prescription drugs such as Ambien), try them before you fly with them. A few years ago a friend gave me an Ambien pill for a red-eye flight from Honolulu to New York City, and the drug acted more like a stimulant than a sleep aid. I was awake the entire flight and felt wretched to boot. These drugs can vary greatly in how they affect individuals, so you will want to try them at home before you rely on them on the plane.

Dr. Timothy Hosea, team physician and Chair of the Sports Medicine and Research Committee for the United States national rowing teams, sometimes prescribes sleep aids for his athletes, but notes, “If you feel you need a sleep aid but haven’t used those drugs before, you should probably try taking Tylenol PM or Benadryl. A prescription is fine with your doctor’s approval, but don’t experiment on a long flight; [the plane won’t] stop for you!”

Dr. Hosea also says that, as the team doctor, he does not take any medication while flying with the squad in case someone needs care. “I bring a book, watch the movies, and try to let the flight pass,” he says. His approach is appropriate for other travellers who need to have their wits about them, such as folks flying with children, for example. If someone could potentially need you to be 100 percent during the flight, you should forgo any sleep medication. For more advice, see Sleeping on Planes: 12 Tips for Travelers.

A couple of hard-earned tips: First, don’t deprive yourself of sleep the night before a flight, hoping to sleep the entire way. As attractive and intuitive an idea as this seems, you are in for a world of hurt if you can’t sleep for any reason. You will be on the plane long enough to catch a few winks even if you are somewhat rested, and my advice is to take it when it comes; if your eyes start to droop, get out the eye covers and earplugs, and go with it. If you throw away a solid two-hour nap on a few extra rounds of Angry Birds, you might be angry at yourself later.

Secondly, sticking to your usual pre-bedtime routine can sometimes help you prepare your body for sleep. To learn more, see The One Thing You Need to Do on a Red-Eye Flight.

TRY SEAT GURU

On the flight back from Sydney mentioned above, I called ahead to get my seat reassigned to an exit row—big mistake. Unbeknownst to me, the exit row seat I chose was a window seat at one of the big, thick exit doors, which encroached on my leg area such that I had to sit sideways in the seat for the entire flight. It was also more like an “exit aisle,” located right at a restroom, so there was endless and noisy foot traffic the entire flight. I was lucky that the rest of the row was empty, but it wasn’t much help; the armrests did not go up, so I couldn’t lie across the three seats in the aisle.

Needless to say, mine would have been a “yellow” or even “red” seat on the SeatGuru seating chart if it had existed in 2000. Eventually I went around the aircraft collecting all the unused pillows and blankets I could find, piled them up in each of the three seats, and created a workable (but in truth not very comfortable) platform across all three seats—and got a very few winks of sleep during the flight. I guess it was comical, as friends all took pictures of me during the flight for their amusement. Glad you had a fun flight, guys.

Before you choose, think hard about your usual preference of exit vs. aisle seat; it may be different on a long-haul flight than on a shorter flight. If you usually choose an aisle seat, consider whether you want your long, Ambien-enhanced sleep to be interrupted by others in your row; similarly, if you usually choose a window, you could get trapped in there by a snoring person in a prescription drug-induced stupor. To learn more, see 10 Ways to Get the Best Airplane Seat.

ASK ABOUT SEATS AT THE GATE

Failing the ability to choose great seats before your flight, try again at the gate. If the flight is not full, the gate agent may be able to see an empty row or put you and a traveling partner in a “window and aisle” configuration that reduces the likelihood of having someone sit in the middle seat, thereby getting you a seat and a half, at least.

HYDRATION IS IMPORTANT

If you think hydration is a concern on a cross-country flight, try tripling or quadrupling your time in the air; you might as well spend 15 hours lying on the desert floor. Imagine you are going to walk from Flagstaff to Winona, Arizona. How much water would you bring? Try to drink about that much on a lengthy transpacific or transatlantic flight.

Dr. Hosea recommends drinking “electrolyte solutions, Gatorade being the best known, instead of solely water.” Hosea says that maintaining electrolyte balance is important and that you don’t want to become completely diluted with water, particularly for older folks or people with other medical problems.

DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS

DVT, the formation of blood clots in deep veins, is a known (if occasionally overstated) risk on longer flights. According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of developing DVT increases when flights go longer than four hours. The NIH’s tips include walking up and down the aisles of the plane; moving, flexing, and stretching your legs to encourage blood flow, especially in your calves; wearing loose and comfortable clothing; drinking plenty of fluids; and avoiding alcohol. Also, if you’re at increased risk for DVT, your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings while traveling or taking a blood-thinning medicine before you fly.

Dr. Hosea notes that the combination of being immobile along with the effects of dehydration increases the risk of DVT on long flights. He strongly recommends the following during long trips:

Hydrate well the night before the flight, preferably with electrolyte drinks.
Don’t drink alcohol the night before the flight.
Avoid diuretics such as coffee, soft drinks, and even chocolate (all of which contain caffeine).

If you have no issue with ulcers, take a baby aspirin the night before and day of your flight.
Get an aisle seat or exit row so you can get up and walk around whenever possible.
Susan Francia, an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, has taken to wearing compression socks on long flights to competitions, although she has stopped short of wearing a full body suit. (Hosea discounts the need for the body suit as well: “You are really worried only about your ankles and calves.”) Francia has noticed a positive effect from the compression socks, which Hosea notes can be simple “support hose.”
Colds, the flu, bacteria, etc.: As I wrote in Avoiding the Airplane Cold, it isn’t “air quality” that is of concern when you are flying, or recycled air, or anything of the sort—it is your body’s compromised ability to deal with normal bacteria and viruses that puts you in danger of getting sick after a flight.

That is not to say that the general environment on a plane doesn’t add to your risk of getting sick. Recent studies have found that the water coming out of aircraft sink faucets is often rife with bacteria from sitting in murky holding bins; that the seats, pillows, and blankets on planes are more germ-ridden than your laundry basket; that your tray table is probably dirtier than your own bathroom floor; and that the seatback pockets—well, you don’t even want to know, apparently.

Francia recalls a flight on the way to the Rowing World Championships last year where she considered wearing a face mask; the entire U.S. rowing team had contracted the swine flu on a World Cup trip earlier that summer, and she was being cautious. Francia asked a flight attendant what she thought. “Good idea, but it won’t help,” was the verdict. There is just too much stuff all around you to win that war. In the end, your best strategy is to bring along some bacteria-killing wipes, clean up your seat area as best you can and relax; there’s not much more you can do.

Let’s face it: electrolytes, compression socks, movie after movie, and aspirin don’t change the fact that you are stuck inside a metal can for a whole day. Just keep reminding yourself that this too shall pass—although I recommend saving your “I got this” until the wheels touch the ground.

Editorial thanks to SmarterTravel

WHERE TO STAY IN LA BEST HOTELS

QUALITY LOS ANGELES HOTELS

Booking a place to stay in Los Angeles means deciding between icons brimming with history on the east side (Hollywood) and the west (Santa Monica)—not to mention new stars all across town, including classic
Beverly Hills and of-the-minute Downtown.

A good idea is to Split your trip and base yourself in different neighbourhoods—it’ll feel like two getaways in one. Here are our picks for the best hotels in Los Angeles, spanning location, experience, and price range; in other words, when it comes to places to stay in this town, there’s something for everyone. Our top choice overall was The Millenium Biltmore due to it’s convenient location and classic design but the variety of good hotels is vast.

SUNSET TOWER HOTEL

Piercing the blue Californian skies on Sunset Boulevard, this elegant Art Deco tower has long been a landmark of the city, home to Hollywood greats since its arrival in 1931, courtesy of architect Leland A. Bryant. In those days it was Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner—and John Wayne, who apparently kept a cow on his balcony to ensure fresh milk for his coffee. Now it’s shiny again after a multi-million-dollar renovation, and 21st-century stars are coming here just for a night or to grab a drink at the see-and-be-seen Tower Bar on the notorious Sunset Strip. Maître d’ Gabé Doppelt discreetly juggles regular guests such as Jennifer Aniston with those who prefer dim lighting or need private corners for tête-à-têtes, while the bottom of the menu firmly reads: “No photographs. No phone calls.” The spicy tuna tartare is nearly everyone’s favourite; the seared scallops with black leek and truffle sauce a close second. The 81 bedrooms are done up in dusty pinks and browns with dazzling bathrooms clad in metallic gold wallpaper designed by fashion illustrator Donald Robertson, and there’s a Joanna Vargas spa for those red-carpet moments. The newly refreshed outdoor terrace overlooking the small but beautiful pool is one of the loveliest spots—in a city with a strong alfresco game—for a breakfast of mashed avocado on sourdough with poached eggs, or simply to relax for an hour or so, taking in the spectacular views of L.A. and basking in that brilliant golden sunshine.


Hotel Bel Air Poolside

HOTEL BEL-AIR

People who don’t live in Los Angeles have a fantasy of what life in L.A. must look like. Towering palms. Bougainvillea. Birds of paradise. And a fabulous bungalow tucked right in the thick of it, where every hour is golden hour. The Hotel Bel-Air, in the heart of the residential neighbourhood of the same name, is this fantasy come to life. One of the first sights to spot across the threshold is a swan lake. A lake with actual swans frolicking in it. The 12-acre gardens are part of the magic and made for meandering, with streams, footbridges, guava, pineapple, lemon, and orange trees, as well as coastal redwoods that are most certainly not common in these parts. In 2011, Alexandra Champalimaud did a full revamp of the lobby and spa, and designed the sizeable rooms to be lived in—they are cozy, with fireplaces, high ceilings and towels as thick as blankets. The bar is effortlessly cool, with photographs by Norman Seeff covering the walls, and the famous Wolfgang Puck restaurant, reimagined by David Rockwell a handful of years ago, is completely al fresco.


Shutters on the beach

SHUTTERS ON THE BEACH

Shutters came into the world as the left coast’s idea of an east coast beach house, but with Pacific sunsets and interiors designed by the man who does the White House residence, it quickly became so much more. If you’re traveling for work, this is the perfect place to guarantee that vacation feeling during limited downtime. If you’re traveling for pleasure, lucky you. Note: many rooms don’t have a full ocean view, so be sure when you book to secure the ones that do for the dream beach house experience.

THE BEVERLEY HILLS HOTEL

Even if you don’t realise it, you’ve seen this hotel before. The hotel enjoys a great location while the palm trees, pink walls, and lush gardens of the Beverly Hills Hotel are as much a part of Hollywood iconography as the sign itself. The place is the site of legends: British Royals, Beatles, and Oscar winners have slept on its pillows, Elizabeth Taylor had six of her eight honeymoons there, and a recent renovation completed in 2015 brought all of that history up to date so it could remain the playground it’s always been. Tip: Book your reservation at the Polo Lounge at the same time you book the room.

THE FAIRMONT MIRAMAR HOTEL & BUNGALOWS

The Fairmont Miramar is a classic Santa Monica stay—as much of a garden hideout as a beach basecamp. Frette linens cover the beds, while suites on the top floor have two balconies (although the 31 residential Bungalows are the choice pick). One hidden perk of staying here? Access to the exclusive Miramar beach club—the staff will even drive you from the lobby in open-top Jeep Wranglers while you pretend you’re in a music video. The hotel offers Gold star service.

THE BEVERLEY WILSHIRE HOTEL – FOUR SEASONS

The Beverly Wilshire is as close to a European grand hotel as you’ll find in L.A.—with impeccable service to match. It was good enough for Elvis and the British Royal Family, and exists in triumphant opposition to the informal, minimal lobbies sprouting up across the city. Regular guests love the views of Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Hills and the pool, which was based on Sophia Loren’s Tuscan villa. If you’re looking for classic luxury, look no further than this.


Millenium Biltmore

MILLENNIUM BILTMORE LOS ANGELES

Located in downtown Los Angeles, this luxurious design hotel is just a 4-minute walk from Pershing Square Subway Station. Millennium Biltmore Hotel provides on-site dining, an indoor pool, and rooms with satellite TV.

Dining options include Smeraldi’s Restaurant, serving Italian cuisine. Gallery Bar and Cognac Room features live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Decorated in rich, warm colours, the guest rooms provide a safe and a work desk. Each room has a coffee maker as well. The marble bathrooms include a hairdryer.

Guests at Biltmore Millennium Hotel can swim in the Roman-style indoor pool or relax in the hot tub. They can also work out in the gym. The hotel is within an 8-minute walk from The Museum of Contemporary Art and Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Downtown LA is a great choice for travellers interested in city walks, entertainment and tourist attractions.
Couples in particular like the location – they rated it 8.6 for a two-person trip.


Casa Del Mar

HOTEL CASA DEL MAR

An Italian palace feel on the California beach, Casa del Mar is the other iconic Santa Monica ocean-front property along with Shutters. Rooms feel romantic yet residential, with Italian style linens and private patios facing a peaceful inner courtyard. You’ll have a coffee machine steps from the bed, large marble bathrooms with the most tasteful products, then once you’re dressed for the evening there’s live entertainment every night in the lounge. This place is always worth it: for the views, fairytale four-poster beds, and the warm light that makes the adjustment from beach to room the smoothest possible.


Montage Beverley Hills

MONTAGE BEVERLEY HILLS

You know your stay is going to be good when you’re served Champagne upon arrival. The lobby at this Beverly Hills icon toes the line between Old World and modern, done up in marble floors, soothing earth tones, wingback chairs, and dark wood furnishings. The hotel has 201 guest rooms, including 55 suites in shades of beige and dark wood, making them feel sophisticated and not splashy. Bathrooms are marble with soaking tubs—and the higher the room tier, the nicer the bathroom. Think mosaic tiles, double sinks, showers with sitting benches, and inset televisions over the bathtub. When you’re not luxuriating in your room, make use of the on-site amenities, like the rooftop pool and its private cabanas, the 20,000-square-foot spa.

CHATEAU MARMONT

The Chateau Marmont name is famous – and infamous. Chateau has hosted Hollywood successes and scandals, triumphs and tragedies. Discreet staff will keep your secrets, and earth-quake proof buildings make sure the bungalows will survive any parties you choose to throw. But it’s not all about what happens behind closed doors: the hotel’s strengths are actually in its common areas, where wood-beamed ceilings and candle-lit corners could be filled by any A-lister (except for Lindsey Lohan, banned for life for not paying a $46,000 bill…) Stay at this Sunset Strip icon for all the privacy and unpredictability of the Hollywood life.

THE HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT

To get a sense of the place all you need to know is that The Hollywood Roosevelt hosted the first ever Academy Awards. If you want to experience Hollywood up close, this is its Times Square, complete with room views of the Hollywood sign (and soundproof walls so the hustle outside doesn’t encroach). The hotel stays alive until the wee hours—the chicken tenders and shoestring fries are always available to order, before it’s time for a morning refresher in the David Hockney-painted pool—which you might have already seen in plenty of fashion shoots over the years.

MALIBU BEACH INN

Smell the ocean from the lobby at the Malibu Beach Inn. And, because check-in happens at the driveway, you’ll have your keys in your hand before you’ve even stepped into the building. From the lobby continue to your bed and collapse onto super-soft sheets in Scandi-Japanese designed rooms, with the sounds of lapping waves sneaking in from the balcony. And while the third-floor boasts the best views, you won’t complain about any of the others as you dine on your private patio, watching the ocean shoot from pink to orange to black. Come here for laid-back, beachfront luxury.

THE SURFRIDER

For a low-key, personal stay in Los Angeles you can do no better. This light-filled, design-forward spot was a motel in the 1950s before a California architect and his Australian wife transformed it. Feel at ease in the cozy library, or chat it up with the staff who are Malibu natives. The roof deck is only open to hotel guests, the ocean is yards away, and Bellino linens on the beds maintain that perfect balance of luxurious yet unpretentious.


Waldorf Astoria

WALDORF ASTORIA BEVERLEY HILLS

Just one deep breath of the lobby’s fresh scent and you’re in vacation mode. You can find your place in the Waldorf’s lobby among couples in artfully ripped jeans and Common Projects sneakers, hot-shot agents, and meticulously maintained ladies in Chanel, or head to your spacious room (the smallest at the hotel is a whopping 630 square feet.) But don’t get too comfortable down there—the pool has one of the best views in L.A., complete with an impressive lunch menu.

THE ROSE HOTEL

The Rose Hotel’s two owners are also photographers, and the property attracts those of its kind: people who work in the arts, fashion and design. In fact, the property is so in sync with its clientele that it’s hard to tell the difference between guests and staff—the assistant GM, Eric, even teaches surf lessons to all who are interested. Rooms on the upper floor are bigger, with larger decks and amazing views, and couples and honeymooners should ask for the Simpson Suite, which has a private staircase, the best view in the house, and the biggest bed. The Rose is as close to the beach as you can get (half a block away) without staying at an actual oceanfront.

THE MAYFAIR HOTEL

This Beaux Arts–style building has been given a modern refresh courtesy of designer Gulla Jonsdottir, also the vision behind West Hollywood’s La Peer Hotel. She led the Mayfair’s multi-million-dollar, top-to-bottom renovation, which includes a chic and stately lobby with velvet sofas, marble accents, and charcoal-coloured columns. Opened in 1926, the property carries a slice of L.A. history: It played host to the first Academy Awards afterparty. Today the common areas and guest rooms are monochromatic and sexy. Don’t miss out on peeping artist Kelly “Risk” Graval’s multi-million-dollar collection throughout the property, which was produced in collaboration with artists Shepard Fairey, Geoff Melville, Richard Mirando. The world-renowned graffiti artist is a hometown hero of the Los Angeles arts scene—and it’s easy to see why. For arts and culture lovers looking to explore DTLA, the rehabbed Mayfair is a great home base.

THE RITZ-CARLTON LOS ANGELES

Smaller than most Ritz-Carlton properties, this location has a boutique feel—it’s even accessed by a separate, exclusive entrance on the side of the JW Marriott. Special touches make the property feel very L.A.: Saturday yoga classes, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, a club level with skyline views, a heated rooftop pool and jacuzzi, and a glamorous full-service spa. It’s luxurious through and through and, as a bonus, you can even book your stay on points.

Editorial thanks to Conde Nast Travel

WORLDS TOP 10 INTERNATIONAL AIRPORTS

Here are the top ten International airports voted by passengers across the world.

SINGAPORE CHANGI

Singapore Changi Airport connects customers to over 200 destinations worldwide, with 5000 arrivals and departures a week by 80 international airlines. Changi Airport was voted the Best Airport in Asia, World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities, and Best Airport: 60-70 million passengers in 2019.

TOKYO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT HANEDA

Boasting both domestic and international terminals, Tokyo International Airport Haneda plays a very important role in furthering Japan’s development as a tourism-oriented nation. Haneda was named the Best Airport: 70+ million passengers, World’s Cleanest Airport, World’s Best Domestic Airport, and World’s Best PRM/Accessible Facilities in 2019.

SEOUL INCHEON AIRPORT

Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea and one of the busiest airports in the world. It is a former winner of the Airport of the Year title at the World Airport Awards. Incheon International Airport was named the winner of World’s Best Transit Airport in 2019.


Hamad Doha International

HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DOHA

Hamad International Airport is the international airport for Doha, capital city of Qatar. The airport has been described as the most architecturally significant terminal complex in the world, as well as being the most luxurious. Hamad was voted the Best Airport in the Middle East, Best Airport: 30-40 million passengers, and Best Airport Staff in the Middle East in 2019.

HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Hong Kong International Airport serves over 100 airlines operating flights to about 180 locations worldwide, including 44 destinations on the Chinese Mainland. It is a former, multiple winner of the Airport of the Year title at the World Airport Awards. Hong Kong was named the World’s Best Airport Dining, and World’s Best Airport Immigration Service in 2019.

CHUBU CENTRAIR NAGOYA

In 2014, 9.8 million passengers travelled through Central Japan International Airport in Nagoya, better known as Centrair. The airport has a large domestic traffic percentage, with a number of regional routes operated to Asian cities. Longer haul routes include Helsinki, Frankfurt, Honolulu and Detroit. Centrair was named the World’s Best Regional Airport, and Best Airport: 10-20 million passengers in 2019.

MUNICH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Munich Airport is the second busiest airport in Germany and the secondary hub for Lufthansa German Airlines. With over 150 retail stores and some 50 places where you can eat and drink, it’s like a city centre, offering travelers and visitors plenty to see and do. Munich was voted the Best Airport in Europe, Best Airport in Central Europe, and Best Airport: 40-50 million passengers in 2019.

HEATHROW AIRPORT LONDON

London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the UK and busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and having been world’s busiest airport for international passengers, it has recently lost this title to Dubai Airport. In 2019, Heathrow was voted the World’s Best Airport Shopping, and Best Airport in Western Europe. Terminal 5 was named the World’s Best Airport Terminal.


Narita International

NARITA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Tokyo Narita Airport is an international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. Narita serves as the international hub for Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways. As of 2016, Narita was the second-busiest passenger airport in Japan. In 2019, Narita was voted the World’s Best Airport Staff, and Best Airport Staff in Asia.

ZURICH INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Zürich Airport is the largest international airport in Switzerland and is the hub airport for Swiss International Air Lines. Zurich Airport was named the World’s Best Airport Security Processing at the 2019 World Airport Awards.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED OR DELAYED

DON’T LET TRAVEL INTERRUPTION TURN YOUR TRIP INTO A NIGHTMARE

Even after spending countless hours carefully plotting every step of your journey, an unexpected delay or cancellation can derail your well-laid-out vacation plans. But a minor roadblock doesn’t have to result in travel disaster. Taking a few extra precautions to dodge delays, knowing your air travel rights and arming yourself with insider tricks can help you stay calm and carry on when anxiety-provoking situations arise. Read on for expert-endorsed tips to maximise comfort (and compensation), and get your plans back on track next time you’re stalled in transit.

KNOW YOUR AIR RIGHTS

If your flight is cancelled, your carrier will provide you with “a seat on the next available flight on that airline or a refund,” explains Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and journalist. While airlines are not obligated to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations based on federal regulations, carriers will often rebook passengers for no additional fee, even for non-refundable fares – or offer a full refund. Depending on the carrier, you may also be able to get rebooked to your final destination with another airline. Check your carrier’s customer agreement – also known as a contract of carriage – for specific airline policies.

CHECK IF YOUR CREDIT CARD OFFERS TRIP DELAY PROTECTION

Don’t overlook the built-in travel benefits your credit card issuer may provide, says George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com. Immediately file a claim with the airline after your flight is delayed or cancelled, he says. Also keep in mind that with trip interruption coverage, if your flight is delayed for an eligible reason, such as a weather-related delay or a mechanical issue, you may be entitled to compensation. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Citi Thank You Premier Card offer a $500 trip delay reimbursement for delays of 12 hours or longer. The catch: You must have used the credit card to book your seat, Hobica adds. Also, make sure to keep your boarding pass and travel documents on hand as proof of your claim for a disrupted flight.

STAY PRO-ACTIVE

Gate agents and airport staff are swamped, so I always call the airline’s customer service to get rebooked on the [next] flight,” says Matthew Kepnes, the author behind the budget travel advice site Nomadic Matt. “It’s quicker and easier than dealing with the long line of customers and a gate agent who is busy trying to shrink that line as fast as possible,” he explains. Another option: Rebook your flight with the airline directly using its affiliated app. Major carriers such as United and Delta make it easy to peruse alternative flight options and modify your reservation in the event of a delay on their apps.

ASK ABOUT MEAL AND HOTEL CREDITS

When you’re faced with a severe delay of four hours or longer, ask about meal or hotel vouchers, Elliott says. “If the airline is authorised to give them to passengers, they will,” he adds. Keep in mind you shouldn’t expect vouchers to be doled out if you’re stalled for reasons outside the airline’s control like weather-related disruptions. However, in the event of a mechanical delay, the airline will typically cover meal, transportation and lodging costs, Elliott says. The individual rules are specified in the carrier’s contract of carriage. For example, JetBlue Airways outlines that passengers are awarded a $50 credit for delays between three and four hours and a $200 voucher for delays lasting five hours or longer.

DOWNLOAD THE RIGHT TOOLS

You never know when a delay will strike. To stay prepared, download a flight-tracking app like Flight Aware and rely on valuable tools like Air Help, which gives passengers the power to check if they’re eligible to receive compensation for a delay or cancellation. If you believe you could be eligible for compensation, you can punch in information about your trip along with your flight number on Air Help’s mobile app or website; then, if eligible, the company will file a claim on your behalf. “To make this process easier, Air Help’s mobile app has a simple Boarding Pass Scanner that allows you take a picture of your pass and automatically uploads all the necessary flight details to file a claim through our service. It allows you to keep multiple passes on file, so [it’s] great for frequent fliers or families traveling together,” says Henrik Zillmer, Air Help’s CEO and founder.

DIFFERENT RULES APPLY IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

When traveling overseas, there are different European Union regulations in place. Elliott says fliers should familiarise themselves with EU Regulation 261/2004, the rules for long delays and cancellations. In Europe, if you arrive more than three hours later than your original arrival time, you may be entitled to compensation, Zillmer says. The amount you may be entitled to receive in the event of a delay in the EU (anywhere from 50 to 600 euros) is based on a few factors, including your flight distance and delay length. “You have far more bargaining chips on international flights, and trips that include a stop in the EU,” Zillmer adds.

NEGOTIATE WITH YOUR CARRIER

If your flight is cancelled and you think you may be entitled to compensation, “don’t sign anything or accept any offers, including future travel offers, or other freebies and discounts,” until you have vetted all of your options, Zillmer cautions. “If you do, you could be waiving your right to further compensation down the line,” he explains. While U.S. airlines are not required to provide you with freebies, many carriers aim to aid inconvenienced fliers as part of their customer service initiatives and loyalty programs, he explains. “You’d be surprised how often gate agents and other airline representatives are receptive to your complaints,” Zillmer says. While airlines automatically rebook you, you don’t have to agree to their initial offer. “If you don’t like the new flight, you should immediately call the airline to ask for a different flight,” Elliott says.

CONSIDER GETTING TRAVEL INSURANCE

“It’s hard to say whether purchasing travel insurance is beneficial or not because every circumstance is different,” Zillmer says. In some instances, your policy could prevent you from being eligible to claim compensation at a later date, so it’s key to review the fine print of both your carrier and your selected travel insurance company to understand the policy conditions and what’s included – and what isn’t, he says. While you should always read the fine print, investing in travel insurance can be a wise move, especially if you’re continuing onward. For instance, in a case where your delayed flight causes you to miss your cruise, you can file a claim for reimbursement, Kepnes explains.

HOLD ONTO YOUR DOCUMENTS

When you arrive at your final destination, make sure to keep copies of your boarding pass and other travel documents, Zillmer says. “Many airlines will reject a legitimate claim for disrupted flights if you don’t have these documents, so it’s important not to toss these documents until you’ve successfully completed your journey without any hiccups,” he explains. He suggests holding onto receipts in the event the delay winds up costing you. “You may be able to recover expenses caused by flight delays, including missed reservations for [your] hotel or car rentals,” he adds.

Editorial thanks to U.S. News

WHAT IF YOU MISS YOUR FLIGHT?

MISSING A FLIGHT IS NOT UNCOMMON

Anyone who has ever had a tight connection, or been stuck in horrendous traffic on the way to the airport, knows that sweaty-palmed, frantic fear of missing a flight.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just don’t make it.

To find out what exactly happens if you miss your flight, we reached out to experts in the industry, including a veteran flight attendant and airline representatives. After all, knowing this in advance can help a stressful situation seem just a tiny bit less like a travel nightmare.

What should you do if you think you’ll miss your flight?
Travellers who are concerned they’re not going to make their flight should immediately alert the airline.

“If someone knows they will be missing the flight prior to departure,” flight attendant Kelly Kincaid told us “it’s good policy (and manners) for that passenger to notify the airline. Most flights nowadays have standby passengers awaiting that precious open seat.”

Giving the airline notice also improves your chances of being rebooked on the next available flight, space permitting.

And just because you’re late doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Checking in online in advance, and traveling light (carry-on only) can improve your chances of catching a flight even when you’re under the wire. After all, gates for certain flights may stay open 10 to 15 minutes before departure. In other words, be prepared to sprint.

What if you still can’t catch your flight?
Depending on the airline, travellers may be charged a rebooking fee to get on another flight. Some airlines may also charge the difference in airfare — meaning a missed flight can be a costly inconvenience.

JetBlue, for one, will try to waive the difference in airfare on confirmed travel (and charge only the applicable change fee) when they’re able to rebook travellers on a later departure.

Southwest, on the other hand, never charges change fees — but travellers may have to shoulder the fare difference.

If you arrive at the airport after your flight has closed or departed, take a minute to assess the flight schedule board. Look for later trips with the same airline, which can help you avoid additional fees (or forfeiting your entire remaining itinerary).

Present these options to a gate or check-in agent, which will help expedite the process.

CAN YOU GET A REFUND?

No. But you can, on rare and serendipitous occasions, avoid penalties for your tardiness.

“There’s something called a ‘flat tire rule,’” Kincaid explained to T+L, noting that not all airlines have this.

“Basically, the rule can be used to only charge the same day confirmed [or] standby fee, instead of a change fee and change of fare fee, if the passenger states they were late due to a flat tire, accident, or something similar.”

In just the same way that airlines avoiding compensating passengers for weather-related cancellations, travellers also have some recourse when they are late for reasons beyond their control. Such as, well, a flat tire.

While this policy is rarely publicised on airline websites, The Points Guy noted that most domestic carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines, will accommodate travellers who arrive within two hours of their original time departure, without paying a fee or swallowing fare increases.

WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR LUGGAGE?

In the event that you missed a connection, or got held up in security and your checked luggage has gone ahead without you, immediately find an airline representative.

The airline may be able to track your bags and hold them for you until your arrival. If you have attached a Smart Luggage Tag to your bags you’re going to be OK!

What happens if you miss your flight on purpose?
While it may come as a surprise to incredibly conscientious travellers who typically arrive at the airport three hours prior to their scheduled departure time, some travellers do in fact miss flights on purpose.

Though not common, this can be done as a way to score cheap flights. Deal hunters, for example, may find that it’s cheaper to book a flight with a connection where they want to go, rather than a flight directly to the desired destination.

The traveler will then hop off at the layover city and skip the remaining leg of the itinerary.

When travellers miss flights and do not notify the airline, the rest of the itinerary is almost always canceled. That means that if you are trying to get a flight deal by gaming the system, you might find yourself stranded, or without a return trip home.

Frequent fliers will not receive miles for trips booked and skipped, and certain offenders may even find themselves banned from that airline.

Editorial thanks to Travel & Leisure

SMART WAYS TO PREVENT YOUR LUGGAGE FROM LOSS

TRAVEL SMART AND ARRIVE IN STYLE

According to a 2017 report by SITA, a multinational company that provides IT support to the air transport industry, airlines mishandled (i.e., lost) approximately 21.6 million bags in 2016. And while that figure actually represents a record low for airlines, it doesn’t reflect theft, damage, or all the other things that can sack your bags. So before you and your luggage enter the fray, take some common sense precautions. Here are nine ways to protect your luggage on your next trip.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT BAG

Protecting your luggage starts by selecting the right luggage. Hard-shell cases are less adaptable to pressure and can crack or break from rough handling and overstuffed baggage hulls. Soft-sided or nylon bags can handle impacts better.

If you’re worried about distinguishing your suitcase from all the others on the baggage carousel, customise it with a piece of bright ribbon, a scarf, or unique luggage tag.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

When it comes to luggage, don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Obviously high-end luggage is more likely to be noticed by thieves; not only because the bags themselves are valuable, but because expensive bags suggest expensive contents.

WRAP IT UP

Encasing your luggage in plastic cling wrap not only protects it from scrapes and scratches, it’s a slight deterrent for the wide range of folks who’ll be handling your bag on its journey. Keep in mind, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the right to cut through any wrapping if an agent needs to inspect the contents.

BUY BAG PROTECTORS

A bag protector is the commercial (and reusable!) version of plastic wrap. Made of durable PVC, these clear protectors fit over suitcases of various sizes and are secured in place with Velcro. They’re designed to allow for free wheel movement and feature cut outs for easy access to handles.

TAKE A PHOTO OF YOUR BAGS

Snap a photo of your luggage before the first leg of any journey — especially international trips. Photos can help airport staff identify lost bags and facilitate communication between personnel in different nations.

USE A SMART LUGGAGE TAG

One of the best ideas to prevent your bags from loss is to buy a smart recovery luggage tag.
SuperSmartTags are the best luggage tags when it comes to value for money, design and functionality. The all new Travel Smart Edition tags are deluxe luggage tags they look awesome while they protect.

ZIP UP TOILETRIES

Though zip-top bags are required for the toiletries in your carry-on, they make just as much sense for checked luggage. Zip it up and protect your bags from leaking liquids like shampoo, mouthwash, and perfume.

TRAVEL LIGHT

What’s the best way to protect your luggage from loss or damage? Use less of it. By traveling with a carry-on only, you can keep essentials close at hand, adapt to last-minute flight changes easily, and hop off the baggage carousel once and for all.

ONLINE CHECK-IN

THE GOOD AND BAD ABOUT ONLINE CHECK-IN

In recent years countless travellers have learned the benefits of online check-in, from choosing seat assignments to saving time at the airport.

WHAT IS ONLINE CHECK-IN?

Offered by just about every major airline, online check-in allows you to check in for your flight in advance from the comfort of your home, office, or hotel room. Most airlines permit online check-in up to 24 hours before departure.

You typically need to provide your name and booking confirmation number, though sometimes you can also check in with a frequent flyer or credit card number. (Note: If you booked your flight through a third-party website such as Expedia or CheapOair rather than directly with the airline, make sure you use the airline’s reservation code, not the confirmation number from the booking site, to check-in.)

Each airline’s online check-in process is a little different, but you usually get the opportunity to choose a seat, pay any applicable checked bag fees, and consider a variety of up charges (such as an upgrade to premium economy or a fee to get bonus frequent flyer miles).
You may also have to answer some security questions or supply a passport number for an international flight.

Once you’ve completed the check-in process, you can print your boarding pass, have it emailed to you (so you can show it at the airport on your mobile device), or access it in a mobile app. If you don’t have access to a printer or a smartphone, you can print your boarding pass once you get to the airport as well. This doesn’t save you any time at the airport but does allow you to choose your seat further in advance than you would if you waited till a couple of hours before your flight.

WHY CHECK-IN ONLINE?

The airlines love online check-in because they save money on paper costs and personnel. Meanwhile, one of the main benefits of online check-in for travellers is by passing lines and hassle at the airport. If you’re not checking luggage, you can skip the check-in counter altogether and go straight to the security checkpoint, then to your gate and onto the plane. Your ID and the boarding pass you printed at home (or sent to your phone) will gain you passage right to your seat.

If you have luggage to check, checking in online can still save you a little time; some airlines have a designated desk where you can drop off your bag without having to go through the whole check-in process. You can also use curb-side check-in.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of online check-in, though, is the chance to get your pick of seating assignments as early as possible. Not only do you have a better shot at getting the seat you want, but you also are more likely to end up in an earlier boarding group (this is especially important on an airline like Southwest, which has open seating).

HOW TO GET A BETTER SEAT WHEN CHECKING-IN?

Here is the best way to get the best seat when using online check-in. First, open two browser windows—one with your airline’s website, the other with SeatGuru. On your airline’s website, call up your reservation and take a look at the seating chart. In the other window, pull up your flight and corresponding seating chart on SeatGuru. There you’ll see certain seats marked as green (advantageous for reasons such as extra legroom), yellow (potentially troublesome), or red (problematic due to proximity to the lavatory, lack of recline, or the like). Use SeatGuru’s recommendations to find the best available seat on your flight.

WHY CAN’T I CHECK-IN ONLINE?

Online check-in may be convenient for both travellers and airlines, but it isn’t available for every traveller on every itinerary. Following are a few of the reasons you might be forced to check in at the airport instead of online:

TRAVELLING IN LARGE GROUPS

Your first flight is operated not by the airline with which you’re trying to check in, but by a codeshare partner.

You need some sort of special service (such as a wheelchair or assistance for a child traveling alone.

You’ve been selected for secondary screening by the TSA.
The airline doesn’t have your passport on file for an international flight.
Note that even if online check-in is available, mobile boarding passes may not be accepted in all airports. If yours isn’t one of them, you’ll have to print your boarding pass the old-fashioned way.

DON’T MISS YOUR FLIGHT

Checking in online may save you time at the airport, but it doesn’t give you license to come skidding up to the security checkpoint 10 minutes before your flight is scheduled to take off. Even if you checked in the night before, you still need to be at your gate and ready to board by the airline’s deadline (which could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before the scheduled flight time). The airlines also have deadlines for how far in advance your checked bags must be dropped off. Don’t miss them.

To allow time for checking luggage, getting through security, and walking what could be a long distance to your gate, it’s best to arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance—even if you’ve already checked in online. (Allow more time if you’re traveling internationally and/or over a busy holiday period.

Editorial thanks to SmarterTravel

10 BEST AIR-FAIR WEBSITES

BEST WEBSITES TO BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS

We all book our flights online these days so it would be good to know which sites offer the best value right?

There are seemingly endless options when it comes to choosing the best flight.

In addition to the option of booking directly with your airline, there are dozens of flight booking websites, also known as online travel agencies (OTAs), to choose from. The uncomfortable truth is that no one flight search engine can guarantee the best price 100 percent of the time, but using a mix of the right resources can help ensure you’re not overpaying.

TRAVELOCITY

It should be noted that Expedia owns Travelocity, so this flight booking site basically gives you Expedia price results with a different colour scheme and organisational preferences. Travelocity’s homepage is streamlined, but doesn’t offer a flexible-dates search. On the results page, bag fees are revealed by clicking a drop-down for each fare, which makes it a little difficult to compare fees (you will likely have to scroll a bit). Travelocity rates each flight itinerary with a score on a scale of 10, which assess the duration, type of aircraft, and “quality of amenities” available onboard from ‘Very Good’ to ‘Satisfactory’ to ‘Fair.’ Travelocity does not charge a booking fee for round-trip flights on the same airline.

Best Feature: The out-of-10 flight rating assigns each itinerary a clear score, so you’re a lot less likely to mistakenly book a long layover or miss out on a better itinerary with Travelocity.

EXPEDIA

As previously mentioned, Expedia is nearly identical to Travelocity. Same interface, same flights, same prices, but in a different colour scheme. As with Travelocity (and to be fair, a number of other OTAs), Expedia will try to up-sell you on adding a hotel to your itinerary. This can save you money, but be sure to compare prices before you book. Expedia does not charge a booking fee on round-trip flights on the same airline. When you select your fare from the list of options, there’s an interstitial step that displays what is and isn’t covered in the fare, including seat selection, cancellations, changes, and baggage rules.

Best Feature: Like its subsidiary Travelocity, Expedia basically double-checks that you understand what sort of fare you’re choosing before you click “select” again. It’s a helpful bit of transparency in today’s cluttered airfare landscape.

CHEAPOAIR

Much like Travelocity and Expedia, flight search sites CheapOair and One Travel are versions of the same product, owned by Fareportal Inc. CheapOair charges the same booking fee as One Travel: up to $35 per ticket. The price results are identical, although the layout of the results differs somewhat, as CheapOair opts for a chart rather than a calendar.

Best Feature: Similarly to Bookit.com, CheapOair prioritises nonstop prices over itineraries with stops, organised in an easy-to-read charts that’s organised by airline.

TRIP ADVISORS FLIGHTS

(SmarterTravel’s parent company) is known for its hotel reviews, and now travellers can apply their ratings to airlines, plus search for airfare on TripAdvisor Flights. On testing this flight booking site it’s clear that TripAdvisor doesn’t always serve up the cheapest fares, but sometimes it did. It always, however, gives you the option to surface Expedia, Travelocity, and other flight booking sites’ results, so you can compare right away with one click. TripAdvisor Flights also has some helpful search options up-front, like a check box for prioritising nonstop flights.

Best Feature: TripAdvisor’s flight search tool is unique from others in that it offers review-based FlyScores of airlines alongside their fares, so you’re less likely to book with an obscure, low-rated airline without realising.

BOOKIT.COM

Results are listed in a handy chart (rather than as the typical scrolling list) showing the lowest prices grouped for nonstop, one-stop, and two-stop flights for a few primary carriers including the ‘best price,’ clearly marked. Otherwise, its results page is similar to most, with lots of drop-down menus and checkboxes for narrowing your results if you have specific needs. However, it charges a booking fee. Annoyingly, it was difficult to find information on exactly how much this flight booking site charges—terms and conditions are vague on the topic.

Best Feature: The table-style results chart on Bookit.com makes it easy to compare prices in one place rather than scrolling and mentally comparing itineraries.

ONE TRAVEL

One Travel borrows its interface from Google Flights’ calendar search feature. When you enter your departure and destination airports, the dates field brings up a calendar with prices pre-populated. This is a helpful feature for immediately honing in on the travel dates with the best prices if and when your dates are flexible.

One major drawback: One Travel charges a steep service fee of up to $35 per ticket. One Travel also offers different (and in my opinion, sometimes worse) itineraries than most at the top of its results page. Highlighted itineraries, upon closer inspection, included an extra stop. It’s important to make sure you’re comparing the same exact flights by looking at the flight number, or at least by keeping track the different options.

Best Feature: The calendar organisation that’s hard to find on other flight booking sites is the most ideal format if you’re flexible on travel dates.

TRAVELZOO

Travelzoo is quite different from the other sites listed here. Instead of booking specific itineraries, you can search broad timelines (this week, next month, this summer, etc.) for deals in your desired destination by either month or season. This makes Travelzoo a good fit for people with a budget and time frame, but no firm idea of when or even where they want to go. The downside is that if you do have specific plans in mind—for example, you need a flight to Omaha in March—Travelzoo is not likely to be helpful.

Best Feature: Travelzoo’s flexibility requirement can afford some great deals you won’t find elsewhere, like cheap business class flights and multi-city itineraries that will make a dream trip a lot more affordable than you’d think.

GOOGLE FLIGHTS

A powerful, simple metasearch site that comes free of ads and distractions. After you enter your departure and arrival airports, the calendar pre-populates with prices so you can target dates with lower fares (One Travel uses this tool). Once you have your results, you can track fares on your selected dates and receive updates by email.

Best Feature: The “search by map” function, which allows you to enter dates or a flexible period and see fares displayed all at once on a map. This can be helpful if you want to go to Europe in April, for example, but don’t have a particular destination in mind.

KAYAK

Often imitated and frequently duplicated, KAYAK was a game-changer when it launched back in the mid-2000s. And it’s still one of the most powerful metasearch tools available. You can also set up fares alerts to track prices over time. The interface is noisier than Google Flights thanks to a preponderance of ads, but still easy to use.

Best Feature: Its Hacker Fares claim to piece together separate one-way tickets, potentially saving you money compared to similar itineraries, and its wide range of filters, sorting options, and predictive technologies put a lot of tools at travellers’ disposal.

MOMONDO

One quirk of Momondo is a lack of transparency around the results. The top result in my test search was listed as from a “Major Airline,” which I was only able to identify by matching it to results from other searches. One plus: Momondo surfaces results from Southwest … but without prices. The results showed flight times and details from the carrier, but the fare was listed as “Unknown Price.” Only by clicking through to Southwest could I see the fare. Still, it’s nice to have a reminder that Southwest is an unlisted option. Another plus: Momondo searches for fares from a ton of smaller OTAs, which could lead to a deal that other metasearch tools miss.

Best Feature: The mention of Southwest is unique to Momondo. It gets kudos for flagging a reminder to check a competitor for something it doesn’t offer.

Editorial thanks to SmarterTravel

NEW AIRPORT IN ZAGREB

TOURISM IN CROATIA IS BOOMING!

Arriving in Zagreb has become a lot more comfortable in recent times with the opening of the much-anticipated new airport terminal in Pleso, which was named after the late President Franjo Tudjman. Additionally, the futuristic design is certainly a big improvement on the old airport terminal. Here is what you also need to know about reaching and using the airport of Zagreb, which last year handled over 3 million passengers.
Be sure to check your luggage in early especially during peak season as the airport gets very busy.

HOW TO ARRIVE VIA CITY CENTRE

If you are looking for a cheap way to get to Zagreb city centre from the airport, look no further than the bus shuttle service called Pleso Prijevoz (Pleso – the name of the village near where the airport is located – transfer). The ride takes about 40 minutes to the main Zagreb bus station, which is generally pretty central and just a short walk from the train station and centre, and tickets cost 40 kuna one way. The timetable allegedly follows through with the flight schedule, and you can learn more about the shuttle timetable on the official website. Tickets can be bought through the driver.

If you are really looking to save money, however, you can get into town even cheaper – simply walk about half a kilometre to the main road and wait at the nearby bus stop, and a city bus will eventually appear and take you into town. I did this a couple of years ago when there was no shuttle, for example. Total cost 12 kuna and additionally I felt a little better for the exercise too.

In addition to that option, it might be even cheaper (10 kuna) with the new 290 bus service between Velika Gorica and Zagreb Kvaternik Square, which started last year. The journey to the centre takes about 1 hour 15 mins, with some 16 stops altogether. It starts VERY early in the morning.

DRIVING TO THE AIRPORT

The new airport terminal is situated about 17km south of the city centre, close to the town of Velika Gorica, and it is not far from the motorway south of the city which links all corners of Croatia. Driving time with no traffic is less than 30 minutes, but you are advised to plan for some delays to be safe.

TAXIS & UBER

Above all, be VERY careful with taxis from the airport in Zagreb. Only licensed taxi drivers from nearby Velika Gorica are allowed to park at the airport, a privilege they seem to enjoy taking advantage of as a result, with MUCH higher prices from the airport that to it from the centre. How much more then? It really depends, however, and I heard one story which perhaps sums it up best. A businessman ordered an Uber from a hotel in central Zagreb to the airport. Upon being charged 90 kuna for the ride, he handed over a 1000 kuna note.

VIVID SYDNEY – DREAM TRAVEL DESTINATION

VIVID SYDNEY 2019

If there’s one place in the world where inspiration shines bright, it’s Vivid Sydney. Returning each year Vivid Sydney is Australia’s most loved and awarded festival brings together light artists, music makers and brilliant minds to share their creativity with you. See the city transformed. Discover new art forms. Ride sound waves. Spark new ideas and ignite conversations. Let your imagination take flight.

VIVID LIGHT

Vivid Light illuminates Sydney’s skyline with Lights On! from 6pm each evening. As the Lighting of the Sails unfurls across the architectural wonder of the Sydney Opera House, weave your way along the Light Walk around the harbour front and the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and venture to Sydney Harbour, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Luna Park Sydney, The Rocks, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo to brighten up your winter nights. With so much to see across nine precincts, it is worth planning multiple visits with plenty of pit stops to make the most of Vivid Sydney’s vast outdoor gallery of light art. Check out the light installations and projections here.

VIVID IDEAS

Vivid Ideas brings you 23 days and nights of future-facing talks, hands-on workshops and industry shaping forums. Game Changers Spike Lee and Esther Perel challenge assumptions on race and relationships. The Mark Colvin Conversation: Net Worth, asks what price we’ll pay for our constant digital distraction. In the series New Horizons, tune in to experts on sextech, co-living, dying for company, digital farewells and the dark web. Citizens of the World workshops unlock essential skills for a better informed and engaged life. Seek out bright sparks. Find new collaborators. Come up with new ways of thinking and maybe even try a new way of being. Check out the full ideas program here.

BAG SWITCH – TAKEN BY MISTAKE

BAGS LOST BY MISTAKE

Common Stories we see:

Maria Gypz, From London wrote on TripAdvisor
Somebody took my luggage at the airport HELP!

Hi guys!
When I flew back to London with Ryanair 2 weeks ago, I took a luggage that wasn’t mine.

As soon as I realised (almost back in London) I went back to the airport to give it back and ask for mine. I returned this luggage, but no news from mine. The staff said there were no luggage left on the carousel and that the other person probably took mine by mistake too.
I filled a claim and they told me that the person might bring it back soon.

It has now been two weeks and I have no news from my luggage. What can I do? Has somebody already had a similar experience?

Is the airline still responsible for the luggage when they are on the carousel?
If this person really took my luggage, it is a mistake, but if you don’t bring it back, it is theft, isn’t it? Can we have the airline to look at the CCTV? Maybe if I go to the police?

Maria is one of thousands of travellers that experience this every week.

It happens all the time and not only to checked in suitcases but also with carry-on-luggage, and even backpacks.

People are focused on their flights, transfers and simply make mistakes very easily.

Even more common are items that get left behind at airport terminals and security checkpoints. Once it’s happened to you you’ll start kicking yourself for not taking a plan of action to avoid it from happening.

With today’s technology preventing lost luggage is quite easy and does not need to be an expensive investment either. While various companies offer GPS tracking for the prevention of lost bags they are in most cases quite expensive and also include expensive annual fees. Unfortunately, such electronic devices are often limited to certain areas and do not always work.

Statistics show that our very own Smart Code works perfectly in recovering lost bags in 98% of the time and typically within 4-12 hours.

There are two common types of travellers that lose their luggage. Holiday makers and business travellers.

While losing your items heading to a holiday resort is a nightmare losing important documents and materials for business travellers can be a disaster.

Just imagine travelling from LA to New York on a business trip and you arrive without your laptop or marketing materials. What do you do? The trip is ruined!

People generally decide to prevent something from bad happening to them after they get burnt.
This is usually due to high investment but with something as simple as a luggage tag which costs no more than $20.00 this is easily avoidable.

So if you’re planning a trip, and no matter if it’s business or pleasure get your items protected with a SuperSmartTag.

Should your bags go missing you’ll be so glad you did!

SuperSmartTag takes off on Amazon

SuperSmartTag has rapidly increased it’s global sales over the past months after joining Amazon’s FBA program and various other online shopping websites such as bonanza.com, etsy.com to name a few.

The online shopping trend continues to grow as more people around the World find buying online more convenient than buying in stores. Traditional stores only have limited choice or a set range of brands compared to the vast variety of products and brands offered online.

SuperSmartTag’s sales are definitely increasing further via the online shopping mall experience.

SuperSmartTag will soon introduce a new line of product specifically designed to target sales on sites such as Amazon.com.

The new tags have more of a corporate look and feel. Available soon.

Etihad Upgrades Melbourne Route

From today, the flagship Etihad superjumbo will operate one of the airline’s double daily flights between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi. It will replace one of the three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft currently deployed on the route.

Etihad Airways Senior Vice President of Marketing, Shane O’Hare, said: “Today marks another major milestone for Etihad Airways in Australia.

etihad-a380_Submitted-MSN166

“With Melbourne joining our A380 network, Australia is the only country in our global network with daily A380 services to two cities – Melbourne and Sydney.

“Deploying our latest technology aircraft and class-leading product and service to Australia recognises its importance to our business and the strong demand from Australian travellers for premium travel experiences.

“From the product and service innovations in every cabin to our inspired approach to hospitality, the Etihad Airways A380 offers touches of luxury to every guest and sets the benchmark for inflight comfort, entertainment, connectivity and service.

The A380 will increase the total number of two-way seats on the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi route by 26 per cent to more than 11,500 seats per week.

Mr O’Hare said this would ease the capacity constraints on the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi, particularly for business and premium leisure travel.

“The A380, with 70 seats in business class, enables us to better meet the demand we have for our premium cabins and will boost our market share of this important segment.”

“Our partnership with Etihad continues to go from strength to strength since the airline’s arrival to Melbourne Airport in 2009. Last year we were thrilled by the introduction of a second daily service between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi and a new Premium Lounge opened at Melbourne Airport last month. Now, capacity has been increased again with the upgauge to an A380, replacing one of the airline’s daily 777 services.”

Air France sleep suit for 1st class

Air France s introducing its brand new sleep suit offered to passengers in La Première. Presented in a new felt pouch, the unisex sleep suit in high quality cotton is embroidered with the Air France seahorse motif.

The carrier claims the sleep suit is an “elegant” souvenir that can be worn at home.

Passengers are also given a comfort kit, containing slippers, socks, a shoehorn and a shoe bag.

Air-France

On board the Boeing 777, the new La Première cabin offers passengers a real designer suite, promising total privacy. Air France has dressed each suite with thick curtains, held back with leather tiebacks. A unique and daring concept, they enable the passenger to decide whether to be totally isolated or just partially. In an instant, the La Première seat turns into a fully-flat bed over two metres long.

During the flight, each guest has their own personal 24-inch HD touch screen, one of the largest ever offered on board. When the passenger is ready to go to sleep, the crew members install a mattress on the seat, for impeccable comfort. They are then given a fluffy pillow and a Sofitel My Bed duvet.

With the curtains closed, the partition raised and the lighting subdued, the suite provides optimum comfort for a perfects night’s sleep.

Brussels Belgium Must See & Do

1. Atomium
The Atomium is a building in Brussels originally constructed for Expo 58, the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Designed by the engineer André Waterkeyn and architects André and Jean Polak, it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall. Its nine 18 m (59 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It is a museum.

Tubes of 3 m (9.8 ft) diameter connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre. They enclose stairs, escalators and a lift (in the central, vertical tube) to allow access to the five habitable spheres which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere includes a restaurant which has a panoramic view of Brussels. CNN named it Europe’s most bizarre building.

dinnerintheskybrussels1_zps79987b20

2. Grand Place – Grote Markt
The main attraction and is a World Heritage site According to Unesco is the famed Grand Place/Grote Markt area in the Center of Brussels of which is the main public square of which where the opulent guildhalls and two larger edifices, the city’s Town Hall, and the Breadhouse (French: Maison du Roi, building containing the Museum of the City of Brussels is located.

The Grand Place was started in the 12th century of which three indoor markets were built, namely a meat market, a bread market and a cloth market and then due to the prosperity of the town, several guildhalls and much commerce was built in the area and nowadays there are many shops, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops within the square and the vicinity of it where you can shop, eat, have coffee and hang around and savor the sights.

3. Manneken Pis
just a short 5 minute walk south from the Grand Place along Rue De Charles Bus and then to Rue De Effuve’ will take you to the most famous statue in Brussels which is the cheeky Mannekin Pis.

This small 61 centimeter bronze statue, made by local artist Jerome Duquesnoy in 1619 is a regular small boy which is taking a pee to the fountain basin below of which the statue is now a replica as the original is now housed in in the King Place (the Breadhouse just across the Town Hall in Grand Place where the more than 700 different clothes that the mannekin pis statue is dressed differently everyday is also housed).

4. Cathédrale of St. Michael and St. Gudula
The Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is the Main Roman Catholic Church of Belgium and is the seat of the Archbishop of Brusels and where many of the Royal and State Ceremonies as done. the Church was renovated a few times since it was made in 1047 AD of which the Latest Design is Neo Gothic of which is closely resembles the Notre Dame of Paris. The Cathedral originally was a chapel dedicated to St Michael and in the 11 th century AD it was rep!aced by a Romanesque church which became a “collegiale church” in 1047 AD. The relics of St Gudula were transferred there. From then onwards, it became known as “the collegiale church of St Michae! and St Gudula”.

5. Mini Europe
The Mini-Europe exhibition attempts to boil down the essence of Europe into a 24,000 meter square park filled with 350 scaled down buildings. It’s detailed, accurate and big: with a 25:1 scale Big Ben is four meters tall, and the Eiffel tower as high as a three story building. There’s a lot of little details, quite a bit of dynamic scenery, vehicles that move around the park, and even some interactivity.

6. Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
The Galeries Saint Hubert, built in 1846, feature luxury shops and cafés, a famous tavern, a cinema and a theater. They provide a link between the surroundings of the Town Hall Square and the National Opera. Smaller side galleries are the universe of antiquarians and librarians…. Nice place to visit specially if its a sunny day.

7. Palais Royal de Bruxelles
In my previous visit, we didn’t approach the royal palace – I didn’t inform the king of my visit to Brussels, and I always knew that it is impolite to appear without announcement.
In the recent visit we had a closer look, but again without an invitation, we didn’t enter. Only back home In read in the official site that it may be visited and:

“The Palace is where His Majesty the King exercises his prerogatives as Head of State, grants audiences and deals with affairs of state. Apart from the offices of the King and the Queen, the Royal Palace houses the services of the Grand Marshal of the Court, the King’s Head of Cabinet, the Head of the King’s Military Household and the Intendant of the King’s Civil List.

8. Musical Instrument Museum
Aside from having numerous historical examples of harpsichords and other older keyboard instruments, the Musical Instrument Museum in Brussels also includes a workshop to show how harpsichords are made today.

This museum in Brussels is the newest and largest Musical Instrument Museum that I know of, but there are also some very interesting ones in other European cities such as Paris, Berlin, Stuttgart and Nürnberg.

9. Guild Houses
The Guildhalls around the Grand Place started in the 14th century when Brussels was becoming prosperous and which many artisans and craftsmen build the guildhalls around the square of which most are still standing today of which many of them still sell artisanal arts and crafts and food stuffs and the guildhalls are the following: Maison des Boulangers (bread) , La Brouette (wheelbarrow) , Le Sac (The Bag), Le Cornet (The Horn), La Louve (The She-Wolf), L’Étoile (The Star) and a lot more.

10. Palais de Justice Bruxelles
The Palace of Justice or Supreme Court of Belgium is located in the upper area of ​​the city, Saint Gilles, on the way to the Avenue Louise, in an area formerly known as Gallows Hill. This location gives a panoramic view of the city. The building was designed by architect Joseph Poelaert, who died 4 years before its completion in 1883. The style is described as eclectic, inspired mainly Assyrian-Babylonian

Getting There:

Brussels Airport is an international airport 6 NM northeast of Brussels, the capital of Belgium. In 2015, more than 23 million passengers arrived or departed at Brussels Airport, making it the 21st busiest airport in Europe.

Luxembourg Travel Guide

BEAUTIFUL MUST SEE EUROPEAN DESTINATION

As the wealthiest nation in Europe and one of the founding fathers of the EU, it’s safe to say little Luxembourg is punching well above its weight.

But as well as the highest per capita income on the continent, this diminutive country also has more than its fair share of natural beauty with rolling hills, verdant valleys and meandering rivers painting picture of rural idyll.

shutterstock_103296227-beaufort-castle_1

Proud of its role as a founding member of the EU, Luxembourg plays a prominent position in European affairs and is home to a number of European Union institutions.

Most of the action takes place in the capital, Luxembourg City, which has something of a split personality: while it’s all antiquated charm in the Old Town, with its elegant squares, imposing churches, independent shops and cobblestone streets, the Kirchberg district has a modern, flashier feel thanks to its ubiquitous offices, shopping malls and entertainment complexes.

The most popular destination outside the capital is medieval Vianden in the northeast, with its cobbled streets and hilltop castle, which is the envy of many European cities. Vianden also hosts a range of festivals and events throughout the year, many of which celebrate its historical past.

Echternach, founded in the 7th century, is the oldest city in the country, with a picturesque centre dominated by an abbey. It is also a convenient base for exploring ‘Little Switzerland’, a tiny region of rocky outcrops, cliffs, cascades, and forests, crisscrossed by walking trails that are a haven for hikers and mountain-bikers.

On the southeastern border with Germany, the Moselle Valley enjoys a unique microclimate that has given rise to one of Europe’s smallest wine-growing districts, producing award-winning whites and sparkling wines. Meanwhile, northern Luxembourg is dominated by the Ardennes, an area of high plateau where wooded valleys, shimmering rivers and lofty peaks make for stunning trekking.

All in all, not bad for a country the size of Dorset.

Getting There:

Luxembourg Findel Airport (IATA: LUX, ICAO: ELLX) is the main airport in Luxembourg.
It is Luxembourg’s only international airport and is the only airport in the country with a paved runway.

It is located 3.25 NM (6.02 km; 3.74 mi) away from Luxembourg City.

In 2013 it handled 2,197,497 passengers. By cargo tonnage, Findel ranked as Europe’s 5th busiest and the world’s 28th busiest in 2010.

Luxair, Luxembourg’s international airline, and cargo airline Cargolux have their head offices on the airport property.

Onboard Singapore Airlines A350

The Airbus A350 has only reached delivery stage for about 14 months, but since the first aircraft went to Qatar Airways just before Christmas 2014, new deliveries to new customers start to get a bit of a routine at Airbus.

When aircraft number 16, MSN 026, A350-941 registered 9V-SMA, was handed over to Singapore Airlines (SIA) on Wednesday, the buzz was considerably less than before. Even more so in comparison to the last milestone delivery for SIA in Toulouse, the first-ever Airbus A380 in the fall of 2007.

DSC_0179

With the first A350 for the Asian quality carrier, it was almost a low-key event for Airbus and SIA standards.DSC_0179Adding to that was that Airbus’ top brass was in China at the time, breaking ground for a new A330 completion center in Tianjn.

Didier Evrard , EVP Programmes at Airbus and former Head of the A350 Programme, was the master of ceremonies on the manufacturer’s side back in Toulouse. “Having SIA as a customer is the strongest possible endorsement of the A350”, remarked Evrard during the handover ceremony.

For SIA, the A350 is a truly new dimension. “In the last five years, we had very little expansion on long haul, we didn’t have the right aircraft with the right efficiency to expand in a commercially viable manner”, said SIA-CEO Goh Choon Phong in talking to AirwaysNews.

“The A350 is a game changer for us because it is this particular aircraft offering us the right size, efficiency and cabin to add more capacity on long haul.” In fact, the A350 will open up a new route for SIA, from Singapore to Düsseldorf, Germany, in July this year. “That would have been difficult to serve for us without the A350”, adds Goh.

The A350s 253 seats (42 in Business Class, 24 in Premium Economy and 187 in Economy) are just about the perfect size to establish new routes off the trunk routes or add more frequencies with extra flights to existing destinations.

The first long-haul route for the new aircraft in the SIA fleet will be the service to Amsterdam from May 9th, replacing a Boeing 777-300ER.

Qantas Reports Strong Results

Qantas today reported an underlying profit before tax of $921 million and a statutory profit before tax of $983 million for the six months ended December 31st, 2015.

The underlying result is a record first-half performance and means Qantas’ 2015 calendar-year performance was the best in its 95-year history.

592663-qantas-ba-escape

Every part of the Qantas Group contributed strongly to the result, with record underlying profits for Qantas Domestic, the Jetstar Group and Qantas
Loyalty.

The Group continues to expand margins through both revenue growth and cost discipline.

Revenue increased by five per cent to $8.5 billion, while total unit costs were down by seven per cent compared with the first half of last year.

The $2 billion Qantas Transformation program is reshaping the Group into a more agile and innovative business.

In the half, the Group unlocked $261 million in cost and revenue benefits through transformation initiatives, with $1.36 billion in total benefits now realised since 2014.

Total transformation benefits in the full year are expected to be $450 million.

Volatility in the global economy underlines the importance of transformation as the key to building shareholder value and sustainable returns over the long term.

The group secured a first-half benefit of $448 million through effective fuel hedging, which enabled it to participate in lower global fuel prices.

Chief executive Alan Joyce said the national carrier was ready to make the most of an exciting future.

“This record result reflects a stronger, leaner, more agile Qantas.

“I’m extremely proud of our people, who are working hard to transform the Qantas Group and make flying with Qantas and Jetstar better than ever for our customers.”

Joyce added: “Without a focus on revenue, costs and balance sheet strength, today’s result would not have been possible.

“Both globally and domestically, the aviation industry is intensely competitive.

“That’s why it’s so important that we maintain our cost discipline, invest to grow revenue, and continue innovating with new ventures and technology.”

Top Attractions Tasmania Australia

SALAMANCA MARKET
Set amongst the historic Georgian sandstone buildings of Salamanca Place, this famous market attracts thousands of locals and visitors every Saturday of the year.

Salamanca Market is one of those special places where you actually meet the people who create, make or grow what they sell.

A range of nearly 300 stallholders includes hand-made Tasmanian pieces from woodwork to jewellery, fashion to fanciful glassware and ceramics, not to mention fresh fruit and organic vegetables, all accompanied by buskers and music.

From the market, it’s a short climb up historic Kelly’s Steps to the Georgian cottages and the early maritime village atmosphere of Battery Point.

Port-Arthur-Tasmania

MUSEUM OF OLD AND NEW ART – MONA
The Museum of Old and New Art – Mona is Australia’s largest private museum and arguably one of the most controversial private collections of modern art and antiquities in the world. Described by its owner as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’, the collection ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies to some of the world’s most infamous and thought-provoking contemporary art.

With around 300 art works on display, the collection takes up three floors within a subterranean architectural masterpiece and is guaranteed to impress.

The 3.5 ha site includes the Ether Building Function Centre, Moorilla winery and vineyard, Cellar Door, Wine Bar and Barrel Room, Void Bar, The Source restaurant, a 63-seat cinema, the Mona Library and gallery and eight contemporary accommodation pavilions.

MOUNT WELLINGTON
Kunanyi/Mount Wellington is a wilderness experience just a 20-minute drive from Hobart and is much loved by locals.

The 21-kilometre drive to the summit passes through temperate rainforest to sub-alpine flora and glacial rock formations, ending in panoramic views of Hobart, Bruny Island, South Arm and the Tasman Peninsula.

No other city in Australia has a vista like this one. The interpretation centre at the top protects you from the blustering winds while an open viewing platform on the western side of the car park looks out to the southern World Heritage Area beyond.

PORT ARTHUR HISTORIC SITE
The Port Arthur Historic Site on the Tasman Peninsula is Australia’s most intact and evocative convict site and one of Australia’s great tourist destinations.

The Site has more than 30 buildings, ruins and restored period homes, dating from the prison’s establishment in 1830 until its closure in 1877. During this time around 12,500 convicts served sentences and for many it was a living hell.

Today, the site sits in 40 hectares of landscaped grounds and you’ll need plenty of time to fully experience all that it has to offer.

Site entry is valid for two consecutive days and includes an Introductory Guided Walking Tour, harbour cruise, access to the museum, access to the Convict Study Centre and Interpretation Gallery and the site of the Dockyard.

CATARACT GORGE RESERVE
Cataract Gorge Reserve, known locally as the Gorge, is a unique natural formation within a two-minute drive of central Launceston – a rare natural phenomenon in any city.

In an easy 15 minutes, you can walk from central Launceston along the banks of the Tamar River into the Gorge and from there follow a pathway originally built in the 1890s along the cliff face looking down onto the South Esk River.

The First Basin on the southern side has a cafe and a swimming pool surrounded by bushland knows to locals as Launceston’s beach.

In contrast, the shady northern side, named the Cliff Grounds, is a Victorian garden created with ferns and exotic plants.

CRADLE MOUNTAIN
Cradle Mountain is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and one of the most accessible, interesting and most visited places in Tasmania.

Located at the northern end of the Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park, Cradle Mountain is surrounded by smooth glacial lakes, ancient rainforest, and unusual alpine vegetation.

It’s easy to gain a full appreciation of the place on one of the many short walks found in the area.

You can stroll from cascading rivers to dense, old-growth rainforest in just 20 minutes on the Enchanted Walk, walk the two-hour circuit of Dove Lake – one of Australia’s great short walks – or spend the day tackling Cradle Mountain summit itself.

FREYCINET NATIONAL PARK
When you first set eyes on Great Oyster Bay set against the backdrop of Freycinet National Park and the three pink-granite peaks of the Hazards mountain range – you know you’re somewhere different. This is a visual experience to remember.

Situated on Tasmania’s beautiful east coast, Freycinet National Park occupies most of the Freycinet Peninsula – a long strip of land that looks out to the Tasman Sea from the eastern side and back towards the Tasmanian coastline from the west.

The park is loaded with natural assets, including the granite peaks of the Hazards that dominate the Peninsula, abundant birdlife and the iconic and much-photographed Wineglass Bay.

There are long and short walks across the park to secluded bays, clean beaches and bird-filled lagoons, and can be enjoyed by walkers of all abilities.

BLOW HOLE AND TASMAN ARCH
The Blow Hole and Tasman Arch are just two of several unusual geological formations found in the Tasman National Park, a place of rugged beauty and natural diversity with some of the most stunning coastal scenery anywhere in Australia.

Formations like the Tasman Arch, the Blow Hole, the Devils Kitchen, the Tessellated Pavement, Remarkable Cave and Waterfall Bay can all be reached by car, but by far the best views of the rugged coastline are from the park’s many bushwalks.

Not surprisingly, the park offers some of the best coastal walks in the country. A stroll of just an hour or two will reveal sheer drops overlooking chasms and surging ocean, off-shore islands, white sandy beaches and a waterfall that tumbles into the sea. While at the southern end of the park are some of the highest and most spectacular sea cliffs in the world.

ROYAL TASMANIAN BOTANICAL GARDENS
The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens were established in 1818 and are just a short walk from Hobart’s CBD.

They may be small compared to other states but many say they’re the best.

The Gardens hold historic plant collections and a large number of significant trees, many dating back to the nineteenth century as well as the world’s only Subantarctic Plant House. Here, plants from subantarctic islands in high southern latitudes are displayed in a climatically-controlled environment, where chilly fogs and mists mirror the wet, cold conditions of their island homes.

The Gardens also contain some of Tasmania’s most significant built heritage, including the Superintendent’s cottage (now the Administration Office) and the Arthur Wall. This wall, of a design once common in Britain, is hollow and capable of being heated to encourage the growth of fruit trees planted beside it.

Airborne Wifi Advances

In an annual survey released last month, the flight amenities-ranking website Routehappy found that just 6% of WiFi-equipped flights worldwide offer the reliable, fast service that the site classifies as “best WiFi.”

But technologies being introduced beginning this year should increase that number before 2017 rolls around, and more innovations are in the works for next year.
“We have to wait and see how fast airlines can install it on their aircraft, but the direction is definitely up,” said Jason Rabinowitz, Routehappy’s data research manager.

The most recent provider to roll out an in-flight WiFi upgrade was market leader Gogo, which introduced its new 2Ku satellite-based technology late last year. Until then, the company offered two earlier and slower WiFi technologies: air-to-ground, which offers speeds up to 10 megabits per second (Mbps) but can only be used over land, and Ku, an air-to-satellite system that offers speeds between 3 and 8 Mbps but can be used over water.

airplaneWifi

2Ku differs from Ku in the number of antennas it uses: one for Ku and two for 2Ku, which more than doubles Ku bandwidth, according to Gogo.

So far, 2Ku deployment has been slow. Gogo has equipped approximately 2,500 planes with WiFi connectivity: 2,300 with ATG systems and 200 with Ku systems.
Upgrading planes to 2Ku from Ku is a much simpler process than retrofitting them from ATG to 2Ku. Making the latter switch is a costlier installation and puts a plane out of commission longer.

At the moment, Gogo said it has an 800-order backlog for upgrades to 2Ku service, though Aeromexico has already begun employing 2Ku technology, Gogo spokesman Steve Nolan said.

Next in line for Gogo’s 2Ku rollout is Virgin Atlantic, Nolan said, and he added that Delta, which plans to equip more than 250 aircraft with 2Ku antennas, is also slated to begin its rollout by the end of March.

Gogo claims that 2Ku’s performance will be similar to what a person would experience with land-based WiFi, including the ability to stream videos.
Rabinowitz was a bit less bullish, saying that during a test flight he was on last fall it worked “moderately well.”

“It was definitely better than your traditional global-coverage WiFi,” he said.
With Gogo’s 2Ku now already entering service, the next in-flight WiFi innovation to launch is expected to come in April from Panasonic Avionics, which spokesman Brian Bardwell said counts United, American, Emirates and Lufthansa among its airline customers.

Through a service contract on a newly launched satellite, Panasonic plans to offer a five-fold upgrade in bandwidth, to as much 200 Mbps, on any route that flies any city pair that lies between the West Coast of the U.S. and Europe.

The new satellite, called a High-Throughput Satellite, enables Panasonic to deliver its WiFi signal via spot beams targeted at portions of the world that get the most airline traffic.
That efficiency won’t just improve speed, Bardwell said; it will also reduce cost. Panasonic is selling the service to airline clients at prices that are less than half its current rates.
He also said that deployment by the airlines should happen as soon as the service becomes available, since High-Throughput technology will work with the equipment already installed on clients’ planes.

A second High-Throughput Satellite launch will enable Panasonic to extend the service to the Middle East in October, Bardwell said, with service farther into Asia slated for the second half of 2017.

The other primary providers of in-flight WiFi in the U.S. don’t have any major technology upgrades planned for this year, though the satellite company ViaSat, which provides what is currently regarded as the fastest WiFi in the sky, is adding Virgin America to its client base.
Working through the provider Thales, ViaSat already supplies WiFi to JetBlue and the old Continental portions of United’s fleet. The service is delivered on Ka-band satellites, which operate at a higher frequency than Ku satellites.

But while the ViaSat service is fast, customers on JetBlue flights to the Caribbean can tell you that it’s limited by its spacial coverage, which is confined to the continental United States and the nearest edges of Mexico and Canada.

ViaSat will offer a partial fix to that problem this year in the form of a hybrid Ka/Ku satellite that Virgin America, pending federal certification, will put to use on routes between the mainland and Hawaii as soon as this summer.

But ViaSat plans to offer much more comprehensive improvements in mid-2017 with the launch of its next generation ViaSat-2. The satellite will double ViaSat’s WiFi speed, said Don Buchman, the company’ s vice president of commercial mobility, while increasing its geographic coverage sevenfold. Along with the continental U.S., ViaSat-2 will cover Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America as well as the North Atlantic routes to Europe.
In addition, ViaSat has entered into a joint venture with a European satellite provider that will connect its network as far east as Istanbul.

ViaSat-2 is slated to be followed in 2019 by the launch of ViaSat-3, an even faster broadband platform that will make the satellite provider’s Ka-band global.

Global Eagle, the final major provider of airline WiFi in the U.S., counts Southwest as well as several international carriers among its customers. Like Panasonic, Global Eagle plans to roll out a fast Ku-band service via High-Throughput Satellite technology. The satellite will launch early next year, company spokesman Paul Sims said.

In its Annual Global State of In-Flight WiFi report last month, Routehappy wrote that U.S. airlines now offer at least spotty service on 78% of their available seat miles. While coming upgrades should make that spottiness less common, Rabinowitz said only time will tell for sure.

“It all sounds great,” he said. “But we’ll have to wait and see once we get on an aircraft.”

Innsbruck Austria Top Attractions

A CITY WITH CHARM

Skiing is obviously the prime objective of most winter visitors. And with Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, a combination of eight ski resorts, who can blame them? But even they will be distracted for a day or two by the other things to do in Innsbruck.

While the shining Golden Roof lures travellers to the Old Town, nearby sites like the Hofburg and Maria-Theresa Strasse keep them there. If you’re traveling with kids, you should enjoy the city vista from the Alpenzoo, the highest zoo in Europe, or the thrilling Bergisel Ski Jump.

The Hofkirche and the Emperor’s Tomb
Innsbruck’s spectacular Court Church, the Hofkirche, was completed in 1563 in the local Late Gothic style. This three-aisled hall-church with its narrow chancel and off-center tower boasts many notable interior features, in particular its 18th-century high altar and side altars, and a choir screen from the 17th century.

medres_00000032737-christkindlmarkt-altstadt-tvb-innsbruck-Christof Lackner.jpg.3197354

The Golden Roof
The arcaded Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, lined with handsome old merchants’ houses, enters the Old Town quarter from the south and makes straight for the famous Golden Roof (Goldenes Dachl). This magnificent Late Gothic oriel window, roofed with gilded copper tiles, was built in 1496 to commemorate Maximilian I’s marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza and served as a box from which the court watched civic festivities in the square below (the house behind, the Neuer Hof, was a former ducal palace rebuilt in 1822).

The Hofburg
Innsbruck’s old Court Palace, the Hofburg – a former imperial residence originally built in the 15th and 16th centuries – was remodeled in Baroque and Rococo style in the 18th century upon instructions from Maria Theresa. Best viewed as part of a guided tour (available in English), highlights include its luxurious apartments with their fine painted ceilings.

Old Town Innsbruck
With its narrow house-fronts, handsome doorways, oriel windows, and arcaded-façades, Innsbruck’s Old Town boasts many fine examples of old Tyrolese architecture and southern influences, along with many sumptuous Renaissance, Baroque, and Rococo buildings. The semi-circular quarter of the Old Town, enclosed by a ring of streets known as the Graben (Moat), is now a pedestrian precinct and a wonderful place to pass the time of day.

The Cathedral of St. James
In the Domplatz, Innsbruck Cathedral (Innsbruck Dom) – formerly the Parish Church of St. James – was raised to cathedral status in 1964. Notable for its imposing twin-towered west front and the high dome over the choir, it was built in Baroque style in 1724 and fully restored after WWII.

St. Anne’s Column
Lined with handsome 17th and 18th-century houses and numerous shops, bustling Maria-Theresien Strasse affords a magnificent vista of the mountains to the north. In the middle of this wide old street, directly in front of the Town Hall (Rathaus), stands St. Anne’s Column (Annasäule), erected in 1706 to commemorate the withdrawal three years earlier of Bavarian troops on St. Anne’s Day. Surmounted by a statue of the Virgin Mary, St. Anne stands on the base near St. George, the patron saint of Tyrol, and other saints.

The Hofburg District Christian Allinger
In addition to its imperial Court Palace and Church, the area around the Hofburg offers much else worth seeing. Of particular interest is the Silver Chapel, built in 1587 as the burial chapel of Archduke Ferdinand II and named after a silver image of the Virgin and embossed silver reliefs on the altar.

The River Inn Walking Tour
There’s no better way to spend time than exploring the beautiful riverbanks and esplanades of the River Inn. A great place to begin your walk is the Mariahilf District, noted for its Baroque Mariahilfkirche from 1649 with its wonderful 17th-century frescos, and the beautiful Botanic Garden and observatory. Next, head for the district of Hötting, home to the splendid Old Parish Church (Alte Pfarrkirche) with its tower rising above the new parish church from 1911.

Alpenzoo Innsbruck-Tyrol
Just one kilometer north of Innsbruck’s Old Town center is the 15th-century Schloss Weiherburg, home to Alpenzoo Innsbruck-Tyrol. This beautifully situated zoo is well known for its collection of mountain animals from the world’s Alpine regions – including mammals, birds, and reptiles – and is popular with both experts and tourists alike.

Getting There:

Innsbruck Airport also known as Kranebitten Airport, is the largest international airport in Tyrol in western Austria. It is located approximately 2.5 miles from the centre of Innsbruck.

The airport, which was opened in 1925, handles regional flights around the Alps, as well as seasonal international traffic to further European destinations. During the winter, activity increases significantly, due to the high number of skiers travelling to the region.

What You Should Always Do On Planes

If you think finding your seat and fighting for overhead space are all you need to do when you get on a plane, you could be putting your comfort (and your health) at risk.

Here’s what you need to do as soon as you get on the plane.

Sanitize your area
There’s no gentle way to say this: Planes are gross. Microbiologists estimate that airplane tray tables have an average of 2,155 colony-forming units (CFUs, a.k.a. “germs”) per square inch.

That’s compared to the 70 CFUs per square inch that lurk on airport bathroom stall locks. Pack some sanitizing wipes and wipe down your tray table, seatback TV, remote control, armrests and seatbelt latch — basically any hard surface you’re going to touch during your flight.

WIFI-on-Board

Position your vent
Speaking of germs, if you’re trapped in an enclosed space with someone who has a contagious disease, you’ve got a pretty good chance of catching the virus.

If you want to really freak yourself out, read about your chances of catching something from a sick passenger — like TB, which you can catch if you’re within two rows of patient zero; or SARS, which can transmit to flyers as far as seven rows away.

Save yourself by blowing away the germs via the air vent above your head. Set the ventilation to low or medium and position it directly in front of your head, blowing straight down. If you can feel the air flow on your lap, you’ve done it right.

Count the rows until the exit
No one ever plans to be in a plane crash. But if you take a moment to mentally prepare for one, you increase your chances of survival if the worst does happen. Count the number of rows between your seat and the closest emergency exit.

If the plane goes down or makes an emergency landing, you may have to make your way out of a dark, smoke-filled cabin where you can’t see the exit. If you know exactly how many rows stand between you and the exit, you can feel your way out, counting the rows by hand.

You only have about 90 seconds to evacuate a burning airplane for the greatest chance of survival, and you don’t want to waste valuable time trying to find a way out. Make sure you’ve mentally selected a back-up exit as well, in case your closest door is blocked.

Check for a life vest
Although the flight crew checks each seat for a life vest at the beginning of every day, they usually don’t check them between flights.
Unfortunately, some people do actually steal life vests, so do a quick check under your seat for yours, especially if you’ll be flying over water.

Gather your in-flight essentials
After you’ve taken care of your health and safety essentials, it’s time to focus on your in-flight comfort.

If you’re stashing your personal bag in the overhead compartment, make sure to take out everything you’ll need during your flight before putting it above your seat, so that you’re not constantly getting up and down — or stranded without something you need when the seatbelt sign is on.

Put on your headphones
If you don’t want to talk to your seatmates, popping your headphones on as soon as you sit down is the universal “no conversation please” signal. Be sure to put yours on even if you’re not listening to anything just yet. (Take them off for the flight safety demonstration, of course.)

Chew gum
If you have sensitive ears that painfully pop during take-off or landing, chew some gum before you go airborne. This can help with air pressure changes and make you feel better. Plus, you’ll have fresher breath when you land.

Make sure your seatback TV works
Got a long-haul flight and don’t want to be stuck staring into space for hours? Make sure that your seatback TV is working.

If you’ve drawn the broken machine, the flight attendant may be able to move you to another seat so that you can enjoy the in-flight entertainment (instead of sadly trying to watch your neighbor’s screen).

Rome’s Fiumicino Airport Expanding

Airport operator Aeroporti di Roma (ADR) that runs Rome’s Fiumicino airport might spend $13.5bn over the next 30 years on upgrading physical infrastructure and improving the airport’s links with the rest of Italy.

The country’s sixth biggest airport, Fiumicino, served close to 44 million passengers last year. As a part of its upgrade plans, the airport plans to increase that number to 100 million by 2044, reports Airports Business Magazine.

846.pascall

The airport is planning this expansion to be able to compete with its northern European rivals to become one of the continent’s main hubs.

“The integration of the two transport systems, air and rail, will confirm the role of Fiumicino as the country’s hub.”
However, the plan has met with some local opposition as groups are claiming that the expansion would result in concreting over a neolithic burial ground.

Airports Business Magazine quoted CEO of ADR Lorenzo Lo Presti as saying: “The integration of the two transport systems, air and rail, will confirm the role of Fiumicino as the country’s hub, and extend the offering of flights to the areas of Bologna, Florence and Venice, where citizens currently reach their intercontinental destinations through airports such as Frankfurt and Paris.”

The expansion will entail refurbishment of four existing terminals. The complete process has been divided into Fiumicino South Completion Plan and the Fiumicino North Masterplan, which was drawn up by UK architect Pascall + Watson and Aecom subsidiary URS.

With the southern plan, the airport will be able to increase its terminal area and upgrade its apron, taxiways and all subsystems, including loading bridges, baggage reclaim and technical plants.

Beijing Attractions

Beijing, the heart of China, is always the first choice of travellers who are willing to know a time-honored and developed city of China. It has been the political, economic and cultural center of China for over 800 years from the Yuan Dynasty.

The numerous royal buildings with long history endow it with incomparable charm, not only the ‘Nation’s Best’ but also the ‘World’s Best’. On the other hand, as the host city of the 2008 Olympic Games, this oriental ancient city presented her best fashion fascination to the world.

Forbidden City
An imperial palace for over 500 years Forbidden City
The magnificent Forbidden City is the largest and the best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world.

It has 9,999 rooms in flourishing period with just a single room short of the number that ancient Chinese belief represents ‘Divine Perfection’ and surrounded by a moat six meters deep and ten-meter high wall. For five centuries, this palace functioned as the administrative center of the country.

Great Wall
One of the world”s seven wonders Great Wall in Beijing

The Great Wall of China is one of the ‘Eight Wonders of the World’ and is enlisted in the World Heritage Directory. This immense wall was built to keep out invaders as well as to retain the inhabitants.

It spans five provinces from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west, looking like a gigantic dragon across deserts, grasslands and mountains. In the downtown area, it is possible to climb Badaling Great Wall.

tiananmen-square

Tiananmen Square
The center of Beijing Tiananmen Square
The solemn and respectful Tiananmen Square is the largest central city square in the world, which serves not only the city’s symbol but also the whole of China. This immense courtyard is surrounded by a variety of significant edifices such as the Tiananmen Tower, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, Monument to the People’s Heroes and National Museum.

Summer Palace
Is the capital city of several Dynasties. Therefore, besides the spectacular imperial palaces, it also possesses the most luxurious royal gardens—the well-preserved Summer Palace with an area of 727 acres, the elegant Beihai Park and the destroyed Old Summer Palace.

The holy Temple of Heaven
Due to religion was always related with the supreme imperial power, it at one time served as the focus of religious life with lots of beautiful temples. The Temple of Heaven, where the Emperors paid homage to the glory of heaven, is the largest group of structures in the country dedicated to rituals. To be opposite, the Altar of Earth was used to worship the God of the Earth. The Great Bell Temple, where the Emperor prayed for rainfall in the Qing Dynasty.

Beijing Hutong
You would like to experience the local life and have a different vacation in Beijing, there is a great deal of Hutongs and Courtyards distributed for your choice.

The Prince Gong’s Mansion should be the most magnificent courtyard, which was the residence of an official and then a prince. Other famous historical sites include the Bell and Drum Towers, the Colored Glaze Factory (Liulichang) Street for people interested in Chinese calligraphy, painting or other artwork, the Lugou Bridge carved with marvelous stone lions.

Beijing National Stadium
Namely the Bird’s NestThanks for the 29th Summer Olympics, the city has been well-known for travelers all over the world.

This hospitable metropolis has been mixed with lots of modern elements, which is also a new part for its mysterious orient civilization. Your Beijing vacation should not miss the representative buildings displaying this international metropolis, such as the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center for 2008 Olympics.

Jingshan Park
For a peaceful and interesting stroll, please visit the beautiful parks. Located at the back of the Forbidden City, the Jingshan Park is an ideal place for an overview of the city, which was also an imperial garden in ancient time.

The Fragrant Hills Park has the most beautiful red maple leaves in every autumn. The Taoranting Park is a wonderful workmanship of Chinese ancient and modern architectural skills. The Stone Flower Cave is an astonishing karst park.

Getting There:

Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport serving Beijing.

It is located 32 km (20 mi) northeast of Beijing’s city center, in an enclave of Chaoyang District and the surroundings of that enclave in suburban Shunyi District.

The airport is owned and operated by the Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited, a state-controlled company. The airport’s IATA Airport code, PEK, is based on the city’s former romanized name, Peking.[note 1]

Beijing Capital International Airport is the main hub for Air China, the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China, which flies to around 120 destinations (excluding cargo) from Beijing. Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines also use the airport as their hub.

Beijing Capital added Terminal 3 in 2008 in time for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, the second largest airport terminal in the world after Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3, and the sixth largest building in the world by area. Beijing Capital International Airport covers 1,480 hectares (3,700 acres) of land.

Best Rock’n’roll Hotels in Los Angeles

Grafton on Sunset
Screaming LA-esque rock’n’roll vibe, this recently renovated boutique hotel is young and wild at heart, and won’t burn a hole in your pocket. In the heart of WeHo on Sunset Strip, the room walls feature an image of a crowd at a rock concert; funky light fittings throw a spotlight effect across the room and mirrors elongate.

Throw in fire-engine red pillows on a comfy L-shaped lounge, flourishes of gold on coffee tables and lampshades and faux-fur throws for the full-throttle effect. Guests can relax by the chlorine-free saltwater pool before heading to nearby rock icons such as the Whisky-a-Go-Go and the Rainbow Bar & Grill.

Rooms from $289; graftononsunset.com

The Line, DTLA
Yet another stellar innovation from LA chef Roy Choi, The Line gives you little reason to leave the hotel. White, bright rooms are industrial chic with splashes of colour on furnishings from a local Venice artist, and offer expansive floor-to-ceiling views towards the Hollywood Hills.

Head to Commissary, the greenhouse restaurant nestled alongside the rooftop pool, sample Korean at Pot and breakfast with delicious baked goods in the cafe. Don’t miss ’80s-themed bar Break Room 86 – if you can find its secret entrance.

Rooms from $283; thelinehotel.com

The London, West Hollywood
The epitome of understated glamour and style on Sunset Strip, The London is a firm favourite. Decadently sized, bright rooms include all mod cons, boasting views of DTLA down to Santa Monica, or Hollywood Hills from the balcony.

The hotel has outstanding service, including a driver for travel within two kilometres of the property. It is also home to one of the best rooftop pools in LA, with 360-degree views of the city, coupled with sensational cocktails from the bar alongside.

If you can tear yourself away, it is in walking distance of some of the best shopping, bars and restaurants WeHo has to offer.

Rooms from $847; thelondonwesthollywood.com

ace-hotel-lobby
Pictured The Ace Hotel

The Ace Hotel, Downtown LA
Situated in the historic United Artists building, the Ace shouts hip in an area whose vibe is off the charts, making it an ideal base from which to explore the ever-growing repertoire of restaurants and bars.

In typical Ace style, rooms are rustic and range from small for individuals to lofts and suites, some of which include unique embellishments such as an acoustic guitar or a turntable with a curated selection of vinyl from Amoeba Music.

There’s public spaces peppered throughout – grab a lounge by the rooftop pool and view the ornate building surrounds or pep up your day with a Stumptown brew from the Coffee Counter in the lobby.

Rooms from $423 a night; acehotel.com

Chateau Marmont
Where Hollywood’s rich and famous check in, some never checking out.

Like its name suggests, the Chateau is a secluded castle in the Hollywood Hills within spitting distance of the throbbing nightlife of the Strip below. Packed full of rock’n’roll history, anyone can grab a drink at the bar and reminisce about the time Jim Morrison notoriously dangled from a suite balcony. Inside, it’s all classic Hollywood mid-century glamour.

Large suites can contain formal dining rooms, terraces, private entrances with carports and direct access to the pool via private walled gardens – not to mention thick soundproofed walls and a reputation for hedonism.

Rooms from $615; chateaumarmont.com

The Redbury
You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d accidentally stumbled into Hollywood’s French bordello. Originally designed for condos, the sizeable, red-walled vintage-bohemian style rooms have been curated by photographer Matthew Rolston and contain unique features such as paisley walls, Persian rugs, couches adorned with lambskin throws and four-poster beds.

All rooms include a full kitchen, record players with a selection of vinyl and – blissfully – a washer/dryer. Private balconies offer views of iconic Hollywood sights such as the sign or the neighbouring Capital Records tower, and there’s a 24-hour hosting service.

Rooms from $417; theredbury.com

Common Travel Mistakes

MOST COMMON MISTAKES WHEN WE TRAVEL

Overpacking
At home, with your complete wardrobe available, there’s no reason not to run through work, workout and working-the-clubs outfits in a single day.

But when your life is crammed into a couple bags, your fashion morality changes.

Those socks you wore on the plane should be good for another go.

The purple tee you slept in ought to be alright for a third wear.

Yesterday’s undies? Well …

According to a recent survey by Travelodge, two-thirds of travelers typically return from a trip with at least six unworn outfits.

Not buying something you like as soon as you see it

You think you’ll see a cheaper, better version somewhere else.

That evocative street painting or those Metallica nesting dolls you didn’t buy? Now not having them will haunt you for the rest of your life.

When you see something you like, just buy it and live without regret.

Not checking your phone plan before traveling abroad

What you call “international roaming” your phone carrier calls “shareholder dividend!”

A week of texts from Singapore or St. Lucia shouldn’t cost more and hurt worse than open heart surgery. But it happens all the time to travellers who fail to check their phone plans before departure.

cdffeb648bd24a2ab34c726a552eb1c6

Trusting “near city center” descriptions
“Near city center” is like a Bible verse — open to vast interpretation.

When you find the money you saved on your “near city center” hotel is being spent on 30-minute commutes and outrageous taxi fares, you know you’ve committed one of the cardinal sins of travel.

Related note: Except by purely technical definition, if you’re staying near the convention center in Portland, Oregon, you’re decidedly not staying “downtown” (as is popularly advertised) by any local sensibility.

Not tightening shampoo caps … all the way
Perfect way to ruin an arrival — shampoo snot.
Those cute, little trial-size shampoo and conditioner bottles are really handy — until they magically burst open in-flight, spreading a layer of glycerol soap snot all over your bag.

Trying too hard to chisel out a bargain
Congrats, you just saved 50 cents. Now go get your blood pressure checked.
There’s no faster way to become embittered with the locals than going toe-to-toe with a market full of hungry sales people and shopkeepers.

Yes, we understand there’s principle involved, but do you really need to whittle the equivalent of fifty cents off the price of an embroidered handbag that’s going to sit in the back of a closet anyway?

Just buy the damn thing and spare your heart the cortisol burst for when it actually needs it.

Not changing money at the airport

When you travel internationally, the conventional wisdom is that only amateurs change money at the airport, because the exchange rate for foreign currency will be better in town.

It usually is, but often not by that much.

A recent check of the dollar-to-pound exchange rate in London Heathrow was $1.71 to £1 (with no commission for changes more than $300).

Near Oxford Circus the exchange rate was advertised at $1.62 to £1, also with no commission.

Using these rates, converting $300 at the airport would get you £175.43 as opposed to £185.18 on the street.

So, you can hit the city like a cashless bumpkin and spend an hour hunting up an acceptable place to change money or, for less than £10, arrive with some local coin in your pocket.

Convenience factor alone makes it worth changing at least a nominal amount of cash at the “ripoff” place at the airport.

Over-reliance on guidebooks
Making a travel plan using only your guidebook is like making a plan to stand in line at the bank for a week.

Guidebooks are great — we use them all the time — but it’s best to pull just one or two suggestions per day from a guide that thousands of like-minded travelers have read or downloaded.

Not buying the full insurance policy
We’re not a bunch of free spenders — except when the boss whips out the company credit card at the pub — but a lot of the mistakes on this list come down to adding a significant amount of stress to your life in the name of saving a few bucks.

If you actually end up needing the travel insurance you purchased (a move a significant percentage of our staff thinks is silly in the first place), you’re going to want the full coverage.

Just because you’re in a country where the beer is cheap, it doesn’t mean the healthcare is.

That bargain insurance policy might pay for your flight home when you crash your motor scooter on a winding road in some island paradise.

But it won’t cover the $5,000 in stitches and sponge baths you racked up during your three-day international hospital stay.

Not checking visa requirements before departure
Carnival Rio!

It’s a nightmare come true when you get turned away at the ticket counter on departure day because you didn’t realise Brazil requires citizens of your benighted country to secure a visa before travel.

Delta Add Wi-Fi on Trans-Atlantic Flights

Delta Air Lines is now offering high-speed Internet access on all trans-Atlantic flights between the United States and the UK, mainland Europe, Israel and West Africa.

From the UK, the US airline offers up to 11 peak-day flights from Heathrow and one from Manchester meaning more customers can get online at 30,000 feet with Delta.

3007

“We already offer Wi-Fi across our entire domestic fleet and we’re delighted to extend the service to trans-Atlantic customers, giving them the option to work, keep in touch or surf the Net throughout their flight,” said Nat Pieper, Delta senior vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“More than 93 per cent of our international fleet offers Internet access and we’ll continue to use technology to make our customers’ travel experience more productive whenever they fly with Delta.”

Delta’s Wi-Fi is provided by Gogo and powered by high-speed, Ku-Band satellite technology and is available on up to 83 daily round-trip flights to and from 27 European cities, in addition to Tel Aviv, Israel; Accra, Ghana; Lagos, Nigeria; and Dakar, Senegal.

Customers can also enjoy free access to Delta Studio, an in-flight streaming service, which allows them to view movies and TV options direct to their mobile devices that is available in addition to the airline’s existing on-demand entertainment.

Delta began installing Wi-Fi on U.S. domestic mainline aircraft in 2008.

With international satellite-based Wi-Fi now installed on Delta’s wide-body fleet comprising Boeing 767s, 747s, Airbus A330 and transoceanic Boeing 757s, the airline operates the world’s largest Wi-Fi equipped fleet, giving customers more options to stay connected in-flight.

Hong Kong Top 10 Attractions

Hong Kong’s Top 10 attractions are popular for good reason.

The Peak
Out-of-this-world view of skyscrapers, the glittering harbour and the green hills of the distant New Territories.

Hong Kong Disneyland
Magic, adventure and the world’s favourite cast of characters await. Embark on a journey with magical adventures for all ages!

hongkongboat

Ocean Park Hong Kong
Thrill rides, giant pandas and a world-class aquarium keep Ocean Park on Hong Kong’s list of favourites.

Ladies’ Market
About a kilometre of street-market bustle and clothing, accessories and souvenir bargains

Temple Street Night Market
Souvenirs, snacks, opera singers and fortune tellers – ordered chaos in action.

Golden Bauhinia Square (and HKCEC)
The backdrop for the daily flag-raising ceremony, near a world-renowned convention centre

Clock Tower
A landmark from the Age of Steam and a reminder of Hong Kong’s colonial heritage.

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade
Take a walk on the bright side! Stroll along the waterfront with your eyes locked on one of the world’s most spectacular city skylines.

Lan Kwai Fong
Hong Kong’s best known party hot spot

Wong Tai Sin Temple
A Taoist, Buddhist and Confucian temple honouring a legendary monk.

Getting There:

Hong Kong International Airport is the main airport in Hong Kong.
It is located on the island of Chek Lap Kok, which largely comprises land reclaimed for the construction of the airport itself.

The airport is also colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport to distinguish it from its predecessor, the closed Kai Tak Airport.

The airport has been in commercial operation since 1998, replacing the Kai Tak Airport.

It is an important regional trans-shipment centre, passenger hub and gateway for destinations in Mainland China (with 45 destinations) and the rest of Asia.

The airport is operated by the Airport Authority Hong Kong 24 hours a day and is the primary hub for Cathay Pacific (the flag carrier of Hong Kong), Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways and Air Hong Kong (cargo carrier).

The airport is one of the hubs of Oneworld alliance, and it is also one of the Asian-Pacific cargo hubs for UPS Airlines.

It is a focus city for many airlines, including China Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines. Singapore Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, and Air India use Hong Kong as a stopover point for their flights.

World’s Longest Flights

Since 23 November 2013, the longest non-stop scheduled airline flight is Qantas Flight 8 (QF8) from Dallas/Fort Worth, USA, to Sydney, Australia, and its return flight (QF7), 13,804 kilometres (7,454 nmi) flown using an Airbus A380-842 since 29 September 2014, and a Boeing 747-400ER before.

Announced
On 28 January 2016, Emirates announced it would launch non-stop flights between Dubai and Auckland on 1 March 2016 with a Boeing 777-200LR.

The 16h EK448 flight will depart Dubai at 10:00am local time, arriving in Auckland 11:00am daylight-time the next day, with the reciprocal 17h15 EK449 flight departing Auckland at 9:30pm daylight-time, arriving in Dubai 5:45am local time the following day.

sleeping-on-long-flight

The flight will cover a great-circle distance of 14,200 km (7,667 nmi).

It will be longer than Emirates flight from Dubai to Panama City with a 266-seat Boeing 777-200LR announced In August 2015.

EK251 is scheduled in 17:35 westbound, the return EK252 to leave at 22:10 EST (7:10 GST next day) and arrive at 22:55 GST (13:55 EST) the next day in 15:45.

The flights were scheduled to begin on 1 February but were deferred to start on 31 march in order to receive codeshare approvals. The flight distance is 13,821 km (7,463 nmi).

On the same day, United Airlines announced a daily Boeing 787-9 service from San Francisco to Singapore non-stop starting June 1, 2016.

The 16 h 20m UA1 flight and its 15 h 30m return UA2 flight will cover 13,592 km (7,339 nmi).

Envisioned
Miami International Airport is in talks with China Airlines and EVA Air to launch before 2018 a nonstop 13,922 km (7,517 nmi) flight to Taipei, and Qantas is considering a nonstop 14,499 km (7,829 nmi) Perth-London service on Boeing 787-9s, to be delivered from 2017.

Singapore Airlines will be the launch customer of the Airbus A350-900 ULR, the A350 ultra-long-range variant, to be delivered in 2018 and enabling the re-launch of the world’s longest non-stop flights between Singapore to Los Angeles (14,113 km or 7,620 nmi) and New York (15,336 km or 8,281 nmi), among other considerations.

Seating is reduced from 300 seats in Singapore Airlines standard A350 configuration to 170 to allow for more fuel.

At the January 2016 Bahrain International Airshow, Qatar Airways announced it will add ultra-long haul routes between Doha to Santiago de Chile and Auckland using Boeing 777-200LR.

The distance between Doha and Auckland is 14,535 km (7,848 nmi) and to Santiago is 14,430 km (7,790 nmi), both flights would take around 18 and a half hours.

New Zealand Top 10 Attractions

New Zealand is an otherworldly, photogenic and friendly country offering visitors unbeatable changes for adventure and exploration.

The rugged islands are home to dense native forests, mountains, beaches, glaciers, thermal regions and fiords that have been well-preserved by the environmentally-conscious government and culture. New Zealand is a place where traditional Maori culture mixes with modernity in cosmopolitan cities, charming villages and vast expanses of untouched wilderness.

Pristine and heavenly, the island nation has something for everyone, including the following top tourist attractions in New Zealand.

10. Coromandel Peninsula
This north-eastern peninsula is famous for its white and golden sand beaches that frame magnificent coastal scenery, forests perfect for days of exploration and other natural wonders. Start your visit in Thames, a small but picturesque city with a rich history of gold mining.

Don’t miss a stop at Hot Water Beach, where visitors can dig their own hot pool from the springs under the sands.

45901_new-zealand

9. Abel Tasman National Park
Located on the northern tip of the country’s South Island, this vast national park is a hiker’s dream.

Closed to vehicles, one must enter by boat, foot or small plane, but the trip is well worth it. While traversing the mountainous terrain, blue penguins, wekas, oyster catchers, wood pigeons and other rare birds can all be seen.

8. Sky Towerflickr/Abaconda
The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located in New Zealand’s largest city.

At a height of 328 meters (1,076 ft) it is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere and the Sky Tower has become an iconic structure in Auckland’s skyline. The tower offers views of up to 80 km away and fine dining in the Orbit revolving restaurant.

7. Napier Art Deco
Napier, a small city in Hawke’s Bay on the North Island’s east coast, is famous for its eye-catching art deco architecture.

Most of Napier was leveled by an earthquake in 1931. The rebuilding period coincided with the short-lived Art Deco era and as a result Napier’s architecture is strikingly different from any other city in the world.

Thousands of tourist visit Napier every February for the Art Deco Weekend, an event dedicated to the style, vintage cars, picnics and the soapbox derby.

6. Kaikoura
This small coastal town on the South Island is a haven for seafood lovers. You can spot fur seals, dolphins, sperm whales and albatrosses off the shore, then indulge in a feast of fresh crayfish, mussels, blue cod and more.

Land lovers can take a wilderness walk through the untamed and dramatic Kaikoura forest.

5. Franz Josef Glacier
This glacier, located within Westland National Park in the southwest, is one of the world’s most accessible.

Visitors can walk right up to the foot of the massive glacier or take a helicopter ride over the dazzling Ice Age remnant. Together with Fox Glacier it is one of South Westland’s major drawcards for tourists.

4. Rotorua
Rotorua is known as the thermal wonderland of New Zealand. There are numerous geysers and hot springs in and around the city.

Many of these are in parks and reserves. Natural eruptions of steam, hot water and mud occasionally occur in new locations. Nearby Wai-O-Tapu is also a popular tourist attraction with many hot springs noted for their colorful appearance, in addition to the Lady Knox Geyser.

3. Tongariro National Park
The first national park of New Zealand, Tongariro is known for its surprises and extremes. The park’s diverse range of ecosystems includes tranquil lakes, active volcanoes, herb fields, untamed forests and desert-like plateaus.

Start your trek at the Whakapapa Visitor Center, just a three hour hike from the stunning Taranaki Falls.

The short hike will take you through scrubland and forest and across the lava line of volcanic eruptions from hundreds of years ago.

2. Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular holiday destinations in New Zealand.

The picturesque area contains 144 islands, many secluded bays and some great sandy beaches. This beautiful bay has an abundance of marine life including whales, penguins, dolphins and the big marlin.

Not surprisingly, it is a popular tourist spot for sailing yachts on world cruises and international sport fishermen.

1. Milford Sound
Milford Sound is among the most famous tourist attractions in New Zealand. Lying at the most northern and accessible end of Fiordland National Park, Milford sound offers some of the world’s most staggering coastal scenery with its dramatic peaks and dark blue waters.

The area’s frequent downpours only enhance this South Island beauty, sending numerous waterfalls cascading down the cliffs.

Major Airports:

Auckland Airport is the largest and busiest airport in New Zealand.
It is both a domestic and international hub for Air New Zealand, and as the New Zealand hubs of Virgin Australia and Jetstar Airways.Auckland Airport is one of New Zealand’s most important infrastructure assets, providing thousands of jobs for the region.
It is one of only two airports in New Zealand (the other being Christchurch) capable of handling Boeing 777, Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 aircraft.

Wellington International Airport (formerly known as Rongotai Airport) is an international airport located in the suburb of Rongotai in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. It lies 3 NM or 5.5 km south-east from the city centre. It is a hub for Air New Zealand and its subsidiaries. Wellington International Airport Limited, a joint venture between Infratil and the Wellington City Council, operates the airport.

Top-Rated Tourist Attractions Thailand

Thailand, also known as the Land of Smiles, is a jewel of Southeast Asia. Developed enough to provide most comforts yet still wild enough to offer off-the-beaten path adventure,
Thailand is a country ripe with opportunity for once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences.

Whether you start with the world-class beaches in the south or the mountain villages in the north, Thailand will not disappoint.

Cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai are bustling hives of activity and commerce, but you haven’t really seen the country until you’ve trekked in the mountains or enjoyed some face-time with elephants or the bold monkeys (who will steal your lunch as soon as look at you).

Thailand’s attractions are diverse and each provides a rewarding and memorable experience in its own way.

Thailand-Miracle-thailand-19417538-800-531

Railay Beach
Krabi province is home to some of Thailand’s most famous beach destinations, and Railay is the cream of the crop.

Widely considered one of the best beaches in the country, Railay delivers on promises of white sand beaches, clear blue water, and a feeling that you’ve found a slice of paradise. You have to take a boat to reach the island getaway, with services available from Krabi town and Ao Nang.

The beaches are the main reason to visit Railay, but it’s also a rock-climbing hotspot. Railay’s karst peaks draw adventurers both experienced and novice to try their hand at climbing the towering limestone cliffs.

Among the many other active things to do, you can go elephant trekking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and snorkeling, or take on some lighter options such as cooking classes and indulging in a massage.

There’s also the tourist-friendly Diamond Cave, with a convenient walkway to accommodate curious visitors looking to do some exploring between stretches of sunbathing.

Koh Phi Phi
The Phi Phi Islands, also in Krabi, are one of Thailand’s most popular resort areas for a reason.

Only Phi Phi Don is inhabited, with day trips available to the surrounding islands. One of the fun spots on Koh Phi Phi is Monkey Beach, where you’ll come face-to-face, literally, with the namesake creatures.

You can hire a guide to take you out on a small wooden boat or rent your own kayak. There’s also a small stand where you can buy snacks and fruit shakes, but hang onto your treats. If you leave them unguarded, the monkeys will brazenly dig in and chow down right in front of you.

Long Beach is another nice spot on the island; it’s not a secluded place, but is great for watching the sunset. If you’re lucky and the tide is out, it’s a beautiful walk back toward the main part of the island.

Tour operators offer packages for snorkeling and diving trips, as well as excursions to the infamous Maya Bay, where the Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach was filmed.

Because Koh Phi Phi draws so many tourists, there are plenty of tour companies arranging tickets to other beach destinations, such as Phuket, Koh Chang, and Koh Lanta. Though you would hardly know to see it now, Phi Phi Don was one of the areas hit hard by the 2004 tsunami.

Guesthouses, restaurants, and markets have been rebuilt and crowds still come in droves to the resort island. There is a small, somber memorial park to honor those who died in the tragedy, yet the resort areas appear otherwise revived.

The Grand Palace, Bangkok
Even if your plans for Thailand mainly involve frolicking on a beach, cozying up to elephants, and eating as much Massaman curry and tom ka gai as humanly possible, you’ll probably spend at least a day or two in Bangkok.

There’s plenty to see and do in the capital, but it’s perhaps best to start with the Grand Palace. This is the number one sightseeing attraction in the city, and it’s staggering in historical significance and craftsmanship.

The grounds are a maze of royal halls, temples, and ancient relics, the most important being Wat Phra Kaeo, Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

A relic within this temple is said to be a piece of bone or hair from the enlightened Buddha himself. Allow several hours to do the Grand Palace justice, but if you’re up for more walking afterward, you can easily take in some of the city’s other major landmarks.

The famous Wat Po and Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn (a great place to watch the sunset), are also nearby. And as Bangkok is a main hub for international travel, it’s a great starting point for excursions throughout the country.

Sunday Walking Street, Chiang Mai
Every Thailand visitor looks forward to cheap and delicious food, and it can be found in abundance at Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Walking Street.

Vendors sell all kinds of treats: pad Thai, chicken satay, samosas, crab cakes, fried bananas, sweet rotees, and fresh fruit shakes – often for less than $2 a piece.

When you’ve satisfied your culinary cravings, you can peruse hundreds of stalls selling an array of unique goods such as all-natural soaps, hand-dyed textiles bearing the unique patterns of local hill tribes, incense and essential oils, musical instruments, paintings, wall hangings, and more.

The market gets crowded every week without fail, no matter what time of year you’re visiting, so brace yourself and try to enjoy being part of the throng.

This is a must-do in Chiang Mai, and is an essential part of the Thailand experience.
If you’re not around for the Sunday market, or just want to get a taste of other market experiences in Chiang Mai, check out the Saturday Night Walking Street or the Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Road, a daily event.

For something less touristy, check out the daytime Warorot Market, near Mae Ping River.

Pai
Thailand’s reputation as a country of beautiful landscapes and friendly people is thanks largely to the world-renowned southern beaches.

Most people don’t realize that the vast north is also home to breathtaking landscapes, though these are of a different nature entirely.

Northern Thailand, particularly the western region near the Burmese border, is marked by mountainous jungle terrain that is both rugged and beautiful.

Pai, in Mae Hong Son province, is a perfect place from which to enjoy the country’s natural beauty as well as the famed Thai hospitality and cooking.

This small town has developed a reputation as a mecca for hippies and backpackers, though you will see locals and families here as well. There is a small nightly walking street market, a variety of local and Western foods, and easy access to nearby temples, waterfalls, and the impressive Pai canyon.

There is an air of cheerfulness and relaxation as you walk through the tiny town center, and it is this vibe that continues to draw crowds season after season.

Khao Yai National Park
Elephants are revered in Thailand, and statues and paintings of them can be seen everywhere you go.

There are many tour groups and elephant camps throughout the country allowing you to spend a day or more with the creatures, trekking through the jungle, bathing them, and even getting to help out with their morning feedings. B

ut perhaps more exciting is the chance to see them in their natural environment, and Khao Yai National Park provides a great opportunity to do just that.

You’ll see elephants roaming near waterfalls, exotic birds of prey, monkeys, and plenty of other tropical creatures that call the park home.

If a one-day stay isn’t enough to take it all in, it’s possible to camp out at the park and get up early enough to watch the sunrise over the lush landscape.

Sukhothai Old City
This is a favorite stop for history buffs and photography enthusiasts, as there are many lovely photo ops in this ancient capital of Thailand.

Ruins of this old city still stand proud despite enduring centuries of battle and exposure to the elements.

Sukhothai’s Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and much has been invested to restore and preserve one of Thailand’s most significant historical sites.

Historic City of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya presents a glimpse into the glory of ancient Thailand, where visitors can wander the haunting but romantic ruins of the former capital.

After the Sukhothai period, the city was the most important in Thailand, and the old palaces and temples stand as a testament to this.

There are also several foreign settlements, where you can gain a greater understanding of the influence other countries had in Thailand at the time.

Ayutthaya is located only a short bus trip or train ride from Bangkok, making it convenient for a day trip if you’re pressed for time.

If you’re on a more leisurely schedule, plan on spending a few days in the ancient capital and rent a push-bike to tour both the old city and the new.

Doi Suthep
Perhaps the best-known wat in Chiang Mai sits atop Doi Suthep, a mountain overlooking Thailand’s northern rose of a city.

In a crowd of monks, devout Buddhist followers, and fellow travelers, you’ll have a chance to marvel at intricate religious carvings, observe worship rituals, and gaze out over the ever-growing sprawl of Chiang Mai city.

Just be sure to bring a bottle of water and your walking shoes – the staircase to the temple is steep. At the base of the stairs, vendors hawk everything from tasty local treats to goods handmade by villagers from the surrounding mountains.

There’s also a shop selling masks, elephant carvings, and home furnishings so you can do some shopping while recovering from the trek up and down the stairs.

You can combine your trip to Doi Suthep with excursions to Doi Pui, a small Hmong village in the mountains.

It’s far more touristy than other villages, but if you’re on a tight schedule, this will give you a taste of Hmong culture and a chance to learn more about the hill tribe communities in the region, not to mention purchase some beautiful hand-woven textiles.

The Bhubing Palace, open to tourists, is on the way to Doi Pui from Doi Suthep as well.

Floating Markets
A visit to one of the floating markets is a fun way to do some shopping and eating while supporting local vendors and observing local commerce in action.

Some do seem to cater more to the tourist crowds than to be part of the fabric of local Thais’ daily lives, but there are others that make for a nice authentic travel experience.

You’ll need to get up early to visit a floating market, as vendors are out in their long wooden boats first thing in the morning with their goods, fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and tasty dishes.

There are several floating markets near Bangkok, Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak being among the most popular. You can go it alone or join a guided tour, which can include visits to local houses and shops.

Major Airports:

Phuket International Airport is an airport serving Phuket Province of Thailand.
It is in the north of Phuket Island, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from the centre of Phuket City.
The airport plays a major role in Thailand’s tourism industry, as Phuket Island is a popular resort destination. It is the third busiest airport in Thailand in terms of passengers, after Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang International Airport in the Bangkok metropolitan area.

Don Mueang International Airport (or also [old] Bangkok International Airport) is one of two international airports serving Bangkok, Thailand, the other one being Suvarnabhumi Airport ([New] Bangkok International Airport) (BKK).

The airport is considered to be one of the world’s oldest international airports and Asia’s oldest operating airport. It was officially opened as a Royal Thai Air Force base on 27 March 1914, although it had been in use earlier.

Suvarnabhumi Airport also known as (New) Bangkok International Airport, is one of two international airports serving Bangkok, Thailand.

The airport is currently the main hub for Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways and Orient Thai Airlines. It also serves as regional gateway and connecting point for various foreign carriers.

Travellers Rank The Best Economy Seats

Economy class is rarely described as comfortable, and the shrinking size of airplane seats is something travellers have mostly come to accept.

But some airlines are worse than others, so Airfarewatchdog polled U.S. fliers, asking “which domestic airline has the most comfortable economy class seats?” More than 1,700 fliers responded, revealing the least-bad options for budget air travel.

1. JetBlue – 21%
“Apparently, even one or two inches makes all the difference.

JetBlue is famous for giving passengers more legroom than any other domestic airline in all economy class seats, so it’s no surprise that consumers recognize them as having the most comfortable seating,” said Airfarewatchdog founder and president George Hobica. “Even with recent reductions in seat pitch, JetBlue still offers a minimum of 33 inches between seat rows.”

jet-blue

Seat Pitch
Seat pitch is the distance between the same two points on two seats.

Economy class on airplanes in the U.S. ranges between 29 and 34 inches of seat pitch.

2. Alaska – 17%
The 32-inch seat pitch on Alaska Airlines’ 737 planes probably contributed to its ranking, however the airline plans to add “slim-line seating” to its new planes, said Hobica. That could hurt future rankings.

3. Hawaiian – 14%
Hawaiian Airlines economy seats have seat pitches between 30 and 32 inches, according to SeatGuru.

Considering their flights are often longer than many routes in the 48 contiguous states, comfiness on Hawaiian is important.

4. Frontier – 13%
Seats on Frontier have a 30-31 inch pitch and 18-inch width.

5. Allegiant – 8%
Economy class on Allegiant offers only 30 inches of seat pitch, according to SeatGuru, but its seats still ranked above many other airlines.

6. Southwest – 6%
The non-exit row seats on Southwest have a seat pitch of 32 to 33 inches. If you’re lucky enough to get the window behind the exit row on some planes, however, you can stretch your legs out to your heart’s desire.

7. AirTran – 6%
AirTran’s Boeing 717s have a seat pitch of 30 inches, while the 737’s have 31 inches.

8. Delta – 5%
Many of Delta’s economy class seats have a seat pitch of 31 inches, although the fleet varies widely.

9. United – 3%
Like similar domestic carriers, economy class on United offers a seat pitch of 31 inches.

10. Spirit – 3%
Airfarewatchdog’s Hobica said it was a surprise that Spirit wasn’t last on the list. The low-cost carrier is known for cutting corners, not comfort.

Spirit’s CEO Ben Baldanza has taken comparisons of the airline to a public bus as a compliment.

11. American – 2%
“American and most other airlines have reduced seat pitch to 31 inches in their 737s, placing them near the bottom,” said Hobica.

12. US Airways – 2%
US Airways’ planes have a seat pitch between 31 and 32 inches. Even though that’s more than carriers like Spirit, the seats’ comfiness is ranked as last in the poll, after being adjusted for airline size.

 

Melbourne Australia Travel Guide

Victoria’s capital is full of culture and quirks, with a strong sense of artistry and home to some of the best food, dining and live music in the country.

It’s also home to a number of great attractions both natural and man-made, and with plenty of appealing surrounding destinations within easy reach of a day trip too, there’s something to keep everyone happy when visiting Melbourne.

But with such a wide variety of experiences on offer in the city and its surrounds, what is the first-time visitor to Melbourne best off doing with their time here? And if you’ve got multiple days on your itinerary, what opportunities are there for exploration outside the city’s boundaries?

From art, to attractions, to architecture and more, here, we look at the top 10 things to do in Melbourne & surrounds.

  1. Eureka Skydeck

Location: 7 Riverside Quay, Southbank, Melbourne

If you’re looking to begin your visit to Melbourne by getting an idea of the city’s layout – including the location of a number of other landmarks listed on this list – there are few better places to do so than the Eureka Skydeck.
Begin your journey with awe inspiring views from the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform that boasts not only a central location overlooking the city and beyond, but a great starting point for any trip to Melbourne as it will allow you to get your bearings and determine where you’d like to go while also providing some great scenery to boot. For those that dare to take the views a step further, you’ll be able to experience Skydeck’s “The Edge” – an activity that will see you taken over the edge in a glass box, with views directly down into the cityscape.
Begin your journey with awe inspiring views from the Southern Hemisphere’s highest viewing platform that boasts not only a central location overlooking the city and beyond, but a great start point for any trip to Melbourne.

i-header-1

  1. The Shrine of Remembrance

Location: Kings Domain Parkland, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne

This wonderful feat of construction serves as both a fitting tribute to our veterans from wars throughout our history, as well an ideal starting point for your adventures in Melbourne for a variety of reasons.

The Shrine of Remembrance’s central location serves as a great “lay of the land” spot from which to get your bearings in the city, it offers visitors great views from the top that provide an overview of Melbourne’s Paris-style layout, and it’s an impressive piece of architecture in its own right.

Situated on a hill that provides a solid vantage point close to other Melbournian highlights such as the Botanical Gardens and Government House, the Shrine of Remembrance is easily accessible via a short walk from the city’s free City Circle Tram service.

Thus it – along with Eureka Skydeck – can serve as viable options as Item No. 1 on everyone’s Melbourne itinerary. As an added bonus, the Shrine’s views come free of charge.

“It offers visitors great views from the top that provide an overview of Melbourne’s Paris-style layout, and it’s an impressive piece of architecture in its own right.“

  1. Go Hot Air Ballooning

Location: Flights available over Melbourne CBD and Yarra Valley

Those with a bit of extra coin to spare and who are wanting some unforgettable views will want to take a hot air balloon ride over Melbourne, as it’s one of the few cities in the world that allow such an experience directly over its skyline. Take in the beauty of the city as the sun rises and enjoy a bird’s eye view of all that you survey amidst the pure calm and serene skies.
Balloon flights typically depart very early in the morning to take advantage of the calm morning air, so you’ll get the added benefit of seeing Melbourne illuminated by the glow of the sunrise which makes for a particularly scenic experience.
“Balloon flights typically depart very early in the morning to take advantage of the calm morning air, so you’ll get the added benefit of seeing Melbourne illuminated by the glow of the sunrise which makes for a particularly scenic experience.“

  1. See St. Paul’s Cathedral / Flinders St Station

Location: Flinders and Swanson Streets, Melbourne CBD

Despite its modern and cosmopolitan reputation, Melbourne is home to numerous examples of impressive older architecture – two of the most impressive of which lie within short walking distance of one another.

Perhaps the most prominent and impressive of these is St. Paul’s Cathedral. A truly stunning building constructed in typical Gothic style, the cathedral sits just across the road from Melbourne’s historic Flinder’s Street Station, and the two combine to make for a small “hub” district that feels a world away from Australia’s second-largest city despite being located right in its heart.

“Despite its modern and cosmopolitan reputation, Melbourne is home to numerous examples of impressive older architecture – two of the most impressive of which lie within short walking distance of one another.“

St. Paul’s Cathedral is just as impressive inside as out; the interior boasts impressive craftsmanship as a lot of passion and work obviously went into its construction; from the wooden pews to the carvings on the walls and stained glass which emanates an array of colours from on high, the interior is both an impressive and tranquil place.

  1. The Dandenong Ranges

Location: Approx. 1 hours’ drive east of Melbourne CBD

Those looking for a dose of nature while getting out of the city for a day or two can look inland and head towards the lush reaches of the greater Melbourne region’s Dandenong Ranges, an area that’s both scenic and provides several unique activities of its own.

The majestic mountain range is famed for its towering Mountain Ash trees and features a blend of wonderful scenery, spots to get fantastic local food, charming little villages and small stores offering various hand-crafted goods. Options for exploring the ranges are numerous; ride on Australia’s most notable narrow gauge railway through the breathtaking Blue Dandenong Ranges, visit the area by coach, join a smaller tour for the full Dandenong Ranges experience, or have the best of both worlds with a combined city and Dandenong Ranges tour.

  1. The Queen Victoria Market

Location: Corner of Victoria Street and Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Those with a need for knick-knacks will be in their element with a visit to Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets, a bustling outdoor hub with an item, souvenir or meal to suit pretty much every taste.

This is the Queen of all markets and the vibrant, exciting mix of cultures and ethnicities of Melbourne can be discovered here, with a variety of foods and souvenirs from all corners of the Earth on offer.

The markets also serve as a great place for breakfast or lunch, and you’ll likely be able to grab yourself a meal from some far-reaching country for an entirely reasonable price that makes for a nice change of pace from the typical “dine-in cafe” experience that is most popular in Melbourne.

  1. Experience the Great Ocean Road

Location: Starts approx. 1 hour, 15 minutes’ drive to the south west of Melbourne at Torquay.

Often acclaimed as the most stunning drive in Australia – and one of the best in the world – no trip to Melbourne that lasts a decent amount of time would be complete without setting foot (or wheel?) on The Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s most scenic vantage points.

Stretching over an expanse of 243km along the Victorian Coast, the sheer array of vistas and views on offer with a trip along the Great Ocean Road is staggering – enough that it’s been voted as one of Australia’s Top 10 Destinations to Experience 2013 as well as having one of Australia’s Top 10 Sunsets in our national polls by the Aussie public.

  1. Travel to Phillip Island

Location: Just under 2 hours’ drive south of Melbourne

One of the most popular natural destinations that’s reachable within a reasonable distance outside Melbourne, Phillip Island is especially famous for one reason: its penguins.

With a trip to Phillip Island, you’ll be able to watch thousands of Little Penguins make their way to shore every night at the home of the world’s largest Little Penguin colony, an occurrence which is known as the “Penguin Parade”.

There’s plenty of other things to do on Phillip Island, as well: be sure to visit the nearby Koala Conservation Centre which will let you see dozens of these cute Aussie icons up close, and check out the geographical highlights offered by Churchill Island (home to a throwback working farm environment that reflects Victoria’s heritage) and The Nobbies (a stunning stretch of headland featuring a range of scenery-rich wooden boardwalks).

“With a trip to Phillip Island, you’ll be able to watch thousands of Little Penguins make their way to shore every night at the home of the world’s largest Little Penguin colony, an occurrence which is known as the ‘Penguin Parade’.“

  1. See the Wildlife at a Zoo or Aquarium

Location: Melbourne Aquarium – King Street, riverside in the Melbourne CBD; Melbourne Zoo – 4km to the north of the city CBD; Healesville Sanctuary – approx. 1 hour drive east of the Melbourne CBD; Werribee Open Range Zoo – roughly 30 minutes’ drive to the south-west of the city CBD.

Melbourne benefits more than most capital cities by offering an array of high-level wildlife attractions of various kinds, covering all the best local Aussie animals as well as exotic species from abroad.

The city and its surrounds is rich in both zoos and aquariums, both of which are generally quite reasonably priced and provide a great destination to take the kids or to spend some time if the notoriously unreliable Melbourne weather turns sour.

  1. Explore the city’s Laneways

Location: Various locations, Melbourne CBD & surrounds

Note: Click the following link for a detailed breakdown of some recommended Melbourne Itineraries for stays of 2, 3, 4 and 5 days, or here for our comprehensive guide to Melbourne in One Day.

Melbourne the city itself is, undisputedly, the main attraction, and whether by bike, by bus or by foot, exploring the city is an absolute must. Filled with quirky alley ways, hidden shops, art galleries and indie theatres, it certainly earns its reputation as Australia’s culture capital – Melbourne simply wouldn’t be Melbourne without its laneways, thus simply exploring the city serves as viable entertainment in itself.

Dining is also an obvious focus that Melbournians take pride in, and there are entire dedicated streets and laneways to offering all manner of quality fare – while coffee is its most famous product, the mix of international cultures in Melbourne means that the likes of Greek, Italian, Chinese, and various other cuisines all have standout restaurants offering great dishes here.

Getting There:

Melbourne Airport, also known as Tullamarine Airport, is the primary airport serving the city of Melbourne, and the second busiest airport in Australia.

It was opened in 1970 to replace the nearby Essendon Airport. Melbourne Airport is the sole international airport of the four airports serving the Melbourne metropolitan area.

The airport is 23 km (14 mi) from the city centre. The airport has its own postcode—Melbourne Airport, Victoria (postcode 3045). This is adjacent to the suburb of Tullamarine.

The Melbourne–Sydney air route is the third most-travelled passenger air route in the world and the third busiest in the Asia Pacific region.

The airport features direct flights to 33 domestic destinations of Australia in addition to destinations in the Pacific, London, Asia and North America.

Melbourne Airport is the number one arrival/departure point for the airports of four of Australia’s seven other capital cities.N1 Melbourne serves as a major hub for Qantas and Virgin Australia, while Jetstar Airways and Tiger Airways Australia utilise the airport as home base.

Top 10 Attractions The Bahamas

10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bahamas

When beach lovers dream about the perfect stretch of powdery sand, lapped by seas in sublime shades of blue, they’re probably dreaming about the Bahamas.

Encompassing 700 islands and more than 2000 small cays sprinkled across the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, this tropical paradise lies only 50 miles from Florida at its closest point.

Once a haven for pirates and Loyalists, the islands are now a playground for the rich and famous, and anyone who enjoys world-class fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling, and sailing.

Nassau, the nation’s capital, on New Providence Island, attracts the most tourists. This bustling cruise port is a glitzy mix of mega resorts, shops, restaurants, and entertainment complexes. Grand Bahama follows in second place. The other islands, affectionately called the Family Islands or Out Islands, cluster into groups, each with its own distinct character and charm.

Slung like pearls across the shallow Bahama Banks, the Abacos and Exumas offer some of the world’s best waters for boating and sailing. These peaceful islands are dotted with sleepy fishing villages and secluded beaches, and many are rimmed by pristine coral reefs. The other islands all offer something for discerning travelers.

From the big game fishing of Bimini, and the pink sand beaches of Harbour Island, to bonefishing, regattas, and uncrowded outer cays, it’s hard to beat the Bahamas. For those visiting around the New Year, don’t miss the throbbing drums and kaleidoscopic costumes of Junkanoo, the nation’s most popular festival.

1. Atlantis
Dominating the skyline on Paradise Island, this splashy, salmon-pink resort evocatively recreates the legend of Atlantis in a luxury hotel, entertainment complex, aquarium, and water park.

Guests at the hotel score free entry into the popular 141-acre Aquaventure, a waterscape packed with high-speed slides, more than 20 pools, and a mile-long Lazy River Ride. In the marine habitat, hammerhead sharks and swordfish swim through sparkling open-air pools. Guests will also find many shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues on site.

The fantasy sea theme continues throughout, capturing the imagination of young and old alike.

bahamas-nassau-atlantis

2. Grand Bahama
The northernmost of the Bahamian islands, Grand Bahama is the closest major island to the United States and a popular destination for package tourists and cruise ships. The capital, Freeport, is the second biggest city in the Bahamas, though Port Lucaya has now replaced it as the tourist hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Port Lucaya Marketplace sells jewelry and straw goods as well as other souvenirs, and the marina is a social hotspot for tourists and boaters. Despite the island’s large all-inclusive resorts and hotels, it’s still possible to escape the crowds.

Grand Bahama boasts the world’s largest underwater cave system and nature-lovers can spot many native bird species in the three national parks.

3. Bimini
Known as the “Big Game Fishing Capital of The Bahamas”, Bimini Island is the closest of the islands to the U.S. mainland, lying approximately 45 miles east of Miami, Florida.

The fishhook shaped cluster of islands includes North Bimini, South Bimini, and numerous cays extending south from Pigeon Cay to South Cat Cay. Bimini hosts popular deep-sea fishing tournaments from March to September, and diving and snorkeling opportunities abound.

Besides the popular shark and dolphin dives, highlights include Rainbow Reef, Sapona Wreck, and Victory Reef. Ernest Hemingway spent several summers in Bimini, finding inspiration for the novels “The Old Man and the Sea” and “Islands in the Stream”. Look for related exhibits at the Bimini Museum.

4. Andros Island
Andros, the largest landmass in the Bahamas, boasts the third largest barrier reef in the world, as well as many freshwater blue holes and underwater caves. It’s no surprise then, that this is a popular destination for divers.

The island’s vast wetlands create channels, which are prime boating and fishing areas. Fly fishing is big here, and Andros is often called “the bonefishing capital of the world”. Andros also has the largest protected area in the Bahamas with five national parks.

Nature lovers will appreciate the rich bird life in the mud flats, mangrove swamps, and forests, as well as the island’s eco-resorts. In addition to all these natural attractions, tourists can visit the Androsia Batik Factory, which sells brightly-colored fabrics featuring bold Bahamian motifs.

5. Harbour Island
Pretty Harbour Island, northeast of its big sister, Eleuthera, is the oldest settlement in the Bahamas, as well as the site of the first Bahamian parliament.

English Loyalists settled here in the 1700s. Famous for its pink sand beaches and chic resorts, the island has long been a hideaway for the rich and famous. Golf carts rule the streets here, and visitors will feel as though they’ve stepped back in time as they cruise past the cute, pastel-colored Loyalist cottages lining the streets of Dunmore Town.

Harbour Island is a quiet day trip out of Nassau on the Bahamas Fast Ferries Catamaran.

6. Elbow Cay
Across the sheltered Sea of Abaco from the boating hub of Marsh Harbour, Elbow Cay in the Abacos exudes all the charm of a New England-style fishing village.

Colorful cottages line the main streets of Hope Town, the island’s principal settlement, and the center of town is off-limits to vehicles, lending a relaxed, village feel. Famous for its candy-striped lighthouse, Hope Town is home to a thriving expatriate community who appreciate the island’s pretty palm-lined beaches; proximity to Marsh Harbour, Bahamas’s third largest town; and the excellent boating opportunities.

Wyannie Malone Historical Museum is a must, and nearby Guana Cay and the Tilloo Cay Reserve, an 11-acre bird habitat, are popular day trips. Hope Town also boasts a well-developed marina. A ferry runs regularly to Elbow Cay from Marsh Harbour.

7. Green Turtle Cay
Strolling the streets of Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos feels like stepping back in time to the old Bahamas. East of Great Abaco, this peaceful, three-mile-long island is a much-loved hideaway for serenity seekers.

Golf carts are the main mode of transport in the tiny settlement of New Plymouth, a sleepy fishing village of picket-fenced pastel cottages, sprinkled with a few small shops and museums.

Fishing boats bob in the harbour, and visitors can watch the locals haul in their catch of crawfish and conch. The island’s beautiful uncrowded beaches and crystal clear waters offer excellent swimming, diving, snorkeling, and boating opportunities.

Bonefishing is also a popular pursuit. The island is a ten-minute ferry ride from Treasure Cay on Great Abaco.

8. Exuma Cays Land and Sea National Park
In the remote eastern edge of the Bahamas, the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park is a “no take zone” and marine protected area, the first of its kind in the Caribbean.

The park boasts some of the most striking seascapes in the Bahamas.

The area is popular with divers and boaters, who come here for the quality anchorages, abundant marine life, and crystal clear waters. On a good day, divers and snorkelers can enjoy 100-foot-plus visibility.

Most people visit this underwater wonderland on private boats or live-aboard dive charters. No fishing or shelling is permitted within the park boundaries.

9. Treasure Cay
Skirting the eastern shore of Great Abaco, Treasure Cay Beach is often voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This spectacular stretch of powder white sand and aqua water wows visitors who come here to bask on its creamy, crescent-shaped shore.

The beach lies in the upscale resort community of Treasure Cay, which hosts one of the most popular fishing tournaments in the Bahamas.

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Treasure Cay – TripAdvisor.com

10. Long Island
Known as one of the most scenic islands in the Bahamas, Long Island lies a little off the beaten path, in the southern half of the archipelago.

Almost 80 miles long and no more than 4 miles wide, Long Island is a land of contrasts, with sandy beaches on the west coast and steep, rocky cliffs along the east.

The island is a haven for fishing, diving, and boating, and boasts many beautiful pink and white sand beaches. Long Island is also home to Dean’s Blue Hole, the deepest in the world.

The Long Island Sailing Regatta takes place at Salt Pond in the summer. Access to the island is mainly by air or ferry service from Nassau.

Getting There:

Lynden Pindling International Airport, formerly known as Nassau International Airport, is the largest airport in the Bahamas and the largest international gateway into the country.

It is a major hub for Bahamasair and is located in western New Providence island near the capital city of Nassau.

 

 

 

Best Time To Travel

WHERE TO GO IN WINTER?
Where to go in winter in Europe, the cold, the rain, the low temperatures and short sunny periods do not encourage travelling.

The better destinations include the ski resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees (France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Spain) or for those who feel the cold more Andalusia still has reasonable sunshine.

In Asia the season is still favourable for visitors! Thailand, Vietnam, southern China (the north however can still be icy at this time), Burma and India are still sunny with reasonable temperatures and less tourists during this time.

In Africa the north is still cool, good for discovering the Sahara but not recommended for those wishing to visit the beaches. Towards the south, in Kenya, Tanzania or South Africa, the high season is starting but with a risk of excessive heat on the east coast.

In America, we would suggest Central America, South America and the Caribbean (for example: Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile). The U.S. deserts are still pleasant at this time before the scorching summer heat arrives.

For skiers, the French and Spanish Pyrenees have plenty of small family ski resorts with good snow and reasonable prices even during the festive season.

Southern Australia will certainly satisfy those with a taste for adventure down under as it’s entering its summer season. The ideal time for surfing, swimming and meeting the koalas, emus and opossums, not forgetting the famous laughing kookaburra.

Between those two destinations we find Senegal; a stopover warmed as much by the weather as the smiles and sunny dispositions of the people.

WHERE TO GO IN SPRING?
Where to go in springIn Europe, the weather is becoming favourable for travelling: The amount of sunshine is increasing steadily throughout the continent; the Mediterranean coast is starting to benefit from warm temperatures and the sea is becoming pleasant for swimming.

For certain countries in the south, such as Spain and Greece, spring is the best time to visit: Neither too hot or too crowded with tourists. Andalusia, Crete, Malta and the south of Italy are good choices right now. Northern countries are becoming appealing although still a little cool. The Scandinavian countries boast endless days and holidays without nights right now!

In Asia, the weather is becoming far less agreeable: Heat waves are starting to be experienced in numerous countries. India, Thailand and Burma are extremely hot right now, enough to cause hundreds of deaths each year. China and Japan are more welcoming even if conditions are still a little trying at times. The monsoon season will settle in towards the end of spring across this area with the exception of only a few areas such as Indonesia or Tamil Nadu in India. It’s a great season for visiting Australia or the southern islands of Indonesia.

In Africa, this season is ideal for the countries of the Maghreb which are experiencing sunny weather with pleasant temperatures, like all the Mediterranean countries. In the extreme south, daylight hours are starting to diminish although the weather is still pleasant.

In America, we would suggest North America or Central America down to northern Brazil, basking in warm sunshine at present at the beginning of a pleasant climatic period. California, Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala and Venezuela are definitely worth considering at this time. The further south you go the more the season tends towards southern winter, often very humid.

If you wish to visit Europe, go to Portugal and enjoy summertime temperatures with a refreshing Atlantic breeze, or visit Scotland which is rarely as beautiful and warm as it is during spring in the month of May.

If you dream of tropical destinations then Reunion should satisfy your desires for summer weather and exoticism.

A little closer to Europe but also somewhat different in character, it is a great time to venture inland near the deserts at Tozeur in Tunisia or visit the Jordan valley just before the scorching heat of summer, it is currently experiencing warm sunshine with noticeably absent rain.

jam-beachss

WHERE TO GO IN SUMMER?
Where to go in SummerIn Europe, it’s the height of the peak season! Millions of holidaymakers from around the world invade the beaches and countryside of Southern Europe. The climate is great for travel for just about the whole of the continent with just a few areas effected by extreme heat (Andalusia, Southern Italy, Greece etc..)

The north of Europe is lovely, summer is the ideal time to visit those countries that are generally considered a little cold and damp such as Ireland, Scotland or Holland.

In Asia, this season is considered the least favourable: The monsoon season is at its height over the majority of this area with the exception of only a few countries (Kerala or Tamil Nadu in India, Bali and the southern islands of Indonesia, the north of Australia etc…). Everywhere else a hot, moist and very humid climate prevails.

In Africa, the Maghreb countries are invaded by tourists, the climate is hot (sometimes extremely hot close to the desert) and dry, the Atlantic coast of Morocco is pleasant thanks to the ocean influence. Further to the south it is the rainy season and it is only along the latitudes of Kenya and Tanzania that the climate becomes favourable to visitors.

In America, the north is generally hot and dry (sometimes extremely hot in the deserts towards the west of the USA). Central America experiences a short rainy season at this time but towards the south the conditions are more favourable.

For all the continents, September is generally the best choice: The end of the monsoons, no more heat waves, less tourists and lower prices. Don’t hesitate to take your holidays in September when there are only advantages.

Corsica is perfect right now for those looking for paradisiacal beaches with turquoise water, although close to mainland Europe it will feel like you are on the other side of the globe!

It is a great time to discover northern Europe, particularly somewhere such as Iceland where the sun does not set during this period.

For those wishing to go down under, Australia is great right now. The sea may be a little cool for swimming but the weather is still very pleasant and you could even go skiing in the south where it is right in the middle of its winter season!

WHERE TO GO IN AUTUMN?
Where to go in AutumnIn Europe, during the beginning of autumn, Mediterranean destinations are still pleasant: The south coast of Turkey, southern Italy and Spain as well as the southern Mediterranean islands (Cyprus, Crete and certain Greek islands).

Towards the end of autumn it will be more difficult to find sunny destinations in Europe.

In Asia, the best season is just starting! From the month of October, Thailand, Vietnam and the south of China or India will be very welcoming with a climate that is once again very pleasant now the monsoon period is easing.

In Africa, the north is also very enjoyable with temperatures easing after the summer heat waves. The inland towns of Morocco, the Tunisian desert and Egypt are seeing a lessening in the number of tourists and a pleasant but not overwhelming heat. More towards the south, Senegal, Madagascar and South Africa are entering a sunny period.

In America, we would recommend Central America, South America and the Caribbean where the rainy season is coming to a close (for example; Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile). The end of autumn is also a great time to visit Death Valley and the deserts of the United States.

Turkey is a very pleasant destination at this time of the year after the high temperatures of summer, especially if you wish to visit other areas than the coast.

Cyprus with its Mediterranean climate offers you warm temperatures even in October.

If you would prefer visiting some Asian countries then India is entering into its tourist season, Mumbai and Calcutta have excellent climatic conditions right now.

Honolulu Top 10 Attractions

Nestled in between rugged cliffs to the north and beaches to the south on the island of Oahu, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is Honolulu, Hawaii’s largest city.

The population of the metro area is just shy of 1 million residents, and though the entire city is not very large, even without leaving the city area, there are so many opportunities of places to go and things to see.

While there are many different things to do in Honolulu depending on your interests, here are 11 attractions that I think everyone who visits Honolulu should include on their itinerary.

Do you need a place to stay in Honolulu? Click here for great deals on accommodation.

1. Hanauma Bay
On the very east side of Honolulu, near an area of town called Hawaii Kai, is Hanauma Bay, one of the most famous places on the entire island for snorkeling.

The bay, sunken into a crater with a gorgeous stretch of golden sand, is a nature reserve and marine sanctuary.

When you arrive at Hanauma Bay, you’re normally required to watch a short video about the marine life and the preservation of it, and you can then take the short 5 minute hike to the bottom of the crater to get to the beach and get in the cool clear water.

If you’re interested in snorkeling while you’re in Honolulu, Hanauma Bay is the place to visit.

Attractions2

2. Honolulu Chinatown
Like all Chinatowns in the world, Honolulu’s Chinatown is an always bustling, energetic market section of the city.

It’s not quite as chaotic at Chinatown in Bangkok or Manila, but even though it’s small, it still has that same thrilling rushed market feel to it.

The smell of fruits and vegetables and the aroma of fresh fish and meat fill the air in Honolulu’s Chinatown, just as they do in other Chinatowns around the world. You’ll find great prices on produce, and you’ll find the fruits and vegetables you need to make whatever type of Asian food you want.

I even saw a fresh (not frozen) pile of durian when I was walking around last time!

Along with fresh market foods to purchase, there are also an abundance of delicious restaurants throughout Honolulu’s Chinatown. Within Maunakea Marketplace you’ll find Filipino and Thai food, and on the outskirts of Chinatown you should not miss Char Hung Sut – a takeout restaurant that sells legendary Hawaiian style Cantonese dumplings and baozi (manapua).

Exploring and eating through Chinatown is one of the top attractions in Honolulu.

3. Diamond Head
If you love to get outdoors, do some exercise, and enjoy stunning panoramic views, hiking is one of the best things to do in Honolulu.

There are quite a few good hikes right in the Honolulu area, some of them a bit outside of the city limits, but others are right in the city.

Diamond Head is the iconic former volcano that stands proud at the far eastern side of Waikiki, and is often an emblem of visiting Honolulu. The volcano provides a great backdrop to all your beach photos from Waikiki, but the view is even better when you’re on the very top of it.

The Diamond Head crater was formerly used as military base on Oahu, but is now open to the public for recreational use. The hike is just under a mile in length, and takes about 20 – 30 minutes to reach the summit.

At first the trail is easy, then you come to a series of switchbacks where you start gaining elevation, and finally towards the end, you pass through a military tunnel, go up a few flights of stairs, and emerge through a bunker.

The views of Honolulu are great!

4. Ocean Sports
Hawaii is one of the world’s headquarters when it comes to surfing and other ocean water sports. The climate is great, the water is cool but not too cold, and the waves, depending on which beach you go to, can range from small to huge.

The north shore of Oahu is especially famous as one of the world’s greatest surfing destinations, but right in Honolulu you’ll find some great spots to surf, bodyboard, stand up paddleboard, or any other ocean sport you’re interested in.

Waikiki, Ala Moana Beach Park, Kakaʻako, Diamond Head, and Sandy’s are all great places to take to the water and enjoy whatever water board sport you love, all without leaving Honolulu.

5. Honolulu Zoo / Waikiki Aquarium
Located on the east side of Waikiki is the Honolulu Zoo.

The zoo is spread out over 42 acres and is home to 905 different animals, most of the them natives of tropical climates. Don’t miss the komodo dragon or the orangutan!

Along with the diversity of different animals at the Honolulu Zoo, the grounds are also neatly designed with many different lush tropical gardens, showcasing a variety of native Hawaiian plants and flowers.

The Waikiki Aquarium is just down the road from the Honolulu Zoo, and while it’s quite small, it’s a good place to learn about the local marine life in the oceans of Hawaii, and a chance to see the playful Hawaiian monk seals.

Especially if you have kids, visiting both the zoo and the aquarium in Honolulu makes for a fun day activity and attraction in the city.

6. Iolani Palace / Downtown Honolulu
Iolani Palace is a historical landmark in downtown Honolulu that was originally built in 1879 by King Kalakaua.

The palace was constructed in an effort to make Hawaii become more prestigious and more recognized as a nation throughout the world. It was initially known as Hale Alii, but King Kamehameha V changed the name to Iolani.

The palace is now open to the public for both self and guided tours. The first and second floors include a series of elegant greeting rooms like the Grand Hall, the Throne Room, and the Blue Room. The second floor of the Iolani Palace is home to the King’s private suites, and also the famous Queen Kapiolani’s suite.

The palace is beautifully restored and decorated with luxurious interior designs and furnishings. For a peek into the history of royal Hawaii, Iolani Palace is well worth a visit.

Also, when you’re in downtown Honolulu, be sure to check out the other important buildings in the area like the Hawaii State Capitol.

7. Manoa Falls
While Diamond Head and Koko Head, two amazing hikes in Honolulu, are dry hikes, Manoa Falls is a lush green jungle hike.

It’s actually not so much of a hike, but more of a 20 – 30 minute walk through the dense tropical forest with a pretty nice waterfall at the end of the trail.

Hiking Manoa Falls is a good chance to stretch your legs and see some of the beautiful plants and trees of Hawaii. Though there’s a sign and rope around the pool at the bottom of the waterfall with a warning to be cautious of falling rocks, many people take a quick refreshing swim in the beautiful water.

Entrance fee: They charge $5 for parking, but if you park down the street and are willing to walk a bit to get in, you can avoid the fee all together.

8. Waikiki
Occupying a long stretch of the coast on the south shore of Honolulu, is the famous area of town known as Waikiki. It’s the main touristy area of town where there’s a sea of high rise hotels and resorts that line the beach, nearly all the way from the Honolulu Zoo to Ala Wai harbor.

Even if you’re not staying in Waikiki, you can still visit the area, take walks along the beach, go shopping or dine at one of the many restaurants. For breakfast be sure to stop by the well known Eggs ‘n Things restaurant, and you’re looking to taste some awesome local Hawaii style food right in Waikiki, here’s a place you’ll want to eat at.

Also, right next to Waikiki is Honolulu’s largest shopping mall known as Ala Moana Center, a gigantic shopping destination. You’ll find mostly designer and higher end stores, but there are also plenty of other stores to browse around and many restaurants to eat at. Ala Moana is the epicenter of shopping in Honolulu.

9. Local Hawaii Food
As a person who travels to eat, food is always a part of my list.

But Hawaii holds a very dear spot in my heart for its food because Hawaii is where I learned to love food from the beginning.

My mother, being from Hawaii, my grandfather having been a Chinese chef in Honolulu all his life, and like just about everyone else on the islands, myself and my relatives… we just love to eat.

Sampling the diverse selection of food available in Honolulu is an always entertaining activity that is guaranteed to satisfy your belly.

One thing you should for sure try is Hawaiian food. You can either head to Helena’s, a famous Hawaiian restaurant, or I tried the Hawaiian plate from People’s Cafe which was excellent. Make sure you try laulau, kalua pig, and poi, a taro paste which is the staple of Hawaiian cuisine.

For other local Hawaii food make sure you try poke, plate lunches, a loco moco, and SPAM musubi, just to name a few.

If you love Asian food as much as I do, you’re going to love everything there is to eat in Honolulu. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and a few Thai restaurants are scattered throughout the city.

10. Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona
Pearl Harbor, and more specifically the USS Arizona, is not so much an attraction in Honolulu, but rather a memorial.

It was on the morning of December 7th, 1941, when Japanese aircraft made a surprise bomb attack on the US ships anchored in Honolulu’s Pearl Harbor. During the deadly attack, many lives were lost, and many ships were destroyed. It was after this attack, when the US declared war on Japan and entered into World War II.

When you arrive at Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial, you get a ticket with a time on it. When it’s your turn, you meet your group and first watch a 30 minute film which explains the history of what happened at Pearl Harbor – I thought the video was concise and provided good insight into the memorial.

After the film, you board a ferry for a short 5 minute ferry ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is a white platform that floats above the sunken ship. You spend about 15 minutes on the platform, respecting the location and the events that happened right there years ago.

Getting There:

Honolulu International Airport is the principal aviation gateway of the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii and is identified as one of the busiest airports in the United States, with traffic now exceeding 21 million passengers a year and rising.

It is located in the Honolulu census-designated place three miles (5 km) northwest of Oahu’s central business district.
Main roads leading to the airport are Nimitz Highway and the Queen Liliuokalani Freeway of Interstate H-1.

Honolulu International Airport serves as the principal hub of Hawaiian Airlines, the largest Hawaii-based airline. Hawaiian Airlines offers flights between the various airports of the Hawaiian Islands and also serves the continental United States, Australia, New Zealand, American Samoa, Tahiti, Japan, China, and South Korea. It is host to major United States and international airlines, with direct flights to North American, Asian, and Pacific Rim destinations.

In addition to services to most major western cities and many smaller gateways, especially in California, the airport has succeeded in attracting long-haul services to the East Coast including the recently added destinations of Toronto-Pearson and Washington-Dulles, which have joined established services to Atlanta, New York-JFK and Newark.

 

15 Tips For Security Checkpoints

The savviest of travellers understand the security requirements and plan ahead.

In the United States, airport security is run by the Transportation Security Administration, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security as well as technological research, response to national disasters and terrorism, and intelligence analysis.

Tip #1: Pack accordingly
The TSA has a simple and straightforward list of items prohibited in carry-on and checked baggage.

Loaded guns, ammunition, flares, spray paint, and other highly flammable items must be left at home. (For an amusing weekly round-up of ridiculous items people try to slip past security, check out the TSA blog’s Week in Review.)

A number of items, including knives, spear guns, hammers, and brass knuckles, may be packed in checked luggage, while common lighters, scissors (4 inches or less), small compressed gas cartridges, and short tools (7 inches or less) are allowed in carry-on baggage.

APPCROP_1116_malo_airport_checkpoint1_t607

Tip #2: Pack neatly
Assume that security will need to open your bag for a visual inspection. Pack items in layers, with shoes in one layer, clothes in another, and electronics in another, and so forth.

Wind up electronic cords and secure them with twist-ties. Places personal items like toothbrushes in plastic bags to reduce the chance a TSA screener will handle them.

Tip #3: Dress like a traveller
Wear easily removable shoes (gel inserts are permitted), and don’t wear clothing with a high metal content. Leave the belts and thick metal jewelry at home.

Shed jackets and coats, as they must go through the x-ray. If you travel with a laptop, invest in a TSA-approved case that doesn’t require the computer to be removed for screening.

Keep your government-issued ID and boarding pass in a convenient bag or jacket pocket.

Tip #4: Stock up on 3.4 oz bottles
The TSA limits the amount of liquids that travelers may carry through a security checkpoint. Remember “3-1-1”:

3.4 oz (100 mL) bottle or less for all liquids, gels, and aerosols; placed in a
1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold all small bottles; and
1 bag per passenger placed in a screening bin.

Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz, but gel and spray deodorant are.

As of this fall, snow globes are allowed in carry-ons if they appear to contain less than 3.4 oz of liquid (approximately tennis ball-sized) and the entire snow globe, including the base, can fit in a quart-sized bag. Larger quantities of liquids, gels, and aerosols may be packed in checked baggage.

Tip #5: Check your lunch box
Solid foods are allowed through security, but check this list for prohibited items, which includes liquid-like items such as jams, jellies, syrups, oils, and sauces, if in a container larger than 3.4 oz.

Baked goods like Grandma’s homemade apple pie are allowed through the security checkpoint, but they may be subject to “additional screening.”

Tip #6: Understand Advanced Imaging Technology
In 2007, some airport checkpoints began replacing or supplementing metal detectors with Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), which resembles a pod that travelers step into and stand, arms raised, as the unit emits harmless electromagnetic waves or x-ray beams to create an image identifying hidden metal objects.

The waves emit less energy than a cell phone transmission or the exposure of two minutes on an airplane.

The image, which is a generic human outline unidentifiable as you, is reviewed and, if passed, immediately deleted. The entire process takes less than one minute and is optional; travellers may opt instead for a metal detector or a pat-down.

Tip #7: Use your queue time wisely
Start getting ready for the screening while waiting in line.

Collapse strollers, remove laptops from non-TSA-approved bags, and take off shoes, belts, and jackets. When you get to the x-ray conveyer, immediately grab bins and begin emptying your pockets and stacking your belongings neatly.

Remove your belt, watch, thick jewelry, money, keys, and cell phone. The more you can “walk and unpack,” the more you’ll help move the line along. Feel free to ask a security officer for assistance in putting your items on the x-ray belt.

Tip #8: Prepare the children
TSA screens everyone, regardless of age, so prepare your children to go through the security checkpoint. Explain that they’ll get their favorite blanket or toy back in a minute, and put all belongings, including strollers and baby carriers, through the x-ray machine.

Children under 12 may leave their shoes on. TSA security will never separate you from your child, but children who can walk without assistance should walk through the detector separately.

If they set off the alarm, they will be allowed to walk through again before security resorts to a pat-down. If the child requires a mobility aid like a wheelchair or scooter, you are responsible for removing the child from the equipment.

Tip #9: Prepare the elderly
Travelers over the age of 75 do not need to remove their shoes for screening. If they set off the alarm, they will be allowed to walk through again before security resorts to a pat-down.

If you are traveling with a disability or medical condition, contact the TSA Cares helpline at 855-787-2227, 72 hours before your flight, for information on helpful travel practices.

Tip #10: Don’t joke about serious matters
TSA officers do not react well to travelers who are loud, belligerent, or disrespectful. Don’t joke about the words “bomb” or “terrorist” while going through screening.

Tip #11: Wait to wrap gifts
Wrapped packages are allowed through security, but the security officers may ask to see inside any bag or package, regardless of the amount of ribbon holding it together.

Avoid the disappointment of a ruined wrap job being by waiting until you get to your destination.

Tip #12: Handle the pat-down with dignity
A small percentage of travelers receive pat-downs as part of the security screening. You have the right to request the pat-down be conducted in a private room and the right to have the pat-down witnessed by the person of your choice.

All pat-downs are conducted by an officer of the same gender as the traveler. If you have a medical device, inform the officer. You will never be asked to remove any article of clothing.

Tip #13: Download the MyTSA Mobile app
We live in the future! The TSA offers a free mobile app with a 24/7 air travel guide as well as information on airport delays, security wait times, videos, and weather.

You can type any item in to the “Can I Bring?” section to get instant answers on whether that item is allowed. To access the TSA mobile app, visit the TSA mobile website on your mobile device.

Tip #14: Sign up for TSA PreCheck
Travelers who register with TSA PreCheck enjoy perks such as keeping shoes, jackets, and belts on, as well as being able to hold standard-compliant liquids and gels in a carry-on bag.

You must be a frequent flyer with American, Delta, United or U.S. Airways, and you must be traveling domestically. TSA PreCheck is currently available in more than 30 U.S. airports, including Chicago O’Hare, Newark, and Orlando. For more information, visit the TSA PreCheck website.

Tip #15: Call the TSA
If you have any lingering questions, call the TSA directly at 866-289-9673. Representatives are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Eastern time; weekends and federal holidays, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern time.

Singapore Top Attractions

Singapore has been described as a playground for the rich, and it’s true that the small city-state does have a certain sheen of wealth.

But Singapore offers more than just high-end shopping malls, luxury hotels, and fine dining (though it’s worth indulging in those a bit if you can).

There is also a vibrant history and diverse ethnic quarters to discover, along with the many family-friendly attractions and lovely public spaces that make visiting this slightly futuristic city worthwhile.

Singapore has an excellent public transportation system that makes getting around convenient and easy. Once you’ve gotten a sense of the metro map, you’ll have no problem zipping from one part of town to the next. English is spoken everywhere and signs are in English as well.

In fact, Singapore is one of the easiest and most comfortable countries to navigate in Southeast Asia. And as long as you’re not comparing prices to nearby Thailand or Vietnam, you’re in for a lovely stay.

Marina Bay Sands
The opulent Marina Bay Sands resort complex includes a hotel, high-end luxury brands, a mall with a canal running through it, the ArtScience Museum, and the Marina Bay Sands Skypark – a vantage point for taking in the entire city.

The Skypark’s viewing deck and infinity pool are found in the ship (yes, ship) that tops the hotel. Only hotel guests are allowed to use the infinity pool but anyone can visit the observation deck. From the skypark, you can see the innovative double helix bridge, the port, the Gardens by the Bay, and the impressive skyline.

While up there on top of the city, guests can grab a snack or a coffee at the rooftop restaurant or pick up some keepsakes from the souvenir stand. You can purchase a photo of yourself green-screened in front of the massive hotel as it’s all lit up at night, but the cost is steep: 50 Singapore dollars. Better to ask a fellow tourist to snap a photo of you.

The luxury and elegance of the Marina Bay Sands exemplify Singapore’s taste, and help designate a major international city in Southeast Asia.

Singapore-marina-bay-at-dusk-resized

Singapore Flyer
If the observation deck at the Marina Bay Sands doesn’t quite do it for you, try taking in high tea while looking out over the city from the Singapore Flyer, the world’s largest giant observation wheel.

Choose from several different packages that allow you to be served and pampered while enjoying a view that encompasses not only the Singapore skyline, but reaches to the Spice Islands of Indonesia and Malaysia’s Straits of Johor.

There are several different ticket packages to choose from, and each includes access to the multimedia Journey of Dreams exhibit that delves into Singapore’s history and the creation of the Singapore Flyer.

Flights last 30 minutes each and run from early morning until late at night, so you can choose which view of the city you want to enjoy: the beginning of another bustling day or when Singapore is aglow after dark.

Gardens by the Bay
Once you’ve glimpsed this beautifully designed green space (from the top of the Marina Bay Sands, perhaps) you won’t be able to stay away.

Wander through the Bay East Garden, perfect for enjoying the vibrant plant life and escaping the city bustle for a moment.

You won’t want to miss Supertree Grove, where you’ll find a cluster of the iconic, futuristic structures designed to perform environmentally sustainable functions.

Then, head to the Cloud Forest Dome to see the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and learn a bit about biodiversity. Check the website for final ticket sale and tour times.

Botanic Gardens
Not to be confused with the Gardens on the Bay, the botanic gardens are also worth a visit. Singapore received its first UNESCO World Heritage nomination for the botanic gardens, and with good reason.

The city can sometimes feel like a concrete jungle, albeit a clean and comfortable one, but the botanic gardens preserve pieces of Singapore’s wilder heritage.

Indeed, you can visit the gardens’ heritage trees via walking trail, which are conserved as part of an effort to protect the city’s mature tree species.

Make sure to visit the impressive National Orchid Garden. Other attractions include an eco-garden, eco-lake, bonsai garden, sculptures, and several other gardens and unique sites.

Chinatown 
If you’ve ever visited China, Singapore’s Chinatown neighborhood will bring you right back there.

From the small mom-and-pop stores and authentic Chinese food to the bright red lanterns, there’s an excitement and hustle in this district. You can visit the Chinese Heritage Centre and see the impressive and beautiful Sri Mariamman Hindu temple.

Another temple worth seeing is the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. If you’re up early enough (think 4 am), you can hear the morning drum ceremony.

Or you can just check out the closing ceremony in the evening after viewing the relic.

Heritage markers have been installed throughout the neighborhood in English, Japanese, and simplified Chinese so visitors can better understand the significance of the area. But this neighborhood is not just a testament to the influence of the Chinese throughout Singapore’s past.

This is a progressive neighborhood (with free Wi-Fi for all) and it’s home to the trendy Ann Siang Hill area, where the quaint bistros and upscale boutiques could be at home in any Western city.

Little India and Arab Street
One of the most exciting aspects of Singapore is the diversity of its neighborhoods.

Yes, the country is a savvy shoppers’ paradise, but you’ll also find rich traditions, delicious foods and local character in its older quarters. Nowhere is this truer than in Little India and Arab Street (also known as the Arab Quarter).

The Indian community has a rich history in Singapore, and this enclave dates back more than 200 years. Singapore’s name actually derives from the Sanskrit words for Lion City, according to Little India’s official website. Today, the neighborhood is a thriving, colorful place where traditional holidays are celebrated, and visitors can observe worship and activity at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple or purchase saris while mingling with local vendors.

In the Arab Quarter, you’ll want to visit the historic Sultan Mosque, originally built in 1825. Non-Muslims are not permitted in the prayer hall, though you can appreciate the distinctive golden domes and craftsmanship of the exterior structure.

Haji and Bali lanes are especially good spots to shop for something a little more unique than a designer handbag, and you’ll also find yourself surrounded by music and food, as there are countless restaurants

Raffles Hotel
This colonial building is one of the world’s last grand 19th century hotels, and was once visited by literary luminaries such as Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad, as well as movie star Charlie Chaplin.

Built in 1887, the Raffles Hotel has served as a Singapore landmark for well over a century and continues to live up to its tony reputation with excellent food and service.

The classical architecture and tropical gardens provide a refined setting, and represent another facet of Singapore’s varied and rich history.

The Raffles Hotel is located in Singapore’s Colonial District, also home to several other historic sites. Among them is the Raffles Landing Site, where Sir Stamford Raffles is said to have stepped ashore in 1819.

The story has it that he saw the small fishing village but recognized its potential as a port, so he purchased the land from the Sultan of Johor and invited Chinese and Indian immigrants to move there. And so the seeds of Singapore’s multi-ethnic identity were sown.

Changi Chapel and Museum 
Singapore was not spared the horrors of WWII, and the Changi Chapel and Museum tells the story of those who suffered under Japanese occupation.

The museum displays the letters, photographs, drawings, and personal effects that are now testaments to the imprisonment for more than 50,000 civilians and soldiers in Changi Prison.

The Changi Chapel, found in the open-air courtyard of the museum, is a replica of one of the many chapels that were built during WWII.

It stands as a monument for those who would not fold under Japanese rule. A must-see in the museum is a series of murals painstakingly recreated from originals painted by Bombardier Stanley Warren.

Guests can participate in a guided tour or opt for an audio tour that features accounts of Changi prisoners’ wartime experiences.

Singapore Zoo
Billing itself as the world’s best rainforest zoo, the Singapore Zoo is a pretty impressive place.

The facility is clean and inviting, and the animals appear well treated with plenty of lush vegetation and habitat space.

The orangutans are particularly impressive, and visitors can watch as babies and adults alike swing high above their platforms and snack on bananas. There is also a large chimpanzee family, zebras, meerkats, a komodo dragon, mole rats, white tigers, kangaroos, and many other creatures.

Guests can observe feedings for some of the animals. Allow at least three hours to make your way around the zoo. If the zoo doesn’t satisfy your need for getting close to wildlife, there’s also the Night Safari, River Safari (including a giant panda forest), and the Jurong Bird Park. Park hopper passes are available if you plan to visit more than one of the wildlife parks.

Fort Canning Park
As military strongholds go, Fort Canning has had a long and varied life. Built in 1859, the fort was an essential site for Singapore’s defense. Now in peacetime, the original building is home to modern performing arts troupes, and the park regularly sees picnics, concerts, theater performances, and festivals.

Other attractions at the park include relics from Singapore’s early history, from as far back as the 14th century, and Sir Stamford Raffles’ personal bungalow. Guests can also see a replica of the spice market Raffles established in 1822, as well as the ASEAN sculptures that were erected in the 1980s.

Sydney Australia Top Attractions

Sydney the oldest, biggest, and most beautiful of all Australian cities, lies amid a seductive intermingling of land and sea.

Glide along the glittering harbor on a ferry, see the white sails of the Opera House gleaming in the sunshine, and admire the graceful arch of the Harbour Bridge and it’s hard to imagine this vibrant state capital was once a brutal convict colony.

In 1788, it was at Sydney Cove where Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet, established the first British colony in Australia.

Today, visitors can explore Sydney’s fabled history in the narrow cobbled laneways and historic buildings of the Rocks, at the city’s excellent museums, and the rock paintings of the Gadigal aboriginal people who once thrived on this land.

Sydney still fizzes with the adventurous spirit of its settlers. Visitors can climb the harbor bridge, surf the green-barrel breaks at Sydney’s golden beaches, or fly over the city on a scenic tour. And national parks surround the city providing appealing day trip possibilities.

Sydney Opera House
One of the world’s great icons, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the star attraction on the glittering harbor.

This graceful building, shaped like shells or billowing sails, perches on a finger of land surrounded by water. Snap a photo while gliding by on a harbor cruise, relax at one of the restaurants, stroll around its exterior, or take an organized tour of this magnificent structure, which encompasses theaters, studios, exhibition rooms, a concert hall, and cinema.

Avid photographers head to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for one of the best photo opportunities.

Sydney-Harbour-Bridge-Australia-05

The Sydney Harbour Bridge
or “Coathanger,” as the locals call it, was the city’s best-known landmark prior to construction of the Opera House.

Supported by massive double piers at each end, it was built in 1932 and remains the world’s largest steel arch bridge, connecting the harbor’s north and south shores in a single curve rising 134 m above the water. Along its length run two railway lines and eight lanes for road traffic, the direction of which can be varied according to traffic flow.

Increasing bridge traffic encouraged construction of a harbor tunnel in 1992 to ease congestion, but motorists can still drive over the bridge for blue water views. Pedestrians can stroll across on walkways or join a guided ascent through BridgeClimb for a breathtaking panorama of the city and harbor.

To learn about the fascinating history of the bridge’s construction, visit the museum in the southeastern pier.

The Rocks
On a tongue of land protruding into Sydney Harbour, the Rocks historic area was once home to the Gadigal aboriginal people and later became the country’s first site of European settlement.

The name of the Rocks comes from the rocky coast on the west side of Sydney Cove, where the convicts pitched their tents.

Today, more than 100 heritage sites and buildings jostle along the narrow streets including Sydney’s oldest surviving house, Cadman’s cottage, built in 1816.

First stop should be a visit to the Rocks Discovery Museum, which traces the area’s fascinating transformation from traditional aboriginal lands, to convict slum, to tourist hotspot.

Afterwards, wander around the narrow cobbled streets with their souvenir shops, restaurants, cafés, and aboriginal and contemporary art galleries, or shop at the market stalls. Guided tours run the gamut from aboriginal heritage walks to photographic excursions and nighttime ghost tours.

Circular Quay
Built by convict labor in Sydney Cove, bustling Circular Quay is now home to the city’s main ferry terminal.

Thousands of commuters flood the area at peak hours, cafés abound, and street performers entertain locals and visitors along the sunny walkways.

For tourists, this is a launching point for the popular harbor cruises, one of the best ways to appreciate Sydney’s sparkling waterfront setting. Ferries also depart from here to prime spots such as Manly, Watson’s Bay, and Taronga Park Zoo.

During the annual winter migration, whale-watching cruises take passengers out past Sydney Heads to view these magnificent creatures.

From Circular Quay, head south along the waterfront promenade to the Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens, while a short walk to the north leads to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Rocks historic area.

To the west, the free Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in an Art Deco building, displays cutting-edge and, often controversial, exhibitions.

Darling Harbour
A hub for tourists and locals alike, Darling Harbour is a waterfront pedestrian precinct packed with shops, restaurants, museums, exhibitions, and entertainment venues.

Families will love Madame Tussaud’s, the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, and the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, which contains the world’s largest collection of Australian marine creatures. The Powerhouse Museum offers interactive exhibits on science, technology, design, and history, while nautical-minded history buffs can board a replica of Captain Cook’s ship, Endeavour, at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Younger children will love the carousel, playground, and water park. An IMAX and 9D theater, harbor jet boat rides, simulated flights and racing car adventures round out the exciting attractions. Those seeking a tranquil patch of green amid all the excitement can slip into the Chinese Garden of Friendship and sip tea among the willows and koi ponds.

Queen Victoria Building
A high point of Sydney shopping is the Romanesque-style Queen Victoria Building (“QVB”), linked by underground arcades with Town Hall Station.

Originally built as a market hall between 1893 and 1898, this elegant building is crowned by a high central dome surrounded by 20 smaller domes. After decades of neglect and even plans for demolition, this grand sandstone building was restored to its original state in the early eighties.

Today, more than 200 high-end shops line its light-filled galleries. It’s worth a visit even for those who shun the shops, just to admire its successful restoration as well as its beautiful stained glass windows and mosaic floors.

Sydney Tower
Soaring above the city skyline, the 309 m high Sydney Tower is the city’s tallest building and one of its great landmarks (other than the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, of course). This golden spire-topped turret rises from the busy Centrepoint shopping mall.

Express lifts whisk visitors to the observation deck at the top or to SKYWALK, an alfresco glass-floor viewing platform. While up there, sightseers can enjoy panoramic views of Sydney and its surrounding suburbs or grab a bite to eat at one of the revolving restaurants or the café. Also on offer is a 4D cinema experience, which provides an overview of the city’s major icons.

Sydney Beaches
Sydney is famous for its fabulous beaches. Tucked around the harbor are many sheltered coves with calm water and sugary sands.

Less than a 15-minute drive from the city, iconic Bondi Beach beckons with its great surf, café scene, and cosmopolitan vibe. For fantastic ocean views, take the coastal walk along the cliffs from Bondi to Coogee. Other ocean beaches include Cronulla (the only one easily accessible by train from the city), Bronte, Tamarama, and Maroubra.

A 30-minute ferry ride from the city, Manly is a favorite seaside destination with its beachfront promenade, netted ocean pool, and excellent shops and restaurants. Further north of the city, surfers will find some fantastic breaks at Collaroy, Dee Why, and Narrabeen. Swimmers should stay between the red and yellow flags.

Volunteer lifeguards patrol the surfing beaches on the Pacific during the summer and run popular lifesaving competitions.

George Street
The oldest street in Australia, George Street was once a nameless track trodden by convicts fetching supplies of water. Today, it’s one of the city’s major traffic arteries where high-rise office blocks, shops, and historic buildings converge in an incongruous jumble.

An architectural highlight is the elegant Romanesque-style Queen Victoria Building replete with graceful domes, stained glass windows, and high-end stores. Nearby, the Sydney Town Hall (1869) is a major city landmark sporting a medley of architectural styles (it’s been compared to a richly decorated wedding cake).

Another architectural standout is the neo-Gothic St Andrew’s Cathedral completed and consecrated in 1868. Shoppers will find plenty of stores in the area. Designer boutiques and jewelry stores line the Victorian-style Strand Arcade, while Pitt Street Mall, one block east from George Street, is one of the city’s major shopping precincts.

Royal Botanic Gardens
A tranquil oasis amid the hustle and bustle of the city, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Farm Cove lies a short and scenic stroll along the waterfront from the Sydney Opera House.

The gardens were established in 1816 and encompass 30 hectares of themed gardens with towering trees, palm groves, orchids, ferns, and flocks of fruit bats. Among the highlights is the Palace Rose Garden, which includes some 1,800 roses, and the Rare and Threatened Plants Garden.

For the less energetic, a hop-on, hop-off train tours the grounds. After exploring the gardens, visitors can relax at the café or restaurants, or enjoy a hillside picnic with beautiful harbor views. Surrounding the gardens is the Domain, a popular event venue with open green space and sports areas.

While at the gardens, visitors can enjoy views of Government House, the official residence of the governor of New South Wales.

Kings Cross Governor Macquarie
About 2 km east of the CBD, Kings Cross or “The Cross,” as locals call it, is Sydney’s multi-faceted red light district with an intriguing, Bohemian past.

The area was an artistic quarter around 1920, until it evolved into a popular haunt for beatniks during the 1950s and, later, hippies. During the Vietnam War, the area started its slow slide to depravity when large numbers of American troops came here on “rest and recreation” leave.

Despite its less than savory reputation at night, during the day, it wears a different face. Backpackers from the many hostels in the area huddle at hip cafes, boutique hotels beckon, and foodies come here to dine at the trendy restaurants. Look for the large Coca-Cola billboard, at the intersection of William Street and Darlinghurst Road, which is often referred to as the “Gateway to The Cross”.

Taronga Zoo
Enjoy close-up encounters with exotic wildlife plus superb views of the Sydney skyline at Taronga Zoo. Nestled on a point along the north side of the harbor, the zoo inhabits prime Sydney real estate in the posh suburb of Mosman.

Highlights include the Lemur Adventure Park, Koala Encounter, and Seal Show. From the city, buses to the zoo depart from Wynyard. Better still, visitors can hop aboard a ferry at Circular Quay. The zoo’s lively events calendar includes “Roar and Snore” overnight zoo stays and a summer concert series.

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Surrounded by beautiful parklands, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of the country’s most distinguished art museums.

The building dates from 1885 and houses spacious light-filled galleries and Grand Courts with collections ranging from works by the European masters and Asian artists, to evocative contemporary art from around the world.

The gallery also houses one of the largest collections of aboriginal art in Australia. After admiring all the masterpieces, art lovers can relax at the café or restaurant, or browse the gallery gift shop.

Getting There:

Sydney (Kingsford Smith) colloquially Mascot Airport, Kingsford Smith Airport, or Sydney Airport is an international airport located 8 km (5 mi) south of the city centre, in the suburb of Mascot in Sydney.

It is the only major airport serving Sydney, and is a primary hub for Qantas, as well as a secondary hub for Virgin Australia and Jetstar Airways. Situated next to Botany Bay, the airport has three runways, colloquially known as the “east–west”, “north–south” and “third” runways.

Sydney Airport is both the longest continuously operated commercial airport and oldest commercial international airport in the world, the world’s oldest continually operating commercial airport, and the busiest airport in Australia.

World’s Biggest Travellers Are?

A new survey by business consulting firm Timetric has found that northern Europeans are the world’s biggest travellers, with four Nordic countries all in the top five.

US travellers were also in the top five, but their travels were dominated by domestic trips. Norwegians were the biggest international travellers, taking an average of two international trips per year.

According to the results, the world’s top 10 biggest travellers are:

1. Finland

Finland is the most well-travelled country in the world, with the average Finn making 7.5 trips a year, including stays at home and abroad.

2. United States

The US has the largest domestic travel market in the world, with national holidays bumping up the average person’s number of trips to 6.7 a year. However, international travel is very limited, with only 1 out of 5 Americans going abroad in 2013. Fewer than half of Americans own a passport.

1429147469836

3. Sweden

According to the Timetric survey, Scandinavia is the world’s most travelled region. On average, Swedes take 1.5 outbound trips and 4.4 domestic trips a year.

4. Denmark

Manay Scandinavian families own a second home in the country. In Denmark, around 1 out of 6 families own a second home, resulting in an average of 3.9 domestic trips a year and 5.3 total trips.

5. Norway

All of the Scandinavian countries are in the top 5 most travelled countries, with the total number of trips per year in Norway averaging at 5.2.

Arnie van Groesen, Timetric travel and tourism analyst said: “People in Scandinavia can afford more trips due to high incomes and relatively low unemployment rates. The cost of living is relatively expensive in Scandinavian countries, meaning that if they go abroad they’ll often get more value for money.”

6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the sixth most well-travelled country in the world. Although domestic tourism is almost non-existent (0.03), the average Hongkongese takes 4.3 outbound trips a year.

7. New Zealand

On average, New Zealanders make 4.3 total trips a year, the same as the Hongkongese. However, the ratios are in reverse. New Zealanders make less outbound trips (0.5) while the number of domestic trips is higher (3.8).

8. Canada

According to the Timetric survey, Canadians make 1 outbound trip and 3.2 domestic trips a year, on average.

9. Australia

In a similar trend to New Zealand, we make considerably more domestic trips (3.4) than outbound trips (0.4).

10. France

Perhaps due to the diverse nature of the country, offering everything from skiing in the Alps to relaxation in the countryside, the French make 3.1 domestic trips compared to 0.4 outbound trips.

Europe Things That Surprise First-timers

You might think you know what to expect on that big trip to Western Europe: amazing sights, overpriced coffee, unhelpful French people and drunken backpackers. And on some occasions you’ll be right.

However, there’s plenty that will surprise you on your first holiday in one of the world’s great tourist destinations.

Europe doesn’t have to be expensive
While it’s known as a pricey destination, you’ll be surprised at how cheap some Western European cities can be, particularly in the south of Spain, Portugal, and Berlin. In places like Amsterdam, however, be prepared to spend.

It’s hot. Really, really hot
You might be picturing snow-capped mountains and people named Heidi singing to cows, but if you’re heading to the south of Spain or Italy in mid-summer, prepare for the weather to be extremely hot. Almost unbearably hot.

The food is good. But it’s not always good
Despite its reputation, Europe is not a wonderland of reliably delicious food. For every Michelin-starred fine-diner or amazing local bistro, there are 10 or 20 establishments serving pretty average cuisine. Do your research, however, and you’ll be one very happy customer.

Travel concept, airliner, with push pins in european destinations and a map of the world
Travel concept, airliner, with push pins in european destinations and a map of the world

The coffee is bad. But it’s not always bad
If you’re used to good coffee, you’re going to be disappointed in France, or in Germany, or in Switzerland, or even in most of Spain. The coffee just isn’t good. Italy is your saviour. Italian coffee rocks.

Wine is ridiculously cheap. So is cheese
You don’t have to pay 20 euros a bottle, or even 10. Head down to the supermarche and you’ll be able to pick up a decent bottle of table wine for six or seven euros, plus some fresh bread and a block of the best cheese ever for the same price. Dinner is served.

You don’t have to queue
While travellers to Europe often tell horror stories of two- or three-hour queues to get into the most famous attractions, there are ways around it. For Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia, for example, booking tickets online will allow you to skip the line entirely.

At the Louvre in Paris, arriving at the “Port des Lions” entrance will also help you avoid the bulk of the crowds. Do your research.

Europe can actually be hot
Really hot. Locals need to find innovative ways to cool down.

Crime is not rampant
Despite what you may have heard, street crime is not a huge problem in Western Europe.
In fact with a few simple precautions like zipping up your bag and not keeping a wallet in your back pocket, your travels should be hassle free, even in formerly dodgy cities like Barcelona and Rome.

Trains can be expensive
I know how I can save money, you think – I’ll take the train. Except intercity trains in Europe, if you don’t book in advance or use a rail discount card, can be extremely expensive. Often more expensive than flying.

You’ll be overwhelmed. And underwhelmed
Some of the world’s most famous attractions – the Coliseum, La Sagrada Familia, the Eiffel Tower, the Swiss Alps – are truly gob-smacking to see in the flesh.

Others, meanwhile, like the Spanish Steps in Rome, or the Manneken Pis in Brussels, will leave you scratching your head and wondering if you actually came to the right place.

Everything works. Unless there’s a strike
Public transport in Europe is amazingly good, from the U-Bahn in Berlin to the hire bikes of Seville and the trams of Amsterdam. The only time you’ll struggle is when there’s a strike – which should only occur about once every fortnight or so.

You can’t buy a Europe-wide local SIM card
Annoyingly, for travellers, if you’re planning to visit more than one European country, there’s no local SIM card you can buy that will work across the EU (at least not one with reasonable rates). For the best rates, buy a new local SIM in each country.

Tourists eat early; locals eat late
This holds true for most of the southern countries, where there appear to be two restaurant sittings per night: one at about 7pm for all of the tourists, and one at about 9.30pm for the locals. If you want to get the proper experience, get used to eating late.

Asian food sucks
It doesn’t matter how much you’re craving that plate of dumplings, or that bowl of pho. Do not – I repeat, do not – go out for Asian food in Europe. You’ll be eternally disappointed. Stick to the local stuff.

Southerners really do take siestas
It’s mid-afternoon, and all of the shops are closed. In fact it’s like a zombie apocalypse in town, with all of the doors and windows shut and not a single person on the streets.

That’s because everyone’s gone for a siesta. They’ll reappear at about four.

Everyone hangs out together
One of the great things you begin to notice in Europe is that everyone – old, young, families, singles, hipsters, nerds – tends to hang out together, gathering in piazzas and plazas, drinking in bars and eating in restaurants.

There’s a strong “going out” culture in much of Western Europe, which breeds a safe, friendly atmosphere.

You can drink pretty much anywhere
You can drink in the park. You can drink on the street. In some places you can drink on public transport.

That’s because, mostly, everyone behaves themselves. Don’t give Europeans reason to doubt that.

Some stereotypes are true. Some are wildly off base
As you travel around you’ll realise that some of those tired old national stereotypes really do have a basis in truth, whereas others – Italians dress well; Germans are boring; the French are rude – are just plain wrong.

It’s not that far away; it’s not that expensive to get there
Here’s the most surprising thing about Europe: it’s really not that far away.

A day of travelling and there you are on the other side of the world, seeing things you never thought you’d see, eating amazing food, meeting amazing people. And if you shop around for airfares, it’s not even that expensive to get there.

All Stops Australia to Europe

The Kangaroo Route is dead! Long live the kangaroo route!

In April, barring any last-minute hitches, Qantas will no longer touch ground in south-east Asia on its way from Australia to Europe.

The flight formerly known by the code QF1 will instead stop in the Middle Eastern city of Dubai, changing the way generations of Australians have found their way to London and beyond.

Malaysian Airlines Lounge, Kuala Lumpur International Airport
But the south-east Asia stopover is far from a thing of the past, with a veritable squadron of airlines continuing the tradition of the two-flight trip to the Continent and Britain.

And the potential for a stopover itself – breaking the journey with a night or two in a hub city – is actually greater than ever.

Flight Centre reports the number of Australians taking a quick stay in places such as Singapore and Hong Kong is on the up. South-east Asia tourism bodies report rises in visitor numbers from Australia (while not isolating stopover visitors from those travelling to their final destinations).

With Qantas all but out of the south-east Asia stopover picture, will those numbers continue to grow?

Flight Centre for one, believes so. Qantas may be about to abandon Singapore’s Changi Airport as a hub to Europe, but its former codeshare partner, British Airways, continues to fly the kangaroo route – SYD-SIN-LHR. Singapore Airlines, which claims Changi as its home airport, does the same and more.

51219e751e784708952b2ed1767f2254-gcmap-kangaroo-route

Shopping at Changi International Airport Singapore
Cathay and Virgin Atlantic fly to Europe and Britain from Australia through Hong Kong. Thai Airways continues to ferry Australians north via Bangkok.

The huge upside of Qantas flying into Dubai and sharing the onward journey to Europe with Emirates is the vast growth in destinations on offer; previously Qantas only flew to Heathrow in London.

Now it can offer customers – particularly those gathering points – more than 30 ports, just as Emirates does. Of course, if you’re willing to stop more than once, the options are similarly huge.

China Southern, for instance, codeshares with Air France and KLM to allow Australian passengers to fly Australia-China-Paris or Amsterdam and on to most European cities including: Athens, Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Istanbul, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Madrid, Manchester, Porto, Oslo, Prague, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb and Zurich.

There are round-the-world fares, small airlines flying in and out of unusual places (to France from Perth via Mauritius, for instance) and an ever-changing landscape of airline alliances and specials the creative can explore for fun ways to their destination.

Tokyo’s Narita Airport
But one stop through south-east Asia, the kangaroo route, remains the traditional and preferred passage to Britain and Europe for most Australians.

With that in mind, here’s a guide – by no means a definitive one – of those flying it and the hubs through which they travel.

Changi International Airport, Singapore
Best airport in south-east Asia. Lots of room, plenty of seats, awesome retail and loads of free entertainment such as massage chairs and cinema-screen sports viewing.

Downside is the short leg on the way home – it’s hard to get in a good rest.

Airline Singapore Airlines
From Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, while SilkAir flies directly from Darwin to Singapore.

To London, Manchester, Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich, Copenhagen, Moscow, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich and Istanbul.

Airline British Airways
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Codeshare British Airways codeshares with all oneworld member airlines, including Qantas, and has additional commercial agreements with Aer Lingus, Flybe, Loganair and Meridiana.

Alliance oneworld. Qantas is a oneworld member and can offer a one-ticket passage to Britain via Singapore with the second leg flown by British Airways.

Need to know Virgin Australia codeshares on Singapore Airlines flights from Adelaide, Perth and Darwin via Singapore to Europe. Starting in the first quarter of 2013, Virgin Australia will also codeshare on Singapore flights from Sydney,Melbourne and Brisbane via Singapore to Europe.

Stopover tip Arab Street
The area around Sultan Mosque has long been a hub of carpet salesmen and fabric merchants and is always worth a stroll for good quality manchester on the cheap.

But these days, it’s also home to Singapore’s unique, boutique fashion shopping, with little side street properties given over to teenage and twentysomething designer wares.

Hong Kong International Airport, China
Punters lament that it’s big on shops and light on chairs. Seating is found mostly near food, where it can be monetised. Beautiful lounges for those with access, however.

Airline Cathay Pacific
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Perth.
To Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Rome, Amsterdam, Moscow and London.

Codeshare With Finnair and British Airways: Copenhagen, Helsinki, Lisbon, Prague, Stockholm, Zurich, Nice, Lyon, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart, Manchester and Newcastle.

Alliance oneworld
Qantas is a oneworld member and flies to Hong Kong. It can offer one-ticket passage to Europe via Hong Kong with the second leg flown by Cathay Pacific (see destinations above).

Airline Virgin Atlantic
From Sydney to London Heathrow.
Stopover tip Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade.

Walking the promenade is a stroll through Hong Kong’s modern history. Start at the colonial-era clock tower, pass the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Hong Kong Space Museum, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Avenue of the Stars and on to Hung Hom.

The promenade also gives spectacular views of the Hong Kong Island skyline.

Baiyun, Guangzhou Airport, China
The anti-Changi. Not a lot to do, few facilities and little English signage. Online reviewers complain about a lack of cleanliness and friendliness as well as uncomfortable seats.
But Guangzhou is the hub to watch in years to come.

Airline China Southern
Guangzhou or Old Canton in southern China is the airline’s main hub. China Southern also operates via Beijing and western gateways Chongqing and Urumqi.

From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
To Amsterdam, Paris and London.

Alliance SkyTeam.
Stopover tip Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street.

This strip in Liwan District is more than 1200 metres of shopping. But it’s the cultural showcase it affords that is so great. This is the home of Cantonese food and the restaurants along the street are cheap and fine.

Suvarnabhumi, New Bangkok International Airport, Bangkok, Thailand
Fun, friendly, full of stuff to do. The shopping is great at excellent prices and the airport flows well – just make sure you allow plenty of time to get to gates. It’s a sprawling facility. Bangkok Airport also boasts some excellent food options.

Airline Thai Airways
From Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane.

To Brussels, Copenhagen, London (Heathrow), Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Athens,

Rome, Milan, Moscow, Madrid, Stockholm, Zurich and Oslo.

Alliance Star Alliance.

epa03096249 (FILE) A supplied photo released on 21 August 2008 of a Qantas A380 VH-OQA (MSN014) making its first flight in new Qantas livery. An A380 superjumbo jet was grounded after minor cracks were found on its wings, Australia‘s Qantas Airways Ltd said 08 February 2012. It expected the Airbus plane to be back in service within a week and said the 36 hairline cracks to the wing rib feet - there are 2,000 on each wing - did not compromise air safety.  EPA/CHRISTIAN BRINKMANN EDITORIAL USE ONLY *** Local Caption *** 00000402428912

Stopover tip Chatuchak Market
Home decorators and collectors: prepare to hyperventilate. This massive retail mecca is a warren of wholesalers, offering everything from jewellery to fish tanks at crazy cheap prices. It’s good quality stuff, too – a typical Bangkok knock-off market, this isn’t.

If the urge to spend overwhelms, never fear: there are several bureaus on site that organise shipping, even by the container-full.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia
KLIA – Renowned for being efficient and friendly with great shopping, this is a clean, light and modern facility.

There are free internet terminals, good kids’ play areas and the beautiful KLIA Jungle Boardwalk in the middle of the terminal, a rainforest attraction, great for getting a breath of fresh air.

Airline Malaysia Airlines
From Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

To Amsterdam, Paris, London Heathrow and Frankfurt.

Alliance oneworld.

Stopover tip Islamic Arts Museum
Come to KL for the shopping, stay for the culture. The Islamic Arts Museum has one of the finest collections of Islamic decorative arts in the world. Here you will find pottery, textiles, jewellery and the superb Ottoman room, a recreation of a golden time.

Incheon Airport, Seoul,Korea
Not much to do if you don’t like to shop, but in addition to loads of electricals for sale, there’s free Wi-Fi, good showers and super efficient transfers in a well-planned setup.

Airline Korean Air
From Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
To London (Heathrow), Vienna, Prague, Paris, Madrid, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Zurich,
Milan and Rome.

Codeshare Alitalia, Air France, CSA Czech Airlines.

Alliance SkyTeam.

Airline Asiana.

From Sydney to London (Heathrow), Paris and Frankfurt.

Codeshare Qantas.

Alliance Star Alliance.

Stopover tip Changdeokgung Palace
Of the five palaces in Seoul, this is widely considered the best – and the one to visit if you can’t do the lot.

Built in 1405, the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site is surrounded by a beautiful garden featuring centuries-old trees and a calming, hypnotic flow to its design.

The garden was laid out to work with the landscape surrounding the castle.

Narita International, Tokyo, Japan
No fuss, no stress, efficient and clean.

One of Narita’s best features is the dayrooms, which have showers and beds, a great resource for resting during long connections.

There is free internet throughout the terminal and terrific shopping, particularly for electronics andcosmetics.

Airline Japan Airlines
From Sydney (JAL codeshares with Jetstar from Cairns).

To London (Heathrow), Moscow, Frankfurt, Paris and Helsinki (from February25).

Alliance oneworld.

Stopover tip Tsukiji Fish Market
Eating sushi in Tokyo is a must-do. Some of the best is at Sushi Dai, at the Tsukiji fish market, or the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market in central Tokyo, from where much of the city’s fish is distributed.

More than 400 kinds of seafood are sold here. Get to the market early to see the auctions.

Dubai International Airport
Great for those who enjoy stepping over sleeping bodies during a walk to the gate that takes up to 15minutes, busy DXB always feels like the whole world has arrived at exactly the same time. The spectacular-looking T3 is set to open with the arrival of Qantas, so hopefully the overcrowded hostel vibe will be a thing of the past.

Huge upside going to Europe is the flight time carve-up: it’s a 14hour-plus long leg from Australia to Dubai, from where you can be in Rome in five and a half hours.

Airline Emirates
From Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

To Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Dublin, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Geneva, Hamburg, Istanbul, Larnaca, Liege, Lisbon, London Gatwick, London (Heathrow), Lyon, Madrid, Malta, Manchester, Milan, Moscow, Munich, Newcastle, Nice, Paris, Petersburg, Prague, Rome Vienna, Zurich, Venice and Warsaw.

Airline Qantas
From Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns and Adelaide.

Qantas owns aircraft to London (Heathrow). Codeshare with Emirates to destinations above.

Stopover tip Burj Al Arab
The sail-shaped structure cuts a beautiful figure on Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach shoreline but it’s inside the action really starts. One of Dubai’s most iconic addresses, it is home to ‘‘the only seven-star’’ (as the Dubai folk like to boast) hotel in the world. AlMahara, the spectacular underwater seafood restaurant, is also onsite.

Abu Dhabi International Airport
Great duty free, but expensive food, limited seating and organisational issues for transferring passengers. Limited things to do, but free Wi-Fi is a plus. Airline Etihad Airways.

From Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane (via Singapore).

To Brussels, Minsk, Paris, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Athens, Dublin, Milan, Geneva, London (Heathrow) and Manchester.

Codeshare Air Berlin, Air France, Aerlingus, Alitalia, Czech Airlines, Brussels Airlines, KLM, Niki, SNCF, Flybe.com.

Need to know Virgin Australia operates its own aircraft from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, connecting to Etihad Airways services to Europe. Virgin Australia also codeshares on Etihad Airways flights, which depart from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via AbuDhabi to Europe.

Munich Attractions

No trip to Munich is complete without visiting these top ten attractions and sights – many of them are in the center of Munich’s Old Town and you can easily walk from one landmark to the other.

1. Marienplatz – Marien Square and the New Town Hall of Munich
Marienplatz is the central square in the heart of Munich; from here, you can explore many old and wonderful buildings, churches and landmarks.

Marienplatz houses the Mariensäule, the Marian Column topped with the golden statue of Virgin Mary, and it is also home to the Old and the New Town Hall of Munich.

The tower of the New Town Hall houses the Glockenspiel, a beautiful carillon that is over 100 years old. Come here at 11 a.m. or noon to hear the Glockenspiel chime and watch the 32 life-sized figures reenact historical Bavarian events. Look out for the golden bird that chirps 3 times to mark the end of each show.

munich-new-year_2714247b

2. Frauenkirche – Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady
The Catholic Cathedral of Our Blessed Lady is the landmark of Munich and the city’s largest church; it holds up to 20,000 people.

Together with the Town Hall, the sturdy twin towers of the Cathedral shape Munich’s skyline and make it a great point of orientation.
You can also climb the steps of the towers – the view of Munich’s cityscape and the Bavarian Alps is breathtaking.

The architectural style of the brick-built cathedral is late Gothic from the 15th century. Its famous domes atop each tower were modeled on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

3. Dachau Concentration Camp
The concentration camp of Dachau, 10 miles northwest of Munich, was one of the first concentration camps in Nazi Germany and would serve as a model for all subsequent camps in the Third Reich.

Dachau visitors follow the “path of the prisoner”, walking the same way prisoners were forced to after their arrival in the camp.

You will see the original prisoner baths, barracks, courtyards, and the crematorium, as well as an extensive exhibition and various memorials.

4. The English Garden
Just a few blocks northeast of the Munich Residence is the English Garden, Munich’s largest park. Bigger than Central Park in New York, this green oasis is a wonderful place to explore: Rent a paddle boat, stroll along the wooded paths, visit one of its traditional beer gardens, and watch the German answer to surfing on the currents of the waterway called Eisbach.

5. Best Beer Halls in Munich
If you want to drink your Bier the way it was meant to be, visit one of the many beer halls in Munich; most of them brew their own beer, and your drink will taste even better with a platter of local specialties and some oompah music.

You probably heard about Hofbrauhaus (and brewery tour), one of the most famous beer halls in Germany (the world?), but, of course, there is more than that. Here’s a list of the best Munich beer halls, where you can experience Bavarian hospitality at its best.

6. Viktualienmarkt – The Victuals Market
Only a few steps away from Marienplatz, you’ll find the bustling Viktualienmarkt, Munich’s daily outdoor farmers market. Stroll past the 140 colorful booths and enjoy the unique flavor of this market that boasts a great variety of fresh and regional food.

The Viktualienmarkt, whose beginnings date back to the early 19th century, offers everything from flowers, honey, and spices, to meat, cheese, eggs, and pastries.

Take in the garlands of sausages, mountains of fresh vegetables, and pyramids of fruits, and let your senses be seduced.

7. Residence Palace of Munich
At the edge of Munich’s old town lies the Residence, the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs.

Today the Residence houses one of the best European museums of interior decoration. The Residence, whose first buildings were constructed in 1385, consists of ten courtyards and beautiful historical gardens.

The museum itself displays 130 rooms with antique furniture, art, porcelain, and tapestries that span the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and the neoclassical era.

8. Deutsches Museum – German Museum
The German Museum is located on an island in the river Isar that runs through Munich’s city center. It is one of the oldest and largest science and technology museums in the world and boasts an impressive collection of historic artifacts.

You can see the first electric dynamo, the first automobile, and the laboratory bench where the atom was first split. Other highlights of the museum include exhibitions on astronomy, transportation, mining, printing, and photography.

9. Museums Ensemble
Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, Pinakothek der Moderne
West of the English Garden is a unique ensemble of three museums, each of them highlighting a different period in European art.

The Alte Pinakothek is one of the oldest art galleries in the world and home to over 800 European masterpieces from the Middle Ages to the end of the Rococo. You can see one of the biggest Rubens collections here.

The Neue Pinakothek features art and sculpture from the late 18th to the beginning of the 20th century.

Highlights include German art of the 19th century, such as paintings from Caspar David Friedrich, and a wonderful collection of French impressionists.

The Pinakothek der Moderne is the largest museum for modern art in Germany and spotlights art of the 20th century, including photography and video.

10. Olympic Stadium of Munich
This stadium was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics, and its design was revolutionary and futuristic for its time.

Getting There:

Munich Airport , German: Flughafen München, is the international airport of Munich, the capital of Bavaria.

It is the second busiest airport in Germany in terms of passenger traffic behind Frankfurt Airport, and the seventh busiest airport in Europe, handling 39.7 million passengers in 2014.

Munich Airport serves as the secondary hub for Lufthansa including Lufthansa Regional and its Star Alliance partners besides Frankfurt. The biggest foreign carrier in Munich in terms of passenger numbers is Air Dolomiti.

Alcohol on Airplanes

What’s more fun than drinking on a plane?

You’ve got a few hours to kill with nothing to do (and probably less going on when you arrive), and after the time you just spent getting herded, strip-searched, and stressed out in the airport, well, you kinda deserve it, right?

Except sometimes it’s not as awesome as you think. Just ask Alec Baldwin. Or Courtney Love. Or David Hasselhoff. Yes, when done properly, drinking on an airplane is the best.

Emphasis on “done properly”. A lot of times, though, it’s not a great idea.
And here are 9 reasons why.

You may feel more intoxicated
In case you failed sixth-grade science, the air at 36,000 feet isn’t breathable this is why airplanes are pressurized.

Even still, the cabin air has far less oxygen than you would breathe if you were on the ground and, though some studies have shown booze doesn’t have much effect on your BAC, it can still be metabolized faster and exacerbate the effects of altitude sickness.

1411635527182_wps_1_BXR377_Alcohol_being_cons

Age restrictions
When you’re in the sky, technically there’s no age restriction on buying alcohol.
No official one anyway.

Individual airlines can choose their own rule but they usually stick to the laws of the country where they’re registered.

So if you’re with an American airline, you’ll probably have to be over 21.

While you’re on the ground though, the laws of the country you’re in usually apply.

‘One drink in the air is equal to three on land’ – or is it?
According to the UK’s flight regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), low air pressure when flying effectively thins the blood.

That means the effects of alcohol can be stronger.
But some experts aren’t convinced. They think you may feel drunk because flying conditions mean less oxygen gets into your brain.

Drinking limits
There’s no specific limit on how much you can drink on a flight, but it is a crime to be drunk on board an aircraft.

Cabin crew have the right to refuse to serve alcohol to any passenger.

You can’t board your connecting flight
And since those two light beers on the ground may have hit you more like a couple of Four Lokos at altitude, you’d better hope that two-mile walk through DFW to your connecting flight clears your head.

Gate agents are required by law to stop you from boarding the plane if you appear intoxicated. Which is entirely subjective.

Motion sickness is a lot worse
Because nothing settles down your nervous stomach like milk, Kahlúa, and pressurized oxygen.

You might get arrested
Airlines have a right to refuse to carry passengers if they think they’re a potential risk to the safety of the aircraft, its crew or passengers.

That could include them being drunk or showing signs of having used recreational drugs.
It also applies to anyone using “unacceptable”, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.

If the plane’s already taken off it could land early and passengers can be escorted off by police on landing.

Serious offences could even lead to fines or prison sentences.
Each airline has its own procedures for dealing with disruptive passengers.

Alcoholic beverages
Permitted as carry-on or checked baggage – A maximum net total of 5L per person is permitted providing the alcohol is contained within retail packaging.

The alcohol must not be more than 70% alcohol by volume and consumption alcohol carried on board is not permitted on the aircraft.

Mexico City Attractions

Mexico City has many attractions to explore with its rich and glorious Aztec heritage, an intriguing colonial past and exhilarating new world.

The city is divided into 16 delegaciones i.e. boroughs or districts, which are in turn subdivided into colonias or neighbourhoods.

Over a period of time, old towns like Coyoacán, San Angel and Tlalpan have been merged into the general, urban sprawl, but somehow they are still preserving their originality, charm and tradition.

Alameda Central
This is the oldest and largest attraction of the city. Now a park, originally it was used as an Aztec marketplace and execution site during the Spanish Inquisition. It borders the Palacio de Bellas Artes i.e. Palace of Fine Arts on the eastern side.

This palace houses a concert hall, museum and a theatre. Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican artist painted a mural of Alameda Central park named ‘Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central’, in 1947.

Originally, the painting was housed in the Prado Hotel, but after the disastrous 1985 earthquake, it was shifted to Museo Mural de Diego Rivera.

Mexico-City-Metropolitan-Cathedral1

Metropolitan Cathedral
This is the oldest and largest Roman Catholic cathedral in Latin America.

The construction of this cathedral started in the 16th century, and it portrays a medley of baroque and neoclassical touches. It is situated atop a site that was originally meant for a temple dedicated to Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec God of War.

After the Spanish conquered Mexico, they razed much of the Aztec temples and used the stones to build their own constructions. In the case of Catedral Metropolitana, nearly all of the building blocks from the nearby Templo Mayor were used to build the cathedral.

Although this church has suffered irreparable damage over the centuries, it was designated World Monuments Fund’s list of 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2000, thanks to the continuous preservation efforts of Mexico City government.

This superb historic attraction has four identical domes with a row of supporting columns, as well as innumerable paintings and altarpieces from the colonial era.

Plaza de las Tres Culturas
This plaza, also known as ‘Square of the Three Cultures’, gives an idea about the fusion of three different cultures in Mexico history situated at a single spot.

Attracting many tourists, it signifies a mixture of Aztec, Spanish and contemporary Mexican architecture. It has the ruins of an Aztec ceremonial site, the Santiago Tlatelolco Church, built in 1609 and the Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco College built in 1535.

Arena Mexico
Arena Mexico is famous for Lucha libre, a Mexican form of professional wrestling, endorsed by Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL).

This popular tourist attraction is more of an entertaining form of freestyle wrestling then a sport. Masked men (luchadores) in spandex costumes fight until the winner unmasks the loser to prove his victory.

This loud and rowdy wrestling provides a lot of excitement for the spectators.

The place is very close to Zona Rosa and Avenida Insurgentes.

Temple Mayor
Temple Mayor is an archaeological site located in the Zocalo next to Catedral Metropolitana. It was one of the largest and important temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan.

The remains of this ancient temple were found in 1978 after workers of an electric company unearthed the Aztec stone of the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui. This amazing archaeological discovery is a part of the Historic Centre of Mexico City and included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The Museum of the Templo Mayor, located within the precincts of the discovery site, houses all the archaeological materials excavated until date.

Zocalo
Zocalo square, formally known as the Plaza de la Constitution is located in the heart of the historic centre of Mexico City.

This stunning but often crowded square is mainly used for celebrations, protests, rallies, ceremonies and other festive events. It has the Catedral Metropolitana on the north side and Federal Treasury and National archives on the eastern side.

It is the main centre of attraction on the occasion of “Independence Day,” which is celebrated on September 16th, every year.

La Feria de Chapultepec Mágico
This is a children’s amusement park located in Chapultepec Park. With more than 50 rides, it is one of the most popular venues among children.

The park features the first roller-coaster in the country, an absolute must for those seeking a quick thrill! It also offers many other attractions at reasonable prices.

Angel de la Independencia
Commonly known as el Angel, the official name of the Angel of Independence is Columna de la Independencia.

This symbol of victory is situated on a roundabout over Paseo de la Reforma in downtown Mexico City. It was under construction between 1902 and 1910.

A famous landmark of the city, it is a gathering place for post-game celebrations and political rallies.

Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
Basilica de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe is the holiest place of Catholicism in America. This church is built near a site where a Native American named Juan Diego claimed to have seen a vision of Our Lady of Guadalupe in a blue mantle in 1531.

Every year, around 12th of December, thousands of people visit the destination for the yearly celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Feast day.

Getting There:

Mexico City International Airport Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México, Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez – Benito Juárez International Airport) is a commercial airport that serves greater Mexico City. It is Mexico’s busiest and Latin America’s second busiest airport by passenger traffic.

As the main hub for Mexico’s largest airline Aeromexico the airport has become a Sky Team hub. It is also a hub for Aeromar,Interjet, Volaris and a focus city for Viva Aerobus.

On a typical day, more than 100,000 passengers pass through the airport to and from more than 100 destinations on three continents. 

Most Expensive Hotel Suites

Nothing says “senseless overspending” like blowing thousands on a place to sleep, shower and store your clothes while you go about your day.

Luckily for the fortunate 1 percent, there are places that cater to exactly that.

Here are some of the world’s most expensive hotel suites.

1. Royal Penthouse Suite, Hotel President Wilson, Geneva

US$65,000 per night

With 12 rooms, this suite is essentially a house, and costs about the same.

For the security-conscious, or the merely paranoid, there’s nowhere better to stay than the Royal Penthouse Suite at the Hotel President Wilson Hotel, which has panoramic views of Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc.

With bulletproof doors and windows, it’s the perfect safehouse for visiting heads of state, or privacy-conscious celebs.

Taking up the entire top floor of the hotel, the suite has its own private elevator to whisk guests to an apartment with 12 rooms, which hold a Steinway grand piano, billiard room, library and private fitness center.

2. The Presidential Suite, The Raj Palace Hotel, Jaipur, India

US$45,000 per night

This positively palatial suite was a former Maharaja’s residence. At nearly 1,500 square meters, the suite is one of the biggest in Asia, and comprises a four-floor apartment lavishly decorated in gold leaf, stucco, ivory and mirror work.

With a private roof terrace and swimming pool offering panoramic views of the pink city of Jaipur, and its own private museum, there seems little reason to leave.

The Ty Warner Penthouse in the Four Season Hotel in New York City. Room consists of $120,000 chandelier, white silk carpet and hand-lacquered walls with mother of pearl inlay. CREDIT: Joshua Lutz/INSTITUTE for The Wall Street Journal. Slug: Bestroom

3. Ty Warner Penthouse Suite, Four Seasons Hotel, New York

US$41,836 per night

Soak in the expansive tub and try not to think about the US$30 it’s costing you each minute.

This 400-square-meter penthouse tops the entire top floor of this magnificent hotel, offering a 360-degree view of the Manhattan skyline.

The nine-room suite is the brainchild of designer Peter Marino, architect IM Pei and the hotel’s owner Ty Warner (the billionaire creator of the Beanie Babies).

It sports fabrics woven with platinum and gold, an indoor-outdoor Zen garden, a stupendous chandelier, the services of a personal butler, personal trainer/therapist and private chauffeur.

4. Penthouse Suite, Hotel Martinez, Cannes, France

US$37,500 per night

Two bathrooms, hammam, sauna, spa bath and shower — because you’ll feel so dirty after spending this much on a room.

On the Croisette, Hotel Martinez has a Michelin-starred restaurant, piano bar and huge private beach.

Decked out in art deco style, you’ll have a sitting room, dining room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms with hammam, shower, spa bath, dressing room and sauna at your disposal, as well as a huge terrace overlooking the Bay of Cannes.

5. Hugh Hefner Sky Villa Palms Resort, Las Vegas

US$35,487 per night

Bunnies not included? Not worth it then.

The Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, high in the Palms’ Fantasy Tower, is fitted out with everything Playboy: racy artwork selected by Hef himself, a huge, rotating circular bed and an indoor pool, branded with the Bunny logo, leading to a hair- — and libido- — raising cantilevered spa bath high above the Strip.

This 836-square-meter, two-bedroom pad also includes an orgy-sized bathtub, bar and poker table and an indoor waterfall.

The eye-watering price doesn’t include breakfast — or Bunnies.

6. The Royal Villa, Grand Resort Lagonissi, Athens

US$34,356 per night

Two pools, a private chef and myriad reasons to enjoy every penny of your inheritance.

With a butler, private chef and pianist at your beck and call, there’s little need to lift a finger — except to sip martinis — when you stay at this three-bedroomed villa.

When you’re feeling more active you can also take advantage of an indoor pool, outdoor heated pool and gym, as well as a steam bath and massage room.

There’s also a nearby private marina and beach.

7. Presidential Suite, Hotel Cala di Volpe, Sardinia, Italy

US$32,736 per night

One of the most exquisite, but not the most expensive. Bargain!

Perfect for sun-kissed networking, the Presidential Suite overlooks the sparkling brine of the Costa Smeralda. Billed as one of the most gorgeous suites in the world, this three-bedroom luxury pad stands above the rambling towers and pantile roofs of the luxury Porto Cervo resort.

An understated blend of Mediterranean style and sensational bay views, the suite also has its own pool on the private roof terrace, along with a wine cellar and outdoor gym.

8. Villa La Cupola Suite, Westin Excelsior, Rome

US$30,000 per night

When in Rome … blow your budget?

For the ultimate in La Dolce Vita, check into the stunning Villa La Cupola suite in Rome’s Westin Excelsior.

One of the largest in Europe, the suite is inspired by ancient Rome, with extensive use of marble, stained glass and frescoes. There’s a gorgeous wraparound terrace where you can soak up the sun, a private spa with sauna, whirlpool and steam bath, as well as private cinema.

9. Ritz-Carlton Suite, Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

US$26,300 per night

Lofty — like our dreams of ever staying here.

At 300 square meters, the Ritz-Carlton Suite has many of the usual big suite highlights — Frette linen sheets, an oversized marble bathroom, huge beds, flat-screen TVs and individual rain shower booths.

The clincher is the fact that it tops the tallest skyscrapers in Tokyo and has proposal-worthy views over the Imperial Palace, Roppongi Hills and Mount Fuji.

10. Royal Towers Bridge Suite, Atlantis, Bahamas

US$25,000 per night

Hopefully you don’t have a gold allergy.

This 10-room suite with gold sofas, cushions, gilt mirrors and chandeliers is enough to make minimalists break out in hives. This is shameless glamour.

The grand foyer dazzles the eye with an elaborate floor made of four kinds of marble. The 15-meter-long living room holds a baby grand piano. The vast entertainment center comes with a full-service bar.

Throw in the eye-popping balcony views, and a butler, and this is no ordinary pad.

Flight Cancelled? What To Do

Whether it’s caused by a snow storm or unexpected mechanical problems, the average flyer may find himself the victim of a canceled flight at least once.

Since you’re likely to be surrounded by hundreds of other stranded passengers, moving quickly is essential to get your travel plans back in order.

Arming yourself with a plan can make the difference between getting on the next flight out and sleeping in an airport chair.

Plan Ahead
Start planning for a canceled flight before you even leave for the airport.

Check the flight status online a few hours before your plane is due to leave, particularly when rain or snow is predicted. When a storm is coming, some airlines will post offers on their websites that allow passengers to switch to later flights without paying a change fee.

If you find that your flight has already been canceled, you can start calling the airline reservations desk right away for more information.

Before you leave home, program the number of the reservations hotline into your phone, as well as the number of your travel agent, if you used one to plan your travel.

Get in Line
As soon as you see those dreaded words, “Canceled,” pop up on the departure screen, head straight to the nearest airline customer service desk; these desks should be located throughout the terminal.

airport-strandings

Ask a representative to book you onto the next available flight. Most airlines will book you onto a different carrier’s flight if their own airline doesn’t have another flight available; ask if this is an option and verify that you won’t be charged any additional fee for this service.

Get on the Phone
When you find yourself in a long line at the customer service desk, call the reservation hotline while you’re waiting. If a crowd of other displaced passengers is in front of you, you may be able to get a representative on the phone before you speak to one in person.

After you reach a live person, explain the situation and ask that they schedule you on the next flight out.

If you have a phone or laptop with an Internet connection, log into the flight status or flight management system of the airline’s website; in some cases, you might find you’ve already been automatically rebooked on a new flight.

Get Comfortable
If all flights are canceled due to weather, you may have little to do except wait out the storm.

Ask the agent at your departure gate if the airline gives out food vouchers to stranded travelers. If it’s getting dark, and it’s clear you won’t be flying out that night, start looking into hotels immediately.

Some airlines will pay for a hotel stay if the cancellation is caused by mechanical troubles, but you’re generally on your own if you’re grounded because of weather.

Ask the gate agent for a voucher that will grant you a reduced rate at an airport hotel.

Keep calling the reservation hotline every hour; as soon as the storm ends and they start rebooking passengers, you’ll be at the head of the line.

Advantages Of A Travel Agent

With the dozens of online travel sites and the ability to book directly with almost any airline, hotel or other travel service, it would seem that travel agents might go the way of the dinosaurs.

The American Society of Travel Agents, though, reports travel agents sell 85 percent of all cruises and 70 percent of all packages and tours, as of 2008.

Agents are still in demand, and offer plenty of benefits when you are booking your vacation.

Time and Money Savings
Sometimes, spending hours on the computer searching for the best travel deals gets you results and other times, it just leads to frustration.

When you work with a travel agent, she does that legwork, searching out the travel options that best meet your needs and budget.

In most cases, travel agents have access to information about rates and routes that average consumer might not have, saving you time and money, even when you consider the agent’s fee.

Using a travel agent can also help you score a great deal on a package or promotion. Agents generally receive information and access to promotions from resorts, cruise lines and other travel providers that aren’t available to the general public.

store-flightcentre

Travel Assistance
You’re en route to a Caribbean cruise a when a snowstorm in Detroit delays your flight in Philadelphia. I

f you booked your travel through an agent, you can call him to get assistance with rebooking your travel arrangements.

When you book through an online travel site, you might not be able to get that level of personalized attention, or you could have trouble finding someone who can help you get where you need to be.

If something goes wrong when you arrive at your destination, such as your room is unacceptable or the transportation to the resort never shows up, your travel agent can usually resolve those problems.

Travel Recommendations
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to take a cruise, but you’re not sure which cruise line is best for you or where you want to go.

Maybe you want to take the kids to Disney World, but you’re having trouble navigating the endless array of ticket and package options.

A travel agent can help. Many travel agents specialize in a particular type of travel, such as cruises, Disney or Europe, and are able to make recommendations and help you plan a trip that meets your needs and budget.

Their inside knowledge helps you avoid wasting time and money on the things you’re not interested in, and lets you focus instead on taking the trip.

Perks
Travel agents who book a high volume of trips often have access to perks that you might not be able to get on your own.

Whether it’s a room upgrade, a fee waiver or even reservations at a hot resort or on a popular tour, travel agents often add perks into your vacation plan.

If you are planning a trip for a special occasion, such as a marriage proposal, a travel agent has access to the resources and people who can help you plan the perfect event.

Most Popular Hotel Booking Websites

Why use Hotel Booking Services?

There’s no disappointment quite like walking into a hotel after a long day of travel and discovering your room is nothing like what you expected.

The best hotel booking sites provide extensive lists of amenities and attractions near the hotel.

Most of these sites also provide booking and travel deals for other reservations like flights, rental cars and cruises.

Online hotel booking services like Hotels.com, Travelocity and Expedia allow you to take a close look at hotels around your destination before you even start packing.

ImageGen

So here they are the 2015 World’s top 10 hotel booking websites.

Hotels.com

Travelocity.com

Expedia.com

Hotwire.com

Priceline.com

Booking.com

MoreHotels4Less.com

Orbitz.com

Agoda.com

HotelReservations.com

Hotel Booking Services: What to Look For
The best online booking services provide lots of honest information about the hotels, regardless of their star rating. Sorting features and accessible support give you the most valuable information about a room before you book it.

Among this information, look for plenty of customer reviews and images on the hotel profiles. Pictures of the hotels should include shot of multiple rooms, lobbies, the front of the hotel, as well as any special features like pools or casinos associated with it. Regardless of price, the best hotels will have many reviews with high scores.

Sorting Features
When looking for a hotel, you need to ask hard-hitting questions like, “where is the pool?”

The more people staying with you, the more features you will need in a hotel room. The best booking services online can help you sort through hundreds of thousands of hotels based on these individual needs.

You can sort by amenities like swimming pools, childcare or accessibility features. Prices, star ratings and location are also common sorting features. By using these sorting features, the hotel booking site will filter out hotels missing your favourite amenities, so you can find the best fit for your stay.

Hotel Details
To ensure you don’t accidentally book a five-star roach palace, you’ll want to find a booking service that provides plenty of information about the hotel.

The most valuable information includes images of the hotel and assorted rooms in the building, amenities and other features.

Location information and hotel policies can also make a huge difference in your comfort level.

Chances are you won’t find a five-star hotel in a bad neighborhood, but that charming bed and breakfast may be twenty miles away from your real destination, so look for readily available maps on the hotel’s profile.

Other features like guest reviews, especially from trusted sites like TripAdvisor, give you the inside scoop on the hotel from people who have had first-hand experiences with the facility.

Reservation Process
Like a hot stone massage from the resort’s masseuse, booking a room online should be mostly painless. When it comes to prices, hotel websites have different methods of delivering deals.

Some use a bid system, while others leave the hotel details a mystery to provide big discounts. Purchasing in these ways may get you good prices, but they can come with complicated website policies.

Some of the best sites also reserve flights, rental cars or whole vacation packages combined with the hotel. If you’re a frequent traveler, loyalty programs reward you for booking with the website, giving you more incentives to travel.

The best hotel search sites give you the option to pay for your hotel online or in person.

The best hotel booking sites will give you an accurate picture of the hotel you want, and they allow you to search through thousands of hotels based on what’s most important to you.

Look for a hotel search site that provides ample information about the hotels that interest you.
Guest ratings, images, amenities lists and multiple room booking are key features of these websites

Evolution of Luggage

Walk into any luggage shop these days and the choices are plenty: ballistic nylon garment bags; colorful, mod-looking hard-shell carry-ons; high-end monogrammed duffels; and sleek leather trolleys a long way from the bulky trunks used centuries ago.

It’s reported that as early as the Crusades soldiers used wooden boxes to carry weapons and armor traveling trunks were essential to hold personal belongings for an extended period of time.

In the mid- to late-1800s, as long-distance travel became popular via steam vessels such as trains and ships, so did steamer trunks.

1b1a0e41f48c7c7110097d587a8a49cf

The most popular and iconic steamer trunk was a large, rectangular model with a flat top, favored for its durability and ideal for being stowed vertically or horizontally for easy transport.

Typically, these steamer trunks were adorned with leather, canvas or patterned paper and secured with brass or iron.

Two notable luxury French trunk makers, Goyard and Louis Vuitton, crafted steamer trunks for French royalty and wealthy customers during the travel boom in the mid-1800s. Typically covered in canvas to make them lightweight and waterproof, both brands added distinct patterns to protect from imitators Goyard added a geometric pattern, and Louis Vuitton the famous LV monogram.

Steamer trunks stayed popular until about the 1920s but were replaced with more compact, portable suitcases as long-distance travel by plane emerged.

In 1920, the Shwayder Bros. Trunk Manufacturing Co. of Denver, Colo., launched its first affordable coordinated luggage and in 1941 developed Samsonite Streamlite, suitcases made with a revolutionary vulcanized material and tapered corners.

The company’s ads claimed the luggage was “strong enough to stand on,” and a few years later, owner Jesse Shwayder changed the company name to Samsonite, after the biblical giant, Samson.

As commercial air travel started to boom for both business and pleasure, so did the demand for better baggage.

Amazingly, not until 1970 did we get the idea to put wheels on luggage. Bernard Sadow, the founder of U.S. Luggage (now the parent company of Briggs & Riley) was traveling from Aruba with his family, carrying two heavy suitcases, when he noticed a skid nearby and realized that what luggage needed was wheels.

Sadow made a prototype of a suitcase with four caster wheels made from plastic and metal and a rope to pull it along.

Sadow’s “Luggage that Glides!” hit Macy’s stores in October 1970, but it was not until 1987 that Northwest Airlines Boeing 747 pilot Bob Plath invented the first rolled luggage with two wheels and an extending handle, changing the orientation of the suitcase from horizontal to vertical.

“A major development in luggage, which changed the way people traveled, was the invention of the Rollaboard by Travelpro founder Bob Plath 26 years ago,” says Michele Marini Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association.

Plath began selling his Rollaboard to flight crews, but travelers soon noticed airline personnel efficiently navigating the airport with ease, and a whole market for two-wheeled luggage was born.

The Rollaboard became so successful most airlines reconfigured their overhead space to accommodate the 22-inch carry-ons. This also allowed people to carry their own luggage and sparked a trend to pack lighter.

Bob Plath eventually left his job as a pilot and started the company Travelpro, which today is the premier luggage provider to flight crews and pilots of 90 airlines.

U.S. consumers spent an estimated $25.5 billion on travel goods in 2012, according to the Travel Goods Association.

Today, frequent travelers can choose from a slew of high-performance luggage options that are lighter, more durable and contain modern amenities such as TSA-friendly technology compartments and revolutionary wheels.

Carry-ons are the clear bag of choice these days for both frequent business travelers and leisure travelers, due to airline bag restrictions.

“Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen countless developments emerge to make travel easier, smarter and more fun,” says the TGA’s Pittenger.

“Even though one size rarely fits all, travel goods manufacturers are coming as close as possible with compressible luggage bags that expand or contract to fit what you’ve packed, leaving little extra room for the contents of your suitcase to shift in transit and enabling travellers to use the same bag for a weekend or two weeks away.”

A leader in the compression category is Briggs & Riley’s Baseline CX luggage, which allows travelers to pack up to 34 percent more while staying within airline carry-on requirements.

“We developed a mechanism that allows it to expand and contract without unzipping,” says Richard Krulik, CEO of Briggs & Riley. “When finished packing, the bag goes down to the most compressed state.”

Two-wheeled luggage used to be the norm, but over the past two years the travel goods industry has seen four-wheeled models gaining momentum.

Spinner luggage features four wheels instead of the standard two and easily moves 360 degrees for easy access along airplane aisles and whisking through the airport at record speed.