65 People Likely Killed in Plane Crash in Southern Iran

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 15:44
<p>All 65 people on board a commercial flight in <a href="" target="_blank">Iran</a> were likely killed when the plane crashed into a mountain in the Southern region of the country on Sunday, Iranian state media reported. </p><p>Aseman Airlines flights <a href="" target="_blank">flight EP3704 went down</a> in a foggy, mountainous region 485 miles from the country's capital, Tehran, according to the Associated Press. The <a href="" target="_blank">plane</a> was an ATR-72 twin-engine turboprop used for <a href="" target="_blank">regional flights</a>. </p><p>“After searching the area, we learned that unfortunately ... our dear passengers had lost their lives,” Mohammad Taghi Tabatabai, Aseman Airlines spokesman, told state TV. “This plane had 60 passengers, 59 adults and one child, as well as a pilot, a co-pilot, two flight attendants and two air marshals on board.”</p><p>While it was initially reported that 66 people died, the state-run news agency IRNA later said one passenger had missed the flight.</p><p>Foggy conditions have not made it possible for rescue helicopters to reach the scene of the crash, according to state TV, though the Iranian Red Crescent has deployed. The plane crashed into Mount Dena, a 14,435-foot-tall mountain in the Zagros mountains.</p><p> </p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Iran's</a> commercial airplane fleet has suffered a decline over the past few decades because of international sanctions, though the country was able make deals with Boeing and Airbus to buy newer passenger planes in 2015 after a <a href="" target="_blank">landmark nuclear agreement</a> was reached with world powers.</p><p> </p>
Categories: Travel

This Scenic 'Snow Train' in Colorado Takes Skiers Straight to the Mountain

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 15:02
<p>Yes, visiting the mountains for an epic ski adventure is special enough, but Winter Park Resort in Colorado is upping the magic factor by allowing guests to <a href="" target="_blank">arrive by snow train</a>.</p><p>According to the resort, the Winter Park express runs every Saturday and Sunday, along with a few select Fridays, throughout the winter, shuttling guests from Denver’s Union Station straight to the resort. In fact, according to the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Denver Business Journal</a></em>, the ski lift is just steps from the train stop.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Take the Most Beautiful Train Ride in the U.S. for $97</a></p><img alt="Waiting on the platform for the Amtrak Winter Park train "src=""><p>“With the train as part of your plans you won’t be stuck in your car while someone else gets first tracks on fresh powder,” the resort explained on its site. “Instead, imagine the weight lifted from your shoulders knowing you’ll be comfortably avoiding road rage on a scenic route through the Moffat Tunnel, arriving just around 9am, ready to hit the slopes.”</p><p>To make things even more seamless the resort has also teamed up with Lyft to help you shuttle your ski and snowboard gear from the train to the mountain. Riders get $5 off their first Lyft Ski Rack ride with code SKICO.</p><p>Moreover, when you book a ticket on the train you’ll instantly gain access to a ton of discounts at Winter Park area restaurants.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The World's Most Scenic Train Rides</a></p><img alt="The Amtrak Winter Park train at Union Station "src=""><p>Best of all, the train trip will only set you back around $30, which is well worth the price tag to avoid the hassle of mountain traffic.</p><p>And sure, getting in a few great runs at the mountain is great, but just scroll once through Instagram and you’ll see that this journey to the resort is just as glorious as the destination.</p><p> </p>
Categories: Travel

This Hotel Wants to Give Families a Discount for Staying Off Their Phones

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:01
<p>Technology use while on vacation affects more than just the type of activities travelers do. According to Wyndham hotels, 54 percent of children believe their parents check their phones “too often” and 32 percent said that they feel “unimportant” when their parents are distracted by screens.</p><p>Later this month, the hotel will launch a program that gives traveling families a discount in exchange for locking away their phones.</p><p>“We saw parents hopping on a quick conference call in the lobby, and some hotels have had to order extra pool chairs because guests are swimming less and swiping more, eschewing dips in the pool for iPad time on poolside loungers,” Noelle Nicolai, who developed the Wyndham initiative, told <i>Travel + Leisure</i>.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">7 Simple Ways to Unplug While on Vacation</a></p><p>In response, the hotel is offering a five percent discount to guests who opt into the “Reconnected” program at select Wyndham Grand hotels (Clearwater Beach, Orlando Bonnet Creek, Chicago Riverfront, Hotel Galvez, and The Mills House). The offer is available from Feb. 23 through Sept. 3, based on availability.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">9 Incredible Places to Take a Digital Detox</a></p><p>Guests will receive a lock box to put away their smartphones. The box has a timer and will not open until the time expires.</p><p>The new project focuses on the “fun of an analog childhood,” Nicolai said. Guests will also find a blanket fort for kids and an <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1518735166&amp;sr=1-4&amp;keywords=Instax+camera&amp;dpID=41GIJ0ooblL&amp;preST=_SY300_QL70_&amp;dpSrc=srch" target="_blank">Instax camera</a> in their “Reconnected” packages. There’s also a late-night “Bedtime Brigade” room service menu families can share together while, the hotel hopes, reading stories in the fort.</p>
Categories: Travel

Meghan Markle's Bachelorette Party Is Officially Happening — Here's What to Expect

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 11:01
<p>Meghan Markle may be bucking all kinds of <a href="" target="_blank">royal wedding traditions</a>, but there’s one time-honored thing she refuses to go without: a bachelorette party.</p><p>While <a href="" target="_blank">visiting with fans in Edinburgh, Scotland</a>, the royal-to-be was asked if she already had plans for a bachelorette party. According to <em><a href="" target="_blank">PEOPLE</a></em>, Meghan coyly replied that she doesn’t know exactly what her friends have in store for her, but noted that the plans have been “sorted.”</p><p>“We asked them what they were doing for their stag and hen dos,” Tom Martin, who was visiting Edinburgh from London, told <em>PEOPLE</em>. “Meghan said, ‘I’m not sure — it’s sorted but it will be fun.’”</p><p>Of course, Meghan won’t be the first royal to have a bachelorette. While Princess Diana skipped out on one before her wedding, she reportedly had a blast at her sister-in-law, <a href="" target="_blank">Sarah Ferguson’s</a>, bash. However, Kate Middleton didn’t go without a bachelorette as her sister <a href="" target="_blank">Pippa Middleton reportedly threw her a "Dirty Dancing"</a>-themed event just before she walked down the aisle.</p><p>Typically bachelorette parties are planned by a bride’s maid of honor, though Meghan has remained incredibly tight-lipped on who her MOH is. <a href="" target="_blank">We’ve ventured a few guesses in the past</a> as to who could be on that short list, however, including Meghan’s longtime best friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney, actress and friend Priyanka Chopra, Meghan’s "Suits"<i> </i>costar Sarah Rafferty, or even her soon-to-be sister in law, Kate Middleton.</p><p>And if her maid of honor is reading this (because why wouldn’t Meghan Markle’s maid of honor be reading this?), we have a few tips for her on how to plan the <a href="" target="_blank">best bachelorette party ever without going crazy. </a></p><p>First, make sure to start your planning as early as possible by consulting with the bride-to-be about dates, desired locations, and who should be invited.</p><p>Next, send out those invites ASAP so you can coordinate with the group on travel plans.</p><p>And while cost is probably not an issue for Meghan (not only is she about to be a royal but she’s been on a hit T.V. show for nearly a decade, so you know she’s got her own stuff going on in the bank), it may be an issue for her friends. Make sure to keep price in consideration for all those involved. Maybe try renting out an Airbnb instead of grabbing multiple hotel rooms to keep costs down. This way you can all cook meals together and save there, too.</p><p>Finally, delegate some tasks like decorations, games, and presents to the other attendees and build out a loose itinerary for the trip. You want to have plans, but try not to be too rigid.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Check out more of our advice, and a suggested time table for planning, here. </a></p>
Categories: Travel

Taking a Train Through the Great Smoky Mountains Needs to Be on Your Bucket List

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 15:00
<p>If you've never been to the most visited national park in the U.S., you should make a train trip through the <a href="" target="_blank">Great Smoky Mountains</a> a priority.</p><p>The Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum will be hosting its annual Spring Excursion one-day-only train ride through the Great Smoky Mountains in March. The ride will cover parts of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad that have been abandoned since 1891, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Southern Living</em></a>.</p><p>The 11-hour journey departs from Johnson City, Tennessee, and makes stops in Greeneville and Morristown, Tennessee; and Asheville, North Carolina.</p><img alt="Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Scenic Train "src=""><p>The entire trail, which takes you across some parts of the historic Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, has gorgeous mountain views, including vibrant forests, historic bridges, and rushing rivers. If you’ve ever wondered why Dolly Parton sang about the Smokies so much, this is why.</p><p>The March excursion is unfortunately sold out. However, anyone who wishes to keep up to date on future trips can sign up for the <a href="" target="_blank">Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum's mailing list</a>.</p><p>And this isn't the only way to see the Smokies by rail. Get more info on available routes and schedules from the <a href="" target="_blank">Great Smoky Mountains Railroad</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

This 81-year-old Man Is Going to Be Europe’s Oldest Study Abroad Student

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:02
<p>An 81-year-old Spanish man is getting ready for a semester-long study abroad program in Italy. </p><p>Miguel Castillo, a history student at the University of Valencia, will begin his semester abroad in Verona next week. He has enrolled in an Erasmus program (a study abroad “exchange” for Europeans).</p><p>He will move to Verona with his wife, Maria Luisa Alamá, a retired nurse, although they will not stay in a dorm with fellow students. “We will stay in a hotel for a while and then move into an apartment,” Castillo <a href="" target="_blank">told the Valencian newspaper <em>Las Provincias</em></a>. “My wife says that she doesn’t see us at a pajama party.”</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">9 Steps to Get You Ready to Move Abroad</a></p><p>Castillo said he chose Verona after visiting the city 42 year ago to see Maria Callas perform.</p><p>He has returned to academia after a successful career as a notary. But he was inspired to take on his unconventional choice of retirement activity <a href="" target="_blank">after suffering a heart attack when he was 75 years old</a>. Castillo underwent quadruple bypass surgery and, afterwards, decided he didn’t want to spend retirement “napping.” He returned to his study, enrolling in a modern history program at the University of Valencia. He will participate in his semester abroad after receiving a grant from Erasmus.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">17 Cute, Travel-themed School Supplies Every Study Abroad Student Needs</a></p><p>Castillo hopes his studying can encourage other retirees to seek adventure. “Don’t lock yourself up at home, open up to the world, because we can contribute so much and can also receive a lot from society,” he said.</p><p>Castillo is not the only octogenarian studying abroad. An <a href="" target="_blank">80-year-old Italian woman named Ruth</a> also recently embarked on a study abroad program in Hawaii through EF Tours.</p>
Categories: Travel

How to See Two Total Solar Eclipses in Chile on the Path of Totality

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:02
<p>If you were lucky enough to be in the narrow path of totality last August when <a href="" target="_blank">a total solar eclipse passed over the United States</a>, you know that seeing a total solar eclipse requires a lot of planning. It also takes luck.</p><p>This phenomenon occurs just about once every 18 months — but the South American countries of Chile and Argentina will hit the jackpot in 2019 and 2020 when the moon's shadow zips across both twice in quick succession. Though you can witness totality from Argentina's Pampas grasslands on the eastern slopes of the Andes on July 02, 2019 and again on December 14, 2020, there are some compelling reasons to see this stunning spectacle from Chilean soil.</p><h2>The Next Total Solar Eclipse on July 2, 2019</h2><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">next total solar eclipse</a> is on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, and it’s being hailed as The Great South American Eclipse. It will be best viewed from Chile and Argentina. Though the eclipse will cross thin, narrow Chile in just over three minutes, there are two good reasons to choose Chile as your destination to see the 2019 solar eclipse.</p><p>For one, the eclipse will be higher in the sky in Chile than in Argentina (where the eclipse takes place closer to the horizon, increasing the chance of cloud).</p><p>And in Chile, the 2019 solar eclipse path of totality happens to cross the Elqui Valley, 465 miles north of the capital city, Santiago. Home to local Chilean <i>pisco</i>, quaint villages, and several of the world's finest telescopes, this mountainous region is a center of astro-tourism.</p><p>The Elqui Valley is a small region accessed only by one major road — Highway 41 from the coastal town of La Serena — so to avoid traffic, plan to be at a your chosen viewing site the day before.</p><h2>Total Solar Eclipse Duration</h2><p>At Vicuña, midway up the mountain road, totality will occur at 4:38 p.m. on Tuesday, July 2, 2019, and last for 2 minutes, 25 seconds. The partial eclipse will cease at 5:46 p.m., with sunset about ten minutes later. So while the sun will set partially eclipsed, the actual spectacle of totality will take place about 13 degrees above the western horizon. In Argentina, it's much lower, making Chile the ideal place to go.</p><h3>Astro-tourism in the Elqui Valley</h3><p>The Elqui Valley is a stargazer's dream destination. Although it is home to the giant astronomical telescopes of the U.S.-operated Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) at La Silla, only the latter is open to visitors on eclipse day. Sadly, tickets are already sold-out.</p><p>There are, however, scores of small boutique observatories awaiting eclipse-chasers in the Elqui Valley, including the<a href="" target="_blank"> Observatório Cancana</a>,<a href="" target="_blank"> Observatorio Cerro</a>,<a href="" target="_blank"> Observatorio Astronomico Collowara</a>,<a href="" target="_blank"> Observatorio del Pangue</a>, and the largest and most famous of all, the<a href="" target="_blank"> Observatorio Mamalluca</a> in Vicuña. (The latter also houses the <a href="" target="_blank">IntiRuna Observatory</a>, the largest public solar observatory in the world.) Most of these places hold public stargazing events as well as observing sessions through telescopes, and will undoubtedly have big plans for the eclipse.</p><p>So is an eclipse a good time for stargazing? Moonlight can ruin an otherwise well-planned trip to dark sky destinations, but you don't ever have to worry about that when scouting for locations to watch any kind of solar eclipse. An eclipse can only happen during a new moon, when only the far side of the moon is illuminated, making it the best time possible for stargazing. With little moonlight the week before, and a thin crescent moon for a few days after, you can always be assured of dark skies when traveling to see any solar eclipse.</p><h2>Visiting Chile for the Total Solar Eclipse on December 14, 2020</h2><p>For the total solar eclipse on Monday, December 14, 2020 it's less about the time of day or altitude of the eclipse, and more about the fact that totality will occur over the beautiful <a href="" target="_blank">Chilean Lake District</a>.</p><p>A volcanic area of hot springs and hiking paths some 470 miles south of Santiago, this lovely leisure area is dominated by lakes and is popular for hiking, mountain biking, boating, and rafting. There's something for everyone here (at the nearby resort town of Pucón, for example, there are even casinos).</p><p>Totality will occur over Pucón at 1:03 p.m. on December 14, 2020 and last for 2 minutes, 9 seconds. Since it's the middle of the day, the eclipse will take place directly overhead (71 degrees), similar to how most of the U.S. experienced totality in 2017.</p><h3>Unique Vantage Points</h3><p>For hikers after a unique vantage point for the eclipse, consider the 9,380 ft. Volcán Villarrica. After a <a href="" target="_blank">guided trek</a> from Pucón, observers should be able to see the moon's shadow sweep across the landscape below. Don’t plan too far ahead, however, because it's one of the most active volcanoes in South America. It last erupted in 2015.</p><p> If it's behaving, expect guided eclipse-viewing hikes to the crater from Pucón. Here, totality will last 2 minutes, 6 seconds.</p><h2>Total Solar Eclipse Weather Forecast</h2><p>Although Chile is the best place to head for both the 2019 as well as the 2020 total solar eclipses, there is no guarantee of clear skies.</p><p>The 2019 eclipse occurs in July, when it's winter in the southern hemisphere, so there is always the possibility of persistent low clouds. Eclipse-chasers will have to take their chances. The December 2020 eclipse is in the middle of summer, so the chances of clear skies are a little higher.</p><p>The 2020 eclipse does come with one other unexpected bonus. The night before the eclipse also happens be the peak of the <a href="" target="_blank">Geminid Meteor Shower</a>, the year's best, where observers could see a stunning 120 meteors per hour in the northwestern sky. Yet another reason, if you needed one, to go see at least one Great South American Eclipse.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Secret to Never Getting Lost in Central Park

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 12:00
<p>There are many places in New York City where you can easily get lost, but none are quite so confusing as <a href="" target="_blank">Central Park</a>.</p><p>The beautiful, expansive, and largely unmarked part of <a href="" target="_blank">Manhattan</a> can turn around even the most seasoned New Yorker. But there is a good trick for navigating your way through the park without resorting to <a href="" target="_blank">Google Maps</a>.</p><p>Next time you’re wandering down the winding paths, staring at the grassy knolls and feeling like <a href="" target="_blank">Kevin McCallister in "Home Alone 2"</a>, all you need to do is look at the lamp posts to guide your way.</p><p>The Discovery Channel show <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">"Secrets of America’s Favorite Places: Central Park"</a> revealed that Central Park’s 1,600 lamp posts feature an embossed set of numbers on the base. The first two or three digits tell you the closest cross-street. If the last number is odd, you’re on the west side of Manhattan; if it’s even, you’re on the east side.</p><p>So, if you see a lamp post with the numbers 6809, you’re near 68th Street on the West Side.</p><p>Now you can save your phone battery for more important things, like posting <a href="" target="_blank">amazing skyline pictures</a> on Instagram.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Dirtiest Thing in Your Hotel Room Is Not What You Think

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 11:00
<p>Travel is a dirty business.</p><p>From public transit to airports to taxis, germs run rampant. You may think once you check into your hotel room, you’re finally in a safe space away from infectious diseases. But you are wrong; nowhere is safe. Hotel rooms are filth incubators just like everywhere else.</p><p>According to one study, approximately 81 percent of surfaces swabbed in a hotel room had <a href="" target="_blank">at least “some” fecal bacteria.</a> But the most egregious surface was that of the TV remote control. Light switches weren’t much better.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">You're Going to Want to Rethink Using the Kettle in Your Hotel Room</a></p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Hotel Hair Dryers May Not Be As Sanitary As You Think</a></p><p>Anywhere near the toilet is likely to have some filth. But perhaps the most alarming part of the hotel room is one of the places that’s supposed to be most comforting. While hotels change the bed sheets between guests, they are far less likely to change the actual <a href="" target="_blank">bedspread</a>.</p><p>“Your best bet is to avoid contact,” Kelly Reynolds, an associate professor of environmental health at University of Arizona, <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Time</em></a>. “A lot of people will recommend just folding the bedspread back or throwing it on the chair and don’t use it while you’re there.”</p><p>Reynolds went on to explain that while hotels generally<i> </i>clean between guests, there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Hotel guests who want to remain vigilant about coming in contact with germs should travel with disinfecting wipes. But the most practical piece of advice is to wash hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth after touching a foreign surface.</p>
Categories: Travel

A Woman Actually Got Into a Baggage Scanner So She Could Hold on to Her Handbag

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 17:15
<p>Sometimes a handbag is more than a handbag. For a lot of people out there, it’s your whole life. You keep everything in it, from your keys to your phone to your cash and credit cards. And you can’t be too careful, right?</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">Shanghaiist</a>, one woman at Dongguan East Railway Station in China took this philosophy to the thousandth degree by climbing into the train station’s cabinet baggage x-ray system because she did not want to let her handbag go through unattended.</p><p>Apparently, the woman’s bag contained quite a lot of cash, and when security guards insisted that she part with it, she did the only thing she could to fix her problem. Wherever her bag went, she went.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Security footage</a> shows the woman climbing out of the machine as a security guard laughs. Oddly enough, she had no qualms about sending off her large luggage into the machine without supervision.</p><p>Security agents warn to never go through these baggage x-ray machines due to radiation. However, cabinet x-rays only put out the equivalent of <a href="" target="_blank">about a tenth of a day’s worth</a> of natural background radiation. Still, people should avoid climbing into these machines simply so they don’t get stuck.</p>
Categories: Travel

Famous Thailand Beach Closing for Three Months for Restoration

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 16:44
<p>Maya Bay, on the Thai island of Koh Phi Phi Leh, will be closed to tourists from June to September this year as authorities try to mend years of environmental damage.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>Guardian</em></a>, Maya Bay receives up to 5,000 visitors a day, with most tourists arriving by boat from Phuket or Koh Phi Phi. Much of that tourism is reportedly inspired by the 2000 film, “The Beach,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.</p><img alt="Maya Bay, Andaman Sea,Thailand "src=""><p>As an environmentalist himself, we assume Leo would be very disappointed by this news.</p><p>The movie, oddly enough, is about an American backpacker who travels to Thailand to find something “real” — a paradise to connect with. A perfect beach, if you will.</p><p>However, the actual beach is not perfect. Thon Thamrongnawasawat, deputy dean of the faculty of fisheries at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, told the <em>Guardian</em> that 80 percent of the coral reefs have been destroyed by construction, boat anchors, and plastic waste.</p><p>Thamrongnawasawat said that the “ideal solution” would be for the bay to be closed permanently. However, the three-month closure, during the beach’s off season, will help.</p><p>Thailand’s economy is fairly reliant on tourism, which accounts for <a href="" target="_blank">18 percent of its GDP</a>. </p>
Categories: Travel

Disney Just Announced Toy Story Land's Opening Date

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 14:18
<p>Disney Parks announced on Friday when <a href="" target="_blank">Toy Story Land</a>, the new themed addition at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando, will open.</p><p>Toy Story Land, which promises to “transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard,” will open on June 30, according to Disney.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Disney Is Raising Ticket Prices — Here Are the Cheapest Times to Go</a></p><p>“With set pieces, staging, attractions and experiences Toy Story Land represents the best of Walt Disney Imagineering’s collaboration with our storytelling partners at Pixar Animation Studios,” Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, <a href="" target="_blank">said Friday</a>.</p><p>Some of the highlights in the 11-acre land include a restaurant called Woody's Lunch Box, a family-friendly roller coaster called Slinky Dog Dash, and an Alien Swirling Saucers ride. The sacuers ride is based on the “toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, in which Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture guests’ rocket toy vehicles with ‘The Claw’,” <a href="" target="_blank">according to Disney</a>.</p><p>Disney has revealed <a href="" target="_blank">several details about what else the park will include</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Giada De Laurentiis Reveals the One Thing Las Vegas Was Missing — Until Now

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 11:30
<p>Giada De Laurentiis knows how to cut a ribbon. With her 9-year-old daughter Jade, Food Network costar Bobby Flay, and Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner, she sends a garland of herbs to the floor of her new <a href="" target="_blank">Las Vegas</a> restaurant. “Welcome to Pronto, everybody. Come on in!” she says, flashing that megawatt smile. The breezy space fills with people eating, drinking, and hugging. It’s loud and cheerful, and De Laurentiis agrees it could almost be an Italian kitchen on a Sunday. “It’s controlled chaos,” she says.</p><p>The Emmy-winning chef poses for photo after photo near a large portrait in Pronto’s gift shop, showing the same polished effervescence in person. She’s had a lot of practice, having started her Food Network career in 2002, with the cookbooks and restaurants following. “They expect the show first and the food second, where from other chefs they expect food first, show second,” De Laurentiis told <em>Travel + Leisure</em>. “I have to keep that in mind whenever I’m doing things, and to make sure that it really has my signature on it — that it’s happy and it’s warm and it’s inviting.”</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Pronto, inside Caesars Palace</a>, checks those boxes, especially the last one. While De Laurentiis has seen success with her eponymous restaurant just down the Strip at the <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";sid=fdd84ab510cd8898af7f14f5edd3fab5;ucfs=1;srpvid=6f6c8f35f94600eb;srepoch=1518726124;room1=A%2CA;hpos=1;hapos=1;dest_type=city;dest_id=20079110;srfid=6409661334815ea785f4ab75f436ff5ed755933fX1;from=searchresults;highlight_room=#hotelTmpl" target="_blank">The Cromwell</a>, she wanted to create something within reach for fans who can’t afford a $60 filet, or who want to bring their kids along for a tasty meal from a T.V. star.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Giada De Laurentiis Does Yoga on the Las Vegas High Roller</a></p><p>“As much as fine dining is great, there’s a whole sector of people who are looking for a different experience, and not necessarily just a buffet,” she said. “I know buffets are still big, but this is a taste of something a little more elevated but at a much lower price point. I think that’s kinda needed here.”</p><img alt="Pronto by Giada "src=""><p>With Pronto, she has Giada-fied the fast-casual concept. On <a href="" target="_blank">her website</a> before the February grand opening, she gushed about drawing inspiration from “the all-day cafes of Italy where friends meet for everything from a quick bite on the go to a leisurely meal over wine.”</p><p>The "quick bite of the good life" tagline describes grab-and-go specialties and a long deli case full of sandwiches, grilled proteins, and rustic sides. Desserts range from dark chocolate mascarpone cake to the gorgeous grapefruit-Aperol sorbetto. The selection exemplifies Giada’s signature weave of Italian and Californian influences, whether you want to grab a salami-tomato focaccia at 6 a.m. or hit the wine bar for Rochioli sauvignon blanc at 10:30 p.m. And it packs flavor without being overdone.</p><p>“Vegas is known for over-the-top indulgent dishes, right? And I had these people yesterday say to me: 'You know, it’s hard to find the basics.’ Oatmeal, yogurt — the basics of basics,” De Laurentiis said (though her special oatmeal comes with Marcona almonds, Maldon sea salt, fresh orange, and a drizzle of olive oil). “Because we’re the land of indulgence here, we forget the simplicity.”</p><img alt="Pronto by Giada "src=""><p>That, she adds, is why Jade was the perfect muse for Pronto. With her developing palate, she gave sharp feedback on the menu and even the visual flow.</p><p>“Children don’t have a lot of patience for things that are too chaotic or complicated, or where they have to spend too much time figuring things out. So she’s been a big guide in all this,” De Laurentiis said. “She likes simple and she likes fast, but then again lots of flavor.”</p><p>Enter the muffuletta ($15), cured meats ribboned on artisan bread with aged provolone, tapenade and roasted peppers flecked with herbs. A Jade favorite is the cheese and lemon pesto panini ($14), one of many dishes showcasing De Laurentiis' beloved fruit (her lemon-ricotta cookies are three for $3 and deservedly famous). For elevated breakfast on the go, try the croissant-like cornetti laced with salty mortadella and floral and creamy California goat cheese ($6).</p><p>The most expensive thing on the main menu is $18, and many items are under $10. Chef de Cuisine Josh Grimes says no dish takes more than four minutes, with front-end finesse (aka tons of prep) ensuring the quality De Laurentiis demands.</p><p>“She’s been with us this entire journey, from menu development to picking wine glasses,” General Manager Megan Hutton says, the spotless crystal ready for 40 wines by the glass. Tuscan red blend Brancaia Ilatraia 2012 retails for $60-$70 per bottle, but Pronto’s aromatic preservation system enables 3-, 5-, or 9-ounce pours of premium wines typically unavailable in single servings.</p><p>Hutton recalls the first time she met De Laurentiis, during an on-the-fly interview in the busy kitchen of her restaurant at <a href="" target="_blank">The Cromwell</a>. The chef’s whirlwind life requires improvisation, though she seems never to let the details get lost.</p><p>That is keenly felt inside Pronto, in the careful curation and delivery of each element. Customers might not notice the juice in their cocktails is pressed to order, or realize their Counter Culture coffee comes from a company committed to single-origin brews and broad sustainability.</p><p>The quality speaks for itself, De Laurentiis says, even if guests are more dazzled by the idea of taste-testing an episode of "Everyday Italian." “If I can deliver a good show, then I feel like people will keep coming back for the good food.”</p>
Categories: Travel

A Photographer's Secrets to Capturing Amazingly Up-close Animal Photos in the Wild

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 11:01
<p>Yes, we all love to enjoy those <a href="" target="_blank">gorgeous nature photos</a> posted on the internet and plastered in magazines, but for the viewer the moment is fleeting. After just a few seconds or minutes we click away or turn the page. However, for those behind the lens, the work to create that one image can take days, or even weeks to complete.</p><p>Take, for example, these stunning images of Dalmatian pelicans captured by 28-year-old <a href="" target="_blank">photographer Sean Weekly</a>.</p><img alt="Sean Weekly, 28 with some of the dalmatian Pelicans he photographed on Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece "src=""><p>According to Weekly, who hails from Kent, England, he had to brave freezing temperatures while riding on a boat each and every morning for several weeks straight just to shoot the birds as they soared above the snow-capped mountains lining Lake Kerkini in northern Greece.</p><p>"They have some amazing head feathers which gives these birds their own personal hair style,” Weekly told the <i>South West News Service</i> about shooting the enormous animals. "They are so full of personality and character and ultimately are stunningly photogenic."</p><img alt="Dalmatian Pelicans photographed on Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece. "src=""><p>%image4<br /><br />According to Weekly, both the birds and the surrounding scenery made his job much easier as the “towering snow capped mountains and rolling clouds” created such a spectacular sight.</p><p>“Because of this beautiful environment I tried to include the scenery a lot in my photos of the pelicans to show what an amazing location these birds live in,” he said. "It took me almost the two whole weeks to get this specific image as I wanted all the birds looking at the same direction without any distractions in the image.”</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Here’s All the Gear Behind Those Amazing Professional Travel Photos</a></p><p>For Weekly, that meant simply waiting for the right moment to click down on his camera’s shutter.</p><p>Though taking photos like Weekly takes years of practice, there are a few things you can do to improve your shots. Like Weekly, you’ll have to get up early or stay out late to find the perfect light for your images. It’s called the “golden hour” in photography, and it’s usually the hour before and after sunrise and sunset.</p><img alt="Dalmatian Pelicans photographed on Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece. "src=""><img alt="Dalmatian Pelicans photographed on Lake Kerkini in Northern Greece. "src=""><p>Next, you’re going to have to get as close as possible while remaining safe (and being careful to not disrupt the animal), or buy a great <a href="" target="_blank">zoom lens</a>.</p><p>Finally, like Weekly, you too will just have to have the patience it takes to wait for the perfect shot. Just look at his pictures for proof that it’s clearly worth it. Check out more <a href="" target="_blank">tips and tricks for great animal photography here. </a></p>
Categories: Travel

Renewing Your Passport Is About to Get More Expensive — Here's How to Avoid the Extra Fees

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 10:30
<p>The cost of renewing your passport is an unfortunate — albeit necessary — price to pay for traveling internationally, but luckily there is a way to make the investment more cost-friendly.</p><p>When you renew your passport at an official passport agency you will find an additional $25 "execution fee" tacked onto your $110 application. This price, according to the <a href="" target="_blank">U.S. Department of State</a>, constitutes the "recovery of the costs to the U.S. government of providing the consular service."</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Why You Should Check Your Passport's Expiration Date Right Now</a></p><p>And this consular service is about to get more expensive. Starting April 2, 2018, the Department of State is increasing the execution fee to $35, <em><a href="" target="_blank">TravelPulse</a></em> reported. As a result, instead of spending $135 to renew your passport at your local post office, you will be required to pay $145.</p><p>Fortunately for the budget traveler, you can bypass the execution fee entirely when you renew your passport by mail.</p><p>If you are <a href="" target="_blank">eligible to renew it using this simple method</a>, all you need to do is fill out a <a href="" target="_blank">DS-82 form</a> and gather together the rest of your application materials: your current U.S. passport, photo, name change documents (if applicable), and $110 application fee in the form of a personal check or money order. You will then mail everything to the appropriate National Passport Processing Center via the United States Postal Service. You can expect to receive your renewed passport by Priority Mail within four to six weeks. See the <a href="" target="_blank">State Department page</a> for full details on submission guidelines.</p><p>Now take that money you saved and buy yourself a <a href="" target="_blank">passport holder</a> to keep your newest and most prized travel document safe.</p>
Categories: Travel

Why Transatlantic Flights Keep Getting Faster

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 10:16
<p><a href="">Norwegian Air broke a subsonic speed record</a> last month when a flight from New York City to London arrived in just five hours and 13 minutes — but the airline broke that record just las week, with a flight that arrived in just five hours and nine minutes.</p><p>After catching a particularly powerful jet stream, the aircraft was flying <a href="">as fast as 799 miles per hour</a>. Like the previous record-breaker, the flight was operated on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, traveling about 23 miles per hour faster than January’s flight.</p><p>As if these record-breaking speeds weren't enough, the pilot on January’s flight revealed that the airplane could have gone even haster “if it had not been for forecasted turbulence at lower altitude.”</p><p>Average travel time for the popular flight across the Atlantic is about five hours and 45 minutes. <a href="">According to FlightAware</a>, the aircraft left <a href="" target="_blank">New York City's JFK Airport</a> at 11:57 a.m. and arrived at London Gatwick at 10:04 p.m. local time, about one hour ahead of schedule.</p><p>Before this year’s record-breaking flights, the record for fastest transatlantic flight was captured by British Airways in 2015. That flight lasted five hours and 16 minutes.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">recent research from the University of Arizona</a>, the North American jet stream has become more intense, with “increased fluctuations” since the 1960s. Although the more extreme winds can help transatlantic flights move faster, it is also linked to more extreme weather in Europe, including heat waves, drought, and wildfires, the study said.</p><p>Of course, all these record-breaking flights pale in comparison to supersonic flight. When the Concorde was in operation, it was possible to fly from <a href="" target="_blank">New York City</a> to London in less than three hours. The fastest time ever recorded was in 1996 when a British Airways flight took off from New York City and landed in London in just two hours and 53 minutes.</p>
Categories: Travel

Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off on a Flight

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 10:00
<p>Frequent fliers are familiar with many of the ways your body changes while in a pressurized tube at 40,000 feet: your ears pop, your ability to taste changes, and you may find it <a href="" target="_blank">harder to put your shoes back on after a flight</a>.</p><p>There’s a multitude of tricks to combat the last problem (hello, compression socks) but the best advice may be just to keep your shoes on the whole time, according to flight attendants. The reason has less to do with compression and more to do with cleaning.</p><p>“We see people walking from their seats into the bathrooms all the time barefoot and we cringe because those floors are full of germs,” Linda Ferguson, a veteran flight attendant <a href="" target="_blank">told <i>Reader’s Digest</i></a>. “Never walk barefoot into the bathroom or the galley area because sometimes we drop glasses and there could be sharp glass there, too."</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Traveler Details 'Nightmare' Airplane Encounter With Passenger's Bare Feet</a></p><p>In the cabin, carpets are only spot-cleaned where necessary. When something (food, beverage, stomach juice) is spilled, cleaning crew will eliminate the stain, but <a href="" target="_blank">they won’t necessarily disinfect the entire area where germs could have spread</a>.</p><p>Oh, and while we’re discussing germs: <a href="" target="_blank">the tray tables and armrests are filthy</a>. Don’t put your bare feet up on those — <a href="" target="_blank">although no passenger should ever do so, out of courtesy to others</a>.</p><p>Airplanes: the more you know, the more a hazmat suit seems like the ideal travel outfit.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Northern Lights Could Be Seen As Far South As Michigan Tonight

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 09:03
<p>The Northern Lights could be making a rare appearance in Michigan and northern Maine tonight.</p><p>Americans can thank a recent solar flare for this potential aurora borealis viewing, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Live Science</em> reported</a>. On Monday, February 12, an explosion of energy on the sun's surface sent a combination of charged particles and radiation – coronal mass ejections, or CMEs – into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in a geomagnetic storm over Scotland, Northern Ireland, Canada, and the northern United States.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">5 Places in the United States Where You Can Spot the Northern Lights</a></p><p>On Friday, <a href="" target="_blank">BBC weather forecaster Matt Taylor</a> succinctly (and humorously) explained how the Northern Lights phenomena is the outcome of CME activity: “The sun gives all of those molecules a little bit of a tickle and they shine different colours of light.”</p><p>In other words, when the CMEs interact with oxygen, the molecules shine green and yellow, and red and purple when they interact with nitrogen.</p><p>Because of the geomagnetic storm, technology could go out of wack tonight, as the<a href="" target="_blank"> National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center</a> is expecting disruptions in the power grid system. However, because the storm is minor, you might run into <a href="" target="_blank">flickering lights</a>, but not the more <a href="" target="_blank">serious disruptions</a> with radio waves, GPS coordinates, and electrical systems than can occur during major solar storms.</p><p>So if you find yourself in Michigan or Maine tonight, head outside and see if you can catch a glimpse of one of nature's most spectacular phenomena. No worries if you miss your chance to see them, though. Cities across Europe and Canada promise gorgeous views of the <a href="" target="_blank">Northern Lights this March</a>, and with spring break on the horizon, tonight's event is the perfect incentive to book a trip to see them in the Arctic Circle.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Confusing Detail Travelers May Have Missed About the New Smart Bag Policy

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:53
<p>In January, <a href="" target="_blank">new smart bag policies</a> went into effect on a number of major airlines. Because lithium-ion batteries have a record of sometimes overheating and exploding, airlines are particularly concerned with keeping them as accessible as possible — and that means away from the cargo hold and removed from suitcases.</p><p>In addition to outright banning luggage with non-removable lithium-ion batteries, airlines now generally require that removable batteries be detached from both checked as well as carry-on suitcases, and kept easily reachable at all times.</p><p>For this reason, travelers need to remove lithium batteries from their smart suitcases prior to boarding.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to the <em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>, Delta’s policy has been particularly confusing — for both travelers as well as the airline’s flight crew.</p><p>The <em>Los Angeles Times</em> reported that smart luggage brand <a href="" target="_blank">Away</a> had recently received complaints from travelers that they were not allowed to stow loose lithium-ion batteries in the overhead compartment during Delta flights.</p><p>In a memo sent to staff, Away co-founder Steph Korey cited incidents involving “hundreds of customers.” But Delta’s detailed policy does not say anything about keeping lithium-ion batteries out of overhead storage bins.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">9 Smart Suitcases That Won't Break Airlines' New Rules</a></p><p>“The primary focus [of the policy],” a Delta spokesperson told <em>Travel + Leisure</em>, “is that the removable battery be made more accessible than if it was kept in its designed enclosure.”</p><p>The spokesperson added that many smart luggage batteries, while removable, might require a specific set of tools to separate the battery from the bag.</p><p>Delta’s <a href="" target="_blank">lithium battery policy</a>, while requiring that the battery be removed from the bag, also urges travelers to “place each battery in its own protective case, plastic bag, or package” or to “place tape across the battery’s contacts to isolate terminals.”</p><p>Passengers flying with Delta should also be sure that lithium batteries are insulated, and stored far from any other batteries, metal, or flammable objects.</p><p>Travelers should note that Delta's policy is nearly identical to other major domestic carriers, including <a href="" target="_blank">United</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">American Airlines</a>.</p><p>To ensure you don't run into any problems while traveling with smart bags (or, you know, your spare lithium-ion batteries) be sure to separate any battery from your suitcase before boarding and clearly insulate it in a plastic bag.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Is the New Tallest Hotel in the World

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 08:05
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Dubai</a> has added another gleaming tower to its skyline, though it’s not a commercial center or luxury penthouse — it’s <a href="" target="_blank">a hotel</a>.</p><p>The Gevora Hotel recently eclipsed the nearby JW Marriott Marquis to earn the title of tallest hotel in the world, standing at 1,168 feet. It opened for business earlier this week, according to local paper <a href="" target="_blank">the <em>National</em></a>, with prices that travelers should find within reason despite its grand height.</p><p>According to <em><a href="" target="_blank">Inverse</a></em>, rooms on average will go for somewhere between $163 to $190 a night, compared to an average of $243 at rival <a href="" target="_blank">hotels close by</a>.</p><p>“We are going into the market at a rate slightly lower than the average around this area,” Gevora’s general manager, Jairaj Gorsia, told the <em>National</em>. “The room rates that we will offer is considered very competitive.”</p><p>Amenities include a rooftop pool on the hotel’s 12th floor with sweeping views of downtown Dubai as well as five restaurants, a health club, and a sauna.</p><p>One potential downside travelers should be aware of is that there is no bar. Gevora is a dry hotel, but it has a coffee and cake shop as an alternative.</p><p>“Being non-alcohol licensed hotel is actually an advantage,” Gorsia said. “Families, especially extended families, and kids will enjoy the hotel.”</p><p>All in all, the Gevora features 528 rooms with deluxe and two-bedroom suite options. The hotel has been recognized with four stars.</p><p>"We are very excited to open the doors to Gevora Hotel,” Gorsia said in a statement, <a href="" target="_blank">according to CNN</a>. “It has been a passion project and finally we are ready to share our vision with the world.”</p><p><em>Travel + Leisure </em>has reached out for comment and more photos and will update when the Gevora responds.</p>
Categories: Travel