Here’s All the Gear Behind Those Amazing Professional Travel Photos

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 14:01
<p>Those perfectly crafted shots of exotic landscapes, colorful destinations, and sublime portraits of people living in far-flung countries don’t happen by accident.</p><p>Not only do the images lining the pages of <em><a href="" target="_blank">Travel + Leisure</a></em> (along with the plethora of <a href="" target="_blank">stunning accounts populating Instagram</a>) take hard work and a lifelong dedication to learning the craft of photography, but they also take the right equipment.</p><p>On a recent journey to <a href="" target="_blank">Cuba</a>, I was lucky enough to spend a little time with a few professional photographers as we <a href="" target="_blank">roamed the streets of Havana</a>.<br /><br />There, <a href="" target="_blank">Renan Ozturk</a>, photographer for the likes of <i>National Geographic</i> and other prestigious publications, gave us a glimpse inside his rather heavy-duty photography backpack and spilled a few secrets on which pieces of equipment are key for every skill level.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">How to Make Thousands of Dollars Off Your Travel Photos</a></p><p>“My bag’s a little disorganized right now,” Ozturk said as he unzipped his behemoth of a bag, which he later explained is actually only his mid-weight pack.</p><p>“I’d call this mid-range for me,” Ozturk said, estimating that his camera backpack, an <a href="" target="_blank">F-Stop</a> gray and black bag, weighs in at around 25 pounds. “For me, a heavy camera bag is somewhere around 40 pounds plus and lightweight is five to 10 pounds.”</p><p>Here’s what else Ozturk lugs around as a professional.</p><h2>Carbon Fiber Tripod</h2><p>Ozturk explained he prefers to keep it light when he travels by paring his bag down to the basics, which for him includes a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod (<a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=320c624c61dcde948f67209c7124febd" target="_blank"></a>, $680). And although it’s a big-ticket item at nearly $700, it’s truly worth the cost when you consider the traveler model only weighs in at two pounds.</p><h2>Two Camera Bodies</h2><p>For our adventure in Cuba, Ozturk brought two camera bodies along: Sony’s A7R II (<a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=4abbf7074eeb8e247116ece84a3e3b24" target="_blank"></a>, $2,698) and its new A9 (<a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=9f6109f5aa28f31ccd4d74296fdda4f2" target="_blank"></a>, $4,498), which again comes in as ultra-lightweight at just under two pounds. Both camera bodies are the perfect tools to help you increase your photography skills, especially if you pair them with a Sony 24-70mm F/4.0 lens (<a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1505708842&amp;sr=1-1-spons&amp;keywords=sony+Sony+24-70mm+F/4.0+lens&amp;psc=1&amp;linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=47d4916c2aba4234c76bd300d4a22423" target="_blank"></a>, $1,198) like Ozturk.</p><h2>Extra Batteries and Memory Cards</h2><p>Ozturk certainly came on our trip to Cuba as the most prepared person of all with what he called a “treasure trove of batteries.” But really, as any pro will tell you, having a few backups is key as the last thing you’d want is to miss a perfect shot because your camera died.</p><img alt=" "src=""><h2>Cleaning Supplies</h2><p>Inside Ozturk’s bag is basically a pharmacy's worth of camera cleaning supplies so he can ensure a photo is never ruined by a pesky speck of dust on his lens. One of his favorite products is a simple air blower to blast away dust, which you can pick up for about <a href=";ascsubtag=7702df8c03a8c70bebfcfb7a6194746cb95fb844&amp;" target="_blank">$10 on Amazon</a>. Ozturk also swears by moist towelettes and microfiber cleaning wipes (<a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=e2007cc0c7593a00e3e203076959b4bb" target="_blank"></a>, $9) for those grimier excursions.</p><h2>The Right Clothing</h2><p>Ozturk dresses to impress as a photographer, always carrying an <a href=";field-keywords=rainbow+flip+flops+mens&amp;sprefix=Rainbow+flip,aps,200&amp;crid=3AOX4HJ0ADLY8&amp;rh=i:aps,k:rainbow+flip+flops+mens&amp;linkCode=ll2&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=9be037292d783e87bc7325881e333d4c" target="_blank">extra pair of flip-flops </a>in his bag just in case he needs to kick back on a photo session. He also always packs his <a href=";keywords=revo+sunglasses&amp;index=aps&amp;hvadid=153631903585&amp;hvpos=1t2&amp;hvnetw=g&amp;hvrand=17488945898225700067&amp;hvpone=&amp;hvptwo=&amp;hvqmt=e&amp;hvdev=c&amp;hvdvcmdl=&amp;hvlocint=&amp;hvlocphy=9031041&amp;hvtargid=kwd-89063035&amp;ref=pd_sl_4h1f1gzv8y_e&amp;linkCode=ll2&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=93a89c60039834bdbaa1a1068993ffe9" target="_blank">Revo sunglasses</a>, which he calls “ND filters for my eyes,” and a giant floppy hat to protect himself from the elements. On colder shoots, the adventurous photographer said he packs a few pairs of E-Tip gloves by North Face (<a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=f248514939334b6629de1da4335e7971" target="_blank"></a>, $27) so he can shoot and keep his fingers toasty warm at the same time.</p><p>But there’s one thing you’ll never, ever catch Ozturk without no matter the climate: a great pair of socks.</p><p>“Having the right socks is pretty important,” Ozturk explained with a deadly serious tone. “I usually wear really fancy ski socks because they don't smell as quick and they last forever.”</p><p>But what about the average Joe or Jane who simply can’t lug all this stuff on vacation? Ozturk says all you really need is your smartphone — and this is coming from the guy who helped shoot Apple’s 30th anniversary video for the Mac <a href="" target="_blank">solely on his iPhone</a>, so he should know.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">How This Amateur Photographer Travels the World for Free</a></p><p>“All they need is their smartphone. Just their smartphone and a willingness to shoot in good light or look for interesting subjects and shoot with a little intention instead of just a happy snap,” Ozturk said. “The cool thing about shooting with your phone is that it is simple... That’s the whole reason why I’d shoot with a phone in the first place... it’s always there and you don’t miss a shot.”</p>
Categories: Travel

How a Mistake Could Help You Save Hundreds on Flights

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 14:00
<p>Sometimes, a flight deal seems too good to be true. For example, there might be $187 round-trip flights from the United States to far-flung cities like Casablanca, Johannesburg, or Beijing (<a href="" target="_blank">Thrifty Traveler</a> spotted these outrageously low fares in late August).</p><p>Or, more recently, <a href="" target="_blank">Scott’s Cheap Flights</a> noticed round-trip tickets to cities across Australia for as little as $509. </p><p>When airfare drops this low, it’s often labeled as a mistake fare, <a href="" target="_blank">an error fare</a>, or sometimes a “fat finger” fare. These names indicate what happens when a misplaced decimal point, miscalculated currency conversion, or data entry error accidentally publishes incorrect (and incredibly cheap) ticket prices.</p><p>Sometimes, mistake fares are the result of a ticket posted before airport taxes or fuel surcharges are added. Other times, they’re simply caused by a computer glitch.</p><p>Whatever the cause, error fares can result in truly outrageous flight prices, the likes of which wouldn’t happen during even <a href="" target="_blank">the best airfare sale</a>.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">Why the ‘Magic Day’ When Airfares Get Cheap Is a Lie</a></p><h2>Where to Find Mistake Fares</h2><p>Any site or app specializing in flight deals (we love the <a href="" target="_blank">Airfare Spot</a>, Scott’s Cheap Flights, <a href="" target="_blank">The Flight Deal</a>, and Thrifty Traveler) will spot mistake fares before the airline even notices that their $4,000 business class seat is selling for $400.</p><h2>Why They’re Frowned Upon</h2><p>In the past, airlines were required by the Department of Transportation to honor mistake fares, however under priced they were. The landmark United Denmark fares, however, set in motion the DOT’s decision to allow airlines to withdraw these tickets.</p><p>In February 2015, <a href="" target="_blank">$51 first class flights</a> from New York to <a href="" target="_blank">Copenhagen</a> were found on United’s Denmark website — but they could only be booked in Danish krone when travelers indicated Denmark in their billing address (even though most purchases weren’t made from Denmark-based individuals).</p><p>The DOT determined that there was “<a href="" target="_blank">evidence of bad faith</a>,” and that travelers had to intentionally “manipulate the search process…to force the conversion error.” </p><p>In situations such as this, booking mistake fares is largely frowned upon — not only by airlines and government organizations but also by people who, typically, book full-fare tickets.</p><p><b>Related: </b><a href="" target="_blank">The Best New Ways to Book Your Flights</a></p><h2>How to Book Them</h2><p>Error fares can typically be booked through an airline’s website or an OTA (without even having to go to a foreign website or lie about your billing address).</p><p>Scott’s Cheap Flights recommends that when travelers suspect a deal is a mistake fare, they book directly through the airline whenever possible — and quickly, before the carrier figures out what's up. </p><p>“It’s better to buy directly from the airline since the chances of it being issued and honored are much higher,” <a href="" target="_blank">the site explained</a>.</p><p>Tickets purchased directly through an airline are often issued much quicker, too, further increasing your chances of having the deal honored. Once your seat is ticketed, you’re pretty much in the clear.</p><p>Months after the Danish United fares were published — and retracted — the DOT ruled that, if an airline could prove fares were truly published by accident, they could rescind those tickets.</p><p>“The burden rests with the airline…to prove to the Enforcement Office that an advertised fare and the resulting ticket sales constitutes a mistaken fare situation,” the government department stated.</p><p>Airlines must, however, reimburse all out-of-pocket expenses made in confidence upon the reservation, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <i>USA Today</i></a>. That means that travelers will not only be refunded for the cost of the ticket, but they can also request compensation for non-refundable purchases like tours, hotel bookings, and other activities planned around the mistake fare.</p><p>Nonetheless, it’s still strongly recommended that travelers who think they’re booking a fare published in error wait until the flight has been ticketed to make additional travel plans.</p>
Categories: Travel

Get 30% off a 3-night Stay at the Luxurious Thompson Playa del Carmen

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 13:02
<p><em>T+L launched Operation Vacation to inspire workers to use their days off and get away, offering exclusive travel discounts as incentive. For the latest deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, and trip packages, visit <a href="" target="_blank"><b></b></a></em></p><p>Mexico: Get 30 percent off stays at <a href=";Chain=15564&amp;promo=TL30&amp;template=TH_RBE&amp;shell=TH_RBE&amp;locale=en-US&amp;Nights=3" target="_blank">Thompson Playa del Carmen</a>, a stylish, midcentury modern hotel with two locations off the La Quinta Avenida: a 92-room 5th Avenue Building with a lively rooftop pool and sushi bar and the Beach House, which has a more intimate feel.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>Thompson Playa del Carmen Getaway includes:</p><p>*Three nights at the 5th Avenue House or the Beach House</p><p>*Cocktails at the 5th Avenue Building’s 30,000 square foot rooftop</p><p>*Daily breakfast for two</p><p>Original Price: From $289 per night for the 5th Avenue Building; $389 for the Beach House</p><p><strong>T + L Price:</strong> From $202 per night for the 5th Avenue Building; $272 per night for the Beach House; valid for travel through January 31, 2018</p><p>Booking details: <a href=";Chain=15564&amp;promo=TL30&amp;template=TH_RBE&amp;shell=TH_RBE&amp;locale=en-US&amp;Nights=3" target="_blank">Use promo code TL30</a></p><p>Availability: Subject to availability.</p>
Categories: Travel

New York City’s Airports Are Still the Worst in the Country

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:30
<p>In 2014, Joe Biden famously compared New York City’s LaGuardia Airport to a third world country. Three years later, public opinion has not changed.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">a new survey from J.D. Power</a>, Americans still hate <a href="" target="_blank">New York City</a> airports. But overall, across the United States, customer satisfaction with airports is at an all-time high.</p><p>Among the country’s largest airports, Orlando International Airport received the highest rating. Runners up were Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport. John Wayne Airport, in Orange County, took the top prize for large airports and Sacramento International ranked highest among mid-size airports.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>Across the country, passengers seem to be happier with airports than ever before — except for the airports in New York City. The lowest three airports on the survey were all inside New York City’s metropolitan area. <a href="" target="_blank">LaGuardia came in last place</a> overall, and Newark came in last for the country’s largest airports.</p><p>The survey was conducted based on ratings across six categories: terminal facilities, accessibility, security checkpoints, baggage claim, check-in, and dining and retail options.</p><p>J.D. Power relates the higher customer satisfaction to technological advances in many airports. Innovations that have helped ease pain points include automated self check-in and bag drop-offs to apps that help make it easier for travelers to find parking.</p><p>Service animals — including <a href="" target="_blank">ponies in Cincinnati</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">a pig in San Francisco</a> — have also improved passenger opinion of airports nationwide.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Another survey from J.D. Power, released earlier this year</a>, revealed that customer satisfaction with airlines is also at an all-time high. That rating, however, is relative. The airline industry is currently rated one of the lowest for customer satisfaction.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Gorgeous Floating Palace in India Is Waiting for You

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 12:00
<p>At <a href="" target="_blank">Taj Lake Palace</a> in Udaipur, India, you and your significant other can float all your cares away in one of the most romantic destination in the world.</p><p>This floating palace in the middle of Lake Pichola was built by Maharana Jagat Singh II in 1746 as a bonafide pleasure palace, and today it’s a five-star luxury hotel as well as a popular T.V. and film location, with cameos in "Octopussy," "Jewel in the Crown," and more. </p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The Top 100 Hotels in the World</a></p><p>The floating palace is located across from the larger City Palace in Udaipur, and enjoys 360 degrees of lake and city views from its spot in the tranquil waters. Restored in the 1960s, the hotel includes 66 rooms and 17 suites with around-the-clock butler service.</p><img alt="Taj Lake Palace Hotel Udaipur India Floating Lake "src=""><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">The Best Resort Hotels in India</a></p><p>And if you’re itching to get your feet on dry land, getting to and from the hotel is just a quick trip by water taxi from the city pier.</p><p>When you’re not spending time in your beautiful suite, the hotel also offers a full-sized swimming pool, yoga facilities, a rooftop bar, restaurant, and a spa on a boat. Because everything is better on a boat.</p><img alt="Taj Lake Palace Hotel Udaipur India Floating Lake "src=""><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Do You Need a Visa to Visit India?</a></p><p>If you plan on staying at the floating palace and being treated like royalty, be prepared to pay a royal sum. Rooms cost between $590 (38,000 INR) and over $7,700 (500,000 INR) per night, depending on the size and type of room you decide to book.</p><p>More information on booking your trip can be found on the hotel’s <a href="" target="_blank">website</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Where to Buy Emma Watson’s Favorite Fall Travel Shoes

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 17:42
<p>We’ll take style inspiration from Emma Watson any day, but particularly when it comes to what to wear on a plane.</p><p>As it turns out, the actress, UN Goodwill Ambassador, and <a href="" target="_blank">professional hider of books</a> is also a fall airport fashion extraordinaire. And she knows the value of a timeless investment piece.</p><p>If you follow Watson on her sustainable style­–driven Instagram account, <a href="" target="_blank">@the_press_tour</a>, you see her break down her bespoke looks from awards shows and appearances around the world: from <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles</a> to <a href="" target="_blank">London</a> to <a href="" target="_blank">Shanghai</a>. She details where the fabric is from and tells the stories of the designers and artisans behind what she chooses to wear, right down to her <a href=";taken-by=the_press_tour" target="_blank">vegan, cruelty-free lip tint</a>.</p><p>On the account, Watson often endorses the specific brands she wears for their quality and value. In the post above, her simple black combat boots are made by <a href="" target="_blank">Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather</a>, a brand that, according to Watson, “doesn't use any animal products in its collections, which are made in Porto, Portugal, helping preserve the traditional shoemaking industry of the region.”</p><p>Seeing this post, we noticed Watson often travels in smart, versatile shoe styles, so we combed through her best looks of the past few years to source her mainstays for you to shop below.</p><img alt="Emma Watson Wearing Doc Martens "src=""><h2>Dr. Martens Ankle Boots</h2><p>Spotted in March 2017 at LAX airport, Watson pretty much ditched all typical airplane attire norms with her Edun minidress and laced-up Doc Martens 1460s (<a href="" target="_blank">,</a> $140). While it is smart to wear your heaviest pair of shoes instead of packing them, we recommend accessorizing with <a href="" target="_blank">TSA PreCheck</a> so you don’t have to remove these behemoths in the security line.</p><img alt="Emma Watson Wearing Brogues "src=""><h2>Patent Burgundy Brogues</h2><p>In 2014, Watson grounded this demure look with a pair of wine-colored wingtip oxfords. There are similar styles available to shop this season by Aquatalia (<a href=";" target="_blank"></a>, $219) and at Asos (<a href=";subid=0&amp;offerid=460292.1&amp;type=10&amp;tmpid=20905&amp;;u1=TLFASA1EmmaWatsonShoesRSSep17" target="_blank"></a>, $40), and they’d look just as chic with a pair of cuffed jeans.</p><img alt="Emma Watson Wearing Mules "src=""><h2>Leather Mule Loafers</h2><p>Watson was way ahead of the mule slide trend when she sported these leather Tibi mules at LAX in October 2014. Pair a similar style — like these Marc Fisher mules (<a href=";subid=0&amp;offerid=465536.1&amp;type=10&amp;tmpid=2425&amp;;u1=TLFASA1EmmaWatsonShoesRSSep17" target="_blank"></a>, $150) or Free People loafers (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>, $98) — with monochromes and her <a href="" target="_blank">go-to Ray-Ban Wayfarers</a>.</p><img alt="Emma Watson Wearing Combat Boots "src=""><h2>Cuffed Combat Boots</h2><p>Watson opted for an all-black look arriving back home in L.A. in September 2015. This one follows our formula for the ideal comfy travel outfit with denim, a tee, a jacket, and these shined leather combat boots with ankle buckle detailing. We found similar pairs by Gianvito Rossi (<a href="" target="_blank"></a>, $1,375) and Allsaints (<a href=";subid=0&amp;offerid=390098.1&amp;type=10&amp;tmpid=8158&amp;;u1=TLFASA1EmmaWatsonShoesRSSep17" target="_blank"></a>, $328) if you’re up for channeling her effortless L.A.–cool look on your next flight.</p><img alt="Emma Watson Wearing Chelsea Boots "src=""><h2>Heeled Ankle Boots</h2><p>Traveling in layers is always a good idea, and Watson polished off this look with a pair of pointed-toe ankle booties that buckle up the side. The buckles on this similar pair by Dolce Vita (<a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=travandleis07-20&amp;linkId=ec2b536c48b58c09488775631166d224" target="_blank"></a>, from $170) are just for show, as there’s a zipper on the inner ankle for an easy on-and-off.</p>
Categories: Travel

You Don't Need to Cancel Your Trip to Mexico (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 17:31
<p>Following a deadly 7.1 <a href="" target="_blank">earthquake earlier this week</a>, Mexico City is assessing the damage while preparing to rebuild.</p><p>Despite the intensity of the earthquake — the strongest in nearly a century — the airport reopened within hours of the event Tuesday, and the Mexico Tourism board quickly issued a statement noting that the city would continue to welcome visitors.</p><p>“The Mexico Tourism Board, and the entire tourism industry, are focused on ensuring visitors in affected destinations receive any assistance necessary while continuing with their existing travel plans,” <a href="" target="_blank">read an excerpt from a release</a> issued Tuesday.</p><p>Dozens of buildings were leveled, while others sustained significant damage, <a href="" target="_blank">Reuters reported</a>. Marriott's Le Meridien Mexico City, Holiday Inn Mexico Coyoacan, and Holiday Inn Hotel &amp; Suites Mexico Medica Sur all saw heavy damage and are closed for repairs, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>Travel Weekly</em></a>.</p><p>Travelers should check directly with their hotel or rental, as many buildings escaped the earthquake relatively unscathed. Most tourist destinations, including museums and restaurants, are still open, according to the Mexico Tourism Board.</p><p>Seeing the frightening images of rubble and damaged buildings are enough to scare even intrepid travelers, but the city remains safe for visitors, and concerned travelers can continue to <a href="" target="_blank">donate to rescue missions</a>.</p><p>Mexico is also a vast country, with a host of destinations, including the Yucatan coast where Cancun and Playa del Carmen are located, with beautiful beaches and well-preserved Mayan ruins.</p><p><em>Travel + Leisure </em>readers voted San Miguel de Allende, a city in Mexico's central highlands, as the world's best. Known for its Spanish colonial style architecture, more than 350 restaurants, and local artisans, <a href="" target="_blank">San Miguel de Allende</a> has something for every type of traveler.</p>
Categories: Travel

London Strips Uber's License for Not Being 'Fit and Proper'

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 16:30
<p>Londoners may be saying goodbye to Uber.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">London</a>’s municipal transport authority rejected Uber’s application for a new license to operate in the city, ruling that the ride-sharing company is not a “fit and proper” private car-hire operator, according to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Washington Post</em></a>.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Uber is Making It Easier to Know Exactly What Drivers Think of You</a></p><p>The popular service has been butting heads with London’s quintessentially famous black cabs (which are what yellow taxis are to <a href="" target="_blank">New York City</a>).</p><p>Part of the reason why Uber has been so favored over black cabs? Cost. Most rides in black cabs cost significantly more — a ride from Heathrow Airport to the city can cost a rider twice as much in a black cab than in an Uber.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>However, black cab drivers are put through rigorous tests on London’s geography in lieu of relying on satellite GPS apps like Waze or Google Maps in order to get around. The work takes about three years to complete. The black cabs are also highly regulated, requiring all cars to be wheelchair accessible and able to make quick turns.</p><p>According to the <a href="" target="_blank">Washington Post</a>, Transport for London said that it rejected the application to renew the license because “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility” by not reporting serious criminal offenses, obtaining medical certificates and background checks for the drivers.</p><p>There are over 40,000 drivers operating in the London area, and the company intends to appeal the decision before the license expires at the end of September.</p><p>Uber said in a statement that the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.</p><p>London Mayor supported the transit authority’s decision, saying, “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service. However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect — particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.”</p>
Categories: Travel

Airport Employee Accused of Purposely Sending Hundreds of Suitcases to the Wrong Destinations

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 15:44
<p>Travelers who fly “<a href="" target="_blank">carry-on only</a>” just got another nightmare story to bolster their arguments.</p><p>A baggage handler in Singapore allegedly went rogue and started swapping the tags for hundreds of different bags, sending luggage all over the world to wrong destinations. He has been charged with 286 counts of mischief.</p><p>Tay Boon Keh, a 63-year-old contracted employee of Lian Cheng Contracting at Changi Airport, is believed to have started his swapping spree in early November 2016. He allegedly continued every day for about three months before being caught, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <i>Straits Times</i></a>. The bags he swapped ended up in far-flung destinations like London, Hong Kong, and Manila.</p><p>In court, Tay did not reveal a motive for his scheme that inconvenienced multiple airlines (<a href="" target="_blank">Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, and Lufthansa</a>) and their passengers for months.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>The airport told <i>Straits Times </i>that there has been no breach of security and the incident was isolated. But in response, Changi Airport has increased access control to the baggage handling area, as well as increased CCTV security.</p><p>If convicted, Tay faces one year of prison and fees for each charge.</p><p>For those who need more reason to avoid checking a bag: last month <a href="" target="_blank">a sewage leak at Nashville Airport</a> contaminated the baggage area and seeped into more than 200 different checked bags. And <a href="" target="_blank">as more airlines tack on baggage fees</a>, the argument for flying with just a carry-on grows stronger every day.</p>
Categories: Travel

Get 23% off a Hotel Stay and Broadway Show in New York City

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 13:02
<p><em>T+L launched Operation Vacation to inspire workers to use their days off and get away, offering exclusive travel discounts as incentive. For the latest deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, and trip packages, visit <a href="" target="_blank"><b></b></a></em></p><p>New York City: At least 23 percent off a hotel stay and a Broadway show from <a href="" target="_blank">Reserve New York City and Triumph Hotels</a>, a collection of boutique properties, each unique in their own way.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>Reserve New York City Operation Vacation package includes:</p><p>*30 percent off a one-night stay at your choice of Triumph hotels</p><p>*Two tickets to a select performance on Broadway</p><p>Original Price: From $370 per night</p><p><strong>T + L Price:</strong> From $286 per night; book by October 31 for stays through November 15.</p><p>Booking details: <a href="" target="_blank">Book online</a> or call 800-590-4410. Savings and rates vary based upon dates of travel, number of guests, room type, show time and seat selection. Price is based on two adults for one night, though packages can be customized. Hotels are 30 percent off; shows are up to 15 percent off.</p>
Categories: Travel

A Broken Spirit Airlines Plane May Have Rained Metal Over Detroit

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 11:02
<p>Passengers onboard a Spirit Airlines flight out of Detroit were given quite the scare on Tuesday night when their aircraft began to violently shake just after takeoff.</p><p>"I thought we were going to die," passenger Jeff Luke told <em><a href="" target="_blank">Fox News</a></em>. "I texted my son, said 'I love you, I'm proud of you.' People were holding hands, praying, getting out of hand with their emotions, but you can't blame them."</p><p>According to a fellow passenger, the flight was at about 5,000 feet when there was a large bang “and the plane started to shake and shutter.”</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Naked Passenger Causes Delay on Spirit Airlines Flight</a></p><p>Luckily for the passengers onboard, the captain remained in control and quickly circled back to the airport without any injuries or incidents.</p><p>"Once we got straightened out, everyone was cheering and clapping and praising God," Luke added. "The flight attendants went above and beyond the call of duty and the captain got us in on one engine."</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>However, it wasn’t just those in the air who felt they were in danger. According to <em><a href="" target="_blank">CBS</a></em>, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is investigating claims that hot metal fragments from the plane dropped from the sky and into people’s backyards.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Spirit Airlines Tickets Are Even Cheaper If You Buy Them at the Airport</a></p><p>According to FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory, who spoke with <em>CBS</em>, the agency is “interested in collecting these pieces so we can determine if they came from an aircraft, and if so, if they came from the same aircraft.”</p><p>Cory added that the investigation could last several weeks, but that the fragments were likely pieces of the blown apart engine. Luckily, just like in the aircraft, there were no reported injuries on the ground. </p>
Categories: Travel

Passenger Spots a Beer Next to Pilot in Airplane's Cockpit

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 10:30
<p>There are many things that have the potential to cause concern for passengers on an airplane. Seeing alcohol in the plane’s cockpit is one of them.</p><p>Steve Lewis, a passenger on a <a href="" target="_blank">Jet2</a> flight from Alicante, Spain to Birmingham, England, claims that he spotted a can of Stella Artois sitting by one of the plane’s pilots “for 20 minutes” as soon as they opened the cockpit doors as the plane landed in Birmingham.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">5 Buttons You Hope Your Pilot Never Has to Push</a></p><p>“The plane had landed and the seatbelt light came on. I stood up to get my suitcase and as I did the cockpit door opened and I noticed the can. I turned to my partner Steven, who didn’t believe me at first, but then he noticed you could clearly see the Stella branding,” Lewis told <em><a href="" target="_blank">Metro</a></em>.</p><p>Lewis complained to the airline about the incident, but said he was initially told that his photo could not have been taken on his flight, despite the Jet2 branding that can be seen on the top left corner, according to <em>Metro</em>. Then, Lewis said the airline changed its statement.</p><p>“This is what upset me the most, I explained to [the representative] that I could prove it was taken on the Alicante to Birmingham flight and she replied to say that the can had been given to the pilot for safe keeping,” he said.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">This Pilot's Cockpit Selfies Will Make You Do a Double Take</a></p><p>In a statement to <em>Metro</em>, Jet2 said: “Upon further investigation of the photograph, we can confirm that it is an unopened can which had been handed to a member of our cabin crew by a customer when they were leaving the aircraft. This unopened can was then put down in the cockpit by the member of cabin crew, so that she could continue helping customers as they disembarked.”</p><p>Lewis remains skeptical of the airline's story. “I just don’t think it is appropriate to have any alcohol near the flight deck,” he said.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Family Stayed at a Different Disney Resort Every Day for 30 Days

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 10:26
<p>The famous “bucket list” family has just checked the final box of their “30 Stays in 30 Days” challenge in the most magical place on earth: Disney World, of course.</p><p>The Gee Family, also known as Garrett and Jessica Gee and their two kids — Dorothy, 4, and Manilla, 3, — sold most of their possessions and have been traveling the world for the last two years.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The Best Hotel For Every Possible Disney World Vacation</a></p><p><a href="" target="_blank">This past June</a>, the family marked a milestone with their 100th trip (a three week stay in South Africa).</p><p>But for the past month, the family has been checking off each day with a new adventure in Disney World. Part of the challenge was for the family to stay at a different resort every day for the entire month. The trip was sponsored by Disney.</p><p>As if a month-long <a href="" target="_blank">Disney vacation</a> wasn’t special enough, the family’s son and youngest child, Manilla, also turned three years old during the trip.</p><img alt="Family at Cinderella's Castle "src=""><p>The family’s travels aren’t all fun and games, however. They also started a charity called Pin Pals, which allows their followers to purchase custom pins from each country they visit and contribute to the family’s volunteer efforts around the world.</p><p>As the kids grow older, the family says some different adventures may be on the horizon. “Dorothy now wants to go to school and join a soccer team,” she says, “so we wonder, ‘Should we settle down so she can do that? Or try to find schools and soccer teams along the way?’ We’re not sure,” Jessica Gee told <em><a href="" target="_blank">People</a></em>.</p><p>Follow the Bucket List Family on <a href="" target="_blank">Instagram</a> for more updates on their travels.</p>
Categories: Travel

Where Is It Safe to Travel to Avoid Natural Disasters?

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 09:36
<p>With hurricanes devastating the <a href="" target="_blank">Caribbean</a>, an earthquake rocking <a href="" target="_blank">Mexico City</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">wildfires in the Pacific Northwest</a>, and a <a href="">volcano erupting in Bali</a>, it can seem like no corner of the world is safe from natural disasters.</p><p>Travelers have been trying to cancel reservations while donating to help rebuild the destinations that they love. In many cases, destinations rebound quickly from a natural disaster and continuing revenue from tourists is an integral part to reconstructive efforts.</p><p>For visitors who have already booked a trip to a destination affected by a recent natural disaster, or for those planning visits in the future, we have some advice for how to stay safe when traveling — and refrain from jumping to conclusions about a destination.</p><img alt=" "src=""><h2>You don't always need to cancel.</h2><p>Despite significant damage to islands across the Caribbean and in Mexico City, tourists do not always need to cancel their trip and should seek specific information about their destination instead of grouping entire countries or regions together. For instance, <a href="" target="_blank">Puerto Rico</a> may not be able to welcome visitors for the next year, but hotels in the Bahamas and Jamaica are already open for business after minor damage.</p><p>Even in Mexico City, where more than 50 buildings were leveled, <a href="" target="_blank">many hotels and attractions escaped unscathed</a>. While donating to destinations is hugely helpful in rebuilding regions affected by natural disasters, many of these places rely heavily on tourist dollars, and keeping reservations there can be a personal way to help.</p><h2>Know which seasons are most prone to natural disasters.</h2><p>This year’s hurricane season has broken records in the Caribbean, but hurricane season each year has caused damage across the region. Traveling to the islands in September can offer visitors discounts because it’s not peak season, but making a reservation in the Caribbean at that time, which runs approximately from June through October, can be risky.</p><p>Similarly, tornado season typically runs in April through June in the U.S. “<a href="" target="_blank">Tornado Alley</a>,” a region that runs from Texas up to western Ohio tends to be the most susceptible.</p><p>Northwestern U.S., including Montana and Oregon often see vast wildfires in the summer. This year a fire caused by teenagers throwing firecrackers devastated the popular <a href="" target="_blank">Eagle Creek Trail</a>.</p><p>It is still possible to visit these regions during seasons when they are vulnerable to natural disasters, and good planning with a strong back-up plan can make things possible. If travelers refrain from taking unnecessary risks, these places are still options.</p><h2>Some places are less susceptible than others.</h2><p>For those who would rather not take a chance, several areas in the U.S. are essentially disaster free. The most recent data concerning natural disasters by city is <a href="" target="_blank">from Trulia in 2013.</a> The real estate site compiled data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Forest Service, and FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program to rank cities by how likely they were to see a natural disaster.</p><p>Barring snowstorms, many of the safest cities were in the Midwest and included suburbs of Detroit, as well as Denver and Chicago. Two cities in Ohio, Akron and Cleveland, scored in the top three, and Syracuse, New York, landed the top spot.</p><p>Rankings of overall safety state by state, which included other factors such as residential safety and financial safety, <a href="" target="_blank">from WalletHub</a>, put Vermont in the top spot, with Utah scoring highest on the emergency safety ranking.</p>
Categories: Travel

Why a French Chef Doesn’t Want His Michelin Stars

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 09:31
<p>Le Suquet restaurant, in <a href="" target="_blank">southern France</a>, has been awarded three stars in the Michelin guide every year for nearly two decades.</p><p>And chef Sébastian Bras would like to give them back, please and thank you.</p><p>In a <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook Live this week</a>, Bras requested that Le Suquet be excluded from future editions of the Michelin guide.</p><p>“We want to have free reign to continue our work in peace,” Bras said in the video, in French. “We want to breathe new life into our home."</p><p>“…I have asked Michelin to remove our restaurant from consideration for the 2018 guide, and to no longer honor us with the distinction of three stars," he added.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to the <em>Agence France-Presse</em></a>, the Michelin group has taken note of the request — but withdrawal will not be “automatic,” as the guide is intended for customers, rather than chefs and restaurateurs. </p><p>Three stars is the “highest award” given to “superlative cooking” by the Michelin Guide. In the 2017 listing, Le Suquet is described as a “magical restaurant.”</p><p><b>Related: </b><a href="" target="_blank">Where to Stay, Eat, and Go in Aveyron, France</a></p><p>And we can’t help but wonder – if the pressure of three stars is too much, would Bras prefer two stars, or even one?</p><p>Bras has been running Le Suquet since he took over the high-end restaurant from his father, Michel Bras, in 2009. </p><p>The restaurant is well known for its exuberant French dishes (like the <em>gargouilou</em>: a whimsical interpretation of a classic Auvergne recipe, with cauliflower stalks, Alpine fennel, nasturtium, endive, chickweed, clover, pink radish, ferns, and other varieties of shoots, leaves, and blossoms) and its <a href="" target="_blank">cinematic setting</a>, which provides panoramic views from the edge of a cliff.</p><p>Travelers wishing to dine at <a href="" target="_blank">Le Suquet</a> (even if it’s stripped of its Michelin stars) should head to <a href="" target="_blank">Aveyron</a>. The restaurant is part of a cozy 13-room bed and breakfast, surrounded by beautiful, aromatic gardens and unspoiled views of the French countryside.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Travel Wallet Is Everything You Need on Your Next Trip and You Can Buy It on Amazon

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 09:24
<p>Warning: You might be tempted to reach for your wallet.</p><p>Your old wallet, that is.</p><p>Finding the perfect wallet to hold all your necessary travel items can be tricky. Not every wallet is great for holding your money, boarding pass, passport and other identification while also being light and slim for easy carrying.</p><p>But Amazon shoppers are loving this <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">travel wallet from Travelambo</a>, which not only can hold all your important items and more, it also comes in 22 colors.</p><p>The Travelambo Travel Wallet is slim and minimal on the outside while also maximizing space for your stuff on the inside. Among its many compartments is a passport pocket that fits two to three passports, three credit card slots, one ID slot, one SIM card pouch, one ticket slot, one coupon compartment, one cell phone pouch (maximum of 5.8 inches), one money and coins zippered pocket (fits U.S. money), one key holder, and one pen holder.</p><p>Some colors also come with accompanying luggage tags.</p><img alt="Best Wallet on Amazon "src=""><p>The versatility and design of this wallet has also earned it the top spot on the list of <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Amazon’s “Most Wished For”</a> wallets.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">19 Travel Wallets That Have Slots for Everything</a></p><p>The <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Travelambo wallet</a> sells for between $9.99 and $19.99 depending on color, so not only is the wallet of your dreams only a click away, it’s super affordable too.</p><p>Imagine how organized and stress-free your next trip will be.</p>
Categories: Travel

Australian Kayakers Paddle Up to a Whale and Get More Than They Bargained for (Video)

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 09:08
<p>Two men were in for an up close and personal encounter when they paddled their kayaks within feet of a large southern right whale off the coast of Hillarys, a suburb of Perth in Australia.</p><p>In a stunning video captured by a drone above the water, the men are seen in two separate kayaks, <a href="" target="_blank">floating next to the whale</a> and her young calf as the mammals swim at the surface. While the scene seems <a href="" target="_blank">peaceful at first</a>, one kayaker soon gets too close to the mother’s giant tail. With one flip of its heavy fluke, the tail appears to hit his small pink boat before the whale swims away, allowing the kayaker to narrowly avoid a more dangerous fate.</p><p>According to Australian news outlet <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Perth Now</em></a>, the men put their lives at risk by approaching the whales at such a close distance. A tail slap from a whale of this size could easily kill a human, especially if the mother felt she needed to protect her calf.</p><p>Surfer Michael McCormick, who spotted the kayakers and decided to capture the interaction with his drone, told Perth Now that he didn’t think the men should be so close to the whale. Local authorities agreed.</p><p>“The police came through with their boat and they got their loudspeaker out and told them to go away,” McCormick said. “The rules are stay 100m from whales. That’s what the police were saying over loud speaker.”</p><p><em>Perth Now</em> <a href="" target="_blank">also reported</a> that the whales had been spotted many times by locals in Perth over the last few weeks, prompting State government marine park coordinator Mel Evans to issue a statement about their safety.</p><p>“The mother and calf appear to be in excellent physical condition and are displaying normal behaviours like spy hopping, logging and waving,” her statement said. “Viewing whales is best done from the higher vantage points on the mainland, rather than from vessels which are required to remain a safe distance of at least 100m from the animal.”</p><p>While the kayakers were lucky to get away without injury this time, it seems clear that the safety of both the humans and animals would be better protected without such close encounters.</p><p>Still dying to get some rare one-on-one time with a whale? Consider an organized <a href="" target="_blank">whale watching tour</a> guided by experts who can keep you and the mammals safe.</p>
Categories: Travel

Sea Turtles Are Making a Comeback and That's the Good News We Needed Today

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 08:58
<p>With everything going on in the world, it’s nice to be able to finally share some news worth smiling about: The sea turtles are making a major comeback.</p><p>As <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Science Alert</em></a> reported, while six of the seven species of sea turtle remain at varying threat levels on the <a href="" target="_blank">International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species</a>, there are signs that show these amazing animals may be on the path to population recovery.</p><img alt="Baby Sea Turtles "src=""><p>While studying habitats in nearly 60 regions across the globe, researchers found that more populations of turtles are improving rather than declining thanks in part to human conservation efforts.</p><p>“There's a positive sign at the end of the story,” Antonios Mazaris, an ecology professor at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, told <a href="" target="_blank">NBC</a>. “We should be more optimistic about our efforts in society.”</p><p>Mazaris, who published his findings in the journal <em>Science Advances</em> on Wednesday, specifically pointed to the Hawaiian green sea turtles as a significant conservation success story.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>Conservation efforts may even be going a little too well, as according to Roderic Mast, a sea turtle advisory group co-chairman at the International Union for Conservation of Nature: “They have more turtles than they know what to do with." Still, Mast told NBC, “It's a good problem to have.”</p><p>So how did we get to finally say we’ve done something good for the environment? As NBC reported, it’s thanks to a few very important environmental laws passed by the U.S. and Mexican governments in the 1970s to help protect these beautiful creatures. Since then, Mast explained, populations have been growing by about 10 to 15 percent annually.</p><img alt="Sea Turtle "src=""><p>However, there are still a few species of sea turtles, specifically the leatherbacks in the Eastern and Western Pacific, who need our help, as according to Mazaris’ findings their numbers are in perilous decline. Mazaris told the <a href=";_r=0" target="_blank"><em>New York Times</em></a>, this is a story of “cautionary optimism.”</p><p>“Sea turtles are bellwethers. They're flagships that we use to tell the story of what's going on in the oceans,” Mast told NBC. “And that's why people should care about turtles.”</p>
Categories: Travel

Today Is the 2017 Autumnal Equinox: What Time Does it Happen?

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 08:46
<p>Despite all the hype surrounding pumpkin spice lattes, <a href="" target="_blank">Halloween festivities</a>, and fall hikes, you might think fall had already snuck in and stolen the last rays of summer.</p><p>Now, you can enjoy your pumpkin spice latte without feeling like you're cheating on summer: Today officially marks the Autumnal equinox, which is to say it's the first day of fall.</p><h2>What is the Autumnal Equinox?</h2><p>Also known as the <a href="" target="_blank">September Equinox</a>, the autumnal equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator.</p>According to <em>The Farmer's Almanac</em>, both the Southern and Northern hemispheres receive the same amount of sunshine at this time, and day and night are of nearly equal length. The Northern Hemisphere will start seeing shorter days and longer nights, whereas the Southern Hemisphere will see a reversal in seasons due to the Earth's tilt.</p><h2>What Time Does it Happen?</h2><p>The first minute of fall <a href="" target="_blank">varies by time zone</a>.</p><h3>Central Time</h3><p>If you live in Chicago or anywhere else in the Central Time Zone, expect the equinox at 3:02 p.m. CDT.</p><h3>Eastern Time</h3><p>New York City, Boston, and other cities in the Eastern Time Zone will see the equinox at 4:02 p.m. EDT.</p><h3>Pacific Time</h3><p>The first minute of fall in Los Angeles, <a href="" target="_blank">Seattle</a>, and other Pacific Time Zone cities is at 1:02 p.m PDT.</p><h2>September Equinox Mythology</h2><p>Over time, the equinox has inspired <a href="" target="_blank">ancient</a><a href="" target="_blank"> mythologies and religious and cultural celebrations</a>. In Greek mythology, fall happens when the harvest goddess Demeter refuses to use her horticultural skills during her daughter’s annual trip to the underworld. Chinese and Vietnamese communities ring in fall with a Moon Festival, complete with mooncakes, lotus, and duck eggs. Japan, on the other hand, celebrates fall with Higan, a Buddhist celebration that invites people to remember loved ones who have passed.</p><p>While you might be sad to see your days at the pool come to an end, fall invites a whole host of fun activity. From <a href="" target="_blank">leaf-peeping excursions</a>, to <a href="" target="_blank">apple picking</a>, you’ll have a hard time missing that 90 degree weather.</p>
Categories: Travel

What It Takes to Make a Brand New Island

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 08:34
<p>Koen Olthuis is convinced that nature always has a way of finding balance in our world: It is an equalizer and a force that can undo any disruption. The Earth is a healer and a blessing. No matter how abusive and destructive our species becomes, Mother Earth forgives and finds a way.</p><p>As the principal architect at <a href="" target="_blank">Waterstudio.NL</a> in the Netherlands, Olthuis constructed his vision around the collaboration of man and nature. For years, he tried to execute architecture that worked together with nature’s path instead of against it.</p><p>Now, he is among the first, along with developer <a href="" target="_blank">Dutch Docklands</a>, to create floating islands and homes in the Maldives that are meant for humans, but are also lifelines for the ocean and species below.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">A Ride Down This Insane Waterslide Lands You in a Gorgeous Turquoise Ocean</a></p><p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Maldives</a>, located in the Indian Ocean, are the lowest lying island chain and archipelago in the world — most of the country is only about three feet above sea level. It is the flattest country on Earth, and consists of 1,190 tiny islands built entirely on coral reefs. The coral reefs provide the majority of marine diversity and sustain the islands.</p><p>The islands are expected to be the first victims of climate change: The <a href="" target="_blank">Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change</a> (IPCC) estimates that if we don't take action on climate change in the next five to 10 years, sea level will rise by up to four feet by the end of the century.</p><p>A nation is on the brink of extinction, but Olthuis’s philosophy is a spark in an otherwise dark maze for the Maldivian people. It’s just the beginning and it’s taken Olthuis a lifetime to get here.</p><img alt="Amillarah, Floating Island, The Maldives "src=""><p>In 2003 Olthuis, also known as the “Floating Dutchman,” was working on floating houseboats in the Netherlands. As an architecture and industrial design expert in Holland who spent his life studying the architecture of water, this was a natural progression for him. Holland has around 16,000 floating structures and, by all accounts, one of the most robust histories of floating homes. Soon, Olthuis began working on multiple boats as owners commissioned him to bolt a rigid, concrete foundation connecting the vessels to create larger and larger habitable spaces.</p><p>He spent his time learning building codes and taking in the nuances of underwater design. His designs became so glamorous and so large that he began getting attention from architecture experts and fanatics for a different type of project, man-made islands, more specifically floating islands.</p><p>Up until recently there was only one way to make an island: dredging the sea floor to create new land and coastlines. The Palm Islands, built in 2014, in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates are the most famed example of this.</p><p>The Palm Islands, though a spectacular feat of human innovation, pose significant environmental and logistical challenges. Only a few years after the Palm Islands were built, there were reports of erosion: The islands seemed to be sinking back into the water. What's more, the maintenance of these islands could mean severe consequences for the surrounding ecosystem.</p><img alt="Private Watervilla, The Netherlands "src=""><p>“Unfortunately this has dire consequences for neighboring coral reefs as it increases the turbidity of the water, buries entire habitats, and can lead to their direct, albeit incidental, removal,” said Dr. Andrew Bruckner, the director and lead scientist of <a href="" target="_blank">Coral Reef CPR</a>.</p><p>“The dredging also alters natural current and water circulation patterns and can cause unnecessary erosion in areas upcurrent or downcurrent from the construction site. Many islands repeat this dredging process annually as the monsoon switches direction.”</p><p>The idea of a floating island was new for Olthuis. Translating your work from houseboats to living, breathing worlds is not a step that happens overnight. The transition came in 2008: The Maldivian people elected President Mohammed Nasheed, who pledged to keep the Maldives from the threat of climate change, the rising sea levels from melting polar icecaps and a warming planet.</p><p>Nasheed had a strong message: His country is sinking. The population of almost 370,000 could either become climate change refugees, or they could be climate change innovators.</p><p>Pinpointing the moment houseboats became floating islands is hard for Olthuis to remember, but the idea of helping to continue a culture started something. He met with President Nasheed and a new era began. Building and maintaining islands that are sustainable and eco-friendly could preserve both the integrity and the livelihood of the Maldives.<p>Olthuis began to work out the logistics and created a prototype that could be assembled in Holland, taken apart, shipped to a new location and then reassembled.</p><p>Floating islands are reassembled in underwater lagoons. The foundations can be concrete, steel or composite, depending on size and location, and are anchored with a strong cable, so they can move about a meter in each direction as needed. Though there is movement, springs are used as a stabilization tool, so standing on the surface feels as cemented as any other natural land mass. There is a flat, smooth surface underneath with no curved edges, so marine life can thrive. Through extensive research and trails, Olthuis found that round and pyramid shapes promote the most growth.</p><img alt="Amillarah, Private Island, The Maldives "src=""><p>For a long time, most underwater architects focused only on the ecosystem on the surface of the island or structure. It was about making the environment as lush and as beautiful as possible, but it wasn’t the whole picture.</p><p>It took Olthuis until 2011 to realize that it was not just about the beauty of the surface — it runs deeper. Following the <a href="" target="_blank">World Architecture Festival</a> in <a href="" target="_blank">Barcelona</a>, Spain, Olthuis received a question in the audience from a journalist. Olthuis had just finished describing a new project that consisted of floating buildings with green landscapes throughout. The journalist raised his hand and asked, “Can an architect only design for people?”</p><p>This question completely changed the course of Olthuis’ life. He rethought the role of an architect, considering the responsibility and obligation to enhance the surrounding environment. His company, Waterstudio.NL, now leads with the motto, “green is good, blue is better.”</p><p>“Now, for each location you try and find out as much as possible about the current ecosystem and what you could possibly need to enhance the marine life: How to locally clean the water and what shapes make the flow of water flow naturally underneath it,” said Olthuis.</p><p>It’s about making the islands work, but not just for humans. In the past, Olthuis worked with pontoon boats in Holland to find ways to get rid of the underwater ecosystem that could chip away at the hull of a boat, but now his whole world was upside down.</p><p>“Floating islands don’t move,” said Olthuis said. “You want as much algae and shells to grow underneath these islands. We talk a lot with these experts about how they can make algae make it grow on these hulls. It’s reverse thinking.”</p><p>In August 2016, Olthuis and developer Dutch Docklands received a license to test their first island in the Maldives. They have a 100-year lease in a section of the Indian Ocean just outside the Maldivian island chain to test their floating islands. The first will be assembled and built by October 2017.</p><p>By 2019, Dutch Docklands will have invested millions of dollars and intends to have first 50 islands intact. Within the next decade, the company expects to have a total of 100 small islands.</p><p>The project was originally planned for August 2017, but, as Olthuis puts it, new clients mean new expectation. “Our clients are even more green than we are,” said Olthuis. “Our clients want to be completely off the grid. It was a challenge to make the change and develop, but we’re back on track.”</p><p>Dutch Docklands only commissioned the building of private islands known as Amillarah, which are to be sold to individuals through Christie's in <a href="" target="_blank">New York City</a>. But, the technology can and should extend to create sustainable and environmentally friendly bio-reserves and new land for a culture that is sinking. <p>“This is just the beginning,” said Jasper Mulder, vice president of Dutch Docklands. “We will let the commercial project show that the construction can work and then work with the government to help the local community.”</p><p>If Dutch Docklands moves forward with floating islands as a social project, it is just one example of how humans, the market for luxury and sustainable products and the environment can all come to together to create a remarkable new beginning. Man may be able to have what we want and need without abusing our environment.</p><p>“In general, environmental impacts associated with the floating islands are likely to be much less severe than that associated with the continued land reclamation and dredging,” Dr. Bruckner said. “The creators behind this idea have given the environment significant forethought by placing these islands in areas that are likely to have the lowest environmental impact possible.”</p><p>Though hope for a sustainable, environmentally friendly option for the Maldivian people is strong, we still don’t know what the long-term effects will be.</p><p>“They are proposing to place these within lagoonal areas away from coral reefs. This does minimize the shading of reef systems, however it is likely to have a significant impact to these shallow lagoonal areas that provide critical nursery areas,” Dr. Bruckner continued. He is also concerned about what Dutch Docklands is proposing to do with sewage produced, as these are located within the lagoon, and discharge of sewage into the lagoon will seriously impact surrounding habitats through increased nutrients, and subsequent algal blooms. Olthuis has no concerns about the leftover sewage, however: He plans to treat the sewage water and use it promote plant and brush growth. The remaining sewage will be removed from the island on a monthly basis.</p><p>Until the floating surface is created, we won’t know its true impact on the surrounding environment, but both Dr. Bruckner and Olthuis agree that working with and for nature could be the answer.</p><p>Back in 2007, when Olthuis was not involved in the fate of this island nation, before his mission became designing islands underwater and above, he was asked to create a lush landscape and environment for Villa New Water, a residential property in Naaldwijk, The Netherlands. As a new architect and planner he believed the secret to success was to plan and organize every detail of a project. It had to be perfect.</p><p>In the midst of New Water’s production, he to visited a local friend who kept an unruly yet beautiful garden. Somehow the garden managed to heal itself through its chaotic patterns. It looked breathtaking compared to the typical residential garden, and Olthuis realized perfection was not natural — and his best work would be one guided by nature’s decisions.</p><p>To this day, the garden’s layout and idiosyncrasies stays with Olthuis. He believes nature always find an equilibrium, in spite of the human race.</p><p>“That is the point of these floating islands,” Olthuis said. “We’ll build the canvas and nature will fill it out.”</p>
Categories: Travel