Flights to Mexico Are $178 Round-trip — and They Keep Getting Cheaper

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:16
<p>At the end of November, <a href="" target="_blank">flights to Mexico</a> dropped to $188 round-trip. And that price just got cheaper.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to Thrifty Traveler</a>, travelers can find $178 round-trip tickets to Cancún right now, with affordable fares also available to San Jose del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta.</p><p>Generally speaking, the tickets are available for trips between January and May — and can be found from a number of major U.S. cities. (There are $197 round-trip flights from Los Angeles to San Jose del Cabo, for example, as well as $214 tickets to Puerto Vallarta from San Francisco; and those $178 seats from Houston and Fort Lauderdale to Cancún.)</p><p><b>Related: </b><a href="" target="_blank">The Best All-inclusive Resorts in Cancún</a></p><p>Travelers should note that some of these deals can be found on JetBlue, which is currently giving away three <a href="" target="_blank">All You Can Jet</a> passes to travelers who book flights directly on their website.</p><p>Simply book a winter getaway to Cancún, and keep your fingers crossed that this affordable vacation leads to an entire year of free flights.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>While these fares will likely sell out fast, travelers can look forward to increasingly cheap trips to Mexico. In August, Southwest Airlines announced a number of <a href="" target="_blank">new routes to these popular Mexican vacation spots</a>, which will launch in March. The airline is also increasing seasonal service to and from Cancún.</p><p>Recent studies — yes, actual scientific studies — have proven that Southwest’s presence (known as <a href="" target="_blank">the Southwest Effect</a>) can force competitors to lower fares by as much as 15 percent.</p>
Categories: Travel

Here’s How Much Space You Get Under the Seat in Front of You on Every Airline

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:16
<p>As passengers battle what is (un)affectionately known as the “<a href="" target="_blank">incredible shrinking airline seat</a>,” it’s common to pay attention to dimensions like legroom and seat pitch. However, there’s one crucial measurement that is often forgotten: the space beneath the seat.</p><p>Not only is it where we put our feet, all carry-on items not in the overhead bin must fit perfectly underneath the seat ahead. Any items that stick out could pose a safety hazard during emergency evacuation, so flight attendants are usually pretty stringent on this rule.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">The Best Underseat Luggage</a></p><p>If fighting for overhead bin space doesn't appeal to you (and who does it appeal to?), knowing the measurements of the under-the-seat space could save you time and stress.</p><p>It's important to note that the space under the seats varies depending on the aircraft — a Boeing 737 won't have the same seats as a Bombardier Q400 — as well as by individual seat. The middle seat, hated for every other reason, is likely to have the most space for underseat items. For those who want to know as exactly as possible how much room they’ve got to work with, here’s how much space each airline provides.</p><p>And to make the most of the space underneath seats, check out <a href="" target="_blank">our choices for best underseat luggage</a> that are still surprisingly roomy.</p><img alt=" "src=""><h2>Alaska Airlines</h2><p>The airline does not release exact measurements for the space below seats, but to make sure your items fit, aim for less than <a href="" target="_blank">11” tall by 17” wide by 18-20” long</a>. The <a href="" target="_blank">maximum size for carry-on luggage</a> is 24 inches (including wheels and handles) by 17 inches by 10 inches. The seat width is approximately 17 inches.</p><h2>American Airlines</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">According to airline policy</a>, any items to be stowed beneath seats should not exceed 18 inches by 14 inches by 8 inches.</p><h2>Delta</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Delta has a maximum carry-on</a> size of 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches. No bag may exceed 45 linear inches combined. <a href="" target="_blank">The space underneath the seat</a> is 20 inches wide, 17 inches long and 11 inches tall. (Expect less space in the window seat.)</p><h2>JetBlue</h2><p><a href=",Kb=askBlue,case=obj(377919)" target="_blank">Under-the-seat baggage</a> can not exceed 17 inches by 13 inches by 8 inches on all JetBlue flights. The airline's fleet is made up of Airbus A321s, which is why the size restriction is uniform.</p><h2>United</h2><p>The maximum size for <a href="" target="_blank">a personal item on United</a> is 9” by 10” by 17”. But if you forgo a larger carry-on, you can bring a larger item to stow under the seat, which is 17” deep, about 10” tall, and 20” wide (<a href="" target="_blank">on a 757</a>).</p><h2>Virgin America</h2><p>Virgin America does not disclose the exact dimensions of the space beneath the seat, but <a href="" target="_blank">no personal item can exceed</a> 36 linear inches, or 17 inches by 10 inches by 9 inches. Carry-ons cannot be larger than 50 linear inches, 24 inches by 16 inches by 10 inches. According to <em>Dog Jaunt</em>, the airline's A320s have a fixed under-seat height of 8.5” (which isn't much), and the aisle and middle seat are 18” wide. The window is 17” wide.</p><h2>Southwest</h2><p><a href="" target="_blank">Southwest’s Boeing 737s</a> have an underseat space of 19” long by 14” wide by 8.25” high. Middle seats are the same, except for a 19” width.</p>
Categories: Travel

VIDEO: Five Things to Do in Palm Beach

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:11
<p>Known for its upscale boutiques and irresistible beaches, Palm Beach has long been a favorite Florida getaway for vacationers from all over the world. Separated from southern Florida by the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, Palm Beach is West Palm Beach’s sister city, and is known for being irresistibly serene. It has 47 miles of pristine coastline, upscale shopping, and the kind of refinement that can be hard to find in sunny ocean destinations.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">The 10 Best Resort Hotels in Florida</a></p><p>Your first stop on a trip to Palm Beach is the Intracoastal Waterway — a highway-like canal that stretches from Massachusetts down to the southern tip of Florida. Charter a boat and explore on your own, or hop on a yacht cruise and enjoy the breathtaking views with a cocktail in hand.</p><p>Get a taste of Palm Beach’s long-standing art scene with a visit to the Flagler Museum, which features guided tours and rotating exhibits focused on America’s Gilded Age. Located within the historic estate of oil and railroad mogul Henry Flagler, some tourists might opt simply to admire this grand residence from outside.</p><p>Travelers can also <a href="" target="_blank">check out the Norton Museum of Art</a>, which has a broad range of collections comprising American, Chinese, and contemporary arts.</p><p>Of course, you’ll want to spend plenty of time at one of the city’s many beautiful stretches of sand. Head to North Palm Beach for access to Atlantic and Intracoastal waters through the John D. MacArthur State Park. If you’re in the mood for something a little quieter, Lake Worth Beach has calmer waters, as well as a pier.</p><p><strong>Related</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">The Best All-inclusive Resorts in Florida</a></p><p>Get your shopping fix on the esteemed Worth Avenue, known nationwide to be one of the most iconic shopping spots in the country. Here, you’ll find charming boutiques like Strong Boalt and CJ Laing, as well as big-name designers such as Chanel, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo.</p><p>If you’re in Florida, it’s quite possible that you’ve got a vested interest in golf. Hit the links at what may be the heart of the state’s golfing community. Choose from more than 160 private and public courses, open year round, featuring stunning views and challenging holes.</p>
Categories: Travel

Watch Homesick Italian Astronauts Make Pizza in Space

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 10:04
<p>If you had to spend more than a year in space, what’s the one thing you’d miss the most?</p><p>Of course, it would have to be <a href="" target="_blank">fresh, hot pizza</a> — especially if you're from Italy.</p><p>Luckily, an ingenious Italian astronaut on the <a href="" target="_blank">International Space Station</a>, Paolo Nespoli‏, found the perfect way to soothe his craving for a taste of home. Nespoli told his boss during a live-stream event that he really missed pizza while floating around in space, according to one of his tweets.</p><p>In response, his considerate boss (Kirk A. Shireman, manager of the International Space Station) delivered pizza ingredients to the astronauts working up there in orbit. The six crew members, including Nespoli, created a minute-long video of their assembly process to show everyone that you can, in fact, have pizza in space.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Here’s How Astronauts Do Their Grocery Shopping in Space</a></p><p>Interestingly enough, pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings do not go floating everywhere in the cabin once you open their packages as some cartoons may lead you to believe. The assembly goes particularly smoothly, and the results are quite delicious looking.</p><p>We hope their space pizza is literally out of this world.</p>
Categories: Travel

Are Budget Airlines Actually Safe?

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:45
<p>Round-trip flights to Europe for <a href="" target="_blank">less than $200</a> may be music to many people’s ears, but most travelers likely know the consequences of <a href="" target="_blank">such a cheap fare</a>: a lack of legroom, sparse amenities, and a myriad of extra fees for baggage, seat selection and more. Still, need savvy travelers add safety risks to their list of caveats when flying on a budget airline?</p><p>While many travelers looking for a great flight deal may be willing to sacrifice comfort for affordability, few would be willing to give up their safety in pursuit of that great deal.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">New Details Emerge About Strangers Caught Having Sex on a Delta Flight</a></p><p>Luckily, they don’t have to. While budget airlines cut other corners to keep fares low, they do not — actually cannot — compromise the safety of their passengers in the process.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>The U.S. Department of Transportation’s list of U.S. Certificated Air Carriers shows that budget airlines like Spirit, Southwest, Allegiant, Frontier and Sun Country have all (of course) received the proper certifications.</p><p>“Every airline, whether it's a budget airline such as <a href="" target="_blank">Spirit</a>, or a legacy line such as United, must meet the safety regulations set by the FAA,” Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Les Dorr <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>Men’s Journal</em></a>. “Since everyone meets the same standards, there is no airline that is safer than another.”</p><p>So while airlines like easyJet, Ryanair and Frontier may not stock the most gourmet snacks, their planes do need to meet the customary standards to which all airplanes are upheld, from staff training to plane maintenance.</p><p>Viral stories like <a href="" target="_blank">that of an easyJet engineer allegedly patching up a plane’s engine with duct tape don't hold up: According to the <a href="" target="_blank">Civil Aviation Authority</a>, the tape seen being used in the photos is actually aluminum tape (also known as speed tape or metallic tape) which is very durable, expensive, and regularly used on aircrafts (budget or not) to make minor repairs. (And airlines aren't using tape to fix anything that would require more serious attention.)</p><p>Of course, terrible accidents happen, and no airline is free from the possibility of something going wrong. Budget airlines, however, are historically no more likely to have a crash than any other airline. According to <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Business Insider</em></a>, airlines WestJet, Flybe, Virgin America and Jetstar are just a few of the low-cost airlines that have never suffered a fatal crash.</p><p>Additionally, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Telegraph</em> explains</a> that due to how young many budget airlines are, some aircraft could actually be safer than their mainstream counterparts. The newness of these budget airlines means their entire fleet might only be a few years old, while a legacy airline’s plane could have been around for decades.</p><p>Passengers concerned about the safety of a particular airline can also use resources like <a href="" target="_blank">AirlineRatings</a> to see exactly how each carrier stands up to safety regulations, as well as easily compare airlines. While longstanding and more expensive airlines like American Airlines, United and Delta clearly receive 7 out of 7 stars for safety, almost all budget carriers are rated with at least 5 out of 7 stars, making them perfectly safe for flight. Low cost carriers like Frontier, Flybe, JetBlue and Aer Lingus actually receive a full 7 stars as well.</p><p>So, the next time you spot an incredible deal on one of these low cost carriers, mourn the loss of your legroom and storage space, but don’t let safety fears keep you from taking that trip.</p>
Categories: Travel

Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals Have Something for Everyone on Your List

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:44
<p>Even those who rolled their eyes at the sight of <a href="" target="_blank">Christmas decorations in November</a> have to admit that holiday season is very much upon us. And that means you only have about three weeks to get everyone on your shopping list a little something special.</p><p>While you may have missed the boat on all those Black Friday deals, you can count on Amazon to make sure the “most wonderful time of the year” doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet. The online retailer just kicked off its <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";node=5550343011" target="_blank">“12 Days of Deals”</a> event that offers reduced prices on holiday gifts for everyone on your list all the way through December 14.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>Every night at midnight PST, you can take advantage of new deals that will be available on the site for 24 hours. They feature specific themes such as DIY, kids, outdoor, chef, and tech, which makes it easier to find gifts for your loved ones if you know what their interests are.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">25 Gift Ideas Under $25</a></p><p>And the bargains will definitely save you some hard-earned dollars as well. This Wednesday is dedicated to children’s gifts, so expect to save up to 50 percent on select outdoor sports and games, 30 percent on select toys by ECR4Kids, and more deals on your kids’ favorite <a href="" target="_blank">Disney</a>, Transformers, and PJ Masks toys.</p><p>For the chef or baker in your life, Amazon will be offering 30 percent off holiday kitchen essentials on Dec. 9, and if you’re shopping for a fashion-conscious friend or family member, Tuesday’s deals will be on best-selling jewelry and festive holiday sweaters. Here’s the full list:</p>12/3: Active – For dashers, dancers and wellness-wishers12/4: DIY – For merry makers and home-improvers12/5: Stylist – For style stars and beauty believers12/6: Kids – For busy little elves of all ages12/7: Gamer – For gamers who shout out with glee12/8: Outdoor – For happy campers and jolly jetsetters12/9: Chef – For home chefs and sugar-plum bakers12/10: Media – For music lovers, avid readers, and film buffs12/11: Tech – For techies a-tinkering with cheer12/12: Homebody – For cozy folk nestled in their smart homes12/13: Pets – For faithful furballs and joyful pups12/14: Hobbyist – For tinselly crafters and jingle rockers<p>So for the next week and a half, make sure you check for <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">upcoming deals on the site</a> daily, or set up the "Watch a Deal" alerts in the Amazon app to receive a notification when your watched deals go live.</p>
Categories: Travel

A Terminal Cancer Patient and His Best Friend Are Taking a Bucket List Road Trip — and They Need Your Help

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:26
<p>In late October, 20-year-old Chris Betancourt called his best friend, Dillon Hill, and told him he was dying.</p><p>The two have been best friends since they met in the fifth grade and have already lived through one of Betancourt’s cancer treatments together. However this time, doctors said that his cancer was a mutated string and gave him one year to live.</p><p>''I'm afraid I won't be able to experience the things I want to in life,” Betancourt told his friend, <a href="" target="_blank">according to their website</a>. So they made a bucket list of all the things they wanted to accomplish together. Hill left college to devote the next year to spending time together.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">A 17-year-old Cancer Patient Is Planning a Road Trip Inspired by Anthony Bourdain</a></p><p>The 79-item list includes life experiences like “have a pillow fight with complete strangers,” “be on Russian TV,” and “smash stuff with a steam roller.”</p><p>And much of the list involves travel. Betancourt and Hill also want to “see Sequoia National Forest,” “paraglide in <a href="" target="_blank">Lake Tahoe</a>,” “eat Matsusaka beef in Japan,” and “backpack through Europe.”</p><p>The travel aspect of the list will kick off later this month with item number 38 on the list: <a href="" target="_blank">road trip</a>. Later this month, they will travel to Los Angeles and hope to extend the trip into a “proper road trip” for Betancourt, something they have been been talking about doing together since middle school. They are currently <a href="" target="_blank">raising money on GoFundMe</a> for the trip.</p><p>Throughout the journey, they will update social media and make YouTube videos documenting their progress through the list. The friends are accepting donations to complete the list via <a href="" target="_blank">monthly contributions on Patreon</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

You've Been Sleeping on Planes All Wrong

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:17
<p>Some people can sleep standing up, but for the rest of us, there are expert strategies to increase our chances of restfully snoozing in the skies.</p><p>Airlines have been promoting luxurious business and first classes that feature many tempting ways to drift off in the clouds for a few hours — but how can you get the best sleep on a plane, no matter where you're seated?</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Read This Before You Book a Basic Economy Airfare</a></p><p>We asked aircraft seating and interiors designer, Adam White, director of <a href="" target="_blank">Factorydesign, London</a>, who has pondered the best way to ensure comfort in the cabin for the past 30 years. He frequently flies long-haul — and just as frequently flies in economy as in premium. He offered some practical tips to sleep better onboard, whether you're at the back, middle, or front of the plane.</p><p>“Clearly the more you are able to lie back, the better. So the further up the aircraft that you go the more comfortable you will be for sleeping,” he told <em>Travel + Leisure</em>. “In ergonomic studies, of the early days of lie-flat, there were sleep tests that showed you needed a genuinely flat bed to get the most rest.”</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>And for travelers who can't afford those lie-flat luxuries?</p><p>“There are other things we need to pay attention to, to get the best rest,” White said, “which can take you all the way back to economy class.”</p><h2>Start with these three basic needs.</h2><p>White highlights three key environmental factors which will affect the quality of your sleep, no matter what class you fly: light, noise and temperature. How you handle these three factors will help you sleep better on the plane, even if your seat doesn't recline.</p><p>“First get comfortable temperature-wise. That may mean standing up with your blanket and wrapping it around you and then put on your seat belt so that the crew can see that you’re strapped in,” he said. “That way the flight crew won’t find a need to wake you if the seatbelt light goes on.”</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">15 Noise-canceling Headphones That Will Make Any Trip More Enjoyable</a></p><p>“Then, have the headphones plugged-in so the noise canceling function is working, but not necessarily tuned-in to something. These days, [in-flight entertainment will often have a sleep-based or soothing channel on the radio, so that’s something that could help to block out the drone of the jet.”</p><p>And finally, “reducing light is important, especially when people are often traveling different time zones,” White said. “You may have someone near or next to you who wants to turn on the lights; or worse still open a window and you get your eyes burned out by the sun.”</p><p>Define your pre-sleep ritual.</p><p>White has a ritual when he flies that helps ensure he'll get as much sleep as possible: “Three glasses of champagne in quick succession.”</p><p>He was kidding.</p><p>“Genuinely, what I do is that I wait, if I can, until the service is ready for me to go to sleep,” he said. “Unless it’s a late night flight, [during] the first hour or two of long-haul people will be eating and carts will be moving around. It’s almost impossible to sleep then.”</p><p>Things will quiet down, however, and you can use that to your advantage.</p><p>“When the aircraft service is ready to go to the quiet four or five hours in the middle, I like to be ready. I’ve got my blanket on so that my temperature is fine, I’ve had something to eat, and I’ve been to the loo,” he said.</p><p>“People will often be over alert about everything that is going on and worry, ‘How can I get the most of this seat that doesn’t lie flat, etc?’ They get tripped up about this, and are very wired because they don’t believe it's possible to sleep,” White said. “If you just obey the basic rules, get as comfortable as possible, with the blanket and earphones on white noise and your eye mask on, there’s no reason not to sleep.”</p><h2>Choose your seat wisely.</h2><p>Is there a knack to picking an Economy seat that will give you a better chance of sleeping? First of all, White says he always prefers being next to a wall (which would typically be the window seat).</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Picking This Seat on a Flight Means You’re Selfish, Psychologists Say</a></p><p>“I wouldn’t spend the money or fight to get the exit row seat, or extra legroom, or any of that, because the truth is those are sort of headlines for a better flight, but economy is economy,” said White.</p><p>However, what he recommends is recognizing the environment that will be around the seat. Sit away from where people tend to congregate — like the lavatories — and get away from as many people as possible.</p><p>“It may sound funny, but just as people are left and right handed, I think they are also more comfortable leaning to a left or right hand side to sleep,” White said. “Know your body.”</p><h2>Know your seat.</h2><p>There is a lesser-known adjustment, available on many economy seats, which can improve your chances of getting a decent night's rest.</p><p>“One thing people often miss in economy class is that it has become much more standard to have headrests that are surprisingly clever,” said White. “You may look at it and think it’s a flat pillow, but if you experiment you’ll find that it not only goes up and down but that you can often bend the side ears around your head.”</p><p>“If you have something to cradle your head, that makes it a lot more comfortable.”</p><p>If your aircraft seat has a separate headrest cushion, there is a good chance that it is adjustable and articulating (bendable). The adjustable portion lets you move it up and down, and the articulating side panels can be folded in to give you somewhere better to rest your head than your neighbour's shoulder.</p><p>And if your seat isn't so accommodating, a <a href="" target="_blank">trusty neck pillow</a> will work wonders.</p><h2>How seats are engineered to help you sleep.</h2><p>The science of ensuring better sleep on planes never sleeps. Engineers and designers in the airline industry have spent decades studying rest.</p><p>“From the early days of lie-flat and reclining premium seating, there have been an awful lot of studies done," White said. “There have been technology improvements like inflating and deflating seat cushions, vibrating and massaging cushions, very sophisticated foams to try to make seats comfortable.”</p><p>Unfortunately economy passengers likely won't see the best results of this research.</p><p>“There’s no reason for that tech not to be employed, other than there is increasing effort to make economy seats as light as simple and as possible,” White said. “So it is, in a way, counterintuitive to put too much technology into the Economy seat.”</p><p>White's company, Factorydesign, has proposed an economy seat called the Twister, which — even though it wouldn't lie flat — would have a skeleton that allowed for passenger movement: “You twist in your seat,” he said. “If the seat had allowance for that twisting it would feel so much more comfortable.”</p><p>The problem so far has been that the Twister's skeleton is technically complex, which is not what airlines want for airplane seats today. As applications for 3D printing grow in aviation, manufacturers might want to have a second look at the Twister which could be made lighter and more affordable.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Hottest New Minnie Mouse Ears at Disneyland Are Actually Vintage

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:16
<p>Step aside, rose gold — this is a job for old-school Minnie Mouse.</p><p>After Disney fans went wild for the parks’ <a href="" target="_blank">sparkly pink Minnie ear headbands</a> this August, it seemed impossible that anything else would come close to going instantly viral. Through the end of summer, Halloween, and with Christmas on the horizon, there have been plenty new items worthy of accessorizing with, but none have resonated with theme park fans like Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s brand new vintage-inspired Minnie ears.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>The sparkly headbands, which just hit stores last week, are much more than just a trend — they’re a little piece of fashion history. The new pastel ear headbands are inspired by the Minnie Mouse of yesteryear, referencing her appearance in color animations in the mid-1930s and early 1940s. </p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">11 Bizarre Souvenirs You Could Once Purchase at Disney Parks</a></p><p>The sequined blue polka dot ears match her original skirt design — which would later be swapped out for the classic red we know today — while the little wire daisy is a style Minnie would regularly sport poking out from atop her favorite red hat.</p><p>The ears are available at shops throughout Disneyland and Walt Disney World for $24.99, and if you see them, move quickly — if it’s anything like we witnessed this summer, these vintage Minnie ears will soon be flying off store shelves.</p><p>This throwback Minnie souvenir is just the latest in a run of fan-favorite merchandise coming out of the Disney parks. Guests waited in hour-long lines to <a href="" target="_blank">snag a popcorn bucket</a><b> </b>in the shape of Oogie Boogie from "The Nightmare Before Christmas"<i> </i>back in September, and last month’s <a href="" target="_blank">Pluto popcorn bucket</a>, which features the pup in an ugly Christmas sweater and Santa cap, has been eagerly snapped up by fans on both coasts.</p>
Categories: Travel

How to Not Get Ripped Off When Buying Cheap Flights on Third-party Websites

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 09:15
<p>Travelers searching for the absolute cheapest flights can often find super low airfare on third-party retailers. Websites like BargainAirTicket and Faregeek display not only published airfares, but some times also discounted tickets offered exclusively through their network. (These flights maybe have been bought in bulk for a low rate, and then resold.)</p><p>Search engines like <a href="" target="_blank">Skyscanner</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Momondo</a> can be a valuable resource for finding these discounted tickets. Depending on your flight search, they might point you to the airline's website, or to one of these lesser-known third-party website. But booking a flight on these third parties isn't always as clear-cut as buying directly.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">The Ultimate Cheap Airlines Guide</a></p><p>To take the mystery out of booking flights with online retailers, we spoke search engine experts, airline representatives, and <a href="" target="_blank">frequent fliers</a> who regularly use third parties.</p><h2>How do you find third-party retailers?</h2><p>Lucas Taulealea, a data scientist based in <a href="" target="_blank">Canberra, Australia</a>, says he flew about 130 times last year — making him something of an unofficial expert on flight searches.</p><p>“My game plan when booking flights anywhere,” Taulealea told <em>Travel + Leisure, </em>“is to first check Skyscanner. This is my process of discovery."</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>A search for flights from <a href="" target="_blank">New York City</a>, for example, might show deals on eDreams, GotoGate, and Vayama, in addition to those fares bookable directly through the airlines.</p><p>Taulealea said that after finding the flights he wants to purchase, he compares them to the prices listed on the airline's website. “If there is little to no difference, I'll book through the airline site every time. If not, I'm forced to use the third-party site.”</p><h2>How are third-party retailers vetted?</h2><p>“<a href="" target="_blank">Skyscanner</a> has a very stringent process to vet any online travel agency partners that appear on the site,” Randi Wolfson, Skyscanner’s head of communications for the Americas, told T+L. Wolfson said that Skyscanner will remove any online travel agencies that don’t adhere to the search engine’s internal standards.</p><p>There is even a team in place to “monitor this for the company, as well as [to asses] customer feedback on any online travel agency partner.”</p><p>Travelers searching for flights with Skyscanner will also see a relatively new Quality Ratings feature, which uses price reliability, fees, customer service reviews, and ease of use to rank ticket providers, from zero to five stars. Additionally, the Quality Rating applies to airlines, which means you might actually prefer booking through 4.5-star Hop2 (which provides 24-hour support and has a database of more than 600 airlines) than with the 3.5-star airline, LATAM.</p><p>Travelers who prefer searching for flights with a website like <a href="" target="_blank">Momondo</a> can be also be assured that a degree of screening has taken place. “We require from our airfare suppliers that the price is bookable, and includes all mandatory fees,” said Lasse Skole Hansen, a public relations manager from Momondo. “If there is ever an issue with our suppliers' fares, we'll always investigate to solve the problem.”</p><h2>There are perks to booking with the airline.</h2><p>Booking directly with airlines may not always be the cheapest option, but doing so can confer many benefits. And airlines are increasingly conscientious about making it more appealing to cut out the middleman.</p><p>“There are many advantages, from both a cost and customer experience perspective,” Morgan Johnston, JetBlue’s manager of corporate communications, told T+L. JetBlue has recently made a push to get customers to book directly with them, instead of on any other websites.</p><p>Johnston says travelers who make reservations directly with <a href="" target="_blank">JetBlue</a> have access to exclusive fares and promotions that may not appear on OTAs — meaning it’s at least wise to check the airline’s website before booking elsewhere. And should travelers find a better deal with a third party, JetBlue offers a best-fare guarantee. “If customers find a lower [fare] elsewhere on the same day of purchase, the airline will issue a $100 credit for travel on JetBlue,” said Johnston.</p><p>In addition to that, JetBlue loyalty program members earn an additional 3 points per dollar spent when booking on That perk won’t apply to JetBlue flights purchased with a third party.</p><p>It’s not just bonuses that make direct bookings more appealing. There are also certain pitfalls that can be avoided this way.</p><p>“Many OTAs aren’t able to offer the full range of options found by booking directly,” Johnston said. That means fare options like traveling with a pet or purchasing Even More Space seats can only be done when buying tickets on</p><p>And if anything goes wrong with the reservation, JetBlue may not be able to help you. “If a customer requests our assistance in managing their booking,” explained Johnston, “our customer support often has to direct them to make those changes through their booking agency.”</p><h2>Everything else to consider:</h2><p>Despite JetBlue's warnings, that doesn’t mean travelers who book with a third party have no recourse when things go wrong. But that’s where quality reviews become crucial. GetawayASAP has five-star reviews from Skyscanner, but their customer support department is only open Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. PST. If your flight is on a Saturday, or outside of those operating hours, and you run into an issue, you might be out of luck.</p><p>But many third-party retailers have privately negotiated rates — and if a bargain is what your after, that fare could be the bottom line.</p><p>If you want to avoid booking with an airline, Taulealea says to plan far ahead. “What I've found is that the price of [third-party tickets] is never any cheaper than the airlines’ if you <a href="" target="_blank">book well in advance</a>.”</p><p>Taulealea also noted that third-party sites are typically inflexible when it comes to making changes to your itinerary (or will charge hefty fees to do so).</p><p>“I've had to change flights booked through a third-party site a few times. In one instance, I tried contacting [them] to change the flights, but they were completely which point I tried contacting the airline to see if they could just shift the flight. But because it wasn't a delayed or cancelled flight, I was out of luck due to having booked [the flights] on another website.”</p><p>Ultimately, travelers should never underestimate the benefits of booking directly with an airline. But if you find an unbeatable third-party deal, check to see if the website has a high quality rating and offers 24-hour customer service. </p>
Categories: Travel

5 Popular Destinations That 'Live Up to the Hype,' According to Travelers

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 08:44
<p>Choosing a new place to go on vacation can be tough.</p><p>With all the potential destinations you can visit in the world, you have to wonder which ones are really worth the trip. After all, traveling means a lot of money and time spent, and you definitely want it to be worth it — and you definitely don’t want to go somewhere that’s full of <a href="" target="_blank">tourist traps</a>.</p><p>While there are plenty of places that seem tried and true, like <a href="" target="_blank">Paris</a> or <a href="" target="_blank">Rome</a> or New York City, there have been a few other destinations as of late that have been getting a lot of hype.</p><p>An <a href="" target="_blank">Ask Reddit thread</a> recently asked users which places they’ve been to that were really worth all the buzz that’s been going around — and people did not disappoint when it came to the stories and vacation photos they shared.</p><p>Here are five of the top choices amongst Redditors on places to go that really lived up to the hype.</p><img alt="Norway, Lofoten Islands, Nordland, Reine "src=""><h2>1. <a href="" target="_blank">Norway</a></h2><p>Redditors weren’t too specific on where to go in Norway, but a few users mentioned that sightseeing among the fjords is really a one-of-a-kind experience, and some of the best views are at Sogn og Fjordane and Bergen. One Norwegian local, Reddit user <a href="" target="_blank">torsmork</a>, recommended that people come with a high food budget, since prices in Norway can be expensive. Water, however, is always free. </p><img alt=" "src=""><h2>2. <a href="" target="_blank">Banff National Park</a>, Alberta, Canada</h2><p>There are plenty of <a href="" target="_blank">great places to go in Canada</a>, but one of the best experiences is Banff National Park. On the Canadian side of the Rocky Mountains, the park has over 2,500 miles of mountains, trails and lakes, including Lake Louise, which is a popular destination for campers and hikers.</p><img alt="View of Edinburgh Old Town is Scotland, United Kingdom "src=""><h2>3. Edinburgh, Scotland</h2><p>Many Redditors in the thread noted that Arthur’s Seat, the main peak in a group of hills near Edinburgh, is a must-do while you’re in Scotland. It’s not exactly an easy hike, but one that reaps plenty of beautiful rewards once you get to the top. Plus, <a href="" target="_blank">Edinburgh has plenty to do</a>, including a rich nightlife, museums, galleries, and castles near the city.</p><img alt="Northern lights at Mount Kirkjufell, Iceland "src=""><h2>4. <a href="" target="_blank">Iceland</a></h2><p>Iceland has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the last few years, and it’s no surprise why. Redditors who’ve been there agree that’s it’s worth the trip for the fantastic views of the <a href="" target="_blank">Northern Lights</a>, hot springs, and geothermal pools, and lots of wintery outdoor activities.</p><img alt="Oakura bay and holiday homes, Northland, New Zealand "src=""><h2>5. New Zealand</h2><p>Gorgeous landscapes seem to be the biggest draw, especially on Reddit, and <a href="" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> has plenty of them. People who love hiking, camping, bird watching, mountain biking, or generally feeling like they’re on a Tolkien quest will love taking a trip there.</p><p>More of the best places to visit according to travelers can be found on <a href="" target="_blank">Reddit</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

How to Avoid Travel Nightmares While Mercury Is in Retrograde

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 08:09
<p>‘Tis the season to freak out about Mercury going back into retrograde. If you’ve been living under a rock — or usually tune out your <a href="" target="_blank">astrologically inclined friends</a> — Mercury retrograde is when the planet looks like it’s moving backward across the sky. Mercury ordinarily moves west to east, but while in retrograde, it appears to move east to west.</p><p>Mercury retrograde has been documented since the mid-18th century, so panicking about its effects is by no means a new thing. Mercury is said to affect your communication, self-expression, and your mind. But on a more practical level, especially with all the <a href="" target="_blank">holiday travel</a> coming up, it is also said to affect air travel, transportation, phones, and computers. So the fact that Mercury is going back into retrograde starting December 3 isn’t great news. It’ll be in retrograde until December 23, and some argue that you shouldn’t travel at all during Mercury retrograde.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>But we disagree. December 3-23 are prime travel days, and all you need to successfully travel during Mercury retrograde is good preparation. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to handle any travel nightmare that the planets throw your way.</p><h3>Check into your flight 24 hours in advance.</h3><p>More than organization or saving you time at the airport, this will ensure that you commit your flight details to memory well before heading to the airport. In other words, <a href="" target="_blank">checking in ahead of time</a> could save you from missing your flight.</p><h3>Download some Netflix to watch offline.</h3><p>You never know when you’re going to sit on the tarmac at the airport or have to drown out the crying baby behind you on the train. Having some "Orange Is the New Black" locked and loaded couldn’t hurt. </p><h3>Leave a lot earlier than you need to.</h3><p>This is Mercury retrograde. There could be an accident that causes an unexpected traffic jam, or you could accidentally go to the wrong airport. Take it from someone who recently ended up at a nondescript airplane hangar called “LA Airport” instead of LAX — you’re going to want the extra time.</p><h3>Write down the travel documents you need and tape the list to your front door.</h3><p>There is nothing worse than getting to the airport/bus station/questionable Amtrak port and realizing that <a href="" target="_blank">you don’t have your ID</a>. Put a Post-it on whatever surface you’ll see before walking out the door with a checklist. Sometimes an analog reminder goes a lot farther than a phone reminder you can easily ignore.</p><h3>Tag the bejeezus out of your luggage.</h3><p>When you’re toting people’s presents and the one sweater you’ve been waiting to debut, you really don’t want to have your luggage end up in some far-flung destination. Put a tag with your information on the outside of your bag. Then put one on the inside of your bag. Maybe even add a secondary contact number for good measure.</p><h3>Download your boarding pass into your Apple Wallet so you can <a href="" target="_blank">stay up to date on flight delays</a>.</h3><p>Your boarding time on the Apple Wallet pass will update automatically. And don’t forget to check your flight right before you call your taxi or ride-share to the airport.</p><h3>Stay calm, and focus on your energy in addition to external factors.</h3><p>It’s easy to blame Mercury retrograde for a flight delay — especially <a href="" target="_blank">when you’ve been sitting in an airport for six hours</a>. Remember that Mercury retrograde can affect your energy and mood, too, and unlike your delayed flight, how you respond to a travel crisis is within your control. With a good pair of headphones, you can <a href="" target="_blank">find some peace even amidst airport chaos</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

How to Get Free Dunkin' Donuts Coffee for the Holidays

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 08:02
<p>Looking to get your coffee fix before battling some holiday shopping?</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Dunkin’ Donuts locations across the U.S</a> will be offering free hot medium coffees on select dates in December.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>The offer runs December 1 to 20, with close to 40 select locations across the country participating for one day each. The first 500 guests at the locations will get free coffee. The dates/areas with <a href="" target="_blank">participating locations</a> include:</p>December 4: Rochester, New York December 5: St. Louis, Missouri December 6: Indianapolis, Indiana December 7: Providence, Rhode IslandDecember 8: Atlanta, Georgia/Cincinnati, Ohio/Hartford, Connecticut December 11: Kansas City, Missouri December 12: Phoenix, Arizona/Binghamton, New York/Springfield, Massachusetts December 13: Baltimore, Maryland December 14: Buffalo, New York/ Boston, Massachusetts/Nashua, New Hampshire/Hummels Wharf, Pennsylvania December 15: Somerset, Massachusetts/Detroit, Michigan/Burlington, Vermont December 18: New Orleans, Louisiana December 19: Pensacola, Florida/Mobile, Alabama/Hoboken, New Jersey December 20: Biloxi, Mississippi/Dothan, Alabama/Pennsauken, New Jersey <p><a href="" target="_blank">See the full free Dunkin' Donuts schedule.</a> </p><p>Additional info on participating locations will be updated on the coffee chain's website and social media channels.</p><p>Dunkin’ Donuts is donating $1,000 in each of the communities to organizations whose missions align with the <a href="" target="_blank">Joy in Childhood Foundation</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Universal Is Filling Giant Cotton Candy Clouds With More Candy and We Need One Immediately

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 07:53
<p>You’ve tasted Honeyduke's Chocolate Frogs, sipped Butterbeer both frozen and not, and devoured authentic Cauldron Cakes, but the wildest new treat at <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Orlando Resort</a> isn’t even inside Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade.</p><p>Universal’s Islands of Adventure has turned Honk Honkers, a gift shop within its whimsical Seuss Landing area, into a cotton candy factory spinning oversized clouds of confections perfect for the Instagram set.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Orlando's New Hotels Will Have Rooms for Less Than $100 a Night</a></p><p>The towering treats come in an array of flavors including blue raspberry, pink vanilla, and birthday cake, and can be piled high on a paper cone — or for an extra burst of color, atop a rainbow “Unicorn Pop” lollipop. Toppings can be folded inside as well, ranging from rainbow sprinkles and chopped M&amp;Ms to chocolate animal crackers, marshmallow bits, and rock candy crystals. The bulbous sweets cost $5.95 — $6.95 for Unicorn Pops — with each mix-in offered for $0.95.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">60 Foods Everyone Should Try at Least Once When Visiting Disney World</a></p><p>The shop opened its cotton candy counter last month but has already seen it gain popularity. Surrounded by purple and yellow trees, cartoon-style buildings, and quirky Dr. Seuss characters like Cat and the Hat, this colorful treat fits in perfectly while being just crazy enough to trend towards becoming one of Universal’s most iconic foods.</p>
Categories: Travel

Passengers 'Lucky to Be Alive' After Plane Engine Explodes During Takeoff

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 07:24
<p>Passengers on a flight from <a href="" target="_blank">Cuba</a> to the U.K. had a close call when their plane’s engine exploded just before takeoff.</p><p>At Frank País Airport in Holguín on November 27, passengers boarded the Thomas Cook flight to Manchester as normal, but things took a turn for the worse just as the plane was about to lift off the runway.</p><p>One passenger, 64-year-old Joseph Farnhill, told <em><a href="" target="_blank">Metro</a></em> he was “lucky to be alive.”</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Air France Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Explodes Over the Atlantic</a></p><p>“If it had happened any later there would have been an explosion, we would have all been killed,” Farnhill said.</p><p>According to passenger descriptions of the ordeal, the plane jerked around as it gained speed down the runway, lifting slightly off the ground. People could hear loud bangs when the engine exploded and the passengers tried to stay away from smoke.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>“You saw the engine exploding, then the plane went down suddenly, and the engine was on fire, with sparks flying down towards the back of the plane,” passenger Brian Kennedy told <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Sun</a></em>.</p><p>Passengers noticed that the pilot, who reacted quickly to stop the plane, was (understandably) upset by incident. One passenger told <em><a href="" target="_blank">The Independent</a></em> that he was “verbally shaken to the point where his voice cracked and he sounded like he was going to burst into tears.” The rest of the flight crew, according to witnesses, were also naturally distressed.</p><p>Some passengers also claimed that the gate agents were not quick enough to get people off the plane, to the point where some became ill or even fainted due to lack of air, however Thomas Cook disputes this claim.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Passenger Video Shows Engineer Repairing Airplane Engine With What Looks Like Duct Tape</a></p><p>A spokesperson for the airline said in a statement: “Due to a technical engine issue, the captain aborted takeoff on the runway and returned the aircraft to the stand where customers and crew disembarked. Our customers’ safety is always our first priority, and we are very sorry for the delay and inconvenience caused...we arranged transport and hotel accommodation for all customers and a replacement aircraft returned all passengers from Holguin to Manchester on Wednesday.”</p><p>Passengers are being given €600 (just over $711) as compensation.</p>
Categories: Travel

You Could Win a Year of Unlimited Free Flights on JetBlue

Travel and Leisure - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 06:22
<p>Want to travel the world without the price tag associated with all those flights?</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">JetBlue</a> is offering just that through its <a href="" target="_blank">All You Can Jet Pass</a> competition, giving three lucky passengers the chance to take unlimited trips to anywhere the airline flies to for an entire year.</p><p>The All You Can Jet pass, which will apply for you and a friend, covers flights to and from JetBlue’s more than 100 locations around the globe, including Aruba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.</p><p>The All You Can Jet Pass isn't exactly new for <a href="" target="_blank">JetBlue</a>. The airline first offered the passes for a $599 fee in 2009, before auctioning off the last of its remaining passes in 2010. JetBlue launched a competition to win them back 2014.</p><p>Now, the airline is returning with another competition to snag the passes, with two ways to apply.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Here’s How Much Space You Get Under the Seat in Front of You on Every Airline</a> </p><img alt=" "src=""><p>First, every non-refundable flight booked directly through the airline through Dec. 15 will grant one entry into the competition (with no limits on how many flights you can book). Round-trip flights will count as two entries each. </p><p>For those who don’t want to book a flight, JetBlue is offering a free entry to those who mail in their complete name, address, daytime and evening phone numbers, and a valid e-mail address, with a limit of one entry per day. Would-be-travelers also need to be a legal resident of the United States, and 18 or older to apply. </p><p>There are no blackout dates for the All You Can Jet Pass, and winners will be allowed to switch the companion they travel with as many times as they would like during the pass period, which runs from February 1, 2018 through January 31, 2019.</p><p>While there is no limit on the number of flights that can be taken, pass winners can’t book two flights out of the same city in one day, and the pass does not apply to Mint and Even More Space seats, or JetBlue’s vacation packages.</p><p>JetBlue will announce the winners on December 27. </p>
Categories: Travel

This Swedish Town Has an Unusual Christmas Tradition Involving a Straw Goat

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:58
<p>This is your annual yule log turned <a href="" target="_blank">up to 11</a>.</p><p>Every year, the town of Gavle, Sweden, builds a 43-foot-tall straw goat as part of their annual Christmas tradition. But the giant goat, sadly, doesn’t last very long before it’s burned to the ground.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Get a Look at Disney World's Christmas Decorations for 2017</a></p><p>This obviously isn’t like your typical tree lighting or relaxing yule log.</p><p>The straw goat, or as it’s locally called, the Gavlebocken is marking its 51th anniversary this year. Burning it down wasn’t really part of the original tradition, but people kept trying to destroy it anyway.</p><p>According to <a href="" target="_blank">NPR</a>, the Gavlebocken has been (successfully?) burned down 35 times in the last 50 years. One time, in 2001, it was by an American tourist who was fined $10,000 and spent two weeks in jail because he thought that’s what was supposed to happen.</p><p>Last year, the goat burned down on November 27, <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>The Local</em></a>.</p><p>The goat is finished and inaugurated on the first day of the Advent, which is Sunday, December 3 this year. The inauguration is celebrated with an amazing fireworks show — which may be a little surprising since the town is concerned with the goat catching fire. Luckily, fireworks are not set off too close to the goat.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">In Hawaii, Santa Claus Arrives by Canoe</a></p><p>In general, the Gavlebocken doesn’t make it until December 25. Last year, townspeople debated remaking the goat so it lasts until Christmas day, but ultimately did not, according to NPR.</p><p>Town officials have set up cameras to help catch any potential goat arsonists. Hopefully the goat will be safe this holiday season. You can keep tabs on the Gavlebocken on <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

You Won't Believe How Magical Harry Potter World Is at Christmastime

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:52
<p>Good tidings, Harry Potter fans, because Universal theme parks have brought <a href="" target="_blank">Yule Ball magic</a>, Christmas decorations and festive entertainment to Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley for the first time ever.</p><p>The stirring seasonal musical performances and wreaths and garlands lining The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — which is split between both of Universal Orlando Resort’s theme parks — are merry, but it isn’t until the sun sets that the real excitement begins.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">The Best Time to See the Supermoon on December 3</a></p><p>The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle, the new projection-mapping show which debuted last week at Universal Studios Hollywood and <a href="" target="_blank">Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando</a>, transforms the famed school for witchcraft and wizardry into a massive movie screen hosting a charming ‘tis-the-season montague of Harry Potter-inspired holiday scenes.</p><p>Lanterns dance among the halls, Hogwarts’ ghosts flit about singing carols and mischievous students build enchanted snowmen throughout the eight-minute show, which has a surprise appearance by the Flying Ford Angila. A christmas tree spins atop castle walls during the colorful and cinematic display and an impromptu advertisement for Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes covers the hallowed grounds as a helpful gifting reminder for any forgetful students.</p><img alt="Diagon Alley at Harry Potter World "src=""><p>At one point, Hogwarts Castle even appears to be consumed by ice before transforming into a version of the famed Yule Ball ice sculpture, complete with reanimated versions of characters twirling about as the the stirring “Potter Waltz” plays from the fourth film’s iconic scene.</p><p>Still, the show isn’t eye-catching for the projections alone. As virtual snow falls and Hogwarts Castle is wrapped in wintertime design, the surrounding forestry also comes to life. Acorn lights strung atop every nearby tree flash in unison with a newly-recorded soundtrack of film favorites, making it hard to believe that the show is due to technology and not one of Hermione's perfect spells — especially at the end, when the castle is illuminated as the sky fills with fireworks.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Everything You Need to Know for a Fantastic Trip to Universal Studios Hollywood</a></p><p>It’s Universal’s first attempt at embracing the wintertime holiday within its Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but for a park that’s already built a reputation for excelling at seasonal Halloween entertainment, there’s no surprise that it’s one of the very best Christmas shows on either coast.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>Both Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Hollywood, which have the Hogsmeade and Hogwarts Castle half of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will feature the rousing evening castle show multiple times each night until Jan. 7, 2018.</p><p>While the skies are illuminated at sundown, the Christmas decor at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal’s Islands of Adventure — and in particular, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida — is preferable in the day, when shop-specific ornamentation can be clearly seen. Literary locales like Spindlewarps Wool Shop have yarn ball garlands and Sugarplum’s Sweet Shop boasts glimmering round ornaments, while Hogsmeade Village's Honeydukes hosts candy gumdrop wreaths and Dogweed and Deathcap displays berry-studded garlands.</p><img alt="Celestina Warbeck and The Banshees "src=""><p>There are plenty of new songs added the wizarding universe with the celebration, including Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees singing a soulful rendition of “My Baby Gave Me A Hippogriff For Christmas” and “Accio Christmas” in Diagon Alley, while the Hogwarts students Frog Choir in Hogsmeade Village perform “I Cast A Spell On Father Christmas” and “The Most Magical <a href="" target="_blank">Yule Ball</a> of All” with their amphibian baritones in tow.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Orlando's New Hotels Will Have Rooms for Less Than $100 a Night</a></p><p>With Universal celebrating the holidays park-wide with Grinchmas and a new holiday parade featuring Macy’s famed oversized character balloons as well, guests can expect loads of Christmas cheer both within and beyond J.K. Rowling’s fantastical world.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Is the Best Time to See Tonight’s Supermoon

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 15:31
<p>Look up to the skies this weekend to see the fourth and final <a href="" target="_blank">Supermoon</a> of the year.</p><p>This month’s full moon, <a href="" target="_blank">also known as the Cold Moon</a>, will appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual on Sunday evening.</p><p>The Supermoon happens a handful of times per year when the moon reaches its perigee — the point in its orbit where it’s closest to Earth.</p><img alt=" "src=""><p>For those keeping time, the moon will reach its peak fullness at 10:47 a.m. ET on the morning of Sunday, December 3. It will reach its perigee the following morning at 3:45 a.m. ET. The moon will likely be at its most spectacular when it rises from the horizon Sunday night at dusk.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Stargazers</a> don’t need to make any travel plans to catch the celestial phenomenon; it will be visible to anyone with a view of the moon.</p><p>Those who live near water are <a href="" target="_blank">likely to notice a higher tide</a> on Sunday because of the Supermoon’s pull.</p><p>But those who miss Sunday night’s Supermoon won’t have to wait long to see another. 2018 will start off with two successive Supermoons on January 2 and January 31.</p><p>And stay tuned to the stars for <a href="" target="_blank">this month’s Geminid Meteor Shower on December 13 and 14</a>, when stargazers have the potential to see up to 120 meteors per hour.</p>
Categories: Travel

How to Use This Secret Tool to Find Amazing Flight Deals

Travel and Leisure - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 11:30
<p>Even if you've never heard of Matrix by ITA software, you've certainly seen its magic at work. It powers both Google Flights as well as KAYAK, and is the tool travel agents have used for decades to help clients find the best possible fares.</p><p>Rather than sifting through a dizzying array of flight search engine results, travelers can be confident they've <a href="" target="_blank">found the best deal</a> by mastering this program.</p><h2>What Is the ITA Matrix? </h2><p>Arguably the most efficient flight search engine on the Internet and one of the least known, the <a href="" target="_blank">Matrix by ITA</a> was developed by MIT computer scientists in 1996. While you can’t book a ticket through ITA Matrix, you can find your perfect flight there, and then use that information to make your purchase online with an airline or third-party retailer.</p><p>The real benefit of searching on the Matrix, as opposed to Google Flights, is the ability to conduct more complicated searches: <a href="" target="_blank">open-jaw flights</a> and multi-city itineraries are a breeze with this tool. It’s worth noting, however, that ITA Matrix has a longer load time than Google Flights, making a standard search engine preferable for someone in a rush. Remember that while most airlines are included in the results, not all are. Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air are absent from search results, so to compare those fares, consult the airline's website.</p><img alt=" "src=""><h2>How to Search the ITA Matrix</h2><p>Begin your fare search by selecting the “Round trip,” “One-way,” or “Multi-city” tab. Then, enter the airport code or city name you are “Departing from.” For cities with multiple airports, you can select an “All airports” option.</p><p>Enter the airport code or city name of your “Destination.” For cities with multiple airports, you can select an “All airports” option.</p><p>Travelers can also select “Advanced routing codes.” This will create four fields in which you can enter additional search parameters (outbound routing and extension codes, and return routing and extension codes). Click on the question mark symbol next to each box to look at a list of advanced routing codes and their meanings. To enter multiple codes, place a comma between each.</p><p>Next, select either “Search exact dates” or “See calendar of lowest fares”</p><p>The “Search exact dates” option requires you to input both an outbound and return date, if you're searching round-trip itineraries. You can search according to when your flight departs or arrives, plus or minus up to two days.</p><p>The “See calendar of lowest fares” option requires a departure date, as well as — if searching for round-trip itineraries — the number of nights in your length of stay. You can list an exact amount or a range (5 or 7-9, for example). The search results will show the lowest prices for the chosen departure date as well as every day for the following month.</p><p>Then, select the number of passengers next to “Adults.” If there are seniors, “youths,” children, or infants also in the party, click on the “Children, seniors” link to expand the available options.</p><p>Select “Cabin” preference (the default is “Cheapest available”) and the preferred number of “Stops.” The default is “No limit.”</p><p>Enter the number of “Extra stops” you are willing to make beyond the minimum number possible. The default is “Up to 1 extra stop.” This generates a range of options depending on the available results. Setting “Stops” to nonstop and “Extra stops” to “Up to 1 extra stop” will yield nonstop and one-stop flights if <a href="" target="_blank">nonstop flights</a> are available, and one- and two-stop flights if no nonstop flights are available.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Decoding the Secret Language of Flight Deals</a></p><p>Travelers also have the option of exploring the “Other” category, which allows you to uncheck two search parameters checked by default. “Allow airport changes” gives ITA Matrix permission to search for flights that depart and arrive in different airports, for instance departing from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport and returning to Newark Liberty International Airport, in nearby New Jersey. “Only show flights and prices with available seats” is self-explanatory.</p><p>The Matrix by ITA software also allows travelers to change the desired “Currency.” The default is set as the currency of your selected departure city. Another option is to enter desired “Sales city.” The default is set as your selected departure city. Sometimes, however, the price of flights can change depending on where the airline believes you are purchasing a ticket from. If you are flying internationally, it’s worth poking around with this field.</p><h2>Understanding ITA Matrix Results</h2><h3>Time Bars</h3><p>Click on the “Time Bars” link in the upper right-hand corner to look at an easy-to-parse infographic that illustrates both flight duration as well as layover duration in a clear, colorful manner.</p><h3>Price Per Mile</h3><p>Click on the drop-down “Price” menu above the search results on the left and click on the “Show price per mile” option to get a sense of whether you should pay for a flight out of pocket or redeem frequent flyer or credit card rewards.</p><h3>Advisory Filters</h3><p>Click on the drop-down “Advisory” menu above the search results on the right to narrow or expand your search by excluding or including flights with “advisories." Advisories include itineraries that don’t use the same airports, that require a terminal change, that have long layovers, that fly overnight, and that offer risky or tight connections.</p><h2>How to Purchase Your Flights</h2><p>Though you can’t buy a flight through ITA Matrix, you can use a custom search tool, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>, to quickly find booking options. Just paste the ITA itinerary from your result pages into its search tool, and it can locate various places online where that exact ticket is for sale. Another reliable option is to go directly to the desired airline’s website and search there.</p><p>Travelers can also refer to <a href="" target="_blank">The Flight Deal's explainer</a> on using Matrix by ITA software, which breaks down the most common use case and features helpful screenshots. For more advanced searches, there's a <a href="" target="_blank">useful guide by Travel Codex</a>. </p>
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