Travel News & Deals
Deals, tips, advice and more
Israel: FAA ban silences some traffic to Tel Aviv, and tourism suffers

With a  second day of flight cancellations snarling plans and silencing some air traffic to Tel Aviv, one tour operator reports that life — but not travel-related business — is proceeding as usual. The Federal Aviation Administration extended its ban on flights from the U.S. to Tel Aviv after a rocket on Tuesday landed about a mile from Ben Gurion airport. A listing of flights on the airport’s home page shows numerous flight cancellations, although some carriers continue to fly there. U.S. airlines generally are waiving change fees for passengers, although they vary on the dates by which travel must begin. Under “important notices” on its web page, United listed the FAA ban on Tel Aviv flights second (after the news of implementation of extra security at some airports, which the Transportation Security Administration announced July 6). United’s exception policy covers travel that was to have taken place July 22-Aug. 15. For “rescheduled travel [that] commences by Aug. 31, 2014, change...

Read more
Forbes Travel Guide to bring star ratings to Mexico and Caribbean

Want to know where to find a real five-star hotel in Mexico? Soon you'll be able to. Forbes Travel Guide announced last week that it would add destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, and expand further into Latin America too. The first list of five-star properties in the regions will be rolled out as early as next year.  "We're taking our integrity and our standards and making it a global standard," says Jerry Inzerillo, the guide's chief executive officer. The guide currently ranks hotels, restaurants and spas in the U.S. and Canada as well as Britain, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau. In case you didn't know, the guide sends trained inspectors out — more than once for four- and five-star hotels — with a big checklist to evaluate service, appearance and lots of other criteria. And they return every year to check up on the property. The guide has been rating places this way since 1958, when it was known as the Mobil Travel Guide. The new ratings could be a boost for Mexico. The...

Read more
California: Vintage Tomales Bay farmhouse opens for vacation stays

If you want to learn a thing or two about California's early organic farming movement, read up on the Straus family. They have had a dairy farm on Tomales Bay north of San Francisco since 1941. Heifers still graze behind the farmhouse along Highway 1.  Ellen and Bill Straus ran the 160-acre farm in rural West Marin, which became the first organic dairy farm in the West. They did more than just farm too. Ellen also was an environmental activist known for her work on founding a land trust in 1980 that would protect the area's dairies and farms from development. Now the Straus Home Ranch farmhouse that's more than 150 years old has been renovated and listed as a vacation rental. The location is a great stepping-off point for hiking (it's right near Point Reyes National Seashore), kayaking on Tomales Bay, tide pooling at nearby beaches, and touring organic farms in the area. The house with upper and lower porches has four bedrooms (sleeps eight), living and dining rooms, and even a piano....

Read more
Israel: Can you avoid financial penalty if you cancel your trip?

On the heels of a new State Department warning on travel to Israel, a rocket that landed near the Tel Aviv airport on Tuesday prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to cancel U.S. flights to the country. Tourists may be able to rebook their airline tickets without a change fee, but whether travel insurance covers the latest attack is still a question. Whether travelers can get refunds for, say, a tour if they wish to cancel a trip depends largely on the travel insurance policy, said Megan Singh, marketing manager at SquareMouth, which compares travel insurance policies. Travelers need to have read their policies and understand what constitutes a covered reason that would allow refunds for cancellations, Singh said. The situation is fluid, she noted, and the resolution is often differs case by case. But generally, she added, those who have a trip planned for the future will be covered if they have what's known as "cancel-for-any-reason" insurance, she said. Concern about what may...

Read more
Arizona: London Bridge isn't falling down! Tabloid retracts story

Score one for Lake Havasu City, the Arizona resort that's the desert home to London Bridge, the one on this side of the pond anyway. The Sun, a British tabloid, issued a retraction Monday concerning a story it published titled "London Bridge IS Falling Down." The story said the bridge was crumbling and may be demolished to make way for a marijuana retail center called Hemped.  The paper's retraction said in part: "We have been assured by Lake Havasu City that there are no plans to knock down the bridge or to build a centre for drug tourism. We regret any misunderstanding and are happy to set the record straight." The action came after the city's convention and visitors bureau filed a formal complaint with the paper's ombudsman and launched a media effort of its own to debunk the story, according to a statement Monday from the agency.  "Had The Sun claimed the bridge housed aliens from another planet, we would not have been as aggressive in seeking a retraction," Doug Traub, president...

Read more
8 steps to safer travels

My first question about Wi-Fi used to be whether it was free. That was before my Facebook and Gmail accounts were compromised. Now I surf with protection. “We leave breadcrumbs wherever we go," said Robert Siciliano, the identity theft expert for Hotspot Shield, a free (with ads) or paid Virtual Private Network, or VPN, app for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows devices that cloaks your actual IP address. "In the hands of the wrong person, data could be used to track us,” said  Siciliano, who has worked in personal security for more than 25 years.   Here are Siciliano’s tips for safer travel from the Web to the shared economy with providers such as Zipcar and Airbnb. Internet: Surf using VPN protection and change your passwords at least every six months. Get a software program that stores, saves and creates passwords. Siciliano has more than 650 passwords but remembers only critical ones.  He recommends MacAfee Livesafe for its password manager, virus and spyware protection.  Rental cars:...

Read more
Hawaii to celebrate its Flag Day

Hawaiians and visitors will come together on July 31 to celebrate Hawaiian Flag Day, the islands’ original holiday. Hawaiian Flag Day was first observed July 31, 1843. King Kamehameha III proclaimed the holiday to honor Great Britain’s decision to recognize the islands as the Kingdom of Hawaii, an independent nation. The British flag, the Union Jack, still appears in the upper left corner of Hawaii’s flag.  The holiday will be celebrated with simultaneous commemorations at five places operated by the National Park Service: Haleakala National Park on Maui. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park on the Big Island. Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park on the Big Island. Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, also on the Big Island. This site is home to King Kamehameha’s temple. The activities get underway at 9 a.m. with demonstrations of the puohe(bamboo trumpet) at the four Big Island parks. At 10 a.m., all five...

Read more
Las Vegas: Three white lion cubs take up residence at the Mirage

Three white lion cubs are the newest residents of Siegfried & Roy’s open-air wildlife habitat on the Strip. The brothers, named Freedom, Madiba (in honor of Nelson Mandela’s tribal name) and Timba-Masai, were born April 14 near Johannesburg, South Africa. The trio, which made its public debut Friday, will be raised at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage. The legendary magicians regularly used big cats in their performances and are well-known for their wildlife conservation efforts, which include saving the white lions. The cubs' snow-white fur coats are the result of a decrease in pigmentation, inherited from the recessive genes of their parents. The cubs will grow up together. They’re cute and cuddly now, but within two to four years they will weigh more than 500 pounds each. The Secret Garden is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for children ages 4-12. Info: Siegfried & Roy’s...

Read more
Costa Rica: $95 or $1 million, Four Seasons experiences are priceless

Sometimes luxury comes at a price. Sometimes not. The Four Seasons Costa Rica at Papagayo Peninsula on the northwest coast in Guanacaste marks its first decade with cool things to do in the dark. As if the stunning ocean setting weren't enough, the resort taps its inner 10-year-old to offer something out of the ordinary. First, you can run around and play nocturnal golf under the stars at a nearby course designed by Arnold Palmer. Lights lead the way along the fairway, from tees to "light encircled" greens. (Lanterns are available too). First you practice at a driving range and then play a few holes (1 and 9, to be specific). Here's a chance to wear night-vision goggles while you take your best shot. Afterward, take a walk to Nacascolo Beach. Maybe you'll see monkeys, iguana or peccaries along the way. The golf evening costs $95 a person and is available now until November. Next spend an evening watching the stars and eating a heavenly meal. The hotel brought together NASA astronaut...

Read more
Knoebels adding looping steel coaster to vintage ride lineup

A small, family-run amusement park at a wooded Pennsylvania campground will fill a glaring gap in its renowned ride lineup with the addition of a towering looping steel coaster in 2015. Known for its unique collection of vintage rides, Knoebels will add the 98-foot-tall Impulse steel coaster by German-based Zierer to a trio of wooden coasters revered by ride enthusiasts. The 55-mph Impulse will begin with a vertical chain-driven lift hill followed by a vertical first drop. The 2,000-foot-long track will feature high-banked turns, two helices and four inversions, including a cobra roll, a vertical loop and an inline twist. Similar to the Wicked launch coaster at Utah's Lagoon amusement park, Impulse will employ individual eight-passenger trains with lap bar-only restraints and slightly elevated seats in the second row. Impulse joins a modest but famed collection of coasters that makes the off-the-beaten-path park a pilgrimage for ride enthusiasts. During its 88-year history, Knoebels...

Read more
Got a baby boomer facing milestone year? Quick, plan a trip to Vegas

Baby boomers like to travel to celebrate special events such as a milestone birthday or anniversary, and more than anywhere else, they want to go to Las Vegas, according to one survey. The recent AARP Travel survey says about three-quarters of Americans 45 and older have taken or in the next two years will take a "celebration vacation," and that what they spend on travel is not inconsequential. The survey released last week said 76 million baby boomers in the U.S. collectively spend more than $120 billion each year on leisure travel. "Our research shows that celebration vacations are replacing parties, special events, jewelry, big-ticket items for the home or new car purchases" among the boomer crowd, Sami Hassanyah, the organization's chief digital officer, said in a statement. Anniversaries topped the list of reasons to take a special vacation, followed by birthdays, retirement and weddings. So where's everyone going? More than 60% said they stay in the U.S. when they take a...

Read more
On the Spot: Stranded in Florence between Lufthansa and Vayama

Question: I recently returned from a trip booked through Kayak/Vayama and had a disturbing experience. Last month, we were to travel home from Florence, Italy, by way of Munich, Germany, where we would embark for Los Angeles. Because of problems at the rental car return, we were too late to board the flight. I was sent to Lufthansa customer service, which could not help me rebook because the flight was booked through a third party. I then called Vayama, which told me that they would put in a request for the rebooking but that because it was Sunday, the New York offices were closed and I would have to wait until they opened on Monday morning. This is a company that deals with international travel and closes on the weekends? My daughter and I were now stranded in Florence until Vayama could call me back Monday after 8 a.m. Eastern time, which would have been 2 p.m. Florence time. This would have eliminated Monday as a travel day. So I ended up buying return tickets ($3,200 for the two of...

Read more
Loading