Now that the Transportation Security Administration will offer its expedited airport security screening program, which is the best way to get it — through frequent flier programs, Global Entry or the TSA itself? Should you get it at all?
On Wednesday, the TSA began offering its screening program, called PreCheck, for $85 to travelers. If you are accepted into the program, for the ensuing five years you don’t have to remove your shoes, belt or jacket -- and you can leave your liquids and your laptop in your hand luggage.
Previously, the PreCheck program was available to frequent fliers who had achieved elite status on their airline of choice or as an added perk to Global Entry, a Customs and Border Protection program that gives fliers returning to the U.S. expedited entrance into the country after travel abroad. Global Entry costs $100 for five years.
More recently, the TSA has been choosing travelers at random for the expedited screening, to the dismay of some who bought...
When we last left this story, I was being held up at the Vietnamese border, where the border authorities wanted to impound my bright yellow motorcycle. They suggested that I leave without it (I couldn’t do that) and go on to Ho Chi Minh City.
I did manage to finally talk my way out of this problem. It didn’t involve any payoffs because I’m traveling with no money. My around-the-world journey, which began Aug. 10 in Los Angeles, has been financed by total strangers who are committing acts of kindness.
They have fed me, sheltered me and provided me (or, more accurately, my bright-yellow motorcycle, dubbed Kindness One) with gasoline as I’ve journeyed across the U.S., then across the Atlantic, through Europe and then to Asia.
During my last months of travel: I’ve slept in the “home” (a parking garage) with a homeless man in Pittsburgh. I’ve crossed the Atlantic on a container vessel. I’ve been welcomed in an Indian village by hundreds...
Women who like rugged vacations and the healing side of yoga will appreciate this five-day rafting trip on Utah's Green River that goes beyond a standard yoga retreat. Utah-based Holiday River Expeditions designed the women-only journey down Desolation Canyon for those of all abilities and ages seeking "personalized wellness and lifestyle counseling."
Deanna English, a registered nurse and yoga therapist, leads the trip, which teaches participants the therapeutic side of yoga, breathing, good nutrition and more. Days are spent hiking up red-rock side canyons to see petroglyphs, doing yoga stretches on sandy pull-offs along the river and hitting the rapids through Desolation and Gray canyons.
Participants also will have time to meditate or do a little kayaking on their own. The trip begins and ends in the city of Green River southeast of Salt Lake City. Campers bring their clothing, sleeping bag and tent; outfitters provide the rest.
Can fans ever get enough of "Downton Abbey"? In the first show of its kind in the United States, 40 wardrobe items from the PBS "Masterpiece" series will go on display this spring at what could be a "Downton" twin: Winterthur, the expansive 175-room Delaware estate created by Henry Francis du Pont.
"Costumes of Downton Abbey" opens March 1 at the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library near Wilmington, Del. It will contrast the "Downton" duds -- items such as Lady Sybil's harem pants, Lady Mary's engagement dress and the ill-fated wedding dress of Lady Edith -- with clothes and decorative items such as an 1874 Tiffany silver tea set at the du Pont house.
The exhibit plus lectures and other events will provide a window on 20th century country life in the fictional artistocratic British family and the real-life stateside du Pont family. The museum features furniture, ceramics and glass items, paintings, prints and more items that were collected by du Pont, great-grandson of the chemical...
By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
Weekdays and winter are an ideal match for low rates at lodgings inside Zion and Sequoia & Kings Canyon national parks. Fewer visitors and snow are bonuses for those ready to bundle up to explore the off-season side of these parklands in Utah and California.
Deal 1:Zion National Park was created in 1919 and was the first national park in Utah. Zion Lodge offers a package that comes with breakfast for two and costs $139 a night for a room, $149 for a cabin and $179 for a suite. (Prices exclude tax.) Use the code "WNTR" when making a reservation.
When: The offer is good Sundays-Thursdays from now through March 20, based on availability. Weekends cost $15 more a night.
Tested: I found availability for $139 rooms on Jan. 12-14. Rates usually run $185 a night for rooms, $192 for cabins and $226 for suites. Note the package isn't available around Christmastime or New Year's Eve.
By Catharine M. Hamm, Los Angeles Times Travel editor
If you’re strictly a domestic traveler and want to speed through airport security, the Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday will begin offering you a chance to join its PreCheck program.
A center that will administer the TSA program is to open in Los Angeles by the end of the year, although it is not yet known where that will be.
Previously, PreCheck was available to elite frequent fliers by invitation of the airline with which they had elite status or through Global Entry, a government program that allows expedited entry back into the country as well as faster airport screening.
Global Entry, administered by Customs and Border Protection, costs $100 (nonrefundable even if you’re denied access to the program) and is good for five years. The TSA’s PreCheck program piggybacked onto Global Entry program.
But beginning Wednesday, travelers who don’t want or need that reentry perk can apply to TSA for the chance to go through security without removing...
By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
In December, Southern California public gardens aren't so much about what's growing as what's glowing. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, the Living Desert in Palm Desert and the San Diego Botanic Garden open for nighttime lights or luminaria displays. And Scrooge drops in for weekends at Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge. Here's a list of holiday happenings at these gardens:
Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont: Follow the more than 1,000 candle-lighted luminarias along a loop trail in the garden at night on weekends leading up to Christmas. Listen to live performances -- Native American flute music, folk music, Appalachian fiddle and more -- while munching on cookies and sipping hot cider. Events run 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, plus Dec. 13 and 14, 20 and 21 and cost $5 per person; children younger than 3 are admitted free. Buy Luminaria Nights tickets online or at the garden. Info: 1500 N. College Ave., Claremont; (909) 625-8767
Seeing Santa at the mall is so passé. In Las Vegas, he can be found this month floating in a giant fish tank, month riding a train, and running through the streets -- by the thousands.
St. Nick will swim with the fishes -- 4,000 of them -- at the Silverton Casino Hotel, where he will don lead boots for his dives in the resort’s 117,000-gallon aquarium. Santa and his elves will be submerged from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. starting this Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 22. Modern technology will allow the jolly old man to chat with kids outside the tank.
Elsewhere in Las Vegas, Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet youngsters aboard the Santa Train operated by the Nevada State Railroad Museum, about a half-hour east of the Strip in Boulder City. The full-size train will operate Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22. Trips depart on the hour from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person. Info: (702) 486-5933.
A sea of Santas can be seen dashing through downtown Las Vegas on Saturday. The Opportunity...
Just in time for prime shopping season, San Diego's longtime police station has been reborn as an upscall mall known as the Headquarters at Seaport District. It opened Nov. 18 near the downtown waterfront.
The complex, a mix of Spanish and Mission Revival styles, was built in 1939 with a jail, five courtrooms, an indoor shooting range, a law library and a big garage. The police moved out in the late 1980s, and the site stood idle for years while the tourists flocked to the tourist-friendly Seaport Village shopping area next door.
Nowadays it’s Seaport Village that seems less compelling while the Headquartersstands tall, freshly groomed and eager to please. Its restaurants include a Pizzeria Mozza, Eddie V’s (steak and seafood); Puesto (Mexican street food); and Bruxie, a sandwich spot that uses Belgian waffles instead of bread. Shops include a fancy cheese place (Venissimo Cheese), a fancy toy place (Geppetto’s) and Kitson, the upscale retailer that made its name...
Everyone loves my big yellow motorcycle with a sidecar, the one I’m using in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Kids love it. Adults love it. Cambodian monkeys also love it. But there is one place where the love falls short.
Since I left Los Angeles on Aug. 10, I have relied on the kindness of others for food, shelter and gasoline and have been fortunate to attract the best kind of attention. But for some reason border guards do not love my bike, which I called Kindness One, and they apparently do not like me either.
As I tried to enter Vietnam from Cambodia, things were not looking good. I had encountered border troubles before. The Thai border guards didn’t seem to know what to make of me and my bright yellow motorcycle. I spent six hours at the border trying to persuade them I wasn’t a vintage motorcycle smuggler. (This is a 1978 Chang Jiang motorcycle, outfitted with a BMW engine.)
I managed to talk my way around this when I learned that the head of the...
A wedding ceremony for less than $100? A beautiful setting -- Hawaii -- and some bargain prices may mean big business in the Aloha State, where same-sex marriages begin Monday.
“We anticipate a huge increase in spending in the state of Hawaii from the LGBT market,” Neal Miller of Atlanta’s Neal Miller Travel Co. told Travel Weekly. “We expect larger celebrations, larger groups of folks coming to Hawaii with couples choosing to bring their families along with them.”
Citing a paper from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization released in July, U.S. News on NBC News reported that same-sex marriage could add nearly $70 million a year to Hawaii's economy. Tourism is the No. 2 industry in the state and suffered reverses in the 2008 economic downturn.
Kevin Rebello, an owner of Gay Hawaii Wedding, said his company had arranged five same-sex weddings for Monday.
“We are swamped," he said. "We’re up to about 30 bookings since the bill...
The annual snow-sports expo known as Ski Dazzle, opening Thursday, marks its 50th year with free lift tickets, hundreds of info booths and a thrill ride down a Sochi downhill course.
Expo attendees this year can step onto an Olympic team training machine that creates a detailed virtual Sochi race course. The SkyTech Sport machine is not just a video game, organizers say, but rather a high-tech training tool used by amateur and professional athletes.
The $20 expo admission also includes ski lessons on a 60-foot ramp; a new snowboard learning center for children 2 to 8 and a 50-foot-long ice rink.
In addition, the Bear Mountain vert ramp returns to the show, featuring world-class skaters and BMX riders. Twelve-year-old sensation Tom Schaar will be among them.
And maybe best of all, six resorts are offering a free lift ticket with the purchase of an admission ticket to the expo. Participating resorts include: Bear Mountain, Mt. Baldy, Mountain High, Snow Summit, Snow Valley and Brianhead....
Sometimes, words aren’t enough to describe the emotions the seize you. That’s what happened to me in Cambodia.
I left Los Angeles on Aug. 10 in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe on my trusty yellow motorcycle with the help of generous people who are housing me, feeding me and giving me money for gasoline for the bike, which I call Kindness One.
After visiting the enchanting temples at Angkor Wat, I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, energized by that visit. Although I certainly knew about Cambodia’s tragic past, I was unprepared for coming face to face with it.
Cambodia's infamous killing fields are exactly that: open spaces where the murderous Khmer Rouge took innocent people to be slaughtered. The Geneocide Studies Program at Yale Universityestimates there are more than 300 such mass gravesites in Cambodia. As I got closer to this place of death, my heart started racing. When I arrived I encountered a pagoda filled with human skulls, countless...
A U.S. State Department travel warning on Venezuela, issued Nov. 22, says "violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior." In a country of about 28.5 million, 21,629 people were slain, one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Kidnappings, the State Department notes, "are also a serious concern…. In 2013, 583 kidnappings were reported," adding that 80% of kidnappings aren't reported. The department warning adds that "all U.S. direct-hire personnel and their family members who are assigned to U.S. Embassy Caracas are required to take an armored vehicle when traveling to/from Maiquetía Airport."
Cyprus remains divided after talks last week failed to resolve issues that block the reunification of the ethnically divided country. Cyprus was split into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece.
Here's the thing about circumnavigating the globe on a journey that's funded and fueled by kindness: You don't always find comfort but you almost always encounter adventure -- and I have, almost every day of a trip that began Aug. 10 from L.A.
I've made my way from L.A. to Thailand -- across the U.S., then the Atlantic, then Europe, then Asia -- riding my 1978 bright-yellow Chang Jiang motorcycle with the BMW engine. I call my mechanized pal Kindness One. On this journey, I've encountered incredible kindness on the one end and a sort of indifference on the other end. This was to be a bit of the latter.
On my arrival in Thailand, I headed to the beach city of Pattaya on the Gulf of Thailand, about 80 miles southeast of Bangkok. Usually, by telling my story -- that I'm traveling the world with no money, hoping to show that people are willing to help -- I find the food, shelter and gas money I need to continue on. Not this time.
I wasn’t able to persuade anyone to help me find a...
If you're an art lover or a light-seeker and you're headed to San Francisco in coming weeks, be ready for several additions to your usual itinerary. The city has recently added several public artworks involving light -- some temporary, some permanent. Together they're known as Illuminate SF. This gallery shows four of them.
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo return Dec. 5-14 to Las Vegas, and although much of the attention will be focused on the action inside the Thomas & Mack Center, you can still enjoy the rodeo even if you’re not attending. Here are six ways to get in touch with your inner cowpoke:
-- Catch all the nightly rodeo action on the giant screens inside the Race & Sports Book at the Mirage. At 10 each evening, the venue will host the Rodeo Vegas party, with country performers including the Casey Donahew Band (Dec. 7) and professional bull rider-turned-singer Justin McBride (Dec. 11). Admission is free.
-- Shop till the cows come home at two megastores created for rodeo fans: Cowboy...
It might be a bit brisk during the months of this round-trip airfare special from LAX to Warsaw on Aeroflot, but the price will warm your heart: $733, which includes all taxes and fees.
It is subject to availability, and you must stay a Saturday night for travel between Jan. 24 and April 12.
Warsaw's motto — "It defies the storms" — refers to its tumultuous history (it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, mostly recently during World War II), rather than its weather. According to MyForecast, the average high in January is 33, with an average of 23 days of precipitation; in February, it's a degree warmer with four fewer days of precipitation; by March, it's a blistering 44 for the high, with 18 days of precipitation. Pack accordingly.
By Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times Daily Deal and Travel Blogger
Hotel Tonight is offering same-day hotel rooms for $99 on Black Friday in Southern California, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Atlanta and other parts of the country. The deal could come in handy for shoppers who want to stay in the city or anyone ready to hit the road after Thanksgiving.
The hotel booking mobile app recently announced it would start listing rooms at 9 a.m. instead of noon, a big boost for travelers (like me) who like to roll the dice and find a good last-minute deal.
Here's how the post-holiday sale works: Look for deals marked "HT BFD - Black Friday Deal" starting at 9 a.m. in each local market. The $99 deals will be available only until noon or until they sell out. "If you see one you like, GRAB IT," a Hotel Tonight news release advises. Some sale hotels offer early check-in too.
If you're not familiar with Hotel Tonight, here's a sampling of prices I found Tuesday morning for SoCal hotels: $199 at the Andaz West Hollywood, $119 at the O Hotel in downtown L.A. and the...
Call it an "e-smoking lounge" or a "vaping zone," but whatever you call it, it opened this week in Terminal 4 at London's Heathrow Airport.
Electronic cigarette manufacturer Gamucci hosts the indoor area — off limits to anyone younger than 18 — as well as a store that allows travelers to sample and buy products too.
Electronic cigarettes are "non-tobacco containing, non-combustible cigarettes which work by vaporizing nicotine liquid," according to consumer market research company Euromonitor International. Euromonitor put 2011 sales at $2 billion worldwide, noting the U.S. represents the biggest market, followed by Russia and Germany.
London-based Gamucci is hoping to woo some of the 9.8-million passengers who come through the terminal each year.
"We are frequent travelers and identify with the frustrations of smokers when they are through security," company co-founders Taz and Umer Sheikh said in a statement about the lounge.
Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger Mary Forgione likes to hit the dirt when she's on vacation. An avid hiker and runner, Mary likes speed-touring cities on foot and sightseeing by running marathons.