NEW YORK The Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish organization is planning to host Hanukkah celebrations around the world, including lightings of the world's largest menorahs -- both 32 feet tall -- in Manhattan near Central Park at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, and in Lafayette Park in Washington D.C., on Dec. 21 at 5 p.m.
The organization has 3,300 outposts in 73 countries, including more than 600 places in North America. Many of them hold public Hanukkah events with candle-lighting, treats for the kids and music, searchable by location at http://www.chabad.org/ChanukahEvents.
The recent terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, included an assault on the Chabad House there in which six people were murdered. In past years, the organization had lit a giant menorah at the ceremonial Gateway of India on Mumbai's waterfront. Plans to mark publicly mark the holiday there were uncertain in light of the recent tragedy.
Trends: Less flying, driving; more buses, trains Mon Dec 15, 2:36 pm ET
NEW YORK Here are some of the latest travel trends.
TRAINS, PLANES, AUTOMOBILES AND BUSES: Amtrak and bus ridership surged in 2008, but the number of miles driven by Americans and the number of air passengers declined.
INTERNATIONAL DESTINATONS: According to the Department of Commerce Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, 10 most-visited destinations by U.S. residents flying abroad in 2007 (latest year for which complete statistics were available): Mexico, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Jamaica, People's Republic of China, and Spain.
For the first eight months of 2008 compared to same period in 2007, travel by Americans abroad was down 4.8 percent to Europe; up 4.4 percent to the Caribbean; up 3.7 percent to South America, up 5 percent to Mexico and down 5 percent to Canada.
TOP 10 DESTINATIONS FOR SPRING BREAK: Based on advance Travelocity.com bookings for Feb. 9-April 20, 2009: Orlando; South Florida (West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami); Las Vegas; Fort Meyers, Fla.; Denver; Phoenix; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; Cancun; Los Angeles and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
TOP 10 DESTINATIONS FOR 2009: As chosen by the publisher Lonely Planet's U.S. staff: U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, Iceland, Colombia, and the United Kingdom.
TOP TRAVEL TRENDS FOR 2009: Predictions from ad agency JWT (formerly J. Walter Thompson): Presidential sightseeing (Obama's Chicago, Washington for the inauguration, Lincoln bicentennial); inconspicuous travel, where tourists try to blend in; unconventional lodging, like home swaps or staying in a monastery; pod hotels, which offer tiny and cheap but high-tech, stylish rooms; personalized travel guides, like the customized books offered by OffbeatGuides.com; irresistible deals, like Disney's free admission on your birthday offer; and "glamping," or glamorous camping, where a tour company provides comfy bedding and nice meals so you don't have to rough it while experiencing remote or wild places.
TOP TOUR DESTINATIONS: According to an annual survey of 50 member tour companies by the U.S. Tour Operators Association, Italy ranked as the top international destination for packaged travel. Egypt was second, the first time the country has shown up in that category for the survey, and Latin America, for the first time, was named most popular international region. The most popular U.S. region for packaged travel was the West and the national parks, followed by Alaska and Vegas. China was named as offering the best value, and the Middle East was chosen as the hottest up-and-coming area.
MONEY-SAVING TRAVEL TIPS: Holiday air travelers who have some flexibility can save time and money. Travelzoo, which offers advice on travel deals, has these suggestions:
Flying on Monday, Dec. 22, and even the weekend before can save up to 35 percent on airfare, depending on destination.
Avoid the Tuesday and Wednesday before Christmas because they are the busiest and most expensive days to fly.
Traveling on Dec. 25 or Dec. 26 will mean fewer crowds and less stress.
The best day to get a flight deal after New Year's is Tuesday, Jan. 6.
Travelzoo also says you can save time by checking in for your flight online, where you can also change and confirm your seats, request upgrades and check the status of your flight.