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jan 08 2014

Surprising Kidnapping Hotspots and How to Stay Safe

Kidnapping hotspots map
(Courtesy Vocativ)

In our commitment to making travel accessible to everyone, Budget Travel does not enjoy sounding the alarm bells. But a strong piece of reporting by Vocativ's Gordon Bottomley points up some popular 2014 travel destinations that have an unusually high rate of kidnapping. Vocativ is a new global social news network that is establishing a great reputation for mining internet data that most other news sources don't. For "The Places You're Most Likely to Get Kidnapped," Vocativ focused on popular travel destinations where the risk of kidnapping is surprisingly high. (You don't need a reporter to tell you, for instance, that Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are unsafe at the moment, right?)

dec 20 2013

Where Does Santa Claus Go For His Post-Christmas Vacation?

(Pavel Chernobrivets/Dreamstime.com)

You're not gonna believe this, but I interviewed Santa Claus.

It happened like this: About a month ago I was thinking about how much I dislike traveling around the holidays. Call me Scrooge (who, btw, I did not interview—because he is a fictional character), but I just don't like crowds. If I have my way, I take my family somewhere nice after the holidays. I started thinking about who might be an expert on post-Christmas travel and it hit me: Who works harder at Christmastime—or deserves more of a break afterward—than St. Nick?

may 31 2013

Ready to Go Shark-Diving?

How much would you pay to swim with a shark?

If, like me, your first reaction is to ask how much you yourself would be paid to do such a thing, you may be in an ever-decreasing minority. Shark-watching tourism is expected to grow in popularity over the next two decades. It currently generates about $300 million each year but is expected to reach nearly $800 million by, say, 2033. A recent study published in Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation, notes that while the shark fishing industry—fueled by an appetite in east Asia for shark-fin soup—currently generates about $630 each year in revenue, it will be eclipsed by shark tourism.

dec 28 2012

Top Stories of 2012

It was an eventful year in the world of travel, and here are the five stories that had us talking.

Fees, fees, and more fees
As of January 2012, it was required for all taxes and fees to be included in published airfares, making it easier to see just how much a flight was going to cost. But that rule doesn't include ancillary fees for things like checked bags and more leg room. And those fees add up. U.S. airlines charged more than $815 million for just baggage fees in the first quarter of 2012 alone. Lots of new fees were introduced: Spirit Airlines made good on their threat to charge $100 for carry-on bags, while Southwest started charging travelers who didn't show up for their flight. Airlines weren't the only ones making money off extra fees. Hotels are set to bring in $1.95 billion from fees and surcharges in 2012, up $100 million over 2011.

nov 21 2012

Resorts Introduce Tech-Free Zones

The CasaManga Marriott Cancun Resort is one of nine hotels introducing tech-free zones next month.

(Courtesy Marriott)

Relaxing on vacation just got a little easier. Tech-free zones are being introduced at Marriott and Renaissance resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico next month. Yes, there will still be wifi available if you just can't disconnect. But there will also be sections of the resorts free of loud cell conversations and phones buzzing with email alerts.

nov 20 2012

New Maya Museum Opens in Cancun As 'End of the World' Draws Near

Mayan Ruins at San Miguelito

Cancun's new Maya Museum also includes the San Miguelito archaeological site.

(Courtesy The Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau)

With less than a month to go before the official end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012, a new museum focused on Mayan history has opened in Cancun. The Maya Museum of Cancun is a $15 million project that includes 350 ancient Mayan artifacts it took more than 30 years to collect. Designed by Alberto Garcia Lascuráin and showcasing three 4,400-square-foot exhibition halls, the museum features 14,000-year-old Mayan remains discovered in the underwater caves of Tulum, the 10,000-year-old remains of La Mujer de las Palmas (The Woman of the Palms) discovered in a nearby cenote 10 years ago, and a room full of tools and other artifacts the Mayans once used in daily life. Sculptures by artist Jan Hendrix are also on display, as is a 26-foot-tall Great Pyramid inside the main building and displays of ancient dwellings, altars, and mural paintings. Next door to the Maya Musem is the archaeological site of San Miguelito, also included in the $5 admission price. The museum's official website is currently only in Spanish, but an English-language version is in the works (the Cancun tourism board's website has information in English as well).

nov 02 2012

Driving to Mexico Just Got Easier

Sunset from the hotel window in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Even if you don’t venture as far south as Cabo San Lucas (above), driving south of the border into breathtaking Baja just got a whole lot easier.

(Courtesy gmaso/myBudgetTravel)

Good news for those of you who’ve considered driving into Mexico from San Diego but were put off by reports of massive traffic jams and two-hour delays at the border crossing. On November 1, a new $76.4-million upgrade of the highway rerouted tens of thousands of vehicles, reducing wait times and traffic, and allowing for better inspection for cross-border no-no’s such as weapons and illegal drugs.

sep 21 2012

In Defense of Tacky Tourist Photos

My sister, April, holding the leaning tower of Pisa (Courtesy Kaeli Conforti)

There are two types of people in the world: those who can walk by a life–like statue of a pirate without taking a goofy picture with it, and those who can't. I decidedly fall in the latter category, whether it's a six–foot tall statue of an Italian pizza–maker with a crazy mustache in New York City's West Village or a life–sized replica statue of Fidel Castro standing in front of a cigar store in Cozumel. In fact, silly tourist photos are one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. And don't get me started on the leaning tower of Pisa.

apr 13 2012

An Affordable Private Plane Tour Of The Caribbean?

Mauiva aircraft (Courtesy Mauiva)

It's just like a cruise, except that you're flying from one destination to the next on a turbo-prop plane that seats between 30 and 70 passengers.

Orlando, Fl.-based Mauiva introduced this "AirCruise" concept as the company calls it a year ago when it launched with two North America itineraries: a seven-day Western Wonders Experience AirCruise around Northern California, and onto Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas; and a six-day All American East Experience AirCruise that starts in Toronto, continues onto Washington, D.C., and ends in Arlington.

dec 23 2011

End of Mayan Calendar A Rebirth for Mexico Tourism?

Durango, Mexico (Courtesy cruceros.julio/Flickr)

The countdown is on. The end of the Mayan calendar (and by some accounts the end of the world) is set for Dec. 21, 2012.

Assuming we all make it through, Mexico's tourism authorities are banking on the positive marketing opportunities around that fateful date — think more fresh start than doomed apocalyptic end of humanity.

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