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Travel News: 100 Travel Discounts You’ll Love, Streaming Audio From the National Parks, You Can Afford Nantucket

By The Budget Travel Editors
August 29, 2018
A panoramic view of Florence, Italy, with the Duomo and mountains in the background.
lxuskmitl/Dreamstime
There’s a great big world out there, and our latest “news you can use” may inspire a trip you never knew you needed.

From a discounted African safari to a plate of Massachusetts scallops, from a tour of the art of Florence to the sound of a mountain stream delivered right to your earbuds, this week’s travel news is all about pushing boundaries and seeing more.

100 TRAVEL DISCOUNTS YOU’LL LOVE

This news takes the concept of Shoulder Season to the next level. The United States Tour Operators Association’s (USTOA) Travel Together Month (September 1 - 30) will offer exclusive savings, perks and airfare deals on dozens and dozens of amazing trips around the world. “Cruises, safaris, walking tours, independent trips, and more… Travel Together Month includes a wide variety of live-like-a-local experiences in countries around the world” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of USTOA. From art and culture in European cities to wildlife in Africa and the South Pacific, these trips are high-end experiences with seriously discounted price tags, often saving travelers $1,000 per person.

STREAMING AUDIO FROM THE NATIONAL PARKS

Love America’s national parks? Well, listen up, people. Seriously.  Listen. The National Park Foundation, the official charity partner of the National Park Service, has just launched PARKTRACKS, an audio streaming experience that can (virtually) transport you to your favorite national parks any time. The National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division captured unique audio experiences such as waterways, wildlife, and more at national parks across the country, available to download or stream online at Find Your Park.

YES, YOU CAN AFFORD NANTUCKET

You already know that the island of Nantucket, off the coast of Cape Cod, is gorgeous, popular, and pricey in summer. But did you know that the island’s population drops from 80,000 to 10,000 when vacationers head home for the fall? That leaves miles of beach and fun events like the Cranberry Festival, Half Marathon, and the opening of Nantucket Bay Scallop Season, plus plummeting hotel prices and shorter lines for Juice Bar’s ice cream (try the Crantucket, with cranberry ice cream and chocolate chunks) and seafood at Toppers and Brant Point Grill.

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Travel News: This Fall's Not-to-Be-Missed Museum Shows

As the leaves change and temperatures drop, back-to-school vibes are in the air, and our thoughts turn to educational pursuits. But not to worry: The fun doesn't have to end at Labor Day. Museums across the country are rolling out autumnal programming that will get your mental juices flowing, and there's not a dull bit in the bunch. We've rounded up the best of the best, from fashion and film to paintings and pinball. Here's how to expand your horizons this fall. Los Angeles While most of the world obsesses over Virtual Reality and IMAX films, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org) casts a glance backwards to look at the whole history of the three-dimensional experience. 3D: Double Vision, 175 years of 3D imagery (through March 31) presents artwork from as far back as 1830, when the Victorian invention of the stereoscope changed how people consumed photographs and current events, and moves through 20th-century developments like 3D motion pictures and View Masters. Underscoring the crossover between pop culture, art, science, high-tech, and nature, it’ll likely get you thinking in new dimensions.   Baltimore Beloved in cinema circles for boundary-pushing movies like Pink Flamingos and cult classics like Hairspray and Cry-Baby, John Waters isn’t particularly known for his visual art—but that’s about to change. This fall, Baltimore welcomes home its native son with the first retrospective of his non-film work. John Waters: Indecent Exposure opens at the Baltimore Museum of Art (artbma.org) in October, running through January 6 before continuing on to Columbus, Ohio’s Wexner Center in February. The exhibit features more than 160 photos, sculptures, and video and sound pieces by the outré director, plus peep-show style film footage from the ‘60s. In keeping with Waters’s reputation, you’re pretty much guaranteed a provocative show. New York City Another much-lauded, multi-talented filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick might be best recognized for such masterpieces as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining, but before he stepped behind the viewfinder, he used a camera to capture the pulse of New York. In the years preceding his film career, he served as a staff photographer for Look magazine, and a collection of his images—many previously unpublished—are on display at one of our favorite institutions, the Museum of the City of New York (mcny.org). Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs (through October 28) lends insight to his formative years and shows the full range of his vision, from nightclubs and street scenes to sporting events and slice-of-life snaps. You could call Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again (November 12 to March 31) at the Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org) a homecoming. Few figures did as much to define New York City’s—and America’s—arts and culture landscape as he did, and this show at the Whitney’s new downtown location brings together 350 pieces to celebrate his legacy, making it the first Warhol retrospective in the United States since 1989. The show is designed as a chronological record of his career, showing the evolution of his work from his early days as a commercial illustrator to pioneer of Pop Art to trailblazer and tastemaker in the worlds of experimental film and painting. And looking at it through the lens of our digital era, there’s a good chance you’ll come away with a newfound respect for his creativity. Detroit Just when you thought the world had had enough of Star Wars, the Detroit Institute of Arts (dia.org) takes a spin into a galaxy far, far away, presenting Star Wars and the Power of Costume. There’s still time to catch it before it closes on September 30th, and catch it you should. Whether or not you’re a fan, it’s not an exaggeration to call it the opportunity of a lifetime. The original costumes of Darth Vader, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and all the rest are on display alongside videos that give you an up-close look at the designers’ creative process and how they worked with the actors to get the look and feel just right. And when you consider that Smithsonian scholars penned the text about the historical and cultural context of costume, the intergalactic, immense impact of Star Wars on society becomes crystal clear. Philadelphia The Philadelphia Museum of Art (philadelphiamuseum.org) has long had an exceptional costume collection, but many of the pieces will be on view for the first time in this fall’s Fabulous Fashion: From Dior’s New Look To Now (October 16 to March 3). The haute inclinations of iconic designers are showcased in select gowns, bridal wear, daywear, and more, running the gamut from elaborate to bold and eccentric to intriguing. With their use of unorthodox materials and bold colors, the exhibit drives home how the showcased designers’ creativity and bold ideas influenced and changed the public’s understanding of fashion. Cleveland Pinball wizards take note: From Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Pinball Machine to The Who's Tommy Machine, legendary rock-n-roller-themed versions of the classic arcade game are now on display in Part of the Machine: Rock and Pinball, a new permanent exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (rockhall.com). Cooper himself was on-hand to consecrate the exhibit when it was unveiled in early August, and he did the voiceovers for his namesake game. Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and other Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members also have their own dedicated pinball machines. All the machines—vintage and new—are playable with admission to the institution.  Chicago A Life magazine assignment by noted photographer Gordon Parks and a decades-long chronicling of an improvisational music club by Mikki Ferrill, who contributed photos to Time, Ebony, Jet, and the Chicago Tribune, capture the character and style of Chicago’s South Side in the second half of the twentieth century, a time when the neighborhood was undergoing a sweeping transition. These photos and films are on display alongside those of other local artists in Never a Lovely So Real (through October 28) at the Art Institute of Chicago (artic.edu). Collectively, the works document the neighborhood’s artistic evolution, from the Black Arts Movement to the revolutionary Bronzeville mural “Wall of Respect,” and show how the community contributed to Chicago's standing as an important city of culture. 

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Travel News: Best Time to Book Thanksgiving Flights, L.L. Bean Supports the National Parks, and Airline Loyalty Programs Are Still Confusing

From the OMG-the-holidays-are-coming department to good news about America’s national parks, plus a look at the sometimes baffling array of airline loyalty programs, this week’s travel news is all about looking - and planning - ahead, BEST TIME TO BOOK THANKSGIVING FLIGHTS Don’t say we didn’t warn you: The best time to buy airline tickets for Thanksgiving 2018 may be… wait for it… next week. According to the data crunchers at the global travel search engine Skyscanner.com, the ideal window for savings is earlier than usual. The best week to book is the week of August 27, for savings up to 7 percent. The second best week to book is the week of October 1, for savings up to 6 percent. And don’t expect last-minute savings this year: The worst times to book are the weeks of November 12 and 19. L.L. BEAN SUPPORTS THE NATIONAL PARKS We wear our love for America’s national parks on our sleeve. We also wear our share of L.L. Bean apparel and gear. So today’s announcement that the Maine-based retailer will extend its support of the national parks with a multi-year, $3 million partnership with the National Park Foundation (NPF) for its Find Your Park program. “L.L.Bean’s investment helps power the movement to connect more people from all walks of life with the natural, cultural, and historical treasures found across the National Park System,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the National Park Service. “Once people discover how accessible these places are, they develop a lifelong passion for exploring and protecting them.” AIRLINE LOYALTY PROGRAMS ARE STILL CONFUSING The J.D. Power 2018 Airline Loyalty Program Satisfaction Study pretty much confirms what some of you may already suspect: Roughly half of airline loyalty program members do not understand how to earn or redeem their points or miles. And, yes, since the whole purpose of airline loyalty programs is to earn and redeem points or miles, the finding is a bit of a Debbie Downer. The study does contain some good news: When airline staff address members by name and acknowledge their preferences, satisfaction rates rise. The top three loyalty programs in terms of overall member satisfaction are JetBlue Airways TrueBlue, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

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Travel News: Tour the Queen of Soul’s Recording Studio, Free Museum Entry on 9/22, and Get a Slice of Pie on Your B&B Pillow

From the funkiest corner of Alabama to free museum entry across the U.S., not to mention the sweetest B&B perk we’ve heard in a long time (it involves pie), this week’s travel news is all about making the most of your vacation days. TOUR THE QUEEN OF SOUL’S RECORDING STUDIO It is impossible to overstate Aretha Franklin’s musical abilities and cultural impact. We mourn the passing of the singer, songwriter, and pianist whose songs helped define the American experience of the past five decades. Travelers who wish to celebrate the Queen of Soul’s legacy may want to head to FAME Studios at Muscle Shoals, in Florence, AL, where, in 1967, Franklin recorded her fiercely brilliant breakthrough album, “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You,” including the classic “Respect.” Swampette Tours (visitflorenceal.com) can take you on a guided tour of the studio, which includes the piano Franklin played, plus a visit to the nearby Alabama Music Hall of Fame. FREE MUSEUM ENTRY ON 9/22 Our friends at Smithsonian magazine are delivering their 14th annual Museum Day, with tickets now available for download. On Saturday, September 22, 2018, museums across the U.S. will adopt the free-entry policy of the Smithsonian, opening their doors visitors who present a Museum Day ticket, which provides free admission to the ticket holder and one guest. Check out the list of participating museums and download a ticket at smithsonianmag.com. GET A SLICE OF PIE ON YOUR B&B PILLOW Sure, you’ve had turndown service. Maybe it included chocolate? Or flowers? How about pie? No? Well… Caldwell House Bed and Breakfast (caldwellhouse.com), in Salisbury Mills, in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley, is offering guests a slice of pie on their pillow from September 4 through 30. The inn will be baking fresh pies using locally sourced ingredients, then placing a tasty slice atop each guest’s pillow as part of its annual Pie on the Pillow turndown service. “The pie on the pillow gets bigger and bigger in demand each year,” said Dena Finneran, who co-owns the bed and breakfast with her husband, John. “Our guests return each Fall to enjoy the pies and the foliage.”

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Travel News: Experience NYC’s New Pod Hotels, California’s Highway 1 Is Back in Action, and Save 30% or More With HotelTonight

From California’s ultimate epic drive to New York City’s beating heart, plus a new way to score incredible hotel savings, this week’s travel news is all about planning those fall getaways that are just around the corner. EXPERIENCE NYC’S NEW POD HOTELS Budget Travelers know that sometimes the secret to saving money on a trip is being open to new ideas. Maybe that’s why we’re psyched that The Pod Hotels have opened properties in NYC’s Times Square and Brooklyn. The concept is simple: Elegantly minimalist lodging at reasonable prices right in the heart of where you want to be. Pod Times Square launched in January and recently opened The Polynesian tiki-themed restaurant, all just a stone’s throw from Broadway theaters and hopping nightlife. And last month, Pod Brooklyn unveiled RFTP, a rooftop bar with stunningly Instagrammable skyline views and distinctive signature cocktails and food. CALIFORNIA’S HIGHWAY 1 IS BACK IN ACTION The Golden State’s most iconic road, Highway 1, is now completely reopened following 18 months of roadwork on portions that were closed due to flooding and mudslides. Last week, a “dream drive” caravan of more than 80 cars - from vintage to contemporary - made the (gorgeous!) drive down the Central Coast from Monterey to Morro Bay. “Driving Highway 1 is a bucket-list experience many travelers dream about, and its closure made headlines around the world,” said Caroline Beteta, Visit California President & CEO. “Many communities along this stretch have suffered while the road has been closed. We’re proud to announce to the world that Highway 1 is open and better than ever, and the Central Coast is ready to welcome travelers looking for the ultimate California road trip.” SAVE 30% OR MORE WITH HOTELTONIGHT You already know that the HotelTonight app can be one of the easiest ways to nab last-minute hotel deals, right? A new feature called ''Daily Drop'' will deliver at least 30% off online travel agency (OTA) rates. The only catch? You’ve got to pounce. You receive a daily deal on a hotel that’s matched to you, and you have 15 minutes to unlock and book the deal.

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