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Travel News: Hotel Deals for Early 2019, Most Popular U.S. Destinations, and Philly’s Upcoming Museum Shows

By The Budget Travel Editors
December 18, 2018
Tulum, Mexico
Courtesy <a href="http://mybt.budgettravel.com/_Beautiful-Dream/photo/4309526/21864.html" target="_blank"> barbe819/myBudgetTravel</a>
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 great hotel savings for Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Day weekends to the top U.S. destinations for 2019 and great new art exhibits headed to Philadelphia, this week’s travel news is all about looking forward to the year ahead.

HOTEL DEALS FOR EARLY 2019

If you’re considering a post-holiday getaway in early 2019, the data-crunching wizards at Google have some tips on the best hotel savings. (Fair warning; You may be about to book a bargain room.) For Martin Luther King Jr. weekend (January 19, 20, and 21), the biggest hotel savings are in Tulum, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, with savings up to 31 percent. Closer to home, Asheville, C, offers savings up to 30 percent, Jackson, WY, up to 29 percent, and New York City up to 24 percent. For Presidents Day weekend (February 16, 17, and 18), the biggest hotel savings are in Honolulu, HI, with saving up to 22 percent.

MOST POPULAR U.S. DESTINATIONS

Travel Leaders Group has released its latest consumer travel trends survey and we are always fascinated too see how U.S. destinations rank among people who say they plan to travel in the coming year (which 9) percent of participants reported). Here, the top 10 U.S. destinations:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Alaska
  3. California
  4. Florida
  5. Louisiana
  6. Colorado
  7. New York
  8. Arizona
  9. Montana
  10. Washington D.C.

PHILLY’S UPCOMING MUSEUM SHOWS

Philadelphia has a long history of artistic innovation. In 2019, the city will celebrate its artistic legacy perhaps like never before, with a wide array of impressive art exhibits. Major museum shows include the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s The Impressionist’s Eye. The Barnes Foundation show devoted to contemporary video artist Bill Viola, and the Brandywine River Museum’s New Perspectives, presenting the varied work of N.C. Wyeth.

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Travel News: 10 Most Googled Destinations of 2018

Although we’re way more interested in looking ahead to 2019 than in looking back at the year that’s ending, Google’s annual Year in Search report always helps inspire some vacation planning, whether it’s vicarious or OMG-I-gotta-start-today. This year, Google’s Year in Search 2018 is delivering an especially useful list of the top search terms among Americans who googled (nerd alert: the verb “to google” is lowercase) “trip to…” in 2018. Here, a mix of tried-and-true destinations and some surprises you may want to add to your 2019 travel plans. 1. ITALY More than 400 million annual visitors would agree that it’s no surprise that Italy tops the list of 2018 “trips to…” search terms. What can we say about Italy that you don’t already know? The superb, seemingly effortlessly fresh food? Works of art that cause some visitors literally to swoon? Well, maybe you haven’t yet visited one of the charming and affordable small towns of Tuscany. (And if you haven’t, maybe 2019 is the year to do so.) 2. PARIS If visitors from another planet landed in Western Europe today, even they would know to make a pitstop in Paris for the world’s biggest art museum (the Louvre), charming boulevards and public parks, and the iconic Eiffel Tower. But over the years, we’ve also covered some Paris secrets every traveler should learn. 3. ICELAND It may surprise some travelers that this little island in the north Atlantic ranks so highly, but reasonable airfares (including a free stopover on your way to Europe on Iceland Air), friendly locals, and incredible natural beauty have made it one of the most popular spots on the planet in recent years. 4. BAHAMAS Easy, affordable flights from the U.S., a popular cruise port in Nassau, and, of course, lovely beaches, great local menu items such as fresh pulled-from-the-sea conch, and reasonably priced hotels make Bahamas another annual favorite. 5. IRELAND Ireland is another relatively small country with a huge following among American travelers, due in part to the fact that so many Americans (including former president Obama and vice president Biden) can trace some roots to the Emerald Isle. Vibrant, engaging streetlife in Dublin keeps us coming back too. 6. LAS VEGAS Vegas. Everybody know what happens in Vegas. 7. BORA BORA Of course this gorgeous, warm, romantic South Pacific getaway, complete with overwater bungalows, is alluring. But considering how far away it is, we were pleasantly surprised to see it turn up in the top 10. If you're dreaming of a South Pacific island getaway from the U.S., you'll find convenience and savings by booking with an experienced package tour company such as Goway that includes airfare and lodging. 8. NEW YORK Budget Travel’s editorial offices are in New York City. Of course we’re opinionated and biased. This is, after all, New York, home to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 27-time world champion New York Yankees, the New York Botanical Garden, Central Park, Times Square, Broadway plays and musicals, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts... you get the picture. If you haven’t visited NYC yet, what are you waiting for? 9. NEW ORLEANS 2018 was NOLA’s 300th anniversary, and that may have inspired more searches than ever. But, honestly, with authentic jazz, history, imaginative cocktails, and world-class cuisine that melds African American, Caribbean, French, and European traditions, New Orleans is always a good idea. 10. SPAIN From bustling cities like Madrid and Barcelona to lesser known national parks, beaches, and the incredibly imaginative food scene that may inspire you to pass small plates among friends into the wee hours, Spain continues to inspire wanderlust among American travelers.

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Travel News: Renting a Car Just Got a Lot Easier, Nab a Deal at Orlando’s New Margaritaville Resort, and Voyager 2 May Be the Ultimate Traveler

From a streamlined new rental car program from Hertz to a brand-new Orlando resort tailor-made for Jimmy Buffett fans to the outer reaches of our solar system, this week’s travel news is about boldly going where no one has gone before. RENTING A CAR JUST GOT A LOT EASIER We don’t need to enumerate the various hassles associated with renting a car, right? But a new program from Hertz may help to sweep away some of the impediments to getting behind the wheel and leaving the lot as efficiently as possible. Hertz Fast Lane powered by CLEAR aims to speed up the rental process. In fact, the new service aims to move travelers through that exit gate in 30 seconds or less. How? Enrolling in CLEAR allows users to link their accounts to Hertz so that, thanks to biometrics, they can verify their identity and reservation information with (we’re not kidding) a look or a tap of the finger. It’s all very Blade Runner to some of us, but apparently the future is here. NAB A DEAL AT ORLANDO’S NEW MARGARITAVILLE RESORT If you’re still puzzling over our use of the word biometrics in the last item, that may be a sign that it’s time to chill. And the new Margaritaville Resort in Orlando is a good place to do just that. Mind you, we’re not opposed to resorts that aren’t inspired by Jimmy Buffett songs, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Guests booking a 2019 stay at the Orlando resort can nab one free night when they book three or more consecutive nights between January 15 and March 31 (and, yeah, that’s pretty much the time of year you need a warm island-inspired trip). Guests can expect island-themed decor, a lagoon pool, four restaurants, gorgeous sunset views, and, of course, plenty of those eponymous frozen concoctions. VOYAGER 2 MAY BE THE ULTIMATE TRAVELER The spacecraft Voyager 2 was launched in 1977, when Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours was a brand-new album and Jimmy Carter was a brand-new president, with the mission of exploring our solar system and sending back all sorts of new data about the nature of the asteroid belt, planets, and beyond. Now, with much of its gear still functioning -- including tools measuring cosmic rays, charged particles, and magnetism -- Voyager 2 has reached that “beyond” and left the solar system, entering what James Joyce called “the cold of interstellar space.” We want to salute this ultimate traveler, which has ventured 11 billion miles and followed its fellow spacecraft, Voyager 1, into truly uncharted territory.

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Travel News: 500 Million Hotel Guests Hacked, Sleepbox Comes to Dulles, and Europe's Most Instagrammed Christmas Markets

From one of the biggest hacks of customer data in U.S. history at Marriott to a convenient (if somewhat bare-bones) way of catching some sleep at the airport to the delights of Europe’s holiday markets, this week’s travel news is all about surprises (the bad and the good, that is). 500 MILLION HOTEL GUESTS HACKED “Were you hacked?” may become one of the most commonly asked questions amont travel enthusiasts over the next few weeks. Marriott announced last week that around 500 million guests of Starwood hotels (owned by Marriott) had their personal data - including credit card, passport, dates of birth, and other information that could put them at risk of identity theft - potentially exposed due to a massive breach dating back to 2014. That’s right: If you stayed at one of Starwood’s properties, which include Sheraton, St. Regis and Westin, over the past four years, your data may very well have been compromised. Your first step? Visit the special website Marriott has set up for customers at answers.kroll.com, or call 877-273-9481. In addition, we always recommend common-sense steps such as changing passwords on your accounts, limiting the online availability of account numbers and personal information, being vigilant when logging into WiFi anywhere other than home or work, and using a dedicated credit card for online transactions. SLEEPBOX COMES TO WASHINGTON DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT If your travel plans will bring you to Washington, D.C., you may want to catch some shuteye at the Sleepbox Lounge on Concourse A, which USA Today reports is scheduled to open in time for Christmas and New Year’s fliers. If the word Sleepbox sounds a little too tight for comfort, you’ll be relieved to learn that the micro hotel rooms are eight feet tall, 30 square feet total, soundproof, and boasting memory foam beds. Rooms can be rented by the hour or overnight, with the timing of the stay up to the guest. Sleepbox may take the sting out of long layovers for sleepy travelers. EUROPE’S MOST INSTAGRAMMED CHRISTMAS MARKETS Our friends at On the Go Tours (onthegotours.com) have done it again, crunching the numbers on the most popular Christmas markets in Europe via Instagram. Sure, you know that some of the most charming, scenic, and historic holiday shopping takes place at Europe’s legendary markets. But were guessing you didn’t know that Manchester Christmas Market, in the U.K., clocks in at number one, with 31,059 #manchesterchristmasmarkets hashtags. Manchester has a solid lead, with its nearest competitor, Edinburgh Christmas Market coming in with 18,888 hashtags, Bath in third place with 16,985, and Striezelmarket, in Dresden, in fourth place with 13,868.

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Travel News: Chef Dominique Crenn Earns 3 Michelin Stars, the Tale of the Drunk Pilot, and Why You Should Spend Christmas to London

From a mind-blowingly delicious restaurant in San Francisco to the capital of Merry Olde England decked out for the holidays, plus the disturbing story of a Japanese pilot who showed up for work under the influence, this week’s travel news is all about making you the best informed traveler at the holiday party. CHEF DOMINIQUE CRENN EARNS THREE MICHELIN STARS Every time the glass ceiling gets another crack in it, we here at BT give three cheers, and today we are cheering for Chef Dominique Crenn, who last week became the first American woman to be awarded three Michelin stars for her work at her extraordinary restaurant Atelier Crenn, in San Francisco. Atelier Crenn, on Fillmore Street, is a super-spurge, with tasting menus for $335 and wine pairings for $220, but for a less expensive taste of Crenn’s imaginative, modernist French approach to food (Crenn hails from Brittany), try some small plates at the nearby Bar Crenn or the $95 tasting menu at Petit Crenn, on Hayes Street (ateliercrenn.com). THE TALE OF THE DRUNK PILOT When you make a mistake at work, does your boss take a massive pay cut? That’s what happened recently when a pilot for Japan Airlines showed up intoxicated for a flight from Tokyo to London. The pilot was given a 10-month sentence, and the airline announced a step-up in awareness and training for its staff. Most notably, though, and in stark contrast to some U.S. business leaders who will remain nameless, the president of Japan Airlines took responsibility for the pilot’s error in judgment and has reduced his own pay by 20 percent through February; another senior officer at the airline will have his salary reduced by 10 percent. In Japan, it is relatively common for top executives to take pay cuts as penance for such issues. (And, yes, we know what you’re thinking.) WHY YOU SHOULD SPEND CHRISTMAS IN LONDON If you’re pining for the sort of Christmas celebration that Charles Dickens heartily endorsed in his most famous work, London is rolling out the red carpet this holiday season. Visit the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, decked out with more than 1 million twinkling lights and appearances by Father Christmas and his elves. Take a nighttime sightseeing bus through central London to see iconic sights like the Tower, Harrods, and Piccadilly in their holiday finery. And while Budget Travelers may not book a room at Claridge’s, the gorgeous Mayfair hotel, they can drop by the lobby to ogle The Tree of Love, designed by Diane von Furstenberg and boasting 8,000 iridescent hand-painted leaves.

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