Readers' best food photos
The most memorable travel experiences often revolve around food, as your hundreds of photo submissions reminded us. We selected 23 images that get at the various ways people feed their appetites around the globe, including spices piled high at a market in Istanbul, street food in Shanghai, tortillas made from scratch in a Mexican fishing village, and a beautifully presented seafood platter in St. Petersburg.
Dig in! The slide show begins here.
RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS
Map of the world's most remote spots
A nifty new world map created by researchers points out the most remote places on the planet. Researchers calculated how much time it would take to travel to every location on the planet from cities of 50,000 or more people nearest each location, reports The New Scientist. If a location is hard to reach by train, road, or river because it's steep, densely jungled, or behind tightly controlled border crossings, it is ranked as especially hard to reach. It turns out that less than 10 per cent of the world is more than 48 hours of ground-based travel from the nearest city. Take a look at the map, where the darkest spots are the hardest-to-reach places. You may be surprised. [The map was produced by researchers at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, and the World Bank.]
World's newest tallest tower: Burj Dubai completed
We're only four days into 2010, and there's already a new landmark in the world: The Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower at half a mile high, officially opened today. As we wrote in 2008, the building's height remained top secret so that no competing project could overtake it. The secret's out now: The final height is more than 2,700 feet, making the Burj Dubai more than twice as tall as New York City's Empire State Building. The tower has several other claims to fame—world's highest swimming pool (76th floor), highest observation deck (124th floor), and highest mosque (158th floor). The tower cost $1.5 billion to build, and was renamed just this afternoon. Now called Burj Khalifa bin Zayed, the new name is in honor of Abu Dhabi's ruler, who bailed out Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in late 2009 after a financial crisis. That sky-high observation deck opens tomorrow in the otherwise empty building, for those brave enough to take a peek. Interested in architecture? Check out our recent story on the World's Most Beautiful Bridges.
Readers' best reflection photos
Thanks to all the readers who submitted photos of reflections—and took the time to share thoughtful, fascinating stories about where and why the shots were taken. You blew us away. The result is our best and longest reader slide show yet. These 24 outstanding shots include giraffes drinking from a waterhole in Namibia, the opulent pool at Hearst Castle, a glacial lake in Iceland, and a row of columns by a mosque in Abu Dhabi. See for yourself in our slide show. RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS Wildlife | Rainbows | Nighttime STILL IN SEARCH OF… We're collecting your photos of Mexico. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for a slide show of the best submissions.
Have a happier vacation
Even storm clouds and crying babies can't dim the glow of a getaway if you follow sometimes-counterintuitive strategies—all part of the growing field of positive psychology. Gretchen Rubin has attempted to put into practice the insights of positive psychology, and she recounts the story in her new book, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun. We spoke with her recently to find out a few things she's learned from traveling with her husband and two young daughters. Trip Rx: Pack almonds or another healthy snack. For example, Rubin was recently away with her family and in-laws on an annual vacation. Despite the fact that this place is lovely, she ended up feeling a bit crabby. It wasn't the company that got her down. It was because her vacation schedule had thrown off her diet, and the change in her blood sugar levels affected her mood. Says Rubin: "Being on this vacation means I'm often starving before we eat. I can't eat as often as I would like. The food is richer than the food I usually eat, but somehow it doesn't seem as filling." So now Rubin brings a couple of packages of almonds, and other snacks, to help even out her diet—and moods. Pack early. "I make the odious task easier by starting a week in advance (my husband packs at 10 p.m. the night before we leave). I bring the big suitcase into my bedroom, and whenever I think of something (sunscreen, passports, adapter) I put it in." Trip Rx: "Your PDA is a great tool but a poor master," says Rubin. Use it for what it does best: Make reservations, check the weather forecast, get directions. Then power it down, and focus on savoring your surroundings. Or just on chilling out. Return a day early. "It's no fun to go away for a relaxing week, but then find yourself stressed out again a few hours after you're back at home. Give yourself a day to sleep late, do errands, catch up on mail and email, re-stock the fridge, etc. The re-entry day makes the trip shorter, but it makes the overall vacation experience more enjoyable." Unpack right away. "My husband is adamant about this. The last thing I feel like doing when we arrive home from a week away is to tackle the unpacking, but he's right, we both feel much better when we've put that task behind us. It makes it a lot easier to unwind and enjoy being home." MORE TIPS! Writer Robert Firpo-Cappiello interviewed a dozen scientists and researchers to find out other tips on how to have a happier vacation. Check out his article: Get Psyched. The Happiness Project blog has more details on Rubin's fascinating experiment and her easy-to-read, inspiring book. Feel free to chime in with your own tips!