Strike a (yoga) pose in Times Square
Flashing lights, honking horns, tourist throngs, and...inner peace? If there were ever a place to test your yogic focus, it's Times Square.
On June 21, the Times Square Alliance will sponsor its annual yoga event, celebrating the summer solstice by creating space in the heart of NYC for sun salutations and downward dogs.
Yogis of all levels can register by going to the website and signing up for one of three yoga sessions taking place throughout the day. Each class lasts between 75 and 90 minutes and is totally free.
You'll receive an email with your ticket—just print it out and bring it to the event (and don't forget your mat!). Then, tune in to your breath, take in the cityscape, and enjoy.
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5 airport innovations worth praising
A handful of airports worldwide are trying out ways to make travelers happier. Here's a round-up of innovations that sound promising: Wireless check-in At some Australian airports, Qantas is testing high-tech frequent-flier cards loaded with RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips. At check-in, you tap your Qantas Club Card to a sensor and the airline's computers will text your phone with the gate number. Your card acts as your boarding pass. Machines at the gate scan your card, making for an entirely paperless process. Checking luggage with Qantas? Use the reusable plastic tag with a wireless chip inside (which the airline sent you with your frequent flier card), hook it around your luggage handle, and check the bag yourself. The smart luggage tag talks to sensors throughout the bagging process to enable workers to track where it is, like FedEx does with packages. Qantas's site has more details on the program, which has been in testing since November at domestic terminals at airports in Sydney and three other cities. Lock-your-phone charging stations Sometimes it's the simple things that count. About 60 Hudson News bookshops at airports nationwide will soon introduce charging stations, to help you recharge your phones for free. But it can take up to half an hour to recharge some phones. So these kiosks help travelers in an especially sensible way, allowing users to lock up their device using a personal code, similar to how safes work in many hotel rooms. While your phone is juicing up, you're free to wander around the airport. Real-time customer service Sometimes at the airport, a problems crops up and you can't seem to find a responsible person to help. Maybe you can't find the nearest pay phone or a pharmacy, or you're not sure when the terminal coffee shop opens, or you're upset at the lack of trash cans in the gate area. To better address such problems, London's Gatwick airport has placed signs all around its terminals inviting passengers to give its customer service staff feedback via Twitter 24 hours a day via @gatwick_airport, increasing the chance of real-time responses to complaints and concerns. A recent tweet: "@frgraphics Sorry there's no free wifi at the moment. We're working on it though. http://bit.ly/ilfLbz" Subway-side check-in By end of summer, passengers heading to India's Delhi airport by subway will be able to drop checked luggage at one of four train stations and forget about their bags until they land at their destinations. Kiosks will enable many fliers to print their boarding passes and check their bags for flights on Air India, Jet Airways, and Kingfisher, reports Ryan Ghee of Future Travel Experience. Elsewhere in the world, many passengers can check bags at London's Paddington station (for Heathrow flights), Vienna's Wien Mitte station, Moscow's Kievsky Station, and Hong Kong Station. Authentic stores and food courts Tokyo's Haneda International Airport, which opened in October 2010, has a departure hall that is far better than most, creating a sense of place. At "Edo Market," builders have simulated an early 1900s Tokyo street using traditional materials and decor. The street is lined with shops such as the century-old stationer Itoya and the 50-year old Kaneko Optical Shop. Even better, instead of Starbucks and McDonald's, restaurants serve up high-quality Japanese food. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Luggage tags that "talk" Radio-tagging luggage at Heathrow 5 ways to keep your cords tidy and organized in your bag Follow @budgettravel
Ahoy Matey! Check Out These Pirate Museums
Have you ever wondered what it was like to sail the seven seas, pillage for gold doublooms and hunt for buried treasure? Pirate lore has captured the imagination of both children and adults for centuries, often a popular subject of literature and film. A number of pirate museums along the east coast of the United States—as well as one in the Bahamas—offer guests a rare opportunity to see the treasures left behind by the real pirates of the Caribbean. Just in time for International Talk Like A Pirate Day (Sept. 19th!), here are three of our favorite pirate museums. Visitors to New Providence Island in the Bahamas can get an idea of what pirate life was like during the "Golden Age of Piracy" by checking out the Pirates of Nassau Museum, where guests are welcomed by a pirate re-enactor and can view a number of wax figurines depicting what life was like onboard famous ships like Blackbeard's Queen Anne's Revenge. Walk through models of a replica of Blackbeard's ship and a number of old glass bottles, coins and other artifacts left by pirates on Nassau's shores make the trip interesting for pirate lovers and landlubbers alike. As a display in the museum states: "It was said that when a pirate slept he did not dream that he had died and gone to heaven but instead, that he had returned to New Providence." Pirates of Nassau is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday, with tickets priced at $12 for adults and $6 for children ages 4-17. Formerly known as The Pirate Soul Museum in Key West, the entire collection was moved to St. Augustine, reopening in December of 2010 as the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. Home to one of the largest collections of authentic pirate artifacts in the world, the museum features one of only two original Jolly Roger flags in existence, Captain Thomas Tew's treasure chest, an official journal of Captain Kidd's final voyage, and one of the world's oldest wanted posters from the 1696 search for Captain Henry Every. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and discounted tickets are available online for $11.99 for adults and $5.99 for children ages 5-12. Did you know there were pirates as high up as New England? The New England Pirate Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, features exhibits starring Captain Kidd, Blackbeard, Captain Sam Bellamy and other pirates who frequented Boston's gold coast. Visitors can take a 20-30 minute guided tour of authentic pirate artifacts, a pirate ship replica and even troll an 80 ft deep cave for treasure. The museum opens every day at 10 a.m. and the last tour is given at 5 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults, while children ages 4-13 get in for $7 and seniors over 65 pay $8. We want to know: Have you ever visited a Pirate Museum in your travels? Tell us about it below!
The five smartest vacation photos you've never taken
Use your digital camera as a "visual notebook" to record things you may find useful later on—not just for photos of your family at your destination. Here are some ideas: "Return to owner" Take a photo of a sign you make that says "This camera belongs to..." and lists your name, contact information, and (perhaps) the promise of a reward. Set this image to "read-only" to make it difficult to erase. Keep it as the first picture on your memory card. If strangers find your lost camera and start looking at its photos, they'll know it belongs to you. "Where was that again?" Snap the location of your parked car, or take a picture of your hotel door with the room number on it. At the end of your jetlagged day, whether you're in an Orlando parking garage or Las Vegas resort, you'll appreciate having the photo to remind you of where you need to go. "See? My car was fine when I left the lot." Sometimes sneaky rental car companies will "ding" you for rental car damage you didn't cause. Avoid surprises on your bill by capturing "before" and "after" views of your vehicle. (Skip taking photos if an attendant walk arounds the vehicle with you and notes any damage on a form you both sign.) "Which temple was that one again?" Let's say that on a vacation you see dozens of the same category of sights: a Madonnarama of paintings at European art galleries; a Buddhathon of temples in Cambodia. Be sure to record the context of what you're photographing by shooting up close the text of a street sign, historical plaque, or a relevant page of your guidebook. "Darn it. I wish I could print out this webpage." Let's say you're using your hotel's computer to look up some information, such as a map for a museum's location, but you don't have access to a printer—or maybe don't want to pay a silly printing charge. Simply take a photo of the screen, and then use your camera's built-in LCD screen to view it as you walk. SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 4 tips for tough photo scenarios On June 1, Delta launches new "economy comfort" seats Readers' best coastline photos London hotels: Want that towel? You have to pay $2.40
What does "ethical travel" mean to you?
In your childhood, traveling is uncomplicated. The biggest dilemma might be whether it's okay to touch a wild turtle's shell at the seashore. But some adults see a more complex world because of their political ideas. Others are concerned about the environmental impact of their travels. In other words, some people ask how can they travel with a clean conscience, putting their money where their heart is? In 1996, travel writer Jeff Greenwald founded Ethical Traveler as a nonprofit group "to use the economic clout of tourism to protect human rights and the environment." Here are some of the group's tips for being an ethical traveler no matter where you go. Some may strike you as provocative and politically biased. Others may seem commonsensical. Never give gifts to children. Too often, children are used by adults to bait tourists into giving money and gifts. Donate instead to adults at local charities and churches. Visit "The World's Best Ethical Destinations." The organization has named 10 developing nations it says are doing the most work to protect the environment, promote human rights, and encourage "social welfare." Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Latvia, Lithuania, Palau, Poland, and Uruguay made the group's list for 2011. Do you best to respect basic local customs. Skim through a guidebook or talk to a tour guide about the most relevant traditions for a traveler to observe. "Never, for example, pat a Thai child on the head, enter a traditional Brahmin's kitchen, or refuse a cup of kava in Fiji!" Buy local. Patronize locally-owned inns, restaurants, and shops. The theory here is that locals will gain financially from your visit if you buy directly from them instead of from, say, a foreign-owned chain. You can make your best guess here about how to do this. Small and medium-sized inns and guesthouses are more likely to be owned by locals, who keep profits in the community. Choose your safari carefully. Safaris bring income that encourages the preservation of Africa's wild spaces. But some companies do more to support environmental protection and community development than others. Ask questions before you plunk your money down. Pick your "poverty tour" wisely. Some tour groups go into impoverished neighborhoods. Locals may be offended at the perceived voyeurism. But when locals are in charge and earning income from the tour, it can be ethical, says the group Ethical Traveler. Be sensitive about how visiting a country may favor one political group over another within a country. A UK organization, Tourism Concern, keeps track of many of these issues on its site, from its left-of-center political perspective. But some issues are matters of taste, regardless of political belief. For example, most people would think it's polite to avoid taking sides in political arguments when you're talking with locals overseas. What are your thoughts about so-called "ethical travel"? SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 5 ways to keep your cords tidy and organized in your bag Should the TSA's airport pat-downs be outlawed? Is it cheaper to fly or to drive?