Travel News: Spring Travel Predictions, Pot Festivals, and San Diego Celebrates a Birthday
From coast-to-coast cannabis celebrations to an all-access pass to San Diego's many exciting sites and museums to American Express Travel's predictions for the spring's hottest destinations, here's the latest trip-inspiring travel news:
NUMBERS DON'T LIE: HOT SPOTS FOR SPRING TRAVEL, REVEALED
American Express Travel has culled its piles of booking data and cross-examined its experts in the trenches to determine the must-go destinations for spring. The city seeing the biggest spike in bookings—238%, to be precise--is a destination that, let’s just say, has been in the news quite a bit: Russia’s capital, Moscow. It’s easy to suppose—errr…to joke that there’s a lot of spies buying plane tickets, but really it’s the city’s pleasant spring temps and jaw-dropping historical and cultural sites that are a common bucket-list item. Botswana, South Africa is another distant locale where travel is up by 200%. April through October, the dry season, is the most ideal time to take advantage of the region’s unparalleled safaris. Santiago, Chile, where autumn is just beginning, Santorini, Greece, which offers storybook seaside landscapes that are still mellow before summertime high-season, and Doha, Qatar, a luxe destination set against an ancient backdrop, are other cities increasingly piquing travelers’ interest. When it comes to Americans staying closer to home, St. Louis is turning heads. Go for the blossoming botanical gardens, stay for the festivals, baseballs, breweries and hip restaurants.
POT PARTIES ACROSS THE USA
It's 420 somewhere. Well, on the clock, that is. On the calendar, however, 4/20 only comes once a year and with that April day fast approaching. As more and more American states legalize recreational marijuana, festivals and events that pay homage to that symbolic date are showing up coast to coast, and not all of them happen on 4/20, so there's still lots of time to plan. (Alert to those not in the know: 420 is code for smoking weed. Legend has it that the slang derived from the California criminal code for distribution/possession of weed.) Among the many varied events around the country are the blowout 420 Rally in Denver, ground zero for pot tourism. (April 20, denver420rally.com.) Hip-hop luminaries, vendors sell a range of paraphernalia, and up to 10,000 people attend. The National Cannabis Festival in Washington DC (April 21, nationalcannabisfetival.com) includes all sorts of activism-minded activity and a Cypress Hill concert. The Hash Bash on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus, an annual event for decades, offers activist speakers, street parties, live music and plenty more. (April 14, hashbash.com)
SAN DIEGO CELEBRATES A LEGENDARY PARK'S 150TH
California became a state in 1850. Then only 18 years later, Balboa Park was established on 1,400 acres in San Diego and has since become home to everything from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Natural History Museum to the Model Railroad Museum, a science center with IMAX, art museums and plenty more. With the 150th anniversary of the park, the city is throwing a party and we travelers are the ones getting the present: the Go San Diego Card. The pass gives access to more than 40 attractions and it’s available for one day ($94; $89 children 12 and under), two days ($129; $115) and up to five days ($279; $245). Prices go up on March 29, so start planning your trip to SoCal. Stat! (gosandiegocard.com)
Travel News: Fitness on the Road, the Great American Family Vacation, and the ASPCA’s Best Pet-Safety Tips.
As travelers gear up to take spring trips and finalize summer plans, we're seeing some cool trends that may inspire your next booking, and some important advice about flying with pets. FITNESS ON THE ROAD According to a new study by Hostelworld (hostelworld.com), Americans, especially younger ones, are just as focused on fitness on vacation as they are at home. The hostel-booking platform asked 2,500-plus men and women ages 18-65 about their exercise habits while on holiday, and a whopping 74% said they work out just as much—if not more—when they're out of office. Millennials take their routines especially seriously, listing fitness and outdoor activity as a higher priority than access to bars and nightlife, with some 40% of those surveyed saying they always get in at least one workout while they're away—and that easy access to fitness facilities is a must when booking accommodations. FAMILY VACATIONS: BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER Research from AAA Travel (aaa.com) says that 88 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year. “No matter their age, families are going on not just one, but multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experiences new places,” says BIll Sutherland, AA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. AAA is also seeing international family travel as a growing trend, with 35 percent of vacationing families reporting that they will travel outside the U.S. (that’s up 9% over the past two years). Popular international family hotspots include Cancun, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Rome, and Dublin. A TRIP YOU’LL DIG Speaking of family travel, the budding paleontologists in your brood may really love a trip to Indiana Caverns (indianacaverns.com), the spectacular cave system in Corydon, IN (about 20 miles from Louisville, KY), where a team from the Indiana State Museum and Historic Site will start unearthing the remains of prehistoric animals on April. The dig will include an observation deck for visitors to witness the action, and the team will bring buckets of excavated sediment and bones up to the observation deck to show visitors what they’ve found and explain its importance. “This groundbreaking fieldwork being conducted by Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites experts offers our guests and extraordinary opportunity to be there and watch as history is being discovered,” says Jeremy Yackle, Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director. PET-SAFETY TIPS FROM THE ASPCA Love traveling with your pet? Dr. Kristen Frank, Medical Director, ASPCA Animal Hospital, DVM, DACVIM (aspca.org), offers some easy, common-sense tips for pet safety during air travel: * Pets in the cabin of an airplane should be contained in a well-ventilated carrier, which should never be placed in an overhead bin. * Pets should have access to circulating air and to water; a toy, treat, or blanket may also help to keep them relaxed in transit. * Pet owners should always consult with their pet’s veterinarian when considering travel to determine what is safe for the individual animal based on trip duration, age, species, breed, and other factors. * Pet owners should travel with a pet kit containing any necessities, including proof of vaccinations. * Medications should be given only on a case-by-case basis with veterinary approval. * Check with individual airlines to discuss fees or restrictions such as those on carriers, breeds, or species. * Always exercise caution and consider all available options when traveling with a pet.
Travel News: Coffee Tourism, Setting Fire to Socks, and Dancing at the Whitney
From a Costa Rica coffee farm to one of NYC’s most storied art collections to the (literal) kickoff of flip-flop season, here's the latest trip-inspiring travel news: COFFEE TOURISM Starbucks just opened its Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center, part of its Costa Rican coffee farm. Visitors can experience coffee-making first-hand (“from seedling, to roasting, to tasting”), including Starbucks’ commitment to eco-friendly, sustainable “agronomy,” and the company’s Farmer Support Center. (starbucks.com) SETTING FIRE TO SOCKS On April 14, Panama City, FL, will celebrate the arrival of flip-flop season with its annual Burning of the Socks. Bring your socks to the marina and watch ’em go up in flames in a porcelain bathtub by the water. (destinationpanamacity.com) DANCING AT THE WHITNEY Artist Nick Mauss will present his first solo museum show in the U.S., at the Whitney, in New York City. Opening on March 16, the exhibit Transmissions “explores the reciprocal relationship of modernist ballet and the avant-garde in New York from the 1930s through the 1950s.” The twist? The exhibition will include daily dance performances in the Whitney’s eighth-floor Hurst Family Galleries. (whitney.org)
California’s Iconic Highway 1 Is Throwing a Party
Highway 1, California’s impossibly scenic coast-hugging drive, gets plenty of love from visitors, especially the throngs who hit the central coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But as those visitors gape at the ocean views and pull into scenic overlooks for Instagram-worthy pics, they may not realize that there are ample opportunities to immerse themselves further in the natural beauty, heritage, and marine life along the iconic route. HIGHWAY 1’S ANNUAL CELEBRATION STARTS IN JANUARY The 5th annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration, January 13 through February 28, 2018, gives travelers (and, of course, locals) the chance to explore everything that the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route has to offer, thanks to San Luis Obispo County, the California State Parks, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The celebration focuses on “stewardship travel” experiences such as nature walks, lighthouse tours, garden volunteering, natural history talks, and more that create a more meaningful - and more fun - travel experience, touching on history, heritage, and the natural life of the coast. While the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route offers 50 such experiences year-round, the annual celebration offers even more opportunities to experience the coast as locals do. COASTAL STEWARDSHIP ACTIVITIES FOR 2018 All along the 101 miles of the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route, which links 10 diverse communities from just south of Big Sur to just south of San Luis Obispo (approximately halfway between S.F. and L.A.), activities will include a film festival featuring the incredible undersea documentary Disneynature Oceans at the Hearst Castle, Sharks After Dark at the Central Coast Aquarium, wine tastings at the Pacific Coast Wine Trail’s six tasting rooms, off-roading adventures in the Oceano Dunes, and much more. AFFORDABLE LODGING ON CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL COAST Many local hotels and motels in coastal communities are offering special lodging packages during the Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration. Good deals can also be found at Budget Travel’s Book a Hotel page.
Wildfires devastate Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Wildfires have devastated some of Tennessee’s most popular travel destinations. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed due to the intense and unpredictable fires, which are the result of what firefighters are characterizing as a “perfect storm” of drought and high winds gusting up to 70 mph. The town of Gatlinburg has been evacuated, with approximately 14,000 people hitting the road ahead of flames and dangerously thick smoke; residents and visitors in Pigeon Forge, home to the Dollywood theme park, are also leaving the area. At Dollywood, staff evacuated park cabins and the DreamMore Resort, with local county school buses providing emergency transportation. My colleague Laura Brown, Senior Product Manager, Advertising, at Lonely Planet USA and Budget Travel, went to college in east Tennessee and provided some firsthand insight into what this fire feels like: “To watch the news about the fire is heartbreaking - not just the devastation to Gatlinburg, which is a gem on its own, but the fire tore through some of my favorite trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Those trails feel like friends.” The situation is evolving, and the only certainty at press time is that the damage to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and to downtown Gatlinburg, two places that are dear to Budget Travelers across the U.S., is severe. The most recent reports are that Gatlinburg has lost around 150 buildings to fire, with some additional structures still burning. We’ll learn more about the state of Great Smoky Mountains National Park from park rangers in the near future, and we urge fans of the park to bear in mind that fire is a natural part of the resilient forest ecosystem. If you’d like to help evacuees, Tennessean.com, the website of The Tennessean newspaper, has published the following ways to donate: * Yassin's Falafel House is collecting cases of water and Gatorade in the public parking lot adjacent to 706 Walnut Street in downtown Knoxville from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. [Tuesday November 29] or until the truck is full. * Barker Lounge at 1301 Main Street in Sevierville and Blount County Animal Control at 233 Currie Avenue in Maryville are taking displaced animals and need animal related supplies including food and crates. * The Knoxville Expo Center is accepting donations at 5441 Clinton Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37912 * TheYMCA in East Tennessee is accepting donations at all locations. * Remote Area Medical is accepting donations at is headquarters at 2220 Stock Creek Boulevard in Rockford. * Lafollette Church of God at 1906 Jacksboro Pike, LaFollette, is accepting food and water donations. * Blount Partnership, at 201 S. Washington Street in Maryville and Townsend Visitors Center at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway are accepting donations for water and food for animals and more. * Christ the Rock Church of God is collecting food and water donations at 4306 Washington Pike in Knoxville.