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Travel News: World’s 100 Best Bars, Kayak’s Holiday Travel Hacker Guide, and the New Longest Flight on Earth

By The Budget Travel Editors
October 9, 2018
Two glasses filled with ice and bourbon
Bhofack2/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 raising a glass in the very finest establishments in London, New York, and beyond to nabbing holiday travel bargains (yes, now!) thanks to Kayak, this week’s travel news is all about inspiring and empowering you to plan your next great getaway.

WORLD’S 100 BEST BARS

Chefs and restaurateurs have the James Beard Awards and Michelin Stars to acknowledge their superiority, and bartenders and bar operators have World’s 50 Best Bars, which, curiously, is really 100 best bars. Sort of. The 51 to 100 list is looked at as something of a runners-up category—honorable mentions. They were announced in mid-September and the 50 best were announced in London on October 3. The top prize went to Dandelyan, a London bar with inventive, whimsical drinks, but in a sad twist, just days before the awards, the bar announced it will be closing in the coming months. In the 51-100 list, 28 cities in 19 countries were represented, with the U.S. leading the pack with 12 bars, seven of which are located in New York City, and 13 in Asia. The New York spots include the compact amaro-focused Amor y Amargo, Brooklyn’s French-accented Maison Premiere, where absinthe drinks abound, and the Latin-tinged Leyenda, also in Brooklyn. The Aviary outpost in Chicago and NYC, both part of uber-chef Grant Achatz’s empire, each got a nod, as did the vibrant Anvil in Houston and the laidback, hip, classics-focused ABV in San Francisco.

For the World’s 50 Best Bars, the U.S. and U.K. had the biggest showing, with 10 bars each. The handsome, sophisticated yet funky NoMad, in the NoMad Hotel in New York’s SoHo, was the highest ranking American bar. It’s the third year it received a spot on the top ten. It’s followed by Dante, a relatively new bar situated in a landmark restaurant space and focused on creative aperitif drinks, clocked in at number 9, and Attaboy, a speakeasy-style bar, followed at number 15. The list is determined by votes from 510 drinks experts, including bartenders, writers, and other aficionados. 

KAYAK’S HOLIDAY TRAVEL HACKER GUIDE

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who’ll be hitting the road, rails, or skies during the winter holidays, it’s time to start planning. In need of a little inspiration? Booking platform Kayak recently released its 2018 Holiday Travel Hacker Guide, naming the lowest airfares to popular North American destinations from mid-November to early January, and travelers have plenty of affordable options, from familiar heavy hitters like New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas to surprisingly budget-friendly cities like Orlando. (Yes, Disney World is a madhouse between Christmas and New Year’s, but there’s more to this Florida theme-park mecca than mouse ears and Magic Kingdoms.) For something more low-key, head south to Atlanta, Charleston, or Nashville for a slower-paced, warm-weather holiday, or look to our neighbors to the north—Toronto and Vancouver, specifically—for a more traditional, snow-filled experience. Looking to ring in the New Year with sand and sun? You’re in luck: The Caribbean is calling, with cheap flights to the Bahamas, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Aruba.

Overall, you’ll find the best deals if you’re willing to fly on the holiday itself, but if you prefer to wake up in your destination on Christmas morning or New Year’s Eve, traveling the day before may be your best option. For domestic New Year’s travel, booking six weeks out should get you the best fares, and for December travel, booking about four weeks out seems to be the sweet spot. You’ll want to keep an eye on those prices, though: We recommend setting up alerts with fare-watch services like Skyscanner, Google Flights, Hopper, and, of course, Kayak, to cover your bases.

THE NEW LONGEST FLIGHT ON EARTH

For those of us who consider a five- or six-hour transatlantic or transcontinental flight a little tedious, consider this: 19 hours from Singapore to Newark, NJ. That will be the new world record for the longest flight when Singapore Airlines launches the new flights on October 11. (The previous record holder was from Perth, Australia, to London, at around 17.5 hours.) If Singapore is on your bucket list, the flights will depart three times per week and you’ll fly in the new Airbus A350-900 ULR.

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Travel News: Airline Passenger Rights Get a Boost, Unclaimed Baggage Goes to Charity, and a Spooky New Halloween Tradition Is Born

If you care about getting more legroom in coach, traveling with furry friends or kids, and your overall rights as an airline passenger, this week’s big travel news will be sure to lift your mood. AIRLINE PASSENGER RIGHTS GET A BOOST Remember all those hassle-free on-time flights you've taken recently? Um... neither do we. But help may be on the way. The Senate just passed a measure that, if signed into law, would give airline passengers’ rights a much-needed boost. Highlights include: Passengers who have boarded a plane cannot be “bumped.” (You may recall that incidents of seated passengers being asked to leave the plane can turn ugly.)Cell phone calls are prohibited between takeoff and landing. (Just because you have access to in-flight Wi-Fi doesn't mean you have the right to jibber-jabber on your phone.)Pregnant passengers and families with babies and small children will have the right to early boarding and increased access to airport breastfeeding and diaper-changing areas.Passengers can check a stroller at the gate.It will be illegal to stow an animal in an overhead bin. (Duh, we thought that should have been obvious, but now it's the law.)The FAA will establish a minimum seat size (to address the “shrinking seat” trend).UNCLAIMED BAGGAGE GOES TO CHARITY Did you know that lost airline luggage is helping hundreds of thousands of people? It's all thanks to the Unclaimed Baggage Center, in Scottsboro, Ala., and its Reclaimed for Good program. More than 1 million lost items arrive at the Unclaimed Baggage Center annually. If the airlines cannot reunite the baggage with its owner after 90 days, the Unclaimed Baggage Center purchases it (and the airline reimburses passengers for lost baggage) and partners with multiple charities, including donating nearly one-third of these unclaimed items to Reclaimed for Good, which in turn donates an array of useful items to organizations that assist families, seniors, people with disabilities, and children in need. Learn more about the Unclaimed Baggage Center store, opportunities to “shop for a cause” during the holidays (or any time), and the Reclaimed for Good program at unclaimedbaggage.com. A SPOOKY NEW HALLOWEEN TRADITION IN SLEEPY HOLLOW, NY As if the name “Sleepy Hollow” wasn’t already spine-tingling enough, a brand-new haunting creative collaboration in the New York village’s historic Philipsburg Manor debuts this Halloween season. “The Unsilent Picture” is an original silent film starring Tony-Award-winning actor/dancer/clown Bill Irwin (perhaps best known as Mister Noodle on Sesame Street) accompanied by live musicians and special effects. Running October 5 through Halloween and inspired by Washington Irving’s spooky tale “The Adventure of the Mysterious Picture,” the film can easily be combined with a visit to the annual Horseman's Hollow fright fest on the grounds of Philipsburg Manor. Learn more at hudsonvalley.org.

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Travel News: Safest Neighborhoods for LGBTQ Travelers, TSA PreCheck May Get Faster, Yellowstone-Area Grizzlies Are Protected From Hunters

From some of the coolest urban neighborhoods in the world to the wildest regions of the American west - not to mention the ever-exciting world of airport security - this week’s travel news is all about ensuring a rewarding experience for everyone. SAFEST NEIGHBORHOODS FOR LGBTQ TRAVELERS Although we’re not hand-wringing worrywarts when it comes to safety, we are strong advocates for travelers who may be at increased risk for discrimination or harm on the road. We welcome GeoSure’s new LGBTQ Safety ratings category on its award-winning travel-safety smartphone app (geosureglobal.com). The app now rates the “likelihood of harm or discrimination against LGBTQ persons or groups and level of caution required at location.” Among the safest neighborhoods for LGBTQ travelers: Amsterdam’s Centrum neighborhoodThe Castro District in San FranciscoBerlin’s SchönebergneighborhoodBarcelona’s Eixample neighborhoodTel Aviv’s City Center / Florentin neighborhoodMichael Becker, CEO of GeoSure, says “Whether traveling for business, leisure or study abroad, our singular focus is providing the most rapid safety awareness, granular to the neighborhood level, to help people have the smoothest trip experience possible.” TSA PRECHECK MAY GET FASTER If you’re the type of traveler who simply can’t get through airport security fast enough, Congress recently put aside its trademark partisan bickering to approve a bill that may help. The “PreCheck Is PreCheck Act of 2018” (yes, that’s the bill’s actual name, because apparently someone believes our attention spans can no longer accommodate further nuance or detail) aims to ensure that only TSA PreCheck members and their traveling companions younger than 12 and older than 75 are allowed to use the PreCheck line. If the Senate passes the bill and it is signed into law, will it make airport security more efficient? We’re guessing it may, but only for PreCheck members, who, after all, have ponied up the $85 fee and undergone a background check for the privilege of breezing through security). But by curtailing the common practice of allowing TSA agents to direct non-PreCheck members to PreCheck lines during periods of high congestion (and we know how some of you don’t care for that practice), the law could very well create more overall problems than it solves. YELLOWSTONE-AREA GRIZZLIES ARE PROTECTED FROM HUNTERS For those of us who love Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the hunting of grizzly bears in Idaho and Wyoming was concerning. We applaud the ruling by a U.S. District Judge to restore protection under the Endangered Soecies Act, noting that opening up the region to grizzly hunting (known as de-listing) fails to take into account the impact on the species throughout the lower 48 states.

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Travel News: Fake Hotel Reviews Can Land You in Jail, Christmas Flight Booking Tips, and the World's Best Wine List Is in Tennessee

From the shadier-than-you-thought world of online hotel reviews to expert data-driven strategies for nabbing holiday flight bargains to an award-winning restaurant wine list in an unexpected place, this week’s travel news is all about surprises that may change your travel assumptions. FAKE HOTEL REVIEWS CAN LAND YOU IN JAIL We’ve always known that writing fake hotel reviews is wrong. But now somebody is actually going to do time for it. The owner of an Italian company, PromoSalento, that accepted money from hotels to post fake reviews on TripAdvisor has been sentenced to nine months in prison and fined more than $9,000. TripAdvisor has been investigating and removing fake reviews by PromoSalento since 2015. If TripAdvisor notifies a hotel that it is engaging in fake reviews and the hotel fails to act, users are warned that the hotel may be manipulating its reviews. The jail sentence for writing fake reviews is the first of its kind. CHRISTMAS FLIGHT BOOKING TIPS With fewer than 100 days until Christmas, we reached out to our data-crunching friends at Skyscanner.com, the global travel search engine, who have collated and analyzed data from its more than 60 million monthly users to deliver the 411 on holiday air travel: Best week to buy domestic Christmas flights: This week (September 17 - 23), with potential savings of 15 percent.Best month to book domestic Christmas flights: SeptemberWorst weeks to book domestic Christmas flights: December 17 - 23.THE BEST WINE LIST IN THE WORLD IS IN TENNESSEE The World of Fine Wine, in association with Gaggenau, has announced the 2018 World’s Best Wine Lists Awards winners, and we were psyched to see that the winner of the Wine List of the Year 2018 is The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tennessee. The awards are based on a wine list’s “breadth, depth, interest, quality, value, clarity and accuracy.” And while you might assume that the world’s finest wine list might be developed in, say, Tuscany, the Loire, or Napa, Blackberry Farm’s list of more than 9,000 selections was developed in the Great Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee.

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Travel News: 10 Tasty Food Festivals for Autumn 2018

Apples and pumpkin-spiced everything are as much a part of autumn as foliage and trick-or-treating, but there's more to seasonal flavors than oversize gourds and crisp early-harvest McIntoshes. Throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean, local and regional culinary customs have become reasons to celebrate--some of them distinct and intriguing enough for hungry travelers to check out and see for themselves. We rounded up 10 unique and delicious events that are worth the trip this gorgeous season.  1. Festival and Flavor: Beer, Food & Football: Foley, AL Fall weekends were pretty much made for college football in Alabama, so you better believe that a food festival on a Saturday in Alabama is going to feature plenty of pigskin. The Festival and Flavor event, which is taking place for the seventh year in Foley, about 40 miles southeast of Mobile, near the Gulf Shore, will have televisions broadcasting the day’s games so fans don’t have to miss a beat as they sample bites from area food trucks and local restaurants and chefs. And that’s to say nothing about the wine and beer that will be poured. Each entrance ticket comes with three drinks and unlimited food. Additionally, jewelry, soaps and oils, pottery, and heaps more from local makers will be on sale. ($20 adults, $10 kids under 13; October 6, alabamafestivalofflavor.com)   2. Harvest Festival at El Ranch de las Golondrinas: Santa Fe, NM New Mexico’s traditions, from crafts to food, are the draw at this Harvest Festival, which takes place at Santa Fe's El Ranch de las Golondrinas, a sprawling, living history museum devoted to preserving the traditions of Hispanic culture of Spanish colonial, Mexican, and Territorial New Mexico during the 18th and 19th centuries. Throughout the festival weekend, El Ranch, which consists of over 30 historical buildings and agricultural fields on 200 acres, becomes a flurry of museum staffers and volunteers dressed up as “villagers” and leading guests in time-honored activities, like crushing grapes by foot in deerskin vats (kids only, please), pressing apples for cider, making tortillas, and grinding sorghum for molasses. There’s also an artists' market, live music, and mule-drawn carriage rides. ($8 adults, kids under 12 free; October 6-7, golondrinas.org/festivals/harvest-festival) 3. Hometown Homegrown: Pittsburgh, PA It’s fitting that the John Heinz History Center, an institution named for the late senator, Pittsburgh native son, and descendant of the ketchup kingpin. After all, is there any food item more popular than that iconic condiment? Pittsburgh’s food scene is quickly gaining visibility on the national radar, and all the reasons why are available for sampling at Hometown Homegrown. Local chefs, food purveyors, distillers, and brewers will be on hand for the one-day event, where they’ll participate in cooking demos and showcase their specialties—not to mention their hometown pride. With tables organized by neighborhood, the expo provides a flavorful map of Steel City’s exciting and ever-evolving culinary landscape. ($16; October 20, goodtastepittsburgh.com/hometown-homegrown) 4. Sauerkraut Festival: Waynesville, OH It was October 1970 when the Waynesville Retail Merchants served a sauerkraut dinner as part of a sidewalk sale. About 1,500 visitors indulged in 528 pounds of fermented cabbage during that inaugural meal, and now, nearly half a century later, the annual event draws some 350,000 visitors who collectively consume no less than seven tons of sauerkraut—and not just piled on bratwurst. Yes, you can get cabbage rolls and a Reuben—from a variety of vendors, in fact—but some maverick chefs have been known to push boundaries, dishing out sauerkraut pizza, brownies, pies, donuts, and bread. There are local purveyors selling non-cabbage nourishment too, with 450-plus vendors from 25 states offering handmade goods and art over the course of the two-day event. (Free; October 13-14, sauerkrautfestial.waynesvilleohio.com) 5. Cranberry Fest: Eagle River, WI The berry that’s all too often relegated to juice or pigeonholed in its role as a Thanksgiving dinner side dish gets the spotlight during the first weekend in October at the Cranberry Fest in Eagle River, Wisconsin, about 100 miles south of Lake Superior. Tours of the nearby cranberry marsh will run Thursday through Sunday and include shuttle transportation (reservations required). But on the weekend, you can try more cranberry food and drink than you ever imagined—cranberry brats, char-broiled chicken sandwiches, soups, beer, and baked goods. In fact, there’s an entire tent where you can buy sweet treats to take home for later. And that’s to say nothing of the 10,000 pounds of fresh local cranberries and craisins expected to be sold that weekend. Add to that live music and nearly 300 vendors selling original arts and crafts, as well as dining and shopping activities off the festival grounds, and you’ll end up with enough to do to fill the whole weekend. (Free; October 6-7, eagleriver.org/featured/cranberry-fest) 6. Harvest Fair: Bristol, RI Leave it to a New England institution to show you how farmers lived, circa 18th century. And in Bristol, a harbor town established in 1680 that became a seafaring commerce and industry hub in the subsequent two centuries, farming life was vibrant, so history is rich. Coggeshall Farm Museum preserves it magnificently year-round and during special events, like the 45th annual Harvest-to-Table Fair combines old-world regional foodways (see: johnnycakes, a signature of the museum’s eatery) with a showcase of the area’s contemporary food scene. East Bay chefs will be presenting samples of seasonal dishes, largely made with local ingredients. But back to the 18th century. There will be plenty of ways for kids to get a sense of life back then with pony rides, hayrides and art and craft activities. (Free; October 14, coggeshallfarm.org/events-programs-and-workshops) 7. Chicago Gourmet: Chicago, IL (chicagogourmet.org)Chicago’s high-profile, Bon Appetit-sponsored culinary fest is just over a week away, and while the weekend’s main event is sold out (and at $310 a head, it wasn’t exactly budget-friendly to begin with), you can still snag tickets to some mouth-wateringly tempting ancillary affairs. The crowd-favorite Hamburger Hop may be at capacity, but tickets for the after-party—dubbed Late Night Gourmet, with small bites, cocktails, a dance floor, and DJ-driven beats—are still available. Blues, Booze & Bites at River Roast takes the “chefs are the new rock stars” meme literally, with an assortment of local talent serving up snacks and suds as everyone rocks out on the waterfront. Perhaps most relevant to the peripatetic set is Global StrEATS, a celebration of international street fare from Chicago chefs of wide-ranging cultural influences. But if only the main event will do, day passes are still available for Sunday, but they’re going fast, so you’ll want to grab them asap. (From $40 for individual events; Sept. 28-30, chicagogourmet.org) 8. New York African Week Food Festival, New York, NY Historic Harlem plays host to the Taste of Africa Festival, part of African Restaurant Week. Flavors from all over the continent will be shared by more than 25 area restaurants and food purveyors. Plus chefs from far and wide, as well as down the block, are part of a packed schedule of food demos. But this festival is about more than eating your way through a mid-October Saturday. Check out the fashion, beauty, and cultural items for sale and DJ sessions as you learn everything you never thought to ask about the foodways of many different African nations. (From $12; Oct. 13, purchase tickets here.) 9. Toast of Brooklyn: Brooklyn, NY Few places in the United States are more culturally diverse than Queens and Brooklyn, a fact that manifests in the rich culinary landscape of each borough. The bounty of the latter takes center stage at the annual Toast of Brooklyn, which started in 2007 as a celebration of the socioeconomic revitalization of Bedford Stuyvesant. Today it takes place at the William Vale, a sleek boutique hotel in the ultra-hip Williamsburg neighborhood. The walk-around tasting, a fundraiser, will include bites from chefs who helm area restaurants. Accompany those with what promises to be an exciting assortment of beer and spirits, from small batch Brooklyn-made hooch to familiar global brands. There are two tasting sessions (12:30pm-4:30pm; 5:30pm to 9:30pm) ($60; thetoastofbrooklyn.com, Nov. 13)  10. St. Bart's Gourmet Festival: Saint Bart’s, West Indies One year after hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on the Caribbean, Saint Bart’s is bouncing back. Most of the the island’s villas and hotels have reopened for business, and its pricier signature resorts are slated to welcome guests within the next few months—just in time for the fifth-annual St. Bart’s Gourmet Festival in early November. The four-day event features multi-course tasting menus from Michelin-starred French chefs for the high-rollers and free activities everyone else. Cheer on local mixologists at the bartender competition, support aspiring pastry masters at Les Petites Toques, where kids 15 and under battle for dessert supremacy; check out the Chefs Challenge, a cook-off judged by this year’s guest chefs; and take in La Course des Garçons de Café, in which business-attire-clad servers race down the street bearing trays laden with bottles and glasses, and the first to cross the finish line with their tray intact takes home the prize. (From $110 for fixed-price menus; November 1-4, stbarthgourmetfestival.com)

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