Credit: narvikk / Vetta / Getty Images
Credit: narvikk / Vetta / Getty Images

Know Before You Go

Travel is always changing. There are new trendy spots emerging, new rules going into effect, new products being created, new hotels and attractions opening. Staying on top of all the latest news and information will ensure that you don’t miss out on a great vacation.

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Best Country to Keep Watch On: Cuba

Best Country to Keep Watch On: Cuba

Airlines, hotel chains, cruise companies and US travelers alike are all hopeful for an official removal of the travel ban on Cuba after President Obama’s announcement of plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with the Caribbean country. With the possibility of this once-difficult-to-visit destination’s rigid travel restrictions easing up, our dreams of mojito-fueled nights of salsa dancing in colorful, classic-car-lined streets will be that much easier to attain.  960 1280

Walter Bibikow  

Best Meal-to-Go: Beefsteak

Best Meal-to-Go: Beefsteak

Move over, bacon: Veggies are getting the celeb-chef treatment this year. Chef José Andrés is taking on the trend of fast-casual restaurants and opening a vegetable-focused chain in early 2015. It’s called Beefsteak (named after a type of tomato, for those who don’t know) and will serve up healthy food, fast. While steering away from calling it a vegetarian restaurant, Andrés wants merely to make meat the side dish for once and celebrate the unsung power of vegetables while bringing wholesome food to the masses.   960 1280

The Washington Post  

Best Under-the-Radar Destination: Guatemala

Best Under-the-Radar Destination: Guatemala

While other Latin America countries have been more on the radar for travelers — especially Mexico and Costa Rica — Guatemala hasn’t received the tourism spotlight it deserves. With 33 volcanoes, a World Heritage Site in the city of Antigua, Mayan ruins, and the mystical volcano-ringed Lake Atitlán​, Guatemala is brimming with intriguing history, colonial grandeur and outdoor adventures that will keep every type of traveler intrigued. Take in the breath-taking beauty of Guatemala at Casa Palopo, a boutique hotel with panoramic views of Lake Atitlán and 3 majestic volcanoes across the shore. ​ 960 1280

Image Source  

Best Reason to Take a Cruise: Total Solar Eclipse

Best Reason to Take a Cruise: Total Solar Eclipse

Think all cruises are the same? How about a cruise to see a rare eclipse? A total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015, will be visible from the remote Faroe Islands, between Norway and Iceland.  Several companies are offering cruises to witness this rare event, which will not happen again until 2026 and, if you’re lucky, could include another awe-inspiring show from Mother Nature — the northern lights. With pricey tickets selling out for a phenomenon that lasts no more than 2 minutes, 47 seconds, we imagine there will be many prayers made for a clear day. 960 1280

Karl Lehmann  

Best Extreme Sport: Volcano Boarding

Best Extreme Sport: Volcano Boarding

With new luxury eco-resorts cropping up, Nicaragua seems to be on every travel list for 2015. There’s 1 extreme sport in particular here that’s catching our attention: volcano boarding. Racing down an active volcano at speeds of up to 30 mph on a wooden sled — sounds like a life highlight, right? That is, if you don’t fall.  Adventure junkies should proceed with caution and wear protective gear, because you don’t want to get cut by volcanic ash on a tumble.  960 1280

Matthew Micah Wright  

Best Outdoor Adventure: Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Best Outdoor Adventure: Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Hollywood isn’t the only one trying to re-create Cheryl Strayed’s Wild journey; throngs of fans inspired by the best-selling author’s 1,100-mile solo trek are hitting the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the country’s longest and wildest thru-hikes, in record numbers. With the film adaption of <i>Wild</i>, we expect 2015 to usher in even more rookie hikers on the PCT. Embracing the growing interest, the Pacific Crest Trail is sharing fans’ stories and even Strayed’s exact route, so you can follow in the author’s footsteps. We suggest wearing better-fitting boots, though. 960 1280

Anne Marie Fox  

Best Reimagined Destination: Haiti

Best Reimagined Destination: Haiti

A Caribbean island nation with a vibrant Creole culture and stunning beaches, Haiti was a hot travel destination back in the 1970s, when the Clintons even honeymooned there. Now, 5 years after the devastating earthquake that shook the country, curious travelers and sustainable travel companies are trying to put this often-overlooked and feared destination back on the tourism map. Using local suppliers in an effort to keep money in the country, G Adventures is one of the pioneering companies that firmly believes tourism can be a force for good in Haiti — and it’s launching 5 Haiti trips in 2015 to prove it. 960 1280

  

Best US Comeback City: New Orleans

Best US Comeback City: New Orleans

Marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2015, New Orleans is celebrating its resiliant nature and welcoming travelers more than ever as it looks forward to its tricentennial in 2018.  So if you haven’t been to Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or eaten your way through the city, overindulging in beignets and shrimp po’boys, don’t go another year without visiting America’s comeback city.   960 1280

Franz Marc Frei  

Best Travel Gadget: Apple Watch

Best Travel Gadget: Apple Watch

With the highly anticipated Apple Watch going on sale in 2015, the travel world is gearing up to support wearable technology. A watch that doubles as a smartphone is the latest advance that will make it easier to plan and manage travel. Hotels, airlines and travel companies are now offering smartwatch apps that let you check in, book flights and download boarding passes … all from your wristwatch. With a hands-free device, it’s that much easier to score fleeting travel deals on the go, too.  960 1280

  

Best Travel App/Website: EatWith.com

Best Travel App/Website: EatWith.com

With the rising success of peer-to-peer websites such as Airbnb, start-ups are popping up using similar concepts but connecting travelers to foodies around the world. One of our favorites, EatWith.com, connects hosts who love to cook with travelers who want a taste of local cuisine. From a 9-course meal on a family farm in Florence, Italy, to sampling typical Peruvian dishes in the Andes Mountains, what could be a better way to experience a destination than to connect with locals over a homemade meal? 960 1280

  

Best Destination Wedding Spot: Florence, Italy

Best Destination Wedding Spot: Florence, Italy

With some of the world’s biggest celebrities — including most eligible bachelor George Clooney and internet-breaking Kim Kardashian — tying the knot in Italy in 2014, brides-to-be are imagining their own Italian fairy-tale weddings. Feel like a superstar yourself by saying your “I do’s” at the luxury hotel Il Salviatino, an exquisitely restored, 15th-century villa perched on the hillside of Fiesole with sweeping views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan countryside. Even if your groom isn’t George Clooney, you couldn’t have dreamed of a more romantic wedding destination.  960 1280

Antonio Pistillo  

Barton Springs (Austin, TX)
Barton Springs (Austin, TX)

Barton Springs (Austin, TX)

Locals enjoy year-round swimming at Barton Springs, a manmade swimming pool fed from underground springs that keep the water temperature a constant 70 degrees. Spanning 3 acres in Zilker Park, Barton Springs is home to grassy hills and moss-covered rocks that are ideal for sunbathing when it's equally nice outside. 960 1280

Wally Gobetz, flickr  

Central Park (New York City)

Central Park (New York City)

Central Park's iconic, 250-acre lawn is home to several sunbathing spots. Join the crowds on the Great Lawn or Sheep Meadow (where Wi-Fi is available) -- because isn't people watching half the fun? -- or sneak off to a more secluded corner on the East Green, which is also one of the park's quiet zones. 960 1280

iStock  

North Avenue Beach (Chicago)

North Avenue Beach (Chicago)

Try keeping Chi-Town residents off the Lake Michigan beachfront after surviving a subarctic winter. In May, North Avenue Beach becomes a hive of activity, with sand volleyball courts, access to water sports, Castaways restaurant and bar as well as unbeatable skyline views. 960 1280

Gezelle Rivera, flickr  

Charles River Esplanade (Boston)

Charles River Esplanade (Boston)

This wide, wooden pier attracts dog-walkers, joggers and bikers -- as it is best accessible via the Arthur Fiedler footbridge crossing Storrow Drive. Enjoy the only waterfront sunbathing spot within Boston city limits, and relax as teams of sailboats and racing college crews go by. 960 1280

Manindra Singh  

Dolores Park (San Francisco)

Dolores Park (San Francisco)

On weekends, Dolores Park in the Mission fills up with families on the playground, tennis players on the free courts and sunbathers on the grassy hill -- all seeking an urban "beach" with some of the most beautiful views of San Francisco. 960 1280

iStock  

Lake Calhoun (Minneapolis)

Lake Calhoun (Minneapolis)

The largest -- and most popular -- of Minneapolis's Chain of Lakes, Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach tends to attract a younger crowd for sunbathing, picnics and beach volleyball. The paved trail circling the lake, which is almost exactly a 5k, boasts views of downtown Minneapolis and is popular with cyclists, runners and walkers alike. 960 1280

twodolla, flickr  

Georgetown Waterfront (Washington, DC)

Georgetown Waterfront (Washington, DC)

The nation's capital is not known for lacking green space, but unabashed sunbathers eschew quieter neighborhood spots like Lincoln and Meridian Hill parks for the bustling Georgetown Waterfront. Walkers and joggers take advantage of the paved paths along the Potomac River; children run through the 50-foot-wide fountain; professionals spill out onto the decks of waterfront bars; and a lucky few party on docked boats. 960 1280

iStock  

Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City, AZ)

Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu City, AZ)

There's no shortage of sunshine in the desert, but you still might be surprised to find this spring break oasis on the Colorado River between California and Arizona. On nice weekends Arizona college students, boating enthusiasts and retirees alike trade in the community pool for Rotary Beach's pristine sands and calm waters (due to a no-wake zone). 960 1280

Rick Taylor  

Volunteer Park (Seattle)

Volunteer Park (Seattle)

North Capitol Hill's 45-acre Volunteer Park is perfect for sunbathing when there's a reprieve from Seattle's perpetual rain. See the Space Needle and Olympic Mountains, meant to be viewed through Isamu Noguchi's 1969 sculpture, Black Sun, then visit the Seattle Asian Art Museum (located in the middle of the park) and 5 adjacent green houses -- after you've covered up, of course. 960 1280

Eric Frommer, flickr  

Cheesman Park (Denver)

Cheesman Park (Denver)

Bordered on 3 sides by private residences and apartment buildings, Cheesman Park's beautifully manicured lawns are a hidden respite from the city. There's a running trail, beautiful pavilion, children’s playground and roughly 80 acres of green space to throw a frisbee, fly a kite or just stretch out with a book -- if you can get over the fact that you're sunbathing over scores of unmarked graves. No seriously, Cheesman Park used to be Prospect Hill Cemetery, boasting ghost tours as well as botanical gardens. 960 1280

Marketing Punk, flickr  

Sri Lanka
Southern Asia Trek

Southern Asia Trek

"A budgetista when it comes to travel, I can't even imagine how far a budget of $10,000 would take me! Instead of going the luxe route, I'd use this ample amount of cash to fund a long trip … perhaps a grand tour of less-than-easy places to get to in southern Asia. I’d love to see the happiest people on in Earth in Bhutan, tour the temples in Nepal, go tea-house trekking in Sri Lanka … and just keep on travelin’ until the money runs out." -- Kathleen, Interactive Producer
ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN $10,000 NOW!
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iStock  

First-Class Flight to Dubai

First-Class Flight to Dubai

"Fly first-class to <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/travel-trends-2013-dubai">Dubai</a>! $10,000 will get you a round-trip first-class ticket from New York to Dubai. Just remember: When traveling to a city that uses Lamborghinis for police cars, it’s important to arrive in style."  -- <i>Josh, Online Production Manager</i>  960 1280

Alan64 / iStock / Getty Images  

Golf at St. Andrews Links

Golf at St. Andrews Links

"With $10,000, I would take 3 of my best friends to <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/travel-trends-2013-scotland">Scotland</a> for the ultimate golf adventure. After arriving in the “Home of Golf,” we’d hit St. Andrews Links for not 1, but 2 incredibly tough rounds of golf. On day 1, we’d play the famed “Old Course,” then on day 2, see how it compares to St. Andrew’s new course (although I should mention, the “New Course” was designed in 1894 by Old Tom Morris)." -- <i>Ben, Interactive Producer</i>  960 1280

Digital Echos / iStock / Getty Images  

Whirlwind Tour Around the World

Whirlwind Tour Around the World

"As a mileage runner and rock climber, I’d fly around the world -- first stops in Paris and Cape Town for bouldering, in Fontainebleau and Rocklands respectively. Then continue on to Tokyo for some sashimi, with a final stop in Buenos Aires, just because I’ve never been there. Besides the fun, this trip would earn me 47K elite qualifying miles, which will help me maintain my Delta elite flyer status." -- Arthur, Video Project Manager 960 1280

Getty Images  

Amazing Amalfi Coast Getaway

Amazing Amalfi Coast Getaway

"I would probably make my $10,000 last as long as possible and save most of it. However, I’d throw some caution to the wind and splurge a little on a fun getaway to Italy’s Amalfi Coast or Spain to explore the Canary Islands, Ibiza, Costa del Sol and Seville." -- Kwin, Managing Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Great Greek Adventure

Great Greek Adventure

"I’d take that $10,000 and hop on the next flight to Greece, where I’d charter a yacht and sail the Aegean. I’m not talking a big, hulking cruise ship with subpar onboard meals and a set itinerary -- my Greek adventure would include a gorgeous sailboat and a personal skipper who’d chart an off-the-beaten-path course. I’d spend my days admiring the crystal-clear waters, exploring ancient ruins and dining on fresh seafood. Oh, and drinking plenty of ouzo." -- Allee, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Scotland Road Trip

Scotland Road Trip

"I'm currently planning a spring trip to Scotland, so $10,000 would come in handy! I'd rent a car and explore the arts-and-culture hub of Glasgow, historic Edinburgh and then head north to Inverness, castle trail and the Highlands. Or, I'd stay in a castle in Stirling, and then charter a boat to see the Inner and Outer Hebrides, like Skye (beautiful craggy mountains) and Islay (famous for malt whisky distillation). Actually, I could do it ALL for $10,000, and still have change to spare." -- Liz, Photo Editor 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Tuscany Bike Tour

Tuscany Bike Tour

"I'd spend my $10,000 on la dolce vita! I'd book the first flight to Firenze, where I'd indulge in Italian food, culture and fashion. I would attend Cucina con Vista, where I'd attempt to learn how to cook from chef Elena Mattei, and then peddling it off on a Backroads bike tour of Tuscany, drinking in the Renaissance architecture, scenic olive orchards -- and private wine tastings." -- Sara, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Getty Images  

Italy's Wine Country

Italy's Wine Country

“I use the $10,000 to travel through Italy’s wine country. I would sip my way through the vineyards in Tuscany and eat authentic Italian food until my heart’s content. The money would also give me the opportunity to see where some of my family originated from and experience Italian culture at its best.” -- Kristen, Photo Editor 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Jao Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Jao Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

“With $10,000, I would take my husband home. Ha! Seriously, he was born in Uganda and he hasn’t been back since he was 2 years old. We’d travel around the country, and also visit Rwanda (where his mother was born) and Botswana, where we’d experience the ultimate sleepover at Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta.” -- Rani, Managing Producer 960 1280

Wilderness Safaris  

Puget Sound, Seattle
Puget Sound, Seattle

Puget Sound, Seattle

How does billionaire mogul Christian Grey seduce Anastasia “Ana” Steele, his love interest, in the Fifty Shades trilogy? In many, many ways. A romantic jaunt on a private sailboat on Seattle’s Puget Sound was just one of the first. 960 1280

ThinkStock  

Edgewater Hotel

Edgewater Hotel

Seattle’s picturesque (and waterfront!) Edgewater Hotel offers fans a way to have their own Fifty Shades-inspired steamy rendezvous. The hotel’s Shades of Romance package includes exploring the city in an Audi, a romantic sail on Puget Sound and a bottle of Bollinger Rose champagne. 960 1280

Edgewater Hotel  

Gliding in Georgia

Gliding in Georgia

Christian Grey, a man who loves his toys, surprises Ana in Georgia with a heart-pounding gliding excursion. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Heathman Hotel

Heathman Hotel

Heathman Hotel in Portland is the site of Christian and Ana’s first romantic romp. The hotel celebrates this honor by offering the Charlie Tango package, which includes drinks, private dinner and a helicopter tour of Portland. For just a touch of ambiance, you can get a bottle of wine, a grey tie (fans will know the meaning) and a rose in your hotel room for just $40. 960 1280

Heathman Hotel  

Escala

Where in Seattle would a billionaire like Christian Grey live? The luxury condo Escala is getting a lot of attention from fans as the character’s home in the trilogy, though the author took creative liberties (the residents don’t arrive via helicopter on the roof). Located in the Belltown neighborhood, the Escala’s luxuries include: a private spa, a dining room that seats up to 140 guests, a theatre and even a dog run (not that Mr. Grey would ever be domestic enough for a pet). The 5,100-square-foot penthouse has magnificent views of the Seattle skyline, Olympic Mountains and Elliot Bay, and only for a mere $6 million. 960 1280

Nickk88, flickr  

Brown's Hotel, London

Christian Grey surprises his new wife by taking her to her dream destination on their honeymoon: London. The couple stays at the Brown’s Hotel, a 5-star hotel that opened in 1837. Located in Mayfair, one of London’s most prestigious neighborhoods, Brown’s is known for its elite guests and old-world sophistication. 960 1280

The Rocco Forte Collection  

Cannes, France

Cannes, France

Fifty Shades Freed, the third and final book of the trilogy, begins with Christian and Ana’s steamy European honeymoon to the French Riviera aboard a luxury yacht. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Fair Lady

Christian and Ana's romance takes to the Mediterranean on this refit luxury motor yacht built in 1928. Modern luxuries and charming cabins make this the ultimate honeymoon escape for high-roller romantics. 960 1280

BURGESS  

Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Saint-Paul-de-Vence

During their honeymoon, Ana takes a shopping trip to the charming Saint-Paul-de-Vence -- a hilltop village in Provence that’s full of art galleries, boutiques and quaint cafés. 960 1280

Caterina Bernardi  

Le Saint Paul Hotel

Le Saint Paul Hotel

Located in the town Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Le Saint Paul Hotel is one of the few places outside of their bedroom where Ana and Christian spend time on their honeymoon. They have lunch and coffee on the hotel's charming terrace. 960 1280

Le Saint Paul Hotel  

Palace of Versailles, Hall of Mirrors

Palace of Versailles, Hall of Mirrors

During their honeymoon, Christian and Ana visit the Palace of Versailles and find themselves in the Hall of Mirrors, the most famous room in the 18th-century palace. 960 1280

  

Aspen, CO

Aspen, CO

Fans will not forget Christian Grey’s impressive Aspen getaway, a far cry from a bare-bones cabin in the woods. You might not have a private jet to get you there, but Aspen is the perfect spot for a romantic weekend, snow or no snow. 960 1280

Michael Hefferon  

Virgin Atlantic Airlines

Virgin Atlantic Airlines

The Mile High Club is so last year. A copy of Fifty Shades is the new way to heat up your next flight. Virgin Atlantic Airways is offering the steamy read in an audio version as part of their in-flight entertainment system. 960 1280

Virgin Atlantic  

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, royal baby, princess
Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge gave the paparazzi and dozens of anxious spectators their first glimpse of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana – weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces – as they walked outside of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, on May 2, 2015. 960 1280

Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images  

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Airport’s military terminal for a windy start to their tour on April 7, 2014, in Wellington, New Zealand. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on a 3-week tour of Australia and New Zealand, their first official trip overseas with their son. 960 1280

Samir Hussein/WireImage  

Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge joined 10 other babies and their parents for a playdate at the Government House, the principal residence of the Governor-General of New Zealand. With George being just 8 months old, his first major royal engagement involved lots of toys and attempting to eat his mother’s famous locks. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The royal baby has finally arrived! Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge appear with their baby son, as they stand outside St. Mary's Hospital, in central London. 960 1280

Reuters  

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge arrive for a service of celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the Coronation Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey. 960 1280

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images  

Prince Harry walks with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as they view areas of the boardwalk that have been repaired in Seaside Heights, a beach town in New Jersey hit by Hurricane Sandy. 960 1280

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson  

During a visit to the US, Prince Harry visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. 960 1280

REUTERS/Charles Dharapak/Pool  

Prince Harry plays sitting volleyball with members of the British Warrior Games team, before the opening of the Warrior Games at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. The Warrior Games is a Paralympic-style competition featuring injured servicemen and women from the US, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. 960 1280

REUTERS/Rick Wilking  

Prince Harry kneels down at the bottom of a pyramid of cheerleaders, US and British military officials and near the U.S. Air Force Academy mascot "The Bird" at the academy in Colorado Springs, CO. 960 1280

REUTERS/Rick Wilking  

The royal couple visit Singapore Botanical Gardens on their Diamond Jubilee tour. 960 1280

Nicky Loh/Getty Images  

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge walks past the super trees during a visit to Gardens By The Bay as part of their Diamond Jubilee tour in Singapore. 960 1280

Nicky Loh/Getty Images  

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge tour the Kranji War Memorial in Signapore on their Diamond Jubilee Tour of the Far East. 960 1280

Chris McGrath/Getty Images  

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge travel in a special boat vehicle as they arrive at Honiara International Airport during their Diamond Jubilee tour of the Far East in Honiara, Guadalcanal Island. 960 1280

Chris Jackson/Getty Images  

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, ride a traditional war canoe as they arrive in Tavanipupu, Solomon Islands. 960 1280

REUTERS/Rick Rycroft/Pool  

Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, cross a bridge at the Borneo Rainforest Research Center in Danum Valley on the island of Borneo. The royal couple are on a nine-day tour of Southeast Asia and the South Pacific on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee. 960 1280

REUTERS/Mohd Rasfan/Pool  

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge reviews a Guard of Honour as he visits the Istana on day 1 of their Diamond Jubilee tour in Singapore. 960 1280

Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, Singapore  

Catherine Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Albert II of Monaco and official team GB ambassador Robin Cousins watch Synchronized Swimming at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 960 1280

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images  

Prince Harry talks to Gold medal winning rower Sophie Hosking at Team GB House in the Westfield Centre at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 960 1280

John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images  

Carole Coe, Prince Harry and Peter Phillips watch the Track Cycling at the Velodrome during the London 2012 Olympic Games. 960 1280

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images  

Zara Phillips (Queen’s granddaughter) of Great Britain rides High Kingdom after competing in the Individual Jumping Equestrian Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Park. 960 1280

Alex Livesey/Getty Images  

Britain's Queen Elizabeth watches the morning session of the swimming at the Aquatics Centre during her visit to the London 2012 Olympic Games. 960 1280

Reuters/Martin Rickett/Pool  

Catherine, the Dutchess of Cambridge, meets Great Britain’s sailing gold-medalist Ben Ainslie at the Weymouth & Portland venue near Weymouth Harbor. 960 1280

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images  

The Duchess of Cambridge was in the audience to witness Romanian gymnast Sandra Raluca Izbasa compete in the women’s vault final during the Artistic Gymnastics at the North Greenwich in London. 960 1280

Ezra Shaw  

Prince William talks to silver-medalist kayaker Jessica Fox of Australia during a visit to the Team Great Britain house. Will and Kate requested the visit be arranged in order to allow them to say thank you to volunteers for playing their part in the staging of the games. 960 1280

John Stillwell/Getty Images  

The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge join in with the crowd to do “the wave” at the Velodrome. 960 1280

Quinn Rooney/Getty Images  

Prince Harry talks with athletes, including Great Britain's Jessica Ennis (3rd from R) during a visit to Team Great Britain’s flats in Olympic Village, located in Stratford. 960 1280

John Stillwell/Getty Images  

Will and Kate hug in excitement after the British men’s cycling team breaks a world record during a qualifying round at the Velodrome. 960 1280

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images  

Prince Harry, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice watch the cross-country equestrian event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 960 1280

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images  

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Victoria Barracks during a medal parade for the 1st Battalion Irish Guards Regiment in Windsor, UK. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, rows a dragon boat across Dalvay Lake in Charlottetown, Canada. The royal couple’s trip to North America included touring more remote areas of Canada, such as Prince Edward Island, Yellowknife and Calgary. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The Duke of Cambridge takes a shot while playing hockey while his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, cheers him on in Yellowknife, Canada. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The royal couple, in cowboy attire, joined millions of Canadians taking part in Canada Day celebrations. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Dressed to the nines, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at the 2011 BAFTA Brits in Los Angeles. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Prince William shows off his equestrian skills in the Foundation Polo Challenge in Santa Barbara, CA. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attend Royal Ascot in Ascot, England. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, pose for a photo with members of the Canadian Forces flight crew after arriving in Calgary, Canada, during their first joint overseas tour. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry wave to the crowd at Buckingham Palace during the Diamond Jubilee. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wave to the crowd from the royal barge during the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant in London. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Queen Elizabeth II share a laugh during a children's sporting event while in Vernon Park, Nottingham for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Torchbearer Scott Moorhouse, a Paralympic javelin thrower, hands the Olympic flame to Jay Kamiraz while standing with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Queen Elizabeth II takes center stage to say a few words during the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Games at Olympic Stadium. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a cross-country equestrian event during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Park. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Royal Spotting  42 Photos

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland

Ben Stiller directs this film adaption of the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and stars as the hapless dreamer Mitty, who finally takes an adventure outside of his wild imagination. And what an adventure it is -- from jumping out of a helicopter off the coast of Greenland to skateboarding down Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Iceland is taking advantage of the film’s inspiring scenes and is offering Walter Mitty Tours of film locations, skateboards not included. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

The Great Gatsby, Long Island, NY

The Great Gatsby, Long Island, NY

This much-buzzed-about Baz Luhrmann film adaptation of literary classic The Great Gatsby spurred a huge interest this year in Long Island’s Gold Coast, where Gatsby lived in his lavish West Egg mansion. Everyone went gaga for Gatsby this year, including New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel, which invited guests to travel “ceaselessly back into the past” of the opulent Jazz era with their new Gatsby-inspired Fitzgerald Suite. 960 1280

Vince Kish  

Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hawaii

Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hawaii

The second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, Hunger Games: Catching Fire , is doing just that in tourism. Fans are following Katniss’ footsteps traveling to filming locations on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii. The dense jungles and natural beaches there were the backdrop for 75th Hunger Games battle-to-the-death. And Kawela Bay, minutes from Turtle Bay resort (where cast stayed during filming), served as the saltwater lake Quell arena in the film. 960 1280

Max Kiesler, flickr  

Big Sur, Big Sur

Big Sur, Big Sur

Based on a Jack Kerouac novel, Sundance film Big Sur portrays the rugged and evocative beauty of California’s Central Coast. You can’t watch the film and not imagine hopping in your car to take a road trip down winding Pacific coast highways, complete with the sun on your face and the wind whipping through your hair. Donning a pair of Beat-inspired dark shades wouldn’t hurt, either. 960 1280

Medioimages/Photodisc  

Gravity, Space Travel

Gravity, Space Travel

After watching Sandra Bullock adrift in space in Gravity, the idea of space travel becomes even more intriguing. Luckily, for those that have the budget, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is set to make its inaugural flight to space in 2014. For a mere $250,000, you can finally realize your dream of being an astronaut and travel to the final frontier. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Lee Daniels' The Butler, Washington, DC

Lee Daniels' The Butler, Washington, DC

Lee Daniels’ The Butler depicts the Civil Rights movement from a unique perspective – the White House butler. The man who inspired the film, Eugene Allen, worked in the White House for more than 30 years. Take a detour off the Mall, and celebrate more African American history on a tour of the U Street neighborhood, DC’s cultural center for the African American community from the Civil Rights movement to today. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Inside Llewyn Davis, NYC

Inside Llewyn Davis, NYC

Film and music lovers can’t get enough of Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers film that follows the 1960s folk scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. Take the “Greenwich Village Rock Tour” to walk the streets and visit the bars that your favorite musicians, like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, once did. Warning: desire to break out in song likely. 960 1280

iStock  

Before Midnight, Greece

Before Midnight, Greece

Greece isn’t a hard sell when it comes to travel. We are reminded of why this Mediterranean paradise is such a hot spot in Before Midnight, the “threequel" to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The filming location of Messenia in the southwest Peloponnese Peninsula has been off the radar for tourists. Until this film came out, of course. Sorry, Santorini and Mykonos, we have fallen in love again. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Adore, Australia

Adore, Australia

Adore, an Australian film about 2 old friends falling in love with each other’s son is a provocative tale. And the beaches where it was filmed are just as shocking … in how stunningly beautiful they are. Seal Rocks in New South Wales was the setting for the small town coastal paradise where the son swapping takes place, but the film had us lusting after any beach Down Under. 960 1280

Photographer: Mikulas Jaros  

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa

The passing of Nelson Mandela and the release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic about Mandela’s struggle to free South Africa, brings even more interest to the places that played an important role in his life. Just off Cape Town, Robben Island, the prison where Mandela was incarnated for almost 2 decades, offers tours to “honor a legacy of forgiveness.” Visiting the tiny cell where the civil rights leader spent so much of his life is sure to be both a powerful and unforgettable experience. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

World Famous Brazilian Thong
World Famous Brazilian Thong

World Famous Brazilian Thong

When in Rio … wear a thong. On Brazilian beaches it is all about celebrating and showing off the body, especially the rear end. 960 1280

Photodisc / Getty Images  

Bathing Beauties in Miami

Bathing Beauties in Miami

Barely-there bikinis can be seen all over Miami's sun-drenched beaches. 960 1280

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Covered Up in a Burkini

Covered Up in a Burkini

Combining the words “burqa” and “bikini,” the burkini was designed by Lebanese Australian Aheda Zanetti to allow Muslim women to cover their whole body except the face, the hands and the feet, but also be light enough to enable swimming. 960 1280

iStockPhoto  

Surf's Up in Australia

Surf's Up in Australia

While European men might be more comfortable in a speedo, men from other cultures want a bit more coverage in a swimsuit. Made popular by surf culture, board shorts are a summer staple for American and Australian men … whether or not they know how to surf. 960 1280

Moment / Getty Images  

Swimming in Siberia

Swimming in Siberia

Brave members of a local winter swimming club warm up on the bank of the Yenisei River before going for a swim in frigid weather (-13 degrees Fahrenheit!) in the town of Divnogorsk, 24 miles south of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. 960 1280

REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin  

Sunbathing South of the Border

Sunbathing South of the Border

With white sand beaches and crystal-blue waters, Cancun is a warm-weather getaway for working on your tan year round. 960 1280

REUTERS/Stringe  

Bikinis With Cuban Flair

Bikinis With Cuban Flair

Bikini-clad women dance in a reggaeton competition during a beach event in Havana, Cuba. 960 1280

REUTERS/Claudia Daut  

Brazilian Cut on Ipanema Beach

Brazilian Cut on Ipanema Beach

Brazilians love their skimpy bikinis almost as much as they love their soccer (futbol). On Rio de Janeiro’s famous Ipanema Beach, you’ll see bodacious Brazilian bods in backside-revealing swimsuits. 960 1280

© Sergio Moraes / Reuters  

Bikinis and Furs in St. Petersburg

Bikinis and Furs in St. Petersburg

It might be freezing in St. Petersburg, Russia, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sunbathe. Just stay warm in a fur coat. 960 1280

REUTERS/Alexander Demianchu  

Ironman Suited for Performance

Ironman Suited for Performance

Not all swimsuits are meant to show off skin. Triathletes competing in Ironman events wear wetsuits for comfort and performance. 960 1280

Caiaimage / Getty Images  

Cultures Blend in Egypt

Cultures Blend in Egypt

It’s a culture clash on the beach in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, northwest of Cairo, as a woman wearing a bikini walks past a woman wearing a traditional hijab, or veil. 960 1280

REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih  

California Girls, Hermosa Beach

California Girls, Hermosa Beach

Nothing says California more than the beach. Female surfers carry the ultimate beach accessory –surfboards – in Hermosa Beach, CA. 960 1280

Image Source / Getty Images  

bathing suit from around 1895
bathing suit from around 1895

bathing suit from around 1895

There isn’t one article of clothing in history that has caused more of a stir than the bathing suit. It’s hard to imagine now, but this “bathing costume” from around 1895 was considered scandalous in its day. 960 1280

ND/Roger Viollet/Getty Images  

In the early 20th century, a crowd at Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin plays a game of water tennis with the Washington Monument in the background. 960 1280

Bain News Service/Buyenlarge/Getty Images  

first Miss America contestants

first Miss America contestants

The first Miss America contestants pose wearing their sashes over swimsuits on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. Pictured here (second from left) is Margaret Gorman, Miss District of Columbia who went on to become that year’s national winner. 960 1280

Hulton Archive/Getty Images  

Three models pose in swimsuits in a luxury store’s window in London's West End. 960 1280

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images  

Models show off backless bathing and beach costumes at a women's wear exhibition at Dorland Hall on London’s Regent Street. 960 1280

Photo by H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images  

The first modern-day bikini caused quite a stir when it debuted at the Piscine Molitor swimming pool in Paris in 1946. The bikini’s designer, a French automobile engineer named Louis Reard, was unable to find a “respectable” model to wear his bathing suit; the job went to 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris. 960 1280

Keystone/Getty Images  

Elizabeth Taylor in a 2-piece bathing suit

Elizabeth Taylor in a 2-piece bathing suit

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, 15, shows off a frilly 2-piece bathing suit on a beach. 960 1280

Photo by Bob Landry//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images  

Marilyn Monroe in a 2-piece swimsuit

Marilyn Monroe in a 2-piece swimsuit

Marilyn Monroe reclines on patio furniture in the early 1950s, wearing a 2-piece swimsuit accented by Lucite heels and bangle earrings. 960 1280

Camerique Archive/Getty Images  

Brigitte Bardot sits on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival

Brigitte Bardot sits on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival

French actress Brigitte Bardot sits on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. 960 1280

Patrick Morin/RDA/Getty Images  

A group of gymnastic-loving men, women and children pose in swimsuits at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA, in 1956. 960 1280

Gene Lester/Getty Images  

American actress and singer Debbie Reynolds is seen here wearing a 2-piece swimsuit on a beach in the mid-1950s. 960 1280

Getty Images/Getty Images  

Elvis Presley, dressed in swimming trunks, exchanges a passionate kiss with bikini-clad American actress Joan Blackman in a still from the 1961 musical film Blue Hawaii. 960 1280

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images   

Actress Audrey Hepburn, clad in a swimsuit, gracefully settles into a swimming pool in Saint-Tropez during filming of the 1967 film Two for the Road.. 960 1280

Terry O'Neill/Getty Images  

French bombshell Brigitte Bardot wears a bikini in a boat near Saint-Tropez, France, in 1968. 960 1280

Robert Cohen/RDA/Getty Images  

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

American actress Raquel Welch films a scene from One Million Years B.C. in 1966. 960 1280

Hulton Archive/Getty Images  

These 3 women model bikinis on a London street in 1975. 960 1280

Evening Standard/Getty Images  

A promotional shot of British actor Roger Moore (as James Bond) surrounded by female palace guards in bathing suits in the 1983 film Octopussy. 960 1280

United Artists  

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Young women sunbathe on Brazil's iconic Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro around 1990. 960 1280

Romano Cagnoni/Getty Images  

Britney Spears performs on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards

Britney Spears performs on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards

Britney Spears performs on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City in what could be described as a very bold bikini 960 1280

Dave Hogan/Getty Images  

2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

A model wears a swimsuit during the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on Nov. 7, 2012, in New York 960 1280

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images  

Miss America 2013 pageant

Miss America 2013 pageant

Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson competes in the swimsuit competition during the Miss America 2013 pageant in Las Vegas. 960 1280

David Becker/Getty Images  

Travel Channel Hot Topics

backpacking, Brazil, mountain top

Editors’ Picks: Best Post-Graduation Trips

Whether you crave a little R&R, 1 last hurrah or the chance to finally see the world, these editor-approved destinations for recent graduates won’t disappoint. 

Backpack Through Brazil

Backpack Through Brazil

“Throw caution to the wind and live life with reckless abandon by backpacking through Brazil. Traverse the thick Amazon rain forest in Manaus, immerse yourself in the Afro-centric culture of Salvador, go nude sunbathing on Praia Mole in Florianopolis, witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Iguazu Falls, and stand at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. Go — you’ll be glad you did — and prepare to get a lifetime of great memories.” — Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280

Rick Neves/Moment Open/Getty Images  

Camp in Canadian Backcountry

Camp in Canadian Backcountry

“What better way to kick off your first step into the real world than by getting away from the hustle and bustle that you have come to call normal? There may be no better place to do that than the Canadian wilderness of Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Spread out over nearly 3,000 square miles of pristine backcountry, Algonquin boasts more than 1,900 campsites set along the shores of more than 2,400 lakes, with plenty of different ways to enjoy them. Grab a canoe, a backpack and a few friends, and paddle off into a sunset-drenched backdrop of the open water and woods to jump-start your trip. After a few days of traveling through the natural highway of portages and lakes, you’ll be relaxed, refreshed and ready to take that next step.” — Matthew Dewhurst, Producer 960 1280

Henry Georgi/All Canada Photos/Getty Images  

Live Out Your Own Euro-Trip

Live Out Your Own Euro-Trip

“First time across the pond — you don’t say! There’s not a better way to christen a newly minted passport than with a classic Europe trip. London is the perfect place to wet your whistle with a pint between checking off bucket-list attractions such as Big Ben and the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Then, ride the Eurail to your heart’s content. Hip hostels make traveling to stylish cities such as Paris, Barcelona or Prague possible even before you earn your first ‘big kid’ paycheck.” — Sara Gilliam, Senior Producer 960 1280

Sylvain Sonnet/The Image Bank/Getty Images  

Party Vegas Style

Party Vegas Style

“As 4-plus years of studying comes to a close, celebrate with 1 last hurrah in Las Vegas! Be a high roller for the weekend and spend some graduation money on high-stakes gambling and bottle service. Enjoy the beginning of summer with crazy Vegas pool parties at the Venetian’s Tao Beach and Mandalay Bay’s Daylight.” — Michelle Tran, Ad Sales Producer 960 1280

Sylvain Sonnet/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Cuddle a Koala on Magnetic Island

Cuddle a Koala on Magnetic Island

“Australia is a place on most people’s bucket lists, and it’s a fantastic destination to let go and have some fun after years of studying and exams. Make your way to Magnetic Island in the lower part of the Great Barrier Reef. Go snorkeling to see the colorful fish and coral, and take a free hike along the Forts Walk to catch the sunset while perched atop the historic World War II fortifications. Be sure to keep your eyes on the eucalyptus trees to spot koalas. If you don’t see any, go cuddle one at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village, which is also a backpackers’ hostel.” — Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280

Townsville Enterprise Ltd/Tourism Australia  

Island-Hop in Greece

Island-Hop in Greece

“Enjoy beautiful beaches, island-hopping and a warm but cooler 77 degrees during the month of June — the perfect time to go, just before the rush of summer tourists. Charter a catamaran through Blue Lagoon Cruises, whose boats come equipped with swimming platforms, bars, trampolines and much more! Enjoy hidden bays and hot springs on and around the islands of Santorini and Mykonos.” Rani Robinson, Digital Director 960 1280

Mbbirdy/E+/Getty Images   

Cruise the Caribbean

Cruise the Caribbean

“Grab a few friends and book a cruise to the Caribbean. Even just a 3- or 4-night sailing is the perfect way to kick back, party till the wee hours, and see a few new places — all in 1 vacation. Not to mention it’s budget-friendly, with most meals and entertainment included. Try a 4-night Western Caribbean itinerary on Carnival, leaving from Miami and sailing to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Or, if you have the time and money, spring for a 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean, leaving from San Juan with stops in places such as Aruba, Barbados, St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Lucia.” — Hannah Prince, Copy Editor 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

Chill Out in Newport Beach, CA

Chill Out in Newport Beach, CA

“If you’re searching for a great domestic post-graduation destination that blends both relaxation and excitement, then Newport Beach, CA, is the place for you. Post up on the expansive plots of sand with a good book or your headphones and relax in the sun, enjoying some of the country’s best weather. Looking for a thrill? Newport Beach also offers a wide variety of adventure and fun, from Jet Skiing and cruising the waves on a surf or boogie board to setting up your teammate for the perfect spike on one of the many public volleyball courts. And if you start to feel parched after a long day in the sun, stop by Sharkeez — a Newport staple — for a cold cocktail.” — Ben Breslerman, Producer 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Jessica Nugent  

Celebrate in the City That Never Sleeps

Celebrate in the City That Never Sleeps

“Not everyone can afford a trip around the world to celebrate graduating, but you can take a budget shortcut and visit NYC instead! While it's still not the cheapest city in America, in 1 weekend, you can take the N/R train down to Chinatown for tasty soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, walk up to Little Italy for some authentic Chianti from Parm, and then hop the A/C to Koreatown for homemade Miss Korea kimchi and barbecue. Not to mention the dozens of first-class museums, such as the Met and the Frick, that are also just a subway ride away. You'll leave having experienced the best of more than a dozen cultures without ever needing your passport!” — Liz Fraser, Photo Editor 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/TriggerPhoto