What's In, What's Out for 2012
In: Traveling Social. Out: Traveling Solo. Find out more of Travel Channel's picks for what's hot and what's not for travel in 2012.
Bolt Bus and AmtrakIn: Amtrak
Out: Bolt Bus
Oh, Bolt Bus, how we wanted to love you. A one-way ticket from DC to NYC costs only $25. After an orderly boarding at Union Station, we were all aglow. But then we were forced to sit for 30 minutes at a time in several nasty Jersey Turnpike rest stops. We thought we could still be friends. But then we got to the embarkation point in NYC for the trip home. Holy nasty corner and crowds, Batman! After a street-side scuffle over luggage space, we were done. Dear Acela, please let us pay you $166 one way, we won’t leave you again. 960 1280
Skiing Out: European Summer
Skiing The Farmers’ Almanac is forecasting “clime and punishment” for the winter of 2012, a season of unusually cold and stormy weather that will be strongly influenced by La Nina. Translation? Ski bonanza for the Pacific Northwest! At the same time, European ski resorts across the Alps are being forced to close summer ski areas due to the combined effects of global warming and glacial melting. In 2012, only 3 resorts in France are able to offer conditions suitable for summer skiing. 960 1280
Out: Stealing Hotel Towels
You, too, can help save the planet by simply reusing hotel room towels and linens. According to Green Suites, a hospitality service company, when guests participate in towel and linen reuse programs, an average 150-room hotel can save 6,000 gallons of water and 40 gallons of detergent monthly. And for those of us who sometimes find a towel in our luggage, FYI: Linen Technology Tracking has patented a washable chip for hotels to sew into towels, robes and bed sheets that triggers an alarm when tagged items leave the premises. Ouch. 960 1280
Last year, around Christmas time, we had our Italy travel guides primed in anticipation of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie zooming around the canals of Venice in The Tourist. In 2012, we’re all about the dark side of Stockholm as the US version of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo brings us a menacing Daniel Craig and badass Rooney Mara. Here’s to a very Scandinavian 2012. 960 1280
Out: Traveling Solo
Savvy travelers have been using TripAdvisor to help plan getaways for several years, and going forward, social travel website and app launches will only accelerate. A dizzying glut of startups hope to cash in on the trend in 2012 with services that run the gamut from sharing and planning itineraries to meeting up with people along the way. 960 1280
Silly Incas, you need to predict a world apocalypse if you want to be “In” next time. Maya calendar buffs will want to visit a few key sites this year on or before Dec. 12, 2012, the date on which the world is predicted to end (or be reborn) in the Mayan “long count” calendar. Mexico’s Tortuguero no longer exists as an archaeological site, but Monument 6, its most famous relic containing the only text bearing the actual date, is now housed in the Museo Regional de Antropología Carlos Pellicer Cámara in Villahermosa. 960 1280
Out: Underwater Hotels
This year Galactic Suites plans to open the world’s first orbiting hotel. The Barcelona-based company says guests will orbit the earth every 80 minutes, see the sun rise 15 times a day and crawl around pod rooms using Velcro suits. Your 3-day stay in space will cost approximately $4 million. Meanwhile, Poseidon Undersea Resorts, a proposed chain of underwater hotels, was slated to open its first property in Fiji by 2008. We’re still waiting to sleep with the fishes. 960 1280
Out: Books on Kindle
Last year we carried our laptop for work, mobile for texting, tablet for movies and Kindle for books. But this year we’re asking ourselves, “Why carry an extra device when we can download our library to a mobile phone or tablet?” From handy dandy travel guides to beach reads to movies and Angry Birds, the tablet or phone can handle them all. Some of us remember the days when we tore the pages out of our “Let’s Go” after we left a destination to save room in our backpack. You kids have it so easy. 960 1280
Out: Lima for Breathing
Recently this coastal city has been drawing foodies from all over the world to sample a new breed of modern cuisine reflecting Lima's cultural mix of Spanish, African, Chinese and Japanese. The country’s long Pacific coast provides an endless bounty of fresh seafood for all sorts of recipes, including Lima's signature dish -- ceviche. Unfortunately the Peruvian capitol suffers from the worst air pollution of any South American capital. 960 1280
NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, a program on which celebrities trace their genealogy to destinations across the globe, is capitalizing on a trend that travelers are also embracing -- trips on which learning and activity is emphasized over lazing around the beach or pool. Many tour companies are also offering trips where experts lead the way through historical, scientific and archaeological sites. We’re up for these authentic experiences over last year’s kind-of creepy “glamping” trend. Even the Sex and the City women can’t pull off couture while riding a camel. 960 1280
Out: 2-Wheeled Luggage
The first time we saw a woman in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle gliding along next to her suitcase as she daintily guided the large bag down the concourse, we did a double take. We were shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to notice the thing had 4 multi-directional wheels. We were skeptical even as our right shoulder ached from the weight the 2-wheeler that added several feet to our total length. Color us convinced. WANT. 960 1280
Out: Napa, CA
Wine connoisseurs have long been in on the secret that Sonoma’s 300-plus wineries offer superlative tasting, but travelers have discovered that Sonoma has a more well-rounded flavor than her sister county, Napa. From floating the Russian River to hiking through ancient redwood stands, to browsing Petaluma’s Victorian row to sampling Sepastopol’s Gravenstein apple pies, Sonoma satisfies all tastes. 960 1280
Travelers to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in 2012 are forgoing the tired Americaland of Cancun and turning to the “real Mexico” a few hours inland at Merida. The city’s Spanish colonial center is ringed by 16th-century cathedrals and free art museums. Plus, 5 Mayan sites are situated on public bus routes. It’s simple to arrange day trips to the region’s magical cenotes (water-filled limestone sinkholes unique to the Yucatan), as well as the village of Celestún where hundreds of pink flamingos nest and feed in the mangroves. 960 1280
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage FestivalCelebrate the homegrown music and culture of the Big Easy at this annual jazz fest. This year’s lineup showcases old and new music greats, including John Mayer, the Dave Matthews Band, Earth, Wind & Fire, Fleetwood Mac, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, Patti Smith, Gipsy Kings and blues legend B.B. King. 960 1280
Patrouille des GlaciersTake in Switzerland’s grand vistas in this ski mountaineering race. Held every 2 years at the end of April, the nearly 32-mile-long race organized by the Swiss Army occurs in the southern part of the canton of Valais, below the summits of Switzerland’s Pennine Alps. By foot and ski, this mountaineering trek will be one for the memory books. 960 1280
Coachella Valley Music and Arts FestivalHead to Southern California’s Coachella Valley for this 3-day music fest. This year’s featured performers include alternative rock pioneers like The Stone Roses and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It also pays to think green: Drive to the event with 4 or more people in your car, marked “carpoolchella,” and a secret spotter may give everyone in the car VIP tickets. 960 1280
Earth DayBe part of an awe-inspiring effort: Every year more than 1 billion people worldwide gather to protect Mother Earth. Held on April 22, this global campaign unites individuals, communities and more in an effort to combat climate change. In the weeks beforehand, another global event occurs: Earth Hour, in which individuals from more than 135 countries gather in a show of solidarity to protect the environment, as in this shot taken in Dubai. 960 1280
Amsterdam’s Tulip SeasonTake in the breathtaking burst of color at Amsterdam’s Keukenhof Gardens. The world’s largest flower garden spans 70 acres, with more than 7 million bulbs in bloom come springtime: In addition to tulips, visitors can enjoy gardens of daffodils, hyacinths, gladioli and hyacinths -- you’ll want to make sure your camera phone has plenty of juice to capture this show. 960 1280
Arctic Circle RaceReady for a seriously awe-inspiring challenge? This annual skiing race is billed as “world’s toughest ski race” -- and that’s no exaggeration. Held in Sisimiut, Greenland, this extreme cross-country skiing event sees participants traverse nearly 100 miles, over the course of 3 days, through the stunning and sometimes harsh Greenlandic terrain. 960 1280
Iceland’s First Day of SummerWith winter days that offer only 4 or 5 hours of daylight, the coming of summer is welcomed as a national holiday in Iceland. Even though the climate in late April isn’t summer-like just yet, after a long winter it’s still a welcome reprieve -- and the perfect excuse for Icelanders to celebrate with a lineup of parades, sporting events and other outdoor fun -- pony ride, anyone? 960 1280
NCAA Final FourFrom awe-inspiring blocks to incredible dunks, see the most dramatic moments in men’s college basketball play out at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome this April. See the dizzying speed of March Madness conclude as the Final Four vie for the championship trophy. And the winner is …? 960 1280
Masters TournamentOne of the 4 big-daddy events in professional golf, the Masters is the place to be this month for golf pros and enthusiasts alike. With Augusta National Golf Club as the home base, this year’s event is sure to hold plenty of nail-biting moments, like whether Tiger Woods can end his 5-year majors slump with a win on golf’s biggest stage. 960 1280
Berck-Sur-Mer Kite FestivalSee Europe’s biggest kite festival soar to astounding heights. Held annually in the French commune of Berck-sur-Mer, along northern France’s Opal Coast, the event draws kite fliers from all over the world, who dazzle with colorful, air-borne creations before crowds of roughly 600,000 spectators. 960 1280
National Park WeekIncredible natural beauty is yours -- for free -- during National Park Week in late April. Enjoy free entrance to any of 401 national parks nationwide, taking in the sights of seashores, battlefields, archaeological sites, historic homes and magnificent natural wonders such as the many countless waterfalls at Yosemite National Park. 960 1280
Boston MarathonFew endurance competitions are more awe-inspiring than this: The world’s oldest annual marathon -- and one of the world’s most prestigious road-racing events -- held the third Monday of April, on Patriots’ Day. Here, Canada’s Joshua Cassidy races to the finish line in the men’s wheelchair race. 960 1280
Biltmore Flower FestivalHow’s this for a majestic sight: more than 72,000 tulips, spanning 4 acres, at Biltmore Estate. The stately grounds, tucked in the mountains of Asheville, NC, include the Walled Garden, where you’ll find all those vibrant tulips, as well as the Azalea and Spring Gardens, where your eyes can gorge on even more blooms. 960 1280
Toonik TymeMind-blowing creations await at the annual Inuit festival of Toonik Tyme, a weeklong event that welcomes back the sun to the Arctic. But, being just 100 miles from the Arctic Circle, it’s still mighty cold: Among the event’s headliners is an ice sculpture competition in a town called Auyuittuq -- an Inuktitut word that means “the land that never melts.” In years past, ice-carving competitors have competed for what just may be the ultimate prize round this neck of the woods: airline tickets for a trip down south (naturally). 960 1280
Awe-Inspiring April 14 Photos
Rio de Janeiro, BrazilBefore the excitement of the upcoming World Cup and Summer Olympics, celebrities like Madonna, Gerard Butler, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem have long flocked to Rio's Ipanema Beach for a piece of tropical paradise (and perhaps a few caipirinhas at Carnival).
A-List Accommodations: Fasano Hotel, Copacabana Palace 960 1280
St. BartsThis glamorous Caribbean island boasts glitzy nightlife and glamorous sunbathing at St. Jean beach where you can rub elbows with celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyonce or Jessica Alba, who dock their yachts at the glistening port.
A-List Accommodations: Eden Rock, Hotel Saint Barth Isle De France 960 1280
St. Tropez, FranceThis Cote d'Azur seaport continues to attract celebrities including Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise, Rihanna, P. Diddy, Jack Nicholson and Catherine Zeta-Jones to its over-the-top beach clubs like Club 55, first made famous by French beauty Brigitte Bardot.
A-List Accommodations: Intercontinental Carlton Cannes, Villa Romana Club & Restaurant 960 1280
Bondi Beach, SydneyWith its world-famous surfing and sailing under the Harbour Bridge to Coogee's cliff tops, Bondi Beach attracts celebrities like Nicole Richie, Hugh Jackman, Paris Hilton and Leonardo DiCaprio when they are looking for a little adventure Down Under.
A-List Accommodations: The Park Hyatt in the Rocks, InterContinental Hotel 960 1280
Cabo San Lucas, MexicoJust a 2-hour flight from Los Angeles, it's no wonder this Mexican resort city has become a mainstay for stars like Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Ryan Seacrest and Julia Roberts looking for a little rest, relaxation and … margaritas.
A-List Accommodations: Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Esperanza, One&Only Palmilla 960 1280
Maui, HawaiiOf Hawaii's many islands, Maui seems to attract the most star power, whether it’s Paris Hilton vacationing with her flavor of the week or Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox tying the knot on its romantic coast. Who are the other stars giving Hawaii a resurgence of star power? Owen Wilson, Oprah, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears, to name a few.
A-List Accommodations: Four Seasons Resort Maui, Grand Wailea 960 1280
Lake Como, ItalyOne name -- George Clooney -- comes to mind when you conjure up images of Lake Como. Can't you just see yourself relaxing at his oceanfront 18th-century villa alongside Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and half a dozen of his other famous pals? Well, one can daydream.
A-List Accommodations: Villa D’Este, Grand Hotel Tremezzo 960 1280
South Beach, MiamiShe may still be "Jenny From the Block," but it's no secret that Jennifer Lopez has spent plenty of time in sexy South Beach. Miami's bustling nightlife and Art Deco charms have also convinced stars like the Kardashians and Shakira to vacation stateside.
A-List Accommodations: Fonatinebleau, The Delano 960 1280
Necker IslandRichard Branson's 74-acre private island estate has been rebuilt after a tragic fire in 2011 (when Kate Winslet heroically carried his mother to safety). We're sure it will continue to host the very rich and very famous, such as Oprah, Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg, for years to come.
A-List Accommodations: You have to join the ranks of these gazillionaires to afford to rent out this private estate. 960 1280
Turtle Island, FijiWhat superstar doesn't value their privacy? This super-secluded resort has nearly 100 staffers on hand to cater to a maximum of 28 guests at a time. Both Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears have honeymooned here (with their now exes).
A-List Accommodations: Turtle Island 960 1280
Amalfi Coast, ItalyBrad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's mutual attraction is rumored to have been sparked at the picturesque cliff-side Hotel Santa Caterina while filming Mr. and Mrs. Smith -- and with vistas like that, who could blame them?
A-List Accommodations: Hotel Santa Caterina 960 1280
Bora Bora, French PolynesiaThe privacy that these over-the-water bungalows provide (not to mention the romance) have attracted stars like the Kardashians, Nicole Kidman, Eva Longoria, Rob Lowe, Sharon Stone and Charlize Theron.
A-List Accommodations: Four Seasons Bora Bora, Bora Bora Nui Resort 960 1280
Malibu, Los AngelesOf course, the No. 1 beach for celebrity-spotting would be right in their own backyard. Here, David Beckham catches a wave with sons Cruz, Brooklyn and Romeo in Malibu.
A-List Accommodations: Malibu Beach Inn, Four Seasons Los Angeles, Chateau Marmont 960 1280
Celebrities' Favorite Beach Vacations 15 Photos
Amalfi Coast, ItalyPerched over the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Amalfi Coast is a great winter getaway. You may not be lounging poolside in your bikini in the dead of winter, but the temperature along this rocky green coastline rarely drops below 50 degrees. For a dose of history, visit nearby Pompeii, and take the hydrofoil to Capri to see the sunlight stream into the fabled Blue Grotto. Oh, and don’t leave without at least a few sips of limoncello! 960 1280
South Beach, MiamiHead to South Beach, FL, this winter to see the sexiest sunbathers in the US. Known as the second home to several celebrities, this Miami hood is also revered for its warm winter weather, pastel Art Deco architecture, exclusive nightclubs, hip boutique hotels and high-end shops. Don’t leave without sampling the cuisine at popular restaurants like Joe’s Stone Crab. Take an oceanfront bike ride to burn off the calories. Note: If you really want to let it all hang out, take a short trip to Haulover Beach to sunbathe au naturel. 960 1280
Kauai, HawaiiThere's a reason this waterfall was featured in the opening credits of the classic TV show Fantasy Island -- Wailua Falls is a fantasy come true. Venture off the beaten path for an up-close look at the 173-foot falls that Hawaiian men in times past would leap from to prove their manhood. Nowadays, the less adventurous of us can enjoy the falls from the safety of Maalo Road. 960 1280
Greek IslesWhat’s not to love about the Greek isles? With 227 islands to choose from, you’ve got plenty of options. Santorini is best known as a romantic honeymoon destination with breathtaking sunsets, while Mykonos and Crete showcase some of the world’s most beautiful beaches -- and of course, pulsating Greek nightlife! Can’t decide which island is for you? Take an Aegean Sea cruise and see what each has to offer! 960 1280
Los AngelesThere is no place like La La Land, home to the nation’s best weather and to Hollywood's biggest stars. Drive 10 to 15 minutes in any direction, and you'll more than likely be dipping your toes in the sand in no time. People watch on the Venice Beach Boardwalk, where you'll never know what sideshow you just may see, or venture down to Manhattan Beach to spot a celebrity. 960 1280
Dominican RepublicTaste a slice of paradise in the Dominican Republic, the small island in the Caribbean just west of Puerto Rico. The "DR," as it’s often called, is filled with great people, food and culture. For a savory late-night snack, head to Barra Payan, an eatery that sells hot sandwiches 24 hours a day. Hungry for an ocean view? Swing by Boca Chica Beach, and enjoy the waves like the local children do each day. 960 1280
San DiegoSan Diego isn’t called “America’s Finest City” for nothing. Sure, you may have to bring your parka come winter, but you’re not likely to see any white flurries in this coastal haven -- snow’s only been seen here 5 times over the last 150 years. Hang 10 at San Diego’s Black’s Beach, and hightail it to Cabrillo National Momument to see gray whales migrate through the area beginning in mid- to late December. 960 1280
Cabo San Lucas, MexicoA short flight from LA, Los Cabos has become a winter playground for the rich and famous. Thirty miles of beautiful beaches, accompanied by watersports like scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as world-class resorts, golf courses and hip nightlife, are all reasons why Cabo San Lucas attracts an A-list crowd. 960 1280
Costa RicaIt's easy to see why Costa Rica has been named the happiest country on Earth. With its beautiful beaches, warm water, rainforests, exotic wildlife and laid-back culture -- who wouldn't be happy here? Costa Ricans have a saying, "Pura vida," which loosely translates as "Life is good." And in Costa Rica, it certainly is. 960 1280
Rio de JaneiroEscape to Brazil’s hot spot, Rio de Janeiro, this winter. You’ll be able to fully enjoy the beaches, luxurious hotels and all the sights without the summertime crowds sure to accompany next summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup. Check out the tall and tanned and young and lovely girls and guys from Ipanema, stay at the Copacabana and experience Christ the Redeemer -- one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. 960 1280
Hot Winter Vacations 10 Photos