What's In, What's Out for 2013
In: Northern lights. Out: City lights. The year ahead is filled with up-and-coming travel trends to watch. Find out Travel Channel's picks for what's hot (and what's not) in 2013.
Out: Meet at the Airport Bar
Forget sidling up to the airport bar alone, hoping to make that magical connection with someone during the doldrums of an hours-long layover. The new website MeetAtTheAirport.com gives tech-savvy travelers the chance to, er, hook up with a possibly special someone in advance of bellying up to the bar. Simply register on the site in a few simple steps, and you'll be able to discern other singles traveling through the same airport you're flying through. You'll be able to meet over a coffee or cocktail, or heck, why not really turn things up a notch, and grab a few slices from the food court Sbarro?
Out: Meet at the Airport Bar
Out: Cruise to the Caribbean
In: Cruise to Exotic Destinations
No longer are discerning travelers content to sip a mai tai on the starboard deck while watching tried-and-true ports of call like St. Thomas slip by. In fact, cruisers are looking toward destinations once rarely frequented by cruise lines, like the western coast of South America, Northern Europe, India, Africa and the Middle East -- and the cruise industry is responding in kind. In the midst of a definitive spike in the popularity of exotic cruise destinations, for 2013 companies such as Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean have more exciting destinations on the docket than ever before.
Out: Cruise to the Caribbean
Where once-upon-a-time backpackers to Southeast Asia once heralded Laos for its lush environs, Buddhist culture and fascinating temples, today the nation has become more of a frat party for ill-behaved backpackers getting wasted on a variety of substances and partying along riverbanks. Today, smart travelers are setting their sights elsewhere. In fact, you can barely discuss intrepid travel destinations without someone crying out "Myanmar!" these days. With the lifting of a travel ban imposed on rights activists to the once-fiercely ruled country, travelers have been pouring in.
Out: Western Europe
In: Eastern Europe
Oh, we know that Western Europe will never actually lose mass popularity among travelers, nor should it, but at times its prices can be staggering for Americans dealing with a weaker dollar. As 2013 approaches, more and more travelers are seeking out wonders beyond the Roman ruins and Parisian museums. Eastern Europe, once avoided during periods of extreme political upheaval and unrest, is now bubbling up as the go-to destination for many travelers. Take for example, mountainous Slovenia; it's being touted by travel and adventure publications as the new Alps.
Out: Western Europe
Scores of travelers take advantage of their vacation downtime to indulge in a spa treatment, typically a soothing Swedish or aromatherapy massage. And yet, that's so 2012. The next trend in restorative treatments is hammams, often referred to as Turkish baths. The traditional hammam experience typically involves stripping down, donning a small towel, loosening up in a steam room and getting the living daylights scrubbed and rubbed out of you by your treatment provider while lying on a marble slab. The whole ordeal is often capped off by a refreshing (albeit, startling) dunk in icy cold water.
Out: Non-Organic Foods
In: Foraged Cuisine
Ever since the Copenhagen restaurant Noma was named 2011's World's Best Restaurant by Restaurant Magazine, foodies have been turning a keen eye toward chef René Redzepi's unique twist on dining: forage cuisine. Wondering what on earth that means? Basically, the chef forages through the region to unearth, obtain and cook unexpected ingredients found in their natural habitats, like mosses, lichens and pine needles. Now, come 2013, it's not unusual to find restaurants such as Elizabeth in Chicago and Atera in New York City following suit. Best part: In this heightened embrace of nature, there's no space for pesticide-sprayed foods.
Out: Non-Organic Foods
Out: Thai Islands
In: Philippine Islands
Once upon a time, long, long ago, the young Leonardo DiCaprio starred in The Beach, filmed on Koh Phi Phi, and Thailand's beaches and islands would never be quite the same. As Thai islands have become overrun with backpackers, jacking up prices and leading to oft-crowded party zones on once-secluded beaches, travelers are seeking respite in as-yet-encroached places, such as the Philippine Islands. Head to the Palawan region but head there soon: As tour providers discover the area's growing popularity, more airlines are offering flights to the region, and we'll be again looking for the next epically isolated island experience.
Out: Thai Islands
Out: City Lights
In: Northern Lights
Catching a glimpse of the Northern Light's ethereal, dancing lights display, also known as aurora borealis, is the highlight of a lifetime, much less a vacation, for many travelers. The lights can be seen during periods of heightened solar activity, which happens to peak cyclically, every 11 years. Astronomy experts have predicted the lights will reach their next apex between now and April 2013. While a Northern Lights-spotting trip cannot guarantee a successful sighting -- there are certain Northern Hemisphere locations where sightings are more successful than others, such as Greenland, Iceland and parts of Canada.
Out: City Lights
Out: Pricey Hotels
In: DIY Vacation Rentals
Tired of paying out the wazoo for hotel stays that don't even include the cost of parking, Wi-Fi, breakfast or resort fees? We are too. Luckily, in 2013, there are alternatives for travelers with an open, DIY mindset. Rather than forking over the steep nightly rates of many hotels, travelers, and families in particular, are seeking accommodations through sites such as Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner). These sites allow vacationers to rent furnished condos, apartments or houses directly from their owners. While you might not get daily maid service, you will get steeply discounted rates, sometimes as low as $30 per night.
Out: Pricey Hotels
Out: Ignoring the Mall
In: Sleeping at the Mall
Leave it to the opulent mindset of Middle East hotel developers in places such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to recognize a possible trend and blow it up, large scale. Today, many hotels are opening in or adjacent to malls, making them an epicenter of tourism and commerce. One of these malls, Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall, is expected to house or be in close proximity to 7 hotels. In fact, at least 9 mega-malls (beyond UAE, in countries such as Lebanon and Qatar), are expected to be built across the Middle East by 2014, with hotels springing up in and around them.
Out: Ignoring the Mall
DreamlinerFirst Dreamliner Commercial Flight
All Nippon Airways (ANA) piloted the first commercial flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Tokyo’s Narita airport to Hong Kong on Oct. 26. The world's first major airliner to use composite materials for most of its construction made its debut after years of delays and billions of dollars spent over budget. The inaugural flight was filled with aviation enthusiasts who paid thousands of dollars for a seat and raved about the plane’s amenities. 960 1280
Hurricane IreneHurricane Irene Shuts Down East Coast
Hurricane Irene came ashore at North Carolina on Aug. 27 as a Category 1 storm. The huge, slow-moving tempest traveled up 1,100 miles of US coastline, leaving a trail of destruction resulting in 45 deaths and losses of up to $7 billion. The severe weather crippled travel along the East Coast, where more than 10,000 flights were cancelled, much of Amtrak’s service between Washington, DC, and Boston was suspended and many highways were closed. 960 1280
Arab SpringArab Spring
On Jan. 25, Arab Spring uprisings spread from Tunisia and other North African countries to Egypt, culminating in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak 17 days later. While Egyptians rejoiced at the peaceful coup, the fallout crippled the tourism industry, the country’s largest source of revenue and jobs. Even as tourists began to return to landmarks such as the Pyramids at Giza and Cairo’s Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, Egyptians again took to the streets in November, protesting the interim military government. 960 1280
Flip CamCisco Ceases Production of the Flip Video Camera
On April 12, Cisco announced that it was ceasing production of the Flip video recorder, a device that revolutionized the digital video camera market and became the trusty companion of travel bloggers worldwide. Cisco purchased Pure Digital Technology Inc., the inventor of Flip, in a $590 million deal in 2009. 960 1280
Earthquake and TsunamiEarthquake and Tsunami Hit Japan
On Friday, Mar. 10, Japan’s eastern coast was rocked by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, then slammed by a ferocious 23-foot tsunami. The initial disaster killed thousands of people and wiped out entire towns and villages. Survivors endured weeks of aftershocks and rolling blackouts, while explosions and radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear plant caused worldwide panic. Measurement of the economic, environmental and human toll is ongoing. 960 1280
LOT Polish AirlinesLOT Polish Airlines Makes Emergency Landing in Warsaw
No one was hurt when a LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 767 flying from Newark, NJ, with 230 people onboard made an emergency landing at Warsaw's airport after its landing gear failed to deploy. Live television footage showed the plane sliding on its belly, sparks flying as it hit the runway, then being covered in flame retardant foam. 960 1280
Royal WeddingRoyal Wedding, England
Britain’s Prince William married Catherine Middleton in a lavish ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey on April 29. More than a million tourists flooded England’s capital to witness the nuptials, spending tens of millions of pounds on refreshments, hotels, attractions and souvenirs. Meanwhile, highlights for the TV audience of 2 billion people worldwide included Kate’s much anticipated gown designed by Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton, the crazy hats worn by female wedding guests, and the bride’s sister and maid of honor, Pippa. 960 1280
VolcanoEruption of Puyehue Volcano, Chile
On June 4, Chile’s Puyehue volcano erupted, spewing plumes of ash 6 miles into the atmosphere. Dozens of South American flights were scrapped and 6 airports in Argentina were closed as clouds of volcanic ash rode the wind toward the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of people were evacuated from surrounding rural communities in the southern Andes mountain chain. 960 1280
On Oct. 29, Qantas Airways, the world’s 10th largest airline, grounded its entire fleet around the world and locked out striking employees. The airline said it made the move because it could not meet the "extreme demands" of 3 unions representing pilots, mechanics and ground staff. The airline resumed flights 2 days later after an Australian tribunal ordered an end to the dispute that affected nearly 70,000 passengers. 960 1280
FloodingUnprecedented Flooding Slams Australia and Thailand
Massive floods hit 2 of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations this year. In January, much of south and central Queensland, Australia, experienced its worst flooding in half a century, triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains. In Thailand, unusually heavy rainfall in September, October and November resulted in flooding across 64 of the country’s 77 provinces. Bangkok’s main international airport remained open throughout the flooding, but the domestic airport was shut on Oct. 25 as floodwaters covered the runway and began seeping into terminal buildings. 960 1280
If you’re sitting on an extra $200,000, why not join the 430 would-be amateur astronauts who have already signed up for a Virgin Galactic suborbital flight? The deposit is only $20,000, and since the company has yet to reveal an exact launch date, you have time to save up for the rest. If that’s still a little much, buy a T-shirt on the website for just $40. 960 1280
Unforgettable Travel Moments of 2011 11 Photos
World Bodypainting FestivalSince 1998, Carinthia, Austria, has hosted the colorful World Bodypainting Festival. Artists from more than 40 different nations do their best to stun, entertain and win the title of “World’s Best Bodypainter.” In addition to workshops and demos, the 3-day festival also includes music concerts, a Runway & Body Art Fashion Show and fireworks synchronized to music. 960 1280
Queenstown Winter FestivalMore than 45,000 people flock to Queenstown, New Zealand, for perhaps the biggest winter celebration in the southern hemisphere -- the Queenstown Winter Festival. Since 1975, this gold mining camp, turned sophisticated city, comes alive during balmy, but cool temps (44°F - 46°F) in June. The 10-day celebration of winter has more than 75 events, including ski races, ski jumping, colorful parades and exhibitions. 960 1280
Gay Pride MonthJune is Gay Pride Month. Make a trip out of the annual LGBT celebration and travel to World Gay Pride, held in a different location every year like Rome, London and Toronto. Head to San Francisco for the largest Pride festival and parade in the US, or save your money and pack your bags for Sao Paulo, which hosts the largest Gay Pride celebration in the world. 960 1280
Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon ClassicSoar to new heights in California’s beautiful Wine Country. The Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic draws thousands of people to this 2-day event in Windsor, CA. On Saturday and Sunday, set your alarm clock early to make sure you’re awake to catch approximately 30 colorful balloons launch around 6:30am. 960 1280
Chicago Blues FestivalChicago is the place to visit in June, especially if you’re a fan of the blues. The Chicago Blues Festival is the largest free blues music festival in the world. During 3 days, more than 500,000 people converge on Grant Park to hear well-renown performers like B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, KoKo Taylor and Otis Rush (pictured) perform on the festival’s 5 stages. 960 1280
Dragon Boat RacesVisit Hong Kong to experience the excitement of the Duanwu Festival, celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar. The Festival includes dragon boat races in Aberdeen -- one of the first places to host these races in Hong Kong. Fishermen believe that rowing dragon boats during the Duanwu Festival will bring them luck. 960 1280
Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalFrom indie rock to reggae, the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, TN, draws thousands of fans to hear notable acts like Bob Dylan, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Jay-Z, Tool, The Beach Boys and The White Stripes. During this 4-day music festival, bands, rappers, musicians and singers perform from around noon until 4am or later at Great Stage Park, which is located on a 700-acre farm. 960 1280
Midsummer FestivalApart from Christmas, the Midsummer Festival is the most important holiday on the Swedish calendar. Flowers in your hair, dancing around a maypole, singing songs while drinking schnapps and eating pickled herring is all part of this special celebration. We recommend visiting Leksand to experience the largest midsummer festival in Sweden. 960 1280
Machu PicchuExplore the incredible Inca ruins of Peru’s Machu Picchu, often called “Lost city of the Incas.” Take an adventurous climb to see the Temple of Condor and Sun Gate -- the end point for the Inca Trail. Visit in June to take advantage of the dry season and to avoid the heavy crowds in July and August. 960 1280
Father's DayDon’t forget about Dad this month. Spend some extra time with your father figure by planning a trip to go fly fishing, rock climbing or skydiving. For a getaway minus the adrenaline-pumping thrills, we have a few Father’s Day travel ideas like a brewery tour in Portland, OR, or game of golf in Myrtle Beach, SC. 960 1280
Glastonbury Music FestivalSince 1970, music fans and art lovers have swarmed to Pilton, Somerset, England, to attend the Glastonbury Festival. Only 1,500 people attended the first festival, and today more than 170,000 people flock to Worthy Farm -- owned by festival organizer Michael Eavis -- to hear leading pop and rock artists as well as other forms of art, including dance, comedy, theater, circus and cabaret. 960 1280
Gettysburg FestThe Battle of Gettysburg -- the bloodiest battle in American history -- is known as the turning point in the American Civil War. Today, locals and tourists don’t have to be history buffs to enjoy the annual Gettysburg Fest. This 5-day festival has more than 50 live performances on 7 stages, 7 art shows, culinary experiences, movie premieres and more. Over the past 6 years, more than 3,000 artists, musicians and performers --The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, blues artist Robert Cray and world-renowned guitarist/singer John Pizzarelli -- have been featured at the festival. 960 1280
Summer SolsticeJune marks the official start of summer, and what better way to welcome the Summer Solstice than by joining thousands of people at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. It’s not uncommon for groups to celebrate by performing impromptu ceremonies that include samba bands and drummers. No amplified music is allowed here. 960 1280
Wimbledon Tennis ChampionshipsArguably the most famous tennis tournament in the world, the Wimbledon Championships have been played since 1877. Starting towards the end of June and lasting approximately 2 weeks, or until all events are complete, tickets for Wimbledon are always in fierce demand, especially with pro tennis players like Andy Murray competing. 960 1280
Things to Do in June 14 Photos
Santa and His ElvesFor kids from ages 1 to 92, Santa is the main attraction of the holidays, and it's the only time of the year that you don't have to go all the way to the North Pole to get a glimpse of the man in the bright red suit. You know he's checking his list twice, so add some travel goodies to yours to make sure there's something special under the tree for your next vacation. 960 1280
Christmas Village in PhiladelphiaFor its fifth year, over 500,000 people are expected to descend on the LOVE Park holiday market in Center City Philadelphia will have more than 90 wooden booths, 2 tents of European food, sweets and drinks, as well as a life-size Advent calendar. 960 1280
Decadent December 13 Photos