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
Songkran Water FestivalKnown as the Water Festival by visitors, this annual festival in Thailand falls shortly after the spring equinox. Songkran (based on a Sanskrit word for “astrological passage”) is celebrated in the country as the traditional New Year’s Day. Along with visiting elders and going to a Buddhist monastery, festivities include throwing of water – in this case, with a little help from an elephant! 960 1280
Semana SantaAn important holiday in largely Catholic countries like Mexico and Spain, Semana Santa (Holy Week) showcases colorful parades, Masses, fireworks and elaborate ceremonies, like these celebrants in Roman garb placing crosses on a stone overlook. Semana Santa also coincides with spring break; you may see a sand sculpture of the Last Supper on a Mexican beach during this time! 960 1280
HoliSpring wouldn’t be the same in northern India without this annual festival. Celebrated by Hindus, who throw colored powder at each other, this vibrant festival of colors celebrates the season’s many hues, as well as events from Hindu mythology, such as when a devotee of Lord Vishnu was saved from death. 960 1280
NowruzWidely referred to as the Persian New Year, this annual festival also marks the first day of spring -- which is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox (usually around March 21). Nowruz is celebrated throughout Central Asia and here, in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city of Bishek. 960 1280
PassoverOne of the most widely observed Jewish holidays, Passover commemorates the story of the ancient Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt – items on this “seder plate” showcase symbolic foods related to the story. The weeklong holiday always falls during the spring season, based on a biblical commandment: “Guard the month of spring, and make then the Passover offering.” 960 1280
Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and WakeCompetitors race down a steep hill -- known as Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester, England -- as they vie for the day’s ultimate prize: a round of Double Gloucester cheese. This centuries-old tradition is held on the UK’s Spring Bank Holiday, attracting not only locals from the nearby village of Brockworth but also people from all over the world. 960 1280
Holla MohallaOne day after the Hindu festival of Holi, another big spring celebration occurs: Holla Mohalla. During this 3-day Sikh festival, celebrants showcase their martial skills in mock fights (thus, the meaning of the holiday’s name) -- and the art of fire breathing, like here on a street in the northwest Indian state of Punjab. The spring festival is also a time when followers reaffirm their dedication to Khalsa Panth (the worldwide community of Sikhs). 960 1280
Cimburijada (Festival of Scrambled Eggs)Eggs, eggs and more eggs -- every year, at the crack of dawn, people from the Bosnian town of Zenica gather by the Bosna River to celebrate the first day of spring. Known as Ciumburijada, or “Festival of Scrambled Eggs,” the event begins with the preparation of a traditional breakfast -- or in this case, a super-sized bowl of eggs for the masses. 960 1280
Walpurgis NightNamed after the English missionary Saint Walpurga, this traditional spring festival is celebrated across Central and Northern Europe -- exactly 6 months after All Hallows’ Eve. Among the places that hold celebrations (which include dancing and bonfires) is the open-air museum of Skansen in Stockholm, pictured here. 960 1280
Las FallasWhimsical characters, known as fallas, are a familiar sight during this annual 5-day celebration. The origin of one of Spain’s most rowdy holidays is uncertain; some say Las Fallas began in the Middle Ages, when artisans burned pieces of wood they’d saved during the winter in celebration of the spring equinox. Over time, under the Catholic Church’s influence, the holiday has developed into a celebration to commemorate Saint Joseph. 960 1280
Spring Equinox in TeotihuacánEvery year, on the 20th or 21st of March, thousands of people gather at this enormous, pre-Hispanic archeological site, roughly 30 miles northeast of Mexico City, to celebrate the spring equinox. Between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., many celebrants climb the 360 steps to the top of Pyramid of the Sun, the largest structure in the area, to get closer to portals of energy. 960 1280
Spring Festivals Around the World 12 Photos
Outlaw Run (Branson, Missouri)Ready for a 68-mph adrenaline rush? Kick off July on the only wooden coaster to twist upside down with a record-breaking 3 inversions -- and a stomach-in-your-mouth 81-degree drop. Take advantage of Outlaw Run’s extended hours this month at Silver Dollar City. Can’t make it to Branson, MO, this July? Check out our complete guide to US amusement parks. 960 1280
Tour de France’s 100 AnniversaryCelebrate France’s biggest sporting event this month -- the Tour de France -- as it marks 100 years this July. The official kick-off takes place on the island of Corsica then crosses onto France’s mainland. Cruise the French countryside as you follow the grand event. Or if you can’t make it abroad, head to one of America’s top bicycling cities. 960 1280
San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)Run for your life! Join hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists who flock to the northern Spanish city of Pamplona for the annual San Fermin Festival. At the stroke of noon on July 6, the celebration unfolds with 6 bulls and another 6 steers running down a half-mile stretch of narrow streets. The week-long events culminate in a final, grand fight in a bullring. 960 1280
Hemingway Days Festival (Key West, Florida)Can’t make it to Pamplona this month? Head to Key West, FL,instead! Now in its 33rd year, Hemingway Days Festival honors the late author, who lived and worked on the southern coast of the island. The annual event includes its own “Running of the Bulls” -- this one with Ernest Hemingway lookalikes pushing fake bulls on Key West’s famed Duval Street. 960 1280
California Wine Festival (Santa Barbara, California)Head to one of the biggest wine festivals under the sun! Celebrate wine harvest season this July with a visit to California wine country. Held this year in Santa Barbara, the 10th annual California Wine Festival showcases vintage wines, along with gourmet appetizers including artisan breads and cheeses. Cheers! 960 1280
Alaska Cruise SeasonEscape the heat, and take in awe-inspiring glacial views, with a cruise to Alaska. Cruise ships dock alongside towns from Seward, along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, to Ketchikan, in the Alexander Archipelago. Cruise ships also dock near Katmai National Park, where July is prime time to see bears gulp up Atlantic salmon on their run. And if cruise prices prove too high in July, fret not: Alaska’s prime cruise season stretches through September. 960 1280
Amsterdam Fashion WeekNew York, Paris … and Amsterdam? Ja! Amsterdam Fashion Week began as an effort to put the Dutch capital on the fashion map. Nearly 10 years later, the twice-annual showcase of new and established fashion talent in the Netherlands is going strong. While you’re here hit the streets to truly experience Amsterdam. 960 1280
Taste of Chicago (Grant Park)This July don’t miss the world’s largest food festival -- yes, the largest! Held annually in mid-July, Taste of Chicago draws dozens of food vendors and participating restaurants to Chi-Town’s Grant Park. Now 34 years strong, the annual event attracts upwards of 3 million people each year -- and with foodie indulgences like the famous deep-dish pizza, we know why! 960 1280
NYC Restaurant WeekWhat’s the culinary capital of America? Our vote’s on the Big Apple. Head to NYC this July to savor the city’s culinary best during NYC Restaurant Week. Held in late July, this twice-annual event sees participating restaurants offer prix-fixe lunches and dinners. Be sure to check out buzz-worthy restaurants, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s newly opened ABC Cocina. 960 1280
National Ice Cream MonthThis July we all scream for ice cream. Celebrate National Ice Cream Month -- designated a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 -- with a trip to America’s coolest ice cream shops. And why not head to the granddaddy of them all -- Bassetts Ice Cream in Philadelphia -- the oldest ice cream company in the US, founded in 1861! 960 1280
Calgary StampedeOur “Neighbor to the North” marks its birthday this month. Get in on the festivities during the Calgary Stampede! This 10-day event is Canada’s largest annual rodeo, and one of its largest festivals to boot. Billed as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” the rodeo draws more than 1 million visitors each year. 960 1280
Gettysburg’s 150th AnniversaryRetrace one of America’s biggest moments. This July the Battle of Gettysburg marks its 150th anniversary. Tour Gettysburg and its historic town, and take in battle reenactments of events that culminated in more than 51,000 casualties and the setting for President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. 960 1280
Bastille Day … in New OrleansViva La France! Come July 14, celebrate France’s Independence Day. See the skies above Paris’ Place de la Bastille light up with fireworks. Can’t make it to Grand Paris this July? Head to the Big Easy, where Bastille Day celebrations occur in the “most French of American cities,” in and around the French Quarter and the French-founded St. John neighborhood. 960 1280
Macy's 4th of July FireworksPop! Boom! Bang! July spells independence, with glorious fireworks nationwide. Celebrate Independence Day with a visit to the annual Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks display over the Hudson River. And if NYC’s not on your itinerary, check out more of America’s best fireworks displays -- in St. Louis, Addison, TX, and Chicago’s Navy Pier. 960 1280
Jubilant July Travel Ideas 14 Photos
Fall FoliageMark your calendars: The fall foliage season kicks off in the northern regions this month. Our top picks for New England fall foliage splendor include Vermont, Connecticut and Maine, where colors typically start to change around mid-September. 960 1280
Chinese Mid-Autumn FestivalCall it an excuse to party: Come Sept. 19, the 3-day Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival begins. In mainland China, the annual festival is the second biggest holiday of the year (right behind the country’s spring festival). Experience Mid-Autumn fun yourself at Chicago’s Moon Festival. 960 1280
Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance (Hong Kong)Top off Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations with the Tai Hang fire dragon dance. This 3-day-long event, held during the Mid-Autumn Festival, carries on a tradition that’s more than 100 years old. In the Hong Kong community of Tai Hang, some 300 performers take to the streets, dancing, waving incense sticks and animating a 220-foot-long dragon. 960 1280
Braemar Gathering (Braemar, Scotland)Pull! A tug-of-war team competes during the Braemar Highland Games in Scotland. A tradition that dates back 200 years, the Braemar Gathering is the most famous of the Highland Games, attracting thousands of visitors to the small Scottish village of Braemar the first Saturday in September. 960 1280
New York Fashion WeekSee what’s current at New York Fashion Week. The semi-annual event, officially known as Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek, kicks off Sept. 5 in the Big Apple. Top names this year include Carolina Herrera alongside relative newcomers, like the designers of the Tome fashion label. 960 1280
Kentucky Bourbon Festival (Bardstown, KY)Spirits lovers will want to head to Bardstown, KY -- the bourbon capital of the world since 1776. Every September, the small city hosts the weeklong Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which showcases more than 30 bourbon-related happenings, including the chance to sample the many different flavors of bourbon and whiskey, each sure to give you a nice kick in the gut. 960 1280
Texas State Fair (Dallas)“Our state fair is a great state fair.” How can it not be when it’s in Texas? Beginning the last Friday in September, the annual Texas State Fair unfolds over 24 days in Dallas, TX, with plenty of fun for the whole family, including the chance to ride this Ferris wheel – the largest in North America. 960 1280
Budapest Wine FestivalSure, Napa Valley is great, but why not try something different this year? Held since 1991, the annual Budapest Wine Festival is the largest event of its kind in Hungary, attracting more than 50,000 people a year. Sip red and white vintages, while strolling the grounds of the historic Buda Castle, which dates back to the 14th century. 960 1280
Monterey Jazz Fest (Monterey, CA)Give it up for great music at the 56th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. As the world’s longest-running jazz festival, Monterey attracts more than 500 artists, on 3 stages, for 3 nights and 2 days. This year’s lineup includes jazz legend Herbie Hancock. 960 1280
Ryder Cup (Perthshire, Scotland)The PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland, will host the 40th Ryder Cup, where the US team will make an attempt to win back the trophy from the European team. Designed by professional golfer Jack Nicklaus, the golf course is located in the heart of Scotland, and boasts beautiful landscape views of the Perthshire countryside. 960 1280
Malta International AirshowSee jet-propelled acrobatic feats at the Malta International Airshow. One of the largest outdoor events on the Mediterranean island, this nearly 20-year-old airshow, held outside the capital of Valletta, offers a first-hand view of precision acrobatic demonstrations, like the Patrouille de France, the aerobatic team of the French Air Force, pictured here. 960 1280
Waikiki Roughwater Swim (Honolulu)Take to the water in the Waikiki Roughwater Swim. Held in early September, this annual event, now in its 44th year, attracts about 1,000 swimmers competing in the waters off Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach. In between competition times, enjoy some Waikiki family fun. 960 1280
York Food and Drink Festival (Yorkshire, England)Got the UK on your travel radar this September? Then head to Northern England for the annual York Food and Drink Festival. Held in the historic county of Yorkshire, the festival offers visitors a sampling of local flavors like mackerel pate, chunky fries and gin liqueur along a taste trail. 960 1280
College Football KickoffAre you ready for some college football? It’s kick-off time! Grab your buds and head to America’s best college football stadiums, from Michigan Stadium (the largest football stadium in the US) to University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium (the third largest stadium in the US). 960 1280
Constitution DayCelebrate Constitution Day and the anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution with a trip to Washington, DC, on September 17. The National Archives has the original Constitution on display in the Rotunda, along with the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Make the most out of your trip to DC and pay a visit to the Smithsonian museums and monuments along the National Mall. 960 1280
California Wine MonthCalling all wine enthusiasts! September is California Wine Month and wineries in regions throughout the state -- from Napa Valley to Temecula Valley -- will be marking the harvest and celebrating the month with special wine tours, tastings, concerts and more. 960 1280
Things to Do in September 18 Photos