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
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
Lollapalooza (Chicago)Head to Chicago?s historic Grant Park for a 3-day, ultimate jam session featuring artists from a variety of genres, including alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock and hip-hop. This year?s lineup includes rock band Kings of Leon, rapper Eminem and newcomer Lorde. 960 1280
La Tomatina (Bunol, Spain)Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes are the star of this annual tomato-throwing festival. La Tomatina, possibly the world?s biggest food fight, has been held in the town of Bunol in the Valencia region of Spain since 1945. Let loose and start throwing, just make sure to bring a pair of goggles -- more than 100 tons of over-ripe tomatoes will be thrown into the streets! 960 1280
Happy Birthday, Hawaii!Do your patriotic duty, and honor the Aloha State with a visit this month -- August 21 marks Hawaii?s admittance as the 50th state. Lap up the waves on Oahu?s North Shore; and for culinary fare, we?ve got the inside scoop on 4 ways to eat like a local on Oahu. 960 1280
Elvis Week (Memphis, TN)Shake, rattle and roll! Memphis, TN, marks its annual Elvis Week celebration each August -- and this year, Elvis fans are all shook up with something extra-special: it?s the 60th anniversary year of rock ?n? roll. Another big draw: the annual Elvis Tribute Artists contest -- who will be crowned the King? 960 1280
Maine Lobster Festival (Rockland, ME)The annual Maine Lobster Festival kicks off this month, and you won?t want to miss a moment of it! Over the course of the 5-day festival, more than 20,000 lbs. of lobster will be served -- lobster rolls, lobster wraps, lobster Caesar salad?did we say lobster? Plus, see the annual Lobster Crate Race, cooking contest and the Maine Sea Goddess coronation! 960 1280
Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival (Seattle)Get a full dose of culture during Labor Day weekend. Head to Seattle for this music and arts fest -- it?s one of the largest in North America. Bumbershoot began in 1971; today the annual gathering draws artists in film, music, spoken word, theater, dance, visual arts and more. Like we said, it?s big. 960 1280
US Open Tennis Tournament (Queens, NY)The stars of tennis hit the court for one of the oldest tennis championships in the world. First held in 1881, the US Open is the fourth and final tennis major of the year’s Grand Slam tournaments -- and the only one held in North America. Last year’s cash prize totaled more than $24 million -- see the high-stakes action in Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY. 960 1280
Cowal Highland Gathering (Dunoon, Scotland)Nice legs! See big, brawny men in flowing Scottish skirts compete in the largest Highland games in the world -- the Cowal Highland Gathering. Also known as the Cowal Games, the annual event is held in the Scottish town of Dunoon, attracting more than 23,000 spectators to celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture. 960 1280
Hatch Chile Festival (Hatch, NM)Chile aficionados, get your peppery fix at the Hatch Chile Festival. The annual fest kicks off at the end of August, and showcases mouthwatering (and burning) chile-packed dishes such as creamed corn, burritos and cheeseburgers. Thank Hatch Valley?s volcanic soil, plentiful sun and 4,000-foot elevation for their chiles? tasty perfection. 960 1280
Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, NV)Imagine spending a week in a remote desert, cut off from the outside world, to experience and celebrate life. Get your chance at Burning Man -- the largest outdoor festival in North America. Each year, the annual event, held in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada, welcomes more than 60,000 people. You might want to switch your cell phone to airplane mode for this one. 960 1280
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Sturgis, SD)Drive through South Dakota?s famed Black Hills, and meet 400,000 hardcore bikers and babes at the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The annual event takes place the first week of August, with the usual motor-roarin? fanfare and bad-ass leather. But what we want to know is: Do you have what it takes to win this year?s Best Redneck Tattoo Contest? 960 1280
State Fair SeasonState fair season kicks off in August; see the stars of the season like the Orange County Fair (pictured), which draws more than 1.5 million fairgoers, or the Minnesota State Fair, which Andrew Zimmern calls his own slice of heavenly obsession. With state fair staples like ice-cold lemonade and fried treats, we can see why. 960 1280
World’s Longest Yard Sale! (127 Corridor Sale)Proving one man?s trash is another man?s treasure?grab a wad of cash for the World?s Longest Yard Sale! Held the first week in August, this frugal-shopper?s dream stretches more than 690 miles -- from its birthplace in Jamestown, TN, all the way north to Addison, MI, and south to Gadsden, AL. 960 1280
August Doins Rodeo (Payson, AZ)Slip on a pair of boots, and head to the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo. First held in 1884, the August Doins Rodeo takes place each August in Arizona’s cool mountain town of Payson. Hold on to your hats, you’re in for some heart-stopping action! 960 1280
Things to Do in August 15 Photos