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
Presidential Inauguration“Faith in America’s Future” was the theme of America’s 57th presidential inauguration. In a nod to 2 big milestones -- the 150th anniversary of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the Capitol dome’s completion -- the Washington, DC, festivities culminated in President Obama’s public swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol’s west side. 960 1280
One World Trade CenterOut of the ashes, a resilient triumph: In November One World Trade Center was officially named the tallest building in North America. The height of One World Trade Center was purposely set at 1,776 feet, in tribute to America’s Declaration of Independence and the nearly 3,000 Americans who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. 960 1280
Prince George of CambridgeRoyal baby mania gripped the world, as news crews waited outside London’s St. Mary’s Hospital for news of Kate and William’s royal delivery. Initial reports of a baby girl were quickly put to rest once the easel outside Buckingham Palace delivered the July 22 news: George Alexander Louis had arrived. 960 1280
Breaking Bad ToursIt’s not every day that a city embraces its image as a meth-producing drug haven, unless, of course, that city is the subject of one of the most popular dramas of all time. Breaking Bad put Albuquerque on the map in a big way, and while Walt and Jesse’s adventures have ended, don’t count on Breaking Bad tours to follow suit anytime soon. 960 1280
Government Shutdown, Blue Ridge ParkwayFor the first time in 17 years, the US government shut down in October, and for the next 3 weeks, the nation watched as America’s national parks and memorials were barricaded. The grim news turned the spotlight on state parks nationwide, as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway, where travelers could still find reprieve. 960 1280
Gettysburg AnniversaryAt just under 300 words, the Gettysburg Address summed up what was at stake in the Civil War, and what the death of tens of thousands of young men could ultimately mean to a hurting nation. In November the town of Gettysburg celebrated Lincoln’s words, months after having marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. 960 1280
London Underground AnniversaryLondon had its own big 150th anniversary to celebrate this year, with the London Underground – the world’s first underground railway – marking its historic birthday. Various events throughout London have marked the Tube’s 150th anniversary, including a restored antique railway that traveled the same path as the Tube did back in 1863. 960 1280
Pope Francis, Vatican City TourIn a shock to the world, Pope Benedict abruptly resigned in February, becoming the first pope to do so in nearly 600 years. But then the world got a look at affable Pope Francis, originally from Argentina, and an upbeat air returned to this fascinating city-state within Italy, along with renewed interest in Vatican City tours. 960 1280
Miss America, Atlantic CityIt was exciting enough that the historic Miss America pageant returned to Atlantic City for the first time in 6 years. Then the pageant got even cooler when 2013’s winner turned out to be the first-ever Miss America of Indian descent: New York native Nina Davuluri. 960 1280
JFK Assassination Anniversary, DallasA dark day in Dallas, and the nation’s history, was relived in late November, as somber crowds gathered in Dealey Plaza to remember America’s 35th president. This year marked the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, sparking epic reminiscences of how life changed that day. 960 1280
Grand Central TerminalIn the 1970s, Grand Central Terminal was slated for demolition, until Jackie Kennedy joined in the effort to help save the iconic NYC train terminal. February marked Grand Central’s 100th anniversary, and with it, the continuation of a NYC landmark that sees some 700,000 commuters a day. 960 1280
Tokyo 2020 OlympicsBeating out some formidable competition (Istanbul and Madrid), Tokyo landed a big win in September: For the first time since 1964, Japan’s capital got the nod to host the Summer Olympic Games. Slated for 2020, the games will unfold in Tokyo’s revamped National Olympic Stadium. 960 1280
Bret Michaels on Travel ChannelIn May, legendary rocker Bret Michaels traded in his mic for a sledgehammer and a whole new venture. As host of Travel Channel’s Rock My RV, Bret brought his passion for RVs to Travel’s audience, and proved that America’s favorite bandana-wearing rocker knows how to rock it in more ways than one. 960 1280
HyperloopNo, it’s not Blade Runner, it’s better: The futuristic Hyperloop will transport passengers in under 30 minutes between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The vision of billionaire Elon Musk, which he unveiled in August, the solar-powered transportation system is slated to take off once California state government approves the project. For commuters who must currently brave a 6-hour commute, that may not be a moment too soon. 960 1280
Obamas in IrelandFirst Lady Michelle Obama’s paid a visit to the Emerald Isle in June with daughters Sasha and Malia. Part of the Obamas’ 2-day Ireland trip included a visit to the valley of Glendalough, in County Wicklow, where they met with local tour guide George McClafferty. No word on whether he sang, “There’s No One as Irish as Barack Obama,” to them in honor of the president’s Irish roots. 960 1280
Ghost Adventures in TransylvaniaIn October, Ghost Adventures ushered in its 100th episode in a monumental way, becoming the very first paranormal TV program to investigate the St. Louis home that inspired The Exorcist movie and novel. The crew followed up the 100th episode with another big turn, heading to Transylvania for Halloween. 960 1280
Nik Wallenda's Grand Canyon WalkPlenty of nail-biting moments unfolded during the live broadcast of Nik Wallenda’s high-wire act near the Grand Canyon in June. The self-proclaimed “King of the Wire” walked across the Little Colorado River Gorge outside Grand Canyon National Park's borders, in under 25 minutes, with no safety harness. Can we say insane? 960 1280
Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, AntarcticaThe world’s sexiest models, across 7 continents. Sports Illustrated celebrated its 50th anniversary year in style 2013’s SI Swimsuit edition, with one eye-catching look of Kate Upton going polar bare in Antarctica. We went undercover ourselves, revealing SI’s sexiest models’ sexiest destination picks. 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
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. Past performances have included Charlie XCX, Tyler the Creator, Kings of Leon, Eminem and 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!
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. There's always something for Elvis fans, including the big draw each year, 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. The cash prize can has been more than $24 million. See the high-stakes action in Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY.