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
Tanzania, AfricaOne of the things I like most about hosting the Amazing Race is that we get to share new places with our audience. The Ngorongoro Crater is an awe-inspiring sight. This extinct volcano caldera is about 12 miles wide and descends 2,000 feet from the edge of the crater. This has created a unique ecosystem where you will see an abundance of wildlife making it one of the world’s 7 natural wonders of Africa. 960 1280
Lalibela, EthiopiaOur visit to Ethiopia was a surprise for many of us. I had no idea how lush the mountain regions were. Lalibela felt like a set from Indiana Jones. This holy city is famous for its underground church which dates back to the 12th century. 960 1280
SeychellesThe fact that the Seychelles was a hideaway for pirates tells you that it is a remote destination. I grew up on the Tropical Island of Antigua; so, I have a real love for beaches, and Seychelles has some of the best. With more than 115 Islands to choose from, travelers have no problem getting away from everyone and everything. 960 1280
Jaipur, IndiaThis is a great place. We first visited India in Season 1, and there is a reason we keep going back. It’s so exotic and different from anything in America. We have had some of our best moments there. A personal favorite for me is the city of Jaipur which is the capital of Rajasthan. Also, it’s known as the “Pink City” for obvious reasons. India says century overload to me and the people are so inviting. 960 1280
Coober Pedy, AustraliaI first visited Coober Pedy about 20 years ago and it has remained etched in my mind ever since. I took the show here in Season 2, and got the teams to play speed golf as they ran in the extreme heat and on the barren landscape. There is no grass at the course so players had to carry their own patch of artificial grass. Trust me - you will never forget a visit to the “Opal Capital of the World.” 960 1280
Punta Arenas, ArgentinaI first heard about Argentina from my dad who did a lot of agricultural consulting work in this country. He often talked about the southern city of Punta Arenas, which is located between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans -- right at the bottom of the world. This place has amazing, picturesque views. It’s almost like you’re flicking through a pictorial travel book. 960 1280
MongoliaI spent my 40th birthday standing on top of a hill looking out over the vast expansive Mongolia waiting for teams to arrive at the pit stop. This is a country where sheep outnumber people 35 to 1, and there are less than 2 people per square mile. Nomadic people move from place-to-place and live in yurts. If you visit, expect to be invited in. The people are very warm and friendly. 960 1280
Lofoten Islands, NorwayI found out recently that I am a descendant of the Vikings. This of course has made it all the more interesting for me to visit a traditional long house where Viking enthusiasts bring history back to life. The people there are filled with passion and you can’t help to be blown away by the breathtaking fjords. 960 1280
OmanThe great thing about having Amazing Race entertain so many people around the world is that we can show the good things that are happening in different countries, rather than what is going wrong when there is terrible news. Visiting a Middle Eastern country like Oman provides unique insight to a culture that most people never get to see in a positive light. 960 1280
Anchorage, AlaskaAnchorage, AK, is a gateway to America’s last frontier. After a short float plane ride you can find yourself completely immersed in pristine wilderness. Whether you’re interested in hunting, photography, bird watching or simply relaxing, this is America’s best nature getaway. 960 1280
Top 10 Amazing Race Destinations 10 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. 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.
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 or second 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
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