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
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
15-Day Cruise to Antarctica"Unlike my usual adventures jetting around the world, this time, I’d use the $10,000 to knock out the last continent I haven’t visited, Antarctica. The 15-day cruise will take me from Ushuaia, Argentina, across the Drake Passage to the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. With several shore landings and a night camping, there’s no better way to experience this isolated landscape and its wildlife, with my camera in hand.” — Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280
Sightseeing Tour in Australia and New Zealand"With a travel budget of $10,000, I would definitely take a trip Down Under. I want to see it all: the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney’s famous harbor and opera house, the beautiful beaches of Australia’s Gold Coast, the Lord of the Rings filming sites in New Zealand, the volcanoes of Auckland and the never-ending gorgeous scenery." — Hannah Prince, Digital Copy Editor 960 1280
Beer Tour in Germany“There is nothing more refreshing than a cold beer, and I’ve heard that Germany has some of the very best in the world. Beer plays a large part in the German culture, and in a country with more than 1,200 breweries, it’s easy to see why. From smaller, independent craft brews such as Riegele to the well-known German brands, including Beck’s, 1 thing is for sure: If you’re of legal drinking age, you’ll never go thirsty in Germany!” — Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Italian Cooking School and Sailing Adventure in Thailand“Some of the most beautiful places in the world are also the best places to eat and soak up some rays. I love Italian food. One of my bucket-list items is to spend 1 month in Italy at a cooking school, preferably in Florence. After that, I’d board a flight to Thailand and sail through the gorgeous Phi Phi Islands, where I plan to sunbathe, nap and eat amazing Thai food for at least 2 weeks.” — Rani Robinson, Director 960 1280
Romantic Hawaiian Island Getaway“I would use $10,000 to take a flight with my husband to the Hawaiian Islands. We would sink our toes into the exotic red- and black-sand beaches and drive along the scenic Road to Hana, making stops all along the way to see the beautiful waterfalls and dramatic views.” — Kristen Kochanski, Photo Editor 960 1280
Cultural Immersion in Beautiful BrazilAfter spending almost 3 weeks in Brazil, I would have no qualms about using my $10,000 in this culturally diverse country with some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The ultimate trip would be soaking in the sun on a nude beach (Praia Mole) in Florianopolis; experiencing Carnival for the first time in Rio de Janeiro; eating delicious Brazilian moqueca and buying local art in Salvador; and dancing until the wee hours of the morning at the Week, a club in Sao Paulo. And a tour of the country wouldn’t be complete without an Amazon excursion to hike the rain forest and experience life with an indigenous family.” — Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280
Spectacular Spain Trip“With $10,000, I would pack my things and head straight to Spain. Starting in Madrid, I would dive right in and experience the cultural centers, hitting the markets and cafes in Plaza Mayor and maybe even a Real Madrid soccer game — if I could swing a ticket. (That’s likely where the $10K would come in handy!) After Madrid, I would hop a train to Barcelona and check out the coast. And while the history and scenery of Spain is enough for any traveler, this whole trip would really be an excuse to gorge on the amazing food and drink that the country has to offer!” — Matt Dewhurst, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Southern Asia Trek"A budgetista when it comes to travel, I can't even imagine how far a budget of $10,000 would take me! Instead of going the luxe route, I'd use this ample amount of cash to fund a long trip — perhaps a grand tour of less-than-easy places to get to in southern Asia. I’d love to see the happiest people on in Earth in Bhutan, tour the temples in Nepal, go tea-house trekking in Sri Lanka — and just keep on travelin’ until the money runs out." — Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280
First-Class Flight to Dubai"Fly first-class to Dubai! Ten thousand dollars will get you a round-trip first-class ticket from New York to Dubai. Just remember: When traveling to a city that uses Lamborghinis for police cars, it’s important to arrive in style." — Josh Levin, Digital Operations Manager 960 1280
Golf at St. Andrews Links"With $10,000, I would take 3 of my best friends to Scotland for the ultimate golf adventure. After arriving in the “Home of Golf,” we’d hit St. Andrews Links for not 1, but 2 incredibly tough rounds of golf. On Day 1, we’d play the famed Old Course. Then, on Day 2, we'd see how it compares to St. Andrews' New Course (although I should mention, the “New Course” was designed in 1894 by Old Tom Morris)." — Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Whirlwind Tour Around the World"As a mileage runner and rock climber, I’d fly around the world. First, stops in Paris and Cape Town, South Africa, for bouldering in Fontainebleau and Rocklands, respectively. Then, I'd continue on to Tokyo for some sashimi, with a final stop in Buenos Aires, just because I’ve never been there. Besides the fun, this trip would earn me 47,000 elite qualifying miles, which will help me maintain my Delta elite flier status." — Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280
Amazing Amalfi Coast Getaway"I would probably make my $10,000 last as long as possible and save most of it. However, I’d throw some caution to the wind and splurge a little on a fun getaway to Italy’s Amalfi Coast or Spain to explore the Canary Islands, Ibiza, Costa del Sol and Seville." — Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280
Great Greek Adventure"I’d take that $10,000 and hop on the next flight to Greece, where I’d charter a yacht and sail the Aegean. I’m not talking a big, hulking cruise ship with subpar onboard meals and a set itinerary. My Greek adventure would include a gorgeous sailboat and a personal skipper, who’d chart an off-the-beaten-path course. I’d spend my days admiring the crystal-clear waters, exploring ancient ruins and dining on fresh seafood. Oh, and drinking plenty of ouzo." — Allee Sangiolo, Video Producer 960 1280
Scotland Road Trip"I'm currently planning a spring trip to Scotland, so $10,000 would come in handy! I'd rent a car and explore the arts and culture hub of Glasgow and historic Edinburgh. Then, I'd head north to Inverness, the Castle Trail and the Highlands. Or I'd stay in a castle in Stirling, and then charter a boat to see the Inner and Outer Hebrides, including Skye (which has beautiful craggy mountains) and Islay (which is famous for malt whiskey distillation). Actually, I could do it ALL for $10,000, and still have change to spare." — Liz Fraser, Photo Editor 960 1280
Tuscany Bike Tour"I'd spend my $10,000 on la dolce vita! I'd book the first flight to Firenze, where I'd indulge in Italian food, culture and fashion. I would attend Cucina con Vista, where I'd attempt to learn how to cook from chef Elena Mattei, and then pedal it off on a Backroads bike tour of Tuscany, drinking in the Renaissance architecture, scenic olive orchards and private wine tastings." — Sara Gilliam, Interactive Producer 960 1280
Italy's Wine Country"I'd use the $10,000 to travel through Italy’s wine country. I would sip my way through the vineyards in Tuscany and eat authentic Italian food until my heart’s content. The money would also give me the opportunity to see where some of my family originated from and to experience Italian culture at its best." — Kristen Kochanski, Photo Editor 960 1280
Jao Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana"With $10,000, I would take my husband home. Ha! Seriously, he was born in Uganda, and he hasn’t been back since he was 2 years old. We’d travel around the country and also visit Rwanda (where his mother was born) and Botswana, where we’d experience the ultimate sleepover at Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta." — Rani Robinson, Director 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.