George R. R. Martin on Set (Photo: Nick Briggs/HBO)

George R.R. Martin talks exclusively with SmarterTravel about the real-world places that inspired his fantasy masterpiece, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the hit HBO series based on it. He also makes his most revealing comments yet about what to expect in the upcoming sixth book, The Winds of Winter....read more»

Woman: Opening Bag While at Security (Photo: Thinkstock/Digital Vision)

In an odd twist, we actually feel sorry for TSA workers this week. Well, except for the one agent who got caught running a prostitution ring.

  • Hands down, this is probably the weirdest thing ever found in luggage—the AP reports that customs agents discovered two human fetuses in luggage at Miami International Airport. Two Cuban-American women were flying back from Havana with the two fetuses in clay jars.
  • Would you rather open a bag of fetuses, or a bag that smelled so bad you had to go to the hospital? TSA workers at Boston's Logan airport got the second option, reports The Washington Post. The bag apparently contained rodent repellant, and the fumes sent four workers to the hospital.....read more»
Globe Passport Plane Ticket (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

If it's a good deal (or a notably bad one) from an airline, hotel, or car-rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly....read more»

Italy: Ravello (Photo: Thinkstock/iStockphoto)

Set way above the Amalfi Coast, atop cliffs and mountains, Ravello has attracted a number of rich and famous creatives over the years. It's easy to see why—the town's historical setting and amazing views must certainly provide ample inspiration.

Even if you're not working on a painting or novel, visit Ravello, where you can see ancient churches, meticulously manicured gardens, and coastal views. Don't miss the outdoor performances held by the Ravello Concert Society!...read more»

Photo: iStockphoto

Better late than never. Dulles International Airport is opening a new area that will be able to process more international passengers: 2,400 passengers per hour compared to a previous rate of 1,400 passengers per hour.

Since Dulles became United's main East Coast hub and international gateway, travelers arriving from overseas have given it low grades for excessive crowding and long lines. Presumably, the new facilities will east the situation. Doubling of the international arrivals area—finally—may take Dulles off your "avoid" list....read more»

Photo: Iberia

Labor unrest will likely continue to plague travelers to Europe this summer. Right now, the biggest problem is a general strike in Spain that has caused lots of cancellations and delays, but that may be over by the time you read this.

Now, the newest looming threat is a possible strike of baggage handlers at London's Stansted airport over the Easter weekend. Meanwhile, German and Greek workers continue to be restive, and Iberia pilots have not said anything about backing away from their planned strikes on Mondays and Fridays from April 9 through July 20. 

All in all, 2012 is shaping up to be a summer of strikes around Europe. Some strikes, like most in the U.S., are disagreements over wages and working conditions. Other strikes are political, protesting government policies. And given the conflicting economic pressures—airline fuel cost pressures, government austerity programs, and ongoing labor demands—neither problem is likely to ease any time soon....read more»

CitySlips (Photo: CitySlips)

Fashion shouldn't be short on function—especially for travelers. The best-dressed road warrior isn't the guy who looks like he just stepped off of a photo shoot. He or she is the one armed with the smartest travel clothes: garments that pack well, wrinkle less, and perform all kinds of practical functions, from keeping bugs at bay to concealing money and valuables.

To help you become the snappiest dresser wedged into coach, we put together a list of the most practical travel apparel around, with a few accessories thrown in for good measure....read more»

New Zealand: Hot Water Beach (Photo: Flickr/Colin Bowern)

Spas charge good money to soak in heated mineral water, but at this beach, it will only cost you a shovel and some sweat. The natural wonder of New Zealand's Hot Water Beach's underground hot springs means that you can dig your own pool and be rewarded with a hot water bath in a killer beachfront location.

Show up around two hours either side of low tide, and walk around until you feel a warm spot in the sand. Dig here, and settle in for a nice bath. The spots are a bit hit or miss, and you may have to dig a few test holes before you strike a hot area.

Didn't pack a shovel in your suitcase? You can rent spades from nearby shops. Come early to claim a good spot, though, as the beach is pretty popular and can get crowded....read more»

Andy Samberg (Photo: Shutterstock/Featureflash)

He's on a boat, and now you can be, too. Or on a bike, helicopter, or limo ... Saturday Night Live's famous songster Andy Samberg is the co-founder of a new website called CanaryHop. The website's founders describe CanaryHop as "an online marketplace for activities and travel experiences ... Basically we are the modern-day classifieds for travel for the next generation." With everything from vacation deals to personal tours on offer, we think the site seems similar to a travel-only Craigslist.

So how does the site work? You can register as a Canary (host) or Hopper (guest). Only individuals can register, not companies, but an individual from a company can register. For example, a tour guide can register and offer personal tours, but they can't register as a generic company. Once a Hopper books an activity, CanaryHop holds the money (plus a 3 percent transaction fee) until 24-hours after the activity is completed.

...read more»

Air: Man Holding Back of Flying Airplane (Photo: iStockphoto/Shelly Perry)

Get ready for "basic economy" on Delta. The carrier is test marketing the new option on flights linking Detroit with Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Orlando, and Tampa. In exchange for paying the lowest fare, you get a ticket that you cannot change or refund, and you can't select your seat in advance. That's an almost sure guarantee of being stuck in a middle seat and having your travel party split among different rows.

According to a spokesperson from Delta, all you give up with this fare is any sort of ticket changes as well as seat selection. You still earn frequent-flyer miles, and elite members still qualify for their level of upgrade options and other perks....read more»

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