Outdoor concert, Austin, Texas (Photo: Austin CVB)

Enter the BlackboardEats Austin City Limits Music Festival sweepstakes by August 11 for a chance to win the grand prize: a trip for two to the Austin City Limits Festival, including air, three hotel nights, three lunches, and festival passes.

To participate, provide your email address and zip code on the sweepstakes landing page and click the "submit" button. Time required to enter: less than 15 seconds....read more»

Flying can be painful, what with tiny seats, little legroom, unpleasant noises, and freezing air-conditioning. You can ward off tortuous travel with these 10 handy products designed to make your in-the-air experience just a little bit more comfortable....read more»

Travel brochures (Photo: IndexOpen)

Following is our regular summary of the latest travel news and best frequent traveler promotions reviewed during the past week.

If it was a good deal—or a notably bad deal—from an airline, hotel, or car rental loyalty program, you can read all about it here, and plan your travel accordingly.

Club Carlson Bonuses for Overseas Stays

Club Carlson members can earn 2,000 or 5,000 bonus points for stays at participating overseas Radisson Blu, Park Plaza, and Park Inn hotels during August and September....read more»

Train riding along the coast (Photo: iStockphoto/Paul Erickson)

A caption to an online photo post of the train that derailed in northwestern Spain on Wednesday asks, "Are trains safe?" That's a good example of the false distinction between "safe" and "unsafe." In reality, safety isn't an either/or value; it's a gradation. Nothing is 100 percent safe. Nothing is 100 percent unsafe. Planes make bad landings, trains careen off the rails, buses overturn, ships run aground, people fall out of roller coasters. And no matter how hard everyone tries to prevent them, we all know these things will happen again.

The laws of physics make transportation especially vulnerable to safety problems. Transportation means moving, and moving means energy—energy to get started, more energy to stop. Stopping or turning a large moving mass takes a lot of energy and a lot of time. Go around a curve too fast and centrifugal force throws you off the rails or highway. Hitting a brick wall when you're in motion can demolish you or whatever is carrying you. Gravity accelerates mass at a rate of 32 feet per second per second. This isn't going to change....read more»

<strong>Take a Walking Tour</strong>

One of the more affordable modes of transportation is using your own two feet, and walking is one of the best ways to learn about a destination. Plus, many cities offer a wide range of tours&mdash;both independent and guided&mdash;on a slew of different subjects, including history, ghost tales, food and drink, shopping, and sightseeing. And you don't need to know a soul to have a good time.

Start planning by visiting the city's convention and visitor bureau's website, which typically offers free maps, guides, itineraries, and suggestions for walking tours. The visitor's center is also a great place to stop by in person to get tips on where to go to find the type of tour that interests you. Many historical societies provide free guided tours to acquaint visitors with the city's past, so check their offerings as well.

The number of walking tours in a destination like New York City is overwhelming, and you would run your feet raw if you tried to go on even a quarter of them. However, this fierce competition means lower prices and a greater range of subjects to choose from. For instance, you can take a 90-minute <a href="http://www.unionsquarenyc.org/walk.html" target="_blank">Union Square: Crossroads of New York</a> free walking tour and a three-and-a-half-hour <a href="http://www.walkingnyctours.com/descriptions.php" target="_blank">Manhattan Melting Pot Eating Tour</a> for $40, all in the same day.

(Photo: iStockphoto/Vitaly Sokolovskiy)

According to a thread on Flyertalk devoted to the American-US Airways merger, US Airways will join the oneworld global airline alliance on November 1.

Since neither US Airways nor oneworld has confirmed the date, it must be viewed more as a strong possibility than as a given. But it's a useful reminder that, whatever the cutover date turns out to be, US Airways' participation in the Star Alliance is in its final months....read more»

Spirit jet in the air  (Photo: Spirit Airlines)

Leave it to Spirit to go where other airlines fear to tread.

The latest assault on conventional notions of good taste: their ad promoting Mexico vacation packages, which refers none too obliquely to the Anthony Weiner sexting scandal currently roiling New York City.

Currently dominating the airline's homepage is an animated graphic featuring a cartoon character that's a Mexican luchador (masked wrestler) crossed with a hot dog, holding a cellphone. The ad copy alludes to Carlos Danger, Weiner's online alter ego, and gleefully proclaims, "This summer, the Weiner rises again."...read more»

Hotel: Concierge Bell (Photo: Shutterstock/Levent Konuk)

According to the J.D. Power 2013 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, released yesterday, consumer satisfaction with hotels is the highest it's been in seven years. The uptick follows two years of declining satisfaction.

Overall satisfaction scores reflect hotel guests' experience in seven areas: reservations; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees. Satisfaction with a hotel's loyalty program isn't gauged separately, although it probably indirectly affects travelers' experience of some aspects of hotel service....read more»

Banjees (Photo: Springs)

Would you wear a wrist wallet instead of a fanny pack?...read more»

Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu National Park is famous for the waterfalls that share its name. From the Brazilian side, an easy one-mile hike follows the Iguazu River to the Devil's Throat, the loudest and most impressive of the falls. Visitors can venture out on a catwalk above the falls to get a closer look. The lush jungle of the park is home to jaguars, pumas, giant otters, and anteaters.

Many travelers tack an Iguazu Falls tour onto the end of another South American itinerary. If you're looking for the complete package, waterfall buffs may like Imaginative Traveller's <a href="http://www.imaginative-traveller.com/destinations/tourdetails/pop_itin.php?code=FLGW" target="_blank">Brazil Gauchos and Waterfalls</a> family tour. The 11-night tour costs $2,555 with a local payment of $440 and includes two days in Iguazu, as well as visits to Rio de Janeiro, the Pantanal, and Bonito, where you can see more waterfalls.

Iguazu Falls National Park, Brazil and Argentina (Photo: Index Open)

Now through August 5, airline affiliates LAN and TAM are offering South American travelers incredible savings with intra-country fares from $13. Book flights to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay from the U.S. for as little as $299 round-trip and tack on intra-country flights for as little as $13 and as much as $27 (basically the cost of the add-on flight's taxes and fees). Applicable travel is from August 15 through December 15. ...read more»

Central Park, New York

JetBlue is proudly New York-based, and JFK's Terminal Five is the airline's operational showcase.

T5 is looking even better after last week's opening of the Airspace Lounge near Gate 24.

The lounge is what you'd expect from JetBlue: coolly modern in design; geared toward the plugged-in set; oriented more toward the masses than the few; and (unlike most airport lounges) fairly priced....read more»

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