SmarterTravel https://www.smartertravel.com The Best Trips Start Here Sun, 21 Jan 2018 13:14:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Recap: The Week’s Biggest Travel Stories and Best Deals https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/recap-weeks-biggest-travel-stories-best-deals-49/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/recap-weeks-biggest-travel-stories-best-deals-49/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 19:57:58 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195312 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. Could Airbnb Soon Have a […]

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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.

Could Airbnb Soon Have a Loyalty Program?

Airbnb’s CEO is looking for suggestions for a company loyalty program. What do you want to see?

Wyndham Hotels Will Acquire La Quinta

With its just-announced acquisition of La Quinta hotels, the world’s largest hotel network, Wyndham, will get even bigger.

Delta Warns: ‘No More Comfort Hedgehogs on Our Flights!’

Delta is the first airline to reign in the proliferation of comfort animals on its flights.

American Will Launch New York-Chicago Shuttle Service in April

American will launch New York-Chicago shuttle service in April.

Alaska Air, United Will Launch Flights from 2nd Seattle Airport

Later this year, the Seattle area will get a second commercial airport, Paine Field.

Upcoming Hilton Honors Changes Are Good for the Few, Bad for the Many

Later this year, Hilton’s Honors program will shift benefits from the many to the few.

Should Airlines Get Rid of Reclining Seats? This One Is

It was disclosed last week that a major airline plans to get rid of reclining seats on new aircraft, and the predictable outcry ensued.

Wallet Watch: InterContinental Revises Its Best-Rate Guarantee

InterContinental Hotels has changed its best-rate guarantee. You won’t like it.

Here’s How You Can Win a Free Trip to Hawaii

Prize includes airfare, hotel, dinner, and a Mark & Graham travel bag.

Somebody has to win this trip, right? Might as well be you.

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Delta Warns: ‘No More Comfort Hedgehogs on Our Flights!’ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/delta-warns-no-comfort-hedgehogs-flights/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/delta-warns-no-comfort-hedgehogs-flights/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 18:27:44 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195300 Comfort animals onboard commercial airline flights have become something of a joke in recent years, as flyers have taken advantage of notoriously loose restrictions to bring all manner of pets with them in the passenger cabin. The idea of comfort animals seems to have gained currency among military veterans returning home from war zones with […]

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Comfort animals onboard commercial airline flights have become something of a joke in recent years, as flyers have taken advantage of notoriously loose restrictions to bring all manner of pets with them in the passenger cabin.

The idea of comfort animals seems to have gained currency among military veterans returning home from war zones with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An emotional support animal was often prescribed to help ameliorate the symptoms. As PTSD became recognized as an increasingly more common condition, affecting people in many walks of life, comfort animals too proliferated. And not just dogs and cats.

Today there are websites like US Support Animals that advertise “Fly with your animal in the cabin of an airplane at not cost” and provide an easy roadmap for certifying virtually any creature as an emotional support animal. Prices range from $99 to $299 for the service.

It was only a matter of time before some airline or regulatory body stepped up and imposed some order on the system. That time has come, and the airline is Delta.

Beginning on March 1, according to today’s announcement, Delta will impose new requirements on passengers wishing to have their support animals accompany them onboard Delta flights.

Delta Air Lines is taking steps to further protect its customers, employees and service and support animals by implementing advance documentation requirements for those animals. This comes as a result of a lack of regulation that has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight.

According to Delta, the airline currently carries around 700 support animals every day, and has experienced an 84 percent increase in reported animal incidents in just the past two years. “The rise in serious incidents involving animals in flight leads us to believe that the lack of regulation in both health and training screening for these animals is creating unsafe conditions across U.S. air travel.”

So, when the new rules take effect, Delta flyers will have to comply with the following in order to take their emotional-support animals with them in the passenger cabin:

  • Show proof 48 hours in advance of the animal’s health or vaccinations
  • Provide a doctor or mental health professional’s letter
  • Provide a signed document confirming the animal “can behave”

Delta also states that it will not accept “exotic or unusual” support animals, including hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, reptiles, amphibians, goats, chickens, and any animals with tusks, horns, or hooves.

So even if all the proper documents can be obtained, Delta passengers can rest assured that they won’t find themselves flying cheek-by-jowl with Esther the Wonder Pig.

Reader Reality Check

Is this a sensible step on Delta’s part, or is it overreach?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Winter Olympics 2018: Here’s What Travelers Need to Know https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/winter-olympics-2018-pyeongchang/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/winter-olympics-2018-pyeongchang/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:59:35 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195286 Considering a trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea? I recommend you go for it. Not only will you be watching the best athletes in the world at their absolute peaks, but you will also find yourself in the middle of a global event with people from all over the world, and […]

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Considering a trip to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea? I recommend you go for it. Not only will you be watching the best athletes in the world at their absolute peaks, but you will also find yourself in the middle of a global event with people from all over the world, and with the eyes of the world watching. These factors come together to make the Olympics a very special experience. I worked at and attended the past five summer Games, and count those sometimes excruciatingly long and hard days among the best experiences of my life.

Those concerned with security should be heartened by recent news that North Korea has agreed to send athletes to the Winter Olympics this year. The Olympic Winter Games open on February 9 and close on February 25, while the Paralympic Games open March 8 and close on March 18.

How to Get to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang

Most international travelers will fly into Seoul’s Incheon Airport. To accommodate these folks, a high-speed railway was built to link the capital to the main Olympic venues in about 90 minutes. Fares from Los Angeles to Incheon are only about $800 at present with a stop in Hong Kong, and I saw a nonstop from New York JFK for $987—not bad at all to go halfway around the world.

If you are still researching airfares, other gateway options include airports in Yangyang and Wonju.

U.S. citizens do not need a visa, just a valid passport. For citizens of other countries, check with your government for complete information.

Pyeongchang 2018 Venues

Photo: Pyeongchang 2018

There are three main venues for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Pyeongchang Mountain Cluster will be home to the biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, sliding sports (bobsled, luge, skeleton), the snow park (freestyle skiing and snowboarding), and the Jeongseon and Yongpyong Alpine Centers (alpine skiing).

Gangneung Coastal Cluster will host hockey, curling, figure skating, and speed skating.

Olympic Plaza and Stadium will host non-competition activities, including many medal ceremonies. Events will also be broadcast on big screens here throughout the Games. The non-competition venues are worth a visit if you want to get a sense of the pure spectacle surrounding the Winter Olympics, as this is where a lot of it happens. The big Olympic plazas feature cultural events, exhibits, performances, and corporate installations with all kinds of stuff going on.

For a list and maps, see Pyeongchang2018.com.

Getting Around the Winter Olympics

At present, the official site notes that personal transportation will be restricted in many areas of the host city and around the venues, but has yet to post specifics, noting only that “more information will be available in January 2018.”

However, the site very clearly states that “cars and other means of transportation by individuals will not be allowed to access around each venue,” and overall, unless you have some reliable information that drop-offs are possible, I recommend taking this seriously. At the Rio Games I was in a taxi for a solid 45 minutes simply trying to find a place where Games security would let me get out of the car and walk to the main press center.

At present it appears that there will be a park-and-ride approach to transportation overall; to get to these depots, public transportation or taxis will probably be your best bet. Taxis cost 2800 won as a base rate ($2.60 USD at present), then another 200 won (19 cents) for every 152 meters, which comes to about two dollars per mile.

Even when using official transport, you should also expect to do (and leave time for) some walking, particularly at outdoor venues. You might get off a bus in a remote parking area, walk to the security area, and then walk farther to the ticketing area. Even after you are inside the venue, you might have to hoof it to a good spot.

Additionally, some outdoor venues have no official “seating” per se; at the Rio mountain biking venue, for example, you could climb all around the area to see different features of the course, escape crowds, and find interesting viewpoints.

Accessible seating is available in several venues; you can find more information at the very bottom of this page.

Winter Olympics Tickets

At press time, tickets were available for almost all sports at some point during the two-week run. While this isn’t great news for the organizers, who place sales at about 64 percent of their goal at present, it is good news if you plan to attend.

For U.S. customers, all ticket sales are handled by CoSport. In other countries, see this guide to authorized ticket resellers by region and country.

Once the Games start, you can purchase tickets directly at the venues, as well as at the Olympic Stadium and other similar locations.

Security

Security at any Olympic Games can be pretty strict, and given recent international events it is a fair assumption that the 2018 Games will be at least as if not more stringent than ever. Here are a few rules of thumb that will help.

Don’t assume you can bring a bag into a venue; official policies on things like this can be very much in flux once the Olympics get underway, so I recommend going without if at all possible.

Even if you can bring a bag, bag searches are invariably the biggest time drain you will encounter when attending an event.

Scan for the “best” line as you approach the venue; you can sometimes save yourself some time by choosing well.

You will sometimes see formidable security at venue shops as well; be prepared.

Sightseeing Around Pyeongchang

Photo: Shutterstock

One of the best ways to do some sightseeing without “missing” the Olympics is simply to purchase tickets to the more remote venues, then take in some sights while you are there. At many Olympics, outlying venues are located in areas featuring excellent natural features and/or “regular” communities, and just by going you can experience the host country more intimately than you might think.

Otherwise, international travelers who fly into Seoul will choose to spend a few days at the beginning or end of their trip in the capital. Some other recommended attractions:

The DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone. Oddly enough, this narrow band of land between South and North Korea is a formidable tourist attraction, and not just because of its geopolitical importance. Largely untouched by humans for some time, it has also become a model of biodiversity. The DMZ is about six hours from Pyeongchang, although it is probably easier to get there from Seoul.

The Woljeongsa Temple and Pyeongchang Hyanggyo, a restored Confucian school, are among the most popular local attractions.

For more see Pyeongchang2018.com and Pc.Go.kr.

Mobile Apps

The 2018 Olympics mobile app is available on iOS and Android, and although I have found Olympics apps not always to be perfect, overall I recommend them strongly, as they do tend to be solid on the basics (locations, event times, results, etc.).

Notably, I have also used the official app to get help from locals; particularly when you do not know the language, you can show them the app to get directions, direct a taxi driver, find bus stops, make sure you are getting on the right bus, and other simple but critical tasks.

More Tips and Information for the Winter Olympics

Check on ticket availability before you make extensive plans; everything else you will probably be able to figure out, but a sold-out event is a serious roadblock. Tickets will likely end up on StubHub and the like, but that is a risky approach.

Don’t be afraid to go see sports you would not typically care about. Some of my most memorable experiences attending and working at the past five summer Games have been while watching sports about which I knew little and thought I wasn’t interested in.

If you are planning to purchase souvenirs or gifts for folks back home, you may want to do so early in your trip, as the best items tend to sell out fairly quickly. This is especially the case if you want something specific to your favorite sport.

Make some time to visit the main Olympic Plaza and Stadium; it is sheer (and sometimes cheesy) spectacle, but it’s all part of the fun.

Every venue and activity I have ever seen at the Games has been very family-friendly, so you should feel comfortable bringing the kids. Security lines and transport tend to be the main challenges for youngsters, so come prepared (my son bagged some really unique Pokemon Go characters in Rio).

Don’t Forget the Paralympic Games

Photo: Shutterstock

Although the Paralympic Games are smaller and get less attention, the events are equally as compelling, and in some cases extraordinarily so. Additionally, crowds are often much smaller, the overall cost lower, and the hassle factor greatly reduced. Further, if you waited until now to plan a trip, you have an extra month to make it all happen, as the Paralympics don’t start until March 8. To learn more, see the official Paralympics site for Pyeongchang.

More from SmarterTravel:

Ed Hewitt is a seasoned globetrotter who brings you a biweekly glimpse into the latest travel news, views, and trends—and how they could affect your travel plans.

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10 Wallet-Friendly and Most-Searched Destinations for 2018 https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/most-searched-destinations-2018/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/19/most-searched-destinations-2018/#respond Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:23:55 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195246 Kayak is out with its Travel Hacker Guide for 2018, led by its list of the top trending destinations for 2018. There aren’t any out-of-left-field locales—they’re all pretty well-known destinations—but they have “the greatest percent increase in searches year over year.” The Most-Searched Destinations for 2018 Maui Barcelona Bali Amsterdam Lisbon Las Vegas Madrid Athens […]

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Kayak is out with its Travel Hacker Guide for 2018, led by its list of the top trending destinations for 2018. There aren’t any out-of-left-field locales—they’re all pretty well-known destinations—but they have “the greatest percent increase in searches year over year.”

The Most-Searched Destinations for 2018

  1. Maui
  2. Barcelona
  3. Bali
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Lisbon
  6. Las Vegas
  7. Madrid
  8. Athens
  9. Paris
  10. Rome

Is it really possible for Paris to become more popular? Apparently.

Kayak doesn’t provide much explanation for the increased interest that created these most-searched destinations, although it’s noted that searches to Maui are up due to several airlines adding new routes.

One can surmise from this list that deals to these most-searched destinations are not forthcoming, or at least harder to find. That’s hardly scientific or reliably predictive, but if more interest equals more actual demand, prices should go up, right?

Helpfully, each destination is packaged charts displaying average airfare and hotel price data, so you can get a sense of whether or not you’re getting a good deal or it, in fact, prices are on the rise.

Speaking of getting a good deal, Kayak also released its top 10 Wallet-Friendly Trips. This list highlights 10 destinations based on how much cheaper they are than the “average trip,” which is calculated using overall median trip costs (flight plus three night hotel stay) between October 2016 and 2017.

Wallet-Friendly Destinations for 2018

  1. Guadalajara
  2. Calgary
  3. Orlando
  4. Raleigh
  5. Denver
  6. Fort Myers
  7. Tampa
  8. Salt Lake City
  9. Minneapolis
  10. Baltimore

Kayak says Guadalajara is 41 percent cheaper than the average trip. This list comes with airfare and hotel data. Rounding out the Hacker Report, Las Vegas was named the most popular destination and Ocho Rios was tops for Beach destinations.

The “Anywhere” section lets travelers can look up month-by-month airfare and hotel rate data for virtually any destination in the world. This is highly useful data for anyone benchmarking flight and hotel searches—and is worth of bookmarking for later.

Are you planning to visit one of Kayak’s top trending destinations this year? Or will you stay away now that you know everyone else is going? Comment below.

More from SmarterTravel:

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American Will Launch New York-Chicago Shuttle Service in April https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/american-will-launch-new-york-chicago-shuttle-service-april/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/american-will-launch-new-york-chicago-shuttle-service-april/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:55:24 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195235 Among the 52 new 2018 nonstop flights announced today by American is a new shuttle service between New York’s LaGuardia and Chicago’s O’Hare airports. Beginning on April 4, American will launch new hourly flights between the two airports. Among the service’s features: free beer and wine, dedicated gates close to security, and an extended cut-off […]

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Among the 52 new 2018 nonstop flights announced today by American is a new shuttle service between New York’s LaGuardia and Chicago’s O’Hare airports.

Beginning on April 4, American will launch new hourly flights between the two airports. Among the service’s features: free beer and wine, dedicated gates close to security, and an extended cut-off time for checking in. (American already flies frequently between the two airports, so the shuttle is to an extent just a rescheduling and rebranding of existing service.)

American will be competing head-to-head with Delta’s New York-Chicago shuttle service.

New routes on the list for 2018 include flights to Budapest, Czech Republic, Hungary, Prague, and Reykjavik, Iceland.

 

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Canada Forever: The Ultimate Canada Holiday for Every Month https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/travel-canada-holiday-every-month/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/travel-canada-holiday-every-month/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:43:10 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195081 Canada offers travelers endless inspiration, and experiences you’ll find nowhere else on earth. Every month, there’s a best place to choose for a Canada holiday—and dozens of reasons to book a Canada trip. From polar bears in January to summer fetes in Quebec and fall foliage on Price Edward Island, here’s where to have the […]

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Canada offers travelers endless inspiration, and experiences you’ll find nowhere else on earth. Every month, there’s a best place to choose for a Canada holiday—and dozens of reasons to book a Canada trip.

From polar bears in January to summer fetes in Quebec and fall foliage on Price Edward Island, here’s where to have the best Canadian vacation every month of the year.

Click on the image below to view the interactive version of this story.

Canada Holidays for Every Month

Canada forever

January Canada Holiday: Manitoba

This prairie province between Ontario and Saskatchewan offers up a fantastic mix of culture, scenic outings, and wildlife interactions. Take a Canada vacation here and you’ll find two national parks, 90 provincial parks, more than 110,000 lakes, a coast that hugs the historic Hudson Bay, and winter adventures that include the northern lights, dog sledding, and polar bear excursions.

Read more: January: Churchill Polar Bears and Winter Fun in Manitoba

February Canada Holiday: British Columbia

British Columbia offers big cities and even bigger trees, along with unique First Nations experiences and exceptional culinary offerings. Winters are mild, but the Canadian Rockies and Coast Mountain ranges offer perfect conditions for sports enthusiasts. Temperate climates at the coast mean you can snowboard, ski, snowshoe, or even winter zip-line one day, and then comfortably stroll city streets the next.

Read more: Bliss in British Columbia

March Canada Holiday: New Brunswick

You’ll find everything you think of as Canadian in the maritime provinces. Winter lasts longer, locals have a stronger accent, and the feeling that you’ve stumbled upon the nicest people in the world follows you home and beckons you back. A Canada trip in March to New Brunswick means you can count on all of that, plus maple-syrup sugaring and spring skiing.

Read more: Ocean-Floor Adventures and Maritime History in New Brunswick

April Canada Holiday: Alberta

Alberta is where the cowboys live. You’ll find them on horseback in the mountains, on the plains, and in the middle of the city at the summer Calgary Stampede. Bordered by British Columbia to the West and Saskatchewan to the East, the province is a popular Canada holiday destination thanks to its mix of cosmopolitan cities, Jurassic-ancestor attractions, and forest trails. Spring in Alberta brings the opportunity to hike, bike, and explore the outdoors, and milder weather means lighter jackets and even more opportunities to get out early or stay out late.

Read more: Visit Alberta for Stars, Stories, and the World’s Wildest Wilderness

May Canada Holiday: Saskatchewan

A mix of rural outposts and cosmopolitan cities alike, Saskatchewan has a youthful vibe that makes it one of the country’s most cutting-edge provinces when it comes to new ideas and innovative eats. Add its connection to First Nations’ culture and you’ll see why Saskatchewan is one of the best places to start your historical understanding of Canada’s roots. Spring offers the best opportunities for a Saskatchewan Canada trip since you can explore both indoors and outdoors across the province: Fantastic weather means hiking, biking, and paddling, so outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the variety of trails and river walks. Indoor adventurers can explore galleries, enjoy restaurants, and dive deeper into the land’s cultural heritage with fewer crowds.

Read more: Saskatchewan, the Prairie Province That Defies Expectations

June Canada Holiday: Quebec

Quebec has long attracted tourists with a welcoming French-Canadian accent. From the cobblestones of its capital to the youthful exuberance of Montreal, romantics of all ages fall hard for this province. And if your love affair is with nature, you’re still in luck. Quiet, rural outposts full of adrenaline-filled adventures, historic landmarks, and innovative fresh cuisine make Quebec one of those provinces that inspire multiple return Canada trips.

Read more: Quebec Delivers the Ultimate Summer Vacation

July Canada Holiday: Ontario

Canada’s most populous province can be misleading. Drop into one of its big cities, and you’ll be left wondering where the wild you’d heard so much about has disappeared to. But, wander farther in any direction—by car, train, plane, or boat—and you’ll find them. From monarch butterflies on Point Pelee, to the hike-friendly hills of Manitoulin Island, to the First Nations communities on the shores of historic Hudson Bay, you’ll find this province has more to offer than you’ll have time to explore in a single Canada trip. When things warm up in summer, expect to find locals in a celebratory mood. Sidewalks are turned into makeshift patios, T-shirts and shorts are out before it’s probably advisable, the slow-and-steady progression to campsites across the province is in full swing, and the celebrations are nonstop.

Read more: Arts, Festivals, Fishing, and Wine in Ontario

August Canada Holiday: Yukon

The territory that bridges British Columbia and Alaska has been an American favorite for generations thanks to the iconic Alaska Highway that runs through it, but the Yukon is much more than a drive-through destination. Come see the place where vast forests resemble the ones you’ve seen on Canada travel posters for generations, and where the landscape is both harsh and full of promise. Yukon’s summer season comes to an end in August, and with the beginning of falling temperatures (expect it to top out at about 69 degrees) comes a brilliance in the forests that’s well worth the trip.

Read more: Wild Frontiers and Unforgettable Nature in the Yukon

September Canada Holiday: Newfoundland and Labrador

Canada’s easternmost province has long attracted nature lovers, but in recent years its popularity has grown to include a big pop-culture following as well. Whether you choose to explore Gander, St. John’s, or Bonavista in the east; the French Shore, Corner Brook, or Norris Point in the west; or the rocky coast of its provincial partner Labrador in the north, the only thing missing is enough time to see it all on one Canada vacation. Fall offers smaller crowds and greater access to some of the destinations that are hotbeds for summertime visitors.

Read more: Scenic Shorelines in Newfoundland and Labrador

October Canada Holiday: Prince Edward Island

Chances are you’ve read the tales of the red-haired orphan who made this island famous. Anne of Green Gables put Prince Edward Island on the map, but if you stopped your exploration of the island at all things Anne, you’d be missing out. Red sand dunes, white-capped waves, proud farmers, and innovative chefs make it an incredible Maritimes Canada destination. Add theatrical productions, creative artwork, and community festivals with local pride at their heart, and you have the makings of a beautiful vacation. The quieter fall season gives locals a chance to recuperate from the summer rush and reinvigorate the things that make the island special: Local fairs and community offerings that most small towns enjoy welcome tourists who’ve stuck around.

Read more: Maritime Magic on Prince Edward Island

November Canada Holiday: Nova Scotia

With a mix of city convenience and rural charm, Nova Scotia offers the perfect introduction to eastern Canadian sensibilities. In the winter months, the reasons to visit don’t disappear: Cooler temperatures don’t dissuade locals, and their infectious spirit will have you joining in on the fun. The weather also makes cozy and comfortable indoor spaces and fantastic food and beverage offerings even more enticing. In the end, you may find you prefer the quieter winter season for your Canada vacation over the popular summer one.

Read more: Welcoming Winter in Nova Scotia

December Canada Holiday: Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Canada’s north has long fascinated researchers and explorers alike. In 1999, the Northwest Territories split. The land to the east would become Nunavut—Canada’s newest and largest territory. The division has allowed both provinces to develop distinct identities.  December is prime time for winter wonders including watching the Aurora Borealis, driving the famed ice highway, marveling at the massive annual reindeer migration, and other winter activities including dog sledding, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.

Read more: True Nature and Adventure in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

More from SmarterTravel:

Heather Greenwood Davis is a lifestyle journalist and a National Geographic Travel columnist. Follow her on Twitter @greenwooddavis or keep up with her family’s adventures on GlobeTrottingMama.com

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10 Best Travel Workout Gear https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/travel-workout-gear/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/travel-workout-gear/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:09:49 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195123 Don’t let a lack of suitcase space for your travel workout gear stop you from getting exercise on the road. Sticking to your fitness routine while traveling can help fight jetlag, combat side effects of overeating, and let you see a destination at a slower, more personal pace. Travel Workout Gear Perfect for a Run […]

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Don’t let a lack of suitcase space for your travel workout gear stop you from getting exercise on the road. Sticking to your fitness routine while traveling can help fight jetlag, combat side effects of overeating, and let you see a destination at a slower, more personal pace.

Travel Workout Gear Perfect for a Run or Taking in the Sites

The best travel workout gear should be able to do double-duty, working for both running and sightseeing.

Elemental Water Bottle

(Photo: Amazon)

Save your money and the environment with a reusable water bottle, which you can use both to hydrate during a workout, or at the airport (fill it up once you’re through security to be 3-1-1 compliant). I hate drinking lukewarm water, which is why I love the Elemental water bottle. Made from double-walled stainless steel, this bottle will keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours, or hot for up to 12 hours. I took it out on a city walk on a snowy day, and my coffee was still steaming hot hours later. It’s also great for hiking—you can’t beat a cold drink of water at the summit.

Lululemon TechLoom Phantom Shoes

(Photo: lululemon

I’ve never been able to pack just one pair of shoes for a trip, because I like to go running (or at least pretend I’ll get motivated and go for a jog one morning), but I hate wearing athletic sneakers when I’m not in the gym. That’s why Lululemon’s new TechLoom Phantom Shoes were such a game-changer for me—these rose gold running shoes are gorgeous, and look stylish paired with jeans or even a casual dress. Unlike most athleisure sneakers, these actually have enough support to work on longer runs, so I only have to pack one pair of shoes. (If the rose gold is a little too fabulous for you, they also come in neutral colors like plain black.)

Pearl Izumi Pursuit Thermal Cycling Tights & Versa Barrier Jacket

(Photo: Amazon)

If you’ve ever cycled in wet weather (or even on a dry day over a wet road) you know how easily it is to get soaked. Pearl Izumi’s Pursuit Thermal Cycling Tights (available for women and men) are made from a water-shedding fabric that will keep you dry no matter how far you ride in the rain. These tights are warmer than rain pants, as they’re lined with a thermal fleece fabric that’s cozy and flexible. Combine it with the wind and water-resistant Versa Barrier Jacket and wet weather doesn’t stand a chance.

Splendid Yoga Twisted Side Panel Legging

(Photo: Splendid)

Pack leggings that can be worn alone for working out then and easily washed in the sink and worn again under a dress or skirt. Splendid’s Yoga Twisted Side Panel Leggings add a stylish twist to the basic black travel workout gear, with a cool braided design down the side. Made from a polyester-spandex blend, these leggings aren’t see-through if you wear them alone, and dry quickly so you can wear them multiple times on one trip.

Runtopia

(Photo: Runtopia)

If you want to up your running game, you’ll have to move beyond phone apps and smartwatches as your travel workout gear go-to. The unique Runtopia Reach shoes have a microchip embedded inside them, which gives you real-time audio feedback on your stride, running form, and cadence, along with coaching to help you get better. Even without the advanced smart chip technology, these lightweight shoes are great for travel, as they weigh less than most running sneakers.

Devon Maryn Pocket Capris

(Photo: Devon Maryn)

Some fitness brands seem to believe that women have no need to carry anything with them while working out, so why bother with pockets? Devon Maryn gets it though—their Pocket Yoga Capris have two pockets (one on each side of the pants) that are large enough to hold even the biggest of smartphones. The pockets seamlessly blend in with the sides, so you’ll have a streamlined look that won’t detract from the stylish look. Carry your keys, iPod, phone and cash on a run or walk—hands-free!

SuperLite Travel Yoga and Pilates Mat

(Photo: Amazon)

Grossed out by the loaner yoga mats in the hotel gym? It’s easy to bring your own when it’s just 2lbs and 1.5 millimeters thick, like the Maduka SuperLite Travel Yoga and Pilates Mat. This super-portable mat folds flat (it’s thin enough that it doesn’t need to be rolled), but is still sturdy enough to prevent you from slipping during your practice.

RunGo App

(Photo: RunGo)

Running is a great way to explore a new destination, but it can be really annoying to have to stop and check directions every half mile. The RunGo app solves this problem by giving you hands-free, turn-by-turn audio navigation on your route. It has a global library of over 100,000 running routes around the world, so you can easily pick one and get out the door. Best of all, it works offline (just download your route ahead of time), so no data connection is required.

NewMe Exercise Cards

(Photo: Amazon)

It’s easy to plan to workout in your hotel room, but once you’re actually there, it can be hard to think of a good routine that doesn’t require any equipment and makes the most of your time. Bring this neat deck of cards along on your next trip, and you won’t have to put any thought into your workout. It contains 50 cards showing detailed instructions for a bodyweight exercise that you can do without any equipment.

Resistance Band Set

(Photo: Target)

You can still get a muscle-building workout in without access to weights—just pack a set of resistance bands, like this one by C9. This set has three different levels of resistance (heavy, medium, and light), which will take up next to no space in your luggage, but give you a great workout.

More from SmarterTravel:

Caroline Morse Teel thinks that the best travel workout gear should be functional and stylish. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline to see what she wears in destinations across the globe.

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Wyndham Hotels Will Acquire La Quinta https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/wyndham-hotels-will-acquire-la-quinta/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/wyndham-hotels-will-acquire-la-quinta/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 17:56:19 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195216 Little known fact: With over 8,000 properties, the Wyndham Hotel Group boasts the largest hotel network of any major chain. That’s right, more hotels than Marriott or Hilton or InterContinental. Wyndham has been something of a sleeping giant until recently, when it began leveraging that size with a series of enhancements to its Wyndham Rewards […]

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Little known fact: With over 8,000 properties, the Wyndham Hotel Group boasts the largest hotel network of any major chain. That’s right, more hotels than Marriott or Hilton or InterContinental.

Wyndham has been something of a sleeping giant until recently, when it began leveraging that size with a series of enhancements to its Wyndham Rewards loyalty program. Today, with its standing offer of a free night anywhere in the network for just 15,000 points, and a series of generous bonus promotions, the program is considered by some to be the most value-rich in the industry.

Now, Wyndham has returned its attention to its size advantage, announcing today that it will acquire La Quinta Holding’s 900 hotels for $1.95 billion. The deal is expected to close sometime in the second quarter of 2018.

With the new properties, the Wyndham network will include more than 9,000 hotels in more than 75 countries. La Quintas are generally considered upper-midscale hotels, so the move pushes Wyndham slightly more upscale than its midscale origins.

Predictably, the 13 million members of the La Quinta Returns program will be folded into the Wyndham Rewards program, with its 53 million members. It remains to be seen whether Wyndham Rewards will be modified to incorporate any features of the current La Quinta scheme.

While La Quinta has just three brands (La Quinta Inn & Suites, La Quinta Inn, LQ Hotel), the Wyndham network comprises fully 21 brands (The Trademark Hotel Collection, Dolce Hotels and Resorts, Wyndham Grand, Dazzler Hotels, Esplendor Boutique Hotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Wyndham Garden Hotels, TRYP by Wyndham, Wingate by Wyndham, Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Ramada, Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, AmericInn, Travelodge, Knights Inn). That’s arguably a positive, in terms of micro-targeting. But such brand profligacy makes it more challenging to make the case that the thousands of hotels are part of a single network. Which explains why so few travelers know just how large the Wyndham family of hotels is.

With a solid loyalty program and an even larger network of hotels, Wyndham is well positioned to compete against the other major chains. Its next hurdle may be simply communicating to the traveling public just how extensive the network is.

Reader Reality Check

Is Wyndham among the hotel chains you first think of when booking travel?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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The Secret to Financing Your Travels in 2018 https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/the-secret-to-financing-your-travel-in-2018/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/18/the-secret-to-financing-your-travel-in-2018/#respond Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:39:07 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195140 A new year means new travel goals—and a new way to fund your 2018 travels: Airbnb. Financing Travel Is Easier Than You Think Earning extra income as an Airbnb host is even easier than it sounds. You can share your house, apartment, or just a single room, and you’re in total control of availability, price, […]

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A new year means new travel goals—and a new way to fund your 2018 travels: Airbnb.

Financing Travel Is Easier Than You Think

Earning extra income as an Airbnb host is even easier than it sounds. You can share your house, apartment, or just a single room, and you’re in total control of availability, price, house rules, and how much (or little) you interact with guests. The money you make from renting your space as an Airbnb can mean extra cash in hand to finance your own travels.

Host Perks

Beyond earning extra income (go ahead: calculate your monthly earning potential), you also have the opportunity to meet with people from all over the world. It’s like traveling without leaving your home. Warning: your guests may double the size of your bucket list.

You can even earn extra income while you’re traveling. Just send instructions on how to enter, like a door code, to your guests.

The best part? It’s free—not to mention super simple—to list your property.

Peace of Mind

With nearly a decade of experience and more than 200,000,000 guests, Airbnb has perfected the art of protecting its hosts. First, your property is covered up to a million dollars. Second, you get free Host Protection Insurance that protects you from liability claims up to a million dollars.

And finally, you have access to 24/7 host support.

Editor’s note: This sponsored post is brought to you by Airbnb, which lets you share your house, apartment, or just a single room and earn money for travel.

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Could Airbnb Soon Have a Loyalty Program? https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/17/design-loyalty-program-airbnb/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/01/17/design-loyalty-program-airbnb/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:14:29 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=195135 Airbnb differs in many ways from traditional hotel chains. Among the differences: Whereas every major hotel group has a robust loyalty program, Airbnb has none. But that may be set to change. In a tweet earlier this week, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky posed the following question: “If Airbnb had a guest membership program, what benefits […]

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Airbnb differs in many ways from traditional hotel chains. Among the differences: Whereas every major hotel group has a robust loyalty program, Airbnb has none. But that may be set to change.

In a tweet earlier this week, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky posed the following question: “If Airbnb had a guest membership program, what benefits would you want?”

Here are some of the suggestions from Chesky’s followers:

Concierge or a call number! I often arrive at odd hours and it causes issues.

Access to fitness nearby. It’s the only perk that I still really care about from hotels.

Top members to get early access to super unique rentals that always get booked up way in advance.

Accrue points good for a free or discounted stay (a la Hilton, Hyatt etc). Make it dismally small, it’s okay. It’s a way for biz travelers to convert paid travel to leisure travel. Massively opens market up to biz travelers.

This sounds sort of weird, but I would usually be game to connect with other people traveling/airbnbing to hang out. Likely some type of interest overlap and shared sense of ‘adventure’. A chat board for other folks in the same area on Airbnb would maybe get it done.

Keeping my luggage somewhere after check out, if there is not an option to check out later. So I can enjoy my last day also. Solve this problem, and you would give me an extra half of day to my trip.

Flexible on minimum stay requirements

How about a partnership scheme with local restaurants? For example show your booking reference and get 20% off your food bill as participating restaurants. A scaleable rollout and encourages visitors to explore their new “home town” as locals

Chesky actively interacted with the commenters, reinforcing the case that he’s seriously considering rolling our a loyalty program in the nearish future. Disappointingly, he was noticeably cool to the idea of awarding points redeemable for free nights.

If the goal is to better compete with the likes of Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt, a frequent-guest scheme that rewards members with free stays would seem to be a minimum requirement. To create a compelling program without free nights would be a neat trick, indeed. It remains to be seen whether Chesky will try, and whether he can succeed.

Reader Reality Check

What would you like to see in an Airbnb loyalty scheme?

More from SmarterTravel:

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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Let us do the legwork! Sign up for our free newsletter now.

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