SmarterTravel https://www.smartertravel.com The Best Trips Start Here Fri, 18 May 2018 21:01:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 12 Underrated Beach Towns in Australia https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/underrated-beach-towns-in-australia/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/underrated-beach-towns-in-australia/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 20:19:44 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=211847 Most tourists who visit Australia stick to the main cities and tourist areas, but a country almost the size of the continental U.S. has so much more to offer. As a country ringed by ocean, Australia is home to some of the best beaches—and beach towns—in the world, many which go undiscovered by visitors. The […]

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Most tourists who visit Australia stick to the main cities and tourist areas, but a country almost the size of the continental U.S. has so much more to offer. As a country ringed by ocean, Australia is home to some of the best beaches—and beach towns—in the world, many which go undiscovered by visitors.

The Best Beach Towns in Australia

From an eclectic surfing town to a Sydney suburb, here are 12 underrated beach towns in Australia worth discovering.

Byron Bay, New South Wales

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You’ll find this boho-surf town about 45-minutes from Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, but this beach town is actually in New South Wales. Byron is home to bungalows, beach camping, lighthouse trails, surfing, fresh food, open-air markets, live music, and more. It makes for a great weekend getaway or a fun stop on an East Coast road trip.

Jervis Bay, New South Wales

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This beach community is home to Hyams Beach, famous for having the whitest sand in the world. About three hours south of Sydney, this beach town is worth an overnight trip. Jervis’ Bay resident dolphins, clifftop walking trails, and incredible sand make it one of the best beach towns in Australia, but many U.S. tourists miss it. Its cafes and quaint vacation rental options make Jervis Bay great for both a romantic getaway or family holiday. 

Surfers Paradise, Queensland

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You might feel like you’re in Miami Beach at Surfers Paradise. Located on Queensland’s Gold Coast, the town is known for its beachfront high-rises, nightlife, shopping, and of course, water activities. It’s unlike most other beach towns in Australia, so if you’re looking for a more urban beach trip, head to Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise. 

Palm Beach, New South Wales

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Palm Beach in the northern beaches region is a go-to weekend spot for Sydney residents—but it remains mostly undiscovered by tourists. . Accessible by public bus from Circular Quay, Palm Beach is about an hour’s drive from Sydney. Once you’re there, enjoy a meal at the iconic Boathouse Palm Beach, hike to Barrenjoey Lighthouse, enjoy the Beach to Bay walk, or just relax on the beach. 

Noosa Heads, Queensland

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Noosa is another holiday hotspot for Australians that often gets over looked by visitors. The beach community is known for its mild climate, with average temperatures in the 70s year-round. To get to Noosa, you can fly into Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast Airport. Known as the “capital of relaxation,” there’s plenty to do in Noosa Heads, from golfing to going on an eco-tour in the biosphere reserve. There are accommodations for every budget here, ranging from luxury hotels to hostels.

Shoal Bay, New South Wales

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Discover the best of the East Coast in Port Stephens and Shoal Bay. Another popular family holiday destination among Aussies, Port Stephens is known for its sand dunes—Stockton Sand Dunes is the largest system in Australia—calm waters, and the Tomaree Head summit hike. In Shoal Bay, check out the Shoal Bay Country Club, a newly renovated complex offering dining and accommodations. 

Cronulla, New South Wales

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If you’re headed to Sydney, don’t count out its southern beachside suburb, Cronulla. Known for surfing and more low-key beaches, it’s a great place to spend the day … or even a night. Catch some waves, or shop, dine, and swim in the ocean-fed pools if surfing isn’t your thing. This beach town offers similar vibes to the Bondi-area beaches, but without the touristy crowds. It’s about an hour away by train, and once you’re here, everything is walkable.

Apollo Bay, Victoria

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You’ll find this Australian beach town along the Great Ocean Road, the famous drive to the 12 Apostles rock formations outside of Melbourne. Apollo Bay is also located at the foothills of Great Otway National Park, an area known for waterfalls and wild koala spotting. Apollo Bay is the perfect stop if you’re visiting the national park or headed along the famous road-trip route. It’s also a great beach town in Australia in its own right, with shopping, fine dining, and protected bays for swimming. 

Margaret River Region, Western Australia

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Australia’s lesser-known western coast has just as much to offer as the east, yet it’s almost completely untouched by foreign tourists. Located slightly inland, Margaret River, about 2.5 hours from Perth, is known as a world-class wine region. The coast is only a 10-minute drive from the main town. Along the coast you’ll find surfing, migratory whales (from June to November), and the Cape to Cape Track, a long cliff walk between two lighthouses. In town, discover boutiques, microbreweries, and casual dining. 

Kingscote, South Australia

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This beach town in Australia is the largest on Kangaroo Island, the country’s third largest island. Accessible via plane and ferry, the raw and rugged coastline of the island lends itself to water activities, bushwalks, and wildlife encounters—kangaroos are just the beginning. The town of Kingscote has the most to offer on the island in terms of cafes, restaurants, and shopping, and it’s located close to protected bay beaches.  

Coles Bay, Tasmania

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This small town in Tassie is known as the starting point for Freycinet National Park, home to Wineglass Bay (and red-necked wallabies), which is consistently rated one of the best beaches in the world. The town itself overlooks The Hazards, the pink granite mountain tops that jut out from the other side of the bay. In Coles Bay, you’ll also find cafes and restaurants, as well as food and wine tours to help you discover Tasmanian’s culinary offerings. 

Cottesloe, Western Australia

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Popular among locals but lesser known among tourists, Cottesloe is a wealthy suburb about 15-minutes from Perth. With a famous beach and views of the Indian Ocean, this beach town in Australia is an easy addition to your Australia bucket list. Every March, the beach is home to a famous seaside exhibition, Sculpture by the Sea (also in Bondi Beach in Sydney). There are restaurants and boutique shops on the Marine Parade, as well as snorkeling and swimming at Peters Pool.

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This Beloved Hotel Amenity Could Be Making You Sick https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/this-hotel-amenity-could-be-making-you-sick/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/this-hotel-amenity-could-be-making-you-sick/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 19:04:19 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=211795 Sorry to ruin your vacation daydreams of sparkling hotel pool swims and romantic hot tub soaks, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just reported that hotel pools and hot tubs can cause infectious diseases. Public pools don’t have the best reputation for cleanliness, but according to the CDC’s study, hotel pools and hot tubs […]

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Sorry to ruin your vacation daydreams of sparkling hotel pool swims and romantic hot tub soaks, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just reported that hotel pools and hot tubs can cause infectious diseases. Public pools don’t have the best reputation for cleanliness, but according to the CDC’s study, hotel pools and hot tubs are even worse for your health than other shared pools.

The CDC’s report analyzed almost 500 disease outbreaks that were caused by pools, spas, and waterparks in the United States and Puerto Rico, and found that about one-third of those incidents occurred at hotels. The outbreaks sickened more than 27,200 people and killed eight. Common illnesses caused by the tainted swimming spots were Legionella (can cause pneumonia), Pseudomonas (can cause swimmer’s ear or skin rashes), and Cryptosporidium (causes contagious diarrhea).

Even if the hotels are following CDC recommendations for cleaning pools and hot tubs with disinfectants, Cryptosporidium can still survive in the water for over a week, and it infects swimmers who accidentally swallow the contaminated water.

Summer is the most dangerous time for swimming, with 56 percent of the outbreaks beginning between  June and August.

So how can you enjoy the hotel pool and hot tub without getting sick? The CDC recommends that you don’t swim if you have diarrhea, check the hotel’s inspection score, and don’t swallow the water.

 

(CDC)

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The Best Coffee in the World: 7 Cities to Visit https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/best-coffee-in-the-world/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/best-coffee-in-the-world/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 17:37:23 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=211471 It’s cheap, available all over the world, wakes you up, and can cool you off or warm you up—coffee is truly a traveler’s best friend. The Best Coffee in the World If you’re willing to travel the globe in search of the best coffee in the world, here’s where you should head. Portland, Oregon There […]

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It’s cheap, available all over the world, wakes you up, and can cool you off or warm you up—coffee is truly a traveler’s best friend.

The Best Coffee in the World

If you’re willing to travel the globe in search of the best coffee in the world, here’s where you should head.

Portland, Oregon

There are so many coffee shops in Portland, Oregon, that there are entire tours dedicated just to taking tourists around to sample the artisan scene. Lora Woodruff, owner of Third Wave Coffee Tours, writes: “I usually break down our cafes as follows: 876 coffee shops, 152 Starbucks and around 60 individuals or organizations that are roasting coffee—some individual espresso bars, some large wholesale roasters, represented multiple times around the city in roaster-owned cafes, as well as restaurants, bakeries, and businesses around the city.”

Why has Portland become such a hot spot for coffee? In this famously rainy city, there’s nothing better than ignoring the weather by curling up inside with a hot cup.

“We seem to have an insatiable need for coffee, perhaps because of our many days of rain, and we are able to support a lot of local roasters as many of us are probably considered ‘regulars’ at more than just one shop,” says Lauren Lathrop, Coffee Educator at Portland Roasting Coffee. “I think Portland has always been a place where people are encouraged to branch out, take risks, and try new things. In that spirit, a lot of very small, craft-focused coffee shops have been able to maintain a loyal following simply by being consistently great and doing things their own way.”

Where to Stay: The Ace Hotel has a Stumptown coffee shop right in its lobby, so you don’t have to leave the building to get caffeinated. (Many people believe that Stumptown coffee is some of the best coffee in the world, and the roaster started in right here in Portland.)

Melbourne, Australia

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If you’ve ever ordered a flat white at a Starbucks, you can thank an Australian. The drink, an espresso topped with steamed milk that’s been frothed into a creamy consistency, originated there. Australia has a huge coffee culture, with cafes being seen as social spaces to linger and relax instead of a spot to grab a to-go coffee or use the Wi-Fi, and focus on quality drinks.

“It’s almost impossible to walk around a corner in Melbourne without the familiar scent of a perfectly brewed espresso lingering down a laneway,” Visit Victoria Chief Executive Officer Peter Bingeman says. “The coffee culture here remains fiercely independent, with coffee chains a rarity to be seen in Melbourne.”

Where to Stay: Coffee and sweets go together perfectly, so book a night at the world’s only dessert themed hotel, the Adelphi.

Helsinki, Finland

Finland is a nation of dedicated coffee consumers. In fact, Finns drink the most coffee per capita in the world. According to the Helsinki Tourism Board, “Finns buy almost 22 pounds of roasted coffee per person, per year, and drink an average of three to five cups of coffee per day.”

Finnish coffee is usually served up with a sweet treat on the side—so commonly that there is even a Finnish word for it. Kakkukahv translates to “coffee and cake.”

Where to Stay: The Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel is within easy walking distance to plenty of cafes.

Portland, Maine

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For being a small city, Portland, Maine, has an outsized coffee scene, with some of the best coffee in the world found in this New England hot spot.

“The most unique thing about the Portland coffee scene is that many of the shops here roast for themselves, creating their own style and vibe,” Kathleen Pratt, co-owner of Tandem Coffee Roasters says. “For a small city, this feels super special and makes it exciting for Portland residents and visitors alike to find the spot that best suits their tastes.”

Where to Stay: Journalists are known for their love of coffee, so stay at The Press Hotel, the former printing plant of the Portland Press Herald, now a boutique hotel.

 

Milan, Italy

Espresso was invented in Milan, so head to its birthplace if you want to experience the best coffee in the world in its purest form: The world’s first espresso machine was unveiled at the 1906 Milan Fair. Don’t expect to take it to go or to linger though—espresso in Italy is meant to be drunk quickly, while standing up at a counter.

Where to Stay: The Allegroitalia Espresso Linate has espresso in its name.

Hanoi, Vietnam

Vietnamese coffee is its own special subset of coffee—one that’s traditionally served iced and mixed with condensed milk in order to simultaneously cool you off and get you amped on sugar and caffeine.

Vietnam has more types of coffee than Starbucks has themed concoctions, so visit Hanoi if you want to try everything from egg coffee (egg yolk whipped with condensed milk and added to coffee) to yogurt coffee (yogurt topped with a splash of black coffee).

Where to Stay: The Conifer Boutique Hotel is inexpensively priced and centrally located, so you can save money on your caffeine.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Ethiopia is considered to be the birthplace of coffee, with historians estimating that the harvest of the bean began here around 800 B.C. Get it straight from the source at the capital city’s first coffee roaster, TO.MO.Ca Coffee. Try an Ethiopian macchiato, which is very small and concentrated. If that’s too strong, a spriss (half coffee and half tea) will be a little less intense.

Where to Stay: The Addissinia Hotel is a quiet oasis in the middle of Addis Ababa, where you can relax with your coffee of choice.

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Caroline Morse Teel is obsessed with espresso and on a quest to find the best coffee in the world. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

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9 Epic Hiking Trails to Tackle Before You Die https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/epic-hiking-trails/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/epic-hiking-trails/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 16:01:53 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=211439 What turns a humble hike into something bucket-list-worthy? Location, location, location. Some of the best hiking trails in the world are destinations in and of themselves. Best Hiking Trails in the World From sandy desert basins to moss-draped mountain peaks, these hiking trails are extreme in unique ways that deliver unparalleled beauty. They’re also worth […]

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What turns a humble hike into something bucket-list-worthy? Location, location, location. Some of the best hiking trails in the world are destinations in and of themselves.

Best Hiking Trails in the World

From sandy desert basins to moss-draped mountain peaks, these hiking trails are extreme in unique ways that deliver unparalleled beauty. They’re also worth conquering just to say you did.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

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The highest mountain in Africa also happens to be a dormant volcano with three peaks, five ecosystems (from desert to snow), and a glacier that sits over 16,000 feet above sea level. Despite Mount Kilimanjaro’s extremes, it’s conquerable for non-expert hikers if you’re in reasonably good shape—on one condition.

Kilimanjaro’s hiking trails need to be walked slowly in order to avoid the altitude sickness that prevents more than half of its yearly visitors from making it to the peak. Getting to the summit will still be hard (and takes five days, minimum) but going with a local guide and taking your time to spot wildlife and camp along the way will ensure you get the full experience. G Adventures offers four different routes to the summit, and can get you in and out in as little as seven days.

Choquequirao, Peru

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Peru’s Inca Trail is one of the best hiking trails in the world, making Machu Picchu overcrowded to the point of feeling like a theme park. Did you know the Lost City of the Incas has its own Wi-Fi and app? For a more remote hike that’ll still mean seeing Machu Picchu from a distance, Choquequirao comes with more bragging rights and a unique view of ancient Incan wonders.

A lost city of its own, Choquequirao is accessible via a seven-day, 100-mile hike that’s said to be five times harder than the Inca Trail. High in the Andes and less-explored than Machu Picchu, Choquequirao might not always be this way: It could soon have a cable car or bridge connecting it to Machu Picchu—an effort by the local government aimed at relieving some Inca Trail foot traffic. Get there before that happens if you want to see untouched ruins and Machu Picchu from above—without crowds in the way.

The Back Route to Petra, Jordan

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Another lost city that draws a surprising number of crowds, Petra’s crowded Treasury is easier to appreciate after a grueling hike through the remote Petra Basin from Little Petra—a smaller pocket of sandstone-carved ancient homes and tombs six miles from the main drag. This route to Petra’s hidden Monastery, which is even bigger than the Treasury, avoids the tourist-clogged steps by arriving from the other direction for an easier down-step entrance into Petra that will also allow you to fit in more hiking.

Only a tour guide will be able to get you safely through the Petra Basin’s meandering canyon trails and into Petra from the rear. Intrepid Travel’s Trek Jordan eight-day itinerary includes both Petra’s main drag and a guided hike through the back route to Petra. Don’t miss the steep climb to see the Treasury from above, and then head to the ancient Nabatean city’s High Place of Sacrifice for a sprawling view of the Lost City’s caves and decorated tombs.

Pennine Way, United Kingdom

Shutterstock/Dave Head

Some of the best hiking trails in the world sit in the heart of England on the Pennine Way, a rugged 268-mile stretch that meanders over mountains, beside waterfalls, and past friendly pubs and cheese farms where you can stop for a pint or a bite.

High Cup Nick’s far-flung countryside views and High Force waterfall’s rapids are among the many wonders along this backbone of England—and extremes you can enjoy between stops in cozy English villages like Cowling and Greenhead.

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim

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Seeing the Grand Canyon without the crowds isn’t easy, but it’s possible if you’re willing to descend and climb its best hiking trails for uninterrupted views of the Colorado River and Arizona’s arid desertscapes. The Grand Canyon is ten miles from rim to rim as the crow flies, but the rim-to-rim trek into and out of the basin is a lot longer to conquer on foot.

The Grand Canyon’s North Rim to South Rim hike heads 14 miles downhill into the chasm if you start from the North, from which point you’ll then ascend 4,500 feet on a 10-mile hike to the South Rim along one of two trail options—Bright Angel or South Kaibab. The 24-mile trek can be done in as little as a day, but you might want to take a few for the chance to fully take in the scenery with a stay at Phantom Ranch, or to backpack and camp under the stars (to camp, you may need a permit).

Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand

Shutterstock/West Coast Scapes

Walk the length of New Zealand—both the North and South Islands—on a trail that takes 50 to 80 days per island to complete if you dare tackle the full 1,800 miles. Te Araroa has a lot to choose from though, meaning you can conquer a months-long trip, plan for a several-days-long adventure, or take it slow on family-friendly day hike.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the most popular day trip for its aqua-colored Emerald Lakes and moon-like volcanic craters. Multi-day walks like the East Ahuriri Track can take as little as two days, meandering through beech forests, valleys, and across rivers for a bite-sized dose of New Zealand’s mesmerizing natural scenery. The Te Araroa Trail’s website offers up many recommended multi-day or single-day trails.

Great Ocean Walk, Australia

Shutterstock/Filip Fuxa

Not only is it one of the best hikes in the world, Australia’s Great Ocean Walk is also the best way to see Victoria’s coastal wonders—like Castle Cove, Wreck Beach, and the 12 Apostles—in one adventure. Spot shipwreck anchors, towering rock formations, and glowing sunsets from Great Ocean Walk’s 62-mile stretch along the southern coast. The hike is recommended to be done over eight days, and with the help of audio guides available for free download online (for both iOS and Android) you won’t miss a step of the history and nature around you.

Torres del Paine, Patagonia

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Located near South America’s southernmost tip, Torres del Paine National Park is a vast expanse of dry tundra, blue glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and some of the best hiking trails in the world. A lengthy Patagonian trek in this national park will test your limits, and is best done with a local guide.

If you want to thrive on your Patagonia experience rather than just survive, REI Adventures offer Chile and Argentina experiences ranging from luxe glamping to voluntourism for a vast array of ways to see Torres del Paine.

Kumano Kodo, Japan

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A network of ancient pilgrimage routes, Kumano Kodo is one of the world’s best hikes, and an up-close way to see Japan’s pagodas and lush mountains. Kii Hanto is the biggest peninsula on Japan, yet it’s far off the tourist track. Reward long hikes up forest slopes and mossy stairways with relaxing stays at ryokan, or Japanese inns run by local families, where you can enjoy tea and a soft futon bed to rest your feet after spotting shrines and wildlife on the eight to 14-mile treks.

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SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel, and trekked Jordan’s Petra Basin with Intrepid Travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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The Worst Airports for Summer Travel, Ranked (Video) https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/the-worst-airports-for-summer-travel-ranked-video/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/the-worst-airports-for-summer-travel-ranked-video/#respond Fri, 18 May 2018 15:08:22 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/18/the-worst-airports-for-summer-travel-ranked-video/ Wondering which airports are most likely to put you behind schedule during the busy summer travel season? If you’re flying to the Boston, Chicago, New York, or San Francisco areas this summer—or even worse, connecting to another flight there—be especially wary.

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Wondering which airports are most likely to put you behind schedule during the busy summer travel season? If you’re flying to the Boston, Chicago, New York, or San Francisco areas this summer—or even worse, connecting to another flight there—be especially wary.

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This Racetrack Is on Top of a Cruise Ship https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/this-racetrack-is-on-top-of-a-cruise-ship/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/this-racetrack-is-on-top-of-a-cruise-ship/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 21:13:16 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/this-racetrack-is-on-top-of-a-cruise-ship/ This isn’t your average Go-Kart track. This racetrack is on top of a cruise ship. Onboard the Norwegian Bliss, it has two levels and can accommodate 10 karts at once. Cruisers can race family and friends or check out other attractions like this waterslide that goes over the edge of the ship. Plus, there’s a […]

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This isn’t your average Go-Kart track. This racetrack is on top of a cruise ship. Onboard the Norwegian Bliss, it has two levels and can accommodate 10 karts at once. Cruisers can race family and friends or check out other attractions like this waterslide that goes over the edge of the ship. Plus, there’s a whole lot more going on below deck–like Broadway shows, gorgeous lounges, and a bar dedicated to the Beatles.

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The 10 Worst Airports for Summer Travel, Ranked https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/worst-airports-for-summer-travel-ranked-2018/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/worst-airports-for-summer-travel-ranked-2018/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 19:29:06 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=211247 Wondering which airports are most likely to put you behind schedule during the busy summer travel season? If you’re flying to the Boston, Chicago, New York, or San Francisco areas this summer—or even worse, connecting to another flight there—be especially wary. As measured by a 10-year average, magnifymoney found that the six worst large U.S. […]

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Wondering which airports are most likely to put you behind schedule during the busy summer travel season? If you’re flying to the Boston, Chicago, New York, or San Francisco areas this summer—or even worse, connecting to another flight there—be especially wary.

As measured by a 10-year average, magnifymoney found that the six worst large U.S. airports for summer on-time arrival rates are some of the most popular air hubs. Here are the top 10 airports where you might be right to worry about timeliness for summer travel, and the average percent of the summer flights that are on time there.

10 Worst Airports for Summer Travel

  • Newark: 67 percent on time
  • LaGuardia: 68 percent on time
  • San Francisco: 69.2 percent on time
  • JFK: 70.5 percent on time
  • Boston: 72.5 percent on time
  • Chicago (O’Hare): 73.3 percent on time
  • Miami: 74.4 percent on time
  • Washington, D.C. (Reagan): 74.4 percent on time
  • Raleigh Durham: 74.6 percent on time
  • Philadelphia: 74.6 percent on time

The study used arrival data from the Department of Transportation for the 50 busiest U.S. airports over the last 10 years to find the worst summer travel hubs. It might surprise you that magnifymoney also found summer to be worse than winter for travel delays, and that June is the worst month for summer airport delays overall. The delays seem to be getting worse, with on-time rates dropping—but there are some good alternatives that come to mind for most of those worst airports for summer travel.

Alternative Airports for Summer Travel

Fortunately, you can find reasonably convenient alternatives for many of the following cities.

  • San Francisco: Nearby Oakland has less fog and good connections. While transit connections aren’t as good, San Jose also has less fog and is attractive for travelers heading to/from Silicon Valley.
  • Boston: Several lines fly to/from Manchester (New Hampshire) and Providence (Rhode Island). Neither airport has seamless access to downtown, but both are OK for renting a car and heading for the suburbs.
  • Chicago: Southwest provides a robust schedule to Chicago Midway Airport, and other lines operate a few flights there, as well. The transit connection to downtown is at least as good as the connection at O’Hare, and taxi/Uber fares to the city center are lower than those at O’Hare. Milwaukee is a good alternative for Chicago’s far-north suburbs.

If you have to connect on the West Coast, Phoenix, Portland, and Seattle are the better hub choices, scoring 80 percent or over. In the Midwest, Detroit and Minneapolis also scored just over 80.

Unfortunately, no East Coast hub scores 80 percent or over; the top major connecting hub there is Charlotte, at 79 percent on time.

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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuses every day at SmarterTravel.

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Honeymoon Ideas Worthy of the Royal Couple (Video) https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/honeymoon-ideas-worthy-of-the-royal-couple-video/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/honeymoon-ideas-worthy-of-the-royal-couple-video/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 17:35:01 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/honeymoon-ideas-worthy-of-the-royal-couple-video/ Prince Harry might be off the market, but the world is still full of eligible royals. If any of them are reading this, I promise to do all of the planning if you cover the costs. As a travel expert and professional daydreamer, here are my honeymoon ideas fit for royalty.

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Prince Harry might be off the market, but the world is still full of eligible royals. If any of them are reading this, I promise to do all of the planning if you cover the costs. As a travel expert and professional daydreamer, here are my honeymoon ideas fit for royalty.

The post Honeymoon Ideas Worthy of the Royal Couple (Video) appeared first on SmarterTravel.

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10 Honeymoon Ideas Worthy of the Royal Couple https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/royal-honeymoon/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/17/royal-honeymoon/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 16:01:21 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=211287 As the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle approaches, the travel world is less concerned about the royal gown and more concerned about the royal honeymoon. All travelers have the top-shelf section of their bucket lists, the places they’d go if money weren’t a factor. And if you’re like me, you’re probably telling […]

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As the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle approaches, the travel world is less concerned about the royal gown and more concerned about the royal honeymoon. All travelers have the top-shelf section of their bucket lists, the places they’d go if money weren’t a factor. And if you’re like me, you’re probably telling yourself you’ll save it for your honeymoon. And if you are me, you’ll probably only be able to afford the honeymoon of your wildest dreams if you decide to skip the wedding ceremony entirely … and hit the lottery.

Honeymoon Ideas Fit for Royalty

For the limelight-saturated royals who will be doing plenty of diplomatic travel for the rest of their lives, the perfect royal honeymoon needs to be remote, luxurious, and, most importantly, private.

Prince Harry might be off the market, but the world is still full of eligible royals. If any of them are reading this, I promise to do all of the planning if you cover the costs. As a travel expert and professional daydreamer, here are my honeymoon ideas fit for royalty.

Namibia

Shutterstock/Kavram

According to a report from Travel + Leisure, Harry and Meghan will be spending their honeymoon in Namibia at Natural Selection’s Hoanib Valley Camp. Located in northwestern Namibia, this stunning luxury camp is set in a remote desert filled with unique wildlife like elephants and lions. Tents are decorated with items sourced from local artisans, and features activities include game drives through Skeleton Coast National Park and cultural experiences with the local Herero people.

The camp also has the royal seal of approval when it comes to philanthropy, working as a joint venture with the local community and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. Guests can visit the foundation and meet the researchers working to preserve the giraffe population.

Book it: Get prices for Hoanib Valley Camp and other area hotels

Botswana

Shutterstock/Kavram

This honeymoon idea has already been deemed royal-worthy by the couple themselves. The Meno a Kwena Camp (another Natural Selection property) is the famous camp where Harry first brought Meghan to celebrate her birthday just weeks after their first date. Botswana is a favorite destination for Harry, and this wasn’t his first visit to Meno a Kwena. It’s easy to see why. With an open-air dining area decorated with Old World ornaments and private tents that open out onto the Boteti River, this might be the royal couple’s birthday getaway, but it’s still a fit location for a royal honeymoon.

Located between two very different environments—the swampy Okavango Delta and the dry desert of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park—this is a great launching-off point for an epic and varied safari experience. It is also a choice spot to witness Africa’s second largest migration, which consists of over 30,000 zebras and wildebeests.

Book it: Get prices for Meno a Kwena Camp and other area hotels

The Seychelles

North Island

If waking up early to track wildlife in Africa isn’t your idea of a relaxing honeymoon, take a hint from Prince William and Kate Middleton and find a beach far away from it all. After putting on the wedding of the century, Will and Kate took off for the Seychelles. In the Indian Ocean off the coast of northeastern Africa, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 tropical islands with luxury resorts that attract the world’s most elite travelers.

William and Kate spent their royal honeymoon at North Island, a resort located on a private island. It’s totally secluded with open-floor-plan villas decorated with furnishings that reflect the natural environment. The hotel offers an array of activities like yoga and snorkeling, as well as more personal experiences like private picnics or movie nights on the beach.

Book it: Get prices for North Island and other area hotels

Cappadocia

Volodymyr Goinyk/Shutterstock

If you need a fairy-tale destination after your fairy-tale wedding, look no further than the region of Cappadocia in Central Turkey, home to one of the world’s most magical landscapes. Characterized by “fairy chimneys,” which are slender rock formations that spring up throughout the region’s many valleys, Cappadocia is full of secrets. The soft rock of these formations allowed ancient residents to carve homes and even entire cities into the rock. For adventurous couples, there are many nooks and crannies to discover in Cappadocia’s gorgeous valleys.

If you want to feel like the rulers of the castle, the Ariana Lodge is a modern boutique hotel perched atop the Uchisar Valley, where you’ll be able to watch as the region’s famous hot air balloons fill up the skies at sunrise. You can book a private balloon ride, complete with a Champagne breakfast, but make sure to do it far in advance as slots fill up quickly.

Book it: Get prices for Ariana Lodge and other area hotels

Bhutan

Shutterstock/Kai19

Next door to Nepal in the Eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is revered by travelers for its mystical monasteries, high mountains, and sheer remoteness. Because Bhutan is tough to get to and very expensive to visit due to high visa prices ($200 for every day spent in Bhutan), it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in a country and culture that haven’t yet been overrun by tourism. Whether you’re summiting mountains or trekking to cliffside marvels like the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Bhutan has plenty of once-in-a-lifetime adventure for outdoor-loving newlyweds.

While much lodging in Bhutan is modest, especially when trekking or climbing mountains, there are plenty of luxurious hotels that can offer couples the royal treatment. The Gangtey Lodge is one such hotel. Nestled in the heart of the Bhutanese countryside, the lodge encourages guests to kick back and enjoy the view of the valley. The hotel also offers the opportunity to participate in spiritual activities at the nearby Gangtey Monastery or to learn archery, the national sport of Bhutan.

Book it: Get prices for Gangtey Lodge and other area hotels

Tahiti

The Brando

From Hawaii to Fiji, Pacific islands have always been popular with honeymooners looking for a tropical escape. But for a royal-worthy honeymoon, newlyweds can look to the Islands of Tahiti. With hundreds of uncrowded white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and barrier reefs, Tahiti is made up of beautiful and varied landscapes that are great for exploring and kicking back. You can spend your morning underwater snorkeling along coral reefs, then relax in the afternoon with a Polynesian couple’s massage.

One of the most popular things to do in Tahiti is to book one of Bora Bora’s fabulous overwater bungalows, but for a truly royal honeymoon in Tahiti, take a page from the celebrity handbook. The Brando is a resort located on the private island of Tetiaroa, which was purchased by Marlon Brando to use as his private residence. Today it’s an eco-friendly resort that attracts plenty of celebrities to spend a night in one of its 22 luxurious villas, each with its own private plunge pool and beach area.

Book it: Get prices for The Brando and other area hotels 

Colombia

Shutterstock/Micha Weber

If the Caribbean is one of your honeymoon ideas, but you don’t want to do it like everybody else, take a look at Colombia. There are many vibrant cities to explore in Colombia for the couple who wants to make an adventure out of the whole country. Think street art tours in Bogota, coffee tasting in Salento, or snorkeling off the coast of Cartagena.

The Caribbean coast of Colombia is not only made up of miles of stunning beaches, but is also home to incredible nature reserves like Tayrona National Park. The crossroads of jungle and sand, this area can be incredibly romantic for newlyweds looking to combine hiking adventures with lazy beach days. And for a luxurious abode close to the park, book the suite at Playa Koralia, a fashionable nature hotel far away from heavily touristed areas. Its airy rooms accentuated with colorful mosaics and fluffy white canopy beds offer a welcoming place for newlyweds to relax after a day of adventure.

Book it: Get prices for Playa Koralia and other area hotels

Alaska

Sheldon Chalet

For a secluded American honeymoon, there is no destination more perfectly far-flung and breathtakingly gorgeous as Alaska. Couples can take a leisurely cruise through Glacier Bay, see the northern lights, or go bear watching in Katmai National Park. Wherever you end up in this great white state, you’re guaranteed to see some beautiful scenery.

Alaska is also the perfect honeymoon destination for couples looking to cozy up and spend quality time together. If that’s your plan, you’ll want a one-of-a-kind hotel like Sheldon Chalet, a luxury resort only accessible by helicopter. You can stay wrapped up cozily in your room, enjoying the incredible mountain views from the window, or take the helicopter out for an epic Alaskan adventure.

Book it: Get prices for Sheldon Chalet and other area hotels

Chile

Shutterstock/Agent Wolf

In this narrow country squeezed between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, there’s quite a bit to see, from the peaks of Patagonia in the south to the flower blooms of the Atacama Desert in the north.

In the Millahue Valley, a two-hour drive from Santiago, you can visit vineyards for wine tasting, but to get the royal treatment, check out the Vik Chile resort. An architectural art-piece, this resort is decorated in a contemporary style and filled with art, and it offers plenty of experiences from wine tasting to horseback riding through the vineyards. For newlyweds with a taste for the finer things in life, this is a great retreat worthy of royalty.

Book it: Get prices for Vik Chile and other area hotels

Western Australia

Shutterstock/robert McGillivray

It’s easy to see that Australia is an enormous country, but a lot of people don’t know that the majority of the country lives in major cities on the eastern coast. This makes Western Australia a perfect destination for honeymooners looking for their own little corner of the world. Take a helicopter tour over the waterfall-studded canyons of the Kimberley or go swimming with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef, which is less crowded than the Great Barrier Reef and has not been as affected by coral bleaching.

Western Australia is still a relatively uncharted destination, so for a royal honeymoon that blends the wilderness with luxury, opt for glamping. At Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef Resort, located near Exmouth on the Coral Coast, you can sleep in a tent set up right on the beach and wake up to views of the Indian Ocean. Because the resort is located in a national park, there’s no Wi-Fi, which is a blessing for any couple looking for a digital detox. However, each tent is equipped with an ensuite bathroom, so you’ll be far from roughing it. It’s a great home base for a honeymoon in Western Australia that can be as relaxed or adventurous as you wish.

Book it: Get prices for Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef and other area hotels

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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.

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The Cheapest Times to Visit America’s 10 Hottest Summer Destinations https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/16/when-to-visit-summers-hottest-u-s-destinations/ https://www.smartertravel.com/2018/05/16/when-to-visit-summers-hottest-u-s-destinations/#respond Wed, 16 May 2018 19:17:42 +0000 https://www.smartertravel.com/?p=210911 Want to visit the United States’ hottest destinations this summer, but don’t want to pay crazily inflated prices? TripAdvisor (our parent company) just released its 2018 Summer Vacation Value Report which gives you the low-down on the best places to visit and the least expensive week to go. Surprisingly, Memorial Day week (May 28) was the cheapest […]

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Want to visit the United States’ hottest destinations this summer, but don’t want to pay crazily inflated prices? TripAdvisor (our parent company) just released its 2018 Summer Vacation Value Report which gives you the low-down on the best places to visit and the least expensive week to go. Surprisingly, Memorial Day week (May 28) was the cheapest time to go for more than half of the destinations, so if you want to save time and vacation days, you’re in luck.

The destinations were chosen based on the places with the greatest increase in seasonal hotel booking interest from spring to summer 2018 on TripAdvisor, and the least expensive summer week was calculated using the average hotel rates in the area.

Better book soon though, as the report found that 87 percent of the 3,300 U.S. travelers surveyed are planning a summer vacation, which is a six percent increase from last year.

Cheapest Times to Visit the 10 Hottest U.S. Destinations:

  • Mackinac Island, Michigan: May 28
  • Bar Harbor, Maine: May 28
  • Block Island, Rhode Island: June 11
  • Lake George, New York: June 11
  • West Yellowstone, Montana: August 27
  • Ocean City, Maryland: May 28
  • Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts: May 28
  • Anchorage, Alaska: August 27
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming: May 28
  • Nantucket, Massachusetts: May 28

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Editor’s Note: SmarterTravel is also a member of the Tripadvisor Media Group.

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