Travel Tips Around The World

Mar 18 2016

The historic heartland of French wine country: Dijon

Located in the region of Burgundy—famed for its wine, as well as its boeuf bourguignon, a favorite of this writer's (try it at the Maison Blanche in Paris!)—Dijon is synonymous with mustard, and often serves as a departure point for tours of the area's wineries; but it also boasts a rich history, with many remaining signs of its once powerful position as a ducal seat, along with incredible, predominantly Gothic architecture. Be sure, when in Dijon, to check out a few of these wonders before you begin your daily wine tasting.


                  The ducal palace and tower of Philip the Good; photo via Wikimedia Commons


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Mar 9 2016

Historical and affordable: The paradores of Spain

Category: Favorites | General | HotelsChristine Norris @ 06:53

Spain boasts a large number of paradores: state-run hotels that are more often than not housed in buildings of historical and architectural significance. Before the word "state-run" has you heading for the comfort of the name brands, take a closer look at some of our favorite paradores—you'll find incredible locations, superb dining (with ample options for vegetarian and gluten-free travelers, not to mention the breakfast spread replete with chilled cava) and something just a little more authentic than a stay at the reliable but typical name brand offerings. While some paradores do have steep prices that are on par with bigger hotels, many are incredibly affordable.


                  The Parador de Ronda clings to its cliffside perch. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

To say the Parador de Ronda's setting is breathtaking doesn't quite capture how it really does take one's breath away: Dining alfresco means being right on the edge, looking down onto the gorge from 400 feet up; and most rooms have small balconies, which provide fantastic views, whether looking at the city or over the cliffside. Service and room standards here are especially good for a parador, and the restaurant serves hearty, authentic Spanish fare, but it's the location that makes this place a must-stay. This property is definitely going straight to the top of our "Dreamiest Hotels" list.


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Mar 1 2016

A photo tour of the Riviera Maya

Category: Destinations | Hotels | SightseeingKaren @ 06:17

Welcome to March. In the northern hemisphere, we're in the final stretch of winter; there are three weeks to go until the official start of spring, and for many residents of the colder climes--myself included--warm weather can't arrive soon enough.

Last fall, I went on a whirlwind three-day tour of the central part of Quintana Roo, Mexico. More...

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Mar 1 2016

Breisach: The most charming little stop along the Rhine

Breisach, Germany is a lovely little town that, in addition to sitting right on the Rhine River, is also only miles from the French border (twelve miles, precisely, to the equally charming town of Colmar, France). Although the majority of the town was destroyed in the World War II, it still has a variety of sights and experiences that make it a must-stop along the Rhine. The history of the town dates from medieval times (it was once the seat of a Celtic prince), and the cathedral, St. Stephansmunster, began construction in the 13th century—it is the most striking sight in Breisach, sitting atop a high hill in the center of the town. 


                                                     Photo via Jorgens Mi, Wikimedia Commons

River cruises often stop in Breisach, as it's perfectly situated as a starting point for excursions to nearby wine towns (including those in France) and the Black Forest. For a laidback yet charming day (or even half-day), skip the organized tour and take the day to explore Breisach. Set your sights on the cathedral and climb up, up, up the cobblestoned streets—as you walk, you'll pass colorful houses, shops and restaurants, so take your time and be sure to stop in at a cafe somewhere for good, typical German fare: lots and lots of spaetzle, and also some fantastic pastries, such as Black Forest cake and walnut torte.


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Feb 19 2016

How to book responsible travel to Kenya

Category: DestinationsMegan Leader @ 04:46

If you're based in North America, booking travel to Africa can be tricky: Being located so far away, you still want to know that you're giving your clients an unparalleled experience, while doing right by the people and the environment of the destination. In a country like Kenya, where the tourism industry is more developed than many of its neighbors', it's especially important to do your research and support those businesses that are giving back to local communities and preserving the wildlife that are so critical to the country's tourism.

Research shows that travelers' priorities are changing: Animal welfare, philanthropic travel and sustainable tourism are coming to the forefront, and more than ever, travelers want to be confident that their bookings are putting money in the hands of locals, building a strong, sustainable tourism industry that protects the environment.

A close-up view of an elephant in Ol Pejeta Conservancy

During the 40th annual Africa Travel Association world congress in November, I sat down with Tarn Breedveld, the Tourism Development Director of Kenya's Northern Rangelands Trust, to talk about how travel agents can book responsible trips to Kenya for their clients.

How can travel agents More...

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Feb 19 2016

The best places to cozy up in the Chicago winter

The Chicago winter can be brutal, but there are still plenty of fantastic things to see and do indoors, from viewing some of the world's best-known art to imbibing innovative and inventive cocktails! Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, find out how Chicagoans survive the cold by checking out some of these hot (seriously—actually warm) spots, guaranteed to warm your ears, your heart, and possibly your kidneys, too. In the third biggest city in the U.S., there are plenty of places to duck in and get out of the terrible weather, but these are a few of our favorites.

Scofflaw is a bustling bar in the trendier than ever Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago (where, despite the rapidly gentrifying environs, travelers can still find the hippest record stores and dive bars in the city). Its focus is on gin, and cocktails are recommended, but there are plenty of other drink options, and a food menu provides delicious plates large and small (the mac-and-cheese topped with harissa breadcrumbs was particularly tasty and comforting on a recent frigid Chicago evening). The setting in the large main room is cozy as can be, with a roaring fireplace, glittering chandeliers and comfy couch seating. Be sure to arrive early on in the evening on weekends if you want to avoid a line out the door.


The main room at Scofflaw is heated by a beautiful fireplace and an always packed environment. Photo courtesy of


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Feb 5 2016

travel42 Best Of: Top 10 winter escapes

Category: Best Of | DestinationsMegan Leader @ 10:45

The groundhog has spoken: Apparently we're in for an early spring, but for many of us, that sunny weather can't come soon enough! That's why we have rounded up 10 of our favorite go-to escapes for warm weather in winter. Join us on a bright, cheery tour of some of the world's loveliest destinations.

1. St. Lucia. The island's twin pitons are More...

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Jan 29 2016

The Most Luxurious Hotels in Spain's Balearic Islands

Category: Best Of | Destinations | HotelsChristine Norris @ 07:37

The Balearic Islands are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, along with one of the wildest party scenes for the rich, famous and beautiful. Given its reputation as a deluxe getaway, it's no surprise that hotels on the islands of Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera are sumptuous, often with lengthy lists of spa treatments, award-winning restaurants and up-to-the-minute designs in the rooms. While any accomodations on these islands are sure to please, these are a few of our favorite resorts to tempt your imagination on this wintry day.

Cap Rocat, on the island of Mallorca, stuns guests right away with its fortress facade; but it really packs a punch with its adults-only policy, proximity to the beach (a quick five-minute walk) and truly remarkable private infinity pools that come with each of the Sentinel suites—all of this capped with gorgeous mountain views. The hotel is light on spa treatments, and dining is good, Mediterranean food, but not particularly notable—still, this place offers every possible comfort for those seeking sun and relaxation in a historic yet modern setting. The charm of the grounds and the many options for alfresco dining make this a great place to soak up some sun.


                A private plunge pool and terrace at the Cap Rocat; photo courtesy of the resort.


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Jan 22 2016

The 10 best places to see the Northern Lights

Category: Best Of | Destinations | HotelsMegan Leader @ 06:51

Watching the Northern Lights is certainly a bucket-list-worthy experience. Who wouldn't want to see the sky glow, shift and dance, reflecting hues of green and purple onto the snow below?

We've rounded up 10 of our favorite places to travel for the Northern Lights. Pair these destinations with a great hotel, and you've got a getaway unlike any other. 

1. Alaska. For U.S. and Canadian citizens hoping to stay close to home, Alaska is a great place to travel for a Northern Lights adventure. If you're choosing a hotel, Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge is a basic but comfortable lakeside base in one of Alaska's best cities to see the aurora borealis.More...

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Jan 8 2016

Alfajiri Villas Preview: Paradise on Kenya's wild coast

Category: Favorites | Hotels | On The SceneMegan Leader @ 11:14

On a recent trip to Kenya, I stayed in paradise: A private villa with an infinity pool on a white-sand beach. Included in my stay were upscale home-cooked meals, stellar service, wine and massages. I was in plumeria-laden heaven. 

I have been lucky to explore many exceptional hotels, but sometimes I come across properties with something really special. Alfajiri Villas has that special something, and I think it can be attributed to the exquisite taste, standards and attention to detail shown by its owners and managers, Fabrizio and Marica Molinaro.

Located in the beach town of Diani, Kenya, down an unmarked driveway, Alfajiri Villas is popular with in-the-know travelers and celebrities (Rowan Atkinson was one of its first guests). This place is an absolute gem. When I spoke with Fabrizio during my stay, he said that his philosophy is that the villas should feel like home.

Fabrizio coordinates More...

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