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Travel


Civics classes resume in renovated space at National Museum of American History

WASHINGTON - Closed for renovations since 2012, the second floor of the National Museum of American History's west wing will reopen Wednesday with a renewed purpose: to tell the story of American democracy and encourage people to participate.  Formerly the home of a hodgepodge of exhibits, including Julia Child's kitchen and "First Ladies Fashions," the renewed 30,000-square-foot space...

New artificial intelligence promises to make travel a little smarter. Does it?

The Terminator wants to be your next travel agent.  New artificial intelligence (AI) technologies promise to make travel a little smarter. The latest entrant is Aeromexico's new AI-based customer-service bot, billed as a "smart brain" capable of machine learning. It launched earlier this year in Spanish on Facebook, and an English version is being rolled out now.   But do...
In the footsteps of Charles Darwin

In the footsteps of Charles Darwin

The Galápagos Islands, with their gorgeous scenery, unparalleled and rare wildlife unafraid of humans, and paramount historical and scientific importance, were once a place you saved for years to see, a splurge that made a ski trip to Aspen look positively cheap in comparison. The only way to visit was by cruise ship, or by living aboard a boat, which put the cost, when combined with flights...

What to pack for a Galápagos trip

You’ll want comfortable shoes, a couple of swimsuits and, of course, plenty of sunscreen. But to really get the most out of your Galápagos trip, the editors at The Wirecutter, a product review website owned by The New York Times Co., recommend a few extras:  Snorkeling gear: Some tours provide snorkeling sets, but the U.S. Divers Lux Snorkel Set is a high-quality budget pick that&rsquo...

Total solar eclipse casts spotlight on rural Oregon town

MADRAS, Ore. (AP) — The first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in 99 years will first be visible in Oregon.  State officials expect up to 1 million people for the Aug. 21 event.   As many as 100,000 of them could wind up in and around the central Oregon town of Madras.   It's predicted to be one of the best viewing locations in...

New restrictions set on visiting Peru's famed Machu Picchu

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Travelers wanting a glimpse of Peru's famed Machu Picchu will be restricted to visiting during morning or afternoon tours in a move aimed at conserving the site's archaeological splendor.  The new rules go into effect in July and will allow about 3,600 visitors to enter the ancient Incan citadel from 6 a.m. to noon and another nearly 2,700 people to explore during afternoon...
First-class meals now served at the airport, for the elite few

First-class meals now served at the airport, for the elite few

NEW YORK - "You've got to try the burger."  That was the counsel of Kurt Stache, a veteran of airport dining and airline marketing, while briefing me on the various attributes of recent renovations his employer, American Airlines, has completed at New York's JFK International Airport.   This particular "flagship" sirloin burger is one of the initial hits on the new...
As travel industry awaits slowdown, travelers pack bags — for now

As travel industry awaits slowdown, travelers pack bags — for now

The travel industry is voicing a common refrain: President Donald Trump’s travel ban, terror attacks in Europe and a laptop ban represent a recipe for a potential sharp decline in visitors to and from the United States.  “When you hear words like ‘travel ban,’ it puts a big chill” on travel and tourism, James J. Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts...
Where to eat and drink in Port Aransas

Where to eat and drink in Port Aransas

Trips to Port Aransas for me in the past used to mean stops in Lockhart for barbecue, maybe a classic Whataburger run in the chain’s home of Corpus Christi and then cooking and grilling at a rental property. OK, and beer. Lots of beer. But over the past couple of months I’ve realized there are more culinary offerings than one might expect. Now, trips to Port Aransas and Mustang Island...
Dive in and go down below

Dive in and go down below

School’s out, summer is here and the weather is steamy. Luckily, there are plenty of natural spots surrounding Austin to stay cool that don’t come with chlorine and crowds. From sublime swimming holes to constantly chilled caves, here are a dozen places to chill on scorching summer days courtesy of Mother Nature. The best part? They are all within 70 miles of downtown. 1. Longhorn Cavern...
July sizzles with family fun

July sizzles with family fun

July can be hot, but Texas doesn’t let triple-digits stand in the way of fun. From spectacular July Fourth celebrations to fruit-focused festivals, here are a dozen not-to-miss happenings in the Lone Star State worthy of a road trip. Shiner June 30-July 1: This historic, beer-loving town’s annual Half Moon Holidays is upon us. Highlights of the fun-filled festival include a barbecue cookoff...
Tuscany for beginners

Tuscany for beginners

Wedged between Florence and Rome, rural Tuscany offers the quintessential Italian experience: sun-soaked hill towns, green and rolling screen-saver hills, romantically fortified farms and cypress trees marching single file up lonely ridges. We go to Italy to experience the finesse of Florence, the splish-splash of Venice and the grandeur of Rome, but it’s in Tuscany that we find the rustic-yet-elegant...

A literary tour of Italy’s libraries

Italy’s libraries, many of which were once reserved for the elite, see the confluence of grand architecture, scholarly influence and deep historical significance. To travelers they offer a microcosm of Italy’s charms, and to readers, a setting of intense beauty and meaning.  Here, two books that use the library as a backdrop, and one that chronicles the rise and fall of the Medici...
In Lima, a Peruvian-Japanese hybrid does fusion right

In Lima, a Peruvian-Japanese hybrid does fusion right

Is Dondoh a Peruvian robatayaki (Japanese barbecue restaurant) or a Japanese parrilla (Latin steakhouse)? Does it matter when the food is this good?  With Nikkei restaurants — specialists in the melding of Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and techniques over the past century — becoming an increasingly integral piece of Lima’s culinary scene, a Japanese-style meat restaurant...
The hidden treasures in Italian libraries

The hidden treasures in Italian libraries

In the madness of late spring at San Marco Square in Venice, amid the hordes pouring in from land and sea, hard by the hissing espresso machines and sizzling panini presses of overpriced cafes, I found the still point of the turning world.  I found it in the library.   It was 10 in the morning and I was standing, alone and enthralled, on the second floor balcony of the Biblioteca Nazionale...
Grab your stretchy pants for the Michelin Star-Spangled Road Trip across America

Grab your stretchy pants for the Michelin Star-Spangled Road Trip across America

If your flavor of road-trip food leans more toward grilled foie gras wontons than Panda Express chow mein, then start packing your suit jacket and stretchy pants. Verve Search, a content marketing company in London, has mapped out a celestial culinary adventure: the shortest possible route to all 159 Michelin-starred restaurants in the United States. The 3,426-mile journey includes both lengthy stretches...
A National Arboretum plot reclaims its turf as an avant-garden

A National Arboretum plot reclaims its turf as an avant-garden

Time is the fourth dimension of gardening, and sets landscape design apart from other art forms.  In a new garden, the plants go in young and reach an optimum state of scale and ornament after a few short years. Even with expert care, the original design cannot remain static.   When a garden gets old and neglected, its lines are blurred by its disorder. This entropy takes many forms...

Eau Claire is one of Wisconsin’s most underrated getaways

Eau Claire is the best city in Wisconsin you haven’t been to.  Maybe you have, if you went to college there or had a friend who did. Or maybe you’re a native who’s already in on the secret of the Chippewa Valley.   But if you’re like me and overlooked the small city in west-central Wisconsin, you’re missing out on a great destination for a getaway. ...
Will Seuss museum be one of the places you go?

Will Seuss museum be one of the places you go?

Congratulations!  Today is your day.   You're off to Great Places!   You're off and away!   ---   What's that you say? You want to know where you are going? You don't like not knowing. Well, let me fill you in, before your attention wears thin. We are going to the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum. The attraction just opened in Springfield, Massachusetts...
Hi-yo silver: Hitting the road in an Airstream

Hi-yo silver: Hitting the road in an Airstream

For more than 80 years the Airstream trailer company has been a fixation for American road warriors entranced by its sleek, bullet-shaped aluminum body and the promise of camping in luxury, nowadays known as glamping. The shiny trailers, built in Ohio, cast a strange spell. Smitten by some combination of nostalgia and wanderlust, a cross-generational section of Americans — from the still ambulatory...

Talk travel: Tips for gratuities and other travel questions answered

The Washington Post's travel writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: When I order room service, the gratuity (18-20%) and a service charge (up to $10) are already included. There is an additional blank tip line. Are we generally expected to tip more on top of the fees that are already included? In one hotel, the man who delivered...

Family travel: 5 dreamy destinations that cater to kids as well as adults

Looking for luxury? Here are five dreamy destinations to consider.  ———   1. Four Seasons Resort Lanai, Lanai City, Hawaii   It's a lush island of contrast, where sea-faring activities and land adventures compete for your attention. Pairing a family-friendly attitude with well-crafted luxury, your family will feel right at home amid the towering pines, tropical...
Karaoke coast to coast

Karaoke coast to coast

I was in a friend’s small, bright, WNYC-soundtracked Brooklyn apartment when I first heard about Santa’s in Nashville. They serve only beer because things got too crazy when they served liquor, this friend told me. Yes, it is Santa-themed, and you can still smoke inside. And there is karaoke every night.  My plan was to drive solo from Brooklyn to Los Angeles — where I hoped...

A visit to Pandora

Pandora — the World of Avatar opened in May at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, and travel companies that specialize in Disney vacations were ready and waiting with Pandora packages.  Robert Merlin of SmartFlyer received several hundred phone calls in the past few months from people interested in trips to the fictional world depicted in the “Avatar” movie of...
Tracking Twain by the marks he left

Tracking Twain by the marks he left

Who flies to Reno on a spring evening, rents a car and heads into the mountains with no skis, no mountain bike and a backpack full of books? Me. Why? Because in 1861 a 25-year-old Missouri riverboat pilot named Sam Clemens boarded a stagecoach bound for the same territory. He was going to dodge the Civil War for a few months, work for the government, do some writing, maybe dig for silver. Instead...
Ready to go it alone? Tips for easing into solo travel.

Ready to go it alone? Tips for easing into solo travel.

Since 2012, Kristin Addis has been traveling the world. More often than not, she's solo.  The former investment banker decided to sell her belongings five years ago and hit the road. She since has lived in silence at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand, trekked to see gorillas in Uganda and hiked on glaciers in Patagonia.   For Addis - who blogs about her experiences at bemytravelmuse...
How much are frequent flyer miles really worth?

How much are frequent flyer miles really worth?

Merriam-Webster defines a mile as a unit of measurement equal to 5,280 feet. But in the increasingly byzantine world of frequent flyer mileage reward programs, the term has little or no connection to physical distance. In 2015, United and Delta joined Southwest, Jet Blue and other airlines that award miles based upon ticket price and class, rather than distance traveled. American Airlines followed...
Credit card tips for stress-less summer vacation

Credit card tips for stress-less summer vacation

Going on a summer vacation is supposed to be a stress reducer. But the average American family is likely to spend $2,936 on vacation this summer — including taking on roughly $600 in extra debt, according to a MagnifyMoney survey.  Plenty of us will pull out the credit cards and the excuses to tell ourselves that we’re worth it. But there are some savvy ways to avoid a budget buster...
Route 66: Traveling the Mother Road

Route 66: Traveling the Mother Road

The plan was to have no plan. To head east on Route 66, a solo traveler with no agenda. Stopping when I felt like it. Staying as long as I wanted. Moving on when I was ready. There was only one problem: I’m a master planner. Traveling with me has always been the vacation equivalent of a military assault. I promised myself that this time would be different. No to-do lists. No reservations. I...

Car lovers' Newport: 2 museums highlight design on wheels

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — Car enthusiasts now have their pick of destinations to get their fix while visiting Newport, with two car museums featuring classic and rare cars, the newest having opened just this month. The Audrain Automobile Museum and the Newport Car Museum both place a strong emphasis on design and display the cars as works of art.  "What we're really talking about is good...

At airports, making travel easier for autistic passengers

For Gearoid Mannion and his wife, Michelle, who live in County Clare, Ireland, air travel with their two autistic sons, Conor, 9, and Darragh, 7, is usually nothing short of a nightmare. The noise level, crowds and announcements at airports overwhelm the boys, and waiting in security and boarding lines is a concept that they don’t understand, Gearoid Mannion said. “They get red in the...

All that spare change you forget at TSA checkpoints adds up to big bucks

WASHINGTON - All the nickels, dimes and quarters travelers leave behind at airport security checkpoints adds up to big bucks - enough that next time you forget your change after emptying your pockets, you might want to go back for it.  In fiscal year 2016, travelers left behind a record $867,812.39, according to a report from the Transportation Security Administration. That's over $100,000 more...

Cheapo Travel: 10 ways to save on foreign travel

Going abroad? Lucky you.  This time of year, I get many questions about how to save money on trips to foreign destinations. Here are answers to some questions:   1. Get WhatsApp. Wondering how you’ll stay in touch with the folks back home? Thanks to this free smartphone app, you no longer need to buy expensive satellite phones or calling plans. Just download the app. Anywhere...

Travel dilemmas: Preparation is your passport to 2017

We're hoping it's not like 2007 because that was the year that passport applications were like the rat through the boa constrictor: a huge bulge that took a long time to pass.  We turn to that year for the explanation — and what it portends for this summer.   The 9/11 commission and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 called for more secure borders; better...
Alberta keeps Ukrainian culture alive at heritage village

Alberta keeps Ukrainian culture alive at heritage village

ARDROSSAN, Alberta — The one-room house — zemlianka — is built into the side of a hill. Other walls are of logs and sod. It is a simple house. A woman is just outside, dressed for the old country and tending to something. She looks up and takes tentative steps toward us.  “My name is Maria,” she says in an accent as thick and pure as sour cream for borscht. &ldquo...
An art deco grande dame in Iceland Takes a star turn — again

An art deco grande dame in Iceland Takes a star turn — again

Check In  Hotel Borg, Posthusstraeti 11, Reykjavik; 354-551-1440; hotelborg.is.   Rates   From 35,000 Icelandic krona, or $346 at 101 krona to the dollar.   Basics   This iconic art deco grande dame was opened in 1930 in downtown Reykjavik by Johannes Josefsson, a wrestler in the 1908 London Olympics. As the first luxury hotel in Iceland, the Hotel Borg...

How solo travelers can beat the high cost of going it alone

It's no secret that many cruise lines, tour operators, all-inclusive resorts and even hotels charge considerably lower prices to those who travel in twos. And even if a single traveler is willing to take a chance and bunk with a stranger, most travel companies don't offer any help in finding a partner.  But the scene is changing as more travel companies try to tap into the growing single-traveler...
Traveling alone isn't for everyone - but for these adventurers, it's the way to go

Traveling alone isn't for everyone - but for these adventurers, it's the way to go

On a May vacation in Nicaragua, Alison Peters often visited several panaderias after dinner, sampling not one but many desserts. She spent days wearing the same bathing suit coverup. And near the town of Granada, she lingered at Masaya, snapping selfie after selfie with the active volcano.  During her two-week journey abroad, she never once had to defend her decisions or discuss her choices....

Leave on a jet plane this summer while fuel costs stay cheap

It's the best summer for jet setting in more than a decade.  As jet fuel costs have sustained near 12-year lows after a global crude market crash in late 2014, airlines are cutting ticket prices and travelers have noticed. Global passenger data show that air travel demand started the second quarter at growth rates unseen in six years, and U.S. carriers hauled more passengers than ever before...

Travel deals: Save $320 per person on a tour of Greece

This week's best travel bargains around the globe.  Land   - The Hilton properties in Hawaii are offering discounted rates at 10 hotels on four islands: the Big Island, Oahu, Maui and Kauai. Hilton Honors members receive 30 percent off the standard rate; nonmembers receive 25 percent off. Savings vary. For example, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, a king bed resort-view...

417 National Park Service sites in one really long road trip? One man is doing it

Mikah Meyer was set to travel through Boise recently, one-third of the way through his three-year odyssey to visit every National Park Service site in the country.  He was 30 years old when he started 13 months ago — an age he figured was perfect to do something so ambitious.   “It was my last moment where society would excuse me for doing something crazy,” Meyer said...
On a Georgia island, a lot of good food and plenty of nothing

On a Georgia island, a lot of good food and plenty of nothing

Jamie Ferguson hiked up a leg of his wet swim trunks.  “It’s not that bad,” he said.   I had never seen a scar from a shark bite before, so I had no way to gauge if the pale patch the size of a paperback on his thigh was indeed not that bad.   Ferguson, 59, got the shark bite doing exactly what we were doing now, which was pulling a wide strip of netting...
What Sara Blakely, Spanx founder, can’t travel without

What Sara Blakely, Spanx founder, can’t travel without

Home for Sara Blakely, founder of the shapewear brand Spanx, is Atlanta, where her company has its headquarters. For at least a decade, while building her business, Blakely was away from home three weeks of every month. Now that she is a parent she travels less, although she’s often in New York and Los Angeles for work. “I’m now a mom of four under the age of 7, so I’m much...
Travel Tips: How to have a destination celebration

Travel Tips: How to have a destination celebration

Whether it’s a milestone birthday or anniversary or a big work promotion, why not mark the occasion with a destination celebration? “Instead of a three-hour party, you can have a three-day celebration where you connect with your closest family and friends and create everlasting memories,” said Jack Ezon, who plans destination celebrations and is president of the New York City travel...

Family fun in St. Petersburg: not just for czars

On a recent summer afternoon in the village of Shuvalovka, Russia, just outside St. Petersburg, my 8-year-old daughter and I were absorbed in painting a set of matryoshkas, the wooden nesting dolls popular throughout the country. Tatyana, an artist who goes by only her first name, had opened her workshop to us for the activity, and through our translator, we followed her instructions on how to adorn...
Managing travel anxiety in an era of terror

Managing travel anxiety in an era of terror

Every time my anxiety about travel seems to have subsided, new horrific terrorist attacks in Britain, like the one at London Bridge on June 3, close to where my wife and I once lived, and the bombing just days before at the Manchester Arena, have brought my worries back to the fore, especially since we’re off to London in a couple of weeks.  But while I can’t seem to outrun the creep...
Apps soothe the packing-averse traveler

Apps soothe the packing-averse traveler

Packing anxiety has inspired dozens of apps and services in recent years, many of them thriving on users’ willingness to download checklists to avoid forgetting their socks and phone chargers. But there are a growing number of other services that have gotten more personal, inviting themselves into users’ calendars and closets.  At least one offers a concierge service that does all...
Flounder gigging near Aransas Pass puts writer in touch with roots

Flounder gigging near Aransas Pass puts writer in touch with roots

Frank Kurtz was a shrimper. And a hunter. And a carpenter. He was also the gentlest rock of a grandfather and an unwavering dad in an era when love was expressed in a more stoic fashion. He was a lot of things, but I’ll always remember him as a shrimper. That gene skipped me. Paw Paw would take me and my sister out on the water occasionally. I have the pictures to prove it. But for the most...
The Devil made me do it

The Devil made me do it

The Devils River bashes your shins, blasts you with headwinds and tricks you with reed mazes. And right now, at the top of a washing machine of cascading water called Three Tier Rapid, my knees won’t stop knocking. I’m three days into a four-day paddle trip down this turquoise ribbon of liquid, and the only way home is forward, over the twisting, tumbling, boulder-strewn obstacle course...
Boyne Valley: A dazzling Dublin day trip

Boyne Valley: A dazzling Dublin day trip

While Dublin beckons with reminders of its stirring modern history on nearly every street corner, the best place to commune with the ancient soul of Ireland is its lush countryside. Iron Age monuments pepper the landscape, and while most sights are little more than rock piles, just standing next to a megalith that predates the pharaohs is stirring. An ideal spot to experience the spirit of Old Eire...
Greyhound races are practically a thing of the past, except in Florida

Greyhound races are practically a thing of the past, except in Florida

PALM BEACH, Fla. — During the third race on a recent sweltering Sunday at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, a sleek black greyhound named Atascocita Laden broke from the pack early in the 545-yard course and sprinted to a decisive victory. There was nothing overly surprising about the result: Atascocita Laden was a favorite, and the tip sheets had him picked to finish in the money. For some Americans...
Here’s why travelers are calling Nashville the new Austin

Here’s why travelers are calling Nashville the new Austin

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Nashville is the new Austin.” It was a comment I heard numerous times during the recent weekend I spent in Music City. After about the third time, I asked the person saying it why he thought so … was it the thriving music scene (not exactly a new addition) or the burgeoning restaurant scene (somewhat of a new addition)? Perhaps it was the influx of young...
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