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Protect Your Data During the Year’s Busiest Travel Weekend

If you ever travel with a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, your data is at risk of being lost or stolen. Whether it’s the result of a bag disappearing, a drink being spilled, or a cybercriminal hacking your online accounts, data loss can have both minor and major consequences, from losing travel photos to outright identity theft. And with the busiest travel weekend of the year right around the corner, it’s important to keep your data as secure as your belongings — even on the way to grandma’s house.

Unless you’re ready to leave the electronics at home and stick to chronicling your journey with pen and paper alone, it’s time to take data protection seriously. Here’s how to maximize the chances that data stays safe wherever you are.

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Before Traveling

  • Back up digital files. Anything that’s already stored on your electronic devices (especially important files and photos) should be backed up to an external hard drive prior to your departure. That way you have everything you need even if the worst happens and the data gets lost while traveling. While you’re at it, take an inventory of your data so you’ll have a sense of whether anything looks off (or is missing) upon returning home.
  • Run updates. Make sure you’re running the latest version of devices’ operating systems and antivirus software. Also run antivirus scans prior to departure.
  • Initiate password protection. Combine this with an inactivity timeout on any electronics that you’ll be bringing along (so people can’t easily log onto your device if they find it unattended). On all devices, be sure to create strong passwords.

While Traveling

  • Only use secure internet connections. Free or public wireless services are all but guaranteed to be insecure; assume data isn’t safe over these connections, and refrain from entering any sensitive data (also remember that paying for Wi-Fi doesn’t guarantee the connection is secure).
    The safest networks are those that are password-protected, and the safest websites are those that start with https://. Using the web browser’s “incognito” or “private browsing” mode can help ensure that personal data doesn’t get saved, but it’s no guarantee of security (likewise for deleting cookies and browsing history after logging off).
    Also be sure to disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all devices whenever they aren’t in use. Want to learn more? Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to Using Public Wi-Fi Networks.
  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)Installing a VPN can help protect your data as it’s transferred between different devices. VPNs are especially handy for business travelers who may need to send and receive sensitive documents while on the road.
  • Disable cookies and auto-fill. These are the features that automatically enter login info and passwords on websites. Be sure to disable this function before traveling—it would only make it easier for electronics thieves to access your personal data.
  • Don’t upgrade software on public Wi-Fi. Cybercriminals have started to create fake “update” notices that allows them to install malware on travelers’ devices. If the Wi-Fi network isn’t secure, don’t accept any operating system, app, or software upgrades.
  • Don’t perform online transactions involving money. Whenever possible, avoid accessing online banking, Paypal, or anything that requires you to provide credit card information. And be sure to only use bank ATMs, which are less likely to be hit by identity thieves using card readers.
  • Create a travel-specific email address. Whenever possible, use a dedicated email address just for the trip; this will help you avoid logging into personal or work accounts while traveling. Be sure not to share or store personal information on the new account.
  • Keep your devices on you at all times. And when they’re not in use, turn them off. If you must leave a device in a hotel room or hostel, make sure to lock it up.

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When You Get Back

  • Change passwordsUpdate passwords on all devices as well as frequently visited websites.
  • Take stock. Review bank activity, credit card activity, and health insurance claim activity to confirm that everything looks accurate, and continue keeping tabs on these accounts for at least the next few months.
  • Run security scans. Run antivirus and anti-spyware scans on all devices. If malware is detected, follow the antivirus tool’s direction for addressing the issue.

It doesn’t matter if you’re exploring Santa Fe’s culture, adventuring in Paris, road-tripping around Ireland, or piling in the car for turkey and family reunions — a little prep, a lot of proactivity, and follow-through upon returning home will all help ensure that your data remains your own no matter where in the world you are.


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What To Do if Something Gets Stolen from Your Luggage at the Airport

A TSA agent at New York’s JFK International Airport made headlines this week for stealing a $7,000 luxury watch that a passenger accidentally left in security. This isn’t the first time the TSA has been charged with theft. A 2012 ABC News investigation revealed that hundreds of TSA employees have been fired for swiping items from travelers’ bags. And a CNN report found that passengers incurred over $2.5 million in property losses between 2010 and 2014—to the tune of more than 30,000 reported losses.

While these might seem like small sums relative to the number of travelers passing through the world’s airports every day, that’s no comfort to the passengers who have lost precious goods. A good rule of thumb when it comes to luggage theft is to think for the best and prepare for the worst. Here’s how to respond when property goes missing from your luggage in the airport.

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1. If your luggage is gone entirely, report it to your airline.

2. If you’re missing a specific item, start by checking with the airport’s lost and found department.

3. If the item isn’t in lost and found, it’s time to file a claim with the TSA. When filing, include as much information as possible—receipts, appraisals, and the information for your flight will all help your claim to be processed in a timelier manner.

4 .File a claim with the airline. Each airline has its own regulations for processing reports of missing items. Contact the airline’s customer service department to learn about your options.

5. If you think an expensive item (such as electronics or jewelry) was stolen, call the law enforcement office at both your departure and arrival airports and file a report for stolen goods. Be sure to request a copy of the police report; this might come in handy as the TSA processes your claim.

6. If your missing item doesn’t turn up during the TSA’s investigation, check with your insurance company to see if it will cover the loss. Many homeowner’s or renter’s insurance plans will cover theft. Some credit card companies may also provide coverage.

Once you’ve filed a claim, you’ll receive a letter detailing next steps. Note that it can take up to six months for a claim to be investigated, and claims involving law enforcement will typically take longer.

Also be aware that screening at some airports is carried out by private companies instead of the TSA. In those cases, you’ll need to contact the airport directly in order to file a claim.

Still have questions? Contact TSA to learn more.

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Tips for Preventing Theft

It’s great to respond proactively if a theft occurs. And it’s even better to prevent one in the first place. The following tips can help prevent theft and better empower you to process a claim.  

  • Take pictures of everything in your luggage and photocopy receipts for those items when possible. This will prove you were in possession of the item(s) prior to any theft. Make duplicates of the photos, then prepare two envelopes containing the photos and receipts. Give one envelope to a trusted friend who won’t be traveling and keep the other one on hand.
  • Don’t check valuables. Jewelry, electronics, and cash are all easy targets in checked baggage. Keep these items in your carry-on or on your person at all times.
  • Pack light. What’s better than keeping your valuables nearby? Keeping all of your luggage on hand. Learn how to pack light and you just might be able to fit everything you need into a carry-on. This will eliminate any worry about your luggage being in somebody else’s hands.
  • Use distinctive luggage. Thieves will be less willing to abscond with a tie-dye print bag covered in glitter stickers than yet another plain black suitcase.
  • Review the contents of your carry-on post-screening to be sure that you have everything you were carrying prior to moving through security.
  • If you’re traveling with a companion, keep a few people in between you while going through security. That way you can watch out for each other’s belongings while you take turns going through the body scanner.

While you can never be 100 percent prepared against theft, taking a few precautions and understanding the claims process can help you respond quickly and effectively should the worst actually happen.  


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5 Thanksgiving Day Parades Worth Seeing in Person


Since 1863, when President Lincoln proclaimed it a federal holiday, Thanksgiving has marked the official beginning of the holiday season. Many traditions have developed around the day over the decades from the standard turkey dinner with family, food drives to help the underserved, and of course, football. The day is also known for the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, held annually since 1924 and televised on NBC since 1952. While New York City’s parade may be the most famous, we rounded up five other favorites from across the United States!

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1. Philadelphia, PA

Founded in 1920, the 1.4-mile 6ABC Dunkin Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia is actually the oldest Thanksgiving parade in the country. Like others, it features the usual balloons, floats, and marching bands, but Philadelphia’s holiday celebration is best known for its live performances and celebrities. (This year, members of the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s Soccer Team will be in attendance.) This year’s parade is particularly family-friendly, featuring performers from Disney on Ice’s Frozen (yes, that includes Anna and Elsa). Be sure to explore the official website and check out a map of the best places to watch from. Those wishing to stay close to the action should try the Hyatt at the Belluevue Hotel or the Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, both of which are well-priced and conveniently located along the parade route.

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2. Detroit, MI

Like the Macy’s Parade in New York City, Detroit’s annual America’s Thanksgiving Parade was founded in 1924 and has been delighting residents and visitors ever since. The parade precedes the annual football game by the Lions (who host the Philadelphia Eagles this year) and features balloons, floats, and the unique Big Head Corps: walking bobbleheads dressed in costumes of animals, clowns, and celebrities. Spectators can even stroll the parade route themselves prior to the main event at the annual Turkey Trot. Visitors to the Motor City should consider a stay at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit or the Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront, both of which are located in the heart of downtown, just steps from the parade route.

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3Houston, TX

Travelers hoping to spend Turkey Day in a warmer locale should look to Houston’s H-E-B Holiday Parade, now in its 66th year. Marching bands, cheerleaders, and elaborate floats are met by 200,000 spectators for a raucous and lively celebration. Spectator access along the parade route is free, although those wishing to can purchase tickets to sit in the grandstands (feel free to bring lawn chairs and blankets to settle in). Santa Claus is scheduled to make an appearance this year, so this parade is a great option for families. Book a room at the Hyatt Regency Houston or the Hilton Americas – Houston for conveniently-located, competitively-priced comfort.

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4. Chicago, IL

One of only three Thanksgiving parades in the U.S. to be nationally broadcast, Chicago’s McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade is now in its 81st year. The 2015 parade will feature marching bands from all over Illinois, elaborate equestrian performances, and a show by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. Those planning to visit the Windy City for the extravaganza should try staying in the Silversmith Hotel or the Hilton Garden Inn, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Chicago.

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5. Plymouth, MA

Want as authentic a Thanksgiving experience as it gets? Go back to where it all began in Plymouth. Known as America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade, the town’s festivities actually take place the weekend before the holiday. The parade starts at the waterfront and features historical set pieces based on a chronological history of the United States: the colonial period, the Revolutionary Way, the Civil War, Western pioneers, automatives from the 20th and 21st centuries, and a closing float featuring Santa Claus. Musicians include bugle and drum corps, with multiple ceremonies honoring the Pilgrims and Native Americans who celebrated the very first Thanksgiving in 1621. Visitors should stay right on the waterfront, near the action, at the Hilton Garden Inn Plymouth or the Radisson Hotel Plymouth, both competitively priced and comfortably luxurious.



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Flying to Europe Might Get a Whole Lot Cheaper… in 2017

The airline Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA just announced its plan to sell $69 one-way tickets to Europe from select U.S. airports. The initiative is slated to roll out by as soon as 2017 (although for would-be international travelers, “soon” might be a relative term).

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Flying to Europe On a Budget: Here’s the Scoop

While the lure of cheap international tickets may have travel-lovers drooling, travelers looking to take advantage of the deals will be limited to only a few destinations—namely, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Bergen, Norway.

The airline believes it can reduce fares by flying out of U.S. airports that currently offer limited international service (or none at all), reports NBC News. That’s because those airports will charge airlines lower operating fees, meaning both airlines and travelers won’t incur the same costs that they would at more heavily trafficked international airports. Currently, Norwegian Air has its eye on New York’s Westchester County Airport and Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport.

Thanks to this low-cost strategy, Europe’s third-largest budget airline anticipates charging an average of $300 round trip for the nonstop routes named above—that’s several hundred dollars cheaper than the average cost of flights leaving from the United States’ busier international airports.

Still, travelers looking to take advantage of these deals will want to remember that the flights will come with added fees for everything from checking luggage to booking a seat assignment or ordering an in-flight meal (even for overnight trips), reports Condé Nast Traveler. Savvy travelers can subvert some of these budget-friendly airline tactics by packing everything in their carry-on and bringing along their own snacks for the flight.

In charging lower fares, Norwegian Air hopes to draw customers away from more well-known international carriers. The airline has already ordered 100 new Boeing jets and plans to receive the first five in 2017, at which point it expects to begin rolling out the cheaper flights. Of course, the airline’s ability to do so will hinge on the smaller U.S. airports’ willingness to set up customs stations that are equipped to process international travelers.

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The Beginning of a Trend?

Norwegian Air isn’t the only airline to start toying with lower cross-Atlantic fares. Iceland’s Wow Air reportedly has started offering $99 one-way fares from Boston to Paris, while Eurowings (a subsidiary of Lufthansa) has also begun offering some cheaper international flights. And while Norwegian Air awaits its arsenal of low-cost jets, the airline is offering $300 nonstop, round-trip tickets from New York to Oslo, Norway from December 2015 through February 2016.  

In the meantime, travelers looking for other ways to save money on holiday travel should consider purchasing flights in October and booking hotels in December, according to our evaluation of historical travel data. Those looking to book cheap flights to places other than Edinburgh or Bergen can save money every day by utilizing Hipmunk’s mobile app and online travel booking options. And remember that the best time to book a flight varies by destination, so your best bet is to consult destination guides that provide insight into the most strategic times to buy flights to specific locales.

As for whether recent initiatives in low-cost cross-Atlantic travel will inspire other airlines to follow suit? We’re keeping our fingers (and toes) crossed.


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The Best Airports for Coffee Lovers (and Must-Try Cafes!)

Traveling is exhausting, and there’s nothing more frustrating than paying too much for a mediocre cup of coffee at the airport. Here’s some insurance against that scenario: a guide to the best airport coffee in the world.

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Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

O’Hare is the busiest airport in the world by the number of takeoffs and landings, and there are a correspondingly large number of fantastic coffee shops at the disposal of travelers. The best of the best are Metropolis Coffee and Kofe by Intelligentsia, both located in Terminal 5. Metropolis does their own roasting with a focus on their espresso, which is complex and beguiling. Kofe features brews by Intelligentsia, a local favorite, and also offers a selection of snacks and baked goods.

As a bonus, Argo Tea has three locations in the airport in Terminals 2 and 3, and features a calm atmosphere as well as a wide selection of black, green, white, and herbals teas.

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

Philadelphia PHL’s Guava & Java, located in Concourse B, features coffee roasted by the local experts La Colombe, and is known for their single-origin blends. They also serve innovative smoothies and juices such as the Mixed Berry Tea Infusion.

Le Bus Cafe is another local option at the airport, also serving La Colombe coffee as well as excellent breads, pastries, and sandwiches. It’s the perfect place to stop for a great cuppa as well as a great meal: offerings such as the Thai turkey salad or the Chili Roasted Chicken sandwich are far better than average airport fare.

Portland International Airport (PDX)

There are two places in Portland that offer coffee by the excellent Stumptown Coffee Roasters, based in Portland but now nationally famous. Travellers in a rush should stop by Flying Elephants, which offers a variety of to-go meals, but those with a little extra time should be sure to visit Country Cat, where they specialize in Southern-style cooking with local ingredients. Try the eggs benedict on a biscuit and a glorious Bloody Mary for the best pre-flight meal in Portland.

A word of warning: beware of Coffee People, a former airport favorite. It was sold to Starbucks in 2006 and the coffee hasn’t been the same since.

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Copenhagen Airport (CPH) and Keflavik Airport (KEF)

Copenhagen’s and Keflavik’s spots on this list is secured by the presence of a single exceptional coffee shop in each airport, Joe and the Juice, an outpost of the local cafe. It was named the best airport coffee shop in the world in 2014 by the Airport Food and Beverage Awards, and makes an excellent cup of coffee as well as intriguing coffee drinks like the ginger latte. The hip and buzzing atmosphere of the cafe is supplemented by daily live music. They’re committed to healthy eating, and the juices, smoothies, and sandwiches are optimized for taste and nutritional content. Joe and the Juice rocks, end of story.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

San Francisco’s airport has coffee shops for every traveller’s needs. Those looking for an exceptional fair trade brew should head to the locally-based Equator Coffees and Teas in Terminal 2. Frequent flyers who need something a little stronger than a standard coffee will appreciate the famous Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe. For a bite to eat as well as a great cup, check out Klein’s Deli and Coffee Bar in Terminals 1 and 3. Their sandwiches are delicious and generously sized and the cookies make a great in-flight snack.

Bonus: Cafe Versailles at Miami International Airport (MIA)

Anyone flying to or from Miami should make time for a stop at Cafe Versailles, especially those in need of a caffeine boost. Cuban coffee is the specialty here, a dark roast espresso sweetened with demerara sugar as it brews. It packs a serious punch. The Cuban sandwiches and pastelitos are also fantastic.

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5 Easy Tips for Getting Amazing Sleep on the Road

If you find that your sleep quality decreases while traveling, you’re not alone. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that most adults prefer the comfort and calm of their own bedrooms over a hotel room—even a luxurious one. And don’t even get people started on the perils of trying to catch some shut-eye on an economy class flight.

Short of bringing their bed with them wherever they go, what’s a weary traveler to do? Whether you’re trying to catch some ZZZs on an airplane, in a hotel, or in a train or car, here’s how to get better sleep while on the road.

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1. Get comfortable.

If you’ve ever tried to sleep next to two other people in the backseat of a moving vehicle, you’ll know that this can be easier said than done. But sleep will come faster if you do what you can to make yourself comfortable. Try to wear loose-fitting clothing, take off your shoes, and cuddle up under breathable fabrics for the best chance at decent sleep. If you’re in a plane, train, or car, an inflatable or travel-sized pillow will also help.

2. Keep the environment cool, quiet, and dark.

Studies routinely show that people sleep best in spaces that are quiet, unlit, and cooled to less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While you may not be able to control the temperature wherever you’re trying to sleep (except in a car or hotel room), you can keep things quiet by packing earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones or (at hotels) asking for a room that’s located away from the elevator, stairwell, vending machines, and pool (Also don’t forget to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door). Limit your exposure to light by closing a hotel room’s curtains or packing an eye mask for flights.

3. Stick to your routines.

Consistency is key to getting good sleep, so do what you can to mimic your own bedroom environment wherever you are. Bring along your favorite pair of pajamas, a picture of your family or pet, and any other small items that will help you feel at home. Also be sure to stick to your normal bedtime routines, such as drinking a cup of tea, reading a book, listening to music, or practicing breathing exercises before closing your eyes.

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4. Avoid stimulants.

Caffeine, alcohol, and exposure to “blue light” (aka the glow emitted from electronic devices like tablets, laptops, and smartphones) can all make it harder to catch some shut-eye. Try not to drink coffee in the afternoon or evening; don’t drink alcohol within a few hours of heading to bed; and turn off all electronics at least an hour before hitting the sheets. Avoiding these stimulants will help your body wind down so you can fall asleep faster.

5. Head to sleep-friendly hotels.

Reading reviews of hotels online prior to booking will help alert you to whether a hotel is known for having raucous guests or promoting quality slumber. Some hotels have even started investing in amenities to help guests get better sleep.

For example, the Lorien Hotel & Spa in Alexandria, Va. offers guests a “Dream Menu,” or a collection of services and products designed to help guests get better sleep (think hot water bottles, Snore-no-More pillows, and a Bed Wedge that elevates your upper torso). At the Fairmont San Francisco, guests can take advantage of a sleep kit complete with sleep machine, earplugs, eye mask, and slippers. Crowne Plaza hotels offer a “Sleep Advantage” program that lets guests elect to stay in quiet zones sans room attendant, housekeeping, or engineering activities from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. And Hampton hotels offer a “Clean and Fresh Bed” designed to provide guests with optimum comfort in the form of streamlined covers, four pillows per bed, and high-thread-count sheets.

Most importantly? Even if you find yourself tossing and turning, don’t lose hope. Fretting over lost sleep will only make you anxious, so try not to stress too much if you wanted to snooze through an entire eight-hour flight and only managed to catch an hour or two of ZZZs. A little bit of sleep is better than none. And if all else fails, never forget the power of a cat nap.


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How to Get on Your Flight Attendant’s Good Side

Flight attendant Taylor Tippett recently made headlines for making her passengers’ travels a little brighter. Her method of cheering people up? She leaves uplifting notes on airplane windows and in safety cards, and encourages others to do the same. To date, the practice has earned her more than 120,000 followers on Instagram and cheered up countless passengers.

These small acts of kindness are particularly remarkable when you consider everything that flight attendants juggle on a daily basis — from helping people board, to working tough hours, dealing with jet lag, practicing for emergency scenarios, and handling the needs of hundreds of passengers.

So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to ensuring a smoother, kinder flight, one of the best things you can do is get on your flight attendant’s good side. Regardless of whether you have the friendliest flight attendant in the world (or not), here’s how to ensure peaceful coexistence.

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Say hello

How would you like it if you said “hello” to 40 people in a row and not one of them responded back? Simply acknowledging the presence of flight attendants in a friendly and respectful way can help set the tone for a pleasant interaction and maybe even brighten their day.

Be mindful of luggage

If you can’t lift your carry-on bag over your head in order to stow it, then it’s best to check it. Don’t expect a flight attendant to hoist the bag for you, thereby putting their own body at risk of injury. In fact, many airlines train their flight attendants not to lift bags in order to prevent injuries on the job. So either learn how to pack light enough that you can go it alone, or pay the checked baggage fee. And if you do stow luggage in the overhead bin, be sure to pack it wheels-in.

Board prepared

It’s unreasonable to expect a flight attendant to anticipate and accommodate every single one of your individual needs, so come prepared. If you know that you’ll need to take a pill immediately after boarding, for example, then it’s probably a good idea to bring your own bottle of water, since flight attendants are especially busy prior to take-off. If you’ll need a meal that accommodates your fish allergy, be sure to order it ahead of time and notify the flight attendant as you board. And if you know you’ll want your book during the flight, don’t pack it in your main carry-on; instead, keep it on your person so you don’t have to fumble through the overhead luggage bin during the flight.

Listen to announcements

Yes, this even includes the safety demo. If you fly often, it can be especially tempting to tune out. But announcements happen for a reason — they’re designed to keep everyone informed and safe, and telling the whole cabin all at once spares the flight attendant from having to repeat themselves over and over. So even if you think you’ve heard it all before, it’s helpful to sit up and take notice. 

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Make specific requests

When asking for a beverage, clarify your order from the get-go, e.g. “Club soda without ice and with a slice of lime, please.” Being as clear-cut as possible will spare the flight attendant from needing to re-make your order. And for goodness’ sake, take out your headphones while conversing with the attendant.

Don’t expect a babysitter

If you’re traveling with children, it’s critical to come prepared. Don’t expect flight attendants to supply toys, diapers, or changing wipes, and never ask a flight attendant to collect a dirty diaper without bagging it first. You’re just as responsible for your children on the plane as you are off of it.

Sing their praises

If a flight attendant wows you with their service and professionalism, demonstrate appreciation by 
telling their employers what a great job they did. Most airlines have a protocol for acknowledging flight attendants; simply ask the attendant for their employee number and the flight number and call the airline after touching down.

What’s it all boil down to? Simply remember that flight attendants are human, too, and treat them as you’d like to be treated.

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5 Fictional Destinations You Can Actually Visit

There’s something magical about seeing the real life setting of a beloved fictional world. These destinations draw travelers to places they might not otherwise go for the pleasantly jarring sensation of finding Tatooine in Tunisia or Narnia in Norway. Here are five of our favorite places that serve as intersections of invention and reality, mixing the familiar with the surprising.

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Mdina, Malta: King’s Landing (Game of Thrones)

Westeros may be fictional, but Game of Thrones fans know the series films everywhere from Iceland to Croatia to recreate locations from the books. The medieval walled city of Mdina in Malta acts as King’s Landing in the show, and travelers may recognize the Mdina Gate as the entrance to the fictional capital. Mdina’s dusky stone buildings and mix of Norman and Baroque architecture lend it a mysterious and mythic quality that translates perfectly into the show. It’s known as the “Silent City:” No cars are allowed within the city walls, and only about 300 people live inside.

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Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

Since Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908, children and adults have made the pilgrimage to Canada’s lovely Prince Edward Island, where the book is set. The Green Gables farmhouse that inspired L.M. Montgomery’s classic books still stands in Cavendish (named Avonlea in the books) and can be visited year round. Even Mindy Kaling is desperate to see where Anne grew up. In a recent interview with the LA Times, she said, “The other book world I would like to live in is Anne of Green Gables. Living on Prince Edward Island would be so badass.”

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Petra, Jordan: Canyon of the Crescent Moon (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

It’s hard to imagine a more imposingly beautiful filming location for a grail quest than the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Although Petra was carved into sandstone 2,000 years ago, it only came to the attention of the Western world in 1812 when Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt disguised himself in Bedouin costume to sneak into the site. The Treasury, Al-Khazneh, was most famously used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and is still open for visitors.

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Angel Falls in Venezuela: Paradise Falls (Up)

Paradise Falls is the central destination Pixar’s Up. Carl’s beloved Ellie never gets to see it herself, but with the help of about 10,000 balloons, Carl and Russell manage to make the trip. Its real life counterpart is Angel Falls in Venezuela, part of the Auyantepui mountain in Canaima National Park. At a height of over 3,000 feet, it’s the tallest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. The hike to see the falls from the top can be a multi-day journey, but the stunning view is worth the trek.

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Matamata, New Zealand: Hobbiton (The Lord of the Rings)

Perhaps the most famous fictional travel destination is the Hobbiton set of Peter Jackson’s adaptations of The Lord of the Rings. Nestled in the countryside surrounding Matamata in New Zealand, the set features over 30 hobbit dwellings as well as a mill and a double-arched stone bridge. After The Hobbit movies finished filming, the houses were left fully furnished for visitors. Truly devoted fans can even enjoy Second Breakfast at the nearby Shire’s Rest Cafe.

The Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas is known for its intense reflections of sunlight.

10 Strangest Buildings in the World You Have to Visit

This isn’t any ordinary travel list, but then again, you’re not an ordinary traveler. For the unorthodox globe-trotter, no bucket list is complete without some of the strangest buildings the world has to offer. From Brazilian museums to amazing Las Vegas hotels, these architectural works are definitely not your average buildings.

Habitat 67 in Montreal, Quebec

Lovers of strange architecture must visit Moshe Safdie’s vision of the ideal community. Originally created as his master’s thesis at McGill University, Habitat 67’s oddly stacked 146 homes of different shapes and sizes is constructed from 354 pre-made concrete blocks.

Mind House in Barcelona, Spain

Antoni Gaudi’s creative masterpiece Mind House is a mix of practical and whimsical. Located on the el Carmel hill in Parc Guell, Mind House was commissioned by Count Eusebi Guell and built between the years 1900 and 1914. With ethereal curves and eclectic accents in tile, ceramic and glass, this strangest of the world’s buildings is also one of the most beautiful.

Kansas City Library in Kansas City, Missouri

Designed to look like a shelf of classic books, the “Community Bookshelf” is the exterior of the Kansas City Public Library’s parking garage. The structure is 25 feet wide and nine feet tall, with a total of 22 different titles displayed that range in genre and literary period from Tao Te Ching and Romeo and Juliet to Lord of the Rings.

Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas

Spanning a massive 1,600,000 square feet, the Las Vegas hotel and spa Vdara opened in 2009. Designed by architect Rafael Vinoly, this hotel has a claim to fame that no other Vegas hotel can boast: Due to its surface materials and unique, curvy design, the sun’s reflection creates dangerous “hot spots” that focus on the pool deck and change positions as the sun moves throughout the day. Tellingly, visitors have nicknamed this phenomenon the Vdara Death Ray.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, Netherlands

Home to an impressive collection of more than 750,000 hours of multimedia, the Netherland Institute for Sound and Vision is encased in colorful, shimmering glass panels. This impressive structure proudly represents all the amazing work visitors can find in the museum and archives housed within its walls.

Visit these fantastical structures and take a peek into a world of creative architecture that spans the entire globe. Drop by for art, shopping, entertainment and more, but for once, those can all take a backseat to the buildings themselves. For once, it’s what’s on the outside that counts.

Enjoy self-catered dessert from La Boqueria in the comfort of your Barcelona hotel for a sweet finish to a sweet day.

Food on the Fly: Successful Self-Catering

Picture yourself at lunch in Paris, sitting at a sidewalk café, eating salade niçoise and gazing at the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Perfection, non? Doesn’t get much better than that.

Unless, of course, you were dining in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

This is the magic of self-catering. Skipping the restaurant meals in favor of a grocery bag full of goodies can lead to magical travel memories of perfect picnics, exotic delicacies and adventurous eating. You’ll also save a little money along the way. Start turning meals into memories with these tips for successful self-catering.

Marketplace Magic

Word of warning: Once you start shopping local markets, you may never go to a restaurant again. When food becomes this much fun, you won’t want to. Barcelona’s La Boqueria, for example, is a vibrant sensory experience, awash in color and sound. It’s a photography buff’s dream. Here, you can sip a cup of fresh-squeezed juice in any flavor imaginable while you stock up on authentic Catalonian lunch fare — plus some goodies to enjoy while people watching from your balcony during a siesta at Arc La Rambla.

Locally Made Goodness

Seek out small shops. You’ll find delicious, fresh-made local fare, with the bonus of a more personal touch. Since meeting new people is one of the best parts of travel, visiting friendly mom-and-pop shops makes for a truly special travel experience. Bakeries are a great place to start; try stepping out of your hotel in Paris and follow your nose to a fresh-baked baguette. It’s hard to imagine a greater joy than ripping off warm hunks of bread on your way to the Champs-Élysées.

Picnic Perfection

With self-catering, where you eat is just as important as what’s on the menu. Casually enjoying a leisurely meal in an iconic location is an experience you’ll never forget. While enjoying a stay in any of these family-friendly New York City hotels, take the gang for a picnic in Central Park. The kids will love playing in the green expanse while you all fuel up for a visit to Strawberry Fields or the Central Park Zoo.

To truly feel like a native Londoner on your next U.K. visit, join the locals enjoying their lunch against the backdrop of St. Peter’s Basilica. Or enjoy a picnic in St. James Park, with a view of Buckingham Palace.

Explore, Experiment, Enjoy

Travel is all about new experiences. Start with these tips, and then experiment away. Whether it’s sun-dried tomatoes and ciabatta in Rome or dolmades in Istanbul, you’ll soon be crafting your own incredible self-catering experiences and turning meals into memories. Bon appétit!

Exploring the Wild Blue Yonder