Everything you can get for free at the airport

By Andrea Romano | Travel + Leisure

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iStock  (Did you know you can do yoga at the airport? Here’s everything you can do for free on your next long layov…

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Airline reveals which windows seats you should always avoid

news.com.au

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If you want a spot with a view, be sure to avoid these window seats.  (iStock)

How many times have you boarded a plane and arrived …

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Where to see the best fall foliage across the country

By Jacquelyn Hart | Fox News

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It’s not too late to leaf-peep!  (iStock)

Peak leaf-peeping season is almost over, but it’s not too late for those seeki…

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The 'Devil’s Swimming Pool' on the edge of Victoria Falls is for adrenaline junkies only

By Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure

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The Devil’s Swimming Pool is shallow natural pool atop Victoria Falls.  (Reuters)

Victoria Falls, without question…

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Travel Info

Beware of vacation club fraud

By Anthony Giorgianni Published April 24, 2014 Consumer Reports Facebook9 Twitter11 Gplus0 A  lawsuit the Massachusetts attorney general recently filed against a Pittsfield vacation club and an affiliated company underscores why you should consider carefully before doing business with a discount travel company or vacation club. A court has issued a preliminary injunction ordering the companies to stop using alleged deceptive marketing to sell travel memberships, Attorney General Martha Coakley of Massachusetts recently announced. Coakley said the companies offered consumers free travel incentives and extreme discounts on travel, but instead charged them thousands of dollars for access to a proprietary software database that failed to provide the promised discounts. “Vacation or travel scams offer free or discounted deals that often never materialize, and our office alleges these companies stole thousands of dollars from consumers through their deceptive memberships,” Coakley said in a statement. The temporary injuction bars the companies from advertising free travel that in fact requires consumers to pay taxes and fees. Nor can they promote access to nonexistent wholesale travel discount or hold consumers to a three-day cancellation period when they have not yet received access to the companies’ website. The state is seeking more than $108,000 in restitution to victims and $170,000 in civil penalties. For more information about vacation fraud, read our report “Vacation Scams Can Cost You Any Time Of Year. Watch For The Warning Signs Of Travel Fraud.” Over the years, we’ve seen many gripes about travel clubs in complaints filed with the the Better Business Bureau and such websites as Complaints.com and RipoffReport. In 2012, the New Jersey attorney general sued a company and its owner for failing to provide promised deep discounts, vacation accommodations, and other travel services for which it charged one-time membership fees that ranged from $995 to $8,500, plus a $29.95 monthly charge. Here are tips to consider if you’re contemplating joining a vacation club. Check out the company at the Better Business Bureau, and by using a web search with the company name along with such words as “complaints” and “reviews.” Ask about trip-cancellation and refund policies. Get the answers in writing. Request a detailed explanation of any vaguely worded descriptions, such as “5-star accommodations.” Be especially wary of unsolicited promotions that come by mail, e-mail, or fax offering deeply discounted travel packages. Copyright © 2005-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this...

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Visit these real cities by playing a video game

By John Brandon Published April 14, 2014 FoxNews.com Facebook42 Twitter246 Gplus9 Sony Computer Entertainment/Charlie Schuck Photography Next Video games often show bloody scenes of rampant carnage, speeding racecars on professional tracks, and cartoon-like plumbers jumping off platforms. Yet, in a few cases, games take place in real cities like New York and Seattle. Because the new Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One console systems have such fine fidelity when it comes to graphics, you can now visit these cities in a virtual environment — and believe you are really there. 1. ‘inFAMOUS Second Son,’ City: Seattle Sony Computer Entertainment/Charlie Schuck Photography One of the most faithful renditions of any US city in a game, “inFAMOUS Second Son” lets you walk around Seattle’s waterfront area, the Market District, and even goggle at the Space Needle. If you play the game, available now for PS4, make sure you hunt around for the gumwall. It’s located in an alleyway in the Market District. In real life, the iconic gumwall is a few inches thick in some spots and has appeared on many “most germiest” tourist destinations. 2. ‘Watch Dogs,’ City: Chicago Ubisoft/Google We live in a surveillance society, and this upcoming open-world action game from Ubisoft is playing off that stark reality. Set in a futuristic-looking Chicago, the game gives you plenty of hacker tools to infiltrate a super-secret corporation known only as Blume. Thankfully, Chicagoans will feel right at home in the game — you’ll notice landmarks such as the Marina City complex that sits next to the Chicago River near downtown. 3. ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’, City: New York Ubisoft/Google Many military-themed games show real cities as they predict to look in the future — e.g., after they’ve been blown apart by tanks and rocket launchers. This tactical shooter from Ubisoft coming later this year is hyper-realistic: “The team is working on creating the most realistic and detailed New York City ever created in a video game,” game director at Ubisoft Ryan Barnard told FoxNews.com. According to Barnard, there were only a few adjustments made for smoother gameplay and the chaotic post-apocalyptic tone. 4. ‘2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil’, City: São Paulo, Brazil EA Sports/ Portal da Copa/ME Few of us will visit São Paulo in Brazil this summer during the World Cup, but you can get pretty close in the game “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil” for PS3 and Xbox 360. The city, located near the southeastern coast, is building a brand new stadium to host the opening match. The game gives you ample opportunity to catch a few rays, glance around at the rolling hills and neo-classical architecture nearby, and inspect the detailed crowd animations. 5. ‘MLB The Show 14,’ City: Pittsburgh Sony/VisitPITTSBURGH Baseball games...

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Taking the Kids — and the true secret to vacation happiness — asking their help planning

By Eileen Ogintz Published March 21, 2014 FoxNews.com Kayaking among glaciers. (THOMSON FAMILY ADVENTURES) Biking in Alaska. (AUSTIN ADVENTURES) Hiking in Alaska. (AUSTIN ADVENTURES) Rafting adventure in Alaska. (AUSTIN ADVENTURES) Next SlidePrevious Slide Pity the California dad. He had spent a lot of money to take his wife and three daughters on an adventure trip to Costa Rica — idyllic remote eco lodges, nesting sea turtles, monkeys in the trees, butterfly gardens. As adventures went, it hit all the buttons for my 13-year-old niece and her pal — we were on that same trip from Thomson Family Adventures. Unfortunately, this dad’s three tween and teen daughters didn’t think so. They had wanted to go to Maui and a Costa Rica adventure vacation couldn’t be any more different than the big, fancy beach resort they’d envisioned. It wasn’t a question of cost either — Maui might even have cost less. It was what their dad had wanted them to experience. He was very excited about the trip. Too bad those kids weren’t happy campers, complaining about everything from the lack of air conditioning to the bugs. That, of course, meant their parents weren’t happy either. The kids weren’t spoiled brats; they just hated being dragged along somewhere they had no desire to be. It was, after all, their vacation too. The lesson: Take the kids’ opinions into account when planning a family getaway, whether it’s a big-ticket adventure, a trip to Orlando, a camping trip or a weekend exploring a city. Believe me, if the kids aren’t happy, you won’t be. That holds too for grandparents planning a multigenerational trip for grandkids they may not see that often. I admit I’ve been there — like the time I dragged my wilderness-loving daughters to an all-inclusive in Mexico. Thankfully, they didn’t whine, but they only perked up when we left the resort to explore a cave or a nearby beach town. These days, according to new research from the 2014 Portrait of American Travelers, there’s a lot more discussion with the kids about vacation and I’m glad to see it. Sixty-Six percent of those polled who have kids living at home report the kids are influential in their vacation planning and decisions. That’s a more than 20 percent jump from 2011. (Take note marketers: Kids now have an important and growing say in where families go and what they do when they get there!) As you plan your next family getaway, ask the kids: — See dinosaurs at a natural history museum or take part in a hands-on art experience at an art museum? — Hike to a waterfall or a lake? — Eat Chinese, Sushi or Italian? Create pin boards on Pinterest to collect everyone’s ideas....

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Hey seat 12C, won’t you at least say hi?

By George Hobica Published February 24, 2014 FoxNews.com ISTOCK We’ve all experienced it when flying. You sit in the tin can for three, four, maybe even 12 hours, and you completely ignore the people sitting next to you. As in, not a word. No eye contact. Not even when climbing over your neighbors in the middle and aisle seats when you get up from your window seat to use the lavatory. It’s just weird. Maybe that’s why Virgin America offers seat-to-seat chat via the inflight entertainment system, though not many people use it. Look, I get it. We’re all paranoid about encountering a motor mouth. It happened to me once. I was on a flight from Boston to San Francisco, and the woman wouldn’t stop talking. She told me her life story, literally. And then – true story! – a few days later, I found myself standing behind her at an ATM, and I said hello and she had no idea who I was. So much for human interaction. But still, are we taking the “ignore your neighbor” credo a bit too far? Now don’t get me wrong: I don’t actually want to have aconversation with you. A friendly nod will do. A “pardon me” when you signal that you’d like to get into or out of the row. Even a gentle tap if I’m sleeping. Anything but the silent treatment. One of the weirdest things about air travel is pretending that the people in your aisle are invisible. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it truly odd sitting next to someone for four, five, six or 12 hours, pretending they’re not there. There’s a difference between being a chatty Cathy and simply saying “hello,” or at least offering a wan smile when sitting down at the start of a flight, or an “excuse me” when getting up from the window or middle seat. Instead, this is what usually happens: The plane is boarding and I’m already in the aisle seat, reading a newspaper. Someone stands next to me and does one of the following: 1. Throws something on the middle or window seat and points. No eye contact. No words. Just points. Or maybe grunts. 2. Just stands there waiting for you to get up. Again, no eye contact, no words. 3. Just climbs over you. And then he or she sits down without saying a word for the entire flight. I see this all the time, and it bothers me. OK, I’m whining here, I admit it. But sometimes it goes too far. I was flying with a colleague from London to Mumbai on British Airways recently. He was in an economy class window seat in a two-by-two seating configuration....

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10 great gifts for adventure-minded travelers

By Blane Bachelor Holiday Gift Guide Published December 19, 2013 FoxNews.com The holiday spending season is gearing up, but picking out the perfect gift for the jet-setter or adventurer on your list can put even the jolliest of shoppers into the Grinchy-iest of moods.  With so many options out there for gear and gadgets, how to find just the right one – without breaking the bank, no less? Let our handy gift guide come to the rescue. We’ve scoured the latest offerings, as well as proven favorites, for offerings at $150 or less that are sure to inspire a trip somewhere – whether it’s camping in the backyard overnight or backpacking around the world. Happy travels. 1Bushnell Powersync SolarWrap Mini, $90 Bushnell On-the-go folks love power on demand, especially outlet-free charging in the great outdoors or on an airplane.  Bushnell has delivered with its PowerSync line of solar-powered chargers.  At a mere 3.1 ounces, the Mini is the lightest and smallest personal solar device on the market, making it an ideal addition to any backpack or carry-on. The 18” portable solar panel, which comes with a lifelong lithium-ion battery, rolls up into a beautifully compact cylinder, about the size of a small flashlight, and is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and the like. It comes equipped with a USB cable and clever cap covers, and even a hole to stake the panel to the ground in windy conditions. Unfurl it at a sunny campsite or hang it with a carabiner from your backpack (it needs about 10 hours of sunlight, or four from an outlet, to fully charge). Charged up, it works just as well in the great indoors.  Whip it out in a crowded airport and watch the envy of other travelers scrambling for outlets. 2Patagonia Women’s Nano Puff Vest, $149 Patagonia While puff-style garments are wonderful for keeping the wearer warm, they also tend to make her look, well, puffy. That’s why this vest (which is also available in a men’s version) is perfect for outdoorsy gals who don’t want to feel like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon during their active-minded pursuits. Its longer fit and feather-light weight make for a – dare we say? – slimming profile that provides delicious warmth. Plus, it’s water-repellent, weighs a mere 7.4 ounces and comes with thoughtful extras like cozy, zippered exterior pockets and an interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack. So, on the rare occasion that you’re not wearing the vest, you’ve got a puffy little travel pillow in a pinch. 3Trek Light Gear Double Hammock, $75 Trek Light If there’s a gift that will spark longing for warmer weather, this lightweight hammock is it. Made from parachute nylon and weighing just 20 ounces, the...

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Top 5 ways to annoy your social media friends while on vacation

By Dave Seminara Published November 05, 2013 FoxNews.com ISTOCK 1Top 5 ways to annoy your social media friends while on vacation Once upon a time, we used to invite our friends and family members over so we could torture them with hundreds of slides or photos from our most recent vacation. “Here’s one of me feeding a parrot!” Now, in an era where social media is an established part of our culture, we’re still subjecting our friends to our vacation photos and memories, only now we tend to do it online and in real time. You can hide, but you’ll never totally escape your friends’ vacations. Most of us have at least one friend who just can’t help but over-post on social media sites, and the habit tends to go into overdrive when the offending party is on vacation. If people knew how to take photos, this trend would only be mildly annoying. But most people are more likely to post 18 photos of the back of some guy’s head than something that might end up in National Geographic. So why do people spend their precious holidays posting and tweeting? What are the consequences of over-posting and how do we avoid serial over-posters without damaging our relationship with that person? “People are really excited about their vacations but for the rest of the world, it’s just not that interesting,” said Dr. Marla Vannucci, associate professor of Clinical Psychology at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. “It’s like the idea that you have to sit through someone else’s vacation. Every meal, every step and you’re not really experiencing it with them.” Jeremy Birnholtz, an assistant professor at Northwestern University who does research on human-computer interaction issues, says that before you go on an un-friending binge, consider the fact that most over-posters aren’t intentionally trying to annoy us. “Posting photos of yourself on vacation is like impression management,” he said. “People paint a particular picture of themselves to get the reaction they want.” Dr. Vannucci said that she has one Facebook friend who feels inadequate and over-posts vacation photos to feel better about himself. “People who have that narcissistic motivation, they want to provoke envy,” she said.  “They want people to wish they were with them.” Facebook is the vacation gloating venue of choice for Baby Boomers and Generation Xers while Millennials tend to prefer Instagram. Other sites like Foursquare and Pinterest also have their devotees.  Birnholtz believes that happy travelers tend to use Twitter less, but says that if you unfollow an over-poster there, the user is less likely to notice than if you unfriend someone on Facebook. He prefers to use the “hide all content” button found on the drop...

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