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Int'l Fare of the Day: Washington DC to Shanghai $731 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

On American, fly from Washington DC to Shanghai for $731 round-trip, including all taxes.

We found seats for travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, departing IAD on Tuesday, November 25, returning from PVG on Thursday, December 4. Flights connect via Dallas DFW.

Slightly higher fares are available for travel through mid December.

For a look at fares from across the US and Canada, visit our fare listings for Shanghai PVG.

Bund image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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Domestic Fare of the Day: Atlanta to Anchorage $336 round-trip, incl. taxes

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fly from Atlanta to Anchorage for $336 round-trip, including all taxes, on US Airways.

We found seats departing ATL on Saturday, November 8, returning from ANC on the following Saturday, November 15. Flights connect via Phoenix.

Other dates are also available for travel through mid February, excluding peak holiday travel.

For a look at what's available from other departure cities, visit our Anchorage ANC listings.

Anchorage image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Thanksgiving Travel: Los Angeles to Tokyo $723 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

For travel over the Thanksgiving holiday, fly nonstop from Los Angeles to Tokyo for $723 round-trip, including all taxes, on Singapore Airlines.

We found seats departing LAX on Wednesday, November 26, returning from NRT on Wednesday, December 10.

Other dates are also available for travel through mid December.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

Tokyo image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

10 Places You Shouldn't Go If You're Phobic

Posted by Christine Sarkis on Thursday, October 23, 2014

(Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

Afraid of clowns? We suggest you steer clear of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Can't stand bats? Maybe Austin isn't the city for you. In this, our most macabre month, we're taking a look at 10 places known for the kind of spectacles that many people would travel the world to see … and a few would go to any lengths to avoid. So if you're terrified of darkness, lightning, underground spaces, and other phobic "delights," we suggest you avoid these 10 otherwise lovely destinations around the world.

Fear of Lightning: Catatumbo Delta, Venezuela

The flickering sky triggers an intense physical reaction in people with astraphobia, the fear of lightning and thunder. Hands down, the worst destination for anyone afflicted with this malady is Venezuela's Catatumbo Delta, where a massive storm rages nearly every night over the Catatumbo River. The Catatumbo Lightning can last for up to 10 hours per night, producing an estimated million lightning strikes each year. A number of tour companies run lightning-watching trips to the area, some as part of longer itineraries.

Fear of Clowns: Baraboo, Wisconsin

Clowns: To some, they're a source of constant delight, to others, endless horror. The small town of Baraboo, Wisconsin, should be approached with extreme caution by anyone with coulrophobia, the fear of clowns. In the 19th century, Baraboo earned the name "Circus City" as it was the headquarters of several circuses, including the Ringling Brothers Circus. Today, the town remains home to Circus World, a museum complex featuring the largest library of circus information in the United States.

And while there are plenty of other things to do in Baraboo (including a railway museum and a big-cat rescue center), beware: Circus artifacts are sometimes part of town festivals and parades.

Fear of Heights: Grand Canyon National Park

When you've got a severe fear of heights, the best view is always the one from ground level. And because heights are everywhere when you travel—from the flight itself to fun-for-most activities like coastal cliff walks and skyscraper city views—for acrophobes, panic-inducing moments lurk in the shadows of even the sunniest vacations.

While it's absolutely possible to enjoy the best of the national park system even with a fear of heights, acrophobes should consider skipping the Grand Canyon in general and, specifically, not even think about taking a stroll on the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass walkway suspended 4,000 feet about the canyon floor.

Fear of the Dark: Tromso, Norway

Nyctophobia, more commonly known as fear of the dark, is so common in childhood that even the most unflappable adult likely remembers a time when nighttime felt scary. Each winter, a nyctophobic nightmare plays out as polar night blankets the far north in constant darkness that stretches for days or weeks. Tromsø in Norway, known as one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, makes the most of its polar-night season—which stretches from November 21 to January 21—with festivals and cultural events. This period of darkness and twilight may frighten some, but night owls and party people rejoice with an extra-lively nightlife scene in winter.

Fear of Water: Venice, Italy

Aquaphobia, the fear of water, is not an easy affliction to live—or travel—with. Especially not in Venice, Italy, where water is everywhere. You must cross over water to enter the city, and once there, it's nearly impossible to get around without crossing over canals large and small. In this city without cars, water buses and taxis are the primary ways to get around.

Even sitting still, water feels close, lapping up against the stones of the canals and overflowing onto sidewalks and streets during the acqua alta.

Fear of Bats: Austin, Texas

Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge is the ultimate test for recovering chiroptophobes. Few other cities on Earth offer such a dramatic—and to anyone with a fear of bats, utterly alarming—nightly spectacle. Each evening between March and October, crowds gather at dusk to watch as 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats leave their daytime home under the bridge and emerge like a swirling black ribbon up into the sky.

Ready for some serious exposure therapy? Try a kayak tour that puts you under the bridge to watch the show.

Fear of Small Spaces: Budapest, Hungary

Don't know if you're claustrophobic? Here's a test: Imagine wiggling through tight spaces no larger than a sturdy pair of hips in order to get to more small spaces. The visceral aversion to small spaces is among the most common phobias, and for sufferers, even hearing the word "claustrophobia" can make it hard to breathe. Caving, naturally, tends not to be a favorite pastime of the claustrophobe, which is why sufferers should make sure to stay aboveground while in Budapest, Hungary. Under its city streets sits the large Palvolgyi-Matyashegyi cave system.

Urban thrill seekers can don headlamps and helmets and spelunk their way through the subterranean labyrinth. Claustrophobes can stay aboveground and sip coffee. Everyone wins.

Fear of Crabs: Christmas Island, Australia

No one wants to get pinched by a crab while wading in the ocean, but for people with a strong fear of crustaceans, the possibility is enough to ruin a trip to the beach. Even the thought of seeing a crab may be too much to bear, which is why anyone suffering from this fear should never go to Australia's Christmas Island in October or November. It's around this time that the island's massive red crab population makes its annual migration from the rainforest to the coast to breed. Millions of crabs—each up to five inches across—gather together in broad streams, flooding roads and scaling cliffs to reach the ocean.

Fear of Crowds: Megacities of the World

Agoraphobia, enochlophobia, ochlophobia … there are actually a number of different types of phobias focused on the fear of crowds. No matter what you call it, if the mere thought of crowds pressing in all around you sends you into a panicky tailspin, then you'll do well to avoid the world's densest cities.

As of 2013, 28 cities around the world fit the "megacity" criteria of having more than 10 million people. And while some of these massively populated urban areas are spread out, others, like Mumbai, India, have incredibly high population densities, causing them to feel crowded in a way most North Americans have never experienced.

Fear of Sharks: Guadalupe Island, Mexico

Whether Jaws is to blame or there's a more primal survival instinct that triggers the extreme fear of sharks, there's no doubt that galeophobia can seriously compromise beach vacations, ocean sunsets, and three-hour cruises. And unless it's an act of extreme exposure therapy, the shark-averse should not visit Mexico's Guadalupe Island. Its waters are famed for great white sharks and attract cage divers, photographers, and shark nuts from around the world.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Places You Shouldn't Go If You're Phobic. Follow Christine Sarkis on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Turkish Airlines Sale: Washington DC to Istanbul $649 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

Save on nonstop flights from Washington DC to Istanbul with the current $649 fare sale from Turkish Airlines.

This sale is valid for travel from December 27 through March 31.

All tickets must be purchased by November 30.

Searching TurkishAirlines.com, we easily found seats available for travel in March, departing Dulles on Wednesday, March 11, returning from IST the following Wednesday, March 18.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

Istanbul image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Domestic Fare of the Day: Anchorage to Las Vegas $339 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fly nonstop from Anchorage to Las Vegas for $339 round-trip, including all taxes, on Alaska Airlines.

We found seats departing ANC on Sunday, November 9, returning from LAS on Thursday, November 13.

Other dates are also available for travel in November, excluding peak holidays.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

Las Vegas image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: Los Angeles to London $590 round-trip, nonstop

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

And here's another great London fare, this one for winter travel from Los Angeles for $590 round-trip, nonstop, including all taxes, on Norwegian.

We found seats departing LAX on Wednesday, January 21, returning from LGW on the following Wednesday, January 28.

Other dates are also available for travel in winter. This fare tier only includes carry-on luggage weighing no more than 22lbs, so pack light or pay up!

Norwegian's mid-tier fare class, LowFare+, will include both carry-on and checked baggage (at 44lbs/20kilos) at $708 round-trip for these very same dates. Still a great fare from the West Coast to London!

Check out our London Gatwick fare listings for a complete look at current finds from all over the US and Canada.

London image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

Int'l Fare of the Day: Boston to London $99 one-way, on WOW Air

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fly from Boston BOS to London LGW for $99 one-way as part of the newly launched WOW Air from Iceland.

You'll find similarly low intro fares available from both Boston and Baltimore to Reykjavik, London, and Copenhagen. Look for service from BOS to begin in March, with BWI scheduled for June.

Those $99 intro fares are only available on the outbound leg, so expect to pay a bit more for the flight home, but not that much more. We did see round-trips for September 2015 still available for $398.

Yes, luggage will cost extra. Light packers who can get by with carry-ons weighing no more than 11lbs/5kg are in the clear. You may purchase an extra 7kg/15lbs for $38 each way. And a checked bag will run you $67 each way. Still a deal considering how high London fares can run. 

Visit WOWAir.us for more info on current intro deals to London, Reykjavik, and Copenhagen.

London image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

7 Ways Social Media Can Make Your Trip Amazing

Posted by Dara Continenza on Thursday, October 23, 2014

(Photo: PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images)

Tagging. Trending. Latergram. #Selfie.

If these terms make you break out in hives, you're not alone. Social media often gets side-eyed as a way for bored teenagers to communicate or a receptacle for Aunt Beth's cat photos. But social media can actually help you have a better trip, if you know how to use the tools that are at your fingertips. 

Whether you're crowdsourcing recommendations, chatting with your airline through Twitter, or connecting with locals via Instagram, there are countless ways you can wield social media to have a more personal, memorable vacation experience.

Make Your Voice Heard

Companies use Twitter to engage with users and promote their brands as engaging, accessible, and current. And this is exactly why you should always follow your airline.

Not only do airlines tweet updates about weather conditions, closures, and airfare deals, but most do great jobs of interacting with followers (and some, like JetBlue, are even pretty funny). Twitter is the perfect platform for airing a complaint, voicing a concern, or even applauding an airline's good work to a large audience. I've had success in the past tweeting at my airline to ask for an update on a delayed flight or to check if an upgrade is available; often, the response is instantaneous. Why? Because airlines know it makes them look good and it makes travelers feel positive about them—it's a win-win for traveler and travel provider.

Just don't take your tweeting too far, like this Southwest passenger did—he ended up getting booted from the plane. Always be polite and constructive in your communication; a real live human is behind that account, after all.

Create Memories, Get Followers

In an ever-rising sea of social media, Instagram remains my favorite platform: It's low-investment, easy to use, and inspiring. When taking photos on the road, I generally hashtag and geo-tag my location. That way, I can compare my photos to those from other users, scout for other cool spots and photo ops in the area, and connect with amazing travel photographers around the world. Other users, tourism departments, and publications may regram your photos, meaning thousands of people could see your artwork. And you'll be making memories as you go.

Not yet an Instagrammer or not sure where to start? Follow us to get an easy introduction. We love hashtags.

Let LinkedIn Do the Job for You

Twitter isn't the only channel for reaching a customer-service agent. You probably have a LinkedIn account in order to stay current in the job market, but the professional network and social media channel can also help you get in touch with your airline. In July, KLM announced that it was launching 24/7 customer service through the platform. Ticketholders can use their LinkedIn accounts to chat with customer-service agents, reserve seats, rebook flights, and even make arrangements for additional baggage. No more hold music? We'll take it.

Crowdsource

Whether you're still in the planning stages or already on the ground, it's a good idea to pick the brains of your fellow travelers. The easiest way to do this is via Twitter: Send out a tweet to your followers and the world at large asking for dining, attractions, and hotel advice. Tweet at and follow the tourism department of your destination as well; they may blast out recommendations and deals you won't see elsewhere. And participate in recurring travel-related chats; you can follow us to see when discussions take place and provide your own recommendations, tips, and photos.

You may also want to check Reddit or download a Reddit app and subscribe to your destination's subreddit. The /r/Travel subreddit is also a great resource for researching flights, restaurants, pricing, and seasonality.

Stay Current

In recent years, Twitter and other social media platforms have been instrumental in shaping world events, allowing users to share important and often lifesaving information. For any destination—but especially for the ones where unrest may break out or weather may turn dangerous—use Twitter to stay in the know. Follow your destination's news and media outlets and weather stations. If you're concerned about international safety, follow the U.S. Department of State and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. The latter account blasts out travel warnings and safety information; the responder can also help with passport-related questions and emergencies. You can activate Twitter alerts via highlighted tweets, text messages, or push notifications as well.

Score Free Perks

We recently rounded up a number of ways that the average traveler can leverage their social media accounts, no matter how small, to score free stuff. Airlines, hotels, and other travel providers often offer special deals to followers. For example, Starwood offers points to loyalty-program members who link their Facebook and Foursquare accounts with their Starwood accounts; these points can be redeemed for hotel nights and flights. Other hotels or restaurants may offer free goodies if you check in on Foursquare or Yelp, or they may blast out special Twitter- or Facebook-only deals for followers. And still other vendors hold periodic contests in which users can enter to win prizes for retweeting, regramming, or checking in. Deals and contests come and go, of course, so it's best to follow and monitor your provider in the hopes of getting lucky.

Stay Safe

Users' safety and privacy is often a concern when it comes to social media. Disclosing too much personal information on the Web can be dangerous, whether you're at home or on the road. (We recommend making accounts private, limiting direct messages, and never displaying your phone number or address.) But there's a bright side to maintaining an online identity: It can actually help keep you safe. Airbnb, for instance, offers Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn verification for renters and users alike. I always connect with vacation-rental owners through social media before a stay; it reassures me that both owner and apartment are legit.

In general, both Facebook and Twitter offer the benefit of allowing travelers to stay in touch with loved ones (helpful in foreign countries where you may not have cell service). In times of unrest, natural disasters, or bad weather, you can reach out to followers, friends, and family and get up-to-the-second information on developments.

Readers, do you know any other ways to use social media to make your vacations better? Share with us in the comments below or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Seven Ways Social Media Can Make Your Trip Amazing.

Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Domestic Fare of the Day: Chicago to Miami $155 nonstop, winter travel

Posted by Tracy Stewart on Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fly nonstop from Chicago to Miami for $155 round-trip, including all taxes, on Frontier.

We found seats departing ORD on Monday, January 26, returning from MIA on Tuesday, February 3.

This is a new nonstop route from Frontier with service set to begin on December 21. Other dates are also available for travel throughout winter.

For booking info, see our Fare Details.

Miami image via Shutterstock

To learn more, visit Tracy Stewart's profile on Google+

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