Female shoppers in Tripoli's old Medina.

Libya and Algeria have a lot in common. Both North African countries encompass vast tracks of Saharan desert and their capitals and major cities are on or near the Mediterranean. Both possess some of the ancient world’s finest archaeological sites and both experienced long periods of European colonization.

In a way, the difficulties modern travelers experience in obtaining visas for these countries are a legacy of their troubled modern histories. While one can land in Morocco, Tunisia, and Eqypt without a prearranged visa, Libya and Algeria have strict entry requirements.

Things have recently become easier in Libya with group tourist visas available upon arrival for members of prearranged package tours. Trouble is, airline officials are often unfamiliar with the change and passengers without proper documentation are routinely denied boarding for Tripoli at European airports. Only those in possession of an advance clearance form in Arabic bearing their name and passport number are allowed through. Continue reading »

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With arctic temperatures in London, and Paris brought to its knees by snow, New York City is looking like a good bet for Christmas this year. Ice skating in Rockefeller Center, the Fifth Avenue store windows, the Radio City Christmas Show or a ride around Central Park in a horse and carriage all rank high on the New York holiday must do list. If you add in a few snowflakes, the dream comes to life.

But for locals and people in the know, the way hipper attraction is far out in the bowels of Brooklyn. Dyker Heights draws more than 100,000 visitors each holiday season to ogle the over-the-top home decorations. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Brooklyn, Budget Travel, Driving Trips, Family Travel, New York, Nightlife, Winter Fun

Veteran travel and digital media executive, Chris McAndrews, joins Triporati, an online travel company that helps travelers discover their perfect vacation destination.

San Francisco, CA, December 15, 2010 — Triporati Inc., the online travel company that helps consumers find the right destination for their ideal vacation, today named Chris McAndrews as its chief executive officer.

The appointment marks McAndrews’ return to online travel.  From 1997 to 2002, Chris was a senior executive with Preview Travel and then Travelocity, responsible for the vacation package and cruise businesses, supplier relationships, travel planning content, advertising sales and loyalty marketing. He has also served as President, Digital Media, for National Geographic and in top sales and marketing positions with International Data Group. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Chris is a highly effective leader with a track record of building successful digital businesses,” said Jim Hornthal, founder and chairman of Triporati. “He knows how to create outstanding online consumer experiences, forge winning partnerships, and lead a talented team to new heights, and that makes him the perfect choice for Triporati.”

Triporati is the company behind “Destination Discovery”, which enables a consumer to select and rank their preferred vacation activities and interests and then generate a list of travel destinations that correspond to those preferences. This Destination Discovery matching service, which is currently available at www.triporati.com and on several partner travel websites, relies on individualized ratings of more than 2,000 destinations by veteran travel experts and writers.

“I am very excited to join the Triporati team,” added McAndrews. “Every day Triporati delights consumers who are looking for inspiring — and useful — answers to the question, “Where should I go on vacation?’   This engagement offers unique opportunities for Triporati and its travel site partners to interact with consumers to ensure that their travel planning and booking is just as delightful as their destination discovery.”

About Triporati, Inc.

Triporati helps consumers answer the primary question of vacation planning: “Where should I go?” Triporati has developed a proprietary expert recommendation engine based on original expert content rankings and ratings across 62 dimensions (activities and interests) that are scored and calibrated by a global team 75 travel writers who have collectively edited over 650 guidebooks published by leading publishers including Frommers, Fodor’s, Rough Guide and Lonely Planet. Triporati is led by a team of online travel veterans from Preview Travel and Travelocity and is backed by venture capital firm CMEA Capital and leading technology investors Ron Conway, Ted Leonsis, and David Pottruck. Users can experience Triporati’s Destination Discovery service at www.Triporati.com, and at co-branded partner sites, including AAA Carolinas, AAA Ohio, and AAA South.

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My cousin left for Cancun last weekend. She works at many UN conferences and was happy to be headed to a warm destination  for the climate talks that followed last year’s ineffectual Copenhagen summit.

I recommended places on the Yucatan Peninsula for her to visit in her off time, such as the Colonial city of Merida, Tulum, Lake Bacalar, Uxmal or Valladolid near the Chichen Itza ruins.

A recent article in The Economist, entitled Tourism in Mexico, Can’t keep them away, began with “Sun, seas and severed heads.” Mexico, a country that counts on tourism dollars, has had a miserable couple of years, first with the swine flu, then the ongoing drug wars. More than 30,000 people have died in the last four years. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Budget Travel, Mexico, Nightlife, Travel Safety