Thursday, April 30, 2015

Why It's Never Been Easier to Fly To Asia

Photo by Bayne Stanley / Alamy
A China Southern 787.

Until 2012, most trips to Asia followed a familiar and exhausting pattern. Travelers would hop a flight to connect at a major U.S. hub—Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, or San Francisco—then continue to a major Asian city—Beijing, Seoul, or Shanghai—where they might then catch another flight. But in the past three years, new and more fuel efficient aircraft have made many of these stops unnecessary, and airlines have started connecting smaller cities with point-to-point flights more convenient for business and leisure travelers.

Airlines are using the 787 on many of these new flights. Older planes like the Boeing 777 and Boeing 747 have the range to fly these routes, but they cost more to operate and, because they have more seats to fill, airlines were disinclined to fly them to smaller markets. With airlines expecting hundreds of new 787s in the next five years, even more mid-sized cities should see better connections to Asia.
"You can expect any airline that has long-range ambitions is going to look at the U.S. market," says Addison Schonland, an aviation industry consultant at AirInsight. "When you consider that to be the case, you see how many Chinese airlines there are and you see what airplanes they are buying. Sooner or later they are going to look for where the money is. The money is in America."
The trend has greatly benefitted Boston. Until 2012, when Japan Airlines started flights to Tokyo, Boston had never had a nonstop flight to Asia. By June, it will have four. China's Hainan Airlines, which began flying to Beijing last year, will add Shanghai on June 20, while Cathay Pacific launches Hong Kong on May 3. All flights except Hong Kong are on 787s.

Other airports have had similar success. In 2013, Silicon Valley got its first Asian route in seven years when Japan's All Nippon Airways launched new 787 service between San Jose and Tokyo. This June, Hainan will connect San Jose with Beijing with a 787. Other new Dreamliner routes include Japan Airlines' flights from San Diego to Tokyo and United's from Denver to Tokyo.
Chinese carriers like Hainan have been the most aggressive players when it comes to adding routes. The country's fourth-largest airline, Hainan ordered 30 new 787s in March worth $7.7 billion at list prices. And other Chinese carriers are expanding, too. In December, China Southern started the first flights from Wuhan to San Francisco, while China Eastern soon plans to fly from Nanjing to Los Angeles. Air China hasn't yet added new flights from non-traditional hubs, but it's monitoring the trend, says Zhihang Chi, the carrier's vice president of North America.

As for what to expect onboard, Japanese airlines have high service standards, but Chinese carriers are generally less polished than U.S. and European carriers, and cabins tend to be far less luxurious than the ones offered by Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates and Etihad. Travelers report that, on some Chinese airlines, flight attendants speak broken English and provide spotty service. But the airlines flying to the U.S. are safe—China has the top safety rating from the Federal Aviation Administration, and in April the International Air Transport Association commended China for its "exemplary safety record"—and most observers expect they'll improve their onboard products.
"They are going to go about their business making things better and picking up traffic," Schonland says. "Right now the brands aren't well known. But once you fly Hainan—and you realize it's pretty good—you'll fly them again."

Tel Aviv Goes Digital: 100,000+ Tourists Using Free Wi-Fi

Over a quarter of a million unique users logged into the system overall
Tel Aviv's free Wi-Fi system, launched by the municipality a year and a half ago, includes 180 free hot spots covering 3.7 million square meters and encompassing the entire city. The Nonstop City's world-famous beaches, boulevards, coffee shops, bars, parks, and startup hubs are all covered by the free Wi-Fi zones.
According to the latest data from 2014, more than 50% of entrances were made by tourists visiting Tel Aviv, with 85% of entrances made using smart phones. 298,272 unique users entered the network in 2014 with a total of 579,917 entrances overall.
The data shows that only 36% of entrances were made in Hebrew with English being by far the most popular language at 41%, Russian 4% and French 2.5%. The most popular areas for Wi-Fi users were in the center of the City, its markets and of course, Tel Aviv's beaches.
The Wi-Fi initiative is part of a number of projects lead by Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and is one of the reasons for Tel Aviv's coveted international recognition as the 'World's Smartest City' at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona this past November. Other projects include the Digi-Tel Residents Card which facilitates direct 'smart' communication between the Municipality and the residents of Tel Aviv.
Hila Oren, CEO of Tel Aviv Global: "Today, access to free Wi-Fi is a basic service – just like it’s a City's job to connect people to water and electricity –it is also our job to connect people to the web- free Wi-Fi is a new aspect of city-making. It's only fitting that Tel Aviv, with its more than 1,000 startups– the largest concentration of innovation per capita on the globe – leads the world in this field as well."
In a recent ranking by Savills, Tel Aviv was ranked as one of the world's top three tech cities, alongside San Francisco and Austin.

AdventureSmith Explorations Now Offers Cuba

Small ship cruise expert AdventureSmith Explorations is venturing into new waters. The company has engaged a three-masted schooner, Panorama, to cruise the Caribbean carrying American travelers who for the first time in over 50 years can now visit the island nation of Cuba and meet its people.

Launching in December 2015 and scheduled into April 2016 will be a series of eight-day adventures called the Cuba People to People Cruise aboard a recently refurbished 49-passenger sailing vessel. The program begins and ends in Miami with round trip flights to Havana included in the fare. The ship stops in five ports along Cuba’s western and southern shore.

The per person, double cabin rate is from $4,799. Guests use the ship as a floating hotel as they enjoy daily shore excursions.  Included in the rate are round-trip air fare from Miami, all meals from arrival in Cuba to breakfast on departure day, cabin accommodations, Cuban visa, mandatory Cuban medical insurance and transportation. The Cuba People to People cruise has obtained all the required licenses for American citizens traveling from the US, which are included in the price of the trip.

“A strategic advantage AdventureSmith Explorations brings to the excitement of a newly engaged Cuba is the fact that we are traveling only in small ships. This offers the flexibility and access to enter ports along Cuba’s coast that may not yet be available to larger vessels,” said Todd Smith, founder/owner. The itinerary includes stops in Havana, Maria LaGorda, Cayo Largo, Trinidad and Cienfuego. Most of the sailing occurs at night as guests sleep. Come morning, the ship is in a new harbor where guests on escorted tours discover this island and meet its people.

“A socialist republic since the 1959 revolution when Fidel Castro seized power, Cuba was once the last stronghold of Spanish power in the region. Now one of the last remaining vestiges of state socialism, Cuba offers authentic interactions with real people in one of the most isolated places in the world,” Smith added.

The program’s goal is to help facilitate an unscripted, honest exchange between people of two nations whose leaders for the past 50 years were at odds with one another.  Guests will be introduced to Cuba’s rich artistic heritage: pre-Columbian cultures, the splendors of Spanish colonialism and internationally acclaimed contemporary art.

“This is a country of great natural beauty: magnificent mountain ranges and fertile plains of sugar cane and tobacco and some of the best beaches in the world,” Smith added.

Old Havana, harboring five percent of Cuba’s 11 million people, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and said to be the most beautiful city in the Caribbean. Here and throughout the week visitors will meet an easy-going, multi-racial population whose greatest enthusiasm is reserved for music. It is the home of the modern rumba, actually of African origin, the mamba, the cha-cha and the salsa and Cuban jazz. While most meals are taken on the ship, local cuisines are enjoyed on scheduled stops at restaurants and paladors (in-home businesses).

Guests visit a community cooperative to hear about the challenges locals face while relying less on government and trying to generate income by being more entrepreneurial. Cultural exchanges include an evening with the Buena Vista Social Club and a visit with the Community Cultural Project of Quisicuaba that delves into the folk culture of the free blacks who came from the Angolan Basin in the 16th century. On a nature preserve guests relax on a beach and visit a beekeeping and honey production center. The National Park at Guanahacabibes reveals 140 archaeological sites. On Cayo Largo, a limestone island of mangroves and salt pans, guests move from discussions with Cuban sports, culture and mass communications experts and local doctors to a sea turtle breeding center and an afternoon of snorkeling. Trinidad is a meticulously well preserved Spanish colonial town known as the Pearl of the South with its cluster of Neoclassical structures.

The 178-foot Panorama, built in 1993, was renovated in 2009. She cruises at 11 knots and has performed several Atlantic Ocean crossings; she has also sailed from the Syechelles to Monte Carlo and from the Black Sea to Tunis. Aboard the ship guests can mingle in the outdoor areas or in the two lounges or library. An on-board pianist plays as guests relax over drinks. Off of a swimming platform guests can dip into the sea when weather and anchorage conditions permit.

AdventureSmith Explorations notes that travel to Cuba is still restricted for Americans and a special travel visa is required. Read their Cuba Cruise FAQ to learn more about how Americans can travel to Cuba and the included licenses aboard this Cuba cruise.

For information, availability and 2015-2016 reservations, Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or visit

About AdventureSmith Explorations
Think Outside The Boat!

Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA, along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. A recognized leader in small ship cruising, in 2012 owner Todd Smith joined the ranks of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious Annual Travel Specialists List as the world’s expert on small ship expeditions.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First Hilton Garden Inn Coming To Waikiki

First Hilton Garden Inn coming to Waikiki Redevelopment of the hotel, formerly the OHANA Waikiki West, is underway

Hilton Worldwide today announced plans to open its first Hilton Garden Inn hotel on the island of Oahu, in the sought-after travel destination of Waikiki. The 623-guestroom Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach will be managed by Evolution Hospitality and is on track to open early in 2016 after undergoing extensive renovation.
“This hotel development marks a significant milestone for Hilton Worldwide as we expand our presence and diversify our accommodations options in Hawaii with the addition of our award-winning focused service brand, Hilton Garden Inn, in this renowned locale near the world-famous Waikiki Beach,” said Bill Fortier, SVP, development - Americas, Hilton Worldwide. “We look forward to working with our partners at Evolution Hospitality to further Hilton’s longstanding legacy in the beautiful state of Hawaii.”
Redevelopment of the hotel, formerly the OHANA Waikiki West, is underway and will entail a complete modernization of the 1970 structure. Upgrades will be made to all of the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms, bringing together the well-known features of Hilton Garden Inn and the local culture. Design plans include a contemporary Hawaiian aesthetic, the addition of a full-service restaurant and lounge, a grab-and-go market, a welcoming, modern lobby, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Guest rooms will be completely re-envisioned, adding family suites poolside and maximizing Hawaii’s scenic vistas. The hotel will also feature an enhanced pool deck complete with a bar and grill and poolside cabanas.
John Murphy, president of Evolution Hospitality, stated, “We appreciate the warm welcome we have already received from the Waikiki community and are excited to be a part of the transformation of this property which is so richly steeped in Hawaiian history and culture. We see this project as a significant improvement to a property in the heart of Waikiki and a complement to the other redevelopments of the Kuhio Avenue corridor. It gives us great pride to enter the Hawaii market with this excellent new offering of upgraded accommodations. Furthermore, we are very enthusiastic about partnering with Hilton Worldwide and its Hilton Garden Inn brand to offer a flagship property with exceptional amenities and great service to guests from all over the world.”
Located at 2330 Kuhio Avenue, Hilton Garden Inn Waikiki Beach will be situated in the heart of Waikiki, two blocks from Waikiki Beach and within walking distance of many of the area’s most popular shopping, dining, and entertainment attractions.
“We are thrilled to introduce Hilton Garden Inn to the Oahu travel market,” said Adrian Kurre, global head, Hilton Garden Inn. “Hawaii is one of the world’s most desired travel destinations, and this ideal location, combined with Hilton Garden Inn’s quality and value-added amenities and services are sure to generate demand from a variety of travelers around the globe.”
Hilton Worldwide currently operates seven timeshare properties and nearly 10 hotels open or under development in Hawaii.

Travelore News: Chongqing Non Stop To Rome Now On Hainan Airlines

Chongqing non stop to Rome now on Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines Co., Ltd. initiated non-stop flight service between Chongqing and Rome on April 27, 2015. Codenamed HU7991, the inaugural flight took off from Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport at 1:30 am on April 27 Beijing Time and landed at Rome's Fiumicino-Leonardo da Vinci International Airport at 7:50 am local time. Rome has been added to the roster of Hainan Airlines' destinations in Europe following Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. As one of the gateway cities to western China, Chongqing now has its first direct flight to Western Europe.
On the afternoon of April 26, Hainan Airlines held a brief inaugural ceremony in Chongqing. When flight HU7991 landed in Rome, airport staff greeted the passengers arriving from China with the traditional practice popular in the aviation sector, of spraying the entire exterior of the aircraft just having completed the maiden voyage of a newly-opened route with water.
Hainan Airlines CEO Xie Haoming said, "The opening of the Chongqing-Rome route has further improved our network of European routes, which, in turn, will provide a more comprehensive set of services to meet the growing travel demands of passengers who need to shuttle between China and the various countries in Europe as well as go a long way in nurturing economic and cultural exchanges between China and Italy."
When it comes to the globalization process which Hainan Airlines has actively embraced and been constantly pushing forward in recent years, Xie Haoming added that although the Chinese economy has entered what has been termed as the "new normal", China's outbound travel and international business travel will become the main sources of demand across the aviation sector as well as the key driving force for accelerating Hainan Airlines' globalization process, in tandem with the "One Belt, One Road" initiative being undertaken by the Chinese government.
Following the opening of the Chongqing-Rome route, Hainan Airlines will plans to shortly open several more international routes, including Beijing-San Jose, Shanghai-Boston and Shanghai-Seattle. The opening of new routes will further improve the airline's network through close cooperation with international partners.
Hainan Airlines' Chongqing-Rome route is serviced by the twin-aisle Airbus A330-200 capable of transporting 260 passengers. The business class section comes equipped with 18 fully reclining seats while economy provides seating for 242 passengers. Every passenger, no matter what class of seat, has access to a personal TV entertainment system.

United Airlines And The Trotter Project Team Up To Enhance In-Flight Dining Experience

United Airlines and The Trotter Project team up to enhance in-flight dining experience Members of United Airlines’ team of chefs join alumni of Chef Charlie Trotter’s Chicago restaurant
United Airlines and The Trotter Project are joining together to boost travelers’ in-flight dining experience, with alumni chefs of Charlie Trotter’s legendary Chicago restaurant and their culinary peers working with the airline to design new premium-cabin and United Economy meals.
United will also be the official airline of The Trotter Project, a nonprofit organization committed to continuing Chef Trotter’s legacy through mentoring and internship programs for youth interested in the culinary arts.
“Our partnership with The Trotter Project is an excellent addition to the investment we are making in products and services for our customers, from booking until they reach their final destinations,” said Sandra Pineau-Boddison, United’s senior vice president of customers. “By pairing our team of chefs with those affiliated with The Trotter Project, we will continue to offer our customers innovative dining options.”
“Our relationship with United is a natural fit, given Chef Charlie Trotter's history as one of its celebrity chefs,” said Derrek Hull, executive director of The Trotter Project. “Through this exciting, new partnership, his alumni and culinary supporters will continue that spirit of service and excellence. We look forward to further elevating the in-flight dining experience for United’s customers and providing more opportunities to the next generation of great culinary talent.”
United and The Trotter Project hosted their first menu-development workshop in March, with United’s team of chefs joining the following Trotter alumni and culinary supporters of the organization:
• Richie Farina, former executive chef at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Moto Restaurant and contestant on reality show “Top Chef”;
• Della Gossett of Spago Beverly Hills;
• David LeFevre of Manhattan Beach Post and Fishing with Dynamite restaurants, in Manhattan Beach, California;
• Mitchell Nordby, sous chef at Parallel 37 at The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco;
• Christian Ramos of Virginia’s, a new restaurant in New York City’s East Village neighborhood, and formerly of New York’s Per Se restaurant;
• Priscila Satkoff of Chicago’s Salpicόn restaurant and a Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame inductee;
• Michael Taus, vice president of The Trotter Project and owner of Chicago restaurant Taus Authentic; and
• Guillermo Tellez-Cruz, Charlie Trotter’s chef de cuisine and executive chef at Flora’s Field Kitchen in Los Cabos, Mexico.
During the workshop, the chefs developed new menu ideas for United BusinessFirst customers on the airline’s p.s. Premium Service and for United’s economy-cabin Choice Menu Bistro on Board. Customers may get a taste of the new meals in the coming months.
United and Trotter-affiliated chefs plan to team up again later this year, as they continue to redesign customers’ onboard culinary experience.
The new collaboration between the airline and the nonprofit organization will receive advertising support from Condé Nast Traveler, the official media partner of The Trotter Project. Condé Nast Traveler is also producing a short film documenting the partnership from kitchen to cabin, which customers will be able to view on United flights worldwide.
United’s Airport and In-flight Investments
United’s partnership with The Trotter Project furthers the airline’s commitment to the travel experience, with improvements this year to food and beverage service in-flight and in airport clubs. United has:
• Introduced delicious new premium-cabin meals and snacks on flights within North America, and expanded premium-cabin meal service to include flights of at least 800 miles;
• Replaced snack boxes with freshly prepared entrées served on chinaware, in premium cabins on United Express regional-jet service of at least 800 miles; and
• Debuted an all-new complimentary food menu for United Clubs worldwide, with customers currently enjoying the new fresh and healthy options at locations in Chicago, Houston, New York/Newark and Denver, and expanding the menu to other locations this year.
Also, beginning June 1, the airline will offer significantly upgraded food and beverage service – including multi-course meals, complimentary beer and wine and a new option to purchase premium snacks – for customers in United Economy on many long-haul international flights.

Hong Kong Airlines: Inaugural Flight Hong Kong To Nanchang, China

Hong Kong Airlines: Inaugural Flight  Hong Kong to Nanchang, China

Hong Kong Airlines today celebrated the inauguration of its flight service between Hong Kong and Nanchang, and is currently the only airline in Hong Kong operating this service. Airbus A320 is deployed on the route, operating on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. To commemorate the official launch of the new route, Hong Kong Airlines has held celebrations at Hong Kong International Airport and destination airport.
Before departure, Hong Kong Airlines invited two Nanchang ambassadors dressing in traditional Chinese attire, to present every passenger an inaugural flight certificate and a souvenir in gratitude for their support to the new route. Upon arrival at Nanchang Changbei International Airport, the passengers and flight crew received a warm welcome from the management of the airline - Commercial Director Mr. Li Dianchun, Director of Service Delivery Department Mr. Stanley Kan, and Assistant Director of Commercial Department Mr. Michael Burke. The management of Jiangxi Airport Group Company also joined to greet the inaugural flight at the airport.
Mr. Li Dianchun, Commercial Director of Hong Kong Airlines said, “We are very happy to launch this direct flight service to extend our footprint to Nanchang. Nanchang is the capital city of Jiangxi Province with a long history, booming economy and prosperous culture that attract tourists at home and abroad. Passengers from Nanchang can enjoy the flexibility to transit at the international hub - Hong Kong, and travel to South East Asia or even a wider area. We hope the new route will cater to the increasing market demand, bringing convenience to both the cities in various aspects like business, social life and cultural communications.”

Starwood Opens The Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai

Starwood strengthens footprint in UAE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc has opened the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai. Developed in conjunction with the Abdulsalam Alrafi Group, this hotel signifies the first new-build for Sheraton in Dubai in more than 30 years. Located at forefront of Dubai’s most prominent thoroughfare, the hotel connects guests to the heart of the booming business district and the city’s main tourist attractions—ensuring that the property will become a local landmark.
A towering beacon of 54 stories, the Sheraton Grand Hotel launches as part of a three-tower, mixed-use development that features a comprehensive business centre, a rooftop swimming pool, three restaurant and lounge concepts, and signature offerings like the Shine Spa for Sheraton, the state-of-the-art Sheraton Fitness, and a Sheraton Club.
“We are thrilled to build on the brand’s proud heritage in the region as we open the sixth Sheraton in the Emirates and the first new build in Dubai in more than 30 years” said Michael Wale President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Europe, Africa, and Middle East. “The Sheraton Grand Dubai highlights our commitment to the region and to our development pipeline as we strive to grow our portfolio by 75% in the Middle East by 2017.”
Strategically situated on Sheikh Zayed Road, the property is conveniently located within walking distance of the Dubai Metro station, a central railway terminus which offers travellers easy connections to a variety of destinations—including Dubai International Airport, the Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai World Trade Center, as well as the iconic Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa leisure attractions.
“Drawing on its expertise in bringing people together, Sheraton provides an opportunity for guests to experience the best of their destination with a like-minded community of travelers” said Elena Mendez, Vice President, Sheraton, Westin and SSB brands in Europe, Africa and Middle East. “The Sheraton Grand Hotel aims to deliver dedicated authentic experiences to the Dubai’s bustling business and social scene for global explorers and UAE residents alike.”
The Sheraton Grand Hotel boasts a range of accommodation options with 416 luxurious guest rooms and 58 suites—including two Presidential Suites—as well as 180 premium serviced apartments, which range from one to three bedrooms, and offer a separate entrance to the main hotel lobby. The room design conveys a sense of simplistic modern style, with a complementary colour palette and stylish light fittings and furnishings. All rooms promise magnificent views of Dubai and are equipped with signature Sheraton amenities, including the Sheraton Sweet SleeperTM beds, as well as free WiFi connection, LED TVs, tea and coffee-making facilities and comfortable work spaces.
The hotel’s business and meetings center caters to groups of all sizes, and features six meeting rooms all with natural daylight, and one size-adaptive ballroom, which can be used for conferences and events. As part of their stay at the hotel, guests will have access to the StarMeeting Concierge Service—a team dedicated to adding that extra level of personalized service, for any requests and queries, whether it is a meeting, event or private party. Business travellers will also have an option to book the Sheraton Club, on the 31st floor, which gives complimentary access to refreshments throughout the day, and a quiet space to work and gather.
On the 52nd floor, the 1,000m2 Shine Spa offers nine spacious and separate-gender treatment rooms, and one couples suite—for the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation. The Shine Spa also features a sauna and steam room, an ice fountain, an indoor vitality pool, as well as a relaxation area overlooking Dubai’s landmarks.
International guests and day-visitors to the hotel can choose from a range of cuisines and dining experiences, which all feature the Color Your Plate™ “Nutrition Color Code” designed to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and balance indulgence with nutritious dining. Visitors are welcomed to dine at Feast; an exciting live cooking experience from around the world, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served; Link@Sheraton Café in the lobby, a place for friends and colleagues to connect with premium WiFi; and Dawn & Dusk, the rooftop pool and lounge which makes the most of the laid-back, pool-side vibe, and gives fantastic views over the city.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: 60 Cities Across North America Are Participating I...

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: 60 Cities Across North America Are Participating I...: Dine Out to Make a Difference This April, join in the fight against AIDS by simply enjoying a great meal with family or friends...

Seven European Countries Where Your Dollar Will Go Further

If you're aware of the euro weakening considerably against the dollar in recent months, you've likely contemplated a trip to Europe. But one question remains: In which destinations will your dollar go the absolute furthest?
The short (and quite welcome) answer is that all of the 19 Eurozone countries are virtually on sale, and no matter where you go, you're essentially getting a sizable discount on ground costs like hotel, food and activities. According to Tom Meyers of EuroCheapo, a website devoted to visiting Europe on a budget, "That 65 euro dinner is probably still going to be about 65 euros. However, it's going to cost only about $70, rather than $104 (in 2008 dollars)."
Nevertheless, some places offer more value than others, whether because they've struggled economically or remain virtually undiscovered by tourists. From the Iberian Peninsula to the Baltic Sea, here are the best Eurozone countries for stretching your dollar.

Greece  Greece: Ancient ruins, azure waters and whitewashed
Ancient ruins, azure waters and whitewashed villages are all within reach this year. Greece made our list of Destinations to Watch in 2015, and for good reason: The country, plagued by political uncertainty and a deep recession for the past few years, is expecting a boost in tourism, and the deals for travelers remain irresistible.
Whether you want to explore Greece's busy capital or seek respite on its quieter isles, you'll likely fly into Athens. So far this spring, airfares have been reasonable. For example, we found May fares to Athens for $591 round-trip from New York and $730 round-trip from Washington, D.C., on Aeroflot, and October fares for $782 from Chicago on Turkish Airlines. Ground costs are affordable, too. According to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir, "The Best Western Pythagorion, which has been recently renovated and is right in the center of this bustling city, will please the budget-conscious vacationer at just $41 per night."
For wallet-friendly sightseeing, visitors can take advantage of free walking tours or explore museum exhibitions with the free tour guide app from Clio Muse.
Portugal  Portugal: Portugal is an ideal destination for culture
Included in Food & Wine's list of the most affordable (and warm) places to visit this summer, Portugal is an ideal destination for culture seekers on a budget. Although tourism grew 14% last year, hotels and other ground costs remain very affordable. At Solares de Portugal, a group of properties curated for their architectural and cultural heritage, prices start at €75 (about $82) per night. For those on a super-tight budget, trendy hostels—with enticing prices—have popped up throughout the country. For example, beds at the highly-rated Good Night Hostel in Lisbon start at €13 (about $14) per night, and rooms are available from €16 (about $17) at Nice Way Sintra Palace in Sintra.
The country is also an affordable paradise for food lovers. Lunches at local tascas go for $7 to $10, and you can have a three-course dinner (including wine) for around $25. Portugal's Old World wines are getting noticed (Cortes de Cima's 2013 dry white wine, for example, was voted among the best in the world) but continue to be dirt-cheap: You can buy quality bottles for less than $5.
Latvia  Latvia: Although Latvia's capital city Riga took the
Although Latvia's capital city Riga took the spotlight as Europe's Capital of Culture in 2014, this former Eastern Bloc country is still considered an off-the-beaten-path destination for most tourists. And despite the nation making the euro its official currency that same year, prices for things like hotels, restaurants and activities continue to be lower than in other European countries.
For example, in Riga, you can buy pastries for around €0.40 (about $0.42) at bakeries like Martina Bekereja, and a three-course meal for €27 (about $28) at a locally-sourced, contemporary restaurant like Valtera Restorans. Constructed out of old Zeppelin hangars, Central Market is one of the largest markets in Europe and is one of the best places in Riga to find all sorts of Latvian foods and crafts at reasonable prices. For affordable things to do, visit the Latvia National Opera, which sells tickets for just €10 (about $10.67). You can save on multiple attractions with the Riga card, which includes offers from 50% off tours and admissions to free public transportation.
Additionally, airfare this spring has been surprisingly low. At press time, we found late-summer fares to Riga on Turkish Airlines for $689 round-trip from Boston and $758 round-trip from Chicago. Once you're already in Europe, low-cost carrier airBaltic offers cheap one-way fares to Riga; for example, you can fly from Stockholm for €35 (about $37) or from London for €65 (about $69).
Lithuania  Lithuania: On Jan. 1, Lithuania switched its currency
On Jan. 1, Lithuania switched its currency from the litas to the euro, becoming the latest country to join the Eurozone. Known for its dense forests, rivers, seaside resorts and medieval history, this relatively undiscovered Baltic nation is on the rise. However, prices have yet to catch up, especially at hotels, restaurants and bars.
Capital city Vilnius was listed on Price of Travel's Backpacker Index for 2015 (where the price for a hostel stay, transportation, meals, drinks, and attractions came to just $37.14 per day) and its 3-Star Traveler Index for 2015 (where $65.88 per day covered the same things, plus a three-star hotel instead of a budget hostel). At Bistro 1 Dublis, the city's top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor, multi-course meals range from €17 to €28 (about $18 to $30), but it's easy to find quality meals at other dining spots for even less. Airfare has also been budget-friendly. In a recent search, we found spring trans-Atlantic round-trip fares to Vilnius for $549 from New York on Ukraine International Airlines, and $681 from Washington, D.C., on Turkish Airlines. European budget airlines like WizzAir and Ryanair offer affordable flights to the capital city from within Europe.
Spain Spain: Faced with supreme economic woes for the past
Faced with supreme economic woes for the past several years, Spain has joined the ranks of top European budget destinations. According to U.K.-based Post Office Holiday's Worldwide Holiday Costs Barometer for 2015, Spain was the second-most affordable Eurozone country (Portugal was the first) when it came to expenses like coffee, soda, wine, sunscreen and a three-course dinner for two. And, the Daily Mailreported last summer that the Iberian country tops the list for the most affordable places in Europe for driving vacations when factoring in costs for gas and car rentals. We checked rental rates to see if this theory still holds true today, and so far, so good: A weeklong April car rental in Madrid cost $94 (compared to Rome at $142 and Oslo at $353).
Airfare has been especially cheap lately as well. In a report by Priceline, ticket costs to top Southern European destinations like Italy and Spain have declined through the first two months of the year. Flights to Madrid, for example, have decreased by 11%. In a recent search, we found shockingly low round-trip fares for late summer and fall to Barcelona for just $574 from Los Angeles and $706 from Fort Lauderdale on Norwegian Air.
Slovenia Slovenia: Once part of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia
Once part of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia still flies under the radar as a tourist destination and remains a budget-friendly place for travelers. With fairy-tale castles, snow-capped mountains, an Adriatic coastline and a thriving food and wine scene, the country has similar offerings to its neighbors Italy and Austria, but the prices are typically 20% to 30% cheaper. For example, according to Numbeo, a website that measures the cost of living around the world, a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant averages €37.50 (about $40) in Vienna but only €28 (about $30) in Ljubljana, Slovenia's capital city.
To save on attractions, the Ljubljana Card offers free admissions, guided tours, and Wi-Fi in town. Quality accommodations can be quite reasonable if you know where to look. Art hostel Celica offers beds from €18 (about $19) per night. And Klee recommends the four-star Best Western Premiere Hotel Slon for its location right in Ljubljana's historic center and reasonable rates from $100 per night. Flights, however, are a bit on the high side, so consider flying on a low-cost carrier such as WizzAir or easyJet from within Europe.
Italy Italy: The biggest surprise destination to make this
The biggest surprise destination to make this list, Italy has been wooing travelers lately with ultra-low airfares. Despite taking center stage this spring through fall for Expo Milano 2015, a world's fair focused on food and sustainability, Milan has been quite affordable to get to. According to Kayak's Travel Hacker 2015 Guide, Milan was the top deal destination, showing a 13% decrease in airfare from last year. Priceline reports that, in the first two months of the year, airfare has decreased by 32% to Milan and 11% to Rome. At press time, Lufthansa had a promotional fare from New York to Milan for just $679 round-trip.
For an affordable place to stay, check EuroCheapo, which lists budget-friendly hotels (mostly for under $100 per night) in both Rome and Milan.

Travelore Tips: How to Get More Legroom On Flights

Photo Courtesy Delta
Delta's Economy Comfort is just one option for more room.

Years ago you could get extra legroom for free by asking for an exit-row or bulkhead seat. Now, you'll need these tips to get a little more space.
Now that most U.S. airlines have added dedicated extra-legroom sections to their economy-class cabins, you often have to pay up to get any legroom relief—unless you’re a very frequent flier.
Even so, there are ways to get better value out of the extra legroom you’re paying for, as airlines continue to one-up each other on benefits and experiment with different prices for a bit more space. Here are five tips for getting the very best seat for your money:
Know how much legroom you're getting
Regular economy tends to have 30-31 inches of legroom—you can check your exact aircraft on a site likeSeatGuru—while extra legroom seats start around 34 inches and range up to about 38 inches. Beware that bulkhead seats can be either very roomy or much tighter than you hope, and some paid extra legroom seats don’t recline at all. If you really want to dive into the details, search the forums on to find reports of recent experiences, or using this summary of options to narrow down choices. While Delta Air Lines charges just one price for all extra legroom seats on a given flight, American Airlines and United Airlines charge varying prices based on where the exact seat you're considering is located.
Get more than just extra legroom
Not all extra legroom options are created equal. On United, buying extra legroom means just that. But on American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, and Virgin America you’ll also get early boarding privileges. Delta and Virgin America also throw in free snacks and drinks, while JetBlue offers priority security screening. Spirit offers wider seats—similar to domestic first class on other airlines—with its extra-legroom option.
Stick to nonstop flights.
Extra legroom prices are charged by flight, so you'll pay more for that seat with every additional connection. On some trips, that might make the nonstop flight less expensive overall, depending on how much the upgrade adds to the ticket price.
Compare "all-in" prices across airlines
Don't forget to consider the cost of your fare plus an upgrade when comparing prices. For example, on a New York to London flight, Delta charges $79 each way for a Comfort Plus seat, American asks $136 for Main Cabin Extra, and United gets $139 for Economy Plus. Choosing the Delta flight would save you up to $120 roundtrip—or offset the difference between advertised base fares on competing carriers.
Unfortunately, most airlines don’t make it easy to check the prices of their extra-legroom seats, forcing to wait until you’ve entered your contact information before revealing the exact price of an upgrade. Spending a few extra minutes to uncover these details for a specific itinerary, though, might be worth the savings.
Consider first class
Fares for first class are more likely to be discounted today than they were even just a few years ago. On some routes, a first-class seat might end up costing just slightly more than an extra-legroom seat—and occasionally it might even be cheaper because of all the included extras like free checked bags. Even if you're booked in economy, airlines have started offering passengers the ability to pay cash to upgrade to first class. Peek at your reservation every so often before your trip to see if the option appears; sometimes, airlines will offer these upgrades at check in too.

Travelore Tips: How To Buy Real Estate Abroad

Buying real estate abroad can be quite a challenge, but it all depends on which country you choose. There are several things you have to know before you decide to buy a house in a foreign country.

Buying a House Abroad

Living abroad can have many advantages. There are nearly 4,000,000 Americans living in foreign countries. Low cost of living, good climate, and low real estate prices are just some of the advantages of living abroad. However, some countries are not too friendly towards foreigners who want to buy property there. Thailand property law is not foreigner-friendly at all. Switzerland is another example. To find out more about property laws of different countries, visit the  World Properties  website.
Visit the  Travel State  website to learn more about the country where you want to buy a house. It is important to know about the country’s economy, political stability, safety and environmental issues.
Some countries have a lot to offer to foreigners, but when it comes to buying a house, the situation is completely different. For example, Thailand is a great country to visit and live, but property laws are very strict and restrictive, when it comes to foreign citizens.

Get Some Help

You will need a good real estate broker – and a good lawyer. It will be wise to talk to people who already live in the country where you want to move to. Find out as much as you can about the standard of living, real estate trends, and foreign investments in the country.
You need to know what you can afford. Let’s say you will only pay cash. In some countries, mechanisms like mortgages don’t work in the same way as in the United States. In other words, transferring property in some countries can only be paid in cash. Here are several examples: Eastern Europe, Mexico, Spain and Greece.
In case you can’t afford to buy a house without a mortgage, perhaps you should think about Hong Kong, Singapore and South Africa. However, you will need to give at least 40 % in advance.
Find out as much as you can about the “customs” of the country where you are planning to buy a house. In some countries, you cannot bribe people, but in others, “gifts” are considered normal.
According to Homes for Sale Overseas, the best property investments countries  overseas include Spain, Cyprus, France, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
For more information on buying real estate overseas, visit
Contributed by j,

Follow us on Twitter: @TraveloreReport