Blog Posts by Rosemary McClure

  • Where tourist crime happens the most

    (Photo: Francisco Antunes / Flickr)

    You’re eating tapas at an outdoor restaurant in Barcelona, your iPhone on the table a few inches from your right hand, when a woman bumps your left arm and spills a drink on you. She apologizes profusely and walks away. A few minutes later, you realize your iPhone has disappeared.

    Unfortunately, you’ve just become a statistic, one of thousands of daily victims of “Apple picking,” a crime trend aimed at the owners of iPhones and iPads.

    Barcelona. (Photo: Thomas Quine / Flickr)Barcelona. (Photo: Thomas Quine / Flickr)In this example, the crime was in Barcelona, known for its petty thievery and pickpockets. But it could have happened almost anywhere in the world. While Apple picking is a crime that’s soaring statistically, it’s only the tip of the iceberg for travelers, who are prime targets for pickpockets and street criminals.

    Pickpockets have become so aggressive in some parts of Europe that guards at the Louvre Museum in Paris – the most famous museum in the world – went on strike earlier this year to protest the audacious behavior of street criminals at the facility,

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  • 7 dog-friendly luxury hotels

    Dog walking at The Little Nell hotel in Aspen, Colo. (Photo: Jeremy Swanson)They're rolling out the grass carpet at the nation’s toniest hotels to attract America’s most finicky dogs – and their wealthy owners. This summer, well-to-do traveling pooches can count on receiving perks such as filet mignon steaks, bone-shaped doggie cookies and dreamy monogrammed beds.

    Pet amenities have become such an important part of the high-end hotel business that well-known companies vie to offer the best dog perks.

    Which lead the pack?

    Lisa Porter, founder of the website Pet Hotels of America, has come up with a list of the top seven based on perks, pet-friendliness of the hotel staff and pet policies and fees.

    "If pets aren't spoiled before they stay at one of these luxury hotels, they certainly will be after," Porter said.

    The Little Nell, Aspen, Colo.: Upon arrival at this boutique five-star hotel, Rover receives a Puppy Jet Lag kit that includes a personalized ID tag, special bowls and a logo-embroidered doggie bed. Dogs have their own pet menu with a selection of such

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  • Viking to launch ocean cruise line

    Rendering of Viking's new ocean cruise ship, the Viking Star. (Photo: Viking Cruises)

    If you like to cruise – but rubbing elbows with thousands of other tourists makes you crazy -- you might be interested in a couple of new, smaller ships that will sail into the picture in 2014 and 2015.

    The new lines are among the first being introduced in the travel industry in nearly a decade.

    Viking River Cruises, the industry leader in Europe, will launch Viking Ocean Cruises in 2015. The new Viking Star will cruise to Scandinavia and the Baltic, plus the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

    All of the Star’s cabins will have verandas; there will be no interior rooms. And, for people who hate some common cruise ship activities, there’s more good news:

    • Shore excursions will be included in the price
    • No surcharges at the ship’s specialty restaurants
    • No casino
    • 12-hour port stops
    • No formal nights (meaning no need to wear a tie)

    Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen, who announced the new line at a Beverly Hills Hilton banquet for 300 guests, was wearing an open shirt because, he said,

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  • Great spring break getaways for every taste

    Volleyball at Huntington Beach. (Photo: Courtesy Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau)

    Say “spring break,” and most people think of sun, sand, and girls-gone-wild throngs of college students. But for couples and families, there’s a wide world of options. You can find adventure, tranquility, or natural beauty.

    Whatever your dream spring break is, the odds are good that you’ll be traveling this year – or at least wishing you could. Despite sky-high gas prices, Americans are planning to get out town for a few days. The most popular places are California, Hawaii and Florida, according to statistics compiled by American Express Travel.

    “We’ve had a really great year so far,” says American Express Travel Insider Lesley Trudelle. “A lot of travelers are looking for really authentic and culturally rich experiences – from spending a week at a dude ranch to finding their inner historian in Colonial Williamsburg. Of course, sun and sand will also always be popular.”

    Our favorite beaches range from Florida's barrier islands to Hawaii to Huntington Beach, a.k.a. Surf City USA. To

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  • St. Patrick’s Day party destinations

    The greening of Chicago River. (Photo: City of Chicago)

    Big or small, almost every city in America that holds a St. Patrick's Day parade boasts that its parade is the largest in the nation, if not the world.

    Chalk it up to Irish inventiveness. Or, as they proudly say in Ireland, "We're excellent liars."

    But it’s no lie that the Irish love to celebrate. So put on a funny green hat and a T-shirt that says “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” and join the crowd in these top 10 party spots for a parade down Main Street USA, a pub crawl, some Celtic dancing, or at the very least, a foamy mug of Guinness or a shot of Irish whiskey.

    Remember, everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.

    Chicago

    In some cities people celebrate special occasions by painting the town red; in Chicago they paint it green, including the Chicago River, which turns a lovely shade of Irish green each year when the town celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. It's an over-the-top tradition that gives Chicago a definite edge in the Best-Places-to-Party-on-St.-Pat's-Day competition.

    For the past half

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  • Back to nature — and other travel trends for 2013

    The new yoga room is a hit at San Francisco International Airport. (Photo: Courtesy San Francisco International Airport)


    Frosty winter temperatures offer a good excuse to while away time indoors thinking about the hot spots you’ll visit this year on vacation. If you haven't decided where to go yet, perhaps the trend spotters at the marketing communications firm JWT can point you in the right direction.

    If they're reading the tea leaves correctly, this vacation season will find us tromping through the woods to escape cell phones and email, headed down rivers on unconventional cruises, exercising in airport gyms while we travel, and fleeing to exotic back-country locales in places like New Zealand and Africa.

    "This is a super-stressed era," says Ann Mack, the Director of Trendspotting at JWT. "People are looking for unplugged holidays. They want to escape noise and pollution. That's why we see nature as an antidote."

    Mack says with urbanization steadily rising—today more than half the world’s population lives in cities, compared to less than 40% in 1990—more people will retreat to mountaintops, forests and

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  • A chilling forecast for ski resorts and enthusiasts

    (Thinkstock)

    Skiers, snowboarders and ski resort operators need to take their heads out of the snow long enough to notice that their sport is in danger of melting away, according to the authors of a new tourism report released last week.The study, which predicts U.S. winter tourism is in for tough times if climate change goes unchecked, is aimed mostly at the tourist industry. It details an estimated $1 billion loss over the last decade due to diminished snow-fall patterns and the resulting changes in the outdoor habits of Americans.

    The financial analysis paints the picture of an even grimmer future—with an eventual end of winter sports due to the lack of snow—unless climate change is slowed, stopped and reversed,

    A primary goal of the study is to "mobilize different voices so that they'll send a message to the president and Congress telling them this is a problem we need to address," said Antonio Herzog, assistant director of the Climate and Clean Air Program of the Natural Resources Defense

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  • Secrets of getting amazing airline ticket deals, even at Christmas

    (Photo: Thinkstock)

    It never fails: You spot a great airfare fare online, talk it over with your friends or family, and go back online to snag it. But the price has leapt $50 or more per person.  Such a downer.

    Is there a foolproof way to score a great airfare, especially now with the holidays looming? Or are you out of luck?

    We went to Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com, for some answers.  The bad news is that the best fares probably are already gone. The good news is that the long holiday period this year — stretching from Saturday, Dec. 22, to Tuesday, Dec. 25 — makes it easier to find a great fare, especially if you're flexible.

    "It's late in the game to be booking a holiday trip," admits Klee, "but it's still possible to get a deal. There are some factors this year that improve your odds. Christmas is in the middle of the week, which is better for consumers because there are more combinations of days that will work for people. "

    And that's the key, Klee says, to finding a bargain:  Search persistently

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  • Enterprise takes top spot in rental-car satisfaction

    Enterprise gives customers the best bang for their buck, according to a new survey that ranked the company highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies eight out of the past nine years.

    The survey, which was released today, is compiled annually by J.D. Power and Associates and rates customer satisfaction with airport car rentals.

    After Enterprise, National came in second on the popularity scale, with Alamo and Hertz following. Avis, Budget, Dollar and Thrifty trailed.

    In general, we're happier now with the service and cars we rent at airports, according to the study. In fact, customer satisfaction with rental cars has increased for a third consecutive year, reaching its highest level in seven years, according to the survey, called the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study.

    Now in its 17th year, the study measures overall customer satisfaction with renting cars at airport locations by examining six factors (listed in order of

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