Josh Noel has written about travel, beer and spirits for the Chicago Tribune since 2008 and occasionally writes about other subjects, ...

Read full bio

Josh Noel

Josh Noel

Tribune Travels

E-mail | Facebook | Twitter
 Here are the travel trends that experts expect for 2016

Here are the travel trends that experts expect for 2016

December 28, 2015

With another year of travel in the books, we turned to the experts on the matter of what we can look forward to in 2016. Here are their predictions.

  • Hotels getting creative with fitness offerings for next-gen travelers

    November 13, 2015

    Not long ago, the average hotel fitness center amounted to a few treadmills, a couple of elliptical machines, free weights and a television tuned to ESPN.

  • Traveling alone isn't lonely — it's an adventure

    November 11, 2015

    I've visited 40 states and a dozen countries as a solo traveler, and if I ever felt bored or lonely out in the world on my own, I don't remember it.

  • Moody Tongue scores with churro porter

    November 6, 2015

    What it is: Pilsen's Moody Tongue Brewing Co. has crafted a beer that's as unique as it is satisfying. Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter — yes, that's the full name — amounts to a complex chocolate porter with hints of the sweet and savory flavors found in a churro (a fried pastry popular in Mexico, if you didn't know). The interesting twist is that Moody Tongue infuses these flavors in a relatively light beer; unlike most porters, Baltic porter is a lager, and the use of lager yeast results in a lean, approachable body.

  • Regulation impasse could mean passports needed for domestic flights

    October 15, 2015

    Whether flying from Miami to Seattle — the longest flight in the American Lower 48, according to Airfarewatchdog — or making the 40-minute hop from Phoenix to Tucson, you might need a passport to board a domestic flight at some point in 2016.

  • Day trip: You don't have to go hungry at Starved Rock

    October 13, 2015

    For 20 years, Lisle and Pat Elsbury made the 80-mile drive from their suburban Chicago home to Starved Rock State Park, one of the state's favored hiking and camping spots.

  • Your plane trips are damaging the environment

    September 24, 2015

    When booking a flight on Spain's Iberia airline recently, I had the chance to do something I'd never done while planning travel.

  • Tips for parents traveling with an infant

    September 10, 2015

    Training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro — not to mention climbing Mount Kilimanjaro — was daunting. Skydiving was scary (oh, so very scary). Backpacking through the Smokies was exhausting. But even added together, those endeavors don't compare to the fear that looms over my first flight with a baby.

  • Americans can cash in on hard economic times elsewhere

    August 26, 2015

    The economic misfortune of others can be a boon for American travelers.

  • Canada's Banff region is stunning any time of year

    August 25, 2015

    There's never a bad time of the year to be in the Canadian Rockies.

  • Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS offers sound boost on the go

    August 17, 2015

    Name: Cambridge Audio DacMagic XS

  • Post-storm New Orleans: The good and the sad a decade later

    August 7, 2015

    If you were last here in, say, July 2005, everything will seem to be mostly where you left it.

  • IATA pauses the Cabin OK initiative

    July 30, 2015

    The International Air Transport Association learned a hard lesson recently: Don't mess with our carry-on luggage.

  • Memphis enlivens old dead spots for a mega-makeover

    July 26, 2015

    I woke at 8:30 one Friday morning in a pitch-black hotel room, slipped on a robe, pulled back the curtains between me and my balcony and stepped out for a stunning Memphis view: hundreds of people ambling through the aisles of a Bass Pro Shops store.

  • Toppling Goliath brewery puts Decorah, Iowa, on the beer map

    July 16, 2015

    To many locals in this town of 8,100, Toppling Goliath Brewing Co. is just the latest business to fill the old space once occupied by a flower shop, a record store, a burger joint and a pizza place.

  • Pack for a week, and you've packed for a month

    July 13, 2015

    My cousin wasn't always good at packing light. But then she met her husband. And in the give-and-take that is a relationship, his take (and her give) was traveling light, which meant a three-week trip through Asia with just a carry-on bag for each of them.

  • St. Augustine is feeling a lot younger than 450

    July 3, 2015

    For the oldest town in America, St. Augustine has sure come a long way in recent years. The town of 14,000 on Florida's northern Atlantic coast celebrates its 450th birthday in late summer, but locals mostly have been rejoicing over the town's cultural growth.

  • Dumb luck apparently is more effective than the TSA

    June 19, 2015

    The Transportation Security Administration has had some problems lately.

  • O'Hare airport spa relieves flying stress

    June 18, 2015

    A chair massage at an airport is not like most other chair massages.

  • 4 real guys offer their advice on finding the ultimate guy trip

    June 10, 2015

    What's in a guy trip?

  • National Civil Rights Museum gets a poignant makeover

    June 9, 2015

    Whatever you might have learned about slavery in school, the revamped National Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry St., 901-521-9699, turns it into a gut punch.

  • Hotel industry gets comfy with the 'lifestyle' concept

    June 4, 2015

    There's a word attached to virtually every new hotel these days, and it isn't "vacation," "travel" or even "bed."

  • Why hotels charge for unused services

    May 21, 2015

    I received a nasty little surprise on my bill when checking out of a Memphis hotel recently.

  • Beating jet lag: A sleep expert weighs in

    May 6, 2015

    When he got to Yorkshire, England, on a recent trip, Robert Rosenberg began one of his standard routines: He laced up his sneakers and took an afternoon jog.

  • How to take amazing travel photos? Slow down.

    May 4, 2015

    I wasn't so surprised at Dan Westergren's reaction when I suggested that people tend to take too many photographs while traveling. He is a photographer, after all.

  • Traveling can present real threats, but we travel anyway

    April 20, 2015

    "We travel, then, in part just to shake up our complacencies by seeing all the moral and political urgencies, the life-and-death dilemmas, that we seldom have to face at home."

  • Smoky Mountains backpacking reveals joys, challenges of leaving the world behind

    April 15, 2015

    The first rule of encountering a bear on the long, lonely trails of the Smoky Mountains isn't to yell or to wave your arms, and it certainly isn't to run screaming in the other direction as fast as your trembling legs will take you.

  • Granada is Nicaragua's colonial gem

    April 14, 2015

    I happened to arrive in Nicaragua's oldest city on Sept. 14, a day before of the anniversary of Central American independence.

  • You have to wonder if heaven would get a single star on TripAdvisor

    March 25, 2015

    It turns out that there is someone who hates the Grand Canyon.

  • Coeur d'Alene a friendly pocket of joy in the Northwest

    March 23, 2015

    Two challenges accompany a visit to this lovely, pine-studded north Idaho town.

  • LGBT travelers face some of the biggest challenges

    March 3, 2015

    As a white heterosexual American male, there are certain things — OK, plenty of things — I don't need to think twice about. One of them is travel. There obviously are places where being a white, heterosexual American male will work against me (probably the American part, mostly), but usually I'm not too concerned for my well-being in the places I am most likely to visit.

  • Vacation pot smokers should beware back home

    February 24, 2015

    A visitor to Colorado or Washington can enjoy all sorts of fine legal activities in those states. Ski. Hike. Drink local beer. Eat local food. Take a scenic drive on a twisting mountain highway. Smoke pot.

  • For St. Augustine cuisine, the little devil is in the datils

    February 24, 2015

    Should you want to remain incognito as a tourist in the nation's oldest city, there's a simple pronunciation worth mastering: "datil."

  • Good way to test your relationship? Travel together

    February 5, 2015

    The cliche says there's no better way to test compatibility than to travel with someone. And a pair of therapists who specialize in relationships — and who happen to be married — say that's true. Somewhat.

  • North Korea's tourism door is open, if you dare, and I would

    January 21, 2015

    Would you go to North Korea?

  • Leelanau Peninsula in winter a quiet and worthy escape

    January 16, 2015

    Even the owner of my hotel had the good sense not to be where I was. In a couple of weeks, he said as I checked in at the Whaleback Inn, he and his wife would head to Florida to begin a weeklong Caribbean cruise.

  • Virgin Hotels jumps into the hospitality market with Chicago showpiece

    January 16, 2015

    For more than 50 years, the Virgin company has dabbled in life's more pleasurable pursuits — music, cruises, space travel — so jumping into the hotel business was probably inevitable. And indeed, the company's first hotel opened Thursday in downtown Chicago.

  • Readers share their 2014 travel highlights

    January 8, 2015

    I spend most of the year telling you about my travels, so I always enjoy the opportunity to turn that around and hear about your journeys. I recently wrote of my 2014 travel highlights, both big and small. Readers poured in their recollections, and here they are, edited for space. Happy travels in 2015. I look forward to hearing about them.

  • Another year well traveled; how about for you?

    December 24, 2014

    Every year should bring some memorable travel into every life. It can be as grand as reaching a distant mountaintop or visiting a country 10,000 miles away. It can be as small and quiet as reading a local newspaper in a distant coffee shop while the rain pours outside.

  • Boyne puts a resort spin on Midwest skiing

    December 22, 2014

    BOYNE FALLS, Mich. — Perhaps we Midwesterners were not meant to ski. Consider what we've been given: flat terrain, oppressively gray winter skies, subzero windchills and fickle helpings of a ski weekend's most crucial ingredient.

  • Renting a car often filled with questionable sales tactics

    December 11, 2014

    Before a recent trip to New Mexico, I did what people do before a trip: I reserved a rental car. In this case, it was an economy-class car from Budget for $282. It seemed a reasonable cost for 11 days in the desert.

  • Chicago hotel spas offer winter warm-up

    December 3, 2014

    I've finally found a reason to pity the people of Hawaii during winter: They'll never fully appreciate a spa experience.

  • Inventor of Knee Defender insists airlines shouldn't sell the same space twice

    November 26, 2014

    I've taken up the issue of reclining airplanes seats a few times now and firmly established myself as someone who supports reclining — but also being polite, thoughtful and communicative with the person behind you. I was ready to leave the subject alone, but then the patron saint of the nonreclining movement got in touch, and I couldn't resist the opportunity to chat.

  • Loews to open its first downtown Chicago hotel, including wide-open space

    November 13, 2014

    Loews Hotels spent ample time looking around Chicago before settling on the Streeterville location where it will open the doors on a new 400-room property in March.

  • If pregnant travelers do their research, there's no need to eclipse a babymoon

    November 10, 2014

    Of the many trends invented by the travel industry to pry dollars from our wallets — hello, staycation! — one of the most popular in recent years has been the "babymoon."

  • Passenger Shaming website documents human animal behaviors in the air

    October 29, 2014

    Tired of dealing with flight attendants? Well, they're just as tired of you and me.

  • Reclining airline seats bring out anger

    October 15, 2014

    Boy, you people sure do feel strongly about reclining airplane seats. In a recent column, I wrote about the future of reclining seats, making the following points:

  • Los Angeles beer scene catching up in a hurry

    October 14, 2014

    My server and I were having a hard time communicating.

  • Rahm Emanuel's favorite beers and bars in Chicago

    October 10, 2014

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the idea came to him while he was swimming: Why not push Chicago as a beer destination?

  • Ometepe, Nicaragua, remains an unspoiled island

    October 7, 2014

    Picking out the visitors who have labored their way to the top of one of the two volcanoes on this tiny island in Lake Nicaragua is not difficult. Just look for the people relaxing as aggressively as possible.

  • After kidnappings, beheadings, how dangerous is it out there for travelers?

    October 1, 2014

    The beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were as tragic as they were revolting, but they existed in something of a logical context. Both men were covering a war zone that few journalists (including me) have the guts to cover. There were risks, and they knew it. Foley previously had been detained for more than a month in Libya and saw a colleague killed. Still, he returned to the region.

  • The recline of civilization

    September 16, 2014

    The decision about whether to recline one's airline seat has been a flier's most vexing question since tempers turned hot over that issue around Labor Day. Here are some simple truths about the ethics, and future, of leaning back at 38,000 feet.

  • Let mourning begin for bereavement fares

    September 3, 2014

    We seem to be hearing the death knell for airline bereavement fares. The long-dwindling practice has nearly bottomed out in 2014, as most major American airlines have essentially done away with breaks for grieving fliers.

  • The idyllic Hawaii

    August 21, 2014

    After we heard buzzing overhead in the thick Hawaiian jungle for the second or third time, I asked our ponytailed guide, Gregorson Rider, the source of the noise.

  • Playing destination roulette

    August 19, 2014

    Brittany Smith was ready for a vacation when she showed up at Indianapolis International Airport in early June. The only thing she needed was a destination.

  • The Hudson Valley

    August 12, 2014

    A road trip through the Hudson Valley can be finished in two or so determined hours. But better to take four days. Or two weeks. Or six months.

  • Tourism guru shares journey to creating a destination

    August 6, 2014

    Roger Brooks travels 350 days per year and spends most of them trying to create a place where you want to be. Brooks, 61, a tourism consultant, has worked with more than 1,000 destinations in 45 states and places abroad since the early 1980s. This is an edited transcript of our conversation.

  • Nice alternatives to some well-trodden tourist spots

    July 29, 2014

    For decades, visits to New York City have meant Broadway shows, Fifth Avenue shopping and slack-jawed stops at Times Square and the Statue of Liberty. Those experiences will always remain quintessential New York, but for the last year the city's tourism bureau has urged visitors to get a little more creative.

  • Don't hate Texas (or any state) before you visit

    July 22, 2014

    Quick: What's your least favorite U.S. state?

  • Camping in Brooklyn

    July 15, 2014

    When telling people that I would be camping in Brooklyn — yes, that Brooklyn, the borough of New York — a swift, two-pronged response usually followed.

  • Horror remembered at 9/11 museum

    July 15, 2014

    All of New York, it seems, has an opinion about the 9/11 memorial and museum.

  • New generation of jets comes with ups, downs

    July 8, 2014

    The new generation of commercial airplanes is so radically different from how we have flown for the past 20-plus years that stepping onto one can feel like flying for the first time.

  • A lovely day in -- Gary?

    June 19, 2014

    Conventional wisdom says Gary is a city that time forgot — the worst, ugliest, smelliest, most decrepit, dangerous city in the Midwest, if not the nation.

  • Dark side of adventure

    June 17, 2014

    I had been flirting with the idea of climbing Mount Rainier in July and tried goading a dozen friends into joining me for a trek to the top of the 14,410-foot peak southeast of Seattle. It's a relatively technical trek, involving ice climbing, ropes, axes and a fair bit of nerve that seemed like a worthy adventure.

  • At peace in Ojai

    May 27, 2014

  • Hawaiian adventures: Outdoor activites abound in Oahu

    May 21, 2014

    For someone approaching 60 years old, Joey Carroll is quite at home with the word "bro." And as a bronzed and lean Carroll led me through a Wednesday morning surf lesson on the waves off Waikiki, the word was welcome encouragement for a first-timer.

  • Going alone, but not lonely

    May 21, 2014

    My recent column on the joys of traveling alone launched a steady flow of email from readers who shared their own stories of solo travel. Far more was submitted than can fit here, but this is a sampling. Submissions were edited for space.

  • In Baraboo, the circus is always in town

    May 16, 2014

    Let's begin with the obvious, and most pressing, question: How in the name of Jumbo the Elephant (he's real — look it up) did a south-central Wisconsin town of 12,000 become the circus capital of the world?

  • To tour or to chill? Do both

    May 6, 2014

    When we want to relax, we head to the beach and do nothing. When we want culture, we travel to a new country and dive into museums, neighborhoods and restaurants. The former is relaxing. The latter is enriching and memorable but the source of an unfortunate truism: Travel can leave us exhausted and needing a vacation from our vacation.

  • Traveling to game show heaven

    April 24, 2014

    Game shows occupy a unique corner of the American brain. Who can't name Vanna White's chosen profession? Who can't place that immortal shout of "Survey says!"? Do the words "double jeopardy" actually invoke the law for anyone? Even if we haven't seen any game shows in years, we are quite familiar with their existence.

  • The beauty of solo travel

    April 15, 2014

    I have been a professional travel writer for nearly six years, which requires not only frequent travel but frequent solo travel. I have explored Hawaii alone, France, Mexico, several Caribbean islands and nearly 40 U.S. states.

  • Living on 'river time'

    April 11, 2014

    Our adventure began at 7:37 a.m. on a Saturday.

  • Locking airfares before buying

    March 25, 2014

    One of the most tired cliches is that so-and-so doesn't actually sell such-and-such; they sell peace of mind. Well, in this case, it's true. The question is whether there is a market for that peace of mind among airline customers.

  • San Juan Islands offer peaceful beauty

    March 18, 2014

    Before bed on the night I arrived in the San Juan Islands, the island chain that sits as far northwest as you can go in this country before hitting Canada, I decided, as any reasonable person would, not to set an alarm clock.

  • Canadian museum lets you play your own tune

    March 4, 2014

    Let's be honest: Museums can be kind of boring. They can change our worldview and show us things we'd never see otherwise, but standing around, shuffling from one untouchable object to the next?

  • Anatomy of a canceled flight

    March 4, 2014

    My phone buzzed in the darkness of my Los Angeles hotel room a few weeks ago. It was American Airlines announcing that my flight due to take off in five hours was canceled due to bad weather.

  • About your TSA fingerprints

    February 18, 2014

    Now that the Transportation Security Administration's Pre-Check program is open for application to any American, its reach is growing quickly: Eight airport enrollment centers have opened nationally since November, and at least 40 more are expected by the end of the year.

  • Hawaii's soul

    February 18, 2014

    Every few songs it would happen: The ukulele launched into a furious strum, the bass began to gallop, the guitar jangled to life, and the three powerful voices behind those instruments erupted into a harmonious whirl. Then someone danced.

  • Travel as a health regimen

    January 28, 2014

    The report doesn't undertake any added science but simply synthesizes previous studies, and the involvement of an insurance company might be cause for skepticism, but a recently issued white paper reaches a conclusion always worth repeating: Travel is good for you.

  • Hitting the jackpot on Paradise Island

    January 22, 2014

    There's a disarming glow along the walls of the Atlantis resort casino, and it might mystify even the most veteran gamblers as they weigh the merits of splitting those sixes against the dealer's five.

  • Readers share highlights of 2013 travels

    January 14, 2014

    I recently shared my travel highlights from 2013, which included moments both huge (the top of Mount Kilimanjaro) and small (watching the rain fall in La Jolla, Calif.). I asked readers to share theirs, and they responded in force.

  • New meets old in Pittsburgh

    January 4, 2014

    I've never been to a city that loves itself more than Pittsburgh.

  • Great trips can occur in places you don't expect

    January 1, 2014

    When reflecting on my 2013 travel highlights, I was surprised to find moments both impossibly grand and so small that they were sublimely, and subtly, perfect. I want to hear about your travel highlights from 2013 and will print them in a future Travel Mechanic column, but first, here are mine:

  • Here's the fast lane of airport screening

    December 18, 2013

    More than 25 million people have left their coats and shoes on their bodies, their laptops and 3-ounce liquids packed away and walked through a metal detector rather than a body scanner since the 2011 launch of the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program.

  • Exploratory travel isn't about creature comforts

    December 5, 2013

    I've been to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but one of the most stunning adventures I've had fits squarely between those extremes.

  • A restaurant with two faces

    November 23, 2013

    There is something odd, if not disconcerting, about spying a $92 menu item during breakfast.

  • Michigan Winter Beer Fest: The beer will be cold

    November 19, 2013

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Long underwear. Check. Insulated gloves. Check. Snow boots. Check.

  • Airline fees not sitting well

    November 19, 2013

    I faced a seat conundrum when booking a recent trip to Seattle on American Airlines.

  • How an anxious traveler stays grounded

    November 5, 2013

    Travel is inherently uncomfortable. The long lines, longer waits, tight spaces, unfamiliar terrain, communication difficulties and displacement from our routines can make travel unnerving and exhausting, even as it stimulates and educates.

  • A star in the East

    November 5, 2013

    STOWE, Vt. — The secret to happiness is perspective, and that's particularly true when skiing.

  • Farm to table in Baja

    November 4, 2013

    SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico — My dinner at the thick, green oasis in the hills above Baja California's southern tip, known as Flora Farms, didn't begin with a meal. It began with a tour.

  • Contrasting Cabos

    October 29, 2013

    LOS CABOS, Mexico — Much of what you need to know about Cabo San Lucas happens during the first weekend of October.

  • Take your pick of pace at the tip of Mexico's Baja California

    October 29, 2013

    LOS CABOS, Mexico — "Cabo" generally is thought of as one destination at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, but in truth, there is no single "Cabo."

  • Introspection is a ticket to enjoyable vacations

    October 15, 2013

    One key to enjoying a vacation is to know what sort of traveler you are. Sounds simple, right? It's not always. I recently chatted with a woman who plunked down her hard-earned money on a Jamaican cruise, only to realize she didn't like cruises. It seemed like wasted time and money, she said.

  • Sandless in the Caribbean

    October 8, 2013

    SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — During four days in the historic heart of the Dominican capital, I saw men gather every afternoon in the central square to play dominoes, usually ringed by crowds of onlookers.

  • Calgary embraces the cutting edge

    October 4, 2013

    John Jackson and Connie DeSousa had professional experience many chefs would envy when they opened Charcut restaurant three years ago in their hometown. But they were still scared. Literally scared.

  • Worthy watering holes near St. Louis' ballpark

    October 4, 2013

    Baseball's playoffs are here, and the St. Louis Cardinals, as usual, are in them. One of the nation's great baseball cities also has become an increasingly admirable beer city in recent years. Though home to Anheuser-Busch, there are far more interesting options than Budweiser to quench your pre-game thirst. Here are three of them:

  • Readers weigh in on tourist magnets

    September 24, 2013

    A few weeks ago, I consulted friends, colleagues and acquaintances across the country to weigh in on their cities' tourism cliches that were both worth seeing (the National Mall in Washington) and avoiding (the Hollywood Walk of Fame).

  • Feel the planet under your feet, smell the aromas, hear what you've been missing

    September 10, 2013

    We often think with our eyes when deciding where to travel.

  • Why Americans are a theft bull's-eye

    September 10, 2013

    About 10 years ago, in sweet, magical Barcelona, Spain, I was walking down the bustling and heavily touristed La Rambla when about six guys in their late teens or early 20s, clustered on the side of the pedestrian way, hollered something at me.

  • Room service may be on its last wheels

    August 27, 2013

    The dueling futures of hotel food service collided in Manhattan one recent Tuesday.

  • The countryside of 9/11

    August 15, 2013

    SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — Exactly one American flag flaps in the brisk, rural Pennsylvania breeze at the Flight 93 National Memorial, which is the same number you'll find at most other national parks and monuments. That lone flag makes the memorial at once confounding and stoically brilliant.

  • New O'Hare area mall can check your bags

    August 15, 2013

    The guest-services kiosk at Fashion Outlets Chicago, the gargantuan new high-end outlet mall near O'Hare International Airport, rents strollers, wraps gifts, changes currency and can even get your clothes dry-cleaned within 24 hours. But its unlikeliest service also is one of the most convenient imaginable: It will check bags for flights on any of five airlines and print your boarding pass.

  • Check online sites, then go to source for booking

    August 13, 2013

    When planning a trip, I often wind up on the website of at least one of the major online travel agencies: Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia.

  • Great American Beer Festival toasts the best brews and brewers in the land

    August 8, 2013

    DENVER — One of the benefits of vacationing at the nation's largest beer festival is the expectation that you will drink beer. Such expectation allows shaking off politeness, decorum and that ever-nagging "responsibility" to head directly to a bar after depositing your bags at the hotel. I mean, it's why you're there.

  • Getting away without going broke

    July 31, 2013

    In our annual budget travel survey, experts offer tips on how to get away on a budget, including what to eat, where to stay and, most important, where to go.

  • Tourism cliches good and bad

    July 31, 2013

    There's a popcorn shop in downtown Chicago that generates long tourist lines, and most locals, like me, don't get it. I don't think the popcorn is better than at any other place that puts a little effort into its popcorn, and if your time in Chicago is limited, waiting for this popcorn seems like a waste.

  • Monroe, Wis., gets props for its lively food scene

    July 25, 2013

    MONROE, Wis. — When entering a Mexican-tinged barbecue restaurant with Wisconsin flair, the only thing to do is embrace your fear (and if a Mexican-tinged barbecue restaurant with Wisconsin flair doesn't scare you, it should).

  • Where Bears roam free

    July 22, 2013

    BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — Twelve years ago, the Chicago Bears staged a statewide hunt for their new summer home.

  • Harley riders' destination: Milwaukee bash

    July 16, 2013

    If Toby Keith, Kid Rock, Aerosmith and some Ultimate Fighting sound like the perfect way to celebrate Harley-Davidson's birthday, well, they are.

  • Have smokes, will travel

    July 2, 2013

    The first major smoking ban went into effect on U.S. airlines 25 years ago, and it was considered a victory by anti-smoking advocates. It restricted smoking only to flights longer than two hours.

  • Gettysburg's 150th: War never looked so peaceful

    June 25, 2013

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — If history can be believed, I spent a remarkable three days in this cradle of Civil War history.

  • How long can $100 last?

    June 18, 2013

    Last year the trip-planning website Tripomatic calculated one simple, fascinating statistic: In different cities across the globe, how long can $100 last?

  • New Hampshire getaway a feel-good stop on any East Coast road trip

    June 11, 2013

    PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Seriously, Portsmouth?

  • Climbing Kilimanjaro

    May 28, 2013

    MOUNT KILIMANJARO, Tanzania — We started out dry, clean and happy. We knew that wasn’t how we would finish. But it didn’t matter. We were headed to the highest point in Africa.

  • Welcome mat out for gay, lesbian travelers

    May 21, 2013

    At the kickoff of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association's annual convention this month, that organization's strides — not to mention the entire nation's — were no more clear than on a simple United Airlines banner beside the lectern that read: "Diversity flies with us."

  • Break from U.S. carriers lifts passenger spirits

    May 14, 2013

    Flying foreign airlines can be so much more pleasant than our domestic options. On a recent KLM flight to Amsterdam, the Dutch airline behaved as if it was in the customer-service industry, not merely transporting a bunch of people from one point to another.

  • AccuWeather makes a bold 30-day leap for travelers

    May 13, 2013

    Though it sometimes seems meteorologists can't even predict the next day's weather, AccuWeather has begun taking its longest-range stab at prognostication yet: 30 days.

  • Montana's sweet spot in the Western experience

    April 30, 2013

    BIG SKY, Mont. — This place is absurdly misnamed. That's not a complaint, but it does require an asterisk.

  • Is medical care shipshape?

    April 30, 2013

    After dinner and a walk around their Viking River Cruises ship on Russia's Volga River last May, Charles and Cecilia Ford went back to their cabin. Charles, 82, was in a good mood, his wife said, cracking jokes and singing during their walk.

  • The best beer in the world

    April 24, 2013

    WATERBURY, Vt. — For someone in pursuit of a Heady Topper — the world's top-ranked beer at the moment my plane touched down in Vermont — I made the mistake of arriving on a Sunday.

  • On the road with autism

    April 16, 2013

    On a flight from Israel to London a few years ago, the airplane video display wouldn't work for Margalit Francus' teenage son. The boy, who was 14 or 15 at the time, grew overwhelmingly frustrated. He screamed, he cried and he threatened to open the plane door.

  • Wild horses

    April 7, 2013

    HOT SPRINGS, S.D. — The wild horses eyed us hard across the broad South Dakota plains.

  • No joke: Airfare by weight might just fly

    April 7, 2013

    News of Samoa Air charging passengers by the pound, rather than by the seat, came so suddenly that some people thought it was an April Fools' Day joke. Not only was the announcement no joke — the airline hadn't retracted it by press time — it eventually could become an industry standard.

  • Vermont's biggest city shows how it's done

    April 2, 2013

    BURLINGTON, Vt. — There was a McDonald's downtown in Vermont's largest city for years, but then Vermont's largest city decided it didn't want McDonald's anymore. So the McDonald's closed.

  • America's grand front yard

    March 26, 2013

    GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — My cabin was the ultimate in location, location, location.

  • Rise and fall of airfares

    March 19, 2013

    In the last Travel Mechanic column, I examined the fare prognostication tools used by Kayak and Bing, which advise travelers whether to buy plane tickets while searching those websites or to wait. Both sites use data from scores of past searches to predict whether you're finding a fare at its lowest point or if it may fall.

  • Tough poles for hiking

    March 5, 2013

    Name: Distance FL Z-Poles

  • Travel crystal ball: Websites advising when to buy tickets

    March 5, 2013

    They're the questions that vex leisure travelers across regions, languages, origins and destinations: When will I find the best fare? Should I buy that plane ticket now or wait?

  • A Midwestern warm-up

    February 27, 2013

    "So what brings you here?" my massage therapist, Serena, asked while leading me from the Aspira spa's hot tub to the soft table where she would rub me down in a haze of sandalwood oil for the next 50 minutes.

  • Another merger mystery

    February 19, 2013

    Every time two airlines merge, the same questions arise: Who wins? Who loses?

  • Book it! 'Hot' summer trips

    February 19, 2013

    Though we are a nation of summer travelers, that season isn't necessarily the best time to explore.

  • Go find your mountain

    January 29, 2013

    By the time you read this, I hope to have completed something as absurd as it is ambitious: climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

  • A hothouse for baseball

    January 14, 2013

    SAN PEDRO DE MACORIS, Dominican Republic — The lanky 15-year-old and I didn't share a full language, but on a breezy, balmy November night, we shared at least two words.

  • Ski towns for nonskiers

    January 8, 2013

    When I visited Park City, Utah, a couple of winters ago, the ski life seemed to merge perfectly with the nonski life.

  • Detroit: Grit and pride

    December 18, 2012

    DETROIT — Many people can't see past this city's abandoned buildings and overgrown lots, and that's sort of fair. A city once boasting 2 million people and an unbreakable auto industry is down to 700,000 and apocalyptic decay in every direction. The only time I've had to pass through a metal detector when entering a bank was in Detroit.

  • 2012 big in the industry

    December 11, 2012

    Another year in travel has nearly come and gone.

  • In search of a Dominican feast

    December 9, 2012

    SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Strange as it may sound, finding good Dominican food isn't so easy in Dominican restaurants.

  • Pack no-sweat clothing

    November 27, 2012

    Not only did I recently complete a 10-day trip with a mere three pairs of underwear, but by the end of those 10 days, no one seemed to mind sitting next to me. The trick: None of the underwear was made of cotton.

  • Airline PR weathers the storm

    November 6, 2012

    Hurricane Sandy turned out to be one of the most disruptive forces on air travel in recent memory.

  • Airlines try to restore stability to post-Sandy skies

    November 4, 2012

    After the havoc that Hurricane Sandy wreaked on the nation's airlines, experts project that the industry should return to normal by early this week.

  • Plane refund? If you're fast

    October 23, 2012

    If you knew that you're entitled to a full refund on almost any plane ticket within 24 hours of purchase, congratulations. If you didn't know, you're not alone.

  • O'Hare terminal getting up to speed

    October 23, 2012

    CHICAGO — For years, the dining options beyond security in O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 5, for international travel, were so limited that travelers couldn't buy a cup of coffee. Next year, however, those heading to all corners of the world via Chicago will be able to eat food prepared by some of the city's most recognizable names, buy pricey jewelry and get a massage.

  • Where buffalo roam

    October 21, 2012

    JACKSON, Wyo. — If the antler door handles don't announce what lies ahead at The Gun Barrel Steak and Game House in this idyllic mountain getaway, then Winchester does.

  • Don't just take it, fliers

    October 9, 2012

    The well-chronicled labor troubles at American Airlines are nothing but headlines to most of us, until it comes time to fly American. Then we learn firsthand about the hopefully temporary state of an airline that statistically has lagged behind its competitors in recent weeks for delays and cancellations.

  • If you're flying, go soon

    October 7, 2012

    If you can speed up your holiday travel plans, the folks at suggest it.

  • Taking aviation's pulse

    September 25, 2012

    Every month, the U.S. Department of Transportation releases a fascinating window into the American aviation system, and it's there for everyone to see.

  • Tracking Legionnaires' disease

    September 11, 2012

    The primary source of Legionnaires' disease that killed three people staying at a downtown Chicago hotel this summer is believed to have been fairly innocuous: the decorative fountain in the lobby.

  • Take autumn easy

    August 15, 2012

    BETHEL, Maine — You know you've found a worthy fall colors spot when you plan to go far in a day but don't go far at all.

  • Wringing the color out of autumn

    August 15, 2012

    If we can talk about back-to-school sales and preseason football in August, then we can discuss one more of autumn's rites: the fall color vacation.

  • A genuinely 'grand' spot for beers

    August 12, 2012

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — What does the third-best beer bar in the world look like? It looks like a lot of other bars.

Local & National Video

Local & National Video