Photo credit: iStock.com/Courtney Keating

Find the best helicopter tour with Helicopter Tour Experts

Hi everyone!

We just wanted to let you know that we’re still hard at work making TravelPod even better, but we’ve also just launched our newest endeavour and we’re really excited to share it with you:

Helicopter Tour Experts

Helicopter Tour Experts is the go-to place on the Internet to find and book the best helicopter tour for you in mere minutes. We’ve crunched all the data we can find to uncover and present the information that’s most important when taking a helicopter tour, so you can find the right tour for you.

We’ve only launched in Las Vegas and the surrounding area (Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, etc.) so far, but we’re hoping to ramp up to other locations quickly.

Have you ever taken a helicopter tour? Drop us a line and let us know what you thought!

Photo credit: iStock.com/Courtney Keating

Travel news TravelPod Features TravelPod Updates

The best hotels in the world chosen by real travelers

Find out what millions of real travelers call the best hotels in the world!

Now in its 8th year, the Travelers’ Choice awards from TripAdvisor are the only hotel honors awarded by the world’s largest travel community, based on the trusted opinions of millions of real travelers.

This year’s award categories include Best Bargains, Best for Families, Best B&Bs and Inns, Best for Romance, Best Luxury, Best Service, and Best All-Inclusive. Plus, TripAdvisor has added two new categories for 2010: Trendiest and Best Relaxation & Spa.

Another new feature in 2010: Europeans’ Favorites, where TripAdvisor’s European members share their local insights on the best accommodations in Europe.

You can also browse travelers’ top 25 hotels by region: United States, Europe, India, China, and Japan.

See all the winners at TripAdvisor.com/TravelersChoice. Just one look and you’ll be packing your bags for a new adventure.

Get the list

Travel news

Ewww! Announcing TripAdvisor’s Dirtiest Hotels for 2010

Look out! TripAdvisor’s Dirtiest Hotels “awards” are back for 2010, and as disgusting as ever.

True to TripAdvisor’s promise to deliver the whole truth about travel – the good, the bad, and the ugly – TripAdvisor has identified the world’s most disturbingly dirty hotels, based on real reviews and photos by TripAdvisor travelers.

The “hall of shame” includes the ten filthiest hotels in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. From crusty carpets to broken fixtures, filthy bedding, unidentifiable stains, and bugs of every kind, what our members saw and smelled will shock you.

Check out the complete list, but be sure you’ve finished eating first. These hotels are not for the squeamish!

Get the dirt

Travel news

Cairo protests: travel bloggers in the midst of violence

Protests have erupted near the Algerian embassy in Cairo after a World Cup play-off game was lost to that country’s soccer team. Eleven police officers and 24 protesters were injured yesterday and Rich Frohl, our blogger on the ground is right in the middle of it.

People protesting the results of a soccer match in the streets of Cairo

People protesting the results of a soccer match in the streets of Cairo

“‘Stop taking pictures you cunning white one or I will throw a stone at you,’ are the words one angry protester hurled at me as I tried to document the anarchy that has taken over the streets of my neighborhood here in Cairo.

On Wednesday, Egypt lost to Algeria in the game that decided which of the two would go to the world cup. I was told by my Egyptian friends that this would happen if Egypt lost, but immediately after the match, the eerie silence in the streets of usually-bustling Cairo calmed me, making me thing that Cairo might stay quiet after all. I was wrong. The anger just needed a gestation period.

We stood on a street corner as ambulance sirens and protester shouts echoed around us, trying to figure out what to do. As nervous and out of control as we felt, it was also kind of exciting.

This morning, I set out to get some pictures, assuming I would simply get to photograph the aftermath. Though definitely not as serious as last night, some were still going strong on the 26th of July Street.

As I walked out onto the street, people were turning themselves into human barricades, blocking the street (turning main street into a parking lot). People shouted pro-Egypt and anti-Algerian cheers and jumped on cars.

As we navigated the road blocks, trying to explore more of the unrest, I realized that English was going to get me a lot farther than Arabic (a first here in Egypt).

I can only imagine what is going to happen tonight. Don’t worry, I’ll be staying safe behind 10 lines of riot police in my room in a sealed-off safe zone. Not like I have much of a choice anyways…police aren’t letting folks go anywhere with any level of ease.” – Richfrohl

Travel news TravelPod in the news

Honduras travelers escape military lockdown

The recent instability in Honduras is causing some TravelPod bloggers and their friends and families back home to worry. One unexpectedly became trapped in the middle of a military curfew. Hess found it difficult to leave the country because none of the buses would take her. She is now safe in Nicaragua:

Hess and James safe in Nicaragua

Hess and James safe in Nicaragua

We woke early, packed had the complimentary breakfast, asked the front desk to get us a taxi to take us to the Tica bus station. At this we were met with blank and confused looks.
“I don’t think the bus will be running?” This stopped us in our tracks.


“What?” we collectively asked.

“Er, the bus it won’t be going. The ex-president returned yesterday.” The bewildered man replied

“Yes we know he returned, why can’t we leave?”

“There is a military lockdown, there is a curfew.” He tried to explain

A curfew during the day? Baffled we looked at each other, none of us had contemplated that the curfew would continue into the day.

“Please would you call the Tica bus to see if they are leaving?” we pleaded.

None of us could afford to spend another night in the hotel. He called and confirmed that no they were not leaving. We sat down and tried to think of what we were going to do. I was all for trying to find the action, which he overhead and promptly warned us not to leave the hotel.

We got back to the room and called the British Embassy in Guatemala and were advised not to leave our hotel, that they were monitoring the situation and it could become volatile at any moment. In fact the military had moved into the disperse Zelaya’s supporters who had defied the curfew outside the Brazilian embassy. Tegucigalpa resembled a ghost town, there were no cars, few people on the street and all shops were shut. We slowly came to the realization we would not be leaving on the Tuesday and just hoped that on Wednesday we would be able to get out. 6 pm rolled on and the curfew was extended to 6 am.Hess

Travel news

Travelers caught in the Sydney sandstorm

There is quite the violent sandstorm engulfing Sydney, Australia today.

TravelPod bloggers are right there on the ground, spitting sand out of their mouths and documenting the phenomenon on their blogs.

Here are a few of the latest updates:

An ominous Maroubra Beach

An ominous Maroubra Beach

Just now Sydney is experiencing a spectacular sandstorm that brings the Simpson desert feeling right into the city. In the morning the orange light was spectacular… A photographer`s delight… 🙂 And no, I didn`t use any filters or photoshop…Feeling_alive

Hughieanddoris explored the boardwalk outside their hotel in the early morning

Hughieanddoris explored the boardwalk outside their hotel in the early morning

Well…. today started with a big surprise. Hughie rose at 7am, surprised that it seemed to still be dark. He looked out the net blind and said it was foggy… When he looked again though he realized it was the like the dust storm that had been mentioned in the Canberra news yesterday, and went outside to take photos…. By the time we left the hotel, the air had cleared a bit, but everything was covered with orange dust, and many people were going around with masks on. It was blustery, not the weather we’ve become used to. The ferries had started again by then, but the eateries around had thick dust on the tables and the breeze made it better to have breakfast in a nearby indoor food court. The dust was causing extra work for a lot of people… Tonight we’ve heard on the news that it was the worst dust storm here for at least 70 years. So we’re here when history is being made.Hughieanddoris

Gatzby endured the haze while sightseeing

Gatzby endured the haze while sightseeing

A huge dust storm hit Sydney over night and the City was covered in a haze – not very good for sight seeing. Plus, it was a bit cold and windy.Gatzby

Check out this member blog from a member in the Sydney sandstorm

Featured blogs Photography Travel news TravelPod in the news

10 ruined travel destinations

National Geographic came up with this list a while ago, citing the most ruined destinations resulting from extreme popularity.

Let’s see what our bloggers had to say about them:

1. Cancun, Mexico

Sarzmc in Cancun

Sarzmc in Cancun

The colour of the water was amazing – I can see why hotels were constructed there in the first place. However, now they really wreck it – not only are they all jammed up against one another, they also haven’t left much actual beach to lie on! Sarzmc

2. Santorini, Greece

Deannekristen in Santorini

Deannekristen in Santorini

The ferry cruises by the youngest part of the volcano on one side and cliffs on the opposite side. The cliffs are hundreds of feet high and have a shear drop off. Apparently, a portion of the center of the island slumped into the earth when the volcano erupted last. – Deannekristin

3. Orlando, Florida

Disney World in Orlando

Disney World in Orlando

I really like Orlando and there’s tons to do, but it all costs a lot of money so if you’re broke you will get bored (and I’m always a tad broke since I travel way too much).Bashleyf

4. Kuta, Bali

Elopfamily at Kuta beach

Elopfamily at Kuta beach

I would guess a lot of visitors would find it touristy and tacky but with the beautiful beaches, combined with our Fat Yogi’s oasis, it is a perfect place to relax after all of the driving we did in Australia.Elopfamily

5. Dubai City, UAE

Danharriet in Dubai

Danharriet in Dubai

The entire city appears to be under construction. Every where we looked there was a new building project under way. – Danharriet

6. Myanmar

Tomandlizzie in Myanmar

Tomandlizzie in Myanmar

On arrival at the Thai-side border town we got stamped out of the country and jumped on a boat to Kawthoung, Myanmar. A busy port town mostly full of people extending their visas.Tomandlizzie

7. Antarctica

Ahdumb boarding his Antarctic ship

Ahdumb boarding his Antarctic ship

We didn´t see any polar lights, but we did have amazing nights with all the stars out when the clouds were cooperating. – Ahdumb

8. China Beach, Vietnam

Markrob in Vietnam

Markrob in Vietnam

The traffic from China Beach to the competition was horrendous. We have never seen such a mass of people, said to have been perhaps 1.5 million.Markrob

9. Costa Rica’s Over-Developed Coast

Panf007 in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Panf007 in Tamarindo, Costa Rica

It used to be one of the best surf spot in Costa Rica, now like many other Pacific Coast cities, big resort development has spoiled Tamarindo a little, but it is still one of “hot spot” for any traveler. Panf007

10. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Robthebruce at the top of the crater

Robthebruce at the top of the crater

We spent the better part of the day driving around the crater seeing all kinds of animals and birds.Robthebruce

Travel news

5 celebs’ favourite travel destinations

A new book by National Geographic asks celebrities to name their most favourite places in the world.

Here’s a sample of some of TravelPod’s best blogs from some of these destinations:

Natalie Portman: Jerusalem

Dancejill at the Chapel of the Ascension

Dancejill at the Chapel of the Ascension

George Lucas: Monument Valley

Boonespie in Monument Valley

Boonespie in Monument Valley

Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder): Nepal

Arikandcharis in Nepal

Arikandcharis in Nepal

Matt Groening (Simpsons creator): Kauai, Hawaii

Lilly_annew in a taro patch

Lilly_annew in a taro patch

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Trinidad

Trinitrish in Trinidad

Trinitrish in Trinidad

Travel news

Top 10 tourist attractions in the USA

Based on local tourist boards, here are the numbers for the most popular tourist destinations in the United States with some interesting blog posts. Do you agree with the list?

1. Times Square, New York City
37.6 million visitors

Carolyn of paulandcarolyn in Times Square

Carolyn of paulandcarolyn in Times Square

2. The Las Vegas Strip, Nev.
30 Million visitors

Emilykamal's view of the Las Vegas strip

Emilykamal's view of the Las Vegas strip

3. National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C.
25 million visitors

Globetrotters at the presidential inauguration

Globetrotters at the presidential inauguration

4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston
20 Million visitors

Childofsolitude in Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Childofsolitude in Faneuil Hall Marketplace

5. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
17.1 million visitors

Lostagain2006 in DisneyWorld

Lostagain2006 in DisneyWorld

6. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, Calif.
14.9 million visitors

Samira_steve explore Disneyland

Samira_steve explore Disneyland

7. Fisherman’s Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
14.1 million visitors

Lukeroyle on Fisherman's Wharf

Lukeroyle on Fisherman's Wharf

8. Niagara Falls, N.Y.
12 million visitors

Lukeroyle in Niagara Falls, New York

Lukeroyle in Niagara Falls, New York

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn./N.C.
9.04 million visitors

Andyfreshwater in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Andyfreshwater in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

10. Navy Pier, Chicago
8.6 million visitors

Cestlavie on Navy Pier

Cestlavie on Navy Pier

Travel news

Iraq War – TravelPod Travelers in a war zone

Iraq is quite the contentious location right now. With American troops on the ground, there are not too many blogs written on the subject, but the ones we do have are quite intriguing and revealing.

Whereisbrian doesn’t have a whole lot to say about life in Iraq, but his photos are telling. He’s working in the U.S. embassy, holed up in a sardine can-like bunker.

simply entitled "fun" (Note the mysterious smoke in the background)

This photo: simply entitled "Fun" (Note the mysterious smoke in the background)

I live in a little tin box sandwiched between sandbags stacked 10′ high. The days are hot and the nights are less hot. The food is all you can eat and I eat a lot. I work most of the day and there really isn’t that much else to do so except go to the gym and count the days until my next vacation.

The Bunker from Baghdad, Iraq

Blogger Deltdcl shares some of the photos he took while working for the military in Iraq for more than four years. He doesn’t write much, but his pictures say a lot, and offer a candid glimpse into the life of a soldier.

Saddam Hussein's toilet in his underground bunker

Saddam Hussein's toilet in his underground bunker

I wish I could show the pictures of all of my Iraqi friends I worked with, but for their safety, no pictures.

Time to leave Iraq from Baghdad, Iraq

Teamknell was working with the Iraqi police force in Baghdad and Kirkuk this spring. He had a tough time getting them to adopt the use of paperclips. Here’s his hilarious account of the cultural differences he found in paper fastener preference.

Grand opening of the new police station in Baghdad, Iraq

Grand opening of the new police station in Baghdad, Iraq

Every once in a while, we would supply the police headquarters with office supplies. On one occasion I brought them, among other things, paperclips. They typically wrote handwritten reports and they used a straight pin to punch holes through the top corner of the paper to hold them together. I was baffled by this. Paperclips are not a new invention. Did Saddam personally ban them from the country? Aren’t they constantly poking holes in their fingers by accident? So, I attempted to bring just a little bit of America to Iraq. I went around to the offices with boxes of paperclips and even demonstrated their use. At the time, I thought they recognized it as a superior system for holding papers together, but when I looked around a week later, all the reports were being held together with straight pins. I thought, “I’m having no impact here.” Then, ever the optimist, I thought, “Maybe we’ll try the staplers tomorrow.”

Police Partnership, Part 1, Chai and Paperclips from Baghdad, Iraq

Travel news

Drunken British travelers at European resorts

The cliche of the drunken Englishman causing a ruckus in Greece or Spain seems to have gotten worse.

This report from The New York Times shows that more and more Britons traveling abroad are getting into trouble.

It surprises me that the resort owners quoted in this article would blatantly finger people from the UK as the culprits. I personally think that people from all over the world can display the rowdy behaviour described in this article. I’d like to see a lot more statistical information and a lot less anecdotal information.

A government authored report says that 602 Britons were hospitalized in Greece, and 1,591 died in Spain, but these numbers are not compared to any other numbers from other countries. They also don’t take into account how many British people travel in total to these places, compared to people who come from other countries.

What do you think? Are British travelers the most rowdy?

Let me know in the TravelPod travel forums,

See you there,

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news

Update: Ikea water taxi, no longer free for everyone.

The free Ikea water taxi that I reported on earlier this month is no more.

Curbed says that workers at the formerly free Ikea water taxi, are now discouraging non-customers from taking the ferry to and from the Red Hook neighbourhood of New York City.

Hand scrawled sign...

Hand scrawled sign...

A hand-scrawled sign was apparently photographed at the site that said: “Taxi is only for people who shop at Ikea and people who received the stamp from Manhattan – Ikea Management

Other frequent riders have reported that staff are being told to check for store-receipts or hand-stamps when boarding from the Red Hook side of the route.

So for travelers, forget about all the hubbub over a new alternative to the Staten Island Ferry. And for all you Red Hook residents trying to get a free ride to work, time to buy a new pair of sturdy walkin’ shoes.

Have you ridden the free ferry? Did you notice the new restrictions?

Come to the TravelPod travel forums and lament the loss of the free Ikea taxi.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news

Sex on the beach could land you in jail…

especially in Dubai. Recently, introducinlyric, a frequent contributor to the TravelPod forums, turned my attention to this article in Australia’s Daily Telegraph.

Apparently a woman from England got a little boozed up and engaged in some raunchy behaviour on a Dubai beach. In case you didn’t know, that’s really not kosher in a Muslim country such as Dubai.

It’s alleged that Michelle Palmer was seen having sex on the beach, and when approached, swore at a police officer, and even attempted to hit him with a high heeled shoe.

Michelle Palmer

Michelle Palmer

What I want to know, however, is what exactly happened to the guy she was doing it with? Did he get off scott free? Is gender-based inequality so bad in Dubai, that they only apply this law to women?

Join the conversation in the TravelPod travel forums.

See you there.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news

Richard Branson to create giant eco-resort

Everytime I read something about Richard Branson I have to convince my cynical self not to roll my eyes at his ridiculous antics. This time, I’m both impressed and skeptical.

He’s announced plans to build an eco-resort on the (as yet uninhabited) Mosquito Island that would be entirely powered by the wind and sun. Of course, it’ll be ultra-luxurious, and out of reach for most people. But for those who can afford it, you’ll be able to jet off to the islands and only feel half-guilty about your consumeristic ways.

Richard Branson

The wind and solar power at your destination will probably not cancel out that jet fuel that got you there, but anyway, it’s a nice gesture.

Branson put his money where his mouth is last year, when he offered $25 million to the person who could devise a way to remove excess CO2 from the air.

He’s doing it again with this new hotel.

However, neither of these grand schemes have actually been implemented yet. There has been no $25 million winner (yet) and of course, the plans for the hotel are just plans (who knows how well they will work in reality).

So from what I can see, all I can assume about this most recent proposal, is that it’s another load of hot air from the master of media manipulation.

What do you think?

Let me know in the TravelPod travel forums.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news

Bad US economy = less ridiculous architecture

The German magazine, Der Spiegel is speculating that the American credit crunch will lead to less urban development in the West. Simultaneously, Asian and Middle Eastern countries are wallowing in their newly found wealth, building more outlandish structures by the minute.

I can’t see this as anything but a positive development for North America. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t read a press release about some new, random or weird five-star hotel being built in Dubai or China.

Ugly buildings

Ugly buildings

Not only is it embarrassing to see such frivolous spending in developing nations, when money could be better spent on eliminating starvation and poverty, but it’s also an annoying eyesore for the rest of the population.

Personally, I’m glad engineers are planning on building these structures so far away from me. If I lived in any of these places, I’d have serious aesthetic and moral objections to such developments.

What do you think?

Tell me in the TravelPod travel forums.

See you there,

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news Uncategorized