Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season

Traveling “home” this holiday season? Don’t fall into your old routine. Your high school hangout may be an easy go-to, but if you don’t live there anymore there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some great new local spots. (Plus, be honest: you already know what all your classmates are up to from Facebook.)

AOL Travel turned to local writers to help you rediscover your hometown over the winter holidays. Each city guide features a great new restaurant to try while you’re in town, a cool neighborhood that wasn’t on the radar last year or a store where you can pick up a keepsake to bring your old home back to your new home. AOL Travel also will catch you up to speed on the hot topics of conversation in each city, so you’ll come back savvy enough to join the local sports banter or eat your holiday weight in Cronuts.

Click your city below to learn what’s new since the last time you went home:

Boston fans celebrate world series win

Chicago skyline

Detroit skyline

NYC skyline

Philadelphia City Hall

Portland Oregon signGolden Gate Bridge

St. Louis Arch

US Capitol


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Demonstrations in Thailand? No Problem, Travelers Say.

Rush Hour in Bangkok Centre
Shutterstock

The political protests currently taking place in parts of Bangkok don’t seem to be affecting travel to and within Thailand. And that should be no surprise. Despite events — a coup, floods and protests that closed an airport among them — that have rocked the country in recent years, travelers remain unfazed about visiting Thailand.

Quartz reports:

Not only are tourists still coming, but they’ve been arriving in increasing numbers in recent years, according to government data.

The story adds:

Indeed, despite the recent turmoil, Bangkok was this year named the world’s most popular tourist destination, beating London for the top spot in the “Global Destination Cities” Index. The capital is set to receive some 15.98 million visitors this year, with Chinese tourists in particular coming to the city to shop, since it’s inexpensive compared to regional rivals like Singapore and Hong Kong.

Still, some countries are alerting their citizens to be careful during the current protests. The U.S. State Department hasn’t issued a travel alert, but the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok yesterday released a message for U.S. citizens:

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news media reports.

Will You Be a Horrible Restaurant Customer This Holiday Season?

Hispanic waitress taking order
Getty Images

So you’ve finished your Thanksgiving dinner and you’re finally sick of turkey leftovers. It’s time to get out there and hit the great new restaurant that just opened in your hometown or wherever you’re spending the holidays. (FYI: Aol Travel knows the hot restaurants in cities around the U.S.)

Wherever you go, remember that there are appropriate ways to behave. And there are horrible ways to behave, as highlighted in this Montreal Gazette story by two Montreal-area restaurant servers. Among other things, they urge:

11. There actually is such a thing as a stupid question.

Examples:

Can I get the burger for cheaper if I don’t want onions?

Client: What beers do you have on tap?

Server: Guinness, Molson Ex, Rickard’s Red and Heineken.

Client: Do you have Samuel Adams?

Client: Why is our food taking so long?

Server: Because you ordered a steak well done and it’s only been six minutes.

12. Can you sing Happy Birthday?

Not for a $35 bill …

Read the rest of the story for 18 more ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer.

Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season

Traveling “home” this holiday season? Don’t fall into your old routine. Your high school hangout may be an easy go-to, but if you don’t live there anymore there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some great new local spots. (Plus, be honest: you already know what all your classmates are up to from Facebook.)

We turned to local writers to help you rediscover your hometown over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Each city guide features a great new restaurant to try while you’re in town, a cool neighborhood that wasn’t on the radar last year or a store where you can pick up a keepsake to bring your old home back to your new home. We’ll also catch you up to speed on the hot topics of conversation in each city, so you’ll come back savvy enough to join the local sports banter or eat your holiday weight in Cronuts.

Click your city below to learn what’s new since the last time you went home:

Boston fans celebrate world series winChicago skyline

Detroit skylineSanta Monica Pier

NYC skylinePhiladelphia City Hall

Portland Oregon signGolden Gate Bridge

St. Louis ArchUS Capitol

If You’re Not Already Convinced the U.S. Needs to Upgrade Its Travel Infrastructure, this Video Should Convince You

The U.S. Travel Association released a video this week called “What Could Travel in America Look Like?”, complete with Michael Bay-style, slo-mo American flag waving and music from that part of the movie where the hero is at his most dejected.

It’s a bit over-the-top in parts, but the argument put forth by travel industry heavy hitters is spot on. About our transportation options to-and-from airports, Jonathan Tisch, Chairman of Loews Hotels and Resorts, says, “We as a nation are sadly not competitive.”

Check out the video below.