Travel Channel, National Parks Join For Summer Promo

national parksSummer can mean a trip to one of America’s national parks for many. These adventure-packed and history-rich destinations offer travelers a wide variety of vacation options at hundreds of locations. To promote America’s national parks and help with planning a summer park vacation, the Travel Channel has joined with the National Park Foundation (NPF) in a summer-long partnership of initiatives.

“Through this summer partnership, the National Park Foundation and Travel Channel, will provide the Network’s passionate viewers with the best tools and information to plan the perfect national park adventures,” said Neil Mulholland, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks.

Inspiring viewers to visit our 397 national parks as well as encourage volunteerism and monetary donations to NPF, the Travel Channel will support the NPF partnership via the network’s “Destination Summer” campaign.

Thirty hours of programming on America’s national parks will include celebrating “Get Outdoors Day” on Saturday, June 9.”Travel and tourism are big drivers of the U.S. economy, and this is one important way Travel Channel can make a very positive impact,” said Laureen Ong, president of Travel Channel. “We know our viewers are ready to lean in and experience life, and this partnership with the National Park Foundation will touch consumers on a very personal level, encouraging them to explore and appreciate the best destinations America has to offer.”

Chartered by Congress in 1967, the National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks, 84 million acres of the world’s most treasured landscapes, ecosystems and historic sites.

Trips to National Parks in the Late 1960s

Flickr photo by jurvetson

The Worst New Hybrid Words In The Travel Lexicon




This is the age of hybrids. We drive hybrid cars, we consume hybrid vegetables and our favorite love-to-hate celebrity couples have hybrid names.

The travel industry is rife with hybrid words. In every segment of travel, from backpacking to luxury travel, there lurks a new word ready to please with its practicality (voluntourism) or annoy with its clever mash-up of disparate terms (glamping).

We here at Gadling are always on the look out for new travel trends. But just because we report on trends like glamping and flashpacking doesn’t mean that we like the way these words sound when they roll off our tongues (not to mention the way they activate the red squiggly lines on our spell-checkers). Following is a list of the Gadling crew’s least favorite hybrid travel terms along with definitions:

[Photo: Flickr/Horia Varlan]babymoon, minimoon
Some travelers have adopted the “moon” suffix to describe vacations taken to celebrate a huge life event. A babymoon is the vacation that parents-to-be take before their first child is born. Meanwhile, a minimoon is a shortened honeymoon – sometimes only a weekend. A babymoon is sweet; a minimoon is just sad.

brocation, mancation
Men going on a trip together to do manly stuff like eat steak, drink whisky and smoke cigars? I thought that was called a bachelor party. Apparently these days it is called a mancation – or, brocation if you’re a total (pardon my French) douchebag.

fakecation, oblication
These two travel terms have amusing definitions but depressing concepts. A fakecation is when a real vacation is invaded by work, while an oblication is a trip planned around a chore one must do, such as helping a relative move or going to your aunt’s wedding.

flashpacking
Backpackers who travel with flashy digital gear, such as iPads and smartphones, and can afford a slightly higher budget than the $5-a-day travelers of yesteryear are said to be flashpacking. One reason you may not hear this term for much longer is that it describes the reality for a large swath of budget-minded travelers. Here’s hoping “flashpacking” is a flash in the pan and flashpackers can go back to being regular backpackers again.

glamping
Travelers who want a just a taste of the outdoors without losing too many comforts are going glamping these days, much to the chagrin of this writer, who strongly dislikes the term and is not sold on the concept of “glamorous camping” yet. Still, Gadling has covered the glamping beat with this Glamping 101 primer should you wish to try it for yourself.

gramping
Sending the kids on a trip with their grandparents is a splendid idea. But do we really need to call it gramping? Really?

staycation
No list of most hated hybrid travel terms is complete without the much deplorable staycation. Exploring one’s hometown is honorable, fun, educational and budget-friendly, but it is not a vacation. It may end up being a fakecation, though.

Is there a new hybrid travel term that you love to hate that we haven’t covered above? Tell us in the comments!

Travel Smarter 2012: New hotel alternatives

While booking a hotel was once the standard when traveling, there are now a range of unique alternatives for every budget and preference. In 2012, it’s now possible to stay in anything from an eco-friendly tree house to a tent with more amenities than a 5-star hotel. Here are some modern takes on the classic accommodation based on traveler personality:

Luxury travelers who want to get in touch with nature

Camping no longer means you need to sleep in a vinyl bag and use the nearest tree as your personal toilet. Glamping, which takes the camping philosophy of being immersed in nature but makes it more luxurious, allows even the most high-maintenance travelers to “rough it” for a bit. For example, you can stay in an extravagant yet eco-friendly safari tent in Algarve, Portugal, that is surrounded by countryside and mountains and includes amenities like hot water, electricity, a pool, an onsite spa, a wellness center, and a garden where guests can pick and enjoy their own fresh vegetables. To view other glamping properties, you can click here for a roundup from Australia, Argentina, and India, or visit GoGlamping.net.Outdoorsy traveler who doesn’t want to get too wild

On the other hand, there may be some travelers who want to experience nature, but in a setting not too far out in the wild. For them there is garden camping, which offers the experience of camping in someone’s backyard. For example, for about $9, travelers can stay in Driftshane‘s backyard in Cornwall, England. Amenities include sea views and a neatly terraced ambiance, farm-to-table meals, and the use of the shower for an additional charge. There are also many points of interest nearby, including sailing, rowing, and beaches at Helford River, Seal Sanctuary, Glendurgan Gardens, Trebah Gardens, and Bosvathick Riding Stables. There are also ample opportunities to visit great restaurants and bars. By staying in someone’s garden, you’re still immersing yourself in the beauty of nature while also keeping yourself close to civilization. You can view more garden camping properties by clicking here.

Travelers who want a modern take on vacation rentals and apartment sublets

While checking apartment and home rental listings used to mean browsing plain text to look for a basic room or house, Airbnb brings a modern twist to the idea. First of all, owners can list their properties for free, including vibrant photos, a wealth of information, and contact data. Moreover, travelers can browse through listings while being able to search by location, price, amenities, neighborhoods, or accommodation style. They may also read reviews, look at maps, and take virtual tours. The site also has a social connections feature, which allows travelers to see which of their Facebook friends uses the site. What I personally love about Airbnb is the range of unique accommodation options, from a private room in a London lighthouse to a houseboat under the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

For Earth-concerned eco-travelers

Ecotourism is a hot topic in the travel world, and accommodations are catching on to the trend. First, there is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), which allows travelers to exchange working on an organic farm for room and board. Some possible experiences include harvesting grapes on a vineyard in Mendoza to beekeeping in Italy or ranch work in Poland. Moreover, hotels and hostels are also jumping on board, implementing green practices to try to help the environment while also keeping guests comfortable. For example, backpackers can enjoy the Gyreum Ecolodge in Sligo, Ireland, a partially underground hostel and Installation Incubator where travelers can come together to brainstorm new ideas. Green amenities like water heated by solar panels, a toilet linked to outside compost, and the use of a wind turbine to power geothermal heating are included, as well as comfortable beds, thick comforters, and hearty breakfasts.

For travelers who want a local experience

With travel becoming more and more social, doing a homestay is now easier than ever. One way to participate in one is to sign up to volunteer abroad with an organization like International Volunteer Headquarters or by using a forum like SE7EN. Moreover, social websites like Couchsurfing and Tripping allow users to offer their couches to travelers. What’s great about these options is that participants can read reviews on hosts and guests, and even interact before their trips begin to see if they feel comfortable staying with the person.

[flickr image via left-hand]

Design Hotels launches Papaya Playa Project, a “pop up hotel” in Tulum, Mexico

papaya playa projectTaking glamping and the idea of pop ups to a new level is the innovative hotel group Design Hotels with the launch yesterday of the Papaya Playa Project, a temporary “pop up” camp with 99 rustic cabanas on a 900-meter stretch of Caribbean coastline in Tulum, Mexico.

Starting at just $25 a night for what amounts to a cot on the beach to $675 a night for one of the more luxe accommodations, the rooms will be a mix of private cabanas and casitas and shared, dormitory-style accommodations featuring shared baths and bunk beds.

Lest you wonder about whether or not building such a project wreaked havoc on the area’s natural surroundings – it isn’t. It’s “a spiffed-up campus of cabanas once belonging to three now-shuttered resorts,” according to The New York Times, but it’s the first such large-scale hotel pop up we’ve seen. The only other that exists? Hotels offering limited term “glamping” excursions and a British company called “The Pop Up Hotel” which really specializes in crafting limited-term spaces for events and retreats.

Barring some traveler’s unwillingness to visit Mexico due to continued violence in the country, Papaya Playa seems an easy fit for those looking for alternative travel experiences – a true “glamping” trip that integrates local materials and nature with luxe elements like high thread count sheets and private cabanas, plus amenities like food from KaterHolzig of Berlin’s Bar 25 fame and a spa incorporating Mayan shamanism.

Design Hotels founder and now Tulum resident Claus Sendlinger plans to bring in famous DJs and musicians to perform on the beach’s “natural ampitheater” as well as perks for the luxe seeker including local and sustainable foods plus organic “nutrient-rich food-on-the-go,” plus an on-site boutique with local and international designers.

The only thing we can’t figure out? What Design Hotels plans to do with the space when it closes in May of 2012.

3 “glamping” accommodations for the luxury camper

glampingFor those who are unfamiliar with the term, “glamping” is a way for travelers to experience the outdoors, like camping, but with more luxury amenities, like electricity, running water, and sometimes even modern architecture. Check out this list of stylish canvas accommodations from around the world, perfect for those who want to get closer to nature…but not too close.

Wildman Wilderness Lodge
Australia

Recently opened in April, 2011, this small, luxurious safari lodge features wildlife tours, hiking, biking, and culture in Australia’s Norther Territory while still providing the comforts of home. Made of recycled building materials, these free-standing cabins are surrounded by trees and grassland yet include air-conditioning, luxury bedding, upscale furnishings, and an en suite bathroom. Prices range from $285-$505 per person, per night.

For those who want to rough-it just a bit more, Wildman Wilderness Lodge also offers safari tents that are spacious and fan-cooled withwood floors, beds, and en suite bathrooms. Prices range from $215-$375 per person, per night.glampingValle de Uco
Argentina

This new wine-and-golf resort being built in Mendoza is the latest in glamping sophistication. Canopies furnished by 5-star hotel designers include four-poster beds, roll top baths, indoor and outdoor showers, and fire pits. Don’t spend too much time inside, though, because there are many different nature experiences to be had. Because the arid region has its own natural spring, the landscape is a combination of lakes, rivers, forests, and meadows, making it perfect for nature strolls. Horseback riding, hiking, and star-gazing at the observatory deck are also available.

The first phase of the project should be finished by the end of the year, with rates beginning at $300 per night.

glampingRasa Resorts
India

This 500 square foot tent will have you forgetting that you’re not at an extravagant hotel. Each of the 40 structures include large bay windows, curtains, and a high roof that slopes down to form a canopy over the beds. A contemporary atmosphere is created through color schemes of concrete, wood, and red stone. You’re not too far from nature, however, as private outdoor gardens are right at your backdoor. Moreover, the rocky terrain and nearby sanctuary offer plenty of opportunities for hiking and bird-watching. Prices begin at $148, which includes breakfast.