6 Destinations Made More Popular By Celebrities

Travel Channel and the Esquire Network are both set to air TV shows that ask celebrities to give local perspectives on their favorite destinations. While one can argue that Travel Channel is taking Esquire’s already developed idea and running with it, it’s undeniable that this fascination with celebrity travel is nothing new. In fact, celebrities have been popularizing places for years. Here’s a few examples of places where the stars have come out to play (and crowds of people soon followed).

George Clooney and Lake Como, Italy
George Clooney bought an 18th-century lakeside villa here in 2001, and it’s been a tourist hotspot ever since. According to the Daily Beast, the actor has an egg-throwing contraption that wards off paparazzi and other gawkers.Brigitte Bardot and Armação dos Búzios, Brazil
French sexpot Brigitte Bardot famously vacationed in Saint Tropez on the French Riviera, but she’s also credited with popularizing the resort town of Armação dos Búzios in Brazil during the 1960s. Townspeople are so happy with the tourism surge they erected a statue in the starlet’s honor.

Elvis Presley and Hawaii
It’s no secret Elvis loved Hawaii. From his first visit in the 1950s, it remained his favorite vacation destination. Elvis made three movies there, including the immensely popular “Blue Hawaii.” It’s also the setting of the first broadcast concert via satellite, “Aloha from Hawaii,” which Elvis starred in.

Sir Richard Branson and Necker Island, British Virgin Isles
Sure, he owns the island, but he also made it a popular vacation spot. Famous names like Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Oprah Winfrey, Harrison Ford and Pamela Anderson have all visited at one time or another. For those that can afford to go to Necker Island, it’s ultra-luxe accommodations and private submarine make it one of the ultimate destinations.

Britney Spears and Turtle Island, Fiji
Britney Spears and Kevin Federline famously vacationed to this private island after their marriage in 2005. It was also the honeymoon locale for Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. Both marriages ended in divorce, but the island still remains one of the most sought-after (and priciest) honeymoon destinations.

Jay-Z & Beyonce and Cuba
This is just a projection, but earlier this year Jay-Z and Beyonce visited Cuba to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary. As travel restrictions become more loose, it’s likely more Americans will want to follow in their footsteps.

Google Makes Travel Easier For Lazy People

Google Takes on Hawaii's Hiking Trails
Google’s ongoing world digitization is opening up some very cool travel experiences to people sitting in front of their laptops and tablets. Now, rather than spending thousands of dollars, lots of vacation time and a decent amount of physical exertion to see these places, you can arrive by a click and multi-task your exploring as you commute to work, procrastinate a project or tune out in a meeting.
Last fall Google Maps debuted a “street view” of the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs, allowing armchair travelers with no diving or even swimming ability to take a peek at the world’s greatest underwater treasures.

More recently the site teamed up with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to feature Hawaiian hiking trails on Google Street View. Hiking guides on the Big Island will carry Google’s cameras on roughly 20 of the Islands’ best trails, stitching together a 360-degree experience that people can enjoy anywhere.

Another recent addition to Street View will please Harry Potter fans who can’t make the trip across the pond to London’s Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Muggles can now tour Diagon Alley and the wizarding shops it houses through Street View.

Google Maps isn’t the only thing bringing travel experiences to the masses. Though still in its infancy, Google Glass is expected to change the way people document and share their travel experiences. This year a Running of the Bulls competition invited two Google Glass users to Pamplona to view the annual San Fermin festival events. While the Glassers aren’t expected to actually run with the bulls (too bad, that’s something we wouldn’t mind having Google do for us!), they’ll be watching the bull run from a balcony and sharing the experience via a daily webcast.

It’s doubtful that Google’s online presentations will actually keep people from wanting to experience these places in real life, but we’re intrigued about what other experiences will become available to interactive travelers. Climbing Mount Everest? Surfing Jaws? Space travel?

Where do you want your maps app to take you next?

Waikiki Classic Gives Girls A Chance To Connect With Surf Culture

The Waikiki Classic is June 8-9
Tom Servais

Next weekend, on June 8-9, the third annual Waikiki Classic surfing competition will take place on Queens Beach in Hawaii. The event, which is sponsored by Roxy, will feature some of the biggest names in women’s surfing today, including World Longboard Champion and Waikiki native Kelia Moniz, pro-surfer Rosy Hodge and four-time world champion, and surfing legend, Lisa Anderson.

For two days these ladies will get the opportunity to show what they can do on the water, riding the big waves with skill and finesse. But that isn’t the only thing that makes this event so special. As a lifestyle brand for active and adventurous young women, Roxy also hopes to make the sport of surfing more approachable for anyone who would like to give it a try. With that in mind, the Waikiki Classic is actually open to all female surfers ages six and up. Registration is even free, removing yet another barrier to entry.

The Classic will give those taking part in the event the opportunity to experience the thrill of competing in a big time surfing competition, complete with cheering crowds, even if they are amateurs that are new to the sport. There will be prizes and awards up for grabs and the event even serves as an ASP Longboard Pro qualifier, giving someone the opportunity to earn a spot on the World Tour. And for those in attendance on the beach there will be plenty of activities as well, including prizes, games, autograph signings and more.

As an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys action sports, I love that this event takes such an active stance on giving young women an opportunity to get involved with the sport. Anything that encourages young people to become more engaged with outdoor activities is a good thing as far as I’m concerned and I applaud Roxy and the organizers of the Waikiki Classic for making the event so accessible.

Photo Of The Day: Yemen Beach

Photo of the day - Yemen beach
Slyhoo, Flickr

Looking at the gorgeous beach landscape above, you might think you were looking at Hawaii or New Zealand. Today’s Photo of the Day was actually taken in Yemen, a Middle Eastern country, which just celebrated its Unity Day after being consolidated in 1990, and the first Arab country to give women the right to vote. With borders on the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, there’s no shortage of beaches, but while the US State Department still has a warning against travel to Yemen, you might just have to enjoy them virtually.

Want to see your travel photos as a Photo of the Day? Share your Creative Commons shots with us on Flickr in the Gadling photo pool.

Your Kickstarter Vacation. My Money. No.

When we ran out of money, we were on a beach in Corfu. My boyfriend trawled the construction sites until he found a job hauling cement. I checked in at restaurants and hotels, but failed to turn anything up. I gave up after about a week; there was no work to be had. I spent the days reading on the beach. My boyfriend would come back to our campsite in the shell of an unfinished holiday cottage with his hands raw. We would buy bread and cheese and olives with the cash he’d been paid on that day. This went on for about two weeks, and when the gypsies started giving us food we knew it was over.

We swallowed our pride, called our parents and asked them to wire us money so we could get off the island and go somewhere that we could find work. We ended up farming in Israel where we got housing and three squares and a paltry salary that we saved because there was little to spend it on and beer was very cheap.

Today, there’s a better way than sucking it up and calling Mom and Dad. You can avoid the dirt and damage of manual labor. You need an Internet connection, maybe a blog and nerve. You’ll need to offer up something as incentive – a $5 donation receives a postcard from your exotic locale, a $10 donation gets a download code for a copy of your, as of yet unwritten, essay about your travels, a $25 donation gets a print of a photo you took that you think is pretty good – come on, it’s totally National Geographic quality, right? Plus, anyone who donates get this pleasure, no, let’s be realistic, honor, of supporting your travels. Open a Kickstarter fund for your travels and ask total strangers to pay for them. You’re doing them a favor, really.

My parents did not react with the gratitude I was hoping for when I called from my crash pad on a London sofa, broke again, to ask for airfare and spending money. The roommates in the London flat where I awaited the arrival of wired funds weren’t thrilled either. They were gracious, they knew I was on hard times, but they weren’t so into my before its time “Occupy the Living Room” movement. Nobody saw the benefit in their role of making it possible for me continue my travels abroad, no matter how many postcards and photos and essay length letters I sent home, or how many dishes I washed, or how many rounds I pitched in for when it was my turn to buy.When did it become acceptable to ask total strangers for money so we can go on vacation? When did we start assuming that of course people will back our vanity travel publishing project, after all, we are just that special? This couple from Arizona thinks you should give them money to cross China.

“…we received a quote for the total cost of entering China twice to complete our proposed route. The expected cost is over $20,000. We will continue to pay for all other travel related expenses; our Kickstarter project will only fund our ability to cross China.

This falls outside of our budget, but the ability to cross China will enable us to have a once in a lifetime driving experience along an ancient trade route. A journey worthy of being written into a book.”

Of course, funding their once in a lifetime trip makes more sense than funding my own, right? And they are not that unusual. Here’s a young man from Florida who wants you to pay for his documentary about his cycling trip around Iceland.

“What are my qualifications for making this documentary? I have a lot of experience getting things done. For example, here is a book I wrote called ‘Start Importing from China’ and here is a website I launched called Wiki Cancel. Second, I have a lot of travel experience, which makes me comfortable in foreign countries. Third, I am not afraid of trying things or approaching new people, which means you will see a lot of interesting things on the documentary.”

I, too, am unafraid of trying things, but instead of doing so myself, perhaps I should fund this group of guys who want to share their style of travel with us.

“…the backpacker’s life; the life that depends on the road and the bag, the warmth and affordability of hostels/BNBs, and the unique people who you meet and learn from along the way.”

Perhaps these four admittedly very appealing young men are unfamiliar with a company called Lonely Planet – the company that documented the backpacker’s life for decades. For about $17, I can get a book that tells me not about a random stranger’s travels, but how to plan my own.

I would like to remodel my kitchen, have my garden landscaped and buy a tiny studio apartment somewhere in Hawaii. These are things that would be great fun for me, and I could invite you over for a meal in my new kitchen, or perhaps you would like a photo of my garden. I could write a book about my part-time life in Hawaii and if you pay for my apartment, I will give you a code so you can download the manuscript for free. Is this not appealing to you? How are the pitches to fund my travel any different?

These Kickstarter plans seem like grand adventures for the travelers. God speed. May they travel safely, meet kind strangers, and never have to pack away a wet tent. But I am not paying for it, no way, no how. Here’s the thing: I, too, would like to travel the Silk Road. I too would like to ride a bicycle around an island nation. I would like to share stories of how my adventures transpire in an insightful and interesting manner. This fall, I hope to do a big camping trip with my husband around the American Southwest. To do this, we will work, save our money and then, go travel.

Perhaps I am making a mistake and I should be asking you to pay for it. But I cannot think of one good reason why you should.

[Image by bradleygee via Flickr]