10 Waterside seafood destinations in the U.S. and Canada

With the Independence Day holiday coming up this week, many Americans will be hitting the beaches to celebrate the nation’s birthday. What’s on the menu will definitely be on the list of things to plan. So Cheapflights.com made up a list to feature the best of the best locations for lobster, crab, oysters and other melt-in-your-mouth delicacies with its list of Top Ten Seafood Destinations.

Georgetown, Maine

Maine is synonymous with lobster – and for good reason. Long before the clawed crustacean ascended from being considered fit only for a state prisoner to a delicacy paid for at a premium by the pound, hearty lobstermen were plying their trade along the rocky coast. No place represents this history better …

Report: Mexico City a rising tourism star

The newest list of North and Latin America travel hotspots is in — and it seems Mexico City tops the charts.

According to the folks over at Cheapflights.com, Mexico City experienced a 58 percent increase in tourists in 2009 over 2008– making it the fastest-growing travel destination. Other up-and-coming Latin American destinations include
Mariachi capital Guadalajara, Mexico (really?); cheap travel destination San Jose, Costa Rica; and Guatemala City, Guatemala, which filled out the remaining top four spots.

Los Angeles, CA; San Jose, CA; and Syracuse, NY experienced a zero increase in tourist visits, while around 80 cities, including Philadelphia, PA; Atlanta, GA and Washington, D.C., all saw a decrease in visits. The increase in foreign travel and decrease in domestic U.S. vacation getaways could speak to an increase in overall travel spending.

One surprise on the list? Despite a ubiquitous marketing campaign, Las Vegas saw a whopping -19 percent downturn in visitors in 2009. Perhaps what happens in Vegas … has lost its thrill for travelers.

[Photo by Flickr user gripso_banana_prune ]

A review of Cheapflights.com’s “Travelnomics: Calling on Cuba” guide

Change is upon Cuba, and American travelers are especially eager to capitalize on the end of the travel embargo. In anticipation of the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba, Cheapflights.com recently put together “Travelnomics: Calling on Cuba,” a helpful PDF guide on traveling to Cuba. The guide provides travelers with a glimpse of life and travel in Cuba, travel accounts from writers familiar with the country, and a list of airlines that are or will fly to Cuba.

Having traveled to Cuba myself, I think this handy guide is an accurate reflection of what it’s like to travel there. It provides interested travelers with a good overview of the country’s sights, sounds, and smells, which helped remind me of what made Cuba such a unique place — lost in time and unbelievably beautiful. Keith Jenkins of Velvet Escape and Cuba travel expert Christopher Baker further describe the country’s real richness and warmth.

I did, however, find the “Cuba — Fact or Fiction” section only marginally useful for travelers, as food, accommodations, and money were not properly addressed and present significant challenges for American travelers in particular. There are two kinds of “restaurants”, “hotels”, and currencies in Cuba, and the guide doesn’t make this distinction. Travelnomics guides “are written to help the traveler find deals in a down economy and reassure travelers that travel is easy and affordable,” but traveling in Cuba is not cheap (even penny-pinching budget travelers will find themselves spending about $50 a day) and the guide does not sufficiently “break down the barriers to Cuba travel” as it states in the guide’s subheading.

Right now, not anyone can just hop on a plane to Cuba. The list of airlines flying to Cuba seems a little too anticipatory and not cautionary enough.

For a more comprehensive guide to travel to Cuba, you might want to read my “Cuba Libre: Travel observations and tips.”