China's elites appear to be exfiltrating billions while on holidays

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China has a massive "tourism deficit" -- the difference between the money that tourists spend in China and the money that Chinese people spend abroad: $206B from June 2015-June 2016, up from $77B in 2013. The missing money is hard to explain, since China doesn't export that many tourists. Read the rest

Inflatable travel pillow for sleeping on planes

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I spent a few days in beautiful Victoria, Canada last week. What a fantastic city! One of the highlights of my trip was spending some time with Andrew and Christina, two of the principles at Robazzo, a one-stop-shop eco design studio. They do everything from logos to large architectural installations:

On the flight home, the guy sitting next to me had a small pouch in his lap. Before the plane took off, he unfolded it and blew on a valve a few times to inflate what turned out to be a travel pillow. He slept the entire time. I have a travel pillow, but it is bulky so I don't usually bring it with me. This inflatable pillow looks perfect. After looking around I think I found the one the guy was using. It's $6 if you use coupon code QZJWYQLF. I bought two (one for my wife), and the discount worked for just one pillow. Read the rest

Google announces new travel planning app: Google Trips

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I use TripIt for travel planning, but I'm going to give the new Google Trips a try. It stores your travel plans offline, so you don't need to have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection to find directions or access your itinerary.

When I installed it, it scanned my gmail and did a great job of finding my upcoming flight, restaurant, and hotel reservations.

Google Trips makes exploring the world easier by organizing your essential info in one place and making it available even offline. Get activity suggestions based on what’s nearby, customizeable day plans, and your travel reservations from Gmail.

AUTOMATIC TRIP ORGANIZATION Your travel reservations are automatically gathered from Gmail and organized into individual trips. Each trip contains day plans, things to do, food and drink suggestions, and more.

BUNDLED RESERVATIONS See your flight, hotel, rental car, and restaurant bookings in one place without having to search for them individually.

DAY PLANS For several hundred of the world’s top places, find popular day plans organized on a map that you can customize based on your interests and available time.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS Find out when you’re near popular attractions (and whether they’re open) as well as reviews and ratings from other travelers.

THINGS TO DO Every trip contains ideas for things to do automatically organized into useful categories like Top Spots and Indoors or Outdoors. For many of the world’s top places, you’ll get curated local suggestions and travel tips.

OFFLINE ACCESS No Internet? No problem. Google Trips is available offline, so you’ll always have access to your info.

Read the rest

British Brexiters shocked to find out they might have to get permission to travel to Europe

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This is what happens who you trust tabloids and rich politicians who say you can have your cake and eat it. What they mean is they can have their cake, and you eat it. Today's shit sandwich is for Brits who thought that leaving the European Union, and preventing people coming into the UK, wouldn't mean reciprocal movement controls. As Nigerian Chibundu Onuzo puts it: Welcome to the world of restricted travel, British people!

The proposed scheme wouldn’t require Britons to have a visa, but intentions for travelling would need to be clearly stated online and applications could, in theory, be denied. It would, in essence, be a curb on freedom of movement: a freedom I have never fully experienced because of my nationality.

I’ve always needed a visa to legally travel out of Nigeria to most places in the world. There are other ways to do it. My cousin walked across the Sahara and slipped into Europe via the Mediterranean, but he was later deported.

Every time I fly into Heathrow, I am reminded that a plastic visa card is the only thing stopping my presence in London being a crime. I often see the other travellers who have been ushered to the side, their lives deemed illegal, only that thin square of plastic separating us. ... who knows? Maybe filling out forms to travel might make Britain more sympathetic to immigrants. I bet Nigel Farage didn’t think of that.

Just imagine the bloviating Harry Enfield rage of lumpy English holidaymakers denied entry to Spain or Ibeefa because they forgot to register their trip with the Proper Authorities. Read the rest

Travel through a breathtaking ice cave in Iceland

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Martin Critchley shot this lovely ice cave footage, which proved so popular he released an extended cut. Read the rest

7 great anecdotes from a photographer of vanishing cultures

Jimmy Portait

Jimmy Nelson is a legendary photographer of humanity. He shares seven insights gleaned from his 48-year career, each one backed up with an interesting anecdote about how he got better at his craft. Read the rest

Jeepneys: souped-up rides from the Philippines

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Jeepneys are the unofficial national vehicle of the Philippines. Originally made from modified surplus US jeeps after World War II by companies like Sarao, they developed into a colorful and stylized form of public transportation. Read the rest

How legroom on major airlines compare to one another

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This would be a good time to share your stories about flying Spirit.

How legroom on major airlines compare to one another
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Squirrel-cam footage

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Watch this video to get exactly what the headline promises: a squirrel's-eye view of what it's like to squirrel around the treetops. It was reportedly shot in Westmount Park, Montreal with a GoPro Session (low quality, but light enough to be grabbed by/attached to a squirrel.) Read the rest

Earth-like planet "might" be orbiting Proxima Centauri, "only" 4 light years away

NASA/Penn State University

In interstellar terms, it couldn't be closer: an Earth-like world orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest sun to our own. Moreover, it's in the system's habitable zone, raising the possibility of liquid water and the conditions to sustain life. But don't get too excited...

Although media reports say the rumored planet orbits in a region that’s potentially favorable for life, these smaller stars are less stable, and Proxima Centauri is known to have violent flares at times. Its occasional tantrums have made astronomers skeptical of finding life around red dwarf stars in the past.

However, skepticism has softened some in recent years, and SETI recently launched a major initiative to search for life around 20,000 red dwarfs, as these stars are the most common in the Milky Way galaxy.

One of the most popular locations in science fiction, a habitable world at Proxima Centauri (or, rather, a generation ship headed for it) was most recently tackled in Ascension.

Read the rest

DEA bribes rail/airline employees for tipoffs that lead to warrantless cash seizures

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A USA Today investigation has discovered a network of paid informants working for Amtrak and nearly every US airline who illegally delve into passengers' travel records to find people who might be traveling with a lot of cash: these tip-offs are used by the DEA to effect civil forfeiture -- seizing money without laying any charges against its owner, under the rubric that the cash may be proceeds from drug sales. One Amtrak secretary was secretly paid $854,460 to raid her employer's databases for the DEA. Read the rest

Flesh sucking phone charger is one of a kind

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I’ve traveled to Japan many times over the decades and seen some really strange shit. Read the rest

Airport lounges will let anyone in, provided you can fake a QR code

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When computer security expert and hardcore traveller Przemek Jaroszewski found that he couldn't enter an airline lounge in Warsaw because the automated reader mistakenly rejected his boarding card, he wrote a 600-line Javascript program that generated a QR code for "Batholemew Simpson," a business-class traveller on a flight departing that day. Read the rest

Man flew to China to meet online girlfriend, but didn't

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A Dutch man who flew to China to meet his mysterious online girlfriend ended up stuck in the airport for 10 days, eventually being taken to hospital for exhaustion. He'd surprised his companion of two months with plane tickets, reports the BBC, but she never showed up.

On Chinese social media, the majority of users were keen to point out the apparent absurdity of the man's actions.

The hashtag "Foreign man went to Changsha to meet his online girlfriend" has been trending on micro-blogging site Weibo.

"He must be stupid, why would anyone do this?" asked one user.

"Doesn't he know that everything in China is fake?" said another.

Look at the man's photo and tell me that Steve Buscemi shouldn't play him in the movie. Read the rest

TSA approves having a mummified head as your carry-on luggage, with reservations

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As long as it is "properly packaged, labeled and declared," one may take Victorian philosopher Jeremy Bentham's mummified head onto your flight. The TSA added that travelers may simply snap a picture and tweet it to @AskTSA if they are in any doubt about the flight-legality of any desiccated human remains with which they wish to fly. Read the rest

How to Pack for Any Trip is like a Marie Kondo book for travelers

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

How to Pack for Any Trip Lonely Planet 2016, 160 pages, 7 x 4.7 x 0.5 inches (softcover) $12 Buy a copy on Amazon

I’ve bought many a travel guidebooks from Lonely Planet before jumping on a plane, but this is the first I’ve seen from the adventure publisher that guides you before you leave the house. Reminding me of Marie Kondo and her magical ways of tidying up, How to Pack for Any Trip helps the traveler learn to pack efficiently and clutter-free. (The packing section even says, Kondo-style, that “the liberation of decluttering is magical.”)

With modern clean graphics, this pocket-size book (about the size of my wallet) teaches us how to choose our luggage, decide what to bring, pack lightly, fold – or roll up – our clothes, organize a backpack, and how to pack with kids. It also has a section on how to pack for different landscapes, such as large cities, the snow, campsites, beaches, the mountains, jungles, and deserts. Fun, useful, and just released last week, this book is a no-brainer for anyone planning to pack for a weekend trip or a month-long adventure.

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SURVEY: Your views on US Customs' plan to search your social media at the border

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Deji from Access Now writes, "You remember that spooky story about the U.S. screening everyone’s social media 'presence' at the border? Well, now there’s a way to tell the government exactly what you think about it." Read the rest

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