From Around the Travelsphere

West Philadelphia at 47th and Baltimore

A round-up of travel items from around the world.

Bans and Restrictions

A ban on booze in Phuket’s national parks has angered Russians to the point they’re canceling vacations to the island, located off the coast of southwestern Thailand. The ban comes on the heels of a college student’s alcohol-related death. Inside Russia, president Vladmir Putin forbade government officials from taking vacations amid chaos-causing airport power outages. In America, a Russian junior hockey team was booted from a Delta Airlines flight out of New York for drunkenness.

An Italian law banning nondegradable plastic bags in one of the planet’s most popular tourist destinations went into effect, leaving store owners complaining they aren’t ready for such a cultural change. One lawyer told the Guardian, “We should take it slowly, because we do not have the cultural background to know how to deal with this.” Shopkeepers can be fined for using the bags. USA Today lists other popular destinations that have banned plastic bags.

Will you be fit enough to travel in space? That’s the $200,000 question. The Telegraph highlights precautions Virgin Galactic is taking to ensure space tourists – who’ll experience weightlessness and heavy g’s upon re-entry – don’t pass out or worse. The article notes that passengers are required to undergo a three-day space camp and pass a physical. Meanwhile, environmentalists are raising alarms about space tourim’s effect on Earth’s atmosphere.

Costs and Savings

Travel experts predict that Americans will spend more on travel in 2011 than in 2010, with top destination cities being – New York, London and Paris. More intrepid travelers, predicts Lonely Planet, will find Albania, Bulgeria and Syria to as 2011′s top off-beat destinations. Unfortunately, travelers might go as far on the dollar as last year. Experts also predict traveling costs will see across the board increases in 2011. The New York Times’ Practical Traveler offers 11 tricks for trimming expenses.

Ever wonder how much more airlines can nickel and dime passengers? Airfarewatchdog.com predicts what new fees airlines may impose on travelers in 2011. Among them: infant fees and checked baggage by the pound. CBS News’ travel editor provides guidance for getting around rising costs.

The Chicago Tribune reports that December snow storms cost United Airlines $25 billion. Boxing Day blizzards in the northeast led to the cancellation of more than 5,000 flights, stranding 575,000 passengers. The loss reduces the airline’s fourth quarter earnings by $10 million dollars. The Washington Post finds that United, which recently merged with Continental Airlines, made $243 million last year in name change fees alone during the first three quarters of 2010.

Globetrotters

JD Andrews at earthXplorer.com launches a series set in a small village in rural Peru. Kate McCulley at AdventerousKate.com explains why she loves the dirty, impoverished and chaotic city of Phnom Penh. Katjusa Cisar takes us to another crazy city as she launches a 12-part series on her recent visit to Calcutta at Katjusa.com. Meanwhile, Jeannie Mark at NomadicChick.com shows where volunteers in India sleep. Nomadic Matt begins a solo trek through Central America. And Lauren McLeod and Todd Sullivan from Globetrooper.com launch a daily round-up of what travelers are writing and tweeting at The Travel Blog Daily.

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