Travel briefs

White Sands National Monument — the world’s largest gypsum dune field — has turned 75.

President Herbert Hoover signed the papers on Jan. 18, 1933, that turned the dunes over to the National Park Service. The monument preserves part of the dunes that have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and the plants and animals that have adapted to the unique environment.

The monument celebrated its anniversary Jan. 19 with a day full of events, including the kickoff of a children’s photo contest, the cutting of a birthday cake at 1 p.m. and showings of a 1938 promotional film for the monument.

The monument’s establishment coincided with economic recovery programs promoted by the Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression.

In its first year, the monument attracted 12,000 people. By 1965, more than 500,000 people annually were visiting the Tularosa Basin park southwest of Alamogordo.

Details at White Sands National Monument:

Inn on Cape Cod named ‘best bargain’ in survey

The SeaCoast Inn in Hyannis, Mass., was named the “best bargain in the world” in TripAdvisor’s annual “Travelers’ Choice Awards.”

The inn on Cape Cod is lauded by consumers posting on TripAdvisor as “fantastic,” “immaculate,” “comfortable” and “quiet,” with a perfect location and friendly innkeepers. The inn is closed for the season, but rates on the inn’s Web site at are listed as $98 to $148 summer, and $68 to $108 spring and fall (higher for holiday weekends).

Other winners in the TripAdvisor awards were Los Altos De Eros, in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, named best luxury hotel in the world; Signature at MGM Grand in Las Vegas as best luxury hotel in the U.S.; the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin as best luxury hotel in Europe; Arcadia Residence, in Prague, Czech Republic, as best bargain in Europe; Residence Inn SeaWorld/International Center in Orlando, Fla., as best hotel for families in the U.S., and the Foxfield Inn in Charlottesville, Va., as best B&B in the U.S.

For the complete list of 325 hotels in all categories, visit www.­

The winners were determined based on the popularity of a given hotel as measured by both the quantity and quality of postings on TripAdvisor and across the Web, along with traveler ratings of certain attributes such as cleanliness and value.

Tickets on sale for Spoleto Festival in S.C.

Tickets are on sale now for the annual Spoleto Festival, scheduled for May 23 thorugh June 8 in Charleston, S.C..

The 140 performances include artists and ensembles from around the world in about 45 productions.

Among the offerings are two operas: Gioachino Rossini’s opera buffa, “La Cenerentola,” a comic retelling of Cinderella; and a new production of Anthony Davis’ “Amistad” at the newly renovated Memminger Auditorium.

Other highlights include a jazz series, the Boston Ballet, chamber music and Laurie Anderson’s “Homeland.”

Tickets range from $10 to $150. Details at or 843-579-3100.

New book offers tips for traveling with children

Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco, who has advised 16 governments and the United Nations on health policy, started traveling with her younger son when he was 2 weeks old. Her older son celebrated his first birthday on his fifth continent.

Now she’s offering the wisdom she accumulated during all those travels with her children to the rest of us in a new book called “The Rough Guide to Travel with Babies &Young Children” (Rough Guides, $15.99).

The book includes a variety of tips, including coping with road trips and plane travel, health concerns, entertaining kids on the road and cultural issues. For example, the writer notes that in India, “get your children to apologize profusely if they inadvertently touch someone with their shoes, as this is considered especially offensive.” In Thailand, “kids who make light of inconveniences are thought to be especially well brought up.” And remember that “patting children on the head is considered disrespectful in many countries.”

When is the best time to buy plane tickets?

The co-founder of, a Web site that offers international flights, says it does matter what day of the week or time of day you buy a plane ticket.

“Our experience with airlines has shown us that they update available seats around 12 a.m. Eastern time every day,” said Assen Vassilev, who is also the company’s CEO.

He added that weekend specials are usually released Thursday night. So, Vassilev said, late Thursday night is a good time to check for the best deals.’s discount fares come from more than 75 airlines around the world. Its distribution partners include,, and

NYC zoos, aquarium set to get green makeover

Saying it needs to live up to its name, the Wildlife Conservation Society is taking steps to make the Central Park and Bronx zoos and its other animal parks more environmentally friendly.

“We can’t be a leader in global conservation if we don’t also live it at home,” President Steven Sanderson said in a release as the organization announced plans for a 30 percent cut in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The 112-year-old organization conducts research and works to protect rare and endangered animals in various places around the world. Based at the Bronx Zoo, it also operates the Central Park, Prospect Park and Queens zoos and the New York Aquarium.

The organization’s efforts to shrink its so-called carbon footprint range from installing a water-saving system at the Bronx Zoo’s sea lion exhibit to altering that zoo’s power plant to use only natural gas, rather than burning both diesel fuel and natural gas.

Associated Press

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