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Why Canada tops our 2017 travel list

Go north, eh? Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2017 in a big way. Which is utterly appropriate for a nation that boasts some of the biggest or oldest or most unusual travel sites on the planet.

For an untold number of years, Americans have had rather narrow view, to say the least, of Canada. All too often, say "Canada" to an American and people think Montreal, a Francophile’s accessible fantasy; Niagara Falls, ice hockey, poutine, and the Toronto Blue Jays (because, well--baseball.) Chalk it up to Justin Bieber’s endless stream of chart-toppers, Ryan Reynolds’ show-stopping performance in “La La Land” and, of course, just about everything that Justin Trudeau, dreamboat-in-chief and humanitarian extraordinaire, says and does, but these days Canada is on everyone’s minds. And travel bucket lists. 

It’s Canada’s moment, and not least because 2017 marks the nation’s 150th birthday. As a tribute to our 3,855,103-square-mile northern neighbor and its greatness, we did some exploring, in case you’re thinking of paying a visit this year. Not only did we find some astonishing and unique sights and destinations, we found that many of them are the best—the biggest, the tallest, the oldest, the most uncommon—in their class. In other words, Canada is not just great in a lot of ways. It’s unrivaled. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

NATURAL WONDERS

As we did our research, we ended up asking ourselves over and over again: will wonders never cease? Of course, Niagara Falls is the belle of Canada’s natural ball, but over the vast landscape, plenty of other spectacles are worth seeing. Geographically speaking, Newfoundland and Labrador is home to Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America and home to an iconic lighthouse, where the dawn breaks first.

The Charlevoix region, an hour east of Quebec City, draws adrenaline junkies because of Le Massif de Charlevoix, a mountain looming above the St. Lawrence River with the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Within its boundaries you’ll also find the 11th biggest crater on earth, the still-breathtaking effect of a 15-billion-ton meteorite that crashed down between land and a river 400 million years ago, resulting in the province’s hilliest region and one of North America’s most panoramic road. In the Quebec Maritime region, the Manicouagan impact crater, which fell to earth 215.5 million years ago, is 62 miles in diameter, making it the fifth largest in the world and can be seen from space.

The largest tree, a Sitka spruce casually referred to “Heaven Tree” grows in British Columbia. It’s in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park and it has an 11.5-foot-diameter is estimated to be 800 years old. The “Hanging Garden Tree,” a vision to behold on Meares Island, near Tofino, is one of the oldest known western red cedars, estimated to be anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 years old.

Provincial Park is home to one pretty mighty tree, but Kitlope Heritage Conservancy Protected Area on BC’s central coast is location of lots and lots of trees that make up the world’s largest intact coastal temperate rainforest is over 793,208 acres, located within the traditional territory of the Haisla First Nation, is home to bald eagles, grizzlies and plenty more wild animals. It’s best reached by boat and July and August are prime time to visit.

And as for water, when we talk about rivers, lakes, and oceans, we talk about depth, distance, and what lives beneath. We don’t, however, talk about speed. Unless we’re in Skookumchuck Narrows on BC’s Sunshine Coast. The water rushes along at more than 16 knots, one of the fastest flowing tidal currents on the planet. But what’s a mere breakneck tidal current in the face of a whirlpool? New Brunswick lays claim to the brutally powerful Fundy’s Old Sow Whirlpool, which, with a width of 75 meters, is the largest in the Western Hemisphere and second largest in the world. (The largest is the the Maelstrom Whirlpool of Norway.) Its sheer force is evident at the Bay of Fundy, known for having the highest tides on Earth. 

ON THE MOVE

Kelowna, a small city in the south of British Columbia, is arguably the most attractive to active, sporty types. The highest skating rink in North America sits 5,570 feet above sea level at Big White Ski Resort. It’s Olympic size, free to use, and offers awe-inspiring mountain views. Pretty though it may be, Kelowna’s rink is practically quaint compared to the Rideau Canal Skateway, the planet’s largest naturally frozen ice skating rink, as declared by the Guinness Book of World Records. Every winter, the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, freezes into this playscape, which stretches for 4.8 miles through downtown Ottawa and has a surface area equal to 90 Olympic sized rinks. 

Attention adrenaline junkies: Peachland’s ZipZone is Canada’s highest freestyle zipline, a 381-foot thrill ride. Winsport, a sprawling athletic center in Calgary, has Canada’s fastest zipline, which cruises at 87 mph.

This one comes from the department things you never realized were measured but are: publicly owned waterparks. Kelowna’s H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre is Canada’s largest, with waterslides and plenty of other water runs. Add in Canada’s most extensive cycle network, a 211-mile expanse, and it’s little surprise to learn, then, that Kelowna is Canada’s fittest city.

The annual HOPE Volleyball SummerFest, which takes place at Mooney’s Bay on the Rideau River near downtown Ottawa, is the largest one-day beach volleyball tournament in the world. (And it raises thousands of dollars for deserving local charities.)

CULTURE

There’s an old joke that goes: What’s the difference between Canada and yogurt? Yogurt has an active culture. (*rimshot*) Well, turns out Canada gets the last laugh in the culture department, what with an assortment of longstanding theaters and museums and brand new institutions. In Winnepeg, for instance, Winnipeg Art Gallery is the oldest civic museum in Canada and the world’s largest collections of contemporary Inuit art. The city, Manitoba’s capital, is also home to Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the country’s oldest ballet company and the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America. Speaking of enduring, Winnipeg's Le Cercle Moliere is Canada’s oldest continuously running theatre company while Rainbow Stage in Kildonan Park is Canada’s largest and longest-running outdoor theatre.

But there are plenty of new establishments of note, too, like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which opened in September 2014 and is Canada’s first national museum to be built outside the capital region. It's also the only museum exclusively focused on the history and future of human rights. Saskatoon is on track to open the Remai Modern this year 2017. The museum, which comes with a $80.2 million price tag, houses the world’s largest collection of Picasso linocuts.

And for all the trivia nuts out there, here’s a fun fact: St. Boniface Museum in Manitoba, which houses artifacts related to Western Canada’s French-Canadian and Métis heritage, is located in a former Grey Nuns’ convent house, which was built around 1850 and happens to be the city’s oldest remaining structure and the largest oak log building in North America. The title for the nation’s oldest, continuously operating museum, however, goes to New Brunswick Museum, established 1842.  This family-friendly institution spotlight’s the region’s art, cultural heritage and scientific history.

Look at the municipal schedule of any Canadian city and you’ll easily be convinced that Canada holds more festivals than any other nation. We don’t have the international data to confirm that, but while we compile a comprehensive listing of festivals throughout the year, we can offer a few teasers: The Ottawa International Animation Festival is North America’s largest animation festival. The annual Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (AKA: Chamberfest) is the world’s largest chamber music festival. Not to be outdone, Winnepeg: Folklorama is the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival, allowing visitors to travel the globe in one city at 40-plus pavilions featuring traditional food, drink, cultural displays and live entertainment from countries around the world. Meantime, Western Canada's largest winter festival is Festival du Voyageur, where Voyageur, Métis, and First Nations histories are brought back to life with music and performances, food, and lots more.  

CULINARY

Some of Canada’s restaurants have rather eccentric claims to fame. BC Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, near Golden in the Kootenay Rockies, is home to the country’s highest restaurant, the Eagle’s Eye. It’s 2,350 metres/7,710 feet high on the summit of the Golden Eagle Express gondola.

Over in Winnepeg, RAW: almond is the world’s only pop-up restaurant located on a frozen river, and Mon Amis Louis is North America’s only restaurant on a bridge. The eatery, which specializes in French-inspired cuisine, is closed for the winter, but the inspiring views of the Red River are the stuff spring dreams are made of.

A bit less esoteric and a whole lot more wholesome, Florenceville-Bristol in New Brunswick is the “French Fry Capital,” supplying one third of all fries around the world. Native sons built the first McCain Foods Limited French fry plant in town in 1957. The town is now home to the Potato World Museum.  

Canada’s whiskies have been making waves and winning awards in the past few years, but one tipple that’s uniquely Canadian is Omerto, an aperitif tomato wine made by a boutique operation called Domaine de la Vallée du Bras in Charlevoix. The nation also does its part to keep up with the global craft beer scene. There’s been such a proliferation of interesting breweries operating in BC that the BC Craft Brewers Guild recently established the BC Ale Trail, an online guide that organized notable breweries into seven suggested road trips. Self-guided tours cover areas as diverse as the rugged Kootenay Rockies, the pastoral Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, and suburban Port Moody, with options for walking, biking, or bringing the car. Links to accommodations and local attractions round things out, as well as tips on signature pours for each brewery, plus beer-themed events.    

AND EVERYTHING ELSE

Alberta deserves a section of its own, not least because the tourism bureau has plotted out a road trip of some of the most distinctive and whimsical attractions that are the largest—if not only—in their respective class. To wit: it’s home to the largest mallard duck, which has a wingspan of 23 feet, and the world’s most massive working oil lamp which is 42 feet high and looks like something out of a Mother Goose tale. It’s on display at what is arguably the region’s oddest museum: the Donalda & District Museum, which houses more than 900 kerosene lamps dating from the 1600s and the 1960s.

Alberta doesn’t have a full monopoly on Canada’s quirky attractions. The Calgary Stampede is known as the richest rodeo event in North America and Heritage Park in Calgary, an interactive and nostalgic museum with displays that stretch back to Canadian life in the 1860s, is Canada’s largest living historical village. The Town of Shediac in New Brunswick, the lobster capital of the world, lays claim to the world’s largest lobster, a sculpture that’s 35 feet long and 16 feet high. Question is, though, where’s the world’s biggest bowl of melted butter?

See More From Budget Travel:Trending 2017 trips to book nowThree-Day Weekend: Quebec City

How not to be a jerk on a plane

With high-profile incidents of "air rage" going viral these days, an etiquette expert weighs in on the do's and don'ts of air travel.

It seems like hardly a week goes by without us hearing about another incident of bad behavior on an airplane. Most recently, on January 3, a San-Francisco-bound flight from Australia had to turn around and make an emergency stop in New Zealand because a man in a middle seat became irrepressibly enraged—swatting at the beverage cart, delivering a loud tirade to the other passengers, speaking offensively to a flight attendant. News reports say he was in the middle seat and was upset because people on either side were having a conversation over him.

Every study and report that travel companies release indicates that air travel is on the rise. An increase in the number of aircrafts and routes and the boom in budget airlines make travel more accessible to everyone. That means flights are dependably more crowded, meaning jostling for overhead bin space, and with all the air traffic, waits on tarmacs can be epic. People are anxious about missing their connections and some are just anxious because, well, flying does that to people. Tensions are high for those reasons and others, and it doesn’t take much to make a person snap. And anger and distress begets anger and distress.

According to the International Air Transport Association, a trade organization, the number of violent in-flight confrontations is on the rise. A recent report says that the number of air rage incidents last year totaled 10,854, up 14 percent from 2014. Flight crews categorize air rage in one of several types: belligerent behavior, emotional outburst, noncompliant behavior, and incidents involving drugs, alcohol, smoking or sex. According to a report published in May 2016 by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, belligerent behavior and intoxication were more common in first class, whereas emotional outbursts, such as a panic attack, were more common among economy passengers. What’s more, an outburst by an economy class passenger is almost four times as likely to have an air rage incident if they’re on a plane with a first-class section. Interestingly, though, according to the study passengers are about two-times as likely to have an outburst if they boarded through first class (vs. boarding in the middle of the plane).

But there are ways to keep calm at 36,000 feet and ensure that others around you do the same so that everyone arrives safe in mind and body. We checked in with Lizzie Post, president of The Emily Post Institute, and host of the “Awesome Etiquette” podcast, and great-great-granddaughter of the legendary etiquette doyenne Emily Post. Here are her tips.

DO

* If someone beside you is noticeably anxious because, for instance, of fear of flying, wait a minute to see if it passes, then ask the person if conversation helps or if he’d rather be left alone to breathe and relax.

* If you feel endangered for any reason by a fellow passenger, quietly and patiently get up and speak to a flight attendant. Tell him or her the person next to you is agitated and you’re uncomfortable. Ask if there’s anything they can do to help your seatmate or, if it’s really bad, can you change seats. She notes: “Be careful what level responsibility put on them. They’re there to help. Let them know situation, but speak I a calm and gentle way while seeking sympathy and support rather than get angry at them.”

* When it comes to the nagging issue of reclining seats in the cramped surrounds of economy class, if the seat in front of you is reclined and it’s really interfering, instead of asking the passenger simply to put the seat up, immediately establish that you’re not being too self-centered and demanding and ask if, for instance, they can put the seat up for a little while, like, for instance, when the drinks are served. Heard from so many that grateful to pay 20 more and get extra leg room.

Remember, Post says, “it’ll all be over in a few hours and don’t forget that you can get up and move around to counteract how much time you spend with the person’s head in your face.”

DON’T

* Whatever you do, do not address an irate stranger on your own. “Safety trumps etiquette,” Post insists. So rather than telling someone who’s upset that she needs to sit and be quiet, seek out help from a flight attendant. 

* To avoid rustling the feathers of a potential whiner in the seat behind you, don’t recline, if you can help it. You might call the the martyr's approach to a pleasant flight. 

* While you can always make a polite request if a person in front of you has the seat down, do not, under any circumstance, get ticked off if your request doesn’t work. “Every person purchased a seat and they’re allowed to use all its functions,” Post reminds.

See More From Budget Travel:Air travel booking secrets for 2017These are the destinations and travel trends everybody was searching on Google this year10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2016'Hacker Fares': An Easy Way to Save BigPsst! 10 Flight Attendant Secrets

Airline offers $69 fares from US to Europe

An Icelandic airline is offering American globetrotters tickets from the West Coast to any of four European cities for less than $70 starting Tuesday.

>> Read more trending stories

WOW air announced Tuesday that travelers can get one-way tickets from the Los Angeles or San Francisco international airports to Stockholm, Copenhagen, Bristol or Edinburgh for $69.99. The sale applies to trips between Jan. 15 and April 5.

The airline billed the fares as the "lowest airline prices yet" from the "ultra-low cost transatlantic airline" in a news release Tuesday.

WOW air is also offering tickets from Miami and Boston to Iceland for $99. Tickets to fly on to Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin or Frankfurt are also available for $149 for travelers flying from Miami and $129 for tickets from Boston.

The sale prices are available for a limited time, the airline said, although the company hinted that similar offerings could be forthcoming.

"WOW air's goal is to enable everybody to fly by offering the lowest fares on the market," airline founder and CEO Skuli Mogensen said. "I am very proud that by offering $69.99 fares, we are enabling thousands of people to travel that otherwise could not afford it."

The announced fares are the latest salvo in an ongoing transatlantic fare war.

Norwegian Air Shuttle announced transatlantic flights last year for as little as half of what its competitors charged, Reuters reported. The move was possible because of low labor costs and exceptionally fuel-efficient planes, the airline said.

Trending 2017 trips to book now

These are going to be the coolest destinations for 2017, from the tried-and-true to emerging hot spots.

There’s always a renewed sense of excitement, anticipation, and inspiration at the beginning of the year. Resolutions are fresh and change feels within reach. Most importantly (for us, at least) there travel dreams and fantasies that beg to become realities. And my, those dreams are bountiful. Planning travel is an exercise in discipline and decision-making. And the hardest decision is the first: where to go.

CANADA CALLING

Not surprisingly, Dubai, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Washington DC, Machu Picchu, and Bangkok remain on experts’ lists for destinations that continuously attract increasing numbers of visitors. But for the most part, hot spots on everyone’s must-see list change. Sometimes a city is an attraction because planning anniversary events, either for itself and its own founding or of an iconic historic celebrity, the way Salzburg and Vienna did in 2006 on to celebrate 250 years since Mozart’s birth. Montreal (pictured above) is a hot ticket this year because it’s commemorating the 375th anniversary of its establishment. All of Canada, in fact, will be a source of attention because the country is celebrating its 150th anniversary. That’s a great thing for Americans at the moment, what with a strong dollar against the Canadian dollar. Only problem is that hidden gems may no longer be hidden.

Canada made a very select list of top destinations that Orbitz put together. Montreal and Toronto in particular are sure to be on everyone’s radars, with the anniversary festivals and celebrations building on the 10% increase in visitors the city saw last year. Meantime, according to the Conference Board of Canada, Toronto is one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan economies. A slate of cultural happenings, like an expanded location of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Bentway Project, a mile-long recreational space beneath the Gardiner Expressway, chances are slim that the boom will slow in 2017. Another North American destination that’s sure to grow is Paso Robles, a central California region that’s home to more than 200 wineries. In addition to the many tasting rooms to visit, there’s a booming restaurant scene that’s getting hipper by the minute.  

NORDIC TRACKS

As far as the tried and true go, though, Iceland is not losing any interest, what with its natural wonders on full display and the quintessentially Scandinavian vibe in Reykjavik, where hip artists, musicians and chefs dictate the tone of the city. Plus an increase in budget airlines offering minimal flight prices from the US is added incentive for wallet-watchers. You may want to hang tight on planning, though. According to its data, Skyskanner says the most strategic time to book is week 43.

And for the been-there-done-that folks, Helsinki is having its moment, according to the travel experts at Bloomberg. It’s the nation’s 100th anniversary and parties abound, like choral concert in national parks starting end of August. Plus an Arctic Treehouse Hotel and Northern Lights Village, a glass-domed architectural feat, are just a few of the new attractions in Finnish Lapland that might make adventure seeker get up and go.

THE CARIBBEAN IS STILL HOT

And for those who prefer lounging around on the beach, Caribbean destinations that are getting a lot of buzz are Saint Barthélemy is showing off the fruits of its years-long hotel-building boom, largely in the luxury realm. Just take note that almost everything is shuttered in September for hurricane season. Turks and Caicos is another luxurious splurge. Among the spate of new luxury accommodations, there are cabin accommodations that make for a feasible stay for families and groups.  Nature lovers will love the three nature reserves and the third-largest coral reefs. On the budget side, Isabela, a surf town in northwest Puerto Rico, is welcoming a spate of hip new resturants, cocktail bars, and surf shops, thanks to entrepreneuring Americans. 

See More From Budget Travel:Where to Go in 2016Where to Go in 2015!10 Best Budget Destinations for 201410 Best Budget Destinations for 2013

US Virgin Islands to give $300 in vouchers to travelers this year

A deal being offered by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is offering travelers $300 in vouchers to visit the group of islands in 2017.

>> Read more trending stories 

The discounts can be applied to "spending credits for historical (and) cultural tours and activities" at more than 25 participating hotels, according to the tourism department. According to Thrillist, that includes activities that feature "eco-tours, museums, food tours and kayaking adventures."

The islands, which have an average temperature of about 80 degrees year-round, are offering the deal this year as a way to celebrate the islands being sold by Denmark to the U.S. 100 years ago.

Travelers must spend at least three consecutive nights on St. John, St. Croix and/or St. Thomas to earn the travel credit. They must book the Caribbean stay on the official website by Oct. 1 and can book dates through Dec. 31. 

Those who visit the tropical location in March, the month in which Denmark sold the islands, will also receive a "commemorative centennial souvenir."

See a list of participating hotels here.

7 American Airlines flight attendants go to hospital after flight, official says

After a flight touched down at Florida's Orlando International Airport early Tuesday, seven flight attendants asked to be taken to the hospital with complaints of headaches, officials said.

>> Read more trending stories

The crew arrived on an American Airlines flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, just after midnight, an American Airlines official said.

No information was immediately available on how long the plane had been on the ground when the crew members reported feeling ill.

There were no issues, mechanical or otherwise, on the flight and none of the passengers complained of any ailments, the American Airlines official told WFTV.

No information was available on the status of the crew members who complained of headaches.

Ivanka Trump reflects on 2016, shares New Year's Eve, Hanukkah family photo

Ivanka Trump looked back on 2016 and shared a family photo in social media posts Saturday as she celebrated New Year's Eve and the last night of Hanukkah with her husband and children.

In one post, Trump, Jared Kushner and their stood happily in front of a menorah.

>> Read more trending stories

“New Year’s Eve + Last Night of Chanukah,” she wrote on Instagram.

>> Click here or scroll down for more

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Air travel booking secrets for 2017

Using billions of data points, a new report from Expedia offers pro tips on how to get prime deals on flights year-round, as well as a preview of 2017 top destinations.

As we shift into the new year, there’s a lot of looking back on the travel industry to see what worked and what didn’t, what succeeded and what failed, and, of course, where, how, when and why people traveled. We look back so that we can have a clearer vision and understanding of what’s ahead. While technology allows us to do nearly everything aside from decisively predict the future, piles upon piles of data lets us to come pretty close. The more data we can pull from, of course, the clearer the vision.

In a recently released study by Expedia, the company partnered with Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), a trade organization, to crunch the numbers between January 1, 2016 and October 24, 2016 and figure out worldwide air travel trends. The report, “New Heights for Air Travel,” looked at data from Expedia—which encompasses the 335 million itineraries it created in its 20 years of operation. Those itineraries cover 1,820 cities within 203 countries. ARC, meantime, offers information on more than 12.5 billion passenger flights. (That's a whole lotta packs of tomato juice and packs of pretzels!)

The main takeaways of the study forecasts a huge win for travelers. First, according to the International Air Transport Association and ARC, air capacity is up about 5% globally, which means airlines are flying more planes to more destinations. Global growth typically clocks in around 3%, even in boom times. So in other words, 2016 saw a tremendous amount of growth. More seats in airplanes means more competition for passengers, so this past year also saw a tumble in average ticket prices. Those two factors—more space and lower cost—are a formula for creating more travel opportunities at lower prices in 2017. 

How much of a tumble in those ticket prices, you ask? In the nearly 10 months examined, average ticket prices in North America fell about 6% for economy one-ways and about 5% for economy round-trips. That means, for instance, a round-trip ticket that cost $472 in 2015 cost $450 in 2016.

With billions of data points at their fingertips, Expedia and its partners were able to examine buying patterns and assess ticket pricing trends and quirks. By and large, the results pretty much validate a lot of urban myths. First and foremost, some times are better than others for purchasing airline tickets. Weekends are the best time to book flights. Fridays are the worst, primarily because that’s when business travelers make their bookings. The study also notes that for domestic travel in the US, you can save as much as 11% by purchasing tickets on a Sunday vs. Friday. You can save even more on tickets to Europe—as much as 16%, in fact—by making your ticket purchase on a Sunday.

And now for the good news for the early birds among us. We all know that it pays to plan, but this study tells us just how much. According to ARC, 21 days in advance is the tipping point. When it comes to traveling within the United States, within Europe and even between the US and Europe, booking three weeks ahead of takeoff can score you as much as 30% over waiting until the last minute.  

When you’re planning a trip, don’t underestimate the impact of a weekend stay. Expedia’s study determined that you can get the best deals when you include a Saturday night overnight stay on your itinerary. That can mean savings of up to 57%, as the researches found to be the case in Southern Europe.

That does it for the “how.” Now, about the “where.” Based on its data, the study looked at 500 top destinations. Not surprisingly, the airport with the most significant leap was Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, which surged in capacity by 53% from 2015 to 2016. Coming in a very close second was the airport in Da Nang, Vietnam. Among other destinations that spiked in popularity were Zhuhai, China (41 percent); Cusco, Peru (39 percent); and Santiago, Chile (38 percent). Cities in Uruguay, Iceland, Panama, and Russia were other mentions.

There are plenty more general findings. Perhaps you can chalk it up to the coast-to-coast growth of tequila and the taco truck boom, but overall growth of Mexico City as a destination was a significant 11%. Industry watchdogs are already deeming it a 2017 hotspot. Largely because its economy is pulsing, airlines are ramping up flights to India as we speak. Same goes for Dubai as well as China, which saw nearly 10% growth in airline capacity over the past year. Notably, in addition to more airlines instituting new routes to China, new airports have opened or expanded throughout the country.

Experts predict that most of the destinations that have seen growth in 2016 will continue to thrive. It’s up to you to prove them right. Or chart your own path and prove them wrong. 

See More From Budget Travel:These are the destinations and travel trends everybody was searching on Google this yearLet a local show you how locals live 5 BIG Ways Google Can Help You Travel Smarter

These are the best and worst airports in the country, travel site says

Just in time for holiday travel, a travel blog has ranked the best and worst airports to go to in 2016. It may be a challenge to avoid New York airports.

>> Read more trending stories

Today reported that the blog, called The Points Guy, compiled a list of the best and worst airports in the United States.

According to The Points Guy, the list was compiled based on criteria the blog's research team deemed important, including timeliness in terms of wait times in security, cancellations and delays; accessibility, including drive time to and from the airport to popular areas and public transit factors; and amenities at the airport, such as Wi-Fi, eateries, lounges and cost of parking.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Federal Aviation Administration and airport websites were also used to compile information matching the criteria.

New York has two airports in the "worst" list, along with other major-city airports in Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit. The top 10 worst airports, according to The Points Guy, is below:

  1. LaGuardia (New York; LGA)
  2. John F. Kennedy International  (New York; JFK)
  3. Newark Liberty International (New Jersey; EWR)
  4. Chicago O’Hare International (Illinois; ORD)
  5. Detroit Metro (Michigan; DTW)
  6. Orlando International (Florida; MCO)
  7. Washington Dulles International (Virginia; IAD)
  8. Denver International (Colorado; DEN)
  9. Los Angeles International (California; LAX)
  10. Houston George Bush Intercontinental (Texas; IAH)

Seattle-Tacoma, Honolulu, Las Vegas and Philadelphia all made the "best" airports list. The top 10 is below:

  1. Phoenix Sky Harbor International (Arizona; PHX)
  2. Portland International (Oregon; PDX)
  3. San Diego International (California; SAN)
  4. Salt Lake City International (Utah; SLC)
  5. Honolulu International (Hawaii; HNL)
  6. Seattle-Tacoma International (Washington; SEA)
  7. Philadelphia International (Pennsylvania; PHL)
  8. Charlotte Douglas International (North Carolina; CLT)
  9. Las Vegas McCarran International (Nevada; LAS)
  10. Minneapolis-St. Paul International (Minnesota; MSP)

For more information, visit The Points Guy blog.

Man gives mother sense of purpose, trip of lifetime after father's death

A New York man is taking his mother on 20 adventures to honor the 20 years she spent acting as a caregiver for her late husband. 

>> Read more trending stories 

In September, Barton Brooks embarked on a trip with his mother, Carla Brooks, and his partner, Gregg Goodbrod, for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Barton said he was inspired to take his mother on the trip because she didn't have a sense of purpose after the death of her husband last year. She'd been at Barton's father's side for two decades, helping take care of him after he suffered a debilitating stroke.

Barton said all Carla knew was how to be a caregiver and she "kind of lost herself."

"It wasn't a huge shock when he passed away, but after caring for him 24/7 for nearly 20 years, she was just lost," Barton told the "Today" show. "She was sad and lonely, but there was more of a melancholy about what she was supposed to do next."

Carla was heartbroken, and Barton wanted to help her heal and inspire her in the wake of the loss. So he hatched a plan to take her to 20 European destinations, some of which Carla visited the last time she overcame heartbreak.

In 1962, Carla, originally from Kamas, Utah, traveled to Europe with what would have been money for her wedding after learning her then-fiance was cheating on her. She reasserted herself abroad before returning to the U.S., where she met and married Barton's father, Karl Brooks.

"She uses adventure, often, to heal herself from things that are difficult," Barton told People. "She traveled around Europe and explored and healed her broken heart through that."

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Hoping to recreate some of that excitement and adventure, Barton convinced his mother to go on a trip across Europe. The group's first stop was Paris. Since then, they've visited Switzerland, London, Wales, Budapest, Prague and Munich.

Posted by The Little Girl From Kamas on Monday, October 24, 2016

"The most meaningful day was in Wales when we had the memory day for Karl," Carla, 77, told "Today." "We spent that day at the lighthouse where his great grandfather was the lighthouse keeper 150 years ago, and we’d been there together before -- he loved it there."

Barton said his mother has more of a go-getter attitude. 

Off again!Posted by The Little Girl From Kamas on Friday, December 9, 2016

"I get to hug my mom every night, show her things she's always wanted to see and have her hang on my arm as we walk around each city," Barton, 45, told "Today." "(It) has just been perfect."

Carla said the trip as been more than she could have ever dreamed and that it was the best decision she's made.

Follow Carla, Barton and Gregg's adventures on Facebook or at TheLittleGirlFromKamas.com.

Posted by The Little Girl From Kamas on Friday, December 9, 2016

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