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Travel news in brief

Featured on www.chicagotribune.com, May 24, 2009
bookit.com

Travel news in brief


Hybrids a hit: Responding to customer interest, Enterprise, National and Alamo -- the Taylor family of car-rental companies -- have more than doubled their fleets of hybrid vehicles, with about 9,000 now available at nearly 100 hybrid branches across the country. The company recently polled customers, according to Lee Broughton, Enterprise's director of sustainability, and the results showed that even with lower gas prices, renters still wanted fuel-efficient vehicles. Broughton said 77 percent of those polled ranked fuel efficiency as a high priority for their rental, and 52 percent of them would choose a hybrid, which gets around 400 miles on a 10-gallon tank of gas, if they could. The hybrid rentals generally run $10 to $15 a day more than non-hybrids.

Eat it up: Buffalo wings from Buffalo and cheese steak from Philly are heading to California next month for the one-day Great American Food and Music Fest. The event takes place noon-10 p.m. June 13 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, about 35 miles from San Francisco. In addition to food from all over the U.S., wine tastings, a barbecue, demonstrations by celebrity chefs and music performances will also be part of the program. Tickets start at $35. Details at greatamericanfoodandmusicfest.com.

Hit the water: National Fishing and Boating Week is June 6-14, with hundreds of free fishing days around the country featuring organized activities and free equipment and instruction. Links to fishing events can be found at takemefishing.org. The Web site also lists places to fish (sortable by interest, like family hot spots, urban fishing, etc.), where to get a license, a "little lunkers" section for how to get kids interested in the sport and a social network for more seasoned anglers looking to swap advice and stories.

Grab a freebie: Next time you're at the airport security screening area, keep an eye out for free samples of zip-top plastic bags meant for liquids. Not only are they sturdy, reusable baggies for all your 3-ounce containers, they also make handy holders for receipts, maps, menus, even a spare poncho or pair of socks.

New ID rules: If you're traveling to Canada, be sure to pack the right ID -- a passport or one of several other federally approved documents -- starting June 1. That's when a new U.S. law will require American and Canadian citizens entering or returning to the United States by land or sea to have standardized documents. A passport already is required for all international air travel to and from the United States. There are exemptions for children under 16: They need just a birth certificate (an original or copy). Youths 16 through 18 traveling in organized groups -- such as school or sports teams -- also need only birth certificates.

The best: The refurbished Fontainebleau in Miami and 12 other U.S. properties are among the 45 best new hotels around the world as chosen by editors of Travel + Leisure magazine. The Fontainebleau, which hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley in its heyday in the 1950s and '60s, reopened in November after a $1,000,000,000 renovation. Other U.S. hotels listed were the Mondrian in Miami Beach and Viceroy Miami in Florida; the Montage Beverly Hills, the Resort at Pelican Hill, Newport Beach and SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills in California; the InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, Scottsdale, Ariz.; The Mansion on Peachtree, Atlanta; Mandarin Oriental, Boston; Encore Wynn, Las Vegas; Encantado, Santa Fe; The Standard in New York City; and The Nines, Portland, Ore. The complete list is at tinyurl.com/qzftqu.

I-39 work cleared away

Work on Interstate Highway 39 in Columbia County, Wis, has been completed for the season. All six lanes are open to traffic for the Memorial Day weekend through summer. Crews began working in February to replace almost 4 miles of pavement and install median safety walls on the route between Madison and the Wisconsin Dells, one of the busiest stretches of interstate in Wisconsin. The second phase of the project will begin in September. Motorists can get up-to-the-minute travel information via the Wisconsin Department of Transportation at 511wi.gov.

Dealmakers: With occupancy rates down, hotels and booking sites have come up with new promotions to lure visitors. bookit.com is giving away a free BlackBerry or other smart phone or music phone, valued at up to $349, with any booking on its Web site, including flight, hotel stay, travel package or car rental. A new promotion from Radisson Hotels & Resorts offers free Friday night stays until Sept. 15, when you stay two or more consecutive nights (Thursday or Saturday). Reservations must be made a minimum of seven days in advance at radisson.com/freefriday or by calling 800-333-3333. And Chicago's Talbott Hotel is letting past guests pay their age on their birthday this year for a deluxe king bedded room. The offer is good for anyone who was a registered guest at the luxury boutique hotel in 2008.

Cruise control: The TravelSmart Newsletter has a two-part series with tips for booking and taking cruises in its May 15 and June 15 issues. Both issues are available free by visiting TravelSmartNewsletter.com.
  
  

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