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Jan/Feb 2013 Issue

Thirteen places to visit in 2013

Dust off the passport and drag out the suitcase; it’s time to think about where to travel in the new year. With the holidays a thing of the past, an entire year of adventure yawns before us. Here is a list of 13 places to visit in 2013 for your consideration, listed alphabetically.

1. Christchurch, New Zealand. The spirit of rebuilding and renewing itself after two devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 inspired a bold Christchurch Reimagined campaign to bring tourists– especially from Australia–back. Visitors will want to experience the city’s vibrant art scene.

2. Dominican Republic. More flights and passengers (a 14 percent increase in U.S./Canadian travelers in the first quarter of 2012) coming in means additional hotels and services for tourists. Punta Cana will see new Westin and Sheraton (Four Points) hotels in 2013. Gran Bahia Resorts announced plans for five new hotels here.

3. Ireland. A year-long party highlighting Irish culture and tradition, The Gathering, is sure to draw visitors, especially since 70 million people around the world claim some Irish ancestry, according to Trafalgar, a preferred touring company for AAA. Some tour prices for Ireland–including “Irish Highlights,” an eight-day trip–have decreased by as much as 15 percent from last year.

4. Mexico. Last year, the Mexico Tourism Board touted its Mayan heritage as the international media looked at the end of the world predictions for December. Mexico understands the importance of tourism and this means visitors are welcomed and given great service and value for their investment.

5. Orlando, Fla. New offerings at Walt Disney World include an expanded Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom. Universal Studios will launch its new attraction, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride–3D, this summer.

6. Panama. The expansion of the canal continues, and is estimated to be complete by 2014. Panama Canal cruises continue in popularity, but there’s much more than the canal here: beaches, rain forest, volcanic valleys, and a diverse population.

7. San Francisco. America’s Cup comes to the bay city in 2013, but that’s just one of many reasons to visit this great American city.

8. South Korea. This July, we’ll remember the 60th anniversary of the Korean War’s end, which could initiate travel interest among veterans and families. In addition, the 2013 Special Olympics’ Winter Games, Jan. 29–Feb. 5.

9. Spain. One of Europe’s great value destinations, the average per diem cost on all of Trafalgar Tour’s Spanish itineraries is $187; prices have decreased an average of 11 percent from 2012, says Trafalgar.

10. Sri Lanka. Another destination that’s off the beaten path, but you have to respect how this South Asian country has come back from the devastating 2004 tsunami and a civil war that ended in 2009.

11. Turkey. Still the best budget destination in Europe, travelers can enjoy this eastern European getaway for about $148 per day (Trafalgar Tours’ “Highlights of Turkey”).

12.Vegas. Always developing, Las Vegas, Nev., in 2013 will see new hotels, attractions, shows, and clubs.

13. Vicksburg, Miss. Civil War history is simply part of this city’s tapestry, but the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Vicksburg in July is sure to draw history buffs into town.

Want additional ideas for your 2013 vacation? Attend a AAA Travel event. See list of events.

Travel trends: Mobile searches are on the rise

The head of travel at Google recently told a travel distribution summit that 2013 should see mobile device use represent 45 percent of all searches. Consumers, in part, search for room availability and prices.

Download the new AAA Mobile app. Get easy access to many AAA services including roadside assistance, maps, directions, member discounts, travel planning, and more. It is available free for the iPhone and Android. Visit for details.

Treasure hunt

Following the busiest travel days of Thanksgiving and Christmas, one wonders what new treasure might be at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala. But then, shopping the 40,000-square-foot store always is an adventure. The center is about a six-hour road trip from Jackson, Miss.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center is closed Sundays. Call (256) 259-1525 or visit

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