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HootRoot Travel Tool

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 17 12:01 PM

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To be (green), or not to be, that is the question. When it comes to traveling, the answer is usually "not." But website HootRoot, which has just won a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency award, aims to change all that.

Plug in your start and end points (say, Boston and New York City), and HootRoot cleverly scans Google Maps and HopStop for routes, travel times, and carbon dioxide emissions for various modes of transport. For the Boston-New York City trip, for example, flying takes only 29 minutes (minus airport time) but emits a whopping 428.9 pounds of CO2, while driving clocks in at four hours and 238.84 pounds. Transit, which takes just minutes longer than a car trip, whittles one's carbon footprint to just 18.07 pounds. Consider it ready ammo for making green decisions--and saving a bundle on offset credits.

Photo: Courtesy of HootRoot

Southern Spirit Whistle Stop Tours, Australia

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 15 12:08 PM

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You may have noticed that Australia is big. Really big. Only slightly smaller than the United States, in fact, with vast stretches of countryside separating its cosmopolitan cities. Flying around the country is expedient, but on Great Southern Rail's new routes aboard the Southern Spirit, you get to see all the gorgeous landscapes in between.

Passengers on Southern Spirit Whistle Stop Tours can hang ten in hip surfing town Byron Bay, quaff New World wines in the scenic Hunter Valley, pet koalas at Taronga Western Plains Zoo near Dubbo, and go walkabout in the beautiful forests of the Grampians. Now that's the spirit.

Southern Spirit six-day Whistle Stop Tours from $4,235

Photo: Courtesy of Southern Spirit Tours

Beijing to Shanghai Bullet Train

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, May 31 01:55 PM

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What's that, China? Is that gloating we detect? Okay, fine, we'll give you this one. While we could barely brush the sand off our shoes and get back to work today, the roaring tiger has gone and built itself a $34-billion Beijing to Shanghai high-speed rail link, opening this June--almost a year ahead of schedule.

Granted, there have been a few modifications of the original plan: A proposed lie-flat premium class has been canned and speeds curtailed for safety. Once intended to best the world record set by France's TGV (357.2 miles per hour, mon Dieu!), China's train has registered a top test speed of 302 mph, with actual operating caps at about 185 mph (to be sure, that's still very fast). What does this mean for travelers between the two megacities? An 818-mile journey will clock in at an easy, breezy five hours instead of ten. Meow, Amtrak, meow.

Bullet train tickets from $80 to $165

Photo: Courtesy of Qilai Shen / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Get Two Trips for the Price of One

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, May 11 11:00 AM

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Train journey, or cruise? Canadian Rockies, or Alaska's Glacier Bay? If you're finding it tricky to decide on your next vacation, cruise company Holland America and Canada's luxe private train operator Rocky Mountaineer are offering 12 innovative Rail & Cruise packages that will appeal to the indecisive traveler.

All packages include seven days cruising along the west coast of Canada into Glacier Bay, Alaska, passing porpoises and whales on the way to hardscrabble frontier fishing villages like Sitka and Ketchikan. While rail options chug past rocky peaks and trees as far as the eye can see--which is pretty far, thanks to the panoramic glass-domed viewing carriages.

Train stops can include top Canadian Rockies highlights (Jasper, Yoho, and Banff) and overnights at posh hotels such as the Fairmont Banff Springs, depending on class of service. Keep an eye out for the Silverleaf option, a new mid-range level debuting on select routes. Think of it as the ultimate ode to enjoying the journey.

Rocky Mountaineer Rail & Cruise Packages, departures from Seattle or Vancouver May 8 through September 11, 2011, starting at $2,755

Photo: Courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Orient-Express Art of Travel, Europe

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 05 04:01 PM

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Seeing a masterpiece is one thing, but living it is another. That's the idea behind a partnership between the National Gallery in London and Orient-Express, which has launched 13 new train journeys this spring that expose travelers to famous paintings and the regions that inspired them.

You might view Monet's soft-focus landscapes before chugging through the French countryside to the artist's home in Giverny. Or perhaps you'll get lost in the vibrant Venetian cityscapes of Canaletto before riding the rails down to those self-same canals and waterways. National Gallery experts travel with you on Orient-Express's gilded Art Deco train--a masterpiece in itself.

Photo: Courtesy of Orient-Express

Railroad Revival Tour, Southwestern United States

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, March 09 06:56 PM

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This April, rock will roll into six southwestern towns courtesy of the Railroad Revival Tour. Indie darlings Mumford & Sons (pictured), Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are taking over a 1,500-foot-long train comprised of 1950s and '60s railcars. They'll eat, sleep, and record on board as they chug across the American Southwest, playing outdoor concerts along the way.

Tickets go on sale today for music fans who want to catch the show when the train stops at an Airstream trailer campground in Marfa, Texas; a railway museum in Chandler, Ariz.; and additional spots in Oakland and San Pedro, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and New Orleans. Great tunes in the great outdoors? That's something we can always get onboard with.

Railroad Revival Tour, April 21-27, 2011; tickets, $55

Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Miller

Orient-Express, Thailand

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, February 16 04:28 PM

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Now that air travel has officially lost its glamour, we've found ourselves romanticizing its predecessor, the train. Thankfully, the fine folks at Orient-Express have kept railway luxury alive, with burnished cherry interiors, crystal and china in the dining cars, and fawning butlers.

Starting this month, the company is bringing that vintage opulence to Thailand. On this week-long trip, you'll glide past rice paddies, hill villages, and Buddhist temples, and stop to track elephants in Khao Yai National Park, sample local wines, or shop for silks in Chiang Mai. End each day with martinis in the bar car, watching the sun set over the lush jungle landscape. That's what we call a moving view.

Orient-Express Epic Thailand departs on February 20 and October 30, 2011.

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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