* World Travel Tips : Love Letters: Baton Rouge

Travel Tips - Dear Baton Rouge,

It’s hard to believe that it’s now been nearly 10 years that my family has called you home. We have come to love everything about this wonderful city and state. From the food, the people, and of course LSU, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

I have watched my four children grow up here and Kathy and I have been honored and proud to have been part of such a great community. Whether it’s been on the soccer field, swimming pool or baseball diamond, my kids have had great opportunities growing up here. They’ve made friendships and created memories that will last a lifetime and for that, I’m grateful.

As the head football coach at LSU, I’m fortunate to represent a great university and coach outstanding young men who are passionate about their school and their football.

You have also allowed me the opportunity to coach in what is the finest college football town in America. There’s nothing like a Saturday in the fall on the LSU campus, especially when it’s a night game in Tiger Stadium. With the sun setting in the Western Sky and “Calling Baton Rouge” playing during pre-game to get the crowd into a frenzy, there’s no better place than Tiger Stadium.

So, thank you Baton Rouge, for being such a unique and wonderful place. It’s truly an honor to call you home.

Geaux Tigers!

Les Miles
LSU Head Coach

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* World Travel Tips : 19 Eerie Photos That Put America’s Problems In Plain Sight

Travel Tips - Seeing an abandoned home can be a bit creepy. But seeing one that represents the decline of an entire way of life? That should elicit an even more solemn reaction.

Nineteen pictures of abandoned homes shared with The Huffington Post by photographer Seph Lawless offer just such a sobering look at many of America’s rural communities. Earlier this year, Lawless published a book, Autopsy of America , that documented the decline of the U.S. economy in memorable portraits of abandoned malls and empty factories. His ongoing project, also called “Autopsy of America,” aims to raise awareness of the struggles faced in the Deep South and Rust Belt regions.

“We hear about the crisis that plagues inner cities and urban areas but seldom hear about what’s happening in southern cities and rural areas,” Lawless told HuffPost in an email, pointing to struggles such as high unemployment and poverty. “It would surprise and disappoint most people.”

Lawless said abandoned homes have a unique ability to evoke an emotional reaction in viewers, especially houses that have “a deep sense of void and depth.” Many of the houses in his photos have the appearance of having been suddenly left behind, some with clothes still hanging up or books lying open.

“Everyone can relate to a home and I think a growing number of Americans fear losing their home,” Lawless said, adding that he risked arrest to get some of the photos. “It’s very frightening and sobering for most people to see.”

In the photos below, you can see the location of each home and the approximate year it was abandoned:




For more of Lawless’ work, check out his website or his social media accounts.

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* World Travel Tips : Taking A Private Jet Can Be Cheaper Than You Think

Travel Tips - When your calves involuntarily cramp at the mere thought of flying in economy yet again, it might be time to book a private jet.

Yup, some private planes will fly people just like you for rates that dip — not always, but sometimes — below the cost of a regular plane ticket.

They’re called “empty legs,” and they happen after a private jet drops off its high-profile clients at their desired destination. About 40 percent of the time, the planes don’t have passengers for the way back, so they offer their seats to regular folks at discounts of up to 75 percent.

The deals are admittedly hard to find, but they do exist.

To score a cheap private flight, make a daily habit of scouring the interwebs — sites like PrivateFly, JetSuite and Victor list last-minute empty leg offers with the type of jet, date and destination for potential passengers to book. If you log in at the right time and are willing to travel with limited notice, then the plane is all yours.

One day last month, for example, PrivateFly offered a flight from London to Cannes for about $283 per person, The Telegraph reports. That same trip would’ve costed well over $300 on budget airline easyJet. Similarly, JetSuite recently posted trips from New Jersey to The Bahamas for $179 per person and from LAX to Cabo for $124 per person, according to the New York Post. That’s about $67 cheaper than a next-day flight to Cabo would cost right now.

Deals like these, however, don’t happen every day.

Our recent search of PrivateFly’s deals, for example, turned up a next-day flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale at a rate of more than $1,000 per person — that’s hardly cheaper than a typical commercial ticket. And the best option on JetSuite’s “SuiteDeals” page was a flight from Monterey, California to Napa for $134 a head.

But when we tried to compare, commercial flights weren’t even available from Monterey to Napa. And maybe that’s the point. When you fly a private jet, you can show up at the airport minutes before takeoff. The security process happens in instants. You can bring a pet, eat off fine china and sit in tufted seats with your best friends. You’ll fly to places the regular planes don’t go, because you’re not on a regular plane.

Private jet tickets may not always be cheaper, but they’re always more awesome. And that’s worth scouring the interwebs.

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* World Travel Tips : Serial Plane Stowaway Marilyn Jean Hartman Arrested At Phoenix Airport

Travel Tips - PHOENIX (AP) — A woman accused of trying to sneak aboard multiple flights without a ticket and sentenced to jail for returning to a Los Angeles airport in violation of her probation was arrested Tuesday after being recognized loitering at a Phoenix airport, police said.

Police were requesting a mental health evaluation for Marilyn Jean Hartman, 62, who was taken into custody near baggage claim at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on suspicion of criminal trespass, said Sgt. Trent Crump, a Phoenix police spokesman. Hartman was recognized by airport personnel about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday “loitering around a checkpoint and again was not in possession of an airline ticket,” Crump said. It wasn’t the first time she’s been spotted at the Phoenix airport.

Hartman was removed from Sky Harbor on Aug. 20 and given a trespass warning after she attempted to enter a security checkpoint without a ticket, Crump said. That incident came just four days after she was released from jail in California because of overcrowding, only serving a fraction of her 117-day sentence.

Police did not know how she got to Phoenix after being released from a detention center in Lynwood, California, and did not know if she had an attorney who could speak on her behalf.

A court commissioner had ordered Hartman to serve jail time for wandering around LAX on Aug. 7, a day after being ordered to stay away from that airport.

Hartman, who has made previous attempts to sneak aboard flights at other airports, was arrested Aug. 4 for taking a Southwest Airlines flight from San Jose to Los Angeles without a ticket, authorities said. Her boarding status was discovered once the plane landed in Los Angeles.

At Mineta San Jose International Airport, Hartman tried at least three times to get to a plane before she finally went past a security screener who was busy checking a family’s documents, law enforcement officials said.

She later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of willfully and unlawfully entering Los Angeles as a stowaway on an aircraft and was sentenced to two years of probation.

In February, Hartman was sentenced to 18 months’ probation in San Mateo County after being arrested for attempting to board three Hawaii-bound flights at San Francisco International Airport on three separate days.

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* World Travel Tips : Here’s Where Singles Are Actually Looking For Love (And Not A One Night Stand)

Travel Tips - Let’s be real — trying to navigate single life in a world dominated by swiping left or right (ehem, Tinder) can be about as much fun as stabbing yourself in the eye.

It’s often hard to tell if people are truly looking for love or are more interested in a one-night stand. As it turns out, where they live may have something to do with it.

Clover, a dating app that launched earlier this year, asked 15,000 of their users if they were on the site to look for new friends, hookups, casual dating, or a long-term relationship. They then broke down the results by city and state.

Los Angeles was the most popular city for hook-ups, and New York City topped the list for long-term relationships. See how the rest of the country fared in the infographic below:

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Credit: Clover

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* World Travel Tips : Family Resorts Minutes From Washington, D.C.

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An easy escape from Washington, D.C. lies just across the Virginia state line. Here two resorts are nestled in Loudoun County, near Dulles Airport. Lansdowne and Salamander offer two very different experiences, but both have been designed with families in mind.

Lansdowne Resort, by Destination Hotels & Resorts

Set on 500 acres outside Leesburg, Virginia, Lansdowne has long been known as a favorite conference center, one especially prized by businesspeople with families. Increasingly, families without business at the hotel are booking vacations here thanks to its multitude of family-friendly amenities.

What’s Special: Golf programs on courses designed by Greg Norman and Trent Jones Jr. that include cheap greens fees after 3 p.m., weekend kids’ clinics, and family lessons with highly skilled and super friendly teaching staff, like Sang Hwang, director of instruction.

Kid-friendly features: Four pools and a water slide, a kids’ camp, playground, a 9-hole golf course, hiking trails onsite and easy access to nature trails along the Potomac Heritage Trail, a savvy kids menu that includes healthy treats like salted edamame.

Grown Up Pleasures: Chauffeured wine trips to local vineyards, a sea salt scrub followed by a Vichy shower at Spa Minerale, a clubby sports bar that features local microbrews, like Lost Rhino and 3 Brothers Brewery on tap.

What’s New: The former racquetball court has been converted into a TRX Training System space. All golf carts now come equipped with a digital caddie I-Pad GPS system, which allows players to drive to their ball and get exact yardages to the front, middle and back portions of the green. All guest rooms will get a makeover by March 2015.

Room Rates: $159-$299

Salamander Resort & Spa

Salamander Resort & Spa, which is set on 340 acres in the heart of horse country in Middleburg, Virginia is tailor made for a romantic getaway with its lush appointments, come hither stone fireplace in the library and acclaimed restaurant Harriman’s, but it’s equally appealing to families.

What’s Special: Equestrian program for the entire family—from yoga on horseback to trail riding to exquisitely bespoke training sessions, including equine communication. The spa features unique treatments that cater to equestrians, like the mind and body altering massage called Rider’s Relief. (Ask for massage therapist Jimmie Freeman.)

Kid-friendly features: Croquet, giant lawn chess, an onsite camp that focuses on the resort’s natural surroundings, kids’ cooking classes, pony rides, tennis, astronomy walks, animal tracking and geo-aching.

Grown Up Pleasures: The spa has a multitude of knock-out amenities like state-of-the-art steam rooms and saunas that tempt guests to linger inside this sanctuary all day, a roster of results-oriented exercise classes from kickboxing to yoga, a swanky piano bar, and hands-on cooking classes.

What’s New: Tree canopy course with five zip lines that puts an emphasis on ecology with guides pointing out local flora and fauna.

Room rates: $275 and up

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* World Travel Tips : A Day Trip To Oia, Santorini, Greece: What Not To Miss

Travel Tips - While I thoroughly recommend spending as much time as possible in Santorini, sometimes all you have is the option of one day. If you find yourself island hopping throughout Greece, here is your itinerary for exploring Oia, on the island of Santorini.

1. Swimming in Amoudi Bay
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Start your day with a cool dip in Amoudi Bay. The walk down to the water will leave you hot and sweaty and ready to enjoy all that Santorini has to offer-including a cliff dive! The path to the bay is a bit tricky, with a rocky path and narrow drops, but it makes the arrival all the more enjoyable as you take in the rising volcanic cliffs from below.

2. Taking a donkey ride back up
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After all that activity you are going to be a bit tired, so spare your legs and rent a donkey to carry you up the sharp incline. You’ll be able to enjoy the surrounding views without dodging the donkey droppings that line the stone stairs. Just make sure to hold on tight, and try to breathe through your mouth.

3. Lolita’s Gelato

Although you may be expecting Italy to be the leader of Gelato, this Greek Yogurt based confection is truly unmissable. Try the Greek Viagra for a yogurt/honey confection that will have you coming back a few hours later for another taste. Enjoy in their soothing all white courtyard, or lick this sticky street as you stroll through the winding streets.

4. Perissa Black Sand Beach
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Home to white, red, and black sand beaches, the seaside views in Santorini are each unique and breathtaking at once. Since the island is made of volcanic rock, it’s black sand beaches are a definitely unmissable emblem. Head to Perissa beach for a sea of striped chaises and straw umbrellas. Hungry? Walk to the end of the beach to Afros, where the welcoming owner will let you point and pick your fish of choice.

5. Photo Break
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Lets admit it, one of the main reasons you came to Greece was for the killer Instagram photos. Save some time to just wander the island, camera or iPhone in hand. The light changes the island’s color, bathing its white stones in a soft warm glow, but the finale of sunset is a showstopper. An endless sea of reds, pinks, and yellows dance across the sky, providing a gorgeous burst of color against the white and blue of the island.

6. Dinner with a sunset view

During the peak tourist season it’s advisable to make a reservation if you are looking for a meal with a view. Ask for the window seats to enjoy the sunset with a glass of ouzo and a taste of tzatziki.

World Travel Tips : Find cheap flights, hotels and car rentals. Plan your trip with travel guides, personalized recommendations, articles, deals and more. When you travel, you want your bags to travel with you. Follow these tips from travel professionals on how not to lose your luggage.

* World Travel Tips : Best Places to Cruise This Fall

Travel Tips - 2014-08-26-HuffPoMain.jpg
Robert Pernett / Flickr

With crisp air, cool temperatures and brilliant foliage on display, autumn is an ideal time to cruise. The stretch between summer and winter affords relatively crowd-free ports and fewer passengers on board (kids are back in school), translating to plenty of opportunities to commune with nature. Best of all, many repositioning cruises — ships crossing from one region of the world to another — offer reduced rates and longer itineraries.

So, if you’re one of the nearly 21.7 million passengers projected to cruise in 2014, fall is an ideal time to take in striking backdrops and score significant savings. Decide which sailing is right for you with U.S News' list of the top autumn cruise destinations and itineraries.

Note: All prices were correct as of Aug. 20, 2014 and are per person, based on double occupancy.

In Pictures: Best Places to Cruise This Fall

Alaska

Alaska is known for its jaw-dropping scenery: Calving glaciers, snow-capped peaks and majestic fjords snake along quaint towns and villages. And in September, the waters teem with humpback whales and sea lions. Many large ships, such as those within the Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises fleets, offer travelers the chance to explore the Inside Passage with stops in Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Victoria, British Columbia. Smaller cruise ships, such as those operated by Un-Cruise Adventures, navigate the narrower Gulf of Alaska passage. This route takes passengers from Vancouver and to Anchorage (or vice versa), making stops in hard-to-reach ports like College Fjord and Hubbard Glacier. Though both routes offer ample nature-viewing opportunities, the latter tends to lure those in pursuit of more immersive offshore experiences and face-to-face wildlife encounters.

Best Fall Bargains

An eight-day trip aboard Un-Cruise Adventures’ Wilderness Discoverer departing from Sitka on Sept. 13 is listed at $1,895 for a Navigator cabin. That’s $700 less than the price advertised for the same cruise (and cabin category) leaving on May 23, 2015. Entry fees to national parks, onboard meals and equipment (like hiking poles and paddle boards) are included in the rate. The price also covers three days in Glacier Bay and expeditions through southeast Alaska’s Icy Strait, not to mention an abundance of wildlife viewing.

Princess Cruises lists a seven-day cruise in an ocean view room on Golden Princess from Seattle to Juneau on Sept. 6 for $968 per person. For the same cruise departing on Aug. 22, 2015, you would pay an additional $500. The main draw of this trip is Glacier Bay National Park, where park rangers climb aboard the ship to offer their knowledge of the landscape and direct you to popular wildlife viewing spots. And if you’re looking to tack on extra days before or after your journey, Princess Cruises offers “cruisetour” packages that can include stays at Princess-affiliated wilderness lodges and land-based activities, such as glacier-flightseeing and whale-watching.

See: Best Luxury Cruise Lines

New England and Canada

Every fall, vibrant autumnal hues color coastal cities across New England and Canada. And a number of cruise companies offer trips to foliage-rich locales like Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine, Québec City and Montreal. Apart from scenic drives in seaport towns, many large and small ships, including those within the Holland America, Celebrity Cruises and Crystal Cruises fleets, also provide the chance to sample local New England cuisine (think fresh Bar Harbor lobster). To help pinpoint the best coastal cruise for you, peruse itineraries that deliver a high off-season value and ample opportunities for fall leaf peeping.

Best Fall Bargains

Holland America lists a seven-day cruise aboard the ms Maasdam leaving from Montreal on Sept. 20 with calls in Québec City and Bar Harbor, Maine. An ocean view room is advertised at $799 per person, which is $200 less than the same cruise leaving on May 16, 2015. During days at sea, you can slip away to Greenhouse Spa & Salon for a hot stone massage or sign up for cooking classes at the Culinary Arts Center. Though Holland America offers fewer shore excursions compared to other cruise lines, days at port can include anything from navigating Prince Edward Island National Park to exploring Cadillac Mountain.

Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity departs on Oct. 11 from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to New York City for a five-day journey, with fares for a deluxe stateroom listed at $1,780 per person. If you book your room by Aug. 29, your cruise rate will cover Champagne, wines, spirits and all other beverage costs. Plus, the price of your cruise will include enrichment classes, such as digital film-making and dance lessons, and a complimentary meal at one of the ship’s specialty restaurants.

See: Land vs. Sea? A Cruise May Be More Affordable Than You Think

The Caribbean

Caribbean-bound cruises offer significant deals during the fall sailing season. But there’s one caveat: Your trip runs the risk of being impacted by weather-related interruptions until hurricane season ends in late November. To protect yourself against unforeseen weather delays, purchase travel insurance and confirm that your insurance provider covers trip interruptions. Should you decide to take your chances, last-minute sales — especially for journeys departing in October and November — are aplenty. Behemoth lines like Royal Caribbean International and Disney Cruise Line operate in the Caribbean year-round, often affording excellent savings in the off-season. Shorter four- or five-day sailings aboard these lines can also yield steep discounts.

Best Fall Bargains

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Oct. 27 for a five-day cruise to the Western Caribbean, with stops in the Bahamas and Cozumel. The price for a balcony room is listed at $554 per person. Shore excursions include tours of the Mayan Ruins in Cozumel and snorkeling along reefs in Nassau. During your sail, you can take your pick of 10 pools, Tai Chi classes or treatments at the Vitality Spa, among other activities.

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder leaves from Miami on Oct. 17 for a five-night cruise to the Western Caribbean with stops in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. The fare for an ocean view stateroom is listed at $1,383 (including all fees and taxes) per person. At sea, you can enjoy sea wrap treatments at the Vista Salon & Spa by day and Broadway-style performances and cocktails at the piano bar after dusk.

See: Best Cruise Lines for the Money

Transatlantic Repositioning Cruises

In the off-season, many ships depart from one part of the world and finish in another in what’s known as “repositioning” sailings. These trips, which typically take place in the spring or the fall, often provide deep discounts and more days at sea than regional cruises. Popular journeys include transatlantic crossings from Europe, sailings across the Pacific from Hawaii to California, Caribbean-bound voyages from California and departures from the Caribbean to the Panama Canal. Many megaship and smaller cruise ship lines — including Norwegian, Celebrity and Oceania Cruises — offer fall repositioning cruises with varying departure and disembarkation ports that fit a wide range of budgets.

Best Fall Bargains

Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, the 3,046-passenger Celebrity Reflection, leaves from Rome on Oct. 17 for a 15-night cruise to Miami, with calls in Madeira, Portugal, St. Kitts and St. Maarten, among other ports. An ocean view room is priced at $1,249 per person (excluding taxes, fees and other port costs). While at sea, you can retreat to the Alcoves, an exclusive area for cabana lounging and picnicking, dine at six specialty dining venues and partake in cooking classes at the Art Studio, a space tucked inside the ship’s top-deck Lawn Club.

Oceania’s Riviera departs from Barcelona on Nov. 15 for a 14-day voyage to Miami. Thanks to a two-for-one early booking promotion until Sept. 3, 2014, which includes half-priced deposits and flight upgrades, you can book a deluxe ocean view stateroom for $3,799 per person. That’s roughly $7,300 less than the advertised brochure fare. Highlighted trip excursions include exploring the Alhambra in Granada and navigating Blue Lagoon Island from Nassau. Back on the ship, you can retreat to one of six gourmet dining venues or sign up for an interactive cooking lesson at the Bon Appétit Culinary Center.

In Pictures: Best Places to Cruise This Fall

Liz Weiss is an editor for the Travel section at U.S. News. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, circle her on Google+ or email her at eweiss@usnews.com.

World Travel Tips : Find cheap flights, hotels and car rentals. Plan your trip with travel guides, personalized recommendations, articles, deals and more. When you travel, you want your bags to travel with you. Follow these tips from travel professionals on how not to lose your luggage.

* World Travel Tips : A Modern American Family Vacation

Travel Tips - This August our blended family got together for a vacation in the great outdoors at Mammoth Lakes, California. My wife Mimi and I, along with my eleven year-old grandson Adrien, drove up from Los Angeles on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains via scenic highway 395, a route that took us through some stretches of the scorching Mojave Desert (temp 103°) before cooling us down through the funky western towns of Lone Pine, Independence, and Big Pine.

Mimi’s son Alan, his wife Lynne, her daughter Kaiya (10), and son Tamirat (8), flew from Madison, Wisconsin to Los Angeles, then drove up to join us at Snowcreek Resort, where we had rented two condominiums. Mammoth Lakes in the summer offers a wide variety of outdoor activities for families: spectacular mountain biking on the ski runs, fishing, swimming, and boating on the lakes, rock climbing, hiking in dramatic settings, horseback riding. We wanted to do it all!

Our first day together we took the kids rock climbing. We met our guide, Zach Schneider, at the Mammoth Visitors Center at nine am one morning and followed him up to the parking lot at Horseshoe Lake. From there we walked along a trail into the pine woods to an enormous granite outcropping over seven stories high. While the kids wriggled into their climbing harnesses and put on climbing shoes and helmets, Zach set up the belaying ropes on the rock face. Adrien, who had attended a rock climbing camp earlier in the summer, went first and made it to the top as Zach belayed the ropes and called out encouragement. Kaiya and Tamirat took their turns, each climbing about half-way up the face before tiring on their first try.

The trust test began when Zach turned over the belaying ropes to Kaiya for Adrien’s second climb at a new, more difficult, location on the wall. Adrien resisted this arrangement at first, but Zach assured him that Kaiya could handle the responsibility, and anyway, he would also be holding onto the rope, just in case. Adrien scaled the rock to the top again, and Kaiya belayed him back down. Then Adrien belayed for Kaiya, Kaiya belayed for Tamirat, and Tamirat belayed for Adrien at a third climbing location. By the end of the outing, all three kids had climbed to the top of the rock and they were bonded as successful daredevils.

Sometime during the second day, while we were on a hike and picnic into Devils Postpile National Monument, the adults noticed that the kids were not using their given names when talking to each other. Adrien had become “Jacob” (the name of Alan’s nineteen year-old son from his first marriage). Kaiya had become “Alexis,” and Tamirat … had remained “Tamirat.” They explained that they were a new family. Jacob and Alexis were twins, and Tamirat was their younger brother. They had multiple parents. Adrien and Kaiya would not respond unless addressed by their new family names. The adults had been given new names as well, not all flattering. Yours truly had been dubbed “Grumpy Grampa.”

On our last full day, the kids went horseback riding at Convict Lake with Lynne, while Alan and I got caught up on our career developments during a hike into the John Muir Wilderness. Mimi went off to paint watercolors “en plein air.” We finished off the day at the athletic club pool, with Grumpy Grampa squatting underwater and trying to serve as the base for a four person toppling tower that never got beyond two persons. Too much laughter. In the evening, we ordered take-out from a Thai restaurant and sat around the dining table sharing our dishes. The family the kids had imagined was real.

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World Travel Tips : Find cheap flights, hotels and car rentals. Plan your trip with travel guides, personalized recommendations, articles, deals and more. When you travel, you want your bags to travel with you. Follow these tips from travel professionals on how not to lose your luggage.

* World Travel Tips : Ladies, Be Warned: There’s Trouble in Parisian Paradise

Travel Tips - On the streets of Paris, one survives on wine, baguettes, and irresistible bohemian French men.

What no one ever told me was that these dashing men exist amongst an array of trashy crude catcallers who tend to prey on twenty-something, English-speaking women. To my dismay, I learned this in the worst possible way.

It was just after 10 o’clock on a hot summer Sunday night, when I hopped onto the metro from the city’s quaint Montmartre neighbourhood, heading to watch the Eiffel Tower light up.

Having grown up in a big city, I’ve never been fearful of venturing out on my own, in places known or unknown. Confidently, I might add.

This, this was different. I was in France. Bonjour and merci were the extent of my lingual capabilities in this city.

I stepped onto the train and took a seat. Immediately, I noticed two men sitting a few rows in front of me - one of whom bent his head underneath the silver handrail that was impeding his view of my eyes.

I did what most women in this situation do: looked away. But I could now see both men in my peripheral, heads bent under that handrail, staring. I counted four station stops go by, and still they hadn’t shifted their gaze.

Admittedly, I was a little uncomfortable, feeling pretty sure they knew at least two things: I was alone, and I was a tourist. The last thing I wanted to do was confirm the latter.

I decided against saying anything at all; but I still wanted them to know I was aware of what was happening. I turned my head to face theirs, locking eyes with one, assuming he’d feel shameful and finally stop staring. In my experience, that’s always worked. I searched for an apologetic look on his face in that moment, but instead his eyes remained locked.

This is when I started to worry, and I knew I had to make a move. Just before the doors were about to close at the next stop, I jumped up from my seat, dashed out of the car, and hopped onto the car just ahead, on the very same train.

I sat down, feeling relieved and finally at ease. My heart had been racing. I remember mentally congratulating myself for dodging what could have been an awful situation.

But just then, the train made its next stop. The two men appeared from the doors, grinning from ear to ear. They were leaning over those silver handrails, holding their waists, panting. I could tell exactly what they were thinking in that moment: “We’ve got you.”

The doors behind them closed shut, and all of a sudden I was back where I had started. But this time, the stakes were higher - it was clear now they were following me. I was a pawn in some sort of sick game.

That, my friends, is Paris’ most unfortunate truth. The romanticism we expect from the loveliest city in the world is so often washed out by the very real dangers young women traveling are vulnerable to. I didn’t care about foie gras, or the finest French malbec anymore. I just wanted them to leave me alone.

On this car, the men were further away from me than the first time. I made eye contact with one, and then rolled my eyes, attempting one last time to show that I was in control of the situation.

To no avail. I counted six more stops before I just couldn’t bear it anymore. I could feel their eyes fixated on me, and it was disgusting.

I scoured the train, noticing a well-groomed man in a button down shirt with a laptop bag occupying the seat beside him. He wore a gold band on his left hand. I proceeded to make two crucial assumptions: he must have a professional job, which means he should be able to understand English; and he’s married, so he must be somewhat trustworthy.

I moved his bag and took the seat beside him, explaining my situation in a soft whisper, using my eyes to motion towards the two men who followed me in.

Now that I think about it, I never even asked the man for his name. He told me not to worry, and that he’d accompany me to where I needed to go. I began to think maybe this guy was trouble too.

Before I could dwell on that, the two men took a seat in front of us.

This was a bold move. It was the closest I’d been to them. They seemed older than I’d initially thought. The one on the right had some grey facial hair. I remember thinking I could probably outrun him, if it got to that. The younger one looked to be in his late twenties, wearing a UK football jersey and a ball cap.

I nodded my head in their direction, keeping my eyes fixed on the man beside me, before a war of words began on the train. I sat there - while the three yelled at each other back and forth for about six or seven minutes; I understood little of what was being said. At the end of it, the man beside me turned over and told me I’m free to go, and that the two will no longer be trailing behind me.

My station arrived, and once again, just before the doors closed, I ran through them as fast as I could without looking back. I was on the other side now, and as the doors shut in front of me, I locked eyes with the younger man in the jersey who was firmly seated where I’d left him. I pointed, and yelled, “You should never treat a woman that way!”

The doors closed, the train went on, and that was the last I saw of them.

I was safe again. My knees buckled, I crumbled to the ground in the middle of the platform, and I could feel hot tears running down my face. I had never been so frightened.

I have thought about that night many times, wondering if there was something I could have done differently, whether it’d been carrying pepper spray in my purse or knowing a few French curse words.

Ultimately I’ve come to understand why Parisian women are known to be abrasive and impolite sometimes: because they can’t afford not to be, if these are the situations they have to contend with.

Suffice it to say, Paris isn’t always a paradise.

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