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Jen Leo

TRAVEL
December 13, 2009
Are you buying a gift for a traveler who has everything or wants nothing? Step away from the neck pillow and look for something fun, unusual and/or handcrafted at UncommonGoods.com. What's hot: Once someone is labeled a traveler, that person inevitably gets gifts that are never used. Spare your traveling friends (or yourself) and head to UncommonGoods.com's Travel section for gifts that are both humorous and handy. I found pop-up towelettes ($12), a solar-powered backpack ($230)
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October 19, 2008 | Jen Leo
Don't you hate it when travel gets in the way of watching the big game? You can liven up any trip with SportsFanLive.com, a website that helps you meet up with other fans who are excited about watching the same game. What's hot: I was immediately drawn to the FanFinder. Here's how it works: Enter your favorite team, date and the ZIP Code you'll be traveling to, and a Google map displays sports bars that will be showing your game. I swapped "pizza" for "sports bar" and found new results.
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August 10, 2008 | Jen Leo
It's easy for kids to get caught up in the excitement and fervor of the Olympics, which began Friday. But what's the best way for parents to tie in some educational travel elements about China while they're stuck to the boob tube? National Geographic Kids ( www.kids.nationalgeographic.com) has a "Kids-Eye View of Beijing" for the Olympics. What's hot: David, a 12-year-old American who lives in Beijing, is blogging at least twice a week.
TRAVEL
March 29, 2009 | Jen Leo
There's a budding travel giveaway trend on Twitter.com. The micro-blogging tool on which users send messages, or "tweets," of 140 characters at a time to their followers has become a hot networking tool for the Web-savvy travel community. What's hot: Airlines and hotels reach out to their customers and offer personal service and tips, travel bloggers befriend and keep tabs on colleagues -- even convention and visitors bureaus have joined the Twittersphere to stay connected.
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August 3, 2008 | Jen Leo
If reading a guidebook to find the trendiest restaurants and nightclubs is too archaic for you, Thrillist.com can help you maintain your hipster image. What's hot: Getting its free daily e-mail newsletter and feeling cooler every time you read it. Even better: taking your friends to the latest happening sushi joint in L.A. Thrillist has city-specific information on what to do and what to buy in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Boston. Las Vegas gets a weekly mention.
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November 1, 2009 | Jen Leo
You could use Twitter or Facebook to ask friends for hiking and biking recommendations -- but then you'd have to wait for a response. Check in with Trails.SierraClub.org to find a trail or share a favorite of your own. What's hot: "Find a Trail" does just what it says, but I found it much easier to browse this site (which is still being developed) by states instead of getting specific in my keyword search. Rather than look for easy hikes in Los Angeles, I searched California trails and found 195 results, including Aliso Creek Trail and Bikeway in south Orange County, Big Bend Trail in Laguna Beach and Bridge to Nowhere in Angeles National Forest.
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August 17, 2008 | Jen Leo
Kayak.com, the travel website aggregator, has a new gas calculator in its car rental section so travelers can figure out the total cost of renting a car, not just the daily rates. What's hot: Kayak's Fuel Cost Calculator considers a vehicle's mileage by using data from its manufacturer and info from FuelEconomy.gov. Input the miles you think you'll drive each day and it adjusts the cost of the daily rate in the search result.
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October 12, 2008 | Jen Leo
If eco-trips make you feel like a more responsible traveler, wait until you try sustainable travel. WholeTravel.com, still in beta, expands on the notion of caring about the environment and wildlife by listing accommodations that also interact with nearby communities, support the local culture and make efforts to educate customers about sustainability.
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May 2, 2010 | By Jen Leo, Los Angeles Times
If you're packing for a trip, save yourself a headache or two and visit Pitstopsforkids.com before you zip up that last bag and throw it in the car. What's hot: This travel resource is written for parents by parents, because who knows better than a parent when a kid's naughty alter ego might emerge? Pit Stops for Kids is not just for road trips. The site reviews airport play spaces, parks besides and kid-friendly motels and restaurants you would encounter on the interstate.
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August 31, 2008 | Jen Leo
The map-centric HappyMedian.com, recently listed in PC Magazine's "Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites," plots destinations for friends in various locations to meet, whether they're angling for a restaurant, coffeehouse, movie theater or other venue. What's hot: In trying to find a middle ground, users can enter up to four addresses, and they'll get more than one destination in the search results. Locals and travelers who know the area can quickly decide among towns and then flip among types of meeting spots from a pull-down menu.
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