$7.2 Million Cash Found in Suitcases at Panama City Airport

Travel tip: If you’re trying to smuggle cash into Panama, start using the train.

Three Honduran men were arrested at Panama City’s international airport after police found $7.2 million, mostly in $100 bills, in secret compartments in eight pieces of luggage. According to this video from Newsy (Newsy? Really? Really.), officials in Panama believe the money was connected to a drug cartel. Thirty-two officers and airport security staffers have been suspended as a result of the find.

Panama Police Find $7.2 Million Cash In Luggage

Another Boeing 787 Dreamliner Has a Battery Problem

Japan Airlines grounded a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft today “after detecting smoke or gases that may have come from faults with the main battery,” according to the BBC.

Last year, all 787s were grounded for three months, CBS reports, after a “fire in a lithium ion battery aboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston’s Logan International Airport. That was followed nine days later by another battery incident that forced an emergency landing in Japan by an All Nippon Airways 787.Today’s battery problem was noticed during scheduled maintenance. No passengers were on board the plane at the time.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “The lithium-ion battery system was found to ‘venting’ gas while the plane sat at Narita International Airport in Japan, Boeing said.”

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Catches Fire in London

Top 5 Family Travel Destinations for 2014 (and Possibly Beyond)

Winter break just wrapped up–so it’s time to think about what to do when the kids are out of school this summer. Here, the “Wall Street Journal” and Lonely Planet share their top five family travel destinations for 2014. Can’t get to these places this year? Don’t worry, most of them are likely to still be around in 2015.

Top Five Family Travel Destinations for 2014

Off-Broadway Comedy ‘Craving for Travel’ Showcases Travel Agents Trying to do the Impossible

Joanne and Gary, rival travel agents compete for their industry’s top honor, the Globel Prize, while trying to address their clients’ impossible demands in an Off-Broadway comedy that debuts this week, “Craving for Travel.”

The 85-minute, two-actor, 30-character comedy was commissioned and produced by Jim Strong, president of the Dallas-based Strong Travel Services travel agency.

“Travel agents are always asked to do the impossible, and this play shows how that is done, from finding the impossible rooms to making dreams come true,” Strong told the “Dallas Morning News.” “I decided to bring it to life on stage as a comedy in New York.”

From “Craving for Travel’s” press release:

With their reputations on the line, travel agents Joanne and Gary will tackle any request, no matter how impossible, and any client, no matter how unreasonable. Full of overzealous travelers, overbooked flights, and hoteliers who are just over it, Craving for Travel reminds us why we travel-and everything that can happen when we do.

“Craving for Travel” opens Thursday at the Peter J. Sharp Theater, where it’ll run through Feb. 9. Tickets are $32.50 and $49. They can be purchased at CravingForTravel.com, 212-279-4200 or the Ticket Central Box Office (416 W. 42nd St., 12-8 p.m. daily). More than half of the shows are already sold out.Written by Greg Edwards and Andy Sandberg and directed by Sandberg (a Tony Award-winning producer for the 2009 revival of “Hair”), the play stars Michele Ragusa (who also was in “Young Frankenstein” and “Disaster!”) and Thom Sesma (“The Lion King,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’”).

“While travel industry professionals may have a different kind of appreciation for it, the script is written for general audiences,” Sandberg told the “Dallas Morning News.” “Everyone can relate to travel, especially when painted in such a humorous light.”

Travel Blogging Turns 20 Today

Today marks the 20th anniversary of what’s believed to be the first travel blog post. So happy birthday to us, and maybe you too!

In honor of the occasion, travel bloggers worldwide are raising a glass (ok, they were probably doing that anyway), Jeff Greenwald, the author of that first travel blog post, uploaded from the tourism bureau in Oaxaca, Mexico, reflected back on the experience for “Wired.”

A recently-released program called Mosaic was revolutionizing what might be possible on the World Wide Web. “What we hope you’ll do,” the editor [at O’Reilly Media] said, “is write columns for us – from the road. We’ll publish them live, on the GNN [Global Network Navigator, O’Reilly’s website], where people can read them as you travel.” The Travelers’ Center, he told me, would include a feature that sounded miraculous: A map would be displayed on their website, with dots showing the locations from where I’d sent back posts. People would simply click on those dots – and see the story I’d written from that location!

As Greenwald points out, today is also the 20th anniversary of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee getting bashed in at the U.S Figure Skating Championships by members of the unofficial Tanya Harding Fan Club. Draw what connections you will between the two anniversaries.

MapQuest Unveils 10 Top Destinations of 2013

Las Vegas, Nashville and Orlando were the top three searched for cities on MapQuest in 2013. The results are a compilation of destinations searched for on both MapQuest’s website and its recently updated-and critically acclaimed-iPhone and Android apps. [Full disclosure: AOL owns both MapQuest and Gadling.]

Texas was the only state with two cities in MapQuest’s top 10 list: Houston was eighth and Dallas was ninth. Feel free to criticize these travelers for not going to Austin instead in the comments.
Here are MapQuest’s top 10 most-searched for destinations of 2013:

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Nashville, Tennessee
  3. Orlando, Florida
  4. Atlanta, Georgia
  5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. Denver, Colorado
  8. Houston, Texas
  9. Dallas, Texas
  10. St. Louis, Missouri

Discover Something New at Home this Holiday Season

Traveling “home” this holiday season? Don’t fall into your old routine. Your high school hangout may be an easy go-to, but if you don’t live there anymore there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some great new local spots. (Plus, be honest: you already know what all your classmates are up to from Facebook.)

AOL Travel turned to local writers to help you rediscover your hometown over the winter holidays. Each city guide features a great new restaurant to try while you’re in town, a cool neighborhood that wasn’t on the radar last year or a store where you can pick up a keepsake to bring your old home back to your new home. AOL Travel also will catch you up to speed on the hot topics of conversation in each city, so you’ll come back savvy enough to join the local sports banter or eat your holiday weight in Cronuts.

Click your city below to learn what’s new since the last time you went home:

Boston fans celebrate world series win

Chicago skyline

Detroit skyline

NYC skyline

Philadelphia City Hall

Portland Oregon signGolden Gate Bridge

St. Louis Arch

US Capitol


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London, Rome, Paris Top TripAdvisor’s Most-Reviewed Cities List

The litany of year-end travel-related lists continues. Today, it’s TripAdvisor, which unveiled its most reviewed cities. Leading the way: London, Rome and Paris, according to the Telegraph. The top U.S city was New York, which ranked fourth overall — a stunning blow for American exceptionalism.London venues received 459,000 reviews, 96,000 more than Rome.

According to the Telegraph, “TripAdvisor features more than 260 million monthly visitors and its community has contributed more than 125 million reviews and opinions to the site, up from 75 million reviews and opinions a year ago.”

Sorry Indianapolis, You’re No Longer the Sole Location Offering TSA PreCheck Enrollment Background Checks

Two weeks ago, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it would began allowing travelers to apply for its PreCheck program, “an expedited screening process” through airport security.

Curiously though, the only airport in the country where travelers could complete the program’s required background interview was Indianapolis International Airport. That changed today when TSA opened three enrollment centers in the Washington, DC area. Interestingly, none of them are at DC-area airports. Nor are any of them in DC itself.Instead, according to the Washington Post, the centers are located at

  • 3139 Duke St., Alexandria, Virginia
  • 2200 Broening Highway, Suite 110, Dundalk, Maryland
  • 10665 Stanhaen Place, Suite 300A, La Plata, Maryland

To enroll, applicants need to complete an online form, then visit one of the TSA centers. PreCheck requires a background check, fingerprints, $85 for a five-year enrollment and documentation of your identity.

Facebook, Instagram Release Top Checked-in Locations of 2013

Photo-sharing app Instagram and Facebook, a website your parents visit, released lists of their users most checked-in locations for 2013 earlier this week.

Congratulations to Disneyland for being the top U.S. spot for Facebook check-ins and the third most photographed location on Instagram. And props to all of Canada: its most checked-in location was a hockey arena.

Here are both lists.The Most-Instagrammed Locations of 2013

  1. Siam Paragon (สยามพารากอน) shopping mall, Bangkok, Thailand
  2. Times Square, New York
  3. Disneyland, California
  4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas
  5. Disney World Florida
  6. Staples Center, Los Angeles
  7. Central Park, New York
  8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
  9. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) ท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ, Bangkok, Thailand
  10. The High Line, New York

Top Facebook Check-Ins Around The World (excluding transportation hubs)

  • Argentina: Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires
  • Australia: Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), East Melbourne, Victoria
  • Brazil: Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo
  • Canada: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Egypt: Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai Governorate, Egypt
  • France: Disneyland Paris, Marne La Vallée
  • Germany: Reeperbahn, Hamburg
  • Hong Kong: 香港迪士尼樂園 | Hong Kong Disneyland
  • Iceland: Blue Lagoon, Reykjavík, Iceland
  • India: Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple)
  • Italy: Piazza San Marco, Venice
  • Japan: 東京ディズニーランド (Tokyo Disneyland), Tokyo
  • Mexico: Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City
  • Nigeria: Ikeja City Mall, Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria
  • Poland: Temat Rzeka, Warsaw
  • Russia: Центральный парк культуры и отдыха им. Горького | Gorky Park of Culture and Leisure
  • Singapore: Marina Bay Sands
  • South Africa: Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
  • South Korea: Myungdong Street, Seoul
  • Spain: Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Catalonia
  • Sweden: Friends Arena, Solna
  • Taiwan: 花園夜市Tainan Flower Night Market, Tainan City
  • Turkey: Taksim Square, Istanbul
  • United Kingdom: The 02, London
  • United States: Disneyland, Anaheim, California