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Travel News: New Kid On the Block Edition

LivingSocial enters the travel market, and a kindly writer tells you what destinations to skip

The travel-deals universe got a little more interesting this week with the launch of LivingSocial Escapes. The daily-deals site’s newest venture runs weekly instead of daily, offering cut-price packages to vacation spots such as Mexico, Key West, and Vermont. Flights aren’t generally included, but this week’s five-day trip for two to Playa del Carmen in Mexico includes a four-night stay, a hike and zipline through the rainforest, a trip to see Mayan ruins, most meals and open-bar happy hours, and airport transfer, all for $900 (discounted from the usual price of $1,584). Will Groupon follow its competitor’s lead? Watch this space.

On the subject of deals, a couple are worth looking at this week, courtesy of Travelzoo. Sceptre Tours is offering a four-night luxury trip to Dublin for $599. The price includes airfare and accommodation at the Four Seasons Dublin (a Condé Nast Gold List hotel) but not $130 to $180 in taxes and fees, and flights leave from New York. It’s still a bargain.

Inexpensive New York City hotels are less easy to find than bedbugs these days, but the relatively new boutique Pearl Hotel in Times Square is offering rooms for $189 a night in January and February and $240 a night for some dates in November and December. The price includes breakfast and wi-fi, and the hotel offers complimentary wine hour every afternoon in the lobby. The Pearl currently has 4.3 stars on, and if you head up for Thanksgiving, you’ll be in the perfect place for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

You’ve probably noticed already that holiday flights are priced significantly higher than last year, and here’s a story in the New York Times that explains why. Airlines are currently having one of their most profitable periods in years, thanks to growing demand and fewer scheduled flights. This translates into higher prices, fuller planes, and interminable standby lines. Flights to Europe and business-class flights are among the most affected, with basic fares to Europe now averaging $1,000.

And finally, Arthur Frommer, the nicest blogger in history, drew our attention this week to a different kind of travel guide. Catherine Price’s 101 Places Not to See Before You Die details the sights in the world that are absolutely not worth visiting, including Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Stonehenge, and Seattle’s famous Gum Wall. To which we’d add: Phuket, Thailand, and anywhere in Wales. What are your travel must-not-sees? Detail them below and we’ll pick the best for next week.

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