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Okay, so Christmas is over. Did you manage to resist the tables of temptation? If you’re anything like me you put that calorie counter away and said “hell yes” to all things cheese-filled and meat-topped. Good for the lips, not so good for the hips. Thankfully, Lonely Planet is to the rescue once again. Well, if you have the time and money, that is. Take a look at Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 best treks in the world – a fun (and adventurous) way to get back into shape for 2012.


It’s not exactly easy to stay trim this time of year, what with the pumpkin-flavored drinks and cakes and the cold weather that renders your gym card useless. But if you need a little inspiration to get back that bikini bod, here’s a winter deal for you:

Barceló Hotels & Resorts is offering up to 35 percent off all-inclusive stays at beachfront properties in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

Unlike typical “book by this date” promotions that limit the discount to a particular booking window, Barceló is giving travelers the freedom to make reservations on their own schedule.

Travelers can now book vacations to any all-inclusive resort in Mexico and the Dominican Republic for travel between now and April 30, or Costa Rica for travel between December 24 and April 30; and receive a percentage off based on how early it’s booked. The earlier the reservation is made – the greater the value.

Guests will receive the following discounts when reservations are made:

• More than 120 days in advance – 35 percent off

• Between 90 and 119 days in advance – 30 percent off

• Between 60 and 89 days in advance – 20 percent off

• Between 31 and 59 days in advance – 15 percent off

Enjoy, friends, and have a great weekend. I return Monday from chilly Schenectady with tales to tell.

No travel on the foreseeable horizon, folks, but definitely a lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Let’s make it light today with one of my favorite pictures. This is a salt field high in the Andes in Peru. I spent four days hiking the Andes from Cuzco to Machu Picchu back in 2005. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life: camping in the mountains up in the clouds, meeting like-minded hikers from around the world, and, my favorite, rounding a corner at the end of the trail to be smacked in the face with a perfect view of Machu Picchu. Interested in your own Peruvian adventure? Check out Adventure Life, which specializes is customizable South American tours.

I know I typically wow you all with the hot new scene, but you may be shocked to know that I am often sorely out of the loop. Fortunately I have a circle of people whom I can easily contact for the latest scoop on dining, technology, local news and yes, sometimes travel.

Over the summer I met a good friend for dinner at  an adorable French bistro in Long Island City (another tale for another time) and she told me all about Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list and book unique spaces around the world either online or from their iPhone. (She is very tech-savvy.) Seriously this site has everything from castles to sailboats to apartments. It’s a great way for people to showcase their spectacular spaces and have visitors come rent them out to see how the other half lives.

So far Airbnb exists in over 16,000 cities in over 186 countries with over 2 million nights already booked. It’s like sleepover social networking.

How to book:
1. Find your space using the search page to find a property. Enter dates you need and browse availability.
2. Book it by entering your credit card information (it’s a secure site) and within 24 hours the host will accept your request. (Note: Hosts can also choose to deny if you do not seem stand-up.) After confirmation the exact address will be distributed.
3. Travel. Get your itinerary details and enjoy!

How to host:
1. Create an Airbnb profile and list your space with photos, price and availability. Listing is free!
2. Answer guest questions using the onsite messaging system. You can feel free to accept or decline requests.
3. Host your guest! You will be paid 24 hours after they check in.

Are your tastes more of the silver spoon variety? Fear not. I’ve just received word that Airbnb now has an “In the Lap of Luxury Collection.” Travelers can use the site to now access some of the world’s most in-demand accommodations (think a ski lodge in Squaw Valley, a private island in Fiji, or yacht cruising in Miami).

Get clicking friends. If you like to travel and mingle, this is right up your alley, and the friends I have who have used this service say it is truly memorable.