The Coast News Group
Hit the Road

It’s time for the occasional grab bag of goodies to help gadabouts stay on top of what’s new in the world of travel.

The finest for ‘15

Lonely Planet has selected the One World Observatory, atop the new 104-story-high One World Trade Center in New York City, as the world’s “hottest new opening for 2015.”

According to the website, the observatory opens “Spring 2015.” (I hope to provide a firsthand account of the One World Observatory experience in October.)

You’ll find the publisher’s list of must-sees in their new free ebook “New in Travel.”

The list includes outdoor adventures, museums, breweries, wildlife-watching encounters and more — 26 destinations in all. Another U.S. attraction: the boyhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess, Arkansas, about 50 miles north of Memphis.

And should you be in South Africa: the nearby Cape Canopy Tour (zipline) near Cape Town. To download the ebook, visit

Travel cheaply; travel well

The days of seeing Europe on $10 a day are long gone, but if you’re willing to think out of the box and travel like a local, says seasoned traveler and celeb blogger Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt), extended travel on a budget is possible. “Experience … has shown me that travel can be done cheaply without sacrificing comfort,” says the native Bostonian who now lives in New York City when he’s not on the road.

That’s why Kepnes wrote “How to Travel the World on $50 a day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter” (Perigee/Penguin Random House). It offers hundreds of tips and specific information about discounts on hostels, tours and transportation; helpful websites and electronic tools; tips on avoiding bank fees; the mysteries of airline-ticket pricing; choosing the right backpack — even how to save for that dream trip.

“I think travel makes everybody a more awesome person,” Kepnes says. “We end our travels way better off than when we started.” Visit

Map app for the wilderness and historic sites

Those GPS apps on our smartphones are wonderful, but when it comes to finding where you are on the trail, they aren’t helpful. They not only lack detail, but if you are out of cell-tower range, you’re also out of luck.

Enter the free Avenza PDF Maps app, which makes it possible to download maps of park grounds and wilderness areas via satellite. Some of the maps are free; most others are in the $2-$5 range. You pay no more than you would for the paper versions.

Avenza is a Toronto-based company that works with map companies to provide a way for travelers and hikers to purchase digital maps. According to spokeswoman Christine Simmons, users also can download historical maps like Civil War battlefields and track themselves interactively. Like a GPS, Avenza tracks your path and marks your position on the historical map so you’ll know when you’re standing on or hiking through historic locations and exact spots. Users can also take photos along the way and post them to the maps. Go to the App Store and type in “Avenza.”

Fast-track Valentine’s Day

Amtrak California is sending a Valentine to sweethearts who love train travel — or would like to try it this month for a reduced price.

Buy a full-fare adult ticket between Jan. 19 and Feb. 25, use the promo code V613, and get 50 percent off a companion’s fare.The offer is valid for trips to any California destination served by the Pacific Surfliner or San Joaquin Line, including romantic destinations in the wine country of the Central Valley and secluded stops on the Southern California coastline. Trips can be taken between now and Feb. 28.

There are no blackout dates, but reservations must be made three days prior to travel.

E’Louise Ondash is a freelance writer living in North County. Tell her about your travels at [email protected]