ESCAPE ARTISTSInspiration for vacation
The name couldn't be goofier, but take note if you are looking to squeeze money out of your budget for a trip. TravelMuse has a new Yacation Calculator (see what we mean?) to help you see how much money you can save a year by ditching the double lattes and mani-pedis. The website walks you through some common purchases -- take-out sandwiches, glasses of wine -- and asks how many times a week, month or year you are willing to do without them. After tallying your potential savings, TravelMuse suggests trips you can take according to your interests. For a link or to tell us about your experience at the site, go to www.startribune.com/escapeartists.
BOOK BRIEFWorld's top spots
"Zagat World's Top Restaurants 2009/10" and "Zagat World's Top Hotels, Resorts & Spas 2009/10" ($15.95 each) have hit bookstores. The second edition of the "World's Top Restaurants" features locations in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States. It lists 58 major cities, from Beijing to Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, "World's Top Hotels, Resorts & Spas" covers nearly 1,500 places from Antigua to Zimbabwe.
THIS JUST INHelmets required at Vail
Vail Resorts employees will be required to wear helmets while skiing or snowboarding on the job, starting with the 2009-10 season. Vail also will require helmets for children 12 and under who take group lessons through its schools, and helmets will be part of the resort's children's rental packages unless parents or guardians sign a waiver. The policy will be in force at all five of its resorts in Colorado and California. Helmets will be provided next fall as part of employees' uniforms. "We did it as a way to promote safety for employees and guests," said John Garnsey, copresident of Vail Resorts' Mountain Division. "By making helmets part of the uniform, our employees are setting a very good example to our guests and especially children." The announcement comes a month after the death of actress Natasha Richardson, who died of head injuries after falling on a beginner slope at Mont Tremblant ski resort in Quebec. Richardson was not wearing a helmet.
REAL DEALCan money woes sail away?
Two sail for the price of one on select Princess cruises. The Escape the Economy deal applies to dozens of sailings in Europe, Alaska, Asia, Australia, South America and the South Pacific. For example, a 16-night cruise from Los Angeles to Valparaiso, Chile, departing Nov. 22 starts at $969 per person (double occupancy) after the discount; the cruise aboard the Star Princess stops at 10 ports in five countries. Fees and taxes are an additional $107 (1-800-774-6237; www.princess.com/escapetheeconomy.page).
ADVENTUREMidwest gets good play
Skip the Himalayas or the Amazon. You can find adventure right here in the United States, and the April/May issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine is offering a list of the 50 best U.S. adventures, from surfing and climbing to paddling and pedaling. The top 10 from that list include two in the Midwest: biking in the Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa and wreck-diving in Lake Superior off Minnesota's shoreline. Other picks include canoeing the waterways of the Adirondacks in New York.
SIDEROADSRocking on in Duluth
Local and regional bands and other musicians will perform rock 'n' roll, jazz, the blues and more during the Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth today through next Sunday. Today's concerts will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight at Pizza Luce, and the festival will continue with concerts through the week at local spots around town. Hours vary. Visitors can also check out comedy, poetry and a photography exhibit. Tickets are $5 to $20 and can be purchased at Electric Fetus in Duluth (1-218-722-9970) or online (www.duluthhome grown.com).
COLLEEN A. COLES