The Top Travel Headlines of 2018

If you’re anything like us, you’re sitting here right now wondering where 2018 went. As you get ready for the new year, it’s time to reflect on everything that happened in your own life as well as around the world during the past 12 months. We know it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on in the world. So, we decided to put together a list of noteworthy news stories from 2018, so you can stay up to speed on travel news, trends, and memorable moments from the past year.

Breaking News

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Natural Eruptions Shook Things Up

Ear Spring, a Yellowstone National Park geyser that hasn’t been active since 1957, erupted on September 15th, leaving human-made objects and trash scattered around its vent. According to CBS News, items including a cement block, cans, coins, and a baby’s pacifier dating back to the 1930s were collected and archived by Yellowstone curators. Yellowstone is cataloging the miscellaneous items to remind visitors of their impact on natural features in the park. According to Rebecca Rolland, a park official, items left behind “can actually plug up a feature and kill the feature. And that’s happened in many places in the park.”

But the geyser wasn’t the only thing to go boom. On April 30, the Pu‘u ‘O‘o crater on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano collapsed triggering the largest lower East Rift Zone eruption and caldera collapse in nearly 200 years. According to the New York Times, the eruption produced “320,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of lava and completely transformed the landscape.” Christina Neal, a scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, stated that volcanic events continued for months and the eruption wasn’t considered complete until December 6th.

Unruly Tourists Displayed Bad Behavior

Two English-speaking tourists sparked outrage after a viral video showed them shedding their clothes to wade in an ancient Roman fountain. Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele, the historic site defamed by the tourists, is dedicated to the first king of Italy and is said to commemorate over 500,000 soldiers that were killed in World War. Authorities continue their search for the men responsible for dropping their pants beneath the Altar of the Motherland, which holds the “tomb of the unknown soldier,” and continue their efforts to deter tourists from both illegal and offensive acts.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only instance of tourists defiling natural and historical sites. From fighting over the perfect selfie to stealing bricks from somber monuments, several travelers were on their worst behavior this year.

We Lost a Travel Pioneer

The world reeled following the death of tv personality Anthony Bourdain in June of 2018 to apparent suicide. Culinary expert, author, tv host and traveler, Bourdain left his mark on many industries, and his death was felt around the world. Whether he was exposing Parts Unknown on his tv show or inspiring others with a passion for testing new flavors and cultures, he was a source of inspiration for many.


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Most Visited Destinations of 2018

Countless destinations topped our personal bucket lists this year, but a few spots stuck out in 2018 as travelers flocked to big cities. According to Mastercard’s 2018 Global Index, Bangkok, London, Paris, Dubai, and Singapore were predicted to be the top 5 most visited spots for 2018. UK-based market research company Euromonitor International, however, released their own report putting Hong Kong in the top spot, with close to 30 million tourists expected to travel to the region before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Google revealed its own insights into the most-searched-for destinations in 2018. According to the search engine, trips to Italy, Paris, and Iceland dominated people’s interests in 2018.

New Underwater Trail in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe upped the ante on underwater exploration on October 1st by opening a new underwater trail reaching depths of 10 to 60 feet. The Emerald Bay Maritime Trail is open to snorkelers and scuba divers who are interested in exploring historical, recreational watercraft and barges along Emerald Bay’s shoreline. According to CNN, the new site features two barges once used by lumber companies, the largest vessel used by the Emerald Bay Resort, and dive sites connected to popular vacation destinations from the 1920s and 1930s. This is California’s first underwater maritime heritage cultural trail that is open to the public.

Golden Bridge Built in Da Nang, Vietnam

Ba Na Hills Resort, a mountainside resort in Da Nang, Vietnam, went viral after they opened a 500-foot gold pedestrian bridge, aptly named the Golden Bridge, that sits 4,600 feet above sea level and offers visitors unparalleled views of the famous Ba Na Hills. The structure appears to be supported by two large, weathered stone hands, that have been aged for centuries. According to National Geographic, the Ba Na Hills Resort was first established in 1919 by French colonists and featured 200 villas, but today it’s home to an alpine roller coaster and the longest, nonstop, single-track cable car in the world.

10 Millions Acres of Land Donated to Chile

American philanthropist Kristin Tompkins and her late husband, Doug Tompkins, handed over what is considered to be one of the world’s largest donations of private land to Chile. The couple spent over two decades acquiring over 10 million acres of land in Chile and working on preservation projects to restore Chile’s most stunning scenery. The donation of land includes a number of existing parks, a national reserve, a variety of accommodations, and will also expand two existing national parks.

Special Events

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Super Blue Blood Moon

On January 31st, the second full moon of the year passed through Earth’s shadow creating a Super Blue Blood Moon. This incredibly rare phenomenon was the first time a lunar eclipse coincided with a Blue Moon in North America in over 150 years. The lunar eclipse was visible in all 50 U.S. states, as well as Australia and eastern Asia and was the only lunar eclipse visible in North America in 2018. The next total lunar eclipse in North America will happen on January 21st, 2019.

2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea

Remember the Winter Olympics? Yep, that was this year. Hosted by South Korea’s Pyeongchang, this year’s Games had their fair share of memorable moments. Norway dominated the final medal count and the world was introduced to a renewed love of curling. It was also a landmark game for Korean relations, with several key moments of interaction between officials from North and South Korea.


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New Amenities for Travelers Flying from Washington D.C.

According to the USA Today, a new micro-hotel is opening at Washington Dulles International Airport just in time for the holidays. Offering between 30 and 45 square feet of space, Sleepbox offers travelers a quiet place to bunker down during long layovers in a stand-alone, sound-proof room. The Sleep Box Map Lounge is said to be located on Concourse A of the busy airport and will allow travelers to nap on memory foam mattresses, relax, and recharge for $25-$35/hour.

First Underground Hotel Opened in Shanghai

It seems like hotels are always trying to outdo each other these days, but we have to admit, this one is pretty cool. A massive luxury hotel set inside an abandoned quarry opened in Shanghai in November and became the world’s first underground luxury hotel. The InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland includes 16 floors below ground and another two floors submerged inside a 33-foot-deep aquarium. After 10 years of building and over 1 billion yuan ($151 million), the hotel finally opened its doors to guests.

The Coolest New Hotels for 2018 Were Revealed

Speaking of incredible new hotels that opened this year, Conde Nast Traveler released their own “Hot List” for the world’s best new hotels. From Africa to the Caribbean, luxury resorts to private lofts, these hotels will quickly have you drooling.


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New Longest Flight Route Unveiled

Thought your Trans-Atlantic flight to Europe was long? Hold your tongue. The world’s new longest flight was launched in October, delivering passengers from Singapore to New York. The new route is operated by Singapore Airlines and flies from Singapore Changi International Airport to Newark Liberty International Airport. Covering 9,521 miles, the flight takes 18 hours and 25 minutes outbound, and 18 hours, 45 minutes returning from Newark to Singapore. This makes it 500 miles longer than the old record-holder, Qatar’s route from Auckland to Doha.

First Nonstop Flight From Europe to Australia

European travelers can now head Down Under easier than ever, with the first nonstop flight between Australia and Europe. The Qantas flight connects London and Perth, coming in at 17 hours and six minutes. The flight covers 9,240 miles and marks a new era in long-distance flight travel.


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Crossing Antarctica, Coast to Coast

Colin O’Brady, a 33-year-old two-time world record holder and former professional triathlete, has set out to do the unthinkable: become the first person to cross the Antarctic coast-to-coast alone and with no aid or resupply support. To date, he is halfway to his goal and has already become the 29th person to ski from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. According to CNBC, O’Brady’s 40-day expedition is meant to inspire people to protect our planet and teach them that anything is possible. He also plans to share data collected in route with 30,000 students across six continents.

About the author: Morgan Love | Writer for The Discoverer

Morgan is an adventure-seeker and storyteller from Southern California. A self-proclaimed weekend warrior, when she isn’t writing, you’ll find her somewhere in the mountains or road tripping throughout the Western United States.

Day By Day By Grace

January 4
Under Grace, Not Law
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom_6:14)
Sin dominates every one’s life, unless they are learning of God’s remedy. Grace is our only hope that sin will no longer dominate our lives. Furthermore, grace is a sufficient hope that sin need not exercise a dominating influence over us.
Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ, we were fully under the dominion of sin. We were condemned before God because of our sin. Others may not have been aware of our truly sinful condition. Still, we were so controlled by sin that God called us “slaves of sin” (Rom_6:6).
The law brought us no hope of escape. In fact, the law condemned us (Rom_3:19). We could never have found freedom from sin’s condemnation by attempting to perform better under the law of God, for “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal_2:16).
On the other hand, the grace of God is our fully effective hope. There is forgiveness of sins by His grace (Eph_1:7). There is justification through faith by the grace of God (Gal_2:16). There is growth in spiritual life by the grace of God (2Pe_3:18). None of these heavenly blessings become ours from attempting by our ability to live up to the law standards of Almighty God.
Our relationship with the Lord is based upon grace, not upon law. We began a walk with the Lord by His grace at work for us. We continue to walk with Him by His grace at work in our lives.
O Lord, my God, I rejoice greatly that I am under Your grace and not under Your law. Your holy law rightly condemned me for my trespasses against You. I thank You for forgiving my sins by Your glorious grace. I praise You for justifying me, declaring me not guilty in Your sight, by Your rich grace. I extol You for continuing to touch and shape my life by Your inexhaustible grace, in the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen

Devotional Sermons

January 4
“Who can understand his errors?” Psa_19:12
It is the true desire of every earnest heart that preceding the Communion Service our thoughts should be turned inward in self-examination. Every astronomer worthy of the name is constantly careful to keep his lenses clean. But when he is on the verge of some great hour, then he cleanses them with double care. And so the Christian must always be watchful—must always be examining himself—but never more intensely so than at the time when he is looking for fresh discoveries of Christ. I want you, therefore, to follow me while I try to find why most of us are so ignorant of self. For of this you may be always sure, that the more we know what we really are, the better shall we know our need of Christ and of the glorious Gospel of His grace.
Busy Days and Quiet Times
It is a full and busy life in which we share, and the hand of that life opens many doors, but not the door which leads into the heart. Moments are precious now and days are full. Interests are manifold and ever changing. There is not an attic window which does not open on the panorama of the mighty world. And just as the Indian, putting his ear to the ground, can hear far off the galloping of horses, so all the movement and music of humanity is morning by morning borne upon our ear. It was a saying of John Wesley that he had all the world for his parish. And there is not a farmer in the remotest village who could not say something of the same kind today.
Now none but a pessimist would ever doubt that in this full life are elements of value. It has developed man and enlarged his vision and helped to make him a little less parochial. It has turned the Gospel into a world-wide message in a way that was never possible before. All this is good and we are thankful for it. There is something in it which exalts the Savior. We are learning the kingship of Jesus Christ today in a manner that was undreamed of once. And yet with it all there is a certain loss—a loss of quietness and of introspection. We have an added knowledge of the world, and perhaps a lessened knowledge of ourselves. We know far more than our forefathers knew about Japan and India and Thailand. The question is, do we know any more about the spiritual kingdom that is here? And after all, no kingdom in the world can relay such mighty news as can the kingdom of a man’s own soul where heaven and hell are fighting for the throne. We have gained, and we have also lost. We have seen more widely, and are a little blinder. We know far more than our forefathers knew, and yet it may be we know a little less. It is far harder now than it was once to reap the harvest of the quiet eye by practicing, amid the stir of things, the quiet and kindly grace of recollection.
We Are Rocked to Sleep by the Gradual
Another and deeper cause of our self-ignorance is the gradual and silent growth of sin. You are never startled by any noise of hammering when the chains of a bad habit are being forged. All of us are roused into attention when anything flashes suddenly upon us. It is one of the ministries of God’s surprise that it arrests us when we are dull and heavy. But when a thing is gradual in its coming and steals upon us without the sound of a trumpet, it is always easy to be unobservant. If in a moment the sun shone out in splendor and midnight vanished and the sky were blue, how every eye would mark that miracle and see in it the hand of the divine! But like a true artist of Almighty God, the sun has a scorn for anything sensational, and never an infant is wakened from its cradle as, rising, the sun parts the curtains of the east.
Think of the way in which children grow. How silently they creep towards their heritage! It seems but yesterday since they were little infants and busied with the first stammerings of speech. And today they are fighting their battle with the world, and the mystery of life has touched them, and they are launched into the boundless deep—and still are children in their mother’s eyes. We are all rocked to sleep by what is gradual. We let ourselves be tricked by what is silent. We miss the message of God times without number because He whispers in a still small voice.
And just as we are often dulled towards God, so are we dulled to our besetting sin for it has grown so gradually and strengthened with our strength and never startled us with any uproar. It is easy to see the sins of other people, because in a moment they are displayed to us. We see them not in the slowness of their growth, but in the sudden flash of their fulfillment. We see them as we see some neighbor’s child whom for a year or two we have not set our eyes on, and then we say, “How the child has grown; I never would have recognized him!” That is how we can detect our neighbor’s sin. That is how we fail to see our own. It has grown with us and lived in the same home and sat at the same table all the time—until today we are living such a life as God knows we never meant to live, and tampering with conscience and with purity as God knows we never dreamed to do. Had the thing leapt on us like a wild animal we should have aroused our manhood to resist it. But the most deadly evils do not leap on us. The most deadly evils creep on us. And it is that slow and silent growth of all that at last is mighty to confound which lulls men into the strange security which always is the associate of self-ignorance.
You Can Never Know Sin’s Power, Till You Oppose It
Another reason for self-ignorance is that you never know sin’s power till you oppose it. It is as true of sin as of any other force that you must measure its power by resistance. It is not when you are walking with the wind that you can measure how strong the wind is blowing. It is when you turn into the teeth of it that you perceive the power of the blast. And you will never learn the power of sin, nor how sweet it is nor what a grip it has, till in the name of God you battle with it. That is what Paul means when, in Romans, he says “I had not known sin but by the law.” It was when sin was checked by the commandment that it revealed the power which was in it. It was when God said “Thou shalt not,” that sin began to struggle for its life; and the commandment came, says the apostle, and sin revived and I died. Try to lift up those chained arms of thine, and thou wilt find how heavy are the chains. Waken that sleeping devil in thy bosom, and thou wilt find it is a sleeping Hercules. It is thus that men are led to Jesus Christ and to feel their need of an Almighty arm and to cast themselves in great despair on Him who can save even to the uttermost.
The Tangle of the Beautiful and the Base
Another cause of our self-ignorance lies in the interweaving of our best and worst. In deeper senses than the psalmist thought of, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
I had the pleasure, some little time ago, of going over one of the cruisers of the Navy. There was a great deal that was good to see, and with consummate courtesy we were shown it all. But the feature which seemed to interest our guide most, and to which he called particular attention, was the watertight compartments of the ship. He pointed out the fittings of the doors. He showed us how ingeniously they set. When the doors were locked there was such nice exactitude that not a penknife could have been inserted. And all this meant that in the hour of battle, if the one cabin were flooded by a shot, the other compartments would be dry.
Now it is thus that men may build, but it is not thus that the Almighty builds. There is no door of steel which closes fast between the highest and the worst in us. If all that was bad in individual character stood by itself in perfect isolation, then we would feel the joy of what was good and the dark loathsomeness of what was evil. But human character is not constructed with separate departments for its good and evil. It is an intricate and inextricable tangle of what is beautiful and what is base.
“Then I beheld,” says Bunyan in his dream, that “there was a way to hell from nigh the gate of heaven.” I think that that is so with every man: his hell and heaven are never far apart. There is something of his weakness in his strength, and the beautiful and the ugly have strange kinships, and the good and the bad in him spring up together like the wheat and tares in Jesus’ parable. Let the philosophers sift out our faculties. Let them distinguish the reason from the will. Let them treat on this page of the memory and on that page of the imagination. Our ordinary life makes merry with philosophers. And hope and faith and will, and height and depth, are interwoven in a water lily—beautiful, yet rooted in the slime. How many a glimpse there is of heaven in passions whose appointed end is misery. And it is the interweaving of such opposites in the whole range of human life and conduct which leads so often and so easily to the peril and the evil of self-ignorance.
The Poverty of Our Ideal
I shall mention but one more cause of our self-ignorance, and that is the low standard of our moral judgment. We manage to be contented with ourselves because of the poverty of our ideal. A sheep may look tolerably fair and clean against the greenness of the summer grass, but when the snow has fallen in virgin purity the sheep may be as a blot upon the hill. It is not the living creature that is different; it is the background that is different, and I want to ask you this straight question—What is the background of life? Is it the common standard of your class? Then you will never understand your errors. You are not worse than anybody else; you are as good as they are any day. But how that poor and shallow self-complacency is torn and tattered into a thousand shreds when the life which once accepted social values is set against the background of the Christ! Paul was proud of his moral standing once, for he could lift up his head with any Pharisee. But when Christ found him and made a man of him, the Pharisee became the chief of sinners. And it is always so when Christ comes in. We see the brightest and we see the worst. There is a heaven higher than our hope, and there is a hell deeper than we dreamed. Have you been awakened in any way like that? Are you profoundly dissatisfied with self? Have you had hours when you felt that in all the world there could be nobody quite so bad as you? Blessed be God for His convicting Spirit. It is better to feel that than to be satisfied. It is along that road, however dark, that the way lies for self-examination at the Communion Table.


January 4
A Long Journey to a Place Nearby
“The Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luk_17:21)
There is one in every crowd. We had no sooner taken our first turn when some clown near the back called out, “Are we there yet?” And then someone else asked, “Exactly how far are we going?”
That’s when I was struck by a bit of irony in our travel. Yes, we are indeed gong to place named Grace; and, yes, the journey will take some time for us to traverse. Yet, we are not going far; not at all. For, the truth be told, we are already there!
The problem, however, is that we do not know it. So the journey is necessary for us to discover what we already know; to possess what is already ours.
Jesus said that we would know the truth, and that the truth would set us free. A friend commented on this and said, “It is not the truth that sets us free; it is the truth that we know.” In other words, the truth must enter into our hearts and “the lights must come on.” That is when freedom happens.
The truth about grace has been unnecessarily muddled to such measure over the past few hundred years that our understanding of it today is miles removed from what the disciples knew and believed in the beginning. To them grace was a divine power at work inside them — enabling them to rise to any occasion, and ennobling them with the very character of Christ.
To us, sad to say, it is little more than a kindness God shows to us as we continually struggle and stumble in our plaintive attempts to “be more like Jesus.” That is a far cry from how God wants us to be living our lives. We are looking at the gold leaves floating on the surface of the stream, but missing the real gold that lies on the river bed.
Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul responded to this revelation and said, “Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmity, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!”
I will show you that Grace is the empowering Presence of God, enabling you to be who God created you to be, and empowering you to do what God has called you to do – right where you are.
This is what Paul taught, and what the first followers of Jesus believed. And as we journey together onward and upward, somewhere along the way an epiphany will occur in your heart and you will exclaim with wonder, “Oh, my! I never saw it like this before!”
And in that delightful moment, my fellow sojourner, you will experience the overwhelming wonder of the Grace of God in such manner that it will revolutionize not only your way of thinking – but your way of living.
So, yes, we are taking a long journey to a place nearby.