• EXPLORE eNewsletter from Travel Guard | August 2012

    Not afraid of ghosts? You might be after reading about these seriously scary but immensely intriguing fall travel destinations. Read on if you dare!

    Whitechapel in London, England
    While the name of this area in London may seem quaint, the story of the town in the late 1800's is far from benign. So for what, or more specifically WHOM, is Whitechapel famous? One of the most notorious, yet elusive serial killers in the world – Jack the Ripper.

    In all, eleven women were said to have met their end in a twelve-week span from the end of August through the beginning of November in 1888. What's even spookier may be the fact that Jack's identity is still unknown. Though the Ripper himself is long gone, curious travelers can walk his old stomping grounds through London's east side, visiting the study pubs Jack may have prowled and ruminate about the stories those cobblestone streets could tell if rocks could talk.

    Winchester House, San Jose, California
    Its Victorian era peaks seem to stretch to eternity and its large, dark windows gape at passersby. But the supposedly haunted Winchester House, filled with hallways that end abruptly and walled off rooms, still manages to beckon visitors around Halloween each year.

    The year was 1884 when Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune, began construction on the huge house at the recommendation of a medium she sought after the untimely deaths of her husband and only child. The medium encouraged building the house to ward off the spirits of all the souls Winchester rifles had taken over the years. But there was one caveat… building on the house must never cease, or the spirits would make sure Sarah met an untimely end.

    For years Sara had her builders continue their work on the house, constructing the maze-like residence full of twisting and turning hallways, dead-ends, secret panels, a window built into a floor, staircases leading to nowhere, doors that open to walls, upside-down columns, and rooms built, then intentionally closed off — all to ward off and confuse evil spirits. The construction continued until Sarah's death in 1922 but the spookiness of the house remains today as a tourist attraction.

    Sleepy Hollow, New York
    The legend of the headless horseman at Sleepy Hollow shouldn't be new to anyone. But what is new is the name of the town. Formerly North Tarrytown, the townspeople voted to change the name of their town to Sleepy Hollow in 1996 to commemorate author Washington Irving who penned the now famous story and is interned here in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

    Sleepy Hollow dates back to the 1640s and the burying ground is one of the oldest cemeteries in America, containing the graves of people likely to have influenced the characters in Irving's book - Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel.

    Travelers to this sleepy little town can go on tours of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and if they are lucky, may even hear hoof-beats against the nearly frozen ground of late October.

    Edinburgh, Scotland
    They were once used at cellars, workshops and residences by those who owned businesses but now they are empty, abandoned, and some say – haunted. The Edinburgh Vaults have been named by some as one of the most haunted places in the world. They were discovered less than 30 years ago beneath the streets of Scotland's capital city, but for over 200 years the vaults laid abandoned and untouched- holding fresh memories from the city's forgotten past.

    The vaults once served as an underground bridge to connect different parts of the city, but with severe flooding, business owners moved on while Edinburgh's plague-invested and homeless moved in. What's left for curious travelers to see is a maze of underground chambers. The curious may tour the vaults at their own risk and if they listen carefully, they may still hear the steady hum of the voices of yesteryear echoing through the dimly-lit passages.

    Transylvania, Romania
    Perhaps no other tourist destination is as well known as Transylvania, Romania – the actual historic home of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. If Vlad the Impaler doesn't immediately ring a bell, perhaps the name "Dracula" will.

    Though the real Vlad was in no way associated with vampires, he was infamous for his brutal punishments, such as impalement, of many enemies who tried to fight against his kingdom. Vlad ruled on three separate occasions - in 1448, 1456 - 62, and 1476 - although some may say he still rules on given the popularity of the novel he inspired and ever-popular vampire movies and Halloween costumes.

    Those who enjoy medieval history will certainly enjoy a tour of Bran Castle in which Vlad once lived. Travelers can tour the premises and learn about the area's history while enjoying a picturesque countryside of rolling hills.

    Do spooky or rich, historical sites intrigue you?  Share your favorite haunted travel experience with us on Facebook!

    Tips for Cool Weather Travel

    Tips for Cool Weather Travel

    As the temperatures drop, planning for cool-weather travel can benefit even the savviest of travelers. Whether you are traveling by plane or car, these travel tips can help you as you venture out.

    Leave at least an hour earlier. Sometimes cold weather can mean more delays and unexpected wait times. Give yourself more time than usual because you never know when you could run into icy roads or find your car acting up due to frigid conditions on your way to the airport or destination.

    Fly non-stop whenever possible. Where is most time wasted while at an airport? Waiting for a connecting flight – especially when that flight has been delayed due to severe weather. While this is sometimes unavoidable, flying non-stop avoids the possibility that your connecting flight could be delayed or cancelled due to severe weather.

    Check weather at the airport from which you will board your connecting flight. When connecting flights are unavoidable, check to see what the weather is like where you will board your connecting flight. If the area is going through a severe weather conditions, you may want to re-book the location of your connecting flight.

    Check flight status early and often. Flight status is often not updated until the last minute when airlines are sure that severe weather is going to be an issue to flight take-off. Call or check updates on your smartphone to make sure your departure is still on schedule before you leave for the airport.

    Choose a morning flight. Not a morning person? You might want to be when planning your trip. Morning flights are less likely to be delayed or canceled than evening flights. Flights that are later in the day face more logistical effects of severe weather, resulting in more delays and cancellations.

    Avoid peak travel dates. More travel delays and flight cancellations happen when there are more people out and about. Try traveling a few days before holidays begin or on a weekday.

    Put some extra clothing and emergency items in your vehicle. Whether you are only driving to the airport or driving to your destination, make sure you are safe just in case you encounter severe winter weather or your car breaks down. Include a pair of gloves, weather-resistant pants and coat, boots, a blanket, jumper cables, a flashlight with some extra batteries, and a windshield scraper. Throw in a few nutrition bars and bottled water just in case you're stranded for any amount of time.

    For more great travel tips and a good read on everything travel, check out our blog.

    Where in the World?

    Where in the World?

    Q: This famous haunted house is located in Fall River, Massachusetts. As the story goes, two people met an untimely end in this house when their own relative brought out an ax. What is the name of this house?

    The Lizzie Borden House

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