Columns

New Zealand was named by the Dutch after Zeeland, a region in the Netherlands.

Chef Giovanni Ciaravola's finished dish.

Ostia, several miles southwest of present-day Rome, was once an important port for Rome. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Ostia was abandoned. Today, the archaeological site of Ostia Antica can be visited near the modern town of Ostia (Ostia Lido).

In October 2016, my husband, John, and I stayed in Ostia, now a beach resort, so we could visit the nearby archaeological site, easily accessed from Ostia by a short train ride.

Admission to Ostia Antica costs about $9, but...

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Taking an educational tour often means you’ll visit a struggling part of the world and engage with the locals, like these schoolchildren in El Salvador. Photos by Rick Steves

Honolulu or Havana? The world is full of travel opportunities that are more than enjoyable; they can be transformational. By getting out of your comfort zone, you realize that different people find different truths to be self-evident and God-given. You gain empathy for the other 96 percent of humanity, and in many ways you can learn a lot about your own country by viewing it from afar.

While many extremely rewarding destinations are not on the typical bucket list, they can be...

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My husband, Paul, and our guide exploring the ruins of Al Baleed’s largest mosque — Oman. Photos by Julie Skurdenis

The city of Salalah lies on the southern coast of Oman beside the Arabian Sea, about 600 miles southwest of Muscat, the country's capital. It is in this area of Oman that the frankincense trade flourished for hundreds of years, beginning perhaps as early as the third millennium BC.

From ports along Oman's southern coast, frankincense traveled by land and sea not only to other parts of Oman and the Arabian Peninsula but east to China and India and north and west to Mesopotamia...

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Wandering the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall is a highlight in northern England.

I'm so glad borders and walls are out of fashion in Europe. The continent's many proud nations don't always get along, but they have learned to respect each other -- making it possible for peace to flourish.

Historically, though, Europe has a rich past when it comes to wall building. At one point or another, most of Europe's great cities -- Paris, London, Rome, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Vienna and...

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A mannequin holding 1940s communication gear sits inside Fortress Furigen, a decommis-sioned bunker near Luzern that provides a peek at Switzerland’s hidden defense system.

Mountainous Switzerland is well-known for its cows, chocolate, and stunning scenery -- but there's more to enjoy. Here are some lesser-known Swiss travel treats.

Experience Swiss military readiness. To protect its prized neutrality in the tumultuous 20th century, Switzerland wired its roads, bridges, and tunnels so they could be destroyed with the push of a button. They tried to make the whole country an impenetrable mountain fortress. Most of these military...

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Helsinki grew up around its busy harbor, overlooked by the gleaming white Lutheran Cathedral.

Helsinki -- Europe's youngest and northernmost capital city -- feels like an outpost of Europe. While it lacks the cutesy cobbles of Copenhagen, the aristocratic setting of Stockholm, or the futuristic vibe of Oslo, Helsinki holds its own among Nordic capitals with its creative spirit, zest for architecture and design, and a steamy love of saunas.

Perhaps the best way to understand Helsinki's origins is to take the...

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Do your research on the big aggregator sites, but then book directly with a family-run hotel — like this one in Prague — for a glimpse into the local culture.

I used to travel with absolutely no hotel reservations. Europe 30 years ago was relatively ramshackle, things were cheaper and because fewer people could afford to travel for fun, there was much less competition for budget rooms. I could make decisions on the go, show up in a new town and improvise my accommodations. But the tourism boom and rise of the Internet have changed everything. Today, booking hotels in advance is a critical part of trip planning -- and a fun way to...

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