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News Travel Humor

Mount Everest named world’s top place to visit

For the 156th consecutive year, the World Tourism Federation (WTF) has named Mount Everest the world’s top place to visit.

“Many tourism sites and attractions claim to be among the world’s best, but only Mount Everest, at 29,028 feet, can claim to top them all,” said WTF spokesperson Bob Payne.

In addition to its altitude, a number of other factors have helped Everest win the prestigious award so consistently, Payne said.

Among the factors are:

Except during the April and May climbing season, when the line at the Everest Base Camp Starbucks can stretch out the door, crowds are seldom a problem. And to escape them even in season it is often necessary only to climb above 26,000 feet, into what is helpfully described as the Death Zone.

Spring and Fall are the most popular times to visit, but in November through February cooling breezes of up to 200 mph make Everest an offseason-delight for all who are willing to hold on.

No matter what the season, inexpensive parking is always available, as is accommodation, although the best of the accommodation, with some of the most awesome rooms-with-a-view on the planet, requires hanging tethered to a sheer rock face.

“It’s not as precarious as it might sound,” said Payne, “Although local outfitters don’t recommend it for older men who need to get up frequently during the night.”

Local sites of interest include the last resting places, or assumed last resting places, of the more than 200 deceased climbers whose bodies still remain on the mountain.

For visitors looking for activities other than climbing, Wildlife viewing includes up to ten species of ants, and the occasional yak, which are best admired from the uphill side.

The local people are another Everest draw. For a suitable tip, they are often happy to help you get all the way to the top, and, for an even more suitable tip, back down again.

Travel humor writer Bob Payne  is an enthusiastic social climber.  


Airlines introduce Mind Your Own Business Class


Desperate to discourage chatty fellow passengers? At times, not even responding to every attempt at conversation with, “Want to buy my toothbrush?” is enough. But help is on the way, as airlines introduce a new category of service. Mind Your Own Business Class

The premium-tier service offers the expected amenities. Among them are eyeshades, noise-canceling headphones, and monogramed airline socks primarily meant to serve as gags to quiet offending passengers. (In the event of an emergency, apply the gags to adults first, and then to children.)

But early users of Mind Your Own Business Class say there’s one thing they most appreciate.  The peace of mind that comes with knowing that specially trained members of the cabin crew are standing by to sew shut the lips of any especially annoying seat-mate.

“For an add-on fee, the cabin crew will even perform the operation on themselves,” said Bob Payne, head of surgical procedures for Air Bob, one of the first domestic carriers to introduce the service.

Payne said Mind Your Own Business Class is proving very popular with Air Bob passengers. So much so that some have begun arranging to fly with the more loquacious among family and friends just so they can surprise them with the lip operation.

The success of Mind Your Own Business Class has been so great, said Payne, that Air Bob is looking into the possibility of creating a similar economy class service.

“The only difference would be that in order to keep costs down, as each economy class passenger who opted for the service boards the aircraft the cabin crew would be standing by in order to surgically remove the tongue of passengers sitting around them,” said Payne.

When not performing surgery for Air Bob, Bob Payne serves as the Editor in Chief of, the travel humor website that has been offering travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock. 

Longest flights ranked by who sits next to you


Airlines, for reasons most people find incomprehensible, like to boast of record-setting non-stop flights, ranked by hours in the air. The longest flights are currently claimed to be around 17 hours, although as every passenger knows, the real duration of a flight is determined by who sits next to you. The very longest flights include those on which your seatmate is:

Positive you said you would shut the oven off.

Struggling with issues of bladder control.

Louder than an accompanying child.

Returning from a wedding, with photos.

Demonstrably capable of reciting pi to 3,764 places.

Attempting to assemble an unidentifiable electronic device.

Recently retired, from sumo wrestling.

Watching an X-rated movie, you’ve already seen.

Shackled, but not gagged.


5 coolest places in America: The Lawsuit

We learned today that is facing a lawsuit by an irate reader who blames us for the severe frostbite he suffered while visiting, allegedly at our recommendation, one of the places featured in a story we recently ran, “The 5 coolest places in America.”

The reader maintains the story should have warned that in none of the places were open-toed sandals appropriate winter footwear. We maintain that he, like far too many Internet users, must have read no further than the headline.

If you missed the story, below are the places we mentioned. Before making plans to visit any of them, please read the descriptions carefully.

Prospect Creek Camp, Alaska

A work settlement during the construction of the Alaska Pipeline, the now abandoned Prospect Creek Camp holds the record for the lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States: -80 degrees F, on January 21, 1971. Tourist attractions include the pipeline’s Pump Station 5, two still-fluttering airstrip windsocks, and what is believed to be one of the largest collections of pre-Internet pornography ever assembled.

Rogers Pass, Montana

Located in a remote wilderness area on the Continental Divide, Rogers Pass holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in the lower 48 states: -70 degrees F, on January 20, 1954. Tourist attractions include one of the largest remaining concentrations of grizzly bears in the lower 48, and various garments belonging to previous visitors who attempted to outrun them.

Peter Sinks, Utah

A basin-shaped natural depression allegedly named for a man who would have done well to look elsewhere for a homestead site, Peter Sinks holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded in Utah: -69.3 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include various locations where it is speculated the would-be homesteader may have succumbed to the elements during his first and only winter at the Sinks.

Riverside Ranger Station, Montana

Pay attention here, because the town of Riverside, Wyoming, is sometimes listed as holding the record for the coldest temperature every recorded in Wyoming: -66 degrees F, on February 9, 1933. But according to the weather website, that temperature was actually recorded at the now non-existent Riverside Ranger Station, which in 1933 was located where the town of West Yellowstone, Montana, now stands. Tourist attractions in the Wyoming town, which has a population of 53, include anybody who can give directions to West Yellowstone, a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, eight hours away.

Maybell, Colorado

Vail and Steamboat may have their après ski scenes, but the coolest place in Colorado is Maybell, population 72, which is home to the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state: −61 degrees F, on February 1, 1985. Tourist attractions include the restaurant, the gas station, the general store, and, during the spring, a depth of horse poop today found in few other American communities.

Man wakes from coma, discovers he’s closer to front of TSA security line


A New York City man who went into a coma more than six weeks ago while standing in a TSA security line at JFK Airport awoke today to discover he was closer to passing through the security line checkpoint.

“At first, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but then I realized that one of the TSA agents who was putting bags through the scanner had gained at least fifteen pounds since I last noticed him,” said Jeremy Green, a sales representative who medical authorities believe may have suffered a seizure while trying to figure out how much of the cost of his ticket was for actual airfare and how much was for add-on fees.

“Going into a coma while in a TSA security line is an increasingly common condition,” said Medical Editor Bob Payne.  He added that it is also increasingly difficult to catch the condition in its early stages, as more and more families and even businesses are reluctant to report missing passengers for fear that the airlines will respond by charging a fee to check their records to see if the passenger actually boarded.

In related news, another JFK passenger who spent a lengthy stay in a TSA security line was arrested last night for attempting to sell an undercover airport security agent outdated cheese products.

Fourth-ranked travel attractions gain long-overdue recognition.

It is becoming clear that in an increasingly crowded world, fourth-place deserves more recognition than it has traditionally received. And nowhere is that more apparent than among travel attractions. To help set things right, below are some of the best of the fourth-ranked.


Fourth Tallest Hotel

Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel

Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Talk about getting a bad break on location, the 1,014-foot Jumeirah Emirates Towers is not only just the world’s fourth-tallest hotel, it also fourth-ranked in Dubai alone. That city, with all its other travel attractions,  is home to seven of the world’s top ten tallest hotels, including the tallest, the 1,165-foot JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, which, it is worth noting, doesn’t serve as good a breakfast.


Fourth Longest Non-stop Flight

Abu Dhabi, UAE – Los Angeles


This Etihad Airways flight of 15 hours, 39 minutes is not only almost two hours shorter than what would be the record holder, from Dubai to Panama City, Panama, if the latter finally goes into service, it would allow passengers to disembark without having to ask themselves what in the world they are doing in Panama.


Fourth Most Expensive Theme Park

Universal Studios

Hollywood, California


Visitors in search of travel attractions who mistakenly end up at Universal Studios in California instead of the one in Florida, which is ranked as the world’s most expensive theme park, can plunk down their $90 one-day entrance fee at least knowing that they’ve saved $15 per ticket. A downside of Universal Studios Hollywood, though, is that there is no Margaritaville.


Fourth Tallest Fountain

Port Fountain

Karachi, Pakistan.

Although rising only 620 feet, or 233 feet less than the world’s highest, King Fahd’s Fountain in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, this pride of Pakistan can claim to be the only one of the world’s major fountains that was inoperable for a time because someone stole the parts that make it go.


Fourth Priciest Cocktail

The Winston, Club 23

Melbourne, Australia


At a mere $12,040, this Winston Churchill-inspired libation may not have the three 1-1.5 carat diamonds sitting at the bottom of it that accompanied the record-setting $50,000 cocktail served at Moscow’s Reka Restaurant in 2014. Not does it contain the scattering of rubies that gave a glow to the $40,000 drink the White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine, created to celebrate their 40th anniversary. But unlike those glittery concoctions, The Winston does contain slugs of 1858 Croizet cognac, which goes for $157,000 a bottle, or $6,000 a shot. And you don’t have to worry about getting something stuck in your throat and realizing you’ve just made a very costly mistake.


Fourth Busiest U.S. National Park

Yellowstone National Park


Many people are surprised to learn that Yellowstone, one of our most iconic travel attractions, covering a vast wilderness area in parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is not the busiest U.S. national park. That title goes to Great Smoky Mountains, whose nearly 10 million annual visitors number more than twice as many as second place Grand Canyon, in part, some say, because Great Smokey Mountain is one of the few national parks without an admission fee. Of course if the super volcano that sits below Yellowstone ever erupts neither of those more heavily visited parks will have nearly the view Yellowstone visitors will of two-thirds of American being engulfed in fire and ash.


Fourth Largest Hamburger

Ted Reader, Toronto


In 2010, Canadian Chef Ted Reader produced a world-record 590-pound hamburger at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square. We mention this only because Reader’s burger now ranks as the world’s fourth largest, with the champion, created at the Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton, Minnesota, in 2012, weighing in at 2,014 pounds. Condiments on Reader’s burger included wheelbarrows full of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, pickles, and onions, but, for health reasons, no bacon.