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Escape the crowds at these affordable alternatives to travel hot spots

Editor’s Note: Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get the latest news in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

In travel news this week: smart alternatives to the world’s top tourism destinations, the Michelin restaurant that closed because it was too expensive and the plane that reached 14,000 feet after taking off with missing windows.

Destination inspiration

Travel tech company Expedia has announced its list of 2024 “destination dupes”: places that are smart alternatives to top tourist destinations and are often cheaper and less crowded. They’re all shooting up Expedia’s search rankings, too, which means you might want to get there before everybody else does.

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Here’s their top 10: Paros, Greece (dupe for Santorini); Perth, Australia (dupe for Sydney); Liverpool, UK (dupe for London); Palermo, Sicily (dupe for Lisbon); Curaçao (dupe for St. Martin); Quebec City, Canada (dupe for Geneva, Switzerland); Memphis, Tennessee (dupe for Nashville); Pattaya, Thailand (dupe for Bangkok); Taipei, Taiwan (dupe for Seoul, South Korea); and Sapporo, Japan (dupe for Zermatt, Switzerland).

Dollar, dollar bill, y’all

My, isn’t everything getting outrageously expensive? As prices of goods and services shoot up across the board, the hospitality industry is feeling the pinch – particularly at the higher end of the scale. Following closure announcements by Copenhagen’s Noma and London’s Le Gavroche, another European Michelin-starred restaurant is shutting up shop, with the head chef telling CNN costs have “spiralled out of control” and fine dining will soon be a “bygone era.”

In these straitened times, Americans who find themselves footloose and fancy-free are choosing to relocate for a better standard of living. Long Island native Julie Balzano lived in Miami for 30 years but started a new life in Colombia after her marriage ended and her children were grown. “It’s a very surreal, liberating and also frightening experience all at the same time,” she told CNN.

Trouble overhead

A plane took off with missing window panes at a London airport last month after crew failed to spot the damage before takeoff. Passengers noticed the aircraft was “noisier and colder than they were used to,” but the plane climbed to at least 14,000 feet before turning back.

Air Canada has apologized after passenger Rodney Hodgins, a wheelchair user, made international headlines when he shared his experience of having to drag himself off a flight when it arrived in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, flight attendants are burned out and quitting, thanks to an aviation landscape that’s become defined by delays, lost luggage, staffing issues and disruptive passengers.

Making tracks

Indonesia launched Southeast Asia’s first bullet train last month, a $7.3 billion train line that connects two of its largest cities, Jakarta and Bandung.

And in Austria, state railway ÖBB has unveiled a 33-strong fleet of night trains that will debut next month. There’s a new focus on solo travelers, with the luxurious new carriages containing pod-like single berths, as well as standard couchettes and sleeping cars.

In Britain, however, things aren’t going so well. England was the birthplace of railways, back in 1825, but almost 200 years later, the country’s train industry is in turmoil. Here’s why.

Tips from the world’s most frequent flyer

Tom Stuker has taken more than 12,000 flights and flown over 23 million miles, so naturally he’s picked up some tricks along the way. Here’s his advice on the most dependable time to fly.

And if you reach your destination on time but your suitcase doesn’t, our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have the lowdown on the best luggage trackers of 2023.

In case you missed it

This village’s “Russian doll” borders are some of the most complex in the world.

It’s one of only two counter-enclaves in existence.

National Geographic has revealed its 2024 “cool list.”

It’s a roundup of 30 places and experiences it thinks you should try next year.

They’re hiking America’s longest trails with their five kids.

Are we there yet?

South Korea has declared war on bedbugs.

It’s the latest country to face a wave of outbreaks.

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