Top Ten Travel Stories of 2008

#3: Destination China



On Aug. 8, 2008, 91,000 spectators attended the 2008 Olympic Games' opening ceremonies in Beijing. Travelers from all over the world descended on the city this summer for the events, watching as athletes set more more than 40 world records and more than 120 Olympic records, according to United States Olympic Committee.

To prepare for crowds, Beijing spend the early half of the year wrapping up preparations for its guests, investing in a construction boom to build more hotels, restaurants and stores. Today, in addition to the city's long-standing attractions like the Forbidden City, venues built for the sporting events, like the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube, are still attracting tourists.

#4: Seesawing Gas Prices



Whether venturing out by car or plane, travelers this year faced seesawing fuel prices that altered their routes.

Case in point: The difference between a road trip on the Fourth of July and a road trip on Thanksgiving. During the summer holiday, the average price of gas nationwide surpassed $4 and even police made alternate plans to drive less while patroling for drunken drivers. By Thanksgiving, drivers paid low prices that averaged less than $2 per gallon for the first time in three years.

#5: Trekking the Campaign Trail



The road to the White House was a most certainly a trip, as presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain zigzagged the country right up until Election Day. The campaigns blitzed the battleground states and held a staggering number of events in those states after wrapping up their respective party nominations. According to ABC News' count, Ohio ranked first on the list -- hosting 145 events between the two tickets through Nov. 4 -- followed closely by Florida and Pennsylvania. Reporters, too, stashed away their belongings and lived out of suitcases, and even the president-elect said he looked forward to unpacking. In the end, Obama's victory appeared to spark another travel trend as well, reinvigorating tourism in his hometown of Chicago.

#6: Airline Inspections and Cancellations



In March and April 2008, travelers were stranded across the country when air carriers cancelled thousands of flights to inspect their planes. During one week in early April alone, American Airlines cancelled more than 3,000 flights.

The inconvenience at airports was the most visible element of a deeper problem. After fining Southwest Airlines $10.2 million earlier in the year for failing to adhere to safety and inspection requirements, the FAA called for inspections among all carriers. But lawmakers subsequently blasted the FAA for creating the sort of relationship in the first place that allowed some lapses to go unpunished.

An investigation into the FAA's safety procedures followed. The examination ended in September with a report that gave the FAA overall good marks. "There are important issues that need to be taken care of, but basically the system is sound," Malcolm K. Sparrow, a member of the independent commission appointed by the FAA, told ABC News.

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