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They left the US for a new life abroad. Things didn’t all go to plan

By Maureen O’Hare, CNN

(CNN) — In travel news this week: trending flight routes around the world, the latest on Qantas’ record-breaking Project Sunrise, plus the Americans leaving the States behind for new lives overseas.

New life abroad

“The American dream is to leave America,” said one comment — which was liked 34,800 times — on TikToker Kacie Rose Burns’ video channel about the highs, lows and culture shocks of leaving the United States and starting a new life in Italy. She’s one of a number of influencers who’s struck a chord with people who love the fairytale fantasy of starting over with a new, better life.

However, for the brave souls who take the plunge, things don’t always run smoothly or according to plan. This Chicago musician bought a home in a remote corner of Italy – but found a kitchen exposed to the sky and three nuns living inside.

And a US couple spent about $325,000 building a waterfront home in the Bahamas, only for it to be destroyed by a hurricane. However, the island rallied and they did, too. Their rebuilt home is nearing completion and the couple say their life is in some ways “better than ever.”

The great outdoors

A wildflower wonderland that straddles North Carolina and Tennessee was the most visited US National Park in 2023, out of 63 nationwide. But right now Death Valley National Park – the driest place in the country – is offering visitors a rare kayaking opportunity in a temporary lake in Badwater Basin. The NPS predicts it could last until late March.

Then in April, skywatchers will be able to enjoy the total solar eclipse passing over much of North America. Here are some of the best possible viewing spots and what you need to know.

If you’re hitting a national park soon, and maybe getting a little springtime mud on you and your stuff, our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have these tips on cleaning your outdoor gear.

Trending destinations

Vacations are a lot like baby names. You think you’ve picked something unique, then realize you’re just following a trend.

Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND) is the Olivia or Noah of flight routes, according to data gathered by travel tech company Expedia Group, after it saw a 430% rise in bookings between 2022 and 2023.

When it comes to the hottest flight routes, “we are seeing the continued reopening of the Asia continent post-Covid,” Expedia tells CNN, while “some destinations have simply grown in appeal” — such as Perth to Bali, with a 350% spike in popularity.

“We think travelers may also be seeking opposing climates to their own,” says Expedia, “for example, Chicago natives seeking the sun of Tampa (up 240%) or the Portuguese heading to the colder climes of Toronto (up 125%).”

News from the air

A passenger was accused of attacking another flyer with pens on board an Alaska Airlines flight in January. He was restrained by flight crew and has been charged in federal court in Nevada.

And in Australia, there’s a new launch date for Qantas’ record-breaking London-Sydney flights after manufacturing delays. The long-awaited Project Sunrise flights will connect Australia with New York and London with new 19-hour-plus direct journeys.

There’s also been fresh updates on NASA’s hotly anticipated “quiet” supersonic plane, the X-59. The aircraft debuted last month and is set to take off for the first time later this year.

Ski Europe

Here’s our pick of six beautiful mountain villages that offer an authentic alpine experience as well as fast access to Europe’s best skiing areas. Europe’s ski areas also offer good value compared to some top North American resorts.

In case you missed it

Japan’s millennia-old “naked man festival” has come to an end. 

Population decline has led to a shortage of nude dudes.

More and more travelers are visiting every country in the world. 

Some are having second thoughts about it.

It was meant to be only a casual fling. 

Then an unexpected act of kindness led to marriage.

Worried about how safe it is to fly?

Here’s what the experts have to say.

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