Every Friday, we help you navigate the week’s most important and interesting travel news stories.

Amazing things that should happen more often 

Two German children, ages five and six, attempted to elope in Africa and were found en route to the Hanover airport. They even brought along a seven-year-old witness on their intended matrimonial journey. While we do not condone children running away, this story is too sweet to ignore. Those two are destined to be intrepid travellers! [The Guardian]

With the London 2012 Olympics approaching, the Guardian created an animated infographic video about the games, with statistics such as workforce requirements and the number of buildings levelled to make space for the event. [The Guardian]

A Soviet aircraft carrier is experiencing a much more glamorous second life. A Chinese company purchased the mass of metal and converted it into a luxury hotel, now sought after for retreats and romantic getaways. To glimpse images of other opulent boats check out the Telegraph’s World's biggest superyachts slideshow. [The Daily Mail]

The United Kingdom eased its notoriously strict quarantining laws for pets entering the country. The law was enacted in 1897 and required pets to spend up to six months in isolation. Many considered it cruel, unnecessary and outdated. [Time]

Ready for takeoff
All set to go, but too soon to tell what’s ahead

The Brazilian reality television show Mulheres Ricas (“Rich Women”), reminiscent of the popular Bravo TV Real Housewives franchise, is now on the air. The show films in Rio de Janeiro, a city where both extreme wealth and extreme poverty are visibly apparent. As one would expect, people have had a lot to say about the show and its cast of characters. [Global Post]

Under his "Save Italy" plan, Prime Minister Mario Monti has extended the schedule for which stores are permitted to stay open. [Women's Wear Daily]

Hold on folks, we’re in for a rocky ride

The US coast guard now assumes the average passenger is 185 pounds, a 25-pound increase from the number set about 50 years ago. Many boat companies have also independently lessened the maximum number of passengers listed for their boats and redesigned to accommodate larger bodies. Might aeroplanes switch to armless chairs, too? [The New York Times]

Strong winds whipped across the United Kingdom this week, causing travel disruptions. Gales up to 112mph combined with snowfall in some places made travel routes treacherous and left many without power. [BBC, The Guardian]

It’s a no-go

Japan’s tourism agency is no longer offering 10,000 free flights to the country for 2012. The agency launched the contest in an effort to boost tourism following the earthquake, but retracted the offer after the government denied the proposed budget. A spokesperson encouraged travellers to still visit the country. [Travelllll]

Under pressure from an Islamist opposition party, officials in the Maldives ruled to ban spas on the island and then overturned the decision, all in the span of about one week. The opposition said the spas were “offensive”, but since visitors to the islands are well-off honeymooners and famous personalities looking for such services, officials feared shuttering the spas would harm tourism. [BBC]

Devastating earthquakes like those that shook New Zealand and Japan in 2011 made last year the costliest ever in natural disasters for the insurance industry. People claimed a total of $105 billion in insured losses, insurance group Munich Re said in a report. [AP, NPR]

Joran van der Sloot, who was the prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of American Natalee Holloway in Aruba, goes on trial today in Peru for killing a Peruvian woman. He is expected to plead guilty. [CNN]

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