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For an immersive exploration of New York City, hop on the Discover NY Bus Tour. At each stop, guides will exit the vehicle with the group for short walks and provide detailed information regarding sights. The informative and friendly guides routinely win praise from tour-goers!

There’s just so much to see; it’s nice to hand over the reins to someone else who has insider knowledge. Take Discover NY guided bus tour – the 3rd most booked sightseeing experience in the USA this spring on Tripadvisor!

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My husband was skeptical at first since it was a bus tour and I was worried we wouldn’t get enough time at our stops, BUT it was great! I felt like there was a perfect amount of time to look and take pictures and even, when available, to stop at the gift shops. Our guide was informative and dependable. The complimentary water was great and we appreciated the access to free ponchos since it was a heavy sprinkle off an on during our tour. The bus was great, the perfect temperature and the seats are comfortable.

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Leaving home and exploring a new city or region can be a bit daunting at times. Budgetary, work, and family obligations also mean that most people have a limited amount of time to travel. So how can we explore the best of the best without wasting time lost in tourist traps and empty streets?

One simple answer is by using a high-quality guided tour company. The companies on the list below were all chosen by TravelAwaits readers because they do exactly what good tours ought to do: help visitors truly experience their chosen destination.

1. ToursByLocals (Winner)

The winner for the category of guided tour companies is ToursByLocals , a Vancouver-based organization with 4,831 guides in 187 countries. The sheer scale of the expansive network of carefully curated guides means that curious travelers can find experts just about anywhere in the world.

While lots of the tours available in popular cities are general sightseeing outings, there are plenty of tours that are based around specific interests; for example, music fans visiting London can try out the London Rocks Music Tour and literary travelers can explore Paris on the Paris & the Lost Generation in the 1920s . Regardless of the tour, visitors can trust ToursByLocals’ hand-picked tour guides to show the absolute best of their cities.

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2. Free Tours By Foot

As you may have guessed, Free Tours By Foot is a company that offers free walking tours. The organization is built around the pay-what-you-like concept, meaning that while the tours are free, you are able to pay the guide based on your experience. The tours are perfect for education and entertainment-oriented audiences.

Some examples of walking tours include the Beacon Hill Crime Tour in Boston, Glasgow’s Dark and Mysterious Past tour, or one of the countless free tours in Rome . The organization offers more options in pedestrian-friendly cities, but there is still a solid variety of choices in North America, Europe, and the Middle East with a few options in Oceania, India, and Asia.

3. Withlocals

One of the best ways to get to know the authentic side of a city is by visiting a friend or family member who lives there. The next best thing is Withlocals , a service that connects adventurous travelers with local residents who are passionate about their hometowns.

The broader strokes of tours are based on your interests, but you can customize your tour by communicating with your host in advance. The tours are completely private, which helps facilitate a connection between you and your local guide. Finally, with exciting destinations like Istanbul , Ho Chi Minh City , and Berlin , you can’t go wrong.

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4. The Roman Guy Tours

While The Roman Guy Tours ’ name may imply that the company only operates in Rome, that is just the beginning. The company’s founder started out offering tours in Italy, but his touring philosophy was so popular with travelers that the business spread across Europe.

The Roman Guy’s “travel mantra” is based on traveling with people you care about, picking wonderful destinations, and joining interesting activities. The company also seeks to offer unique experiences that can’t be had elsewhere (e.g. night visits, accessing restricted areas, etc).

5. Secret Food Tours

The outings organized by Secret Food Tours combine local expertise with a passion for good food. Given the ever-changing nature of the restaurant world, it’s a perfect match. Looks can be deceiving, so tasting a new city with a local can ensure a positive culinary experience.

Secret Food Tours provides services across the globe, though travelers will find they have the best luck with the company when visiting capital cities. The people who manage Secret Food Tours also run Secret Tours , a branch of the business that focuses on the historical and cultural sides of cities.

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6. Eating Europe

Eating Europe narrows the focus of its tours to one continent, but that still leaves hungry travelers with plenty of options. With carefully selected guides in Paris, Rome, Lisbon, Prague, and other cities, the company promises that its guests will create lasting memories by sampling the best food in town.

One of the main benefits of touring with Eating Europe is being guided into the less touristy, more authentic neighborhoods of your chosen city. This company also places an emphasis on learning about the food in context rather than simply leading guests on a quick walk between destinations.

7. Heritage Inspirations, LLC

For an in-depth exploration of New Mexico, TravelAwaits readers turn to Heritage Inspirations . This smaller, boutique guide service is focused on an artistic, cultural, human, and nature-focused approach to travel.

Whether you prefer sunrise yoga overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge, participating in a hands-on baking experience at a local Puebloan home , or delving into the topography and history of the Chaco Canyon , you’ll find an elevated travel experience with Heritage Inspirations.

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8. Best Of France Tours

As one of the most popular destinations in the world, France is brimming with tour options, and according to TravelAwaits readers, Best of France Tours delivers on its eponymous promise. These luxurious tours within and near Paris are expertly led by professional guides who offer their own unique perspective on art, history, culture, and food.

Guests can get an insider look at the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay from an art historian, taste Champagne in the countryside with locals, or stop by the Palace of Versailles. Adjustments and accommodations can be made to itineraries based on the preferences of the travel group.

9. Fat Tire Tours

Fat Tire Tours assures potential guests that they take care of the details so that travelers can focus on having fun, memorable experiences. While the company began with bicycle tours, they have since expanded to walking and Segway tours.

Fat Tire’s mission is to provide tourists with fun experiences, but they also try to help preserve their host environments through a focus on sustainable travel practices. Popular examples of tours include a beer-tasting pub crawl in London’s West End and a VIP cathedral and rooftop tour in Florence.

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10. Intrepid Urban Adventures

It can be hard to get a sense of a city in a short amount of time, but Intrepid Urban Adventures has set the ambitious goal of providing travelers with a deep dive into the hidden gems of a city in just a day. To narrow down the options, this company offers themes like active adventures, social impact, and off-the-beaten-path.

From Boston to Bali and Toronto to Taipai, Intrepid Urban Adventures helps the curious escape from the same old landmarks to find exciting, out-of-the-ordinary experiences. By taking care of all of the logistics, the company also ensures that guests can focus on the fun of the destination rather than how to read the bus schedule.

Be sure to take a look at all of our 2023 Best Of Travel Awards .

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Dan Happe is an editor from Des Moines, Iowa. He loves that his work allows him to see the world from his desk, but he particularly enjoys articles that involve cycling, accessibility, and sustainability. When Dan isn’t reading or writing, he is repairing and riding bikes, cooking, and searching for the perfect cup of tea.

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Want to get the most out of your adventure holiday and accomplish things you otherwise wouldn’t have thought possible? Prefer to take the hassle out of planning transport, food and logistics? A guided trip is a convenient and stress-free way to discover a new destination with all the trip details already organised for you, and with a team to support you every step of the way.

This is especially the case when you're looking to explore more remote destinations where food drops are needed, when you prefer an experienced guide on hand to keep you on track, or when carrying a full pack with all your camping gear seems overwhelming and tiring.

The addition of a local guide also allows you to better appreciate and truly immerse in the culture of the place you are visiting. Plus, you'll have the chance to forge life-long friendships with like-minded travellers.

Still unsure? Read on as we unpack eight reasons why you can get more out of a destination when on a guided tour.

1. Local and knowledgeable guides

Secret spots, tips and the best of laughs, it takes a special kind of person to be a guide. In addition to being friendly and engaging, they are skilled at getting groups to interact and become fast and lifelong friends.

Guides have a special knack for making good trips great. From informative daily briefings, funny stories over dinner and pep talks when the going gets tough, guides strive to make sure that things are fun and that you are having the trip of a lifetime. 

Guides sharing understanding of the land

If you’re new to the area, don’t speak the local language or just want good advice; tour guides can be an invaluable resource. Our local guides are passionate about their country or region you are exploring and will help bring to life the history, culture, flora and fauna of their homelands. They are often what make your walking, cycling or rafting adventure extra special.

As well as knowing hidden gems, our professional team of local guides and tour leaders can enhance your adventure so you can focus on your outdoor experiences and less about getting lost or what happens should you get into an accident.

Our guides also know about environmental regulations and local customs, so you can rest assured that the correct protocols are being followed. You’ll also be supporting the local economy of the destination you are visiting with your money going back to local businesses and its community.

2. Increased chance of success

Want to reach the prized summit of Kili or have always wanted to trek in the Himalayas but were too worried about altitude sickness? Our guides and tour leaders are highly experienced; they’ve seen it all and can help you overcome the biggest of hurdles.

Think of your tour leader or guide like personal trainers that will help you push your limits and walk that final kilometre or gear up for a long climb with their “can do” attitude.

While our team tries to ensure that travellers are of an adequate fitness level to complete their chosen adventure, we recommend guided trips for people who are nervous about their fitness level and capabilities and may benefit from the support of an experienced guide.

3. Added support

Our tour leaders are with you from the time your trip commences until it concludes and work tirelessly to ensure your holiday runs smoothly. Our team understands our travel style and expectations of an active holiday and can tailor trips to the group’s interests, that way everyone has a great experience.

For cycling trips , even though you’re travelling in a small group, you can still ride at your own pace – as far or as little as you feel comfortable – knowing a support vehicle is close by for you to hop on should you want a break from your cycle.

4. Convenience

You can forget the stress of researching the best walking or cycling routes for hours on end, or where the next town is to find food. Leave the planning and the boring stuff to the experts so you can focus on the exciting adventure ahead. Our guided itineraries are fully supported with plenty of quality inclusions – from comfortable accommodation to hearty, delicious meals.

5. Comfort, value and more inclusions

Enjoy the best hand-picked accommodation and restaurants to make sure you get a high-quality experience and have somewhere comfortable to relax and unwind after a long day on foot or bike. We'll keep you energised for your adventure with most meals and dietary requirements catered for and snacks provided.

The inclusiveness of a guided holiday showcases great value for a quality experience, with the added flexibility of tailoring your experience based on your interests and fitness level.

6. Safety first

The guides are your eyes and ears of a tour and are trained to problem solve in difficult or unsafe situations (including medical emergencies). Having them around definitely takes the edge off should things not go as expected. It's always reassuring to know you are in safe hands with our experienced team.

7. Get access to more of the destination

With all the logistics taken care of and a support team backing you from beginning to end of your trip, you can simply focus on your beautiful surrounds and enjoy the solitude between walks or rides.

World Expeditions have been pioneering remote, "out there" adventures on paths less travelled for over 45 years, crafting itineraries that allow travellers to delve deep into the culture and nature of a destination. So, it definitely helps to choose an experienced adventure specialist for your guided tour to get the chance to explore places you could not easily get to on your own.

8. Reduce your environmental footprint

While the active elements of your adventure by bike, on foot or on water does not emit carbon emissions, World Expeditions have calculated any emissions from your accommodation and have purchased credits in renewable projects so that you can be assured that your adventure tour is 100% carbon offset. This means, by travelling with World Expeditions, you are directly supporting renewable energy and reforestation projects; another reason why your tour has nothing but a positive impact.

The bottom line: Are guided group tours worth it?

If you want to take the hassle out of planning and worrying about the safety and logistics of your trip, then signing up for a guided tour can make more sense than trying to go it alone. You can forget spending nights researching the best accommodation, transfer connections, trying to snatch up limited permits or figuring out a food budget since meals aren’t included. It may end up being cheaper than you think – especially for solo travellers who dread the single supplement surcharges – with additional values and lots of inclusions as part of the package.

The comfort and ease of having everything organised for you takes away the stress when going on an active holiday. Plus, the extra support and experience of a guide and the chance to travel with and meet like-minded people makes a guided group tour much more attractive.

In the end, it will depend on what you want out of your adventure and the conveniences you are after.

Start browsing our range of highly inclusive small group holidays >

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Suspect in New Orleans tour guide murder in US illegally, has criminal history: ICE

A t least one of the three suspects arrested in connection with the shooting death of a French Quarter tour guide in New Orleans is an illegal immigrant with a criminal history on American soil, according to immigration authorities. 

The immigration status of the other two suspects was not immediately clear.

New Orleans police arrested Joshua Bonifacio-Avila, 19, Jerben Albarec, 17, and Kevin Nunez, 15, the day after the slaying of 43-year-old Kristie Thibodeaux in her car on St. Peter Street, the morning of June 30.

Nunez is accused of pulling the trigger. And Aviala-Bonifacio, a Honduras national, is accused of entering the country illegally, Immigration and Customs Enforcement told Fox News Digital.


"On May 11, 2019, U.S. Border Patrol encountered Bonifacio near Hidalgo, Texas, and determined him to be inadmissible into the U.S. pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act," an ICE spokesperson said. "On multiple occasions, Bonifacio has been arrested for theft and contributing to the delinquency of juveniles. Since February 2024, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has booked Bonifacio for five local violations."


ICE does not have purview over juveniles, so the immigration status of the other two suspects was not immediately clear.

The agency's Enforcement and Removal Operations division, ERO, has lodged a detainer request for the suspect.

The slaying took place around 4:30 a.m. on June 30 as part of an armed robbery, New Orleans police said. They arrested all three suspects on July 1. The Orleans Parish Coroner's Office identified Thibodeaux as the victim on July 2.

Police were asking anyone with information on the case to contact homicide detectives at 504-658-5300.


Nunez had an active arrest warrant at the time and was wearing an ankle monitor, according to the New Orleans-based FOX 8 .

Aviala-Bonifacio also had a criminal history, including arrests for alleged theft and contributing to the delinquency of juveniles, according to ICE. He also used the alias Joshua Avila.

"This man should have never been in Louisiana," Gov. Jeff Landry wrote on X. "Enough is enough. We must close our borders and keep our communities safe."

Nunez’s criminal record on American soil included seven counts of aggravated assault , illegal possession of a handgun and domestic battery, WVUE-TV reported. Nevertheless, Chief Juvenile Court Judge Candice Bates-Anderson sentenced him to house arrest.

He allegedly violated the terms in May but was walking free, without real-time digital monitoring, because his ankle monitor had been deactivated, according to the outlet.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office could not immediately be reached for comment before business hours Thursday. 

"With no guardrails from OJJ and OPJC, we as a city have to seriously consider shutting down electronic monitoring until we can be confident in the competence of the administrators to conduct real monitoring and the commitment of judges to ensure actual accountability for young defendants for violations and noncompliance," prosecutors said in a statement to local media.

The incident reportedly attracted intense scrutiny upon the city's juvenile justice system and the company that provides ankle monitoring services.

Jill Dennis, of the Assured Supervision Accountability Program, a competing contractor, told FOX 8 the failure to properly monitor violent offenders like Nunez "is chaotic and insane."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to a request for more information on the suspects.

Thibodeaux would have turned 44 next month. She is survived by her husband, her parents, four siblings and eight nieces and nephews, according to an online obituary.

Thibodeaux loved dogs, motorcycling, her Jeep, her old Mustang convertible and watching the sunset over Lake Pontchartrain with her husband, Jase.

A memorial service was held Wednesday.

Original article source: Suspect in New Orleans tour guide murder in US illegally, has criminal history: ICE

Crowds in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardis Gras in the French Quarer was one of Kristie Thibodeaux favorite experiences, according to an online obituary. iStock

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How to Choose the Right Tour Group

Group size, participants’ age range, style of travel and budget are among the factors you should consider when selecting an itinerary.

An illustration shows a stylized globe with buildings ranging from an old church to the Chrysler Building skyscraper. In the center of the globe, tourists in sunglasses and hats and T-shirts roam around the building. One group in particular is enlarged, with the central figure holding up a selfie stick with a cellphone, taking a photo of his group.

By Elaine Glusac

Elaine Glusac is the Frugal Traveler columnist, focusing on budget-friendly tips and journeys.

Tour companies that offer multiday trips arrange most everything for you: lodging, sightseeing, food and transportation. But group size, style of travel and budget are among the considerations travelers should assess before picking a tour. Read on for tips.

Big group or small

Start your research by thinking about how many people you want to travel with and what your tolerance is for the social demands dictated by group size.

Smaller groups can move more nimbly and possibly see more. But they can also be more intensely social as you spend a great deal of time with the same people touring and dining.

Larger groups tend to require more time to get around, but they can also offer more social variety — for example, you can change up your lunch partners more easily.

“Large groups offer anonymity, allowing travelers to choose their level of interaction,” said Deborah Miller, a travel adviser and the owner of Edge of Wonder Travels Unlimited in San Francisco. “Conversely, smaller groups foster intimacy among travelers, guides and the destination itself.”

Look for age-appropriate trips

Think about the demographics of your travel party and consider matching that to a tour company.

Operators often segment their trips by age under the assumption that similarly aged people have more in common or prefer the same pace. Road Scholar , for example, caters to an intellectually curious 50-plus crowd.

On the other end of the spectrum, G Adventures offers a category of trips for “18-to-thirtysomethings” and Intrepid Travel has trips for 18-to-35-year-olds.

With their inherent age spans, families can be a tough demographic to fit into larger group departures, which is why companies tend to break up family offerings by age group.

The active tour company Backroads has three age segments for families, including trips for those with children 4 to 19, those with older teens and younger adults into their 20s, and those with children in their 20s and beyond.

“By definition, that creates somewhat of an age segmentation among parents, too,” said Tom Hale, the founder, president and chief executive of Backroads.

Go general or specific

A popular option for first-timers, a general tour will hit the highlights of a destination, like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in Paris or major sites in Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan.

Beyond the general approach, alternatives abound based on themes, styles of travel or hobbies.

Themed trips include a culinary tour of Sicily , a deep dive into literary England , Europe’s World War II battlefields and how women live in India .

In addition to topics, trips often revolve around the means of travel, such as going by train , on foot or by boat (a category that can be further segmented by size, from a cruise ship to a barge or a kayak ).

Tours can also allow you to pursue an interest like swimming or knitting in a unique destination.

Analyze tour inclusions

Once you determine where and how you want to go, prices will range from budget to luxury.

“For travelers on a budget, large group tours tend to be the best fit because it’s a great way to see major attractions at a lower price point,” said Cheyenne Schriefer, a travel adviser and the owner of All Travel Matters in Golden Valley, N.D.

But not all tours are built the same. To compare them, consider what they include.

For example, G Adventures has a 10-day hiking trip in Switzerland from $1,799 a person and a 10-day hiking trip in Portugal for $4,499. The latter is billed as a luxury trip, so the accommodations are pricier, but it also includes most meals, transfers and activities. The Swiss tour offers more basic lodgings, transfers, optional activities available for a fee, and fewer meals.

“Sometimes fewer inclusions are better than more,” said Pauline Frommer, co-president of Frommer Media, which publishes Frommer’s guidebooks . She pointed out that restaurants that can accommodate busloads probably don’t attract local traffic and that independent sightseeing allows you to “wander through local neighborhoods to get the feel of local life.”

Expertise of the guide or tour leader can also alter the price and the experience. You can expect to pay more for a tour led by a specialist, such as an Egyptologist guiding a group along the Nile.

Gauge your level of independence

Do you prefer to follow a strict schedule that relieves you from having to find, say, a restaurant for dinner? Or do you appreciate some structure — like knowing your hotel reservations are covered — but also want free time to explore independently?

Tour companies run the gamut. Before booking, read the itineraries carefully to find out if the schedule is tight or loose. If that is not clear, call the company to ask.

For truly independent travelers, self-guided tours offered by companies such as Inntravel , Exodus Adventure Travels and Macs Adventure make your ground arrangements and provide an itinerary to follow. Popular in Europe, these itineraries tend to be inn-to-inn walking or cycling trips that include luggage transfers.

“Self-guided travelers are independent but love the support of having a trip arranged for them, and they don’t want to hike with a big backpack anymore,” said Jasper Verlaan, the U.S. sales director for Macs Adventure.

Ask for recommendations

If you’re still unsure about putting down a deposit once you’ve done your research, ask the tour company if you may speak to a past client.

“Ask for references,” said Lynn Cutler, the senior vice president of travel for Smithsonian Enterprises, which runs the tour company Smithsonian Journeys . “We’ll find them a traveler who has done this trip in the past and put them in touch.”

For more travel advice, visit our collection of Travel 101 tips and hacks.

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Boston:  A destination steeped in history, as ever, has reinvented itself with outdoor spaces for drinking, dining and recreating, and more change in the air .

Spain:  By welcoming visitors with glorious scents and a natural beauty that rivals Provence in France, the annual lavender harvest has revitalized the medieval town of Brihuega .

Santa Fe:  Every spring, hundreds of bicyclists gather in the New Mexico city to ride through a high-desert landscape  rich in art, history and Indigenous culture.

Lausanne:  A new arts district, stylish restaurants and a museum that pays homage to the Olympics greet visitors to this Swiss city , home to the International Olympic Committee.

Orient Express:  The luxury version of this classic train journey costs $50,000. But for $1,000 or less, you can book the trip from Paris to Istanbul yourself .

Japan Guided Tours & Trips

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Japan Golden Route with Hiroshima

8d splendid japan with nagoya(private 3 star hotel rooms), 9d splendid japan with nagoya (private 3 star hotel rooms), contrasts of japan end tokyo, japan adventure, tokyo, kyoto and osaka, essential japan, discover japan, wonders of japan end osaka, central japan.

Japan Golden Route with Hiroshima

  • In-depth Cultural
“All tour members including tour leader friendly and made me feel welcomed. I would highly recommend this tour.”

8D Splendid Japan with Nagoya(private 3 star hotel rooms)

“Hotels are clean, food is good and transportation is great. Got to see a lot of Japan in one week.”

9D Splendid Japan with Nagoya (private 3 star hotel rooms)

“Interesting range of places visited, all well organised. All hotels were good, with everything we could need.”

Contrasts of Japan end Tokyo

  • Christmas & New Year
“Great suggestions for after hours and shopping options. Tour was but fast due to multiple places to cover in short time.”

Japan Adventure

  • Learn the ways of the Samurai and wield the iconic sword
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“The trip itinerary was a blast! It showcased so many amazing locations and activities that Japan has to offer.”

Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka

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“The tour was very personalized with a small group, and the hotel accommodation was excellent.”

Essential Japan

  • Visit anime, manga, and gaming heaven, Akihabara
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  • Pass a sumo stadium and spot the stone Jizos in Tokyo
“We got to experience as much as we could and covered plenty of territory. Will definitely be booking our next adventure with them.”

Discover Japan

  • Head to Miyajima Island and see the floating torii gate
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“Very good trip, well balanced between mandatory and optional activities.”

Wonders of Japan End Osaka

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“He was very friendly and helpful especially to our mom who is 88 years old. Thanks to him, she got the prompt treatment.”

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Suspect in New Orleans tour guide murder illegally entered U.S., officials say

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - One of three suspects accused in the shooting death of a popular French Quarter tour guide had reportedly been living in the United States illegally for years.

Kristie Thibodeaux, 43, was fatally shot in her car on St. Peter Street in the early morning hours of June 30. Her accused killer, Kevin Nunez, had an active warrant out for his arrest and was found to be wearing a deactivated ankle monitor at the time of her death. Joshua Bonifacio-Avila, 19, and 17-year-old Jerben Albarec were also arrested in connection with her murder .

From left: Joshua Bonifacio, 19, Jerben Albarec, 17,  and an unidentified 15-year-old juvenile...

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says Bonifacio entered the country illegally on an unknown date and at an unknown location. ICE was unable to provide information on Nunez or Albarec, both federally considered juveniles.

ICE says Border Patrol encountered Bonifacio and deemed him inadmissible into the country in May 2019. He has been arrested at least twice since then, once in October 2023 and again in February 2024, for theft and other charges in Jefferson Parish.

Following his arrest for Thibodeaux’s murder, ICE lodged a detainer with the Orleans Parish Justice Center.

Governor Jeff Landry took to Twitter on Wednesday, writing:

“This man should have never been in Louisiana. Enough is enough. We must close our borders and keep our communities safe!”

But local immigration advocate groups slammed Landry’s words, saying it was an unfair attack on immigrants.

“It’s always heartbreaking to have crime and to have murders anywhere. I think it’s very important for us to think about what the root causes of crime are,” said Edith Romero, a Honduran immigrant and organizer with Union Migrante. “If you look at statistics and data, immigrants actually commit less crime than other ethnic groups.”


State investigating juvenile court and monitoring systems after murder of New Orleans tour guide

State officials frustrated with Orleans Juvenile Court’s apparent lax oversight of teen offenders

Accused 15-year-old killer of French Quarter tour guide was wearing deactivated ankle monitor, sources say

Orleans DA blasts juvenile officials’ monitoring of teen accused of tour guide’s murder

Thibodeaux’s murder has sparked fierce debate about a failure to monitor Thibodeaux’s accused killer.

Kristie Thibodeaux, 43, was fatally shot while sitting in her Jeep in the French Quarter...

According to court documents, Nunez was released from custody and sentenced to home incarceration by Chief Juvenile Court Judge Candice Bates-Anderson after being found guilty in juvenile court of seven counts of aggravated assault, illegal possession of a handgun and domestic battery abuse. On May 21, an arrest warrant was issued after Nunez allegedly failed to adhere to the conditions of his release.

Law enforcement sources close to the investigation tell Fox 8 that Nunez’s monitor was somehow deactivated at the time of Thibodeaux’s killing. The device was administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) through a contractor named BI, which apparently provided no real-time tracking of the wanted juvenile.

Members of Attorney General Liz Murrill’s office and Louisiana State Police’s TroopNOLA met with another electronic monitoring provider, ASAP Release, on Wednesday, a day after Murrill called for an investigation into the state’s juvenile court and monitoring systems.

Matt Dennis, owner of ASAP Release, says Thibodeaux’s death could have been avoided if the state’s contractor provided real-time monitoring.

“If your equipment doesn’t live track, turn off the Flintstones,” he said. “We’re in the modern world. Our cell phone live track.”

Dennis has been reluctant to work with juvenile courts because of what he calls poor enforcement of monitor rules.

“If we provide a monitor and we report that problem to a judge and they do nothing... I can’t help you,” Dennis said.

Murrill said the ankle monitoring system is a “complete waste of time and money if everyone involved is asleep at the wheel.”

Upcoming reforms are aimed at ensuring real-time monitoring of offenders. During the spring legislative session, lawmakers passed a measure that imposes penalties on companies that fail to provide real-time data, but the new regulations don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2025.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.

Subscribe to the Fox 8 YouTube channel .

Copyright 2024 WVUE. All rights reserved.

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  • 10 July 2024

Edward C. Stone obituary: physicist who guided Voyager probes to interstellar space

  • Alan C. Cummings   ORCID: 0

Alan C. Cummings is a research scientist at the Space Radiation Laboratory, Caltech, Pasadena, USA.

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You have full access to this article via your institution.

Edward Stone, Voyager project scientist, holds up a model of NASA's Voyager spacecraft at a press conference in 2013.

Credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi

Edward Stone was a pre-eminent space scientist with an exceptional record of leading space missions and building ground-based astronomical facilities. The public face of NASA’s Voyager missions for the launch of the two probes in 1977, he served as project scientist for 50 years. Stone introduced the world to the wonders of the gas-giant planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune) in multiple press conferences, from Voyager 1’s encounter with Jupiter in 1979 to Voyager 2’s fly-by of Neptune in 1989. He also oversaw the probes entering interstellar space — the first in 2012 and the second in 2018 . They continue to transmit data to Earth today.

At the helm of the California Association for Research and Astronomy in the 1990s, Stone was involved in the development of the twin 10-metre Keck telescopes on Maunakea in Hawaii, two of the most productive ground-based astronomical facilities ever built. And as the executive director of the Thirty Meter Telescope, for eight years he oversaw the huge international collaboration that plans to build one of the world’s largest optical–infrared telescopes on the same mountain — land that is sacred to Native Hawaiians, leading to years-long protests and controversy . The telescope aims to capture light from the earliest galaxies in the Universe and search for habitable planets. Stone’s involvement was a service to the astronomy community, because his observational interests were focused on cosmic rays.

Stone was born in Knoxville and grew up in Burlington, both in Iowa. His father was a construction supervisor who communicated his curiosity about how things worked to his son. Stone studied physics at the University of Chicago, Illinois, for a master’s degree and PhD. Soon after he started studying there, in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1 — the first artificial Earth satellite — starting the space race. Stone took notice, and was at a good place to get involved. His thesis adviser, cosmic-ray-research pioneer John Simpson, was deploying instruments attached to high-altitude balloons as well as using ground-based neutron monitors. Instruments on rockets soon followed. Stone’s thesis experiment was on a now-declassified US spy satellite, Discoverer 31, flown in 1961.

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The Milky Way is ‘less weird’ than we thought

After earning his doctorate in 1964, Stone joined Rochus ‘Robbie’ Vogt, whom he studied alongside at Chicago, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, as a research fellow. Together, they formed the Space Radiation Laboratory, where I work. They focused on observations of cosmic rays, with instruments first carried on balloons and later launched into space. Stone moved up the academic ranks at Caltech, becoming a professor of physics in 1976. In 1972, he was appointed project scientist for NASA’s MJS77 mission, later renamed Voyager. Stone was also directly involved in developing an instrument for use aboard the Voyagers — the Cosmic Ray Subsystem — helping to design its cosmic-ray telescopes and draw up the calibration procedures.

The Voyager missions capitalized on a rare alignment of the four gas-giant planets — a once-in-176-years opportunity that allowed a single spacecraft to visit all four. It required a launch between 1976 and 1980 to succeed. For budget reasons, only a two-spacecraft mission to Jupiter and Saturn was initially approved. Voyager 2 was later re-programmed to visit Uranus and Neptune as well.

Eleven experiments were planned. Stone’s role included developing a planetary fly-by programme that would be agreeable to all the participating principal investigators. To accomplish this, he learnt about the science of each experiment — earning the respect of all involved. One of the researchers, Tom Krimigis, recalled: “He was always knowledgeable, insightful and fair in his decisions, with the principal focus on the best science; he never deviated from that.”

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159 days of solitude: how loneliness haunts astronauts

The Voyager planetary fly-bys resulted in many discoveries, including moons, rings, a moon with volcanoes, moons with more water than there is on Earth and Triton — a moon of Neptune that is one of the coldest places in the Solar System and yet has geysers. Textbooks on the outer planets of the Solar System were rewritten. But the culmination of Stone’s research career came when Voyager 1 crossed the heliopause — the boundary between interplanetary and interstellar space, at 18.2 billion kilometres from the Sun. The Cosmic Ray Subsystem was at last able to measure something that cannot be quantified inside the heliopause because of the Sun’s outflowing solar wind: the intensity of low-energy cosmic rays in the Milky Way galaxy.

For his work on the Voyagers, Stone was awarded the National Medal of Science by then US president George Bush in 1991, and in 2019 he received the Shaw Prize in astronomy. A prolific administrator and multitasker, Stone chaired the physics, mathematics and astronomy division at Caltech for five years in the 1980s and was the director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1991 to 2001. During his tenure there, he oversaw the first landing of a robot on another planet — the Mars rover Sojourner. His work ethic was extraordinary. In total, he held a major role on 14 NASA missions and 2 US Department of Defense missions — most of the time while running the Space Radiation Laboratory at Caltech.

In 2022, owing to declining health, Stone retired as Voyager project scientist and became emeritus professor at Caltech. He was always even-tempered in his dealing with colleagues and sought to reach a consensus on whatever debate was going on. He will be greatly missed in both the space-science and astronomical communities.

Nature 631 , 501 (2024)


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The author declares no competing interests.

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Tornado tourists flock to Oklahoma for their own 'Twisters' chase, but can you tour safely?

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Nearly three decades after " Twister " was released in theaters, tornado tourism has become a regular occurrence every spring.

Rural roads become clogged with tour vans and solo chasers hunting for the perfect vantage point to watch storms grow, with visitors from around the world hoping to catch a glimpse of a tornado.

Now with " Twisters " now set to release July 19 and the rise of social media, storm chasing has become a phenomenon that grew this wild and risky facet of the tourism industry.

If you're interested in signing up for a guided tour, however, be ready to spend thousands of dollars and several days at the whim of Mother Nature. Some scammers target weather tourists as well.

It can be hard to judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a tour guide by their website. But if you're in the market for a severe weather tour, there are some things you can watch out for.

Finding the right severe storm tour guide

To get a third-party opinion about storm tourism best practices, we reached out to Nick Drieschman, who has run his own tour company for a decade. He said customers should seek out online reviews before booking with a company; testimonials on a company's own website aren't good enough.

He suggested checking out , which conducts independent reviews of weather tours and lists details about upcoming schedules and pricing. The tours listed on that site range in price from $139 to $571 a day.

"They can also look up the person who's running the business or the guides themselves to see whether these people are actual storm chasers within their own right, who are professionals within the industry," Drieschman said. "So it does take a little bit of research to really find the right companies out there."

You might not even see a tornado

Drieschman said tour operators should set appropriate expectations so guests don't get bored or frustrated during their vacation.

"People have this idea in their mind that every tornado is going to be a 'Wizard of Oz,' beautiful gray tornado that snakes down — not all tornadoes are like that," he said.

It's even within the realm of possibility that a tour never gets to see a tornado. Again, weather doesn't care about your vacation schedule.

Chasing storms is a risky business

Severe storm tourists should also be aware of the risks involved and make sure that your guide is, too. Intercepting severe weather carries its own inherently dangerous risks, both for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.

Tornadoes can move unpredictably, as proven during the  2013 El Reno tornado  that claimed the lives of three scientific researchers. Four years later,  professional storm chasers collided with an amateur chaser  at an intersection, leading to another three deaths. In 2022, three University of Oklahoma meteorology students  died in a car crash  on the way back from chasing storms in Kansas.

Even the  National Weather Service in Norman doesn't recommend chasing storms , but concedes that booking a tour is probably safer than going out on your own.

"Having an experienced team, making sure that you're having meetings with both your team and your guests, and having a safety plan and a call to action — all tour companies should have that," Drieschman said.

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North Carolina woman dies after falling from raft during guided tour near Denali

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A raft tour on the Nenana River just outside Denali National Park. (Bob Hallinen / ADN archive)

A North Carolina woman drowned after she fell out of a raft during a guided tour near Denali National Park at the end of June, Alaska State Troopers said this week.

Pamela Waaser, 67, was on a commercial rafting trip with Denali Raft Adventures on the Nenana River when she fell out while traversing rapids on June 24, troopers spokesman Tim DeSpain said. She collapsed while she was trying to get back in the raft, he said.

There were eight people on the raft, including guides, Waaser’s family, a retired doctor and an emergency medical technician, DeSpain said. The group provided first aid, along with local medics, but Waaser died, troopers said .

Troopers released a statement about the death Tuesday. DeSpain said they waited for the Medical Examiner’s Office to determine that Waaser had died from drowning.

A Pennsylvania woman died and two others were seriously injured during a guided raft trip on Sunday near Copper Center.

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. Contact her at [email protected].

What's it like to guide the Rolling Stones on stage? Chuck Leavell spills his secrets

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Tens of thousands in a sold-out stadium are visually stapled to Mick Jagger belting "Start Me Up." But the band's eyes will frequently dart to the snow-haired presence stationed stage right.

Chuck Leavell is perched behind his bank of keyboards, electric piano and organ, his hand occasionally airborne, his glances with Jagger and Keith Richards subtle.

But those aren't just friendly nods. They're meaningful cues, just as a conductor directs an orchestra.

The maestro of the Rolling Stones , Leavell has served as their keyboardist and musical director since the early ‘80s, coming in as a veteran of the Allman Brothers Band and his own jam-rock outfit Sea Level.

As the generator of gestures onstage, Leavell is concentrating on more than the ominous backdrop of " Sympathy for the Devil " and the gospelized swoops of " You Can't Always Get What You Want ."

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He's the steady hand in command.

“They count on me if anyone gets lost to be the person to make everyone feel comfortable,” Leavell says in his Southern lilt and with a crinkled smile the night before the April kickoff of the Stones' Hackney Diamonds tour.

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An exclusive look at Rolling Stones history

In his Houston hotel room, Leavell flips through weighty binders, giving USA TODAY an exclusive look at a trove of Stones history.

Pages of white loose-leaf, yellow legal paper and Rolling Stones stationery are meticulously slotted in alphabetical order, many of them bearing the names of song titles etched in rock history – “Miss You,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Beast of Burden” “Gimme Shelter,” “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction” – with notations alongside the names.

Chord changes, song keys and tempos are often scrawled in the margins, necessary reminders for a catalog spanning six decades and for a band that might need that head nod or hand signal as a prompt during one of their massive stadium shows.

Rolling Stones guitar hero Richards readily shares his appreciation of Leavell's archives, telling USA TODAY in a statement that “without being able to fall back on these priceless records ‒ of chords, keys, arrangements, and other bits of alchemy – we would be truly lost,” while also bestowing the Keith-ism, “Gold rings on you, Chuck.”

Since that tour launch April 28 – also Leavell's 72nd birthday – the Stones have played the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival , with Jagger sharing “Time is On My Side” with its original singer, Irma Thomas (“To have the privilege of being with just the two of them in the dressing room (to rehearse) and then bring it to the band was so exciting,” Leavell says a few weeks after that performance); pulled out infrequently played fan favorites “Monkey Man,” “Shattered,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together” "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” and “She’s a Rainbow” at various shows; and, for Leavell, owned the spotlight at each date with fiery solo work during “Honky Tonk Women.”

Each show, with the core trio of Jagger, Richards and Ronnie Wood and additional players Steve Jordan, Darryl Jones, Matt Clifford, Karl Denson, Tim Ries, Chanel Haynes and Bernard Fowler, Leavell has rolled through set lists of classics usually totaling 20 songs.

There are only a handful of concerts until a July 21 wrap at a nature preserve in Missouri, and Leavell says that already the tour “far exceeded all of our expectations. … To me, it feels very much like a family working together.”

How Chuck Leavell helps Mick Jagger onstage

That’s a heady statement from someone who has been part of the Stones’ inner circle for decades, having played 890 concerts with them as of July 5.

A devout Rolling Stones follower and photographer in the Netherlands, Hendrik Mulder , keeps scrupulous stats about Leavell’s tenure with the band, and by his account, Leavell has performed in 247 cities (London the top location) and played 191 different songs (“ Jumpin’ Jack Flash ” and “Start Me Up” the most, at 881 and 879 times, respectively).

Leavell, at the suggestion of a band tech, started saving almost every song list from rehearsals, set list from shows, notes about cover songs the Stones might attempt and personal scribbles to nudge his own memory since the band’s 1989 Steel Wheels tour.

Those details are regularly revisited.

“Let’s say there is a song we haven’t done for a while, and I’ve refreshed my memory through the notes and go through soundcheck and I’m looking around at everyone to make sure they remember the parts,” Leavell says. “But when you think about how Mick is engaging the public (on stage), that’s his gig, and sometimes it’s not unusual for him to have a question like, ‘Do I come in here?’ So he can glance at me and with a nod or hand signal (and) I can help him out.”

Leavell has also shared stages and studios with Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, John Mayer and The Black Crowes and is a lauded environmentalist with the notable 2020 documentary “The Tree Man.” He believes that his innately calm demeanor, expressed even more prominently when he returns home to his tree farm in Macon, Georgia, benefits his responsibilities as a behind-the-scenes guardian for the mightiest rock band still performing.

“Back in the day with Sea Level or the Allmans, if something would go wrong, I’d tend to get upset. And when I joined the Stones and those moments would occur, it was a lesson learned to just let it go, and don’t dwell on it. Most of the time it all ends up with a laugh.”

Tempo and the Rolling Stones: ‘There was only one Charlie Watts’

Cadence is a crucial component of the Rolling Stones’ live performances, and many of Leavell’s song sheets include numbers that can look random to an untrained eye – 135 for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” 113 for “Miss You,” 143 for “Paint It, Black” – but those beats per minute are truly the heartbeat of each song.

“When you’re on stage, it’s easy to get overly excited, and you don’t want to count a song off and realize, uh-oh, it’s too fast. Or you’re too cautious and counted off too slow,” Leavell says. “We are adamantly checking the tempos in soundcheck, and the variations can be miniscule. On stage, I do a digital readout of the BPMs and take a moment to absorb that tempo. Mick is always concerned about getting the right tempo.”

This is the third tour in which the Rolling Stones are joined by Jordan, who has occupied the drum stool since the death of Charlie Watts in 2021 . While reverence for the beloved sticksman is firm – “Charlie was Charlie Watts, man. There was only one,” Leavell laments – there is also much appreciation for Jordan and his different style.

“Steve is a harder hitter, a little more energetic,” Leavell says. “And we love that because it helps get us the energy that we all need. But he also does a great job respecting Charlie’s parts.”

More: Def Leppard pumped for summer tour with Journey: 'Why would you want to retire?'

‘Who knows what the future may hold’ for the Rolling Stones?

With the Hackney Diamonds tour trotting to a close, there of course remains the eternal question of when it will literally be the end of the road for the seemingly immortal rock band, all of whose core members are in their late 70s (Wood) and 80s (Jagger and Richards).

Given the impressive level of showmanship and reliable musicianship on this run, there is always the possibility that the band will continue to romp across stages worldwide.

Though Leavell is uncertain about more live shows, he is grateful for the present.

“Who knows what the future may hold?” he says, “But this tour has been historic and so much fun.”

It also has given him many more pages to add to his binders.


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