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Here's How to Take a Trip Around the World for Less Than $1500

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If no Thanksgiving holiday sounds better than a jetsetting vacation away from your extended family, you’re in luck: Thrillist has the lowdown on a bargain travel plan from Airfare Spot, which will bring lucky travelers to six different cities all over the world in 18 days for just $1300.

You’ll start out in New York City, spend a few days in Paris, fly to Abu Dhabi, head from Dubai to Singapore, take a few days to enjoy Sydney, and then wind down in Honolulu before returning to New York. (You will have to get yourself from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, about an hour and a half drive.)

The itinerary begins the evening of November 14 and goes through November 30, budgeting for no more than three days in each place. Better pack light.

November 14: Leave New York City for Paris

November 18: Leave Paris for Abu Dhabi (and later, Dubai)

November 22: Leave Dubai for Singapore

November 24: Leave Singapore for Sydney

November 27: Leave Sydney for Honolulu

November 30: Leave Honolulu for New York

The flights are all individual, one-way legs on different airlines, so you’ll need to book separately, and none of this includes accommodations or other expenses, as you might expect for such a low price. Since airfare changes all the time, this deal won’t last forever, and the price may change slightly depending on when you book—it was a little more than $1300 on September 18, but was clocking in around $1266 today, September 25. But if you're ready to pack your bags, you'd be better off booking the trip sooner rather than later, in case the price increases.

Over the course of those 24,597 miles you'll travel, you’ll only get to spend two to three days in each city. Airfare Spot claims those few days are “pretty much enough to have the idea of the country/city,” which we don’t exactly believe, but if you book a trip like this, you know you're in for a quantity over quality situation. At least if you feel like two days isn’t enough to explore a particular city, you’ll know where to return for your next vacation.

[h/t Thrillist]

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Big Questions
How Are Speed Limits Set?
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When driving down a road where speed limits are oppressively low, or high enough to let drivers get away with reckless behavior, it's easy to blame the government for getting it wrong. But you and your fellow drivers play a bigger a role in determining speed limits than you might think.

Before cities can come up with speed limit figures, they first need to look at how fast motorists drive down certain roads when there are no limitations. According to The Sacramento Bee, officials conduct speed surveys on two types of roads: arterial roads (typically four-lane highways) and collector streets (two-lane roads connecting residential areas to arterials). Once the data has been collected, they toss out the fastest 15 percent of drivers. The thinking is that this group is probably going faster than what's safe and isn't representative of the average driver. The sweet spot, according to the state, is the 85th percentile: Drivers in this group are thought to occupy the Goldilocks zone of safety and efficiency.

Officials use whatever speed falls in the 85th percentile to set limits for that street, but they do have some wiggle room. If the average speed is 33 mph, for example, they’d normally round up to 35 or down to 30 to reach the nearest 5-mph increment. Whether they decide to make the number higher or lower depends on other information they know about that area. If there’s a risky turn, they might decide to round down and keep drivers on the slow side.

A road’s crash rate also comes into play: If the number of collisions per million miles traveled for that stretch of road is higher than average, officials might lower the speed limit regardless of the 85th percentile rule. Roads that have a history of accidents might also warrant a special signal or sign to reinforce the new speed limit.

For other types of roads, setting speed limits is more of a cut-and-dry process. Streets that run through school zones, business districts, and residential areas are all assigned standard speed limits that are much lower than what drivers might hit if given free rein.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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School Buses May Soon Come with Seat Belts
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The days of school bus passengers riding unencumbered by seat belts may soon be over. This week, the federal National Transportation Safety Board made a recommendation to state agencies that new, larger buses should come equipped with lap and shoulder belts, as well as automatic emergency braking and anti-collision systems.

Traditionally, most large school buses have allowed students to ride without being secured in their seats. That’s because the buses are designed to surround passengers with shock-absorbing, high-backed seats spaced closely together, an approach referred to as "compartmentalization." In an accident, kids would be insulated in an egg-carton type of environment and prevented from hitting a dashboard or window. For smaller buses—usually defined as weighing 10,000 pounds or less—belts are standard.

The Safety Board’s conclusion comes at a time when recent bus crashes—including one with two fatalities that took place in New Jersey just last week—have reopened discussion as to whether larger buses need belts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains that the compartmentalization of larger buses provides adequate safety, while the American Academy of Pediatrics argues that belts should be mandatory on all buses in the event of high-speed collisions or rollovers, where the high-back seats would offer less protection.

For now, the National Transportation Safety Board’s suggestion is just that—a suggestion. No states are required to follow the advice, and there’s considerable expense involved in retrofitting older buses with belts. Currently, eight states require seat belts on large buses.

[h/t ABC News]

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