Archive for April, 2009

Are you a movie location “set jetter”?

Throughout my life, books and movies have inspired many of my travels. Mark Twain’s description of the muddy Mississippi compelled me to head to the river shore and gaze across its wide expanse. William Faulkner’s detailed prose made me curious to explore the real state of Mississippi and imagine his fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Similarly, movie images of urban areas from Boston to Berlin were motivation to see the cities for myself. And what Austen or Bronte fan hasn’t pictured themselves amongst the English peaks and moors?

While film-inspired “location vacations” are growing in popularity, I have never traveled specifically to find a spot where a movie was filmed or a favorite chapter takes place. That’s all about to change, thanks in part to a previously-planned tour of the Pacific Northwest and our daughter’s fascination with the Twilight books and movie.

For weeks, we have been working to nail down the details of our summer trek through Washington, …

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Will you avoid traveling to Mexico because of swine flu fears?

flu fear

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While there have been no formal travel restrictions put into place by either the airlines or the government, concerns over the swine flu may damper travel to Mexico. So far, Mexico has seen the largest and deadliest outbreak of the swine flu strain, hence the growing concerns of traveling there. It’s important to note that outbreaks have been found here in the U.S. as well, though so far it seems a milder strain of the swine flu is infecting people in the states.

Would fear of catching a severe strain of the swine flu stop you from traveling to Mexico in the near future? If you already had plans to travel there (and it’s a popular high school senior trip destination this time of year) are you changing your plans or are you going forward with your south-of-the-border plans?

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Would you be on board for high-speed rail travel?

In one effort to get the economy moving forward, the President is hoping to mimic job-creating transport initiatives of the past – like the Eisenhower interstate highway system– by building a national “high-speed” rail infrastructure. He cites the success of superfast trains in countries like France and Japan as incentive to support an initial investment of $8 billion out of his massive economic stimulus package.

Atlanta would be a stop along two of ten proposed high-speed routes – the Southeast Corridor and the Gulf Coast Corridor.  The first route would begin in Washington, DC, then zigzag through Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia and Savannah, before ending in Jacksonville.  The second route would link Atlanta to Houston via Birmingham, Mobile and New Orleans.

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration defines “high-speed” rail as trains averaging faster than 90 miles per hour. The European high-speed standard is at least 125 miles per …

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Airlines keep piling on the fees

 

airplane

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Following last week’s announcement that United Airlines would start charging more for overweight passengers who couldn’t fit into a single seat, now we learn that Delta Airlines will begin charging a $50 fee for checking a second bag on international flights. The fee is effective today for international travel beginning July 1.

Business class passengers, elite-level SkyMiles frequent flier members, active duty military traveling on orders and those who bought a full-fare Y-class ticket will be exempt from the additional fee.

Delta claims it is making the unpopular move to increase revenue in the face of the global recession. Of course, as with any time one airline adds a fee or charge, often times other airlines follow suit.

What is your feeling about the additional fee? Will it change your plans about international travel or will you choose a different airline as you plan your trip abroad?

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Should overweight passengers pay extra to fly?

Yesterday United Airlines announced that overweight passengers — those who who can’t fit in a single seat, can’t properly buckle the seat belt, or can’t bring the armrest all the way down when seated — would face new travel guidelines, some with an additional cost attached.

The airline could move such a passenger to two adjacent seats (when available). The passenger could sit there free of charge. But if two seats together aren’t available, the passenger would be required to purchase a second seat, or pay to upgrade their seat (or cancel for a full refund). Read the full story here in the Chicago Sun-Times.

No matter what your size, you don’t want to spend a long flight being uncomfortable. But is it fair to ask someone to pay fully twice the price of their ticket? If I were riding on a plane with an overweight passenger, I would try to switch my seat so they didn’t have to pay extra.

Do you think it’s fair to ask overweight passengers to pay for a second seat?

Photo:

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What’s it gonna take to get travelers packing in recession?

Last week, the AJC reported that summer airfares from Atlanta will be cheaper by an average of 19 percent than prices travelers paid to fly out of Hartsfield-Jackson last year. Summer travelers will be able to fly round-trip to Florida locales like Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Fort Myers, for less than $190 or enjoy 13 to 17 percent drops in prices to European, Mexican and Caribbean destinations.

That’s great news for a recession-minded leisure traveler. And let’s face it…every traveler seems to be recession-minded these days. All around, the travel industry is advertising rock-bottom prices on hotels, transport, restaurants and cruises. Some groups are actually offering vacation specials for people who have been recently laid-off (Intrepid Travel, Globorati.com); or refund guarantees if you lose your job between booking your trip and the date you travel (JetBlue Airways, Norwegian Cruise Lines, CruiseOne and more).

MSNBC recently reported its “five recession travel …

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Waiting for Cuba to open up entirely?

AJC file photo by John Glenn

AJC file photo by John Glen

On Monday President Obama began easing some restrictions on Cuba, such as allowing Cuban Americans unlimited travel to the island to visit family. (The trade embargo remains in place, though.)

Americans without authorization can be fined for visiting and spending money in Cuba — and some recently have been — but the country, with its outdated “yank tank” cars (left) and its frozen-in-time culture would be fascinating to see firsthand.

Assuming you don’t have family to visit there, would you travel to Cuba if the ban were lifted?

• Click here to read about Cuba’s ability to deal with a tourist onslaught.

• Click here for photos of Cuba.

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Whoa! Is that dude naked?

Imagine you were fulfilling a lifelong dream to hike in the Swiss Alps. And suddenly, the amazing scenery is interrupted by the troop of nude hikers that just passed you by.

Seriously. Read about the nude hiking enthusiasts in this story from the New York Times.

The discussion in Switzerland, specifically a town called Appenzell, is that families or young children might encounter the nudists. Or other hikers who are offended by nudity might receive an unwelcome surprise.

Elsewhere, some resorts cater to nudist travelers. The so-called “nakation” can relieve stress, proponents say. A nudist resort can also be wallet-friendly in that parks may charge only a day fee and in that the experience is a lot like camping in the buff. (Read about some U.S. nudist resorts here.) North Georgia even has some resorts for the clothing optional crowd, and some welcome the entire family.

Have you ever taken a nudist vacation? What is your favorite resort?

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Name the best spots in the south for a wedding getaway

Destination weddings aren’t a new idea, but they often become news when celebrities like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen tie the knot in exotic places. While technically, the ceremony at Bündchen’s Costa Rica house last weekend was a “re-hitching” following the couple’s private ceremony in March, you don’t have to be rich or famous to consider the merits of a “weddingmoon” – first, second or otherwise.

For some people, a destination wedding makes more sense than a traditional ceremony and honeymoon in these trying economic times. Combining the expenses of the wedding and honeymoon – along with the typically smaller guest list at a destination wedding – often results in savings for the happy couple.

Destinationweddings.com lists the following places as its top ten weddingmoon spots (in 1-10 order):  Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Aruba, Fiji, cruise ships and finally, European destinations.  

The …

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Has Open Skies pact opened up travel for you?

It has been a year since the Open Skies aviation pact was implemented, ending limits on flights between the U.S. and European Union nations and opening slots for more air carriers at Heathrow Airport in London.

Beginning this week, British Airways travelers flying from Atlanta to London will land at Heathrow Airport instead of Gatwick. The move to Heathrow, where passengers can more easily make connecting flights to other European destinations, was made possible by the Open Skies agreement. The year-old pact has also encouraged domestic carriers, like Atlanta’s Delta Airlines, to partner with European carriers to offer lower passenger fares and better flight schedules, even in these troubled economic times.  

For airlines, the benefits of the agreement seem clear.

“It’s resulted in better fares and better frequencies and better scheduling and better product,” said Paris-based Delta official David Bishko in this AJC article from Sunday

Later in the article, …

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