Archive for November, 2009

Traveling with Twitter or Facebook this Thanksgiving?

Most of the time, I travel in my own little bubble – following my (or my family’s) own itinerary and schedule. There are a few times during the year however – like Thanksgiving – when that individual bubble gets popped and I feel a true connection with my fellow travelers.

Airports are dizzying; flights are delayed; airplanes are packed; weather is unpredictable; roads are jammed; people are irritable (to put it nicely). But for some reason during the waning days of November, I find that I can breathe deeply, look around at the madness and think “hey, we’re all in this together.”

In those times of concentrated, time-constrained travel, it doesn’t surprise me that we’re beginning to see more and more social media updates from people offering travel tips, voicing commiseration and sympathy, or seeking info on the reason for delays and alternative routes.

Last Thanksgiving, I noticed a few Facebook friends offering alerts on traffic jams from the road – very …

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Would you still travel if you had the flu?

With the holidays fast approaching, more people will be boarding airplanes to visit family and friends. This is also the season of increased flu outbreaks, and this year we have an additional virus to battle with the swine flu. Airplanes have long been seen as an incubator of all kinds of germs, though studies show the air within the airplane cabin itself is no more germ-laden than other enclosed public areas.

air mask travel

AP Photo/Pat Roque

Still, if the stranger sitting by you on the plane is coughing and sneezing non-stop, it’s hard to not be concerned about your own health.  And a recent survey by TripAdvisor suggests that your flight mate may indeed have the flu. According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans would fly while knowingly sick with the flu rather than pay a flight re-booking fee.

If you were diagnosed with the flu or swine flu before a planned trip this holiday season, would you still fly? Would you take any precautions, such as wearing a mask? How do you feel about …

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Are you wowed by mega-cruise liners like Oasis of the Seas?

Over the weekend, the biggest cruise ship to set sail arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to prepare for its inaugural cruise next month. Royal Caribbean’s massive, 16-deck Oasis of the Seas is capable of carrying 6,300 passengers and a 2,100 crew on voyages through the Eastern and Western Caribbean.

When it docked, hundreds of onlookers gathered to see what a $1.5 billion passenger ship looks like – jamming traffic in the area of Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades.

In photos, the ship appears much like a floating city block (photo here). If you’re old school and measure cruise ship sizes by the Titanic standard (about 46,000 gross tons), then think of the Oasis as about five Titanics. If you have passenger ship expectations that are a bit more modern, the 225,282-gross ton vessel still dwarfs its closest competition. The next largest cruise liner, another Royal Caribbean, comes in at a mere gross tonnage of 154,407.

This is not your typical Love Boat, where you could sip …

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Will travel surcharges cost you Thanksgiving dinner with the fam?

If you have been checking airfares for the Thanksgiving holiday over the past few weeks, you have probably noticed one thing: your turkey dinner with the folks in Tulsa seems to be growing more expensive by the day.

Added fees for baggage, food/drinks service and booking have become standard air travel procedure, but the introduction and then doubling of “holiday surcharges” by several major airlines could make that bite of your Grandma’s pumpkin pie a little hard to swallow.

In September, Delta, Northwest, United and American airlines began charging holiday travelers on a few specific days (i.e. the Sunday following Thanksgiving and January 2-3, 2010) an extra $10 each way. They later expanded the holiday surcharge dates to include more travel days around Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break and Memorial Day of 2010. Then, last week, some holiday surcharges jumped to $20 each way. That’s before the baggage or any other fees are added. (If you’re shopping around for …

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“Cheers” to the heart of Georgia’s Wine Country

Just a short drive north of Atlanta sits the town of Dahlonega. Once the center of our country’s first gold rush, it’s now the heart of Georgia’s burgeoning wine industry. With five wineries (and another expected to open next summer) on the outskirts of town, many Atlantans flock to sample Dahlonega’s new “gold” – the Chardonnays, Pinot Grigios and Viogniers – against an autumnal backdrop of gold and red foliage.  

Georgia’s Wine Country didn’t really begin to take shape until the late 1970s. Prior to that, “Georgia Wine” usually referred to wine made from the state’s native Muscadine grapes. Even though north Georgia’s climate and landscape created prime grape-growing conditions, fine wines didn’t flourish here until Prohibition ended and agricultural technologies allowed farmers to better grow European wine grape varieties.

Whether you’re a viticulturist or just a visitor to Dahlonega, you can tour the wineries and participate in tastings …

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