Archive for December, 2009

Will new security rules change your mind about air travel?

Do you ever feel like you’re just a pawn in some surreal game of chess when you travel? After a passenger and crew heroically thwarted a terrorist attack on a jetliner minutes outside of Detroit on Christmas Day, everyone has been scrambling to adjust to a new (and changing) set of rules designed to keep travelers safe - and well, traveling.  

While we all want our domestic and international flights as safe as possible, it may take a while to figure out how best to do that without making air travel any more insufferable than it often is.  In addition to the typical holiday delays, air travelers in the past few days have been told to keep their hands visible; abstain from any bathroom visits during the last hour of flight; and put up their iPods, blankets, pillows and any reading material. Babies have been frisked at security. In-flight screens showing the plane’s location or flight path have been turned off. Bags have been checked by hand multiple times, causing hours-long …

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How do you handle holiday weather (and other travel) delays?

With school out for winter break and offices (at least unofficially) closed down, Atlantans visiting family, friends, their favorite ski slope or Caribbean beach over the holidays are beginning to pack the airports and the highways.  

The old phrase “getting there is half the fun” rarely holds true when you’re talking about holiday traveling.  Even for the best-prepared traveler, trips at this time of year can be stressful and unpredictable. You are never immune from frustrating traffic or flight delays, but your chances increase exponentially when everyone in the city is traveling at the same time– and huge swaths of the country are sitting under several feet of snow. (If your flight is delayed, at least you can be comforted by the new rule that should limit those dreaded tarmac strandings to only three hours – when they take effect, that is, 120 days from now.)

Unlike the madness of domestic travel over Thanksgiving, you can’t seek refuge from travel miseries by fleeing the …

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Will you need a holiday after your holiday? Try these Southern spots

Every October, I promise myself that I will take care of all the shopping and holiday preparations before Thanksgiving so that I may relax and enjoy this season. And every year I end up scrambling round in mid-December trying desperately to check off boxes on my shopping and to-do lists.

This year, I am even more behind than usual. It’s nine days to Christmas, and all I want this year is to make it to December 26th.  As I have no time to spare between now and next Friday, I can’t afford to daydream of relaxing getaways to tropical islands or snow-packed resorts in the Rockies.

But when Boxing Day arrives next Saturday, I will be ready to get out of Dodge. I may not be spending Christmas out of town, but I would like very much to find a Christmas-y destination nearby to reflect on a season (and year) that has zoomed by at warp speed.

If you are more together than I am, you may want to check out Travel and Leisure’s list of the ten best places to spend Christmas. Their far-away …

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Nifty and thrifty gifts for travelers

If you have a traveler on your list this year, you know a gift that makes their passion (or occupation) easier or more comfortable would be a big hit. In years past, that might have meant buying the latest high-tech gizmo or newfangled luggage. In superbly-good years, it might have included booking an open-ended getaway for loved ones who love to get out and go.  

The past twelve months have not been kind to our nation’s economy, however, and avid travelers are feeling the pinch like everyone else. Some have had to cut back on the number of trips they are taking or have adjusted the length of their getaways. Others have opted to drive to destinations closer to home in lieu of flying off to far-flung places.  Many others are simply staying home, exploring new places vicariously through Travel Channel programs or books.  

It remains to be seen whether 2010 will force Atlantans to get even more creative with our travel options. Until brighter days return, here are a few …

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Let travels lift your holiday spirit

With barely any time to digest Thanksgiving leftovers, many of us have already moved on in search of the next holiday season. It’s out with the turkeys and pumpkins and in with the holly and mistletoe this week, as towns throughout the South begin ushering in Christmas merriment and winter cheer for travelers seeking tidings of comfort and joy. 

I have always thought December is a great time to explore new places. Most towns are decked out in their seasonal finery, and community spirit is often at a peak. It may not be the most accurate glimpse into a city’s day-to-day reality, but it’s awfully pretty to see. Plus, many places artfully weave their town’s history into their holiday celebrations.

So if you’re like me and you like to combine the traditions of the season with the excitement of a new adventure, these destinations might be worth putting on your travel agenda. Most are a short drive from Atlanta, but you may want to look into making it an overnight trip to get the …

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