Archive for January, 2010

Travel to Haiti NOW?

Should you cancel a vacation to a country struck by disaster?

Few of us have the luxury to take a vacation whenever and wherever we want. For most people, vacations require lots of planning. We often have to clear multiple work or school schedules, and set aside substantial amounts of money for transportation, food and lodging. Then, we agonize over travel itineraries before finally booking our holiday (usually weeks or months off).

So what happens if tragedy strikes at or near your tropical isle, Alpine resort, or big city getaway just before your vacation is set to start?

Yes, there’s always travel insurance. We purchased it a couple of years ago, when we were headed to North Carolina’s Outer Banks in the middle of the summer hurricane season. The Atlantic was calm throughout our stay on Ocracoke Island, but we never questioned our mid-winter decision to get the insurance.

For travelers heading to hurricane-prone territories in season, trip insurance is often part of the …

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Would you travel with a pride of cougars?

My adolescent daughter will eagerly tell you that I live in a pop culture vacuum. I blame it on the fact that I have never really gotten into reality television shows, from which so many pop culture references derive. While I have obviously heard of American Idol, I have never watched anything but the ads for it. (Check that – my daughter did show me the YouTube of that man singing “Pants on the Ground” the other day.)

However, even I have heard about “cougars”, the pop culture nickname for single women in their 40s and 50s who seek sexual encounters with young, 20-something men, called “cubs”.  (For the record, I have also heard of the Courtney Cox’s television program, Cougar Town.) So if they have been around long enough for me to know about them, I’m not surprised that there are enough self-described cougars out there that have begun traveling in packs – make that prides – on “cougar-themed” trips.

Last week, Carnival Cruise Lines said it would no longer book singles …

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Would you take a “haycation” down on the farm?

While looking at the AJC’s photo gallery of hot travel events for 2010 earlier this week, I was particularly intrigued by one of the entries. The events included the sport-driven Vancouver Olympics and World Cup in South Africa; the exotic Pushkar Camel Fair in India; an out-of-this world experience aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo; and treks to ancient Easter Island in the Pacific and Hadrian’s Wall along the English/Scottish border.

In many respects, those represent “once-in-a-lifetime” trips that would have any traveler packing their bags given the opportunity. The idea that I found most unusual, however, was one that was the least exotic. The rising trend of “haycations” made the list for top 2010 travel events.  

Haycations, or farm stays, offer city-dwelling travelers a taste of the country life. Guests stay overnight in bed-and-breakfast like settings, then spend their days exploring the ins and outs of the working farm. (It’s a bit like The Office episode where …

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Can southern destinations quench your thirst for exotic travel?

As economic woes continue into the New Year and security measures tighten, a recent USA Today/Gallup poll reports that many Americans will continue to put travel on the backburner in 2010. As many as 30 percent of those polled expect to cut back the number of times they fly or stay in hotels this year, while only 16 percent anticipate an increase in their hotel stays and air trips over 2009.

Because so many people pared down their travels last year at the beginning of the recession, it is unlikely travel will return to normal levels any time soon – even as the economy slowly improves. For example, hotel occupancy rates generally average 62.8 percent in the U.S., but that rate had crashed to 55.2 in 2009. If the hotel industry sees some improvement this year, occupancy rates still aren’t expected to rise above 55.8 percent. 

A large portion of those figures reflect the drastic drop in business and convention travel that corporations imposed in 2009. But economic and security …

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