Archive for March, 2011

Cherry Blossom fests will focus on helping Japanese earthquake victims

By Keith Still

The tragedy of the massive earthquake, ensuing tsunami and volatile nuclear situation that continues to unfold across the Pacific in Japan has wrenched the hearts of sympathetic Americans. It is difficult to imagine the devastation and loss already, let alone begin to conceive a return to normal – especially as a nuclear threat still looms.

With that said, Delta Air Lines resumed its normal flight schedule to Tokyo on Monday after canceling flights over the weekend. Even as threats of radiation leaks grew higher yesterday, Delta and American Airlines said normal operations would continue.

Other than those involved with relief efforts, I wonder how many will be traveling as normal to Tokyo or the rest of Japan. The U.S. government has issued a travel alert, urging Americans to avoid travel to Japan over the next month. On Monday, however, Delta said it continues to see strong bookings.

For those who heed the government’s travel warnings, but who want to show …

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Will spike in oil prices change your travel plans?

By Keith Still

Every time the price of oil spikes, it seems, stories start popping up about how gas prices may scare travelers into staying home. Or how this travel season’s hottest trend will be the “staycation.” There’s good reason for the predictability of those news reports, though, because high fuel prices do affect travelers’ plans in a pretty predictable way.

The most dramatic way, perhaps, is that skyrocketing costs at the pumps can be the deciding factor for some travelers, actually keeping them home altogether. Those who do venture out of town may change their plans – opt for a shorter trip; stay in a cheaper hotel; eat out less/choose less pricey restaurants while on vacation; or spend fewer dollars on souvenirs and entertainment. People talk about oil being a limited natural resource, but for many of us, cold, hard cash is our most scarce commodity.

The bad thing about high fuel costs is that they’re difficult to escape. Don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars …

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Does the low number of American passports shock you?

By Keith Still

In the coming weeks and months, two members of my family will be taking major “first” trips. As we have been preparing our daughter for her first trip to Europe and my husband for his first trip to Asia, I ran across this CNN story that surprised me. At least, it surprised me at first. The report states that only 30 percent of American citizens hold passports.

If that seems to you like a pretty low number, you’re not alone. In the story, the U.S. Travel Association’s Bruce Bommarito said 30 percent is too low for such an affluent country as the United States. As I read, I nodded along. Why don’t more Americans have passports? I mean, really, my young daughter has one.

Then, I remembered. My own passport has expired, and while I have said several times over the past year that I need to renew it…I haven’t yet.

The reason? I haven’t needed it. I haven’t planned a trip abroad since my passport expired – mainly because every time I think about visiting friends and …

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