Thursday, April 30, 2009

tripadvisor travel map

I thought this was a pretty neat idea. So I started adding the places I've been. I got kind of excited and decided to share with my readers.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unusual Hotels of the World

This is kind of neat. The website showcases 149 unique properties around the world. These are the kind of places where your lodging, alone, is a story itself.

Some of the samples are rooms in an Ottoman palace, treehouses, a jumbo jet and an underwater hotel. It is a neat site to spend a moment just browsing.

Global Entry: Frequent International Flyers Can Clear US Customs Faster

US Customs and Border Protection has a program called Global Entry and more airports have been added to the program for travelers returning to the US. Currently, special kiosks are at Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Dulles, JFK, Chicago and Los Angeles.

A Global Entry member goes to a kiosk and inserts their passport and has their fingerprints scanned. Standard Customs declaration questions are asked on a touch screen and the kiosk then issues a receipt to be handed to a Customs official in the inspection area.

The fee is $100 and is good for a 5 year membership. More information is available at any of the airports listed above or at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take Precautions Against Swine Flu

A friend of mine was considering canceling the family vacation. They were headed to Disney World and she was worried about the swine flu. If it was me, I would go without any hesitation. Yes, the swine flu is not something to be minimized but I also believe a few extra precautions can make for a safe and healthy trip.

Carry antiseptic cleaning solution. Use it often, especially after touching something a lot of people touch, like a handrail. Use it every time before handling food.

Keep a package of antiseptic wipes with you. Use them to wipe down tables in cafeterias and restaurants. Also the backs of chairs where people grab them to pull them out. And don't forget the sides of the chairs where you touch them to pull then closer to the table. Not only do I also use them to wipe down cafeteria trays, I also use them to clean my airplane tray table.

For convenience and economy, have a pump bottle of antiseptic solution in your car. Use after pumping gas. And before eating that snack you just bought at the convenience store.

I think just a few extra precautions can help keep me healthy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Round of Little Travel Tips

If you are travel around Europe by train, don't wait until your day of departure to get your tickets and information for the next part of your trip. By getting what you need ahead of time, you'll have time to find an English speaking agent (if you need one) who can give you all the information you need, including departure times and track number. You can also use the time to find the track location. That way you don't have to worry about any of this when you are actually heading for your train.

Traveling to Asia? If your local Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese restaurant has bi-lingual takeout menus, carry a few copies with you. That way if you are in a restaurant with no menu or one you can't read, you can give your bi-lingual copy to the waiter who can then point out to you what the restaurant can prepare. And bring extra copies of the menu with you .... you might find the waiter wants to keep a copy.

When booking an international flight from the U.S., check the fare for the same flight offered by the domestic airline's international partner. Because of taxes and fees, it might actually be cheaper to book the air with the international partner.

If you like to buy shipboard souvenirs, try to sail the ship's last itinerary of the season. That's when the ship's store puts the 'local' merchandise on sale, as it prepares to bring in new merchandise for the next sailing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

St. Augustine, Florida

What a disappointment.

In all of our drives to and from Florida, I never had an opportunity to visit St. Augustine until our trip last month. And was I ever disappointed.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Well, yes, actually I do. I expected to see the historical old Spanish Quarter as just that...historical and old.

Instead, the old Spanish Quarter is now a pedestrian mall with the old homes renovated into shops.

Sure, the oldest schoolhouse is still there, held together with chains. But it was obvious where the it had been patched as the wood boards were still clean and new. It was obvious that no effort had been taken to age the boards before installing them.

There were plaques on the outside of some of the buildings listing when it was built, by whom and who lived there. But it was really hard to imagine what it might have really been like, trying to 'see' past the racks of clothing, souvenirs or restaurant tables.

We stayed at the Best Western in the Spanish Quarter, which promoted itself because of its location. And that was accurate, as we were able to leave our car and walk to everything. Fortunately, we were staying only one night. If we were planning on staying longer, I discovered that there were many bed and breakfast options just one street off the pedestrian mall.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ireland's Ring of Kerry

Found an interesting piece of information about Ireland's Ring of Kerry. If you'll be driving this road, be sure to take it counterclockwise.

The roads are narrow and there are steep drops along the outside. If two cars meet, going in opposite directions, it is a bit less nerve wracking to be on the inside.

More Little Ways Tips

It's been a while since I've posted any of these. Figured it was about time I got back to them:

Use plastic travel soap dishes for packing small, fragile items.

If you travel often, save yourself some time by preparing a master list of everything you need to do before leaving the house. Check each item off as you do it and have fun on your trip without worrying that you forgot to take care of something.

Besides putting your newspaper and mail on hold, call places like your internet service provider and your cable TV provider. Ask if your service can be put on hold, and your bill prorated, for the time you are away.

Caught at sea and a bit queasy but left your motion-sickness bands at home? Put a coin over the veins on the inside of your wrists (about two fingers down from the base of your palm) and hold in place with a rubber band or pony tail holder.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good News For Costa Rica Travelers

Even though Costa Rica added an entry fee of $15 to be charged to all tourists, it dropped its 3% hotel tax.

So, overall, visits to Costa Rica will be less expensive.

Great news for me. I hope to go back next January or February.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Argentina: New Tourist Fee - Postponed or Not?

I just learned that, as of January 1, 2009, tourists visiting Argentina were to be charged a new entry fee when they arrive at the airport. The fee is currently $132 and, once paid, is good for 10 years.

Then I read that the fee has been postponed because of the global drop in tourism. First it was supposed to be postponed until February, then until March.

I have not been able to find any current information on this, even with a visit to the Argentina Consulate web site.

Anyone have recent information on this?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

The WHTI becomes fully effective June 1, 2009.

Currently, for air travel, all persons entering or re-entering the U.S. must have a valid passport.

For travel by land or sea, currently photo ID (such as a driver's license) and an official copy of a birth certificate is acceptable.

That all changes on June 1st.

Be prepared. If you'll be traveling and entering or re-entering the U.S., apply for your passport now!

Official site: Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Even This Frequent Flier Worries Some Times

An article I saw in USA Today, Even frequent fliers sometimes get afraid to fly, got me thinking.

I just returned from Philidalphia and my plane from PHL to ROC was (what I kindly call) a 'puddlejumper'. It was a small prop plane and had 9 rows and 2 seats across on either side of the cabin.

I remember clearly the first time I flew a prop plane. I was not a happy camper. But I've gotten used to it and, normally, it doesn't bother me.

This time, though, was different. I was recalling the small plane that recently crashed on its way into the Buffalo airport, killing all aboard. First thought had been that the cause was ice on the wings but later the thought was pilot error.

Either way, I was now nervous flying on this small plane. But I had no choice so just stretched out, closed my eyes, and tried to go to sleep. Figured it was just easier to ignore the whole thing.

Of course, I was very happy when we safely touched down.